From the 2-year, wild upswing in real estate prices in Southwest Florida and low interest rates creating a drastic boom in the market to the uncertainty facing our area following Hurricane Ian in late September 2022, it is fair to say the future of sales activity has been a huge question mark locally.
Surprisingly to some, the market here, even in the aftermath of the category 4 storm that devastated much of our coastline and inland communities, is in relatively good health, and showing a more balanced and reasonable sales growth rate than that being experienced in the rest of the country.
A Look at The Numbers
According to statistics published by the Southwest Florida Multiple Listing Service, (SWFMLS), here is a comparison of stats regarding the number of sales, sales prices, number of homes available for sale and more.
|LEE COUNTY, FLORIDA SINGLE FAMILY HOMES (EXCLUDES CONDOS AND TOWNHOMES)
| DECEMBER 2021 DECEMBER 2022 % +/-
|CLOSED SALES 1,445 935 -35.3%
|AVERAGE SALES PRICE $571,133 $549,083 -3.9%
|MONTHS SUPPLY OF INVENTORY 3 5 +66.7%
|LEE COUNTY, FLORIDA CONDOS AND TOWNHOMES
|CLOSED SALES 699 389 -44.3%
|AVERAGE SALES PRICE $337,077 $406,429 +20.5%
|MONTHS SUPPLY OF INVENTORY 2 5 +150%
What these numbers indicate is that even before Ian, the previous market, considered by most real estate sales professionals in Southwest Florida to be experiencing unsustainable pricing increases, was returning to a more normalized, healthier condition by the end of 2022.
While single family average sales prices only took a moderate dip, the condo market saw a notable increase in that category.
The feeding frenzy of homebuyers and escalated sales prices were not meant to last, and the market is bearing that out.
The months of supply of available homes is far more favorable to sellers at fewer months due to fewer homes offered for sale and benefits buyers at a higher number, when there is more availability.
It is calculated by determining the number of homes sold per month and dividing by the total number of properties for sale on the last day of the month.
After Hurricane Ian, many said there is no way this real estate market would ever attract potential buyers, but that has not proven to be the case.
While there are some instances of a severely damaged home or condo selling at a drastic reduction because of the storm, the vast majority of home sales were sold at prices commensurate with a healthy market, and the numbers are still higher than the national average.
As for the remainder of 2023, many experts feel that the number of months of available properties on the market will remain near current numbers, or perhaps even dip a little in the remainder of this year, especially when the numbers are tabulated after our hot sales season of January through April.
Sales prices are predicted to remain somewhat steady and possibly even rise at a much more sustainable level of around 3% annually.
A quick glance at the prices of current homes and condominiums on the market today shows that despite recent challenges remain stable and have not resulted in the drastic crash some were expecting.
An organization called Veros Real Estate Solutions has estimated the Southwest Florida real estate market will appreciate at a rate of 4.5% for 2023, while the prediction for the rest of the country is only a 0.5% increase.
This means the Cape Coral/Fort Myers metro area will rank as the 4th strongest performing market in the entire country over the next year.
A recent story on the national news highlighted that outside of Florida, few people throughout the U.S. were aware of how severely our coast was affected by Ian. Yet, there are still clogged roads and packed restaurants here in Southwest Florida, just like every “season” prior.
This seems to bear out the old saying that there will always continue to be a strong demand from people who want to relocate to our sunny corner of paradise, whether to work or relax, and even a major storm doesn’t seem to be affecting that.