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SouthWest Florida Opportunities
Old 07-21-2009, 10:11 AM   #1
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SouthWest Florida Opportunities

one of the things I do for fun is scan Fort Myers area Craigslist to see how vacant lot prices are doing - the prices are so ridiculously low

here is a doozer - and on an nice tropical lot in a safe area, as opposed to 5k lots in lehigh acres.

VACANT LOT FOR SALE in PORT CHARLOTTE

(I have no financial interest in this whatsoever)
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Old 07-21-2009, 12:29 PM   #2
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You do know that Port Charlotte is not near the gulf and parts of it are pretty unsavory . Also years ago there was a huge real estate scam in Charlotte County called Rotunda . Ed Mac Mahon sold lots in this development . The problem was there were no utilities just roads in the middle of no where .Most of the lots stayed vacant for years or sold for next to nothing . It's nice to look at real estate but if you do not know the area . It is hard to judge the prices . We rented in Florida a year before we bought for that very reason and it worked out well.
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Old 07-21-2009, 02:05 PM   #3
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for sure buyer beware, (always rent before you buy) and I present it here mostly for shock value and to get a discussion going. There is something intriguing about being able to buy a city building lot for the price of a high end flatscreen.

My parents were in Port Charlotte for a couple of decades and our second home is in Fort Myers.

Would it be correct to say Port Charlotte is definitely blue collar zone if you are not canal or river-front, but would not be considered "unsafe", as would be the case for east Fort Myers and Lehigh?
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:22 AM   #4
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Seems like that ad is suspiciously over hyped for just a $3.5k lot.
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Old 07-22-2009, 08:40 AM   #5
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with unemployment running, I think it is 12%, in SWF, there is a lot of desperation down there, and it is very possible that he needs to sell the lot to buy a couple of months of breathing room before losing his primary residence.

as with all such situations, you can't tell which ones are opportunities or awful traps without doing the homework, which also means triangulating the information to be sure you know what is real vs salemanship. I can think of ten ways this lot MAY be a bad idea before my morning coffee.

- is there a property line dispute?
- is there a protected species on the land?
- how restrictive are the construction requirements?
- is there a bad element in the neighbourhood?
- is the township about to put in city water and sewage and proclaim a $20k assessment?
- is it a special flood risk?
- how much foliage could be preserved after driveway, footprint and septic is cleared?
- how long to drive to beach or boat launch in season with bad traffic?
- are there liens or mortgages on this property?

and so on

I am used to seeing open lots like in Rotunda or Lehigh where you are forced to look at the yards 5 deep of people who feel compelled to collect wrecked cars and leave their dogs tied out in the sun.

The interesting thing about a lot with foliage is that you could put something with a small footprint in the middle and leave all the greenery.

For adventurous types on very limited budgets, seems there is no need to go to Mexico or Panama...as long as you pay attention to HOA and taxes and insurance

For myself personally, being unadventurous, I am happy with my gated community townhome done by a builder with very very deep pockets, close to the 75 (and thus in a low risk evacuation zone)
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Old 07-22-2009, 09:44 AM   #6
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I took at the 3-D imagery of the lot you linked to in Port Charlotte, and it looks like a fairly rough around the edges low income "rednecky" place. I think one reason the lot is so cheap is that there are thousands and thousands of ubiquitous lots just like it all over that part of Fl, and an exodus of the population to go with it. With tons of supply and inadequate demand, the price drops a lot.
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Old 07-22-2009, 10:43 AM   #7
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for immediate use, it actually would make more sense to buy an existing house on a lot (unless one was looking at FIRE 10-20 years out) as they are going for below cost to build at this point - you can get a solid house for 100K, and a canal house for 200K in Cape Coral, though, as above, there are many many risks to consider. The City Data forums are good places to hear all the whining about what is wrong with each area.

If I was in my 40s and still looking at a few years to retirement, it might make sense to buy this sort of lot and slowly put up an inexpensive cottage-type structure - mostly self built over winter vacations, as a second home - converting vacation time from hotel bills to an equity building exercise.

This would be something for a creative sort of person who does not have a corporate level of income, or a blue collar type, who is not offended at the sight of a harley.

I agree that it would be risky to put money into something in Florida if one were not going to actually use the property. Rental income or capital gains is iffy for the medium term.

One of the strengths of a lot in a quasi-rural township is the lower taxes and lack of HOA fees. Condos, these days, have the significant risk of the builder going under before completion, bundled amenites such as golf courses going under, fellow condo owners going under and leaving vacant units.

I am in one of the very few uncompleted condo developments that is actually moving new units (Stock Development - Paseo), and I will be a bit nervous until we get closer to 95% build out. Then I get to worry about possible condo association politics and mismanagment, as well as the risk of outright corruption and criminal activity once the association is turned over to the owners.
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:52 AM   #8
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for immediate use, it actually would make more sense to buy an existing house on a lot (unless one was looking at FIRE 10-20 years out) as they are going for below cost to build at this point - you can get a solid house for 100K, and a canal house for 200K in Cape Coral, though, as above, there are many many risks to consider. The City Data forums are good places to hear all the whining about what is wrong with each area.
I work with a couple of engineering firms in Ft Myers/cape coral area, and one guy in particular is salivating over the low low prices of housing. I was going to point out exactly what you are saying - the cost of near new and recently constructed houses with lot included can often be purchased for well less than the price of construction. Especially short sales and foreclosures. This one client picked up what was a $700,000 canal front house with good frontage and a dock I believe at the peak for $250,000 or so with just a bit of work needed (new appliances and some fixtures). And I hear you can actually get some houses that are cash flow positive. From talking to the Lee county staff, they are saying that the county is actually shrinking quite a bit population-wise.
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:32 PM   #9
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Part of the reason I wanted to bring up SWF on this site was to draw attention to this fact - a person with independent income, of any snack bracket, can live very very inexpensively in Florida now, especially when taking up residency (homesteader allowance on property tax) and the fact that there are no state income taxes. (vs birding) ...oh yeah, and don't try putting kids in school down here unless you can afford private (at least thats what I hear)

As far as those big canal homes, what I am finding in my condo, we are starting to collect millionaires who previously relocated from the North to 3000 sq ft trophy homes on water, who were lonely as hell in these situations, and they chose to move to a new urbanist situation like Paseo or Lely, which is set up to force interaction with neighbours.

For example, some of the units are townhouses built in a city block pattern, but everyone's back yard faces the BBQ pit and pool. You take a martini out (plastic martini glasses please!) to the pool and you have an instant built in social life. [I will confess a conflict of interest in this...I do want more neighbours]

I thought I was doing well picking up a "deposit walk away" for 50% of peak retail value (180k vs 400k)...but now there is a similar unit listed on mls for 125k as a short sale.

Maybe you can give me some advice on employment in the area. I have an MA in economics with lots of stats and spreadsheet experience from my early career and lots of economic writing from the later years, and can retire to a decent (dual) pensions....but the wife won't let us do so and move us to Fort Myers unless I can come up with a viable plan for something dignified to do with myself 8-4.

I know the trades and minimum wage jobs are beyond tough, but would it be realistic to find a spreadsheet jockey job in the 15-20k range (no benefits) if I worked at it? Any other ideas? I suggested to DW that I would just buy a hot dog cart or a corner convenience store...but this offends her sense of dignity. ; - )
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:15 PM   #10
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Maybe you can give me some advice on employment in the area. I have an MA in economics with lots of stats and spreadsheet experience from my early career and lots of economic writing from the later years, and can retire to a decent (dual) pensions....but the wife won't let us do so and move us to Fort Myers unless I can come up with a viable plan for something dignified to do with myself 8-4.

I know the trades and minimum wage jobs are beyond tough, but would it be realistic to find a spreadsheet jockey job in the 15-20k range (no benefits) if I worked at it? Any other ideas? I suggested to DW that I would just buy a hot dog cart or a corner convenience store...but this offends her sense of dignity. ; - )
Well, you can probably make $15-20k per year doing almost anything in Florida, since in 2 days our federal min wage will equate to roughly $15k/yr. I'm located a few states to the north, I just consult on a few engineering projects/developments down that way, so I have little local knowledge other than what I hear just making conversation with clients and agencies down there. It sounds like many people are leaving to seek better opportunities elsewhere. But there are always opportunities, and eventually the economy will turn around. We are still working on a couple decent sized developments in Lee County that will get built eventually (market demand and financing permitting, LOL!). Use your local network to find job leads or check the help wanted ads.
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