SWFL real estate market is booming

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:

After the blue-green algae crisis pummeled Southwest Florida, home values and sales sank. But not anymore. Now, clean water may be helping fuel a renewed real estate boom.

Bobbie Schwartz’s specialty is hospitality.

Schwartz, the owner of Wisteria Tea Room and Cafe in Fort Myers, said flipping homes with her husband is an extension of that.

“We had a house for sale for a year and a half out in Olga,” Schwartz said. “We couldn’t believe it took so long to sell it. I don’t know if it was the water, the market or a combination of it all.”

Jeff Tumbarello, the director of SWFL Real Estate Investment Association, said his business woes were likely a combination of the water crisis and the market.

Since May, the real estate market has turned up. Lehigh Acres and anywhere along the Gulf are hot spots.

“Florida has always been this boom-bust,” Tumbarello said. “But since basically 2016, we look like Ohio or Pennsylvania. It’s just boring. Nobody really knows how to work it.”

Some new buyers do, such as those from the east coast, new hires and a steady stream of young adults.

Dean Lance just bought a home in Cape Coral after watching the market. Lance, 21 years old, said he likes the growth in the area, with new businesses and construction projects planned soon.

“I’d be paying the equivalent monthly payment in rent,” Lance said.

Another growing spot is Lehigh Acres. Pricing the property outside of the market may not provide an immediate sale, so finding that listing price is key.

“If you price it within the market,” Tumbarello said, “it tends to sell very quickly.”

“The market is really bouncing back right now,” Schwartz said. “We’re really happy about that.”

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