Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My sense of the market is it’s very, very strong,”

As people grasp for signs of an economic recovery, a multi-million dollar beachfront property sale in Port Royal has people wondering if the local real estate market is regaining its heartbeat. The short answer: Yes.

“There is definitely a confidence in the air,” says Brenda Fioretti, president of the Naples Area Board of Realtors.

Fioretti says that the real estate market has improved over the past two years, but those improvements have been slow and difficult to quantify until now.

On the heels of last week’s sale of James Lennane’s beachfront home and property on Gordon Drive in Port Royal to a trust for $14.55 million, Fioretti says that home sales of over $10 million more than doubled in the past two years – going from three sales over $10 million in 2009 to 8 sales over $10 million in 2010.

“Investing in real estate is on its way back,” Fioretti says.

And as long as you’re realistic about the returns of those investments, Fioretti says you can be optimistic.

“We don’t expect the 20 percent appreciation any time soon,” Fioretti says. “But we do expect three percent in 2011.”

Jim Gorman, of Downing Frye Real Estate in Naples, handled the Port Royal property listing – 8,477 square foot, two-story, five-bedroom and six-bathroom home on a 1.29-acre lot, located at 4228 Gordon Drive in the Port Royal section of Naples.

Gorman says that while it’s not realistic to equate a beachfront, Port Royal property sale to countywide real estate trends, he does recognize that price-savvy buyers are out there and willing to invest.

“The beachfront property market is not, as a whole, indicative of the rest of the real estate market,” Gorman says. “But the buyers’ mentality and motivation is definitely indicative of buyers across the county.”

“Are people throwing money around? No,” he says. “People are out there looking for value. And they will buy, if they perceive it as a great value.”

Gorman says that he saw beachfront properties hit bottom last season, both in price and numbers. But he says this recent sale, along with the four other sales of beachfront properties in Naples in the last 12 months, shows that the beachfront market is coming up.

“Because of a lack of supply, is a great time to put beachfront properties on the market,” Gorman says. “I have at least there other buyers looking to buy on the beach in Naples, Florida.”

Phil McCabe, a Naples restaurateur and hotel owner who lives in Port Royal and owns several properties in Naples, says that just by looking around town, market improvement is obvious.

“My sense of the market is it’s very, very strong,” McCabe said.
"More Details"

Prices have already adjusted, and are probably undervalued in most cities

NEW YORK ( - Home prices took a shockingly steep plunge on a monthly basis, an indication that the housing market could be on the verge of -- if it's not already in -- a double-dip slump.

Prices in 20 key cities fell 1.3% in October from a month earlier, an annualized decline of 15%, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday. Prices were down 0.8% from 12 months earlier.

Month-over-month prices dropped in all 20 metro areas covered by the index. Six markets reached their lowest levels since the housing bust first began in 2006 and 2007. They were Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Miami, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Tampa, Fla.

"The double-dip is almost here," said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's. "There is no good news in October's report. Home prices across the country continue to fall."

The report was far more dire than anticipated by industry experts, who had forecast an almost flat market in October. It followed weak September numbers.

"It was a bit of a surprise," said real estate analyst Pat Newport of IHS Global Research. "I wasn't expecting it to lag so badly in all 20 cities."

He, along with many other experts, has been forecasting further price erosion over the next few months of 5% to 7%, but didn't expect the price drop to hit so fast and so hard. It's mostly attributable to the end of the tax credit for homebuyers, the effects of which started to vanish beginning in June.

"The trends we have seen over the past few months have not changed," said Blitzer. "The tax incentives are over and the national economy remained lackluster in October, the month covered by these data."

Sales volume continues to lag, off 25% even from last October, when markets could hardly be described as robust.

The inventory of homes on the market is up about 50% compared with last year at this time, and there are millions of potential homes for sale waiting on the sideline for markets to improve.

Much of that "shadow inventory" is held as repossessed properties by banks, who will eventually have to release them back on the market.

Prices in Atlanta, down 2.9%, and Detroit, off 2.5%, took a particular beating in October. Las Vegas and Washington came out of the month only slightly bruised, down just 0.2%.

The report ran counter to what have been generally positive signs of economic recovery, according to Richard DeKaser, an independent housing market analyst and founder of Woodley Park Research.

"The market is not showing much improvement after the summer slump," he said. "Housing is acting as a drag on recovery."

The coming of the second of the double dip is icing on the cake for homebuyers, who already have benefited from prices not seen in years in most markets.

"Prices have already adjusted, and are probably undervalued in most cities," said Newport. "This will make them even more undervalued."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Naples News Article - New homes are being built again

NAPLES — A shortage in new home inventory and decreased impact fees are motivating developers to build in Collier County, according to business leaders.

Stock Development’s newly announced project, a neighborhood to be built in Lely Resort called Lakoya, is evidence of shifting trends.

“This is a green shoot, the first land development community project to be announced in Southwest Florida in several years,” said Ross McIntosh, a Naples real estate broker and housing expert.

The East Naples project is among the largest in Collier County after four years marked by a tanking economy, decreased residential construction and a foreclosure crisis.

“What we had been seeing is, obviously, people are taking advantage of the lower prices in the existing inventory of foreclosures and short sales,” said Mike Timmerman, a senior associate with the economic consulting firm Fishkind and Associates. “What’s ending up happening now that the impact fees have been reduced, we’re seeing builders look to build something new again.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Florida, still tops the list of best places to retire

Despite the hurricanes, heat and housing market, Florida, and particularly Southwest Florida, still tops the list of best places to retire.

Eight of the Top 10 places to retire are in Florida and three of the Top 5 are in Southwest Florida, according to a study released Thursday by, a national business news Web site.

Naples landed in fifth place, right behind the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area. Bradenton-Sarasota was first out of 157 ranked cities, 13 of which were in Florida.

”I don’t know what the criteria was, but I think Naples is No. 1,” said Arlene Carozza, Realtor and president of the Naples Area Board of Realtors.

Naples City Councilman John Sorey said just being on the list is reason enough to be proud.

“I think that obviously we would like to be No. 1,” he said. “But, I think as long as we’re in the Top 5 or Top 10, that’s a pretty high level of competence, that’s pretty competitive.” used a six-part formula to rank the most popular retirement destinations. As part of the formula, it used raw data from the U.S. Census Bureau. It chose the 157 areas because of their senior population, setting the minimum at 40,000 senior citizens.

“The reason I think people retire to Naples — other than structurally since we have no state income tax — I think people retire to Naples for the same reason I retired to Naples,” Sorey said. “I traveled around the world and visited many locations to retire, but look at quality of life, climate, citizens that are here, the arts, and restaurants. It’s just a wonderful place to retire.”

Using Mediterra as an indicator, future is bright for luxury homes


The high-end home market in Naples has come back to life if 12-month sales at Mediterra can serve as a barometer.

Recently named Community of the Year with homes priced above $2 million by the Collier Building Industry Association, Mediterra in North Naples has posted more the $97 million in sales since its members purchased the club assets and London Bay Homes assumed sales and marketing in December 2009. Since that time, the community has recorded 64 sales of singlefamily homes, villas, coach homes and individual home sites. In 2009, 33 sales totaled $47,007,873.

“This demonstrates that high-end communities have not lost their appeal with affluent homeowners who still see Naples as a premier primary or second home destination,” London Bay President Mark Wilson says about the recent numbers.

From December 2009 to December 2010, the sale of 54 homes and home sites at Mediterra totaled $86,774,833. There are also 10 pending sales in the community that total $10,850,300. Of note, 21 of the 64 sales, representing more than $39 million, were sales of builder models or newly contracted construction.

Mediterra includes two Tom Fazio-designed golf courses, a 25,000-square-foot clubhouse, private beach club, sports center with tennis and fitness facilities, three community parks and eight miles of walking and bike trails.

“Sales center traffic continues to improve, with a high percentage of the visitors in a decision-making frame of mind,” Mr. Wilson adds. Through October, he adds, the sale of homes priced over $1 million is up 40 percent in Collier County. “That, too, is a positive trend as we move into season.”

Real estate analyst Michael Timmerman of Fishkind & Associates agrees. “I think many of the buyers who are looking at the higher end of the market are also rebuilding their portfolios,” he says “As their confidence increases, so will their appetite for higher end homes, leading to a nice rebound in this sector.” 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Federal Reserve keeps interest rates steady

WASHINGTON – Dec. 15, 2010 – At the conclusion of its regularly scheduled meeting yesterday, the Federal Open Market Committee confirmed that the economic recovery is continuing, though at a rate insufficient to bring down unemployment. Household spending is increasing at a moderate pace, and business spending on equipment and software is rising, though less rapidly than earlier in the year. Investment in nonresidential structures continues to be weak.

“The unemployment rate is elevated, and measures of underlying inflation are somewhat low, relative to levels that the Committee judges to be consistent, over the longer run,” the Committee said in its statement. As a result, interest rates were unchanged at the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent.

The Committee called progress toward its economic objectives “disappointingly slow.”

The Committee will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings. In addition, the Committee intends to purchase $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities by the end of the second quarter of 2011, a pace of about $75 billion per month.

The Committee also suggested that it would not raise interest rates in the near future, saying it “continues to anticipate that economic conditions – including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations – are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period.”