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Charlotte County residential property sales increased 70% in October with 426 sales, which a local real estate agent attributes to Hurricane Ian disrupting the market during the same period last year. 

During the pandemic, people from locked down northern states flocked to the area since it reopened earlier than most. However, when Hurricane Ian hit in September 2022, Della Booth, of Time Realty Services in Punta Gorda, speculated some new residents realized the full spectrum of Florida living wasn’t for them. 

“As soon as their houses are fixed, they’re moving,” Booth said. 

Those who wanted to sell before the hurricane had to wait, but as their insurance claims settled and repairs to their homes were made, for-sale signs began to pop up throughout the county. The number of homes available offered buyers more choices, and sellers who were eager to move began to lower their asking prices. 

October’s active listings were up 127% year over year, Booth’s data shows. Charlotte County’s residential inventory supply of 5.9 months qualifies it a balanced market, meaning there is enough demand from buyers to equal the supply from sellers, said Lori Ann Mertens, of Keller Williams Peace River Partners.  

Booth agreed with the assessment, which brought about a change from the last few years when there was a strong seller’s market. About two years ago, there was less than one month of inventory for residential properties, and many sellers were receiving 100% of their original listed price. 

Although some chose to leave the region—or state—following Hurricane Ian, more continue to move to Charlotte County. 

Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce regularly receives calls from out-of-state residents who want to move to the area, chamber President John Wright said. 

Depending on the zip code, the median time a home spends on the market is 34 to 45 days, Booth said. Countywide, the median sale price was down 2.47% year over year, but there were large variations between zip codes. 

Booth said she noticed some prices down 14% to 25%, as she’s seen more than 300 price decreases every seven days in Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte. 

Higher inventory levels play a large part in prices being lowered by sellers, who are competing with other sellers. The number of homes for sale could continue to increase until all insurance claims are settled. 

Of the top 20 counties with the most claims from Hurricane Ian, Charlotte County came in second behind Lee County and ahead of Collier County, which came in fourth, according to the latest data available from the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation. 

As of Oct. 9, of the 105,294 Charlotte County homeowner claims reported, 10,271 remained open with payment, and 1,905 were open claims without payment. 

Although 88.4% of claims have been settled as of Oct. 9, there are still thousands of residential properties whose claims have not been settled. 

And while mortgage interest rates are currently higher than they have been since 2000, according to financial data, Booth said the top payment method in Charlotte County is cash. In October, 42% of residential home buyers paid in cash. 

Of the remaining transactions, 39% had conventional mortgages, 10% were Federal Housing Administration loans and 5% were Department of Veterans Affairs loans. 

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