Welcome to Southwest Florida Real Estate

Archive for April, 2015

Jumbo Loans’ Share of U.S. Mortgages Notch 10-Year High, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Golden Gate

Jumbo Loans’ Share of U.S. Mortgages Notch 10-Year High, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Golden Gate. Inside Mortgage Finance is a periodical that precisely lives up to its name: SW Florida residential real estate professionals can turn to it for the latest word on national trends inside the mortgage industry. Admittedly, this Jumbo Loans’ Share of U.S. Mortgages Notch 10-Year High, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Golden Gateusually makes for pretty dull reading for outsiders (that is, everyone else); but one story in last week’s edition was interesting enough that it was picked up by the general business press.
The topic was jumbo loans. In SW Florida real estate circles, the issuing of jumbo loans is of particular interest because of their indicator status. Jumbos are the ones with mortgage amounts exceeding the limits for government-backed loans. They’re also known as ‘nonconforming’—and like all the other non-conformists in life, they don’t quite behave like everyone else. SW Florida jumbo loans tend to be slightly harder to qualify for than run-of-the-mill mortgages, and as a rule carry higher interest rates. If their share of the home loan market grows, it indicates that high-end home sales are improving.
And that’s what happened in the U.S. in 2014, according to IMF. “Jumbo Lending Stronger than Overall Market, Hits Jumbo Loans’ Share of U.S. Mortgages Notch 10-Year High, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Golden GateHighest Share in 10 Years” was the headline in a report that pegged fourth quarter jumbo loan volume at $67,000,000,000. That’s a lot of high-end real estate!
When The Wall Street Journal picked up the story, they pointed to a decrease in mortgage lending overall, but pointedly less so for jumbo loans. Bank of America reported a 3% growth in the number of first-time home buyers who took out jumbos in 2014—and applicants were a younger bunch, too: their average age decreased from 46 years to 44. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the largest jumbo provider, observed a similar trend: more first-timers taking out jumbo loans.
Jumbo Loans’ Share of U.S. Mortgages Notch 10-Year High, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Golden GateIf this has local real estate watchers wondering whether the popularity of jumbo loans in SW Florida will follow the national trend (and if so, why), there was at least one straightforward explanation. HSH, the housing and mortgage data firm, reported that by the end of this January, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed jumbo mortgage “dropped below 4% and was at a historic low of 3.92%….” With rates like those, the WSJ wrote, “Low interest rates are spurring more older affluent Americans to consider a mortgage.”
Jumbo Loans’ Share of U.S. Mortgages Notch 10-Year High, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Golden Gate. You don’t have to be in the jumbo market to seize the financial advantages this winter’s favorable real estate climate offers. Just call me!

Advertisements

Lower Energy Costs with 3 SW Florida Home Winterizing Tips, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island

Lower Energy Costs with 3 SW Florida Home Winterizing Tips, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island. SW Florida home owners don’t have to live in the kind of January landscape that features blizzards and snowdrifts to want to winterize their home before the onslaught of the chilliest temperatures. In even the mellowest of climates, Lower Energy Costs with 3 SW Florida Home Winterizing Tips, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Islandwinterization is a way to shrink energy bills. And even if the recent shocking downward spirals in world oil prices have sent your home heating costs to the bottom of your budget-tightening “to do” list, remember that if and when you eventually put your SW Florida home on the market, low utility expenses can be a strong selling point. Regardless of how you set your internal thermostat, the Big Three of energy cost reduction always include the following:
Raise the Air Temp; Lower the Water Temp
Two tips that could seem counterproductive will cut energy costs in many an SW Florida home. You’d think you should just switch ceiling fans off until spring, but not so. For cooling, the blades are set to spin counterclockwise so that cool air won’t be wasted down near the floor. The tip is to reverse the fan’s rotation to clockwise. That will act to push warmer air down Lower Energy Costs with 3 SW Florida Home Winterizing Tips, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Islandfrom the ceiling. Wait until the blades come to a stop, then slide the small direction switch (it’s usually next to the pull cord). The second tip is actually one you can do any time of the year since hot water heaters are usually set to heat to 140 degrees. In truth, most of us don’t need it that hot. Try resetting the temperature to 120 degrees, and see if it’s sufficient. If so, in the course of a year you’ll save more than a few dollars!
Block Air Creep
For a few dollars, a tube of caulk can be a final defense against the creep of cold Lower Energy Costs with 3 SW Florida Home Winterizing Tips, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Islandoutside air. Use caulk to seal cracks in the walls and gaps around your windows and doors. In extremes, there are inexpensive extra measures, such as see-through plastic sheets to cover windows with a second seal (doing both would keep the most remote Siberian cabin as buttoned-up as a baby kangaroo). If a drafty door will have to wait until spring for full renewal, an interim trick is to roll up a bath towel and place it against the threshold. This temporary fix keeps out the worst drafts and doesn’t cost a dime.
Take Care of Your Air Conditioner
If you have water-served central air, during the colder months when it’s out of service, good maintenance requires draining the water hoses. Split air conditioners don’t have that issue,Lower Energy Costs with 3 SW Florida Home Winterizing Tips, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Islandbut some of them need an exterior cover for preventing drafts (if you haven’t felt any on chilly evenings, it’s not necessary). If you haven’t already removed any window units, better go to the hardware store to buy exterior covers: a lot of chilly air can make its way in through uncovered vents.
Lower Energy Costs with 3 SW Florida Home Winterizing Tips, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island. The Big Three tips alone comprise a SW Florida home winterization program that costs less than a burger and fries—yet can result in measurable energy savings. If you have found any other simple energy savers, I hope you’ll share: drop me an email, or give me a call at the office!

SW Florida Real Estate Watchers Find Trend Conflicts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates

SW Florida Real Estate Watchers Find Trend Conflicts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates. SW Florida real estate trackers stay informed via the most recent listing and sales numbers, which is the most solid information of all. It’s helpful for planning purposes—even though what has happened in the past is only a SW Florida Real Estate Watchers Find Trend Conflicts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estatessuggestion of how real estate in SW Florida will perform in coming months. To get another indicator of future activity, the broader national trends are worth watching, along with the analyses and predictions of the top real estate experts. But it’s not always clear which trend is emerging, or which expert is right.
Case in point concerns younger families abandoning more urban areas to take up residence in the suburbs. Everyone acknowledges this group has been slow to settle into their first single family homes; but now there is a trend that has them selling their expensive condominium in downtown core areas, then using the proceeds for down payments on a house in the suburbs. SW Florida Real Estate Watchers Find Trend Conflicts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates
Real estate commentators who see this trend can bring convincing logic to their argument. Condominiums in most major downtown city cores have become increasingly expensive. For the lucky owners, it means they have gained significant real estate equity. However, especially for those with growing families, the downside is that they can’t afford to grow into a larger condo in their current neighborhood. Their best option is to sell the condo and move to the suburbs, where their money will get them more real estate.
Urban Studies Professor Joel Kotkin confirms that the first group of millennials, now entering their 30s, “are beginning, like preceding generations, to move to the suburbs.” It’s a trend that sounds reasonable enough…but not to everyone.
SW Florida Real Estate Watchers Find Trend Conflicts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate EstatesOthers disagree, convincingly. In fact, it’s more than a disagreement: they propound the opposite—a movement is toward city cores. The 36th edition of the seriously respectable Urban Land Institute/PricewaterhouseCoopers Emerging Trends in Real Estate report says, right there in Chapter 3, that “vibrant urban centers are almost a universal trend” in all 75 markets surveyed. That’s quite a few markets (compiled by 1,400 contributors). Lest anyone be unclear about the emerging trend itself, those quotes come from the section called “Continuing Urbanization Trend.”
To be fair, both perceived trends are subject to qualifications and footnotes that, it’sSW Florida Real Estate Watchers Find Trend Conflicts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates fair to say, muddle the picture. Under the Urban Land Institute/PwC’s Continuing Urbanization Trend heading, for instance, lies the statement, “Interviewees…cited activity in the traditional downtown area and also in suburban nodes.” In other words, perhaps the Urbanization Trend could also be sort of suburban, sort of. SW Florida real estate watchers, hoping to spot a trend, could conclude that young families are moving to and fro…
SW Florida Real Estate Watchers Find Trend Conflicts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates. In any case, you don’t have to fall into the Millennial, Gen X, GenY, Boomer or even the Greatest Gen category to follow one distinctly local trend: if you will be looking for a new home in SW Florida —or have one to list—giving me a call is the thing to do!

Guidelines for Selling an SW Florida House this Winter, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates, Estero

Guidelines for Selling an SW Florida House this Winter, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates, Estero. Some folks live for our SW Florida winters. For them, the brisk air is a tonic; longer night times are invitations to enjoy the warmth and cheer of fireside camaraderie; the prospect of winter sports is something they look Guidelines for Selling an SW Florida House this Winter, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates, Esteroforward to all year-long. For everyone else it may be more of a drag—particularly when a succession of storms seem to conspire to make their lives miserable.
It can also be a tough time to sell a SW Florida house—but only if you allow it to be! Winter does tend to make most SW Florida houses look drab and barren; and, in general, potential buyers tend to be scarce for a number of reasons. But those who are in the wintertime hunt are apt to be quite serious, so it’s worth remembering that sales can be kindled on even the bleakest February day—especially for owners who keep in mind some simple guidelines:
1. Create your own warmth
Whether it’s turning up the thermostat, lighting a crackling fire, or arranging for Guidelines for Selling an SW Florida House this Winter, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates, Esterothat batch of chocolate chip cookies to have just emerged from the oven, thinking cozy is the antidote to gloomy days. The object is to make the entrance from the cheerless outdoors a passage into a welcoming environment brimming with welcoming ambiance. To sell a house in foul weather, make the contrast with the outdoors as stark as possible!
2. Light their way
To compensate for the dimmer sunlight on some winter days, dispel the gloom by turning on all the lights: lamps, overheads, chandeliers—any and everything to brighten the place. To sell an SW Florida house (especially in later afternoon showings), be certain to open shades and curtains, too.
3. Have summertime pictures on hand
Guidelines for Selling an SW Florida House this Winter, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates, EsteroBe sure to lay out a picture or two of the property in more attractive months. While potential buyers may not be able to see the home when the sun is shining, a picture can help them envision what the house is like during most of the year.
4. Plus—the regular drill!
And don’t forget the basics: carefully tidied, sparkling polished, spotlessly cleaned, etc. It may be a little bit more of a chore to disperse the clutter (it does seem to multiply when you’ve been cooped up for days!), but it’s every bit as important as ever. Aromas are important anytime you sell a house, so obliterate stuffy winter air with strategically placed potpourri and candles.
Guidelines for Selling an SW Florida House this Winter, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate Estates, Estero. The fact is, when it’s properly priced, you can sell a house in SW Florida at any time of the year. To get the ball rolling, I hope you will make my number the first one you call!

Boomer Wave Change the Look of Senior Housing Choices, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral

Boomer Wave Change the Look of Senior Housing Choices, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral. As the demand for age-restricted senior housing continues to grow nationwide, it’s certain to influence more than just the new home builders whose bread and butter depends on paying attention to such trends. It’s Boomer Wave Change the Look of Senior Housing Choices, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coralalso likely to influence the character of neighborhoods as a whole, SW Florida’s included.
The numbers tell a story that’s been written about for years. As SW Florida’s baby boom generation joins their cohort’s arrival into retirement age over the coming decades, they will become part of the wealthiest generation of senior home buyers in history. Senior housing developers are very well aware of that fact, but its full impact has only really begun to be felt recently. One evidence: the National Association of Homebuilders reports that starts of age-restricted homes nearly doubled between 2012 and 2013.
Part of the reason may be cultural—but it’s also possible that improvements in Boomer Wave Change the Look of Senior Housing Choices, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coralhealth and longevity could be involved. Today’s older generation views senior housing through a different lens than did their forebears, which means that new senior housing communities are taking on a look that’s considerably different from retirement neighborhoods of the past. There are multiple influences that are shaping the new senior housing mold. Among them—
• Many senior citizens continue to hold jobs. Earlier forecasts of dire results from predicted shortfalls in retirement savings don’t seem to be working out that way, since a great number of seniors are showing marked determination to put off full retirement indefinitely—regardless of financial need. Delaware’s Benchmark Builders reports that more than half of the residents in their age-restricted communities still work at least part-time, a trend being echoed throughout the nation. Developers are Boomer Wave Change the Look of Senior Housing Choices, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coralmoving senior housing out of the Sun Belt and closer to urban areas to facilitate easy commuting (some are even incorporating office facilities as part of resident amenities!).
• A number of housing projects are being designed to provide a patchwork of age-specific sections. While grandparents may enjoy living on a street or block devoted to neighbors in their age bracket, in the best of all worlds, they also would choose to be close to children and grandchildren. Some new housing developments are setting aside sections for young families close to senior housing blocks.
• Options for active older home buyers are crucial. In 1960, activity choices in manyBoomer Wave Change the Look of Senior Housing Choices, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral retirement communities began and ended with shuffleboard. Increasingly, senior housing projects are aimed at buyers who have no intention of pursuing a sedentary lifestyle. They look for active environments, with walking trails and easy access to amenities beyond the community. Indoor walking tracks, lap pools, hiking and biking trails and exercise equipment are becoming must-have features.
Boomer Wave Change the Look of Senior Housing Choices, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral. Today’s typical senior as part of a financially powerful demographic, is changing the look of retirement neighborhoods. But independent thinking has long been a notable characteristic of the boomer generation—so it also follows that not every SW Florida senior will make that lifestyle choice. Senior or not, I’m always standing by to further your next residential move! Welcome To SW Florida…

St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns…and Selling a SW Florida Home, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Golden Gate

St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns…and Selling a SW Florida Home, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Golden Gate. Many people don’t fully understand why it is that St. Patrick’s is the perfect day for selling a SW Florida home, or for buying one. But if ever there were a right time to explain it, this is it. There is one drawback to any such explanation, St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns…and Selling a SW Florida Home, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Golden Gatethough: namely, that it makes so little sense.
That does not seem to make much difference to a lot of real estate industry marketing supply companies. I can bear witness to that fact, in the form of the postcards and various art pieces that are pitched to Realtors en masse ahead of every St. Pat’s. As you might guess, they are green (usually very green), and almost without exception bear some rendition of a four-leaf clover. Also rainbows, pots of gold, wee leprechauns wearing green top hats with buckles on them, and sometimes horseshoes (to indicate the Luck O’ the Irish, of course). St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns…and Selling a SW Florida Home, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Golden Gate
What could this have to do with selling a SW Florida home, or buying one? That’s very hard to pin down. There is the simple good will postcard, that says, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” with no further connection. That’s a nice thought, certainly, and not risky. Who wouldn’t want to have a happy St. Patrick’s Day? There is one with a good-looking home at the end of a rainbow, with a wee little leprechaun holding a “Welcome Home!” sign—certainly a strong connection between selling an SW Florida home and the celebration.
One of the best ones is the poster that features two shades of green, a cartoon three-leaf clover (mistake there, if you ask me) upon which is printed in CelticSt. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns…and Selling a SW Florida Home, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Golden Gatelooking letters, “You don’t need to have the ‘Luck of the Irish’ to sell your home.” You have to like that one, because it doesn’t discriminate against people who aren’t Irish (the closer you get to St. Patrick’s Day, the more you run the risk of seeming to snub the non-Irish among us).
There is one postcard with a lady bug crawling over clover leaves emblazoned with a sentimental poem, but the emotionality of the poetry is tempered by the heading, “For all Your Real Estate needs just give me a call!” Balance is important on St. Patrick’s Day…but it’s not clear that the card with the green beer mugs got that message (which is “Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Remember, parade watching is like real St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns…and Selling a SW Florida Home, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Golden Gateestate. Location, location, location.”).
St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns…and Selling a SW Florida Home, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Golden Gate. One that also tips the scales in the direction of crass commercialism is the picture of the big pot o’ gold brimming with gold coins. It says, “It takes more than Luck to sell your home.” I’m not sure what the St. Pat’s message is for that one—that selling your SW Florida home requires you to go out, find a leprechaun or rainbow, and wangle a pot o’ gold? It’s simply not the case. If you ask me, an experienced REALTOR with a great marketing plan and a reasonable price will do the trick better than pots o’ gold or four-leaf clovers. Still, that can’t keep me from wishing you a terrific St. Patrick’s Day, as too!

Buying a House in SW Florida May Require a Momentum Shift, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Estero

Buying a House in SW Florida May Require a Momentum Shift, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Estero. It can feel a little like a trip to the shore in springtime, before the summer sun has warmed the water. The water might be okay—but it also might be bone-chilling! Most SW Florida residents will choose caution, and stick their toe in, first…
Buying a House in SW Florida May Require a Momentum Shift, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, EsteroDeciding whether to buy a house when you have been renting for a while means taking a much more significant plunge. And there’s no way to test the waters, either: you’re either going to buy an SW Florida house or, you aren’t. It’s in or out. And it’s also a deeply personal decision.
Momentum can be a deciding factor. Many people defer buying a home because it comprises such a major change. Especially if they are satisfied with their current rental—and even more if buying a house would make them homeowners for the first time —it would seem to require a major event to get them motivated.Buying a House in SW Florida May Require a Momentum Shift, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Estero
There actually has been something like a major event, but it’s a slow-moving one that doesn’t rate banner headlines in the newspapers. It’s not an earthquake, or fire, or outbreak of war or pestilence. It’s simply a finding by the Federal Reserve. They published it in their triennial Survey of Consumer Finances. It states:
“In the past 15 years, the net worth of the typical homeowner has ranged between 31 and 46 times that of the net worth of the typical renter.”
It’s a simple fact that homeowner equity is a substantial component of homeowner wealth. And you can’t build equity without…well, buying a house!
Buying a House in SW Florida May Require a Momentum Shift, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, EsteroMany thoughtful would-be SW Florida homeowners have hesitated during the last few years as the logical result of the tumble of residential real estate. If you didn’t have to sell your home, that part of the financial turmoil may have caused scare headlines, but was an otherwise abstract event. But if you had to move and sell, it could have been painfully real (unless you immediately bought another house at an equally depressed price level).
The real estate recovery that is still under way is a less jarring, slow-moving event—much less of a headline-maker. But the financial reality the Fed points to is Buying a House in SW Florida May Require a Momentum Shift, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Esterosurprisingly relevant. It was conducted in 2013, after the housing industry meltdown. Homeowner wealth registered a full 36 times the net worth of renters. Evidently, the financial wisdom of buying a house seems to remain a constant, no matter what!
Buying a House in SW Florida May Require a Momentum Shift, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Estero. Buying a house in SW Florida is a traditional way of building a solid financial picture, but it’s also a source of pride and family cohesiveness. If you have been thinking about wading into homeownership this spring, I hope you won’t hesitate to give me a call. I have all the information you’ll need to decide if the water feels fine to you!