Life In Bonita Springs Florida - Local Info & Real Estate
Chose Your Listing Agent Wisely
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of escorting a buyer of real estate around the Bonita Springs and Estero Florida area. The homes we were looking at were in a specific budget and style so there was a narrow list of about six homes for sale that we would be touring. The communities we visited were located in Bella Terra, Stoneybrook, Village Walk, San Remo and another left unnamed community.
This is an important read if you are looking for a qualified listing agent to list your home for sale, especially if there is a financial issue like a short sale that you must work though. This particular home for sale was a short sale. In short it means that the home owner is “upside down” and they owe more on the mortgage than the home is worth. They will have to ask their mortgage holder for debt forgiveness.
Long story short, I was not able to show in the unnamed Estero community because of a comedy of errors. Getting an appointment from the “listing agent” was nearly an exercise in futility. Days of requests fell on deaf ears and then finally there was a voice mail left that we were approved to show the listing. The approval was great news but since we were dealing with an attorney office that listed the property the inexperience showed immediately. Ever hear the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”? Well, Attorney Jack didn’t leave us a gate code in the voice mail so while we had approval to show the property, we couldn’t get in to show the property. After calling several other resources, because the attorney office “listing agent” is closed on weekends with no weekend contact, I was finally able to get a gate code.
The buyers got a tour of the community and then we pulled up to the property. We got to the front door and there was no lock box. I rang the bell and nobody came to let us in, not the home owner nor the “listing agent”. I searched the hose bibs and coach lamps for the elusive lock box. Nothing. I called the “listing agent” and no one answered to explain how to get into the listing. We ended up leaving without seeing the home.
There was no follow up phone call from the “listing agent” and there was no return call from the “listing agent” asking if we ever got in. Meanwhile, the owner of the home is treading water and probably hoping for a buyer to come and bail them out of their predicament with an offer to purchase their short sale property.
This is why hiring a qualified listing agent is so crucial. This home owner is at the mercy of a apathetic listing agent whose specialty just may be being an attorney, not a real estate agent. They do not understand the process of getting a listing sold. Trust me, I’ve been licensed to sell real estate in Florida since the mid 90’s and can tell you who is going to make it in the biz and who isn’t from 50 paces away. What is certain is that the home owner loses. Three hundred plus days on market and not the home is still not sold.
I grieve for the home owner and the industry when I see things like this go on. … and that is why I take being a listing agent very seriously with my clients and customers. In spite of how low the bar is set in some circumstances.
Things to Do in Bonita Springs, Florida
The family came to church for the first time since summer. The baby gets so fussy when she’s hot and it is an outdoor church. At any rate, she had a great time playing with the other kids in the children’s program and it was nice to see the grand-littles at church again. The church service is at Riverside Park in Downtown Bonita Springs, Florida at 9:30 a.m., if you're interested in going to the pet friendly, flip flop friendly church service in SWFL.
There was a trip to Doc’s Beach House on Bonita Beach on the Monday agenda. It has been years since I went to Doc’s plus I can’t remember the last time I saw the gulf. The rain broke long enough for us to head to the beach. There was nobody there during the dinner hour. The fried shrimp was just as good as I remembered. The sun nearly came out but it rained buckets again later in the evening.
Lordy, it has rained this past week. I had to take Dill to the dog park on Wednesday to run and run and run as he has not been outside or in the back yard all week because it is under water. The dog park has been open about a year. It is locate on East Terry Street at Matheson Ave. There are three size-related dog corrals for safety. Dill runs with the medium dogs because he’s more rough and tumble than a small dog.
Thursday is Rotary day at Spanish Wells. One of the local events we planned and attended this week was “Dictionary Day” at all of the local schools. Every 3rd grader gets a dictionary. I attended the Dictionary Day at Spring Creek elementary school which is beside Cedar Creek. My kids went to Spring Creek so I usually attend that event.
Just off of West Terry Street in Bonita Farms there is a cute little house, actually a couple of homes together on Flossmoor Drive with a pergola over the garage. Besides awnings, I really like this cute little pergola idea to dress up an older style home. If you happen to know anyone who can build one of these for me, let me know.
On Friday, I turned into my own neighborhood, Brendan Cove and saw the Christmas decorations being put up. Yeah, I know … on October 2nd. Enough said.
Royal Scoop ice cream is still a local fan favorite. We stopped in for a scoop the other day and I took a picture of Bessie the cow. I had rocky road and my friend had carmelious cups, which is rarely available. Yes, I was off of sugar and wheat. At any rate, I haven’t really had Royal Scoop for a while. I used to go all of the time when I live in Bonita Shores, back in the day.
See you next week!
Electronic Lockboxes Mean Safety in Bonita Springs
My daughter in law, Angela has started working with the group as a buyer’s agent and assistant to me with some of my appointment setting. Last week she made appointments for me to show homes for sale in Village Walk of Bonita Springs. One of the homes for sale was “listing office accompany”. That means that the agent has to open the door because 1.) the home owner does not want a lock box or 2.) the agent doesn’t own a supra lock box. The electronic boxes are about $100.
Right before I got to the property the listing agent texted me that she left the door unlocked for me. Any way this gets diced it doesn’t sit well with me; as an agent or as a home owner. Right now I have a second home for sale (outside of the Bonita Springs area) and I would be furious if the front door was left open for an hour instead of having a lockbox on the door that literally tracks every agent who breaches the threshold.
Our electronic boxes are safe, secure and track each registered agent who enters the home. The box can not be accessed by anyone who is not a licensee, a member of the board of Realtors and who has set an appointment with the listing agent. It literally tracks who they are, their brokerage, what time they entered, what time they exited the premises. It's a great system. Who wouldn't want to know exactly who has and has not entered the home?
If you are a home owner thinking of listing your home whether it is a modest starter home or a multi-million dollar home in Bonita Bay or a starter condo in Emerald Bay you should insist that a supra lock box be onsite even if the agent plans to arrive “to answer questions” during the showing. The safety and security of the listed home and it’s residents is far to important to roll the dice with an unlocked door.
The Bonita Springs Florida Weekly Wrap
We started the week off right with a test run on an antique, 1937 fire truck through Naples, Florida. Grandma knows people. Of course, Aiden was too afraid to run the hose so we’ll have to see if we can take a do-over tour sometime down the road.
We ran into JMae and Blue, the Weimador, in Monday traffic at the Bonita Bay light at the corner of 41/West Terry Street. I live in Brendan Cove so this corner is where I see everyone I know, as a regular occurrence. Bonita Springs isn’t a metropolis so when you live here you see people you make friends easily and see people you know all over the place.
The family met for lunch on Tuesday at the plaza on the corner of Wiggins Pass Road and 41 in North Naples. My house is midway between both Trops stores. We love Tropical Smoothie Café! The Acai Berry Smoothie actually tastes good without sugar in it. (I’m off sugar and wheat … as much as I can be) There is also a new grain bowl with roasted veggies that I’ve been eating there. At any rate, this bumper sticker was in the parking lot. There is a Trops in Estero, too across the street from Estero Place in the Lowe’s plaza which is just north of Villas Palmeras.
The new Racetrack gas station is filling a fuel and convenience store void in the Estero Florida stretch of 41 north of Coconut Point mall. Members of my Facebook Forum have noted the gas specials since their grand opening. It seems to have made gas more competitive around town. Racetrack is just north of Fountain Lakes on the west side of 41. They also offer ethanol free fuel.
Before Rotary on Thursday I stopped for breakfast with Angela at First Watch Restaurant. If you’ve been away for the summer, the First Watch has moved. It was located near Lime Tree Park in the Bonefish Plaza and now it is located in Estero on 41 across from Coconut Point Mall at the “Best Buy end of the mall”.
The work week ended with a Friday pedicure at #1 New York Nails in Bonita. It’s where the Tax Collector office moved to. By the way, the Tax Collector moved, too. It’s in the plaza just south of Cedar Creek in Bonita Springs. I don’t recall the plaza name. Tony is the best with acrylic nails and all of the gals here do a great job with pedicures. It is a super clean and pretty place to spend time in!
Since we’ve had so much rain my back yard is a mud bowl. Dillon has been getting about 3 baths per day and I am trying to get him a run in somewhere once in a while to burn off steam. On Saturday, we headed down to River Park in Bonita and walked the loop and the boat docks. Before heading home I saw a few of these caterpillars on the boardwalk. They are tiger moth caterpillars, I believe. There you have it, a little slice of Life In Bonita Springs, Florida. Until next week … let me know if you have any questions about the destinations we visited this week! Call or text Chris at 239-273-7430
Monitoring Listing Agent Marketing
There is a high price for home listing errors but some home sellers do not realize they’re paying the price for inaccuracy, complacency or inexperience. Recently, I had a buyer contact me regarding a specific type of condo – bundled golf. It’s sort of an important differentiator of real estate because it comes with an ongoing financial obligation for a golf membership.
This particular condo buyer’s search criteria was for a ground floor condo, bundled golf, under $200,000 in Bonita Springs or Estero. As an agent, I searched the system for just those three items and emailed them to the customer. She emailed me back and asked where the rest of the listings were in one of the communities. It doesn’t matter if it was in Pelican Sound, Spring Run or Worthington. When I searched community by name, the listings appeared but didn’t when I searched for bundled golf. It’s really a huge mistake to leave out of marketing a listing.
Hiring a listing agent is quite a daunting task for some folks but I can tell you that this is one business decision you want to make sure you do well. The first job of a listing agent is to filter and focus the potential buyers before they breach the threshold of your home. Without having the term “bundled golf” in the listing criteria it means that there are unqualified, non-golfers touring the home. They will be the sort of people who won’t want to toss $6,000 yearly for golf out the door. Second, buyer’s agents who are looking specifically for bundled golf won’t find the listings at all because the wrong terms were omitted.
If you are interviewing listing agent in the Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida area give Chris Griffith a call at 239-273-7430 to learn more about leveraging the proper marketing terms to get your home or condo seen by more consumers.
Slice of Life in Bonita Springs, Florida
09-13-15 On Sundays I attend church at Riverside Park. It’s the pet friendly, shorts and flip flop friendly church. In the bulletin this week is an announcement for the “Blessing of the Bikes” in a few weeks. If you have a bike, be it a Schwinn or a Harley, bring it to church to get blessed. There is usually a great turnout for this event.
09-14-15 Griffith and Co received an email from the guardian coordinator for Collier County Honor Flight letting us, as in my son Jon, his wife Angela and me, know that we are all on the next honor flight, November 7th! We’re really excited to be personally escorting our own WWII or Korean War Veteran to Washington DC to tour their memorials and pay tribute to those who served and those who gave all. I’ve already been on Mission 5 and Mission 6.
09-15-15 The Griffith Girls listed a great little condo in Emerald Bay in North Naples. Emerald Bay is off of Vanderbilt Rd, about a mile south of Royal Scoop Ice Cream. The condo is a ground floor unit, two bed, two bath, one car garage. $225,000. You can see the photos of the condo here: http://goo.gl/9crf1i
09-16-15 I noticed on my way to the grocery story that The Promenade is going to be starting their Saturday Farmer’s Market in October. The farmer market at Coconut Point begins in October, too.
09-17-15 It rained for three looong days. Dill, the wonder dog, has a little cabin fever so when it got down to a mere sprinkle we headed up to Depot Park and Island Park for a walk so he could burn off some steam. We’ve both been inside too long. I’m aching for a hike in the woods.
09-18-15 After a comedy of errors and interruptions I ended up at dinner at Stir Crazy at Coconut Point Mall. Coco-curry with tofu for me. The best part was the fortune cookie that was somewhat appropriate given that I have a daughter getting married in December and it seems there are a lot of parties and planning. Back in December 2008 is when Stir Crazy opened at Coconut Point Mall.
09-19-15 Dinosaur exhibit is in town at the Collier Museum in Naples, Florida. My grandson Aiden and I attended the event as special guests of friend of mine. There is always something going on at Collier Museums. To learn more visit their site: www.colliermuseums.com
There you have it! Here’s what we did last week in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Things to Do – Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival
For the last twenty-four years there has been an annual pumpkin festival within a car drive of the Lee-Collier line and I never knew about it until last year. My son and daughter-in-law extended an invitation for me to join their family for what I thought was an excursion to buy pumpkins. Little did I realize that we were visiting more than a mere pumpkin patch. Continue Reading: Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival
Hunsader Farms is about 1,000 acres of farmland located in East Manatee County Florida, just east of Bradenton, Florida. It is a working farm that is widely known also for its u-pick and farm market store. They grow and sell watermelons, tomatoes , cantaloupes, pumpkins and squash. What began as a family farm in 1967 has evolved to include a family friendly pumpkin festival every October. Since beginning in 1992, the festival has continually added new features and attractions and it has grown into quite an extravaganza. It has managed, however, to maintain the charm and feel of the county fairs I recall from growing up in Ohio. If the weather was a little more brisk, you’d swear you were up north.
Tens of thousands of visitors attend every weekend and they now come from hundreds of mile around. Second generations are now attending continuing the wholesome family tradition. When you go, plan a few hours, if not the full day. Besides the promise of pumpkins-to-go, Hunsader Farms pumpkin festival features nearly constant live music and activities which range from car shows and a petting zoo to the monster truck demonstrations and several types of stunt shows.
The full list of entertainment, novelties and attractions is far too lengthy to completely list but I can guarantee that there is something for everyone to experience and enjoy. I was most surprised by the massive, one-of-a-kind pumpkin cannon. Both kids and grownups stand in awe, with ears covered, waiting for the air pressure to build and launch a pumpkin a couple thousand feet across the farm. My grandson Aiden loved the dirt ramping, car crushing, monster truck show. The driver even has a meet and greet with spectators after the show which completely made his day.
Naturally, with the farm and fair atmosphere there are plenty of options for eating both healthy and carnival-style cuisine ranging from ice cold watermelon to deep friend Oreos. I skipped right over fresh sweet corn and went straight for the classic, powdered sugar coated funnel cake which I carried with me through the craft fair. The craft booths were outstanding and offered a wide variety of items including homemade jams, children’s clothing, toys and even live orchids.
We’re already planning our next trip to the pumpkin festival and vow that we’re making time for the hay ride and the “Family Feud” stage game show. Hope to see you there!
The Hunsader Farms pumpkin festival is located at 5500 Co Rd 675, Bradenton, FL 34211 and their phone number is 941-322-2168. The 2015 weekend dates of operation are October 10 & 11, 17 & 18 and 24 & 25 from 9 am - 5 pm. Admission $10, Parking $5, Children 12 and under are free. For more info and a list of activities and entertainment visit: www.HunsaderFarms.com
Happy Trails and Pumpkin Festivals!
Special to Southwest Florida Spotlight Magazines
Downtown Bonita Springs Riverside Park
2015 -16 Calendar of Events
You can download a the printable calendar of events here: Downtown Bonita Springs Calendar of Events
4 Music Makers Big Band Concert 2-4 pm
24 RiverFest 1-9 pm
25 Music Makers Big Band Concert 2-4 pm
31 Halloween in the Park 6-9 pm
1 Bonita Springs Concert Band 2-4 pm
11 Veteran’s Day Service 11:00 am
14 Fruit Tree Sale 9:00 am
20 Wine Fest & Craft Beer Social 4:30-9 pm
21 Cook-Off & Craft Vendor Fair 11-3 pm
21 Caribbean Chillers Concert 5-9 pm
22 Taste of Bonita 11-5:00 pm
29 Music Makers Big Band Concert 2-4 pm
1 Holiday in the Park 4:30-8 pm
6 Bonita Springs Concert Band 2-4 pm
19 Movies in the Park - Dusk
9-10 National Art Festival 10-5 pm
17 Bonita Springs Concert Band 2-4 pm
19 Village Band Concert 2-4 pm
23 Movies in the Park - Dusk
24 SWFL Big Band Concert 2-4 pm
30-31 National Art Festival 10-5 pm
2 Big Band Concert 7-9 pm
13 CREW Concert 6:30-9 pm
14 Bonita Springs Concert Band 2-4 pm
16 Stardust Memories Band 7-9 pm
20 Fruit Tree Sale 9:00 am
20 Movies in the Park - Dusk
21 SWFL Big Band Concert 2-4 pm
27 Keep the Beautiful in Bonita Clean-Up 8:00 am
27 Bonita Brew Fest - 4-7:30
28 Music Makers Big Band Concert 2-4 pm
28 Bark in the Park 10-2:00
5-6 National Art Festival 10-5 pm
8 Stardust Band Concert 7-9 pm
11-12 Blues Festival 1-9 pm
12 Stardust Band Concert 7-9 pm
17 Bonita Springs Concert Band 2-4 pm
23 Tropical Fruit Tree Sale - 9 am
23 Movies in the Park - Dusk
24 SWFL Big Band Concert 2-4 pm
25 Relay for Life - Details to follow
26 Music Makers Big Band Concert 2-4 pm
- Artist Cottages Open every Sunday 12:00-5:00 pm
- Farmer’s Market Wednesdays November – Apri
- Calusa Ghost Tours Kayak Rentals every
- Springs of Bonita Church meets every Sunday at 9:30
Events, times and dates are subject to change without notice. Please call City Hall at 239-949-6262 for more info.
Stay tuned for Celebrate Bonita date!
Bonita Springs Home Stats – Cash Drop
Over the last several months one of the few things we’ve seen in the Bonita Springs real estate market is the consistent rise in prices and the consistent drop in cash real estate transactions. We’re at an all time low for cash transactions in Bonita Springs about 48% cash sales. Balancing that change is a small rise in FHA mortgages used to financing Bonita Springs home sales. There are very few condominium complexes that are FHA approved so that’s the reason for generalizing “home sales”.
Closed sale home inventory in the Bonita Springs and Estero area is down over last year but it is due to lack of inventory and the amount of new construction home sales. Most new construction in Bonita Springs is not run through the MLS so it is not counted in this graph. While the unit sales of homes is down over last year, it is consistent and an average of many other years post housing boom, housing bubble burst.
Consistency is key in Bonita Springs home sales. The $200,000 and under price point continues to vanish and the $200-400,000 price point continues to lead in Bonita Springs home sales. We're seeing a small amount of growth in the $400-600,000 price point of home sales. The nutshell version of our Bonita Springs and Estero home sales report is that nearly 90% of all home sales is under $600,000!! Amazing statistic! Read that again!
Our current active home sale listings in Bonita Springs and Estero show that our real estate market is a little over 95% stable. Our foreclosure market is only about 3.5% of our active listings in Bonita Spring and Estero Florida. Our short sale market is only about 1% of our active listings in Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida. The market is stable and becoming more stable all of the time.
This month foreclosure closed sales accounted for about 7.5% of home sales in Bonita Springs and Estero Florida. Again, since short sales have diminished due to rising home sale prices, short sales in Bonita Springs accounted for only 1% of the inventory.
We're going into fall 2015 and already seeing the car haulers drop off in front of our gated communities so the local real estate market is about to take off at even more of a fevered pitch. Those home sellers and buyers who left in spring will come back to a shock of higher prices, less inventory and multiple offer bidding. Even our rental market is inventory depleted.
If you'd like to download the market graphs above in .pdf or printable form click here: August 2015 Market Reports.
Sept 6 - Dill and I walked through Freedom Park and the Collier Freedom Memorial. A brick for Jeff Lytle and Fred Coyle was being installed. By the way, I wrote a story about Freedom Park and the Collier County Freedom Memorial in Spotlight a few months ago. Tons of pictures to look at there, too! After the walk, we stopped by Rural King, which is in Bonita Bay Plaza, to buy bird seed for our back yard entertainment. We live on a preserve so we feed birds and butterfly garden … in case you’re wondering where a real estate agent would choose to look at in the Bonita Springs area.
Sept 7 - My family had a small pool party in Brendan Cove in Bonita Springs. My brilliant daughter Jen is trying to reason with my two year old grand daughter, Madison, about her shoe selection. This baby is already jumping in the pool unassisted. You have got to get them swimming early in SWFL because of all the water, pools, canals.
Sept 8 - Happy home buyers had their final walk through ... well, I video taped their final walk through of their Worthington condo which is in Bonita Springs but they were up north at what is now their summer home. On the way to the condo I saw three hookers on the side of the street. Eh, I thought it was clever. Moving on …
Sept 9 -So, I finally made it to Doug's Seafood on Bonita Beach Road. They are only open until 7:00 p.m. (at time of publication) so I keep missing it. The lobster roll was fabulous (had a bite of someone else's). I had the lobster salad with potato salad and slaw. Everything was great, very light mayo ... and the slaw was a little like how my mom used to make. This is probably the fastest lunch or dinner you can get in Bonita Springs. You can get in and out in about 20-30 minutes.
Sept 10 - A wonderful new bird sculpture surprised me when I took Dill to the pet-friendly River Park. River Park is at the Imperial River on the west side of US 41. You enter a the traffic light on the south side of the bridge by Old Time Pottery. Pets are welcome but the park is not fenced. There is a fenced dog park on East Terry Street at Matheson Ave.
Sept 11 - I’d never been to a fire truck dedication or “push in” before but I got an invitation and went to Miami-Dade for a September 11th ceremony and engine dedication. It’s only a short trip across Alligator Alley to get to Miami. These men and women in blue, plus a few elected officials, ceremoniously pushed this truck into the firehouse so that it could be put into service. It was rather touching to learn that this is the only red engine in the Miami-Dade fleet, dedicated to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives at September 11th terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.
Sept 12 - Sterling Oaks is located in North Naples across from Audubon, is only a mile or so south of Bonita Beach Road. It's practically Bonita Springs, right? Well, I've shown a few homes and villas in this community in the past few weeks. I feel it is overlooked because of it's physical address but it has some great values, plus it's only a few minutes drive to Bonita Beach and Barefoot Beach. That’s your free tip for the week!
That's the weekly wrap up. See you next week!