This past week I’ve spoken with several real estate agents in Southwest Florida and all have offered varying perspectives on the current state of the real estate market.  Two feel the market has stalled and not doing much while others feel the market is on fire for December. We believe Santas sled bringing gifts Southwest Florida.

Just looking at the quick Market Watch statistics provided by our local MLS we can see that in the last 7 days 291 new listings came on the market in Lee County and 265 went pending.  That sounds like a pretty balanced market.  If you look further, you’ll also notice 257 price reductions.

Santa’s Sled Bringing Gifts to Southwest Florida

It’s possible we placed so many homes under contract because, so many sellers adjusted their price to get in line with the market.  Price reductions are not a bad thing.  Imagine getting a D or an F on a test and being stuck with that grade.  It kind of stinks doesn’t it?

We’ve probably all had that one teacher that allowed test re-takes and makeup homework.   This teacher was more interested that you eventually learned the material than if you learned it on time the first time when it was due.

Price reductions are a lot like test re-takes.  You misjudged the market the first time.  Your final grade can still be salvaged, if you respond to the teacher’s directions.  You must show up and try again.  Some say you must try harder.  Wanting that A isn’t the same as working for it.

An A in a real estate sale is selling at fair market value in the time-frame that works for you.  If you overprice the home and it eventually sells for less because it became stale on the market, you don’t get an A.  When your home takes longer to sell, and you miss your ideal time-frame because you overpriced the home, you don’t get an A either.

You can still get a B though.  The sooner you react and make changes, the higher your grade will be.  Sellers who price correctly upfront receive higher sales prices and faster sales than sellers who overprice the market.

In a shifting market, you never want to get caught chasing the market down.  I’m not convinced we’re in a shifting market.  We had 5 closings last week and several more for the month.  That’s the result of hard work in October and November.  The sales we have in January will be a direct result of the hard work we’re putting in this month.  December is a month where many Realtors take off and ride easy into the New Year.  They tell sellers nobody is buying in December and we’ll go get them next year.  The truth is sales are there, if you’re hungry and willing to work for them.

The Ellis Team is hungry, and we work hard all 12 months for our buyers and sellers.  We’re getting Top Dollar for our sellers.  When the market doesn’t respond, we’re honest with our sellers.  Just because your home doesn’t sell in the first 30 days doesn’t mean you have to take an F in the class.  In fact, if you’re time frame didn’t dictate a 30 day sale, there’s still time to get an A.  If you absolutely must sell your home quickly, over-pricing it doesn’t make much sense, does it?

We’ll be glad to sit down with you and discover your needs.  Together we’ll come up with a marketing and pricing plan to get you on your way.  Santa is bringing gifts, so you might as well get yours.  The market is good!

Always Call the Ellis Team

Call Sande or Brett Ellis at 239-489-4042 Ext 4 if you’d like to explore selling your home.   If you’d like to shop around on the MLS, check out www.LeeCountyOnline.com for Free.  It has all the listings and is updated instantly when new properties enter the market.  You’ll beat out other buyers to hot new listings.  It’s like having the teacher’s test ahead of the other students, so take advantage.

Happy Holidays from the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty.

New Southwest Florida real estate blog

We get a lot of questions about the standard residential purchase contract versus as-is agreement.  Let’s go over the differences and how each should be used.

Standard Residential Purchase Contract Versus As-Is Agreement

First off, the seller is required to disclose known defects regardless of which contract is used.  In the old days agents always used the standard purchase contract which provides for automatic repairs of certain items.  There was always a fight about what was covered or not, so the contract was cleaned up and made more precise.

Standard Residential Purchase Contract Versus As-Is Agreement

Since the foreclosure crisis it’s become common practice to use the as-is agreement.  The as-is agreement has no automatic repair provisions, so it allows the buyer to cancel for any reason.  What invariably ends up happening is a fight about repairs.  Buyers get ticky-tacky about little things and demand they are repaired.  The seller says no, it was sold as-is and we’re not doing it.  The buyer walks and finds another property.

Meanwhile the buyer is out the inspection costs and starts all over.  The seller had their home off the market for 10-15 days and lost marketing time.  If the buyer wasn’t prepared to accept minor issues they should not have written an as-is contract.

Under the standard contract the seller is responsible for repairs up to 1.5% of purchase price for items like roof, water damage, heating, cooling, plumbing, septic, etc.  Cosmetic conditions are not covered.  And yet even with as-is contracts buyers ask for cosmetic repairs and get turned down and are left searching for another home.

Buyers are Fearful

Buyers are fearful the problems are bigger than they are, or that costs will mount.  Buying a home is an e emotional event, and fear often gets the better of buyers.  The time to talk about all this stuff is before they purchase a home.  Once buyers know what to expect, the process becomes much easier for them.

Sellers are emotional too.  They often feel like the buyer got the better of the deal in negotiations, and now they want stupid repairs on top of it!  You can hear their frustration the minute we present them with repair issues.  The as-is contract was supposed to cure all this and make contracts simpler and less argumentative.

People are people, and no contract is going to suppress the emotions of fear and greed.  So long as this is reality, it might be best to consider using the standard contract which addresses certain issues quite well.

Agents Should Counsel Buyers and Sellers

At the very least agents should be counseling buyers and sellers up-front as to expectations and the process once an offer comes in.  If buyers and sellers are properly educated, the emotions are tamed, and the experience of the agent takes over.  Each side has confidence they are being treated fairly and according to protocol.

This is one more reason for sale by owners have such a difficult time selling on their own.  They don’t have anyone counseling them on how to act and feel.  More importantly, there isn’t a neutral party the buyer trusts counseling them on how to feel and act either.  Invariably the deal blows up and both sides are more frustrated than ever.

Agents, have upfront consultations with your buyers and sellers.  If your buyer is skittish or emotional, consider using the standard contract.  It will keep more deals together for you as the contract is specific about what is covered.  The as-is contract is like the old Wild West, and in the Wild West anything goes.  And usually somebody dies.  Don’t let your contracts die needlessly.  Rely on your agent’s wisdom and experience to get through these issues.  Hopefully both sides are using an experienced agent.  Learning on the job is not fun for buyer or seller.  Experience matters.  Either use an experienced agent with hundreds if not thousands of transactions experience, or someone on a team who has access to all that experience from a team leader.  Experience isn’t costly, it’s priceless when you need it.

If you’re looking to buy or sell, always call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-489-4042 or visit our website www.LeeCountyOnline.com for more tips.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Parker Lakes

Open Saturday 1-3 PM

Parker Lakes Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses
Parker Lakes – Gated Community

14811 Crystal Cove Ct Unit 1102

How Much is Your Home Worth?

 

Hurricane Irma came and passed, and we survived.  Thank God it wasn’t as bad as it was predicted.  It’s been irritating and people are suffering, but we’re thankful for all we have and preservation of life.  So, let’s look at what we learned and talk about Southwest Florida real estate after hurricane Irma.

Many people didn’t realize flood insurance is affordable.  I spoke with some who thought it would be several thousand dollars per year and because their mortgage company didn’t require it, they were safe.  We learned that people in Houston thought the same thing.  Flooding in parts of Lehigh are horrific.  This flooding was not due to storm surge but rather rainfall.  Other areas like Island Park, Old Burnt store Rd, and several other communities experienced flooding like never before.  If flood insurance is affordable, go get it whether the mortgage company requires it or not.

Southwest Florida Real Estate After Hurricane Irma Older Pool Cage
Older Pool Cage

Much of the damage came from trees.  Large beautiful trees are a hazard in storms.  I don’t know what the solution is.  Perhaps cutting and trimming trees would help keep some of the weight down far from the trunk and save some of these trees from hitting homes and blocking streets?  Trees caused down power lines and were probably the number one reason power was out for so long for so many.

Southwest Florida Real Estate After Hurricane Irma Newer Pool Cage
Newer Pool Cage in Reflection Lakes

Make sure your subdivision clears its drains regularly.  This helps alleviate street flooding on private roads and can make the difference whether your street is passable after storm or not.  People in Cypress Cay in Gateway among others were stranded for days.  I’m sure there were other reasons, but anything that helps drainage is good.

Gas lines were long.  Whether you’re running generators or just trying to get to work having some extra gas around ahead of storm is a good thing.

Living close to restaurants and super markets is a good thing after a storm.  While many were slow to open, it was a huge relief when they did.  If you can walk to either, gas isn’t an issue.  If you can’t, at least you won’t burn much gas.  Cash is king.  A few restaurants were cash only because they didn’t have internet.  With banks and ATM’s closed, having cash ahead of storm is good.

Newer homes fared better.  We saw some older homes lose shingles.  Presumably this could be due to newer building codes, although we did see some homes missing tiles on the newer homes.  I saw some pool cages down built to older codes and some untouched built to the newer codes.  Of course, wind direction could affect these too.

The bottom line is SW Florida was lucky.  We are grateful.  Property damage was not as bad as expected and there was limited loss of life in Florida.  Southwest Florida real estate after Hurricane Irma will be just fine, if not better.  We will have a few weeks of rebuilding and repair but overall, we did well.

We have buyers.  If you’re thinking of selling, let us know.  Hurricane damage and flooding may wipe out some inventory for a while so we may be able to plug a buyer into your property soon.

If you’d like to search for your piece of paradise, check out www.LeeCountyOnline.com or call us at 239-489-4042  Power is not on at our office yet as of day we wrote this article, however we are taking calls remotely when we can.

Additional Resources:

We found a neat NOAA website that allows you to track damage to your Fort Myers property.  Click on the Hurricane Irma Imagery and zoom in to the area.  NOAA is updating this with new flights and sensors so new maps will be posted regularly.

Lee County Schools will not reopen until Sept 25th.

Hurricane Preparation Tips- 3 Yr old video while we were still with RE/MAX.  Tips still good though

Fort Myers Beach Sunset 1 Month Before Irma

That’s correct.  Your eyes aren’t deceiving you.  Southwest Florida home prices rose $100,000 since 2013.  We could end the story right there, and it would be a beautiful story.  As you know, there’s always more to the story.

We really like where this market is right now.  We would say it is fully valued.  By that we do not mean it’s headed down.  Our market is balanced.  It’s not all the way back for some homes and for others perhaps it is.  We do not see signs of distress we saw back in late 2005 that caused us concern.

Inventory across the US is down.  Inventory in Southwest Florida went down in May to 5,369 homes.  This was down from 5,719 in April.  The number of closed homes is slightly lagging 2015 and 2016.  This is partly because of limited inventory and partly because home prices have risen so much.  Inventory was down the last few years as well, so we can’t attribute it to that.

Southwest Florida Home Prices Rose Home Prices May 2017

Lower prices means more people can afford to purchase.  Let’s look back since 2013.  As you can see by the graph, the median price of a home in January 2013 was $140,000.  In May 2013, it was $176,333.  Fast forward to 2017, in January, our median price was $227,000. That is a difference of $87,000.  The May 2017 median price was $237,500.  That is a difference of $61,167. Going back 4 years and 4 months the difference is $97,500.  Pretty close to $100k in the headline.

Southwest Florida Home Prices Rose

When we look at average prices we see January 2013 came in at $215,873.  May 2017 official numbers came in at $346,559.  This is a difference of $130,686. Maybe this isn’t fair since it’s not the same months. May 2013 average prices were $288,547.  May 2017 numbers were $58,012 higher.

Southwest Florida Home Prices Rose Homes Closed

Either way you look at it, our market has done very well since 2013.  We’ve had a good run, and there’s no reason to believe we won’t have a good market a year from now.  We may not see $100,000 price gains going forward, and that’s OK.  Our market should move in lock-step with the general economy.  As incomes rise, so should housing.  If incomes were to fall or the economy falter, it could put pressure on the housing market.

So far 2017 has been off to a great start.  The stock market has done well and housing has done well.  Consumer confidence is higher and mortgage rates have remained low.  People have money and equity they didn’t have 4 years ago, or even one year ago.  More Southwest Florida homeowners have recently gained positive equity, such that they could now sell if they wanted to.  This wasn’t always the case.

As people’s lives change so does their housing needs.  When kids go off to college parents don’t always need that large home.  Growing families can’t stay in that tiny first home they bought, and so begins the housing cycle. Southwest Florida also has baby boomers buying 2nd homes for vacation enjoyment.  We also get people retiring from Northern states.  As America changes, so too can the Southwest Florida real estate market.  We are affected by local, national, and even world events.

You can search the Southwest Florida real estate market like a pro at www.LeeCountyOnline.com  Our database has all the homes for sale and is updated every 5 minutes.  You won’t be bothered seeing homes that sold 8 years ago or missing new listings that just came to market.  In a low inventory market, it pays to use the best search site and ours definitely is the Best!

You can always call us too at 239-489-4042.  We’ll be happy to walk you through what it would take to buy or sell a home in SW Florida. Always call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty!

This past week I had the chance to visit properties on Fort Myers Beach.  I’ve included a Fort Myers Beach Home Search for you here.  Here is a Fort Myers Beach Condo Search as well.

We previewed Grandview at Bay Beach.  We’ve created a special page for Grandview at Bay Beach for you here.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Gladiolus Preserve 4 Bedroom Home

Open Saturday 1-3 PM

9800 Gladiolus Preserve Cir

$ Bedrooms 2 Baths 2 Car Garage

Gated Community

South Pointe South Home

Open Saturday 1-3 PM

9950 Vanillaleaf St

2 Bedroom, 2 Bath, 2 Car Garage