Thursday, March 24, 2011

Naples Rises From Florida Housing Swamp as Wealthy Buyers Return to Market

By Dan Levy - Mar 23, 2011 1:09 PM ET BLOOMBER NEWS

Joshua Bahoff bought a three- bedroom luxury condominium in Naples, Florida, in December for $235,000, about one-third of the price that the seller paid near the height of the U.S. housing boom.

“It was a great deal,” said Bahoff, 59, a Philadelphia dentist who plans to spend one week a month every winter in the 2,700-square-foot (250-square-meter) property in Fiddler’s Creek, a residential and golf development south of the city’s downtown historic district on the Gulf of Mexico. “We can’t see this market going down any lower.”

While much of Florida’s real estate market remains depressed by foreclosures, buyers seeking a second home in the state’s affluent vacation enclaves are “finally getting off the fence,” Karen Van Arsdale, an agent at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Naples, said in a telephone interview.

Sales in the Naples area last year rose 10 percent, the first annual increase in at least five years, while the median price for homes listed at $300,000 or more gained 4 percent to $544,000, according to data compiled by the Naples Area Board of Realtors. About half of the properties in the market are second homes, and discounts from 2006 peak prices average about 25 percent, said Brenda Fioretti, president of the group.

“Wealth determines housing, and the good places pick up first,” Karl Case, 64, a professor emeritus in economics at Wellesley College in Massachusetts who has been visiting Naples since a family vacation took him there when he was 13, said in a telephone interview. “For people with deep pockets, it’s generally a flight to quality.” "More Details"
Atlantic Coast

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