Lately our office has been inundated with calls from investors throughout the country looking to snap up foreclosure listings at bargain basement prices.  It’s true, we do have some bargain prices, and foreclosures tend to be a good deal.  

Most of these investors want to only talk to the “Listing Agent” because they believe they’ll get the inside track on these deals.  There are some investor gurus out there selling tapes on how to buy these foreclosures, and as a foreclosure listing agent for many of the banks I can tell you that the advice given won’t help you much, so save your money on these tapes.

Foreclosure List Price/Sales Price Ratio 

Average Sale Price of Foreclosures in SW Florida
Average Sale Price of Foreclosures in SW Florida

If you’re looking to purchase a bank foreclosure, here are a few tips: 

  1. If the property is a bargain, offer full price or better.  Most of the foreclosures sell at or above full price.  From personal experience our listings do, so we decided to pull up the entire MLS sales for 2009.  Of the 8,080 single family home sales, the average List Price/Sale Price Ration was 99.02%, and if you look at median prices it was actually 101.8%.  So the stats do match what we’ve experienced.
  2. Be prepared to offer proof of funds with your cash offer, or a pre-approved letter from a major bank.  Many of the banks require a pre-approval letter from the bank handling the foreclosure so they know they’re taking the property off the market for a good buyer.
  3. Place more money in escrow.  Believe it or not, banks do look at how much you place in escrow with your offer.
  4. Make sure it is not contingent on the sale of another property.  Banks are not taking contingent offers.
  5. Work with an agent familiar with the process.  In most cases listing agents take the information from your offer and input key bits of data online.  The bank never sees your offer on the paper it is written until they accept one of the offers.  Do not make the listing agent hunt you down for crucial information.  Most properties have multiple offers, and the listing agent will just move on to the next offer filled out completely and correctly.
  6. Use an experienced agent who knows how to properly write a contract.  If anything does not make sense, the bank will reject that offer and go with another offer they have confidence in, even if it is lower in price.
  7. Asset managers get graded on how close the final offer is to list price, and if they make the scheduled closing time.  Asset managers get very nervous with offers that aren’t written well, as that’s a key sign the selling agent is poorly trained or new.  If the agent is inexperienced, the confidence level of that closing taking place on time, or at all is compromised.
  8. When a bargain comes on the market, don’t waste time.  It may be too late by the time you find out about it, so be ready.  If you know the market, and know what you’re looking for, be prepared to act.  This is no time for “Buyers Remorse” as the market will spit you up and eat you alive.
  9. Do your homework.  Do not buy at the courthouse steps unless you are an expert in inspecting and title.  When buying from a bank, do your inspections, read the bank contract closely, and know the market ahead of time.  You’ll have little time to act, so be prepared ahead of time.

 These tips, along with professional advice from an agent experienced in buying foreclosed property will serve you well, and give you the best chance of getting that bargain you’ve dreamed of.  Good luck, and happy house hunting.

Watch The Future of Real Estate Video Show as we explain this and more.

This week we’ll focus on freshly updated numbers for the distressed segment of the Lee County real estate market.  It’s important to study this segment of the market as it has been responsible for a large chunk of sales, and has influenced pricing in the market. 

As you can see from the chart, distressed sales in Fort Myers have fallen precipitously in the last 3 months, down from almost 73% in July to 58% in September.  Short sales in Fort Myers have increased about 20% and foreclosures have dropped 35% while overall sales have remained relatively constant.  This tells us that banks are working to sell properties as short sales in Fort Myers as opposed to acquiring the property through foreclosure and selling later on at much lower prices. 

Distressed Proeprties in SW Florida July-Sep 2009
Distressed Proeprties in SW Florida July-Sep 2009

Cape Coral on the other hand has seen about a 15% drop in overall home sales since July.  Distressed sales have remained relatively even, hovering around 70% all 3 months.  Foreclosure sales have dipped almost 26% since July while short sales have increased 9%.  This tells us that the demand in Cape Coral is directly tied to the bargain, meaning as the distressed inventory has fallen in the Cape, so have overall home sales.  Statistically, buyers in the Cape are all about the bargain, and as home prices have increased in the Cape, home buyers have moved to Fort Myers and potentially Lehigh Acres for the bargains. 

Lehigh Acres has seen a slight fall in distressed sales, down from almost 87% in July to 82% in September.  Lehigh Acres is still far and away the distressed capital of Lee County.  Overall home sales in Lehigh Acres have fallen almost 13% from July to September.  Foreclosure sales in Lehigh Acres are down 18%, while short sales in Lehigh are down 17%.  This is why home sales are down overall about 13% as Lehigh Acres, along with Cape Coral are both proving to be price sensitive markets led by first time home buyers and investors. 

Fort Myers seems to be much more stable at this point in time.  We are seeing a trend towards more expensive properties coming to the market via foreclosure, so it will be interesting to see where these properties are located and how it affects demand and pricing in each of the three major markets in Lee County. 

Congress has extended the first-time home buyer tax credit to purchases made through April and closed by July, and added a provision for existing home owners who have owned their home for at least 5 years.  Unfortunately, in this sagging market it doesn’t give them much time to sell their home and close on a new one to take advantage of this provision, so only a select few may be able to purchase a new home before selling the older home. 

We think Congress could have done a much better job writing this bill.  They did add to income eligibility limits, but again the bill limits who can take advantage by July.  This may further fuel the bargain end of the market assuming the president signs this bill, which has not been done at the time this article was written.

We’re concerned that this bill won’t fuel a total real estate recovery and will continue to spur demand at the lower end of the market.  To pull this economy out of the doldrums, a broad based real estate recovery would have served a better purpose, but I guess we’ll take whatever help we can right now.

We’ll also monitor the trend of banks accepting more short sales.  To date banks have been ill equipped to deal with the magnitude of requests.  Recently Bank of America adopted a policy to use its online foreclosure system of working with approved real estate agents called Reotrans and opened it up to short sales.  This will allow approved agents to more efficiently move Bank of America short sales through the system. 

Sellers wishing to sell their home via a short sale should seek out experienced short sale agents who are also familiar with Reotrans.  Because they are adding more than just bank REO’s (Real Estate Owned) they are changing the name from Reotrans to Equator.  This may revolutionize the way banks handle the massive short sale process and speed up many of these sales.  It will also help that they are using agents familiar with the Distressed Sale process. 

If you’re a seller considering selling as a short sale, it’s almost impossible to go it alone.  We recommend hiring a seasoned professional familiar with the intricacies of a short sale.  You might seek out a CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert).  If you’re a current Bank of America customer, you might also seek out an agent who uses and is approved on Equator.  This could be a trend that other banks go to as it will ease the communication stream and handling of the data among various agents, negotiators, and investors.  This online system could do for short sales what it has done for bank foreclosures, which was to make an online system whereby many authorized people could all work on a file simultaneously and get things done instead of pushing paper from one desk to the next. 

Stay tuned, as the market is always in flux, and we’ll report interesting changes and how they may affect the market.

NBC Today Show from Fort Myers Florida real estate market

NBC News called and asked if the Ellis Team could appear on the Today Show Tuesday September 23.  The show will feature Brett Ellis talking about the SW Florida real estate market.  NBC noted that Lee County Florida, particularly Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres has led the nation in foreclosures and is ground zero for the hosuing crisis.  Florida is a battleground state for this year’s presidential election.  The Today Show was in Pennsylvania on Monday and will be live from Tampa and Fort Myers  on Tuesday, specifically from Lehigh Acres.

Also scheduled to appear on the show is  one of the Presidential candidates, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Tampa Bay Star Ronde Barber, and the show will unveil a new NBC News poll focusing on Florida issues.

The Florida segment from Fort Myers should occur in the 7:00-7:30 time slot ET. Brett Ellis is an agent with The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers Florida.

 

The August SW Florida Real Estate Current Market Index is out for Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Lee County real estate, and as you can tell, it’s been fairly level but weakening slightly, which should lead to strong sales numbers going forward, but not quite as strong as we saw in the summer months.

Ellis Team SW Florida Real Estate Current Market Index August 2008 Fort Myers Cape Coral real estate

The official index climbs slighty to 7.88, up from 7.51 the month prior.  The Index consists of Fort Myers and Cape Coral combined.  The overall Lee County index stands at 10.04 for single family homes and 19.27 for condos this month.  Fort Myers single family homes index is 12.89 and Cape Coral is 6.62, so Cape Coral is definitely the hottest part of the county for sales compared to inventory levels.  Lehigh Acres numbers are reflected in the Lee County numbers.  The graph depicts Fort Myers and Cape Coral  real estate single family home sales index numbers.

We’re predicting sales to remain good, but cool off slightly.  Financing is having an impact on current pending sales, and new sales will be tougher after October 1 when down payment assitance goes away.

Fortunately we do have some homes listed that are foreclosures and the credit union is willing to finance with only 2% down, and will offer low rates to buyers with less than perfect credit, so this is a very good program for buyers who may get squeezed out of qualifying or who cannot come up with the minimum down payment due to the new financing rules.

Foreclosures, short sales, and entry level homes are dominating the Southwest Florida real estate market with most of the sales coming from Cape Coral.  When we look at the Percent of April’s closings under $200,000 chart, we can clearly see that closings under $200,000 dominate the Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, and Lee County real estate markets in general.  If you are priced above $200,000 in Lehigh Acres, you’ve got a slim chance of selling as that is not where the buyers are at in Lehigh.  Over 95% of Lehigh’s closings was at $200,000 or less.

We need not look any further than the Months Supply of Inventory Priced Less Than $200,000 chart.  As you can see, Lehigh Acres has over a 2 year supply of homes on the market right now, while Cape Coral and Lee County overall are less than 1 year.

Another interesting chart is the Percent of Homes Listed as Short Sales graph

Over 52% of homes listed in Lehigh Acres are short sales compared to 38.70 Percent for Lee County overall.  If we examine the shear number of short sales listed in Lee County priced less than $200,000 we can gain a little perspective.  Cape Coral has approximately half of the short sales listed in the entire county, and over half of the sales.  This tells us that when affordability meets opportunity, buyers jump off the fence and purchase.

Lastly, let’s look at the Percent of Homes on the Market is SW Florida Priced Less Than $200,000.  So it looks like Cape Coral is where the action is right now, and Cape Coral is probably closer to recovery than Lehigh Acres is, but you can see how fast a market can turn once transactions start occurring in a market segment.

We are also seeing the market being driven by the low end, but also a bleed-up effect which translates to more sales and more offers now in the $300,000-$500,000 range as well.  We expect May to be another good month for sales numbers once they’re posted at the end of the month.

Entry level homes are driving the demand for single family homes in Lehigh Acres and Cape Coral Florida real estate.  Several lending institutuions asked us to do some analysis on the foreclosure market here in SW Florida, and by far Cape Coral leads the way in the county for transactions.  In fact, it can be said that Cape Coral is the hottest market in Lee County.  Lehigh Acres is much more soft.  We’ve uncovered some interesting facts exploring this data.

Here is a graph of all SW Florida real estate homes on the market.  This data was pulled from the Greater  Fort Myers and the Beaches MLS.  As you can tell, Cape Coral has the most listings on the market, and Lehigh Acres is home to some of the most affordable homes in Lee County.  As you can see from the April 2008 closings graph, 371 of Lee County’s 677 transactions were in Cape Coral.  This means that over half of SW Florida’s closings occured in Cape Coral Florida.  Another startling graph is the SW Florida real estate months supply of inventory graph for homes under $200,000.  As you can tell, Lee County is down to 9.69 months of supply and Cape Coral is even better at only 7.74 months of supply for homes priced under $200,000.

What this is telling us is that buyers are definitely off the fence and buying now, and most of these buyers are end users.  It’s also telling us that they prefer to buy in Cape Coral over Lehigh Acres.  In the Boom market, Lehigh did very well because Cape Coral was priced about $85,000 higher for the same house.  The difference was in the land prices.  Now that price differential has come down to about $15,000, and buyers are saying to themselves, for only $15,000 difference they’ll choose Cape Coral.  For $85,000 difference Lehigh Acres looked affordable and attractive.

This also tells us that either prices will go up in Cape Coral, or prices must come down further in Lehigh Acres, or a combination of both until we hit equilibrium.

Feel free to check our SW Florida real estate housing statistics webpage for lots of other charts and graphs.

This article is the first in a series utilizing this new data, so check back often for more updates to the entry level home pricing market in SW Florida, or subscribe to receive e-mail updates to this Blog.

 

This is the brand new 3 bedroom Belvedere Model from 1st Homes.

This beautiful Lehigh Acres, Forida home boasts many wonderful features including a spacious great room floor plan, a tech center or computer area centrally located near kitchen which is great for the kids or your home office area. The master suite offers his and hers closets and  two additional linen closets. There is a pantry in the kitchen and so much more.

This phenomenal value includes an attractive appliance package, security system, garage door opener and is warranted! At $110,000 this bank owned property will not last long.

Call the Ellis Team today to see this home or any of the many Lee County foreclosures, short sales and bank owned properties we have available.