Most people don’t realize that their Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) could be facing some stiff payment increases in the coming years.  If you bought a home in the 2000’s chances are your lender discussed adding on an interest only line of credit to your first mortgage in case you needed money in the future.


Lines of Credit Payments About to Skyrocket

Home equity lines of credit origination chart by year
HELOC Origination Chart

Some people used the line of credit from the get-go to avoid paying PMI insurance.  It was an attractive option as it was probably interest only and the payment was affordable.  Many are as low as 3.25%  Rates are still that low today but the rates can go up at anytime, but that’s not what has the banking industry worried.

The part that wasn’t fully explained to consumers is that the interest only portion lasts for the first 10 years.  After that, the borrower must begin making principal and interest payments, which will add money to your monthly payment even if rates don’t rise.  But here’s the kicker.  The new payment is amortized over 15 years, not 30 years, so essentially you have to pay back the entire HELOC over 15 years in addition to your 1st mortgage.

Let’s say you have a 1st mortgage and a $200,000 interest only HELOC.  At 3.25% the HELOC monthly payment is $541.67.  With the new amortization that payment increases to $1,405.34  If it was based upon a 30yr amortization the payment would be $870.41, still a substantial increase.  Unfortunately it’s not, so get ready to pay a lot more.

Now, let’s assume the interest jumps to 4.5%.  These rates can adjust at anytime as the market changes, and most economists predict they will go up.  At 4.5% amortized over 15 years that same payment jumps to $1,529.99

You can see from the chart when the HELOC originations started jumping.  Many SW Florida homeowners are up against this reset now and many more will be hearing about this subject in the next few years.  It is a shock when you’re not expecting, but homeowners who act now have a chance to do something about it.

You can start making the extra payments voluntarily now which will reduce the principal when your loan does reset.  This also gets you used to the higher payments and allows you to budget properly.

For some this will not be feasible.  If you have equity now and good credit you might look at refinancing both loans into one mortgage.  It’s much harder to get a loan today than it was 10 years ago, but if you can that may be a great option.  If you cannot refinance, you may want to look at selling now, especially if you have equity.  It would be a shame to come up against the deadline and be forced into delinquency because you can’t afford the higher payments if you have equity.

If you are upside down on your mortgage, you can either start talking with your lender now or look at doing a short sale.  Nobody wants to go into foreclosure.  Many have resisted a short sale up until now, but a short sale is much better on your credit than a looming foreclosure would be.

We’re not here to tell you what you should do. That’s a personal decision and maybe one to be discussed with your attorney or accountant.  We are here to educate you on what’s coming and tell you about your options.

If you think you may want or need to sell, please give us a call.  We’re experts at looking at the situation and listening.  We’ll get you top dollar for your home and help you move on.  So many people have been locked into their homes waiting for the market to rise, and it has.  Perhaps the market has risen enough for you to sell now.  Perhaps it makes sense to down size, upgrade, and move to another location, etc.  We can help.  Give us a call at 239-489-4042  If you’d like to search the MLS first, go to and you can see what homes like yours are selling for.  Of course there’s no substitute for meeting with us and us evaluating your home.  We look forward to working with you to sell your home, or to buy one.
To search the MLS for properties go to or give us a call at 239-489-4042 You can even search for waterfront property in Fort Myers, Cape C oral, or all of SW Florida    Good luck and Happy House Hunting!!!



Last year we did an article about Realtors using video in their business.  Back then about 14% of Realtors were using video.  We suspect today that number has grown a bit as more and more people are watching videos in their travel time and in between moments of their life on their smart phones and tablet devices. Today we’d like to update that story with Realtors Using Video Revisited


Realtors Using Video Revisited
Ellis Team YouTube Channel

Last month alone our YouTube channel  viewers watched 11,792 minutes of video.  That’s over 196 hours of video.  Of that traffic, mobile apps and direct traffic accounted for 51% of that activity. Germany was the leading country after the United States to watch our videos.  Brazilians watched for the longest average duration followed by the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Austria.

While it helps to have professional video and audio it isn’t required.  Putting something at least decent up is better than nothing as long as the content is compelling and informative.

One thing you’ll notice about our YouTube channel is that we’ve updated the skin to YouTube’s standards.  This is a recent change Google has adopted.  They want pages to look similar across platforms and devices.  We created the beach graphics that have a similar theme to our Google+ Business Page. You can find a link to our Google+ page from if you’d like to see an example.  They also requested different sizes so they’ll look good on a desktop computer, a tablet or iPad, and a Smartphone.

Google is rewarding those who adopt their standards in local searches.  For instance, if you search Fort Myers Real Estate on Google the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group comes up in their listed map search as well on various pages.  The results in the various pages change all the time, but the map listings have stayed fairly constant.

We believe using video heavily has helped how Google rates websites.  We still do many other things as Google doesn’t rely on any one thing.  However, by doing many things and using video helps raise the bar and in Google’s algorithms separates serious Realtors from less than serious.  Google’s term is authority.  They are trying to identify authority and reward websites that provide authority.

In addition to SW Florida real estate updates published on our YouTube channel, we have a separate YouTube source where we post our property videos.  Video is playing an increasingly larger role in real estate searches.  Some buyers are searching for agents and properties on YouTube and skipping the search engine process altogether.

Look no further than teenagers today.  They don’t search on computers much.  They do search YouTube videos all day long, or do mobile searches on the phone.

Agents today must change they way they market to reach today’s buyers.  If you think teenagers are the only ones searching on mobile devices, just look around and watch people.  Our analytics tell us who is searching, from where, and how long on our websites.  The results will astonish.

Our advice would be, if you want to attract more customers for your listings, step outside the box and try new things.  Ask successful agents where they’re finding buyers today.  Look around and observe people yourself, and if you see a niche, jump on it.  We’re always looking for new ways to reach buyers and sellers, and if the market shifts in the future, (and it will) we’ll be searching for ways to capture that demand.

So get out there and take some video and post it online.  If it has decent audio and video, you’ll be glad you did.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting/Selling!!!!

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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

Last week we wrote about home prices climbing this season and how it’s getting harder to find homes in certain price ranges.  Active single family home inventory is down to 5,476 in April, down from 5,900 in March.  Pending sales are up too, so our market has been doing very well.  Inventory typically falls this time of year and starts picking up again about October.  If you’re a home seller, beating other sellers to the market might help you sell before the rush in the Fall.

Good Time to Sell Fort Myers Cape Coral Florida home inventory
Listing Inventory in SW Florida

Last week we ran a line in our ad that read “Your home might be worth more than you think. Find out at” We were surprised that with that one little line 8 people responded and filled out their information to find out.  Once we receive the information our team runs a computer report that is several pages long and provides an online computer estimate of value.

Online computer home value report SW Florida
Online Home Value Report presented by the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group

People can select to receive an online evaluation only, or a more accurate evaluation whereby we come to the property and look at various characteristics like features, condition, view, etc.  For those just looking to get a pretty good idea the online computer analysis works very well.

Keep in mind the computer has never been inside your home and doesn’t necessarily know about some of the upgrades you’ve put in.  It also can’t see the condition or other attributes buyers may like, or certain objections a buyer may not like.

The market has been moving so fast sometimes the computers have a hard time keeping up.  In a rising market, sometimes appraisers go through the same issues. The computers go off recent sold sales and may not reflect a lack of inventory in a certain price range that might warrant an increase in price.

The computers have been doing a pretty good job of getting sellers in the ballpark, but if you’re going to sell it doesn’t do any good to sell a home for $200,000 because the computer says so if it’s really worth $218,000.  You’re just giving $18,000 equity away to the buyer if you do.

If you have an interest in selling, feel free to check out If you’re a buyer and would like to search the MLS, check out It’s simply amazing today what you can find online.

We’ll be happy to send you your online report.  If it looks good and you’d like to consider selling, you can call us to schedule a more detailed appointment to go over how we market homes and how our marketing works to sells homes quickly and for today’s true market value.

Perhaps you’re looking to trade-up or down before interest rates make a move.  Waiting for you home’s value to go up even $10,000 may cost you money.  The home you’re looking for could not only rise in value, but the cost of financing could blow any savings with just a ¼% rise in rates.  Interest rates are expected to rise because the Fed wants to refrain from buying interest rates down as soon as the economy gets stronger.  Several Fed governors have hinted they’re ready now to begin raising rates.

If you’re unsure what to do, give us a call at 239-489-4042.  We’re easy to talk to and we never pressure.  We simply give you your options and let you decide.  When you decide to sell, you’ll have the best and most aggressive team working for you.

Good luck, and Happy House Selling!

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