Life In Bonita Springs Florida - Local Info & Real Estate
Bonita Springs Fl First Responder & First Time Home Buyer Crisis
Housing is officially expensive in Bonita Springs, again. If you are financially comfortable or financially fortunate, take a step back from your life for just a moment and try to put yourself in the shoes of some of the younger folks in the area; the newly married, young families or those just starting their careers after school or college.
Here’s what’s going on with Bonita Springs real estate right now. Under the price pointe of $200,000 there are merely 1/2 dozen homes on the market with three bedrooms/two baths and at least a one car garage. Only one of those homes has a two car garage. Some of the homes are in such bad shape that they don’t qualify for conventional financing. That is offically a crisis for those who want to live in Bonita Springs.
In particular, I’d like the Bonita Springs residents to consider, for a moment, the first responders who work for the fire department, rescue, ambulance or the sheriff department and their inability to afford to live in the city in which they work. It’s happening right now. I know first responders who want to live in Bonita Springs and they can’t find a home to purchase due to low inventory … the prices are rising by the minute. There are bidding wars on houses!
So, why are home unaffordable at entry level in Bonita Springs? First, we’re about 70% gated and deed restricted homes. Beautiful to look at, these gates are, but very painful to the pocket book. The average home buyer who is a first responder, besides the other debts of life, student loans, car payments, children, etc. simply can’t afford the debt of the homeowner association fees or condo association fees. That added $200-400 per month in fees for an HOA besides being expensive actually skew the debt to income ratios for many of todays borrowers and that means that it puts them over a debt limit that qualifies them for a mortgage or home loan.
Another reason there is difficulty is the down payment. Even if a home buyer “goes FHA” which is a loan program that allows very little down, there is a cost for that. It’s about $200 per month in mortgage insurance, over an above the principal and interest. Are you getting the picture with the difficulty of affordable housing in SWFL?
Those in law enforcement in Bonita Springs or Lee County Florida often have a military back ground. A VA loan is very helpful for them but many home sellers and even their listing agent do not understand the program and think that it is going to cost them excessive amounts of money to sell to a veteran leveraging the VA loan program. The program has changed, trust me I just closed a VA loan with a local mortgage broker. (It has to be a local mortgage broker, too.)
Last but not least, it would be remiss of me to not make a plea for an entry level single family home right now. If you own a home that is in the entry level priced segment of our real estate market and you’d like to make sure a first responder or a first time home buyer buys it, please call me. I know more than one sheriff waiting to get into a home in 34135 plus other first time home buyers just waiting for a chance at owning a home in Bonita Springs, Florida.
If you’ve been holding onto your home because you’ve been upside down, consider this and finish this sentence: “If I could get $ ____________for my house. I would move.” Call or text me to see if you’re above water. No strings attached. I’d be happy to help a first responder or first time home buyer take that home off your hands at a fair price. These folks just need an honest shot at a house and to not be out-bid by a cash buyer.
Mortgage Brokers vs. Big Bank Loan Officers
So I walked into the chiropractor and see one of the kids who went to high school with my twins. After we sent a selfie picture of us hanging out in the waiting room off to the twins, “Manny” says, “I was actually looking for a house recently”. We commiserate on how much the prices have gone up for a single family home and how hard it is to be a first time home buyer in the Bonita Springs Florida area.
“Manny” then says that he gave up trying to buy a home because the loan officer at the Big Bank told him he couldn’t get a loan because of the cash that he saved. You’re probably wondering who in their right mind would tell someone that their cash was not any good? I’ll tell you: A loan officer at a big bank. They get paid for loan applications, not closing loans. I was shocked that Manny didn’t get, at the very least, soaked for a loan application before he was turned away. (maybe he did, I didn’t ask)
Let me start out by telling you, the real estate consumer, that you’re going to the wrong places for your loans. A loan officer at a bank will tell you want you CAN’T do but an independent mortgage broker will tell you what you CAN do.
There are a lot of federal regulations that determine how mortgages get processed these days and cash does have to be accounted for. There are ways to skirt the issue by paying down a car loan or some other type of debt. Heck, with this scenario we aren’t talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. A professional could have come up with a plan for the funds to be documented for the loan process, plain and simple.
It just really aggravates me that the unknowing consumer can still walk into a bank and get jerked around by whoever the plebe is that they propped up a the loan officer’s desk. It’s disgusting.
If you are a first time home buyer or even just coming to the area to buy for the first time, call me or your real estate agent and ask for the name of the mortgage broker who CLOSES transaction, not runs consumers around. CLOSES transaction and doesn’t just take loan applications. CLOSES transactions by offering a little coaching on how to get the buyers finances and credit in order and not just take the easy clients.
For about 15 years I have sold real estate in Bonita Springs Florida. I’ve seen a lot of buyers and sellers come and go and there is one solid way to separate real estate buyers from time gobbling, tire kickers, the dreaded “Call us if anything comes up …”. There isn’t a real estate agent in town who hasn’t heard that from a real estate buyer getting out of their car and knowing they’d never see or hear from that person again.
Here’s the deal: If you are a real estate buyer in Bonita Springs and you didn’t jump on an opportunity when you were physically standing in several of the best units presented when you were able to see, smell, touch and feel them, what makes you think you will jump on a super deal, sight unseen that I dig up for you somewhere down the road.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sold a boat load of real estate sight unseen. Read also: Buying Real Estate Sight Unseen That is not impossible and it’s actually easier than you might imagine, for those who are serious about landing a home or condo when they are not in town.
The fact of the matter is that there are Realtors in Bonita Springs, like me, who invest tons of time watching out for and previewing real estate for someone who is up north who will, in fact, buy. We have pointed discussions with buyers who commit to being loyal to us, the real estate agents, who is putting in the time to “keep an eye out” for that deal, that floor plan, that exposure, that fixer upper. We are usually good at what we do and we don’t mind putting in the work if there is a closing, sometime, somewhere down the road to help us recoup our expenses. There are actual expenses, too. This isn’t an inexpensive business to be in and we don’t draw salary.
We real estate agents get paid for performance so it’s an insult to drop the half-assed “call me if anything comes up” when you weren’t satisfied with the best that your budget allowed after X amount of days or weeks of our hard work.
So, I’m with home buyers in Bonita Springs and we are looking at resale homes and condos in Sterling Oaks, Spanish Wells and Village Walk when I suggest to the buyers that we look at New Construction in Bonita Springs. One of the buyers then says that he would never buy a new construction that would be built “behind his back”. I’ve heard it before and I don’t know why I said it out loud but I did: You do realize that all of the resale homes that we’re looking at have been built ‘behind your back’ don’t you?
It got quiet in the car and I think that everyone realized at that point that he wasn’t going to buy anything, he was just looking for excuses to not buy at that point. Really, the developers and real estate agents have far better things to do with their time rather than cajole and “sell” people real estate that they do not want or need.
Here are some facts about new construction in Bonita Springs, Florida. You will have every opportunity to do walk a through a few times during the new construction process. Most developers now update buyers with photos on secure website which keep buyers updated. When you close sale on your new construction you will have the opportunity to have a full home inspection, just like you do when you purchase a resale home or condo. The home inspector will even do a “new home inspection” to catches those little touch up cosmetic items most people don’t catch for months or years.
The benefits of new construction include the most recent insurance codes which equals money saved going forward, choice of colors of décor, paint and flooring selections plus 6 months or more of having “your foot in the market” without a mortgage payment or upkeep costs. If you’re planning ahead for retirement or a vacation home, this could be a great way to go.
If you’d like to know more about purchasing new construction or even a resale call or text me at 239-273-7430. Here’s a little video I made about shopping for them both:
DeRomo’s Gourmet Market and Restaurant
DeRomo’s Gourmet Market and Restaurant officially opened at The Promenade in Bonita Springs, Florida, this week. The market is a feast for the senses and an absolutely fabulous addition to the market and restaurant scene in Southwest Florida. There isn’t another establishment like it in all of Lee or Collier County!
Contact for DeRomo’s: 239-325-3583 - 26811 South Bay Dr. Suites, Bonita Springs, FL 34134
Of course, an Italian restaurant and market this unique has been so popular you’ll need to prepare for the crowd. The market is shoulder to shoulder, filled with shoppers. It’s a good thing! The restaurant has wait times during the peak dining hours so plan your visit at off times. Team Griffith went for lunch at 2:00 p.m. and saw no wait time, fast service and we were in and out of the restaurant in about 35 minutes. We had a 10 month old child and the staff humored her on more than one occasion.
Lunch at DeRomo’s was fast and affordable. We each had an sandwich entre plus the Caprese appetizer and the tab came to $28. We are water drinkers so there was no wine tab but I assure you that there is a fabulous selection of wines. Our choice was to dine indoors and it was a great experience.
On the way out we perused the market and marveled at the bakery. Get to DeRomo’s and check it out before all of the snowbirds get here! It’s a great experience and an amazing new business in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Springs Estero Real Estate Market - September 2014
Here’s the latest and greatest update for the Bonita Springs home and condo market for the month of September 2014. Bonita Springs real estate sale are continuing along at quite a pace. For months, the $200-400,000 price range has been out pacing the $200,000 and under price point simply because the bottom is coming up and the entry level real estate is selling off like hot cakes. At the time of this publication there were only 17 homes and condos for sale under $100,000 in all of Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida (excluding manufactured homes and time shares). You’ll notice that the $800,000-1,000,000 price point only had one sale recorded.
Historical Bonita Springs Home Sales
This graph indicates what real estate sales have looked like during the month of September for the past decade. We’ve leveled off nicely. We are extremely low on real estate inventory right now or there would have been more units sold.
Condition of Bonita Springs Homes Sold
The condition of homes sold in Bonita Springs has improved month to month. The rising real estate prices have produced less home sales because fewer home owner are “under water”. Foreclosure tend to fluctuate but they have also been diminishing as a whole.
Condition of Homes For Sale in Bonita Springs-Estero
Looking forward, the condition is improving and there are fewer homes as short sale or foreclosures in Bonita Springs and Estero. We will continue to make progress and by spring the short sales will be a sliver of the real estate market.
Financing Bonita Springs Homes and Condos
Home buyers in Bonita Springs and Estero continue to pay for their real estate with cash as a primary source of payment, followed by conventional financing. There are little to no owner financing properties in Bonita Springs. Owners have no motivation to finance a home when there are lines of buyers fighting to pay cash, especially in entry level real estate. The same goes for lease-option real estate. The prices are going up so home sellers have no motivation to expose themselves to risk in an upwardly trending market.
Download and print the market report graphs here: Sept 2014 Bonita Springs Market Report
Bonita Springs Bargain Hunters Beware
We're just heading into our winter tourist season and the entry level housing inventory is super low. If you're on your way back to Bonita Springs Florida for the winter and you're planning on buying, be warned: Housing inventory is low, houses sell in hours in some circumstances and they often sell with multiple offers. My last entry level priced single family home listing sold in days with several offers. Before you go out shopping make sure you've done your research, gotten prequalified, read a blank contract and have your team in order. You're going to need to be able to rock and roll if you find a house to offer on because odds are you won't be the only person with that plan, this winter.
Bonita Springs Home Buyer Tips
1.) Experienced real estate agents. The “order takers” are coming back into the real estate business because it is moving again. Choose an experienced real estate agent who wasn’t working in another field for the last seven years because they couldn’t cut it through the rough years when real estate skill and expertise mattered most.
2.) Money. Real estate buyers have no business breaching the threshold of a home without proof of funds or a mortgage prequalification in your hot little hands.
3.) Banks are a total nightmare to work with. If you plan on financing your home purchase any real estate agent worth their salt will not let you use your bank from up north to finance your home. Period. It doesn’t matter how nice the lady at the bank is or how many years you’ve banked there. The mortgage underwriters don’t give a crap about loyalty and your loan probably will never fund.
4.) Scoring a deal. This is not 2010 so don’t throw out a 2010 price as an offer on real estate. You missed the boat on 2010 prices four years ago. If you’re shopping entry level priced real estate, you’re probably going to be lucky to actually get into the real estate market so get with the times.
5.) Placing an offer. Sometimes the offer price is actually OVER list price due to low inventory. You might need to feel the sting of defeat a few times before you get on that band wagon.
6.) Flood insurance is expensive, Period. You need to figure out how much flood insurance is before you write an offer. It could be hundreds of dollars per month, on top of your mortgage and taxes.
7.) Distressed real estate. As of September 2014 less than 2% of our active listings were considered short sales, only 3.5% of our active listings are foreclosure. The “distressed real estate” flood was years ago.
8.) Multiple offers. When there are multiple offers on the home of your dreams you need to take it seriously when the listing agent calls for “your highest and best offer”. That means offer the best price and the best terms. Find out terms that will appeal to the seller, closing dates, lease back, post occupancy agreement, etc.
9.) Home Inspectors. There are several really good inspectors your agent can recommend. By good, it means they are experienced and know each neighborhood, the floor plans, chronic problems with particular home models and they have the best equipment like thermal imaging (to see faulty wiring and water intrusion). Please don’t pick a fly-by-night from the internet because they were fifty bucks cheaper. You get what you pay for. I’ve seen $50 cost someone $20,000 in the long run.
10.) New Construction. An experienced real estate agent can and will show you new product as well as resale real estate. There is no cost to you to have agent representation at a new home sales center.
11.) New doesn’t mean perfect. You still need a home inspection with new construction. Why not discover issues early before they cause significant damage? You’ll also be able to have defective items fixed under warranty by the developer if reported within the warranty period. The home inspection will pay for itself.
12.) Electronic Signatures. If your real estate agent isn’t using Docusign, Appfiles or some other program to have contracts signed electronically you will probably miss out on a deal because of printing, signing, scanning time delays. Imagine this: a purchase and sale offer signed by all eight parties, yes eight buyers and sellers in total, in less than thirty minutes and the copy was crystal clear because it was never once printed.
Frankly, there isn’t a reputable, experienced real estate agent in Bonita Springs, Florida who would refute any of the items on the list above. Regardless of whether you work with me or another local agent consider this list a best practices guide to Bonita Springs home buying this 2014-2015 winter season. Arm yourself with the best real estate team possible and make sure you’re prepped and ready to place an offer on the home of your dreams. If you would like a recommendation for a mortgage broker to get started just call or text and I’ll shoot you the numbers.
Chris Griffith has been a Florida Realtor® since 1999. She’s an Accredited Buyers Agent, Certified New Home Specialist and a Certified Residential Specialist.
Here’s the 2014-2015 calendar events for everything happening in Downtown Bonita Springs winter of 2014-2015. Events include festivals, Taste of Bonita, Movies in the Park, Riverfest, Fruit Tree Sales, Drum Circles and more.
If you’d like to stay on top of community events including Downtown Bonita Springs and even the surrounding areas “like” the Bonita Springs Estero Community Forum on Facebook where locals update the page of events and things to do.
Click here for a printable version of the 2014-2015 Downtown Bonita Springs Calendar of events.
Things to Do With Kids - Bonita Springs Fl239-357-0792 ~ 4836 Bonita Beach Rd Suite 5, Bonita Springs, Florida 34134
Full disclosure: I am not a gamer. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even born with the gene to be able to play games. While it’s hilarious to watch me try to play, it has been years since I’ve tried. I do have family members who play and even a grand son who plays. We’re mostly pinball people, remember.
Recently after a great dinner at Season’s 52, Naples I suggested we stop by the new game store I had heard about. I thought we’d be window peepers that late at night but the store was open when we arrived. They’re open late, until 8:00 or, well, they were open beyond 8:00 p.m. because there were so many people in the store.
Let me tell you that I think this store is genius because there is a large sectional sofa strategically positioned in front of several monitors which are hooked up to many different games systems so a shopper can play a variety of games on a variety of systems. There was a new game that was there which was a big deal but I don’t remember the name and I know that disappoints whoever reads this. I am sorry, I’m missing the gene, remember.
At any rate, this store actively sells a lot of vintage games, game systems and more. There are even standup arcade games set on free play. I’ve taken photos of a few features around the store, the games, the vintage systems, etc.
The 8 Bit Hall of Fame Game Store is located on the north side of Bonita Beach Road, just west of Fish Trap Marina. Here’s the contact deets:
(239) 357-0792 4836 ~ Bonita Beach Rd Suite 5, Bonita Springs, Florida 34134