Life In Bonita Springs Florida - Local Info & Real Estate

 

April 25, 2016

Village Walk Bonita Springs Master Suite Ground Floor

Ground Floor Master Suite Bonita Springs

Ground Floor Master Suite Bonita Springs Fl

Recently, I replied to an email from a buyer who was looking for a home in with a master bedroom on the ground floor.  This buyer was asking about the Cayman townhome which is a popular plan due to it’s size and price point.  My reply to this buyer was that there is a room which could be a bedroom on the ground floor but it isn't a master suite.  The bathroom on the ground floor would be  for general household use, not exclusive use for a master bedroom. 

Finding a one story home which in other parts of the country could be called a ranch floor plan or a rambler floor plan is a challenge in Bonita Springs.  Many home owners who are downsizing to southwest Florida are looking for a home without stairs or steps.  This generally eliminates many of the condos for sale in the Bonita Springs area.

While there is attached living structures in Village Walk, there are no condominiums in Village Walk. The attached townhomes which are the Cayman floor plan and attached villas which are the Capri still require homeowner insurance. 

The outside lawn care and access to  the amenities are included with the quarterly fee.  The quarterly fees vary depending upon the size of the home/lot size. 

The Capri floor plan is 2bed/2ba and is all one floor. It is an attached villa.  It can also be located at San Remo at Palmira in Bonita Springs, Florida.

There are entry level priced single family homes on the streets named Estuary, Narwhal, Hammerhead and Reef which are modest in size and priced around the $300,000 mark but they go quickly. (April 2016)  These particular plans are  one floor style  single family homes and have three bedroom, two bath.   Full disclosure, the third bedroom is small.

So basically to find a ground floor master suite in Village Walk of Bonita priced in the entry level bracket you will need to be looking at The Capri, The Gray Myst, The Pine Spring floor plans. Those plans are all around 1,500 +/-  square feet of living space.   They all have a two car garage and the option for putting in a pool if a pool is not installed already.

If you have more questions about finding a home with the master bedroom on the ground floor in Bonita Springs, Florida call or text Chris at 239-274-7430.

April 23, 2016

Own Your Own Golf Cart in Bonita Springs Estero Florida

Own Your Own Golf Cart

Bonita Springs Communities | Own Your Own Golf Cart

Today I had a home buyer ask me where in Bonita Springs or Estero, Florida can they own their own golf cart.  Most communities do not allow private, personally owned golf carts on the golf course or even as recreational vehicles off of the golf course.  To that end, I have done a little digging and found a few communities that will allow private golf carts within the community and on the community golf course.  At the time this post was published, at any rate. If you know of any others, feel free to comment and let me know.

“If you’re from outside of the Southwest Florida area and you are not familiar with the terminology, “bundled golf” is the type of golf that is included with home ownership.  There is a mandatory, reoccurring annual fee.  Equity golf means that the golf is optional so if you’d like to purchase a membership, you may.  There are annual fees in addition to the initial purchase of the golf equity membership.

 

This isn't the entire list of golf communities in the Bonita Springs and Estero area.  There are many other bundled golf and equity golf communities in both Bonita Springs and Estero that have designated course carts for course use only. If you’re looking for a specific type of golf course contact Chris to make a request by text or phone call at 239-273-7430.

April 23, 2016

Bonita Springs Estero Market Reports | March 2016

Bonita Springs market report March 2016

The Bonita Springs Real Estate Market

Which way is the market headed?  It's not as simple as saying up or down and generalizing about the Bonita Springs real estate market. Let me tell you this:  When the market started moving swiftly, we entered a “low skill” market.  For about $400 and a week in school some bee-bop can get a license and fumble their way through wasting a whole bunch of your money because they just don’t understand. It’s about more than contracts, it’s about more than listings. You’re in an election year mixed with about 10,000 boomers turning 65 daily and retiring.  Try to figure that scenario out without a little experience under your belt!

Whether you're a buyer or a seller what you do need to have is someone who understands absorption and how to calculate it because we're entering a market where it matters! Seller need to know how long they could potentially hold a property before selling and buyers need to know how many months of supply there is so they don't over pay for their real estate.  Not knowing is nothing short of a financial bleed out.

Bonita Springs Historical Sales

 

The over all real estate market is stable across the board but there is inventory piling up in a few communities that I have been watching for buyers looking to get into plus a community in which I have an upcoming listing.  In the last few months I've seen a community go from 5.7 months of inventory for sale to 16 months of inventory for sale.  If you were a home seller in Bonita Springs looking to list your home I can guarantee you that if you interviewed five agents you might be lucky if one knew how to say to you, "Mr. and Mrs. Homeseller, there is over one year of inventory in your neighborhood and that means it could potentially take you up to a year to realize a sale on your property." Pivotal information if you can't afford the home or you're being relocated for work, don't you think?  

Bonita Springs Mortgage and Cash

Sixty percent of our sales are paid for with cash and about thirty-five percent are financed with a conventional mortgage.  The cash has been shrinking as the prices of homes and condos in the Bonita Springs area have started to climb.  The prices have been climbing and as a result there are less than 2% distressed, active real estate listings; short sale and foreclosure properties.  We had about 4.5% distressed sales close sale.  Both graphs are below:

Bonita Springs  Distressed Properties activeBonita Springs distressed properties closed

Bonita Springs Real Estate Prices March 2016

 

Last but not least, you need to know your real estate market.  Whether you're buying or selling you should know what sort of movement is in your price point.  There could be leverage by moving up or down a price point where there is standing inventory and few buyers. An example would be demonstrated in the $700-800,000 price buyer moving up to the $800-900,000 price point because there could be more selection and, perhaps, standing inventory which could offer negotiating leverage.   A home owner  in the $800-900,000 price point would want to have his list price honed since only about 1.4% of the buyer audience is even looking at homes in his price zone. 

If you have questions about buying or selling a Bonita Springs or Estero, Florida home contact Chris at 239-273-7430. The market is shifting very quickly entering summer 2016 and if you want to get the most out of your transaction you need an experienced, skilled professional.

Posted in Market Reports
April 23, 2016

John C. Yarbrough Linear Park | Fort Myers, Florida

John C Yarbrough Linear Park

Biking and Walking Path in Fort Myers, Florida

Several years ago I enjoyed my first trip to the linear park with a local running club. With age, they say, comes wisdom plus my joints have let me know that running is no longer in my wheelhouse. To that end, I have transitioned to a variety of low impact sports one of which now includes bike riding. A couple of bikes fresh out of Engle’s bike shop and a new bike rack for the Mini Cooper later I found myself at John C. Yarbrough Linear Park for the first time in years.

For those who don’t know, the Linear Park basically is a paved path which runs along the 10 Mile Canal in Fort Myers. The linear park itself is about six miles in length. The city of Fort Myers did a great job transforming a narrow water run-off into a nature preserve for all species, including humans, to enjoy.

My first linear park bike excursion began at Six Mile Cypress Parkway near Sun Harvest Citrus, headed north. It’s a partly shaded and very scenic trip through a lane of native Florida trees which eventually opens up to a wide spans of both path and canal. The asphalt bike path is rather wide so there is plenty of room to ride side by side with a friend or for oncoming or, in my case, overtaking bikes to pass.

Subsequent trips to the park began at Daniels Parkway, heading north, specifically to avoid the white knuckle crossing at Daniels parkway. There is a safety crosswalk but if you’re thinking of taking kids with you I would recommend the path north of Daniels to avoid crossing against heavy traffic. The other intersecting streets of Crystal Drive and Danly Drive are low traffic and easier to cross.

Along the way, the bike path crosses the canal via rustic metal bridges in several locations. The bridges offer a bird’s eye view of the waterway and the perfect vantage point to see cichlid fish building nests to spawn. It’s also not uncommon to see a wide variety of birds frequently spotted in many southwest Florida swamps and marshes such as gallinule, cormorant, anhinga, coot, cranes and egrets. Nature photographers can easily capture closer than usual subjects here, too.

The linear park is always busy with a variety of walkers, cyclists and dog walkers. You may even run across a stroller or two with dog on board instead of a child. The path is about twelve miles round trip but there are plenty of places to take a break on a bench or to grab lunch at a picnic table situated along the trail.

When you go, keep in mind that there are no rest room facilities and what you pack in, you also pack out. For those who are considering bringing the dog, the linear park is an on-lead, dog-friendly park.

The official parking areas listed on the parks department website are located at Six Mile Cypress Slough, Lakes Park and Lee County Sports Complex all of which are quite a distance. I will share that there are unofficial, large areas of unpaved parking both at the Six Mile Cypress Parkway and Daniels Parkway entrances which are certainly more convenient.

You can find more info at www.traillink.com.

Happy Trails and Bike Paths!

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Special to Southwest Spotlight 

Posted in Things To Do
April 8, 2016

Physician Loans - Doctor Loans in Bonita Springs, Florida

Bonita Springs Physician Loans

 Physician Loans | Doctor Loans | Bonita Springs, Florida

There are a few lenders in the Bonita Springs area who understand the unique financial needs of doctors (MD, DO, DPM) and dentists (DDS, DMD). Whether a doctor is still finishing residency or a partner in a medical practice, physician loans, also known as doctor loans,  provide flexible financing options.  Physician loans vary  by lender but many physician loans offer:

  • Fixed or variable-rate pricing
  • Generous repayment terms
  • Interest-only payment options
  • Variable loan amounts depending on the level of training or the number of years in practice.
  • Doctor loans, depending upon the lending institution, often have low or no application or origination fees, no prepayment penalties, no credit life insurance requirements and no hidden charges.

Physician loans are designed to meet the special credit needs of doctors still in training, in residency, a fellowship program and those just beginning to practice medicine.

Physician loans offer doctors low interest rates with the ability to put very little or a zero down payment.  It also allows doctors to NOT use their student loan debt if they have any in their debt ratio plus they can use future income rather than current or past income.

When standard Fannie Mae loans from most lenders won’t work a physician loan will. The mortgage underwriting process is built to accommodate physicians and doctors plus they usually offer competitive rates.

Research has shown that physicians with high credit scores have a very low risk of default on residential mortgages.  Normally a physician with high debt, higher ratios, few assets items cause concern for underwriters but that financial position is considered normal to doctors and not taken into consideration and not considered a negative credit penalty.

If you would like more information about obtaining a doctors loan or a physicians loan to fund your Bonita Springs home purchase call or text Chris at 239-273-7430.

We would be happy to provide a reference for a local lender who has successfully funded doctors loans to buyer clients in Bonita Springs in the past.

Posted in Mortgage
March 17, 2016

Imperial River East Market Report Feb 2016

BN08 Imperial River East Feb 2016

Bonita Farms and Heitmans Market Reports

This real estate market report is for the Imperial River East area which includes Brendan Cove, Paradise Village, Bonita Farms, Heitmans, Plan of Riverside, Nuttinglikit Grove, Serrano, Penn Dell Park, Arbel, PalmestaThe Sanctuary, Richview, Edenbridge amongst a few other neighborhoods and pocket condo complexes.  This report covers the BN08 area which is has the boundaries of Bonita Beach Road,  US 41, West Terry Street and Old 41 Road.

Much like the rest of Bonita Springs, Imperial River East has a fair amount of cash in the market. – about 57% of sales closed with cash, followed by 28% conventional mortgage.

At this time 100% of all listings are equity which means there are no foreclosure or short sale properties listed in BN08.  This indicates a very stable and recovered real estate market.

All sales that occurred in Imperial River East were under the $600,000 price point.  City wide 86% of all home and condo sales occurred in the $600,000 and under price point. The moral of those statistics is that if you have a home for sale in Bonita Springs, Florida and it is priced over $600,000 you could accrue some market time before it sells.  If you’re buying a gulf access home in the $600,000 price range or higher there may be bargaining power so make sure you get an absorption rate for your home style and price range before placing an offer.  If you are a home seller you  should have an absorption rate for your home price and style so you can gauge the market time it will take for your home to sell.

If you have questions about buying or selling your home in the BN08 area of Imperial River East contact Chris and Angela Griffith at 239-273-7430.  The Griffith Girls live, work  and play in Bonita Farms and Heitmans neighborhoods.

Posted in Market Reports
March 10, 2016

Bonita Springs Estero Market Reports February 2016

Bonita Springs Estero Market Report Feb 2016

Statistics Feb 2016

If you’ve been actively searching for homes in Bonita Springs this winter you’ve probably noticed a few of the obvious changes.  There is little inventory, there is a lot of cash in the market and the market is slowing slightly.  Now, there isn’t a dramatic shift but hasn’t gone unnoticed that buyers are shopping carefully before engaging in the purchase of a home or condo. 

Real life real estate experiences that I’ve noticed are homes for sale which are seemingly priced appropriately for the market garner significant sales traffic however the buyers may not make an offer on the home, or worse, a significantly low offer on the property. This means that Bonita Springs home sellers have to sharpen their pencils and make sure their properties are in top condition before listing them.

In some  Bonita Springs neighborhoods there is a unique phenomenon going on where homes are getting listed “based on the neighbor’s list price”.  For example, two homes identical in floor plan but one has granite counter tops – the first is listed at $350,000 and the home with granite is listed at $375,000.  It really is that obvious, sometimes.

Bonita Springs Distressed Home Sales

Bonita Springs Distressed Real Estate

Our distressed properties have slowed considerably partly due to the improved sale prices in SWFL. Many of the homes in Bonita Springs which were under water are now considered equity owned and able to sell without bank involvement or debt forgiveness.  pop up from time to time but they are few and far in the Bonita Springs and Estero Florida areas.

Bonita Springs Home SalesBonita Springs Home Sales Volume

The volume of units sold in the Bonita Springs area is down slightly and that is due to lack of inventory.  If there were more affordable homes for sale in Bonita Springs they would undoubtedly sell.  At this time there are only about a half dozen homes for sale under $200,000.  Those looking for homes in that price range my find opportunities in San Carlos Park and Caloosa Trace in South Fort Myers, Florida.  Seventy percent of the home sale in Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida are under the price point of $400,000 and the majority of those sales are in the $200-400,000 range.

Bonita Springs Price Ranges

What Price Homes Sell in Bonita Springs?

If you are looking for guidance in this downshifting real estate market contact Chris Griffith  at 239-273-7430.  There are specific equations that will help you make sense of the real estate market, whether you are a buyer or a seller.  Buyers can benefit from knowing the specific inventory absorption rate so they do not over pay for their real estate.  Sellers can also learn how to not list too aggressively and waste precious marketing time.

Download the complete, printable PDF package of Bonita Springs and Estero real estate market graphs here:  Bonita Springs Market Reports Feb 2016

Posted in Market Reports
Feb. 26, 2016

Manatee Park Fort Myers, Florida | Things to Do

Manatee Park Fort Myers Florida

Manatee Park | Things to Do in Fort Myers, Florida

Yet again, I had a close friend of mine tell me that they had never seen a manatee in person. I sort of understand how that happens. If you don’t spend enough of time on the water you may not see them. These enormous creatures are nearly silent and can easily go undetected especially if you are not in tune with the faint sound they make when they breach the water’s surface for a fresh breath of air.

On a cold day in January I decided to provide a complimentary first sighting of manatees to friends. I figured the conditions were just about right to catch an aggregation of manatees taking advantage of the warm waters at Manatee Park which is a non-captive warm water refuge. When the temperature drops in the winter months the manatees head upstream through the Caloosahatchee and Orange Rivers to take advantage of the nearly constant 78 degree water temperature at the power plant.

In my thirty-some years of living in Southwest Florida I have seen my share of manatees but I had never visited Manatee Park. Next to seeing the manatees, the second best sight was watching both children and adults marvel at seeing “the mermaids” for the first time. The waterway is lined with spectators looking and pointing at marine mammals on parade. The kids really seem to be humored by their nostrils when they come up for air. Some of the kids try to count how long they stay under water on one breath. They can stay under for up to fifteen minutes, if you’re wondering.

It is absolutely amazing that so many of them are able to find the warm water and how many there actually are in that one relatively small location. They really are gentle giants but can raise quite a ruckus with, what looks like, an effortless swish of the tail. There were hundreds of manatees swimming plus we were also lucky enough to see a tarpon in the mix, too.

Manatee Park also features a very nice butterfly garden, walking paths, boardwalk trails and kayak rentals. While we didn’t rent kayaks, I recently directed a vacationing friend of mine to the park and she rented a kayak. She explained that if you go downstream a few turns in the river there are also manatees gathered in the shallow, warm bends of the river. Manatee actually swim around the kayaks and bump them a little adding a bit of a thrill when the kayak feels like it hit a speed bump.

The optimum months for viewing manatees are late December, January and February when the gulf temperature is below 68F.

When you go: Manatee Park is free to enter but there is a small charge for parking; $2 for an hour or $5 for a day. The kayak rentals are optional and fees start at about $15 for an hour. The park is fully accessible and there are rest rooms on site plus helpful park guides who share information about the manatees and the park in general. Pets are not permitted.

Manatee Park is located at 10901 Palm Beach Blvd (SR 80). From I-75, take exit 141 and head east 1.3 miles and turn right into the park.

Happy Trails and Manatee Parks!

Posted in Things To Do
Jan. 25, 2016

Bonita Springs Estero Market Reports December 2015

Bonita Springs Estero Market Reports December 2015

 

Bonita Springs Estero Market Reports December 2015

Bonita Springs Home sales Dec 2015

The latest Bonita Springs and Estero Florida home sales statistics show that we’re closing about 55% of our sales as cash transactions.  It’s down a little bit from months before partly due to rising prices.

Bonita Springs Home Prices Dec 2015

The sales remain steady with about eighty-six percent of the closed sales in the Bonita Springs area occurring in the $600,000 and under price point.    About eight percent of our closed sales would be considered luxury real estate sales.  Considering the amount of waterfront home buyers  we’ve been helping in Barefoot Beach and Bonita Bay I would anticipate that to go up in the months to come.

Bonita Springs Distressed homes Dec 2015

Bonita Springs Distressed Homes Sold 12-2015

Most important, we have less than three percent of our homes and condos for sale considered distressed properties.  Which means fewer than three percent of the properties for sale in Bonita Springs and Ester would be considered a short sale or a foreclosure.  Great news!

Bonita Springs Home Units Dec 2015

If you’re in the market to purchase or list your home in the Bonita Springs and Estero Florida area give us a call to learn more about the inventory and how it could effect your real estate transaction.  Contact Chris or Angela today.

Posted in Market Reports
Jan. 24, 2016

Thirty Days to a Perfect Bonita Springs Butterfly Garden

Bonita Springs Butterflies

Butterfly Gardening in Bonita Springs

A few days ago a friend of mine posted a photo of her eight year old daughter to Facebook. There was a kid grinning ear to ear with a bright orange butterfly perched on her finger. I immediately interjected that it was a Gulf Fritillary butterfly and that, given the time of day the moment was photographed, it was newly hatched from a chrysalis.

Creating this type of magical moment in your own back yard isn’t much harder than following the directions on the back of a cake mix box. On a scale of one to ten, you can easily get there somewhere around a two on both labor and expense, just to get started. Where you go from there is your own private Idaho.

If you’re considering a venture into butterfly gardening, know that’s it is as easy as planting flowers and trees which will produce nectar so they will have something to eat in conjunction with planting plants they are able to lay their eggs on. The eggs hatch into caterpillars, the caterpillars eat the plants until they are large enough to turn into a chrysalis and then emerge as butterflies. The cycle then repeats.

By far, the easiest butterfly to attract and grow is the common monarch butterfly. The entire process can be achieved with simply one plant, the milkweed or scarlet milkweed depending upon the store or nursery you’re shopping in. The milkweed-monarch system is the Ron Popeil “set it and forget it” type of butterfly gardening. Odds are that when you purchase the plant you will be bringing it home with either caterpillar stowaways or tiny eggs which have already been laid on the leaves. It’s an all in one butterfly starter kit.

There are many other easy to purchase plants and vines which will attract butterflies indigenous to the southwest Florida area. An attractive vine to plant which will attract both the gulf fritillary and the Florida state butterfly, the zebra longwing, is the passaflora. There are a number of passaflora or passion vines available but I recommend purchasing the purple passaflora because it’s has gorgeous, unusual blossoms. The zebra longwing love it and they’re my favorite butterfly because they are gliders and easier to watch and enjoy. They have a longer life span of up to six months. Many butterflies only live a few weeks.

Another fun vine to plant is Dutchman’s pipe vine which will attract the pipevine butterfly and gold rim butterfly which are basically black butterflies. Considering the variety of colorful butterflies in the area most people never notice the black butterflies.

Planting a few cassia trees will bring you the buttery yellow sulfur butterflies. If you have cassia already you probably haven’t even noticed the yellow and green caterpillars because of their perfect camouflage.

Supporting butterflies in your backyard at all times isn’t as difficult as most people imagine, even in a homeowner association. Many of these plants can be displayed in pots and containers for portability and HOA compliance. If you are able to back yard garden know that you can improve the length of time that butterflies hang around by slipping in a few other nectar plant sources such as porter weed, penta, lantana and firebush. The nectar plants will attract a variety of more unusual varieties of hungry butterflies such as skippers, buckeye and peacock butterflies, too.

If you’d like to learn more about back yard butterfly gardening consider touring a few local butterfly gardens such as The Butterfly Estates in Fort Myers or Everglades Wonder Gardens and Bonita Nature Place, both of which in Bonita Springs.

Happy trails and butterfly gardening!

Posted in Things To Do