Life In Bonita Springs Florida - Local Info & Real Estate


April 14, 2018

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

Naples Zoo Giraffe

Things To Do With Kids in SWFL Off the Beach Part II

One of the most popular places for people to visit is the Naples Zoo which is located 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road, Naples, Florida. They are open daily from 9:00 - 5:00pm. Adult ticket prices are $21.95 and Children 3 and up are $12.95 (2018 pricing). The Naples Zoo is a great walk thru zoo with many other great features like a boat cruise on an island of monkeys,lemurs,and apes, There is also an open air theater where you can experience the animals up close and personal.

My boys also love when we get to see the alligator feedings! For $5 you can get a few pieces of lettuce and hand feed the giraffes. The zoo does not have anywhere to buy food but you are allowed to bring a lunch or snacks. They have a great picnic area with a playground close by. The Naples Zoo is a great place for the whole family and is sure to provide some great memories.

Chipmunk Pary Bonita SpringsAnother great place to visit is the Naples Botanical Gardens which is located 4820 Bayshore Dr, Naples, FL 34112. The Naples Botanical Gardens is 170 acres of plants from all around the world. We recently visited the Gardens for the very first time and we had such an amazing time.

At the time we visited the Botanical Garden they were featuring dinosaurs which I am told they do every so often.  With two small boys dinosaurs are what made us want to make our first trip there but even without the dinosaurs it is such an amazing place to walk around.

There are 9 different themed gardens and untouched 90 acres preserve. One of the gardens is a children’s garden which includes a butterfly garden, tiny cottages, a splash pad, tree house, and watering cans so the kids can take care of the garden. Naples Botanical Gardens is open from 9:00am-5:00pm ticket prices are $14.95 for an adult and $9.95 for children 4 and older (2018 pricing).

The newest place to visit is the brand new Chipmunk Indoor party. The Chipmunk Indoor Party is exactly what is sounds like a huge place for kids to play inside! The Chipmunk has arcade games, indoor bounce houses, craft/lego room, a indoor playground, a concession stand and a party/event room. The price is $12 per kid for 2 hours, I believe if you bring more than one kid it is $10 per kid for 2 hours (2018 pricing). They also have birthday party/event packages.

My youngest son and I had to check it out when we heard about it and he LOVED it he spent almost our entire two hours on the giant slide that goes into a ball pit. There is an age limit 0-11 years old for safety reasons. Chipmunk Indoor Party is located at 9128 Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs, Florida near Sunshine Ace Hardware Store.

This is Part II You can read Part I here: Things To Do With Kids in SWFL Off the Beach - Part I


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

Posted in Things To Do
April 13, 2018

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update March 2018

Bonita Springs  Real Estate Statisitics

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update March 2018

It’s official. Season is over so we’re going to be wrapping up a the pending sales and closings for the next several weeks.  Just because season is over doesn’t mean we don’t sell real estate in Bonita Springs.  We just sell to a different type of clientele.  The locals are shuffling around and we go through our “graduation lull” and then we start getting visits from the be-back buyers.  Those are the folks who looked this winter and either didn’t find what they wanted or they have been studying what they want and have decided to take the plunge.

About half way through the summer we start getting “can’t find a rental”. Those folks who buy a home because they either can’t find a rental or they decide that what they would rather use that rental money as part of the down payment or remodel cost.

Last months sales were consistent where short sales and foreclosures are concerned.   We had about 97.5% equity sales.  Very few distressed sales.  Our active listings are at 99% non-distressed properties.   Cash sales were nearly 60% which is up over the last few months. Conventional financing was used for about 34% of the purchases made.

If you’re a real estate buyer or seller in the Bonita Springs area keep this in mind – nearly 70% of our sales occurred in the price point under $400,000.  The closer you get to zero the more competitive it gets!  That’s a lot of entry level real estate moving.  That also creates growing pains in the top tier or luxury real estate market.

If you’re ready to buy or sell a home or condo in the Bonita Springs or Estero, Florida area call or text today to get started.  239-273-7430

Posted in Market Reports
April 11, 2018

Landscaping Your Bonita Springs Florida Home

Bonita Springs Landscape & Plants

Choosing Plants For Your Bonita Springs Home

Most home owners in Bonita Springs don’t have the opportunity to landscape their home from scratch. I didn’t think I would but my dear friend Irma blew through last September and took with her some over grown, mismatched, tired trees and left a bit of an eyesore behind.  Fortunately for me I had already had the banyan tree removed.  Read also: That Bonita Springs Home With a Huge Tree

Even if you’re landscaping your Bonita Springs home on a budget you want to guarantee success of the plants you put in. Here are a few tips that I can recommend you employ to get the best possible results.  I’m a numbers and data person so I researched my plants and I also drove high and low looking at landscaping.  With that in mind I can share whether a home is $300,000 or $3,000,000 many of the plants are the same.  I drove through the new communities of Bonita Landing and Bonita National as well as older existing communities such as Bonita Bay and Pelican Landing just to get ideas. 

The plant list I eventually came up with was a list of plants that would tolerate varying wet/drought conditions and do well with no shade.  I confessed early on that I have no trees left so my front yard is blazing hot. Whatever your home has to offer make sure you plant according to the shade/sun you have to offer/torture plants with.  My full-sun-take-no-prisoners yard ended up with a plant list of common yet beautiful plants that were economical to purchase and would grow quickly.

The plants were purchased at a variety of big box stores and at two of my favorite garden nurseries, Driftwood Nursery and Greenway Nursery, both located in Estero, Florida. In the front yard: Lariope, Flax Lilly, Lantana, Jatropha, Texas Sage, Hibiscus, Indian Hawthorne, Sky Flower Trees.  The side yard now has Lollypop Verbena, Cassia Trees, Scarlet  Milkweed and Queen’s Wreath growing on the bird seeder pole.  I also have Dutchman’s Pipe on the mailbox and Passaflora on the lamp post.

If you’re not an experienced gardener I will share that this plant list was developed not only to withstand Florida’s sun but to also help our pollinators and butterflies. I love butterflies and attracting all sorts of birds and wildlife.  The butterflies are easy to attract if you choose the right plants.  Flowers that produce nectar for them to eat and the host plants for them to lay their eggs on. FYI: those eggs will become caterpillars that eat the plants and make them temporarily look shabby.  The set of plants I put in will attract: Monarch, Gulf Frittilary, a variety of Sulphur, Pipevine Swallowtail, Cassius Blue, a variety of Skippers and the Zebra Longwing.

Read also 30 Days to a Butterfly Garden

To help the plants get a foot hold and to ensure their success they were watered well. I do have an irrigation system.  We put landscaping fabric down prior to planting and we mulched heavily to help hold in moisture after the plants were installed.  I chose the dark brown colored mulch called Cocoa Brown. It has a rich, chocolate color and the contrast sets off flowering plants quite nicely.

The long story short of my new landscaping is the proper research, planning and care has yielded one-hundred percent success in the plantings. I had one plant that looked a little stressed but it bounced back nicely.

My next series of side yard plantings will include Porter Weed in purple. The red just doesn’t do well here.  Also, I will have a few Fire Bush put in, as well. All are very popular with butterflies, humming birds and honey bees.

Click the photo album above and you will see more photos.  Let me know if you have questions about planting for the pollinators.  I’d love to help!

Posted in For The Home
March 25, 2018

Imperial River Real Estate Market Update February 2018

Bonita Springs Gulf Access Feb

Imperial River Gulf Access Home Stats

This real estate market report is for the area located between Bonita Beach Road and West Terry Street, Old 41 Road and US 41. It’s also known as Imperial River East or BN08.  Communities within this area include Edenbridge, Brendan Cove, Bonita Farms, Paradise Village, Serrano, Heitmans, Plan of Riverside, Arbel, Palmesta, Citadel and Pirates Cove.

The long story short about homes for sale in the Imperial River area is that sales numbers in February were fewer than ten closed sales. That includes a combination of gulf access and non gulf access homes.  The majority of sales were bargain sales under 200K including a few condos located in Spanish HarborCitadel and The Sanctuary.  Only two gulf access homes closed sale in Bonita Farms on Del Ln; a large home at $700,000 and a “tear down” at $240,000 (lot value).  The new owners are renovating it.

There were no vacant land closed sales in this area during the month of February.

To see current properties currently for sale visit: Imperial River East Homes For Sale

Posted in Market Reports
March 19, 2018

Bonita Springs Florida Real Estate Market Update February 2018 Statistics

Bonita Springs Real Estate Stats

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update February 2018

The Bonita Springs and Ester real estate market is cooking right along and slowly decelerating into spring.  Easter is April 1st this year so we’ll start seeing shutters closing down and more car haulers.  We’ve already seen a few car haulers in the usual places along US 41 such as Bonita Bay and Pelican Landing and on Coconut Road at The Colony and Shadow Wood.  Some of our seasonal residents are sending their cars back, already.   I saw a 1942 woody getting loaded up on a carrier today. What a beauty!

We’ve had record pending sales in the area, no doubt that we were playing a little catch up from the post Irma blip of no sales for a few weeks.  Many folks are taking advantage of bargains and, sadly,  many home owners in the Bonita Springs area will be carrying their homes into the summer unsold.  Price means everything in some neighborhoods and for buyers there is leverage when sellers are not aware of the inventory and their current predicament. It’s all about the numbers so if you’re looking to score a deal search in a neighborhood with the numbers on your side. It doesn’t mean it has to have a lot of inventory. I know of a community with only 2 properties for sale but the rate of sale indicates that there is 17 months of inventory. That’s good for buyers to know!  It’s good for that math to accompany your offer to the seller, too.

In all, we’re still running with a fair amount of cash and there are few distressed properties. 

For those of you who shopped for homes in Bonita Springs this winter and are thinking of coming back know that very often May and June offer a little bit of a lull so it’s a great time to shop without pressure … or dinner reservations. The city runs a little more fluidly without all of the traffic. Come back and visit us. Know that hotel rates are far more favorable, even at the Hyatt Resort.

If Angela or I can help you buy or sell a home feel free to reach out at any time. Call or text 239-273-7430 to get started today.

Posted in Market Reports
March 4, 2018

What Your Friend Thinks Your Bonita Springs Condo or Home

Bonita Springs home opinion

An Opinion of Your Bonita Springs Home

Recently, I sold a Pelican Landing condo to a client.  She is a repeat client. I’ve sold her real estate before.  This condo purchase was a downsize to have more of a turn-key lifestyle for fast trips in and out of RSW.  The hunt for condos and homes in Bonita Springs was fairly brief but there was a lot of toad kissing involved before we found just the right condo. When the perfect condo was found it wasn’t exactly perfect but it had just the right view and the cosmetics could be changed.

The buyer remarked to me that some of her family members were disappointed that it wouldn’t be big enough. That they may want to come see it in person first before she writes a contract for it.  Many buyers do bring friends, family members or trusted advisors to see the property and that is important. The missing component to that application is that the “second opinion” on the real estate hasn’t been through the high and low search.  They haven’t seen the worst of the worst and the very reason why the property you’ve chosen is the one chose.  They’re rending an opinion based on the one property that they have viewed and nothing else to base it on whether it’s visual or smell. Yes, some real estate smells.

As a frequent buyer or seller of real estate (for my own personal investing) in the Bonita Springs area I often have people who visit my homes remark that if I ever found a ‘little gem’ like this, to let them know.  Some gems aren’t gems when they’re purchased. My gem has white tile floors circa 1990 and sea foam green walls.  Today it’s sporting porcelain wood plank looking tile.  If I had asked family members to tell me what they thought of this home before I bought it they would have given it the big thumbs down. Meanwhile, a paint job, new flooring and a few years in the rear view mirror there is a little equity built up in the property.

It’s a tough call to get a second opinion and you need to be ready to either let your trusted advisor know about the other properties so you can set the stage or be thick skinned enough to handle an opinion that may not be too kind.

March 2, 2018

That Bonita Springs Home With a Huge Tree

Bonita Springs Oak Tree

Removing a Large Tree in Bonita Springs Florida

It doesn’t matter if it’s a banyan tree or an oak tree.  Big trees that are not properly maintained are a head ache and a very costly matter to clean up.  Nature lover’s love trees and while they may try to keep them there are some valid reasons to groom and sometimes even removed big trees.

From my own standpoint of having purchased a canal front, gulf access home in the area of Bonita Farms in Bonita Springs I will share that I bought a home with an enormous ficus tree on the edge of the sea wall. In a perfect world (when there weren’t five competing offers) I would have negotiated the cost of removing the tree or at least grooming it.  It cost thousands of dollars to remove the tree, which I did a preventative measure so there wouldn’t be sea wall and property damage.  Thank goodness I did because Hurricane Irma came roaring through months later and that tree would have crushed my house and the neighbors house.

Large trees can also cause a silent, hidden damage to sidewalks, driveways, home foundations and septic/sewer systems.  Those roots grow slowly but they are powerful and can cause damage to your Bonita Springs home, long term.

Large trees are beautiful and provide much needed shade from the Florida sun.  You just have too keep the cost in mind when purchasing a home in the Bonita Springs area.  The cost isn’t in just cutting it down it’s also in the dump fees to remove the debris and the stump grinding to restore the yard where the tree was located.

There are a few things you to can to help with a surprise expense of tree removal. The first is to groom current trees.  If you have a large tree contact a tree company to trim it back.   They can groom that large unruly tree back to a tidy sphere.  It will keep branches from whipping your home in wind storms.  You can also have them start taking a branch or two off every year to minimize and reduce the over all size tree. 

If you’d like to learn more about a specific tree located on a property in Bonita Springs and how to best manage it contact a licensed tree service.  Some trees could be protected and have restrictions for trimming, cutting down or removing.

If you’d like neighborly advice from locals who have used tree services in Bonita Springs you can ask questions on the Bonita Springs Estero Community Forum

Posted in For The Home
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. 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