The real estate market on Pine Island has come alive again, according to Realtors, due to the increased interest from buyers.
Century 21 Sunbelt Realty Broker Mike Shevlin said the market right now is on fire for sure.
"It actually has been for quite a while," he said. "I don't see anything rocking our way to keep on going."
Shevlin said he is experiencing a housing market that is attracting a variety of people and age groups. He said he is selling a lot of the houses to the local people that could not purchase a home seven years ago.
"They are buying," Shevlin said about a lot of the younger individuals that have families.
Broker Susan Burhoe of Gulf Access Realty said for her the real estate market began improving about a year and a half ago.
"It has been a very good season," she said. "In December we had a lot of people here and a lot of transactions that went to close in January. It just continues it is constant."
Burhoe said she had a lot of people in the fall looking at homes and saying that they were coming back to look further.
"The market reached its bottom and prices have not gone up," she said, explaining that is why the interest is picking up again.
The turnaround in the market, Burhoe said, is a huge relief for everyone because things are moving along again. She said when the real estate market improves it trickles down to other industries as well.
Mike Faulkner with Pine Island Realty said he has seen a nice increase in the real estate market since the beginning of the year. He said people are now convinced that the economy has started to get better.
"Users are buying rather than investors," Faulkner said, adding that people are purchasing homes for retirement. "Everybody is coming in it is just getting really busy."
There are times, he said, when the parking lot is completely full with no open spots left.
The increase in the market, Faulkner said, is occurring because people are realizing that prices have not only hit bottom, but they might start going up. He said the market is getting much stronger and pretty soon fewer homes will be for sale.
Faulkner is expecting that by next season prices will go up because the supply and demand will be lower on homes.
Vacation rentals have also increased on the island.
Broker Sandy Peculis of Castaways Realty 1 Inc., said the market is fabulous for vacation rentals because she has seen a huge increase over the past year.
"We are basically booked for next year," Peculis said of the more than 50 rentals that the company has. "People booked before they left here to make sure they got something next year."
This season she said has definitely been busier than last year.
"That is a real good indication that people not only love Pine Island, but maybe the economy is turning around. People are still vacationing and getting out of the north," she said.
An increase in rentals, Peculis said, means an increase in sales as well.
"If they can't find something to rent, they start to think 'why shouldn't I buy something?'" she said.
In terms of the real estate market, Peculis said, that last year was the best year she has ever had. This year has been just as good.
"I think they are finding that they are getting more for their money," she said, in terms of purchasing real estate rather than stock. "They can see what their money is doing and can enjoy it. I think that is a big thing."
The homes are being purchased, Peculis said, from those wanting a second home, as well as people upgrading their homes locally from what they had before.
There are many characteristics of the island that people fall in love with, which encourages them to purchase a home here.
Shevlin said during the '60s, '70s and '80s, Pine Island was left alone and really was not developed as much, which he believes is one of the main attractors of the island.
"The natural Florida beauty of the outer islands is still here and you can get there by car," he said. "You are on an island and close to all the shopping and restaurants and everything you want in a big city like Fort Myers and Cape Coral."
In the '90s, Shevlin said, is when all the artists and authors became interested in the area, which made Pine Island a really cool place.
"The houses and people made it into a wonderful, unique place to live," he said. "If you like a little serenity, natural nature around you, you can't find it anywhere else."
The laid back atmosphere, Faulkner said, is another attractor of the island. He said people have compared Pine Island to the Keys 30 years ago.
"We have wonderful water access, but we don't have the big crowds or high rises," Faulkner said. "There is a certain type of person that falls in love with this place."
Peculis said it is definitely the laid back lifestyle and friendliness of people on the island that attracts people to the area.
Burhoe said Pine Island offers kayaking, bird watching, fishing and no high rises.
"It is definitely a quieter lifestyle," she said.