Life In Bonita Springs Florida - Local Info & Real Estate


Oct. 28, 2016

Real Estate Settlement Procedure Bonita Springs

Bonita Springs Real Estate Closing

Buyer & Seller Real Estate Settlement Procedure

Today, I fielded a few emails to line up a closing as the buyer’s agent side of a transaction in San Remo at Palmira.  The emails were from the title company and the closing agent was lining up the time for the buyer and the seller to sign their settlement statements and closing documents. 

This isn’t generally of event but this closing was happening in Naples, Florida and the property and the home buyer were in Bonita Springs.  For about the fifth time this year, the title agent arranged for the seller to come in and sign on the day of closing, one hour AFTER the buyer signs. 

I get it. They’re just shuffling papers but follow me on this, if the buyer signs at 9:00 a.m. and the seller signs at 11:00 a.m. they buyer is left sitting in a lobby, a car or wandering Costco while they wait for the seller to arrive to sign and the transaction to fund.  Only after that are they able to get the keys to their new home.

First, the seller has had *weeks* to sign their closing documents.  Real estate closings happen all the time so the title company could have had the seller sign the day before, a week before, and if the seller was going to be in China at the time of closing, even a month before. It can happen. I recently sold my own home and was going to be in Seattle when it closed so I signed my deed and settlement statement nearly a week in advance.

Second, for title companies to inconvenience any party by not knowing how to stack the signers is stupid. There I said it.  Real estate 101.  What they are doing is like putting underwear on over pants.

Third, had I not been both an experienced listing agent and a experienced buyer’s agent my buyer would have been reading a stale copy of Good Housekeeping in the lobby of a title company waiting for a seller to show up to sign.

Bonita Springs Realty GroupIf you’d like to learn more about buying Bonita Springs real estateselling Bonita Springs real estate or what happens during the process contact Chris or Angela at 239-273-7430.  We’re experienced listing agents and buyers representatives and we know how to get property closed with less hassle.

Posted in Buyer Tips, Seller Tips
Oct. 25, 2016

Where Bonita Springs Home Buyers Come From

Where do Bonita Springs home buyers come from?  As a listing agent in the Bonita Springs area I have preached the value of great internet presence to home sellers since early on. I was one of the first real estate agents in Bonita Springs with a website so I am keenly aware of how buyers use the web to house hunt. Add to that using analytics to track behaviors and even locations and you can learn a lot about how a potential home buyer will search for homes in Bonita Springs and even find your home for sale online.

Tracking Home Buyers For Home Sellers

It may or may not surprise you to know that home buyers are searching online for homes for sale in the Bonita Springs area from locations all over the world.  The internet is the great leveler in advertising and it is the most effective both in reach and cost. Home buying consumers are mostly located in the United States and are from the states listed below. I will throw in the caveat that some searching from Florida could be visiting town already.

1.   Florida

Bonita Springs Buyer2.  Massachusetts

3.  New York

4.  Illinois

5.  Ohio

6.  New Jersey

7.  Michigan

8.  Pennsylvania

9.  Minnesota

10. Connecticut

Most analytics can show a ‘heat map’ of where the real estate buyers are searching from plus there is an ability to drill down to city level, also.  Most home sellers do not know there is this technology available and many listing agents in Bonita Springs do not have a thorough grasp on web activity to keep an eye on it. 

I thought you’d like to know where the person who buys your home might be searching from. That might be an important question to ask listing agents when they interview to list your home for sale.

To learn more about Bonita Springs real estate websites and how they can help you sell your home, call or text Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430.

Posted in Seller Tips
Oct. 23, 2016

How Bonita Springs "Real Estate Agent Finders" Work

Bonita Springs Real Estate Agent Directory

Real Estate Agent Finders & Directory Tips

Since I manage and write for my own real estate website, I pay fairly close attention to the search results in Google for some specific terms.  Periodically, I see a website pop up in the paid results for real estate related terms related to Bonita Springs, Estero, Fort Myers or Naples. Today one of the sites was a “help you find an agent” website which in my opinion is a “how to scrape a buck” website.

Here’s how it works: You’re a real estate consumer and you decide to Google something similar to, Bonita Springs buyer agent or Bonita Springs listing agent. At the top of the search engine results page are paid results.  When you click on the link denoted as an “ad” it will take you to a website with a forced registration so that they can “help” you find a real estate agent or Realtor in the area in which you are searching for a home or condo to buy or sell.

In theory, there is nothing wrong with a referral for a home sale or a purchase. They are actually important and helpful, if done correctly.  I have past customers and clients ask me for help all of the time; for themselves, their children or their parents when they are experiencing trouble or having a hard time hiring just the right real estate agent. 

The difference between a real estate agent  that who you know helping you find a suitable agent and a directory helping is that often times the directory is just selling the lead or giving the lead to an agent who has paid to be on the list.  A referral from a real estate agent generally involves researching their experience, designations such as a Certified Residential Specialist and a phone interview to see, as my father would say, just how bop they are.  Trust me, I can tell from a five minute conversation if they’re on their game and ready for a referral to one of my past real estate clients.

So today, I tested the theory and signed up for one of the paid sites.  They don’t claim to be a real estate agent just to help find you one.  Basically, a webmaster with a real estate license that will try to scrape anywhere from 25-50% of the referral agent’s commission.

As a consumer, you should know so that you can perform your own search for a qualified Bonita Springs Realtor or real estate agent instead of just getting dealt a random agent from a directory.  Directories and websites like Realtor, Zillow and Trulia aren’t necessarily bad, it’s just that what you get served to you as a real estate consumer isn’t necessarily what you may need and judging quality or experience could be challenging. A little bit of research, may serve you well. 

Bonita Springs RealtorIf you’re looking for a tutorial to find a Bonita Springs listing agent you can start by learning the best way to find a listing agent to sell your home. I’ve written quite a comprehensive series of articles, here: Listing & Choosing a Bonita Springs Listing Agent.  If you have questions, call or text Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430

Posted in Seller Tips
Oct. 22, 2016

What to Expect After Closing Bonita Springs Home or Condo

Post Closing Scam Real EState

After The Sale of Your Bonita Springs Home or Condo

There are a few events that occur after closing that some home sellers do not think of.  First, the home seller will turn over all keys and amenity fobs to the new owner. You may find something relevant or important, post closing, that you would like to share with the buyer so contact your listing agent to have them deliver it to the buyer for you. 

The title company or real estate attorney will be wiring proceeds from your sale to you. Due to fraud most title companies will only wire funds so you will need to provide your account numbers and routing numbers to them prior to closing.

The title company will send you all of the completed documents by email and/or snail mail.  You or your listing agent will need to send a copy of the closing papers or settlement statement to your insurance company to cancel the homeowner and/or flood insurance policy. You may need it to cancel utilities in some circumstances.  Last, your CPA will need the settlement statement for your tax return so keep it handy.

There is always something new on the horizon and most listing agents can’t keep up with the latest scams so here is the best advice for any home seller or even a home buyer: Should you receive any correspondence that requests money or reads that you have to order something or pay something back that involved the home sale,  contact your listing agent before any money leaves your hands.  The title companies have made sure that all of the accounts related to the home were closed, bills were paid, liens were released. It is their job and they rarely make a mistake.

Just remember that there are all sorts of things fraudsters try to do to separate good people from their hard earned money so remember to always ask the listing agent to double check whatever it is before you send any money, wire or give gift card numbers.  For example, read also: Record Transfer Service – Real Estate Scam or Not?

If you have pointed questions about what to expect after you sell your home contact Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430. Chris is an experienced listing agent in the Bonita Springs, Florida area  and Certified Residential Specialist.

Posted in Seller Tips
Oct. 22, 2016

Mail Away or Attend Closing of Bonita Springs Home

Mail Away Closing Bonita Springs

Mail Away Closing in Bonita Springs Florida

Whether it is due to distance, poor health or a scheduling conflict many Bonita Springs home sellers and even home buyers do not attend the closing.  Ask your listing agent and you will learn that the majority of closings are unattended by either party.  Both buyer and seller can sign their documents by “mail away” using over night delivery.  In order to close by mail-away the seller may have to find a local notary to endorse the documents.  The seller will be required to provide proof of identification, as well.

Another work around, if a seller is out of tow is that the listing agent can make arrangements for the home seller to sign their closing documents in advance by several days.  The final closing figures for sellers are often completed  early enough for a seller to visit the real estate attorney or title company prior to the closing date to sign the documents.  Signing in advance is helpful for home sellers who will be leaving town because their furniture and contents have been moved or those who may be upsizing or downsizing.  If they are having simultaneous closings it is convenient to close the first property days before so that the seller can concentrate on the “buy side” of their replacement real estate transaction.

Experienced listing agents can help you coordinate a closing or to sign in advance if it is helpful to your exit plan.  If you would like to learn more about attending a closing or signing your closing documents in advance or by mail away, call/text Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430. Chris is an experienced listing agent and a Certified Residential Specialist in the Bonita Springs, Florida area.

Posted in Seller Tips
Oct. 22, 2016

Buyer Possession Date of Your Bonita Springs Home

Buyer Possession Bonita Springs

Possession Date of Your Bonita Springs Home

Your listing agent can help you understand all of the critical days, dates and time as it relates to the sale of your Bonita Springs property. Unless otherwise negotiated, the day of closing belongs to the buyer. The seller’s possessions must be moved out of the home before that date, unless otherwise negotiated.

A day or so before the date of close the buyer’s agent will accompany or in the place of the buyer perform the final walk through to check the condition and contents of the property. The seller’s possessions may still be on site at that time.  The check of the final condition may also be a check of final home inspection repair remediation, as well.  Seller’s are responsible to keep the real estate in the condition as seen on the day that the contract was agreed upon and they are also responsible to keep the utilities on; typically Florida Power and Light and Bonita Springs Utilities for water and sewer.

On the day of closing or the day prior, the listing agent will be turning over the keys to the title company.  The buyers will have possession to the home or condo as soon as the documents are signed and the funds have been received.  The closing documents may be arriving by mail or have already arrived prior to the closing date so closing could be as early as the time the title company or real estate attorney office is open.

Bonita Springs Listing AgentIf you are considering listing your home for sale and have questions about the date of possession or date of vacating contact Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430 to learn more negotiating a different occupancy date than the date of closing. Chris is an experienced listing agent and a Certified Residential Specialist in the Bonita Springs, Florida area.

Posted in Seller Tips
Oct. 22, 2016

How Long From Contract to Close in Bonita Springs?

Contract to Closing Time Frame Bonita Springs

Contract to Closing Time Frames in Bonita Springs

In the Bonita Springs area most contract to close scenarios range from thirty to sixty days. Many real estate consumers may have seen the cash buyers on real estate reality TV shows casually throw around rapid closings in a week or less.  It could happen but in the Bonita Springs area it is not likely.

Thirty days is generally needed in order for the home inspections and application to the homeowner association – back ground checks to be completed in order to close the home or condo. Bonita Springs is about seventy-five percent gated and deed restricted so applications to join HOA membership are usually necessary.

If a buyer is obtaining a mortgage they may need thirty to sixty days to process the mortgage and get it through underwriting. The appraisal process alone takes a few weeks plus add to that the completion of the underwriting process for the mortgage and any potential home inspection related repairs and you get an idea of why the reality TV approach isn’t likely in the Bonita Springs area.

Real estate is very unique and if you are a home seller who is considering listing your home for sale know that your listing agent can help you coordinate moving or closing dates to accommodate your needs. There are times where a longer or shorter closing can be negotiated.  There are also home buyers who allow the home seller to lease the property after closing, for example, if they are building a new home that isn’t quite finished or if there are children finishing the school year.

The long story short is that contract to closing is a case by case and can be negotiated. If you communicate your needs with your listing agent you should be able to agree to a comfortable timeframe for you and your family to close sale on your home.

Listing Agent in Bonita SpringsTo learn more about the current market conditions and how that may effect your closing time line contact Chris Griffith by text or call 239-273-7430. Chris is an experienced listing agent in the Bonita Springs, Florida area and a Certified Residential Specialist.

Posted in Seller Tips
Oct. 21, 2016

Inspection Repair Responsibilities of Bonita Springs Home Sellers

Home Inspection Repairs Bonita Springs

Which Repairs are Bonita Springs Home Sellers Responsible For?

One concern many home sellers have is the inspection process and if they are responsible for repairs of items found in the home inspection process.  In short, it depends upon which contract is used whether it is a NABOR contract or a FAR/BAR contract or even the FAR/BAR As-Is contract. 

Case by case basis aside, most contracts used in the Bonita Springs area are the FAR/BAR contract or the As-Is version of that contract.  The FAR/BAR contract carefully lays out what a home seller is and is not responsible for repairing.  An example of typical handyman repair items would include GFCI outlets that don’t trip and need replaced, dripping faucets, doors that need adjusted because they won’t latch when closed.  Most experienced listing agents  in Bonita Springs can help you understand any of the contracts that could be offered to you.  You should know this before you sign a purchase agreement with a buyer, also.

Unusual items such as cracked roof tiles, torn or missing screens for both windows and pool enclosures and even cracked floor tiles are explained on the contract as they vary from form to form.  Your Bonita Springs listing agent should be able to easily explain the contract and reference line items to show why you would or would not be responsible for certain repairs.

There is a monetary cap for repairs requested by a buyer. Your listing agent can explain the amount or how to adjust the amount, if needed.

If a buyer has presented their offer on an As-Is FAR/BAR contract they are purchasing the property in it’s current condition however that is subject to inspection and acceptance of the inspection results.  The buyer can excuse themself from the contract if they choose to do so during the diligence period.  Should a buyer find something unexpected during their home inspections they can approach the seller to negotiate a repair or replacement of that item if they would like to stay in the contract. An experienced listing agent can help you negotiate the most beneficial solution should an unexpected or costly repair arise.

Remember, you should dance with the one you’re with so if a buyer’s inspection does find, for example, a roof leak you and your listing agent will have to either disclose the roof leak to the next potential buyer or arrange to have it repaired at some point.  It is often wise to do your best to work out any surprise repair issue with the first buyer.

Last, offering the buyer a cash credit or credit on the settlement statement for repairs must carefully be structured as a credit for closing costs. Mortgage underwriting is touchy so this is something best discussed with the lender.

Listing Agent in Bonita SpringsIf you would like to learn more about the repair clauses in the local real estate sale contracts contact Chris Griffith 239-273-7430 call/text. Chris is an experienced listing agent in Bonita Springs Florida and a Certified Residential Specialist.

Posted in Seller Tips
Oct. 21, 2016

Should I Sell a Bonita Springs Home Turnkey Furnished?

Bonita Springs Moving Company

Turnkey Furnished Homes in Bonita Springs

There is no right or wrong answer regarding home furnishings and whether or not they should convey with a home. Most of the answers are based on the convenience of the home seller.  When a seller lists their home for sale many times it is either offered turnkey furnished as a convenience to the seller since the seller may not want the furniture, may not want to move the furniture or they are downsizing and do not need the furniture.  Often times there is no monetary value associated with the furniture in the home valuation process. The property that is listed for sale must be able to appraise without any value given to the furniture.  In short, banks loan money for real estate not for furniture.  A listing agent can explain the intricacies of mortgage underwriting.

If you’d like to sell your furniture to a potential home buyer, keep in mind that the odds are slim that a buyer will love your home and love your furniture style enough to pay additional funds for it.  Plus, resale furniture is often valued at pennies on the dollar.  Home buyers are often willing to acquire the furniture at purchase of the property “as a convenience to the seller” which keeps them from having to piece it out in classifieds or move it.

There are many local thrift and consignment stores that will take the furniture as a donation if the home seller and home buyer have negotiated for the owner to remove it prior to closing. Moving furniture presents challenges depending upon the final destination it is being moved to. If you’d like to learn about hiring a mover read also: Moving Companies in Bonita Springs Florida.

Bonita Springs Listing AgentOf course, each home seller has different circumstances so if you have pointed questions about listing your home for sale and the best way to include, move or liquidate your furniture and household items contact Chris Griffith by call/text at 239-273-7430. Chris is an experienced listing agent in Bonita Springs, Florida and a Certified Residential Specialist.

Posted in Seller Tips
Oct. 21, 2016

How Are Showings Arranged When Selling a Bonita Springs Home or Condo

Showing a Bonita Springs Home


Arranging Showings For Bonita Springs Homes & Condos

All listing agents handle showings of their listings differently. The procedure depends upon the needs of the home owner, the occupancy of the home or condo for sale and the type of structure or building that it is.  Long story short that even homes or condos that are difficult to show can have special accommodations made so that they can be accessed and shown effectively.  Some properties have to be listing agent accompany due to circumstances or regulated property access.

When a property is listed for sale in the MLS we use a program called “ShowingTime” to organize the showings.  The buyers agent clicks the ShowingTime icon and schedules their appointment, typically using a one hour window of time.  The system notifies the listing agent of the showing and then she schedules the showing with the tenant or the property owner.  If the property is vacant the system is generally set to “go and show” so that it records the information of the buyer’s agent and immediately approves their requested showing time and emails them the confirmation with any special instructions or gate codes.

Typically, most properties listed by The Griffith Group at Downing Frye have a blue Supra lockbox provided for access.  A key to the residence is closed inside of the key carriage.  The key box can only be accessed by those who are real estate licensees with membership in a local Board of Realtors. Without membership it would be impossible for someone to open the blue key box. Keep in mind that real estate agents are screened and fingerprinted in order to obtain a real estate license, first and foremost. 

The Supra box has software that also screens each agent who accesses it and enters the property. It records who they are, their agency, contact information and the time they entered and exited.  It’s a fairly comprehensive system that not only tracks those who enter the property but it also emails and texts the listing agent, so that they know they have completed the showing (or if they never showed it).

There are ways to use a Supra box to keep a tenant comfortable with and agreeable to showing your home for sale, as well. Periodically, we do have to sell properties which are tenant occupied.  We offer a full tutorial to tenants so that they are cooperative and understand the process prior to listing your property for sale.  We help them understand the process and feel secure about using the system.

Last, we rarely use combination lock boxes due to security issues.  There is no way to track the use or access of them.  Should there be an incident at the residence there is no way to know who may have entered the property.

Bonita Springs Listing AgentIf you would like to learn more about the Supra box technology call or text Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430. Chris is an experienced listing agent in the Bonita Springs, Florida area and a Certified Residential Specialist.

Posted in Seller Tips