Coldwell Banker and Preferred Properties broker and owner Fred Elliott said today that a report released a few days ago naming Lehigh Acres the 16th most affordable real estate market in the country is good news for the community.
Lehigh is one of four Florida markets in the top 20. Others are Poinciana, fifth; Hastings, sixth; and Fort Pierce, 13th. The study from Coldwell Banker Real Estate nationally reported the numbers in its annual Home Listings Report.
The study was based on the sales of four-bedroom, two-bath house in 2,479 markets. It cited Lehigh's average sales price at $92,819.
In the report the least affordable nationally is Los Altos, Calif., at $1,706,688. Cape Coral is ranked 1,253rd at $233,177. Fort Myers came in 972nd at $295,866; and Naples came in at 1,880th at $355,356th.
Elliott's real estate agency is one of the oldest realty firms 35 years - in Lehigh that has also survived the Great Recession which saw several realty firms going out of business.
Elliott said there are some 600 homes today on the market in Lehigh ranging in price from $35,000 to $250,000 and he says the average affordable price may be closer to $75,000.
There are 25 full-time Realtors who work for Elliott and they report business as good and continuing to move upwards in price values.
"Historically, homes in Lehigh have traditionally been affordable. The same house here sold for a lot less than the same home in Cape Coral and other areas," he said.
"During the building boom, we had a lot of inventory of new homes and as for me when I am talking to people up north, I always say 'it's fresh air and sunshine here' and that draws a lot of people to look at Lehigh as a place to move to or a place to buy a home for retirement.
"And now with a healthier economy, it allows people to look for affordable housing. And Lehigh is a great place to buy because it is close to the attractions of Southwest Florida. We're not far from the beaches and we are accessible to all that is available in other parts of the county," Elliott said.
But when the additional baseball stadium was being planned just outside Lehigh on Daniels Parkway, Elliott said he was somewhat skeptical in the money it cost to build.
"But I have found that the ball park and the other two in Fort Myers are really great attractions for spring baseball fans who come and often look for real estate in Lehigh Acres, as a winter home or even a place to move to," Elliott said.
"I feel very positive about that now."
Elliott went on to say that the ball park caters to events like the circus and hockey and other sporting events. That's all a plus for Lehigh, which is very close by and an easy drive from Lehigh," he said.
"When folks come here in the early spring or in the fall and see people walking around in shorts, it makes an impression, a favorable one and many want to come to live here."
Elliott says his Coldwell Banker's office is busy with people coming to visit and with people calling from up north and from Europe to check on cost of homes in Lehigh. When I tell them what they can buy, they are surprised and eager to come and see the community.
Elliott says a lot of middle aged people come from Canada to buy a home in Lehigh. He also sees Europeans who are interested in the purchase of a home in Lehigh as much older, many in their retirement years.
"The report of how affordable our homes still are is a great thing for Lehigh and its future. I think we have a good future ahead of us as the economy is slowly turning around," Elliott said.