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A few weeks ago we focused on gated communities in Fort Myers.  This week we thought we’d focus on new construction condos in South Fort Myers.

Bella Casa luxury condos in South Fort Myers

Bella Casa Luxury Condos in South Fort Myers

We did a search in MLS for new builder product and 24 properties came up.  The lowest priced listing we could find was in Bella Casa for $137,000.  In fact we have a listing in Bella Casa for $134,716 and 2 bedroom 2 bath unit at $155,778.

Bella Casa luxury condos is a gated community in South Fort Myers with a resort style pool and spa, state of the art fitness center, clubhouse with club room and an outdoor living room under truss with a two sided fireplace and lighted tennis courts.  The best part might just be the low maintenance fees of only $213/mo which makes Bella Casa affordable.  Garages are available in some buildings as well.

Bella Casa luxury condos is located on Plantation Rd off Daniels, so it is conveniently located close to Gulf Coast Hospital, Minnesota Twins Spring Training and the Lee County Sports Complex, shopping, airport, and US 41 and I-75.  The builder has 36 units left for sale.  There are some rented units for investors too who would like to purchase a luxurious condo with low fees and built-in income.

What makes Bella Casa luxury condos so unusual in today’s market is the combination of newer construction, garages, gated community with amenities, and low maintenance fees in South fort Myers.  Typically a community might offer one or more of these features, but rarely all of them.

Bella Casa Luxury Condos in South Fort Myers Aerial View

Bella Casa luxury condos offers 1 Bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom units. Many have lake or preserve views.  For more information call our office at 239-489-4042 or visit our website at Topagent.com

Bella Casa Condominiums in Fort Myers is a saved search on our website which makes it easy for you to see what’s available in MLS.  Did you know that you can search for a home or condo in MLS directly from our website?  You can, and we make it easy.  Virtually every property in MLS can be viewed on our website at Topagent.com  Keep in mind not all new construction is listed in MLS, so that’s why our team works hard to keep up on inventory.

It’s quite possible the home you’re looking for is under construction and not in MLS at the moment.  The Ellis Team has a team of buyer specialists devoted to keeping up on the market and listening to your needs.  Quite often we listen and match buyers up with properties they didn’t even know were on the market.

As leaders in the SW Florida real estate market we try to find out about opportunities first, and we work hard to keep up with the changes.  Because we work with a lot of buyers our specialists are out there regularly visiting projects so when you call we may have some ideas for you worth checking out.

Take Bella Casa luxury condos for instance.  There may be 4 new construction units on the MLS and a few re-sales and yet active Realtors know the developer has models open daily and more to choose from, but they’re going fast.

We hope you enjoy reading about communities we’ve focused on recently like Bella Casa luxury condos and Reflection Lakes.  If you have a community you feel has a lot to offer let us know and maybe we’ll write about it.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

Visit our Google+ Business Page

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours

Check out Bella Casa Condominiums.  We’ll be happy to show you this project in South Fort Myers

By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

For the past year we’ve been harping on new appraisal issues and their affect on real estate transactions.  Well, we’ve got another doozy to tell you about, and this appraisal ticking time bomb is set to go off January 26.

Appraisal Ticking Time Bomb

Traditionally an appraisal is performed and submitted to the bank and then the underwriter signs off on it.  Before you were clear to go if the underwriter didn’t ask more questions and if the adjustments didn’t exceed certain percentages.

FNMA is doing away with the adjustment percentages in section B4-1.3-09  Before agents and appraisers jump up and down and celebrate beware of the new changes.

Fannie Mae is introducing a new software tool called Collateral Underwriter that essentially will produce up to 20 comparable sales ranked by risk to compare against sales the appraiser uses in their report.

After studying some of the training on FNMA’s website it’s apparent that we’re in for a bumpy ride.  I’m going to introduce you to a term called CBG (Consensus Block Group) This term will cause lenders and appraisers agita. Basically appraisers are supposed to use comparables in the same neighborhood when possible, and if not possible then use a similar nearby neighborhood.

With  Collateral Underwriter the system will select up to 20 properties in the same CBG regardless of whether the neighborhood is similar or not.  As you can imagine here in SW Florida, we have hundreds of neighborhoods with a certain set of values that abut another neighborhood with a different set of values.

For instance, think of Renaissance near I-75 and Daniels.  Renaissance features homes over $1 million, while nearby Danforth Lakes features homes in the $200’s-$300’s range.  This is not a knock against Danforth Lakes; it’s just not a good comparable for Renaissance.

Let’s also talk about the “Risk” factor.  Collateral Underwriter will rank comparable homes it identifies by “Risk” and compares those 20 comps against the comps the appraiser used.  You can bet the higher the sale price, the higher the risk.  So now appraisers might be inclined to not select the best comparable but rather the comps with the least risk of being flagged because of “Risk”.

Guess what happens when the appraisal is shot back to the appraiser for clarification.  The appraiser must now justify why the comps he used were better than the ones the computer used in a separate area but in the same CBG.  Who is going to pay the appraiser for the extra time?  The consumer will.  If they don’t allow the appraiser to pass along the extra costs, they’ll take shortcuts to save time and use less expensive comps.

Does this ultimately protect the banks?  No. It can put a false constraint on prices in the market which doesn’t protect the bank, and certainly not the public.

Why even order the appraisal if you’re not going to trust the boots on the ground?  It seems the computer is taking over and the systems are flawed.  Remember, garbage in, garbage out.  And this goes against the Market Conditions Addenda FNMA requires appraisers to fill out using only neighborhood data.  It’s like FNMA is breaking their own rules.  Appraisers will be expected to reconcile any differences between the addenda and CBG trends.

Lending has become so complex it’s virtually impossible for anyone to Sell By Owner anymore.  It’s also becoming harder for a part-time or inexperienced agent to tread the constant tidal waves coming ashore by new regulations.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, be sure to call a professional.  Doing it over and losing a sale is always more costly than doing it right the first time.  We can be reached at 239-489-4042.  Search the MLS at www.Topagent.com
Search the MLS for Gated Communities in Fort Myers

If you’re thinking about selling your home in SW Florida and would like to find out what your your home is worth we can help.

 

Visit our Google+ Business Page

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours

Check out Bella Casa Condominiums.  We’ll be happy to show you this project in South Fort Myers

By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

This week we thought it would be neat to focus on a community and tell a bit more about it to readers, and then we thought, why stop at one community?  We’ve highlighted select communities in the past, so we thought we’d focus on a topic of interest we get asked a lot by home buyers.  This week’s article will focus on gated communities in Fort Myers.

Gated Communities in Fort Myers

Fort Myers offers many gated communities.  Buyers enjoy the many benefits of living in a gated community.  Traffic tends to be less in a gated community because access is restricted.  Neighbors who live in the community tend to be more mindful of people walking or kids playing because they live there and know the roads.

Another benefit is increased security.  While gates do not guarantee a crime free neighborhood, it does make it more difficult for thieves to burglarize a home and have a getaway car.  Some thieves will move on as they don’t want to risk having their license plates video taped or recorded by a manned guard.  If a thief really wants in though, a gate is no match.  Banks get robbed and so do jewelry stores with elaborate systems, so a gate cannot guarantee security.

Neighbors tend to have a better handle on who lives in the community though.  If a car or van doesn’t look like it belongs, it stands out and neighbors watch.  In non-gated communities it’s harder to tell which cars belong.

Gated communities add a sense of privacy many home buyers are looking for.  You don’t have the general public driving your streets any hour of the day or night unless they’re invited in.

Many people with Ex’s enjoy gated communities knowing their Ex can’t just pop in unexpectedly.  The same goes for friends up North who just show up when they’re in town.  Restricted access can be a good thing when you’re not in the mood for guests.

One disadvantage of living in a gated community is that people can’t drive around and see what’s for sale, or even what the community offers.  If you want to sell you have to market the home a lot more to find that buyer.

We’ve created an easy way to search for gated communities in Fort Myers, or anywhere else in SW Florida for that matter as well.  Simply go to Topagent.com and click on the Gated Communities page in the Communities section.  Our MLS search site makes it easy to search for things like gated communities, waterfront homes, homes with pools, condos, you name it.

Of course while you’re browsing at your leisure you can also speak with a professional at the Ellis Team to make sure you’re on the right track. 239-489-4042.  We’re here to help you online, over the phone, or in person.  We know that home buying or selling decisions sometimes occur over time.  Many buyers and sellers need to see their options first and see if it even makes sense to contemplate such a move.  Others know they’re ready now and are just waiting for the right property to open up.  Either way you’re covered and we’ll help you no matter where you are in the process.

We’re here for you whether you’re buying today or just thinking about it down the road.  Always call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group 239-489-4042. We’ll handle you with care!  Or visit our website at Topagent.com

Search the MLS for Gated Communities in Fort Myers

If you’re thinking about selling your home in SW Florida and would like to find out what your your home is worth we can help.

 

Visit our Google+ Business Page

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours

Check out Bella Casa Condominiums.  We’ll be happy to show you this project in South Fort Myers

By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

This time of year you’re either in 7th Heaven or purgatory with all the football games.  There are about 38 bowl games alongside NFL teams fighting for playoff spots, so there’s no shortage of games to watch this year. It’s time for the SW Florida Real Estate market 2 Minute Drill.

With football on my mind it seemed appropriate to describe the SW Florida real estate market as entering the 2 minute drill.  We’ve had a pretty good year, and it’s time to put the finishing touches on the year and set us up for the next game beginning in January.

SW Florida Real Estate Market 2 Minute Drill

SW Florida Real Estate Market 2 Minute Drill

The Southwest Florida real estate market is definitely in the hurry-up offense.  As you can see from the single family inventory graph, Realtors have been hard at work bringing more properties to the market. We need them all as active inventory is down 13.2% from last year, and last year we were complaining about low inventory levels.

Next month we also have the Draft. About mid January the Draft begins whereby the best homes are selected. General Managers (Buyers) scour the market for the best properties.  We need more sellers to declare for the Draft or by the end of March buyers will be selecting Mr. Insignificant.  You’ve probably heard of Mr. Insignificant.  This is the last person selected in the NFL draft.  While it’s an honor to be selected, you know that you’ve been passed over by every other team and selected dead last.

Southwest Florida Real Estate Market Sales Prices

If you’re a seller, you don’t want to be picked dead last.  You want to move your draft position higher by properly valuing your home in the market.

If you’re a buyer, you don’t want to pick dead last.  You’d like to trade-up and improve your draft position so you can select a nicer home for the money.   You can do this by being pre-approved and turning your finance offer into a stronger offer.  You can employ little tricks that look good to a seller.  A good Realtor is like a capologist and can help you select the best property based upon the funds you have to work with.  Sure you have a spending cap, just like NFL teams do.  The goal is to select the best value at the position you’re drafting from.  You must study the market or you’ll end up selecting the wrong property or paying more than you needed to.  Essentially you could have had the same property in a later round when you make a mistake.

Likewise, that franchise prospect only comes around every so many years.  When you see a property that fits your team’s needs, it pays to go grab it while the choice is yours.  When you’re time is up, the next team is On the Clock and will snatch that pick up.  You snooze, you lose.

Winning an NFL game takes an experienced coach with good players who knows how to manage the clock.  The same is true in real estate. Whether you’re buying or selling, you need a great coach to help you through.  The outcome can affect your life for years to come.

Always draft the best property you can, and no matter what, Always select the Best Coach.  The Ellis Team has some of the Best coaches you can find, and we’ll guide you through the process.  We look forward to watching you spike that ball in the end zone.  Give us a call at 239-489-4042 or search for your dream home at Topagent.com

Good luck, and Happy House Hunting!

Search Gated Home Communities in Fort Myers

Visit our Google+ Business Page

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours

Check out Bella Casa Condominiums.  We’ll be happy to show you this project in South Fort Myers

 

By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

 

Everybody talks about Season and how it influences sales in SW Florida but few people understand the various seasons, so we’ll attempt to explain with our SW Florida Real Estate Guide to Seasonal Buyers.

SW Florida Real Estate Guide to Seasonal Buyers

 

  1. The 6 Monthers- These residents arrive in October and stay through end of March or so. They typically own a property here, although each year some of them think about moving into a different seasonal property. This year we’ve had several sell their local home and purchase another.
  1. Week After Christmas- These people arrive Dec 26 or thereabouts and stay through New Years. They bask in the sun and one day wonder about living in Florida. When the weather is bad, or their sunburn is crisp they call our office and want to look at property today.  Some buy, but some are just killing time and dreaming about one day.
  1. The 1 Monthers- These people rent a home or condo, possibly on the golf course, on a canal, or in a neighborhood with lots of activities and enjoy SW Florida for a month or two. They tend to be serious as they are spending more money for the rental and they can take off work for a month.  Their dream is much closer to reality and should be taken seriously as they could purchase a second home or make the move at any time.  Some will become 6 monthers and some may even relocate here.
  1. Spring Breakers- These kids don’t buy real estate but they have a good time and spend money while visiting. They’re not shoppers anytime soon.
  1. Family Spring Break- These are the families taking their kids to Florida while they’re off from school. They love Disney and the beaches, so SW Florida does very well here. Some have lots of money and keep an eye out for opportunities to move here or buy a vacation home.  Their biggest issue is family up North, so vacation homes many times win out.
  1. Foreign Visitors- SW Florida receives visitors from Germany, England, and Europe in droves. One day last year I rented a hotel at the beach and my wife and I were in the minority speaking English. I did strike up several conversations.  One couple was a pair of doctors from Europe and they just loved SW Florida.  I was amazed at how popular our beaches are over in Europe and how many visit here year round.
  1. Day Hoppers- These are people that find a cheap flight and fly down for a few days or long weekend. After a trip or two they search for property on the Internet and begin the dream process. These buyers are fairly serious and a sale could happen at anytime.  They line properties up in advance and many times our buyer specialists find the perfect property for them.
  1. The 20 Belows- These are Snowbirds suffering through another long winter. Each storm brings more visitors to our website Topagent.com until it becomes one storm too many and they say Enough! We’ve had people book the next flight out and begin shopping because they’ve had enough.  We know, 27 years ago I was a 20 Below.
  1. Relocation Buyers- These buyers jump at the chance to move to SW Florida because of an employment opportunity. These are fun and serious buyers to work with.
  2. Summer Buyers-These buyers come back after visiting or dreaming about Florida all winter as their schedules allow. Kids are out of school and they have more vacation time. Summer buyers are serious buyers. Some agents take summers off but that’s a big mistake.

Selling real estate is a year round profession.  We hope you enjoyed our analysis of shoppers.  Perhaps even some were comical.  If you’re thinking of buying or selling your piece in paradise, call the SW Florida real estate experts 230-489-4042 or search online at Topagent.com

Search the SW Florida MLS for Free


To view our Listings in Hi Definition, visit www.HomesinHD.TV or click on our playlist below

Visit our Google+ Business Page

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours

Check out Bella Casa Condominiums.  We’ll be happy to show you this project in South Fort Myers

 

By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

 

Southwest Florida Real Estate Prices Rise in October.  Single family average home prices in Lee County Florida rose 7.6% in October 2014 over last year, up to $250,164, up from last year’s average of $232,526.

Southwest Florida Real Estate Prices Rise in October

Median single family home prices rose too in October, up 17.3% from last year.  October 2013 median home prices were $157,000 and this year they shot up to $184,175.

As you can see from the graph, home prices traditionally start making their move in October to the upside and lead-off the season.  It should be interesting to watch how sales numbers progress this season.

Here’s what we know.  Listing inventory is down 11.8% from last year.  Pending sales are rising.  Interest rates are low and many people fear they’ll be heading higher in 2015.  The stock market is near record highs.  People have a quiet confidence as real estate is affordable and stock portfolios look better than they did years ago.

This means that people have the ability to liquidate stocks to buy real estate which is especially important to SW Florida.  It also means that many have the ability to sell their current home or borrow against it to buy property in the Sunbelt.  This is another notch in SW Florida’s cap.

Combine these financial facts, simple supply and demand, and our abundant sunshine while the weather is cold and snowy back home, and you’ve got a recipe for some strong sales for the 2015 season.

Winter started early and hard for our Snowbirds.  Most had just about had it from last year and planned trips to Florida.  They were hit with another round of heavy snow and frigid temperatures early in the winter season this year.  If they were sick of it last year, they’re beyond tired of it already this year.

When they arrive and are sipping their umbrella drink on the beach they begin to dream and visualize what paradise would look like for them if they moved here.  We’ve all done it.  Very few people in SW Florida grew up here compared to all the people living here.  Many if not most have relocated here from somewhere else, and somewhere else is usually cold this time of year.

We expect the beaches to be packed starting December 26.  Reservations are doing well at the beach.  Traffic picked up early this year and we expect an influx starting in a few weeks.

I called the Carefree Boat Club in Fort Myers to see if people up North had shown interest in boating down here this winter.  They have a Canadian boat club and many Canadians are looking forward to traveling here and checking out the SW Florida boating lifestyle.

All these visitors add to the local economy, and many buy here after seeing how beautiful it is here.  I’m not sure we need a Chamber of Commerce to promote SW Florida when we’ve got the beaches, water, umbrella drinks in the sand, golf courses, sun, and warm temperatures.

Throw in Spring Training, year round softball, tennis, and walks around the neighborhood and we’ve got a winning formula.  No wonder our local real estate market is heating up!

If you’d like to search for your piece of paradise, visit our website Topagent.com or call us at 239-489-4042  You can search the MLS for free and see homes on the market in real-time.  If you have a property to sell, we can help with that too.

Good Luck, and Happy House Hunting!  And remember, whether you live here full-time or just visiting, get out and enjoy the water, beach, or golf course.  People fly here the world over to enjoy this place.  Don’t take it for granted.  Get out there and get you some!

Search the SW Florida MLS for Free


To view our Listings in Hi Definition, visit www.HomesinHD.TV or click on our playlist below

Visit our Google+ Business Page

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours

Check out Bella Casa Condominiums.  We’ll be happy to show you this project in South Fort Myers

 

By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

We’ve often said in recent years if we had more inventory we’d have more sales. We don’t have a sales problem, we have an available amount of appropriately priced homes problem.  Well,  here comes the listings here comes the sales.

Here Comes the Listings, Here Comes the Sales

Here Comes The Listings

We need look no further than this month’s data that was just released.  New listings in October were up almost 400 over September and were up 2.8% over new listings last year.  New pending sales were up 13.4% over last year which says that inventory is selling at a faster rate this year.

You’ll notice 1,827 listings entered the market and 1,265 went pending.  Not all homes are selling.  Even though we have a low inventory market, there are still sellers who overprice their home for the market.

Selling a home is not a guaranteed thing, and it’s not easy.  It takes a seasoned expert to price it correctly and navigate all the obstacles thrown our way via new regulations and lending policies.

From inspections, insurance, appraisals, flood insurance, lending regulations, estoppels, to title, real estate has never been more complicated.

It’s one thing to find a buyer for your home; it’s quite another to actually close it.  Finding buyers has gotten trickier as well.  Last week we wrote about the changing landscape of online advertising.  Early this decade the likes of Zillow and Trulia fought hard for advertising dollars from agents, and they still are.  Agents are shifting advertising dollars as we speak. What worked last year may not be what’s best this year.

Winning the advertising game is complex. Not only must your website be highly ranked, the algorithms for pay per click advertising have become a science as well.  Today’s Realtor must be an expert in dealing with people, navigating regulations and obstacles, and an expert in online social behavior.

It’s an exciting time to be a Realtor, but it’s become increasingly hard for a new person to enter the market and compete without joining a team that handles all the details.

Presidential elections are another example of this.  It’s not enough just to buy the most TV ads.  Mathematicians calculate turnout, demographics, and target undecided voters online in ways never seen before.

We’re now able to target people on Facebook who visit SW Florida who make over $200,000 per year and enjoy boating or golf, and their kids are now entering college.  That’s a lot to keep track of, but the data is there.  You’ll be hearing the term “Big Data” more and more and how it can be used to predict consumer behavior and modeling.

The Ellis Team uses it now and it is working.  Large companies are using it, and one day most real estate companies will be using it.

4 weeks ago we listed a home in Moody River Estates in North Fort Myers.  Within 3 days a buyer specialist on our team sold that home and we closed it last week.  Buyers are finding us from all over the world in new and exciting ways.

This doesn’t replace sign calls, newspaper advertising, or personal referrals, but it does change how people will find you who don’t know you already.  The agents, brokers, and media companies that best figure this out will be the winners going forward.  It won’t matter what expert on TV or radio says you’re the best because the public realizes they’ve never used your service.  They want to read reviews from people who’ve actually used your service.

Endorsements didn’t work in the mid-term elections and they’re not as effective in business today because the Internet has changed the way people receive information.  Sure, traditional marketing still works, but not all traditional marketing is the bang for the buck it used to be.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, don’t go it alone.  Feel free to search the MLS at Topagent.com and let an expert help you navigate the regulations and obstacles, or call us at 239-489-4042 and we’ll be happy to help.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

Search the SW Florida MLS for Free


To view our Listings in Hi Definition, visit www.HomesinHD.TV or click on our playlist below

Visit our Google+ Business Page

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours

Check out our New Fort Myers Downtown River District Blog by Barbara Perez, Buyer Specialist on the Ellis Team

 

By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

When prices rise for a period of time everyone begins to ask the question “Is there a real estate bubble?  The answer is yes, but perhaps not for the reason you might think.

Is there a real estate bubble

Is There a Real Estate Bubble?

Buyers and sellers worry about prices and supply and demand.  Realtors worry about marketing and finding buyers for their listings.  The real estate industry has changed in the past several years and newer agents relied on real estate portals like Zillow and Trulia to provide leads, for a fee.

This worked for agents who didn’t have a lot of listings or only worked with buyers as they were able to essentially purchase leads and hopefully go out and sell.  Agents didn’t count on sites like this diluting inventory by selling to many more agents leads in their zip code, and raising prices.

Agents who relied on this model complain how a certain zip code now is bought up by many more agents, and the cost per impression has skyrocketed.  Agents are beginning to say enough is enough, so we say there may be a real estate bubble for these large portals.

Our team purchases a certain amount of advertising on each to attain Premiere status.  Almost daily we’re getting calls that more inventory has opened up in key zip codes.  This either means they’re selling more impressions in that zip code or other agents are cancelling.  Rates have also fallen.  This tells me agents may be cancelling.

Furthermore the National Association of Realtors recently voted in some changes that will level the playing field, making agent websites more attractive against the likes of the big players mentioned above.

MLS’s will now be required to send out more data in its data feed for use by brokers. Section 7.79 of MLS policy did not spell out whether MLS’s must provide this extra data so brokers and agents could use AVM’s (Automated Valuation Models) in their own websites.

Zillow came to fame because of their Zestimate, which was an online AVM.  Never mind the fact the estimate was so far off in the beginning it didn’t resemble reality. It has gotten better, but consumers still complain about outdated and inaccurate data on their website.

Brokers on the other hand have access to today’s data, because it is the brokers who maintain the data to begin with.  Instead of going through a 3rd party who doesn’t always get it right, why not use a broker direct and get the accurate data?  So goes the argument at NAR, and this year they followed through.

The Ellis Team was one of the first brokers nationwide to put the MLS on our website, and we were one of the first to utilize an AVM on our website.  That’s right, at Topagent.com you can search the MLS and get an estimate of value for your home.  In the future, more agents and brokers will do the same, which brings me back to the point of this article.

We believe agents will either go back to traditional marketing to find buyers and sellers, or spend money promoting their own websites. Newspapers now have digital media divisions designed to manage an agent’s or broker’s online presence.  You don’t have to be an Internet expert like we are, you can hire it done.  In fact, even though we know what we’re doing, it makes sense to let someone else manage the online ads so we can do what we do best, which is sell real estate.

Instead of paying money to promote Zillow, why not pay money to promote your own site?  If you search anything real estate related you’ll notice they show up.  That’s because agents advertising dollars are promoting the portals. When agents stop advertising with them, their ability to buy up positions on Google, Yahoo, and Bing will dry up too. This is what we call an online Real Estate Bubble.

The big guys won’t go out of business, but their lofty valuations on Wall Street may take a hit. There is no way Zillow/Trulia is worth $3.5 Billion dollars when neither makes a profit. And if their revenue falls, they may not be worth anything.

Good luck, and Happy House Hunting!

Search the SW Florida MLS for Free


To view our Listings in Hi Definition, visit www.HomesinHD.TV or click on our playlist below

Visit our Google+ Business Page

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours

Check out our New Fort Myers Downtown River District Blog by Barbara Perez, Buyer Specialist on the Ellis Team

 

By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

bella-casa-fort-myers

This holiday season you’ll probably be checking online reviews for restaurants, stores, products, and much more.  I know I look to online reviews when making purchasing decisions.  I’ve bought items and shied away from certain products based upon the review of others.  Beware of legal ramifications of online reviews.

Legal Ramifications of Online Reviews

Rate us on Google+

I was astounded to watch a newscast from KSHB in Kansas City about a woman who left a mediocre review on an orthodontist. She left him a 3 star review because she felt the service was OK.

She was contacted by the orthodontist and asked what they could have done better and she told him.  She was impressed that he cared enough to call.  About a month later she received a nasty letter from an attorney that she was being sued if she didn’t take the 3 star review down.  It created quite a stir in that community. People even came up to her in the grocery store and said things to her over that issue.

While we have free speech laws a business still has the right to sue you if they feel they have been slandered. Some states have enacted an anti-slapp (Strategic Lawsuit Against public Participation) law that protects consumers from businesses or governments for voicing their honest opinion.  I’m no lawyer, but it appears Florida does have a law like this that protects against governments suing you. I read of a case where it was applied to protect against a business as well.

If a business must bully consumers into writing 5 star reviews or nothing at all I would suggest that business may take a beating in the court of public opinion.  The Kansas City lady isn’t backing down and now it’s made national news.  How great is that for the orthodontist? I have no idea if he’s good or bad, and if I was in Kansas City I wouldn’t have judged him harshly for a mediocre review.  I think people weigh all the reviews before making an opinion.

I think this could have been handled much better. If a customer is unhappy with us I would hope they’d respect us enough to give us a chance to correct whatever issue was bothering them.  Most people will before writing a bad review.

We encourage reviews.  If  you’ve had a great experience with our team, or just enjoy reading our newspaper article, we’d love for you to review us at google.com/+Topagent  If  you’ve had a mediocre or negative experience, send us an email at brett@topagent.com and we’d welcome the chance to address it.

We think this is a much better way to handle positive, mediocre, and negative reviews.  Hiring an attorney to threaten legal action over mediocre reviews just seems kind of old school and not in the spirit of how business is transacted today.  Sure, there are always goofballs that can hide behind an online identity and say whatever they want about your business, but this case in Kansas City doesn’t seem anything like that.

If you’d like to search the MLS like a pro, go to our website Topagent.com and you can see homes currently on the market throughout SW Florida.  If you have a property to sell, check out our reviews, then call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group 239-489-4042 We’re easy to talk to and we love to help people.

We look forward to hearing from you and reading your reviews. And be careful when writing negative things about businesses unless it’s all true. While Florida may have some protections for you in can be costly to defend something like this.  It pays top check them out beforehand so you never have to write a bad review.

Good luck, and Happy House Hunting!

Tune in to The Future of Real Estate

 

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

Search the SW Florida MLS for Free


To view our Listings in Hi Definition, visit www.HomesinHD.TV or click on our playlist below

Visit our Google+ Business Page

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours

Check out our New Fort Myers Downtown River District Blog by Barbara Perez, Buyer Specialist on the Ellis Team

 

By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

Beware of Property Scams in SW Florida. 2 weeks ago our office began receiving phone calls from confused customers calling in on one of our listings.  The problem is they were under the assumption the property was for rent when it is actually listed for sale.

 

Beware of Property Scams in SW Florida

Beware of Property Scams in SW Florida

Upon further investigation we found a Trulia listings advertising the property for rent.  Our listing is also on Trulia for sale.  Rental customers were interested in renting but were confused with it being for sale, so many called us.

We assured each one of them it was not for rent.  They were being told the family had a change of heart and decided to rent it.  We called the family to verify and they said it is not for rent and knew nothing about it.  We had the ad taken off Trulia after a phone call to them.

A few days later we received more calls.  One person mentioned that seller was expecting a money gram for $1,000 deposit and $800 1st month’s rent and then seller would send the keys.  No lease mentioned, just keys would be Fed Ex’d when money arrived.

The prospective tenant questioned him about the For Sale sign in the yard.  She was told that he was very unhappy with the team selling the home.  He said the real estate company let someone move into the home and they trashed the place, so as soon as she sent the money he would take the For Sale Signs down. Luckily for her she called our office before she lost the money.

We reached out to the Lee County Sheriff’s office who is investigating.  We spoke with several detectives and they say this is a growing epidemic here in SW Florida.  They’ve seen many complaints from ads on Craig’s List and all over the Internet.  It’s a real shame because these scam artists are virtually assuring that you must go through a reputable company to rent anything.

How is a buyer or renter to know if they’re actually dealing with the owner?  Detectives tell us quite often the scam artists opens up phone numbers in the US using a service like Magic Jack, but really many are from overseas like Egypt.

According to the sheriff’s office scam artists in Lehigh Acres are selling properties they don’t own to unsuspecting buyers who think they’re getting a good deal.  If the deal seems too be good to be true and there are not licensed professionals involved in the deal, you might want to investigate the deal further.

If you see a home listed for sale and for rent with different owners or companies, it bears asking further questions.  Never give out personal information or fill out detailed application forms until you’re sure who you’re dealing with.

In the above case the scam artists are looking for money, but we could see unscrupulous people using your private data from a rental application for identity fraud to obtain credit in your name.

Use MLS search sites like Topagent.com to search the MLS.  Using sites like VRBO, Craig’s List or Ebay is risky if you’re not dealing with the legitimate owner.  If you have concerns or feel you’ve been a victim of a property scam, contact the local Sheriff’s Department and they will assist you.  More importantly, take the steps beforehand to protect yourself so you don’t end up a victim.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

 

Tune in to The Future of Real Estate

 

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

 

Search the SW Florida MLS for Free

 
To view our Listings in Hi Definition, visit www.HomesinHD.TV or click on our playlist below

Visit our Google+ Business Page

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours

Check out our New Fort Myers Downtown River District Blog by Barbara Perez, Buyer Specialist on the Ellis Team

 

By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

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