Sellers beware of our creative financing red flag alert. We have seen more creative financing offers in 2024 than any year I can remember, and we’re only 5 months into the year.

Creative Financing Red Flag Alert

The scary thing is, many of these offers occur before the seller speaks with an attorney or their real estate agent, and they are taking some of these offers. These investor/wholesalers are not required to be licensed, so they can offer you anything they like. It is up to you to determine if it is legal and meets the terms of your existing mortgage.

An inexperienced real estate agent might fall for some of these scams. The calls I’ve received sound convincing, until you understand the mortgage clauses and how they work. The wholesaler will argue with us that we don’t know what we’re talking about and ask how have they been able to successfully do this in Florida many other times. Just because they’ve been done it before doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for a seller.

Creative Financing Red Flag Alert

Most mortgages contain a due on sale clause. This means that upon sale, the mortgage must be satisfied, or it will be called due and payable. The exceptions to this tend to be a divorce, separation, or inheritance. Selling to a third party would trigger this clause.

Subject To

 The wholesaler wants to assume the loan without going through a pre-qualification process to assume it. In other words, they will not be on the hook for that loan if they do not pay. Most loans are not assumable anyway, but if one is, the wholesaler is not asking to assume it. They want to purchase it subject to. The buyer would agree to pay your mortgage company, and have the deed transferred into their name. So now you still have a debt against you in your name, and no property. As the seller you may not have the right to foreclose if they choose not to pay your loan in the future. Good deal for them, bad deal for you.

Crazy Offers

We’ve seen some crazy offers. Some are 50-70% of value. Others are 100% of list price, but you turn your property over to them and let them market or lease your home. Who knows who would pay the mortgage. Still other offers include an assignable contract with the right to market your home. In this case, you agree to an amount less than market value, and you agree to stop marketing or offering it for sale. They attempt to sell to somebody for a higher price and keep the difference.

As a seller, why wouldn’t you market the property and keep the difference?

Direct to Sellers

If they can reach a seller before they list with an agent, they know they have a much greater chance of convincing the seller this is all on the up & up. I called an attorney on one offer who said check with the current mortgage and see if they would allow a subject to. The answer came back, No! The loan company would call that loan due and payable, and the seller would be out a house and have a foreclosure on their record.

Creative Marketing

The wholesalers get creative with their marketing. They promise to buy your home with no commissions, and they’ll pay your closing costs. You can move out and have your home sold in 30 days without showing it. It sounds like a pretty good deal, until you realize it could ruin your life. In a best-case scenario, if they do perform, you could lose tens of thousands of dollars.

We’re not saying every offer is a scam. Each offer should be evaluated by an attorney and verified with your mortgage company. What we are saying is be careful. Sometimes the easy button makes your life complicated.

Thinking of Selling?

Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-310-6500. Protect your asset and maximize your home sale. Our marketing is the key to selling for Top Dollar and Fast! Our integrity and honesty are the keys to making sure your sale is safe.

Good luck, and Happy Selling!

View Our Newest Listing

Bridgetown at the Plantation

10831 Denning Rd

Bridgetown at the Plantation
Pool Home on Lake

 

Both housing supply and demand level off in the latest statistics produced by the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty.

Housing Supply and Demand Level off in Lee County

Last year we saw single family home inventory supply drop from April 25th to May 2nd. Some of that could have been expired listings. In 2024, we are seeing a trend of leveling off. Pending sales have remained remarkably steady since February 20th of this year.

Ellis Team Current Market Index

The current market index stands at 3.05 and has also remained steady. It rose slightly in the last week, but we’ve been watching numbers in the low 3 range since March 12th. The current market index accurately predicts future price appreciation or reductions going forward.

We finally received some good news on the interest rate front which has led to slightly lower rates. The economic news was bad for employment, which is good news for possible rate cuts later this year. It’s the first good news for future interest rate cuts we’ve received. Wall Street went from betting on no cuts this year to a possible rate cut or two by the end of this year. Inflation numbers have not been good and going in the wrong direction, so betting the farm on one payroll report probably doesn’t make sense. But hey, Wall Street likes optimism wherever it can find it.

Housing Supply and Demand Level

If current housing and supply level remains the same or gets better, coupled with lower interest rates, we could see strengthening in the housing market going into 2025. We are not saying price reductions will suddenly stop as there are still more sellers than buyers. We are saying, once the market chooses a direction, those price reductions will begin working their way through the system and eventually the market will level out.

Like a Train

The housing market is like a train. Once it builds momentum, it takes awhile to brake, or change direction, even if market indicators begin to shift. A train has built up residual energy that must be released before it can brake. If economic indicators suddenly became clear, there would still be price reductions until the market cleared excess inventory.

2025

 2025 could be a year for real estate recovery. Of course, we do not know if the economy will have a soft or hard landing. That outcome will determine how many people still have a job and how many can purchase. Additionally, we do not know if we will have stagflation, which is persistent higher than welcome inflation coupled with low to no growth. If this happens, we may not see a recovery until later 2025 or 2026.

So much economically is unknown. Because of this, nobody can predict what the stock, bond, and real estate markets will do. We can report only what we see, and the good news is the housing supply and demand level is stable and doing well. We’ll be keeping an eye on future economic data and housing statistics, along with the Ellis Team Current Market Index.

Thinking of Selling?

You should call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-310-6500 Brett and Sande can guide you on the latest data. We have the most advanced marketing system in the area, and we’d love to show you how it’s different, and why it’s producing results. Or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com to get your home’s price instantly.

Good luck, and Happy Selling!

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Open House Sunday 12-3 PM

2552 Keystone Lake Dr

Free Solar-Below Market Interest Rate

Free Solar Below market interest rate
Open House Sunday 12-3 PM

Open House Sunday 12-3 PM

13916 Lily Pad Cir

Reflection Lakes-Gated Community-Low HOA Fees

Reflection Lakes community pool low HOA fee
Open House Sunday 12-3 PM

People are asking what the Ellis Team 5 Star Marketing Program is and how it’s achieving uncommon results in a shifting market. We’ll tell you a little bit about it, and why it’s different than other marketing.

First off, people need to understand, when the market changes, do not cancel marketing. In fact, sellers need marketing more in a shifting market.  Too many Realtors relied on the portals (Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, etc.) to do their marketing. That’s about to change.

Never a Good Idea

 It was never a good idea to rely on the portals, but now it’s critical. We are getting frantic calls from the portals asking us to advertise.  They are changing their programs. Zillow is in the midst of cancelling their Zillow Premier agent program and replacing it with Flex. Flex essentially takes 35-50% of the agent’s commission, so agents have little to no money to spend on advertising. Flex also wants their agents to use their lenders and title companies so they can control the whole transaction.

We prefer to use lenders and title companies we know with a proven track record. We also don’t want to be dependent on a portal who can change the rules at any time, like they are now. The Realtor commission lawsuit is also playing a big part in this. Portals are forced to change, or they will go out of business.

Do you really want an agent who is spending most or all of their advertising money with one portal?

Ellis Team 5 Star Marketing

 The Ellis Team has been big advertisers for years. We’ve tested and found the best way to attract buyers.  We have not spent our money finding sellers and paying large referral fees. Our system has worked so well, we’ve developed a databank of buyers.

Ellis Team 5 Star Marketing Online Ad

But it gets better! We found a way to segment this large database of buyers and advertise to them. In the real estate industry, the average click thru rate is 1-2% on an online ad. By using market segmentation, we’ve been able to achieve over 20%. This tells us not only are we serving up ads people want to see, but we’re also serving it the people most interested in buying what we’re selling.

When you see an ad online for something you don’t care about, you don’t click it. Even if you care, you still might not click.

Let’s say we have a $400,000 dollar listing. Will a million-dollar buyer click to see that ad? The answer is no. When you serve that ad up to everybody, not everyone will click it, including those interested in buying real estate.

Segmented Ad

Advertising to people interested in buying real estate is a targeted ad.  Advertising the home a buyer is specifically interested in is what we call segmented marketing. The Ellis Team 5 Star Marketing program has found a way to do both, targeted marketing and segmented marketing.

Ellis Team 5 Star Marketing Online Ad Results

Neighborhood Search

We can also identify people searching in certain neighborhoods. Let’s say we list a property in Miramar Lakes, Whiskey Creek, or any subdivision. We can search our database and it will tell us how many leads match the neighborhood. It’s easy for us to advertise our new listing to those buyers actively searching now for homes that match those criteria.

If you’re thinking of selling, or perhaps tried before and your home did not sell, give Sande or Brett Ellis a call. 239-310-6500 Let’s see how we can put the Ellis Team 5 Star Marketing Program to work for you. There’s a reason the Ellis Team has been voted Best in Real estate 11 straight years by News Press readers.

Ellis Team 5 Star Marketing Program Video

 

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Open House Saturday 12-4 PM

8515 Oakshade Cir #101, Fort Myers

Ellis Team 5 Star Marketing Open House
Open House Saturday 12-4 PM

Open House Sunday 12-3 PM

2206 NW 18th Pl, Cape Coral

Ellis Team 5 Star Marketing Open House
Open House Sunday 12-3 PM Cape Coral

Open House Sunday 12-3 PM

412 Chiquita Blvd N, Cape Coral

Affordable Cape Coral Home
Cape Coral Open House Sunday 12-3 PM

The latest housing inventory supply numbers show we have a 5.89-month supply of homes on the market today. This is up slightly from 5.84 months’ supply back in February. We decided to update the graph with more relevant price categories. Before, half the categories were under $300,000. The old format was useful until prices shot up over the decades.

Latest Housing Inventory Supply

Latest Housing Inventory Supply

Anything $400,000 or less in Lee County has the least supply, and this makes sense. When we start getting up $400,000+ you begin to see properties sitting on the market longer as there is more inventory. Buyers have an excellent choice to choose from over $400k.

If you’re a seller over $400k, don’t be discouraged. Our team just put over $5.6 million under contract in the last 30 days, and most of it is well above that number. One listing was on the market with another company for months over $650,000. The sellers called us, and we were able to sell it in 11 days.

Our team listed and brought the buyer for another home at $800k, and we put under contract our listing at $2.3 Million. We are grateful for all the sales in the last month, especially when we hear other agents having a difficult time selling homes right now. We are not bragging. We’ve been there too, and it’s not fun when you want so much for your seller’s listings to sell, and the market doesn’t respond.

What’s the Secret?

Everyone wants to know, what’s the secret to sales in a shifting market? There are four easy answers.

  1. Be the economist of choice. Know the market you are in so you can prepare your clients. Educating clients on exactly what the market is doing helps them make better decisions. Always operate for the market we’re moving into, not the market that just left.
  2. Better Systems. Make sure your systems are tight. Communication is key, and educating on next steps is critical to getting deals and keeping them together. Everyone’s role on team is defined, and each member takes ownership of the results.
  3. Increase Advertising. Most agents want to cut back. This is why so many leave the business. They stop advertising, and their client’s listings don’t sell. In a rising inventory market, properties need more exposure, not less. If an agent switched to a brokerage with a higher split, be prepared to pay your own money for advertising. Most brokers do not advertise like the old days, agents do.
  4. Advertise in the right places. Don’t select a medium simply because it’s cheap, or just to appease the seller that you’re doing something. Use proven advertising because you’ve tested it, and it works in the market we are in.

Experience

When inventory levels rise, there is no substitute for experience. Finding an agent who is 1% less expensive isn’t a bargain when they don’t sell your house, or worse, when they sell it for less than it should because it wasn’t exposed to enough buyers. Underselling costs sellers more money, but hey, they’re saving a percent, so they’ll never know how much they lost, because they never saw the higher offers.

The Ellis Team has sold over 5,000 homes locally. We’ve worked in up, down, and sideways markets, and our research staff knows exactly where the market is, and what may lie ahead.

Don’t panic. We’ve got this. Give Brett or Sande Ellis a call 239-310-6500 We’ll sit down, discuss your property and your situation, and show you the market. Together we’ll make a plan to get you Top Dollar on your timeframe. Nobody puts more money in your pocket at closing than the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Open House Saturday 12-3 PM

13916 Lily Pad Cir   Reflection Lakes

Reflection Lakes

Open House Sunday 12-3 PM  River Grove

3199 River Grove Cir

Gulf Access + Acreage

Open House Sunday 12-3 PM

6110 Whiskey Creek Dr

Whiskey Creek

Good news this week for home sellers as lenders update closing costs sellers are permitted to pay for the buyers.

Why this is Big News

The recent proposed settlement from NAR on the commission lawsuit prohibits listing what the seller is offering to the buyer agent in the MLS.  Sellers can still offer buyer agent compensation or agree to pay buyer closing costs. The recent agreement also mandates buyers sign a buyer agent agreement showing how much the buyer will pay their agent.

The confusion could arise, depending on how the contract is written, if the payment is compensation or concession. The reason that matters is because lenders put a limit of how much a seller can pay for the buyer, and it varied depending on how much buyer is putting down and what type of loan they were applying for. This is why it’s imperative lenders update closing costs concession rules.

Fannie Mae (FNMA) selling guide B3-4.1-03 allows interested party contributions to make contributions to buyer’s closing costs. The seller is considered an interested party, so this is allowed. FNMA has also said they will not count buyer agent commission paid by seller on behalf of the buyer towards the IPC (Interested Party Contribution) limits. In other words, the seller can still pay the buyer closing costs, if need be, and any commission paid by seller will not be counted against the buyer’s concession limits.

Concession Limits

Under FNMA guidelines, interested parties can contribute between 2-9% of buyer’s closing costs depending on the loan.  If a buyer needs more than 2% in closing costs paid on the loan, working in the buyer agent commission would have been impossible if they computed that fee as a limit. Sellers were worried because limiting buyers means potentially longer time on the market and fewer buyers. In a shifting market with rising interest rates, that would not be good for home sellers.

Lenders Update Closing Costs Sellers Permitted to Pay

What is Changing

So far, nothing much. Home sellers have always had the option to pay the buyer agent side. Lenders clarifying their position will give sellers comfort. Sellers can still attract buyers to their properties, and the payment of commission on buyer’s behalf will be allowable. Lenders understand the needs of buyers and sellers. Had lenders not clarified, buyers would be harmed because they would not be able to purchase a property when the seller is not paying the buyer agent commission in many cases. Sellers would be hurt too. Had lenders not allowed this, they would have lost many buyers who can no longer purchase their property.

Status Quo

As of right now, the only thing changing is the fee the seller is offering to pay as compensation cannot be listed in MLS. A seller can list a concession they’re willing to pay, but most sellers will not do that because the concession could be used for anything. Listing agents may charge more to work with unrepresented buyers because their costs will be greater, and the seller wouldn’t want to pay for buyer agent compensation through the listing agent and as a mandatory concession.

How It Might Work

We believe most sellers will not offer a concession in MLS.  We haven’t seen the new forms yet, because the settlement hasn’t been approved yet. Our thinking is sellers will still agree to pay buyer agent compensation. In most cases that information will not be in MLS. Buyer agents will be forced to call listing agents. Depending on the answer, buy will need to make a decision if they want to view that home. If a seller is not offering to pay a buyer agent compensation, many buyers will pass on seeing the home. Other buyers might view it, and if they like home ask seller to pay buyer agent anyway through their offer. Other buyers may go directly to the listing agent, but they may have to wait to see it depending on schedules. Efficiencies will be lost.

Considering Selling?

Call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-310-6500 We’ll walk you through the changes. Marketing will become more important than ever, and nobody markets like the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty. We can discuss your options, and talk about the pros and cons of each decision, and how it will affect your bottom line.

New Listings

2726 SW 2nd Pl Cape Coral

 

6351 Brant Bay Blvd #104 North Fort Myers

Lee County Florida housing inventory levels stabilize at the end of season. This is true for single family homes and condo listings. To be fair, there were 111 single family homes that expired on April 1st and some of them will come back on the market. Those 111 expired listings would not have changed things that much.

Housing Inventory Levels Stabilize

We’ll be watching pending sales going into April and May, and of course new listings. All eyes will also be on interest rates this year as well. I did a little digging into the market and analyzed last week’s price reductions.

12.62 % of all single-family home listings reduced their price this past week. The average price reduction last week was 3.59%. As the season draws to an end it is clear that many home sellers are adjusting to the market as they are motivated to successfully close and move on to their next venture.

Pending Sales

 Pending and pending contingent sales picked up slightly last week to 2,226, which was up from 2,174 the week before. However, that number is down from the 2 weeks prior to that. We should note we would expect pending sales to be highest close to the end of the month, especially at the end of season.

Interest Rates

Experts have been predicting up to 9 interest rate cuts this year going back to the 4th quarter of last year. We have been saying, not so fast! The Fed’s latest announcement suggests up to 3 rate cuts this year, but again, we are saying, not so fast! While we would love rate cuts in 2024, we’re not sure the Fed is going to cut if they follow their own criteria. They might very well cut due to political reasons, but the numbers do not meet their criteria. The Fed has added an unemployment number criteria which was not met. I am writing this article before the Wednesday CPI number comes out, and that is not expected to help either.

Oil

 I can’t tell you how many times we have said the price of oil influences inflation interest rates, and the economy. Oil prices have been stubbornly high because we are not getting cooperation from OPEC. We have released much of our strategic reserve, and we don’t have more to release to bring prices down, albeit temporarily. It seems so long as our policies are favorable to Iran, Saudi Arabia is not going to help us. High oil prices are not good for inflation. Neither is spending, and we have both problems right now. The Fed cannot risk lowering rates too soon and risking double-dip inflation later. The Fed wants to lower in June to avoid the appearance of waiting and interfering with the election.

Assumptions

If we assume the Fed is not going to lower rates in June, how will that affect consumer confidence and affordability in the housing market? Many buyers are buying and enjoying the selection of homes. Other buyers, however, are reluctant, possibly due to affordability issues. Others may fear prices will fall and wish to wait until they do. Ironically, when interest rates fall, it adds to affordability and could give fuel to further prices increases later.  Invariably buyers try to time the best time to purchase, and invariably they get it wrong. Buyers are not alone though. Sellers try to time the market as well, and most get that wrong as well.

We’ll be watching the CPI numbers this week, and charting housing inventory levels and pending sales.

Hurricane Season

Predictions call for a record year for tropical systems this year, and the Gulf of Mexico is supposedly in the cross hairs. We know several sellers have stated they do not want to be here for another season. If you’re one of those people, the time is now to get your home on the market and sell before hurricane season heats up.

Overall, we have a good market. Prices are stable enough, and buyers are looking, so long as they see value. Homes must be marketed to attract as many buyers as possible, both near and far. Homes do not sell themselves. Changes are coming to how homes are marketed.

Call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-310-6500 to find out how your home can stand out and sell this year! We’ll market your home for all it’s worth. Or visit www.Equity-Analysis.com to track your home’s equity position.

 

Everywhere you turn there are headlines about the Realtor commission lawsuit settlement. Just about every news story gets it wrong or does not understand the facts.

Realtor Commission Lawsuit Settlement Explained

I know you’re never going to read the details of the settlement, so let me explain what changes, what doesn’t change, who wins and loses by this settlement and some predictions.  If you’re still reading to the end, I’ll cover more details for those interested.

What Changes

Buyers will have to sign a buyer’s broker agreement before looking at property. The exception might be open houses. It is unclear if buyer agents will have to sign an agreement to see one home through the listing agent. We suspect they will when the new rules come out.

Sellers can still offer buyer agents compensation, and most probably will. However, agents will no longer be able to communicate this offer through the MLS. All fields that show how much seller is offering buyer agent compensation will be stripped away.  Agents and MLS’s cannot set up 3rd party sites to do this either. The exception is agents can post this information on their own websites, signs, newsletters, advertisements, etc. For a lawsuit that said it wanted to add transparency, it sure took away transparency and made it harder for buyers.

What Doesn’t Change

Realtor commissions were never set by the National Association of Realtors. This Realtor commission lawsuit settlement does nothing to change that. Commission rates were always determined by the value brought to the table by the agent, along with supply and demand. Supply and demand are the culmination of the number of transactions available in the market divided into the number of agents licensed and available to do the work.

Sellers can still offer buyer agent compensation. The only thing that changes is it cannot be listed publicly in the MLS. The settlement says the offer can still be made many other ways, and it is not prohibited.

Who Wins

Large agent teams and experienced agents. The Realtor commission lawsuit settlement mandates that buyers sign a buyer brokerage agreement before an agent can show them property. This agreement spells out how much the buyer will compensate the buyer agent on the transaction. Many agents use a buyer broker agreement, but it was never mandatory nationwide. Sellers do not have to offer buyer agent compensation. Some buyers may try to save some money and go directly to listing agents. Agents that do not carry listings, or who are not great at spelling out their value proposition will have a hard time converting buyers to work with them.

When less experienced agents get out of the business, more experienced agents will pick up market share.

Who Loses

Buyers, less experienced agents, single agents, the portals, and sellers who hire the least expensive agent they can find.

If compensation is written into the contract, the seller can still pay it. If a seller is not paying buyer agent compensation, a buyer can request the seller to pay some of buyer’s closing costs, and the commission is a closing cost to the buyer. However, with some loans there are limits to how much a seller can contribute, and if the buyer also needs other closing costs built in, it may go over the loan’s limits. Lastly, FHA and VA currently prohibit buyers from paying commission, so seller would have to pay it outright and not in the form of buyer closing costs, or the buyer cannot purchase the home.

Buyers will be blind when looking at listings online as to whether the seller is offering their buyer agent compensation. The Realtor commission lawsuit settlement will create extra work, delays, and added anxiety for buyers. Some buyers may not buy altogether.

Some Sellers Will Lose Too

Sellers may lose because they might try to save a buyer agent commission by not offering one. The seller may receive fewer showings because buyers may say I’m not even interested because they cannot afford to pay the down payment, bank closing costs, title fees, and buyer agent commission, so they move on to sellers who will. Sellers may see increased time on the market and a decrease in showings. Later they may decide to offer buyer agent compensation, but they will have wasted valuable time on the market.

Single agents will lose. Many agents pay real estate portals like Zillow and Realtor.com for buyer leads. These portals were kind of sneaky because they would place a contact agent on the listing display, but it wasn’t the listing agent. Buyers thought they were contacting the listing agent. In reality they were contacting agents who advertised on the portal. Buyers who are reluctant to pay a separate buyer agent will not want to deal with a buyer agent advertising on the portal. Those buyers will want to go directly to the listing agent, or with their own buyer agent they’ve hired.

Smaller agents will have to find another way to attract business. Additionally, less experienced agents tend to have a harder time explaining their value proposition, perhaps because they don’t really have one. Forcing the buyers to sign buyer brokerage agreements before they see property may not go so well for less experienced agents. This is why many are predicting many agents will get out of the business quickly.

7 Predictions

  1. Short Term– Many agents will leave the business or try to extend their career until the end of the year because their board and MLS fees are paid up. They may offer services they cannot perform because they don’t have the money, or offer reduced fees just to scrape by. By reducing their fee, they will be forced to offer less, and risk their client being dissatisfied with their service. They may extend their career by 6 months, but in the end not much will change and there will be a ton of buyer and seller listings expiring at the end of the year.
  2. Listing Agents may get busier as more buyers contact them directly. Agents will have to build in a fee to cover this extra load, because they may end up doing both sides of the deal which takes time. People do not realize how much time buyer agents spend with buyers, but listing agents do and they’re going to charge for this. For example, let’s say a listing agent has 20 listings. If each listing receives 20 showings before it goes under contract, that is 400 showings. A listing agent cannot be at 400 places at once, negotiate contracts, go on listing appointments, create the advertising, and all the things that go into selling a home. Listing agents will have to hire buyer agents or showing assistants to do this. These agents will need to be compensated, or they won’t do it, so the buyer compensation side never really goes away. The older system really was more transparent and efficient than the new system, nonetheless here we are.
  3.  Buyers Hurt The Most-Buyers will be hurt the worst and may be forced to go directly to the listing agents because they cannot afford a fee. They will not save on the house, and they may have to wait to see the home if the single agent has no help. Meanwhile, the home could sell while they are waiting for a showing.
  4. Sellers– will require agents to spend more advertising their home. The portals won’t attract buyers like they used to, so sellers will seek out agents who advertise. Listing agents will be forced to spend more money, because if they don’t, sellers will be unhappy and fire them when their listing expires. Sellers will ask more questions about qualifications and experience and want to see how their home will be marketed. Simply listing it on Zillow and realtor.com won’t cut it anymore.Some sellers will try it the hard way. They’ll try to hire a listing agent for as inexpensive as they can without knowing what all these changes are going to bring. Many will fail miserably and not get the results they were trying to save. These sellers will go back to step one and interview agents asking the questions mentioned above, this time through the lens of personal experience.
  5. Agents-Some will leave. Others will join a team who can afford to advertise and create leads. The buyer side of the business isn’t going away, but who the buyer calls might change. Agents will have some choices to make soon.
  6. Portals-The portals will change business models, or go out of business, or both. Zillow lost $158 million in 2023. If they cannot make money before the settlement, how are they going to do so afterwards when many agents leave the business and stop advertising, unless they change their model? There will be less real estate agents in the business to advertise with the portals. Secondly, why would agents pay Zillow, Realtor.com, and others to advertise for buyers when they struggle to convert them to actual closings? Remember, buyers are going to be hurt the worst by this agreement. The agents who advertise for buyers on the portals tend to be agents looking for buyer business they can convert. This blows up the whole portal model that basically just got between agents and consumers in the first place. Portals took agent listing data, displayed it on Internet, and charged other agents for privilege of advertising to get business off those listings.Look for real estate portals to pivot to attract sellers and sell those leads to listing agents for referral fees, monthly spend, or both
  7. Commissions-Rates were never set before the Realtor commission lawsuit settlement, and they won’t be now. This agreement does nothing to bring rates down. In fact, commission rates could increase when there are less agents in the business. Remember, rates are determined by agent count and the number of available transactions to work on. If you decrease agent count, there is more work and less competition. Buyers and sellers will be better off working with better agents, but the rates may not change much. The market will determine commission rates.

Media Headlines

We’ve seen headlines that say home prices will come down, or gone are the days of the 6% commission. First off, there never was a standard commission. We’ve seen rates go up and down based upon market conditions, agent count, locations, etc. Why do you think builders raise and lower agent commission when they are selling builder product? They do so to move product, and it’s based upon market conditions. The resale market is no different, and that’s not because someone up top is setting commission rates. The market dictates that.

As to home prices, if the seller saved some commission by not paying a buyer agent commission, what’s the chance they would pass that along to the buyer? If the seller can get it, they will keep it. The media makes all kinds of sensational headlines because they are there to sell stories. The media doesn’t care whether the headline comes true or not, they just need stories that sell. Most reporters don’t understand the market dynamics, so how could they offer a credible prediction?

Conclusion

I think the previous system worked efficiently. The new system takes away transparency and hurts buyers. It will also hurt some sellers who do not understand the changes and what the implications mean. Some agents will do better, and some will do worse.

Who you hire matters more today than ever! We can foresee sellers and buyers listing with an agent and wondering why they’re not hearing from them, only to find out the agent they hired is no longer in the business, or they’re hanging on but overloaded, underfunded, and have no idea what to do next.

If you have questions about selling your property, talk to the Real Estate Experts, Brett and Sande Ellis 239-310-6500. We advertise more than other agents, and we’ve run a team for over 30 years, so we know what it takes to get your home sold in this new environment. Don’t risk your home sale to an inexperienced agent who doesn’t understand the Realtor commission lawsuit settlement or doesn’t have the resources to market and show your home.

Introducing our newsest tool, the Equity Analysis  You’ll be able to check your home value and track your loan balance. This tool will also offer some insights on what you can do with that equity, and when might be a good time to refinance in the future.

Good luck, and Happy Selling!

 

2024 Total pending sales equals last year’s numbers. In 2023 Lee County saw 2,254 total pending sales for single family homes, condos, and manufactured homes on March 21, 2023. We track numbers every Tuesday, so this year’s numbers came out March 19, 2024. The current year’s numbers show 2,234, which is pretty close to last year.

Total Pending Sales Equals 2023 Numbers

The difference though isn’t in the pending sales. It is in the active listings. In 2023 we had 5,458 total active listings across all residential property types for sale. In 2024 we have 10,745 which is almost double the listings.

Roughly, Lee County total pending sales equals 2023 numbers and double the listings. For this reason it is almost impossible for price to rise in this environment.  While official numbers are not out yet as we write this article, we are tracking some interesting unofficial sales numbers in Lee County.

Compare today’s supply-demand vs August Housing Demand Gap.

Unofficial Numbers

Unofficially we can track 976 single family home sales in Lee County through our MLS. The median sales price in February 2024 was $430,000 and the average sales price was $586,665. In 2023 the official sales were 1,024 with a median sales price of $447,500 and an average sales price of $573,104.

We know the official numbers will contain a few extra sales from outside MLS’s that could change these numbers a bit. If our numbers were official, we would say the median sales price is down 3.91% from last year and the average sales price is up 2.37%.

These unofficial numbers are similar to what we have been tracking in recent months, so nothing is startling. The real question is, what will happen to home sales after season?

Last year home sales fell off after May. This is nothing new as they usually do. Last year’s drop-off seemed more severe than it was because prices were also dropping in 2023. The 2nd half of 2023 just didn’t feel very good to home sellers and agents.

Interest rates were also on the rise in 2023.  In 2024 interest rates seemed to have peaked, and the speculation isn’t around how much higher they may go versus when they will start dropping. This is a very different event than what we saw in 2023, so there is optimism.

Sellers have questions though as buyers may hold off in anticipation of rates going lower someday.  When rates start dropping, will buyers jump, or will they wait for them to keep falling? As the Fed holds off on rate cuts, what will happen with the economy?

CMI

The Ellis Team Current Market Index has actually been improving since January 9th. We do not publish the index to the public anymore as we reserve that for our clients, but we can say even though inventory is still rising, the index is improving. If we see this number improving through the month of April, we will feel better about the summer market.

Commission Lawsuit

We have seen several stories by the media about the recently proposed NAR Commission lawsuit settlement. Suffice it to say the media does not understand the terms nor the realities of what’s next. If you have questions about the proposal and are considering buying or selling in the coming months, reach out to us for details.  239-310-6500 The public will have questions, and it pays to get advice from those that know versus the media that does not.

Equity Analysis

Could you benefit from an equity analysis on your home? Not only will you learn the value of your home, you’ll also learn when it pays to refinance, buy investment property, and other uses for your money. Our equity analysis tool is insightful and keeps you updated each month on the changes in your equity. It even keeps track of how much you’re paying down your loan and PMI.

Equity Analysis tool

Equity Analysis Tool

Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-310-6500. We have the tools to help you make good decisions.

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Open House Saturday 12pm-4pm

Cinnamon Cove Open House
Open House Saturday 12-4 PM

11220 Caravel Cir #110 Fort Myers, FL

Open House Sunday 12pm-4pm

Whiskey Creek Open House
Whiskey Creek Open House Sunday 12-4 pm

8515 Oakshade Cir #101

 

We study nationwide new home starts because it affects housing supply, which affects home prices.

During the last housing bubble builders stopped building which led to an under supply of new homes coming to the market. Consequently, we estimate we were about 1.5 million homes nationwide short of keeping up with demand.

Nationwide New Home Starts

As you can see from the chart, from 2008 to 2021 we did not build enough homes.  In 2021 and 2022 we surpassed the 1 million home mark, but in no way could that make up for the nationwide new home starts deficit from the preceding 12 years.

Need 1 Million New Home Starts Annually

Traditionally we need about 1 million nationwide new home starts every year. We didn’t make that number in 2023. This year the National Association of Home Builders met in Las Vegas and predicts they will build about 988,000 units, up 4.2% from last year. NAHB also predicts they will build about 1.03 million in 2025. These numbers are predicated upon the assumption the Fed will reduce rates 2 to 3 times this year, and even more in 2025.

We agree the Fed will reduce rates. We’re not sure if it will be this year, or if it will be 2-3 times in 2024. If the Fed does not reduce rates in 2024, the NAHB prediction of 988,000 new homes being built might be in jeopardy. The good news is homes are not built in a day. Because they are forecasting these rate cuts later in the year, they would have to begin building homes earlier. This means that even if they are wrong on when rate cuts will occur, they might still start close to that number.

Nationwide new home starts can impact future home prices. When the country does not have enough resale inventory and new home sale starts, prices can go up if there is buyer demand. People need to live somewhere, and housing has not been keeping up.

Muti-Family Construction

Many apartments have been built to keep up with demand. Demand was so high rents kept escalating. Some say builders overbuilt in this sector, which could lead to lower rents. If rents got low enough, it could temper buyer demand if it’s a better deal than buying in the minds of renters.

In Southwest Florida we have a nice selection of resale homes. Currently we have about a 6-month supply of homes on the market. Once rates start declining, home buyer demand should increase.

If resale inventory declines, will the tepid new home starts be enough? Will more sellers decide to list, and what will that do to local inventory? You begin to see future home prices are a math equation influenced by existing homeowners and their desires to stay or list, new home starts, interest rates, affordability, and rent prices. The variables change by the week, and this is why we study the macro numbers so our clients have the very best information to make decisions.

Thinking of Selling?

If you’re thinking of selling, you’re probably asking yourself when the best time is. We say this, because this is the question we get asked the most. The answer is it depends on what you own, where you’re going, and your timeframe.

We cannot give blanket answers. Each situation depends on your circumstances. What we can do is sit down with you, listen to your goals, and offer advice based upon your needs. The Ellis Team isn’t in this to make a sale. We do this to solve a need.

If you’d like to speak with Sande or Brett about your situation, call us at 239-310-6500 We’ll be happy to sit down, evaluate your home, and listen. We’re free to talk to, but it can sure cost you not to speak with us.

Or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com to get a good idea of what your home is worth. We can talk when you’re ready.

Good luck, and Happy Home Selling!

 

Median January 2024 home prices fell 3.6% from last year. Average home prices were up 8.7% in January. The reason we don’t look at average home prices as an official number is because it can be skewed by a few large sales and tends to be more volatile.

January 2024 Home Prices Fell 3.6% From Last Year

 

Home prices typically rise from January through May because they are seasonal. Our highest home sales typically close in season and culminate in May. We will be keeping a close eye on home sale prices going forward into February and March.

Pending Sales

We are down 133 pending sales from this time last year.  Single family listings are almost double what they were last year. In my mind, double the listings and 133 fewer pending sales is not the equation for price increases. However, in time prices will naturally increase once supply and demand levels out as repaired homes from the hurricane will have newer roofs, windows, appliances, flooring, and other items that will increase the salability of older homes that needed some updating.

In time, prices will rise, and it could start later this year. Once inventory begins to level off and pending sales rise due to future lower interest rates, it will give us a chance to work down some of this inventory. We don’t know for certain when interest rates will begin to fall, how much they will fall, and what shape the economy will be in once they do begin to move.

High Rates to Hang Around?

For now, high interest rates seem to be in the cards. Everybody was talking about several rate cuts this year. Now the experts are not thinking that. What nobody is talking about is what if the feds must raise rates again. Hopefully holding rates steady will tame inflation, but higher oil prices can move inflation higher quickly, and we’re not doing anything to tackle energy prices. So, we sit and wait, and pray that things work out.

We have some good news on the insurance front as more carriers are entering Florida. We still believe this will take a few years to translate into lower rates, but we’re hopeful. We’re also hopeful we’ll see a modest storm season this summer; however, weather experts are expecting a transition from El Nino to La Nina this summer and warn of a very active hurricane season.

Hurricane Season

It’s a shame that Floridians know so much about La Nina and El Nino, but they do because they need to. An active hurricane season, it doesn’t mean one will hit here. When you were the target of a big one, the next few years seem like everything will come our way. SW Florida escaped the big one after Hurricane Donna in 1960 for about 50+ years when Hurricane Charley hit. I remember locals telling newcomers that hurricanes never come here because they hadn’t seen one personally. Our fear or confidence comes only from our experience and not from actual statistics. Statistically, we may not see another big one here for a while, but then again, we must always prepare.

Cautious Optimism

We are watching pending home sales. We are encouraged that they have risen in the past few weeks. If they continue rising into March it could be a good sign if rates do decline later this year. We track them weekly and will report our findings. Official February numbers will not be released until the 3rd week of March, but we’ll have some preliminary numbers for you before then.

As always, if you have real estate questions, or are considering buying or selling in SW Florida, it pays to work with an experienced team that knows the numbers. We can be reached at 239-310-6500, or visit www.LeeCountyOnline.com to search the MLS like a pro.

Good luck, and Happy Selling!