Posted by: swfloridarealestate | December 3, 2008

High Sales and Low Prices in October in Lee County

Lee County’s existing-home market experienced a slight dip in sales and prices in October – and that may be good news.

That’s because the pace of homes being sold continues to be quick while prices slowly fall.

The price of an existing single-family home in the county sold with the help of a Realtor dropped 2 percent to $139,500 in October while the number of homes sold fell 3 percent to 720, according to statistics released Monday by the

Experts aren’t saying the real estate market is healthy, but compared to the wild gyrations of the stock market, real estate now seems relatively stable.

Compared to a year ago, sales are strong, said Brett Ellis, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers. There were 405 houses sold in October 2007, 44 percent fewer than October 2008.

High sales are good because once the 15,000 houses listed for sale and the 30,000 foreclosure properties backed up in the court system are sold, the laws of supply and demand kick in, he said.

Although October’s sales were slightly off September’s pace, Ellis said, that could be because those sales were based on deals that went on through August and September – two of the slowest months of the year.

In a separate report issued Monday by the National Association of Realtors, sales nationally of existing homes fell 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million homes in October, from a downwardly revised pace of 5.14 million in September. Sales had been expected to fall to a rate of 5.05 million, according to economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

The national median sales price plunged 11.3 percent from a year ago to $183,000. That was the largest year-over-year drop on record going back to 1968, and the lowest median sales price since March 2004.

Lee County’s median price is the lowest since February 2003, when it was $135,900.

That’s more good news for the market, Ellis said.

Sales are staying strong because “our prices are where they ought to be” after a long slide following the collapse of the market, he said. The median price reached its all-time high of $322,300 in December 2005.

Still, for people trying to sell a house, competition is heavy from foreclosures and short sales.

“I don’t know, man, everybody wants to buy houses,” said contractor Mike Kelly, who’s trying to sell his house on Devonwood Court in south Lee County for $270,000. “I’m going to cut the price a little bit and then wait. I’m hoping that January through March, in season, maybe they’ll get more buyers.”

But, he said, it’s a tough environment to be selling a house. “Business is really slow, and I don’t want to have to eat into my savings.”

Kelly’s company, Southwest Florida Custom Electronics, installs burglar alarm, camera and sound systems, but demand is soft, he said.

Around the nation, sales were down in October compared to September. But sales were up 40.5 percent in the West compared with October last year, without adjusting for seasonal factors. Buyers in places such as Las Vegas and Orange County, Calif., snapped up distressed properties at bargain prices.

Nationwide, the Realtors group estimates that sales of distressed properties made up 45 percent of all property sales in October.

From the News-Press

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