The past few weeks we’ve gone on several listing appointments.  We’ve got some great new listings coming to the market in the next few weeks by the way, so stay tuned.  We don’t take every listing for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes the seller is upside down on the mortgage and they don’t want to short sale, or perhaps the market isn’t quite where the seller wants it to be so they wait.  Each seller has his or her own reasons for deciding if and when to sell, and we merely help them in the process on their schedule. How to Interview an Agent to Sell Your Home.


How to Interview an Agent to Sell Your Home
Tips on Interviewing Agents

One trend we have been seeing is sellers asking a lot of questions.  Some have a pre-printed list of questions and others are asking questions based upon ideas that came about from interviews with other agents.  If you’re unsure of which questions to ask, our website has a list of 49 questions to ask before hiring a real estate professional.

Our list has been online for over a decade. While it could probably use a little freshening up  there are still some good ideas in there. As we freshen it up the number of questions could change.  One question on that list is How Many Listings Did Your Team Sell Last Year?  This is a much different question than how many homes did you sell last year.

Recently we went on an interview and the seller had interviewed several agents.  The first agent came in about 20% higher than we were.  I had never heard of the agent they were interviewing.  She worked for a company with little market share so I looked her up in MLS and found that she had Zero listings sales.  The seller interviewed another agent who had 5 listing sales.  While not a lot, that’s a lot better than Zero.  The agent with 5 sales came out similar to our numbers.

The first agent either doesn’t know the market, or needs a listing.  Listings generate buyers, so if you take an over-priced listing it may not sell, but the listing agent may gain some buyers from it.  We call this buying a listing in the industry.  We don’t like to do this as we want to help each seller, not use them.  I’m not saying this agent was buying the listing, they just may not have known better.

Working with a seller is much different than a buyer. Buyers are the easiest part of the business.  Working with a seller requires more training and knowledge. Sellers have been known to eat and spit out newer, inexperienced agents.  They need to know if their home is priced correctly in the market, if any new listings have entered the market that is competition, how each showing went, where the home is being marketed, open houses, and what type of calls the agent is getting.  Sellers want to know all about the home up the street, and why Fred the neighbor says they priced their home too cheap.  They want to know why all the cars are stopping at their neighbor’s home.  They’ll have 3 people from work who say they want to buy the home and ask agent to follow up with them.

When a contract comes in it gets interesting.  Since they just had 4 showings they’re convinced all 4 will be writing full price offers and follow up with each of them.  Once a contract is accepted it gets really interesting and all the anxieties about inspections and contingencies come out.  It takes an agent who can handle a seller’s emotions.  An agent with a lot of experience working with seller sis preferable.

Asking the right questions before hiring someone to list your home will prevent this frustration later.  The solution is simple. Interview more agents until satisfied with the answers.  Hiring the right agent is perhaps the most critical decision you will make in the entire process.  Spend the time upfront and it will save you in the long run.

Good luck and Happy Selling!

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Brett Ellis Bio

The past two weeks we’ve written Top Tips of Selling Your Home and Buying a Home. This week we thought we’d focus on where the market is headed as so many have asked for an update on the market.

Prices in 2011 were up all year since February and never looked back. Most buyers realized the bottom of our market was back in 2009 at the height of the foreclosure crisis. Inventory has fallen dramatically although it has risen again which is a surprise to many.

Fort Myers - Cape Coral Pending Home Sales Chart
Pending Home Sales in Fort Myers- Cape Coral

Attached is the pending sales chart. As you can see, pending sales are up 15.44% over the previous month. Looking back, February always sees a jump in pending sales as the Northern Snowbirds are here in mass every year when our weather is beautiful and it’s cold up North. This year, we started noticing seasonal visitors back in October which was an early start.

While the pending sales chart doesn’t show it, people have been here looking for months. We believe they realize Florida is still relatively inexpensive compared to 2005 levels, but prices are rising and nobody wants to miss out on a good deal. Unfortunately, we have less inventory to sell, so not all are leaving with a deal. In fact, several commented they wished they would have bought last year as prices are definitely higher and selection is definitely less.

SW Florida Distressed Sales
SW Florida Real Estate Distressed Sales

We still get calls from buyers looking for $25,000 properties 3 blocks from the beach. We’re not quite sure which website they’re looking at. The only thing we can guess is maybe it’s a 2008 or 2009 version that hasn’t been updated. Maybe they’re reading old headlines, or headlines about falling prices up North. Whatever the case, they’re convinced our agents are holding out on them and they move on to call other agents who they think will have those old deals for them.

The reality is the market moved on. The market rarely stays in one place, it is always in flux. Look at the Lee County Total Distressed Sales Chart. Last month only 44.84% of all single family home sales in Lee County were distressed compared to 71.86% back in June 2009. We have seen a rise in traditional sales combined with a fall in foreclosures available to sell which has contributed to higher prices.

We’ve actually seen more homes being built because of higher price points, declining inventory, and builders have been able to cut costs from suppliers and workers looking for work. While building activity has increased, it’s still a far cry from where it was back in the prime of the market.

We’ve got dozens more charts we could share but only so many would fit in a one page article. Suffice it to say that SW Florida is looking up a bit in housing. Our economy seems to be doing mildly better as well, which we ultimately need to fuel and sustain any housing run-up.

We know more foreclosures are on the way, but nothing like what we saw back in 2009. We have a slight backlog due to legal slowdowns because of the robo-signing issue. The market is easily absorbing all new foreclosures we bring to market and in fact has a thirst for more. We don’t believe this thirst will be quenched. We believe this year will produce a good season and hopefully things will continue on.

This is an election year, and the unknowns are always tax laws, gas prices, instability overseas, and the future of our economy. Absent the wild cards, our market looks in good shape and is healing in a positive way. This healing may be slow for some sellers, and fast for some of those buyers looking at outdated headlines or websites, however it is occurring at a healthy and sustainable pace. It is a process that had to occur, and thank God it is occurring.

Whether you’re buying or selling, it pays to get the facts. A mistake will cost you. Each neighborhood can be different, so be careful about relying on countywide information. It may or may not apply to the home you’re considering buying or selling.

Good luck and happy house hunting.

State of the Market-Mini Update

Here is a look at Inventory levels from random past dates and today. Active represents Active listings by date, and Pending represents properties that were under contract for sale at the time. CMI represents our Current Market Index, which accurately predicts where the market is heading. See Below for Commentary.


Fort Myers Geo Areas

6/20/2003 819 378 2.17
8/7/2003 768 337 2.28
10/15/2003 825 303 2.72
12/14/2004 494 295 1.67
4/1/2005 435 428 1.02
7/25/2005 398 350 1.14
9/29/2005 490 267 1.84
10/25/2005 626 200 3.13
1/24/2006 1338 210 6.37

Cape Coral Geo Areas

6/20/2003 1575 805 1.95
8/7/2003 1463 733 2
10/15/2003 1593 651 2.45
12/14/2004 886 581 1.52
4/1/2005 1006 894 1.13
7/25/2005 1020 971 1.05
9/29/2005 1653 751 2.2
10/25/2005 2141 605 3.64
1/24/2006 3926 537 7.31



As you can see, inventory is rising quickly, and the market has swung from a Hot sellers market to a buyers market. The CMI index in October predicted the market would slow, and as you can see, Active listings have swelled while Pending sales have dropped.

We are seeing about a 5 to 1 ratio of new listings entering the market each day to number of homes that go pending, which has lead to a dramatic increase in inventory. How much will this build-up affect prices? Stay tuned and we’ll post more Mini-updates on what is happening in SW Florida Real Estate.

Note, we selected certain geographic areas inside our MLS system for same sales comparisons. The Fort Myers and Cape Coral Geo areas do not encompass the Entire Lee County market, there are actually many more listings than what is shown here. We do feel, however, this is an accuratae representation of what is happening all over SW FLorida, regardless of which Geo area homes are located in.


To search for homes for sale, feel free to shop at

Two local newspapers published their Top 10 business stories for 2005. Real estate dominated much of the news in 2005.
The News Press released their Top 10 Business Stories as did Naples Daily News, Link no longer active.
To find out more about Homes for sale in SW Florida, check out where you can search for homes listed in the MLS. Also vist for more information about SW Florida.