What were you doing on July 15, 2004? Can't remember? At The Andreae Group, we conducted two fluid, painfree closings of houses on the streets of Oriole and Via Formia in Punta Gorda Isles. Now, what were you doing on August 15, 2004? I would imagine that there are few Charlotte County residents who cannot answer that. At The Andreae Group, we were trying to collect our wits, locate tarps, and check on our friends in the area.
As you know, the lives of the residents in Charlotte County were changed dramatically by Hurricane Charley on August 13th. Our county’s roads, schools, historical areas and real estate market were all changed as well. The real estate market, however, may not have changed in the way that many expected.
Prior to hurricane Charley, the real estate market in Charlotte County was red hot. The waterfront properties in Punta Gorda Isles, Burnt Store Isles, Port Charlotte and Grassy Point were selling at a very healthy clip with the sellers largely dictating the negotiations if the property was priced correctly. From Jan 1 to August 12 (225 calendar days), 227 homes were closed in the communities of PGI and BSI. That’s an astounding average of over 1 home per day. Since the hurricane (as of 09/29/04), 5 have closed and 10 have gone into Pending. That is certainly not the same volume. However, the prices of the listed homes have not gone down.
Hurricane Charley has changed our market in both the short and long term. In the short term, homes with little or no damage have become extremely desired properties for both sale and rental. There are many displaced residents whose homes were destroyed or that need serious repair work. These residents have been looking in droves for properties with very minimal damage that can be used as a shelter while their other home is being fixed. Some have also chosen to make those temporary homes permanent by selling their pre-hurricane property. This segment of the market has driven up the prices and demand for the comfortably livable homes.
As driving a segment as the local buyers are, they may not be able to replace all of the potential buyers from NY, MN, WI, MI, OH, etc...that have pushed their Florida plans back a bit after watching CNN for the past 6 weeks. The news coverage of the spectacularly damaged homes is scary from afar. However, when the first freezing winds of Lake Michigan blow across Ohio, Charley will not seem so bad...especially to those who have never been through a hurricane. Also, as threatening as hurricanes Frances, Ivan (that one had us really worried), and Jeanne were, they probably actually helped the Charlotte County real estate market by taking the spotlight off of us. Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte’s hurricane is a distant memory for out-of-towners after seeing what hit the east coast twice and the panhandle.
The diminished number of out-of-town buyers is slowing the volume of transactions. However, in the long term, the hurricane will have many positive effects on Charlotte County. In 6 to 18 months, most houses will have new roofs, new pool cages and new paint jobs. Our already beautiful county will have gotten a “touch-up”. The downtowns in both Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte will be re-built funded by a tremendous amount of insurance money, FEMA aid, and local investors.
As more and more work gets done and it gets colder up north, the Charlotte County real estate market will quickly reach it’s former self in volume and could possibly be better in appreciation.