News Flash.  Home sales in Lee County will be down in 2017.  Current Southwest Florida home sales trail last two years, and this occurred before Hurricane Irma.  Since the hurricane sales have lessened.

Current Southwest Florida Home Sales

Lee County is not alone.  Tight inventory has caused much of this.  If home inventory is down, it stands to reason homes sales would be down.  While inventory has been up year over year for the better part of 2017, it has been falling since February.

Last year inventory grew from October through February.  The same will probably happen this year.  What is not growing, at least since the hurricane, is the new pending sales.  Of course, they were down drastically in September -47.8%.  Some thought we’d see a rebound in new pending sales in October.  We’re still down 3.5%

New Pending Sales Southwest Florida Home Salesest

We know closings are down for 2017.  We also know new pending sales are down.  If new pending sales are down it means we don’t have a reasonable way to catch up to last two previous year’s numbers.  It wasn’t likely before the storm and sure isn’t likely now.

Real estate agents are probably wondering what they’re going to do.  As we’ve written in previous articles, this is the time of year agents evaluate their position.  Board dues are coming up by the end of the year.  Bunches of agents will get out of the business.  Still others will get into the business.  The merry-go-round will continue in 2018.  There are just as many who want to join as those that try and give up.

We think you’ll see two things in the 1st Qtr. of 2018.  First, more agents will join teams.  They’ll have to, or they won’t stay in business.  It’s costly to advertise, lead generate, pay assistant salaries, broker splits, etc.  It’s also costly to do all on your own and struggle.  Real estate is a very costly business.

Even though real estate is costly, it costs even more not to use an agent.  Several studies have shown that using an agent more than pays for itself in attaining a better price.  Saving a commission does not help, a seller nets less at the closing table than if they had used a broker.  And the seller did all the work.

The second thing we think we’ll see is increased listings.  They always go up this time of year, and we think 2018 will continue this trend.  Prices are up nicely over 2016.  In fact, October median prices were up 6.7% and averages sale prices were up 8.6%.

So, what’s the takeaway from these two predictions?  If you’re a seller, make sure you list with an agent that is going to stay at their brokerage through 2018.  Ask the agent you interview how their sales are.   Ask if they’re contemplating making a move, and what would happen to your listing if they did move?  Would they assign it to another agent and collect a referral fee, or could they take it to a new broker?

Agents, develop your business plan for 2018.  Before you take new listings be sure you’re at the place you’re going to be for the next year.  If not, do everyone a favor and make the move now before season.  It’s kind of like recruiting season for football coaches.  Recruiting season is now through Feb 1, and yet some coaches won’t be there next year, and they know it.  The coach can jump around but the players are locked in.  The same is true for sellers.

Look at joining a team or develop a strategy that can carry you through the next year.  You’ll have to invest in your business.

Sellers, all you can do is select the right agent, and price your home to today’s market.  The days of picking any agent to sell your home are over.  You’ll have to get selective again, and ask the tough questions.

If you have real estate questions, please call Sande or Brett Ellis 239-489-4042.  Or visit our website www.LeeCountyOnline.com and you can search the MLS for Free!

Good luck and happy selling!

Just released home buyer’s data suggests tough times for limited services brokers and for sale by owners. 94% of home buyers used a real estate agent in the home buying process.  Those same buyers also used the Internet as a tool to find their home 94% of the time as well.

How Buyers Found Their Home Tough Times For Limited Services Brokers

Limited Service brokers are brokers who provide limited services to sellers to sell their home, presumably for a reduced fee.  This is not what the typical home buyer is looking for.  If anything, they require increased services.  They become frustrated at people who cannot answer their questions; all their questions.

The typical home buyer searches for 10 weeks before making their purchase.  This is a big reason why buyers shy away from For Sale by Owners and limited service brokers.  When they stumble upon a home, they’re not ready to decide for a while.  And when they do become ready, they want someone to help them with all the details.

The most difficult steps for buyers who purchased was finding the right property (47%) paperwork (27%) understanding the process and steps (15%) mortgage (13%) saving for down payment (9%) and appraisal of the property (4%)

Warning for Real Estate Agents

What Buyers Want From Agents Tough Times For Limited Services Brokers

 

Your job is not to find the buyer their home. In fact, even though buyers predominantly use real estate agents to purchase their home, only 40% found the home they bought from the agent.  51% of buyers want help in selecting the “Right” home.  Buyers love to search on their own.  They do so on average 3 weeks before contacting an agent.  Even then they love searching on their own, but they get overwhelmed with all the choices.  They don’t necessarily need an agent to find the home.  They need help selecting the best home amongst the choices.

Sure, buyers love websites like www.LeeCountyOnline.com that gives them a competitive advantage over other websites.  However, being notified of that hot new listing before anybody else, or that property that came back on the market, or a recent price change won’t help until they’re ready.

Number of Weeks Searched Tough Times For Limited Services Brokers

This is when an agent shines, and this is what buyers look for.  They want someone that will be with them those next 7 weeks while they search, and the weeks after that to help them close.  They want an agent who has a great reputation, is trustworthy, and knows the market, in that order.

This report from Florida Realtors is 198 pages and is filled with every imaginable demographic, statistic, chart, and insight you can think of.  It truly helps real estate agents determine what buyers are looking for and how they go about finding and purchasing it.

The report also covers sellers and what they look for in an agent.  If you’re a seller and not sure you’re asking all the right questions, or covering all the right angles, we’d be happy to show you this report.  Did you know only 19% of home sellers use their previous agent?  64% of home sellers contacted 1 agent to sell their home, while 20% contacted 2, and 10% contacted 3. Page 194 has some particularly shocking information regarding how sellers perceived their home was marketed.

It’s shocking to us because the agent either did more than the seller realized, or they didn’t market to the standards that we do on the Ellis Team.

If you’re thinking of selling, please call Brett or Sande Ellis at 239-489-4042.  If you’re looking to purchase, our team can help, and we definitely provide what buyers are looking for in this report.  Or feel free to search our website www.LeeCountyOnline.com  We know you may not be ready today, and that’s OK.  It’s a process.  We’re here when you need us, and our website is here 24/7 even when you don’t.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Paramount at the Shores- Gulf Harbour

Open Saturday 1-3 PM

Heritage Cove

Open Saturday 1-3 PM

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.

Ellis Team LeeCountyOnline.com International Visitor Count October 2017

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

 

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.

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!