Changes are coming to the way property is shown in SW Florida.  Gone are the days where agents call the listing office to setup showing appointments.  This was an inefficient system as agents had to make phone calls to listing office, who had to in turn call seller, then call showing agent back to confirm.  If one seller wasn’t available it could throw the whole showing schedule into chaos and start the process all over.

Centralized Showing Service Changes Way Property is Shown in SW Florida

The way properties will be shown is changing for the better as the MLS has now gone to a Centralized Showing Service.  Technically offices can still setup showings the old fashioned way, but once they see how the new system works they’ll quickly learn their sellers will be at a big disadvantage so they’ll want to join in the new system.

When agents view properties online in the MLS there is a button they can click on that will automatically setup the showing for them.  If the agent sees 7 homes that meet their buyer’s needs, they simply select those 7 homes and request showings at a set time interval, i.e., tomorrow from 2-4 pm.  They system will contact each owner and notify the showing agents which appointments are set along with a showing map for the route.

Since this will be automated sellers need to understand the new rules of showing real estate.  Actually they’re old rules but with the new system it’s even more important.  The more accessible a property is, the more it will get shown if it’s priced correctly.  If the sellers reject showings as inconvenient, the showing agent will simply just show the homes they have approvals on.  The rejected showings will miss out unless the buyer doesn’t like one of the other 6 homes.

With limited inventory, buyers are hesitant to wait, so they offer on one they’ve seen that meets their needs and is priced correctly.

The new system will handle alarm codes, gates codes, special instructions like handling of pets, etc.  There’s even an app for the agent’s phone that will remind them not to let cat out or why a bedroom door is closed.

Sellers will have the option of receiving a tele-call where they can hit 1 for accept the showing or 2 for reject.  Or, they can receive texts where they can accept or reject, or an email, or all 3.  Once the seller accepts the showing agent is instantly notified, so setting up showings can take just a few minutes versus chasing listing brokers and sellers down for hours.  Weekends were especially hairy if the listing office didn’t have personnel to handle showings.

Hot Price Ranges Way Property is Shown in SW Florida

The system has some interesting features.  It can tell an agent which price range is receiving the most showings.  This can be helpful in setting the correct price for a home if the home is on the edge of a price bracket.

The system also contacts showing agents for feedback and generates a nice report for our sellers.  Tracking agents down for feedback used to be difficult but now the system will do it automatically and makes it easy on the showing agent to respond.

We look forward to sharing with our sellers the new seller reports, showing reports, and market statistics we’ll generate on showings.  We can compare this to sold and pending data and spot trends as they develop.  If the market takes a turn, we’ll be able to see if other similarly priced homes are getting showings.

This new service is a win/win for sellers and agents.  Knowing the new rules and how to work the system can mean the difference between selling or watching all the homes around you sell while your home sits.  Take the time to learn the system and make your home accessible.

Good Luck and Happy Showing!

View our July 2014  SW Florida Real Estate Market Update

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By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

What is a 4 Point Home Inspection?

Most buyers are familiar with a typical home inspection where the buyer hires an inspector to inspect a home they are purchasing to see what defects or required repairs the home may have, as well as informative maintenance type issues. However, you may be curious about a 4 point home inspection.

4 Point Home Inspection For Insurance Company Discounts

You may have heard the term 4 point inspection thrown around as well.  A 4 point inspection is a separate inspection report many insurance companies require on homes 20 years old or more.  Citizens required them on homes 30 years old or more.  Some companies are requiring them on newer homes as well, so it’s always good to check with your insurance company as getting a 4 point inspection is less expensive if added on to a regular home inspection.

The 4 points are heating and air conditioning, electrical wiring and panels, plumbing connections and fixtures, and the roof.

Insurance companies have become increasingly reluctant to issue Homeowner Insurance Policies on older homes (usually 25 years old or more). Their common concern is that there may be conditions in an older home that could become a liability to them. For instance; a home with a roof nearing the end of its reliable service life may fail while under the policy and the homeowner may seek reimbursement from their insurance company for damages to the home or its contents.

Similar concerns extend to the condition of the HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems in an older home. If these elements are in poor condition, in need of being updated or replaced or were improperly installed, they may fail and cause fire or water damage to a home.

Newer homes are assumed (by the insurance companies) to not have these problems as frequently as older homes. There is a standard form for this type of inspection that must be filled out by a qualified inspector or contractor.

There is also a Uniform Wind Mitigation Verification Inspection which provides significant discounts to a homeowner if the home qualifies. The state has recently changed the reporting rules this year making it harder to qualify for such discounts. More proof is needed in the report including photos.

There is also a Roof Certification Inspection insurance companies require when the roof is approximately 15 years old. The 4 point inspection report may suffice if your insurance company asks for this inspection. Check with your company.

Last week an insurance company sent over their own person to check on one of our listings for an upcoming closing.  I checked with an insurance agent who said more and more insurance companies are starting to send their own people over to perform these inspections as they are not fully trusting the reports they are receiving.  This may cost the insurance company more money upfront, but it is a signal that they are increasingly looking to limit exposure and risk.

Not only must a seller satisfy the buyer, the lender, the appraiser, but now also the insurance company before a home can be sold.

If the home has polybutylene plumbing you can forget about an insurance company insuring the home.  The home must be re-plumbed.

Buying and selling a home today has become more complex.  With new Dodd Frank regulations being written and taking effect combined with new insurance disclosures and requirements it’s a wonder anything gets done.  Inspectors have to fill out more reports so they must charge more.

As regulations increase Realtors will have to charge more in the future. State Farm now requires their own forms be filled out by inspector on a PC, not a mobile device so inspectors are charging more for State Farm inspections.

Yesterday I had to go back out to a property under contract and photograph certain things for an appraiser to go in that report.  Appraisers and insurance companies are documenting everything.

We’d strongly recommend getting a 4 point inspection as an add-on to your regular home inspection.  It just might save you thousands on your home insurance, and it might come in handy when you go to sell the property, even if your insurance company doesn’t use it.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

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Whether you’re ready to list your home today or just get an update on prices, we’re here to help. To get your home listed and marketed in High Definition simply call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group 239-489-4042 or email us at Brett@topagent.com or Sande@topagent.com To search the MLS visit TopAgent.com  To learn more about Hi Def video for your home visit HomesinHD.TV

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By Brett Ellis

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

SW Florida home sales climbed in March to 1,068 sales for single family homes.  This is down 7.1% from last year but up 37% from February’s home sales figures.  We would say this is good news for the local real estate market as sales are holding up nicely.  We think they could have been higher if there were more listings on the market ready to compete for buyers.

Cape Coral real estate sales prices Fort Myers real estate

In speaking with several real estate agents and new home communities it seems that buyers this year watched the huge price increases we’ve seen over the past few years and many decided it was time to consider new construction.  For many years new construction was priced out of the market because existing homes were far less expensive.  Existing homes were undervalued and new home construction basically had to sit on the sidelines or risk building at a loss.

SW Florida Home Sales and New Construction

With the recent run-up in prices builders can compete again.  This will be news for many sellers in SW Florida as they’re not used to competing with new construction in many years, but those days are back.  Our market was undervalued and had to rise. Now that it has, competitive forces come into play and will temper large price increases going forward.  We may be back to a normal market where we’ll be watching indicators that may affect our market like supply and demand, along with inflation, the economy, interest rates, consumer confidence, insurance rates, and others.

All these forces affect the local and national market.  Because we’re no longer undervalued by a wide margin, and because free money is leaving the scene, and flood insurance rates may rise, the market now must react to natural market forces.  We were insulated the past 5 years.

This market wasn’t a lot of fun on the way down, although it was fun on the way up, but now we’re getting close to market equilibrium.  There is still much room for market growth, but it may need to be sustainable growth based on reasonable market factors.  Most agents would agree it’s actually kind of healthy to get back to a stable growing market.

Even in a stable growing market there will be pockets of sub markets that will thrive and some may struggle. Some areas of town will be hotter than others.  Some subdivisions are still fighting off remnants of short sales and foreclosures, or the association is making up deficiencies left by members that didn’t pay.

Some price ranges have less supply and more demand, and vice versa.  You cannot price your home by how the overall market is doing, just as we can’t price SW Florida based upon how the National market is doing.

If you’re considering selling, it pays to consult an agent who understands the market and what is really taking place.  You don’t need an agent that simply reads the headlines and prices your home based upon where they heard the market is heading.  By the time you read about it in the papers or see it on TV, chances are the market has already shifted.  The market rarely stays in one place for long.

Listing inventory is rising again.  In the next few weeks we’ll be introducing a new system that will really shake things up in the SW Florida real estate market.  We’re not ready to release details just yet, but if you’re considering selling your home, now might be a good time to call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group 239-489-4042 or stop by our office at 7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr Fort Myers, FL 33907

We’ll make sure you understand the market forces so you can make a good pricing decision, and you’re going to love the new program coming soon!

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!
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Thinking of Selling Automated computer home valuation system SW Florida real estate

Thinking of Selling? Sellers have read that home prices are up and interest rates are low, so they’re curious if it would make sense to consider a move right now.  Many have been trapped in their home for so long they forgot what it was like to have options.

They want to take advantage of low interest rates but many are not sure they have enough equity to make a move.  The whole process can seem daunting.

For years the Ellis Team has played with several online valuation models to help curious homeowners out.  We’re excellent at counseling sellers and going over options, but many don’t even want to waste our time until they get a sense that they can do this.  The online valuation models were all over the place until now.

Automated computer home price analysis Fort Myers real estate

No online valuation will ever take the place of what we do; how could it?  The computer has never been inside your home or the homes it’s using as a basis to compare yours to.  It’s just a computer.  We have found one that does a decent job though.

If you’re considering selling simply go to www.swfloridahomevalues.com  In just a few easy steps it asks for your property address, brings up an aerial view of your home and asks you to verify if it has the home size, bedrooms, and bathrooms correct in the database, and voila’ it sends you a beautiful automated selling price analysis for your home complete with a map of comparable sales, a list of comparable sales along with their selling price, date sold, price per sq ft, and more.  It also provides neighborhood ratings and will email you instant alerts on changes to your home’s value.

It’s free to use and very helpful.  All we ask is that if you decide to sell now or in the future, you at least give us a shot and see what we can do for you when you’re interviewing agents.

We’re experts at guiding you through the home selling maze.  We understand many pieces of the puzzle have to fall into place and many times we can offer suggestions to help you.  We’ve helped thousands of homeowners through this process so we’ve gained some experience along the way that can really help you make better decisions.

If it’s just preliminary information you’re seeking, we’ve got tools like this website for that. If you need more detailed information or have questions about how the process would work for you, we’re always here to talk to.  We’re not pushy salespeople; we sincerely like to help people.  Whether you’re buying or selling today or perhaps years from now, the Ellis Team is here to help.  To search the MLS visit www.Topagent.com and you can always call us at 239-489-4042

 

Good luck and Happy Buying/Selling!

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Last week I had the pleasure of presenting the residential market outlook to the CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) Real Estate Outlook Conference.  This conference is comprised of the Top commercial specialists in Charlotte, Lee, and CollierCounties along with community leaders like Mayor Randy Henderson of Fort Myers, Jim Nathan president of Lee Memorial Health System, a VP from Hertz, and Wilson Bradshaw president of FGCU among others.

The commercial market lags the residential market.  Residential went down before commercial did and therefore came out sooner.  CCIM experts were happy to report commercial is again on the rebound.  2013 was a very good year for residential which bodes well for commercial going forward.

Home Sale Prices Rising Nationwide

Nationwide housing prices rebounded in December quite nicely over the previous year.  Detroit saw the largest increase in the RE/MAX national housing report followed by Las Vegas.  Fort Myers came in with a 24% median price increase in December, and for the year Lee Home Sale Prices Rising NationwideCounty saw a 28.31% gain over 2012 numbers.

In December there were reports nationwide of a slowdown in home sales but many states have reported this may have been a weather related issue as treacherous weather has wreaked havoc on airlines, schools, and businesses up North this year.

The North’s bad weather could be SW Florida’s good fortune as we have seen in years past bad weather up North leading to more home sales down here.  In fact, yesterday I heard Carnival cruise lines announced they sold more cruises in January than any other month in history.  With blizzard conditions this week and forecast conditions again next week, this might be the last year for some suffering through this weather.

Lee County is working on bringing more companies to SW Florida, and with record breaking bad weather, maybe we’ll attract entire companies rather than just disgruntled homeowners looking to make a change. This would be huge as we’d be adding jobs to the area to go along with increased residents.

While the SW Florida real estate market may not see 28% price gains this year, 2014 looks to be on track to be another great year. If another company or two like Hertz or Gartner decides to relocate here it could turn into a fantastic year.

We’ll be keeping our eye on several wild cards which could affect our market.  Weather up North is one of them, along with the national housing market, interest rates, the overall economy, consumer confidence, business hiring and unemployment, and company relocations.

Realistic sellers have an excellent chance to sell their home right now.  We have seen some over-pricing occurring in this market and we’re watching these listings sit on the market.  A Seller’s market is an excellent time to sell but not a license to over-price.  Over-priced homes do not sell.  Believe it or not, back in 2005 and 2006 many sellers failed to sell because they were greedy and missed an opportunity.  Oh my, would they love to have those days back!

If you have a home to sell, call us at 239-489-4042.  We can help.  If you’re a buyer, it pays to work with someone who knows the market.  To search the MLS go to www.TopAgent.com

Good luck and Happy Selling/Buying!
To search the MLS for properties go to www.TopAgent.com or give us a call at 239-489-4042 You can even search for waterfront property in Fort Myers, Cape C oral, or all of SW Florida    Good luck and Happy House Hunting!!!

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A few weeks ago we wrote about 5 things a buyer should know about Lee County Real Estate, so we thought we’d follow-up with a version strictly for sellers.  5 Things a Seller Should Know About Lee County Real Estate.

5 Things a Seller Should Know About Lee County Real Estate

 

  1. Prices are Falling.  Don’t get too alarmed here as it’s not unusual for prices to fall this time of year.  It’s more of a statistical anomaly.  Prices are still up over last year’s numbers, but they are falling monthly.  Next season will be the barometer.  Some sellers mistakenly believe they can ask anything for their property and it will sell.  This is not true.  Its funny how the seller believes their property is worth so much more than everybody else’s property, but when they are the buyer they look at things differently.
  2. We Must Sell Your Property 3 Times.  First, we must sell it to other agents.  If they believe the property is over-priced they won’t show it.  Next, we must sell it to the buyer.  The buyer is the one out looking at all available like kind properties.  If they feel it’s over-priced relative to other similar listings, they’ll make an offer on something else.  Lastly, we must sell it to the buyer’s bank.  The bank orders an appraisal not for the buyer’s benefit but for their own.  If the appraiser says we sold it for too much we’ve got a problem.  If we fail at any of these 3 sales, we don’t have a sale.
  3. Interest Rates are Rising.  This takes purchasing power away from the buyer.  Every 1% rise in rates eats away 9% purchasing power from the buyer.  If there are a limited number of buyers for your home today, rising rates will chip away and steal some of those buyers from you.
  4. Flood Insurance Rates are Going Up. Some say rates could double or triple on certain properties.  If you don’t sell, this could affect your bottom line.  If you do sell, it could affect the buyer’s bottom line, which could influence their offer.  Your home doesn’t have to be waterfront to be affected.
  5. Rising Values Brings More Competition to the Table.  Yes, inventory is limited today, and it has helped propel home values.  As values rise, expect more competition from other sellers whose value rose above water on their current mortgage and can now afford to sell, or from sellers who are just ready now and have waited for values to climb to a certain point.  Builders are now entering the fray because home values have risen enough for them to be able to compete again.

 

This is actually a good time to sell right now.  The odds of selling right now are as high as they’ve ever been, if your home is marketed and priced properly.  We saw over-priced homes in the height of the Boom fail to sell, and we’re seeing it today.  We are saying we have a good market.  We’re also saying don’t get too greedy or you could be one of those sellers saying I wished I hadn’t over-priced my home back when the market was good.  Real estate works in cycles, and we’ve heard this repeated too often.

 

If you’re considering selling and would like for us to sit down and meet with you, simply give us a call at 239-489-4042 or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com
Feel free to search the MLS at TopAgent.com. Good luck and Happy House Hunting!!!

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Listing inventory is riding low as it usually does this time of year.  If it seems lower this year, you may be right.  I spoke with a Realtor this week who usually carries 30 listings and they’re down to 6.

Fort Myers Cape Coral real estate inventory Riding Low
Single Family Home Inventory

 

As you can see by the graph, official numbers from Florida Realtors bear this out.  We’re still waiting for the June numbers to come out.  May’s numbers showed a decrease from 2012 inventory levels by 372 homes.

Last year inventory levels reached their lows in July but we’ve already surpassed those numbers with May numbers, so we’ll be watching June and July numbers when they come out.

Ellis Team at RE/MAX buyer specialists were busy this past weekend, and showings seem to have picked up a dramatically in the past week too.  Showings on our listings increased.  I checked with our listing coordinator and he said this past week was very busy and the week before wasn’t.  Of course, the week before was July 4th week so people tend to concentrate on outdoors and fun that week anyway.

Several of our listings have been receiving previews and showing for some of the Hertz relocation employees.  A few weeks ago I was quoted in a News Press article and while the article never said who had the Hertz account people inferred that the Ellis Team did so we’ve been flooded with people calling and emailing asking us to show their rental or home to Hertz employees.

We don’t have the Hertz account.  I had people argue with me and tell me we did because they thought they read it in paper.  These people weren’t looking to list their rental or home for sale, they just want employees to know about it.

The fact is, no matter who has the Hertz account those employees will know about it if the property is listed.  I assure you many of our listings have had interest from Hertz agents.

Every year I go on listing appointments and some sellers will say we’d like to sell to the Germans, or the Canadians or whoever else they perceive are buying this year.  It’s almost as if they want top dollar and they think the Germans will overpay for US homes because they don’t know better.

I assure you, nobody likes to overpay for a home no matter where they come from.  We work with many International customers and they all do their homework.  Hertz employees are no different.

And really, does it matter where the buyer is from or who they work for when they’re buying your house?  Money is money and most sellers we meet with want top dollar.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  We believe everyone should receive what the market is willing to pay.

When we list your home your home is exposed to buyers locally and internationally.  We use traditional print marketing as well as advanced online techniques that gets your home noticed.  Your buyer could be from Hertz or Intel, from Florida or Switzerland.

With inventory levels at lows this year it may be a good time to start thinking about selling.  Interest rates are rising, so if you’ll be getting a mortgage on your next home it could really cost you to wait.  See our last few articles at Blog.TopAgent.com to read about how rising rates are costing home buyers.

The market is rarely constant.  It is always changing.  If you’re interested in making a move, call us to find out where you stand in today’s market. 239-489-4042. Our office address is 7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr Fort Myers, FL 33907

Good luck, and Happy Selling/Buying!!!!!

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Last year we did an article about Realtors using video in their business.  Back then about 14% of Realtors were using video.  We suspect today that number has grown a bit as more and more people are watching videos in their travel time and in between moments of their life on their smart phones and tablet devices. Today we’d like to update that story with Realtors Using Video Revisited

 

Realtors Using Video Revisited
Ellis Team YouTube Channel

Last month alone our YouTube channel www.Youtube.com/brettellisfl  viewers watched 11,792 minutes of video.  That’s over 196 hours of video.  Of that traffic, mobile apps and direct traffic accounted for 51% of that activity. Germany was the leading country after the United States to watch our videos.  Brazilians watched for the longest average duration followed by the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Austria.

While it helps to have professional video and audio it isn’t required.  Putting something at least decent up is better than nothing as long as the content is compelling and informative.

One thing you’ll notice about our YouTube channel is that we’ve updated the skin to YouTube’s standards.  This is a recent change Google has adopted.  They want pages to look similar across platforms and devices.  We created the beach graphics that have a similar theme to our Google+ Business Page. You can find a link to our Google+ page from Topagent.com if you’d like to see an example.  They also requested different sizes so they’ll look good on a desktop computer, a tablet or iPad, and a Smartphone.

Google is rewarding those who adopt their standards in local searches.  For instance, if you search Fort Myers Real Estate on Google the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group comes up in their listed map search as well on various pages.  The results in the various pages change all the time, but the map listings have stayed fairly constant.

We believe using video heavily has helped how Google rates websites.  We still do many other things as Google doesn’t rely on any one thing.  However, by doing many things and using video helps raise the bar and in Google’s algorithms separates serious Realtors from less than serious.  Google’s term is authority.  They are trying to identify authority and reward websites that provide authority.

In addition to SW Florida real estate updates published on our YouTube channel, we have a separate YouTube source where we post our property videos.  Video is playing an increasingly larger role in real estate searches.  Some buyers are searching for agents and properties on YouTube and skipping the search engine process altogether.

Look no further than teenagers today.  They don’t search on computers much.  They do search YouTube videos all day long, or do mobile searches on the phone.

Agents today must change they way they market to reach today’s buyers.  If you think teenagers are the only ones searching on mobile devices, just look around and watch people.  Our analytics tell us who is searching, from where, and how long on our websites.  The results will astonish.

Our advice would be, if you want to attract more customers for your listings, step outside the box and try new things.  Ask successful agents where they’re finding buyers today.  Look around and observe people yourself, and if you see a niche, jump on it.  We’re always looking for new ways to reach buyers and sellers, and if the market shifts in the future, (and it will) we’ll be searching for ways to capture that demand.

So get out there and take some video and post it online.  If it has decent audio and video, you’ll be glad you did.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting/Selling!!!!

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