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Each year we tell home sellers not to get too excited about showings until about mid-January.  Showings and contracts tend to increase as the month goes on and builds throughout season.  2017 however is different.  Southwest Florida home sales are heating up earlier than past years.  Could it be there was pent-up demand from 2016?  We think so.

Southwest Florida Home Sales Heat Up in January

Our team set a goal to sell 4 homes this past week.  We sold 6.  Our agents have been out showing every day, sometimes working with 2-3 buyers per day this past week.  Sure, some of these are buyers in our pipeline we’ve been working with for weeks or months until they arrive.  Others are new buyers we’ve attracted to our website or referral calls.  In any event, activity has picked up earlier than past years.

Showing activity on our listings from other agents has picked up too.  Combining this with what our team is seeing leads us to believe the market is heating up.  So I went to MLS and did some checking.

In the first 10 days of January 309 properties have gone under contract.  The average list price is $317,843 and the median list price is $230,000.  These prices are pretty much in line with recent sales numbers.  What’s encouraging is the number of properties going pending so early in January.  This potentially bodes well for an excellent season.

2016 was a year in which the number of transactions was down.  It was a year in waiting.  It seems people were waiting on the election, waiting on the economy, waiting on something.  Now there is renewed hope and optimism and we hear it.

People have renewed confidence in jobs staying in America.  The U.S. has its swagger back and people are optimistic.  Even the people who threatened to leave if Trump got elected are staying.  This article isn’t a political post.  The United States is the greatest nation on the planet and people recognize that, even if their candidate didn’t win.

Southwest Florida Home Sales Outlook

We think 2017 is going to be a better year in real estate than 2016.  Prices were largely flat in 2016 and sales volume was down.  We think we’ll see rising sales volume, and who knows where prices will head.  Rising interest rates could dampen price gains, or not.  They’re still low.

Rising inventory could dampen price gains, or not.  Sometimes I think sellers haven’t listed because they didn’t know where they wanted to go.  As inventory rises, more choices open and it could spur more sellers to act.  It’s a cycle that could really get the economy moving again, raise tax revenue to the state, and sales tax revenue to local governments as people buy appliances, flooring, etc. for their new home.

Where 2017 goes is an open book yet to be written.  Way too early to predict or know for sure.  We are encouraged by the flurry of activity so early in the season.  It just seems like 2016 was a year in limbo and 2017 is a year of action.  People don’t wait forever.  They move on.  They move forward.

If you’d like to search for your piece of paradise, check out www.LeeCountyOnline.com  You can search the MLS like a Realtor as our database has all the listings and it’s updated every 5 minutes.  You can also get a Free estimate of your home’s value.  If you like the value and want to talk to us about your options, call us at 239-489-4042 Ext 4.  Brett or Sande will be happy to talk to you and make sense of the process.

If you don’t like your home’s value, don’t give up.  It’s just a computer, and it’s not 100% accurate.  How could it be?  It’s never been inside your home.  We’ll be happy to look at it with you.  Sande and Brett are experts at getting Top Dollar for your home, because our marketing works.  Just give us a call.

Whether you’re buying or selling, it pays to talk to the Ellis Team! 239-489-4042

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The Ellis team is proud to re-introduce our Ellis Team Buyer’s Advantage Program. This is a program we used many years ago when we were the first agents to put the MLS on our website.  We’re bringing it back and adding some valuable features we think you’ll find useful.

  1. How would you like to be notified about upcoming listings Before they come on the market?  The Ellis Team lists and sells a lot of property because our marketing works.  Sande and Brett go on a lot of listing appointments each week.  We don’t take them all.  Some sellers aren’t ready yet, or they simply aren’t willing to price their home at today’s market value.  We only bring listings that will sell to the market.  We’ve created a private website for buyers in our Buyer Advantage Program™ that will post the listing appointments we’re going on.  Literally you’ll find out about upcoming listings even before we list them.  If one meets your criteria, you can contact us and we’ll arrange for one of our buyer specialists to show it to you.
  1. Our website is up to date so you’ll be able to search for Hot new listings in real-time. Many national websites have outdated or incorrect data which can be frustrating for a buyer.  It’s terrible to find a home online only to find out it closed 2 months ago. Our website is tied into the MLS. As agents we have that privilege that national sites don’t always receive. We’re in a tight inventory market so every advantage helps.
  1. Open House Pass- Have you ever visited open houses and been hounded by agents asking you to register?  Of course that agent wants to follow-up with you about the open house. They’re just doing their job.  If you don’t buy the open house they want to show you others.  If you find an agent that’s friendly to work with this is all fine and good.  The problem comes in when you visit several open houses in a day or month.  Now you have several agents contacting yEllis Team Buyer Advantage Program Open House Passou and hounding you to shop with them.  This can get quite frustrating.  We’ve solved that problem.  We provide you with an Open House Pass that puts other agents on notice that you’re working with the Ellis Team at RE/MAX.  Now you only have to forge one relationship with a great Realtor and you won’t have pesky agents hounding you for contact information.  Your life will be simpler and your agent can listen to your needs and hone in on the property you’re looking for.  In a low-inventory market it pays to not waste time starting that process all over again and again.
  1. Free Reports- We’ve complied a series of buyer reports we’re getting ready to release. Members in the Buyer Advantage Program will have access to all of these reports and valuable information. Our reports cover things like how to make an offer when there are multiple offers on the property, how to best structure your offer, and what to look out for in the inspection process.  Many buyers have mortgage questions as the process has changed in the past few years.  We have Free reports for that.

 

The Ellis Team at RE/MAX takes buying and selling real estate seriously.  It pays to work with a serious Realtor.  Simply go to Ellis Team Buyer Advantage Program and sign up and we’ll add you to our Buyer Advantage Program as an added bonus.  You’ll also gain access to the pre-listed property information, the Free reports, and the Open House pass along with future benefits we’ll be unveiling soon! You can always call us at 239-489-4042

Always call the Ellis Team, we’ll handle you with care!

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By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

National Pending Home Sales Fall Slightly

Nationally pending home sales pulled back slightly in August but are still in positive territory.  The NAR (National Association of Realtors) Pending Home Sales Index stands at 104.7 which is down from 105.8 in July.  Anything over 100 is considered positive territory.

National Pending Home Sales Fall Slightly in August 2014
New Single Family Pending Sales

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR was quoted as saying “With investors pulling back, the market is shifting more towards traditional and first-time buyers who rely on mortgages to purchase a home. Fewer distressed homes at bargain prices and the acknowledgement we’re entering a rising interest rate environment likely caused hesitation among investors last month.”

Locally we’re seeing new pending sales declining slightly as well.  This very well could be because of declining inventory levels.  Our market is still hot for the most part.  Inventory levels are down and median time on the market is also down 12.5% from last year.

The 42 days on market includes high priced homes and short sales which tend to skew the number higher.  If you have a home on the market longer than 42 days it could be that you’re not priced at the market.

We are seeing some resistance in the first time home buyer market.  Buyers are being stingier and writing low-ball offers at the lower end of the market. The ironic thing is this is the hottest part of the market in terms of marketing time.  Lower priced homes fly off the shelves the quickest.  The median time it takes to sell a $100-150k home is 27 days.  For a $150-200k home it’s 34 days.

Median days on market SW Florida Single Family Homes For Sale
Median Days on market

We’re seeing buyers with pre-qualification letters for much higher than their offer but not all are stepping up to the plate.  We don’t know if the buyers are fearful and being cautious or getting bad advice from their Realtor as to what the realistic chances are of getting the home.

Most times they lose out on the home to another buyer.  There is limited inventory in the market, so if you miss out on your 1st choice, you may slip down to getting your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th choice, and those choices don’t look as good as when you have more to choose from.

Our buyer agents have been working very hard at identifying properties for buyers and notifying them as soon as one comes on the market.  Sometimes beating out other buyers to hot new listings is a good way to get a new #1 choice, but it is risky as the next homes to come on the market could be at higher prices.

Buyers aren’t really in competition with the sellers.  They’re in competition with other buyers who are looking for the same thing.  Beating them to the punch can be the difference, and having a Realtor with excellent technology systems in place can make the difference.

If you’re tired of losing out to other buyers and want a team working for you, give us at call at 239-489-4042.  Or you can signup at www.Topagent.com and view properties in the MLS.  Our agents have other systems and can contact you and be on the lookout for you and notify you immediately when something pops up that meets your needs.

We also get our buyers pre-approved for a mortgage, so when that property does pop up, you’re ready to go.  It’s frustrating to find a property then lose out to another buyer who was a day or two ahead of you with the pre-qualification process.

Our team makes the process easy.  Most people have fear about the process as much as anything.  We’ll walk you through step by step so you always know what to expect.  With some hard work on our end and a little luck, we’ll have you in your home before rates and prices go up anymore and price you out of the market.

With the Ellis Team at RE/MAX, it’s a family affair.  Always call the Ellis Team, we’ll handle you with care!

 

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By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

 

What is a 4 Point Home Inspection?

Most buyers are familiar with a typical home inspection where the buyer hires an inspector to inspect a home they are purchasing to see what defects or required repairs the home may have, as well as informative maintenance type issues. However, you may be curious about a 4 point home inspection.

4 Point Home Inspection For Insurance Company Discounts

You may have heard the term 4 point inspection thrown around as well.  A 4 point inspection is a separate inspection report many insurance companies require on homes 20 years old or more.  Citizens required them on homes 30 years old or more.  Some companies are requiring them on newer homes as well, so it’s always good to check with your insurance company as getting a 4 point inspection is less expensive if added on to a regular home inspection.

The 4 points are heating and air conditioning, electrical wiring and panels, plumbing connections and fixtures, and the roof.

Insurance companies have become increasingly reluctant to issue Homeowner Insurance Policies on older homes (usually 25 years old or more). Their common concern is that there may be conditions in an older home that could become a liability to them. For instance; a home with a roof nearing the end of its reliable service life may fail while under the policy and the homeowner may seek reimbursement from their insurance company for damages to the home or its contents.

Similar concerns extend to the condition of the HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems in an older home. If these elements are in poor condition, in need of being updated or replaced or were improperly installed, they may fail and cause fire or water damage to a home.

Newer homes are assumed (by the insurance companies) to not have these problems as frequently as older homes. There is a standard form for this type of inspection that must be filled out by a qualified inspector or contractor.

There is also a Uniform Wind Mitigation Verification Inspection which provides significant discounts to a homeowner if the home qualifies. The state has recently changed the reporting rules this year making it harder to qualify for such discounts. More proof is needed in the report including photos.

There is also a Roof Certification Inspection insurance companies require when the roof is approximately 15 years old. The 4 point inspection report may suffice if your insurance company asks for this inspection. Check with your company.

Last week an insurance company sent over their own person to check on one of our listings for an upcoming closing.  I checked with an insurance agent who said more and more insurance companies are starting to send their own people over to perform these inspections as they are not fully trusting the reports they are receiving.  This may cost the insurance company more money upfront, but it is a signal that they are increasingly looking to limit exposure and risk.

Not only must a seller satisfy the buyer, the lender, the appraiser, but now also the insurance company before a home can be sold.

If the home has polybutylene plumbing you can forget about an insurance company insuring the home.  The home must be re-plumbed.

Buying and selling a home today has become more complex.  With new Dodd Frank regulations being written and taking effect combined with new insurance disclosures and requirements it’s a wonder anything gets done.  Inspectors have to fill out more reports so they must charge more.

As regulations increase Realtors will have to charge more in the future. State Farm now requires their own forms be filled out by inspector on a PC, not a mobile device so inspectors are charging more for State Farm inspections.

Yesterday I had to go back out to a property under contract and photograph certain things for an appraiser to go in that report.  Appraisers and insurance companies are documenting everything.

We’d strongly recommend getting a 4 point inspection as an add-on to your regular home inspection.  It just might save you thousands on your home insurance, and it might come in handy when you go to sell the property, even if your insurance company doesn’t use it.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

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Whether you’re ready to list your home today or just get an update on prices, we’re here to help. To get your home listed and marketed in High Definition simply call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group 239-489-4042 or email us at Brett@topagent.com or Sande@topagent.com To search the MLS visit TopAgent.com  To learn more about Hi Def video for your home visit HomesinHD.TV

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By Brett Ellis

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

 

New Form Required on Florida Home Sales

A new form just arrived June 1st informing buyers of what the homeowners insurance and flood insurance may cost, and if the cost exceeds the amount disclosed then buyer may have a right to cancel contract.

New Form Required on Florida Home Sales
Homeowners and Flood Insurance Disclosure in Florida

There have been significant changes to homeowners and flood insurance policies and costs in the past few years and some are quite surprised at the hoops they must jump through to obtain affordable insurance.

The Ellis Team is strongly encouraging our sellers to provide an elevation certificate so we can obtain upfront what the flood insurance costs will be.  Without the elevation certificate insurance agents are forced to quote off the base elevation which can be much costlier.  Some buyers were surprised to find out flood insurance was tens of thousands of dollars on a property.  This is one reason the National Association of Realtors urged Congress to make changes to the flood program.

These changes are in effect now, but having the elevation certificate helps.  Many people don’t realize the buyer can assume the seller’s flood policy.  This is worth examining as well.

Homeowners insurance has seen its share of changes too.  Wind mitigation surveys can significantly reduce policy premiums on homes, especially homes built before 2002.   Older homes are getting costlier to insure because they were built to lesser codes.

I called Peter Craig over at Pacific Crest Insurance as he has been bailing us out and saving deals for us from surprised buyers brought in by other agents who didn’t know about inspections and saving money.  Peter told me about a company that is charging $800 to nail in clips so that the insurance companies will reduce premiums. If the home has certain features like hurricane clips or straps the premium is reduced.  Homes built before 1985 typically don’t have either so having nails put in helps with costs.

He also told me about a survey company that does elevation certificates quickly.  We ordered one for a property because the seller didn’t have one and got it back within a few days.  I think the seller paid $130 or so for the certificate, but it saved his deal and saved the buyer thousands on insurance.

Many buyers qualify for the home, but when they find out the homeowners and flood insurance costs are so high without these discounts they no longer qualify.  I’ve talked with several agents who have lost deals because buyers no longer qualified for the home.  It’s knocking them out on their ratios on the monthly payment.

Sellers used to not care because it was the buyer’s issue, but that’s no longer the case.  It’s not about if the buyer pays more in insurance, it’s about whether the buyer can still qualify for the home.  Most buyers buy as much as they qualify for, but when insurance costs are double or triple what the lender used for their monthly payment, it knocks them out of the deal.  Now sellers care, and if they don’t, they soon will when they start losing deals on their home.  Even if the buyer hasn’t bought as much as they can afford, they still shy away when they see high yearly insurance premiums they weren’t prepared for.

Now the new disclosure addresses this upfront, which is a good thing.  For it to work properly, getting quotes before you find the buyer is essential, so I’d recommend real estate agents find a good insurance agent and do the research on each listing before you find the buyer. Having the elevation certificate is crucial.  A wind mitigation report is helpful as well.

It’s so much easier to sell a home once than several times.  Getting this information upfront can save deals and get the sellers on their way to their next property and get buyers into their home the first time.  It’s more work on the front end, but it will help keep deals together and save work on the back end.

 

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

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Whether you’re ready to list your home today or just get an update on prices, we’re here to help. To get your home listed and marketed in High Definition simply call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group 239-489-4042 or email us at Brett@topagent.com or Sande@topagent.com To search the MLS visit TopAgent.com  To learn more about Hi Def video for your home visit HomesinHD.TV

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By Brett Ellis

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

The other day someone on Facebook asked “How do you know what questions to ask when hiring a Realtor to sell a home?”  It reminded me that we have a page on our website www.Topagent.com in our sellers section a list of interview questions to ask before hiring a Realtor to list your home.

Important Interview Questions You Must Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

I went back and looked at it and some of the questions were outdated so I freshened it up a bit.  That page had been there awhile.  So I thought I’d share a few of them here in random order:

Interview Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Realtor

1  How many homes did you sell last year?

2  How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood?

9  Is there One thing you can do for me that Nobody else can?

47  Is it a good idea for listing agent to accompany all showings for my home?

42  Do you give advice on how to properly show my home once it is for sale?

32  What advertising do you as agent provide separate from what your broker provides to all the agents in your office?

28  If a buyer calls on my home while you’re out on appointment, do you have buyer agents on your team available to show my home so we don’t lose the buyer?

15  Do you have your own website or a company provided one on their domain?

16  If you have your own website, is it a custom website you manage or a template website?

18  How do you achieve top search engine rankings when everyone else is vying for those top spots?

11  Do you place the MLS on your website, and will my home be a featured listing?

5  Do you have your own YouTube channel and why is that critically important?

6  How many views does your YouTube channel generate?

7  How will my home be featured on your channel?

3  Do you have an online listing portal where I can sign in and see all the activity on my home? Showings, marketing, copies of the ads, feedback, etc.

27  Where and how often will you advertise my home?

29  When buyers call your office, do they talk to a machine or a live, friendly human trained to help them?

36  Does your company have a national advertising campaign to attract buyers?

38  Do you have your own newspaper advertising space or do you share space with a bunch of agents?

43  Will you list a property at a higher price than you know it can sell for?

44  Do you price your properties for top dollar, or do you under-price them for quick sales?

48  Do lenders work hard for your clients, or put you on the back-burner because you’re hard to deal with?

 

For a complete list of questions to ask your Realtor before signing anything, visit www.Topagent.com and look in the sellers section.  For answers to these questions, call the Ellis Team 239-489-4042 and we’ll be glad to share the right answers with you.  Asking some of these questions will make the agent you’re interviewing uncomfortable.  You’ll begin to understand which ones understand their Internet presence, which ones have closed a lot of sales and have experience in your neighborhood, and which one rely on what their broker provides and tells them.

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Is the SW Florida Real Estate Market Changing? Listing inventory rose slightly in Fort Myers and Cape Coral real estate markets in February from 6,192 single family homes on the market in January to 6,271 last month. Listing inventory typically peaks in January and declines slightly in February before Declining rapidly in March due to so many seasonal sales occurring. This year inventory actually rose in February and internal numbers we’re tracking in March show they’ve risen slightly again.

SW Florida real estate market single family home inventory

This may be a sign that sellers have been a little too ambitious pricing their home and buyers have backed off bidding up prices. Prices typically peak in season then level off or decline a little bit the rest of the year. This is because most of the higher priced sales occur when we have the most visitors, but if that trend is peaking it will be interesting to see where the market heads from here. New pending sales in February are down 10.6% from last year. New listings are up 5.4% over last year. So we have increasing inventory and declining pending sales in the height of season. We’ll be tracking March numbers very carefully. It’s still possible March and April could be great as Easter is late this year but the pending numbers we’re looking at don’t bear that out plus we see rising inventory.

SW Florida real estate market new pending sales and Cape Coral, Estero, Fort Myers Beach single family

SW Florida Real Estate Market Prices

Prices did rise in February up to a median price of $185,000 from $180,000 in January. Average prices rose from $301,035 in January to $311,536 Has the market peaked? Markets rarely stay constant. It’s possible the market is taking a break until it figures out where it wants to go. Properties in the $250,000 or less range are still flying off the market. Homes priced higher than $400,000 really need to make sure they’re priced competitively in the market as inventory begins to build the higher the price. Interest rates are rising again and it has put pressure on buyers. We just received some good news on flood insurance which will help the SW Florida real estate market compared to what we could have seen had the President not signed HR 3370 into law this week. New buyers will receive the same flood rates as existing homeowners do. Rates may still climb, but there are caps to how much and how fast, and before the new law was signed, there was no grandfather clause when a purchaser bought a property. This should provide some stability to costs for buyers which does affect their purchasing power. We’ve had some excellent weather down here and the weather up North has been dreadful. 2014 might be the year many will vacation down here and put plans into place to move here in the coming months. A few companies are also bringing jobs to SW Florida in the next few years. If the economy improves, our real estate market has more room to grow. If it doesn’t, our market may stagnate and remain at these levels. Like I said, the market rarely stands still. Forces affect the real estate market. Rising interest rates affect it negatively. Jobs and the economy do affect the market as well. We’re not sounding the alarm that we’re at risk of a downturn. We are saying we’re watching the numbers and we have a few things to keep our eye on going forward. The continued trend of rising prices may still occur, or it may subside and take a breather.  If your plans depend on one outcome or the other this is information that may be useful to you. Nobody knows where the market is going exactly, or exactly when it will get there. If you’ve got a property to sell, give us a call and we’ll guide you through the market. If you’re a buyer, it pays to know what areas are hot and where inventory is building. We have the information. Let it work for you. 239-489-4042 or search the MLS at www.swfloridamls.Topagent.com Good luck and Happy Selling/Buying! If you’re considering buying or selling in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Ft Myers Beach or anywhere in Lee County Florida, give us a call. 239-489-4042 or visit our website www.Topagent.com Search the MLS View Larger Map Feel free to view our Virtual Tours . Visit our Google+ Business Page  

Ellis Team Buyer Specialist Fort Myers real estateThe Ellis Team is growing once again.  We are proud to announce Ellis Team buyer specialist Dan Goczeski has joined our team as a buyer specialist. Dan was our Customer Care Specialist and Listing Coordinator up until last week, and we’re certainly going to miss him in that position.  Dan has always had a passion for helping people and he certainly went the extra mile in his role at the Ellis Team.

Dan has been a resident in Fort Myers for the past 30 years and is very knowledgeable about the area.  He has witnesses first-hand what SW Florida has grown into today and he looks forward to helping others find their piece of paradise too.  Dan has an extensive professional history from being a licensed financial advisor to a General Contractor in SW Florida. Dan has worked with clients in many fields, but customer satisfaction was always his top priority.  All of these qualities are what makes Dan uniquely qualified to find just the right property for you.

Dan saw how many buyer leads were coming into the team and it caused him to think about becoming a Realtor in SW Florida.  He’s always been in a position advising clients in the building and financial services sectors, but he developed a sense of helping others in real estate through his experiences with the Ellis Team at RE/MAX.  Once he saw how we help so many people it made an impact on him and he wanted in.

So it is with welcome arms we welcome Dan Goczeski to our team of buyer Specialists.  Congratulations!
If you’re considering buying or selling in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Ft Myers Beach or anywhere in Lee County Florida, give us a call. 239-489-4042 or visit our website www.Topagent.com

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Because we are writing this article this week before official numbers are released, we decided to go inside the numbers and focus on listing inventory and sales data.  According to preliminary numbers researched by the Ellis Team, listing inventory rose again for the 3rd consecutive month.

Single Family Home Listing Inventory in SW Florida
SW Florida December 2011 Listing Inventory

Lehigh Acres has been holding fairly steady while Cape Coral is seeing the largest gains in inventory.  Fort Myers is inching higher ever so slightly.

What’s interesting is the distressed sales market.  We track a variety of graphs.  One graph not shown here because it’s a little tangled and hard to read in newspaper format shows large drops in distressed sales in Lehigh Acres, Fort Myers, and Lee County overall.  Cape Coral has held steady at 50.45% of all single family sales being distressed.  Lee County stands at 48% distressed rate in November.

SW Florida Distressed Sales Chart December 2011
Foreclosures Vs Short Sales December 2011

We have included a Foreclosures Vs Short Sales graph that is a bit easier to read.  It fairly well shows the history of the foreclosure and short sale market in SW Florida.  As you can see, the height of foreclosure sales was in June 2009, while the height of the short sale market was March 2011.

 

Banks revved up their short sale departments to handle an increased load.  It can be said that potentially each of these successful short sales may have saved a corresponding amount of foreclosures, so it was in the banks and the markets best interests to sell these homes as short sales rather than as foreclosures.

Going into 2012 we’re going to continue to watch the listing inventory and the mix of inventory.  Traditional sales are on the rise as a percentage of all sales, although many homeowners are not selling at today’s bargain basement prices.

Speaking of bargain prices, many buyers are calling wanting to buy homes for investment and expecting 2009 prices.  It seems like sellers are always the last to recognize when prices are dropping and buyers are the last to recognize when prices are rising.  Why is that?  Could it be selective hearing or denial?

We can definitively say that investment homes in Cape Coral and Lehigh acres bottomed in 2009 and have risen since.  Buyers today can no longer pick up a home for $35,000 in Lehigh unless it has major problems.  $70,000 is more common place for the low end now, so essentially prices in the low end have doubled.

Sales are flat in December versus November; however we are expecting sales to pickup in season again.  We’ve had no trouble selling homes.  The biggest challenges we’ve faced are closing these homes.  Lately we’ve been encountering title issues, mortgage re-disclosure issues due to any delays, and buyers not waiting patiently for the short sale approval.  We’re getting short sales approved within 60 days in many cases, but buyers are impatient.  Going forward the industry will have to do a better job educating buyers as to what the realistic expectations are for approval and closing time frames on short sales.

We’ll also watch foreclosure inventory as we are expecting a few more in the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2012.

We’ll keep our eye on the SW Florida real estate market for you, and whether you’re a buyer or seller, we hope Santa is better to you this year than he was last year.  The market is looking up, and we hope your holiday spirits are too.

 

Banks are contacting customers who are past due or in financial trouble and offering owners or tenants up to $20,000 in relocation assistance to move out of home and hire an experienced agent to sell the home as a short sale.  Banks are also offering owners money to agree to a deed in lieu foreclosure in some instances as well.

Benefits of Short Sale Versus Foreclosure Chart
Alternatives to Foreclosure Chart

There are several advantages for taking the bank up on their offer.  If you let the property go to foreclosure, you’ll be evicted without relocation assistance.  Additionally your credit will suffer more in a foreclosure than a short sale or deed in lieu.  The owner is more in control when actively pursuing a sale through an experienced agent than giving up all control to the bank and the legal system.

A short sale is a commonly used alternative to foreclosure. Generally, when putting your home on the market, the goal is to market and sell your house for an amount greater than any and all outstanding liens against the property. Liens include all mortgages, escrows and fees on the property.

If you can no longer afford to make your mortgage payments and your house is worth less than you owe, a short sale allows you to sell your house at the current fair market value. You then have an option to move to a more affordable situation. In a short sale, the investor or owner of your loan must approve the sale because they are entitled to repayment of the loan and will be receiving less than the amount owed.

If you have additional liens on your property with other lenders, such as a home equity loan, all investors must come to an agreement in order to complete the short sale. This process takes time, and an experienced agent is required to navigate and negotiate through these challenges.

Another alternative is a deed in lieu of foreclosure. With a deed in lieu, you voluntarily transfer ownership of the property to your investor to satisfy the amount due on your first mortgage. In some cases, you may be eligible for a deed in lieu without first attempting a short sale of your home. A deed in lieu generally takes about 90 days, depending on your situation.

In either a short sale or deed in lieu you may be responsible for paying a deficiency.  There are many factors that determine this, such as if the home was your primary residence, what state you live in, your financial situation, etc.  Sometimes this can be negotiated with your lender.

In any event, most lenders agree it is much better on your credit report and they are likely to lend you money in the future faster if you agree to a short sale or deed in lieu instead of a full blown foreclosure.

If you’ve been contacted by your lender, it may be at least worth considering your options.  Don’t throw away documents sent to you by your lender.  If they make you an offer call your attorney for legal advice or an experienced real estate agent for advice on the program and assistance selling your home.

The banks really don’t want your home back.  They’d prefer that owners pay their mortgage payments.  When that’s not possible, it may be less expensive to offer the occupant relocation assistance and get on with the process of selling the home before it gets to the costly foreclosure process.  Once the home gets into foreclosure, the costs mount, the credit suffers, and owners lose options.

If we can help, call us at 239-489-4042.  Each situation is unique and it takes time to look into each program.  The good news is we have past experience with many of these programs.