Have you ever had a Realtor call you and say “We have a buyer for your property?”  Or perhaps you’ve interviewed agents to sell your home and you asked if they had anybody looking for a home like yours?

Chances are the Realtor said yes.  Chances are you weren’t sure you believed them.  What if there was a way to know for sure?  Would that pique your interest?

I remember a seller in Moody River Estates asking me that question a few years ago.  I answered as I typically did at the time “I don’t know, we very well could.”  They listed with us and I took the listing back to the Ellis Team and announced that we just got a new listing.  One of our buyer agents said he was writing an offer in there as he had just showed there yesterday.   It was literally right around the corner from our new listing.

I told him to hold up and go show ours before submitting that offer.  Buyer agreed to go see our new listing, and low and behold they liked ours better.  We sold our listing in 1 day simply because we did have the buyer, and yet I didn’t promise that.  I didn’t want to sound like all other Realtors.

We Have a Buyer For Your Property Reflection Lakes Buyer Search
Reflection Lakes Buyers

As I look through our leads, I realize we do have buyers for just about anything you can imagine.  This will be a great tool for our sellers.  For instance, let’s say we’re listing a new home in Reflection Lakes.  I can now go into our database and see how many registered buyers we have searching in Reflection Lakes.  Turns out we have 251 searching in our database.  That’s pretty good.  When we take the listing we can begin calling those buyers.  The buyers will appreciate the heads up on a new listing and so will our seller.

We Have a Buyer For Your Property Cape Coral Buyers
Cape Coral Buyers

I searched Cape Coral.  We have 1,015 people actively searching in Cape Coral.  That’s a nice stat to know when a Cape Coral seller is interviewing us.  I pulled up Town and River for fun.  We have 97 people searching for Town and River looking for homes above $400,000.  If we listed a property in there for $900,000 I could change the search to Town and River buyers over $850,000.  It would give me a list and we could call them.  Pretty neat stuff.

We Have a Buyer For Your Property Town and River buyers
Town and River Buyers

Perhaps we’re listing a $400,000 property.  When I search our database I see that we have 390 people searching in that price range.

We Have a Buyer For Your Property $300,000-$500,000
$300-$500K Buyers

We Have a Buyer For Your Property

Of course, you don’t list with us just because we have a buyer for your property.  We’ll create new marketing to get more buyers for you once we have it listed. We spend more money marketing homes than other Realtors.  Our present and past marketing can go to work for you on Day 1.  Hopefully we can create multiple buyers for your property.

When you interview agents, you want to see marketing success. Yes, Ellis Team listings sell faster and for more money.  We can show you that.  Our team can also show you how our marketing generates buyers, lot’s of them.  We have buyers’ name, email, and phone number.  Our team know’s what buyers are searching for and when they want to buy.  It’s good data.

So when an agent tells you marketing doesn’t sell homes, price does, end the interview and call the Ellis Team.  Marketing absolutely sells homes!  Anybody can give your home away.  Not everybody can sell it for what it’s worth!

If you’re thinking of selling, you should call the Ellis Team 239-489-4042  Ask for Sande or Brett.  Chances are we have your buyer for your home. We’ll still market is as if we don’t. Perhaps we can create multiple buyers, and that would be good!  Put our marketing to work for you.  We go for top dollar, and we get it.  Visit www.LeeCountyOnline.com to see why we have so many happy buyers and sellers.  Our website is updated every 5 minutes and has all the listings.  It’s more fun to use than other sites too!

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3 Bed, 2 Bath 2,096 Sq Ft  Sailboat Access Pool Home

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If you’ve been reading our articles lately you’ll notice we’re doing a series on what you can buy in the SW Florida real estate market at various price points.  In recent weeks we’ve done the $250,000 and $500,000 range and showed you some excellent choices in those ranges.  Today we answer the question, what does $ 750,000 buy in Lee County real estate market?

If money is no object, it gets a lot more fun to shop as we go higher in price.  These are by no means the entirety of the market, but rather a sampling of a few things you could buy around town in this price range.

What Does $ 750,000 Buy in Lee County Real Estate Market?

750,000 Buy in the Lee County Real Estate Market
Fort Myers Beach Waterfront Pool Home

At Fort Myers Beach we found a nice waterfront home on a wide canal built in 1981. It is 3 bedrooms, 2 baths.  It has a gorgeous pavered pool area and boat lift for your boat at the canal.  It’s located mid island at Fort Myers Beach and is listed for $725,000.

http://blog.topagent.com/2016/05/20/250000-buy-lee-county-real-estate-market/ Fort Myers
Fort Myers Gulf Access Waterfront Home

In Fort Myers we found another gulf access waterfront home.  This home has 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths with 2,549 sq ft living area.  I like the stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, wood like floors, and of course its location.  Keep in mind, none of these listings are ours and we’re reporting based upon pictures in the MLS.

http://blog.topagent.com/2016/05/20/250000-buy-lee-county-real-estate-market/ Cape Coral
Cape Coral Waterfront Pool Home

In Cape Coral we found a home just under $750,000 with almost 2,600 sq ft of living area.  This too is a gulf access waterfront pool home with no bridges.  It’s a 2 minute boat ride to the river.  It has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, high tray ceilings and stainless steel appliances with granite counter tops in the kitchen. It has a boat lift and a wet bar with refrigerator area off the pool for entertaining when you get off the boat.

If money is no object, it gets a lot more fun to shop as we go higher in price. These are by no means the entirety of the market, but rather a sampling of a few things you could buy around town in this price range. Palmira Golf & Country Club
Palmira Golf & Country Club Bonita Springs

Lastly, we have a gorgeous home on the golf course for you in Bonita Springs priced below $750,000.  It is located in Palmira Golf and Country Club and features 3 bedrooms, 3 ½  baths with granite counter tops and custom cabinets on a quiet cul-de-sac street.  The community offers a resort style pool and a community center, fitness center and bar and grill.

The bottom line is SW Florida has so much to offer for all kinds of different lifestyles.  Whether you’re a casual boater, avid fisherman, tennis player, golfer, workout buff, or just like to chill out on your lanai and watch nature, SW Florida has it all.

We have single family homes, condos, villas, town homes, and coach homes for easy living.  This is one reason our agents spend time asking buyers questions.  We don’t really sell anything, because SW Florida sells itself.  Rather, we listen to what buyers like to do, what makes them happy, and how they will use their home.  Once we determine that, we can identify suitable properties and make some recommendations based upon the buyer’s lifestyle.  Each home and each community offers something different.

It can be a daunting task when you’re not from here.  Buyers don’t want to make a mistake.  This is why hiring a seasoned agent accustomed to working with buyers can make all the difference.  I can’t tell you how many times buyers have thanked us for listening to them and suggesting certain properties based upon their needs.

We help with new construction as well.  It doesn’t cost any more to use a Realtor, and many times it will save you money because we know the incentives being offered.  Builders also like Realtors because we can be a source for repeat business.  A good Realtor can point out the pros and cons based upon your needs, not the seller’s or the builder’s.

We have new construction available on our website at TopAgent.com and of course we have the entire MLS available at www.LeeCountyOnline.com  Of course, there’s no substitute for talking with experienced agents who know the area.  If our team can help, please call us at 239-489-4042

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

Ellis Team is hiring

The Ellis Team is looking for talent.  If you’re a licensed agent in Florida and willing to learn and work, we may have the opportunity for you.  Please contact us.  Our team is growing and we need good people to help our clients.

Official January 2016 real estate sales numbers are in for SW Florida and as expected single family home sales fell 5.5% Condo sales were down 7% from last year.

January 2016 Real Estate Sales Numbers Are In Home Prices SW Florida

Median sales prices were up 22.6% over last year; however they were only up .87% over last month.  We did see a big jump in mean average sale prices in January, going from $280,186 in 2015 to $427,536 in January 2016.  That’s a 52.6% jump.  One reason we don’t use the mean average is because one large sale can skew the numbers.

Pending inventory fell 13.6%.  Some say it is because we have fewer inventories to sell while others suggest the market may be taking a breather and leveling off.  Now that the stock market has recovered some and oil has rebounded off its lows, maybe we’ll have a sense of stability going forward.

January 2016 Real Estate Sales Numbers Are In Singe Family Homes Sold

Of course we have that election thing hanging out there and I think everyone can agree this election cycle is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.  If uncertainty creates confusion, we’ve got it in this election process.

Within the next few months perhaps the economy’s future will come into focus and people can start planning where they want to go with their real estate desires.  So many in SW Florida have options now that their mortgage has paid down and prices have risen.  Many feel like they’re no longer in jail and are free to explore their options.

We’ve seen an increase in local homeowners considering a move.  They need to properly value the current home they have and see what improvements or repairs are needed to make it most sellable.  They also want to know what they can buy if they do sell.

Our website www.LeeCountyOnline.com is great for both because you can search all the listings available for sell, as well as see sold and pending data in your neighborhood via the Market Reports section on our site.  There is even a button to receive an online computerized valuation of your home.

Deciding whether to sell a home and buy another home is like putting together a puzzle.  All the pieces have to fit, and when they do you have to decide if you like the finished puzzle.  There is no substitute for meeting with a professional Realtor who understands this process.  However, if you just want to turn all the pieces over and begin putting the corners and edges together first, our website is an excellent place to start.

If you’d like advice from a professional, give us a call.  239-489-4042 We’re friendly and never pushy.  We simply present you with your options and let you decide what’s best for you.  If you do decide to make a move, you’re not going it alone as you have someone by your side advising you and helping you with the process.  We turn a complicated process into a smooth transition for you and your family.

And we help you avoid some costly mistakes.  Please call, we’d love to help you.  We’re the name you know and the people you trust.  Always call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group. 239-489-4042

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Ellis Team Open House
Large pool home in Cape Coral-Open House Sat 1-4 PM

2110 SW 13th St Cape Coral

The beautiful thing about advertising is that you’re free to choose which venues work for you.  Some people complain that newspaper advertising is dead and costly, so they quit years ago.  Others complain that Yellow Pages are dead and costly, so they quit that too.  Many brokers are in a fight to get their website ranked as highly as possible to avoid paying advertising. SW Florida Real Estate Brokers Find Buyers in new ways.

SW Florida Real Estate Brokers Find Buyers

We believe getting your website ranked highly is fantastic, and we’ve strived for that for years with good results.  In fact, we’re changing over our website right now in hopes it will achieve even higher rankings.  Mostly we want it to work for the consumer.  You can check on the progress at www.Topagent.com 

Online Advertising Report for CNN USA Today New York Times Search MLS Fort Myers

While getting ranked is important, search engines are adding more paid content to their front page, effectively squeezing out the free search results.  There are fewer and fewer spots left on front pages eaten up by paid advertising.

For those that believe newspaper advertising is dead, we can look no further than 2 weeks ago.  I wrote an article entitled “Thinking of Selling” That weekend we had over 130 sellers sign in to our website to find out the value of their home.  That’s quite a response.

People believe we’re foolish to take out full page ads in the Yellow Pages.  Yet each week we receive calls from buyers and sellers from the Yellow Pages.  Some are visiting in hotel rooms.  Others still use it at home.  The real advantage may be the online component of Yellow Pages.  Dex is a large advertiser that gets ranked on the first page of Google and Bing.  If you’re an advertiser in print, you’re an advertiser online.

The same goes with the Newspaper.  You’re not just advertising here locally as Gannett covers many papers across the US.

Our advertising philosophy can best be described as “Cornering the Market.” We use print, TV, Internet, radio, mail outs, etc.

The Ellis Team advertises our listings online in sites like USA Today, CNN, Trulia, New York Times, Fox News, and many more.  Relying on search engines is great if you’re looking to pick up a few buyers here and there on the cheap, but if you really want to market your seller’s property it’s worth spending money to reach buyers everywhere.

Advertising isn’t expensive if it works.  The newspaper still works.  It costs money, but if you’re consistent and don’t try to cram too much into a small ad it’s effective.  Yellow Pages work.  Radio, TV, Internet; they all work.  The trick is learning what’s effective.  Certain ads work.  You can’t blame the advertising medium if you post a crappy ad and nobody calls.

So when you hear an agent say they don’t advertise in the newspaper, or Yellow Pages, or whatever because it costs too much, ask yourself this question “If I buy a cheap cup of coffee and it tastes bad, did I really save anything by buying cheap coffee?”

When you’re interviewing real estate agents you have to ask pointed questions about where your home will be advertised and how often.  It’s not rude.  It’s your home and you’re paying the commission.  If the commission includes advertising it pays to find out how much exposure your home will have versus other brokers.  Many sellers assume all agents are the same when in reality brokers advertise differently.  The brokers who advertise more may be better negotiators too because they’re spending more money on your home and they need to be.

If you have a home you’re considering selling in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Ft Myers Beach or anywhere in Lee County Florida, give us a call. 239-489-4042 or visit our website www.Topagent.com

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Most people don’t realize that their Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) could be facing some stiff payment increases in the coming years.  If you bought a home in the 2000’s chances are your lender discussed adding on an interest only line of credit to your first mortgage in case you needed money in the future.

 

Lines of Credit Payments About to Skyrocket

Home equity lines of credit origination chart by year
HELOC Origination Chart

Some people used the line of credit from the get-go to avoid paying PMI insurance.  It was an attractive option as it was probably interest only and the payment was affordable.  Many are as low as 3.25%  Rates are still that low today but the rates can go up at anytime, but that’s not what has the banking industry worried.

The part that wasn’t fully explained to consumers is that the interest only portion lasts for the first 10 years.  After that, the borrower must begin making principal and interest payments, which will add money to your monthly payment even if rates don’t rise.  But here’s the kicker.  The new payment is amortized over 15 years, not 30 years, so essentially you have to pay back the entire HELOC over 15 years in addition to your 1st mortgage.

Let’s say you have a 1st mortgage and a $200,000 interest only HELOC.  At 3.25% the HELOC monthly payment is $541.67.  With the new amortization that payment increases to $1,405.34  If it was based upon a 30yr amortization the payment would be $870.41, still a substantial increase.  Unfortunately it’s not, so get ready to pay a lot more.

Now, let’s assume the interest jumps to 4.5%.  These rates can adjust at anytime as the market changes, and most economists predict they will go up.  At 4.5% amortized over 15 years that same payment jumps to $1,529.99

You can see from the chart when the HELOC originations started jumping.  Many SW Florida homeowners are up against this reset now and many more will be hearing about this subject in the next few years.  It is a shock when you’re not expecting, but homeowners who act now have a chance to do something about it.

You can start making the extra payments voluntarily now which will reduce the principal when your loan does reset.  This also gets you used to the higher payments and allows you to budget properly.

For some this will not be feasible.  If you have equity now and good credit you might look at refinancing both loans into one mortgage.  It’s much harder to get a loan today than it was 10 years ago, but if you can that may be a great option.  If you cannot refinance, you may want to look at selling now, especially if you have equity.  It would be a shame to come up against the deadline and be forced into delinquency because you can’t afford the higher payments if you have equity.

If you are upside down on your mortgage, you can either start talking with your lender now or look at doing a short sale.  Nobody wants to go into foreclosure.  Many have resisted a short sale up until now, but a short sale is much better on your credit than a looming foreclosure would be.

We’re not here to tell you what you should do. That’s a personal decision and maybe one to be discussed with your attorney or accountant.  We are here to educate you on what’s coming and tell you about your options.

If you think you may want or need to sell, please give us a call.  We’re experts at looking at the situation and listening.  We’ll get you top dollar for your home and help you move on.  So many people have been locked into their homes waiting for the market to rise, and it has.  Perhaps the market has risen enough for you to sell now.  Perhaps it makes sense to down size, upgrade, and move to another location, etc.  We can help.  Give us a call at 239-489-4042  If you’d like to search the MLS first, go to www.Topagent.com and you can see what homes like yours are selling for.  Of course there’s no substitute for meeting with us and us evaluating your home.  We look forward to working with you to sell your home, or to buy one.
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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Fort Myers Beach Spring Break
Fort Myers Beach

Last weekend I was down at Fort Myers Beach taking pictures for our Pinterest site.  I was amazed at how many people from all over were enjoying our beautiful beaches.  Traffic wasn’t too bad, although practically every car had out of state license plates.  This past weekend most seemed to be from Indiana, although there were plates from Kentucky, Ohio, Canada, and many Sunshine State plates as well.

Many were enjoying Easter break.  There were many college aged people, but also many families.  What’s not to love about our beaches?  SW Florida boasts some of the best beaches, and certainly the best weather in the country this time of year.  In fact, Fort Myers was on the map as the warmest city in the country this past week.

Best Florida Beaches
Best Florida Beaches – US News & World report

Two Local SW Florida Beaches Ranked as Top Beaches By US News World Report

In fact, US News and World Report ranked Fort Myers Beach as the 8th best beach in Florida, and ranked Sanibel Island as the #1 best beach in Florida due to its laid back atmosphere, art galleries, quaint eateries and supreme shelling.

Fort Myers Beach made the list for its small town feel.  I really like the wide beach with all the new sand since they’ve completed the beach re-nourishment project. People from all over the world travel here for our beaches and it’s a shame local residents get so busy working and tending to their families that not all get out to enjoy the beauty that SW Florida has to offer.

I know having lived in SW Florida for years there were long periods of time I didn’t make it to the beach.  It seemed like such a bother to pack up the car, go look for a place to park, find a spot on the beach, not to mention cleaning up all the sand that would inevitably find its way home with me.  In the past few years I’ve made getting to the beach a priority recognizing the sand, sun, and water are so relaxing and truly a natural wonder.

Perhaps the thing that makes SW Florida so unique is the small town feel, and the beach is no exception.  All are welcome here as practically everyone down here in SW Florida is from somewhere else.  SW Florida is truly a melting pot.  We’ve always attracted people from the Midwest, and in the last decade or so it’s seems we’re attracting more from the Northeast.  This could be the natural migration of people coming from the East coast of Florida who have always attracted people from the Northeast, or perhaps it could be the influence of ball teams like the Red Sox.

Whatever the reason people visit and enjoy SW Florida, few could argue an area has more to offer than right here.  We have world class fishing as many consider us the tarpon fishing capital of the world, top rated beaches, outstanding year round golf, and we’re home to influential innovators like Edison, Firestone, and Ford.  Even Al Capone called SW Florida home.

Whether you’re looking for a waterfront home where you can park your boat in your backyard, a golf course home, or a condo in a gated community, SW Florida has it all.  We even have vacant lots for you to build your life-long dream home.

This is the last weekend of season.  If you’d like to explore your options on how you could join the party and call the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area home, give us a call or send us a note and we’ll be glad to go over your options and answer your questions.  We too moved here years ago and remember what it’s like to have a dream and wonder what’s the best way to make it happen.  Once that dream becomes a reality you’ll be telling all your friends how you made it to paradise.

If we can help make that dream a reality, then you’ll help us with our dream which is helping others making their dreams happen.  Call the Ellis Team at 239-489-4042 or visit our website at Topagent.com

 

Don’t let the headline fool you, we’re a big fan of appraisals.  The key word is accurate, competent appraisals.  So many times sellers want us to overprice a home and sell it to a northern or foreign buyer assuming they don’t really know our market.  What sellers fail to realize is buyers usually look at several developments, several homes, and study the market more than sellers do.  If you overprice a home, it will sit.  This is a price sensitive market, and when you price a home at or very near its value, activity heats up and properties move.  We often tell sellers even if we were to dupe an unsuspecting buyer into overpaying for a home; the bank is still going to order an appraisal before they lend money.  Not only do buyers tend to research the market but they have a backup with bank appraisal.  Some sellers say, “Well, let’s find a foreign cash buyer.”  Sellers don’t realize cash buyers research the market perhaps more vigorously than financed buyers do, so they’re really grasping at straws trying to sell an overpriced property into a price sensitive market.

Value is in the Eye of the Beholder
Your Home as Seen By Buyer, Seller, Tax Assessor, Appraiser

Just as some sellers need to research the market better, so do some appraisers.  In the past week I’ve heard several complaints from Realtors who’ve said a bad appraisal nixed their closing.  Sometimes banks use appraisal management companies who utilize appraisers from different markets who aren’t as familiar with the local market as local appraisers. We’ve had past clients ask us to market homes in other cities as far away as Pensacola Fl and we declined simply because we’re not experts in that market.  Out of town appraisers are at a big disadvantage and couldn’t possibly know everything they should about our market.

For instance, some waterfront canal property in Cape Coral brings more value than others.  Nearby neighborhoods in SW Florida may not be good comparables even though they are located right next to each other.  Computer models and unsuspecting appraisers wouldn’t always know this.

Many times when the bank is considering a short sale or pricing a foreclosure, they utilize a BPO (Broker Price Opinion) and/or an appraisal.  If either comes back too high, the short sale is rejected or the foreclosure is priced too high.  Recently we had an asset manager contact us because our BPO came in at one figure and the bank’s appraiser came in much higher.  After studying comparable sales used by the appraiser we discovered he used gulf access homes as comps even though the subject property was not waterfront.  He also used a deed in lieu of foreclosure sale which wasn’t really a sale at all; it was simply a homeowner giving the property back to the bank for the loan amount.  We submitted documentation to have the appraisal overturned so the bank can sell the home.

Bad appraisals can cost a sale at both ends.  If the short sale appraisal is too high, the price the seller’s bank accepts may be higher than the buyer’s bank who is lending money appraisal reveals, so the deal dies unless adjustments are made, which isn’t always easy or possible with new rules placed by the government.  These new regulations, designed to protect lending and real estate values are doing the opposite.  Rarely when government gets involved does anything improve, it just takes more time, more aggravation, and blown deals, which doesn’t stabilize the market.

If the lending appraiser comes in too low, the buyer’s lender won’t loan the money at the contract price, potentially scuttling an otherwise good transaction that should have closed.  There are lots of good appraisals out there which do blow some deals, which furthers our comment to sellers that it’s not wise to purposely overprice a property.  Keep in mind, value is in the eyes of the market, not any one buyer nor any one seller.  Values are subjective, and some properties are difficult to evaluate.  Not all sales are cookie cutter sales with multiple active and sold comparables.

It pays to study the market, and if you doubt the value, ask questions.  Sellers sometimes produce appraisals that are too high and the market won’t accept, and bank ordered appraisals are sometimes too low and not at actual market value.  Do your homework and question their work.  Request a copy of the appraisal.  You paid for it.  Some banks will let you see it.  And remember, keep an objective mind.  Everyone in the transaction has their own idea of what the value is, or should be.  Make sure that idea is supported by facts, data and logic and not ignorance of the market or motivations.

One thing is for certain.  Every year about this time two things occur.  Real estate experts begin prognosticating what they think will happen in the New Year, and most Americans profess what their new resolutions are for the New Year.  (Well, at least for the first few weeks)

SW Florida Real Estate Market New Years Resolutions

You know, we hear the usual stuff.  I’m going to join a gym, quit eating sweets, lose 10 pounds, quit smoking, attend church regularly, make an effort to spend time with somebody, or change some type of behavior.  Some stick, and some don’t, but we all seem to do it every year.

Maybe we do it in our personal lives, and maybe we do it in our professional lives as well.  I always wondered if the real estate market had a voice what it’s resolutions would be, so for fun I came up with a few.  Like any resolution, some will never happen, but wouldn’t it be nice if in some magical way all our resolutions stuck all year.  Here’s an idea on what we think the market’s resolutions might be:

  1. Short Sales-Banks would speed up short sale
  2. Less Foreclosures-In part because homeowners who cannot afford to stay would successfully navigate and close a short sale
  3. Economy-Jobs is what will pull us through.  May 2011 bring a better economy and jobs to SW Florida
  4. New Construction-Brings jobs, and will be a sign prices are recovering to the point people choose to build again
  5. Prices Increase-Prices may be artificially too low right now, but one day they will recover.  Wouldn’t it be nice if this happened this year?
  6. Lee County would attract outside business to relocate to SW Florida-We know the county and Chamber is working hard on this.  Results in 2011 sounds like a great resolution
  7. Commercial rebounds because economy improves and new tenants fill empty buildings
  8. Red Sox Stadium pays for itself-Lee County is saturated with new fans seeking warmth and sunshine
  9. Homeowners Associations cooperate and help us close properties faster
  10. Cities like Cape Coral and Fort Myers code enforcement worry less about every little dime and work with banks to actually get properties closed so we can get new buyers into property.
  11. Government goes on a diet-Property taxes decline again and more people can afford to move here.

I know, not all of these things will happen.  Just like in the real world, it’d be nice to have a perfect wish list.  I’m sure you have others.

May 2011 bring more prosperity than 2010 did, and hopefully we’ll see some meaningful improvement we can build upon.  Together we’ll all get through this.  Don’t forget, it’s always darkest just before the dawn.  If you keep your head in the sand, you might miss the sunrise.  With a little luck and hard work, may 2011 bring that sunrise and a beginning to a new day.

No, we’re not talking about Santa’s bag here.  We thought this week we’d do a mailbag of topics, and invite questions for future articles.  If you have a question or topic you’d like covered, simply e-mail me at Brett@Topagent.com and we’ll do our best.

Interest Rates

Yes, they’ve been on the move, and the move has been upward.  Rates have risen about .625% in the past 1-2 weeks.  For every 1% rise in rates, it takes away about 9% of a purchasers buying power, so buyers have just lost about 5% buying power in the past 2 weeks.  This is why the media and Wall St. talk about rates so much and where they are today versus historically.  Now, they are still historically low, but they have been moving up.  With prices this low, and rates still fairly low, buying power is still great even though it may not be what it was 2 weeks ago.

SW Florida Real Estate Market Update
It's in the Bag

Foreclosure Listings

Foreclosure listings for single family homes active on the market in Lee County stood at 768 in November Versus 1,107 today.  That’s a 32.42% increase in just one month, and we can attribute this to banks placing properties on the market after the foreclosure moratorium because of the robo-signing issues.  Most banks feel confident going forward, especially for their non-occupied properties.  We see this as a good sign.  The quicker we get all inventory out and to the market the faster the market can heal and move forward.

Pending Sales

Pending sales rose again in November which indicates buyers are ready, willing, and able to buy and they’re making every attempt.  This is another reason we’d like to see all available inventory on the market as the buyers are definitely biting.  All areas of Lee County are seeing a rise in pending sales.  Cape Coral saw a rise of 60 pending sales over last month, Fort Myers saw a rise of 69 sales and Lehigh Acres experienced a rise of 32 pending sales.  Season is upon us and we’ve notice an uptick in buying activity from buyers up North sooner than we did last year, which could mean we’ll be in for another good season this year.

Current Market Index

Each month the Ellis Team produces a current market index which accurately predicts forward activity in the SW Florida real estate market.  This month the index dropped to 4.22, down from 4.62 last month.  The lower the number the hotter the real estate market is.  A higher number indicates a buyers market. We wouldn’t say it’s a buyers market.  We’d characterize it as a sellers market if the property is priced correctly.  Buyers are competing against each other with multiple offers on properties that are priced correctly, and bypassing over-priced listings.  The market speaks.  Sometimes it’s as easy as slowing down and listening to what it’s saying, and if a property isn’t receiving offers, then there’s a good chance it’s the price.  The market is hot, but it’s not forgiving.

Closed Sales Flat

November closed sales were relatively flat Versus October.  In fact, our research shows they’re down slightly, but official numbers won’t be released until next week.  Last November sales rose, so when official numbers come out we could see a transaction drop from last year.

This is the last article before Christmas believe it or not, so next week we’ll either answer your questions or provide updated analysis once official numbers are released.  We hope Santa is good to you and brings you good tides and good cheer, and no matter how big the bag is this year, always look for opportunities to lift somebody else’s spirits this Holiday season and into the new year.

Like anything else, buying at auction can be a good deal, or a rotten deal depending on what you buy and what the terms are.  While there can be upside at an auction sale, the downside is much more frightening and should never be attempted without proper advice and education.

Is Buying at Auction a Good Deal
Is Buying a Home at Auction Always a Good Deal?

Each month we see big auctions advertised on billboards, newspapers and such touting bargains.  I’ve attended several auctions and I’ve learned many things.  In this article I’ll attempt to educate you on some of the things to watch out for that you might not know about.

Is Buying at Auction a Good Deal?

At one auction I noticed a group of people in front and another group in back.  One group kept bidding up the property to prices higher than market value and I wondered why.  Later on I discovered that when they won the bid for some reason they didn’t finalize a contract and the property went back out for re-bid.  This happened as many as 2-3 times per property.  At the end of the night when the crowd had thinned the property was purchased for much less by an investor who really wanted the property.  Essentially it was off the market all night tied up in contract sessions.

Another thing to look out for is reserve versus absolute auction.  An absolute auction means the property will be sold to highest bidder no matter what.  If it’s reserve, you never really know what the reserve is and they try and negotiate with you after you’re awarded the winning bid, so be prepared.

If you’re buying a condominium, or even in a homeowners association for that matter, I would look not only at the property, but also the association.  You may purchase and be the only one paying condo or HOA dues.  This may also make it impossible to sell your property to anyone but a cash buyer as lenders will not lend if the association doesn’t meet certain requirements.

Many are surprised to learn that the title work isn’t sufficient to actually sell the property.  Some have learned they may need to file suit to Quiet Title after they receive what they thought was good title to property.  There is a difference between insurable title and marketable title, and title policies today can exempt many things leaving you the purchaser holding the bag.

The property may also have many defects that aren’t known or get lost in the shuffle, and the buyer inherits them.  At one particular auction I’ve attended, once you put down your non-refundable deposit, you lose it regardless of whether you cannot get the mortgage (even if they promised to give you one at the auction) or if the property has major defects.  You simply MUST inspect the property beforehand or you will most likely be surprised afterwards.  I saw one home when the back half of the home was missing, and the buyer lost their deposit of 10%.  Additionally, if the air conditioner gets stolen prior to closing or damage occurs to property between auction and closing, it’s the buyer’s responsibility, so you are taking All the risks.

You also want to research code enforcement liens, fines for improper permitting, etc.  I had a house listed in Cape Coral with about $70,000 in fines, and a lot in Cape Coral with over $90,000 in fines by code enforcement.  We recently sold a $20,000 lot in Ft Myers with over $200,000 in fines.  In each case we rectified the problems before closing or didn’t close at all in the latter case, but this would not be true at an auction as the buyer would be stuck assuming those fees.

I attended one auction whereby the winning bidder put down their 10% and agreed to finance the unit through the bank at the auction.  They were approved on the spot for financing.  The problem is the property did not qualify because too many people weren’t paying their dues, and the loan was denied on that basis.  The new lender was the same lender selling the property at this foreclosure auction.  The lender obviously knew the property did not meet FNMA guidelines but they sold it to a buyer obtaining financing anyway, and in fact approved their loan.  The buyer was astonished to learn that after being approved, they were later denied, and their escrow deposit was being retained by the seller (the bank) for non-performance of the contract.

Like we said in the first paragraph, sometimes a good deal isn’t a good deal when it’s rotten.  You must thoroughly investigate the property, the association, the contract, the market, the financing, and the title work before you bid or you run the risk of being let down later.

If everything checks out to your satisfaction upfront, we would also encourage you to set limits on what you’re willing to offer so you don’t get caught up in the moment and overpay, only to find out later it doesn’t appraise and your loan is denied and deposit forfeited, unless of course you’re a cash buyer and don’t mind paying too much.

Like anything, an auction is just another way to buy and sell, and no matter which vehicle you use, please be sure to work with professionals and do your homework upfront.  You’ll be glad you did later.  Happy house hunting!