After years of lethargic sales and irritating foreclosures, the Fort Myers housing market is once again in full swing thanks to a mix of real estate investors and house hunters looking to take advantage of reasonable prices and record-low mortgage interest rates before it is too late . The Southwest Florida regional market has been leading the real estate recovery of the Sunshine State in terms of stability, and Fort Myers is poised to significantly contribute to the overall improvement of the housing market in 2013.
With a median home price increase of almost 30 percent in 2012 and a 13.4 percent drop in the local housing inventory, the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach believes that the outlook for most of 2013 is positive. As expected, homes located near the beach and on islands like Sanibel are bound to attract competitive bids from investors, foreign nationals and retirees.
A clear trend emerging in the Fort Myers and Cape Coral housing markets is that they are not being overtaken by speculators as they were in the early years of the 21st century. There seems to be stronger interest in vacation homes that can bring rental income, but there are also clear signs of development in the region. For example, the HealthPark campus in South Fort Myers is expanding, as well as Florida Gulf Coast University. Luxury gated communities near Estero Bay are also being developed. These are opportunities for buyers who are interested in the long-term improvement of the area rather than for speculators.
Stability Returns to the Fort Myers Housing Market
Many real estate investors and opportunists took advantage of rock-bottom property prices all around the city from about 2010 to 2012. Short sales and Real Estate Owned (REO) transactions fell by 20 percent and 41 percent respectively in 2011 and 2012. This means that it may be a bit more difficult for home shoppers to come across short sales or REO opportunities, although home prices are still far from their high levels in 2007 before the collapse of the housing and mortgage markets.
Although stability is thankfully returning to Cape Coral and Fort Myers, it is fragmented. What this means for home shoppers is that they have to look closely at what the market offers; for example, a condominium unit listed for sale in Fort Myers Beach may have multiple bids while the unit next door is awaiting foreclosure. Depending on the investment philosophy, some buyers may take their chances and wait for the unit in foreclosure to hit the market, but in doing so they may ignore other opportunities.
Fort Myers is still a retirement and vacation haven, but the higher quality of life in Southwest Florida is attracting many families who see the area as a promising place to grow and prosper. As a result, rent-to-own vacation opportunities may not be offered as frequently as before, but they are still a good option for home shoppers who are looking for a great place to live, especially at a time when mortgage credit and lending requirements are still very strict.