Sunday, August 8, 2010

House Hunting in Fort Myers?

This is for a friend who is house hunting in Fort Myers area. Here's a link to get you started.
Go here to check all the local MLS listings.

33912 zip code area has many golf and country club communities, zoned and managed in a way to create more uniformity and stability. Prices are about back to 2001 - 2002 levels before the big run up and crash. The real estate bust hit some some communities hard, especially those that weren't finished by the builder, or "built out" when the market crashed in 2006-07. As a result, some golf communities and even non-golf developments of home, never reached their target occupancy level, like if the builder ran out of money and couldn't finish building all of the homes promised, which forces the existing homeowners to proportionally pay more for their homeowners and golf fees to make up for the slack. In many cases, the builders kept dropping prices to try to get more people to buy, which screwed up the value of homes that the early buyers purchased. As a result, a number of people are now "under water", owing more than their homes are worth. Prices here are beginning to go up again. Don't expect this market to show big gains in appreciation, so be certain the place you buy is one that you can stay in for quite a while. The days of buying and flipping homes as investments are over, except if you are into buying distressed merchandise (homes that have been abandoned and gutted) for cash as a speculator. Even then, it's very dicey, especially if neighborhood is questionable. Be sure you know the economics of your association and ensure that it is financially secure and solvent so you won't have to pick up the slack and pay special assessments.. Many locations along I-75 are about 25 minutes from the beach. If you want to get closer, you'll pay more. If you want water access, you'll need to buy in Cape Coral, prices are mixed. As you head south from here, you'll hit Estero, Bonita Springs, and Naples, and prices are higher in Naples since it was developed back in the early 1970's. It's also way more conservative. Fort Myers is more relaxed. Bonita Springs is a newer area, very nice, was overpriced in 2006-07, worth exploring. Try to stay on the west side of I-75 where the property values and stability are better. Also, the west side of I-75 has a nicer breeze, because as you get inland, the temps get a few degrees hotter and you lose the gulf breeze. Avoid looking in Lehigh Acres, very mixed and home prices there have taken a beating and it's not well established so it might be a poor investment. If you want more action, you can look north in Tampa or even Orlando. Sarasota is nice but a bit sleepy.