Recent flood insurance changes affect homeowners and buyers and sellers.  Changes went into effect October 1st and already we are seeing some fallout.  Please read this article carefully.  You may be affected, and we have some advice on how to lessen the pain of these changes, especially if you are in a transaction or contemplating one.

Insurance Changes Affect Homeowners and Transactions


Do Not Cancel Your Policy if it Goes Up

Whatever you do, do not cancel your policy because your insurance is going up.  Most will not see their rate increase until their renewal comes due.  If you live in an x zone where insurance is not required, do not cancel either.

Buyers can assume your policy.  Insurance agents have told me some policies have gone from about $1,600 to over $8,000.  The good news is for existing policies, rates can only increase 18% per year, and the buyer can assume.  If you cancel, buyer has to get a new policy, and this may make your home less desirable financially in a buyer’s eyes.

Elevation certificates are pretty much out the window.  If you have one, save it because it could possibly save you a little.  The difference is the National Flood Insurance Program has gone to satellite topography for risk ratings, much like the private insurance has.  They no longer use the elevation certificate to determine risk.

Gone are the days when everyone on the block pays about the same rate.  Newer homes that are built up higher will most likely pay less than the house next door that sits lower.

Your Sale Could be at Risk

Current transactions could be at risk.  Let’s say a buyer qualifies for a home at the top end at $500,000.  This includes interest, taxes, insurance, HOA fees, etc.  If the buyer qualified at their top end at $500k with flood insurance quoted last month at $1,000 and today the new quote is $4,000, the buyer may no longer qualify.

The good news is we work with insurance agents that have access to private flood companies in addition to NFIP.  Some agents don’t like to sell private insurance because they make less money than the national program, so we seek out insurance agents that will.  This service is valuable to our customers.

Even if a buyer assumes a policy and saves money today, eventually that property will see increases over time to adjust for the risk.  We can delay the rise, but over time it will occur.  At 18%, policies will double in price every 4 years until they reach their cap.

Insurance Figures Into Total Cost of Ownership

Much like buyers look at annual costs to join a golf course, buyers will now look at flood and homeowners’ insurance when determining total cost of ownership.  If the buyer is considering 4 homes and one of those homes is significantly less to insure, that may sway the buyer’s decision.  These costs are not a one-time event, they will go on forever.

When the Ellis Team is working with a buyer, we will call an insurance agent to get quotes on each home.  This will be critical to make sure the buyer qualifies for the loan.  If the buyer is paying cash, they still want to know what the property will cost them to insure.

Homeowner’s insurance companies have tightened up on what they will insure and what the rates will be. The main components insurance companies are looking at right now is age of roof, plumbing, electrical wiring and panels, water heater, and HVAC system.  If your home has a shingle roof over 10 years old, be prepared for rate adjustments or cancellations.  Your insurance agent may have other carriers that will insure shingle roof up to 15-20 years, but the rates may be higher.  We are seeing homeowners receive cancellation letters.

It Pays to Work wit a Professional

Buying and selling a home is a complex process.  It pays to work with professionals who know what they are doing.  Hiring a friendly Realtor you met at the ballgame might not be your best choice.

If you are a potential seller, call Brett or Sande Ellis at 239-310-6500 We can guide you to your best decision.  Our buyer hotline is 239-489-4042  Or visit to get your home’s value instantly.

Good luck and be sure to or check with your insurance agent or call us for updates on what is happening.  We can recommend a good insurance agent if you need one.

The Ellis Team has landed some new home buyer financing programs that should benefit self employed people, investors, and those with an isolated credit event. We have a lender that can qualify a borrower off bank statements and does not need their tax return. Many self-employed borrowers write-off a lot of expenses which makes it difficult to qualify for a loan.  Banks typically go off net income, not gross income.

New Home Buyer Financing Programs Will Benefit Self Employed Borrowers

New Home Buyer Financing Programs

Now the lender can calculate what you make to repay the loan by what you have in the bank, not what the tax return says. This is big news for some businesses that do well but don’t show a large net profit from the business. Of course, there are restrictions like minimum credit scores, at least 10% down, and a letter from a CPA may be required. We can even use this program on second homes if the buyer puts 20% down. Rates are higher than conventional loans but still pretty good. This program sure beats renting because the business always has write-offs.

We have a new investor program too that lets an investor buy with 20% down and a minimum credit score of 680. This lender can do condos and non-warrantable condos as well. Duplex buyers can buy with as little as a 640-credit score.

Many people have been shutout of the home buying process and programs like these will help bring more people to the table. Of course, if a buyer has income from an employer and meets guidelines, we can get those loans approved through (DU) desktop underwriter which is an automated loan approval.  These loans are fast and easy, and a buyer is good to go shopping.

In a frantic paced market like today it is always best to get pre-approved before you go shopping. A seller will require it anyway. Buyers will lose properties to other buyers without getting their financing in order prior making an offer.

Counseling Approach

The Ellis Team is a little different than most Realtors. We offer a counseling approach. Our buyers find it most helpful for them if we start the process of searching for a home by having a counseling session in our office so we can help them better and faster find their dream home.  Financing is just one step in the process.

Today things are changing at a rapid rate. On October 1st the flood insurance program made some big changes that will affect buyers and sellers. Homeowners insurance is changing quickly too. Throw in big changes to lending guidelines and changing interest rates, and you can see it takes a full-time expert to keep up. Working with an experienced team that understands these changes will help buyers better compete against other buyers. Our knowledge will also help sellers when making financial decisions.

The agent you work with matters. The reputation of the agent you work with and the relationships they have can make the difference whether you win your dream home or lose it to another better prepared buyer.

Better Preparation

Ellis Team buyers and sellers are better prepared and know what to expect in advance. Therefore, we offer the counseling session. It helps to hire the best Realtor you can, but none of that matters if it doesn’t get communicated back with the customer. We wish all our buyers and sellers to be the most informed. A better-informed client results in better financial decisions and success.

You have probably heard horror stories of buyers who cannot land a home. They believe there is too much competition. Maybe so, but often buyers fail to win homes because their offer was not written correctly, or they were not prepared.

Sellers complain that they sold quickly but left money on the table.  Hiring the right Realtor matters more than ever.

Always call the Ellis Team 239-489-4042 for buying or 239-310-6500 for selling.  Or visit our website, to search all listings or to find out what your property is worth.

Good luck, and let us know if we can help!

SW Florida August home prices stabilize ending a three month decline in average home prices. Median home prices peaked in May and only slightly declined in July.  Median home prices held steady for August.

August Home Prices Stabilize

We are watching daily inventory counts to see if there is any movement. If anything, inventory has declined since August numbers.  We do not see building inventory and many properties are still receiving multiple offers.

Interest Rates

Today as I write this article the 10-year note stands at 1.529% That number will fluctuate throughout the day.  It has trended up the past month.  For instance, it was about 1.289% a little over a month ago.  The reason we track this financial instrument is because 30-year mortgages are pegged to the 10-year note.  My unofficial formula is adding about 1.6% to whatever the 10-year note is, and it will get you close to current mortgage rates.

That would put us close to 3.125% to 3.25% interest rate, which is about where rates are at with no points.  Rising rates can motivate buyers to buy now, but it also cuts into purchasing power.  Rising rates may not make a difference now as we have more buyers than sellers, but someday it could if the market slows down.


We are also watching the price of oil.  Rising oil is a clue to rising inflation and a barometer of pressures on bond yields which influence interest rates.  As of today, West Texas intermediate crude oil is at $79.  This is up significantly and could lead to more inflation.

If congress passes more unfunded spending in the wake of rising inflation, it could spark interest rates rising faster.  If that happens, all eyes will be on stock markets and real estate markets.  The United States is at a precarious time with our debt to GDP ratio, and any moves could trigger interest rate swings.

If financial markets do swing, the next question is what effect will that have on consumer behavior?  Where will people want to live if they leave their job?  We are also at a critical time with jobs and vaccinations.  The federal government is mandating all health care employees be vaccinated or health care providers will lose their Medicare funding.  No hospital or large provider can afford to do that.  The question is. How many people will quit or be let go from their jobs in health care?

It is not just healthcare either.  Many teachers are facing the same dilemma.  In New York alone, we have heard reports of 150,000 teachers at risk of losing their job.

Vaccine Mandates Effect on Real Estate

If the mandates stick, will these people stay where they are or make a move?  Florida has been a popular destination.  With so much uncertainty, it will be fascinating to watch how these factors play out.  In any such transitions, there are always winners and losers.  What effect this will have on Florida and our real estate market remains to be seen.

Rising rates tend to temper the market.  Changing demographics can further exacerbate a declining situation or moderate losses, depending on where you live.

For anyone to tell you they can predict the future right now would be absurd.  All we can do is open a window into our thinking and show you some of the factors we are looking at.  We have a list of 7 key indicators we will be tracking.

One thing is for sure.  Ellis Team clients will always have the latest information on what we are seeing.  We feel it is our duty to buyers and sellers to have our latest research.  It is part of why people hire us.  We do not mind sharing some of this research with News Press readers as we feel the public should be informed.

If you are interested in selling, always call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-310-6500.  We can discuss what we are seeing and how this will affect your property value.  For a free online instant property valuation, visit Our system will update you every month the value of your home.

The Ellis Team looks forward to speaking with You!

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Home sales fall behind 2020 levels in August for the first time this year.  Is this a sign of a slowing real estate market, or simply lack of inventory?

Home Sales Fall Behind 2020 Levels For First Time

Home Sales Fall Behind 2020 Levels

Last week we reported inventory increased for the fifth straight month.  In February, listing inventory stood at 1.916 homes.  In January listing inventory was 2203.  August listings were on its way up at 1,764.  Perhaps we need inventory levels closer to 2,000 or more to sustain the blistering pace we have seen this past year.

It could also be that inventory is rising, sales are slowing, and buyers have cooled off.  Home prices peaked in April and May and saw a decline.  Funny thing though, median home prices stabilized in June and July while average prices went up slightly in August.

If the market was declining, we would expect to see the trifecta of rising listing inventory, declining sales, and declining prices.  Right now, we have two out of the three, and it is quite possible sales will pick up as inventory increases.

It is also possible rising interest rates will deter some home buyers.  October 1st will bring in flood insurance changes which will raise rates on some.  Rising insurance costs can affect home affordability.

Florida is still a state where people are attracted to.  Some northern states markets have begun to cool a bit while others have not.  It is safe to assume, Florida is an attractive option for many up North which adds to our demand.  As listing inventory increases, we may very well have excess demand to make up for the inventory.

In any market, many homes sell, and some fail to sell because they were overpriced.  When a market begins to shift, you do not want to overprice.  I am not saying our market has shifted or will shift anytime soon.  All markets shift eventually. Proper pricing becomes critical when they do.  To be honest, proper pricing is always critical.  Would you believe that in this great market, some sellers have failed to sell?  It is true, and it happens in all markets, up down, and sideways.

Hire the Right Agent

Hiring the right agent is critical now.  Marketing and negotiating matters more than ever.  Some mistakenly believe they can throw a home on the market, and it will sell.  The truth is it might sell.  The question is, did it sell for as much as it should have or did seller leave money on the table?  There is an art and science to getting what your home is worth.  It takes knowledge, experience, skills, and marketing.  If you thought it was expensive hiring the best agent, just see what it costs you hiring the wrong one.

As we study the market, we will be looking at several key indicators.  Of course, we will watch home prices. We will also watch inventory levels, sales velocity, dollar volume, and bring back and track our current market index which helps predict forward motion of the market.  If you do not know what the Current Market Index is, search for it on our Blog

If you are interested in selling, call Sande Ellis or Brett Ellis at 239-310-6500 or visit to find out what your home could be worth.

The market goes up, the market goes down, and sometimes it just goes sideways.  Do not let the market dictate your decisions.  Talk to the Best and get your questions answered.

The Ellis Team has been voted the Best in Real Estate for 7 straight years in the News Press Readers poll.  We thank all our past and future customers.  We look forward to helping you buy or sell your next SW Florida property.

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