Ft. Myers, taste of things to come in south

        No state’s housing market was hit harder than Florida’s, although Nevada and Arizona can certainly vie for that dubious claim.  The fact is that Nevada arguably has just two major areas of population, Las Vegas and Reno; and Arizona really only sports two of its own metro areas, Tucson and Phoenix, although it can seem as if Metro Phoenix extends forever.  But with the exception of some undeveloped land in its northern center, Florida has had six decades to develop a dense population and, along with it, a housing market value growth that was steady and, in some places, meteoric (as in too high to sustain).

        Ft. Myers was one of those places favored by retiring boomers and speculators who bid up property values to what today seem like ridiculous levels.  At one point in 2005, the median value of a home in the Cape Coral/Ft. Myers market reached $581,000.  Just two years later, it had plummeted to $271,000, and the market has struggled to creep back up from there.  But as we have written here and in our newsletter, there is a price at which decent property must sell, and properties in Ft. Myers seem to have reached that level.  Sales activity began to turn around in 2009 and prices followed suit last year, with a 3% price bump up in the third quarter of 2010 compared with the same quarter in 2009, according to our friend Toby Tobin at GoToby.com.

        In the January/February edition of Home On The Course, which should be out in the next two weeks (sign up above to receive your free copy), I plan to make the case for 2011 being the year golf community prices in the southern U.S. hit bottom and begin a slow rise back up for some and, perhaps, steeply up for a few of the most undervalued but stable properties.  Ft. Myers, with its excellent housing stock and golf courses, is only the first tangible sign of a potential recovery.