NAPLES, Fla. - Winter visitors have arrived early, and they’re snapping up homes, particularly along the beach.
The latest monthly report by the Naples Area Board of Realtors showed overall existing home prices in Collier County, excluding Marco Island, rose 8.2 percent in October from the same month a year earlier, to a median of $265,000.
That’s down from its recent double-digit growth rate, because many more new homes are entering the market, said David Cobb, South Florida regional director of research group MetroStudy.
“Builders are picking up the pace,” he said.
But the supply of newly constructed homes hasn’t been enough to dampen sales of existing ones.
NABOR said closed sales rose 5.8 percent to 707 in October year-over-year, while pending sales were up 8.6 percent to 911.
Real estate broker Phil Wood, president of John R. Wood Properties in Naples, said most of the sales are being made to seasonal visitors, who are arriving earlier than usual this year.
But he said they are coming from the Northeast instead of the Midwest, which is the region’s traditional feeder market of vacation homebuyers and retirees.
That’s helped bolster prices because sellers in the Northeast have higher-priced homes and so have more equity to spend on a Naples-area property.
“It’s not just the weather that’s driving Northeasterners here,” he said. “They’re fed up with higher taxes and the cost of living.”
Demand was strongest along the beach. Overall, sales in this area, which spans the 34102, 34103 and 34108 ZIP codes, rose 40 percent in October from the same month the year before.
Kathy Zorn, broker and owner of Florida Home Realty in Naples, said demand was particularly strong in some of the older and more expensive beach neighborhoods such as the Moorings, Park Shore and Port Royal.
“People are picking up older houses and tearing them down,” she said.
Meanwhile, NABOR said 3,939 resale properties were on the market in October, a 10 percent decline from a year earlier.
But the drop was almost entirely in the supply of condominiums, which fell 19 percent, to 1,811, in October from the year before. For the same period, single-family home inventory was flat.
Demand is highest for the least expensive condos, Wood said. Condo prices haven’t increased at as quick a pace as single-family homes, he added, which makes them more affordable to workforce buyers who are competing with out-of-towners.
But both homes and condos continue to move fast, said NABOR president Pat Pitocchi. Overall, average days on the market dropped to 73 in October from 107 a year earlier, a whopping 32 percent decline.
“The housing market is trending up, and people are feeling better about their finances,” she said. “That’s when urgency kicks in.”