For the 3rd month in a row median sales prices increased in SW Florida.  Median sales prices are up 24.8% over last year so it’s safe to assume all properties in SW Florida are sky rocketing, right?  Not so fast.  Media prices county-wide are increasing, but that doesn’t mean every property is going up.

September 2013 Real Estate Sales Numbers Just Released for SW Florida

September 2013 Real Estate Sales Numbers Just Released for SW Florida

Average sales prices are coming down.  Since April the average sales price is down about $60,000.  So how can two sets of data tell two very different stories?  The answer is, they’re not telling two stories.

Average sales price is influenced by high end sales.  If there are several multi-million dollar sales it can skew the average up.  When using the median price, it really doesn’t.  Let’s say for example there are 10 sales of 5 million dollars+.  That’s at least $50 million in sales in just those 5 sales.  By using the average, that adds $50 million to the total number, but by using the median it just counts as 5 sales at the top.  Remember, median sales are the number in which half the sales occur at or below a certain price and the other half are at or above that price.  When we use average they all get thrown in together and divided by the total.

The average price is more seasonal because that’s when our high end buyers are visiting Florida and purchasing higher end homes.  This is why you’ll always see the peak of the average market around March-May.  They typically go to contract January through April and close March through May, sometimes even June.

Realtors like to use the median price because it’s more stable and less affected by a few sales.  Median prices have been fairly constant to the upside.  Even the median can have fluctuations if certain closings get delayed.  A government shutdown for instance could delay certain types of loans which would disrupt closings.  One year we had flood insurance coverage lapse and we couldn’t close until the program opened up again.

Speaking of government shutdown, the government is open since last time we wrote an article.  Yeah!!!!  Don’t hold your breath though as we might be right at it again in a few months.  November is shaping up to be a big month for the Ellis Team.  Let’s hope that’s indicative of the entire market.  Buyers have been particularly active in recent months.  October has been a good month too, but November is shaping up to be fantastic.

Inventory is on the upswing, which is good.  We need more inventory to sell.  We’ve even been going out to developers and builders looking over their inventory as sometimes we just don’t have much to sell in certain price points with certain features.

If you’re considering selling, now might be a good time to call us. 239-489-4042  We recently listed a home that was previously on the market but failed to sell with another Realtor.  We raised the price and marketed it using our advanced marketing system and it sold in 19 days.  If you price it correctly and market it where the buyers are, it should sell today.  Call us while prices are rising and before interest rates creep up next year.  Good luck and Happy Home Selling!

To search the MLS for properties go to or give us a call at 239-489-4042     Good luck and Happy House Hunting!!!

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours .

Visit our Google+ Business Page


Official SW Florida sales numbers are out for SW Florida and August showed a slight rise in median price over July’s numbers, and a 26.9% rise over last year’s number.  As I write this article Congress has still not approved the re-opening of the government or a debt increase, so those are two ominous signs that could definitely impact not only the local Fort Myers/Cape Coral real estate markets, but also the entire US market overall.

Prices Holding Steady Slight Rise in August.

The other piece of good news is that listing inventory rose slightly this past month, and pending sales rose as well.  Foreclosures and short sales are way down from a few years ago, and money is creeping into the market as lenders are starting to lend again.  Cash is always good, but when 70% of the sales were cash a few years ago, it limits the prices.  Now that cash sales are down to 50% we see more money coming into the market fueling growth.

We produced a short video on our YouTube channel that shows all of these graphs and how it’s affecting the market.  You can view it from our website and click on Future of Real Estate or visit

A solution to the budget crisis might also help keep interest rates low, although we do expect an interest rate increase by next year no matter what Washington decides.

The SW Florida business climate is as hot as the temperature is outside.  Hertz is relocating its world headquarters here and other companies are looking here as well.  We really are on the rise and all Realtors I speak with are optimistic about 2014.  After suffering 6-7 long years through a real estate mess people around SW Florida are welcoming positive news, and we’ll take it in bunches.  Lord knows we fell on hard times and had bad news in bunches in the past, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to bask in the sunshine of an upward market.  We deserve it.

We can probably expect anemic growth until season starts in full force in January.  In past years September through December has translated into bouncing along the status quo.  Personally, this October and November are shaping up to be very good months for the Ellis Team, so 2013 might be better than past years if that is any indication.

Next week the Greater Fort Myers and the Beaches MLS is scheduled to begin using a new MLS system.  This will make gathering statistics easier and less duplication as agents won’t feel the need to enter listing into two MLS’s to gain exposure for their seller.  Going forward this provides an opportunity to provide and even more accurate picture of the listing inventory and closed sales.

We’re in for some exciting times in the SW Florida real estate market.  We’ve enjoyed bringing you the latest trends and statistics, and going forward we’ll be able to bring you that quicker.  We won’t have to wait for official numbers to be released from the board.  We’ll all be working from one set of data, and that’s exciting.

If you’d like to search the MLS like a Realtor, go to  We have a basic search and a tab for an advanced search so you can enter more criteria.  Good luck, and Happy House Hunting!  And remember, we’re here to answer your real estate needs should you need an agent. 239-489-4042

To search the MLS for properties go to or give us a call at 239-489-4042     Good luck and Happy House Hunting!!!

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours .

Visit our Google+ Business Page


Like clockwork closed sales are on the rise starting in August. Last year we closed 896 single family home sales and in August 2013 we closed 1,069 for a 19.31% gain. This is especially interesting considering inventory levels are low. Closings on the Rise in SW Florida.

Closings on the Rise in SW Florida

Higher closed sales and lower inventory levels led to an increase in prices again. Median prices in August 2013 were $165,000 which was up 26.9% over last year’s $130,000 level, and average home prices were up 26.4%.

Single family home listing inventory in SW Florida Fort Myers Cape Coral real estate market

We also like to look at month over month prices and median sale prices increased 1.23% from $163,000 in July to $165,000 in August. Average price gains were only .28% but a gain nonetheless.

As we write this article the government is still shut down and it’s impossible to tell what effect this will have on the economy, financing of mortgages, both conventional and government mortgages, and closings in general.

The consensus is that a prolonged shutdown will affect the economy as we’re taking hundreds of thousands of paychecks out of the economy. The larger affects could be to the confidence of the consumer, so suffice it to say Congress and the President should be talking instead of blaming each other.

Should Washington get its act together we could be in for another good season. 2014 is shaping up to be a better year in many regards and the last thing we need is government getting in the way.

Next week our MLS systems are supposed to merge. I’ve heard Oct 12 is the date and Oct 21. In any event, after the glitches are worked out, using the MLS and gathering data should be much easier for Realtors and consumers. Our website lets you search the entire MLS. Soon the data feeds should contain listings from Naples to Cape Coral. Sanibel and Captiva will be the only area not included in the new MLS although many of the listings end up in the common database anyway as island agents want the extra exposure.

After the MLS merger there will be increased pressure on small MLS’s like Sanibel and Captiva to join. Typically Sanibel and Captiva have resisted as they’ve wanted the island to themselves and have tried to shut out Realtors from off the island, but in this day of technology that may be increasingly harder to do as buyers and sellers with multi-million dollar properties demand more from their agents.

If Naples can join a common database so too can Sanibel and Captiva.

If you’re a seller, now is the time to gear up your home sale for season. Give us a call at 239-489-4042 and find out how we sell our homes fast and for more money. We’ve got a marketing system that works and we’ll be happy to share with you how we do it.

Good luck and happy house hunting!
To search the MLS for properties go to or give us a call at 239-489-4042     Good luck and Happy House Hunting!!!

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours .

Visit our Google+ Business Page


Most SW Floridians don’t realize that the US government raised rates on flood insurance back in 2012.  The Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act of 2012 was signed into law July 6, 2012 and is being phased in over time.

Big Changes in Flood Insurance You Need to Know
Danger- Rising Rates Could Keep You Underwater

Big Changes in Flood Insurance You Need to Know

Realtors have been sounding alarms in Tallahassee and elsewhere because flood insurance rates under the new program could double or triple, effectively pricing new homeowners out of buying certain properties.  To make matters worse, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has reclassified certain properties that weren’t previously located in a mandated flood zone into a now mandated flood zones.

Some homeowners have never had flood insurance on their property but when they go to sell it will be required.  Some homeowners have received letters from their lenders requiring them to obtain flood insurance.

The issue is Congress is essentially raising taxes by raising flood rates and making more people buy flood insurance.  The program was losing money so something had to be done, but the Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act of 2012 said FEMA was to provide an affordability study on what the effects of implementation would be on consumers.  That study was to be completed by April 2013 but has not been done yet.

Florida Realtors President Dean Asher spoke to the members of the Florida Cabinet recently at the request of Governor Rick Scott.  He urged the Florida Cabinet to call on Congress to act now to delay “implementation of the Act’s rate increase provisions for grandfathered and newly purchased properties, pending FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) report to Congress on the results of the affordability study that was required by Biggert-Waters.” That still-unknown affordability study was supposed to be submitted to Congress this past April, he pointed out.

Existing homeowners were protected by phasing in the rate increase but new homeowners have no such protection.  This may limit the growth in real estate as added costs to the buyer curtail how much they can afford to pay for the home.  It’s a total cost issue.  A buyer must weigh cost of home, interest rate, down payment requirements, home owner’s insurance, condo or HOA fees, taxes, and now rising flood insurance rates.  The total cost impacts buying power, and if a buyer is impacted you can bet sellers will be too.

FEMA has recently updated its website to help consumers identify a property’s flood zone and estimate the cost of a new policy.  It can be found at The website gives a large range of costs but at least you’ll get an idea of a low end and top end and a list of agents that can write flood policies to check with.

We’re not sure what effect states can have on the federal government, so it’s probably safe to assume flood rates are going up and it may impact all of us in some form. We welcome any attention the State if Florida can give to the US government on this issue.

New disclosures to purchase contracts have just been released for new sales contracts.  Be sure to factor in the new changes as it could affect your cost of ownership.

To search the MLS for properties go to or give us a call at 239-489-4042     Good luck and Happy House Hunting!!!

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours .

Visit our Google+ Business Page


SW Florida Realtors are in for big changes in October if all goes as announced.  4 MLS systems from Naples, Bonita/Estero, Cape Coral, and Fort Myers and the Beaches will be together under one vendor and one shared MLS database.  It almost didn’t happen though, and when it does, there will be some challenges.

MLS Systems Are Merging – Benefits and Challenges Ahead

For some perspective all 4 boards met last year and decided to merge together but for some reason the Greater Fort Myers and the Beaches Board pulled out and decided to stick with their Vendor Rapattoni even though the others had selected Matrix.  After the other 3 boards made the move in August of this year, it became apparent having one board with one set of data and the separate boards with another set of data was going to be a nightmare.

Fort Myers voted to share the data with the other boards and all could share some data and keep their own vendor, but this was fraught with perils.  For instance, in Fort Myers and Cape Coral we have lots that are waterfront and direct access with no bridges.  This isn’t as much of an issue in Bonita and Naples, so the 3 board’s database doesn’t include this field.  Because the Cape Coral board merged with the other two we have no idea why they didn’t insist on this, but it isn’t there.

Had each board kept their own vendor and done the data share any agent searching for direct access homes or lots would have returned 0 results from the common shared database file because that field doesn’t exist in the shared database even though it does in the Fort Myers board.

Because the 4 boards are now one common database the field still does not exist, but at least now agents won’t be misled by a 0 matching properties result.  The agent just won’t be able to search on that field.

Matrix MLS Map Based Search Results

One advantage is the search results, and even the search itself can be map based, so you can see where the properties are located.  This will be particularly helpful when an agent doesn’t know for sure what Geo Area a property is in but just wants to do a quick search.  Some properties are located in a particular development name even though the legal description matches a particular subdivision name.  Searching under the new system will now be easier using the map, or the community name field.

Matrix MLS Great Fort Myers Association of Realtors

The waterfront description field is just one example of a search that would have been disastrous under a database sharing agreement.  Now things will work much smoother.  Some argued, including us, that the new Matrix system was superior to Rapattoni.  Some argued Rapattoni would be superior once new features kicked in.

The real argument never was which vendor was superior.  The system all 4 boards use jointly working together will be better no matter which vendor was selected. We like the map based search and the mobile solution Matrix uses better and we’re happy the Fort Myers Board changed and went with the new system, but the real advantage begins when all 4 major MLS’s operate together as one.  In my 25+ years in real estate we’ve been fractured and I’m so thankful the boards have gotten together and made this happen.  It’s been a long time coming and agents deserve having the information in one place and not having to check various MLS’s for data.

In the future, if a newer better technology comes along it is our sincere hope all 4 MLS’s will work together.  Now it’s time for Sanibel and Captiva to get on board and work together.  If 4 major MLS’s can do it, you can too.  While we’re at it, a common database up and down the West coast of Florida would be even better.  And one day, why not a joint state regional MLS like other states have done?  Now we’re just talking crazy, so we’ll stop and say thank you to all involved for making this happen.  Agents and consumers won on this one!

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours .

Visit our Google+ Business Page