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News & Notes from The Andreae Group
The following articles were written by Luke Andreae and are reprinted from The Andreae Group Real Estate Report, our newsletter. If you have any questions or want more information: e-mail us at info@AndreaeGroup.com. Or, if you would like to republish any or all of the articles below, please contact us so we can provide a brief bio about Luke Andreae and The Andreae Group.
Punta Gorda Embraces Change - December 2004
There are exceptions to every trend and rule but for the past 30 years or so, the draw of Punta Gorda for northerners has largely been the water and the historic downtown. Countless boaters have sailed or fished on our beautiful harbor. They have peppered locals with questions like “How deep is the Ponce Inlet” – “How tall is the Marion Bridge at high tide?” “How do I join the Isles Yacht Club?” As a realtor, we have to know the answers to these questions as well as we know our in-law’s names… or better. Other questions concerning schools or restaurants or libraries or proximity to the airport would be asked and answered but the heart of the issue almost always came back to the boating and the small-town atmosphere of downtown Punta Gorda. However, regardless of Hurricane Charley, times (and the questions) are changing.
Waterfront real estate has always been highly desired. Most prospective buyers would still like to be on the water but the non-waterfront market has been quite hot over the past year due to two main factors. First, the development of our area into a very nice social community with many new restaurants, clubs, and local shopping has prompted people to choose this area because of the community and not just the harbor. Second, the prices of the waterfront real estate have risen dramatically over the past five years.
The price of the average home sold in Punta Gorda Isles and Burnt Store Isles at the end of 1999 was $238,768. As of November 1, 2004, the average sales price is now $498,786. That is a significant price jump for a time period of just under 5 years. If this area were the only place to see such a jump in waterfront real estate, prospective buyers would be flocking to the canal communities in Naples, Marco Island, Sarasota, and anywhere with gulf access waterfront properties. However, those areas have seen very similar rates of appreciation. Also, many of those were already at a much higher level in 1999, so their average now is also considerably higher.
In Charlotte County, areas like Burnt Store Lakes and Burnt Store Meadows are experiencing a building frenzy even though there is no gulf-access water within those communities. As more and more new homes go up, the prices of lots continue to rise as well. Many of these homes are the same floor plan, builder, and cost as homes built on the water. However, a non-waterfront lot can be bought for $80,000 instead of $425,000 and up. For a prospective buyer whose priority is a new home in a great community, the $345,000 difference in price for the same type of home can be quite attractive.
The development of gated, golf-course communities on Burnt Store Road or off of I-75 is an almost certainty in the near future. All one needs to do is look about 50 miles south to Naples to see what happens when a city becomes attractive by offering shopping, arts, and great restaurants. Naples did that 15-20 years ago and the waterfront real estate skyrocketed. Soon after, gated, golf-course communities were developed at a rapid rate. As the expansion continued, Bonita Springs started to share in the growth and is still booming. Now, most prospective buyers who visit Naples would like to be on the water but if not, they are not deterred because the city has everything that they are looking for.
Even in a traditional boating community like Punta Gorda Isles, condominium complexes without gulf access are selling out as fast as they can be built. Fountain Court on West End Drive is an example. Another is Vivante which is located at the end of Marion Avenue immediately before Ponce de Leon Park. There is not much to see at Vivante yet since they just recently broke ground on the first of 22 buildings. However, demand was so high that they needed to have a lottery to distribute the units for sale in the first three buildings. With this type of demand, look for many more complexes with great amenities to be built in the near future.
Overall, our area is experiencing a change because our average buyer is changing. No longer is boating the only and absolute draw to the area for the vast majority of our prospective neighbors. Charlotte County’s upper class growth, expanding number of very nice restaurants, and overall ambience is drawing a significantly higher number of non-boaters who want to be in Charlotte County simply because it is Charlotte County. For those buyers, living on the water would be nice but watching the sunset from Ponce Park or Fisherman’s Village is just fine.
Florida Hurricanes Make Their Mark - October 2004
What were you doing on July 15, 2004? Can’t remember? At The Andreae Group, we conducted two fluid, painfree closings of houses on the streets of Oriole and Via Formia in Punta Gorda Isles. Now, what were you doing on August 15, 2004? I would imagine that there are few Charlotte County residents who cannot answer that. At The Andreae Group, we trying to collect our wits, locate tarps, and check on our friends in the area.
As you know, the lives of the residents in Charlotte County were changed dramatically by Hurricane Charley on August 13th. Our county’s roads, schools, historical areas and real estate market were all changed as well. The real estate market, however, may not have changed in the way that many expected.
Prior to hurricane Charley, the real estate market in Charlotte County was red hot. The waterfront properties in Punta Gorda Isles, Burnt Store Isles, Port Charlotte, and Grassy Point were selling at a very healthy clip with the sellers largely dictating the negotiations if the property was priced correctly. From Jan 1 to August 12 (225 calendar days), 227 homes were closed in the communities of PGI and BSI. That’s an astounding average of over 1 home per day. Since the hurricane (as of 09/29/04), 5 have closed and 10 have gone into Pending. That is certainly not the same volume. However, the prices of the listed homes have not gone down.
Hurricane Charley has changed our market in both the short and long term. In the short term, homes with little or no damage have become extremely desired properties for both sale and rental. There are many displaced residents whose homes were destroyed or that need serious repair work. These residents have been looking in droves for properties with very minimal damage that can be used as a shelter while their other home is being fixed. Some have also chosen to make those temporary homes permanent by selling their pre-hurricane property. This segment of the market has driven up the prices and demand for the comfortably livable homes.
As driving a segment as the local buyers are, they may not be able to replace all of the potential buyers from NY, MN, WI, MI, OH, etc… that have pushed their Florida plans back a bit after watching CNN for the past 6 weeks. The news coverage of the spectacularly damaged homes is scary from afar. However, when the first freezing winds of Lake Michigan blow across Ohio, Charley will not seem so bad… especially to those who have never been through a hurricane. Also, as threatening as hurricanes Frances, Ivan (that one had us really worried), and Jeanne were, they probably actually helped the Charlotte County real estate market by taking the spotlight off of us. Punta Gorda/ Port Charlotte’s hurricane is a distant memory for out-of-towners after seeing what hit the east coast twice and the panhandle.
The diminished number of out-of-town buyers is slowing the volume of transactions. However, in the long term, the hurricane will have many positive effects on Charlotte County. In 6 to 18 months, most houses will have new roofs, new pool cages, and new paint jobs. Our already beautiful county will have gotten a “touch-up”. The downtowns in both Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte will be re-built funded by a tremendous amount of insurance money, FEMA aid, and local investors.
As more and more work gets done and it gets colder up north, the Charlotte County real estate market will quickly reach it’s former self in volume and could possibly be better in appreciation.