For the past two years we’ve been talking about lower interest rates fuel home sales and their impact on pricing.  Today we have some data to illustrate how lower interest rates fuel increased pending sales.  And we all know pending sales lead to closings.

Last year the Fed made a mistake and began raising interest rates, which led to higher 30-year mortgage rates as well.  These two are not always tied together, but in this case that was the effect.  As you can see from the interest rate chart, rates began rising in 2018, especially in the latter half when the Fed did what they did.

Lower Interest Rates Fuel Increased Pending Sales

As rates shot up to 5% at the end of 2018, home sales lagged.  Beginning in November 2018 new pending sales fell off about 20% and continued its slide until April of 2019.  March 28th is when we saw our first real dip in rates, which led the turnaround in new pending sales immediately.  Beginning in April new pending sales turned around, and they’ve continued since.  In fact, this September we saw the largest increase of 19.6% This is a function of lower rates now combined with rates that were rising at that time last year.

Lower Interest Rates Fuel Increased Sales

Last September new pending sales were falling and this year they’re rising.  These two charts illustrate perfectly well the effect lower interest rates can have on home buyer’s motivation.  Lower rates open more opportunities for buyers as well, as they can afford more home for the same payment.

Lower Interest Rates Fuel Increased New Pending Home Sales

The interesting thing will be what happens moving forward.  Interest rates are moving up while the Fed is lowering rates now.  The Fed is in pause mode now to see how monetary policy shakes out both here in the US and globally.  Like I said earlier, these two rates are not always tied together.

When word gets out that rates are going back up, it will have one of two effects.  It may spur some buyers who were on the fence to act, which could increase new pending sales.  It could also have a chilling effect, because as rates go up, sales can go down.  Fewer buyers qualify at various price points, so it essentially takes some buyers out of the market.

We can’t say moving forward where mortgage rates will be next year.  There are plenty of variables, not the least of which are trade deals.  Secondly, the sad reality is the world is broke.  Nobody really has any money, it’s all borrowed.  We see countries in Europe with negative interest rates because their economy is in trouble.  The United States is still the strongest economy on the planet, so we don’t have the need to go negative like these other broke countries.  However, we owe a lot too, so we must be careful with spending programs to avoid the fate of some of these countries.

The good news is our economy is booming and could be better once these trade deals are worked out.  Ironically, certainty in the market may spill over and help these other countries too, if they pay attention and rein in spending.

So how does all this affect real estate here in Southwest Florida?  Lee County prices have been very stable the last few years.  We haven’t seen big price run-ups.  We should be in good shape no matter what happens globally.  While the Fed made a mistake last year, they’ve been doing a reasonably good job reading the financial tea leaves and keeping the US steady.

30-year rates today are at 3.78% on average.  That’s really good, and if we keep rates below 4% we should continue to see excellent sales numbers moving forward.  It’s when rates hit 5% last year that we saw slowdown.

We’ve helped buyers save big on closings costs through a lender we work with.  If you’re thinking of buying, you should call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty.  239-489-4042 and speak with one of our buyer agents.  If you’re thinking of selling ask for Sande or Brett at Ext 4, or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com

Good luck and Happy Home Buying!

We have 7 open houses this weekend.  Call our office for complete schedule 239-489-4042

We get this question often, and it’s come up several times in the last two weeks.  When is the best time to sell my Southwest Florida home?

Several clients have said they want to wait until season because they believe that is the best time to sell and get top dollar for their home.  There is a perception that homes sell for more in season than out.  The reality is the numbers are skewed in season.  Homes don’t sell for more money in season.  It’s just that more higher end homes sell in season because we have more affluent buyers visiting in season.  When higher end homes sale in a given month, it pulls up the averages, making it appear that home prices go up in season.

Best Time to Sell Southwest Florida Home

Best Time to Sell Southwest Florida Home

Here’s another reality.  Listing inventory surges in season, as sellers are conditioned to believe that’s when they should sell.  We’ve helped many sellers in the past beat that listing surge by listing before season.  Many sellers have their home sold before all the others hit the market.  When a bunch of homes hit the market, buyers have more choices.

These buyers typically wait until February or March before offering.  This means many sellers don’t have a closing until March or April, and that’s if it sells.  If it doesn’t sell, they’re sitting there with a bunch of other listings that listed in January and didn’t sell either.  Now it’s out of season and they’re still holding their property.

There is no harm in listing before January.  You just might get your property sold, and worst case it’s still on the market in January.  Sellers have been afraid that it may look bad if their homes have been on the market and haven’t sold.  That’s not true.  In the old days people wondered what was wrong with a home if it sat so long.

Price it Correctly

Today, if a home is priced over the market it’s just invisible to the market.  The minute it drops onto the buyers’ radar it becomes visible.  They don’t usually question why it’s been on market.  They can see the price drop and they instantly know that’s the reason.  Now the home is on the radar and available.  Before it was off-radar and invisible, so it might as well have an unavailable sign on it.

Interest rates have been rising in recent weeks.  People ask how this can be when the Fed has been lowering rates.  It’s because they are two different rates.  Mortgage rates are more closely tied to the 10-year note, not the Fed funds rate.

With rates near historic lows but rising, and lower inventory now, it may be the perfect time to beat the market and list your home now.  Pending sales were up in September as were home sales.  When buyers catch on that rates are rising there could be an uptick in offers.  Rates can rise quickly, so this could all be over by season.

The smart money is selling your home when it’s right for you.  Artificially holding it until season when prices are higher may be a mistake, because sales prices aren’t higher in season.  There may be more eyeballs looking at homes in season, but they don’t necessarily pay more for the same home in season.  They also have more homes to compare as well.

If you’re unsure what to do and want to discuss your options, call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4.  If you’d like a Free computer value of your home, go to www.SWFLhomevalues.com and get an instant value.  They’re fairly accurate in many cases.

Neighborhood Data

Additionally, we’ve got some neighborhood reports we can send out that will help you see what’s going on in your neighborhood at a deeper level.  To get that, just email me at Brett@topagent.com with your property address and phone number and we’ll send that out to you.  This report will make you smarter about what’s going on in your area.

Remember to set your clocks back one hour this weekend.  Let us know if we can help you with your real estate questions.

See last week’s article “September Home Sales Rose 14.8%

A few weeks ago, we reported that August pending sales were up in August.  We stated that this could lead to a rise in sales in the months following.  We’re happy to announce that September home sales rose 14.8%.  Furthermore, September new pending sales are up 19.6%, so you know what that means don’t you?  We could see further home sale gains in the coming months.

September Home Sales Rose

September Home Sales Rose

Ironically, we hear of agents complaining their sales are down.  If an agent’s sales are down and the market is up, it means someone else is taking market share.  We’ve been saying all year that certain agents are going to be vulnerable because the way you advertise and obtain leads today is different than it was 1 year ago.

It’s possible that successful agents doing the same thing get run out of business unless they change to the new way of doing things.  You can be the greatest agent in the world, but if you can’t attract leads like you once did your sales could plummet.  Sellers need to be mindful who they’re listing with now because it matters.  Gone are the days of just putting a home on the market and knowing it will sell.

Granted, you could get lucky, in which case you’ll believe all this talk is hogwash.  The same is true for agents.  Some do not believe this change is happening.  They’re sales may be down, but they refuse to believe there’s a change in the way agents are doing business.  Other agents haven’t noticed a slowdown, yet.  No slowdown, no reason to change.

I assure you change is happening.  Some agents have felt it, and some have been insulated and haven’t noticed it yet.  Some agents are absolutely flourishing. The difference may be how they’re running their business and how they’re attracting leads.

Some agents have spent a ton of money on various lead generating websites, spending as much at $15,000/mo.  They struggle to pay their bills and they’re a few missed closings away from being out of business.  Converting these paid for leads can be hard, and low percentage.  There is a better way.

I’m going to give 4 clues for agents to better lead generation conversions:

  1. Give people what they want.
  2. Provide something of value nobody else is delivering
  3. Be there the entire cycle, not just when they pop up and decide to buy/sell
  4. Use systems to develop relationships over time

There’s more of course, but if agents follow these basic 4 steps, they’ll have better lead conversion.  The problem is, most agents are good salespeople, but their follow-up and systems are terrible.  It’s time consuming, costly, and inefficient when agents are juggling various data systems.

So, agents hit the Easy button.  They buy leads from lead aggregators thinking this will generate business.  The problem is, one lead aggregator sold over 117 Million leads last year alone.  Ironically, there were only 5.96 Million homes closed last year.  Essentially this company sold the same leads to multiple agents, and/or sold leads that were never going to buy or sell a home.  Keep in mind, this was just one company.  There are many lead aggregators agents buy leads from.

Suffice it to say, this might not be a good lead generation strategy, and certainly not worthy of betting the bank on in hopes of a few sales.  There’s got to be a better way to market a seller’s home.

There is a better way, and we’d love to show you.  If you’re thinking of selling, you should call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty.  We sell a lot of homes each month because of marketing.  We’re not buying leads from aggregators.  We tried that years ago, and it’s pointless.  Give Sande or Brett at call at 239-489-4042 Ext 4 or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com for a Free instant online valuation.

See Last Week’s Article It’s a Seller’s market in SW Florida

Good luck and Happy Selling!

Internal numbers produced by the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty shows the local housing market has improved once again.  It’s a seller’s market in SW Florida, and it just got slightly stronger the past few months.

It’s a Seller’s Market in SW Florida

Most experts agree, a balanced market is about 5.5 months of supply.  Currently Lee County stands at 4.33 months’ supply.  It was 4.37 months’ supply back in August.  We can safely say we’re in a seller’s market, but there’s more to the story.

It’s a Seller’s Market

Just because it’s a seller’s market doesn’t mean the entire market is.  We have market segments.  We could segment the market by neighborhood, by waterfront, golf course, total cost of ownership, or several other segments.  Today we’ve picked the price range segment.

By and large, the higher the price, the more supply we have.  If you own a million dollar plus property, chances are it could take you awhile to sell your home.  If no other homes came on the market, it would take approximately 15 months to sell all the homes over $1 million.  We know not all will sell, because inventory never gets to zero.

There will always be sellers that overprice their home relative to the market.  There will always be homes that the market rejects due to condition, location, costs, liens, title issues, etc.  In the end, it usually comes down to price.

We could have done a segment on total cost of ownership.  This is when you add up taxes, HOA fees, mandatory club fees, etc.  Anything that must be paid each year is included.  Our team routinely gets calls for inexpensive condos in the $45,000-60,000 price range in a certain golf community that’s listed by other realty companies.  Buyers love the low price and the fact that it’s located in a prestigious golf course community.  However, when they find out the yearly condo fees, HOA fees, golf fees, and mandatory club spending exceeds $22,000 and there is a $50,000 one-time buy-in, they begin to realize this inexpensive condo is out of their price range.  In fact, the annual total cost of ownership is holding back the value because it’s so costly to hold the property.

This is one reason why time-shares are hard to sell, and many times go down in value.  The annual maintenance costs can exceed $1,000 for a week.  Multiply that by 52 weeks and you begin to realize somebody is making some money off those time shares, and it’s not the owners.

Keep in mind, anytime you mandate higher cost of ownership, you can limit the price.  Of course, amenities come with a price, and certain buyers demand certain amenities and they’re willing to pay for them.

Property taxes are another consideration.  Some buyers will pay more for a home in the county than in the city because taxes are lower in the county.  Some new home builders build in multiple locations.  They justify their higher price in one community over another community they build in on taxes alone.

This is why people are flocking to Florida.  Taxes in Florida are lower than high tax states like Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and others.  Not only are property taxes higher up North, but they also have a state income tax.  We now have a $10,000 limit on local state and property tax deductions.  It’s easy to hit that number up North, while most properties down here don’t hit that, so we’re a bargain when people do their federal income tax returns.

People look at more than just the asking price.  They look at taxes and the total cost of ownership.  The data we’re providing today is a market overview by price.  Keep in mind, there are other segments and factors that influence pricing.  If you have a home to sell, you need an agent that understands these issues.  The market understands total cost of ownership.  It’d disclosed on every listing.

If you’re thinking of selling and looking for Top Dollar, always call Sande or Brett Ellis at 239-489-4042 Ext 4.  Or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com to get an instant, Free online valuation of what your home is worth.

See Last Weeks Article:  “Pending Home Sales Rose in August 2019

Good luck and Happy Selling!

Official September closed sales numbers have not been released yet, but we can report that pending home sales rose in August which means September and October numbers could come in stronger than last year.  Pending sales are always a precursor to what may come one to two months out.

Pending Home Sales Rose in August

Pending Home Sales Rose in August 2019

It’s a good time to be a seller.  We have a fairly balanced market, however statistically it favors the seller right now.  To make things tougher for buyers, new listings were down 17.8% in August.  This pulled the overall listings on the market down 3.9%, a direct result of less listings coming in August.  Officially we are down to a 4.9 months’ supply of homes on the market.  We will run our numbers in a few weeks that will show current supply numbers by price range.

As a seller, right now is a good time to put your home on the market.  In January there will be a rush of sellers placing their homes on the market.  Today you can beat that rush.  The Ellis Team has placed several homes under contract the past few weeks whereby the seller won’t have to compete with all the new listings entering the market.  They got out now and were happy with their price.

Buyers are more motivated now than ever.  There is less supply, and rates are historically low.  We’re not saying rates will go up overnight.  We are saying nobody knows when they will.  Buyers have low rates and not as much inventory to choose from.  Buyers are motivated.  There’s an old saying that says it’s always best to strike while the iron is hot.  The iron is hot right now.

We’ve got a new system for homeowners thinking of selling their home sometime in the future.  We’ll show it in a future article, but basically the gist is this.  The system will email you a neighborhood report with photos and details about nearby homes for sale, pending, and recently sold.  In addition, at the click of a button there are neighborhood stats that will tell you how many homes are for sale in your neighborhood, the average price, the price per square foot, and the days on market. It provides commute times to your favorite places, as well as reviews of local neighborhood businesses.

If you’d like to see stats and info with your neighborhood, send me an email to Brett@topagent.com with your name, address, and phone number.  I’ll put you in the system and it’ll email you new stats every two weeks.

If you prefer a quick price estimate, you can check out www.SWFLhomevalues.com This site gives you an instant price estimate that is surprisingly accurate in many cases.  Of course, before listing your home we’d want to verify the information.  Homeowners like this site because it is Fast and Free.

Buyers, we’ve got you covered too.  You’ll want to go to www.LeeCountyOnline.com  This site gives you a leg up on the competition because it includes all of the listings, and it’s updated every few minutes.  There is nothing more frustrating than not seeing all the listings or looking at a home that sold months ago.  Our site will help you win!

Speed wins in today’s market.  That’s why we work so hard to bring you tools that will provide you information very fast.  What you decide to do with it is up to you.  All we ask is that if you ever need real estate advice, you’d think of the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty.

We study the market.  We’re full-time and we take this seriously.  Isn’t that the kind of agent you want working for you?  If you’re a seller and want to speak with Brett or Sande, call us at 239-489-4042 Ext 4.  If you’re a buyer, call our main line and we’ll get a buyer specialist in touch with you today.

Or just visit one of our handy tools and surf away on your time.  We’re here to help you on your schedule.  Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

See Last Week’s Article “Mortgage Applications Rise Sparking Important Questions

Mortgage applications rise sparking important questions this past week 8.1% as mortgage rates fell.  We are consistently seeing rates below 4%.  Recently we had a buyer receive 3.25% on a fixed rate loan.  With rates falling, it’s sparking two important questions.

Mortgage Applications Rise Sparking Important Questions

If I own a home, should I refinance?  The answer depends on two things.  What is the differential in the rate you have currently and today’s rates, and how long do you plan on staying in the home?  Does your current home meet your needs?  We are at a historic time.  This is an opportunity to lock in a low rate for your home, or an opportunity to find something better and lock that in.

You May Qualify For More Home Now

You might qualify for much more home than ever before due to these low rates.  Your dream home you thought was an impossible dream might just now be a reality.  The question is, are you content where you are, or do you aspire for something better?  Now is the time.  There is no right or wrong answer, It’s your answer.  What we can say is there is a right or wrong time, and now is the right time.

If you don’t currently own a home, now is the best time from a financial standpoint.  Only you can answer if it’s a good time job wise, relationship wise, etc.  It’s been proven that owning a home is key to accumulating long-term wealth.  Putting money in the stock market may not work out the way you want.  Income stocks and bonds, CD’s, and interest bearing accounts aren’t paying much either.  Real estate may be your best bet, and now is the time.

You may need help deciding whether to keep your existing home and fix it up or sell it and buy another.  You’d probably think a real estate agent would only want to sell you something, so no sense consulting with an agent.  A good agent will listen to what you’re trying o accomplish and make suggestions for you to consider.  This is a moment in history, and you may not get a do-over.

Real Estate Sales Versus Consultant

Good real estate agents know things the general public does not.  We can offer advice based upon your needs, even if it’s not deciding to sell.  When you receive good advice, you’re much more likely to recommend your agent to people you know.  Great agents know that if they take care of their customers, their customers will always take care of them.

We help a lot of people buy and sell property in SW Florida.  Sometimes we don’t take a listing because we can’t help the seller.  Sure, we could take a lot more listings, but in the end, if you know it’s not right you’re not helping anybody.

Most sellers don’t know for sure where they’d go if they sold.  They know their current home isn’t ideal for them anymore, but they don’t know how they’d get to another home.  It’s logistics.  This is where a great agent can help.  You must have a plan to get from point A to point B.  There are steps, and good agents have a track record of accomplishing this.  Sellers see the task as daunting, so they give up before they start.

Mortgage Applications Rise Sparking Important Questions

Sometimes homeowners look back on their life and hate how they’ve been stuck someplace that doesn’t make them happy.  We’re not saying you should sell today at all costs.  What we are saying is if you have a home that isn’t working for you anymore, there are options, and today more things are possible than they were in past.

Call Sande or Brett Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4 and schedule a sit-down appointment to go over your needs.  If you’re just looking for a quick, free online evaluation, we provide that service as well.  Simply go to www.SWFLhomevalues.com and it does a pretty good job of estimating your home’s value instantly.  Did we say Free?

Of course, there’s no substitute for consulting with us.  We’re here when you’re ready to talk, and we have tools for you if you’re just curious and beginning the thought process.

Good luck and Happy Home Buying/Selling!

See last week’s article “Median Time to Contract Increased 20.6% in August

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Ellis Team Facebook Page-Open Houses

 

One of the things we look at in evaluating the local real estate market is how long it takes to sell a home.  New statistics just released indicate the median time to contract increased 20.6% in August 2019 versus 2018.

Median Time to Contract Increased in August

Median Time to Contract Increased

If you look at the chart, we see a 15.9% year over year increase in the time it takes to sell a home.  This tells us it’s not a one-month blip on the chart.  It’s taking longer to sell a home in 2019 than it did in 2018.

There is good news though. New pending sales were up 2.9% in August versus last year, and inventory is actually down 3.9% The numbers tell a story that at least in August, it’s kind of a mixed market.  We’ll keep our eyes open for trends that will swing the market one way or another.

The local real estate market is sort of like the economy.  There are positive signs like employment numbers, interest rates, etc.  There are also signs of consumer confidence perhaps swinging while people wonder what the outcome of the China trade agreement will bring.

What all this process is that the Internet does not sell homes.  Experienced agents that price homes properly and aggressively market homes sell homes.  It’s not enough to throw it up on MLS and hope another Realtor sees it, or a buyer sees it online and falls in love with it.

Marketing Still King

There is competition for the buyers, and buyers are still swayed by marketing.  As an example, we get a certain number of leads through a paid advertising program we use.  It costs a lot of money, and it’s very successful.  When we launch additional targeted online advertising promoting our listings or our open houses, we get dozens more leads looking to buy now.  Had we not done that extra advertising, we would not have gotten those buyers.

We can track which ad each buyer came from and which property they clicked on.  We know exactly which ads work.  This knowledge helps us repeat the process.  Each time we list a new property we can design ads that bring in buyers for that property.

Chances are we might already have a buyer.  Yesterday I was at a listing appointment and we searched for leads looking in their subdivision.  We had 572 leads looking in their subdivision, complete with name, phone number, and email address.  Once this property goes on the market, our team of agents have built-in leads they can call announcing the new listing and giving these 572 people first crack at seeing the home.  That’s the power of marketing.

Agents that sit back and wait for other agents to show their home don’t have a database of buyers like the Ellis Team does.  At last check we had 8,373 in one system alone.  The advertising platforms cost money, so not every agent can afford to market like this.  When you’re interviewing agents, you’ll want to ask to see their online leads and how many they have for a home like yours.  Is the data good, or is it just email addresses?  Good data to us is when we have their contact information and we know the buyer’s What and When.

If we have the buyer’s What we can help find them what they’re looking for, and on their timeline.  If a buyer is 5 years out, that’s not going to help any of our current sellers today.  Building up a consistent pipeline is key to getting seller’s homes sold quickly.

If you have a home to sell, call Brett or Sande Ellis 239—489-4042 Ext 4 or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com We can sit down with you and show you how we’re different.

In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye out on the market for you.  Good luck and Happy Selling!

From time to time we like to take a snapshot in time and evaluate what’s going on in the local real estate market.  It’s been awhile since we’ve posted our Lee County 7-day real estate market watch, so we decided it’s time.

Lee County 7 Day Real Estate market Watch 9-21-19

As you can see from the chart,  the Lee County 7 day real estate market watch shows pending sales outpaced new listings 359 to 299.  If you add back in the 82 back on market listings, you’ll notice that inventory slightly outpaced pending sales.  It’s fairly normal to have fallout on pending sales for various reasons.

Buyers have inspections and sometimes try to use that as an additional negotiation point which results in contract fallout.  Sometimes a buyer’s financing falls through, or occasionally a property might not appraise.  Any number of things can cause contract fallout.

The other thing we noticed this 7-day period is the price decreases.  There were 305.  This tells us 305 sellers overpriced their home.  The sellers are still motivated to sell and they’re doing what it takes to find the market for their home.

We’ve got a pretty good market right now, and you don’t want to miss it.  Don’t worry, plenty of sellers will miss this market.  We see homes fail to sell in all kinds of markets.  Remembering back to 2005 there were tons of sellers that didn’t sell because they thought the market would keep going higher and their investment was their lottery ticket.

The thing is, lottery tickets expire.  They don’t last forever.  Real estate markets don’t stay the same forever either, both on the upside and the downside.  We’ve got a pretty good market going, and we haven’t seen a lot of appreciation in Lee County the past several years, so they’re no reason to believe our market is in jeopardy, unlike 2005.  The key term here is sustainability, and we have that barring any wild cards.

You’ve heard the term perfect storm before.  Usually this refers to a market that’s over valued and one or more events triggers a fall.  What we have today might be a perfect opportunity.  There is no storm.  We’ve had a boring market locally the last few years.  We didn’t participate in any great upside, and if there was a downside, we might not see as much of that compared to other areas because of this fact.

Low interest rates are creating the opportunity for a seller to sell and re-invest in another home at low rates.  Today rates are around 3.25%  A seller could hold out for home prices to go up another 5-10%, but at what cost?  Chances are the home they’re moving to will also go up 5-10%.  If that weren’t enough, chances are the mortgage rate will go up too.

A 1% rise in rates could cost a borrower tens of thousands of dollars in interest.  It also costs a borrower buying power as they qualify for less.  If you’re a seller and have been eyeing a move, now might be the time to talk about your options.

We’ve got some good lenders that can sit down with you and go over your options.  The Ellis Team can evaluate your property and tell you what it should sell for today.  We can even calculate how much you’d net out at the closing table after all expenses, so you know how much you’d be working with for the new home.

Times like this are exciting, and they only come around once or twice in your lifetime.  Can you remember when mortgage rates were 3.25%?  When I first got in the business in 1988 interest rates were about 11-12%  I bought my first home in 1989 with a 10.5% rate and thought that was great.

We may never see 3.25% again.  We don’t know how long this will last.  All we can do is help as many as possible while we can.  If you’re thinking of selling, call Sande or Brett Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4

Of course, we can help you purchase too.  Visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com to find out what your home is worth.

Good luck and Happy Selling!

See last week’s article Prospective Home Buyers Have Difficulty Finding Right Home

A recent survey from the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) shows that 55% of prospective home buyers have difficulty finding the right home.  That same survey says that 84% aren’t willing to give up their search.

62% will continue looking for the right home in their preferred location.  36% agreed to expand their search area.  21% are prepared to accept a smaller or older home than they originally sought out.  16% are willing to increase their price range to get the home they want because they have the means.  Another 16% say they’re putting off their search until next year.

Low interest rates are increasing demand from prospective home buyers and should allow for price increases because now typical buyers qualify for more home than they did last Fall.  Locally we’re seeing multiple offers on some properties.  Pending sales are increasing, but so has the inventory slightly.  If these low rates continue, we could see inventory levels fall as buyers scoop up more homes.

Speed is key to scoring a home in this environment.  Buyers need an agent that knows the market and can respond quickly.  You can’t have an agent that takes the month off and expect to score a home when homes are selling quickly.

Information is key as well.  Our website www.LeeCountyOnline.com gives buyers an advantage too because it has all the listings, and it’s updated every few minutes.  Surprisingly, many of the big websites don’t have all the listings, or the data is outdated.  It’s hard to win a sprint when you’re giving your opponent a 25-yard start.  The same is true in real estate.  It’s hard to beat out other buyers to hot new listings if you’re getting information a few days late.

It’s not just the new listings either.  Price reductions are important.  I can’t tell you how many times a home goes under contract within a day or two of a price reduction.  A price reduction essentially makes it a new listing on the market.  It was off the radar for buyers when it was over-priced.  As soon as it gets into range, it shows up on their radar.  Essentially, it’s newfound inventory to the buyer they didn’t know existed.

Prospective Home Buyers Neighborhood Market Report
Prospective home buyers have difficulty finding right home. Use our neighborhood reports

Our website also has market reports, so you not only see active and pending homes, you can also see sold properties complete with inside photos.  Now you have an excellent way of comparing homes without having to be a Realtor.

In fact, we have a lot of real estate agents registered on our website because they don’t want to pay for MLS.  If you’re an agent, please don’t do this.  You should join the Board and pay for MLS like the rest of us.  It’s also not fair to Ellis Team agents who are working hard calling leads trying to get them the best home they can afford.

Our agents are full-time and they’re serious.  We’re not here to sell anybody anything.  We’re here to uncover your needs and help you find it in the most efficient way possible.  If you’re not ready to purchase yet and just looking, that’s OK too.  We’re not here to bug people.  We may stay in touch from time to time to see if anything has changed.  We see our job as to help you when you’re ready.  We’re here when you need us, and we don’t want to bug you too much when you don’t.

Interest rates are down around 3.3%.  With rates this low, buyers are deciding now may be the time.  Call an Ellis Team agent and we’ll be happy to sit down with you and go over your options.  We have some excellent lenders we work with.

If you’re looking to sell, call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4  We’ll show you how to sell your home quickly and walk you through all the steps.  We can even find you your next home too.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!  Don’t forget to use our site or call us.  You’ll be glad you did.

See last week’s article Lee County Closed Home Sales up 8.2%

Lee County closed home sales were up 8.2% in July over last year signaling buyers are taking advantage of historically low rates while they can.  Prior to May the Lee County housing market had been trending under 2018 levels.  We officially broke out of that in May and haven’t looked back since.

Lee County July Closed Home Sales up 8.2%
Lee County Closed Home Sales up 8.2%

Last year Fall rates shot up about 1%.  That can and will happen again someday.  When they shot up, it limited price gains, and it dampened home sales because affordability was an issue when rates rose.

Buyers felt it instantly.  Sellers didn’t feel the pinch until they saw there were fewer buyers for their home.  More sellers placed their home on the market, and inventory began to build.  For sellers, rising rates is a lagging indicator because it takes them a few months to feel the pain the buyer feels today.

Fast forward to today.  Home prices have begun rising again, if only slightly.  Successful homes closed have risen, and new pending sales were up 4.5%.  New listings fell by 5.7% with the latest numbers.  It’s only a matter of time before the active inventory levels fall.  Currently they’re still 1.8% higher than last year, but if these trends continue, we expect those numbers to fall.

What we don’t know is how many new sellers will decide to enter the market given recent strength.  Market forces shape the entirety of the local real estate market.  It’s not as simple as supply and demand.  This is because supply and demand is the end result.  What influences supply and demand ultimately influences the market and that is what we attempt to flush out for you each week.

If you want to know where the market is headed, you must first know where it’s been, where it is now, and what is influencing it.  It sort of reminds me of Hurricane Dorian.

For days experts told us where they thought it was going. It was being influenced by high pressures in multiple locations, upcoming troughs and ridges, all of which were the steering currents.  Hurricanes don’t steer themselves.  They are just bundles of energy doing what they do.  External forces steer them.

Steering currents are like supply and demand.  Everyone knows that’s what drives the hurricane, or the market.  But knowing what drives the currents is critical to knowing where things are going.  Luckily, the computer models did a pretty darn good job with the storm.  They told us it would stall out and sit there until other forces decided to move it out.

Real estate markets sometimes stall out until a new force enters the market and drives the thing.  Right now, our market is being driven by low rates and tax advantages.  Underlying currents are global trade, foreign currencies vs the dollar, jobs, the economy, the availability of money, and a handful of other factors.

We don’t control these external forces.  All we control is how we react to them.  People are reacting by making purchases because it saves them money.  Consumers sense a real opportunity now; one they don’t want to miss.  Savings on a 30-year loan add up.

We’ve got some great lenders that can help you take advantage of these low rates.  We just had a buyer get a 3.3% fixed 30-year loan.  Some buyers need help, and we have lenders that can help with that too.  Give our team a call and we can put you in touch with a lender.  If you need help with your credit, they can tell you what you need to do to qualify.  Many buyers are surprised that they qualify now.  Others just have a little bit of work to do and will qualify in a month or two once they take an action step.

Call our office at 239-489-4042 and speak to one of our buyer specialists or visit www.LeeCountyOnline.com   If you’re thinking of selling, ask for Brett or Sande at Ext 4 or visit www.swflhomevalues.com .  We may be able to make your dream a reality, and at low, low rates.

See last week’s article Lee County July 2019 Real Estate Prices Rise Slightly