Don’t panic if your home hasn’t sold yet.  There’s still time.  Besides, season isn’t the only time homes sell in SW Florida.  Years ago, home sales peaked in the summer.  The last few years they’ve been higher in season and just after season as it takes a while to close a home once it goes pending.

Don’t Panic if Your Home Hasn’t Sold Yet

As you can see, closings tail off after June but there are still sales.  There are more eyeballs here in season so there is more potential however some are just lookers exploring opportunities for years in the future.  If you have a home you’d like to sell and it’s not selling, we offer some tips on getting it sold now.

  1. Hire the best Realtor you can find.  You want one with pro-active marketing.  One that advertises where the buyers are.  Targeted online advertising is a must these days.  If the agent you interview doesn’t understand this, keep shopping.
  2. Stage your home. No, you don’t have to hire a professional stager.  You do have to follow some simple guidelines.  Consulting with a Realtor or stager knowledgeable in bringing a home to market so it shows its best will help.
  3. Professional photos are a must. With so many buyers shopping online, having bad photos will simply turn them off.  Hire an agent that either hires a photographer or one that takes great photos and has a graphics design department touch up each photo.
  4. Fix repair items. Buyers imagine problems ten times worse than they really are.  Fixing a few simple items will go a long way to getting that contract.
  5. Make home easily available to show.  Nothing turns off a busy Realtor more than making your home hard to show.  Things like 24 or 48 hour notice reduce showings significantly.  Place your home on lockbox and allow your Realtor easy access and watch your showings multiply.
  6. Curb Appeal-Look at your home and see how it compares to the neighborhood. Does your home need paint, landscaping, or de-cluttering on the outside?  If so, an investment here can increase showings.
  7. Talk to your neighbors. If a neighbor has an un-kept yard or a boat in the yard, chances are it will affect the value of your home.  Sometimes working out a deal with the neighbor can pay big dividends.  If that doesn’t work, consider code-enforcement or the HOA.  No buyer wants to come in and inherit a mess of a neighbor.
  8. Price it Right. Don’t price it by what you need out of it. Price it as if you were a buyer.  Would you buy your property at your price?  If you over-price your home, you’re essentially buying back your property for the price you’re offering.  Being overzealous leads to you keeping your home because you value it more than the public does.  If that’s the case, maybe you’re not ready to move yet emotionally or financially.  If you really want to move, you can’t love your home more than the market does.  Price it at today’s market value and move on to your next home.
  9. Be gone for showings.  Nothing hampers a potential home sale more than a seller sticking around trying to help.  Buyers extract motivations and information from sellers that can only hurt.  As a seller, you don’t know what’s important to that buyer and saying the wrong thing can lose the sale.  Be gone if possible, or be invisible if not.  Let your Realtor answer any questions. If you don’t trust your Realtor to do this, then you’ve hired the wrong Realtor.  If no Realtor will ever be as good as you, then the Realtor accepted the wrong client.

You can always search for your next home at www.LeeCountyOnline.com  It’s updated every 5 minutes and it has the best photos available from MLS.  If you’d like to talk to experienced agents who know how to get homes sold, always call the Ellis Team at 239-489-4042.  We’d love to help you make your next move!

Ellis Team Open Houses

Gorgeous Pool and Spa

Open Sunday 1-4 PM

15830 Beachcomber Ave  $360,000

 

4 Bed 3 Bath Pool Home on Lake

Reflection Lakes

13795 Bald Cypress Cir    $420,000

 

Pool Home on Golf Course

Open Sunday 1-4 PM

Olde Hickory

14381 Hickory Fairway Ct    $450,000

 

Pool Home Close to Beaches

Open Sunday 1-4 PM

Iona Area

15271 Thornton Rd   $290,000

 

 

One of the common question real estate agents get from sellers centers around a home’s Zestimate on Zillow. Deep down sellers know what homes are selling for in their neighborhood and how their home compares.  Often, they just want to try a much higher price simply because Zillow says their home is worth more.  We attempt to answer the question, Are Zillow home value zestimates purposely inflated?

The buzz amongst real estate agents is they can’t believe how far off many Zestimates are these days.  Agents laugh anytime the words Zillow and home values are mentioned in the same sentence because they know they’ll have to explain how inaccurate these things tend to be.

Last weekend I had a conversation with one of our sellers.  She brought up her Zillow Zestimate.    Within 15 minutes after that conversation I went outside to work in my yard and my next-door neighbor asked me about his Zestimate.  He noticed it went up over $100,000 last month and wondered if the real estate market was that good right now.

Zillow Home Value Zestimates Purposefully Inflated

Of course, his value didn’t change $100,000 last month.  Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff.  His home was valued at $1,750,405 on March 1, 2015.  The funny thing is, it sold 1 day earlier for $1,050,000.  That’s a difference of $700,405.  Put another way, Zillow was off over 40% on their CEO’s own home.

Are Zillow Home Value Zestimates Purposefully Inflated?

So is Zillow’s data that bad, or could there be another motive?  Let’s remember where Zillow gets its revenue. Zillow charges agents, property managers, and lenders to appear on their website.  They are gathering leads to sell to agents.  Some agents pay several thousand dollars per month for these leads.  Zillow takes MLS and public records data and assembles them and markets that data to the public in the hopes of attracting eyeballs to its site.

To increase revenue and charge more to agents, brokers, and lenders Zillow must increase visits to the site.  One way to do that is advertise more on the Internet and TV.  Another way is to change up the values frequently in hopes of getting repeat viewers to come back often and see what’s going on with their value.

We get it.  The market changes every day.  It doesn’t typically change $84,000 in one day.  So, either Zillow’s algorithm for calculating values is off, the underlying data are off, or they are trying to create a buzz by getting people to check back repeatedly.  In the news business, they call it Click Bait.  Click bait is when editors write a sensational headline to get readers to click on the article.  It could be fake news, doesn’t matter.  If the headline works, it attracts readers which ups the hit count.  The higher the hit count, the higher the advertising rates.  Most reputable news organizations don’t utilize this tactic.  They don’t have to because they have valuable content.  Tabloids on the other hand use this with perfection.

Agents are paying top dollar presumably for new leads not realizing Zillow is stoking the fire by attracting the same old leads repeatedly.  Consumers may be unaware that Zillow now has data on everyone who has checked their home value, and they are selling data like that.

Zillow Admits Errors

Zillow says that nationally their Zestimates are off by 7.9% on average.  That’s a lot!  However, in Seattle where their CEO’s former home is located, they claim to be more accurate at only 6.1% off.  Can we really trust their numbers when they were off over 40% on their own CEO’s home?

If you’re thinking of selling, we have an automated valuation tool that may be more accurate.    More importantly, we will never sell your info to other agents and brokers.  Why would we?  We want your business.  We’d love to earn your business.

If you’re thinking of selling, call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams 239-489-4042 Ext 4  Let us show you how we put more money in your pocket at closing than other Realtors and how we sell homes Fast!  And, we’ll show you what true Top Dollar is for your home so you can make accurate decisions.

We’re here to help.  Always ask for Sande Ellis or Brett Ellis.

Read about Southwest Florida Real Estate Market Statistics to be released tomorrow.

Paint the Town Red

This weekend is the Keller Williams Paint the Town Red Event.  We’ll have around 100 homes open in a single day.  It’s the single biggest open house event of the year.  Check back as we’ll be posting the addresses here.

Ellis Team Featured Open Houses

Sunday 1-4 PM

Ellis Team Open House

6180 Winkler Rd

 

 

 

 

 13624 Gulf Breeze St Reflection Lakes Pool Home
Ellis Team Open House

Each year we tell home sellers not to get too excited about showings until about mid-January.  Showings and contracts tend to increase as the month goes on and builds throughout season.  2017 however is different.  Southwest Florida home sales are heating up earlier than past years.  Could it be there was pent-up demand from 2016?  We think so.

Southwest Florida Home Sales Heat Up in January

Our team set a goal to sell 4 homes this past week.  We sold 6.  Our agents have been out showing every day, sometimes working with 2-3 buyers per day this past week.  Sure, some of these are buyers in our pipeline we’ve been working with for weeks or months until they arrive.  Others are new buyers we’ve attracted to our website or referral calls.  In any event, activity has picked up earlier than past years.

Showing activity on our listings from other agents has picked up too.  Combining this with what our team is seeing leads us to believe the market is heating up.  So I went to MLS and did some checking.

In the first 10 days of January 309 properties have gone under contract.  The average list price is $317,843 and the median list price is $230,000.  These prices are pretty much in line with recent sales numbers.  What’s encouraging is the number of properties going pending so early in January.  This potentially bodes well for an excellent season.

2016 was a year in which the number of transactions was down.  It was a year in waiting.  It seems people were waiting on the election, waiting on the economy, waiting on something.  Now there is renewed hope and optimism and we hear it.

People have renewed confidence in jobs staying in America.  The U.S. has its swagger back and people are optimistic.  Even the people who threatened to leave if Trump got elected are staying.  This article isn’t a political post.  The United States is the greatest nation on the planet and people recognize that, even if their candidate didn’t win.

Southwest Florida Home Sales Outlook

We think 2017 is going to be a better year in real estate than 2016.  Prices were largely flat in 2016 and sales volume was down.  We think we’ll see rising sales volume, and who knows where prices will head.  Rising interest rates could dampen price gains, or not.  They’re still low.

Rising inventory could dampen price gains, or not.  Sometimes I think sellers haven’t listed because they didn’t know where they wanted to go.  As inventory rises, more choices open and it could spur more sellers to act.  It’s a cycle that could really get the economy moving again, raise tax revenue to the state, and sales tax revenue to local governments as people buy appliances, flooring, etc. for their new home.

Where 2017 goes is an open book yet to be written.  Way too early to predict or know for sure.  We are encouraged by the flurry of activity so early in the season.  It just seems like 2016 was a year in limbo and 2017 is a year of action.  People don’t wait forever.  They move on.  They move forward.

If you’d like to search for your piece of paradise, check out www.LeeCountyOnline.com  You can search the MLS like a Realtor as our database has all the listings and it’s updated every 5 minutes.  You can also get a Free estimate of your home’s value.  If you like the value and want to talk to us about your options, call us at 239-489-4042 Ext 4.  Brett or Sande will be happy to talk to you and make sense of the process.

If you don’t like your home’s value, don’t give up.  It’s just a computer, and it’s not 100% accurate.  How could it be?  It’s never been inside your home.  We’ll be happy to look at it with you.  Sande and Brett are experts at getting Top Dollar for your home, because our marketing works.  Just give us a call.

Whether you’re buying or selling, it pays to talk to the Ellis Team! 239-489-4042

Ellis Team Open Houses

Saturday 12-3 PM

Ellis Team Open House6180 Winkler Rd   $500,000

 

 

 

 

Sunday 12-3 PM

Ellis Team Open House

16585 Wellington Lakes Cir  $300,000

 

 

 

 

Ellis Team Seller’s Club Video

Agents use the SW Florida Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to search for homes for their buyers but what about searching for buyers for agent’s listings?  The Ellis Team has found that having a searchable buyers database helps sell homes.

Searchable Buyers Database Helps Sell Homes
Ellis Team Client Search Screen

There is no MLS for buyers.  That would be weird.  There is one for sellers but it does not include personal information like seller’s name, phone number, email address, search preferences, etc. because nobody would want that kind of information out to the public. The same is true for buyers.  No buyer would want a seller searching and contacting them. And it wouldn’t be just sellers.  You’d have every retail store, financial planner, lender, etc. calling these buyers if that data were out in the public.

There may never be a true MLS for buyers as buyers for the reasons stated above however, we do have a large database of buyers we can search upon when we list new properties.  One of the advantages we offer buyers is our MLS search site is updated every 5 minutes, so they can beat out other buyers to hot new properties.  It’s also consumer friendly, speedy, and easy to use.

Because the buyers benefit so much we’re able to capture crucial search data.  The system will email them property matches if they desire, and they can target exactly what they’re looking for.

Searchable Buyers Database Helps Sell Homes buyer search screen
Buyer Search Screen

Searchable Buyers Database Helps Sell Homes

Sellers often ask us if we have buyers looking for a home like theirs.  The answer is usually yes.  We can go into our database and search for buyers that matches our seller’s criteria.  We spend a lot of money on advertising each month.  We create a lot of buyers.  It’s possible the money we spent last month or 6 months ago has already created a buyer looking for a home just like the one we’re listing.

One of our databases has created about 1,407 leads in the past year.  Let’s say we’re on a listing appointment and the property is worth $250,000.  If I search our database, we currently have 304 leads searching in that $250,000 range.

Let’s say we’re listing a Million dollar property.  I just conducted a search and our database contains 58 people searching for properties.  Our agents can tag buyers, so we have the ability to pin it down to features like golf course or waterfront, or neighborhoods.

Each time we list a property we create marketing designed to find a buyer in that price range.  It does us no good to list a Million dollar home and create $200,000 buyers.  Our marketing never stops working.  Not only are we marketing today for a million dollar buyer, our past marketing may have already created the buyer.  Likewise, just because we didn’t have a $4 Million dollar home for sale in last 6 months doesn’t mean we don’t have some $4 Million buyers waiting for the right property to enter the market.  We create marketing for what we list.  If we list a $70,000 condo we’ll create some $70,000 buyers.

Each week we have a team meeting and we inform our agents the properties we’re listing soon.  Many times we have a buyer waiting for one like that to come to market.  I remember a few years ago we listed a property in Moody River Estates.  The seller asked me if we had buyers for his home.  I answered I don’t know, we could.  I went back to office and sure enough, one of our agents was writing an offer on another property a street over from the one we just listed.  I asked him to hold up and go show our home.  A day later our home was under contract with a buyer we already had.

No agent can promise you they have a buyer.  And even if they did, you don’t know what the buyer will pay or how they will like it.  The goal is to produce many buyers for the home.  If you’d like to check out our site go to www.LeeCountyOnline.com Buyers and sellers love the site.  Or call us at 239-489-4042  We’d love to help you buy or sell your piece of paradise in SW Florida.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

14457 Cypress Chase Ct Fort Myers Florida
Open Sunday 11-2

14457 Cypress Chase Ct Fort Myers, FL 33919

3 Bedroom 3 Baths

Located in South Fort Myers

 

 

 

 

San Carlos Park Open House 3 Bedrooms 2 Baths
Open Sunday 1-4 PM

17225 Johnston Dr, Fort Myers FL 33967

3 Bedrooms 2 Baths Home in San Carlos Park

Call Today-Will sell this weekend

This past week official SW Florida 2015 year end sales prices released and as expected single family home prices showed a price gain of 12.96%  Closed home sales were up 9.7% over 2014 numbers as well, so all in all we’d call 2015 a very successful year.

SW Florida 2015 Year End Sales Prices Released
Year End Sales Prices

As you can tell by the Year End Prices Graph our market has risen every year since the bottom in 2009.  We’re still not back at peak 2005 prices.  We have risen to mid 2007 levels when the market was in free-fall.

When prices rise it doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to rise at the same rate.  In fact, they’re not guaranteed to rise at all.  One of the steepest rises was in 2004 but once 2005 hit the party was over.  We started warning in Fall of 2005 the party was over but few would listen.

Today we aren’t warning anything like that, but we are seeing a shift in the market towards a more balanced market.  If you asked Realtors who have been in the business for any length of time most would probably say a healthy balanced market is the most fun to work because neither buyer nor seller have a leg up on the other and both must act rationally to accomplish their goals.  Of course, not every buyer or seller knows where we really are at any given time and are stuck on yesterday’s headlines sometimes.

One little report I like to look at from time to time is the Market Watch Report published when we log into MLS.  This can be customized.  I have mine set today to look at all activity in Lee County Florida within the past 24 hours.  This can be changed to homes only, condos only, etc and the time period can be adjusted as well.  I look at various time periods.

SW Florida 2015 Year End Sales Prices Released Market Watch
Market Watch

The graph I’m sharing with you today shows 24 hours.  One thing we notice is new listings are outpacing pending sales 84-66.  You’ll also notice sellers that have failed to sell are reducing prices.  There were 101 price reductions in the last 24 hours.  Now this could have been in response to last week’s article about a shifting market, but Realtors in general know when a listing is not receiving showings or losing out to other homes because of price.

Most Realtors will consult with their sellers if they believe the market isn’t responding to their asking price much the same buyer agents must consult with an unreasonable and unrealistic buyer.

Greed works in both directions.  Sellers want the absolute most for their home and buyers are afraid to make a mistake and want to pay the absolute least they can for a home.  It’s the Realtor’s job to educate their customer on the reality of the market.  A balanced market is always the most fun because you’re educating both sides versus scolding one side that refuses to acknowledge the major up or down trend.

A good way to research the market is to search active, pendings, and solds in a given area.  Our Blog blog.topagent.com gives weekly SW Florida market reports, and our MLS search site www.LeeCountyOnline.com lets you search all the listings and view Market Reports.  The market reports tell you what homes are selling for per sq ft in a neighborhood and the average days on market.  You can customize this search for any area.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling, there is no substitute for talking with a professional.  We hope the online tools give you some great information, but please call us and we’ll be glad to sit down with you and go over your options.

Always Call the Ellis Team, we’ll handle you with care!  239-489-4042

This Weekend’s Open Houses

Saturday 1-4 PM

6087 Waterway Bay Dr

Open Saturday 1-4 PM

12510 Kentwood Ave

Is there a shift in SW Florida real estate market?  Many agents I’ve talked to have complained that buyers thus far this year lack a sense of urgency.  They’re making offers at times but then shutting off to counter-offers.  For some listings, there are no offers at all.

Last year it was common to have multiple offers per property.  Prices were rising and Realtors could price homes ahead of the last known sale.  This year might be different.  We’ve noticed a slowdown of offers on homes priced about $275,000 and up.  One Realtor we talked to this week has noticed a slowdown on homes over $200,000.

Is the stock market affecting the real estate market?  Some speculate yes, others aren’t so sure.  Sometimes there is a flight to tangible assets like real estate when the stock market is in trouble.  Other times the stock market affects consumer confidence and people are afraid to do anything.

Let’s look at some of the numbers.  Just because Realtors start talking doesn’t mean the numbers bear out their suspicions.

Shift in SW Florida Real Estate Market February Pending Sales
SW Florida Pending Sales Feb 1-9 2016

Last year there were 1,537 new pending sales in February.  As of February 9th, 2016 there are 217 new pending sales.  The average list price of those pending sales are $280,569.  We know that closed sales were down 2.8% in December.  Unofficial January numbers suggest sales were down 12.7%

This confirms that so far this year new pending sales are off as well.  Of the pending sales, average price is down.  We won’t know what these pendings close at until they close, and of course we’re not dealing with a full month.  In December, the average closed sale price was $333,735.  Official January numbers won’t be released until later this month.  If the rest of the month holds true, it would confirm strength in the lower price ranges and lack of urgency above $280,000.

Shift in SW Florida Real Estate Market Closed Sales 2015
SW Florida Closed Home Sales

What should sellers do with this information?  They could wait and see if this is a temporary lag in the market.  This sometimes happens as season picks up steam the latter half of February and into March.  Or, sellers could reposition their home in the marketplace and be the first ones out in case buyers remain unmotivated.

In January we listed two condos in Reflection Lakes and sold both within a matter of days.  Just because the overall market may see a shift doesn’t mean all properties are affected exactly the same.

If you’re putting your home on the market, it pays to look at what has sold and what your competition looks like.  Look at it objectively like a buyer would.  If you have had your home on the market, look back and see how you made your initial determination.  Did you price ahead of the market expecting the market to increase?

Look at it like a basketball game.  Just because your team had a good 1st quarter doesn’t guarantee you a solid 4th quarter.  To win you have to be better at the end of the game, not just at the start.  If your home has been on the market and not selling it’s either the marketing or the price.  And even if it’s the marketing, chances are it still might be the price as well.

I’ve been tracking a few listings that interviewed with us and went with another Realtor who listed at a higher price.  In each case, those properties are still on the market and they’ve reduced the price down to where we initially said.  They are still on the market, and if buyers remain indecisive, they may end up reducing more.

Sometimes it’s best to be the first one out than to languish on the market and compete with all the other sellers reducing their prices.  Of course, Season could kick in any moment and clear out the inventory shelves.

Check your competition for yourself at our SW Florida MLS Search Site or call us at 239-489-4042  We can help you sell your home and find your next home as well.

This Weekend’s Open Houses

Saturday 1-4 PM

6087 Waterway Bay Dr

Open Saturday 1-4 PM

12510 Kentwood Ave