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Home prices down, sales up in metro area for March

By Staff | Apr 24, 2009

A report released Thursday by the Florida Association of Realtors told a familiar story for the local housing market — home prices are down, but sales are up, way up.
The March median sales price for existing single-family homes in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area fell to $88,500, the lowest of all the 20 Florida metro areas contained in the report. The number reflects a 9 percent decrease from February and a 58 percent drop from March 2008.
Home sales nearly tripled from last year, with 1,464 single-family homes sold compared to 501 in March 2008.
Foreclosures are again the main culprit for decreased home prices, but they are also the reason home sales are increasing.
“The buyers are going after the foreclosures,” said Paula Hellenbrand, president of the Cape Coral Association of Realtors.
According to a report released earlier this week from Realty Trac, a California-based company that gathers foreclosure data, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area had the nation’s third-highest rate of foreclosures in the first quarter, with one in every 26 homes receiving a foreclosure filing.
Hellenbrand said the sales activity is greater in Cape Coral than in Fort Myers because there was a heftier concentration of new homes constructed in the Cape during the peak of the housing market.
“The greatest number of newly constructed homes were going on in the boom times that are having these (foreclosure) problems now were in the Cape Coral area,” she said.
Despite the constant stream of new foreclosure proceedings being initiated, there are still foreclosures caught up in the system waiting to be processed.
The Lee County court system processed 2,231 foreclosure cases in March, while 2,198 new cases were filed.
The continuing slide of home prices is another step toward the elusive bottom of the market, as the effects of the recent housing boom and bust reverberate throughout the economy.
“This is the healthiest thing that can happen in this market,” commercial Realtor Gary Tasman, of the Cushman & Wakefield firm, said. “It’s what has to happen.”
Statewide, home sales rose 30 percent from last year to 13,085, and prices dropped 30 percent to $141,300.