We are proud to announce the formal opening of the Ellis Team luxury division of fine homes and estates.  While we’ve had a separate luxury division in the past, recently we’ve marketed luxury homes under the Ellis Team brand to great success.  We’ve been able to do this because our vast local marketing and our online presence which also has a global reach.

Ellis Team Luxury Division of Fine Homes and Estates

We’ve sold luxury homes without focusing on it.  What if we thought bigger?  What if we were intentional about it?  We work with a company that sells billions of dollars each year by its luxury agents and we haven’t tapped into that power, until now.  In fact, KW luxury agents sell $71 Million dollars of real estate each day.  That’s a lot of real estate, and that’s only 2,400 luxury agents worldwide producing that volume.

You must qualify to become a Keller Williams luxury agent by having multiple home sales in the top 5% of your market area.  We’ve been approached over the years to join this powerful group.  Sande and I both qualified, so we decided to investigate it further.  Our business has been growing steadily and we’ve been selling luxury listings through our own efforts.

Upon further investigation it became clear there were additional benefits we could offer our clients.  Luxury agents refer clients to other luxury agents.  By joining KW Luxury International, we now have access to the top agents in the world.  When they refer their high-end clients, they want to know they’re working with an agent on the other end that has experience and can handle high-end clientele. We are part of an online community that talks everyday about luxury issues.

If you’re going to market luxury property, it’s best to market globally.  We now have access to list luxury homes in the international MLS, so agents across the world will now see our luxury listings.

Additionally, we partnered with some of the premiere publications throughout the world.  Ellis Team luxury listings will now appear in these publications that reach affluent buyers.  Our listings are translated into 28 languages and appear in more than 80 countries.  The average income and net worth of these readers is astounding.  We’ll be happy to sit down with you and show you where your home would appear and what that could do for you.

We now have two separate brands online to market from.  This does not mean we are abandoning our traditional sales.  We’ve been growing as a team and we look forward to selling more properties this year than ever.  We are expanding our luxury reach by creating this separate division.

These two divisions work well together because some luxury buyers open businesses here locally and employ local workers.  This helps us all.  Other luxury buyers purchase 2nd or 3rd homes for vacation, which helps our tax base without adding to services required by the county.

You may not see all our luxury listings in all of our local ads, just as not all of our local listings qualify for the international ad campaigns.  Many of these publications set minimum price standards to appear in their publications.

The luxury division helps our traditional sales as it exposes us to more affluent buyers worldwide.  Many of these buyers purchase upscale luxury listings.  Some prefer value and purchase here in SW Florida because of that value.  The additional exposure to this clientele opens up SW Florida to more sales opportunities, both in the upscale market and the traditional market.  There is no better way to reach luxury buyers than the partnership we just formed with KW Luxury International.

If you have a home to sell, please call or email Brett or Sande Ellis directly.  We can expose your home to more buyers than other agents and get you Top Dollar for your home.  Please call 239-489-4042 Ext 4.  Ask for Sande or Brett, or email us at Sande@topagent.com or Brett@topagent.com, and we’ll see you at the top!

See last week’s article “Ellis Team sales Smash Records Again in 2019”

Feel free to search luxury listings at our SW Florida Real Estate search site.

Find out what your luxury home is worth instantly

Ellis Team sales smash records again in 2019. Our marketing is working.  In 2018 Board of Realtors sales were down 8.5% for the year.  In 2018 Ellis Team sales were up 53.73%.  2019 official numbers aren’t out yet, but we do have YTD numbers through November.  The Board of Realtors are down 1.2% for the year while the Ellis Team sales are up 18.82% That’s on top of the 53.73% sales gains from last year.

Ellis Team Sales Smash Records

Ellis Team Sales Smash Records Again in 2019

What’s our secret?  It’s a combination of things some would say is the secret sauce.  First off, we believe in marketing.  The Ellis Team survived back in the foreclosure crisis when a lot of other Realtors went out of business because we never stopped marketing.  Sure, times were tough, but we made it, and we sold a lot of homes.  In fact, the National Credit Union Association and Bank of America met with us and hired us because of our marketing and track record of getting homes sold, even the tough ones.

Thankfully, those days are long gone.  Marketing works in good times and bad.  When the market shifts, most agents hunker down and cut costs.  Sales go down when they cut marketing and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It’s wise to constantly evaluate what works and adapt to new methods and advertising channels.  We’ve done that, and today we reach more buyers through our advertising than ever before.  Our clients thank us because our listings sell.  In fact, Ellis Team listings sell faster and for more money than the average sale in MLS, and one reason is the extra exposure we can give our listings.

Ellis Team Luxury Division

The Ellis Team just opened our luxury division.  We can now offer additional marketing to luxury listings that increases our local and global reach. Talk to Brett or Sande Ellis if you have a luxury listing you’re thinking of selling.

Sande and Brett have a lot of experience selling in SW Florida and we’ve developed some proprietary systems that help our team stand out.

There’s much more, but the final point we’ll make today is our people.  We only hire the best.  Agents and Ellis Team managers go through a lengthy and exhaustive interview process to be on our team.  We look for people with drive, a willingness to learn, and values that match our own.  We don’t settle, and neither should you.

Best in Real Estate Fort Myers

Perhaps that’s why the Ellis Team has been voted the Best in Real Estate 4 years in a row in the News Press Readers’ poll.  Real estate is all about relationships.  We’re not here just to sell more homes.  We’re here to make a positive impact on each of our client’s lives.  Some buy or sell for happy reasons, and some for sad reasons.  Whatever your reason, we listen and care.  We devise solutions based on your needs, and your time frame.

The market is heating up.  Our phone is ringing, and the sales are coming. We understand that some agents’ business is down, so their perception is the market must be down. For agents that have a plan and are executing that plan, business is good.  As a seller, you want an agent that’s using the latest technology and marketing to reach more buyers for your home.

Marketing is the Key

The real estate industry is changing.  Generating leads has become more costly and time intensive.  Agents try to buy leads from providers because they don’t want to spend money on marketing or time lead generating.  We call that hitting the “Easy Button”.  When you do that, you’re always susceptible to the provider changing the terms and diluting the leads by selling same lead to many agents.  This is why agents are struggling.  There is a better way. Do your own marketing and own lead generating.  Yes, it takes time, skill, and courage.  In the end, it works, and sellers will hire you for it.

Call Brett or Sande Ellis at 239-489-4042 Ext 4 and we’ll be happy to discuss ways we can help you.  Even if you just have a simple real estate question, we’re here to help.  Or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com for a Free instant online home price evaluation.

See Last Week’s Article “Home Sale Price Gains a Trend in SW Florida?

Could home sale price gains become a trend in SW Florida?  It could, and here’s why.  SW Florida hasn’t seen true price gains the last few years for whatever reason. And that’s OK with us.  We always felt if there was a recession and price correction, SW Florida would be somewhat insulated as we didn’t participate in price run-ups like other counties in the state.  Now that the economy is taking off and interest rates are low, all signs seem go for the Florida real estate market.

Home Sale Price Gains a Trend in SW Florida

This creates an opportunity for SW Florida.  While all of Florida is benefiting from the booming economy, low rates, and low taxes, SW Florida may have more room to grow than other counties that have already experienced price gains.  Just as certain stock industries appreciate at various rates, so can local real estate markets.

High tax states like New York and New Jersey sometimes flock to the East coast of Florida, while Midwestern states like Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, etc. tend to migrate to the West coast.  Even that is changing though.  Part-time and full-time residents from East coast of Florida are coming over to West coast as well.  People want value and quality of life when deciding where to live, and SW Florida offers both, and it’s beginning to get noticed.  Our values are great, and traffic is so much better than the big cities.

Home Sale Price Gains a Trend in SW Florida?

Median home prices are up 5% this November vs. last November and average prices are up 1.6% Year to date median home prices are up 2.4% while average price are down 2.2%  We’ll be watching the next few months numbers to see if a price trend emerges.  The last few weeks we’ve written extensively on how the SW Florida real estate market is changing.  All these indicators point to a strengthening real estate market, and we love the potential of this market.

Stock pickers frequently look for the undervalued stocks in an industry, or the diamond in the rough.  SW Florida was forgotten about for whatever reason, and we think that’s about to change.  Will we see double digit growth?  Doubtful and we’re not looking for that.  We love steady, sustainable growth with quality of life.  SW Florida doesn’t want to become Miami West.  We have our own laid-back character and charm, and most want to keep it that way.  You can’t stop growth, but you can be smart about it.  Proper planning for roads, bridges, water quality, wildlife, shopping, etc. makes a big difference.

Near the end of January, we’ll have final 2019 numbers, and when final numbers are in, we believe 2019 will be a great year.  Home sales should eclipse the past 4 years, prices should be up, and inventory should be down.  If this holds true, we’ll have a better idea of how 2020 will shape up.  History only tells us where we’ve been.  It doesn’t always tell us where we’re going.  To know that, we either have to read the tea leaves or pull out our crystal ball.

It is hard to read the tea leaves if you don’t know exactly where you’ve been, where you are today, and what factors are influencing the market currently.  We have a pretty good handle on all three, and final 2019 numbers combined with January preliminary sales data will go a long way to telling us how season will go.

If you have a home to sell, always call Brett or Sande Ellis at the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-489-4042 Ext 4  or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com to get an instant free analysis of your home.

We hope the holidays were kind to you and we look forward to serving you another year in real estate.  Please let us know how we can help you.

Good luck and Happy Home Selling!

See Last Week’s Article “November Closed Home Sales up 6.6%

November closed home sales were up 6.6% over last November.  As you can see by the graph, home sales have been mostly up since May over last year.  We’ve been reporting excellent pending sales, so this number is no surprise.

November Closed Home Sales

The interesting number for us to watch as we close out 2019 will be the total number of home sales for the year.  Right now, we’re up 1.0% November through November.  If sales come in as expected for December 2019 will top 2018 which was a great year. November Closed home sales were up as have several previous months.

By our calculations we only need 772 closed sales to beat 2018 numbers.  To put this in perspective, we closed 1001 homes in November.  New pending sales were up 15.2% in October and up 28.2% in November.  It’s hard to imagine that we won’t hit those numbers.

This is good news for home sellers.  Pending inventory is up 33.4% and active listings are down 14.2% from last year.  While interest rates are rising, they haven’t risen enough to make a dent in demand.  Last month we saw some price increases we haven’t seen in a while.  Will this be the start of a trend?

Another indicator we look at is total dollar volume.  It was up again in November, up 8.3% over last year.  Total dollar volume is down 1.2% November 2018 through November 2019.  If we have another big month this December, we could overtake 2018 in that category as well.

It’s almost a tale of two markets.  The first 4 months of 2019 featured higher interest rates.  If you remember, the fed hiked rates about 1% in 2018 needlessly.  Rates since came back down, and the economy got hot.  Together these two factors helped propel the real estate market.  Rates are off their lows just a bit but still under 4% which is fantastic.  Combine low rates with a hot economy, and you’ve got a recipe for a hot real estate market.

We already see evidence, and the signs are flashing green.  Sales are up, pending sales are up, and inventory is lower than last year.  Median home prices rose 5.0% in November vs. last years median price.  We don’t like to get too hung up on prices for any given month.  We prefer to focus on trends. Home prices have been steady since 2017.  The median is up slightly since January 2017 and the average is down slightly in that same period.

We are seeing some trends emerge in the way real estate is bought and sold.  Emerging artificial intelligence are providing tools on how best to reach a buyer for a property.  We’ve been testing some of these tools with some encouraging if not amazing results.  We look forward to rolling out some new marketing strategies based upon intelligence we’ve learned.

Artificial intelligence only works when you’ve got big data.  We have access to the biggest data in the real estate industry, and what we’re learning is changing the industry.  Look for 2020 to be a year the real estate industry changes in a big way.  Agents that aren’t using artificial intelligence will be at a disadvantage moving forward, and for sale by owners will have an even tougher time.

Currently for sale by owners have a challenge marketing their home, and because they only reach such a small segment of the market explains why they net less on average that sellers who use an agent.  Listing a home on the big portals isn’t enough, and the big portals aren’t using artificial intelligence because they don’t have the data necessary.  They have data they’ve purchased, and access to MLS feeds, but that isn’t enough.  That’s essentially nothing more than public records and public listing data.  The real insights come from access to consumer data and drawing meaningful conclusions based upon those patterns.  The Ellis Team will share more in the coming months about this and how it will affect home buyers and sellers.

If you’re curious to you home’s value, find out instantly and for Free at www.SWFLhomevalues.com Or call Sande or Brett Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4.

See last week’s article “Real Estate Inventory Supply Rises Slightly in December

Good luck and Happy Holidays!

The Ellis Team has been hustling all of 2019, and December is no exception.  The phone is ringing, leads are pouring in, showings are happening, and sales contracts are being written.  December real estate activity seems busier than usual which makes for exciting times for the local SW Florida real estate market.

We’ve seen this before.  Sometimes as agents we get so busy through our marketing and lead generation efforts that we falsely believe the market is strong simply because we’re busy.  I’ve spoken with other agents and some are busy, and some aren’t.  That probably largely depends on their lead generation efforts.  All I can say is there is business out there if you work hard, advertise, and lead generate.

December Real Estate Activity

December Real Estate Activity 7 Day Market Watch
December 2019 7-Day Market Watch

I decided to pull up a 7-day Market Watch report from the MLS.  The last time we did this was back in September.  Comparing this December report to September’s report we notice a few things.  Back in September pending sales outpaced new listings 359 to 299.  In December, new listings outpaced pending sales 377 to 326.  The number I’m focusing on is the pending sales.  In September they were 359 and today they are 326.  That’s not bad when you consider it’s December.  Many agents take the month off because it’s the holidays and they figure there isn’t much business.  The numbers say there’s about as much December real estate activity as there was back in September.

September Real Estate Activity

September 2019 7-Day Market Watch
September 2019 7-Day Market Watch

The other number I’m looking at is the sold.  In September it was 233 for that 7-day period.  In December it is 270.  That’s a big increase.  Keep in mind that the closed sales went pending last month or more, so all this tells us is that November may have been busier than August.

We’ve got a pretty good market here in SW Florida.  You still have to price properties correctly, and they don’t just sell themselves.  There are buyers though, and that’s a good sign.  Buyers are looking right now too.  If you’re a seller, I wouldn’t turn down too many showings.  Any buyer out looking right now could be serious.

Looking forward to 2020

The Ellis Team just had our team retreat last week.  We don’t call it that because retreat sounds like a backwards word.  We call it a Team Advance because we’re moving forward, not retreating.  Anyway, together we came up with our plan for 2020.  Everyone on the team was extremely optimistic about this next year and the opportunities it presents.

We laid out all the new marketing we intend to implement and several new strategies to advance our clients sales.  Every single person on the team did a presentation for the group and it was one of the most powerful days of learning and growth I can remember.  I was super proud of our entire team and how well they prepared and delivered each of their presentations.  A lot of growth happened that day, and as a team we grew in untold ways.

I believe our current and future customers benefited too, because the ideas shared were incredible.  Our team is pumped up and ready to serve and we believe 2020 will be great for not only our team, but our customers as well.

SW Florida Real Estate Market Outlook

We’re in a favorable interest rate environment combined with one of the best job markets we’ve ever seen.  SW Florida made lists for top job opportunities in the country.  Job income is outpacing mortgage payment increases, so that is a terrific sign for future growth in the market.  That’s one of the biggest things we look at.

SW Florida is SW Florida, and our weather is always fantastic.  With the economy moving in the right direction and favorable rates, combined with all Florida has to offer, we believe 2020 should be a prosperous year.

If you have a home to sell, Call Sande or Brett Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4  If you’re not ready to talk to us yet, we have a website that will give you a pretty good estimate of your home’s value.  Check out www.SWFLhomevalues.com  We don’t sell your data like the big websites do, so it stays with us and is much safer.

See last week’s article “New Real Estate Listings Entering the Market Rises in October

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

Lee County Florida saw new real estate listings entering the market rise 3.6% in October.  This is a welcome sign because year to date new listings are down 4.8%.  New listings do not include properties that were taken off the market and quickly re-listed, so it should be an actual representation of new listings entering the market.

New Real Estate Listings Entering the Market Rises in October

Total inventory is down 9.2% from last October, so new real estate listings are a welcome sign.  If we’re going to continue with sales gains, we’re going to need more listings.  This is an excellent time for sellers; however, sellers should be careful.

Other sellers might have the same idea and decide now is the time to sell their home too.  Prices have gone up slightly over this past year, and mortgages are paying down, which opens equity for more sellers.  With interest rates near record lows, more sellers may get the same idea and put their home on the market.

New Real Estate Listings Rise Early This Year

We always see listings rise in January.  This year we saw it in October.  Closed sales were up 10.4%, so we’re not alarmed at all.  In fact, as stated earlier, it’s a welcome sign.  Median sales prices were up 3.6% year over year in October while average sales prices were up 2.3% It’s not uncommon to have more new listings enter the market as prices rise.

We’re beginning to see lots of misinformation again.  This is a result of large data aggregators trying to be the center of the consumer experience.  Unfortunately, when you can’t get the data right, the consumer experience is degraded.  For this reason, we believe a good Realtor who studies the market should always be at the top of your list for information.

We’re going to concentrate in 2020 on providing more data and insights for Lee County homeowners. We’re starting up again our Customer Club.  Ellis Team Customer Club members will receive timely updates about the neighborhood they live in or neighborhoods they’re interested in as well as videos we create about the market.  It is Free and we intend to put the local and accurate back into the consumer experience.

We’ll have a new website you can register to become a Free member soon.  In the meantime, simply send me an email at Brett@topagent.com and put Customer Club in the subject line.

We hope you enjoy reading this article every week.  If you have questions or ideas you’d like covered, please feel free to email me.  Your ideas could be great content for this article, or perhaps a video explaining an answer to your question.

If you have a home to sell and want a fast and free estimate of your home’s value, check out www.swflhomevalues.com  People love the estimate, and many times they’re pretty darn accurate.  Of course, if you’re thinking of selling, we’d love to sit down and discuss your options.  We can provide a more accurate analysis of your home’s value as well as go over the challenges of selling your home in today’s market.  Sometimes it’s price, other times it’s timing.  Still others it’s where would you move to next?  We can help, and together we can answer these questions based upon your needs.

We have lots of other stats we can share, both at the county level and neighborhood level.  This is important data for both buyers and sellers.  Having this data puts you at a distinct advantage over other buyers and sellers.

Feel free to call Sande or Brett Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4 We’ll be happy to answer your questions and see what makes sense for you.

See last week’s article “Total Dollar Sales Volume Rises Again in October

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

One of the ways we investigate the health of the Southwest Florida real estate market is to look at the total dollar sales volume.  The SW Florida real estate market is growing right now as the total dollar sales volume grew by $416 million in October.

Total Dollar Sales Volume Rises in October

Total dollar sales volume is calculated by adding up all the sales in Lee County in a given month. If you have both rising prices and rising number of sales, you’re going to have a positive number.  If you have one rising variable and one going down, you could still have a positive number depending on the calculation.  In this case, both are rising.

In 2019 we’ve had 5 months rising total dollar sales volume and 5 months declining.  The trend has been mostly on the rise since May.  For the year the Lee County Florida YTD total sales volume is down 1.9%.  It was down 9.28% back in May, so we’re making incredible process.  By the year end we could see a net gain in total dollar sales volume over 2018.

We think we will, because while 2018 was an excellent year, the market was hit with sales losses due to rising rates.  If you’ll recall, rates rose about 1% very quickly last year when the Fed abruptly changed its monetary policy.  This hurt the real estate market a bit, and sales fell.  When the Fed changed its tune, buyers listened and reacted in 2019.

In October, pending inventory rose 18% over last year.  We know end of the year sales should be strong. New pending sales rose 15.2% in October.  It’s a good time to have your home on the market right now.  At the Ellis Team, we’re seeing buyers looking to purchase and close by the end of the year.  Some want to establish domicile in Florida this year as they are leaving high tax states.

We’ve written extensive articles on the reasons why people are migrating to Florida.  Suffice it to say, we live in an awesome place with lots of advantages, so it’s no wonder people are choosing to move here.

Buyers are smart though.  They’re looking over their options.  If they’re leaving a high tax state, they don’t want to overpay down here.  They also look at total cost of ownership.  That is the price of home, plus yearly taxes, assessments, CDD’s, HOA and condo dues, and any other mandatory fees associated with the property.

This is where the help of a professional comes in.  Consumers get confused while on these national portal sites because they don’t show all that.  One of the features I love about our site www.LeeCountyOnline.com is that it shows the Total Annual Recurring Fees.  It adds up the various HOA fees and totals the together, even if there is more than one.  Simply add that to the property tax amount and you’ve got a good idea of the total fees.  The only thing we like to verify are any assessments as not all agents put those in MLS.

If you’re thinking of selling your home, now is a good time to talk.  Simply call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4 and we’ll be happy to talk to you about your options.  Some people like to check out their home value online first to see if it even makes sense.  We’ve got a website for that too.  Go to www.SWFLhomevalues.com to get an instant idea of your home’s value.

We’re starting our Customer Club back up.  Members of our customer club will receive videos and emails from us about changes in the market.  If you’re interested in what’s going on in the market, you’ll definitely want to sign up for that.  For now, simply send me an email to Brett@Topagent.com Put “Customer Club” in the subject line and we’ll get you on the list.  We’ll publish a website with a form soon to make it easy for people to sign up.

See last week’s article “Top Dollar Agent Interview Questions for Sellers

Always call the Ellis Team with your real estate questions.  We hope you enjoyed turkey day and Black Friday.  We’re here to help you with all your real estate needs.

Home sellers typically want top dollar for their home sale but it’s hard to tell which agents deliver top dollar for their clients. Real estate sales have evolved, but not all real estate agents have kept up with new technology and buyer preferences.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a list of top dollar agent interview questions for sellers?

Let’s create one right now.

  1. Do you use professional photography to market homes?
  2. Do you provide a 360 virtual tour?
  3. Can you target ads to home buyers online that are looking to purchase now?
  4. Explain how you find these buyers online?
  5. Do you partner with Google’s #1 ad provider to provide top search results?
  6. Should we use a smart lock box for showings?
  7. Should the seller be present for showings?
  8. When is the best time of year to sell?
  9. Do you require proof of funds/and or a pre-approval letter with offers?
  10. What is artificial intelligence and why is it important?
  11. Does your company provide artificial intelligence, and do you have big data to power results?
  12. Do you operate as a single agent or a team, and why is that critically important?
  13. How many homes has your team sold in Lee County?
  14. Should I gamble on a newer agent with less experience?
  15. How many sellers did you successfully represent and close in last 12 months?
  16. How many listings expired, withdrew, or terminated with you in last 12 months?
  17. What is your average list price/sales price ratio?
  18. What is the average agent list price/sale price ratio?
  19. Can we video conference meetings if we’re not in town?
  20. What are your average days on market?
  21. What are the average days on market for homes like mine?
  22. Do you have a Blog where I can see current research on the market?
  23. Do you have a database of buyers searching in my neighborhood?
  24. Show me your database of buyers, minus the private data of course
  25. Do you reach International buyers?
  26. Would an agent with zero to few listings be better to sell my home?
  27. What are the dangers of working with an agent with limited listing experience?
  28. What are the 3 P’s in real estate?
  29. Is listing my home on the big national portals a big deal or can anybody do that?
  30. What do you charge?
  31. How long is the listing for?
  32. Why should I hire you?
  33. What if I’m not happy with you?
  34. Will I net more using you versus selling it myself?
  35. Show us your online reviews, client testimonials, or newspaper poll awards.
  36. Is this a price range you feel comfortable in?

As you can tell, we love tough questions.  The truth is, none of these questions are tough.  They’re on the mind of home sellers.  We get asked these questions a lot.  Some sellers ask one question, or several, but none ask all of them because they’re not used to interviewing agents.  It’s something you only do when you’re considering a move.

Top Dollar Agent Interview 360 Virtual Tour
360 Virtual Tour Dollhouse View

Keep this list handy for when you’re ready.  We’ll post it on our Blog too in case you lose it.  We hope this list will spark a few more questions for home sellers. A better interview will lead to a better agent selection, which should lead to a faster home sale and at Top Dollar.  That’s all a seller really wants is top dollar and an easy, painless home sale.  Selecting the best agent goes a long way to this end.  This checklist will work in any market, so hang onto it.

If you have questions, please call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4, or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com for a quick and free home value computer estimate.  Better yet, call us and we’ll meet with you and discuss your options.

It’s fun to go back and look at how we did things in the past.  Here is an article from 2013 “How to Interview an Agent to Sell Your Home

Good luck and Happy Selling!

We’ve been reading reports by economist’s outlook for 2020 and the consensus seems to be no fear of recession in 2020.  You know what they say about economists.  Ask 20 of them anything and you’ll get 20 different answers.  While there is a little bit of that, all signs seem to point to a healthy 2020.

No Fear of Recession in 2020

In the reports, these economists brought certain facts and ideas that led them to their conclusions.  One economist sees healthy consumer activity and job creation in every state.  He also points out that the U.S. is short on housing, and historically anytime we’ve needed to build, there’s never been a recession.

While there is  no fear of recession in the US as the United States is doing well, the rest of the world isn’t.  Practically all of Europe is struggling to pay for health care and migration.  It has strained their budgets so much that other countries cannot count on them as much for trade, including the United States.  This can impact the GDP of other countries besides just Europe.  If any of these countries go bankrupt, it could start a domino effect because essentially, they’re all broke.  This would negatively impact trade, which could lead to lower economic activity abroad and here in the U.S.

Another economist points out that we have a few wildcards here at home too.  We have the elections coming up next year, and a continued dispute with China over trade.  Disruption in either of these two areas could lead to economic slowdown.  Of course, gains in either of these two areas could fuel the economy to take off too, so we’ll keep our eyes open on that as well.

No Fear of Recession Locally

Locally in SW Florida we’re insulated. Home prices have been steady the past several years.  We haven’t seen large price run ups, so we may not need to see price declines should the unexpected happen to our economy.  In fact, SW Florida may have room to grow where others have already seen price appreciation.

Everything boils down to affordability.  Each market is determined by wages and housing affordability in the local market.  I found a national graph illustrating this point.  Housing has become more affordable this year in all 4 regions of the United States.  The primary reason is lower interest rates.  This graph shows payments as a percentage of income falling as rates have declined.  This has helped affordability and has helped fuel room for price increases.

However, rates have been rising in recent weeks. Rates are back up to 3.75%, up from 3.25% a few weeks ago.  All this tells us it’s a great time to purchase a home.  As rates rise, it will cost more to buy a home, which means buyers will afford less home.

Great Time to Buy

It’s also a great time to sell a home in SW Florida.  Inventory is down, and buyers still have great rates below 4%.  By all accounts it looks like 2020 will be a good year for the economy, which will make it a good year for real estate.  Buyers and sellers should take advantage of these low rates.  Some day we’re going to look back at 2019 and wonder why we didn’t make a move.

If you’re thinking of making a move, you probably have questions.  We’re here to help.  Simply call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4 and we’ll be glad to speak with you.  If you’re not ready for that and just want a trusted value on your home, you can do that too.  Go to www.SWFLhomevalues.com  It’s Free, and fast.  Best of all, that data isn’t sold to a bunch of agents that will hound you.  Brett and Sande are the only ones that see it, and we’re not selling that data.

We have other tools available for you.  Just reach out to us and we’ll get you on the right track.

See last week’s article “Lower Interest Rates Fuel Increased Pending Sales

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

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