News-Press survey: mostly rosy outlook on real estate

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Look for 2015 to be a good year for home prices, but supply of new inventory might be a problem.

Those are the results of a News-Press poll of 277 people from all walks of life who are interested in Southwest Florida real estate.

For both the survey respondents as a whole and the real estate professionals among them, there was a strong sense of optimism about the industry although they were a little wary about the hard-hit commercial sector.

But asked what their reason would be if they sold real estate this year, some had a darker view.

“Too damn many snowbirds, not enough economic opportunity,” said one respondent, and another said simply “Uprising within Lee County.”

The shortest and most direct answer was simply “Bankrupt.”

But generally, the survey painted a rosy picture.

Asked about home prices, 82 percent overall said they’d go up although only 75 percent of the 45 residential real estate professionals had that opinion.

Brett Ellis, head of The Ellis Team with Re/Max Realty Group in Fort Myers, said he’s seen that sunny outlook among clients, but that it’s not a raging bull market.

“I think what I’ve seen is that buyers have a little bit of indifference,” he said. “A lot say prices are going up, but there’s a little lack of urgency right now; they’ve seen prices go up so much over the past few years.”

Ellis said he feels much the same himself. “I’m bullish but I’m not bullish to the point that we’ll see 30 percent returns. Our market was undervalued and it had to come back, and it did.”

Future gains are likely because the area has good economic trends going for it, along with the sunshine.

Both the overall survey and the residential professionals were split on whether more houses would be sold this year than last.

Sixty-one percent of the survey and 60 percent of the professionals said more houses would be sold, with the rest going for fewer or about the same.

Ellis said he leans toward “the same number of sales or slightly more” but said it’s a tricky number to predict because it depends on how many current owners put homes up for sale.

“It really depends on inventory,” he said. “We’ve got good demand.”

The survey also showed optimism about what the year has in store for commercial construction although the professionals were more bullish than the entire survey.

Of the 38 commercial professionals who participated, 66 percent expected more construction this year. Looking at all responses, 73 percent said there would be more building.

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