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Sept. 15, 2014

Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk at Fakahatchee Strand | Things to Do

Barred Owl Fakahatchee

Things to Do | Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk

The last few weekend adventures have included crisscrossing the Everglades on US 41. I made a point to stop more than once at Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. It’s on US 41 about seventeen miles west of CR 951 in Naples, Florida. It’s an easy trip off the beaten path and an escape from the franchise lined streets we’re confined to living on the coast.

This time of year the water is high and the preserves are in peak condition so it’s worth the drive to head east. The boardwalk is a great spot to see some of the best examples of flowers and foliage now that they’re rejuvenated from the summer rains.

The Big Cypress Bend boardwalk is about two thousand feet long so it isn’t a huge time commitment and it’s great for all ages. It features instructional plaques along the way with the basics on the plants and animals you may see. I will mention that many people on the nature boardwalk forget that there isn’t going to be a flashing light or a bell ring when there is something notable to see. You really have to use your eyes, your hearing and your senses.

It goes without saying that spotting wildlife or a once in a lifetime opportunity generally happens only when you’re focused and quiet. I mention this because my last trip to Cypress Bend I was crouched down taking photos of one of the biggest Barred Owls I’d ever seen when two tourists from Boston walked up and squeezed around me. I ask them if they’ve seen anything interesting and without missing a beat they replied that they hadn’t seen a single thing. I had a feeling they weren’t appreciating the whole observation part of the walk. Gesturing, I spoke up and asked if that had seen the Owl. Yes, they were surprised.

That owl was no further than six feet away, sitting on a branch, looking just like just another lichen covered cypress trunk. Moments earlier I had nearly walked by this owl, too. It was mid-morning and I was by myself on the boardwalk. Walking quietly, I had hoped to see something interesting to photograph. I stopped in my tracks because I had that spooky feeling that I wasn’t alone. I looked to the right and there he was. Owls have mastered stealth and the only clues were blinking eyes.

Owlportunities like this don’t come along every day so after I froze for a moment, then raised the camera and popped off a couple of shots. This owl was a charmer and humored me by posing for quite some time. He eventually grew bored with celebrity and flew away.

Not long after I heard the distinctive “who cooks for you?” hooting call of the owl. On my way back to the entrance I then heard a pair of owls caterwauling in the distance. It was a treat to both see and hear them that day.

Owls are just one of dozens of great finds at Big Cypress Bend. If you visit the boardwalk know that it’s shaded with a few benches along the way for rest. Entrance is by donation/honor system $3 per adult. You can learn more about Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk at www.FloridaParks.org and listen to the Barred Owl at www.AllAboutBirds.org.

Happy trails and boardwalks.

 

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This article special to Southwest Spotlight Newspaper

You can subscribe to a weekly email newsletter by visiting www.LifeInBonitaSprings.com and entering your email in the subscription area or click here now: subscribe to blog.  If you’re reading this content anywhere else but www.LifeInBonitaSprings.comor www.SouthwestSpotlight.com it is probably stolen.

Posted in Things To Do
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Sept. 13, 2014

Marketing Bonita Springs Homes Internationally

Bonita Springs Flower

Marketing Bonita Springs Homes Internationally

Recently, I went to interview for a listing in Bonita Springs, Florida.  My listing presentations are fairly comprehensive and data driven with market statistics, sales statistics plus information on how consumers locate, purchase and fund their new Bonita Springs home.  I create my own market reports, do the research, build the graphs.

After reviewing the data, the home seller eventually asked if marketed real estate internationally. The answer is yes. 

First, I not only market internationally but I target market specifically by community name or/or lifestyle command to bring buyers specifically looking for a home in that neighborhood to a comprehensive, thorough, custom built web page with the most information about the community.  At the bottom of that page is a list of the active homes for sale in that Bonita Springs community.  That’s how a lot of consumers search for real estate in Bonita Springs.  “Community Name Bonita Springs” or by “community name” if it’s distinctive enough. For example: Brendan Cove or Meadowbrook Bonita Springs.  There are works in progress that are on the front page and heading up: Cedar Creek Bonita Springs and  Bonita National Bonita Springs

The homes sellers seemed rather unimpressed that I am able to build a top ranking, organic web page that shows up first in Google for their neighborhood name.  They wanted to know what magazines or newspapers I was going to blanket all of Europe or Iceland or Africa with to sell their home.  Good marketing, the best marketing is not necessarily print advertising.  I can’t afford to pacify sellers with good dollars thrown at print advertising. 

With exception to a few classifieds I run in the local paper, I don’t generally engage in print advertising. It is the most expensive, least effective type of marketing on the planet. Yes, planet.  If it was effective, home owners would put a full page ad in the paper and a week later be skipping off to the bank with their sales proceeds … and not call a real estate agent.

Here’s the goods: Ninety-two percent of home buyers use the internet for their home search. Check out the rest of the statistics on how buyers find the home they eventually buy, from 2013 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:

When buyers were asked where they first learned about the home they purchased, 43 percent said the Internet; 33 percent from a real estate agent; 9 percent a yard sign or open house; 6 percent from a friend, neighbor or relative; 5 percent from home builders; 2 percent directly from the seller; 1 percent a print or newspaper ad; and less than 1 percent from other sources.

Forgive me, Mr. and Mrs. Home-Seller for not marketing to the 1% of buyers looking for real estate and concentrating on the 92%. It is not fiscally responsible or part business plan and to cater to that whim.  At the time, I sort of exited knowing where this one would end.  I don’t take all listings. The good agents never do take every listing.  That interview process is reciprocal and I exercised the rule of two feet.

As I pulled away I murmured, I am sure you will find another real estate agent who will gladly martyr their finances for a listing …

They did find that real estate agent and when the property hit the market I Googled and found only a profile page on the brokerage website for web presence and a few incidental social media sites.  There was a name on Trulia but not even a photo or bio was visible.  Trulia is usually one of the top links for any “community name Bonita Springs”.  It’s a waste for any real estate agent to not flesh out that profile.

So here’s the elevator pitch synopsis of “marketing real estate” or “marketing real estate internationally”.  Print ads are for the seller’s ego.  The fact of the matter is that buyers do not go buy a magazine or a newspaper to find a home or condo whether they’re shopping from Boise Idaho or Brussels.  They search on the internet, usually from a mobile device.  You, as a home seller, really need to Google your neighborhood by name and the  agents you interview to see just how far they actually can reach and to see if they have a funnel (or are capable of building a funnel) pointed at your neighbor hood before you list your Bonita Springs home.

Posted in Seller Tips
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Sept. 13, 2014

Bonita Springs Estero Real Estate Market - August 2014

Bonita Springs Home Sales

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Report

Here’s the latest and greatest news for the Bonita Springs real estate market.  The following statistics were collected on 9-13-14 and include information regarding short sales, foreclosures and equity sales in Bonita Springs and Estero Florida. In the month of August 2014 there was only one short sale recorded. Prices have going up so far fewer home owners are under water and able to sell their homes to cash flow.

Bonita Springs Home SalesHistorical Bonita Springs Home Sales

Notice the decade of recovery on the graph. Ten years of Bonita Springs home sales has shown increased sales since the downturn and a leveling off in 2014.  New home construction is now a competing factor in the real estate market.  Not all new product sales are included in these statistics.

Bonita Springs HomesPrice of Bonita Springs Homes Sold

For a few months we’ve seen Bonita Springs home sales in the 200-400K price range out sell the 200K and under price point, mostly because the bottom is coming up. As the entry level real estate sells off the affordable real estate prices are rising.  Nearly 50% of all Bonita Springs real estate sales are in the $200-400K price range.Bonita Springs Homes

How Bonita Springs Homes Are Financed

Bonita Springs real estate trends continue showing cash as king. Sixty-two percent of sales are cash funded followed by conventional mortgages.  A hand full of properties were financed with FHA, VA and "Other" which could be 1031 exchanges, trades or private financing or hard money.  

If you are interested in a printable file of the Bonita Springs real estate market reports, click here:

Bonita Spring Home Sales Aug 2014

Posted in Market Reports
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Sept. 4, 2014

Downtown Bonita Springs Redevelopment Plan

Downtown Bonita Springs Redevelopment Plan

Downtown Bonita Springs Redevelopment Plan

If you’re curious about what is happening in Downtown Bonita Springs as they redevelop the existing area and develop Bamboo open land here is a map to the proposed redevelopment of downtown.  If you would like to see a full size .pdf map of the Bonita Springs redevelopment plan. Click Here

There are lots of changes that will take place when they they start this exciting redevelopment of downtown Bonita Springs. I can’t wait to see the progress.

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Aug. 31, 2014

Leitner Creek Tributary to Imperial River

Leitner Creek Bonita Springs FlLeitner Creek in Bonita Springs Florida

One of the favorite things I like doing is showing people the hidden places in Bonita Springs that they wouldn't ordinarily see.  This is a photo I took (auto awesomed by G+) of Leitner Creek.  I've been working at loosening up some lettuce and water hyacinth so that it is paddle-able again.  What is left are beautiful grandfather oaks and cypress trees along the bank. 

Today I was able to paddle upstream quite a distance and this is what it looks like. Untouched in some areas and in a few places you'll see homes that from the street you would never know would be considered a waterfront home in Bonita Springs.

Leitner Creek Bonita Springs

In all actuality, there are only a handful of waterfront homes on Leitner Creek which can be located on Center Avenue, Orange Court Drive, East Terry Street and at Forest Creek Villas.  

If you'd like to paddle Leitner Creek, you can find the entry from the Imperial River at the old Bamboo Park across from the Survey Cafe.  

Kayak and paddleboard rentals are available at Calusa Ghost Tours of Bonita Springs at Riverside Park artist cottages behind the Liles Hotel.

Watch also: Paddling the Imperial River

Posted in Around Town
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Aug. 27, 2014

Identifying Bonita Springs Flood Zone | Map

Bonita Springs Flood Map

Bonita Springs Flood Zone Map

If you’re a buyer looking for information about how to identify a flood zone, fema map or figure out whether or not you will need flood insurance use this map:  Flood Zone Map. Here you can search in general or even input the address of the home you are interested in learning more about.  Flood insurance is not mandatory but if you are financing your home or getting a mortgage you may be required by the lender to obtain a flood insurance policy.

A small portion of Bonita Springs is located in Collier County.  Bonita Shores which is south of Bonita Beach Road and west of Vanderbilt Drive is Collier County.  You would use the Collier County Flood Map to search the homes in Bonita Shores.

Posted in Buyer Tips, Mortgage
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Aug. 16, 2014

July Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Reports Aug. 1 2014

Bonita Springs Real Estate Report

Bonita Springs Real Estate Statistics Aug 2014

July Real Estate Market Reports

This is a decade of sales that occurred during the month of July for the past 10 years. Note the recovery since July of 2006.  Real estate sales have steadily increased since 2007.  The sale in July 2014 are consistently more stable. 

July Real Estate Market Reports

For the fifth month in a row Bonita Springs real estate has sold mostly in the $200,000-400,000 price range.  It is out selling the $200,000 and under price point due to the bottom selling off and that price point of real estate diminishing from the bottom up.

July Real Estate Market Reports

 

The condition of Bonita Springs and Estero real estate is mostly equity, meaning it is not a short sale or foreclosure.  This month there were few short sales but a slight bump of foreclosures.  It’s simply due to the swift real estate market moving and foreclosures often being price well. The foreclosures are priced well, however, they often see multiple offers and sell over list price.  The short sale are fewer because prices are rising and fewer home owner are “under water” so they are able to sell their real estate and cash flow.

Bonita Springs Financing Type

Bonita Springs real estate is financing mostly with cash.  We’ve been a cash heavy real estate market for sometime now.  Financing, if chosen, is mostly conventional.  The mortgage underwriting process is still not without it’s challenges, especially in condominium complexes.  If you’d like a referral for a competent mortgage broker to get your real estate transaction closed, call or text Chris Griffith 239-273-7430.

Posted in Market Reports
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July 16, 2014

Dog Beach & Dog Parks Bonita Springs Fl

Dog Beach Park Bonita Springs

Dog Parks and Dog Beach in Bonita Springs, Florida

Did you know that Southwest Florida offers several off lead dog parks and a dog beach? Even if you’re not a dog owner keep reading because I can guarantee you a boat load of free entertainment by just visiting the parks and watching man’s best friend in action.

Something special happens when a dog is off lead. Their spirit is free and they become totally transparent and care free. Add a tennis ball or a Frisbee to the mix and comedy ensues. Watching my 10 lb. minpin, Dill, run with the Great Danes is a stand-alone entertainment category.

There are a variety of dog parks within a short drive of Bonita Springs. Dill and I have personally field tested all of them for you.

The Estero Community Park, on Corkscrew Road, is just a few mile north of Bonita Springs. It features a divided park with two fenced areas; one for small or shy dogs and the others section for the big dogs or more rough and tumble dogs. The park has lots of trees for shade and plenty of chairs for the humans.

Veterans Park in Naples, off of Immokalee Road, also offers “Rover Run” a two section park with a side for small dogs and a side for big dogs. There are picnic tables and shaded areas so you can relax while the dogs run.

Near downtown, the city of Naples has “Central Bark” Dog Park, another two corral dog park; one section for small or shy dogs and the other a large dog, fast paced arena. There’s a pavilion area with plenty of benches.

Southwest Florida’s crown jewel of dog parks is Dog Beach at New Pass/Lover’s Key. It’s one of only a handful of off-lead beaches in the entire state of Florida. The last time I visited dog beach I was on my paddleboard and a litter of seven boxers, each named for a day of the week, followed me along the shore. Scared but curious, they jumped and danced every time I spoke to them. They’d never seen a paddleboard before or a minpin on a board. They were torn between saving us and trying to get on.

If you’re really lucky you’ll see a herd of wiener dogs at dog beach. It’s triumph in the face of adversity, in action. Even with those short little legs they brave the waves and try to keep pace with the big dogs.

Coming soon, the city of Bonita Springs is also building a six acre dog park off of East Terry Street at Matheson on the Mayhood property. It will be the only fenced dog park in Bonita Springs.

Bonita Springs does have a couple of parks which allow dogs, just not off lead. Those parks include Depot Park (behind Riverside Park) and River Park which on the west side of US 41 at the Imperial River bridge. It’s accessed at the traffic light at the Center of Bonita Springs plaza.

All of the mentioned, local off lead dog parks area free; free entry, free parking and free spectating. Yes, if you’re wondering, some cities charge. Cape Coral’s “Waggin Tails” park charges $30 annual per dog for a non-Cape resident.

Happy trails and dog parks!

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This article special to Southwest Spotlight Newspaper

You can subscribe to a weekly email newsletter by visiting www.LifeInBonitaSprings.com and entering your email in the subscription area or click here now: subscribe to blog.  If you’re reading this content anywhere else but www.LifeInBonitaSprings.comor www.SouthwestSpotlight.com it is probably stolen.

Posted in Things To Do
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June 27, 2014

Bonita Springs July 4th Events 2014

Bonita Springs July 4th Event 2014

Downtown Bonita Springs Florida July 4th 2014

The Downtown Bonita Springs 4th of July events are held at Riverside Park in Downtown Bonita Springs, Florida.  Admission is free and parking is free.  Entertainment is being provided by Railhead and the Sarah Hadeka Band.  The Liles Hotel and Artists Cottages will be open.  Tour the facility and historic artifacts on display.

  • 7:30 a.m. 5K Race Begins
  • 9:00 a.m. Parade Starts
  • 4:00 p.m. Party in the Park Starts
  • 5:00 p.m. Bed Race Starts
  • Dusk Fireworks and Laser Light Show in Riverside Park

The July 4th festivities are at Riverside Park located on Old US 41 Road. If you need an address for your GPS 10450 Reynolds St, Bonita Springs, Florida.  For more information contact the City of Bonita Springs.  Here are some sights from years prior July Fourth Events in Bonita Springs, Florida:

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June 26, 2014

Bonita Springs Security Secrets

Bonita Springs Security System

Bonita Springs Security and Defense

So there I was, sitting in a home inspection and multi-tasking taking a phone call when I decided to share this photo with you.  This is a common sight in the Bonita Springs, Florida area.  You can see this in my house, my daughter’s condo and numerous homes and condos that I’ve been in throughout the years. It’s mostly found near the front door or in the master bedroom. What is it?

Give up? Well, it’s the great American golf club.  The stealthiest defensive weapon in southwest Florida. No permit needed.  I get to visit a lot of homes.  I’ve sold real Bonita Springs real estate for over 15 years and can tell you that I’ve see a random golf club by a lot of front doors and beside night stands over the years.

For the record, I’m not a golfer and have a club. Not all of the homes I’ve seen them in are owned by golfers they just appreciate the “weapon”.  I’d probably get a better shot off on an intruder than on the fairway, anyhow.

I’m curious … Is there a golf club by your front door?

Posted in Buyer Tips
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