Looking Ahead to 2016

When one year ends and the next begins, I think it’s kind of fun to look at where we’ve been and think about where we might be going. In Island real estate — as across the nation — we’re coming off a few volatile years where we saw property values drop and then, finally, begin to rebound.

It was probably hard for many of us to watch as the housing market plummeted between 2006 and 2008 and we had a glut of houses on the market. It was several years before even the speculators came calling as they shopped for deals on houses and lots. We saw lot prices go from about $60,000 an acre, down to $11,000 to $14,000 an acre.

But by 2011 or so, the buyers were starting to come back in force — large bank-owned 5362689_origtracts were being snapped up, homes started selling once again up north, freeing up cash. That, combined with a few frigid winters meant that the snowbirds were finally coming back, looking for second homes or for investment properties. Since then, we’ve seen available homes and, now, lots just being gobbled up.

In fact, 2015 convinced me that the markets and the economy really have started to regain solid footing. Just looking at our own numbers for the year is somewhat telling — while our total number of listings has been down, our overall sales volume was up 11 percent (based on information compiled from the Florida Gulf Coast MLS, Inc. for the period of 1-1-14 to 12-22-14 and 1-1-15 to 12-22-15). That tells us that prices are going back up and that inventory — houses and lots available for sale — is down.

What does that mean for Pine Island buyers and sellers? I think it’s a good market no matter which side you’re on — a sort of equilibrium, if you will.

Sellers who waited to put their homes on the market are now seeing their homes sell quickly and their investments realized. Buyers are still able to find affordable properties priced appropriately — though they do have to act fast. And despite the recent interest rate bump, rates are still low and mortgages remain affordable.

Will we have another market correction? If history is any indication, the answer is yes. Florida has seen boom and bust cycles many times over the last 30 years.

But one thing I know from my decades of experience here: There are only so many waterfront and wooded homes and lots here. That means Pine Island will never be a bad investment with its unique, laid-back lifestyle.