April 4, 2017 marks a big day in the real estate industry and we hope brokers, agents, buyers, and sellers are up on the changes.  There are big changes to real estate sales contracts, notably the financing clause that will change the way contracts are negotiated and processed.

Big Changes Coming to Real Estate Sales Contracts

In the past, most finance contingency contracts had a clause that said buyer had a certain number of days to obtain a loan commitment.  Lenders rarely use the commitment word any more, so it was changed to loan approval.

Big Changes to Real Estate Sales Contracts

Something else changed as well.  The buyer now has 30 days standard to obtain financing.  If they do not obtain it, they should notify seller or seller’s agent in writing because seller can cancel the contract.  If buyer fails to request an extension or terminate the contract, it is assumed they have loan approval and their escrow deposit could be in jeopardy.  I am writing this article prior to the April 4th unveiling, so we haven’t seen the entire clause yet.  There has been a flurry of activity on Realtor websites informing agents of the upcoming changes, so hopefully agents are aware.

We are not attorneys and we are certainly not giving legal advice.  Readers should be aware that there are big changes to real estate sales contracts in Florida and pay attention to timelines.

The agent you choose to work with as a buyer or seller will become even more important than it has in the past.  Not only will your agent need to be aware of these changes, they’ll also need to have systems and assistants to track and monitor timelines, and communicate with your lender.  A buyer can put themselves in legal jeopardy by simply not adhering to deadlines or communicating in writing as to the progress of the loan.

Hire a Full-Time Agent

Hiring a full-time agent is more necessary now than ever.  Part-time agents cannot keep up on market changes and inventory, nor have the skill, expertise, experience, and systems to keep up with contract changes that can place your escrow deposit in harm’s way.  We suggest you take a hard look at the agent you’re going to work with and ask questions about their knowledge of these contract changes and what systems they have in place.

Keep in mind, ultimately, it’s your responsibility.  You’re the buyer.  It’s your money.  You could lose the house and/or your escrow deposit by failing to timely communicate the process of your loan.

This may affect buyers in other ways too.  Let’s say a seller finds a buyer willing to pay more for the home.  The seller does not have to extend the financing clause if the buyer cannot obtain in the specified days.  If the seller has received no notification at all, the seller can cancel the contract within a 3-day window period after the buyer’s Loan Approval period has expired.

The seller seems to have picked up some rights and the buyer now has more responsibility to notify the seller about the loan process.  This places more responsibility on the lender you choose because now timelines are more important than ever.

Choose the Right Lender

Our team works with several lenders.  We work with lenders who not only offer great rates but also are known for service and meeting timeline commitments.  Interviewing lenders and evaluating their performance reputation will now be more important than ever.  Each buyer’s situation is different. Talk with a lender who has experience with the type of loan you’re going for and a track record of working with buyers with similar income and circumstances as yours.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in SW Florida, always call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty.  Knowledge and experience matters more than ever and we can refer you to lenders who can get the job done.  If you’re a seller, it pays to work with an agent who understands the market, has the muscle to market your home, and can help you evaluate which buyer’s offer is the best one to take.  You don’t have to accept an offer simply because it’s the only one you’ve got. Don’t forget our Free MLS search site www.LeeCountyOnline.com

Call us 239-489-4042 and let’s talk.

Ellis Team Weekend Open House

Sunday 1-4 PM

Big Changes to Real Estate Sales Contracts Gulf Access Waterfront Pool Home
Gulf Access Waterfront Home

1516 SW 43rd St Cape Coral

Pool Home

3 Bedrooms, 3 Baths

$560,000

Today we have some good news to report on how the domino effect will help real estate market here in SW Florida and nationwide.

Domino Effect Will Help Real Estate Market

For years Realtors have complained that financing was not as easy to obtain for condominiums as it is for single family homes.  For various reasons FHA would not lend in most condo projects unless the association jumped through exhaustive and costly hoops.  I’m sure FHA had good intentions and wants to protect consumers and the government, but the hoops were so burdensome and arduous that condos could only be financed by FNMA or Freddie Mac secured loans.

While FNMA has 3-5% down loans, many buyers prefer using FHA financing and were forced to buy single family homes under this program.  This all changed now that H.R. 3700 was signed into law this past week.  More than 140,000 Realtors lobbied Congress in support of this bill and it passed the House and Senate with Unanimous votes.  Imagine getting anything done in Congress with unanimous votes!

Many argue that first time home buyers do well in condominiums because the budgeting for repairs, lawn, maintenance, roofs, etc are often times built-into the condo association fee.  Homeowners are sometimes surprised by unexpected expenses that come with owning your own home.  So this new law will really help spur first time home buyers to buy condos that are often times more affordable than single family homes.

Domino Effect Will Help Real Estate Market

What this legislation does is create a domino effect which could really help the real estate market.  By opening up the condo market to more buyers you free up those current condo owners to sell and buy other things.  And prices could go up as there will be more demand for condos going forward.

Getting more people into home ownership has its advantages, and financing is always key to providing a healthy real estate market and economy.  What really hurt the real estate market and overall economy back in 2006-2011 was banks over-tightening lending practices.

Changes needed to be made because loans like the “Liar Loans” and no documentation loans that President Clinton initiated to open up financing to minorities created a monster and the real estate crisis.  What started with good intentions led to everyone getting free money with no documentation and we all know what followed years later.

Now we have Dodd-Frank which is equally disastrous and overly regulatory and caused many homeowners to not be able to live the American dream.  So wins like H.R. 3700 becoming law loom large and are good for the real estate market and economy.

If it were me I’d repeal Dodd-Frank but you can’t just undo that without having a plan in place.  I’d also undo Obama Care, but again you can’t just undo something without having a better plan to go into place.  Since I’m a nobody my ideas don’t matter. And some would argue they like Obama Care.

Where there seems to be unanimous agreement is in this bill, and to that end we’re all grateful.  FHA’s owner-occupancy requirement has been cut from 50% to 35% and transfer fees will be more tolerated under this new law.  These two new rules alone will open up more condos for financing, and the hoops they must jump through will be lessened.

If you’d like to search for condos in SW Florida, you can do so at www.LeeCountyOnline.com  Or you can call us at 239-489-4042 and our team can help you decide whether a home or condo may be the best choice for you.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

We have 2 units for sale in Bella Casa in Fort Myers.  Passing of this legislation could help home values in Bella Casa and other condominium projects across SW Florida.

Find out what your SW Florida home is worth online.  If you’d like a more detailed analysis, please call us and we can help.

Problem With Real Estate Agents Find out what your home is worth

This past week I had the distinct honor of speaking in Fort Lauderdale with some of the brightest minds in the business.  Throughout the 3 day conference we heard from the CEO’s of Better Homes & Gardens and Coldwell Banker, the #1 real estate team in the Coldwell Banker system, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Freddie Mac chief economist Sean Becketti, top designers, and top agents from all over the country.

2016 Housing Projections Released

2016 Housing Projections Released

Today I’m going to focus on projections made by Freddie Mac as they control a large part of the financing in the US.

Mr. Becketti projected mortgage rates to increase somewhat which will decrease home affordability.  In fact, he said home affordability can disappear on a dime when interest rates increase.

The Fed may have a difficult time raising rates as much as they’d like because unemployment is so high.  Basically, our government hasn’t been completely honest with us.  Unemployment is about as high now as it ever was.  Statistically the government is stating lower numbers around 5% but when you factor in labor participation they’re around 10%.

In other words, our economy isn’t as strong as some would have you believe.  When rates rise, it will pinch home buyers.  When buyers get pinched, large price gains begin to abate.  We’ve seen a nice run-up in prices the past several years, and we needed to.  The question is how long will that last?

Much of the country is back to previous peaks in prices while Florida is about 24% below the peak.  This feels about right here in SW Florida too.  Economists are projecting higher prices for us this next year, but a lowering in the growth projections.  We may not see 15% price gains going forward, which in my opinions is a good thing.  That is not sustainable and a recipe for disaster were it to continue too long.  It was good to catch up as we were hit too hard, but now that we’re getting closer to a normal market, normal growth it perfect.

Many sellers are trying to time the market and get out at the top.  If this thing goes swimmingly, there will be no top.  There would be normal positive growth for years to come.  We see large ups and downs when the market gets out of balance or there are external economic factors placing undue pressure on the housing market.

We know rising rates are coming.  This will inhibit buyer’s purchasing power.  We don’t know who will become president or how the economy will react, so in a vacuum we’d say our market should do fairly well with rising but stabilizing prices and growing inventory levels as sellers wouldn’t be able to name their price like today.

To all sellers I would say, you’re in the driver’s seat today.  Rev the motor and smell that crisp clean air rushing by.  It may not last forever.  We will still have a good market, you just may have to switch over to a safer, slower lane.  More sellers may place their home on the market as competition to yours.  Add more housing inventory to rising rates and you can see more sales but less big price jumps on the horizon.  This isn’t a bad thing; in fact it would be considered a great normal market.  It just may not fit current sellers’ expectations, which are normally higher than buyers by human nature.  The sellers that recognize and plan for the future have the greatest chance of accomplishing their goals.  Unrealistic sellers struggle in good times and bad.

If you’re going to buy or sell, it pays to be realistic.  There are costs of not paying attention.  Give our office a call and we’ll be glad to guide you. 239-489-4042  You can search the MLS for Free at www.LeeCountyOnline.com

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

Check out last weekend’s open house on Instagram

1917 SE 36th St Cape Coral, FL

Circle the date. April 21, 2015 things are going to change in a significant way.  These are the words directly from Google.  We’re talking about Mobilegeddon, and whether you’re a real estate agent, business owner, or consumer, you will be affected on April 21. So we ask the question, is SW Florida ready for mobilegeddon?

Since 2013 I’ve been speaking to agents nationwide about the importance of having a mobile friendly website.  Google has stated how important mobile is and they do not want to rank websites high if the consumer doesn’t have a good experience on their mobile device when they get there.

SW Florida Ready for Mobilegeddon Share of US Digital Media

Last year we told readers that consumers were spending more time on the web from their mobile then they were on their desktop computer. ComScore data proves this out, and many webmasters who view their logs will tell you mobile is more popular now than desktop.

The problem is, many websites are not setup to handle mobile visitors properly. Portent recently crawled 25,000 sites and found that 40% of those sites were not mobile friendly.

If you’re on your mobile device you can do a search in Google and it will return results. It will say if the results are mobile friendly, but you better pay attention to those results.  The companies you see today may not be the same companies you see on April 21.  If they do not have the mobile friendly seal of approval from Google, they are going to drop out of the search results.  This is significant.

Mobilegeddon will be a larger algorithm change than either the Panda or Penguin updates.  If this is all Greek to you, it’s OK.  Consumers don’t need to know all the details, but local businesses do.

Consumers who are hiring a real estate agent should ask questions about the agent’s web presence and whether it’s mobile friendly.  The public tends to think all agents are the same and all advertising is the same.

I can assure you all agents do not have the same negotiating skills, nor do they have the same marketing skills.  Pretty soon we’re going to find out which agents win in the online marketing business.

If you’re a buyer or seller, Mobilegeddon is going to matter to you.  The buyers will be directed to sites that are mobile friendly. According to one site buyers are 53% more likely to purchase from mobile while they are shopping.

SW Florida Ready for Mobilegeddon Top 15 Smartphone Apps

Imagine buyers driving around looking at neighborhoods.  When they see a neighborhood or sign they like, do you think they write it down to pull up later or do they inquire on their Smartphone?  The answer is they are not waiting.

The Ellis Team is receiving many mobile leads per week.  The registration form even says Mobile lead.  We’re receiving phone calls directly from the online information as well.

Buyers today want immediate information.  They go on Smartphones first.  If they call, they don’t want voicemail.  They want to talk to a live person.  They can get general info online in an instant, so your systems better be designed to answer that call when the buyer is ready.  If the agent isn’t ready when the buyer is, they’ll find another agent.  Statistics show buyers and sellers work with the first person they talk to 70% of the time.

If you’re a seller, you’ll want to list with an agent who’s ready for Mobilegeddon and has systems and people to answer the phone.  If you miss either step, you miss the buyer.  Buyers want the same thing.  They don’t like wasting time, and they want an agent who is up to today’s way of doing business.

Our website is mobile friendly.  www.Topagent,com You can search for homes, find out your home’s value, ready weekly articles, and get market statistics on your desktop, tablet, or Smartphone.  Do some searches on your Smartphone this weekend, then try again on April 21st.  What you see may be different.

You can call us at 239-489-4042

Bella Casa Closeout Event
Bella Casa Luxury Condominiums Fort Myers, FL

Don’t forget April is the Bella Casa Luxury Condo Closeout Event. Call to get a great deal and be sure to check out the resort style pool, tennis court, clubhouse.  Best of all Condo fees are only $220/mo and no CDD

SW Florida Real Estate Market Update

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Check out Bella Casa Condominiums.  We’ll be happy to show you this project in South Fort Myers

Other Resources

Fun Things to do in SW Florida

New Construction For Sale

Fishing and Boating in SW Florida

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By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

Mortgage rates hit new lows for the year this past week as 30 year fixed rates averaged 3.97% The 15 year rate fell to 3.18%, and the 5-1 ARM sits at 2.92%

Mortgage Rates Hit New Lows

 

Mortgage Rates Hit New Lows

Forecasters have been prognosticating mortgage rates would begin to rise going into 2015 as the Fed tapers its bond buying program and most believe this is true.  However, we’ve heard fears of deflation and 10 year bond yields have fallen below 2%.  This is due to several factors including an economic slowdown in China, Europe, as well as fears of Ebola.  Ebola is one of those wildcards we’re thrown every once in awhile that makes it difficult to predict what will happen to the world economy.

Buyers are taking advantage of the dip in rates too as we listed and sold several homes this past week that sold in a day.  Buyers who have been shopping for any length of time are tired of getting beat out by other buyers for hot new properties that enter the market.

They’re also watching the interest rate market as a dip in rates means they can afford a larger mortgage with the same monthly payment with the new lower rates.  This is important in a rising price market like we have here in SW Florida.

When prices rise, it raises the monthly payment for a buyer if nothing else changes, or it drops them into a lower tier home if they cannot afford the higher payments.  Lower rates are a nice surprise, especially in a rising market.  Because home prices are expected to be higher next year than this year, and because rates are expected to be higher next year as well, it really pays to jump on that house when it hits the market and go after it hard.  Even if you overpay a little bit now, it can save you thousands in a few months when rates rise and prices rise.

At our team meeting this week our buyer specialists were talking about helping buyers in the $100,000-$120,000 range and how difficult it was for them as each home they were interested in had multiple offers.  Basically it’s come down to setting up alerts on the MLS and notifying our buyers instantly when a new home enters the market and writing an offer within hours.  Multiple offers are still a possibility, but it’s the only way these buyers are going to have a chance at landing a home.  They just can’t go higher and there is limited inventory.

This is happening in several price ranges.  We just had a home come on the market in the $450,000-$500,000 range and it went pending in one day and we have several more buyers begging for a call if anything happens on this transaction.  It’s good news for sellers and terribly frustrating for buyers.

Our advice is work with an agent who will study the market for you and guide you.  If what you’re looking for has limited inventory, jump on a new listing that fits your needs and will work for you, and is priced fairly in the market.  If it’s well overpriced you may not have to worry.  Some sellers are delusional even in a seller’s market and you just have to let those go.

However, the seller may not be as delusional as you might think in some cases.  If the property is unique or has something drawing you to it, chances are it may be drawing other buyers as well.  Views, extended lanais, or remodeled kitchens and baths might bring extra value.  You can’t just look at dollar per square foot.  Appraisers don’t work solely off that and neither should you.  Rather it’s best to make specific adjustments for certain items based on market conditions.

It pays to work with a Realtor that knows the market.  This is true buying or selling.  To search the MLS for free check  www.TopAgent.com  If we can help, please call us at 239-489-4042  Good luck and enjoy the interest rate break!

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!
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By Brett Ellis

RE/MAX Realty Group – Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

239-489-4042

 

Back in March we wrote an article about the benefits of joining a SW Florida boat club versus owning a boat.  The article was about people moving to SW Florida and debating whether to spend big bucks buying waterfront property so they could have a boat in their back yard.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for having a nice property and having a nice boat in your own backyard.

SW Florida Boat Club Carefree Boat Club Fort Myers location
Deck Boat at Carefree Boat Club Fort Myers

 

There are some costs for this luxury though.  First of all, you spend a lot more for the property.  Flood insurance may be higher too, as are property taxes.  Then you have the costs of the boat.

Perhaps you have a boat payment, a down payment, Sea Tow, insurance, licensing, maintenance, and of course depreciation.  Boats never seem to go up in value, only down.  Personally I hate cleaning up the boat after I come in from a day in the sun.  It would be so nice to just walk up onto the boat and it’s all gassed up and walk right off at the end of the day.

After writing the article I looked into this membership a little further.  For me it wasn’t about moving down here and selecting a property.  I already live here and love the life in paradise.  I don’t have enough equity in my home to make a move to the waterfront so that’s not even an option.

If I wanted to get out on the water I basically had just two options.  First, buy a boat and find somewhere to store it.  My garage isn’t big enough to store and trailer a boat.  Secondly, I could check out a boat club.

Advantages of Joining a SW Florida Boat Club:

My monthly payment with the boat club is less than what a boat payment would be.  I don’t pay for insurance, towing, storage, maintenance, tax, title, repairs, or anything.  I just pay for the gas.

Best yet, when I walk off the boat I just walk away.  They fill it up with gas, clean it, park it for the night, etc.  Our family just walks off happy and we have the rest of our evening.  It’s really a beautiful thing.

I don’t have to get the boat ready either,  Years ago we owned a boat and each time we took it out I’d have to go make sure battery is working, clean it up since it had been in storage, etc.  Today I just login to the online reservation system and reserve the boat and show up.  They have it sitting in the water all waiting for me.

My family just walks on and we’re off the dock in less than 5 minutes.  I just run through a quick checklist to make sure all the life vests are there and a few other things and we’re underway.  Most boats have a GPS unit, portable bathroom onboard.  My kids like the radio.

Blow up raft off Sanibel Island Florida
Enjoying a Leisurely Day at the Beach

We even bought a blow-up raft we tie up to the boat.  Last week we anchored off Sanibel Island and had a blast.

The boat club I joined has fishing boats, leisure boats, and more.  One has air conditioning and a cabin.  They’re adding boats to the fleet all the time.  My boys are excited about going fishing one of these days.

I joined Carefree Boat Club in Fort Myers, however I like that I have access to all the Carefree Boat Clubs across the world.  Next week I have a reservation at the Cape Coral location.  Basically it feels like I have joined two boat clubs because I have access to all the boats in Fort Myers and Cape Coral.

Our YouTube page has a nice video where dolphins were playing with us for about 10 minutes.  You might enjoy that video.  Joining the boat club has been great for my family.  Raising 3 teenagers and an 11 year old who thinks she’s a teenager can be challenging, and having something fun to do like going out on a boat is a great family bonding experience.

Taking the family out on a boat doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  The time you spend making memories is priceless.

And remember, if you’re thinking about moving to SW Florida, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to live the good life.  Just get out there and make some memories.

Good luck and have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend.

To view our Listings in Hi Definition, visit www.HomesinHD.TV or click on our playlist below

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By Brett Ellis

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907

It’s Labor Day weekend which brings lots of visitors to our area for the long weekend. Some return to our area for relaxation and fun and others are new.  Many visitors fall in love with SW Florida and get the itch to buy.  Here are 5 things a buyer should know about our current market. 5 Things a Buyer Should Know About Lee County Real Estate.

5 Things a Buyer Should Know About Lee County Real Estate

1.  SW Florida is a Desirable Place to Live and Work:  In fact large companies like Hertz and Alta Resources are moving their headquarters to SW Florida because it’s an easy sell to employees or future employees.  Not every employee can or will relocate, so companies have to ask is the destination attractive to future employees.  Invariably the answer is Yes to our area.

2.  Prices Have Risen From Their Undervalued Lows:  Back in 2008-2009 SW Florida was littered with foreclosures due to the excess of the mid 2000’s  SW Florida was overbuilt and the flipping frenzy ran out.  Buyers contact us today hoping to buy at 2008 prices.  Some still believe our market has not changed in last 4-5 years and they can buy at those undervalued prices.  That’s just not true.

3. Listing Inventory is Down: Inventory has been falling. January single family home inventory stood at 6,215.  Today it’s down to 4,924 and has been falling every month.  It’s common to receive multiple offers on a property if it’s priced correctly.  Buyers are surprised there may only be 1-4 homes that match their criteria on the market.

4.  Interest Rates Are Rising:  We saw a big jump back in May, over 1% jump in about 5 weeks.  Every 1% jump takes away 9% buyers purchasing power.  That rate swing back in May means a buyer that could afford a $200,000 mortgage before the increase could only afford a $180,000 mortgage after the swing.  Buyer’s purchasing power is going down, and this wouldn’t be the end of the world if prices were falling, but see Point #2.  Prices are rising, not falling.  To make matters worse, we expect rates to go up even further.  The Feds have been keeping rates down with stimulus by buying.  The Fed has indicated they will scale back buying treasuries at some point and this has caused the bond market to react.  We know it’s coming, and some speculate it could happen as early as this September.  When it happens, rates will eventually go up.  If you’re on the fence, waiting to buy will absolutely cost you, even if prices stayed the same.

5.  Educate Yourself on the Market:  It does no good to read articles from 3 years ago on what was going on in the market.  It also does no good to read about one market in the country and expect everywhere you visit conditions are the same.  If you’re new to the area, or even if you’ve lived here awhile, it pays to get the latest data and analysis.  When we go out to a home to do a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) we have to update ourselves with the latest information.  Even if we sold 15 homes in that subdivision last year it doesn’t help figure out today’s prices.  We arm ourselves with data on each listing appointment.  Why wouldn’t a buyer want the same information when purchasing?

Feel free to visit Topagent.com  You’ll have access to our Future of Real Estate Show where we update you on the market via video and explain the latest charts and graphs.  Or you can read our Blog at http;//blog.topagent.com  Feel free to search the MLS like an agent at Topagent.com, or visit our virtual tours.

If you need help or would like to talk to a professional, we’re here to help 239-489-4042  Good luck and Happy Buying/Selling!!!

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