SW Florida closed sales for single family homes fell in November 6.7% in SW Florida.  Many are blaming new Federal guidelines known as TRID for delayed or cancelled closings, and there may be some truth to that.  However, a deeper look inside the numbers presents another theory as well.

SW Florida Closed Sales Sale Prices

Cash sales also fell 12% in November.  Cash sales were not affected by the new rules, so this would dispel the idea that the entire slowdown was caused by delayed closings caused by TRID.  It could very well be there are fewer closings because there is less active inventory to sell.

Active single family home inventory fell 5.1% in November, down to 5,010 listings as compared to 5,277 available last year.  It’s hard to keep losing inventory each month and expect closed sales to rise.  Statistically it can’t happen forever, and this is why it’s putting pressure on prices to rise.  And rise they have!

SW Florida Closed Sales

Before we look at prices, there is some good news on the inventory front.  New listings rose 10.7% in November. 1,661 new listings came in this year compared to only 1,500 last year.  We are seeing more listings hitting the market, so why aren’t inventory levels rising?

New pending sales fell in November 4.4%  There were 1,104 new pending sales this year compared to 1,155 last year.  If 1,661 new listings came on the market, and only 1,104 went pending, how did inventory levels fall in November?

The answer is convoluted.  Not all pending sales close.  Not all pending sales close in the month they go pending as there is a lag.  And not all closings are happening on their scheduled contract closing date.  Closings are being delayed by TRID and banking delays.  Additionally, some listings expire and don’t go pending which also drops inventory levels.

Sellers with expired listings need to make difficult choices.  Did they hire the wrong Realtor?  Does their home need repairs?  Or did they simply overprice the market?  Sometimes it’s good to step back and objectively look at what other sellers are offering and at what price.  That is your current competition.  It’s also important to look at sellers who won the home selling game.  What condition was the property in?  Did that property receive updates?  How was it priced?

Many times the answer is staring sellers right n the face, and it’s right there if they want to look at it.

Buyers have similar decisions to make.  Often we hear from buyers who have lost out on many homes for various reasons.  Quite often they’re being outbid by other buyers.  If you keep offering 10% off asking price expecting to win a home you have about as much chance as a seller overpricing their home by 10%.  The market is the market, and when you price a home correctly, it will sell.  When you bid for a home correctly, you have a chance.  We’re not saying you have a guarantee as sellers evaluate the entire offer and compare it against other offers, or potential future offers.

Sellers look at how much you have in escrow, how confident they are in the lender you chose and the details in your pre-approval letter.  They look at how much you’re putting down, and if it’s not a lot how you would overcome your bank appraising the property low.

Buyers typically say a low appraisal is the seller’s problem, and it may be.  But it also can be the buyer’s problem as many sellers turn down low appraisals and sell their home to cash buyers the next week.  This is of course if their home was priced correctly in the first place, as cash buyers don’t like to over-pay anymore than financed buyers do.

The bottom line is it pays to research the market, and work with an expert.  Experts can help you navigate the process of how much to offer, battling low appraisals, and overall market statistics.  If you’d like to do a little research yourself, check out www.LeeCountyOnline.com and search the MLS.  If you’d like to talk to local experts, call us at 239-489-4042 and we’ll see if we can help.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

Featured Property of the Week

8740 Banyan Bay Blvd

3 Bed 2 Bath Pool Home- Former Model

Bella Casa Condominiums

Search Bella Casa Condominiums in MLS

While we’re awaiting the Fed’s decision on interest rates at the time of writing this article we thought we’d delve into year-end inventory numbers in SW Florida. Could this be a perfect storm for Southwest Florida home sellers?

We’ve been saying for quite awhile this may be the perfect time to sell your home as rates are low and inventory is low. Buyers have to compete against each other to win bids. In a normal market it feels like the buyer is competing against the seller and that’s just not the case right now.

As rates rise it will begin, albeit slowly, to price buyers out of certain price ranges. Ultimately this will begin the process of adding inventory to the market as there will be less buyers competing for each listing. It may force buyers down in price range and increase the number of buyers at the low end of the spectrum, but then again some buyers at the low end will be priced out completely, so that may wash.

We never know how many buyers become priced out. All we do know is that a 1% increase in rates equates to about 11% less purchasing power for any given borrower.

A Perfect Storm for Southwest Florida Home Sellers

As you can see from the inventory graph, single family residential listings in Lee County Florida are down to 4,628 listings. This is down 10.3% from last year’s number, and down significantly from 2011 when we had in excess of 8,100 listings. It’s no wonder average prices rose 20.4% in October this year over last October. Median sales prices were up 14.0%

A Perfect Storm for Southwest Florida Home SellersA Perfect Storm for Southwest Florida Home Sellers Months Supply of Inventory

Month’s supply of inventory is also down 20.5% from last year. Currently it sits at 4.0 months, which is up from September’s 3.7 months. Last year supply was running around 5 months.

If you’re a seller, it’s really a “Perfect Storm” to sell right now. Listing inventory is down right now, and nobody knows how long it will be this low. The one thing we know for sure is that real estate is never constant. External forces influence inventory levels, demand, and ultimately pricing.

Rising rates is a big driver which influences demand. It affects affordability. It also affects consumer confidence. While higher rates slightly above zero percent shouldn’t affect buyers too much right now, the psychology of continued rising rates can influence consumer sentiment going forward.

Nobody is really concerned about the first Fed rate increase. It’s just that when they start raising rates, they usually continue. Nobody wants to see rates stay at zero percent forever, and yet everyone is afraid to begin the process. They cannot stay where they are, although empirical evidence suggests if you had a basis to place rates at zero for several years, there is still some evidence that suggests rates should stay there. And if you believe rates need to stay at zero then you’ll be against beginning the process now.

By the time you read this article, those arguments may already be settled. Regardless, one of these days, if not already, rates will begin to rise and it will cost buyers more to borrow. It will begin a process, and one day sellers may look back at today and say “I wish I had sold my home back when rates were lower and inventory was lowest.”

If I had a dollar for every time a seller said they should have sold back in time I’d be a rich man.

Let me be clear, we think we’re going to have a good market in 2016. Prices may rise. We’re not saying we have a Top to the market. All we are saying is it’s a lot more fun to sell when you have little to no competition from other sellers. You place all the competition onto buyers to compete. These days won’t last forever. You’ll still be able to sell when you’re competing against other sellers. It’s just won’t be as much fun.

Imagine if you played poker and you were dealt the hand of your life. You’d probably bet that hand differently than a normal hand. And you surely wouldn’t fold. If you’re thinking of selling, play that winning hand while you got it.

Call us if you’d like to talk 239-489-4042 or feel free to search the MLS at www.LeeCountyOnline.com

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

Featured Property of the Week

8740 Banyan Bay Blvd

3 Bed 2 Bath Pool Home- Former Model

The number one complaint we hear from sellers is that they listed with a Realtor and never heard from them again.  The number one complaint we hear from buyers is that either the Realtor doesn’t return their calls or their Realtor is out of town and can’t show them properties.

Buyers and sellers aren’t being unrealistic.  They need help and that’s why they go to a real estate agent.  Because buyers and sellers have questions, it’s not enough for the agent to know the answers but keep the knowledge locked up in a vault.  That knowledge and information must be communicated with the customer.

Communication the Key to a Successful Real Estate Transaction

In the old days we provided each of our clients with a communication binder where they would store all the reports, ads, and feedback we’d send them through the mail or personal delivery. We would discuss the reports with the clients, but there was a delay because of they way they were sent.

Communication the Key to a Successful Real Estate Transaction

Today communication is better and immediate.  Our sellers receive a communication portal which is essentially a website we setup for each of our listings with private access by each seller.  They login and see the marketing activities, the showings, and the feedback.  They see the timelines and what is left to do on the checklist and what our team has already completed.  There are links to the PDF of their ad in the newspaper.  They can view each ad just as it’s printed. We can also post links to websites all over the Internet.  When we list a property we place it on dozens of websites.  The seller sees as we post these ads.  They can preview their ad on Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com, Craigslist, News Press, LeeCountyOnline.com, REMAX.com, and all the other websites we place it on.

Sellers love viewing their printed newspaper ad online.  They can send it to friends, or just have it for their records.  All communications between sellers are stored there as well for easy reference.

When the property goes pending, the transaction gets another website.  Inspection reports are posted along with progress on buyer’s loan if applicable, timelines, etc.  When we speak with clients they can actually see what we’re talking about.  It really helps make our sellers a more educated seller, and that’s a good thing.

We have systems for buyers as well.  While they’re shopping for a home we have a client portal.  In that portal they can store favorites, take notes, and be alerted when matching properties enter the market or change price immediately.  This helps buyers get a leg up on other buyers who are shopping for the same thing.  The early bird gets the worm.

When the buyer finds a property and goes under contract, we also setup a web portal where they can log in and check their progress.  We are in constant communication regarding their loan, inspections, insurance, HOA or Condo Association deadlines, etc.  We’ve taken a complicated process and made it easy to follow along and understand.

It all starts with communication.  When buyers and sellers understand the process and know ahead of time what to expect, they begin to trust.  They trust their agent and they trust the process.  When buyers and sellers trust the process, they’re not surprised and they can make adjustments when necessary without freaking out because they were caught off-guard.  Yes, unexpected surprises can happen in a real estate transaction, but being prepared and proper communication upfront goes a long way to solving surprises later on.

Many transactions have few if any surprises, and that’s the way it should be.  Each Realtor has their own systems they like to use.  When selecting a Realtor, just make sure you ask about communication so you know what to expect.  Have them show you their systems.  Selecting a Realtor based upon communication systems and skills might be the single best criteria you could use to determine which Realtor to work with.

You can always reach us at 239-489-4042 or search the MLS at www.LeeCountyOnline.com

Good luck and Happy Selling/Buying!


Closing coordinator Ellis Team is hiring

Our team is growing again.  We need a closing transaction coordinator.  Full-time position.  Call us at 239-489-4042 if you are looking for a job and have real estate, mortgage, HOA or title experience.

New Listings:

31 Lagoon St

31 Lagoon St North Fort Myers– 5 Bedroom 3 Bath home on the water seconds from the river with pool.

31 Lagoon St Single Property Website

Virtual Tour 31 Lagoon St

31 Lagoon St North Fort Myers on Instagram

12724 Aston Oaks Dr

5 Bedroom 3 Bath Home in South Fort Myers

12724  Aston Oaks Dr Single Property Website

12724 Aston Oaks Dr Virtual Tour

7479 Twin Eagle Ln

Eagle Ridge 5 Bedroom 4 Bath Golf Course Home

7479 Twin Eagle Ln Fort Myers  Single Property Website



This past week I attended the joint Fort Myers Beach Town Council and Lee County Commission workshop to hear a bold proposal by developer Tom Torgerson that was dubbed an opportunity of a lifetime at Fort Myers Beach.

After viewing the presentation I would concur that is indeed true.  There were some things that I liked and a few things I didn’t like. I still have a lot of questions. The presentation was an overview.  It was not complete.

I did not see renderings of Crescent Beach.  It looks like some open space remains but perhaps not in its current form.  Like Commissioner Mann, I wonder how adding 700 hotel rooms would reduce trips on the road.

The four new hotels will be a Holiday Inn Resort at the South end of the property.  Next to that will be the Marriott AC property, followed by the Hilton Resort which will have a Hampton Inn inside the Hilton Resort.  The parking garage will connect to the Hilton Resort.  The Holiday Inn Resort will hold 200 rooms, while the Hampton Inn would hold 85 rooms and the Hilton Resort 76 units.  I couldn’t write fast enough to get the Marriott number. All told I’ve read we’re looking at about 476 new rooms at the beach.

I can see how the new traffic flow would be a big boost to traffic snarls at the beach.  Traffic impacts quality of life and improvements there would go a long way to allowing me to make compromises, but we need more facts.

Last year I took a road trip to Siesta Key in Sarasota.  What I didn’t like was that the Gulf views were obscured by businesses and hotels.  I fear that Fort Myers Beach will go the same route.  I hate to lose that beautiful beach access.

Oh, the developers have opened up access points to the beach.  I’m talking about the views.  It will look more like a downtown shopping district in front of these hotels and businesses until you go in back on the boardwalk.

I’d like to see a virtual reality rendering of what this all looks like.  I’d like to see the access to the beach and see how closed off it really is.

I also worry that the trend would continue further down the beach and we’d add more high-rise hotels, further blocking beach view access.  If we do this project, is there a way to make it stop?  This is a CPD (Commercial Planned Development).  Is there a way to restrict further CPD’s?

Opportunity of a Lifetime at Fort Myers Beach Boardwalk
Proposed Boardwalk

For the most part, driving over the big bridge would afford similar views to what we have now.  It’s when you’re at street level that you begin to feel like you’re boxed in.  It almost feels like First Street Village in Downtown Fort Myers.  There are arches in the renderings that looks like it could open up to beach views at street level.  And of course, there is the boardwalk.  I just want to make sure there is enough open space to not feel boxed in and lose that beach feel. As opposed to downtown, the beach is the draw, not the businesses.

Opportunity of a Lifetime at Fort Myers Beach Parking Garage
Proposed Parking garage and Pedestrian Walkway

There are parking benefits.  I’m not sure I like valet parking versus self parking.  If Lee County residents are going to give up so much, I’d like to see residents be able to buy parking passes like Collier County does.  This may bust their revenue budget, but everything is a negotiation at this point.  The developers know there will be some give and take.

I can see benefits to traffic flow, storm water improvements, parking, and tax revenues.  There are a lot of plusses to consider.  It’s just that we’re being asked to trade-off and lose that small town feel and some views for the sake of development.

Traffic flow would benefit in a number of ways.  Pedestrians would not be crossing Estero Blvd at choke points anymore.  They’d be using the elevated walkways.  Left turns from Estero onto side streets would also be done away with.  Traffic would also be diverted away with the use of the round-about and behind the garage area.  The traffic plan actually does look like a well thought out plan.

Opportunity of a Lifetime at Fort Myers Beach View Looking up Beach
View Looking Up Beach

Like I said, it’s complicated, and it is a opportunity of a lifetime at Fort Myers Beach.   Nobody knows how much they’re asking the state and county to contribute.  They make mention of tax revenues exceeding what is needed.  That is code for asking for tax dollars, and of course some land swaps.  They propose giving the county the parking garage in exchange for Seafarer’s Village Property, Crescent Beach, and some right of ways.

If Lee County is going to be doing some land swaps, perhaps there is an opportunity to acquire more land down the beach adjacent to one of the parks.  This way the County could expand an existing park more like Lynn Hall Memorial Park but down the beach.  Then locals would have a quiet place with parking if they wanted to escape all the hustle and bustle of the new project.

It will be interesting to see what the Town of Fort Myers Beach thinks as well as Lee County residents.  I see some positives, and if I were in charge I’d be willing to let go of a few tings in return for some assurances on others.  Both ways it’s a quality of life issue, and we need to make sure we get this right.

Fort Myers Beach Proposal
View Looking Up Old Estero Blvd

Plans are ambitious.  They would like to start sometime between October- December 2106.  They would need FEMA approval for the seawall change which they believe they could get within about 4 months from application.  That seems pretty fast for FEMA.

Good luck to the Town of Fort Myers Beach and Lee County.  We’ve got some work to do.  To search the Fort Myers Beach or Lee County MLS, visit www.LeeCountyOnline.com

What are your thoughts on the Fort Myers Beach proposal?  Is it a opportunity of a lifetime at Fort Myers Beach or a bad idea that will destroy the way of life as we know it?

More renderings below:

Fort Myers Beach Proposal Skyline with scale
Proposed Fort Myers Beach Skyline with Scale Drawings
Proposed Fort Myers Beach Master Conceptual Plan
Master Conceptual Plan
Fort Myers Beach Proposed Roundabout
Proposed Roundabout
Looking Up Island Toward Roundabout
Looking Up Island Towards Proposed Roundabout
Once in a Lefite Opportinity Back View of Proposed Parking Lot
Back View of Proposed Parking Lot

Public input upcoming at December 14 meeting on Fort Myers Beach