A Reptile Dysfunction: Florida Agents Dodge Falling Iguanas To Sell Homes

Unusually cold temperatures in southern Florida last weekend caused iguanas to fall from trees, presenting one more thing to deal with in a challenging market for some agents. For others, that’s just the reality of Florida during a cold spell.

Last weekend, a blast of Arctic air plunged temperatures in Florida into the 40s and 30s in some areas, causing a shock for some of the region’s cold-blooded transplants: green iguanas.

The unusually cold temperatures caused the reptiles, which are not native to Florida and are now considered an invasive species as a result of the exotic pet trade, to become temporarily immobilized and fall out of trees in southern parts of the state.

For some local real estate professionals, raining iguanas presented one more thing to deal with in a challenging market, but for others, the presence of frozen iguanas has just become par for the course during cold spells.

“I don’t think it’s any big deal at all,” said JR, a property manager with Real Property Management Sunstate Palm Beach County, who declined to give his last name. Although he had seen frozen iguanas lying on the ground, he said the management company hadn’t received any queries or complaints about them from tenants.

“I think people that live here know that that happens; it’s just a phenomenon of the cold weather.”

Karen Matluck | Compass

Sentiment about the iguanas varies — some Florida residents think they’re cute and exotic, while many property owners find them to be a destructive nuisance.

“People tend to think that they’re very cool, but I can’t stand them,” Karen Matluck, an agent with Compass Florida, told Inman. “They eat up everything. When I bought my house, I laid a $5,000 backyard garden in a small area, and the next morning it was all devoured.”

Because of the current lack of waterfront inventory, Kevin Spina, team leader of The Spina Group at The Keyes Company, said he wasn’t around any areas where iguanas are most predominant over the frigid weekend. But when he went to his morning swim practice on Monday, “everybody was talking about it.”

Kevin Spina | The Keyes Company

“One gentleman said his subdivision had hired a company to come in and dispose of them on a monthly basis,” Spina said. Spina also recalled showing a waterfront property to a client about a month ago and witnessing nearby residents shooting iguanas out of the trees, “due to the overabundance and the nuisance.”

In Florida, it is legal to kill green iguanas on private property with landowner permission, and on 25 public lands in South Florida without a permit or hunting license, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“They’re overpowering the waterfront homes,” Spina added.

Omer Reiner | Florida Cash Home Buyers

Omer Reiner, president of real estate investment company FL Cash Home Buyers LLC, said that out-of-state investors have been spooked by frozen iguanas in the past, ultimately costing him a deal.

“A couple moving down had no idea how Florida was and backed out of a deal [after seeing frozen iguanas fall from a tree],” he said in an email. “Weather and the ecosystem invite the strangest things in Florida. Some boa [constrictors] and alligators come onto properties from time to time … That’s Florida, the Sunshine State.”

Leonor Enguita | Equity Realty

But for Leonor Enguita, a Realtor with Equity Realty, frozen iguanas can sometimes be a sign of good business to come. She said amid the frigid temperatures that also struck the Northeast over the weekend, she’s seen an increase in calls and website traffic from Northeasterners wanting to move south, away from more severe winter storms.

“If the temperatures are cold enough for iguanas to fall out of trees here, then that means the temperatures up north are pretty miserable and that makes people want to be here even more,” she told Inman in an email.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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