Life In Bonita Springs Florida - Local Info & Real Estate

 

July 25, 2016

Playing Pokémon in Bonita Springs, Florida

Pokemon in Bonita Springs

Playing Pokémon in Bonita Springs, Florida

In a twisted way I finally succumbed to playing Pokémon right here in Bonita Springs, Florida. I was in the process of trying to explain how to play Pokémon to someone who doesn't really understand technology or rather how to locate a Pokémon using a phone.  You know, that they were on a map, in an app, in a phone when I just downloaded the app to show him. 

Lucky for me they give you three Pokémon to try to capture right away. Not understanding the game I threw all the balls at the Pokémon and exhausted my balls supply.  You can quit laughing. I ended up accidentally capturing one Pokémon and then going to bed.  The other two Pokémon vanished.  Boo.

Today, Angela came over and in the midst of us running our real estate business we started talking about the Pokémon game. She told me to hop in the car that we were going to go out and hunt Pokémon in downtown Bonita Springs. She wishes she could teach me how to do it. I am sure that she was convinced that there was some good laughs to be had, which there were.

For those who don't know, Riverside Park is full of Pokémon locations to stop.  We were able to collect balls in a few locations at a couple of monuments and even a few monuments that are no longer they are due to the construction.  The “couple in love bench”, for example, is not on-location due to the construction.

There are a few challenges which one has to be at a level 5 in order to engage.  For the most part a family could spend a good part of the afternoon playing Pokémon together between Riverside Park, Island Park, Depot Park and even Everglades Wonder Gardens. There are also collectibles at the Bonita Springs public library, the skate park and the Bonita Springs Rec Center located off of Pine Avenue.

Full disclosure: I played more of a middle-aged woman version of Pokémon. Florida is mighty hot, rainy and humid in the summer so I collected balls and play Pokémon from the comfort of my air-conditioned car. I didn't collect any from down by the Imperial River or other locations where it was necessary to get out and walk.  When my grandson comes back from his summer trip we are planning a much cooler evening adventure with all the grands and an ice cream pit stop at Heaven’s Shakes ice cream afterwards.

I'm not sure how many of the Pokémon would be in gated communities in Bonita Springs or even at community centers within gated communities. I guess the next test is to pass through a community like Rapallo at Coconut Point or Bonita Bay to see if the app produces location points for players.  I live and work off of West Terry Street and they are no Pokémon in Brendan Cove or Bonita Farms so I'm not sure if its population or Recreation driven.

If you have any insights about playing Pokémon in Bonita Springs please leave a comment and let me know!  I need to look cool in front of my grandson! Winking smile

July 5, 2016

Tips For Buying Affordable Bonita Springs Real Estate 2016

Tips For Buying Affordable Bonita Springs Real Estate

Tips For Buying Affordable Bonita Springs Real Estate 2016

Today was Pennsylvania day … as in most of my buyers calls were folks from the Keystone state looking for Bonita Springs real estate.  This is an oddity this time of year. The geographical phone call phenomenon usually happens in the winter when it is cold out, typically when there is a blizzard, and a whole state is dreaming about living on Bonita Beach.  Today, I had more than one set of buyers looking for  what would be considered affordable real estate in the Bonita Springs area.  First, I agree up front that $200,000ish is a lot of money for a home.  Second, it’s a fact that that price point does not buy a lot in this area, especially new or newer homes in Bonita Springs, Florida.

Here’s what I advise any buyer who is in this predicament who finds themselves disappointed in the recent uptick in the real estate conditions in Bonita Springs.  1. You have to either adjust your budget or your expectations if you want to purchase in Bonita Springs.   2.  You may have to purchase north of Bonita Springs, for example Fort Myers, in order to find the type of real estate, be it a home or condo, that will intersect your budget with your wants and needs list.

There are some fine condos and homes that could become available in Bonita Springs and Estero but you have to be ready to purchase and watch the real estate market diligently to snap one up.  That means you have to study, study, study the housing market in Bonita Springs so you know, with certainty, that you’ve found the right property when it does show up.  At this time, you’re likely going to have to do a little cosmetic work to a $200,000ish condo in the Bonita Springs area.  There are only a hand full of homes under $200,000 in the Bonita Springs area and most won’t qualify for financing due to the condition of the homes.  (as of July 2016)

Continuing on, you also have to have proof of liquid funds, in your bank account and be able to provide that proof or proof of financing from a reputable, (please let it be) a local recommendation, lender who has thoroughly reviewed your assets/debts and run your credit. Your Realtor is going to have to defend your lender and “sell your lender” to the listing agent and that’s why it need to be an experienced, reputable, local lender and not an internet wing-nut.

The alternative to buying a resale home in Bonita Springs or Estero is purchasing new north of the area, Fort Myers, North Fort Myers or Lehigh Acres.  Geographically, those homes and condos may be in decent proximity to the airport but the beach will likely be further away.  Not to worry, the same warm temperature will be available at the community pool and you will be purchasing a home requiring less maintenance and elbow grease than a resale.  If you’d like to weigh your options, here are a few links to compare:

Newer Homes in Fort Myers $225,000 and under and Affordable Bonita Springs Properties $225,000 and under.  In the Bonita Springs link none of the homes or condos are new product.  There are a few newer/new townhomes in the mid and upper $200,000’s if you’re curious - Cordera and Copper Oaks.

Just a few minutes north of Estero in S. Fort Myers is Creekside Preserve which would be the next closest housing available that would be new/newer and a stone’s throw to Bonita Springs and Estero.

Always remember that many of our developers and builders offer the same product in other neighborhoods, too.  For example, if you have always loved the homes built in Hawthorne, Caravella at Palmira or Shadow Wood at The Brooks remember that the exact same floor plans may be available in Emerson Square, Crown Colony and other locations at more affordable prices.

June 10, 2016

Bonita Springs Estero Market Reports | May 2016

Bonita Springs Market Report Album May 2016

Bonita Springs Inventory Grows & List Prices Drop

The Bonita Springs-Estero Florida real estate market has seen a little bit of inventory accumulate during the slow period.  As predicted in the May Newsletter, May and June usually indicate a slow down, post "season". Home seller's had really gotten brave with their list prices and pushed the market. Buyers pumped the brakes and decided to hold off on their purchases. 

We've talked about absorption rates before and remind both home buyers and home sellers to pay close attention to those rates this summer when you’re about to engage in a homes sale or home purchase in Bonita Springs or Estero, Florida.

For the second month in a row cash purchases are slightly low … low by southwest Florida standards.  We’re at about 56% cash sales this month, last month was 55% cash.  We typically have run much higher, even into the low seventy percentile.  As home prices diminish cash has been shrinking.  We’ve seen conventional loans expand and even a few VA financed purchases.  VA mortgages aren’t very common in this area because we are not close to a base but we do occasionally have them.  It’s a great way for an eligible veteran to put very little down when purchasing a home.

Distressed properties are not a driving force in the Bonita Springs real estate market.  We have fewer than 1% of our active home listings counting for foreclosure and less than 1/4 of 1% of our listed properties are considered a short sale. Short sales are nearly extinct due to the increase in prices and values in Bonita Springs.

Nearly 50% of the closed sale home prices are in the $200,000 to $400,000 price range.  There are fewer and fewer sales under $200,000 because the bottom is selling off so quickly.  $800,000 to $1,000,000 continues to be the slowest moving price point accounting for about 2.5% of all closed sales in Bonita Springs and Estero.  What this means is that if you’re thinking of selling your home and it is in the $400,000 range, if you price it at $415,000 you will price yourself away from the eyes of 50% of the buyers.  Just a little food for thought.  If you’re searching for a luxury homes in Bonita Springs you might want to look at the $800K-$1M range to find a little more negotiating leverage because the market is moving slow and there could be more inventory.

We will likely see more price reductions across the board as the summer heats up.  If you’re a buyer you’ll want to keep track closely. If you’re a home seller and you expire before selling consider calling Chris and Angela for a forensic audit of your home or condo listing, an evaluation of placement and overview of your hyper-local market so you can pinpoint how to improve your position to re-enter the real estate market and finally sell.  Call or text Chris at 239-273-7430.

Posted in Market Reports
May 11, 2016

Bonita Springs Estero Market Reports | April 2016

Bonita Springs Estero Florida Real Estate Market Reports | April 2016

Bonita Springs Real Estate Market Stats

The continuing theme in the Bonita Springs and Estero Florida real estate market is the $200,000 to $400,000 price point selling the largest portion of the market.  The $200,000 and under market continues to shrink as the bottom comes up and prices rise.

The $800,000 to $1 Million price point continues to have growing pains.  That means if you are a home seller or about to list your Bonita Springs home for sale you need to be on point with your pricing.  That segment of the proverbial pie accounts for less than 4% of our closed sales. 

Bonita Springs Estero Florida Real Estate Market Reports | April 2016

As of the first week of May 2016 our market was about 98% stable with fewer than 2% of our active real estate listings being considered distressed; short sale or foreclosure. At the time that this report was compiled there was a total of six properties for sale which were foreclosure … city wide.

Bonita Springs Estero Florida Real Estate Market Reports | April 2016

The actual units sold in the Bonita Springs and Estero Florida area was on track or slightly under but would likely be higher if there was more entry level housing available. We are in a listing shortage for affordable homes.

Bonita Springs Estero Florida Real Estate Market Reports | April 2016

In addition, there are a few neighborhoods that I’ve kept an eye on that have had inventory pile up.  We’re talking about the $350-500,000 range where the home sellers “listed on each other’s list prices” instead of closed sale prices.  Inventory has grown from about 5.5 months of inventory to about 1.5 years of inventory. Good to know if you’re a buyer and something to be aware of if you’re a seller.  You need to be on point when pricing your home to list it in this type of market or your neighbors will reduce around you and you will watch the erosion the prices.  Notice that I said prices, not values because the values, in these types of circumstances are imaginary.  Buyer’s have grown wise to it and have pumped the brakes on buying.  They’ll let the seller’s simmer in the heat a little before taking action.

 

There could be a home buying bump over Memorial Day weekend which is usual over long weekends.  Expect a slower than usual real estate market in select neighborhoods until graduation season is over.  July will kick off with activity over the 4th of July holiday which falls on a Monday this year. We’ll have buyer travelers making a weekend of home buying.

 Bonita Springs Estero Florida Real Estate Market Reports | April 2016

Last but not least, how are home buyers paying for their real estate in the Bonita Springs area?  We’re at a fairly low percentage of cash; about 56%, followed by 37% conventional mortgages.  Cash is weak right now, likely because of the price increases in the last year.  At this time last year we had about 63% cash transactions.

If you have questions about listing your home or purchasing in this shifting real estate market, contact Chris at 239-273-7430.

 

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This market report was prepared with data provided by various Boards of Realtors.

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