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? 

We were uploading video to our YouTube account the other day and we came across this news story we did back on March 3, 2008 where we said the real estate market is changing.

We also mentioned on air that we were seeing a 60% increase in pending sales back in April in a news story entitled SW Florida Real Estate Housing Numbers.

On June 18, 2008 we wrote an article entitled Preliminary SW Florida Real Estate May Sales Numbers  All signs point to housing numbers that should show an increase in sales of about 57-61% in transactions.  We expect to see a decline in median price from May of last year around 25% give or take a few percentage points.  Many thought April’s numbers were a one-time event, but we don’t think so.  In fact, our Ellis Team SW Florida Real Estate Current Market Index suggests transaction strength for awhile to come.

We’ll all be watching the numbers as they are released tomorrow, and we’ll be surprised if the volume isn’t very strong as affordability is back in the market.

This week’s guest will be Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott.

We will ask the sheriff for a crime update in SW Florida.  We’ll also ask how the economy and foreclosures are affecting crime, and his efforts to crack down on air conditioner and appliance thefts in Lee County’s vacant homes.  We’ll also ask what the sheriff”s office is doing to crakdown on grow houses and drugs,  A lot of people ask us about trafiic enforcement, so we’ll ask why there seems to be a stepped up effort to write speeding tickets and we’ll ask where that money goes.

We’ll definitely ask how the property taxes and the budget crisis is affecting his department, as well as gas prices and salaries.  This should be a power packed hour filled with lots of questions and hopefully lots of answers, so tune in Saturday at 11:00AM on WINK AM 1240 and 1270 in Naples live, or you can listen to the show on the Internet starting next Monday after it airs.  SImply go to  our Radio Show page and click on Listen Online.

The Ellis Team SW Florida real estate Current Market Index improved for the 5th straight month.  The index moved down to 7.23 for the Fort Myers, Cape Coral area.  For the entire Lee County Florida area the Current Market Index fell to 9.21, down from 9.57 the previous month.

Ellis Team SW Florida Real Estate Current Market Index

Single family listings in Lee County rose to 15,634, up from 15,340 the month prior, but Pending sales increased to 1,697, up from 1,603 in May.  We’ve already predicted May sales numbers should be about 57-60% higher over last year, while average prices should be down about 25% from last year.  We used the mean average and the official numbers use the median average, so there could be some slight variations when numbers are released.

We look at closed sale data in addition to using the Current Market Index to get a direction of where the market is headed.  This index has been so successful in its accuracy that the National Association of Realtors have adopted a similiar but more simple formula to predict the future market called the Pending Home Sales Index.

Next week we’ll report official numbers for May, but suffice it to say that not only will May numbers look stellar but June numbers should also look stellar once the month is completed.

The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group is currently interviewing licensed real estate agents to join our team.  Agents need to possess a good work ethic, excellent reputation for customer service and ethics, and be a good listener.

The Ellis Team’s marketing has created an abundance of buyers looking to purchase property in SW Florida.  Current buyer agents are having a difficult time taking a day off, and there are many days when all agents are out showing property to buyers and we don’t have agents answering the phone the way we like.  Some would say it’s a good problem to have in tough times, but it really isn’t a good problem.  We prefer to always have someone at the office who can answer phones and customers questions, and while we recognize there can always be situations where this can happen, it is happening much too often.  Our agents have asked us to get more buyer agents on our team.

We are looking for quality individuals, not people to just fill a seat and cherry pick phone calls.  We need to add quality people, but we won’t sacrifice quality just to sell more numbers.  If you have a license and think you have what it takes, please call our office for an interview to learn how our aggressive marketing can help you succeed in real estate today.

239-489-4042

Official sales numbers for May won’t be released until about June 25th by the Florida Association of Realtors.  I’ve spent some time this month analyzing May home sales, and it pretty much confirms what our latest Current Market Index suggested, that sales would be up in May.  The Current Market Index accurately predicts the SW Florida real estate market into the future, so May’s number’s won’t be surprising.

We’ll release these numbers today with one caveat.  The official numbers are derived from various MLS sources, and are adjusted after the fact sometimes a year later.  The results we release today may not be 100% in line with what is officially released, but we will go on record with our predictions and we’ll see just how close they were once the officials are released.

From the data we’ve looked at, it appears May Sales were up 51.67% over last May’s numbers, which would beat the 41% increase of the official April numbers.  It would also hint that April’s sales numbers were not an aberration and may indicate buyers are truly off the fence as homes have become affordable.  In fact, homes sales in May were up 7% over April’s blistering pace.

Home prices in May were down 25.07% from last May’s numbers, less than April’s 29% official number.  For this example we used average mean price and not the average median price.  We are showing a 1.82% price increase ion the average mean price of a home in SW Florida this May over this April, another encouraging sign.

So what does all this number business mean?  It means buyers are back in the game, sales are very, very strong, and prices may have leveled this past month.  We’ll wait for official numbers to be posted later this month, but don’t be surprised to see more encouraging news once official numbers are released.  We think buyers have their greatest leverage right now, and time is slowly slipping away on buyers as market inventory has actually been going down and sales are up drastically.  We predicted 2008 to be a year of bouncing along the bottom in our 2008 State of the Market Report released last January, and it certainly is shaping up that way.

Bank foreclosures and short sales have helped affordability in the SW Florida market.  Inventory has been coming down, and without the bank foreclosures and short sales we would eventually run out of inventory and be back in the same sellers market we were in a few years ago, minus the wild speculation that occurred.  To listen to Brett Ellis tell how to buy bank foreclosures in Fort Myers and Cape Coral in a radio interview, click here.

Check out  an Inside the numbers look at Entry Level Home Sales and Inventory in SW Florida for april.  This will give you an idea of what is driving the Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres home sales market.

 

Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilikinson released preliminary taxable values today.  The Ellis Team was able to secure an advanced copy and has provided a breakdown of values by area.  This is a complicated formula as new construction is built into these numbers, as well as personal property.  The following chart will give you a pretty good estimate by area of the county of how the Property Appraiser’s office feels values fared last year.  You can compare these values with our 2008 State of the Market Report. (Pg 10)

Lee County Tax Roll Values-Estimate 2008
Lee County Total Taxable -12.36%
City of Cape Coral  -26.56%
City of Ft Myers  -2.54%
City of Sanibel  -5.23%
Town of Ft Myers Beach  -11.12%
City of Bonita Springs  -7.27%
Independent Fire District  
Alva Fire District  -9.90%
Bayshore Fire District  -4.88%
Boca Grande Fire District  .19%
Bonita Springs Fire District  -4.72%
Captive Fire District  2.14%
Estero Fire District  1.05%
Ft Myers Beach Fire District  -9.13%
Ft Myers Shores Fire District  -.74%
Iona McGregor Fire District  -4.05%
Lehigh Acres Fire District  -17.33%
Matlacha-Pine Island Fire District  -15.25%
North Ft Myers Fire District  -5.98%
San Carlos Fire District  -.38%
Sanibel Fire District  -3.99%
South Trail Fire District  -3.47%
Tice Fire District  -5.64%
Upper Captiva Fire District  -10.51%
By Independent District  
Alva Area Taxable  -14.60%
Bayshore Area Taxable  -12.32%
Boca Grande Area Taxable  .39%
Bonita Springs Area Taxable  -6.54%
Captiva Area Taxable  2.95%
Estero Area Taxable  -1.15% 
Ft Myers Beach Area Taxable   -10.21%
Ft Myers Shores Area Taxable   -2.92%
Iona McGregor Area Taxable  -7.78%
Lehigh Acres Area Taxable  -22.98%
Matlacha-Pine Island Area Taxable  -19.47%
North Ft Myers Area Taxable   -11.83%
San Carlos Area Taxable   -4.05%
Sanibel Area Taxable   -4.31%
South Trail Area Taxable  -6.93%
Tice Area Taxable -10.58%
Upper Captiva Area Taxable          -10.22%

Tune in to "The Futire of Real Estate" this Saturday at 11:00 AM on AM 1240 in Fort Myers and AM 1270 Naples and Marco Island as Ken Wilkinson, Lee County Property Appraiser will be our guest.  We’ll ask Ken about the latest taxable values as well as upcoming Ammendments on the ballot and what they mean to the taxpayers this upcoming election.

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.

Sales numbers released by the Florida Association of Realtors for April 2008 shows the Fort Myers and Cape Coral real estate markets sales increased dramitically.  In fact, sales are up over March numbers as well.  SIngle family homes sales in Fort Myers and Cape Coral increased 41% over last year’s numbers, and Condo sales in Fort Myers and Cape Coral increased 57 % over last year’s numbers.

The Ellis Team SW Florida Real Estate Current Market Index is an accurate indicator or future sales, and has been improving steadily since January 2008.  In January we began reporting that sales numbers should begin picking up, which has been the case.  Pending sales started increasing, followed by rising closed sales.  Inventory levels have been falling in 2008 which is a good sign for sellers.  We still have a high level of inventory, but it is getting more manageable everyday.

Median home prices have fallen, but that does not mean that all home prices are declining.  We have seen solid sales in Cape Coral.  Lehigh Acres home sales have fallen behind Cape Coral.  We’ll be posting some very interesting numbers within a week or so illustrating those differences.  Median home prices have fallen, and that is an indication that more of the home sales have occurred at the bottom half of the spectrum.  As the bottom has firmed up, it will eventually translate into firming in the higher price ranges.  We are getting more offers today in the $300,000+ range and that is encouraging once again.  It all started with that $100,000 range which led the charge.

Many properties in the $100,000 range have multiple offers on them and buyers are scrambling to get these properties.  In fact, buyers display desperation when competing against other buyers to get in on these deals.  The Fort Myers News Press did a home sales story on the April Fort Myers and Cape Coral numbers.  Money Magazine also did a story on national home sales and it talked about how Cape Coral Florida is leading the nation as one of the bright spots.

Stay tuned as we look for more good numbers being reported in when May’s numbers are reported next month.