by Joe Charde of Oneir Realty.
Have we hit bottom in our local real estate market? Yes and No ??? Most experts, including myself, say yes… with an explanation. The complete recovery will probably take the balance of 2012 and part of 2013. The severity of the rise and fall of our market created many wounds.
The vacant lot market has been healing fairly quickly over the last 6 months with a substantial increase in total sales. Investors and future home builders are realizing that there is ONLY so much “dirt” on Marco Island to be had. Once it is gone… it’s gone… A previous article written in the spring of 2011 was titled “Dirty Gold” and predicted this run on vacant land.
I feel that the remainder of 2012 will clean-up the balance of our lower priced and distressed type properties. We should be much more stable in 2013. Our three primary real estate purchases are condominiums, homes and vacant lots. Our traditional selling season to the snowbirds has been extremely encouraging. The sales and pending sales figures are becoming record setting. Because of this … 1st quarter of 2012 should be recorded as the JUMP START to our recovery - THE TURNING POINT!
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that investment/vacation homes jumped to the highest level since 2005. They said that investment / home sales surged an extraordinary 64.5% in 2011. People that have been on the fence have realized that prices are not going much lower. They are seeing a green light now and jumping into investment/vacation real estate markets and taking advantage of the bargain prices. NAR also stated that almost 50% of them pay cash and eight out of ten second-home buyers affirmed it was a good time to buy. There are still extraordinary opportunities on Marco in all categories. But the window of opportunity is short…. now is the time to buy.  You snooze - You lose!
Many snowbird vacationers did not buy during their “four month window.”  Several said they are coming back and will do so during our spring/summer season.  They hope to capitalize on the “better buys and lower prices” during the so called “off-season.”  They feel that the sellers that didn’t sell during the regular season will be much more motivated off-season. These BE-BACKS will be competing with the Canadians and the Europeans who love our Island Paradise during our slower, warmer months. A article by Laura Layden on March 30, 2012 reports on the incredible increases in Canadian/European tourists to our area.
With that said, I have invited fellow realtor, Gary Elliott to contribute to the balance of this report. Gary has researched and compiled an enormous amount of information about our vast condominium market...
Some of the questions our future buyers ask are:
How much does it cost to buy and what are the carrying costs? What can I rent it for? How many months can I rent it? Are the condos pet friendly? Where are all the different condos located? How many condos are there.
Thinking of buying? Condos are selling from as low as $44,000 to over several million with 75% of our condos selling between $100,000 and $500,000. Two bedroom beachfront condos with a view start at about $350,000 and a cozy condo near or across the street from the beach starts at $100,000. The combined condo maintenance fees and annual property taxes typically range from $10,000 to $15,000 for beach front properties; $6,000 to $9,000 for condos on a canal or natural waterway and $4,000 to $8,000 for inland landlocked condos.
Condos can be financed with a 20%-30% down payment.   At a 4% interest rate and a 30 year mortgage, you can figure on paying $4.77 per month for each $1,000 of mortgage and at 5% interest that amount is $5.37 per month. Real estate taxes will be between 1%-1.5% of the purchase price. Although major insurance is included in your condo fee, you can add insurance to cover the interior finishes, furnishings and for liability coverage. Most condos include water/sewer, trash pick-up and basic cable in the monthly fee.
Presently there are 622 condos for sale on Marco. 302 Beach front, 41 Gulf front, 145 Water Direct, 35 Water indirect and 150 Inland. 430 condos sold in 2011 and the majority of them ranged between $100,000 and $500,000.
Stop by our office at 207 N Collier Blvd., to pick up a free map of Marco which will orient you towards where all our condos are located.  You will see that 32 condos are neatly spaced right on our crescent beach; 37 clustered at the south end near South Beach – many with canal access for boating and fishing; 29 are located in the north end of the island, including the tranquil Olde Marco area, many with river views; 12 bordering Smokehouse Bay with proximity to restaurants and shopping; 18 along Collier Blvd.,  and easy access to the beach. Seven more upscale condos can be found in exclusive gated Hideaway Beach and a dozen or so more along the South end gulfside of the island and Caxambas Pass. The rest are scattered around the island and on San Marco Road (SR   92) going east towards Goodland and our other bridge.
Every beachfront condo north of the Residents’  Beach was built by the original developer, Deltona Corporation - Mackle Brothers (except the Crescent Beach condo).  Most of the condos south of Residents’  Beach and San Marco Road were built by other builders and are considered luxury
Altogether, we have 161 condo buildings with 10,600 condos ranging in size from a 400 square foot studio to a 5 bedroom, 10,000 square foot penthouse.  A large percentage of our standard two bed/ two bath condos are in the 1,000 square foot range. Some smaller condo associations have less then ten units, many have 20 to 60 condos and the larger condo associations can go up to over 300 units. You’ll find them inland, on the canals and waterways and on the beach. Almost all of them have pools, fitness centers and social rooms. All of them are people friendly and half of them are pet friendly for owners.
Each condo has a unique view, interior and feel. The oldest condos were built in 1967 and the newest one in 2007. Marco’s beachfront is now completely built out.  Since most condos have excellent security systems and managers to greet visitors, the only way to get inside and see for yourself is by way of an open house, a friend in the building, or through a Realtor. Curiosity motivates many visitors and residents to check out other condos while they are here. This will familiarize them with the variety of condos on the market and quite often sales are created from these visits and open houses.    
Almost all the condos allow monthly rentals and some allow weekly.  Two bedroom condos are popular and the ones near the beach rent for $3,500 a month in season (January, February and March); two bedroom condos on the beach in season rent for $5,000 to $6,000 per month and three bedroom beachfront condos go for $7,000 to $8,000 per month. If you come during our summer months, condos can be rented for half these prices. Many owners rent their units to help offset their taxes and maintenance fees.  None of the condos on the island allow renters to bring pets but owners can have a pet at about half the condos.
(Thank you Gary Elliot for sharing all of these valuable condo facts.  Gary is a full-time realtor with ERA FLAGSHIP REALTY at cell 239.248.1776.)
There is also much to learn and understand before you buy anything on Marco. If you have the itch to buy something, let me be your exclusive “Buyer’s Agent” to help you make the right decision. As your Buyer’s Agent, I represent you and your best interest at all times. There are several hundred Realtors on Marco that advertise hundreds of different properties in newspapers, magazines and on the internet. Calling each different Realtor and all the advertised properties can be very time consuming. My suggestion is to take the advice of AARP and work with one exclusive Buyer’s Agent like me.
My team will do all that time consuming work and save you valuable time and money, while you enjoy your vacation. Feel free to call me on my direct line cell phone at 239-592-3000 or stop by our main office at 207 N. Collier Blvd - just one block north of Residents’ Beach and San Marco Rd. We are at the corner of Saturn Court and N. Collier Blvd. The picture of our building is at the beginning of the article. Ask for Joe Charde, aka “THE GURU.” You have nothing to lose. Marco is not your average island and I am not your average Joe. My 30 years experience is your best investment. Marco sells itself. We will help you make the wisest
decision. The best is yet to come.
Joseph B Charde, Broker/Realtor
Direct Line: 239-592-3000