A survey of the Port LaBelle area in Hendry county may be some indication of where real estate is heading in the next few months or years. Whether prices will continue upward may depend on how developers and builders as well as land owners are able to cope with an increasing supply of new homes and vacant lots for sale in what may be a decreasing demand for real estate in both homes and land.
Professionals in the real estate business, brokers and salesmen, builders, and professional speculators have bought up a significant amount of Port LaBelle land over the last several years. Only three years ago, Country Homes and Land and its various corporate entities were bulk mailing to Port LaBelle lot owners offering to buy vacant land. The majority of land owners were out of state or out of county individuals who had paid $6000 or more for their quarter acre lots from the original developer General Development Co. or its successors after its bankrupcy. CHL was able to buy plenty of lots from those owners who had held their property for nearly 30 years and sold to CHL for only several hundreds of dollars. CHL also picked up hundreds of parcels from a bulk sale from the bank and companies that took over the property from General Development. CHL also took in a large inventory of lots as a result of tax deed certificates they held when property owners failed to pay property taxes.
The demand for lots began several years ago led first by CHL and then real estate brokers and salespeople from out of the area who sensed Hendry county might be a place to get in on the "ground floor" of a coming price appreciation trend.The brokers started to follow CHL's marketing tactic of mailing every lot owner asking to buy. As more and more real estate companies began buying the prices escalated dramatically until prices reached the mid-fifties for a Port LaBelle lot. Meanwhile, those out of area owners saw the upward price movement happening in just two years and began listing their lots with Hendry, Lee and Broward county brokers for sale in the 40s and 50s, thinking "now" was the time to cash out. Unfortunately everyone got the idea to sell at the same time so the market in Port LaBelle lots is saturated with sellers. The buyers for the last several years have been mainly limited to builders, and professional speculators. Only a few private individuals have purchased vacant lots.
Where the market for real estate in Hendry and Glades county is headed may depend greatly on how those real estate speculators and builders can weather any possible downturn in prices or sales volume.