Tuesday, February 12, 2019 / by Hunter Habib
There's good news for buyers in the Naples-Fort Myers market. Home price increases have tapered off, according to Metrostudy, a national housing market research firm. The base sales price for a new home today averages 1 percent less than it did a year ago. Meanwhile, the annual price gain for resales — or homes that have already been lived in — has declined to between 2 percent and 3 percent a year, in line with the 50-year historical average.
"We're in the mature stage of the housing recovery. I do think we're going to see a couple more good years in the housing market, but it's going to be less growth and less price appreciation than say in 2013 or in 2014," said David Cobb, a regional director for Metrostudy.
Metrostudy's research is based on activity seen in master-planned communities, not on scattered lots in areas such as Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, Golden Gate
The upward trend in starts ended a relatively flat period of growth in 2016 and 2017.
"I think overall the housing market has still got some legs to it, even though this economic recovery has been going on since 2009. It's the longest economic recovery we've ever had," Cobb said. In the Naples market, there were 2,115 starts last year, up 3 percent from 2017. The Fort Myers area had 3,024 starts, an increase of 18 percent over the year. Why the bigger increase in Lee County? It comes down to price, Cobb said.
"It's more affordable. The average new home price in Lee is almost $200,000 less than in Collier," he said. "As you can imagine that makes a huge difference in terms of people's ability to buy a home." It starts on scattered lots
There were 5,118 closings in the Naples-Fort Myers market last year, up 8 percent from 2017. In the Fort Myers area, there were 2,953 closings, while Naples had 2,165.
Metrostudy's fourth-quarter survey showed there's a little over a month's supply of homes on the market. Three months is considered an equilibrium, Cobb said.
"That means there are not a lot of finished homes out there just sitting unoccupied," he said.
When the months of supply rises above three and stays there, builders are more likely to reduce prices or make other concessions, according to Metrostudy. The inventory of vacant lots ready to be developed in master planned communities has been on the decline. The number shrank by 13 percent over the year to 10,207 in the combined market.
What is the most in-demand community in the Naples-Fort Myers market? Ave Maria, east of Naples, still ranks No. 1. Builders started 241 homes in the town last year and there were 256 closings.
"Ave Maria is one of the few relatively affordable new home communities in Collier County and it's also one of the more affordable ones in all of Southwest Florida," Cobb said. "It has been the top starts leader — annual starts leader — for about three years now, maybe a little longer than that."
By the Numbers
Here are the top 10 communities in the Naples-Fort Myers market based on annual starts in 2018, according to Metrostudy:
Community Location Starts Closings Builder
1) Ave Maria Collier 241 256 CC Homes/Del Webb/Pulte
2) Valencia Bonita Lee 234 156 GL Homes
3) The Place at Corkscrew Lee 220 187 Lennar/Pulte
4) Naples Reserve Collier 190 186 Multiple builders
5) Plantation Lee 183 183 Pulte
6) StoneCreek Collier 178 147 GL Homes
7) Westbrook Lee 160 145 Pulte
8) Portico Lee 157 114 Lennar
9) Esplanade Collier 151 133 Taylor Morrison, Stock
10) Entrada Lee 145 161 DR Horton