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Irma’s initial impact on the Cape’s real estate market

September 29, 2017
By BOB and GERI QUINN - Homing In , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Having lived in Cape Coral since 1979, we have become familiar with the unpredictable nature of tropical weather systems and their potential impact, although each storm seems to bring a different surprise. We have been here long enough to have talked to people who went through Hurricane Donna in 1960, and we were here for the "No Name Storm" back in 1985. We saw many of the same problems with evacuating for Irma this month, as we did with Hurricane Andrew back in 1992. We experienced the last-minute twists and turns with Hurricane Charley in August 2004, when we were suddenly told the storm was coming up the Caloosahatchee with an 18-foot storm surge set to hit Cape Coral within the hour. Then we held our breath as we watched three other storms move through Florida that year, before wrapping up with Wilma in October 2005. We have helpful real life stories about all of them.

Andrew taught us that no matter what you think about hurricanes, if you take a direct hit from the eyewall, it will forever change the way you look at these storms and your evacuation plans. Charley taught us multiple lessons about storm preparedness, and how quickly a storm could change direction and become an immediate threat. Charley was also a lesson in how long it could take to get electric service restored and for the storm debris to be removed, not to mention the length of time it could take to have home repairs completed and how careful one had to be in selecting a reputable, licensed contractor to do the required work.

Overall, compared to what we saw with Hurricane Charley and compared to other parts of Southwest Florida, it seems fair to say Irma had far less of a damaging impact on Cape Coral than expected. For starters, we are not seeing anywhere near the same number of blue roof tarps, while power and cable service remained on throughout the storm in some areas, compared to the widespread outages during Charley. We have seen some leaning power poles post-Irma, but nothing like the number of power poles snapped in half like toothpicks from Charley's wrath. There also appears to be relatively minor damage to pool cages this time around.

All the same, we know some people have experienced far more damage and hardships from Irma than other Cape residents. This storm also added its own new twist, with some homeowners experiencing the effects of what we will call "reverse storm surge," caused by the water being blown out of the gulf access canals and the river by the wind during the first half of the storm. This lead to some collapsed seawalls, which will be followed by the frustration of lengthy delays in getting the needed repairs, not to mention the cost, all of which is not covered by insurance. We are also hearing about damage to boats, docks and boat covers.

Before we get into some of the numbers for August, we wanted to give you a preliminary reading of the initial impact of Hurricane Irma on the Cape Coral real estate market, so we took a quick look at the number of single-family homes sold in Cape Coral from Sept. 1 through Sept. 25. By homes sold, we mean actual "closed sales," so the vast majority of these homes likely went under contract well in advance of Irma, or about 30 to 45 days prior to their actual September closing dates. Overall, we have been having a solid year, with an average 411.88 homes sold per month in 2017, not including short sales or foreclosures. But so far in September, under the influence of Irma, the number of homes sold has dropped by 65 percent to only 144 homes sold.

In the overall Cape Coral single-family home market, year-to-date in 2017, through Aug. 31, there has been an average of 411.88 homes sold per month, which is 6.26 percent higher than the average of 387.63 homes sold per month over the first 8 months of 2016. Also, year-to-date median sales prices were up 7.7 percent in 2017, to an average of $228,925 per month, versus $212,562 per month over the first 8 months of 2016.

Gulf access canal homes

The number of gulf access canal homes sold year-to-date in Cape Coral, through Aug. 31, increased by 15.94 percent to an average of 91.88 homes sold per month, versus an average of 79.25 sold per month over the first 8 months of 2016. Median sales prices for gulf access homes increased by 7.93 percent year-to-date, to an average of $415,009 per month, from an average of $384,531 per month over the first 8 months of 2016.

Sailboat access canal homes

There have been an average of 41.63 Cape Coral single-family sailboat access canal homes sold per month this year through Aug. 31, which is up 27.58 percent over the average of 32.63 sailboat access canal homes sold per month over the first 8 months of 2016. Year-to-date, median sales prices for sailboat access canal homes have increased by 13 percent, averaging $432,806 per month so far in 2017, versus an average of $383,028 per month over the first 8 months of 2016.

Freshwater canal homes

The number of freshwater canal homes sold year-to date in Cape Coral has declined by 1.56 percent to an average of 39.75 homes sold per month, versus an average of 40.38 sold per month over the first 8 months of 2016. The median sales prices for freshwater canal homes have increased by 3.41 percent year-to-date, to an average of $277,463 per month, from an average of $268,306 per month over the first 8 months of 2016.

Dry lot homes

There have been an average of 280.13 Cape Coral single-family dry lot (non-canal) homes sold per month this year, through Aug. 31, which is up 4.62 percent over the average of 267.75 dry lot homes sold per month over the first 8 months of 2016. Year-to-date, median sales prices for dry lot homes have increased by 8.89 percent, averaging $203,829 per month in 2017, versus an average of $187,181 per month over the first 8 months of 2016.

We expect the final numbers for September will end up somewhat higher than the 144 homes sold as of Sept. 25, but still down significantly, as one would expect. We will continue to track the market recovery following Irma, as we watch for indications that our real estate market is returning to normal. Stay tuned here for regular updates.

(The sales data for this article was obtained from the Florida Realtors Multiple Listing Service Matrix for Lee County, Fla., as of Sept. 23, 2017, unless otherwise noted, and it was compiled by Bob and Geri Quinn. It includes information specifically for Cape Coral single-family homes, not including condominiums, foreclosures, or short sales. The data and statistics are believed to be reliable, however, they could be updated and revised periodically, and are subject to change without notice. The Quinns are a husband and wife real estate team with Century 21 Birchwood Realty Inc., in Cape Coral. They have lived in Cape Coral for over 38 years. Geri has been a full-time Realtor since 2005, and Bob, who also holds a Certified Financial Planner designation, joined with Geri as a full-time Realtor in 2014. Their real estate practice is mainly focused on Cape Coral residential property and vacant lots.)

 
 
 

 

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