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Why Fall in SW Florida Can be Such a Bustling Season, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs!

Why Fall in SW Florida Can be Such a Bustling Season, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs! Probably more than any other time of year, it seems like the onset of fall in SW Florida triggers an impulse to get things done! True, there is a similar phenomenon in the spring when many an ambitious cleaning project is sprung. But those impulses are not mysterious—especially when they follow long stretches of weather-induced indoor confinement. It’s a jailbreak.

Autumn is different. In addition to being the year’s “last, loveliest smile,” it often sets off an impatience to get things done. Although that autumnal get going! impulse can also seem to be triggered by the latest Texas weather, there must be more to it than that. The knowledge that winter is on the distant horizon could be part of it. At any rate, there does seem to be some kind of internal mechanism that tells people now is a good time to move major projects off the shelf and into motion.

The reason may well be astrophysical (I thought the word was “astronomical”—but when you look it up, that’s not quite right). This is the time of year when our planet’s voyage around the Sun causes the daylight hours in SW Florida to grow noticeably shorter; the nights longer. For primitive humans struggling to survive, the ones who connected the weakening with time to gather and store extra food would definitely have been rewarded. Those would have been the ones who were around to greet the spring. Most likely, our own ancient ancestors would have been among them.

Some modern SW Florida homeowners who are beginning to take notice of the shorter daylight hours may have already done some summer garden produce jarring and canning, so the food-gather instinct may be less in evidence. But if we sense anything like the same kind of ancient impulse, it can be put to good use by turning it into a tour around the house to check on a few items:

  • Door and window seal integrity
  • Gutter clearing
  • Clean cooling devices
  • Exterior cracks (and plumbing and cable entrance points)
  • Roof integrity

Each is the kind of maintenance detail that, taken together, can make a sizeable difference in your peace of mind come winter. If it’s been more than a year or two since the last dedicated inspection, the rewards in terms of winter utility bills can also be noticeable.

Why Fall in SW Florida Can be Such a Bustling Season, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs! In case the impulse to get all in readiness has anything to do with your ultimate intention to put your SW Florida home on the market in 2017, this really is a great time to initiate a decisive first step. The easy first item that will get things rolling: call me!

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FHA Mind Change is Good News for SW Florida Appraisals, Naples, Ft. Myers!

 FHA Mind Change is Good News for SW Florida Appraisals, Naples, Ft. Myers! It was a federal agency reversal that was startling in its effect: a change in guidance that actually clarified more than muddled!

FHA Mind Change is Good News for SW Florida Appraisals, Naples, Ft. Myers!The change will directly affect SW Florida buyers and sellers because the issue will impact the cost of SW Florida residential real estate transactions—specifically, in the area of home appraisals.

As the first order of business—for those who have never bought a house or condo (or who have let the details fade from memory)—an appraisal is different from an inspection. An inspection is commissioned on behalf of a buyer to determine the state of repair of a property that is being purchased. It gives the buyer an idea of how much (or little) expense and effort is likely to be required in future years. As such, it can affect the terms of the purchase—or even whether a purchase is still in prospect.

An appraisal, on the other hand, can be key for potential lenders in determining what is the collateral value of a property. Even if a buyer is willing to pay $400,000 for a home in {Your Town}, if the appraiser estimates the value at $320,000, FHA Mind Change is Good News for SW Florida Appraisals, Naples, Ft. Myers!it’s going to be all but impossible to find financing for the sale at the higher price.

That’s not the only reason appraisals are financially vital. The appraiser gathers information about the property itself, looks at the recent transactions in SW Florida, Texas to determine market conditions, and comes up with a likely market value—the amount buyers would probably be willing to pay. It’s a guess, but a highly informed one. In the previous decade, the world saw how important accurate appraisals (and the decisions based upon them) could be. When a combination of circumstances led to appraisals that gradually became more and more over-optimistic, banks offered mortgage loans that were too disconnected from the value of the property and the ability of borrowers to repay. When it became clear that an avalanche of foreclosures was inevitable, we saw what happened: global financial meltdown. 

FHA Mind Change is Good News for SW Florida Appraisals, Naples, Ft. Myers!As you might imagine, the regulators in the FHA were not pleased with having been apportioned a part of the blame for the housing crisis. As part of their response, earlier this year they tightened requirements about the work appraisers are required to perform. They were ordered to operate and physically observe appliances on a property. That’s right: turn on the washer, the dryer, the dishwasher, the trash compactor…

This specific requirement is far outside the scope of what appraisers have, historically, been called to concern themselves with. At a minimum, it meant spending more time per appraisal—an added expense which would come do as part of the closing cost. And the difference in the ultimate work product—the appraisal value—would usually be insignificant.

So when, at the end of last month, the FHA came out with a reversal of that appliance-checking requirement, it marked an unusual turn of events: a regulation that disappeared—pretty much on its own.

FHA Mind Change is Good News for SW Florida Appraisals, Naples, Ft. Myers! Part of my job is to keep up with any and all changes that affect my clients, who can be assured that the paperwork and technical requirements are always handled properly. Call me!

For SW Florida Real Estate Investments, Time is of the Essence, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral!

 For SW Florida Real Estate Investments, Time is of the Essence, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral! “Time is of the essence!” is the kind of everyday phrase you might hear any time in SW Florida. Most often it’s tossed off casually—as when For SW Florida Real Estate Investments, Time is of the Essence, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral!someone gets impatient, waiting for a friend who’s been dilly dallying. That’s when it means “we’re gonna be late!”

In Texas legal contract phraseology, it has a more precise (and serious) meaning. To lawyers, including that phrase means that the parties must perform X by date Y or else! It means that missing a deadline will cause material harm. “Time is of the essence” in that connection is literal: the time element has value—it’s essential to the deal.

When you examine an investment in SW Florida real estate, the actual phrase doesn’t have to appear in any agreement docs for time to play an important part “of the essence” of the investment. This isn’t just some abstract philosophical notion—integrating it into your buying, selling and management decisions will certainly affect the concrete dollars-and-cents results.

Most basic is a concept common to all investment avenues: the time value of money. The basic principle is that, provided money can earn interest, any given amount of money is worth more the sooner it is received. Most people are painfully aware of the inflationary effect of time on the money they earn—they know darn well that $1.13-a-gallon gasoline hasFor SW Florida Real Estate Investments, Time is of the Essence, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral! become a distant memory (the same way great-grandparents used to describe 5¢ hamburgers).

The importance of having not just a nodding-your-head understanding, but of having a believing-it-deep-down kind of understanding of this may be why mature investors can be more stubborn about sticking to spending limits. They’ve experienced the rate at which SW Florida properties grow in value over time—which means that if they were to pay 8% or 9% over what they truly believe a home’s value to be, it could take a couple of years before its resale value would reach even a breakeven point. Thinking in terms of its time value—picturing it just lying there, inert, for a couple of years—makes for a less appealing proposition.

For SW Florida Real Estate Investments, Time is of the Essence, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral!For typical SW Florida homeowners whose major reason for their real estate investment is as a residence, the time element works on many channels at the same time. The residence may lose some value as daily living’s wear and tear takes a toll, but at the same time, it’s all but sure to gain value through inflation. It might lose or gain as the immediate neighborhood changes for good or ill—although it could gain considerable value through wise decorating initiatives. About those decorating initiatives: it’s a canny homeowner whose first efforts at home improvement come in the garden: the right trees planted today can become hugely beneficial a decade or two from now—and hugely expensive to try to duplicate later. If you’ve ever discussed the cost of craning in a 25-foot shade tree, you understand the reality of “time is of the essence!”

For SW Florida Real Estate Investments, Time is of the Essence, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral! The hot spring-summer selling season is set to start cooling down, but there are loads of great {Your Town} properties on the market right now. Call me, because time is of…well, you know! Thank You.

Color Décor Move Ignores Likely SW Florida Home Resale Effect, Naples, Ft. Myers!

 Color Décor Move Ignores Likely SW Florida Home Resale Effect, Naples, Ft. Myers! It was tucked away in a backwater of The Wall Street Journal’s online Design tab, which is actually just a sub-section of their Real Estate section. “The Rise of the Colorful Bathroom” was like a conceptual hand grenade tossed into the placid lagoon of home decor orthodoxy.

Color Décor Move Ignores Likely SW Florida Home Resale Effect, Naples, Ft. Myers!As far as design insights likely to affect SW Florida’s home resale market, the pointers found in Design lately haven’t been particularly noteworthy. Earlier this month, there had been a piece about metal versions of “The Classic Peacock Chair.” That might have had some impact in Rangoon, but here in SW Florida, where peacock chairs are few and far in between, it scarcely ruffled a feather. Similarly, there had appeared “A Décor Lesson in Subtle Patriotism” with marginally subtle red, white and blue illustrations—but especially since it first appeared after the July 4th weekend, SW Florida readers were unlikely to run that one up the flagpole…

But now, tucked away beside a Most Popular Videos sidebar, came this subversive “Rise of the Colorful Bathroom.” A generous illustration showed an example of how far the author was willing to go: it portrayed a stark blue bathroom wall and sink featuring clapboard-like blue-and-gray porcelain tiles: the blue plank Color Décor Move Ignores Likely SW Florida Home Resale Effect, Naples, Ft. Myers!special. Did this mark a warning shot over the bow of one of the longest unchallenged home décor conventions—that the American bathroom palette should be, in the author’s phrase, “compulsively neutral”?

If so, would the new trend force homeowners poised to enter SW Florida’s home resale market to have to expensively retool their bathrooms’ calming hues?

Fortunately for the budgets of SW Florida home sellers, a close reading made that unlikely. Although the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) does report some tip-toeing by their members in the direction of bathroom color infusions, no more than 10%-15% of them actually expect to decorate more baths “in green, blue and black”—at least for this year. There were also tacit admissions that the Rise of the Colorful Bathroom might become somewhat diluted before it spreads much further. “Muted beats candy bright” was the caption describing a mid-toned bathroom, displaying an almost traditional “quiet, palatable personality.”

Color Décor Move Ignores Likely SW Florida Home Resale Effect, Naples, Ft. Myers!Some designers also expressed some reluctance to jump on the Colorful Bathroom train—at least in one part of the rainbow. Palm Springs designer Christopher Kennedy may opt for small touches of bright color, but will always “avoid pea greens and acid greens” because “they aren’t so great on the skin.” He goes in a rosier direction, with hip colors like blush “because it makes you look beautiful.”

Color Décor Move Ignores Likely SW Florida Home Resale Effect, Naples, Ft. Myers! As far as SW Florida home resale prospects are concerned, one devil-may-care subhead gives away a quite possible impact. The truly cool blues to emphatic blacks are labeled “resale-be-damned” colors. As we near the end of the hectic peak selling period, most SW Florida sellers are continuing to choose much more of a “resale-be-welcomed” disposition. If that describes your own stance, you’ll find it echoed when you give me a call!

SW Florida Homeownership Yields Multiple Family Benefits, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral!

 SW Florida Homeownership Yields Multiple Family Benefits, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral! “Homeownership is the bedrock of the American Dream!” was long an unchallenged byword in American culture. Certainly most SW Florida homeowners agreed during most of the 20th Century. That premise may have been rocked a little during the early phases SW Florida Homeownership Yields Multiple Family Benefits, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral!of the Great Recession that shook the country starting in 2008, but as the housing recovery gathered steam, faith in the concept eventually returned for most folks.

The economic advantages of owning your own SW Florida home have been particularly dramatic lately, as historically low mortgage interest rates have made the benefits of homeownership on the family budget dazzlingly apparent. One of the further benefits was just offered in a seminar given by a prominent research economist.

As you might guess from the description of the speaker, some of the details in the hour-long presentation tended to get a little obscure. When economists have something to say, often their verbiage is less than easy to fathom—so when a research economist speaks, the audience had better pay close attention. The impenetrability factor can be daunting. Nonetheless, since this talk was presented by the National Association of Realtors®, I thought its message would be worth tuning in on.

The title of the summary was “House Price Growth When Children are Teenagers—A Path to Higher Earnings?” The question mark was a hopeful indication of the unbiased scientific nature of the research (and there’s no reason to doubt SW Florida Homeownership Yields Multiple Family Benefits, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral!that)—but the body of evidence described doesn’t leave much question.

The answer is “yes.”

It’s the details that are somewhat challenging, but the compact explanation is that when house prices rise in a household with a 17-year-old, that teenager’s income as an adult can be expected to be above average. Likewise, a 17-year-old in a household that rents the family residence while house prices are going up has a higher likelihood of earning less in their adult years.

No explanation is confirmed for why there is such an impact, except a suggestion that they are more likely to attend a top-ranked college. In any case, the effect was marked in a sample of 892 respondents:

SW Florida Homeownership Yields Multiple Family Benefits, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral!“For every 10% increase in home prices that occurred when children were 17 years old, the income of homeowners’ children as adults was 9% higher on average, while the income of renters’ children as adults was 15% lower.”

The takeaway for SW Florida homeowners is assuredly positive. It’s long been known that research shows many economic and social benefits to homeownership—among them a boost in the likelihood of educational achievement for children—probably because of the effects of a stable housing environment. Currently, since rising home values have been with us for quite a while, these latest findings of a positive outlook for “the economic trajectory of the homeowner’s children” is welcome news.

SW Florida Homeownership Yields Multiple Family Benefits, Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral! Fostering homeownership in SW Florida is my principal professional goal, so it’s good to hear confirmation of what seems clear on a daily basis (not to mention, another good reason to give me a call)!

Thank You To All Veterans……………………. Remember Veterans Day.

We Will Never Forget the Men & Women Who Gave the Ultimate Sacrifice for Us. Freedom Isn’t Free. Thank You to All Veterans – We Owe You a Debt that will Never Fully be Repaid.

 Remember Veterans Day.

Virtual Staging—Economical Tool for SW Florida Home Sellers, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs!

 Virtual Staging—Economical Tool for SW Florida Home Sellers, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs! If you set your sites on selling your SW Florida home in short order for the best price, one of the most reliable ways to add to your effort is to introduce effective home staging. If you have the requisite artistic flair and some time to devote to the project, you can try Virtual Staging—Economical Tool for SW Florida Home Sellers, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs!your hand at staging your house yourself. Alternatively, you can turn the project over to a professional SW Florida staging company.

And for quite a while now, there is a third alternative.

The importance of good staging is undeniable. It is sometimes called “the gentle art of temporarily redecorating a house”—and it’s a gentle art that’s been found to be an effective adjunct to many a home’s marketing campaign. The National Association of Realtors® research shows that staged homes are on the market for 17 days fewer than comparable non-staged listings (the national average is 14 days vs. 31). Although hiring professional stagers has a cost, it’s often pointed out that it is likely to be less than what a first reduction in selling price would run.

Home staging is said to have gotten its first impetus in the early 1970s, when a student of theater began working in real estate. The stagecraft approach proved effective, and eventually evolved into a professional service that can be offered and many differing levels of involvement—all the way from simply rearranging furniture to emptying a house out and Virtual Staging—Economical Tool for SW Florida Home Sellers, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs!filling it with rented furniture.

One of the most common staging precepts for SW Florida homes is that, since first impressions are so important, it should be completed before MLS photos are taken. That’s where that third staging alternative comes in: it’s strictly for the photos. This is the kind of staging that isn’t even what you might call “real.” It’s virtual.

Yes, the age of virtual staging is now well established. When vacant real estate will make for lifeless, uninspiring pictures, a little “advanced 3D rendering technology” can come to the rescue.

“Digitally furnish any home so it looks its best…all you need are photos or a floor plan” promises one of the leaders in the field. Owners send in photos of empty (or empty) rooms, and the virtual staging company sends back photos Virtual Staging—Economical Tool for SW Florida Home Sellers, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs!decorated with sofas, wall paintings, draperies, beds, dining room tables, chandeliers, carpeting—any number of décor items that add atmosphere and style to the original. Believe it or not, they really look real!

But they aren’t. The argument in favor of this approach is that virtual staging accomplishes what any staging is meant to do: it helps potential buyers imagine how they might choose to decorate a room or household. The price is a fraction of traditional staging (a single room can cost as little as $49), and the turnaround time is a matter of days. The downside is that, whereas the listing photos for a traditionally staged home looks like what prospective buyers experience when they make an in-person visit, the virtually-staged property looks quite different. Unless the buyer has been properly prepared, that could be quite a letdown!

Virtual Staging—Economical Tool for SW Florida Home Sellers, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs! Home staging—virtual and otherwise—is just one example of the many tools available to assist today’s SW Florida home sellers. Give me a call to explore how we can put them to work for you!