Lee County residents in SW Florida have long known what great beaches we have.  From Naples Beach, Vanderbilt Beach, Lover’s Key, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, and Captiva Beach it’s no wonder people love to move to Southwest Florida.

The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association recently awarded Captiva Beach a Top 10 Beach.  Chico’s FAS which is headquartered in Fort Myers Florida in Lee County  features Captiva Beach on the cover of their May catalog.  The catalog featuring the casual clothing that has made the Fort Myers-based retailer famous is being delivered to 6 million households around the United States.

Chico’s first store ever is still open, and is on nearby Sanibel Island. 

SW Florida is very proud of its beaches, so indeed it is an honor that another organization has rated our beaches a Top 10 Beach in the US.

Snow birds flock to SW FLorida.  The Toledo Blade Newspaper details many Ohio residents and where they enjoy vacationing.  A hot spot is the Winter Wine Festival at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort, or the Ritz Carlton on the Beach.

In naples, the Vanderbilt Inn on Vanderbilt Beach is another popular destination.  in Lee County, Sanibel and Captive Islands are Hot in spite of the recent hurricanes.  Fort Myers Beach is always prime real estate in SW Florida.

Check out the linked article for a host of residents and where they like to vacation in SW Florida.

Traditionally, past sold data has almost always been better than current and pending inventory.  Many times today the past sold data is outdated, predicated on a market we had last year.

In some subdivisions, there may be 80 homes on the market and 0 or 1 pending sales.  There may be 0 sales in the last 4 months, making it difficult to use past data.  And the new inventory may be priced less than the past sales, guaranteeing future sales will be at a lower price point.

Experienced agents must account for all of this and make a recommendation.  In the end, the free market will always determine the value.  Which buyers and sellers get there is another story.

The seller sets the price, and the market determines the value.  If the price is out of line with the value, nothing good can happen for the seller.  If it’s too high, it just sits there, perhaps going down in value as the market falls.  If it’s too low, the seller just gave all the equity away to the buyer.

Correctly setting the price takes skill.  No computer model has been able to do it.

For a computerized Valuation of your home, check out The Ellis Team Home Value Model.

The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University recently released a study by two distinguished professors.  Ford is co-founder of the marketing research firm MarketStat and a lecturer in the College of Business at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Dr. Rutherford  is the Elmo Burke Jr. Chair in Building Development and Professor of Finance in the College of Business at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Their study studied more than 55,000 transactions from the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex area, and concludes that Discount Service Brokers netted much less than Full Service agents, negating any savings gained by lower comissions.  In fact, not only did they sell their homes for less money, it took them significantly longer to sell their properties, if at all.

Bottom line is if it seems like a Deal, it might be a Bust.  Read the entire linked article.

The Deapratment of Education released writing scores for the State of Florida.  You can see the percent that of 4th graders who scored a 3.5 or higher on the writing portion of the FCAT.  3.5 is the minimum passing score.

Pelican Marsh Elementary and Tommie Barfield Elementary scored the highest in Collier County with 92% of students scoring a passing grade.  Pelican Marsh’s mean scores were considerably higher however, so we give top honors to Pelican Marsh Elementary as Collier County’s top elementary school.

Pine Island Elementary ranked highest among Lee County schools with a 95% passing grade.

University of Florida economist Dave Denslow  predicts a robust Florida housing market going forward due to demographics.  The only thing he believes could derail a Hot market would be rising interest rates.

Denslow predicts a hot spring and summer and the housing bubble will not burst.  If however spring sales numbers do not come in, the Boom market may officially be over. 

*****NOTICE*****

Please note that at the last BOD meeting on 4/17/06 the following change was made under the USE AND ENJOYMENT OF LAKES section of the Rules & Regs of Danforth Lakes regarding fishing. The original verbiage read:

1. "Owners, or the family members, guests, invitees and tenants of Owners, shall be permitted to fish in the lakes. Notwithstanding the preceding, an Owner of the Lake Lot (i.e. all or portion of their rear or side property lines lies common with a portion of a lake), may access the lakes from that portion of their Lot that shares the common boundary."

THE VERBIAGE HAS NOW BEEN CHANGED AS OF 4/17/06 TO READ AS FOLLOWS:

1. "Owners, or the family members, guests, invitees and tenants of Owners, shall be permitted to fish in the lakes on common grounds other than such areas that border either deeded preserve or deeded lake lots."

2. "No persons shall encroach upon these areas (deeded preserve or deeded lake lots) without permission of the land owner. Nor shall any pets be permitted on these described preserve & lake lot areas. This does not apply to maintenance workers or those taking part in official duties. Notwithstanding the proceeding, an Owner of the lake lot (all or portion of their rear or side property lines lies common with a portion of a lake), may access the lakes from that portion of their lot that shares the common boundary."

We hope these changes will clarify the specific areas where fishing can and cannot be conducted. There are still plenty of other common ground areas that do not fall within deeded lot boundaries that you can enjoy. Many residents had paid a higher premium for such lots to enjoy the view or privacy and prefer not being able to look out and see people or pets out their back door.

Notice will be sent out via email as well to those on file, posted at the Clubhouse and distributed to all homes in the very near future.

Thanks you for your cooperation in making Danforth lakes a great place to live!

Florida gained 190,894 new residents last year, ranking it #1 in  as the best place to move to in the U.S.  Lee County grew by 15,654 last year, ranking it the #9 county in the U.S. in population growth.

Some in Florida have cashed out, choosing to move to Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  Many more are moving to Florida though and leaving traditional northern states.

More home buyers today according to a recent study start their search on the Internet before looking anywhere else.  This is good news for Realtors who have a heavy presence on the Internet.

The Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers Florida has perhaps the largest and most effective Internet presence in SW Florida.  This actually helps us because we were the first to offer the MLS online.  Other agents were skeptical about putting that data out there.  We knew customers would like to see that data.

Often times it becomes information overload, so buyers need agents as much as they ever have.  Internet sites don’t always tell the whole story either, like what the reputation of the builder is, what schools may be added to the area, road congestion and future plans, airport noise, etc.  All these things affect value, and Internet sites don’t convey all that information. 

What the Internet does do is speed up the process, which is good for buyer, seller, and Realtor alike.  The Realtor’s who fight against the Internet are quickly disappearing and being replaced by progressive agents who understand the importance of traditional advertising models, and the use of efficient advertising models like the Internet.

What hasn’t changed is customer service, responsiveess, and ability to sell being key components to an agents success.  It does no go whatsoever to create leads and not have systems to cultivate and harvest them, and provide the customer a long-term solution to their real estate needs.

ORLANDO, Fla., March 23, 2006- Rising inventory levels and still-low mortgage rates continued to affect Florida’s housing market, which is adjusting to a better balance between buyers and sellers following a five-year run of record-pace sales. Statewide, sales of single-family existing homes totaled 13,539 in February compared to 16,916 homes a year ago, for a 20 percent decrease, according to the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR).

Realtors from across the state report that the supply of homes available for sale in their markets is improving, offering buyers more housing opportunities. The statewide median price for single-family existing homes last month was $244,200, up 24 percent from the February 2005 statewide median of $197,700.

In February 2001, the statewide median sales price was $118,200, which shows an increase of about 106 percent over the five-year period, according to FAR records. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half for less.

In California, the statewide median resales price in January 2006 was $551,300; in New York, it was $319,000; in Maryland, it was $290,776; and in North Carolina, the average resales price was $206,788. Nationally, the median sales price for existing single-family homes in January was $210,500, up 13.1 percent from January 2005.

Sales of existing condominiums in Florida also decreased last month, with a total of 4,342 condos sold statewide compared to 5,643 in February 2005 for a 23 percent decline, according to FAR. The statewide median sales price for condos rose 11 percent to $218,700 last month; a year ago, it was $197,000. The national median existing condo price was $216,900 in January 2006.

Along with the University of Florida Real Estate Research Center, the Florida Association of Realtors began compiling data on closed condo sales for comparison purposes in 2005; the condo data series began in January 2006.

Favorable mortgage rates continued to spark buyers’ interest in markets across the state. Last month, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.25 percent, up from the 5.63 percent average rate in February 2005. 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 Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) reported a total of 1,200 single-family existing homes sold in the area in February compared to 1,218 homes a year ago for a 1 percent decrease. The median sales price rose 14 percent to $196,200; a year ago, it was $171,800.

Kay Seitzinger, president of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors and assistant manager with Watson Realty Corp. in Ponte Vedra, says a convenient location, employment opportunities and appealing lifestyle attract people to the Jacksonville area.

"The continued strong market we are having here in northeast Florida is considerably influenced by our area’s stable economy," she says. "With our diverse business base and positive job outlook, people continue to relocate to the greater Jacksonville area. Add to that our great quality of life — with so many arts and leisure activities, who wouldn’t want to live here?"

As for smaller markets in Florida, the Tallahassee MSA, reported strong resales activity last month with a total of 330 single-family homes changing hands compared to 298 homes a year ago for an increase of 11 percent. The area’s median sales price rose 15 percent to $185,800; a year ago, it was $161,300.

Kenny Ayers, president of the Tallahassee Board of Realtors and new-home specialist with Heritage Homes Realty of Tallahassee representing Turner Heritage Homes, notes that the area’s changing seasons and friendly community appeal to many homebuyers.

"As the state capital, we have a lot of job opportunities with the government and state offices, plus three big universities and colleges," he says. "The Tallahassee area is convenient to the coast and offers a nice mix of art and cultural activities along with a laid-back, friendly lifestyle.

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 Febraury 2006 compared to February 2005, based on Realtor transactions.