By Robert Nardi
Like all industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Naples area housing market was not immune to its effect in March. While home sales dropped, home prices remained steady, and in some cases, increased. Because the stay-at-home order went into effect mid-month, real estate activity during the first two weeks of March was strong, while activity during the second half of March tempered remarkably well.
Overall closed sales in March increased 15.8 percent to 1,148 closed sales compared to 991 closed sales in March 2019. This was an increase of 359 closed sales over February (789 closed sales) and 426 more closed sales than January (722 closed sales)! The report also showed a 22.5 percent increase in closed sales for the first quarter of 2020 (2,689 total closed sales) compared to the first quarter of 2019 (2,195 total closed sales). Pending sales were down 38.1 percent for the month to 977 pending sales, compared to 1,578 pending sales in March 2019. However, pending sales increased 5.3 percent during the first quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter of 2019.
Showings in March decreased 41 percent compared to showings in February, and there were still over 19,000 appointments scheduled to show homes in March. Serious buyers are not being discouraged by the stay-at-home order.
The March report showed overall inventory remained strong through March, with 5,772 available properties. This was a 27.5 percent decrease in inventory compared to March 2019, which had 7,965 properties available. Interestingly, while March had only 53 fewer homes on the market than what was available in February, the month of March had 11 more homes available in inventory than reported in January! Plus, Collier County holds steady with 6.4 months of supply compared to other highly desirable counties in Florida like Orlando, which reported 2.3 months of supply in March.
There were fewer price reductions during March compared to previous months in the quarter. The overall median closed price in March increased 10 percent to $372,750 compared to $339,000 in March 2019. The month of March also reported the highest median closed price compared to the other months in the first quarter. However, while median closed prices for the single-family home market increased 16 percent in March to $470,000 compared to $405,500 in March 2019, the median closed price for the condominium market decreased 1.3 percent in March to $276,500 compared to $280,000 in March 2019.
Geographically, the Naples Beach area (34102, 34103, 34108) had the most inventory in the Naples area available in March, with 8.6 months of supply. New listings were highest in East Naples (34114, 34117, 34120, 34137), which had an increase in March of 9.2 percent.
The NABOR® March 2020 Market Reports provide comparisons of single-family home and condominium sales (via the Southwest Florida MLS), price ranges, and geographic segmentation and includes an overall market summary. NABOR® sales statistics are found in a chart format ( CLICK HERE ) for those who enjoy number crunching.
What does this all mean?
At least for my Firm and me, we have not had that much of a slow-down. Some seasonal renters left early, and many landlords were accommodating. On the other side of the coin, many seasonal renters extended their stay. Because of Collier County’s (which includes Naples, Ave Maria, Immokalee & Marco Island) smaller population, there appears to be far less positive COVID-19 patients recorded than in other major U.S. cities. To date, there are 712 positive COVID-19 patients and 27 deaths.
Real Estate was deemed “essential” by our Florida Governor, and I can see why. People must live somewhere, and people before this outbreak had contracts on their home, and they, in turn, put a contract on another home. With all the unemployment currently, are we also going to deny people housing too? It did not make sense to increase the fires that are already burning.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, luckily, we have had many sales and listings. We are selling homes either by bringing our customers physically to the property (wearing masks, having disinfected wipes, hand sanitizer, and social distancing) or remotely by using virtual tours, facetime, new video, and pictures. We can even hold Open Houses virtually.
As far as sales go, home pricing has not seen a shift down. Most of the sales have been in the customary 5% or below list price. Naples is a unique market since it is a vacation destination, and our weather is truly picture-perfect this season. Homes here are still in demand for the 2nd home buyer, and with the population growing, we are attracting a new set of buyers who will be living here full-time based on their occupations.
Southwest Florida withstood three hurricanes since 2004. We were resilient through those natural disasters, and we are still resilient today! Each day we have hope for a better tomorrow.
“Happy Mother’s Day” to all you wonderful Mothers out there! Enjoy your special day!
In the meantime, stay safe, wear your masks, wash your hands, and social distance for now.