Life In Bonita Springs Florida - Local Info & Real Estate
Galt Preserve Pine Island Florida
When I learned that Galt Preserve was cutting the ribbon and opening the trails to the public I decided to organize a girls daycation. Dill, my fearless pooch, was left behind and my one year old granddaughter, Madison, did her best to fill his tiny shoes. Angela, Madison’s mom, came to supervise us both.
A trip to the Galt Preserve in St. James City, Florida is like a great escape in more ways than one. St. James City is on Pine Island. There’s only one way to get to Pine Island on wheels and that’s by driving through Matlacha which serves as an effervescent threshold to the past. Once you cross the Matlacha draw bridge and pass artists cottages you’re on your way to a slower paced Pine Island without a single traffic light and very few franchise based businesses. With exception of the couple of restaurants and the Winn Dixie, Pine Island is mostly mom and pop businesses. It’s reminiscent of Bonita Springs 30 years ago.
We decided to go to Galt Preserve early and catch the speakers who cut the ribbon and then we toured a few of the trails and look-outs. This preserve is labor of love for both conservations and locals who saw the importance of preserving a part of the island for nature while still allowing people to have access to the property. The movement began with members of the Galt Island homeowner association donating the initial funds to secure the first portion of the land. In total, 265 acres was eventually preserved with the assistance of Conservation 2020, the Calusa Land Trust and a Florida Communities Trust grant.
The Galt Preserve offers hiking, bird watching, nature photography and fishing. There are about 2.5 miles of walking trails which are a mixture mowed prairie paths, raised mulch paths and wood-like boardwalks over marsh areas prone to hold water during the rainy season. Parts of this park are ADA compliant with a section of smooth, asphalt paths from parking to one of the lake front look-outs and the restroom facilities. There are also a couple of covered picnic areas so you can pack a lunch to enjoy on site, too.
This park is great for the bird watchers and photographers because of the many types of birds that can be spotted on site. The stars of the show are a nesting pair of eagles that can be easily seen both in the nest and in flight, if you’re patient and keep a watchful eye.
Galt preserve is not only family friendly, its pet friendly, too. Dogs on lead are permitted. We actually ran into a few dogs, including a service dog in training, while on the trail. Madison was able to test the dog’s patience with a complimentary dental exam. A true field study passed by all parties involved.
If you don’t pack a lunch for the preserve be sure to treat yourself to dinner at one of the many locally owned waterfront seafood restaurants before you leave the island. We happened to have stopped at a restaurant called The Waterfront and enjoyed fresh grouper before we headed back to Bonita Springs and the bustle of tourist season on the mainland.
Galt Preserve is located at 3661 Stringfellow Road, St. James City, Florida on Pine Island. You can learn more at www.conservation2020.org. Happy trails and boardwalks!
Special to Southwest Spotlight
You can see the Bonita Springs real estate market has kept pace since the downturn. The units are likely higher than 180 for 2014 as some sales don’t get recorded until a few weeks after closing. Expect that number to be higher in a few weeks.
We ran a slightly cash heavy real estate market this month. We’re at about 63% cash transactions followed by 30% conventional mortgages. Cash is still moving this real estate market upward.
So, how distressed is Bonita Springs Florida real estate sales? Well, this is a look at current LISTINGS, actively for sale. We have less than 4% distress homes in our market place. The prices have gone up so there are fewer short sales and there are only about 2.4% foreclosures. So, if your dream is to buy a Florida foreclosure you only have a sliver of a chance to get one in your price range, banks are no longer entertaining low ball offers, there are multiple offers on foreclosures and they usually get listed a little under market price to generate a bidding war. Go forth and get your foreclosure.
This is what the closed sale, real estate transaction for November looked like on December 6 2014. The mad dash to close those foreclosures by the end of the year is on. Wow, what a difference a month makes in this type of distressed property arena.
If you have pointed questions about your own neighborhood or need advice purchasing or selling real estate in the Bonita Springs and Estero Florida area call Chris at 239-273-7430. Chris is an accredited buyers agent, certified residential specialist and an accomplished strategist when it comes to buying and selling real estate in southwest Florida. To download the November 2014 market report graphs, Click Here
The Gordon River Greenway Naples
This month’s trip was inspired by the recommendation of Willie on The Bonita Springs Community Group on Facebook. As soon as he posted that The Gordon River Greenway was open I went to www.GordonRiverGreenway.org to verify that it was pet friendly. Minutes later l picked up a friend, loaded up my fearless Minpin Dill and we headed to Naples to scope it out.
Let me just say straight up front that this greenway gets a standing ovation for being user friendly and truly accessible for everyone. We chose to park at the south lot which is between the Zoo and the Conservancy on Goodlette-Frank Road. Be sure to drive all the way to the back, it’s a big lot.
We didn’t know what to expect so when we started out we were initially surprised by the width of the raised boardwalk bridge. It’s one of the widest boardwalk trails in SWFL, if not the widest. You might otherwise not notice because you’ll be distracted by the monkeys at the Zoo carrying on. This was officially our first nature walk with a chorus of monkeys.
After the bridge entry the trail widens to about twelve feet of smoothly paved asphalt. This is a perfect destination for runners, walkers and wheels. You name the wheels and you’ll see them on this trail; bikes, strollers, inline skaters, wheel chairs and skate boarders. This is the place for families to be able to go in a group. It’s clean, well-manicured and safe for all ages. Into the evening the paths are lit with LED streetlights and the bridges have under-rail LED rope lighting to illuminate the way.
For those of you with dogs this is a great location to walk them but an even better location to socialize them for training purposes. Dill is still working on his manners so there were plenty of passing dogs and owners to test his sitting and behaving abilities. This continues to be a work in progress for us.
There wasn’t a lot of wildlife to be seen given the newness of the trail and the time of day we went, which was mid-morning. The Gordon River Greenway is exactly the type of Boardwalk Park that is simply going to get better with time as the vegetation fills out and more wildlife moves back. We were able to see a variety of birds and butterflies plus on our way out I noticed a fiery Catesby’s lily that I had missed on the way in.
As we left we did run by the North parking lot just to check it out. Not far from the picnic tables there are some gorgeous pink and white lilies floating in the retention pond just waiting for you to take a picture so swing by before winter steals their water.
When you go, here are a few tips.
· Parking and entry is free.
· No motorized vehicles are permitted on the trail.
· This is a “pack your trash” out park so there are no garbage cans on the trail.
· Pack your dog poo, too, so don’t forget the bags.
· Bring water, there are no vending machines.
· There are several covered places to sit and benches along the way.
· Talk to people on the trail. They’re from all over the world and they so want to know more about Southwest Florida.
Happy trails and boardwalks!
*this article is special to Southwest Spotlight magazine, delivered to homes in Southwest Florida and available in lobbie and sitting areas of local businesses.
Rules for a 1031 Exchange in Bonita Springs Fl
Using a 1031 Exchange to buy and sell real estate is a great way to leverage the tax code to defer capital gains taxes on the sale of real property. If you are buying or selling real estate in Bonita Springs and Estero Florida using a 1031 exchange you will need to meet, at minimum, six primary IRS regulations. Both personally and professionally, Chris has participated with 1031 Exchanges in Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida.
Many of Chris’s real estate clients have sold both residential investment real estate and commercial real estate elsewhere in the United States and purchased replacement properties in the Bonita Springs, Florida area. If you’re thinking of using a 1031 Exchange to fund the purchase of a home or condo in the Bonita Springs or Estero, Florida area, here are a few rules you need to follow:
Real Property Use - Both your old and new properties must qualify as investment or business use. If both types of real estate pass this test, you can exchange nearly any type of real estate.
45 Day Identification Period - You have 45 days from the closing of your sale to list the replacement properties you may want to buy. For example, if you sell a rental property, you have 45 days to list the replacement property you wish to purchase in Bonita Springs, Florida or Estero Florida.
Exchange Period of 180 Days - When you sell your 1031 exchange property you have 180 days to close on the purchase of one or more properties from your 45-day list. So, in theory, you must sell your investment property and choose the replacement properties you’d like to purchase in Bonita Springs then you must close on these properties within 180 days.
Qualified Intermediary - The IRS mandates that you use a QI to prepare the legal documents for your 1031 exchange. The qualified intermediary holds the funds from the sale of the exchange property. Because the QI must be independent, it cannot be your friend, employee, broker, or even your accountant or attorney.
Title For Your Bonita Springs Replacement Property - You must purchase and take title to your new Bonita Springs real estate exactly as you held title to your old property that was sold for the 1031 exchange.
Reinvestment Requirement - To defer all of your capital gain tax, your replacement property in Bonita Springs must be of equal or higher in value than the one you sold. Also, you must reinvest all of the cash proceeds from your sale.
Consult your tax attorney or tax professional prior to engaging in a 1031 Exchange in Estero or Bonita Springs, Florida.
Bonita Springs Home Stats Nov 1 2014
Are you headed back to Bonita Springs or Estero to buy a home or condo this winter? Things may look a little different than the last time you were in SWFL. A year ago the $200,000 and under real estate market was commanding the market. For the last few months the $200-400,000 real estate market has lead the charge. Check out the statistics on the graph above. If you’re a seller in Bonita Springs you might want to consider what price range your home is in and if it stands potential for selling. For example, look at the $800-1,000,000 price point. Only four units sold in that price point last month.
Bonita Springs Homes Sold Condition
The good news is that we are doing well with the evaporation of distressed real estate in Southwest Florida. Above is the closed sale statistics and how many short sales and foreclosures home sales that really aren't happening these days.
Bonita Springs Home Listings Condition
At this time the current listings show only 1.4% short sales and only 3.5% foreclosures. Things are looking up and home prices have gone up considerably. If you are thinking of selling and you’re not sure what price your home can fetch. Call me and I can do a seller’s estimated net sheet with closing costs and your mortgage balance so you know the facts. You never know. I might be able to help you cash flow and move on.
Bonita Springs Historical Sales
The graph above shows sales by unit number for 10 years during the month of October. You’ll see the gradual climb of real estate sales which is how all of the inventory was absorbed. End story: Real estate is back in Southwest Florida. Now we have to watch for bubble number two. I’m watching and calculating the next soft spot I see forming.
How Bonita Springs Homes Are Financed
Cash is still king but we've seen a slowing of cash purchases. While we’ve been as high at 70% cash, we’ve also been as low at 54%. This month we’re at just under 60% cash sales. We’ve seen Conventional lending expand and even a few more VA mortgages, which are great cost savers for veterans.
Pet Friendly Trails and Boardwalks in SWFL
Just north of the Caloosahatchee River is a great little park called Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve (East). Caloosahatchee Creeks East is a little over a mile east of I-75 just off of Bayshore Road. I originally noticed this park when I visited Echo Global Farm last year. After a little investigating I realized there was also a Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve West, which is west of 75. In short, you could fill a good part of the day touring both locations.
As soon as the merciless September rains wrapped up I decided to tour this park and help my fearless pooch, Dill, blow some steam off on a walk around Sweetbay Trail. Besides being pet friendly this park is also an ADA compliant facility so it’s great for those who require a flat surface whether it’s for a wheelchair or stroller.
The park has about a 1.5 mile trail with a good portion of if constructed with plastic composite, wood-like boards. Live Oak Trail is all boardwalk and a fair portion of Sweetbay Trail is, too. In the marshy areas, the boardwalk is raised with curb rails so it’s safe for hikers of most ages and fitness levels. From the boardwalk hikers get to experience wildlife and nature at a safe distance. The majority of the trail and boardwalk is well shaded. There are a few benches for sitting plus a large viewing platform which overlooks the marsh areas closer to the river.
This park ended up being a reptile adventure because I was able to spot a harmless black snake plus a couple of five lined skinks on the trail. Skinks like the damp habitat and sun bathe on the boardwalk to warm up so odds are in your favor that you’ll see one. Try as I might to get a picture of the iridescent skinks, it just didn’t happen. I named them Abracadabra and Hocus Pocus because the moment I raised the camera to take a shot they were gone in a poof.
The shortest section of the trail called Fetterbush Trail is just a regular, old nature trail. While there is no boardwalk, it is manicured and the ground is fairly flat and firm. It is not exactly advanced hiking but a fun addition to the boardwalk trail. Best of all, the entire trail system is short enough for you to not lose the attention of children. If you’re just introducing them to nature preserves this is an ideal place to start.
On the way back to the car we ran into a very large gopher tortoise munching on the tall grass. It quickly became obvious that Dill is not amused by gopher tortoises. He’s a thug for a little dog but the minute that tortoise moved he quickly morphed into a little sissy and ran to the leashes end.
This is a great park to visit. There are several picnic tables set up under live oak trees near the parking area plus there are restroom facilities. Had I known about the picnic area in advance I would have ordered my Publix sub online and picked it up on the way. Next time!
Both Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve East and West are part of the Conservation 20/20 Preserve program of Lee County. They’re open from dawn to dusk. You can learn more about the preserves and the Conservation 20/20 program at www.conservation2020.org
Happy trail and boardwalks!
Special to Southwest Spotlight
How Many Short Sales & Foreclosures Are There?
So, if you're a potential Buyer of Bonita Springs real estate you might want to know and understand exactly what market you're shopping in. How many foreclosures are there? How many short sales are there? Many home buyers come to the Bonita Springs area hoping to find a short sale or foreclosure and they don't understand the market before they walk of the plane at RSW.
Well, here’s the skinny. We have very few distressed properties for sale right now. 1.5% of our active listings are short sales and less than 3.5% of our listings are foreclosed. That means that Bonita Springs real estate buyers are dealing with owners, negotiations go quickly and you can close on a home weeks later instead of months down the road like “the good ole days” of short sales.
You’re likely to experience multiple offers when bidding, especially the closer the home price is to entry level pricing. Pickin’s are slim and we’re only going into “season”. Under $200K there are only about 4 months of inventory for sale at this time.
If you’d like more statistics real estate advice to get your finger on the pulse of the Bonita Springs real estate market, call or text Chris at 239-273-7430.
Bonita Springs Fl First Responder & First Time Home Buyer Crisis
Housing is officially expensive in Bonita Springs, again. If you are financially comfortable or financially fortunate, take a step back from your life for just a moment and try to put yourself in the shoes of some of the younger folks in the area; the newly married, young families or those just starting their careers after school or college.
Here’s what’s going on with Bonita Springs real estate right now. Under the price pointe of $200,000 there are merely 1/2 dozen homes on the market with three bedrooms/two baths and at least a one car garage. Only one of those homes has a two car garage. Some of the homes are in such bad shape that they don’t qualify for conventional financing. That is offically a crisis for those who want to live in Bonita Springs.
In particular, I’d like the Bonita Springs residents to consider, for a moment, the first responders who work for the fire department, rescue, ambulance or the sheriff department and their inability to afford to live in the city in which they work. It’s happening right now. I know first responders who want to live in Bonita Springs and they can’t find a home to purchase due to low inventory … the prices are rising by the minute. There are bidding wars on houses!
So, why are home unaffordable at entry level in Bonita Springs? First, we’re about 70% gated and deed restricted homes. Beautiful to look at, these gates are, but very painful to the pocket book. The average home buyer who is a first responder, besides the other debts of life, student loans, car payments, children, etc. simply can’t afford the debt of the homeowner association fees or condo association fees. That added $200-400 per month in fees for an HOA besides being expensive actually skew the debt to income ratios for many of todays borrowers and that means that it puts them over a debt limit that qualifies them for a mortgage or home loan.
Another reason there is difficulty is the down payment. Even if a home buyer “goes FHA” which is a loan program that allows very little down, there is a cost for that. It’s about $200 per month in mortgage insurance, over an above the principal and interest. Are you getting the picture with the difficulty of affordable housing in SWFL?
Those in law enforcement in Bonita Springs or Lee County Florida often have a military back ground. A VA loan is very helpful for them but many home sellers and even their listing agent do not understand the program and think that it is going to cost them excessive amounts of money to sell to a veteran leveraging the VA loan program. The program has changed, trust me I just closed a VA loan with a local mortgage broker. (It has to be a local mortgage broker, too.)
Last but not least, it would be remiss of me to not make a plea for an entry level single family home right now. If you own a home that is in the entry level priced segment of our real estate market and you’d like to make sure a first responder or a first time home buyer buys it, please call me. I know more than one sheriff waiting to get into a home in 34135 plus other first time home buyers just waiting for a chance at owning a home in Bonita Springs, Florida.
If you’ve been holding onto your home because you’ve been upside down, consider this and finish this sentence: “If I could get $ ____________for my house. I would move.” Call or text me to see if you’re above water. No strings attached. I’d be happy to help a first responder or first time home buyer take that home off your hands at a fair price. These folks just need an honest shot at a house and to not be out-bid by a cash buyer.
Mortgage Brokers vs. Big Bank Loan Officers
So I walked into the chiropractor and see one of the kids who went to high school with my twins. After we sent a selfie picture of us hanging out in the waiting room off to the twins, “Manny” says, “I was actually looking for a house recently”. We commiserate on how much the prices have gone up for a single family home and how hard it is to be a first time home buyer in the Bonita Springs Florida area.
“Manny” then says that he gave up trying to buy a home because the loan officer at the Big Bank told him he couldn’t get a loan because of the cash that he saved. You’re probably wondering who in their right mind would tell someone that their cash was not any good? I’ll tell you: A loan officer at a big bank. They get paid for loan applications, not closing loans. I was shocked that Manny didn’t get, at the very least, soaked for a loan application before he was turned away. (maybe he did, I didn’t ask)
Let me start out by telling you, the real estate consumer, that you’re going to the wrong places for your loans. A loan officer at a bank will tell you want you CAN’T do but an independent mortgage broker will tell you what you CAN do.
There are a lot of federal regulations that determine how mortgages get processed these days and cash does have to be accounted for. There are ways to skirt the issue by paying down a car loan or some other type of debt. Heck, with this scenario we aren’t talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. A professional could have come up with a plan for the funds to be documented for the loan process, plain and simple.
It just really aggravates me that the unknowing consumer can still walk into a bank and get jerked around by whoever the plebe is that they propped up a the loan officer’s desk. It’s disgusting.
If you are a first time home buyer or even just coming to the area to buy for the first time, call me or your real estate agent and ask for the name of the mortgage broker who CLOSES transaction, not runs consumers around. CLOSES transaction and doesn’t just take loan applications. CLOSES transactions by offering a little coaching on how to get the buyers finances and credit in order and not just take the easy clients.
For about 15 years I have sold real estate in Bonita Springs Florida. I’ve seen a lot of buyers and sellers come and go and there is one solid way to separate real estate buyers from time gobbling, tire kickers, the dreaded “Call us if anything comes up …”. There isn’t a real estate agent in town who hasn’t heard that from a real estate buyer getting out of their car and knowing they’d never see or hear from that person again.
Here’s the deal: If you are a real estate buyer in Bonita Springs and you didn’t jump on an opportunity when you were physically standing in several of the best units presented when you were able to see, smell, touch and feel them, what makes you think you will jump on a super deal, sight unseen that I dig up for you somewhere down the road.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sold a boat load of real estate sight unseen. Read also: Buying Real Estate Sight Unseen That is not impossible and it’s actually easier than you might imagine, for those who are serious about landing a home or condo when they are not in town.
The fact of the matter is that there are Realtors in Bonita Springs, like me, who invest tons of time watching out for and previewing real estate for someone who is up north who will, in fact, buy. We have pointed discussions with buyers who commit to being loyal to us, the real estate agents, who is putting in the time to “keep an eye out” for that deal, that floor plan, that exposure, that fixer upper. We are usually good at what we do and we don’t mind putting in the work if there is a closing, sometime, somewhere down the road to help us recoup our expenses. There are actual expenses, too. This isn’t an inexpensive business to be in and we don’t draw salary.
We real estate agents get paid for performance so it’s an insult to drop the half-assed “call me if anything comes up” when you weren’t satisfied with the best that your budget allowed after X amount of days or weeks of our hard work.