FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Before Hurricane Ian, the southwest Florida housing market was hot. Now, a Fort Myers Beach real estate agent says it's getting even busier as people decide whether to rebuild or sell their home.
It begs the question: could we see more high rises, investors or will Fort Myers Beach keep its quintessential feel?
"It was soul crushing to do this," said Kelly Ross, who has her home on the market. "It'll be interesting to see what everybody's doing."
Ross has lived in her Fort Myers Beach home since 1998, raising her children in it and even caring for her father. The two homes next door to her are also on the market.
"People will never forget this, but people can see the future — what Fort Myers Beach is going to look like," said Jorge Barrera, real estate agent for Premiere Plus. "Of course it’s going look different, ok, but it’s going to be beautiful."
Different in more ways than one, Barrera believes.
"With the new building codes, we’re not going to see as many small cottages," he explained. "I could see a couple luxury hotels, probably."
Barrera says we will see a little bit of everything. It's a sight you may not physically see yet, but we're already feeling the effects in a different way.
The real estate agent says prices on Fort Myers Beach are all over the place. Some homes and lots are going for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Others are on the market for more than a million bucks.
"That’s what I’m seeing from $800 a square foot to $300 square foot," Barrera said.
Those numbers are tied back to a three bedroom, two bathroom home not on a canal.
"We’re seeing enough activity on condo sales, some beachfront sales, canalS, bayfronts that now people would be like, ok, it’s ok to pay this amount for this property," Barrera explained.
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People like Ross, who has lived on Estero Island for a long time, says she thinks more investors will head into the area.
"I think it’s going to be very commercialized," she said. "It’s going to be different."
Nothing can tell us exactly what Fort Myers Beach will look like. Barrera says though it's not all about the look, though.
"The vibe comes from the people who live here," he said.
A vibe Ross does not want to lose. She plans on rebuilding, if her home doesn't sell.
In the meantime, she's going to do what she knows best.
"Island life, just ebb and flow, Ross said.
Barrera says if you're looking to sell your home, do your due diligence. He says it's ok to talk to several different agents before picking one.
"Just make sure the person you hired is going to have your best interest at heart," he said.