Life In Bonita Springs Florida - Local Info & Real Estate

 

Aug. 31, 2017

Bonita Springs Public Library | Bonita Springs, Florida

 Bonita Springs Public Library

Things to Do With Kids | Bonita Springs Public Library

I am always trying to come up with ideas to keep the kids interested, occupied, preferably learning something and happy. We recently made a trip to the LIBRARY! It’s free and my kids could stay there for hours looking through the movies, books, magazines and playing on the computer.

Lisa the librarian who works on the youth side of the library is very nice and interactive with the kids. She understands that learning and reading can be exciting and not always super quiet. Lisa sat with us and went over the newest rewards program promoting parents and children to read 1000 books before kindergarten. “Experts agree that this goal will help create a solid foundation for children as they begun to read.” All you have to do is read together, fill out the bubble sheet handed out to you, and when you finish 100 books bring the sheet and she will stamp your rewards paper. Keep repeating the steps until you get to 1,000 books and you will have collected all 10 stamps! We signed up for our library card and checked out three great books to start with.

*This information was found on the www.leegov.com Bonita Springs Library site*

Library cards are issued for free to people 18 years or older all you have to do is :

Bonita Springs Public LIbraryShow proof of residency in Lee County

Are employed in Lee County

Own property or a business in Lee County

Are students in Lee County

Non-residents may obtain a library card for a fee:

Non residents must show identification and apply for a card in person. Library card applications cannot be submitted by fax or through the mail. Two types of cards are available:

Visitor Card — $15 (valid for three months) Additional consecutive months can be purchased for $5 each

Non-resident Card — $60 (valid for one year)

Toddler/Preschool Story Times:

Baby Rhyme Time: Wednesdays @ 10:30 am

Toddler Tales: Wednesdays @ 11:00 am

We attended Toddler Tales on a Wednesday morning with about 10 other children and their mom’s,dad’s,grandparents, and nannies. Lisa started off with a welcome song which included singing and dancing. We then all sat for a story which Lisa read and used puppets to interact with the children. They did a couple more interactive songs and then closed it out with a goodbye song. We had such a great time in the 20-30 minutes we were there we definitely will be back for Wednesday mornings. I think this is great time for grandparents and parents that isn't overwhelming for everyone and did I mention FREE!? Following the Toddler tales a lot of the families walked over to the brand new park/playground across the street and enjoyed a play date.

The Bonita Springs library also thirty computers that have internet access, print and scan capabilities, meeting room availability, and Wi-Fi to library card holders.

The City of Bonita Springs has a new library on plan to be built in Downtown Bonita Springs redevelopment area near the banyan tree and Riverside Park.  The date for completion is to be determined.  The address and current hours of the Bonita Public Library are:

26876 Pine Avenue

Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10:00am-6:00pm

Tuesday 12:00pm to 8:00pm

Friday and Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm

Sunday CLOSED

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

Aug. 25, 2017

Downing Frye - Southwest Florida Choice Awards

Downing Frye Bonita Springs Florida

Downing Frye Bonita Springs Florida People's Choice

Thank you Southwest Florida for voting Downing Frye Realty for fifteen year in a row.  The Griffith Girls are proud to be members of such an esteemed real estate office. Our home is the Bonita Springs office located at the corner of Coconut Road and US 41 near Coconut Point Mall

Posted in Around Town
Aug. 25, 2017

Fading Home Décor in Bonita Springs, Florida

Opinion: Decorator Shortcut in Bonita Springs Homes

When I thought of writing this piece on “peel and stick” bricks it was going to be more of a warning to consumers about knowing when a trending look in décor has neared the end of it’s cycle.  That is still the case but I discovered a practical reason to use it, for my own Bonita Springs home, during the process.

Glass tile back splash has been the rage for a while and while I was at a party at someone’s house they showed me their new glass back splash. I get to go into a lot of homes in Bonita Springs and have seen a lot of kitchens.  This one didn’t grab my eye. It was lovely enough but it wasn’t until the home owner showed me that it was peel and stick that it grabbed my attention.

I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between real & peel until they pointed it out specifically. My first thought was “when any décor gets to peel & stick status it’s out of fashion”. I might have been wrong.  I imagine that there are better peel and stick wall tiles than others and it would depend upon the application but I now can see where it may be useful.

A home I purchased as a resale in Bonita Farms, the Imperial River East area of Bonita Springs, has black Silestone counters. It’s not what I would pick in a million years, first because it’s black but second because it has these dusty flakes in it so it always looks like there are crumbs on it. At any rate, the home owner before me installed black Silestone counters and also ran it up the back splash. It is d.a.r.k. in that kitchen.

Bonita Springs Kitchen Backsplash

 

This home has been a work in progress so the guy I call for all of the work was over and I asked if he could take the back splash out, which he could, but he may damage the drywall. Flash forward to today and “what if” I just peel and stick tile the backsplash in a nice almond subway tile to match the almond cabinets?  It’s the perfect spot … smooth, flat surface to stick to, no drywall dust, no costly repairs. It’s a win/win in my book.  How do you think it will look?

 

If I had plain drywall to cover I would put in real tile or stone but since I’m doing a visual correction, which could be temporary, I’ll try the peel & stick. Besides, I’ve shoveled a fair amount of money into this project, already. Those white 1990's floor tiles had to go!  Besides, who’s to say the next owner wouldn’t want the black Silestone splash, right?   

So what do you think about a peel and stick backsplash?  Fabulous or Fad?

Now, I haven’t bitten the bullet and done it yet. It’s on my radar and I’ll start shopping the tiles at the local Home Depot and Lowes.  We’ll see how it goes with selection. There seems to be a lot of choices available online.  If you’ve used peel & stick tile comment and let me know how it turned out.

Posted in For The Home
Aug. 20, 2017

Protect Your Bonita Springs Home From Palm Rats

Protecting Your Home From Palm Rats in Bonita Springs

Palm Rat Deterrent Bonita Springs

One of the critters that folks in Bonita Springs have to deal with from time to time is rats.  If you’re a nature lover like me and you feed birds, a side effect of bird seed is … rats.  I love feeding my birds and gardening.  I love the birds more than I hate the rats so I keep feeding the birds. I use the best possible practices to reduce making it easy for them to get to the food and not build nests in or around the house. 

The other day I was showing property to buyers in Hawthorne in Bonita Springs, Florida. When I pulled into the driveway I noticed that the downspout which was directed to spill the water onto the driveway caught my eye.  There was a mesh “rat deterrent” inside of it.  Technically, it’s a gutter strainer but it’s perfect for keeping rats out.

Now, I don’t know why I’ve never noticed them before. I’ve been in every neighborhood in Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida and never seen them before.

A quick Google search alter I was able to locate them for sale at Sunshine Ace Hardware store on Bonita Beach Road.  They’re only about $4.00 per unit. They can be expanded to fit any size downspout or lodged in the top opening to keep leaves and debris from clogging the downspout, too.

Eh, it’s just a little something that I thought was interesting for homeowners in Bonita Springs. If you live in SWFL rats are not uncommon.  These expandable gutter strainers are a great tool for interrupting the secret routes of rodents.  Of course it would be most helpful if you would also employ best practices of putting away anything rats would find interesting to eat or build a nest in.  You should also trim your foliage so it doesn’t touch the house and plug any holes in the eves, siding, drain/spigot openings with steel wool so they can’t easily get in.

Posted in For The Home
Aug. 19, 2017

Ten Hacks to Survive Bonita Springs Florida Tourist Season

Bonita Springs Boating

Ten Hacks to Survive Bonita Springs Tourist Season

1. Doctors in Bonita Springs Area - Make as many medical and dental appointment as possible “off season” between May and October. “In season” make them as early as possible as schedules spin out of control as the day progresses.

2. Grocery Stores in Bonita Springs - Trips to the grocery are painful when the isles are crowded. Take advantage of a meal delivery service such as HelloFresh or Blue Apron at the very least during the peak winter season of January, February and March. Shopping during the day avoids the after-hours work force crowds.  If  you like shopping sale items, BOGO’s or specialty items like Fresh Market crab cakes, get there early or go home empty handed.

3. Drugs and Medication - Take advantage of pharmacies who will deliver your prescriptions. Walgreens, for example, has both a phone app and option for delivery to the home.  Brooks Pharmacy is a local pharmacy with delivery services.

4. Driving in Lee County – Getting anywhere takes longer in the winter. It just does.  Avoid driving south 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.   Avoid driving north 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Those are the rush hour drive times. A good portion of the work force in Naples lives out of the area, partly due to real estate prices.  On 41 the middle lane is the fast lane as the drivers in the left and right lanes are looking for where they need to turn to get where they need to go.  Learn to identify the markings of rental cars and try to not get stuck behind them No smoking sticker on glass, “Sunshine State plate and sensors on windshields. Use the waze app for commuting to avoid accidents in major arteries. Most of the time you can turn right on red. The person in the roundabout has the right of way; don’t stop in the circle to let people in.

5. Dining in Bonita Springs/Naples – If you must eat out, learn to use the “Open Table” app for reservations.  Consumers can scan for last minute dining reservations of any restaurant that may have table times available.

6. Southwest Florida Growing Season – If you want a little back yard garden keep in mind that summer in Bonita Springs is sort of like winter up north.  Instead of too cold, it’s too hot to grow plants unless it’s orchids. It also rains … a lot.  Our produce/vegetable growing season starts in the fall and runs through spring.  Starting in the fall there are farmer’s markets sprinkled around town nearly every day of the week. Farmer Mikes on Morton Road in Bonita Springs, Florida is open by November and also has a u-pick option.

7. Biking around Bonita – we have a lot of bike lines and great sidewalks but the drivers, many of whom are from outside of the area, unfamiliar with the area and often distracted.  Defensive riding is a must.  Don’t trust that they saw that you have the cross walk signal.

Bonita Springs FIshing8. Boating and Fishing in Bonita Springs – Many bays and water ways become idle speed in the winter to protect the manatee that come inland because the water is warmer.  Book a boat rental weeks out during the winter season.  You can rent a boat or join a boat club at Baywater.  A license is needed for fishing in most circumstances. For fishing licenses and advise visit Sunshine Ace Hardware in Bonita Springs across the street from the USPS.

9. Bonita Springs BeachesBonita Beach and Barefoot Beach are crowed in the winter. You weren’t the only person who wanted to get warm in the winter.  Go to the beach off of peak hours and you may be able to find a parking spot.  If you’re consider purchasing a home or condo in Bonita Springs considering purchasing in a community with a beach club membership that has shuttle service.  Keep in mind that we are projected to grow for the next 20+ years due to the boomer population and the access to the beach is going to become more difficult than it already is. Here’s a list: Bonita Springs Communities with Beach Club Access. Live shell removal is prohibited. If a sand dollar is not totally white it is still alive. If it stains your fingers yellow or orange it’s alive. Throw it back in.

10. Bonita Springs Festivals and Fairs – our “summer” or comfortable weather is actually in the winter so that is when our outdoor events are planned. They typically begin in November and run through April.  Follow the Bonita Springs Estero Community Forum to learn of upcoming events.

If you’d like to learn more about making the city of Bonita Springs your home call or text Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430.

Posted in Around Town
Aug. 15, 2017

Bonita Springs Communities w/ Beach Club Access

Bonita Beach Membership
Securing Your Spot at Bonita Beach, Florida

There are only a hand full of Golf and Country Club communities in Bonita Springs with private or semi-private beach access.  Beach access will become quite a hot commodity in the near future so it is important to know which communities provide beach access or sell beach club memberships.  In the Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida are there are a few communities that offer a variety of golf, beach and even boating access. Most clubs are on Bonita Beach or Barefoot Beach.  Tarpon Cove provides access via Wiggins Pass.

 

Posted in Buyer Tips
Aug. 14, 2017

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update July 2017 Bonita Springs Florida

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update July 2017 

The Summer Bonita Springs Real Estate Statistics

First and foremost, ninety-two percent of the closed sales in Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida this month were priced under $600,000.  This was officially the summer of the bargain hunters. I’ve noticed on more than one occasion that a couple of my listings had plenty of shoppers but no buyers. Certain price points simply didn’t shake loose this summer.

We are now rounding the bend into fall. The car haulers start showing up at the end of August and that strikes an immediate uptick in “move around” buyers who may already have a place here but may be moving up or down in housing size. 

Our units sold this month isn’t off, it’s just that the sales were all on the affordable side.  The bottom continues to sell off.  Properties in price points that are struggling will sell but it will take patience for the buyers to return. 

Eighty-seven percent of closed sales have been funded with cash or conventional mortgages. FHA isn’t a viable product in this area due to the price cap and the requirements of homes to be able to pass the FHA inspection.  Typically, the entry level priced homes have a few issues that render them unable to pass the inspection.  (government guidelines)  The same with VA.  We don’t have a lot of VA mortgages but the inspection period is typically the hang-up with regard to that product funding in the Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida area.

Fewer than 2% of our listings and even the closed sales are considered distressed.  That’s a great sign.  Sellers aren’t competing with foreclosures and short sales.  Buyers with grit may hang in there for a short sale or foreclosure but those properties aren’t always the best deal, at this point.

In all, there have been struggles for Bonita Springs properties priced over $600,000 across the board.  It will pick up again. 

Luxury properties are selling but the uber luxury properties are only accounting for about three percent of closed sales.  It’s a fairly small slice of the pie so any buyer looking for luxury real estate from the price point of the about the $700,000’s must obtain an absorption rate to make sure they do not have more leverage and bargaining power.

If you’d like to learn more about the latest statistics in your neighborhood or a specific area of Bonita Springs call or text Chris at 239-273-7430 or Angela at 239-728-7599.

Posted in Market Reports
July 30, 2017

Seller Concessions in Bonita Springs, Florida

 Seller Concession Bonita Springs

What if it wasn't a Real Estate Rip Off?

A few weeks ago this “editorial” ran in the Naples Daily News.  It was handed to me by a client and I read it and then let take up space on my desk and in my mind for too long. I decided to rebut it because it was burning in my craw.  I am closing out my second decade on helping people buy and sell homes in Bonita Springs, Florida  and surrounding areas. Let me just say this up front … real estate agents don’t sit around just dreaming of ways to rip anyone off. It’s hard enough to get some of these properties to close that we don’t even need another complication brewing. 

Let’s just imagine for the benefit of the argument that the real estate agent involved was a poor communicator and didn’t explain the fees to the home seller who wrote the letter to the editor. Let’s also just say that if he, the seller, has used the same real estate agent for the last five transactions that the real estate agent himself should have apologized for the miscommunication and refunded the seller.  All that being said, here’s what the typical reader doesn’t realize when they just get the reckless headline of “home seller beware” or the subtext of a real estate agent ripping off anyone …

First and foremost real estate agents do all they can to sell a home and sometimes “entry level homes” fall into the first time home buyer category and require creative financing.  Your government came up with the rules so don’t blame the real estate agents for the hoops you have the option of jumping or not jumping through. The seller hired a listing agent to sell his home.  The buyer’s agent was hired by buyers to help them find a home … using an FHA mortgage.

The seller, during negotiation, agreed to contribute to the closing costs but hadn’t realized that that additional $8,000 added to the price was going to also have fees applied to it.  Firs, there could have been a separate addendum reading that commission be paid on the price of $192,000 … but there wasn’t.  That additional commission paid was $480.  If this was a sale that occurred in Collier County the buyers purchased the title insurance so that fee difference is a non issue.  If it was Lee County and the seller was paying for the title insurance the additional cost to the seller would have been about $44.  Documentary stamps on deed (which are paid by the seller) for the additional $8,000 credit back to the seller was $56.

Again, I will reiterate that this was a communication error from the real estate agent to the seller.  Any any stage of the negotiation there should have been a seller’s estimated net sheet so that he would know what the net proceeds from the sale were based on the closed sale price of the home.  Clearly there wasn’t and that is why this home seller has sour grapes.

The fact of the matter is that none of us reading the complaint in the paper have first hand knowledge of the transaction of the hyper-local stats on where this home was but I will surmise that if the home was priced so well or in such great condition a buyer paying cash or a buyer with a conventional mortgage would have scooped it up long before it sat around long enough for an FHA buyer to find it and get an offer through without a multiple offer situation occurring.  It’s the summer of 2017 and it is actually a slow, odd market so he’s lucky to have found a buyer and gotten it closed. Let us not all forget that it actually appraised which is a miracle unto it’s own.

The unhappy home seller is feeling slighted over $580 in closing fees by helping the buyer structure a loan to be able to close on a property he is no longer using or enjoying, in a slow real estate cycle. 

Now, let’s hypothesize that he didn’t sell that home for an additional two months/60 days because he wanted to hold out for a higher price, someone paying cash or someone funding with a conventional mortgage or not needing seller contributions.  Let’s put aside any mortgage cost he may have and just think about utilities, electric, insurance, taxes on a property for two months.  Even with the base amount due to utilities he would have paid $100-150 to hold the house, about $325 in property taxes to hold the house and $200 in homeowner insurance (if there is flood insurance, far more money).  I’m coming in with a figure of $675 to hold that home for merely two additional months … without a seller’s mortgage involved in this calculation of seller’s holding costs or any other ancillary fees that I haven’t thought of.

Meanwhile, the seller feels ripped off instead of grateful that his home actually sold in this wicked summer market so he whipped up a nasty-gram to be posted in the Naples Daily News and they actually printed it.  It solved nothing except to prove that most humans are poor communicators, maybe poor listeners, a real estate agent sold sand in the desert this summer and a consumer wasn’t happy about what it took to get the job done.  It wasn't a rip off, it was the cost of doing business - getting a home sold in this wonky summer real estate market.  My $.02.

Posted in Seller Tips
July 23, 2017

First Time Home Buyer, Warranties and Free Legal Advice From Facebook

Home Warranties Aren’t Free – Neither Are Repairs

Fort Myers Florida Plumbing RepairAs a real estate agent I am about to close out my second decade in this career.  I’ve been through a few “cycles” of the real estate market.  Our most recent cycle has sent entry level buyers of homes in Bonita Springs north to Fort Myers, Florida where there are more affordable homes available and typically much older homes.

A recent home purchaser had an unexpected surprise of a plumbing leak a few weeks after closing. Of course, the event was posted on Facebook where all the armchair attorneys showed up to discus all of the possible scenarios even though the “advisors” had no first hand knowledge of the transaction or access to the purchase agreement used by the buyer and seller to convey the property.

One of the comments resonated with me because, well, when something goes wrong … not matter what the blame goes to the last man standing, the Realtor®. Here’s part of the comment:

… also if you did not purchase "as is" the realtor should reimburse you.

Thank you, ma'am, for your thoughtful legal advise but if the real estate agents were responsible for every repair of a home after it closed, no matter how significant, there would be no reason why we would do this job. Home buyers get home inspections prior to purchase. Even when a home is purchased with known issues other issues can actually develop.  It’s the joy of home ownership.  Homes are always in need of constant repair.  That’s what home owners do. Especially to a home built in 1970. 

Other armchair attorneys piped in stating that “the sellers should have provided a home warranty” and “you should have gotten a home warranty” and “your real estate agent should have bought you a home warranty”. None of these people passing out free legal advise were present while the negotiation of the property purchase took place. They have no first hand knowledge of the other major repairs that had to be negotiated with the divorced couple who owned the home and did not want, nor were they able to pay for a single thing. The real estate agents had actually forfeited a portion of their commission in an effort to get the property closed.

Further, the buyers of the home barely scraped by to close sale on they property.  They didn’t have the excess funds to buy a home warranty so comprehensive that it covered plumbing, too.  Warranties are not inexpensive (several hundred to over one thousand dollars) PLUS there are substantial deductibles for each service call, usually around $150 per service call, to get a tech on site.

Long story short, this 1970’s home was going to be remodeled room by room and the buyers had a surprise pipe leak in a wall.  It just happened … Murphy’s Law.  Being a first time home buyer with little excess funds for cushion has potential pitfalls of unexpected repairs.  It just does. It’s not going to be the last surprise, either.

Posted in Buyer Tips
July 14, 2017

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update June 2017

Bonita SPrings Market Report June 2017

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Update June 2017

Can you really get a home at last year’s prices? Yep! It can be done, in the right neighborhood with the right research, the right real estate and and the proper buyer mindset. It's all in the numbers and the numbers are interesting this month! One of the more interesting changes we've seen is the rise in mortgages to cash ratio.  We’re seeing more and more financed properties and cash shrinking up. This is caused by the rise in home values. Do you recall a few years ago when we posted graphs with cash transaction registering in the sixty percentile? 

We’re still running on vapors in the foreclosure and short sale real estate market. It’s still dripping an occasional property into the system.

Our “units sold” is steady-Eddy but keep this in mind; many of our new construction property sales are not registered in the MLS … and the developers are building like mad.  East of 75 we’re looking at building gangbusters in Bonita National, Valencia Bonita and Bonita Landing. So you can imagine there are scads not included in those graphs. 

The $200,000-$400,000 price point is the largest segment of the real estate market selling. Keep that in mind when you’re making an offer on a property in that range.  I’ll follow up this post in a few days with an article on how to get a good deal in a real estate market moving this quickly. It can be done!  Stand by.

If you’d like to learn more about buying or selling a home or condo in Bonita spring, Florida all or text Chris 239-273-7430 or Angela at 239-728-7599.

Posted in Market Reports