Lee County home prices haven’t budged since December 2016.  As you can see by the graph, median home prices in November 2018 stood at $245,000.  Median home prices in January of 2017 stood at exactly $245,000.  Average home prices this November came in at $330,100.  Average home prices back in January of 2017 were $340,604, so average prices declined over $10,000.  Many sellers in Lee County believe home prices have been going up steadily the past few years, and they really haven’t. Lee County home prices steady as listings rush to market.

Lee County Home Prices Steady as Listings Rush to Market Median Home Prices

We’ve been telling readers not to wait until season to put their home on the market, and people listened.  Each January there is a rush to list homes on the market.  This season will be interesting to watch as the rush has already begun.  If you look at this year, you’ll see a spike in listings beginning in October and continuing into November.   What’s going to happen this January?  Did the rush to list begin ahead of schedule, or is there another normal wave coming?

Lee County Home Prices Steady as Listings Rush to Market Listing Inventory

We believe there is another normal wave coming which will further increase our inventory supply, but we’ll wait and see.  If there is another wave coming, this will temper future price increases as inventory rises.  We already have pressure on prices due to rising interest rates.  Now we’re getting pressure from rising listing inventory.

The good news is we have rising sales. Closed sales were up 12.2% in November over last year.  New pending sales were down 20.1% in November and total pending inventory was down 20.3%.  This is a future sign for closings in December and January.  We had a spike this year in January closings, and that was due to a high number of pendings in November 2017.  Keep in mind we were just getting the market cranked back up after the hurricane last year, so that may have accelerated sales into January of this year.

The key to buying in this market is sorting through all the inventory and viewing the best ones.  The best listings go fast in any market, and the rest sit and linger on the market.  Don’t forget about listings that have been on awhile and recently reduced their price to get in the game.  These are just like brand new listings.  They were invisible to the market before because they were priced to high.  Once they reduce down to where the market is, buyers will scoop them up, assuming they’re marketed correctly.

Sellers are often reluctant to reduce their price because they’re not sure if it’s the price or the marketing.  Sometimes they want to try changing Realtors first, then go to price.  I really wish sellers would do a better job selecting their Realtor upfront.  Not all Realtors market the same and this can make a big difference exposing their home to all of the market, not just a select few.

Because some sellers believe all Realtors do the same thing, sometimes they choose a Realtor with the lowest commission.  Why pay more if you get exact same service, right?  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Buyer Advantage

Now back to the buyers. Sorting through all the listings can be challenging.  Buyers love our website www.LeeCountyOnline.com because it has all the listings, not just some of them like other big websites.  It’s updated in real-time too, so you’re not looking at old data with old prices, or listings that are sold.  Speed wins in the home buying game.  The good deals are easier to land when you have the information first!

Buyers love saving their search, so when a listing has a price change, or a new one enters the market, our buyers have an advantage.  Our website is Free, and easy.

If you’re thinking of selling, call Sande or Brett Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4.  We’ll show you how the best marketing plan can sell your home faster, and for top dollar.  Whether you’re a buyer or seller, we’ve got you covered.

Thinking of Selling? Find out what your SW Florida home is worth online for Free.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

News that Lee County housing inventory supply rises heading into 2019 season won’t surprise many Realtors, but it may shock some sellers.  Reading headlines in 2018 would leave many sellers to believe the Lee County housing market is up and doing well.

Lee County Housing Inventory Supply Rises Heading Into 2019 Season October 2018

Lee County Housing Inventory Supply Rises Heading Into 2019 Season

Let’s dive in and look at some numbers.  Inventory is up in every single price category since October.  We saw a 17.24% rise in listing inventory and only a .77% rise in sold homes since October numbers were released. Since these are 365 days numbers, the buildup in inventory has essentially occurred since October.  We have 883 more homes on the market now than we did 2 months ago.  The market has not absorbed the extra inventory, which has put pressure on home prices.

Lee County Housing Inventory Supply Rises Heading Into 2019 Season

Prices have been stagnant for 2 years.  In fact, home prices in October were less than January 2017 numbers.  Official November numbers won’t be released until after this article was written, however we fail to see how rising inventory will help home prices rise when they weren’t rising with low inventory numbers.

In the last 6 months we’ve met with many potential sellers.  They just didn’t like the numbers they were seeing and wanted to wait until season when they thought they could fetch a higher price.  Some even listed with other Realtors who listed at a higher price, and they’re still on the market.  We always tell sellers, if you list with another Realtor for a higher price and it doesn’t sell, give us a call when it expires, and we’ll be glad to look at it again.  The issue is for some sellers, their price has gone down.  By listing it too high in a stagnant or declining market only adds to the pain later on.  It’s much better to price it correctly the first time.

Going Forward

 Sellers looking to sell in 2019 need to do a better job in 3 areas:

Interviewing Agents. Ask pointed questions. It’s OK. How many homes did you sell in 2018?  What is your company market share?  How much commission will you pay out to other brokers in MLS to also show my home?  If the agent cuts their commission upfront, it not only tells you how well they’ll negotiate your sales price, it also tells you how motivated other agents will be to show your home.  How long have you been selling real estate?  What’s your experience in a shifting market?

Select the best marketing plan. Will your home be marketed in print and online? We’re not talking about putting it on Zillow and Realtor.com. Everybody does that.  How will your home be targeted to specific buyers throughout the US and Internationally?  Ask them to show you.  It will become apparent quickly if they know how to do this, and if they do it.  If you’re unsure, ask Brett or Sande to come in and show you.  There’s a reason why our listings sell when others don’t.  2019 will not be the market to select an agent that doesn’t understand how to go find the buyer online.

Correctly Price. It won’t matter how much your agent spends on advertising if it’s overpriced. Advertising exposes your home to the market.  We think we expose your home to more and better buyers than anybody else.  That’s a moot point however if your home is overpriced. Working with an experienced agent is critical in selecting the best price for your home.  You may not like what the market is telling you but ask yourself this question.  If I don’t like what the market is saying today, how will I feel in 6 months or a year when it failed to sell and you’re competing with more inventory then?

Reality Sets In

Sometimes reality today is worth more than reality down the road.  It’s all when you choose to see it.  It’s right there in front of us.  The Ellis Team has a plan to get your home sold quickly, and for Top Dollar!

Give us Sande or Brett a call 239-489-4042 Ext 4, or feel free to search at www.LeeCountyOnline.com

Happy Holidays!

While home prices may be lackluster, 2018 local home sales are still at a near record pace.  With YTD data compiled through October we see 2018 better than both 2017 and 2016 numbers, and only slightly behind 2015 numbers.  November was a strong month, so when official numbers are released later in December, we believe we may even close the gap a bit heading into finishing out the year.

2018 Local Home Sales Still at Recent Record Pace

2018 Local Home Sales Still at Recent Record Pace

We hear so many agents talk about a shift in the market.  We can’t rule out what may happen in the future.  All we can do is discuss what is happening now. Right now, we haven’t seen a shift in pricing or sales numbers.  There may be another kind of shift we’ll discuss later.

Home prices have been flat since January 2017.  Today’s prices are roughly what they were 2 years ago, and they really haven’t changed much over the last two years.  While the rest of Florida and the country have appreciated, Lee County has not.  We don’t see a significant bubble ahead because of this fact, and because this market is different than the last bubble.  We have end users for homes.  In 2006 we didn’t.


 We have pressure in the market.  Interest rates have risen which has lessened affordability for buyers.  The pressure is simply market forces exerting itself on the market.  Pressure will influence direction, and not necessarily change it.  In other words, pressure can limit growth without causing negative pricing.  If you add enough pressure, it can.  Pressure can come from a variety of sources.  Interest rates, wages, economic growth, unemployment, tourism, politics, taxes, supply, demand, and many more.  When you throw them all in the crock pot, its fun to see which ones win out.  We can predict, but forces are always changing in intensity and scope.

Other Shift

 Sometimes in business the numbers don’t change, but the way business is conducted does.  When Amazon entered the market, physical retailers may have sold less, while online sold more.  Overall sales could have been more or less, but it was certainly less for the physical retailers.  The same can be true in real estate.  We could have the same number of transactions, but agents accustomed to doing a certain amount may feel like the market has shifted because their numbers are down, when it really hasn’t.

Real estate is changing.  Sellers aren’t always reaching out to agents who have a track record of selling homes for more money, and faster.  Sellers are selecting agents by who called them on phone, who they saw online, or at an open house they attended.  It’s harder and harder for consumers to know which the really good agents are.  Some of the really good agents are scratching their heads and wondering where the business is going and wondering why consumers aren’t contacting them as much.

Advertising that used to work 10 years ago may be less effective today.  The point I’m making is agents can’t judge the health of the market by how their own sales are going.  Just because an agent’s sales are up 20% or down 20% doesn’t mean the market is.  The Ellis Team is up big time in 2018, and yet we realize two things.  We must keep adapting or we’ll get run over, and we have to keep our eye on the local market and look for changes.

Agents Must Keep Up With Technology

Change is inevitable. It’s like raising a child.  Perhaps you’ve done a great job and your kids are great at 12.  They’re not fully done yet, and you must keep it up for many more years.  Things can change quickly if you don’t stay on top of it.  The market may be balanced today, and move in a year or two.  Forces change, and so will the market.

Always call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty Fort Myers & the Islands with your real estate questions.  If you’re thinking of selling, ask for Sande or Brett 239-489-4042 Ext 4  Or visit www.LeeCountyOnline.com to sell all the homes in MLS and find your piece of paradise.

Ellis Team Weekend Open House

Open House Sunday 1-3 PM


Everyone seems to ask how the market is doing.  Usually the answer depends on where you live, price range, and several factors.  It’s not always as cut and dried because within the overall market we have several sub-markets that fluctuate independently of each other.  Here are Southwest Florida October Housing Statistics by City.

We decided to release some numbers we look at each month.  One of these metrics is the breakdown by city.  Before we discuss the numbers, we must first be careful not to read too much into one-month data.  If a city has a low number of sales each month, the data can fluctuate wildly any given month.  Secondly, in 2017 we were impacted by Hurricane Irma.  In some cases, it hurt sales last year, and in others it increased sales last October because they were delayed from September.

Southwest Florida October Housing Statistics by City

Southwest Florida October Housing Statistics by City

Since all that is out of the way, here we go.  Bonita Springs led the way with a 43.9% increase in closed sales, but again, it’s a small data set.  Sanibel/Captiva slowed the most followed by Estero, again with small data sets.

Moving over to price changes, Sanibel/Captiva led the way with a 59.7% increase in median price.  This might explain why fewer sales, although we think it has more to do with the mix that sold that month.  Bonita Springs, Fort Myers Beach, and Pine Island saw price decreases while the rest of Lee County saw mild to moderate increases.  Fort Myers and Cape Coral did particularly well given that each has a large data set, and both scored gains in closed sales and pricing.  Lehigh Acres and North Fort Myers were the only two areas besides Fort Myers and Cape Coral to record gains in pricing and sales activity.

A lot of people made a big deal about water quality and how it affected home sales.  By the numbers, it didn’t seem to harm Fort Myers, Cape Coral, North Fort Myers, or Lehigh Acres.  Did it hurt Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel/Captiva, Pine Island or Bonita Springs?  Possibly, but the numbers are mixed, and again it’s only one-month data.

Search Homes by City

We have a section on our website www.LeeCountyOnline.com where you can search for homes by city, neighborhood, or even get neighborhood market reports.  We have several neighborhoods setup and saved, and you can create your own as well if you don’t see your neighborhood listed.

The neighborhood market reports are nice because they show you active listings, pending sales, and sold listings along with data and photos of each.  You can signup to have these reports emailed to you monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly.  These are different than neighborhood saved searches in that they contain much more data.  Saved neighborhood searches can be emailed to you daily.  Market reports can only be emailed weekly or greater because of all the extra detail.

We provide more data than any other website we know of, and yet there is no substitute for speaking with us if you’re considering making a move.  The data we provide is Free to use. We hope it helps you in making the best decision for your family.  Sometimes it’s the experience, wisdom, and marketing behind the data that matters.

These homes don’t sell themselves.  Even when people think a home sells itself, there was still marketing involved to expose the buyer, negotiating the contract, inspections, etc.  A lot goes into making a transaction come together.  Most people don’t realize only 4% of prospective buyers can buy.  They need help, perhaps selling another property, getting financed, etc.  This is where agents come in, and experience matters.

If you’re looking to purchase, sell, or both, you should call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty. 239-489-4042.  We don’t sell anything.  We listen, educate, and help you achieve your goals.

Good luck and Happy Selling!

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Open House Saturday Dec 8th 1-3 PM

2008 Bolado Pkwy Cape Coral, FL 33990

Open House Sunday December 9  12-3 PM

908 SE 21st PL Cape Coral, FL 33990

Listing portal sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com essentially package listings they assemble from Multiple Listing Services around the country, or by large real estate company syndication feeds, or by agents themselves.  Brokers often have the ability to override their MLS syndication.  For instance, and agent or a seller may not want certain listings to go to certain listing portals, or perhaps none of their listings at all. Pulse syndication marketing could be the real Zillow killer.

Pulse Syndication Marketing Could Be the Real Zillow Killer

When you think about it, large listing portals don’t really help agents sell more homes.  All they do is come between the agent and the public, and for that they charge a fee.  You see, listing portals true customer is the agents and brokers.  That’s who pays the advertising to these sites in hopes of picking up leads.  If these sites didn’t exist, those leads would go directly to agents and brokers themselves without the middle-man.

So how did these listing portal sites come to prominence?  Many agents and brokers aren’t tech savvy, and some are just plain lazy.  They don’t have the time, money, or inclination to manage the online process.  So, they abrogated lead generating to outsiders who were more than happy to pickup on that.  And the worst part is, agents gave them their data, only to be charged back for leads their data creates.

I say some agents were lazy (and they still are) because even when given a lead they find a reason not to call them.  Speed to lead is the name of the game, because statistically the first agent that reaches a buyer or seller is the one that they work with.  If you’re not going to call a lead from your own website, why in the world would you want to pay for leads and not call them right away.

This is where online tech companies are learning.  They used to farm out leads to 3 or more agents, and agents would compete for the lead.  Only the most aggressive agents would win the lead, so the other two quit paying.  Zillow eventually came up with a system to combat this where instead of charging agents a monthly fee, they would charge per qualified lead, and agents would bid on them.  Keep in mind, the only reason Zillow got the lead in the first place is because agents gave them their data, and Zillow charged agents back leads.  The only winner was Zillow.  The consumer isn’t really any better off.  Buyers thought they were dealing with the listing agent and didn’t realize several agents would be calling them.

So, the only thing these online listing portals really do is get in between consumers and agents and charge a fee to agents for the privilege.  Truth be known, agent websites like ours www.LeeCountyOnline.com also known as agent IDX websites, and company websites like www.kw.com, www.remax.com, www.coldwellbaker.com, www.centruy21.com and others have better data.  I say that because the data is timelier and include all the data versus just some of the data.  The data is just more accurate too.

Zillow Has a Plan

Part of Zillow’s plan is requiring agents to upload consumer data into their database.  In addition to collecting a referral fee, they want the data.  Why do they want the consumer data if they already have the MLS data?  Because the next step is to cut the agent out of the next deal.  By accumulating consumer data, they can market directly to consumers making the MLS data that Realtors hold valuable less valuable.  The one with the most data wins.  Right now, Realtors have the MLS listing data and the consumer data, but not for long.  Once companies like Zillow complete this process, it’s game over.

Tough Decisions

MLS’s and brokers have tough decisions to make.  On the one hand, they want to turn off sending their listings to these large listing portals. This avoids public confusion.  It’s frustrating as an agent to have to explain why the home a consumer is seeing on Zillow isn’t even on the market right now, has wrong information, or the estimated value is $100,000 or more off.  On the other hand, agents are afraid they may suffer backlash by consumers who want to know why their home isn’t listed on one of these sites.  We have a solution that solves both options.

Pulse Syndication Marketing Could Be the Real Zillow Killer

If brokers and agents would pulse their listing data to online listing portals, it would satisfy sellers and disrupt the online portal advertising model.  By pulsing we mean turn on the syndication and send listings one day and turn off and withhold the next.  This could be done on daily or weekly basis.  In any event, if enough brokers, agents, and MLS’s used this technique, sellers would still receive the perceived added exposure, and online listing portals would have fewer page views and listing clicks because the listings would be there half the time.

Online listing portals like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com solicit Realtor advertising based on property ad views, and/or leads derived from the ad views.  Mind you, the leads don’t necessarily go to the listing agent that provided the data but rather the agent or broker who pays to be the premier agent listed on a listing.  And this is the crux of the discussion.  The listing agent isn’t necessarily receiving any benefit from the exposure, while other agents who pay to play are.  The seller isn’t either because that lead went to another agent besides the listing agent who has no incentive to sell that property, nor knowledge of that property. That next agent doesn’t mind shifting that buyer prospect over to one of their listings, or another listing they are more familiar with. It’s one thing to pay per click on Google or Bing, and quite another to have to pay to play on your own listing where the listing agent freely gave up the data in the first place.

By pulsing the data, the online listing portal essentially has its free inventory cut in half.  This would inevitably lower adverting rates because there would be less hits and less leads per zip code, further lowering the already suspect data of these online portals, and increasing the value of MLS public facing websites, broker websites, and agent websites.

In a perfect world, I don’t think these public online portals are even necessary.  Some MLS’s have contemplated just cutting their entire feed to the portals, and I don’t see a problem with that.  Let consumers get their data from the MLS, broker, or agent websites which are more regulated and tend to be more accurate.

Agents Need to Wise Up

These online portals are providing services in attempts to make life easier for the agent, but are they really?  They’re really trying to get the agent’s data.  I don’t think they really care to make the agent’s job easier.  This is just the candy they offer Realtors to use their service.  By providing online transaction management, they learn buyers and sellers’ names, phone numbers, email addresses, and much more.  That information is as valuable as these DNA companies offering familial lookups.  They’re really after your personal data.  With your DNA they can tie your family tree to history.  Wouldn’t a health or life insurance company love to know if cancer runs in your family, even if it’s 3 generations removed?  You bet they would.

And what about errors?  Who fixes the DNA database errors once they’re out there?  When data gets in the wild, good luck fixing that.  Do you see a pattern?  Real estate data is just as valuable, and agents and brokers are just giving it away.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  We must start somewhere.  Online listing portals are getting so big, they might just decide the agent is replaceable, because they have the data.

Right now, they don’t.  Agents and brokers do, and right now agents and brokers can do something about it.  They can cut off the feeds or pulse the feeds and take control back of the data.

Copyright Brett Ellis 2018

2019 Update

Keller Williams Rolls Out Real Estate Industry’s First End to End Technology Platform