SW Florida home sales climbed in March to 1,068 sales for single family homes.  This is down 7.1% from last year but up 37% from February’s home sales figures.  We would say this is good news for the local real estate market as sales are holding up nicely.  We think they could have been higher if there were more listings on the market ready to compete for buyers.

Cape Coral real estate sales prices Fort Myers real estate

In speaking with several real estate agents and new home communities it seems that buyers this year watched the huge price increases we’ve seen over the past few years and many decided it was time to consider new construction.  For many years new construction was priced out of the market because existing homes were far less expensive.  Existing homes were undervalued and new home construction basically had to sit on the sidelines or risk building at a loss.

SW Florida Home Sales and New Construction

With the recent run-up in prices builders can compete again.  This will be news for many sellers in SW Florida as they’re not used to competing with new construction in many years, but those days are back.  Our market was undervalued and had to rise. Now that it has, competitive forces come into play and will temper large price increases going forward.  We may be back to a normal market where we’ll be watching indicators that may affect our market like supply and demand, along with inflation, the economy, interest rates, consumer confidence, insurance rates, and others.

All these forces affect the local and national market.  Because we’re no longer undervalued by a wide margin, and because free money is leaving the scene, and flood insurance rates may rise, the market now must react to natural market forces.  We were insulated the past 5 years.

This market wasn’t a lot of fun on the way down, although it was fun on the way up, but now we’re getting close to market equilibrium.  There is still much room for market growth, but it may need to be sustainable growth based on reasonable market factors.  Most agents would agree it’s actually kind of healthy to get back to a stable growing market.

Even in a stable growing market there will be pockets of sub markets that will thrive and some may struggle. Some areas of town will be hotter than others.  Some subdivisions are still fighting off remnants of short sales and foreclosures, or the association is making up deficiencies left by members that didn’t pay.

Some price ranges have less supply and more demand, and vice versa.  You cannot price your home by how the overall market is doing, just as we can’t price SW Florida based upon how the National market is doing.

If you’re considering selling, it pays to consult an agent who understands the market and what is really taking place.  You don’t need an agent that simply reads the headlines and prices your home based upon where they heard the market is heading.  By the time you read about it in the papers or see it on TV, chances are the market has already shifted.  The market rarely stays in one place for long.

Listing inventory is rising again.  In the next few weeks we’ll be introducing a new system that will really shake things up in the SW Florida real estate market.  We’re not ready to release details just yet, but if you’re considering selling your home, now might be a good time to call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group 239-489-4042 or stop by our office at 7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr Fort Myers, FL 33907

We’ll make sure you understand the market forces so you can make a good pricing decision, and you’re going to love the new program coming soon!

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!
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We’ve recently been testing a concept to gauge consumer interest at a subdivision level. For years agents have been sending out Just Listed or Just Sold postcards, or even market updates to communities. Typically this only reached sellers. This was OK because the target was always the sellers who might list their homes. It’s a practice in the industry known as “Farming.”

Map with Homes for Sale and Solds in Reflection Lakes
Reflection Lakes Interactive Map

We thought buyers might also be interested in similar information, but reaching them in addition to targeted sellers in that area can be dicey. You can’t just mail to a certain area as the buyer could come from anywhere.

We thought “What if we could target both worlds, the buyer and the seller?” One way to target buyers is to reach them on the Internet for specific search items. For instance, let’s say a buyer is looking to buy in Reflection Lakes. If we could somehow provide this list of data when buyers are searching, would buyers find that helpful?

We don’t know, but our hunch says they might. We’ve researched a way to provide a map of an area which shows all the homes available for sale, all closed sales within a certain time frame, and all pending sales and pinpointed them on the map. Additionally, if you click on the pin, you get additional information on the home, like list price, sold price, size, age, pool, waterfront description, bedrooms, bathrooms, and much more. You can customize it to display about anything you want.

We even went so far as to provide links to additional information if available, virtual tours and more. In this way, a buyer or seller can quickly see a homes location on a map and compare it with other like kind homes for sale. It is color coded and sorted by status, so you can look at the solds to get an idea of what homes are selling for or just actives. Perhaps you’re riding down the street and just want to know what it’s on the market for.

The map is set for a particular point in time, however it can be updated at any time. The agent selects the fields to display. The consumer can zoom in or out, as well as click on street view to look up and down the street and view the homes photos, or even take a satellite view to get an idea of the terrain and the surroundings of the community.

We exported all this information into a Google map., so the possibilities are endless on how you can view these homes. It’s really kind of fun. We liked it, so we thought consumers might too,

We selected fields we thought the consumer would be interested in. These fields are flexible and we can add or subtract when building the next map. It took me about an hour to setup this map in Reflection lakes. If you’d like to view it, simply go to www.Reflectionlakes.com

We can setup a map like this for any area and import data from the MLS. If you live in a community you think would benefit from something like this, give us a call at 239-489-4042 or send me an email Brett@topagent.com and I’ll look into it. If you think it’s missing something, or have feedback, we’d like to hear it.

If you think we’re nuts and nobody will use it, you can let us know too. Feel free to email us or comment on our Blog http://blog.topagent.com

We honestly don’t know if the public will use it or like it. We do know it’s cool and useful to us, and we enjoy trying new things if they have the potential to help in the buying or selling process.

Stay tuned for future updates for other areas around Lee County on our website at Topagent.com

Good luck, and Happy House Hunting!

The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers has created an interactive map for searching data in Reflection Lakes in South Fort Myers. By clicking on a listing the map will give you detailed information on the property including links to further detailed information. If a virtual tour is available it will link to that as well.

Reflection Lakes Fort Myers Update

 

 

View Reflection Lakes Fort Myers Florida in a full screen map

Check it out and let us know what you think. Feel free to check out floor plans at our Reflection Lakes website

Watch the SW Florida Real Estate Update June 2012

Reflection Lakes Fort Myers is a gated community in South Ft Myers consisting of 820 properties, 194 of which are single family homes and 358 are villa homes, and 268 condos. Reflection Lakes is centrally located off Summerlin Rd and Cypress Lake Dr with entrances from both.

Perhaps Reflection Lakes greatest beauty is the fact that it abuts Lakes Regional Park full of pristine views and wildlife. Reflection Lakes residents even have their own private entrance into Lakes Park.

Home prices are down significantly from their highs back in 2005, as all neighborhoods are. Currently there are homes priced from $145,000 to $629,700 on the market. The highest sales price for a home in 2011 has been $510,000.

Condos on the market currently range from $119,900 to $219,000. The highest condo sales price in 2011 was $185,000.

Reflection Lakes Fort Myers
4 Bedroom 3 Bath Home in Reflection lakes

The home pictured above is currently listed by the Ellis Team for $280,000 and is located in the Las Palmas section of Reflection Lakes, formerly known as the Estates II section. The home has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths and has 2433 square feet of living area. The kitchen features granite counter tops, and the home has a large private back yard with lake views. The home also has hurricane shutters.

Another amenity residents love is the clubhouse. Reflection Lakes offers clay tennis courts, a bocce court, a full sized basketball court, volleyball court, putting green, and an oversized pool with waterfall along with a children’s pool.

Reflection Lakes Exercise Room in Fort Myers Florida

 

Billiard Room in Reflection Lakes

Reflection Lakes Billiard Room

 

Inside the clubhouse is an exercise room with state of the art professional workout equipment, a card room, billiard room, and a banquet room with full kitchen. The community enjoys many community events as the residents have an active recreation committee planning wonderful events year round.

Clay Tennis Courts in Reflection Lakes Fort Myers Florida
Reflection Lakes Clay Tennis Courts

Reflection Lakes is very stable financially which makes it attractive for buyers and lenders. Lenders today are skittish about lending when there are many homes in foreclosure or a certain number are unoccupied investor units. Reflection Lakes is primarily owner occupied or seasonal residents which makes getting a mortgage easier for borrowers. Fees are low and cable TV is included. Lawn mowing is included in the Villa homes and of course all condos.

We enjoy bringing you market stats and timely real estate information that impacts the market each week. To shake it up a bit, we thought every once in awhile it would be nice to update you on what’s happening in a specific community. Stay tuned and one day you just might see your community featured here.

Volleyball Court at Reflection Lakes Fort Myers Florida
Reflection Lakes Volleyball Court

 

 

Basket Ball Court at Reflection Lakes in Fort Myers Florida
Reflection Lakes Basketball Court

We recently experimented with shooting our TV show in High Def.  Previously we’ve used a mixing board much like a TV studio whereby we can mix camera shots, video graphics, etc, but it was standard definition TV.  Because we have a high definition TV we use anyway, and we shoot the show with High Def cameras, we though it would be nice to make everything more clear and understandable.

Future of Real Estate Video Show SW Florida Goes High Defintion
SW Florida Real Estate Market Update Video September 2010

Future of Real Estate Video Show SW Florida Goes High Defintion

Instead of having one track mixed in from a mixing board along with audio, we’ve gone to mixing each camera track and audio track and syncronizing them.  The reason I spell all this out is because agents all over the country have asked how we produce our show, and now that we’re making the change I thought I’d spell it out.  We then mix all the tracks together and produce one output and export.

Next week we’ll work on shooting the video so everything is in screen properly, or we’ll add another camera.  Let us know if you like the new changes.  View the latest show SW Florida Real Estate Market Update This week’s show covers pending home sales in Cape Coral Florida, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, and Lehigh Acres.  We also cover inventory levels in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and all of Lee County as we’ve seen varying reports of inventory levels reported lately.

In addition to providing data on the SW Florida real estate market, we thought it would be nice to highlight some local Lee County communities and explore what is happening in that neighborhood today.  This week we’ll focus on Reflection Lakes.

Reflection Lakes in Fort Myers, Florida
Reflection Lakes Community in Fort Myers Florida

Reflection Lakes is conveniently located in south Fort Myers and boasts scenic lakes, special nature preserves, street lighting, community sidewalks and underground utilities all bordering pristine Lakes Park. The magnificent clubhouse sits on a lake and features a state of the art fitness center, billiards, administrative rooms, catering kitchen, heated community pool, children’s playground, 4 lighted tennis courts, basketball courts, sand volleyball court and a putting green.

Reflection Lakes Community Pool in South Fort Myers
Reflection Lakes Pool with Waterfall in South Ft Myers

Reflection Lakes is very close to Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, and is close to the beaches, US 41, and features easy access via Summerlin Rd.

Currently there are 30 properties for sale priced from $114,999 to $750,000.  None on the market now are foreclosures. There are 4 pending sales currently priced from $134,900 to $329,900 and 3 of the 4 pending sales are foreclosures.

Because Reflection Lakes was built primarily in 2002-2003 before the boom in real estate sales, there wasn’t a lot of speculative investor activity, and this is why we haven’t seen a large concentration of foreclosures like we’ve seen in newer communities in 2005-2007.  There are some foreclosures and short sales due to the downturn in the economy, as is normal throughout SW Florida.

Reflection Lakes Overlooks Beautiful lakes Park
Reflection Lakes Overlooking Lakes Park in Fort Myers Florida

So far in 2010 there have been 15 closed sales priced between $113,100 for a condo in Reflection Lakes to $350,000 for a single family home in Las Palmas, often referred to as the Estates II section of Reflection Lakes.  This was a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with 2,659 square feet of living area, a 3 car garage, pool and was lakefront.

All of the active, pending, and sold listings are posted at www.ReflectionLakes.com  The floor plans are also provided, along with a site plan.

Maintenance fees for the single family homes are $159/mo and this includes cable TV, alarm monitoring, clubhouse, exercise room, pools, street lights, sidewalks, and all the amenities.  Reflection Lakes even has it’s own TV channel for happenings and events inside the community.

A fact most people don’t know is Reflection Lakes has a private entrance into lakes Park.  It’s not uncommon to see residents ride their bikes or take walks into Lakes Park, or enjoy kayak and canoe rides into the park as well.

The amenities, low HOA fees, floor plans, community activities, and superb location make Reflection Lakes worth looking into for buyers today.  The community offers condos, town homes, villa homes, all the way to large estate homes, so there is a product to suit many lifestyles.  Many people are surprised at just how much home they can afford these days, and with interest rates at all-time lows, now may be your chance.

Reflection Lakes is a gated community, so you’ll definitely want to call a Realtor to look around.  Good luck, and happy house hunting.

View this week’s Future of Real Estate Video TV Show

About a month ago Reflection Lakes was considering a very bad policy for access to its gate system that would have impaired Realtors ability to show homes, which in turn would impair sellers ability to sell their homes in an already tough real estate environment.  You can read more about that past policy at Reflection Lakes Gate Policy Bad For Home Sales?

The new policy allows the gate to call an agent’s cell phone number so the agent can allow access once another Realtor get’s to the gate.  And there in lies another real problem.  I spoke with a board member prior to the last meeting, and when the board member proposed this idea as a possible solution I told him it wasn’t a good idea.

Here is the issue.  Busy Realtors don’t use their cell phones for incoming calls or showings.  The Ellis Team alone receives on average 80 calls per hour, and this doesn’t even include calls to setup showings which go to a separate showing desk to be logged into our computer system for propert tracking.  RE/MAX receives many calls too, and we have many receptionists to take those calls.

It would be very rude for us to answer our cell phones each time someone called the office.  Just imagine a buyer working with an agent, but instead of being able to talk to that agent one on one for a few hours while viewing homes or negotiating a contract, the agent was answering their cell phone multiple times per minute.  Some of these calls would be for showing feedback, others might be from other clients, others might be from the title company or mortgage company, and now a new call to open a gate.

Keep in mind the agent may be on a listing appointment.  Again, this potential sellers wants quality time with the agent they’re thinking about hiring, and they want to ask tough questions.  People hate being interrupted by someone else’s cell pone every 2 seconds.  It’s just rude to do that to someone.  Now the Reflection Lakes gate calls the agent’s cell phone.  The agent may be unaware of whom this Realtor is or if they really have an appointment, because the agent isn’t at their office, and would have to make another call to the showing desk to find out.

Sellers don’t want to list with agents who have nothing else to do but setup showings or sit around and wait for the phone to ring.  Those aren’t the Realtor’s selling properties today.  And what if the Realtor is on another line when that gate request comes through?  What if that Realtor is on vacation?  Realtors take vacations too, but the agent who doesn’t have a showing system in place with their company will lose showings.

Ultimately it will be the homeowner who will be hurt by this policy.  Realtors should have a code that works to get into the gate.  Adding a bunch more bureaucracy and phone calls won’t help the situation.  Reflection Lakes won’t even allow this gate request to go to agent’s company, the very people who setup and manage the showings.  It must go to a cell phone.

We have a tremendous gate problem in Reflection Lakes.  When it was sold to us we were told we they picked the best gate company because repairs and maintenance would be less because this was a quality system.  We didn’t know the gates would be so slow, and that the software wasn’t capable of keeping up because of phone transmission problems.  Now it’s becoming a big issue just getting data to and from the gates.  Adding a cell phone policy for Realtors won’t solve this.  The truth is it’s a technical problem in the phone lines.  If it’s just too much data, then we need a better software system.  You would think for the money we paid for the gates the speed of the gates and the software would be sufficient.

Through July of 2008 the Ellis Team has sold and closed 154 homes.  This is a tough environment, and agents are having to work harder and more skillfully to put deals together, and keep them together.  At an average of 80 calls per hour, you can see there’s not a lot of sitting around waiting for the phone to ring time.  And there’s certainly no sitting around waiting for the cell phone to ring just so we can let someone in Reflection Lakes who may or may not have an appointment to see one of our listings.  If the board is going to take the time to adjust these policies, and speak with Realtors about what works and what doesn’t, at least listen to the advice you get instead of acting unilaterally.  I know the board has tough decisions to make with this gate that doesn’t seem to quite work like it was promised, but please for the sake of our homeowners, take all the facts into account before making the problem worse.

I really don’t believe the security of our community is being jeopardized by Realtors having access to the gates via a code.  The Realtors have access to the insides of homes, so why would you be afraid to give access to the gate?