When it comes to hot real estate activity, Lee County is right at the top the list. 2021 was definitely a seller’s market, and although that may be slowing a bit, most real estate professionals see that trend continuing into this year. Here is a Lee County Florida 2022 real estate market update.
There are many stories about homes selling last year for more than the asking price, and those are true. That indicates the demand for good residential properties, not only in Lee County but across the country, has put sellers in the driver’s seat. But those days may be over, at least to some extent.
The median sales price for Lee County homes at the time this was written was $304,000, an increase of 22.5% over December 2020. Statistics also show that when compared to surrounding counties, Lee County’s numbers are higher by comparison. But the number of homes on the market is decreasing, which means less available inventory.
If the seller’s market remains strong, that could result in steady growth in our area. The number of homes on the market in Lee County dropped almost 37% from November to December of 2021. The number of home sales declined by approximately the same percentage. Of the 790 homes sold in Lee County in December 2021, 46% sold at below asking price, so there are still many opportunities to find a good value when buying your home.
Driven by Growing Population, Job Market
Economic growth in Lee County is on the rise, which means more people needing a place to call home. The danger is in the housing market prices becoming unaffordable to working people, which some sources feel is already happening. Lee County is home to about 620,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and that number is rising by about 4-5% annually. Many feel that if home and rental prices are not realistically affordable for new residents, the market will experience a downturn or crash.
There is no shortage of new construction, as you can see driving anywhere in Lee County. In Cape Coral, there are multiple, large-scale rental apartment communities being built from the south near Chiquita Boulevard to the north along Pine Island Road and beyond. Single-family homes, duplexes, condominiums, and master-planned residential developments are sprouting up throughout Lee County. Between August 2020 and July 2021, Lee County residential building permits increased by approximately 20%.
Because of the dwindling inventory of existing homes for sale, vacant lot sales are also experiencing a surge, with many deciding to build the home they want as opposed to settling for a resale that may not meet their needs, either financially or because of other factors like location.
But the key thing to consider is that the real estate market in Lee County, as in the rest of the country, was far from typical, and one that may be noted as the most unusual and undefinable ever.
Correction for Unsustainable Real Estate Growth
At a recent real estate market overview presentation in Fort Myers, leading residential and commercial experts presented their views on what to expect in 2022. As illustrated in the last 2 quarters of 2021, the chaotic market is now going through a correction, with fewer available homes and a reduction in average sales prices. As one long-time real estate sales leader said, “the peak insanity is over.”
The rate at which home sale prices were escalating over the past 20 months is not a sustainable situation, and the market is beginning to reflect that. Some in the industry fear that a crash is pending when demand stops keeping pace with the explosion of building and sales of the recent past. But with continued population and job growth in Lee County, most real estate sales professionals think the market will adjust itself to better reflect more realistic growth while remaining one of the most robust areas in which to invest.
Lee County, and specifically Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and unincorporated areas of Fort Myers, are seeing positive growth, with new development stretching east, away from the coastal areas. While living closer to the coastline, Caloosahatchee River or the canals of Cape Coral remains the most desirable location, the development growth and increased resale vales in places like Lehigh, Buckingham, Estero and others is seeing exceptional activity. It’s important to know that more than 70% of area residents are under the age of 65, dispelling the myth that Lee County is home to just retirees from the north. Young families with children who move here for the job and other growth potential all need a place to call home, and the real estate market is a key indicator of the area’s economic feasibility.
The wild ride of 2021 appears to have passed, but the growth in the Lee County real estate market still looks promising for those willing to do the research and due diligence to find the right property at a reasonable price.