Florida International real estate sales rise 21% of total dollar volume and 15% of total sales in 2017.  Both numbers were up versus 2016 numbers.  This tells us that foreign buyers are here purchasing, and because the total volume is higher, they are purchasing higher than average priced homes.

So where are these Lee County foreign buyers coming from?  According to the Florida Realtors profile of international real estate activity, Lee County saw the largest amount coming from Canada, followed by Germany and United Kingdom.

Florida International Real Estate Sales Rise Where Lee County Foreign Buyers Come From

Florida International Real Estate Sales Rise

Just this past week the Ellis Team placed a property under contract with a Canadian buyer, and we just completed a transaction with a German owner.  Over the course of time, these countries fairly well describe who buys in Lee County from overseas, but there are fluctuations.

Two factors that influence foreign buyers are the changes in currency valuations, and the home price growth from the foreign country.

The Canadian dollar hasn’t moved much against the US dollar, so you might wonder why the increased interest.  Canadian home prices have been sky-high.  They have equity. Some say they’ve risen so high the bubble might burst as there is no rational basis for why their prices have grown so high.  But then again, there never is in Canada.  They have their own economic forces.  It’s like gravity is different up there.

Canada was number 4 in the world for real price growth behind the Philippines, Hong Kong, and New Zealand.  This confidence and equity has spurred opportunities for Florida as Canadians love visiting our sunshine and beaches.

72% of foreign buyers pay cash. But Canadians only finance 14% of the time. United Kingdom buyers finance 23% of the time.

Ellis Team markets to Foreign Buyers

The Ellis Team markets to foreign buyers as well as US buyers.  In a market like Florida you have to market to reach the entire universe of buyers.  Especially given the fact that 21% of Florida’s sales volume comes from foreign buyers.

While this report covers all of 2017, there can be shifts. We study our website traffic over the last year and compare to the last month and week. We see some recent changes.  This past week Canada still led the way, followed by Germany and Sweden.  United Kingdom is at #9 for the year and not even in our top 10 for the last week.  Brazil slipped to #9 in the past week.  They’ve been in the #6 spot for the past year.

Florida International Real Estate Sales Rise

Changes in currency, political environments, and home prices abroad can affect our market here quickly.  We can monitor on a week to week or even day to day basis.

The bottom line is, if you’re only marketing to local buyers you’re missing out on a large portion of the market.  In addition to 21% of the volume from international buyers we sell many homes to US citizens from other states.

Florida International Real Estate Sales Rise Website Visitors By State

Over the past year Illinois lead the way in property searches on LeeCountyOnline.com followed by New York and Michigan.  It’s no wonder we’re working with so many buyers from IL right now.  The Ellis team is working with buyers from all 10 of these states.  They are searching for property in Southwest Florida and we are helping them purchase it.

Thinking of Selling?

If you’re thinking about selling your SW Florida property, it pays to work with a Realtor that markets across the US and internationally.  Have them show you how many buyers they’re generating and from where.  If they can’t show you, they either aren’t marketing there or don’t focus on it.

The Ellis Team will be glad to sit down with you and see how we can help you get top dollar for your home.  Call 239-489-4042 and ask for Sande or Brett.  Or feel free to search our SW Florida MLS Search Site  The rest of the world does.  You might as well too.

 

Ellis Team Weekend Open House

Open Sat 1-3 PM

Daniel’s Park

Ellis Team Featured Homes of the Week

Reflection Lakes New Listing

Gulf Harbour Condo

Paramount at the Shores

Paramount at the Shores Gulf Harbour

4 Bed 5 Bath Condo overlooking River, marina, and golf course

 

As sure as the sun comes up each day in Southwest Florida, two things are certain this time of year. Sellers consider placing their home on the market in January and November begins the Southwest Florida real estate agents year end ritual.  Real estate agents consider their career options.  It is predictable and certain.

Southwest Florida Real Estate Agents Year End Ritual

January 2016 saw an increase in listings of 20.34%.  This past January we saw a rise of 12.1%, and it’s not uncommon to see more in February as well.  Sellers must all decide “season” is the best time to put home on the market.  The smart sellers place their home on the market before season as they have less competition from other sellers.  There are lots of buyers out there right now and getting a jump-start on them can help sellers win the selling game before others come on market in a few months.

December is also the season when real estate agents decide if they’re going to stay in the business, join a team, or change brokerages.  People are surprised to learn that the average real estate agent completes less than 1 deal per year, and thousands of agents don’t do any deals throughout the year.

Southwest Florida Real Estate Agents Year End Ritual

Board dues and MLS fees are due December 31 and total $725.  That’s a lot of money if you’re selling less than 1 home per year.  Everybody thinks real estate is easy and fun, so they jump in thinking they’re going to make a fortune and get to see a lot of nice homes.  What they find is acquiring customers is costly and time consuming, and people are hard to work with when you don’t know the business.

Real estate customers need to be led.  They come to an agent with experience in solving problems and advising on their best move.  The fact is, they don’t come at all though unless you go out and prospect for them.  Advertising is expensive, and most people just aren’t financially capable of shelling out the kind of money it requires.

Are All Agents the Same?

Customers think all agents are the same and they’re just sitting around waiting for the phone call.  They’re quick to ask for commission reductions not knowing the agent they hired may not eat next week.  Customers just don’t see all the costs associated with the real estate business, and neither do agents, until it’s too late.

Agents are much like consumers.  They seek the lowest cost place to work thinking that if they control costs, more will fall to the bottom line.  For Sale By Owners have a similar belief.  The less you pay the more you’ll receive.  This isn’t true for sellers and it’s not true for agents either.

Real estate agents shop brokers for highest commission split, lowest desk fees, etc. Sounds a lot like sellers shopping for a Realtor sell their home.

If you’re a seller, you should check out your agent’s sales for the year.  Ask them if they’re considering moving brokerages, joining a team, or leaving the business altogether.  This might influence whether you hire them, wouldn’t it?

Agents will want to reflect on 2017.  Was it a good year?  Are you at the best place for you? If you had only a handful of sales or less, what could you do differently in 2018?

Real estate is a tough business.  There’s always room for great people.  I wish people did more homework before getting licensed, jumping in and selecting a place to work.  I wish buyers and sellers did more homework on selecting the right agent.

Experience Matters

Experience matters when you’re competing against other buyers and sellers.  It certainly matters how your agent advertises.  If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-489-4042  Or search online for Free at www.LeeCountyOnline.com  If you’re thinking of getting into the business, call Sande or Brett Ellis and we’ll talk about how you can succeed in real estate, and things to think about Before you make your decision.

Good luck and Happy Selling!

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Estero Country Living Perfect for RV or Boat Owners

Open House Sat 1-3 PM

Open Saturday 1-3 PM

Olde Hickory Golf Course Open Houses

 

 

Olde Hickory Home Open Sat 1-3 PM

14381 Old Hickory Fairway Ct

$430,000

2,647 SQ Ft Living Area

 

 

Olde Hickory Golf & Country Club Open House Sat 1-3 PM

9071 Old Hickory Cir

$375,000

3 Bedrooms, 3 Baths

 

 

Can you believe it’s 2017 and we still receive phone calls from people who say “I want to buy a foreclosure in Southwest Florida?”  It’s true.  Short sales too.

Who wouldn’t want a bargain, especially when prices have risen so much from the bottom of the market back in the housing crisis?  People also watch those TV shows and see how others flip houses for unbelievable profit with little to no work.  Other TV shows illustrate how buyers can buy a property, put some sweat equity into it, and flip for amazing profits.

Want to Buy a Foreclosure in Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida isn’t that market.  In September there were exactly 2 short sales and 13 foreclosure sales in Lee County.  As we know Hurricane Irma slowed down sales, so we went back to August and found there were 8 short sales and 41 foreclosure sales.  Short sales and foreclosures combined came to about 4% of the total sales in Lee County in August, and about 2% in September.  There just are not many short sale and foreclosure listings out there.

Want to Buy a Foreclosure in Southwest Florida

We get it, everybody wants a deal.  However, the thing people need to know is when a bank agrees to take less to allow a short sale, they still do an appraisal.  They may consider taking less if the owner is a default risk and the property’s value is truly below market value.  What they will not do is give the property away just so a new buyer can keep the equity.  If a bank is going to take a loss, they want to minimize the loss.

When a bank sells a foreclosure, they typically want as much money as the market will allow for the property in its present condition.  The banks often even spent money to fix up homes to increase their value.

There are good values in Lee County, you just need to know how to find them.  Wasting time searching for 2% of the market will leave buyers frustrated.  It all depends on your definition of a good value.  Homes priced at or near fair market value are a good value.  Homes priced well over are not and will probably not sell unless the seller makes changes.

There are two ways to find value.  First is pick a website that has all the listings and is updated instantly.  Our website www.LeeCountyOnline.com has all the listings and it’s updated every minute.  So when a Realtor inputs a new listing, or makes a price change, our database will know about it and display the new information.

In a race to beat out other buyers to the best listings, speed wins.  Having perfect knowledge of the market back in 2007 will not help you buy a house today.  And having day old MLS data from yesterday will not help you either.

Secondly, you need an agent on your side that understands the market.  Agents with experience know how hurricanes, interest rates, new schools, company headquarters, new roads, hospitals, etc. affect the market.  Numbers are great, but having an expert helping you can make all the difference.

 

The Ellis Team has been around for 30+ years in Southwest Florida.  We’ve done thousands of transactions, and some people think we’ve seen everything.  We haven’t, as we see new things all the time that still amaze us.  What hasn’t changed is people.  People still want the same things for their family today.  They still use the same negotiating tactics.  They may have different tools, but the tactics are the same.

We can help you navigate the maze of real estate.  From selecting the property, to negotiating, to inspections, and closing, we help coordinate it for you.  You don’t have to worry as we handle the process.  If not the Ellis Team, make sure you’re working with an experienced team who will be there for you.  It’s all fun and games until somebody gets poked in the eye, then the name calling begins.  We’ll help you avoid all that.  Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-489-4042.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Gulf Harbour

360 Virtual Tour Gulf Harbour Condo

Reflection Lakes

2 Condos in South Fort Myers

Most people tend to believe the lower end is always the strongest segment of the real estate market.  If you looked at the October Months’ Supply of Inventory you would agree.  The months’ supply graph is a snapshot in time, so we added a little something to it this month. Upper end homes leading the SW Florida real estate market.

Upper End Homes Leading the SW Florida Real Estate Market

What if you looked at the change in direction from our previous snapshot in July?  Would that change your opinion?  Static data paints a picture and changes in direction tells a story.  The changes are not huge numbers.  For instance, the $Million+ went from 15.66 months in July down to 14.62 months in October.

Each price point above $300,000 saw a reduction.  Each price point below $300,000 saw an increase in months’ supply.  Many times, we see a price range here and there flip, so it stood out to us when we saw such a shift up to a point certain.

Upper End Homes Leading the SW Florida Real Estate Market

So, what does all this tell us?  Perhaps a lot, and perhaps not much.  It tells us we should keep an eye on it more so for the change in direction than for the change in numbers themselves.  You see, the number change isn’t particularly significant.

We did have a disruption in the market in September.  Could it be that lower end homes were hit harder than upper end homes?  Possibly, but if it were true that closed sales were disrupted you would also think that current inventory would be disrupted too.  Could it be that prices have risen to a point where first-time buyers and below $300,000 buyers are tapped out and can’t afford more increases?

If the latter were true we’ll see that going forward.  Keep in mind, as season approaches we’ll have more listings coming to the market and more buyers from up North buying homes too.  That can skew local buyers’ affordability issues until after season.

My intuition tells me numbers going forward will be strong.  While we’ll track these numbers going forward they may just be a blip.  I would have expected the lower end to have done better simply because we see lower end homes being gobbled up in days if not minutes.

Data Speaks For Itself

We like to report the numbers as we see them.  We don’t use the numbers to prove what we think is happening in the market.  The numbers tell us what actually is happening.  From there we can interpret what we think it means, but it does no good to try to use numbers to prove a point just to be right.

Throw in a hurricane for good measure and numbers can state about anything you want them to say.  We’ll report September housing numbers for Southwest Florida soon.  As you would imagine, our market was disrupted, and the numbers bear that out.  We may even see a rise in October numbers due to sales that were postponed from September.

Our team is bringing several homes to market.  We’ve got some good values and more coming.  If you’d like to search the MLS like a pro, visit www.LeeCountyOnline.com  Customers love it because the data is updated instantly.  This past week a customer asked me why a home shows one price online but a different price on our website.  I explained that our website has an instant feed, so when any agent in MLS changes a price or adds a new listing, it shows up right away on our site.

Accurate, Speedy Data Wins

This is particularly important when you’re looking to find the right home.  Speed wins, and beating out other buyers to hot new properties can be the difference between owning that home and watching someone else buy it.  The same is true with price changes.  Imaging having your eye on a property and seeing it sell because it was reduced.  But you didn’t see the reduction because the site you use never displayed it.  It was sold before they could display it.  That doesn’t happen with our website.

If you have a property to sell, the Ellis Team can sell it fast and for Top Dollar.  Call Brett or Sande 239-489-4042.  We can help you buy that dream home too.  Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty!

Ellis Team Featured Property of the Week

New Listing in Reflection Lakes

Every day we get questions from buyers and sellers.  We thought we’d provide expert answers to common real estate questions we hear often and inform readers because they may have similar questions.

Expert Answers to Common Real Estate Questions

What is Definition of a Sellers Market?  Most experts agree that 5.5 months’ supply of inventory is a balanced market.  Anything less than 5.5 months’ supply is considered a seller’s market and anything more is considered a buyer’s market.  Keep in mind the same local real estate market can have sectors.  Certain price ranges in SW Florida for instance could be a seller’s market while other are balanced or a buyer’s market.

How Much Money Do I Need to Purchase a Home?  We sell homes ranging from 0% down all the way to 100% cash.  There are various loan programs available to buyers.  Knowing who has the programs and what income and credit scores you need to qualify are the key.  There are even down payment assistance programs and bond money available.  The best thing to do is call the Ellis Team and we’ll put you in touch with someone who can help.

Do I Need to Sell My Current Home to Buy Another?  Not necessarily.  We’re seeing a resurgence in bridge loans and equity loans.  Scoring that dream home in paradise can be difficult with low inventory.  A bridge loan is a loan from the bank to cover an interval between two transactions.  It’s a bridge to get from one transaction to another, thus how it got its name.  We have people who do these loans so you can buy your dream home, then we sell yours for Top Dollar.

How Many Homes Do Most Buyers View Before Purchasing?  NAR says it’s 12.  It really depends on the market and price range.  For instance, if you’re shopping in the $200,000 price range in Fort Myers, there may only be 4 homes that match your criteria.  Other price ranges may offer more or less.  If you’re working with a great real estate agent who listens to your initial needs, you may not need to see more than 3 or 4.  Viewing more homes doesn’t make you a smarter shopper.  It just takes more time, and as time slips by, so do the homes you’re thinking of purchasing.  Speed wins.  You’re in competition with other buyers, not the seller.  You want to identify the best home as quickly as possible and snag it before another buyer does.

Should I Get a Home Inspection?  We recommend them.  You want an expert who can identify problems you might not see with the naked eye.  Inspectors offer years of experience and wisdom.  Not every finding is a cause for concern.  An inspection can be peace of mind even if it identifies maintenance items you should be aware of down the road.  When something major is found a request to either repair or replace it can be made to the seller.  Failing that the buyer may cancel the contract the contract depending on how the contract was written.  An experienced agent can walk you through your options, before and after the inspection.

Do I Need an Agent For New Construction?  Yes, you should use an agent always.  Experienced agents are aware of discounts and opportunities the builder may not tell the public.  Additionally, the developer wants to sell one product, but is that the right new construction product for you?  Agents can show you all the new construction projects that meet your criteria, not just one.  Whether you’re looking at new construction, resale, or both, you should always use an agent.  It doesn’t cost more to use one, but it sure could cost you if you don’t.

If you have more questions, Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty.  We’ll be glad to answer your questions.  You can search the MLS like a pro for Free at www.LeeCountyOnline.com  Or call us at 239-489-4042  We’re here to help!

It’s a few weeks after hurricane Irma and already we see Lee County sellers enjoying inventory supply advantage the first week of October.  Last week we told you that the hurricane could become a tremendous opportunity for SW Florida home sellers.   Inventory was already low at 4,666 at end of August.  We predicted a possible 10% decrease in inventory which would take us down to 4,200 listings.  This week single family inventory stands at 4,248, so that assumption has come true.

Lee County Sellers Enjoying Inventory Supply Advantage

In the last 24 hours 73 new listings have come on the market, while 76 went pending.  This tells us that early in the week more people are buying than deciding to sell.  If this continues, inventory will fall even further. Each year, many home sellers decide to sell in January.  I guess they think somehow, it’s a better time to sell as more visitors are here beginning in January.

It is true, we will have more people here January through March.  It’s also true that those visitors will have many more listings to choose from than they do now.  So as a seller, is it better to sell in season, or now?

We believe it may be better to sell now.  We have lots of buyers ready to purchase now.  We have low inventory.  Buyers just do not have the choices now that they will have in season.  Sure, there are lots of buyers that do not have to buy now.  They can wait for more choices.  However, some do not have that luxury and need to buy now.  Isn’t it always better to sell when people need to buy and there isn’t much to choose from?

Imagine the stores just before the hurricane.  If you got there late and there were only a few cases of water, did you care what brand it was?  Did you care if it was 50 cents more than the brand you usually buy?  No, you needed water.  You recognized scarcity and what it would mean if you didn’t buy it.

If you are thinking about selling, you are a store right now and the shelves are kind of empty.  Maybe not completely empty, but definitely not full.  In January, those shelves will have more on them.

If prices go up in the next 3 months, many of those potential buyers may become lookers.  If you think there are lookers in this market now, wait until season.  Just because the roads become clogged doesn’t mean everyone here wants to buy.  Many look, and look for years.  If they don’t see SW Florida as a bargain, they may not buy.  If prices go up in the next 3 months, we may not look like a bargain.  And who wins if that happens?  The sellers who decided to sell when the shelves were bare and the buyers needed to purchase.

Nobody knows how the market will be next season.  We do know the market today, and there are opportunities.  The data agrees.  Please call Brett or Sande at 239-489-4042 to see how much we can sell your home for and how much you would net at closing.

If you’re looking at buying, speed is key in this market.  www.LeeCountyOnline.com is the fastest real estate search engine.  It has all the listings and is updated every few minutes, which is key when you’re competing against other buyers to score that dream home.  Always call and Ellis Team agent and we’ll help you locate and close on your dream home.  Finding it is one thing.  Actually buying it and closing it is another, and that’s where our agents shine.

We look forward to helping you buy or sell.  Let us know how we can help you.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Heritage Cove Open Saturday 1-3 PM

 

Kelly Greens Golf & Country Club Open House Saturday 1-3 PM

View All Reflection Lakes Fort Myers Homes For Sale

See Spotlight on Reflection Lakes

Now may be a good time to sell your Southwest Florida Home.  We have buyers who need housing after Hurricane Irma.

Official SW Florida real estate statistics were just released for August and one thing that stands out to us is the drop in inventory.  This leads us to believe now is an excellent opportunity to sell SW Florida real estate after Hurricane Irma.

Inventory was falling pre-hurricane Irma.  We suspect some homes on the market were damaged. If 4,666 were on the market prior, and assuming 10% sustained damage, that would take us down to 4,200 homes.

Excellent Opportunity to Sell SW Florida Real Estate After Hurricane Irma Housing Inventory

Additionally, there are many displaced homeowners and renters in the Bonita, Buckingham, and San Carlos areas that need housing.  Flooding was an issue in these areas and some homes are uninhabitable.

Excellent Opportunity to Sell SW Florida Real Estate After Hurricane Irma

After Hurricane Charley in 2004 we saw an increase in home sales.  Buyers competed for properties because people needed housing.  The same scenario could very well play out in 2017.

Our phone has been ringing from buyers and investors looking to purchase.   We filter out the sharks that want to come in and buy up property for pennies on the dollar.  They are unrealistic and they do not care about people.  They seek opportunity.  Perhaps there will be opportunity for them with the flooded out and heavily damaged homes.

We focus on homeowners and investors who acknowledge there is a need for housing and are seeking solutions to meet that need.  If your home in uninhabitable, you need housing now.  They need a home that meets their needs, and they can’t be choosy if it has everything they’d want.

Some homeowners may decide they’ve had enough. Owning a 2nd home and preparing for storms can be tough, especially if they find they’re just not using and enjoying the home right now like they thought they would.  Circumstances change.  Other buyers are looking to purchase here because they’re at a point in their life where they will come down and enjoy the home.  Enjoying a 2nd home is a cycle, and depending where you are in that cycle makes all the difference whether it’s a good time to buy or sell.

Thinking of Selling?

If you own a home and you’re thinking of making a change, please call us at 239-489-4042.  Ask for Sande or Brett.  We’ll be glad to walk you through your options.  We can tell you how much we can sell your home for, and how much you would net at the closing table after paying off all mortgages and expenses.  Then you can decide if it makes sense to sell.  Or, you can see how much your home is worth online for free!

Selling is more fun when there is less competition from other sellers.  We have low inventory right now, and in about a month we’ll see if we lost more.  Demand probably just picked up as well, so a hurricane can be a perfect opportunity for home sellers, if they’re marketed properly.

Thinking of Buying?

If you’re a buyer, scoring a home right now can be tough.  There are several buyers looking for similar listings and not enough to go around.  You can call the Ellis Team and speak with our buyer specialists who are experts at making offers look more attractive than other competing offers to the seller.  This can be the difference between buying your 1st choice or settling for your 5th choice, if there even is a 5th choice.  Many times there are just a few homes that meet your needs on the market.

In a race against other buyers, speed wins.  I’d recommend searching at www.LeeCountyOnline.com  Our database has the entire MLS, and is updated every few minutes.  Don’t waste time using sites that don’t have accurate or timely data.  We get calls all the time from frustrated buyers who see something on a big website only to found out it was sold months ago.

Always call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty Fort Myers & The Islands.  239-489-4042.  We’re here to help.

Weekend Open Houses

Bell Tower Park Open House

Olde Hickory Open House

We’ve seen a lot of scams and misinformation this past week so we thought we’d pass along some useful SW Florida real estate hurricane news and information.

SW Florida Real Estate Hurricane News and Information Rumor Control

If your property insurance was cancelled leading up to the hurricane, executive order 17-235 issued by Governor Scott provides that cancellation is now rescinded for 90 days.  Furthermore, all rates are frozen for 90 days, and the order allows policyholders 90 days to provide requested information from their insurance company.  In other words, this will give policyholders time to either renew or shop around for coverage in the wake of the storm.  Great job Governor Scott.

FEMA is available to assist people with housing and emergency needs.  From what we can gather, you must prove losses and damage and in some cases, show hardship.  It looks like they’ll issue credits off your tax return in some cases.  FEMA says it will provide some coverage that your insurance company may not.  It may be worthwhile applying at www.disasterassistance.gov  We did hear of somebody receiving $500 on the spot for their business.  FEMA will send out claims adjusters to view your damage.  This is especially helpful if your property has been flooded or is uninhabitable.  There is some housing assistance for those people.

There are rumors that FEMA, the Red Cross and FPL will reimburse you for lost food, but this turns out to not be true.

We’ve heard FEMA will not reimburse you for lost food on the news, and yet we’ve seen a checklist for you to itemize your food losses.

You hear so many things online and in the news and it’s difficult to know what’s true.  It’s especially difficult in times of disaster, limited power, internet, etc.  Beware of scams.

Mortgage Relief

Mortgage forbearance is a hot topic.  Across social media everyone is advising you to apply and the banks must automatically grant you 3 free months of no payments.  Let’s clear up a few things in this regard.  Lenders are forgiving and offering assistance.  If you have a government backed mortgage through FNMA or Freddie Mac you may be able to postpone payments up to 12 months.  FHA loans may extend up to 90 days.  In some cases, they will go longer depending on circumstances.

It’s best to contact your lender yourself.  Be wary of online scams.  There should not be a fee charged to you for this help.  If someone is charging a fee, this might be your first red flag.  These payments are not waived, they are tacked on to the end of the loan, so if you don’t need the assistance, it might be best to pass on the idea.

We’re seeing contractors going door to door looking for work.  Again, be wary.  If you pay them money upfront you may never see them again, and you always want to see their license and insurance.  God forbid they get hurt on your property, or claim they did.  You could be out some cold hard cash and have legal worries. Be wary of offers and possible strings attached.  Evaluate the source of the help.You don’t need permits for everything.  We’ve heard things like fence repair and replacement in a storm doesn’t need it.  Be sure to check for yourself before completing or hiring repairs.

Buyers Are Looking

The good news is we have buyers contacting us looking to purchase.  People up North haven’t given up on Florida either as they are signing up at www.LeeCountyOnline.com and searching for property. If you have a home to sell, we have buyers.

While we’ve been busy this week delivering generators to those in need, we’ve also been scurrying to fix damaged listings impacted by Irma.  We’ve secured contractors to repair and replace items so our sellers can be on their way and buyers can move into their new home.  Buying and selling real estate is more complicated than ever.  It’s wise to hire a professional to help you with all the details.

If you’re buying or selling and need a professional Realtor, please call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-489-4042.  We’re here to help.

More Resources:

Best Hurricane Irma Computer Model

FEMA Hurricane Irma Page

American Red Cross Hurricane Irma Page

Hurricane Irma came and passed, and we survived.  Thank God it wasn’t as bad as it was predicted.  It’s been irritating and people are suffering, but we’re thankful for all we have and preservation of life.  So, let’s look at what we learned and talk about Southwest Florida real estate after hurricane Irma.

Many people didn’t realize flood insurance is affordable.  I spoke with some who thought it would be several thousand dollars per year and because their mortgage company didn’t require it, they were safe.  We learned that people in Houston thought the same thing.  Flooding in parts of Lehigh are horrific.  This flooding was not due to storm surge but rather rainfall.  Other areas like Island Park, Old Burnt store Rd, and several other communities experienced flooding like never before.  If flood insurance is affordable, go get it whether the mortgage company requires it or not.

Southwest Florida Real Estate After Hurricane Irma Older Pool Cage
Older Pool Cage

Much of the damage came from trees.  Large beautiful trees are a hazard in storms.  I don’t know what the solution is.  Perhaps cutting and trimming trees would help keep some of the weight down far from the trunk and save some of these trees from hitting homes and blocking streets?  Trees caused down power lines and were probably the number one reason power was out for so long for so many.

Southwest Florida Real Estate After Hurricane Irma Newer Pool Cage
Newer Pool Cage in Reflection Lakes

Make sure your subdivision clears its drains regularly.  This helps alleviate street flooding on private roads and can make the difference whether your street is passable after storm or not.  People in Cypress Cay in Gateway among others were stranded for days.  I’m sure there were other reasons, but anything that helps drainage is good.

Gas lines were long.  Whether you’re running generators or just trying to get to work having some extra gas around ahead of storm is a good thing.

Living close to restaurants and super markets is a good thing after a storm.  While many were slow to open, it was a huge relief when they did.  If you can walk to either, gas isn’t an issue.  If you can’t, at least you won’t burn much gas.  Cash is king.  A few restaurants were cash only because they didn’t have internet.  With banks and ATM’s closed, having cash ahead of storm is good.

Newer homes fared better.  We saw some older homes lose shingles.  Presumably this could be due to newer building codes, although we did see some homes missing tiles on the newer homes.  I saw some pool cages down built to older codes and some untouched built to the newer codes.  Of course, wind direction could affect these too.

The bottom line is SW Florida was lucky.  We are grateful.  Property damage was not as bad as expected and there was limited loss of life in Florida.  Southwest Florida real estate after Hurricane Irma will be just fine, if not better.  We will have a few weeks of rebuilding and repair but overall, we did well.

We have buyers.  If you’re thinking of selling, let us know.  Hurricane damage and flooding may wipe out some inventory for a while so we may be able to plug a buyer into your property soon.

If you’d like to search for your piece of paradise, check out www.LeeCountyOnline.com or call us at 239-489-4042  Power is not on at our office yet as of day we wrote this article, however we are taking calls remotely when we can.

Additional Resources:

We found a neat NOAA website that allows you to track damage to your Fort Myers property.  Click on the Hurricane Irma Imagery and zoom in to the area.  NOAA is updating this with new flights and sensors so new maps will be posted regularly.

Lee County Schools will not reopen until Sept 25th.

Hurricane Preparation Tips- 3 Yr old video while we were still with RE/MAX.  Tips still good though

Fort Myers Beach Sunset 1 Month Before Irma

This past week the over-riding question we get from customers and realtors alike is how will Southwest Florida hurricane affect local real estate market?  The answer is, it depends.

How Will Southwest Florida Hurricane Affect Local Real Estate Market

First off, we’ve been telling clients that the storm isn’t even here yet.  We’ve been focused on protecting life and property this week.  Buyers aren’t in the mood to house shop this week.  As Realtors, we’ve been assisting clients removing signs, lowering hurricane shutters, closing homes, and evacuating.  Our staff has postponed their own plans simply to help others.

Charley hit our area back in 2004 and bolstered our market.  It brought reconstruction and attention to our area.  You would have thought all the negative publicity would have hurt us, but it didn’t.  Renters were sometimes forced to find new rentals and it helped drive the resale and rental market.

One of the things I think about today is the used car market.  I hear there were 1 Million flooded cars in Houston area.  As insurance companies replace these cars for policy holders I can’t help but think it’s going to drive used car prices higher.  Much like the cash for clunkers program, the hurricane may raise used cars prices simply by taking supply out of market.

I’m writing this article days before Irma is scheduled to arrive.  Who knows, maybe Irma will shift east and not even hit SW Florida.

Charley was a small storm in size and we did not receive much flooding.  It was for us mostly a wind driven event.  Houston is primarily a water driven event, and in my opinion, that’s even worse.  Not only is flooding water more dangerous, it’s also more damaging over wide spread areas.

We have a low inventory market, so I’m not real excited about a hurricane eating up existing inventory.  Already rents are high, and if a tenant is displaced by the storm finding alternatives may be difficult if not impossible to find.

In many price ranges it’s slim picking for buyers, and it could get even slimmer.  It could force buyers to buy whatever they can after the storm, much like shoppers at Publix looking for the last truckload of water before the storm.

We’d much rather natural forces drive the real estate market.  We don’t need a natural disaster to create demand.  Demand is already pretty good.  Supply is already limited too.

We suspect it may take a week or two for life to return to normal, and that’s if the storm moves east and does minimal damage here.  If the storm were to hit the East coast of Florida hard, you could see many displaced people coming over here and paying cash for homes.  Not everyone can do that, but enough can that it could swallow up a lot of our inventory.  For years people from Miami have been coming over here and buying property.  If they were hit hard by a sudden event, it could spur more to move right now.

How Will Southwest Florida Hurricane Affect Local Real Estate Market?

We could write for days on possible scenarios and how the storm could affect the local real estate market.  So much of it just depends.  I think for now, we should all just focus on staying safe, executing our evacuation plans or hunkering down, and watch out for each other.

Hurricanes bring out the best and worst in people.  We witnessed so many wonderful people helping in Charlie and Wilma.  And we saw what stress can do to people as well.  Remember, stress manifests itself in many ways.  If you see someone lashing out or easily angry this next week or two, it may just be the stress of the storm piled up on other things going on in their life.  Lend a helping hand, be kind to one another, and watch out for your neighbor.  You’ll feel better knowing you did, and you just might need a helping hand yourself when you least expect it.

If you need help, don’t be too proud to ask.  We’re all in this together!  We’ll get through this.  If you’re looking for the best real estate website, check out www.LeeCountyOnline.com Or call us at 239-489-4042  Most of all, stay safe!  Real estate can be replaced.  You cannot!