We’re seeing another shift in buying habits and it’s affecting everything from store coupons to selecting hotels to buying real estate. Yes, we’re talking about mobile marketing. Mobile Marketing Influencing Real Estate Buying.

Mobile Marketing Influencing Real Estate Buying
Ellis Team Virtual Tour on Smartphone

Years ago the Internet came along and everybody said newspapers and TV stations would no longer be needed. We found this wasn’t true; however the delivery methods have changed a bit since the advent of the Internet.

Ironically now some are saying the Internet isn’t needed because everything is going mobile. I’ve seen reports that there is now more traffic to websites via smart phones than computers. While it is a fact more people have the power of information literally in their hand wherever they go, there is no substitute for wasting time at work on a big screen surfing the Internet, at least for now.

Market Share by Platform
Smartphone Market Share

The iPhone was a big player in bringing the mobile world to the consumer, but many would be surprised to know that Android is actually the bigger player today. Android just crossed over the 50% mark in January of this year and market share is still growing. The only thing constant is change. Years ago Netscape was The browser in the industry. Microsoft managed to knock off Netscape with Internet Explorer. Now Google Chrome is making inroads along with Mozilla, Firefox, etc.

Remember when Yahoo was the thing in search engines? Today it’s Google with Microsoft fighting for relevance with Bing. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, however we do know what works today.

If you’re in real estate, you’d better design your website to work on a mobile phone. If you visit our website Topagent.com from a mobile device it recognizes the mobile device and gives you the option to view on a mobile optimized website. We’ve included a photo example of one of our virtual tours. All our virtual tours are optimized to play on any smart phone or phone capable of viewing the Internet. Of course we still have our full blown feature rich tours available for those old fashioned people viewing tours at work or home on a laptop. That sounds kind of weird talking about people on the Internet as old fashioned, but kind of fun I guess too. My how times are changing!

The point is, if you want to be successful in business, you’ve got to be where the customers are. If a business employs old technologies, they’ll get diminished results and wonder why their leads are falling off. They’ll blame it on the Internet and say things like the Internet just doesn’t work anymore. We heard that about newspapers, yellow pages, and radio advertising in the past. They all still work, but customers buying habits are evolving, and if you want to maximize your success, it pays to find out what the consumers are doing and provide solutions.

We have several websites. Even though Android is now king of the mobile market, we can tell you that the iPad is 74.76% of our mobile users on our Topagent.com site. These numbers change on various sites. As more tablets are released this year featuring Android, perhaps those numbers will change. The key is you have to know your market, design your marketing to work on the various technologies, and be available to answer customers in the fashion they like.

If a customer calls you speaking English, they generally would like to speak to someone in English. If a customer calls speaking German, chances are German is their preferred language and they’d like to speak with someone that speaks German.

The same is true with technology. Many people will contact you from their Smart phone. It doesn’t mean they’re ready to talk to you yet. If they ask you to email or send a text of a home, you’ll probably lose that buyer if you fax it to them because that’s more comfortable to you.

If you want to pick up more German buyers, it might help to learn the German language. If you wish to pickup more buyers today, it might help to learn to speak their tech language. If a customer texts you, I’d respond with a text. If you’re not willing to learn the technologies customers want, the real estate industry will pass you by. But then again, so will most industries.

If you don’t know what a QR code is, how to text, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, provide virtual tours, syndicate your listings, do videos on the market, etc. you might be well served to visit Best Buy and look around at how they market with Bar scans, and what devices will read them. Watch customers compare prices the store is offering versus the Internet, and listen to how these devices are shaping buyers decisions. If you can see all this in half an hour at the electronics store, just imagine what is happening on the street in front of the home.

RE/MAX has launched a mobile app that allows you to search all the homes on a map directly from your mobile phone. You can see what homes sold for, what people are asking, and photos of the home you’re in front of. Talk about changing the dynamic of house shopping. Customers can text, call, or email an agent directly from the street for more information. If you’d like this cool new free mobile app send us your email address and we’ll send you the link. Brett@topagent.com

If you look at the February and March 2012 graphs for single family home sales in Lee County, you’ll quickly notice that a large percentage of homes have sold for cash versus financing. This is not a new trend. While cash sales have saved our market the last few years, it does have its good and bad points. And we’ll attempt to explain why we’re seeing so many cash sales as well.  Cash Sales Dominate SW Florida Real Estate Market!

Cash Sales Dominate SW Florida Real Estate Market
SW Florida Cash Sales Versus Financed Sales

You would think that with interest rates at historical lows, more people would be jumping on the train to buy now and finance. Homeownership is affordable, as rates are low and prices are low compared to the height of the market, although prices are on their way up. We believe price will go much higher if the government would get out of the way and make financing possible again.

Local lenders are complaining, as are buyers, that the Dodd Frank Act has made it so difficult for qualified borrowers to actually produce unnecessary redundant and onerous documents that many just give up. Banks have gone from easy documentation loans in the boom to crazy stupid documentation now. We can’t just blame the lenders, because lenders are just following new provisions of the Dodd Frank Act. You might recognize the names, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, two names synonymous with getting loans and perks from the banking industry maybe they shouldn’t have gotten. We’ll leave those scandals for another story. I’m sure you can read all about them over the Internet.

In an attempt to regulate and improve the mortgage market, Dodd Frank has hurt the market in several ways. Parts of the act require higher down payments which will take many buyers out of the market. 2 recent studies suggest requiring all buyers to put at least 10% down would force about 40% of otherwise credit worthy buyers out of the market and requiring 20% down would force about 60% out.

Mortgage Rates 2010-2012
Mortgage Rates Trends

FHA has always required about 3-3.5% down and allows sellers to pay buyers closing costs, and their delinquency rates haven’t been substantially higher than banks requiring 10% down or more.

Secondly, and speaking from personal experience, the documentation requirements banks are adding because they’re afraid of getting fined or having to buy back the mortgage are awful. We’ve had several buyers have to go back to the Social Security Administration and request newer social security cards because their older cards may not reflect a name change due to a divorce, marriage, etc. The number has stayed the same throughout their life, and the lender can see this, but they still require the new card which pushes back the closing. Because the closing gets pushed back, it generally requires all new bank statements and employment stubs. We’ve had lenders wait until next month’s stubs before they’ll loan the money, so both buyer and seller must wait.

Wait, there’s more. Because a few fees might change due to the delays, like the interest rate lock may have expired, or the prorations could be off due to the delays, it required a new Truth in Lending Disclosure. You guessed it, if the lender has to re-disclose, there is a waiting period for that. That waiting period could trigger more bank statements, and updated pay stub, etc. It seems the cycle never ends, and it’s ridiculous. It’s no wonder listing agents want to know which bank is approving the buyer, and if the bank has a track record of delaying deals due to extemporaneous paperwork, it may cause the seller to accept another buyer’s offer over that one.

Lenders are getting penalized under Dodd Frank, and they’re getting hammered by sellers and real estate agents who are looking at best offer and most likely to close on time, if at all.

We feel that requiring higher down payments wouldn’t stop the market in a correction like the one we saw starting in 2006, so why add that on to borrowers who could never save that down payment while paying rent, preventing them from the American Dream? And even if you disagree with that statement, most would agree that Dodd Frank is preventing the market from moving higher because it’s essentially blocking access to capital markets for many.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re qualified, you can get a mortgage. You just have to know where to go to get the money, and be prepared to document everything just in case.

Good luck and happy house hunting. Rates are low, and prices are low but on the rise. If our buyer agents can be of assistance, feel free to call us at 239-489-4042

SW Florida Real Estate Update April 2012

It seems these days everyone’s got a quick and easy theory on how to price a home, but many are filled with errors that will either cause you to under-price your home, or over price it. Neither is good, because under pricing it means you’re just giving your equity away to the new buyer, and over pricing it means it will sit on the market longer and perhaps never sell. Statistics show that homes that are over-priced tend to sit longer and the seller ends up taking less because the market wonders what is wrong with it when it sat so long. Top Tips for Pricing Your Home in Today’s Market.

Top Tips for Pricing Your Home in Today’s Market
Top Tips For Pricing Your Home in Today’s Market

Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Don’t go by the property appraiser’s assesses value- I’ve talked to several property appraisers over the years including our own Ken Wilkinson. A property appraiser from IL told me it’s not the property appraiser’s job to value a home correctly, but rather simply it’s their job to value it fairly. There is a big difference. Because property appraisers use a mass appraisal system, they’re trying to price all homes fairly. Obviously if they could price each home at market value that would be wonderful, but they appraise hundreds of thousands at a time without going in the property, so it’s all done in relation to every other property. There can be a wide margin for errors with this system, and thus why there is an appeal process if you believe they’ve made an error. It’s amazing how well they do county-wide, and yet we can’t rely on any one valuation to be absolute. There are variations on many properties.
  2. Sites like Zillow provide Estimates. In fact, they call it a Zestimate, but it’s only that, and I’ve seen the valuations vary widely in just a matter of days. They use an online computer model, but again this model doesn’t visit the home, see inside, evaluate the condition, etc. They may look at all homes in a subdivision or street, but here in SW Florida there can be wide variations from street to street. Picture a riverfront home compared to a home 100 ft away across the street, or a golf course lot versus off golf course.
  3. Be Wary of Price Per Foot- I could show you two identical 2,000 sq ft homes from a builder. One is built with a pool, the other is not. One is on a waterfront lot, the other not. One upgrades the kitchen, adds a 3rd garage, upgrades carpet, cabinets, etc, and the second remains plain Jane. Obviously the pool and the lot location affect the price per square foot, so the square footage doesn’t really mean much. You could have a home built in 1952 sitting next door to a stupendous home built in 2012 with all the new hurricane protection, wiring, plumbing, roof, etc.
  4. Study the Appraisal- Appraisals can be ordered for different reasons. It could be ordered for resell, refinance, estate value, eminent domain, taxation, etc. The scope and purpose can affect the value. If the bank sees you’re a great credit risk, it’s possible a refi appraisal could come out higher than a resale appraisal.
  5. Be Careful Valuing Amenities- Just because you put an upgrade in the home 20 years ago doesn’t mean it has much value today. I recall back in the late 1980’s going to a seller’s home on Wren Rd in San Carlos Park. Back at that time homes were selling on that dirt road for $30’s. The seller added a $20,000 pool and expected over $50,000 for that home. It’s true, if you add value to pool cost you would think it would be worth that, but a $22k pool to a $30k home buyer is an extravagant amenity they cannot afford. That’s roughly 50% of the house value which was considered an over-improvement for the area at that time. It’s possible that pool had little to no value in that price range at the time. FHA wouldn’t even give value to a sprinkler system there as it was considered an over improvement.

It pays to value a home correctly the first time, as the market has a way of speaking in the end. The sooner you listen to the market, the better off you’ll be. It pays to work with a seasoned agent who can help you price your home using sound methods. On paper you might be able to make it come to what you want, but does that do you any good if a buyer won’t pay that, or a lender won’t lend that much. Be realistic. No matter the market, up, down, or sideways, you will always find those that over price and find a way not to sell. And even in the ugliest of markets’ homes do sell, because sellers price it at today’s value, not some number they need, nor a number from the past.

Remember, the market never cares what you need for your home. The market only cares if it’s priced correctly, and if it matches the buyer’s needs. Good luck, and happy home selling.

Again, we are writing this article before official sales numbers are scheduled to be released later in the week.

Because of that we’ll focus on some new information that won’t be in the release this week. Official stats in January track December sales and year-end stats which are always interesting. This tells an important, but partial story, because it only tells what has happened. Today we’ll focus on what is happening right now.

Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres Listing Inventory
Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres Listing Inventory

Listing inventory had risen slightly for the past 4 months, but it has dropped slightly in January. Pending sales had also been dropping slightly which is probably why inventory was rising. However, pending sales have increased this January which may help account for why inventory recently dropped.

While inventory has dropped everywhere, perhaps the most significant drop has been in Lehigh acres. Lehigh Acres has experienced a 61% drop in inventory since January 2010. Cape Coral has seen a 38.54% drop in inventory in the same period, and Fort Myers has seen a 32.52% drop. Lee County has seen a 35.42% overall drop in single family inventory, so Lehigh Acres 61% drop leads the way by a large margin.

Lehigh Acres was home to single family home sales in the $25,000-$40,000 range a few years ago and now it’s getting tough to find homes much below $70,000. Investors have swooped in and gobbled up everything they can. Homes at the lower prices were cash flowing as investors could purchase, fix them up a little bit and rent them for more return on their money than they could get at bank or other places.

Foreclosure Vs Short Sales SW Florida January 2012
SW Florida Foreclosures Vs Short Sales January 2012

Another trend we have noticed is short sale closing increased as banks have geared up to handle more short sales just as foreclosure sales decreased. We’ve included a graph that illustrates foreclosure versus short sale closings over time. Keep in mind that banks have had fewer foreclosures due to the robo signing issue and that has affected foreclosure inventory throughout 2011. We’ve been told to expect more foreclosures in 2012, however they will not process them as fast as they did back in 2009 which caused the whole robo signing legal fiasco in the first place.

Next week we’ll go inside the official numbers and give additional background as to what drove the numbers and how 2011 ended compared to previous years. Going forward we are seeing a robust selling season as many have realized our median prices have been on the rise and the bargains may be running out. If rising pending sales, rising median sale prices and decreased inventory are any indication heading into season, the next few months could be interesting to watch.

Setting realistic expectations is key for buyers and sellers in this market. Realistically, prices have room to rise especially as the economy improves. Nobody is predicting a return to 2005 prices anytime soon, so if you read prices are rising and you’re waiting 6 months to put your home on the market so you can get what you paid back in 2005, you might want to reset your expectations.

We are back to healthy growth, and if we somehow miraculously escalated back to 2005 prices, it would be as unhealthy now as it was back then. Slow and steady might just be what the doctor ordered, and who knows, that might just be what we’ll get.

 

 

As we’ve been reporting in our weekly article, we expected sales to be down as pending sales have been declining.  We also expected prices to be higher and in fact official SW Florida single family home median sales prices released this past week were up 4.11% over October’s prices and up 20.11% over last November’s price.

Median Sale Prices 2011 SW Florida
SW Florida Median Single Family Sale Prices

Everyone wants to know what kind of year 2012 will be, and what kind of season it will be.  Nobody can predict the future with absolute certainty, so we have to look at clues as to what will drive the market going forward.

Homes Closed in SW Florida 2009-2011

There are opposing forces in play affecting our market, and each one can have an influence,  The question will always be how much influence will each force play and to what degree?

  1. Overall economy-It is weak and this is an election year.  In previous election years activity slowed as people weren’t sure of the outcome and its effect on tax strategies and the government’s effect on the economy.  The housing market likes a pro growth government.
  2. Employment-More jobs eventually equals more disposable income in our local economy, which spurs home sales.  Unemployment is still high in the area, so we’d like to see jobs.  One such employer might be a casino, or perhaps a company that may relocate to our area.
  3. World Markets-People wonder what the trickle effect would be to the US economy and value of money should Europe’s debt crisis spill over.  Europe is working on their debt crisis and the US is helping, but we can’t seem to get our own debt crisis in order, so I wonder what influence we have to help them when we can’t help ourselves.
  4. US Credit Ratings-Could we be in for more downgrades?  Some think so, and it could raise the cost of borrowing
  5. Interest Rates and Availability of Credit- For now they are low, so anyone that can afford to buy now should.  Prices are rising and rates are at all-time lows.  Banks have also tightened standards, perhaps too much, which affects sales in the mid and upper ranges.
  6. Inventory-Inventory has been rising the past 4 months but ever so slightly.  It’s been rumored the banks have more inventory to unload in 2012, so we’ll be watching to what degree and how this affects the market
  7. Volume- Sales have been falling as prices have risen.  We set all-time records in 2009 as prices were at rock bottom.  Our market has definitely moved off the bottom, especially at the first time home buyer end.  Many properties still make sense on a cash flow basis; however fewer investors are buying because the rock bottom deals are gone.
  8. Correctly Priced Inventory- We have less distressed sales on the market, which is good.  However, inventory is rising because not every home is priced where buyers are willing to buy, so they sit on the market.  This is nothing new.  It just illustrates we are still in a price sensitive market.  If you overprice a home, it will sit.  If you price it at market, it will sell.
  9. Season Begun Early- We saw our Northern friends start their search earlier this year.  The beaches and roads are packed.  The weather up North is cold.  Baby boomers aren’t getting younger.  Many like the deals they’re seeing and many are saying this is the year they’re going to pull the trigger and buy.  Florida has been on sale for a few years now and buyers see the rising prices, giving them confidence the worst is over.
  10. Greed-Greed isn’t always a bad thing.  It’s emotional feeling people use to guide them to buy or sell.  It’s the reason sellers overprice, and it’s also the reason buyers buy.  A transaction won’t happen if both buyer and seller are operating from the same emotion.  The answer to this emotion is facts, data, and logic.  If a seller prices appropriately, buyers will buy because they fear prices will be higher in the future, and they don’t want to miss the boat.  They will not overpay though unless they’re convinced prices for home will be higher.  Greed is one emotion fueling buyers to buy today.  If a property is priced at market, they are motivated to purchase.  If a property is overpriced, it forces the buyer right back on the fence.

 

All 10 factors are in play.  Only the future knows how each factor will affect the market.   There are probably a few wild cards we haven’t mentioned as well.  All we can do is watch together.  Enjoy 2012.  We think it could be a good year.

 

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Banks are contacting customers who are past due or in financial trouble and offering owners or tenants up to $20,000 in relocation assistance to move out of home and hire an experienced agent to sell the home as a short sale.  Banks are also offering owners money to agree to a deed in lieu foreclosure in some instances as well.

Benefits of Short Sale Versus Foreclosure Chart
Alternatives to Foreclosure Chart

There are several advantages for taking the bank up on their offer.  If you let the property go to foreclosure, you’ll be evicted without relocation assistance.  Additionally your credit will suffer more in a foreclosure than a short sale or deed in lieu.  The owner is more in control when actively pursuing a sale through an experienced agent than giving up all control to the bank and the legal system.

A short sale is a commonly used alternative to foreclosure. Generally, when putting your home on the market, the goal is to market and sell your house for an amount greater than any and all outstanding liens against the property. Liens include all mortgages, escrows and fees on the property.

If you can no longer afford to make your mortgage payments and your house is worth less than you owe, a short sale allows you to sell your house at the current fair market value. You then have an option to move to a more affordable situation. In a short sale, the investor or owner of your loan must approve the sale because they are entitled to repayment of the loan and will be receiving less than the amount owed.

If you have additional liens on your property with other lenders, such as a home equity loan, all investors must come to an agreement in order to complete the short sale. This process takes time, and an experienced agent is required to navigate and negotiate through these challenges.

Another alternative is a deed in lieu of foreclosure. With a deed in lieu, you voluntarily transfer ownership of the property to your investor to satisfy the amount due on your first mortgage. In some cases, you may be eligible for a deed in lieu without first attempting a short sale of your home. A deed in lieu generally takes about 90 days, depending on your situation.

In either a short sale or deed in lieu you may be responsible for paying a deficiency.  There are many factors that determine this, such as if the home was your primary residence, what state you live in, your financial situation, etc.  Sometimes this can be negotiated with your lender.

In any event, most lenders agree it is much better on your credit report and they are likely to lend you money in the future faster if you agree to a short sale or deed in lieu instead of a full blown foreclosure.

If you’ve been contacted by your lender, it may be at least worth considering your options.  Don’t throw away documents sent to you by your lender.  If they make you an offer call your attorney for legal advice or an experienced real estate agent for advice on the program and assistance selling your home.

The banks really don’t want your home back.  They’d prefer that owners pay their mortgage payments.  When that’s not possible, it may be less expensive to offer the occupant relocation assistance and get on with the process of selling the home before it gets to the costly foreclosure process.  Once the home gets into foreclosure, the costs mount, the credit suffers, and owners lose options.

If we can help, call us at 239-489-4042.  Each situation is unique and it takes time to look into each program.  The good news is we have past experience with many of these programs.

 

Reflection Lakes Fort Myers is a gated community in South Ft Myers consisting of 820 properties, 194 of which are single family homes and 358 are villa homes, and 268 condos. Reflection Lakes is centrally located off Summerlin Rd and Cypress Lake Dr with entrances from both.

Perhaps Reflection Lakes greatest beauty is the fact that it abuts Lakes Regional Park full of pristine views and wildlife. Reflection Lakes residents even have their own private entrance into Lakes Park.

Home prices are down significantly from their highs back in 2005, as all neighborhoods are. Currently there are homes priced from $145,000 to $629,700 on the market. The highest sales price for a home in 2011 has been $510,000.

Condos on the market currently range from $119,900 to $219,000. The highest condo sales price in 2011 was $185,000.

Reflection Lakes Fort Myers
4 Bedroom 3 Bath Home in Reflection lakes

The home pictured above is currently listed by the Ellis Team for $280,000 and is located in the Las Palmas section of Reflection Lakes, formerly known as the Estates II section. The home has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths and has 2433 square feet of living area. The kitchen features granite counter tops, and the home has a large private back yard with lake views. The home also has hurricane shutters.

Another amenity residents love is the clubhouse. Reflection Lakes offers clay tennis courts, a bocce court, a full sized basketball court, volleyball court, putting green, and an oversized pool with waterfall along with a children’s pool.

Reflection Lakes Exercise Room in Fort Myers Florida

 

Billiard Room in Reflection Lakes

Reflection Lakes Billiard Room

 

Inside the clubhouse is an exercise room with state of the art professional workout equipment, a card room, billiard room, and a banquet room with full kitchen. The community enjoys many community events as the residents have an active recreation committee planning wonderful events year round.

Clay Tennis Courts in Reflection Lakes Fort Myers Florida
Reflection Lakes Clay Tennis Courts

Reflection Lakes is very stable financially which makes it attractive for buyers and lenders. Lenders today are skittish about lending when there are many homes in foreclosure or a certain number are unoccupied investor units. Reflection Lakes is primarily owner occupied or seasonal residents which makes getting a mortgage easier for borrowers. Fees are low and cable TV is included. Lawn mowing is included in the Villa homes and of course all condos.

We enjoy bringing you market stats and timely real estate information that impacts the market each week. To shake it up a bit, we thought every once in awhile it would be nice to update you on what’s happening in a specific community. Stay tuned and one day you just might see your community featured here.

Volleyball Court at Reflection Lakes Fort Myers Florida
Reflection Lakes Volleyball Court

 

 

Basket Ball Court at Reflection Lakes in Fort Myers Florida
Reflection Lakes Basketball Court

Whiskey Creek is one of Ft Myers long standing prestigious communities established back in the early 80’s era. Before Whiskey Creek, the prestigious areas of Fort Myers were off McGregor, Ft Myers Villas, and Tanglewood to name a few. Back in the 60’s and 70’s smaller homes were prevalent with shag carpets and lime green or yellow counter tops. 2 Bedroom homes were very common. Povia Ballantine was a builder here in SW Florida and you could always spot one of their homes by the door knobs which were usually yellow speckled, and many were in the Villas, Cypress Village, and other communities.  

Spotlight on Whiskey Creek in Fort Myers, FL
Whiskey Creek Subdivision, Fort Myers FL

As the economy and market emerged, McGregor area continued to build up south of Colonial, and the high end dollars transitioned to Tanglewood with the bigger yards and larger floor plans.  After Tanglewood, Whiskey Creek emerged. 

Whiskey Creek is divided by Whiskey Creek Dr, and one side featured custom homes by various builders and the other was predominantly US Homes.  This is why there was a difference in values based upon location and features which still exists to this day. 

Whiskey Creek Home Listed bu The Ellis Team
Whiskey Creek Home

What’s really interesting is the amount of interest Whiskey Creek receives to this day, which could be a function of owners maintaining their yards and landscaping so well, the mature trees, the oversized yards as opposed to today’s newer subdivisions, or the central location to everything via McGregor, College Pkwy and Summerlin Rd. 

It’s amazing to me when young families call us and only want to look in Whiskey Creek to raise their family because one of them grew up there as a child and wants that same location to raise their children. 

Currently there are 31 homes on the market priced from $160,000 to $849,000.  There are 4 pending sales priced from $169,900 to $279,000.  Since the beginning of the year there has been 26 closed sales priced from $108,000 to $875,000. 

Of the 31 homes on the market, 9 are short sales, and 2 are bank foreclosures.  Of the 4 pending sales, 2 are bank foreclosures and none are short sales. 

Of the 26 closed sales year to date, 3 are bank foreclosures and 1 was a short sale. 

These numbers indicate a stable market with a reasonable number of distressed properties given the current climate.  Some of the newer subdivisions have much higher rates than this.  This may be another reason as a whole the neighborhood is maintained meticulously, and why it is so desirable.  It also breaks the mold of today’s newer, cookie cutter communities. 

Whiskey Creek offers what today’s newer communities don’t, which is yard size, mature landscaping, and that established feel.  Combined with a perfect south location, we believe Whiskey Creek will remain a favorite for home buyers for years to come.

Watch the Future of Real Estate Show July 20, 2010 for updates on what is currently happening ine SW Florida Real Estate market.

In addition to providing data on the SW Florida real estate market, we thought it would be nice to highlight some local Lee County communities and explore what is happening in that neighborhood today.  This week we’ll focus on Reflection Lakes.

Reflection Lakes in Fort Myers, Florida
Reflection Lakes Community in Fort Myers Florida

Reflection Lakes is conveniently located in south Fort Myers and boasts scenic lakes, special nature preserves, street lighting, community sidewalks and underground utilities all bordering pristine Lakes Park. The magnificent clubhouse sits on a lake and features a state of the art fitness center, billiards, administrative rooms, catering kitchen, heated community pool, children’s playground, 4 lighted tennis courts, basketball courts, sand volleyball court and a putting green.

Reflection Lakes Community Pool in South Fort Myers
Reflection Lakes Pool with Waterfall in South Ft Myers

Reflection Lakes is very close to Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, and is close to the beaches, US 41, and features easy access via Summerlin Rd.

Currently there are 30 properties for sale priced from $114,999 to $750,000.  None on the market now are foreclosures. There are 4 pending sales currently priced from $134,900 to $329,900 and 3 of the 4 pending sales are foreclosures.

Because Reflection Lakes was built primarily in 2002-2003 before the boom in real estate sales, there wasn’t a lot of speculative investor activity, and this is why we haven’t seen a large concentration of foreclosures like we’ve seen in newer communities in 2005-2007.  There are some foreclosures and short sales due to the downturn in the economy, as is normal throughout SW Florida.

Reflection Lakes Overlooks Beautiful lakes Park
Reflection Lakes Overlooking Lakes Park in Fort Myers Florida

So far in 2010 there have been 15 closed sales priced between $113,100 for a condo in Reflection Lakes to $350,000 for a single family home in Las Palmas, often referred to as the Estates II section of Reflection Lakes.  This was a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with 2,659 square feet of living area, a 3 car garage, pool and was lakefront.

All of the active, pending, and sold listings are posted at www.ReflectionLakes.com  The floor plans are also provided, along with a site plan.

Maintenance fees for the single family homes are $159/mo and this includes cable TV, alarm monitoring, clubhouse, exercise room, pools, street lights, sidewalks, and all the amenities.  Reflection Lakes even has it’s own TV channel for happenings and events inside the community.

A fact most people don’t know is Reflection Lakes has a private entrance into lakes Park.  It’s not uncommon to see residents ride their bikes or take walks into Lakes Park, or enjoy kayak and canoe rides into the park as well.

The amenities, low HOA fees, floor plans, community activities, and superb location make Reflection Lakes worth looking into for buyers today.  The community offers condos, town homes, villa homes, all the way to large estate homes, so there is a product to suit many lifestyles.  Many people are surprised at just how much home they can afford these days, and with interest rates at all-time lows, now may be your chance.

Reflection Lakes is a gated community, so you’ll definitely want to call a Realtor to look around.  Good luck, and happy house hunting.

View this week’s Future of Real Estate Video TV Show

Recently the Ellis Team has added videos on it’s YouTube channel by broadcasting The Future of Real Estate Show in video. For years the Ellis Team aired this show on radio and recently made the switch to video in January 2010.  The Ellis Team YouTube channel already has over 24,000 views and is growing rapidly.  We just released our annual State of the Market Report, and we’ll be providing videos in the coming days on the State of the SW Florida Real Estate market and provide even more in-depth knowledge and analysis.

Each week the show provides real estate news and analysis you won’t find anywhere else, and we also bring a featured Hot Properties of the Week segment as well.  Be sure to subscribe to our channel and watch for brand new videos to be uploaded shortly.