Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s board on Thursday approved an average statewide rate hike of 44 percent for homeowners in high-risk areas. This increase, which still has to be OK’d by state regulators, follows a 16.2 percent increase in high-risk coastal areas that was approved last February.

Mortgage Rates The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped slightly this week to 6.3 percent. Financial markets seemed to like signals from the Federal Reserve that its string of interest rate hikes could be drawing to a close.

Whether you’re buying or selling in today’s market, don’t fret about last year’s prices. Just as sellers cannot sell when prices may have been better, buyers can’t undo time and buy at last year’s prices.

Find out how much home you can afford upfront. Get pre-qualified You’ll want to be happy in the home you’re in, not the home you wish you had bought in the past or the home you cannot afford. Getting pre-qualified upfront sets reasonable expectations. There is nothing worse than looking at homes above your price range, then having to settle for a lesser home because he bank said so.

You’ll also want to be comfortable with your payment. Sometimes you can afford much more home than the monthly payment you’re willing to spend, and that’s OK too. Our agents can Represent you , assisting you to make a better decision for you and your family.

Remember, there is no Perfect home. If you had all the money in the world, you couldn’t design and build the perfect home. One day you’d want a home in the mountains, another a gorgeous home on the beach. I could go on and on here, but you get the point. You’ll want to focus on your needs first, and also what would make you happy. Buying a home is all about choices, and together we help you make the best choice for you. Everyone is different, so we really have to listen to you. We’ll ask lots of questions.

The best home for you may not be the home I’d choose, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s not about us. It’s about You! Good luck, and happy house-hunting. If you’d like more information about SWFL, visit Topagent.com If you’d like to view properties in MLS, search for yourself at Leecountyonline.com. Here is the link Ellis Team Featured Listings .

Many don’t realize that performing any real estatte service in Florida is a 3rd degree felony. Sometimes it’s as innocent as helping a neighbor rent their home, or helping sell a friends home. The problem is, when unlicensed people perform real estate services, mistakes are made and somebody gets hurt, even unintentionally.

Here is the phone number to report such activity. 866-532-1440 Here is a link to an article about this.

Real Estate Bubble Ready to Burst? NBC interviews top agent Brett Ellis about where SW Florida market is headed. Complete with video. Brett Ellis is known for his statistical analysis of the SWFL real estate market, and his Current Market Index, which accurately predicts where the market is headed. Brett works with his mother Sande Ellis, and together they lead the market in Southwest Florida. View their website.

Economist: Gradual moderation of real estate market likely (Link no longer active from Naples Daily News) Noted economist Hank Fishkind addresses mortgage rates, retirees, demographics, oil prices, and markets up north to come to his conclusion.

ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 28, 2005 — Home sales statistics from the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR) show that home prices continued to rise but the number of sales fell in October, notably in southern areas directly impacted by Hurricane Wilma’s march across the state. Most insurers stopped issuing new policies when the hurricane neared Florida, and, following the storm, some lenders required a re-inspection of properties before they would release mortgage money.

Despite storm problems, however, the state’s median home price rose 28 percent in October to $241,000 from $188,800 in October 2004. In September 2005, the median price was $247,800. In October 2000, FAR records show the statewide median sales price was $116,100, resulting in an increase of 107 percent over the five-year-period.

Many Realtors across the state report gains in housing supply, giving buyers a larger selection of homes to consider. Statewide, a total of 16,029 existing single-family homes sold last month compared to 16,844 homes a year ago for a decrease of 5 percent, according to FAR.

The national median existing-home price in September was $212,000, up 13.4 percent from the previous September’s median price of $187,000, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). In California, the statewide median resales price was $543,980 in September; in New York, the median price was $275,000; and in North Carolina, the average resales price was $208,097.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.07 percent in October, a slight increase from the average 5.72 percent in October 2004. FAR’s sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Among the state’s larger markets, the Daytona Beach metropolitan statistical area (MSA) reported that 1,037 homes sold in October for an 18 percent gain over October 2004 home sales of 881. The median home price in Daytona Beach rose 35 percent over the same time period, from $165,000 in October 2004 to $223,300 in October 2005.
Shawn M. Goepfert, president of the Daytona Beach Area Association of Realtors and owner of Ideal Realty of Volusia, says that demand for Daytona-area homes is now catching up with supply. "We started 2005 off with only about 1,000 residential listings, really robust sales and it taking only about two or three weeks to get a contract," Goepfert says. "That demand really pushed up our sales price, but in the last 30 days, our inventory has increased to about 3,000 residential listings."

Other larger MSAs with strong sales and price increases include Jacksonville, with 1,504 home sales in October for a 38 percent gain over October 2004 sales numbers; and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, with 3,735 homes sold for an increase of 4 percent over the same time period. Prices also rose in both markets over the year. In Jacksonville, the median price rose 20 percent to $191,600; in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater the median price rose 35 percent to $225,700.

In Fort Myers-Cape Coral the median price rose 65% from $195,300 to $322,000, while the number of sales fell 52% from 555 in October 2004 to 264 in October 2005. According to Brett Ellis, Realtor with The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers, FL, these numbers are not surprising. "Hurricane Wilma affected sales for certain in October, both before and after the storm. This storm took forever to get here, and once it hit closings were delayed due to power outages and re-inspections. We do see an increasing supply in inventory, which means the days of 65% price increases are probably over. This time next year I think we’ll see moderate price gains as the market begins to level out."

Among the state’s smaller MSAs, Lakeland-Winter Haven posted a 24 percent gain in home sales in October, with 513 homes changing hands compared to 414 homes a year ago. The market’s median sales price rose 50 percent in October to $173,500; last year, it was $115,500.
"I think people have discovered our little secret," says Peggy Daley, treasurer of the Lakeland Association of Realtors and a Realtor with ImperiaLakes Realty Services in Lakeland. "We’ve got the best of everything. People are moving here in droves from South Florida, plus people from the North keep coming down and quickly realize that we’re centrally located with easy access to Tampa or Orlando — but without the traffic."

Other smaller MSAs that posted gains in the number of homes sold in October include Ocala, where 482 homes sold for a 15 percent jump; and Tallahassee, where 393 homes sold for an 18 percent increase. The median sales price in those markets also rose. In Ocala, it rose 38 percent to $159,200; and in Tallahassee, 19 percent to $172,700.

A chart showing statistics for Florida and its 20 MSAs is available by clicking here . The chart compares the volume of existing, single-family home sales and median sales prices in October 2005 to October 2004, based on Realtor transactions.

Courtesy of the Florida Association of Realtors, the University of Florida Real Estate Research Center and The Ellis Team.