Shock and awe, sadness and the long haul of recovery
We have lived in Cape Coral since 1979, and although we are not among the “original pioneers,” we are in a relatively small group of residents who have seen much more than most when it comes to the development of our community. We stayed in our Southwest Cape home during the storm and witnessed the force of the winds and the storm surge through our neighborhood. We were fortunate that the flood waters did not get into our home, and although we sustained a decent amount of storm damage, it was nowhere close to what many other people in Southwest Florida are going through with the loss of life and property.
Experience with past storms taught us to be patient with our expectations in having our electricity restored, and as we looked around at the damage in the Cape, we optimistically hoped to have our power back on within two weeks. Well into the ninth day without power a lineman from Nebraska informed us that we were back on the grid and hopefully by the time you are reading this, the entire Cape will have their power. By comparison, during Irma in 2017 we did not lose power, cable or Internet service in our neighborhood, and in August of 2004 following Charley, our power was out for less than two days. But we know some people who were without power in the Cape for two to three weeks following Charley. One thing is certain, the dedication of the first responders, the National Guard, Coast Guard, the lineman from around the country, city workers, local media and everyone else – including Publix – is much appreciated!
One of the things we have learned over the years is to be prepared for a long recovery process, while being on extremely high alert for scam artists. I started working in Punta Gorda about 16 months after Charley hit in 2004, and it was amazing to see the number of homes still waiting for roof repairs. It was not uncommon to see materials stacked in driveways and the out of town contractors had long since disappeared with large chunks of deposit money. We have already been hearing stories about people making the mistake of hiring unknown, unlicensed people who knocked on their door offering to do storm clean-up, only to find out they were scammers. You may find it helpful to contact your Realtor for names of trustworthy contractors to hire, if you have not already done so.
A couple of other things to be aware of is signing roof repair contracts with an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) provision, along with the importance of obtaining the proper permits. Local governments will have an expedited process in place for contractors to pull permits, but make sure things like roof repairs or replacements are properly permitted before work begins. It could eliminate a lot of costly headaches for you down the road. Also, be sure to read the contracts with roofing companies and other contractors before signing them. Some roofers will have an Assignment of Benefits clause in their contracts, which effectively removes you from the claims process and allows the roofing company to negotiate directly with your insurance company in your place. This may not be in your best interest and you have a limited time to undo this contractual provision should you discover you unknowingly agreed to this after signing the contract. It would be wise to contact a real estate attorney about this. Also, if you are interested, we can email you an overview about this AOB provision upon request.
We are expecting that what had become an already slowing real estate market to stagnate like the swamp water in our swimming pool for a period of time, as homeowners assess and repair the damage to their homes. Along these lines, in the first 14 days following the storm, a total of 141 active listings in the Cape were withdrawn from the market and another 40 listings were terminated. We would expect these numbers to rise as homeowners wait for insurance adjusters and continue to assess their damage, while others with minimal damage may let displaced friends and family stay in their homes. The preliminary number of closed home sales in Cape Coral in the month of September is hovering around 372 sales, which would be the slowest September since 2018 when there were 356 sales. Remember, these closed sales likely went under contract well before Ian hit, so we expect October’s results to be worse. We are also seeing both the September median sales prices and average sales prices coming in well below their 2022 highs set back in April. New pending sales and closed sales are both down sharply in the aftermath of the storm.
Some experts think prices for homes with minimal damage may hold up better because of the shrinking supply, but with another aggressive interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve likely on Nov. 2, home prices will probably move lower. We would also expect the visual impact of the storm damage will scare away some potential buyers, while causing others to delay their plans.
As of Tuesday, Oct. 11, there were 1,310 active listings through a Realtor in the Multiple Listing Service for single-family homes in Cape Coral at list prices ranging from $234,900 to $5.995 million.The median list price, which is the price that half the homes in the MLS are listed below and half are listed above, was at $514,950. A total of 321 homes were listed at $400,000 and under, with 17 of these listings priced below $300,000. When we expanded our search to include Cape Coral homes priced at $450,000 and below, the number of active listings grew to 512, equalling 39.1 percent of the homes available on the market. At the other end of the spectrum there were 143 homes in the Cape listed for $1 million and above, down 17.8 percent from 174 such listings three weeks ago.
There were a total of 656 Cape Coral single-family homes under contract with buyers as pending sales at prices ranging from $249,900 to $3.999 million, with 30 of these homes, or 4.6 percent of the market, priced at $1 million and above. A total of 306 of the current pending home sales, or 46.6 percent of the market, were priced at $400,000 and below. When we increased our search to include homes priced at $450,000 and under, the number of pending sales increased to 393 homes, or 59.9 percent of our market, with 16 of these pending sales priced under $300,000.
Three weeks ago on Sept. 20, there were 1,411 Cape Coral single-family homes listed for sale in the MLS at prices ranging from $234,900 to $5.995 million, and the median list price was at $525,000. There were a total of 312 homes priced at $400,000 and below, with 16 of these homes priced under $300,000. When we increased our search to include all homes listed on the market at $450,000 and under, the number grew to 513 homes, equalling 36.4 percent of the active listings back then. At that time, there were 762 Cape Coral single-family homes under contract with buyers as pending sales at prices ranging from $249,000 to $3.999 million, with 36 of those pending sales at prices of $1 million and above. A total of 361 homes in the Cape were pending at $400,000 and below on Sept. 20, equalling 47.4 percent of the pending sales, with 22 of these homes priced under $300,000. When we increased our search to include homes under contract with buyers at $450,000 and under, there were 457 pending sales, equalling 60 percent of the market.
The sales data for this article was obtained from the Florida Realtors Multiple Listing Service Matrix for Lee County, Fla., as of Oct. 11, 2022, unless otherwise noted. It was compiled by Bob and Geri Quinn and it includes information specifically for Cape Coral single-family homes, and does not include condominiums, short sales or foreclosures. The data and statistics are believed to be reliable, however, they could be updated and revised periodically, and are subject to change without notice. The Quinns are a husband and wife real estate team with the RE/MAX Realty Team office in Cape Coral. They have lived in Cape Coral for over 43 years. Geri has been a full-time Realtors since 2005, and Bob joined Geri as a full-time Realtor in 2014. Their real estate practice is mainly focused on Cape Coral residential property and vacant lots.