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Beach property valuations continue to climb

June 11, 2014
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Preliminary tax roll numbers for Fort Myers Beach have officials cautiously happy about property values.

According to the Lee County Property Appraiser's Office, the Beach's total taxable valuation increased 5.54 percent. The official valuation numbers from the property appraiser's office will come out July 1.

"The market value of properties on Fort Myers Beach is continuing to increase," said Beach resident Karen Swanbeck, the president of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach Inc. "We are seeing a reduction in inventory and days on market is decreasing. However, demand for Fort Myers Beach property continues to rise. We expect a busy summer season as the real estate market is stronger in many areas of the country, and people will be looking at purchasing a property in Florida when they sell."

Last year, on Fort Myers Beach, total taxable valuation increased 0.74 percent. The 4.48 hike from last year's official numbers is a positive sign.

"I think it's fantastic," said Beach Mayor Anita Cerceda. "Property values are up, people's net worth is up. It's all good."

Lee County's overall figure is similar with a 5.48 percent increase.

Last year, overall property values in Lee County were on the rise, the first time that had occurred in six years. Not since 2007 had property values in Lee County showed an increase with almost all 91 taxing districts seeing its numbers in the black.

A second year in a row would be a welcomed sight.

Property Appraiser Kenneth Wilkinson released his preliminary valuation numbers for Lee County on Friday, May 30. He has been confident the trend for property values is heading up and staying there.

"We live in cycles in our lives, and when you talk about real estate, it's cyclical. I think we reached the bottom; we're on our way back up," Wilkinson said in a telephone interview last year. "I hope we don't go back to double-digit inflation. That's not good overall. I'd like to settle in on 5 percent."

In addition, Market values have increased, according to a press release sent out by the local Realtor association.

The report stated: The median price for single family homes in Lee County, FL hit a new milestone in April 2014 by reaching $200,000, an 8.1 percent increase when compared to April 2013 and a $15,000 increase from March 2014. The median price of condos hit $170,000, up 13.3 percent when compared to April 2014 and an $8,000 increase month-to-month.

Traditional properties and short sale properties both experienced positive movement in median price during April traditional properties were up 6 percent and short sale properties were up 59.3 percent when compared to April 2013; however, foreclosure properties showed a decrease of 0.3 percent, or $250, when comparing the median price to the prior year.

In April 2014, the sale of 1,191 existing single family homes were completed in Lee County, an increase of 11.5 percent compared to March 2014 and a decrease of 0.5 percent compared to April 2013.

Traditional properties continued to grow as a percentage of total single family home sales. Traditional properties represented 81.3 percent, short sales were 3.9 percent and foreclosures 14.8 percent of single family home sales in April 2014. Last year, these numbers were 79.0 percent, 9.2 percent and 11.8 percent respectively.

"As home values continue to increase, the market in Lee County has become more challenging to both first time homebuyers and investors alike," Swanbeck said in that report. "Investors are finding that market conditions are not as enticing as in past years. Both first-time and cash buyers are being asked to bring their best offers to sellers; in fact, the median days-on-market is under 45 days for homes listed for less than $250,000."



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