The National Hurricane Center has released their annual prediction for the 2006 hurricane season.  Look for 2006 to be a busy season as Atlantic temps are warmer. 

In this report we’ll tell you where to find deals on generators, and how to avoid paying sales tax on certain items during Florida’s sales tax holiday for hurrucane supplies.  We’ll also grade past NOAA hurricane predictions for Florida and the Atlantic hurricane season.

It’s probably too late to protect yourself with hurricane Shutters this hurricane season.  We highly recommend Storm Smart Systems for hurricane protection as they do an excellent job installing and evaluating your needs.

SW Florida has been hit in recent years.  Residents have learned that by following a simple plan before storms hit can protect against misery after a storm hits.  Simple items go a long way.  FEMA tells everyone all you really need to do is be prepared for three days on your own.  FEMA shoould be to you by then.  Those without power or air conditioning for two weeks or more see it a bit differently though, and they’re not waiting.  They’ve been buying gas cans, generators, and portable air conditioners.

Great article featuring The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers Florida and how we use technology.

Some of the newer things we use are Podcasts, Tablet PC’s to do contracts on the road, Virtual Tours using Podcast technology so the Tour is also searchabloe on the Internet.

Technology has made us much the Ellis Team much more efficient in SW Florida real estate.  We are able to demostrate to sellers in SW Florida how we’re able to sell their real estate property faster than other agents using these innoavtive technologies.  It creates a real wow for sellers in SW Florida.

Have you heard of "What’s with the 50 Questions?"  Well, it may not be 50, but it’s darn close.

We’ve developed a list of 49 Questions you should ask your Realtor before you hire them to sell your home.  We developed this for Homeowners interested in selling their SW Florida real estate, however the list works anywhere.

The biggest mistake sellers make is they think all Realtors are alike and work the same.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The other mistake sellers make are picking agents who reccomend the highest price, selecting a friend or relative because they feel obligated, or going with the lowest comission, believing they’ll end up with more money in their pocket at closing.

All these mistakes can be avoided.  You won’t even have to ask all 49.  After about 10 questions selcted by You, you’ll get a good feeling on where this agent stands, and how they hold up to scrutiny.  We love it when sellers print out this list and ask away.  That’s why we post it right on our website.

Entry level salaries are jumping the highest in 2006, by as much as 18%.  Almost accross the board salaries will be inreasing as the school district focuses on adding new teachers, and retaining existing teachers.

In 2004 Lee County hired 836 teachers.  Our school district is growing, and we must hire teachers.

Lee County Florida is a great place to live and work, and business is booming in SW Florida.  Latest job relase figures show unemplyment fell to 2.1% in april 2006, down from 3% in April of 2005.

Basically, anyone who wants a job can have a job in SW Florida.  Companies are hiring.  Florida is a destination state because so many move here from colder climates, and growth fuels growth.  As the economy heats up, look for even more hiring in the coming months.

Top Agents Pat Hiban John Bendall Brett Ellis Real Estate Leaders

Pat Hiban is the leading agent in the Washington DC area, and his office is located in central Maryland.  Pat’s office is simply amazing.  Pat came up with the Sensible Listing and allowed the Ellis Team to use it several years ago.

John Bendall is one of New Jersey’s leading real estate agents, and has been so successful he opened up three RE/MAX offices as a broker in the past year.  John is President of his local Board of Realtors in New Jersey, and is very influential in the industry.  Together Pat and John are often asked to speak at national conentions and conferences.

Brett, John, and Pat met at Pat Hiban;s office to discuss trends in real estate, changes in the marketplace, and advanced marketing techniques.  The trio compared office systems, technology, personnel, office space, company vehicles, branding, media presentations, commercials, MLS systems, International marketing, investor relations, and a myriad of real estate topics.

Spending time with the Top Agents in the industry helps each one of us.  We learned so many things that we can bring back to the SW Florida real estate market, and much of what we learned translates into results for our clients.  Agents from all over the country pay top dollar to shadow these agents for a day.  Once in awhile, it’s good for us to get together and compare notes and strategies.

Pat, John, and Brett will meet up again along with 200 of the Nation’s Top Agents in New York City at the annual Star Power Conference.  John, Brett, and Pat all teach at the conference, and share their wisdom to aspiring agents from all over the country.

Pat, John, and Brett last taught together at the CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) Convention this past January in San Antonio Texas.

SW Florida real estate has on average bottomed out.  That’s not to say there won’t be tough times in isolated areas, but overall prices have steadied for the past three months and buyer activity has really picked up in the last two weeks.

Buyers will look back and say they should have bought in April  or May of 2006 as inventory levels were excellent for the buyers and mortgage rates were at their lowest.  Prices have also come down around $40,000-50,000 since their highs in some market price ranges.

We’ve had pent-up demand from buyers who have been afraid to buy because they thought if they just waited a month or two, prices would be lower in the future, and they would have been correct up until now.  We’ve seen prices level out.  Buyers need re-assurance that it’s OK to buy, and they haven’t had that.  This changed about two weeks ago as buyers started buying again.  When the word gets out to other buyers, they’ll all turn on, like fire ants.  Fire ants seem to bite all at once.  They’re there, everybody knows they’re there, and when the decide to bite everybody will know they’re biting.  The same is true with buyers of real estate.

Fort Myers real estate is rebounding nicely, followed by Cape Coral and Naples.  Naples probably had the furthest to fall as it was the most ahead of itself.  Cape Coral still has loads of inventory, and that will take time to work itself through.

Thye wild card is rising interest rates and rising insurance costs.  If insurance costs goes up $100/mo it reduces the buying power of a buyer by about $16,000.  Rising interest rates, insurance, and property taxes all work the same way, and could limit the price increases we’ll see down the road.

The good news is overall the market has stabilized and is near bottom.  Expect the market to level where it is while buyers eat up inventory, and eventually rise about 5% per year once inventory levels have come down.

Home appreciation could have been in the 7-9% range and may be limited by rising home ownership costs described above.  It’s possible the market will just stay level the rest of the year and not appreciate too much as we work through this inventory.  Buyers should buy now though because rates are expected to rise throughout the year, and waiting may increase the payments.

Just a quarter percent rise in rates costs the buyer several thousands of dolalrs in buying power.  For these reasons, this is why I say that buyers will look back on May 2006 as the best time to have bought real estate in SW Florida

The meeting was called to order at 5:30 PM by Barbara Bonday, President.

Directors present were Barbara Bonday, Tony Salerno, Regis Sanson, Scot Anderson, Kathleen Krieger and Paul Ehrnfelt.

Also present were Tom Smith of Benson’s, Inc. and the owners whose names are on the attached list.

APPPROVAL  OF UNAPPROVED MINUTES: By proper motion by Mr. Anderson, seconded by Mr. Salerno, the minutes of the previous meeting of February 21, 2006 were approved as corrected.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Mr. Anderson presented the Treasurer’s Report.

MANAGER REPORT: Mr. Smith presented the Manager’s Report.

By proper motion by Mr. Anderson, seconded by Mr. Ehrnfelt, it was unanimously approved to have the palm tree straightened located along the Summerlin Road wall behind Condominium III, but the Master Association will not take responsibility for the maintenance of that area as it is the responsibility of Condominium III.

ARB COMMITTEE: Ms. Bidwell presented the ARB Committee Report, a copy of which is attached and
made a part hereof.

By proper motion by Ms. Bonday, seconded by Ms. Krieger, it was unanimously approved to appoint Mary Grueneberg to the ARB Committee.

NEWSLETTER COMMITTEE: Ms. Krieger presented the Newsletter Committee Report, a copy of which is attached and made a part hereof. The Newsletter Committee consists of Kathy; Krieiger, Chairman, Tony Salerno as Board liaison, Judy Azzara, Bob Deane, Iva Maher, Judy Bauer, Pat Forbes and Theresa Monroe.

RECREATION COMMITTEE: Marie Nelson presented the Recreation Committee Report and reported on the fashion show and upcoming events.

SAFETY COMMITTEE: No report was presented.

OWNERS COMMENTS: Comments were heard from owners for future consideration.

ANNUAL MEETING MAILING: It was reported the Annual Meeting mailing will be done this week, including the new Agenda and a second proxy for return for the vote on the amendments.

FITNESS EQUIPMENT: By proper motion by Mr. Sanson, seconded by Mr. Anderson, it was unanimously approved to purchase new fitness equipment for the Tradewinds Fitness Center from Berry’s Barbell and Equipment.

By proper motion by Mr. Salerno, seconded by Mr. Sanson, it was unanimously approved to purchase the additional fitness equipment for the main clubhouse from Berry’s Barbell and Equipment.

GATES: By proper motion by Ms. Bonday, seconded by Mr. Sanson, it was approved to have each of . the six entrances to Reflection lakes gated. The motion passed 4 to 2 with Ms. Krieger and Mr. Salerno dissenting.

By proper motion by Ms. Bonday, seconded by Mr. Ehmfelt, it was approved to consider a special assessment to fund the installation of the gates of approximately $500 to $800 per unit, which will be noticed for the Annual Meeting on April 11, 2006. The motion passed 4 to 2 with Ms. Krieger and Mr. Salerno dissenting.

WEBSITE: It was reported the website needs to be updated and more information will be obtained as to costs, which range from approximately $4,500 or more.

By proper motion by Mr. Salerno, seconded by Ms. Krieger, it was unanimously approved to update the website system by either (1) Regis Sanson or (2) Lan-Blue.

DIRECTORY RULES AND REGULATIONS: No action was taken by the Board. tional information will be presented to be edited for the directory.

VIOLATIONS – RULES AND REGULATIONS: By proper motion by Mr. Salerno, seconded by Mr. Ehmfelt, it was approved to limit the time of storage pods to three days with longer periods possible with Board approval. The motion passed 5 to 1 with Mr. Sanson dissenting.

WAIVER OF LATE FEES: By proper motion by Mr. Salerno, seconded by Ms. Krieger, it was unanimously approved to obtain an opinion from Becker & Poliakoff regarding the right to collect late fees and the right to have payments made by the Condominiums on behalf of the owners.

By proper motion by Mr. Salerno, seconded by Mr. Anderson, the request to waive the late fee by 13717 Bald Cypress Circle was denied. The late fees were assessed according to the collection policy of the Association and are due as assessed.

By proper motion by Mr. Salerno, seconded by Ms. Krieger, the request to waive the late fee by 14043 Clearwater was denied. The late fee.s were assessed according to the collection policy of the Association and are due as assessed.

CORRESPONDENCE: The Board reviewed the letter from Mr. Monroe requesting that benches be placed along the boulevard.
By proper motion by Mr. Ehmfelt, seconded by Mr. Anderson, the request to place benches along the boulevard was not approved at this time.
There being no further business to come before the Board, by proper motion the meeting was adjourned.


The Following article was posted in the Reflection Lakes Newsletter May 2006.

When to Install and When to Remove?

Master Association Architectural Review Board approval must be obtained by the Unit Owner prior to the installation of any storm protection.

1) Any and all storm protection, including but not limited to, aluminum panels, manual or electric shutters,screens, etc., MUST be the same color as the surrounding exterior of the Unit.

2) Any and all storm protection exhibits and specifications submitted to the ARB for approval must contain a statement that "THE PRODUCT TO BE INSTALLED HAS PASSED THE MIAMI-DADE LARGE MISSILE AND WIND PRESSURE TESTS and FULLY COMPLIES WITH FLORIDA BUILDING CODES 2001 AS

In accordance with the design standards adopted by the Master Association’s Architectural Review Board:

1) Storm protection shall not be placed, installed, rolled down or shut/closed over the exterior of any unit UNLESS a Tropical Storm Warning, a Tropical Storm Watch, a Hurricane Watch or a Hurricane warning has been issued by the National Weather Service/NOAA for Lee County.

2) Storm protection is to be completely removed within forty-eight (48) hours after the Watch or Warning has been lifted by the National Weather Service/NOAA for Lee County.

3) Unit owners wishing to leave their Units’ storm protection up when leaving the Unit unoccupied for a period of thirty (30) days or more may do so ONLY IF THE STORM PROTECTION IS WHITE OR COLOR-MATCHED

Sales in Northern states are off according to the National Association of Realtors.  I found an excellent Blog in Connecticut with sales data that bears this out.  Linda Davis is the CT Realtor who runs this Blog and it has some interesting features.

SW Florida real estate has picked up the past two weeks, and perhaps Florida will lead the nation out of the real estate slowdown.  I’ll be writing an article soon about SW FLorida real estate sales and prices soon, so stay tuned.