NAPLES, Fla. – Continuing on its hot streak, Naples-Marco Island led the state in terms of single-family home price increases in 2014.
Median single-family home prices in the metropolitan statistical area increased 20.7 percent, to $380,000, Florida Realtors reported Friday.
That puts it first in the list of 20 metro areas the trade group tracks.
“Naples-Marco Island saw big price increases because the luxury market is so strong,” said Brad O’Connor, director of economic research for Florida Realtors.
He said Naples-Marco Island recovered from the recession earlier than most metro areas in the state because both wealthy people and retirees have seen fat returns from their stock market portfolios, which gives them more money to invest in real estate.
“Because these two groups are major buyers in the area, it’s a double whammy,” he said.
The metro area also has had a flurry of luxury home sales in the past year that have helped draw up prices of other homes, he said.
Throughout 2014, there were 42 sales of homes costing more than $5 million, with the highest sale, in Port Royal, topping $17 million, according to public records.
Cape Coral-Fort Myers was seventh on Florida Realtor’s list, with median single-family prices up 8.6 percent year-over-year, to $189,000.
Both places bested the statewide single-family median price increase of 5.3 percent, to $178,000, a performance O’Connor characterized as a “return to normal.”
Part of the reason that Southwest Florida has seen such a bump up in prices is the persistent lack of inventory, O’Connor explained, particularly in Naples-Marco Island.
“Compared to the rest of the state, new listings in Naples-Marco Island are flat,” he said.
A strong influx of international buyers is also pushing up demand throughout the region, he said, with more than half coming from Canada, and about one in five from Western Europe.
Mike Hughes, president of the Naples Area Board of Realtors, said home buyers from South America and Puerto Rico also are looking beyond the neighborhoods they used to prefer Miami and are looking at the West Coast.
“We’ve been discovered,” he said.
Despite the lack of inventory, the pace of sales in Naples-Marco Island was about level with the statewide number.
Statewide, closed single-family closed sales were up 8.1 percent in 2014, to 244,543. In Naples-Marco Island, the increase was 8.6 percent, representing 5,300 sales.
But single-family home sales rose only 2.3 percent, to 12.427, in Cape Coral-Fort Myers.
Both metro areas were close to the statewide percentage increase when it came to median price increases for townhouses and condominiums, which rose 9.8 percent to $140,000 last year over 2013.
Naples-Marco Island saw townhouse and condo prices rise 9.5 percent, to $230,000, while Cape Coral-Fort Myers saw a 10.8 percent bump up, to $167,443.
While sales of townhouses and condos decreased slightly statewide in 2014, they grew 2.1 percent in Cape Coral-Fort Myers, to 6,565, and 8.5 percent in Naples-Marco Island, to 6,183.
Hughes says that partly due to “bracket creep,” which pushed single-family home prices out of the reach of many younger buyers, and partly due to the preferences of seasonal and elderly buyers.
“When you get to a certain age, you want someone else to cut the grass,” he said.
THIS STORY WAS PUBLISHED BY THE NAPLES DAILY NEWS