Life In Bonita Springs Florida - Local Info & Real Estate

 

Sept. 12, 2016

Bonita Springs Estero Market Reports | August 2016

Bonita Springs Market Report Aug 2016

Bonita Springs Single Family Homes Under $200,000?

The Bonita Springs  and Estero Florida real estate market has seen a little bit of inventory accumulate during the so-called slow summer period.  Prices have still been rising as the entry level priced properties keep selling off.  As of September 10, 2016 there were only three single family homes for sale in all of Bonita/Estero, priced under $200,000.   The balance of the sales under $200,000 are condo and manufactured homes. Periodically, a home will come onto the market under $200,000 but they are often in a condition that prevents them from being eligible for traditional financing programs. 

Bonita Springs Home Prices

The alternative for affordable housing is to move north to San Carlos Park in South Fort Myers or to look in Gateway for gated affordable homes.  The Bonita Springs condo market has seen rising prices, also.  There are still condos for sale under 200K but not many with a garage.  Typically, as a recommendation for resale power I suggest trying to find a condo with 2bed+den, if available, over a 2 bedroom unit.  If you can get a condo with a garage it is great for resale, also.  There are nine condos for sale with a 1 car garage.  Most are in Estero in the community of Villagio.  Other neighborhoods to watch would be The Tides at Pelican Landing, Spanish Wells and Morton Grove.

Bonita Springs Home Funding

In the month of August 2015 Bonita Springs home sales were paid for with cash about 42% of the time and financed conventionally about 42% of the time. There were fractional amounts of FHA, VA and hard money financing.

About 3% of the closed sales in August is distressed, consisting of foreclosures and short sales.  The real estate that is actively listed consists of nearly 99% equity properties meaning that about 1% of the active homes for sale in Bonita Springs and Estero are foreclosure or short sale.

Bonita Springs Distressed Properties

“Units sold” remain steady and positive.  There would likely be more units sold if there were more affordable homes available.

Bonita Springs Homes Statistics

In all, 50% of homes sales occur in the $200-400,000 price point so whether you’re a buyer or a seller keep that in mind when you are about to proceed with buying or selling.  Be sure to obtain an absorption rate for the community in which you are buying or selling to fully understand whether it is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market.

If you’d like to learn more about buying or selling a home in Bonita Springs or Estero, Florida call or text Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430

Posted in Market Reports
Sept. 7, 2016

Mosquito & Zika Virus in Bonita Springs, Florida

Managing Zika in Bonita Springs Florida

Mosquito & Zika Virus in Bonita Springs, Florida

I went to a CERT class in Collier County tonight and the speaker was from the health department talking about ZIKA. It was interesting and I snapped shots of the screen and flyers to share with you all by way of the Bonita Springs Estero Community Forum I run on Facebook but thought I’d put it on my Bonita Springs website, too. The photos are best viewed on a PC or larger screen tablet, of course.

To join the forum, click here:  Bonita Springs Estero Community Forum

The big take away items from this meeting about Zika Virus was:

1. Standing clean water breeds mosquitoes, which we all know,but they only live 200 yards from where they are born so if you're getting bit, there is standing water somewhere near you. If you flush water like bird baths and bromeliads (which are apparently huge breeding pools) once per week you will interrupt their life cycle by killing their larvae.

2. You must also put sunscreen on first and then bug spray for either product to work correctly when wearing both at the same time.

3. If you buy bug spray to wear to protect yourself from the ZIKA carrying mosquitoes you must read the % of ingredients. It may read DEET on the label but it must have 30% DEET to be effective. Many skimp with as little as 2%!! There's more info in the photos attached.

4. Paralysis and extreme muscle weakness can be a condition of being bit by the mosquito carrying ZIKA.

I'm not a pro on ZIKA but have provided what I was able to gather from the meeting and collect a few photos.  Whether you live in the Bonita Springs area or not, the practices and principals are going to be quite similar.  Contact your local health department to learn more about how it would effect your family members and how to manage your home and surroundings to not contribute to the mosquito population.

As far as the economy and real estate market vs. ZIKA, it is not influencing home buyers or sellers to date. (Sept 2016) The massive retirement population moving south and buying homes has not changed.  If you have questions about ZIKA in Bonita Springs or any of the other surrounding cities such as Estero, Fort Myers and Naples, Florida contact the Florida Department of Health.

You can learn more by visiting their website: Zika Virus in Florida

Posted in Around Town
Sept. 4, 2016

5 Tips for Finding a Bonita Springs Real Estate “Gem”

 

Finding Real Estate Deals in Bonita Springs

For just under twenty years I have helped buyers and sellers of real estate in the Bonita Springs area.  One of the reoccurring themes I have noticed is that buyers will ask me to call them when I see a great deal or a “gem” that they shouldn’t pass up.  It might surprise you to learn that the percentage of real estate buyers who act on the opportunity when I notify them is slim to none.  Really.  To that end, I will start the list and lead with …

Bonita Springs Real Estate Deals1. Act on the opportunity - plant the seed, already! Understand the current real estate market and learn why it is a good opportunity and then act.  I can lead by example on this having purchased my own real estate investments in the Bonita Farms and Nuttinglikit Grove communities most recently.  I’ve had friends walk into both homes and say, “Gosh, when you find a gem like this, let me know so I can get one.” Well, truth be told this “gem” was sea foam green in every room.  I painted it Sherwin Willliams Navajo White in every room and it was immediately gem status for about two grand.

2. Follow the real estate market and if it is trending upward for an extended period of time get in and don’t hold out for 100% of your “wants and needs” list.  Recently, I was working with buyers who were looking in Rapallo and I overheard one of the buyers say to the other.  “It was nearly perfect except I can’t stand a stainless steel sink.”  This is such an easy fix that it is laughable.   I also had a buyer in Wildcat Run who didn’t like the mirrors in a kitchen back splash.  It’s an easy fix and the right crew can remedy that situation for less than it will cost you in the long run of shopping and having prices rise around you.

3. Don’t get hung up on what So-in-So paid for their condo, home or villa. Your friend bragging about buying a condo in two years ago at $175,000 can not compare to today’s prices which are selling in the low $200,000’s.  (Sept 2016)  Drawing your line in the sand saying that you’re not spending over $175,000 when there hasn’t been any condo close sale in that price range for years is unrealistic. The real estate market requires excess inventory for prices to go down.  That is not happening and we have 8-10,000 boomers retiring every day in the US of A ensuring that the inventory won’t build up for quite some time.

4. Be at the ready for the deal that comes down the pipe.  If you are going to be a cash buyer, get liquid.  If you are going to finance, speak to a lender  who is local and have your preapproval in hand and documentation ready so that it will only need updated. If you haven’t gotten a mortgage in several years let me share this with you about financing:  The more you have, the more you have to prove and that takes time.  If you are a fortunate person with a comfortable life be prepared to start digging through files and getting bank statements, etc.

I recently wrote a great piece on first time buyers that is just as helpful for those who have not purchased a home in the Bonita Springs area for a while.  Read also: First Time Home Buyer Guide

5. Don’t be afraid to look outside of your original are if you have found that real estate prices have gone above your budget in Bonita Springs.  As of September 2016 there were only three single family homes for sale in Bonita Springs, Florida under the price of $200,000.  About 7 miles north of Bonita Springs is a community called San Carlos Park which offers more selection in single family homes under $200,000 plus a variety spanning the $200,000’s. 

If you’d like to learn more about buying a home in  the Bonita Springs area or even in San Carlos Park call or text Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430.

Posted in Buyer Tips
Aug. 25, 2016

Choosing a Listing Agent by List Price in Bonita Springs Florida

 Bonita Springs Listing Agent

Choosing a Bonita Springs Florida Listing Agent 

There is a phenomenon in “easy” real estate market that goes on from time to time where a home seller will interview a few agents and choose the agent who gives them the estimated list price they wanted to hear.  Sometimes, the agent they choose is one of the weaker links in real estate chain with a lower level of experience, new to the business of real estate and/or unfamiliar with the neighborhood. 

Listen, I understand.  When a home seller is thinking of listing their Bonita Springs home they probably think it is better than every other home for sale in town.  Every home owner is proud of their home but there is generally merit in the pricing guide that your more experienced real estate interviewees have given you. 

I can count several homes where I have interviewed the owner to see if I would take it on as a listing.  (Yes, I also may not want your home in my inventory.)  I’ve had to excuse myself from more than one opportunity to list a home for sale. There are also difficult properties to sell and also home owners who aren’t realistic with either the real estate market, current inventory or the price vs. potential to appraise. 

Approaching my second decade of helping home sellers with their real estate, I know that I offer great advise backed by thorough market research  and statistics.  I collect and process that real estate data so that I can tell a home seller the probability of time it will take to sell the home, the price it will likely appraise at, at the high and low ends plus the likelihood of how a potential buyer will fund the home. 

Since we’ve entered a “low skill” real estate market there is an ample supply of new agents coming to the market who will take any listing at any price just to get a listing.  Don’t be tempted to fall for the highest list price and forget that you need a skilled  and strong listing agent to get that home sold … and closed.

Much like a contractor can “qualify” their estimate for a remodel by making sure you are comparing apples to apples.  Strong listing agent candidates should be able to qualify the list price and marketing program that will be used to sell your home.  If, for example, they agree to sell their home $25,000 above all of the other values maybe the question should be asked of the agent,  how are you finding that additional $25,000 value?  If the other real estate agent or agents do not find that value perhaps you should ask them to explain how they came up with their valuation and ask if they could have overlooked something that the other agents saw.  You really need dialogue to get to the heart of the matter which may mean actually determining the best agent and discussing whether or not you can test drive the higher price for two weeks, for example, and reducing to the market value after that.  You will have realized that there was no equity left on the table and also not eaten in to “"days on market” time which makes your home look stale.

If you’d like to learn more about effectively pricing your home to sell so that it appraises, closes sale and you make the most profit possible with the least amount of hassle call or text Chris 239-273-7430.

Posted in Seller Tips
Aug. 20, 2016

Does Your Real Estate Agent Invest in Bonita Springs, Florida?

Griffith Family Collage

 Where The Griffith Family Lives

Nearly every home buyer I work with will ask where I live.   It happened just the other day and I went into the details; I live in Bonita Springs in Bonita Farms, thirty plus years in Bonita Springs in a dozen homes, my kids live here, my mom lived here until she passed.  I’ve owned a variety of homes and, well, quit moving when I was searching for a home to buy in Pelican Landing and my twins announced that if I moved them again that they were going to get an attorney and emancipate themselves.  (I believe that brilliant idea came from  MaCaulay Culkin the kid from the “Home Alone” who did it to his parents.)

I’m not sure if it should be a requisite for a real estate agent to own real estate in the city in which they work but I would certainly think that it would add value or confidence to the real estate consumer if they knew that their agent believed in Bonita Springs real estate enough to actually own it. 

A quick run down of my own home ownership and even vacant land ownership in SWFL spans a few cities and neighborhoods including Leitner Creek, Rosemary Park, San Carlos Estates, Boca Palms, Bonita Shores, Captain’s Bay, Brendan Cove, Bonita Farms, Nuttinglikit Grove, Grandezza and Bonita Golf and Country Club.  There may be a few more than I’m just not thinking of, plus a few vacant land parcels which traveled through my ownership.  

The twins are grown and gone, married and have their own families.  Jennafer lives off of Goodwin Street in Old Bonita and Jon lives in Heitmans in the State Streets.

The short version is that never, in 30 plus years of living in Southwest Florida, not owned real estate whether it is a home, condo or vacant land and I believe it is a testament to the quality of life and the value of living in Bonita Springs, Estero, Naples or Southwest Florida in general. 

Aug. 16, 2016

Bonita Springs Estero Market Reports | July 2016

Bonita Springs Real estate StatisticsCash Real Estate Sales Shrink

Part of the reason why we've seen fewer cash sales in the Bonita Springs and Estero Florida real estate market is because the bottom is coming up.  First, 43% cash sales is huge but for the Bonita Springs area it is a little low.  Higher prices and low interest rates mean more folks are financing.  To help put the Bonita Springs housing market into perspective, as of today August 16, 2016, there are only 4 homes for sale under $200,000 and a few of those may not be eligible for financing due to their condition.

What's a Bonita Springs home buyer to do?  Well, they head north.   One of the closest available, affordable, single family home neighborhoods is San Carlos Park in South Fort Myers.  They're running about 20% cash which is significant considering the huge amount of FHA mortgages that are typically processed in that area.  There are homes in the $200,000ish range which come onto the market and go quickly. My last two home listings in San Carlos Park were only for sale about 24 hours and both sold having received multiple offers.

Bonita Springs home sales August 2016 How Many Homes Sold in Bonita Springs Florida

We've still carried a healthy closed sale rate but it would be higher if there was more inventory in entry level. Affordable homes and condos come and go quickly from the market especially if they are in good condition and priced appropriately.

Bonita Springs home pricesBonita Springs Home Prices

That 800-1M price point continues to have a few growing pains.  That means opportunities for buyers who are looking for modestly priced luxury real estate in Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida.

Bonita SPrings ForeclosuresOnly 1% Distressed Homes in Bonita Springs Fl

In case buyers and sellers don't realize how much we've recovered, this is the report for short sales and foreclosures in Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida.

 

If you'd like to learn more about Bonita Springs real estate call or text Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430.

Posted in Market Reports
Aug. 13, 2016

First Time Home Buyer in San Carlos Park

 First Time Home Buyer San Carlos Park

First Time Home Buying in San Carlos Park

This is a fairly comprehensive and lengthy guide, while helpful for the first time home buyers, will explain procedures for anyone purchasing a home in the Bonita Springs, Estero and San Carlos Park – Fort Myers, Florida areas.

The biggest challenge a many millennial and first time home buyers will face is figuring out where to get started. Many first time home buyers, due to lack of experience, find it a daunting task to work toward purchasing a home. Saddled with a combination of student debt, lack of understanding of the home buying process and not understanding credit or credit scoring are a few of the sources home buyers can easily get under control with a little guidance and patience.

A recent article from Nerd Wallet states that, asked what potential first time home buyers believed were the biggest obstacles to getting a mortgage, millennial renters gave these answers, in order:

  • Insufficient credit score or history
  • Affording the down payment or closing costs
  • Insufficient income for monthly payments
  • Too much existing debt

Clean Up Your Credit and Start Saving Money

If you are wondering how to buy a home in Bonita Springs, Estero or San Carlos Park and need a little help setting goals here are a few guidelines that can get you pointed in the right direction.

First and foremost if you’re a first time home buyer and new to the responsibilities of home ownership I am going to tell you a few things that might surprise you. Don’t think of this as a lecture but words of wisdom, especially if your parents have not been home owners. This also applies if your parents were home owners but experienced foreclosure or short sale during the late 2000’s housing bubble crisis. Here’s something for you to chew on: We are all a product of our own experiences unless we consciously goal set and plan for a different outcome. · Home ownership is not going to be handed to you. You’re going to have to work for good credit.  To that end:

  • You must go on a diet, a financial diet. You need to spend less and save more.
  • It will not happen overnight. Anything worth having is worth working hard for. I am not telling you that to be condescending … we just live in a microwave society and you’ve been conditioned to expect things immediately and home ownership is one of those things that will not happen easily or overnight.

The Path to First Time Home Ownership

Anyone can buy a home within a in a few years if they make calculated choices, plan well/goal set and develop financial discipline. Here are a few tips to get you started that you are going to have to practice daily for the rest of your life if you want to earn a home and successfully own the home for years to come.

First, speak to a qualified, local lender who was recommended by a real estate agent. You will set your plan up for failure if you go to a random internet loan site online. You need an experienced professional who knows the local market to give you advice. If you think it’s going to be bad news … just rip the Band-Aid off and get it over with. If you believe that you have credit issues you need to learn about them all in order to fix them. A good loan officer will offer advice to help you remove a few credit dings.

Like most experienced real estate agents, I have a list of outstanding mortgage brokers who have helped my buyer clients get on the path to home ownership. Simply ask and I can email you their contact. If you’d like to physically sit down with them they are located in Bonita Springs, Estero and Cape Coral so you can pick a convenient location.

Second, quit spending money you don’t need to spend. Do not purchase things impulsively and stop spending money on daily habits like ice coffee or consumable, throw away items. You will need to prove to a lender that you have a history of both earning and saving money in order for them to give you a mortgage for a new home. Set a personal goal to save at least 10% of what you think you will want to spend on a home purchase or what the mortgage broker helps you decide is a comfortable price range. Want to buy a $200,000 home? Start by setting a goal to save $20,000 before even looking at the first home for sale.

Third, pay your bills on time and pay down your existing debt. Quit charging purchases that you can’t pay off immediately and pay down large balances on credit cards and revolving credit accounts. When your credit is maxed out you appear as a risk to financial institutions. They want to lend money on real estate but not if there is a risk or likelihood that they won’t get paid back.

Next, keep your eye on the prize. If home prices go up, you must not get discouraged. The market is ever changing and in a few months or even a few years the real estate market will be totally different. I promise. If homes are not affordable today they could become affordable in a year or so when inventory builds up again. Trust me, I’ve sold real estate in the Bonita Springs and Fort Myers area since the late 90’s and I have been through a few cycles, including the worst of the worst, so I know your time for home ownership could be just around the corner even if you feel it’s out of reach today.

Last, financing programs. There are many programs including VA and FHA programs which afford a first time home buyer the ability to put no money down or very little down. The FHA program allows for closing cost contributions from the home seller if they agree to it. Your experienced real estate agent along with your mortgage broker can help you understand these programs better.

The short story is to save, save, save. Pay your bills on time. Plan and goal set for a minimum of 1-2 years and you can likely own your own home.

Hidden Benefits of Home Ownership & Good Credit

The added benefit to saving to purchase a home is that you will also receive better rates on insurances, even automobile insurance. Premiums are lower with better credit. Even utility companies will throw you a bone because they reward those with good credit history with low or no security deposit; for an electric account, for example. You can change your financial life by adopting better practices and goals in your daily life. You can change your financial life even if you weren’t raised with “best practices” of finances and decide to make better choices.

First Time Home Buyers – Presenting the Offer

One of the reasons that I decided to post this primer on my website www.LifeInBonitaSprings.com is because of the experiences I have every day as a listing agent especially as it applies to first time home buyers in San Carlos Park. To qualify my opinion you first need to understand that I have been a real estate agent in Southwest Florida for quite some time. I’m closing in on my second decade of helping home buyers and home seller’s with their real estate. While I’ve worked extensively in the Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida area the rising home prices in 2016 have motivated buyers to look for affordable homes in South Fort Myers.

We Want to Buy Your Home & We’re Awesome!

As a new home buyer you have already worked hard to be eligible to purchase a home. You may have never thought how your real estate agent or your buyer’s agent communicating with the listing agent of a property can influence whether your offer is accepted, counter offered or even acknowledged. I’m going to task you with following up with your real estate agent to make sure you get the service you deserve.

Request a few things of them such as conveying your story to the home seller. You or your agent can write a letter explaining how much you love/needed/want the home and convey any sense of endearment to show the seller your interest in the home. Your real estate agent should “sell” you to the seller or seller’s real estate agent. There is nothing wrong with going so far as to include or present a letter with the offer and even a picture of you or your family. It can’t hurt tug at the heart stings a little so you win the interest of a home seller especially when there are multiple offers.

Speed and follow up are supremely important in real estate transactions. Make sure your agent gets you a leg up with your offer being the first submitted when a listing is new. From the listing agent perspective I can tell you, the buyer, that if your agent doesn't notify the listing agent that there was an offer sent ... it will die a lonely death in a spam folder. Consider this … if the agent didn't notify the listing agent of the offer they also didn't tell the listing agent a few key things that could really help you win this home. A day later there could be a competing offer, or two, coming in and diminishing your home buying leverage.

How Can I Make Buying Your Home Easier?

This open communication and dialogue the buyer’s agent has with the listing agent means that they could have explained the offer to the listing agent, the reason for some of the terms or discussed which terms could be flexible. Home buying is about more than price. You know that "fast closing" you may have offered thinking it was a good thing? Well, in some circumstances it isn't. Maybe the seller's need an extra few weeks. I’m still not sure why an offer is even delivered without asking what would best benefit the seller so that you can accommodate that request if it is within the possibility. Who is that home seller? What are their plans? Where are they going? How can we help them get there with less hassle so that they consider our offer above others?

Millennial home buyers, you need to hold your agent's feet to the fire. You're losing leverage right off the bat by not having your offer properly presented most of the time. My experience as a listing agent shows me this every day.  My experience as a buyer’s agent has gone more smoothly when I’ve endeared the buyers to the sellers.

The First Time Home Buyer Contract Review

Here’s a standard that I use and a great tip for Millennial and first time home buyers to ask for: To help ease your mind you can request a blank contract to review long before finding and buying your first home. You should be familiar with it long before you find yourself face to face with writing a real offer.

Post Contract - Inspection and Underwriting

Your contract is a written agreement to purchase a home. You will have “contingencies” built into the contract to protect your interest and your escrow deposit in the event you are unable to close. Two of the largest contingencies that will have to be satisfied prior to closing will be the home inspection contingency and the financing contingency.

Post Contract - Mortgage Underwriting

Your mortgage will be processed and the lender has a system of checks and balances to make sure you’re within the guidelines of risk ratio in order to release funds to you. This is the official definition of the process: Mortgage underwriting in the United States is the process a lender uses to determine if the risk of offering a mortgage loan to a particular home buyer (borrower) under the parameters of the mortgage guidelines.

Examples of mortgages underwriting items the lender will request could be items such as:

  • Evidence of earnest money
  • Employment history or employment contract
  • Pay stubs. Explanation of large deposits
  • Copy of a gift letter
  • Verification of employment
  • Copy of the executed sale contract
  • Credit score above a certain numerical range
  • Debt to income ration to not change significantly

It cannot be stressed enough that from the day you first speak with your lender until after you close the purchase of your San Carlos Park home that you do not initiate any new lines of credit and you do not make any large purchases. You shouldn’t make any small purchases if you’re struggling to get into a home. Every penny counts so you should employ the strongest financial discipline you can muster for the several weeks between contract and closing. This is important: Be patient and be frugal or you can be denied a mortgage even after your initial preapproval.

When you turn a document that was requested, such the latest pay stub, by your mortgage broker/loan officer know that there is more work on the “back end” that you won’t see. Let’s say, for example, that you turn your pay stub in on Tuesday, the loan officer then sends it to underwriting for verification and to be verified and recorded. You are not the only loan in the mortgage department so it could be Friday or even Monday before it is even recognized. That is why time is of the essence. When a request is made of you by your loan officer or lender, fulfill the request as soon as possible because there will be underwriting delays.

Post Contract: Inspecting San Carlos Park Home

If you’ve found a home and written a contract your next course of action would be to get your home inspection on schedule. Most home inspectors can be found by obtaining a list from your real estate agent. They will know home inspectors who work in the geographic area and who may be more experienced or thorough. You will be provided a list of home inspectors or can Google and find your own but it might be worth your while to structure a question to your real estate agent such as, ‘which inspection companies would you consider above any of the others if you were inspecting a home for your own purchase’? An experienced real estate agent deals with home inspectors on a regular basis. They know which inspection firms are sharp and thorough. We can’t tell you who to use but we can answer questions to help you screen the inspectors you’re considering.

There are a variety of home inspections that you have the option of ordering besides a general home inspection such as termite-wood destroying organism inspection, pool inspection, septic inspection, mold inspection, radon inspection, wind mitigation inspection, four point inspection. Your agent can help you understand which of the inspections you’d be likely to order. Some inspections such as termite/wood destroying organism and four point could be a lender requirement. As a basic home buying guideline, the general inspection, termite and wind mitigation would nearly be the standard order for a home purchase.

Home Purchase Charges both Expected & Unexpected

If you are considering being a first time home buyer ask yourself this while you are planning and goal setting: What is the real cost of purchasing a home in San Carlos Park beside the down payment? To enter a home buying transaction with your eyes wide open you’ll want to fully understand that the moment that you have an executed contract there will be a clock that starts ticking.

  • There will be time sensitive obligations to fulfill such as applying for your mortgage which will have a fee of $300-500, depending upon the lender. Usually paid in advance outside of closing.
  • There will be home inspection fees which vary by the scope of inspection. The expense $300-600 would be a guideline but could go higher with pool, septic, mold, radon and wind mitigation inspections.  Usually paid in advance outside of closing.
  • The property appraisal, if not put on the settlement statement may have to be paid for in advance. $300-900.
  • Prior to closing, utility accounts will need to be established. Whether in South Fort Myers or in Bonita Springs the power company may require a security deposit, as well as the water/sewer company. This varies by utility and the home owner’s credit rating. Remember, credit also gauges a consumer’s insurance rates, too.

Last but not least, home owner and flood insurance (if needed) may have to be paid in advance, also. Those fees vary dramatically in Southwest Florida depending upon the age of the home, construction type, location and elevation of the home plus the credit history of the consumer obtaining the policy.

All of these fees are a great reason to save as much of a financial cushion as possible before engaging in a home purchase in San Carlos Park or Bonita Springs, Florida.

If you are a millennial home buyer or a first time home buyer and would like expert guidance through the home buying process in the Bonita Springs, Estero or Fort Myers, Florida area call or text Chris Griffith at 239-273-7430.

Posted in Buyer Tips
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