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Market Watch presenters: Can you handle the truth?

By March 10, 2016 No Comments

PATRICIA BORNS and CASEY LOGAN, CLOGAN@NEWS-PRESS.COM

More than 1,100 Southwest Florida real estate pros watched The News Press Market Watch Real Estate 2016 open at Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers with a scene from the movie, “A Few Good Men.” “I want the truth,” Tom Cruise demands of Jack Nicholson.

“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth,” Nicholson says. The message of the three Market Watch experts, Randy Thibaut, Denny Grimes and Stan Stouder, is the market shows signs of pulling back. Handle the truth, and we’ll continue to thrive.

From 2012 to 2015, the area is now on its fifth year of double-digit growth, percentage wise, began Land Solutions CEO Thibaut — but hold that thought.

For the first time in his career memory, the year’s No. 1 builder was commercial, not residential. Brooks and Freund, a commercial contractor, led the way, and what were they building?Apartments and assisted living facilities, Thibaut said.

Almost 1,000 apartment permits were pulled in the area, the boat that floated the markets.

The reason: affordability.For the first time in a long while, builders are starting to hear “no” from buyers because of price increases, Thibaut said. From 2012-13, for example, the price of the median south Fort Myers home was at $271,000. It’s now at $350,000.

Yet builders aren’t getting rich, their margins are “razor thin,” he said, trying to keep up with land, labor and materials costs.

At the same time the average median income for the three-county area is $50,000 — which equates to a $200,000 home. That’s what made Maple Ridge at Ave Maria the No. 1 selling development of 2015, with buyers from Broward and Miami-Dade counties snapping up the homes and commuting to jobs on the east coast.

“We’ve priced out the first-time home buyer, so where next? Apartments,” Thibaut said. “A market on fire for the past 36 months that will continue as people seek housing they can afford.”

A pendulum swing

Thibaut also called on politicians to avoid the pendulum swing toward anti-growth, just as pro-growth policies have brought the real estate economic engine roaring back.For the first time in a long while, builders are starting to hear “no” from buyers because of price increases, Thibaut said. From 2012-13, for example, the price of the median south Fort Myers home was at $271,000. It’s now at $350,000.

Yet builders aren’t getting rich, their margins are “razor thin,” he said, trying to keep up with land, labor and materials costs.

At the same time the average median income for the three-county area is $50,000 — which equates to a $200,000 home. That’s what made Maple Ridge at Ave Maria the No. 1 selling development of 2015, with buyers from Broward and Miami-Dade counties snapping up the homes and commuting to jobs on the east coast.

“We’ve priced out the first-time home buyer, so where next? Apartments,” Thibaut said. “A market on fire for the past 36 months that will continue as people seek housing they can afford.”