Just like the weather, it seems that everyone asks and wants to know about the real estate market on Marco Island. Is this the worst of times or the best of times? Are we in a recovery or a continuing decline? How much does the national and global financial climate affect us? Is it true that the first real estate markets to decline are the first to turn around? Questions with many answers, speculation, a wide variety of opinions, political influences, and an ever-changing world financial market….these all have a direct effect upon influencing our real estate market.
But is there another piece of the puzzle that might be missing in our quest for a solid real estate recovery, as you evaluate the market and become an extremely well-informed consumer? There certainly is! Being in the trenches every day with buyers, sellers, and Realtor colleagues makes this answer quite easy. We can’t underestimate the importance of the attitude, spirit, skills, and energy of the hundreds of professional Realtors on Marco Island who work with the buyers and sellers, and who truly help to mold our future values. This important aspect can’t be overlooked as we continue to seek a real estate recovery. In my daily observations as a Marco real estate broker, I am pleased to report that the professionals in my field on Marco Island who have survived the shifted market, are upbeat, learning-based, and truly have the skills and knowledge to take us to the next level. They are professionally committed and extremely accomplished. They are some of the top Realtors in the country with many years of experience and accomplishments to offer.
Since our last edition two weeks ago and the release of Part I, the real estate activity on Marco Island has certainly picked up. Our phone activity in my office has almost doubled; showings are more constant and growing in numbers by the day. The buyers are starting to arrive, and they are more interested in finding their piece of paradise at the best possible price and value as we are still in a “buyer’s market.” This is a healthy sign and a positive indication of a stronger upcoming “season” than many have predicted.
Therefore, I proudly feature three more experienced and accomplished Marco Island Realtors who are willing to share their wealth of experience with you in their own words. These experts are worth listening to as you make future decisions and plans. Let’s see what they have to say.
RALPH IORIO Assist 2 Sell Realty
The Marco Island real estate market has experienced a slow but steady upturn in sales this past year, primarily driven by lower housing prices andconsistently low interest rates. The average current sale price in each segment of the market has allowed some buyers back in that had been pushed out during the boom. Some governmental programs have also helped spur sales.
Housing is, and always has been, cyclical. We experienced an incredible eight-year cycle between 1997 and 2005 that produced unprecedented sales and appreciation on Marco Island. That cycle had actually run past its natural course due to loosened lending practices that qualified many unqualified buyers, the offering of interest-only loans to keep mortgage payments artificially low, and the acceptance of stated income for loans without income verification. We all know that many of the lenders that led in producing loans during the boom are no longer in business. The result over the past five years has been a never-before seen influx of distressed properties and depreciated home values.
Have prices stabilized? Housing prices are a never-ending “moving target” with several factors affecting values daily, whether it’s a buyers’ or sellers’ market. In either market, and most importantly today, a seller must look at their property through their buyer’s eye if they want to accomplish a sale. This includes offering the property at an extremely competitive price based upon today’s values and bringing the property to market in its best possible condition. Although our market is not as inundated with the amount of foreclosure and short sales as others, that product has and will affect values overall. Consider a sale contingent upon the buyer obtaining a mortgage. The property would have to be appraised, and the appraisal approved by the lender, or the loan would be denied resulting in either a re-negotiated lower purchase price or no deal at all. I’ve also seen more and more cash buyers writing an appraisal contingency into the sales contract. The key is to list your property at the right price, or consider not listing it at all. The notion of listing high to leave room for negotiation usually doesn’t work. Today’s buyer has far too much data available and knows the true value of a property and a great buy.
When will values start going up again? Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Warren Buffet believes the real estate market will recover in a year or so, if politicians stop trying to fix the market. A real estate recovery is usually slow to go its course. If your property falls below its mortgage value or the purchase price, there is no “margin call” like in the stock market where your broker would ask you to add equity to re-adjust your portfolio. Your choices are to sell it for what it’s worth today,or hold and wait for a turnaround. We are beginning to see positive signs, particularly in this last fiscal year. Sales have increased, pricing is great, interest rates are still low, inventory has reduced, exchange rates are still favorable and we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to baby boomers. Demand will balance with supply. The world knows the Marco Island area is extraordinary and they will come. Patience is the key…pressure and time make diamonds.
Susie Hauze Prudential Florida Realty
Marco Island is the most beautiful place in the world to live! The combination of beautiful beaches, pristine water, and a spectacular climate make this true Island living at its finest. Yes, we have been experiencing a world-wide recession over the past six years that seems to have no end. No one thought the run-up of home values during the early 2000s would ever end, but it did. This down market in real estate will end too. The recovery will continue and, before you know it, we will be talking about inflation and folks will be coming down to Marco wishing they had purchased in the 2011 season!
The opportunity for those who missed the boat in the early part of this decade now have a second chance at buying their dream home on Marco. However, this is an opportunity that will not last forever.
I am very fortunate to have a steady client base that own property on Marco and know the value of our gorgeous island. They project a positive image of the island to their friends and relatives and as a result, new buyers keep coming.
Are we at the bottom of the market? By the time the statistics are published, it’s quite possible that the market will have already turned. But, unfortunately many buyers will still be standing on the sidelines. Simple math and common sense dictate that the upside potential of this real estate market far exceeds the down side.
The main theme I successfully portray to my sellers with my listings, that has been very successful in our recent marketing blitz is “Paradise Priced Perfectly!” The Marco MLS offers a great selection of fabulous properties at discount prices. As we advise our buyers, if you want it, and can afford it, it’s a great time to buy. Marco is truly a “Paradise Priced Perfectly!”
BILL DUNNUCK and JENNIFER SHANAHAN Coldwell Banker Real Estate
How is the market? Looking back for a moment, who in September 2003 thought our prices would double and triple in the next two-and-one-half years? Well, no one that I know. With interest rates at an all time low in recent years and prices at 50 percent offtheir high levels, are we there again? My advice is to buy Marco Island real estate now to use and hold for at least five years. Using your property is why people over the years always purchased. After all, is there a finer place to be in the winter than Marco Island? Absolutely not!
When it comes to prices, calling a bottom or a top in real estate prices is just as difficult as calling stock market highs and lows. If we are not at the bottom now, we are close. Buy for the long term—if you and your family use your property, it won’t matter in the long run if you purchased at the bottom of the market. You will remember your great times on Marco Island instead of what you paid. In my thirty-plus years in real estate on Marco, a recurring statement that I have heard from prospects that passed on buying is, “Why didn’t we buy in _____?” You fill in the blank. Will you be that person that says I should have bought in 2010 or 2011?
When will prices increase in Marco Island? A complex question but keep in mind that the current financial condition of our country could very well lead to a period of high inflation. That means much higher interest rates and increasing real estate values. It has happened many times in the past. Again, more reasons to take advantage of our current situation with low interest rates and reasonable real estate prices.
So there you have it…over the span of two editions we have heard from six very experienced and successful experts in the real estate profession who have shared their candid opinions. They focused not only on the positive aspects of our market but as well on the tough challenges we have all been forced to experience. Traveling through this most recent cycle, we have all learned many lessons. But, as hard as it may seem to realize, one thing hasn’t shifted and is quite possibly the most important underlying element in our quest.
And what might that be? Quite simply put…. it’s the Marco Island people and their ever-present dream, spirit, and zest for a happy and healthy life that can’t be beat. And don’t ever think this hasn’t contributed to helping us to become internationally known as one of the finest places in America to live and visit. In the last edition, I asked if your glass was half full.
Our glass isn’t half full… it’s overflowing!
Here’s to a great upcoming “season.”
Ken Gandy is the Broker of Keller Williams Realty Marco Island. He and his wife, Lisa, have lived on Marco Island for over 6 years. He has practiced real estate for 37 years.