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Southwest Florida housing market is in a topsy-turvy spot post-Ian

Some reports show the hurricane squashed home listings and pending sales across the region, while others are confident in a swift recovery.

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  • | 6:30 p.m. October 28, 2022
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Hurricane Ian, in addition to the loss of life and property damage, has also set up something of battle of words (and the use of data) over the status of the Southwest Florida housing market.

One on side are reports that show the market in plunge-mode in pockets of Southwest Florida. One example: A study from Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University, which tracks overvalued housing markets on a monthly basis, ranked the Cape Coral-Fort Myers market as the No. 1 overheated housing market, with homes selling at a 70.43% premium.   

Another report, from housing data and real estate brokerage Redfin, found that pending home sales fell 58% year over year in the Cape Coral market in the four weeks ending Oct. 16, which includes some 20 days post-Ian. That’s nearly twice the nationwide decline of 32%, adds the report, released Oct. 20. Not far behind Cape Coral lies Naples, where pending home sales decreased 52% in the same time frame, and North Port, in south Sarasota County, which fell 51%. 

The storm also squashed home listings, the Redfin report found. New listings sank 59% year over year in Cape Coral during those four weeks — more than triple the national decline of 19%. New listings dropped 53% year over year in Naples and 40% in North Port. 

A different — and more optimistic — perspective comes from the Naples Area Board of Realtors. NABOR, which doesn't cover Marco Island or Cape Coral and Fort Myers and more hard-hit areas in Lee County, issued a press release Oct. 21 titled "Hurricane Ian Failed to Upset Naples Housing Market’s Resilience."

NABOR notes in the release that its September monthly report ends two days after Ian. But "while the report captured activity prior to Hurricane Ian’s arrival, broker analysts who reviewed the report Oct. 18 are confident Naples’ recovery will be swift and the resiliency of its home values will be protected," the report states. 

“There is indeed significant loss, yet the full scope of (the hurricane’s) impact was limited to a specific area along the coast and tributaries (in Collier County),” Premier Sotheby’s International Realty President and CEO Budge Huskey says in the NABOR statement. (Huskey's home in Barefoot Beach, outside Bonita Springs, was one of the homes hit hard, with the first floor inundated with more than 7 feet of floodwater.) “Such an event always brings with it a rebuilding boom, and most people will make the decision to restore and improve rather than exit the area. It’s remarkable how quickly progress is being made each and every day.”

Several broker analysts say there has been an increase in buyer interest for homes in communities east of U.S. 41 in Naples since Ian, according to NABOR. Adam Vellano, a Naples sales manager at Compass Florida, says in the release that "some homes have been withdrawn from the MLS, some have been terminated, but there’s also been a steady flow of new listings in these last two weeks.”

Vellano has some company in his confidence, even from the researchers who study overheated housing markets. For one, Florida continues to be a popular destination despite the presence of hurricanes, notes Ken Johnson, an economist in FAU’s College of Business, in a statement with the report. “Even with the constant threat of hurricanes, people want to live here in a warm and business-friendly climate,” he says. 

Supply and demand dynamics are at work, too. “The area already was facing a shortage of homes for sale before the hurricane – and that likely will get worse with so many properties sustaining damage during the storm,” Eli Beracha of FIU’s Hollo School of Real Estate says. “The properties that are in condition to sell will be that much more valuable.”


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