Life In Bonita Springs Florida - Local Info & Real Estate

 

Feb. 16, 2018

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update Jan 2018

January 2018 Bonita Springs Market Report

January 2018 Bonita Springs Real Estate Stats

We’ve shook off the fizzled fourth quarter of 2017 and 2018is off to a roaring start. Tourist season is in full swing and memory of Irma is fading away. We’re watching the properties beginning to pend sale.  As anticipated with the rising prices is the rush to purchase the affordably priced properties.  Put this into perspective: Seventy-five percent of home and condo sales in Bonita Springs and Estero Florida were priced under $400,000.  The margins in much higher price points are single digit percentages.

Only twenty-two percent of the sales were under $200,000 and that figure would be larger if there was more inventory. The truth is that the bottom is always selling off and the price is always slowly growing upwards.  Properties priced well or priced appropriately don’t last.  They sell right away. I’ve watched several buyers miss out on the best property because they either took their time or went in with a lower offer than necessary and someone else swooped in and stole the property.  Remember, there are other buyers out there so if most of the properties are tired or need work and there is a gem in the mix, you’re not the only person who is seeing the gem in the mix.

If you’re looking for a foreclosure or a short sale just know that the bulk of those smokin’ deals happened in 2009-2010. The distressed real estate market accounts for less than 1% of our closed sales.  When a foreclosure does hit the market it goes at market price or slightly under so that it generates multiple offers and often sells over list price.

Don’t forget that there are still deals to be had.  Buyers must be vigilant and ready to move on a great buy when it comes along.  Be prepared to do a little work and make a great deal into a home. I have renovated two homes in the last year and often have people say to me “if you see a little gem like this, let me know”. Well, it wasn’t a little gem. It was stinky and white tile floors when I bought it, sea foam green walls and fake fishnets with starfishes on it for decoration. Don’t forget the basics:

  • Buy a home or condo with a good view (think resale)
  • Buy a home or condo and don’t over pay (pick an inventory heavy neighborhood if you can)
  • Be prepared to do a little work (don’t be afraid of tearing out tile)
  • Be prepared to buy sight unseen (if you know the neighborhood, floor plan)

We are officially half way through tourist season so it will be interesting to see how the market keeps up with the demand.

If you have questions about current market statistics or you’d like a recommendation of where there may be some great deals in your price range call or text Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430.

Posted in Market Reports
Feb. 16, 2018

Move to Bonita Springs and Then Change The Rules?

Bonita Springs Traffic Growth

Dealing With The Ever-Growing Bonita Springs Community

Most local people know that I run a fairly large Facebook group for Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida residents.  More than one time a week there is someone complaining or simply declaring that we need a moratorium on building.  The “I got mine, let’s close the doors” mentality is not legal nor is it fair and I marvel every time I have read it.

Do I miss the old Bonita Springs that made me move here thirty-five years ago?  Yes and no.  I think there were the population was about 2,800 when I moved here.  We’re bubbling (and growing) at 50,000 plus now.  Back then we had to go to Naples or Fort Myers to buy just about anything we need. The stores were few and the restaurants actually boarded the windows and doors shut for the summer. 

Year over year I  have watched the town grow.  Bonita Springs eventually grew large enough to become incorporated a city.  Roads and infrastructure struggle to keep up but this growth is not a secret. It was projected. Your city, county and state officials have tried to plan for it sometimes with both corporate and resident opposition.  It’s very easy to catch a case of the NIMBY’s when “you got yours”. 

The simple fact of the matter is that 8,000 to 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day.  These people worked hard every day of their life so that they could retire to warmth and the good life.  They deserve it just as much as you deserve it.  The 239 offers the good life.  We knew they were coming. The Lee County MPO has reports that anyone can read and learn from both before they buy real estate in Bonita Springs or if they are a current home owner.  The City of Bonita Springs has council meetings that the public can attend and they even post them on YouTube after they’ve been broadcast live on TV.  It’s absolutely no secret that we are growing and that we are going to continue growing.  Also, just so everyone clearly understands the big picture, when we run out of land they are going to start tearing down perfectly good homes to rebuild a new home with all the widgets and rhinestones that can be installed.

There isn’t a single trip I make getting off of Bonita Beach Road waiting five to ten  light turns to head north on US 41 that I don’t grumble about the opposition that the residents and a few already washed out politicians did by scuttling the study for a flyover at that intersection.  Lee County is projected to grow seventy percent by the year 2040 and they shot down a mere study for traffic safety.  It’s all fun and games until an ambulance or fire-rescue doesn’t get to you or your loved one because they’re in the parking lot of a street.

You can’t just close the doors to Lee County now that you own your home in Bonita Springs.  You can’t just take someone else’s land rights any more than they could take yours. Do yourself a favor and Google the “Bert Harris Act” which protects private property rights and values and zoning and land-use disputes. It has cost Lee County tens of millions of dollars.  Try Googling the phrase “Estero Place Lawsuit”.  You’ll learn that Lee County settled the multi-million dollar suit for $1.7M. 

The building is going to continue and the residents are going to continue moving here so the only other way to control your changing environment is to become involved with planning groups or task force committees, attend city council meetings and plan your drive and dining times around peak use hours.

Posted in Around Town
Jan. 18, 2018

13 Ways to Make Friends in Bonita Springs, Florida

Bonita Springs Friends & Clubs

Tips to Make New Friends in Bonita Spring – Estero

If you’re new to Southwest Florida here are some great ways to make new friends and put down new roots in the Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida area.  Know this – you’re not the only new resident to move to “The Gateway to the Gulf”.  Right now, our national average is 8,000 to 10,000 people per day turn 65 in the United States. A lot of those boomers are looking for fair weather in the winter and they end up in Florida.  As our population grows many folks find themselves looking to establish new friends and spheres of influence in Bonita Springs. Here are some great tips to help you get acclimated.

1. Join a service organization or attend several of them as a visitor.  Bonita Springs is a city of service above self. There are morning, noon and evening Rotary Clubs.  In addition to Rotary, there are other great organizations such as Kiwanis, Zonta, Lions, Speakers Assembly, etc.

2. Meetup.com is a great way to dial into local hobbyist clubs to find your people.  Are you an orchid grower?  Runner? A cyclist? Movie aficionado?  Whatever your favorite pass time is, someone has a Meetup group for it and you can get involved.

3. Go to your clubhouse or neighborhood/community amenities. The city of Bonita Springs is about 75% gated and deed restricted. Most of the communities have a clubhouse or at the very least a swimming pool. There are other residents using and enjoying the facilities. Go meet them.  Get lists for events or look to see if there are calendars of events. Many communities have their own channel on television to keep residents up to speed on current events, clubs and meetings.

4.  If you are in a gated community or homeowner association run for the board of directors and get involved!  You’ll meet tons of owners and residents.

5.  If you have children get involved in your child’s school as a volunteer or PTO.  There are also many local teams; soccer, football, cheerleading.  There are great parent groups on Facebook, too.  See also: Bonita Springs Estero Parents

6. The Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce offers a leadership program. The program is intensive and diverse.  Besides being submerged with a couple of dozen community leaders and business owners for many months, you get unprecedented access to many offices, points of interest, local establishments and community government/infrastructure sources that you wouldn’t ordinarily know about.  It’s a comprehensive crash-course on everything southwest Florida.

7. Volunteer.  There are many place to volunteer your time or talents in Bonita Springs.  For example, the Bonita Assistance Office helps serve those who have fallen on hard times.  You can become a volunteer who helps clients shop in the pantry or become one who helps organize goods in the pantry.

8. Join a city committee. The City of Bonita Springs has several committees that residents can volunteer to help on; the events committee, the veterans committee and a variety of advisory committees. You can earn more at City of Bonita Springs Volunteers.

9. Join a community related networking group on Facebook.  For example, The Bonita Springs Estero Community Forum or even a hyper local page like a Vanderbilt Lakes community page such as this page: Vanderbilt Lakes.

10. Find a church family. Regardless of your religion or denomination there is a church for you. From standard bricks and mortar churches to The Springs of Bonita “outdoor church” at Riverside Park there is a place for you.

11. A good portion of the year, but definitely October through April, many of our outdoor malls and shopping centers have live music and entertainment. Most notably, The Center Bar at The Promenade has regular entertainment, as does Coconut Point Mall. Most mall and shopping centers have Facebook pages and post the events so you don’t miss a good time.

Make Friends Bonita Springs12. Dogs, dogs, dogs.  We have a dog beach and many dog parks plus pet friendly parks. If you have a dog you can surely make new dog-lover friends and your dog will make new friends, too!

13. Last but not least, there are both “Newcomer’s Clubs” and “State Clubs” in the area.  You can find other people who are new to the area who may have ties to “back home” and a little state pride in common with you. 

The most important thing you can do is make eye contact and smile.  There are a lot of people new to Bonita Springs and Estero and if everyone just gets friendly and opens their hearts they’ll make new friends quickly.

Posted in Around Town
Jan. 16, 2018

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update Dec 2017

Bonita Springs market report Dec 2017

Wrapping Up 2017 Bonita Springs Real Estate Stats

Well, 2017 went out with a whimper.  Numbers are slightly off due to the ripple effects of Hurricane Irma.  The bump in the real estate market is caused by delayed closings, delayed sales, delayed travel plans causing fewer contracts to be written.

Long story short, you can look at the “units sold” graph to see the closed sales are slightly off. It isn’t necessarily a tale of things to come.  We’re officially in the heart of tourist season and sales are in full swing.   Ninety-nine percent of our properties selling are equity sale.  There are only occasional short sales or foreclosures in the real estate market.

The majority of real estate sales in the Bonita Springs area were in the $200,000 to $400,000 price range.  Nearly fifty-four percent of the properties were paid for with cash, thirty-four percent of the closed home sales were paid for with conventional mortgages. 

Here’s to a peppier January home sales report.  There are plenty of sales in the pipeline, already.

If you’d like more information about home sales statistics in your neighborhood call or text Chris at 239-273-7430.

Posted in Market Reports
Jan. 7, 2018

Things To Do With Kids in SWFL Off the Beach - Part I

 Things To Do With Kids in SWFL (Off the Beach) Part I

Everglades Wonder Gardens

Did you know in Florida that the pools and beach water actually do get too cold to take the kids to sometimes? Also did you know that it rains almost everyday in the afternoon in Bonita Springs during the summer time? I have two small children that NEED to get out of the house sometimes. I have compiled a list of places to see and go when it’s just too cool for the beach or raining outside.

Just south of Bonita Springs off of Livingston Road there is C'MON Children’s Museum which is probably my kid’s favorite place to go rain or shine. The hours for the museum are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm Sunday 11:00 am-4:00 pm Wednesday CLOSED. It is $10 for adults & seniors and $12.00 for kids 1 and older. If you are like us and want to go all the time they are really affordable membership packages starting at $135 for the whole family for a year! The great thing about the museum is there is something for children of all ages and the adults can kind of stand back and watch the kids explore and learn through different exhibits.

Everglades Wonder Gardens is located right in the heart of downtown Bonita Springs. It is a tourist attraction with wildlife, an 80 year old botanical jungle and butterfly gardens. The Wonder Gardens was hit hard during Hurricane Irma and the community came together with lots of volunteers to get it reopened for everyone to enjoy again. The Wonder Gardens is open everyday from 9:00 am- 5:00 pm. Admission is Adults 13-64 =$12 Seniors (65+) = $10 Children 3-12 = $7 Under 3 is free. The also offer a yearly admission which prices vary.

Petting zoo Shell Factory

Next one my list is quite a bit of a drive from Bonita Springs but I think it is worth it. The Shell Factory is located 2787 N Tamiami Trail (US 41) North Fort Myers, FL 33903 and has been around for 80 years! The Shell Factory is a unique place for visitors and locals locals to shop, eat, or just gather with friends. There is both indoor and outdoor attractions for the whole family. There is free entry and parking except to get into the Nature park.

At the Shell Factory there is a huge retail store which includes a Christmas store. The amount of activities is endless there is petting/feeding zoo, bumper and paddle boats, Zip-line, Dinosaur Land, Mini Golf, and the Nature Park. The Nature Park admission is Seniors 55+ $10 Adult $13 Children (4 to 12) $8 Children 3 & under Free, the park features animals from iguanas, alligators, raccoons birds and zebras. According the the Shell Factory there is over 400 animals living there. There is a picnic site or you can enjoy the restaurant on Cap'n Fish n Bones. I will say the Shell Factory is original and could use some updating but it is such a different experience from anything else around town and the kids just love it.

There are some really great parks with playgrounds in the City of Bonita Springs one located off west terry Bonita Community Park; 26740 Pine Ave , one located off Pennsylvania Ave Depot Park; 10375 Pennsylvania Ave., one located off east terry at the dog park Bonita Dog Park East Terry St. at the light of E. Terry & Matheson Ave. There are also some boardwalks and nature trails in Bonita Springs located at Bonita Nature Place 27601 Kent Rd. and River Park Turn East off of US 41 on Rd. between Chase Bank and Bonita Boat Center.

This is Part 1 of my list stay tuned for part 2!

_____________________________________________

About the Author - Jenna Hatfield is a life-long resident of Bonita Springs, Florida and mother of two boys.

Posted in Things To Do
Nov. 18, 2017

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update October 2017

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update October 2017

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update October 2017

We’re back in the swing of things!  This is our first Post Hurricane Irma real estate market report fresh off the heals of everyone having electricity and getting back to work. Our tourist season did begin a bit early this year because many home owners came back early to get to work on their properties or cleaning up their yards.  The city has completed the first “sweep” of storm debris so the whole village is looking tidier without tree debris lined streets.  If you’ve not been in the Bonita Springs area, you’ve been spared the sight.

The home sales are starting to pick up. We’ll have a blip in our closed sales due to nearly a full month of slowed sales simply because it was difficult to show or sell homes due to electric issues or storm related damage.

What we are seeing in the real estate market is slightly less cash. It’s has been shrinking as the price have slowly been rising.  Cash is about 52% of the sales and we have seen a few loan assumptions, owner financing and even VA mortgages which are a great benefit to use on newer homes.  If you’re a veteran I can help you find more information about buying a homes with 100% financing with a VA mortgage.

The distressed real estate sale are only 1 to 1.5% of the real estate market, at this time.  There are few foreclosures and barely any short sales.

The price ranges selling at this time are the 400K and under price point.  Luxury homes are moving at a slightly slower pace, depending upon the neighborhood, of course. A waterfront home in Imperial Shores sell faster than a home in Quail West because there are more homes for sale in the neighborhood.  Scarcity in real estate creates urgency and the values to rise.

If you would like to know more about listing your Bonita Springs home or purchasing in the Bonita Springs or Estero, Florida area call or text Chris at 239-273-7430.

Posted in Market Reports
Nov. 16, 2017

Bird Feeder Rules in Bonita Springs FL Homeowner Associations

 

Feeding Birds in Bonita Springs Homeowner Associations

Recently, I had a potential home buyer ask a question regarding the ability to have a bird feeder at a home located withn a home owner association.  They did not mention the HOA by name so my ability to assist is limited. The Bonita Springs area is about 75% gated and deed restricted and there is one guarantee … every community has different sets of rules. Whether it’s a modest enclave of villas such as Forest Creek Villas or a larger community like Bonita Bay, the rules will be incredibly different.

Bird Feeder Bonita Springs HOABird feeders, of course,  would be an item that falls under specific HOA rules/guidelines.  If having a back yard bird feeder is important to you, you will want to carefully read the HOA rules/guidelines and also call the property management company to double check specifically for that item or issue.  Frequently there are items such as pet weight, parked cars, rental restrictions that not only bear checking but double checking with the person who manages the community or building.

There are a few ways to locate the management company. If you’re working with a real estate agent, your own buyer’s agent, they can access the listing in the MLS and the management company contact phone number is in the “agent facing” side of the MLS.  If you doing homework on your own with regard to finding the answer to pointed HOA information you can visit the community and look at a posting near a common area, clubhouse or swimming pool. For example, Paloma and Hawthorne each have a clubhouse and pool area with a bulletin board near the door.  Often times there is also a plaque reading, for example, Mirasol at Coconut Point is managed by xyz management at 555-555-1212.

Often times, the guard at the house may be able to answer the question with regard to management company contact information.  If the community has a golf and country club you may be able to contact the club to ask who manages the master home owner association.

Finally, most HOA and condo associations are posted on www.Sunbiz.org as well as their board of director members. 

Posted in Buyer Tips
Oct. 31, 2017

Post Hurricane Irma Wish List | Bonita Springs, Florida

 Bonita Springs Hurricane Checklist

Bonita Springs Hurricane Comfort Items

With first-hand experience, the Griffith family and the great members of the Bonita Springs Estero Community Forum were nice enough to help contribute to a list of newly discovered hurricane essential items and conveniences that they wished they had during Hurricane Irma. Most of us replenished our hurricane supplies immediately after the storm.  As soon as UPS trucks were running my Amazon boxes were being dropped off.  The easy to find items were picked up at Home Depot on Bonita Beach Road and Sunshine Ace Hardware store which is also on Bonita Beach Road.

Most items listed below are basic tips for things you may have never considered or items that can be purchased at big box stores and, of course, on Amazon.

  • Bonita Springs Hurricane BatteryTrim your trees, tell your neighbors to trim their trees. Overgrown trees take down power lines, fences and damage homes and cars. We had gone over a decade without a major hurricane so there were some big trees that should have been manicured.
  • Battery operated radio/Eton radio.
  • Fan … most especially a quiet fan; battery operated if you don’t have a generator.
  • Battery back up packs for phones, kindle and tablets. Power banks.  Solar battery backup.  We had several Jackery brand and they were reliable and we didn’t run out of juice.
  • Sweat bands for wrist and head.  Tools, saws, hammers slip when you’re sweaty and trying to get work done.
  • Propane Coleman camping stove with lots of propane. We actually ordered electric coil hot plates from Amazon and used them with the generator.
  • More gas for generators.  What you think is enough isn’t enough. Post storm stations without electric can’t pump.  Stations with gas, didn’t have electric.  People fist fight for gas.  It’s true.
  • Chain/lock up your generator or it will be stolen.
  • Small ice machine to plug into generator.
  • Rope and clothes pins.
  • Buckets to catch water, to catch leaking ceilings, to scoop lake/pool water to flush toilets, to clean up flood water.
  • Cleaning supplies, especially bleach.
  • There were several recommendations for wine, gin, beer, basically any alcohol. ;-) 
  • If you live on a lake hurricane force winds will blow the lake water through your home.  Saw it with my own eyes!
  • Address book and/or Hand written telephone numbers and addresses.  If your phone is dead you can’t retrieve phone numbers or addresses and many of us don’t remember them.
  • Battery lamp – Brooklyn Lantern brand was recommended.
  • Lots of tiny flash lights so everyone can have one. We had the 2 for $9.99 from Amazon. 1 AA battery needed.
  • Work gloves for moving debris. Rubber gloves for moving gross stuff.
  • Water purification straw, tablets, more water.
  • A window a/c AKA wall shaker that could be plugged into a generator.
  • More small bills; $1, $5, $10. It’s cash only when the power is out, but stores are open.
  • Better brand of cooler such as Yeti.
  • A silicone pot cover to put over bath tub drain to keep it from leaking.
  • A kiddie pool with sod in it so the dog can go potty.
  • Wellies/boots.
  • Do every scrap of laundry before the storm.  Sewers back up without electricity.
  • Face mask for dust/mold; surgical mask or dust mask.
  • First aid kit.
  • Glow sticks for safety and to keep little kids occupied.
  • More liquid hand sanitizer, wipe/toilets for the bathrooms and kitchen areas.
  • Hire a home watch service if you are outside of the area.
  • Have at least one 4WD or vehicle with higher clearance per family.
  • Trash bags, yard waste bags and twine to bundle branches.

Bonita Springs Life Post Hurricane Irma

Bonita Springs GeneratorHomes “on the same grid” as shelters get electric first. Communities with underground utilities get electric faster and sometimes don’t lose it. There were Bonita Springs residents who went weeks without power and air conditioning.  That was actually a fast electric restoration in the grande scheme of massive hurricane damage.  It's the rest of recovery that is slow. The trades will run out of materials; screening, roofing materials, glass.  There will be mountains of debris; contents of homes that were flooded and piles of downed trees for months and months after a major hurricane. 

The Griffith family both personally and professionally realized that we should have asked family, friends and clients to not hammer us with phone calls and to not expect us to run errands or check on their homes because having fuel is like having gold.  The phones blew up when we finally got signal. 

Many folks not “living the dream” will quickly but  inadvertently squander your resources … such as depleting battery life and fuel which runs precious generators and cars. Even if the home they wanted us to check had a roof leak or any other issue there is nothing that could have done about it.  The city and the trade workers are rendered unable to function and they are in the same boat the rest of us are in. We also couldn’t download files, photos, screenshots or v-cards so those were useless to receive and just caused our phones to work extra hard draining batteries faster.

To see the full list of regular hurricane items on a hurricane checklist read also:

Ready Your Bonita Springs Home for Hurricane Season and also read this manifesto about storm shutters: Storm Shutters Tips For Your Bonita Springs Florida Home

If you have any items you'd like to add to this list please leave a comment with your tips!

Posted in For The Home
Oct. 18, 2017

Downtown Bonita Springs Riverside Park Calendar of Events 2017-2018

Downtown Bonita Springs Riverside Park Events

Things to Do at Riverside Park Calendar of Events Bonita Springs

The 2017-2018 festival season has already kicked off.  Last week was Taco Fest and the line up is growing. The most recent edition of the calendar of events is posted above and can be saved to your hard drive. If you'd like a keepsake postcard for your fridge, we'll be sending them out in the next few weeks.  Email your name/address with a request and Angela or Jenna will get it in the mail to you.

If you're wondering about the downtown redevelopment project you can visit the website:  www.BonitaSpringsDowntownImprovements.com.   In general, the downtown area looks great where the construction and paving was concerned. There was, however, storm damage and many fallen trees throughout the park area and, of course, Everglades Wonder Gardens.  Currently, the city is using the vacant lots across the street from Benson's Grocery store to process the brush/trees by storing, grinding or mulching it before it is hauled away.  I am not sure if that will effect parking for downtown events, yet.

As always, you can keep up with last minute changes in events like these at Bonita Springs Forum on Facebook Group where all of the locals interact and share events going on throughout Southwest Florida. It's a great way to be a quiet spectator.   We're nearly 6,000 members strong, now!  There are always fun things to do that the members are recommending. Sign up to receive a "snail mail" version of the keepsake calendar post card below:

Oct. 17, 2017

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update September 2017

Bonita Springs Florida Sept Market Report

Post Hurricane Irma Real Estate Market Report

Simply put, Hurricane Irma interfered with pending sale and closed sales. We still had a healthy amount of closed sales but there would have been many more had Irma not occurred. Pre-storm there is a freeze on insurance so some closings do not occur. After a storm the lenders and buyers often require a new appraisal photo and/or a re-inspection in order to close.  These tasks require a lot of time so many September closings were pushed to October. So be prepared for a lot of real estate closings in next month’s report.

In all, the September real estate sales echoed the previous month with the $200,000-$400,000 price range leading the way in sales. Our closed sales were paid for with about 55% cash.

Since Hurricane Irma sales have taken off again. First, it’s fall and buyers generally return in September so they were just delayed a little.  Second, those with homes or condos in the area returned early to check their homes and condos.  We’re having an early season. The restaurants are full and, US 41 northbound at Bonita Beach road is backed up every evening two to three traffic light turns to get through. Yes, already.

Going forward, we’ll have a healthy season.  The builders put up a lot of new product over the last few years that “filled the gap” of entry level priced homes which were in short supply.    In all, consider entry level single family homes starting at $200,000 (and needing work and/or updating) and condos around $200,000 (still needing work or updating). There is a little new construction here or there in both condos and homes but they sell quickly.

If you’d like to learn more about the community you already own real estate in or a community you’re thinking of buying in, give me a call to get the latest stats.  239-273-7430  - Chris

Posted in Market Reports