A financial term you’ll regularly hear bandied about is “Money in Motion.”  Money in motion creates opportunity when money is active and circulating and things become stagnant when people sit on their money and save.  We like to measure the Southwest Florida real estate money in motion by the number of home sales there in a month and multiply by the average sales price.  It gives us a clue as to the overall activity in the market.

When home sales are up and prices are down, they offset each other.  When both are down, money in motion is down.  If both are up, the money in motion is most assuredly up.

Money in Motion Southwest Florida Real Estate

As you can see by the chart, the total dollar volume in November was up 20.6%  That’s the good news.  For the better part of 2016 money in motion has been down.  This is why agents have been complaining that their sales and earnings have been off.

Home sales have been off all year to the tune of 15-20%.  Prices have been up against last year’s numbers but they’ve been flat all year.  We haven’t really seen significant price gains in the market since November 2015.

Sellers measure the health of the market simply by the direction of prices.  Some agents do too.  Experienced agents look at the whole picture; prices and number of sales.  By multiplying and tracking the two, you can identify trends in the market.  Understanding each component of the money in motion principle helps explain what is happening and why which leads to what the market may do in the future.

Money in Motion

Home sales picked up in November. They were up 16%.  Average prices picked up too, up 3.6% What helped with prices is last year’s numbers were adjusted down.  Unless something changes, year over year prices will be flat going forward.  If this remains true, total dollar volume will be influenced more by number of sales than price gains.

2017 will be more positive than 2016 in our opinion.  We can’t say whether it will come in the form of price gains.   Expect transaction volume to increase as more sellers decide to sell.  We have a balanced market right now where neither seller nor buyer have the overall edge, except in certain price ranges.  See last week’s article Southwest Florida Real Estate Inventory Supply Increases in 4th Qtr.

There is renewed optimism in the economy post-election.  2016 was a year where consumers and business sat on their hands.  Both seem poised to start moving again. We could see more sellers begin to trade-up, or move to a different lifestyle home.

We could see more baby boomers buy 2nd homes in Southwest Florida. Retirees may flock here because their 401k’s have been doing well.  No matter the reason, increased money in motion creates opportunity.  Interest rates are rising, and the Fed has signaled last week’s rate hike won’t be their last.  In fact, they predict 3 more rate hikes in 2017.  Borrowing costs will be higher going forward.

The early bird gets the worm.  Actually, late birds will get the worm too, it’ll just cost them more if getting a mortgage.

We’ll be tracking the money in motion for you in 2017.  Sellers need agents more than ever as competition heats up amongst sellers.  Buyers need agents too to assist them in sorting out total cost of ownership and factors which could affect the buyer.

Website Saves You Time

If you’d like to get a head start you can search for your dream home at www.LeeCountyOnline.com  Beat out other buyers to hot new listings.  Save your search and let the system notify you of hot new properties that match what you’re looking for.  Or let one of our buyer agents help you search, just give us a call.

If you’re a seller, please call us at 239-489-4042.  Ask for Sande or Brett.  We handle the marketing for the Ellis Team and we can help you achieve Top Dollar for your home in 2017.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

December 2016 Ellis Team Seller’s Club Report


Congrats to Pam Belcher our Ready For a Yeti Contest Winner!

Stay tuned for your chance to win a Yeti cooler

Ellis Team Featured Listings

Ellis Team Assisted For Sale By Owner Listings

San Carlos Park Pool Home $269,500

Gateway Pool Home on Lake $600,000

It’s Labor Day weekend which brings lots of visitors to our area for the long weekend. Some return to our area for relaxation and fun and others are new.  Many visitors fall in love with SW Florida and get the itch to buy.  Here are 5 things a buyer should know about our current market. 5 Things a Buyer Should Know About Lee County Real Estate.

5 Things a Buyer Should Know About Lee County Real Estate

1.  SW Florida is a Desirable Place to Live and Work:  In fact large companies like Hertz and Alta Resources are moving their headquarters to SW Florida because it’s an easy sell to employees or future employees.  Not every employee can or will relocate, so companies have to ask is the destination attractive to future employees.  Invariably the answer is Yes to our area.

2.  Prices Have Risen From Their Undervalued Lows:  Back in 2008-2009 SW Florida was littered with foreclosures due to the excess of the mid 2000’s  SW Florida was overbuilt and the flipping frenzy ran out.  Buyers contact us today hoping to buy at 2008 prices.  Some still believe our market has not changed in last 4-5 years and they can buy at those undervalued prices.  That’s just not true.

3. Listing Inventory is Down: Inventory has been falling. January single family home inventory stood at 6,215.  Today it’s down to 4,924 and has been falling every month.  It’s common to receive multiple offers on a property if it’s priced correctly.  Buyers are surprised there may only be 1-4 homes that match their criteria on the market.

4.  Interest Rates Are Rising:  We saw a big jump back in May, over 1% jump in about 5 weeks.  Every 1% jump takes away 9% buyers purchasing power.  That rate swing back in May means a buyer that could afford a $200,000 mortgage before the increase could only afford a $180,000 mortgage after the swing.  Buyer’s purchasing power is going down, and this wouldn’t be the end of the world if prices were falling, but see Point #2.  Prices are rising, not falling.  To make matters worse, we expect rates to go up even further.  The Feds have been keeping rates down with stimulus by buying.  The Fed has indicated they will scale back buying treasuries at some point and this has caused the bond market to react.  We know it’s coming, and some speculate it could happen as early as this September.  When it happens, rates will eventually go up.  If you’re on the fence, waiting to buy will absolutely cost you, even if prices stayed the same.

5.  Educate Yourself on the Market:  It does no good to read articles from 3 years ago on what was going on in the market.  It also does no good to read about one market in the country and expect everywhere you visit conditions are the same.  If you’re new to the area, or even if you’ve lived here awhile, it pays to get the latest data and analysis.  When we go out to a home to do a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) we have to update ourselves with the latest information.  Even if we sold 15 homes in that subdivision last year it doesn’t help figure out today’s prices.  We arm ourselves with data on each listing appointment.  Why wouldn’t a buyer want the same information when purchasing?

Feel free to visit Topagent.com  You’ll have access to our Future of Real Estate Show where we update you on the market via video and explain the latest charts and graphs.  Or you can read our Blog at http;//blog.topagent.com  Feel free to search the MLS like an agent at Topagent.com, or visit our virtual tours.

If you need help or would like to talk to a professional, we’re here to help 239-489-4042  Good luck and Happy Buying/Selling!!!

Feel free to view our Virtual Tours .

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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 www.TopAgent.com 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 year we said it was a good time to buy because prices were heading up and interest rates would eventually rise. Is Now the Time to Buy?

Is Now the Time to Buy
Payment on Median Priced Home

4 things affect the cost of owning a home, not counting maintenance of course.  Those 4 things are debt, interest, taxes, and insurance.   Last year prices were rising and they still are.

Interest rates are rising now too.  Interest rates were artificially low because the Fed has been buying down rates by purchasing bonds to stimulate the economy.  They’ve been purchasing about $85-billion-a-month in Treasury and mortgage bond purchases however a few fed governors have hinted that they’re ready to vote to discontinue buying down rates as soon as the economy shows signs of recovery.

Wall Street immediately sold off stock a few weeks ago in anticipation of this.  Fed Chairman Bernanke later said they’re not stopping the program now although nobody knows for certain when the program could end.

Here’s what we know.  SW Florida real estate prices were artificially too low after the real estate bust.  They were so far below replacement cost as we worked through thousands of foreclosures and short sales.  It was only a matter of time until the market recovered.

With inventory on the decrease and foreclosures down drastically from their peak, prices have been rising.  After the bust we had two artificial moments that created an absolute buying bonanza for investors and buyers.  Investors were the first to pick up on the opportunity as regular buyers were afraid the market could fall further.  Regular buyers tend to follow the herd and react.

The artificial low prices are wearing off and soon the artificially low rates will too.  This does nothing but add to the cost of home ownership.  For the past several years we’ve pointed out what rising interest rates and rising prices could do, but sometimes it’s easier to see in graph format before it makes sense.

I always get a kick out of radio show call in listeners or people on TV that think Realtors just say “now is the time to buy” because they want a sale.  While I’m sure every Realtor would like a sale today, there is just no way of getting around the facts.  Last year was a better time to buy a home than today, and today may be better than next year.

We’re not saying to follow the herd.  We told people in 2009 it was the year of bouncing along the bottom and it was.  We told people back in 2005 prices were high and not sustainable.  We’re not afraid to tell it like it is because we study market indicators.

Successful Realtors sell properties in up, down, and sideways markets.  Our job is to educate the community on what’s going on today, and we feel like that’s what we do,  Some people like what we have to say and others don’t.  As consumers we don’t always get to choose the market, only how we react to the market we’re given.  Realtors don’t control the market.  If we did the market would have recovered much faster.

We’ll keep informing you what we’re seeing based on the data we look at.  If you’re considering buying, we think now is a good time as you’ll be able to afford more home today for the same payment than you will next year.

If you’re thinking of selling consider two things.  Prices are going up.  When interest rates go up too it cuts into buyers’ potential, thereby limiting how many buyers can afford your home.  Rising rates can stifle demand, which can hold back prices.  It won’t help the buyer when rates go up, and it doesn’t help the seller either.  Until the economy definitively turns around, nobody knows exactly what prices will do.  All we can say is your options are better today than they will be next year.

Good luck and happy buying/selling!

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Most of us will be out celebrating a 3 day weekend having fun enjoying our families and/or a little time off, as we should.  Life is tough and we deserve it.  Let’s not also forget why we have this holiday.  Memorial Day originally started as Declaration Day.  Several states lay claim to the first Memorial Day, and there was even dissent as the south refused to celebrate Memorial Day after the civil war.

Memorial Day in SW Florida

While history can be fascinating, what’s even more important is the present.  Memorial Day represents honoring those that have served our country.  It’s always sad when some people refuse to honor certain veterans because they disagreed with a conflict or war.  We owe our freedom to veterans.  Our veterans didn’t get a chance to select which conflict or which war they would serve in.  They just served, for us, for the United States of America, just because.  They didn’t ask questions.  Nobody would listen if they did.

First responders at the Boston Marathon or in Oklahoma or Texas didn’t get the chance to pick which disaster they’d respond to, they just did what was needed regardless of how scarred they’d be for dealing with the scene.  The same is true with our veterans.

While you’re out there having fun this weekend, take a moment to visit a grave, or say thanks to an existing veteran, or just remember in your own special way.  It’s the least we can do. We honor our fallen, but let’s also celebrate life.

Personally I’m thankful our SW Florida real estate market is recovering.  Really I’m thankful for so much more.  After watching my dad battle cancer courageously for 6+ years I’m reminded that life is precious.  Celebrate precious moments this weekend with friends and family.  You never know in the blink of an eye when things can change.

My dad was robbed from cancer.  No better way to put it.  But so are people with Aids, other diseases, tornado and other natural disasters, etc.  The list goes on.  There is no good way to make sense of it all.  The universe doesn’t care about any one of us.  I often ask what God’s plan was when a school full of children was leveled.  The answer may never make sense to us humans, and we’ll never understand.  There must be a purpose for us.  Every one of us has been touched by death and disaster.

We do not know how much time we have here on earth.  All we control really is how we treat others, how we enjoy the time we have, and how we honor those that served for our benefit.

So please, take a moment to thank a veteran, or a surviving spouse.  Display your flag.  Hug your kids.  Say I love you to a loved one.  Pick up the phone and call someone dear to you that you haven’t spoken to in awhile.  Say all the things you’d want to say if today was your last day on earth.  If that blink comes, you won’t get that chance tomorrow.

Remember that our veterans didn’t always get that chance.  Most were separated from their families in a foreign place.  Most spoke by written mail and an occasional phone call, and they sacrificed for us.

For us at home enjoying our freedom and our weekend, we have it all.  It’d be such a shame not to pay some respect.  Such a shame not to say things you’ve wanted to say.

Remember it’s up to us to take care of each other.  After thanking a veteran, the biggest honor we can bestow is to make this a better place.  Enjoy your weekend, spend time with family, and honor America, a country of freedom worth fighting for!

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Memorial Day in SW Florida


Are you one of thousands of homeowners wondering what happened to your property insurance discount in Florida?  Perhaps you paid money for an expensive inspection that entitled you to discounts on your homeowners insurance for things like wind protection. Florida law requires insurance companies to offer homeowners discounts or credits for existing building features or home improvements that reduce damage and loss from hurricanes. Florida insurance companies are required to file these discounts with the Office of Insurance Regulation.

Property Insurance Discounts
Has Your Insurance Company Raised Your Rates?

The discounts apply to your wind portion which accounts for 15 to 70% of your total premium, depending on where you live in Florida. We’d encourage you to check out MySafeFloridaHome.com/insurance.asp for more information.

Having moved here from State Farm Country in Central Illinois in the ‘80’s I was a loyal State Farm customer for all those years until last year.  I started receiving letters stating that State Farm wanted to re-inspect my home, ignoring the reports I had presented years prior that entitled me to wind protections discounts.

Low and behold an inspector came out, looked around, and left.  He didn’t ask me to show him anything.  Next thing I know I received a letter denying my discounts.  I asked for a re-inspection.  That was denied.  I asked them to look at my reports.  They did and said it didn’t qualify.  I provided copies of the permit and State Farm said the wind resistance tests weren’t with the documentation.  Keep in mind the inspector looked into none of this.  This was a failed test designed from the get go.

I provided the engineering and testing reports provided by the manufacturer.  These products were tested and accepted by the state, but not State Farm.  A loyal customer of State Farm for over 30 years was forced to switch.  I’m sure State Farm isn’t the only company stingy with the discounts.

Citizens has made news the past few months after employing the same tactics. Citizens has received complaints stemming from their reinspection program that has resulted in 3 out of 4 property owners receiving rate hikes due to the new inspection.  So far Citizens has inspected 257,000 properties, so that’s about 192,750 affected customers.

Due to the complaints, Citizens board of directors has decided to reform its reinspection program, hire an auditor, and improve its customer relations department.  I’m still waiting on State Farm to do the same.

Property owners will now have a year to dispute the rate hikes.  Owners can request another inspection free of charge.  If an inspector previously could not enter an attic a home was denied automatically, but that’s not the case on the reinspection program.

I saw another report this past week that said the state has built up a $6.2 Billion dollar fund due to lack of hurricanes.  I realize one big hurricane in a metropolitan area can change all that, but it would seem to me these insurance companies could pass along the savings for homeowners who have complied and strengthened their homes.  Don’t set guidelines, ask people to spend money and follow them, then jerk the discounts away.  These people have spent good money to protect their property which in turn should lower insurance costs.  It seems the people are keeping their end of the bargain. And now it’s time insurance companies keep theirs.

We suspect this has happened to many here in SW Florida. If it has, call your insurance company.  Let your elected representatives know.  If it’s important to you, it will become important to them.  Together we all pay, and together our thousands of voices will be heard, and hopefully together we’ll all save.

Feel free to share your insurance stories here.


It’s been a little while since we released the official SW Florida Real Estate Current Market Index.  This index accurately predicts the near term forward direction of the local real estate market by analyzing current market activity against inventory levels and assigning a value.  A lower index level indicates a hotter the market, and a higher number indicates a cooling market. 

Current Market Index-Southwest Florida Real Estate
Ellis Team SW Florida Current Market Index

As you can see, the forward indicator heated up in February and we witnessed strong sales since that time.  We have noticed a slight cooling trend since May.  As we write this article official numbers haven’t been released yet, but we have spoken with several agents and loan officers who have also indicated a cooling trend since May. 

At 4.94 the index still boasts very strong numbers; however the trend has been rising lately so we’ll want to keep an eye on it.  One reason the market has cooled a bit is because bargain based foreclosure property inventory levels have fallen off which has cooled buying demand.  SW Florida has been a price sensitive market and buyers are off the fence and buying because they perceive real bargains.  The looming question has always been what will buyers do when the real bargains begin to dry up? 

We have heard reports that banks will be unloading more foreclosures to the market soon, and already we are seeing that.  Banks are not filing new foreclosures at the pace they once were, so we wondered how this could be true.  The answer may be that the banks have not released the entire inventory they foreclosed upon in the past few years. 

To give an example, we just pre-listed a bank foreclosure we’ll be bringing to the market soon.  From the time an agent receives a pre-listing it can take 1-6 weeks or so before property is ready to bring to market.  Several reports, valuations, and decisions must be made, and in some instances repairs, water hookups, etc before the property is ready for market. 

This particular property had suffered some fire damage.  The bank of course wanted a fire report from the fire department once they learned this new fact.  Keep in mind, the banks don’t know what they’ve got on their hands until the appraisal and agent reports inform them.  We obtained the fire report and determined the fire occurred back in 2007.  It’s obvious the borrower has not lived in the property since 2007, and presumably hasn’t made a payment on a damaged property they weren’t living in. 

So the question is, if the buyer wasn’t making payments, why did it take from 2007 until now for the bank to foreclose and/or bring the property to market.  The bank is just now discovering there was a fire over 3 yrs ago in the property.  

The answer is either the banks have held back inventory, or have just been too busy working their backlog.  So just because foreclosure filings have been down in the past year doesn’t mean there couldn’t be more ready to hit the market.

In addition to the banks we’re dealing with, we’ve also been working on FNMA listings.  We’ve been told by various sources to get ready for an influx of FNMA properties as well, and already we’ve been assigned several pre-listings. 

Banks have been more diligent on short sales, but they’re still not quick enough.  Short sale closings have been rising, but they’re still a drop in the bucket compared to the struggling homeowners out there. 

With short sale closings rising, and the possibility of more bargains hitting the market, we could see the index drop again, but for now it is rising and we’ll want to monitor.  Nationwide sales have slowed, so it’s not just a SW Florida trend.  We’ll be watching sales volume and pricing trends closely in the coming weeks and update you.

Tune in to The Future of Real Estate Video Show.

Due to a shortage of U.S. manufactured drywall between 2004 and 2007, many builders were forced to buy drywall imported from China. The “Chinese drywall” has been linked to seeping sulfide gases that can corrode electrical wiring and components of air-conditioning and other household appliances. Some residents have been forced to move from their homes, and a few builders in Florida have begun gutting homes and replacing the drywall.

We have found some helpful information put out by the Florida Department of Health that may be help to answer some questions the public may have regarding if Chinese drywall is present in your home and what the health implications may be, as well as where to turn for help.

See Frequently Asked Questions:  Here is a sample question.

How do I know if I have “Chinese drywall”?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. The most definitive method to date is finding a “made in China” marking on the back of sheet of drywall. DOH observed some drywall in several homes with no discernable markings. The origin of the unmarked drywall is unknown. DOH observed that homes with marked Chinese drywall also contained drywall marked as made in USA. Remember that we do not know how many sheets of the suspect drywall can cause problems. DOH did observe at least one home with marked Chinese drywall with none of the associated corrosion or odor problems. The bottom line is we think the question should really be “Does my house have corrosion problems?”

How to File a Consumer Complaint: Useful information on who to contact if you’d like to file a complaint.

Case Definition and Pictures (Does My home fit the investigation criteria?)

We will continue to provide additional information and resources as they become available.  You can also listen to The Future of Real Estate each week as we bring you important information and news regarding real estate in SW Florida.




Brett Ellis of the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group will present the SW Florida real estate State of the Market Report at the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investors Association general meeting for Lee and Collier counties February 20, 2008.  The meeting starts at 6:00 and members and vistors will evaluate deals, run comps, and do pro formas on properties, followed by the general meeting.

Brett will unveil the latest trends, and explain what happened in 2007 and why.  Last years report predicted some hot and cold spots, and those predictions turned out to be pretty accurate.  You’ll want to hear where the market is today, where it is headed, and what opportunities there are in this market.

If you’re a current owner, you’ll want to know how your area is doing and how it affects your value.  Buyers use this report as a valuable tool to evaluate purchasing decisions.

Details on the Meeting.