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Taking the Housing Market’s Pulse: Just Say “Aahhhh”… Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral!

 Taking the Housing Market’s Pulse: Just Say “Aahhhh”… Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral! When you go in for your annual physical, you’re hoping for a sunny prognosis. Realtor® magazine isn’t a medical journal, but it does have a feature called “Market Pulse.” It reports on the patient’s vital signs (if you imagine the patient being the nation’s housing market). The state of the national patient can be relevant here in SW Florida. In fact, the direction of the wider U.S. market is probably the best prognosis for what lies ahead for our own SW Florida housing market.

The NAR’s attending doc is, as always, Dr. Lawrence Yun. When his latest Market Pulse report just appeared in the Realtor mag, it wasn’t hard to picture what would have happened if the good Doctor had performed the pulse-taking in reality.

There would have been an efficient receptionist, and then, the examination room. The wait might have been a few minutes, but if nerves had prompted a checking out of the academic shingle on the wall, it would have been reassuringly plastered with names like Harvard and Purdue.

After the Market Pulse had been taken, the results would have been delivered with a comforting smile. “Jobs are growing,” was the first verdict, given as the doc folded the pulse-O-meter back into its case; “and interest rates remain low…” He would have paused to open the housing market’s chart to scribble a few quick notes, then, without looking up, “Sellers, meanwhile, are reporting faster sales, with homes averaging 36 days on the market.”

Since that’s a lot faster than the 42-day average from the 2015 checkup, that was great Market Pulse news.

But then Dr. Yun might have done one of those little brow wrinkles that doctors use when they’re about to tell us to exercise more or watch what we eat. “But tight inventory in many parts of the country continues to drive prices up…” At that point, having heard this so often, the Market Pulse patient would probably have tuned out the rest. For goodness sake! This lecture hasn’t changed for two years. It’s the one about not enough homes on the market, escalating prices and discouraging first-time buyers who can’t use home sale proceeds to fund down payments. It may be true, but we know, already!

Then it would be time to check out at the reception desk with a promise to be back next year. For those whose primary interest is SW Florida’s housing market, if the future is going to involve buying or selling a SW Florida home, there will be a discreet little card dispenser off to the side of the counter.

Taking the Housing Market’s Pulse: Just Say “Aahhhh”… Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral! Be sure to take one—it says, “Call your {Your Town} Realtor.” That’s me!

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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!

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!

Beyond the Month’s SW Florida Real Estate News, Naples, Ft. Myers, Isles Of Capri!

 Beyond the Month’s SW Florida Real Estate News, Naples, Ft. Myers, Isles Of Capri! Whenever a month’s SW Florida real estate activity ends on a Friday, the number-gatherers close up shop knowing there will be a longer than usual lapse Beyond the Month’s SW Florida Real Estate News, Naples, Ft. Myers, Isles Of Capri!until they can be sure of the SW Florida real estate activity statistics.

That creates a breather for those of us who keep abreast of Texas and SW Florida real estate. It’s a perfect opening to turn to real estate doings around the country—to see what noteworthy happenings took place in the last month or so. September 2016 did produce a little news items—these three rate at least a quick glance (or a double-take).

The lead item is one that rates a triple take: it concerns a storage barn that sold for $1,800,000. Built in Little Compton, Rhode Island, the structure was originally erected as a storage barn by the Army in WWII. It was converted into “a custom shingle-style” home, which was surely a shrewd improvement since shingles have to be a noticeable improvement over what the wartime Army shed-builders would have had to work with.

In fact, as reported by the Providence Journal, “the former storage barn…has water views from nearly every room.” The accompanying photo confirmed that, indeed, windows had been added. If the casual reader jumps to the conclusion that Beyond the Month’s SW Florida Real Estate News, Naples, Ft. Myers, Isles Of Capri!a $1.8 million closing would be the occasion for celebration from the sellers, that was probably not the case: the former storage barn had been listed for $2,195,000.

Elsewhere, CNBC’s real estate editor Diana Olick reported on a national trend: a slowdown in on-time closings from 77% six months ago to 64%. This is despite a rise in housing demand. Unearthed was a reason: a “massive” shortage in appraisers—“the men and women who value homes and whom mortgage lenders depend upon.” Part of the blame was assigned to new federal regulations that disallow apprentices to conduct full appraisals. Now their licensed bosses must be on-site for every inspection.

Beyond the Month’s SW Florida Real Estate News, Naples, Ft. Myers, Isles Of Capri!Over the weekend, The New York Times found little interesting domestic news, so they led instead with an international report, “House Hunting in Costa Rica.” The item focused on a two-story home in the “very clean and quiet” Arenal Lake area. A local real estate broker’s advice for house hunters was to shop with caution despite the area’s current “tremendous” buyer’s market. “I always tell my clients, don’t leave your brain in the plane.” That’s probably sage advice, especially since the area is named for a local “popular tourist attraction,” the Arenal Volcano. It’s an active stratovolcano that’s thought to be “in a passive phase” since around 2010.

Beyond the Month’s SW Florida Real Estate News, Naples, Ft. Myers, Isles Of Capri! Closer to home, I can report that I never need to remind my {Your Town} house hunting clients to keep their brains active: they fully understand that from the get-go. I hope you’ll give me a call when you decide it’s time to check out our SW Florida real estate offerings. I can guarantee that no active or passive stratovolcanoes will complicate matters!

Sharing Creative Touches with Luxury SW Florida Homes, Naples, Marco Island!

Sharing Creative Touches with Luxury SW Florida Homes, Naples, Marco Island! You can find how-to books with Sharing Creative Touches with Luxury SW Florida Homes, Naples, Marco Island!strategies laying out do-it-yourself strategies for transforming a property into a “luxury” home. Likewise, there are scads of online lists of imaginative touches that imply they will do the same.

The idea is certainly appealing (but so is anti-gravity and time travel). But of course, the fact is that authentic luxury doesn’t come cheap. A significant portion of the qualities of SW Florida luxury homes distinctions are intractable: in SW Florida, they involve a home’s location, size, and the architectural features of the overall facility. For instance, most upscale SW Florida luxury homes have a spacious living room; today, many feature an inviting area set aside for viewing a gargantuan wall-mounted flat screen TV. That’s a plus—but those with separate, professionally installed media rooms are a step closer to falling into the “luxury home” category.

It turns out that when you look at many of the lists touting “Simple Touches That Make a Luxury Home,” most are either not so simple, extremely expensive, or both. That’s not to say that actually employing some of the ideas might not pay off in terms of resale, but most involve substantial expense (and consequent risk). Still, there are other lists with more realistic titles— like “Adding a Touch of Luxury to Your Home” with ideas that involve more imagination than budget.Sharing Creative Touches with Luxury SW Florida Homes, Naples, Marco Island! They may not propel a simple property into the luxury class, but they can make a real contribution to a home’s livability and appeal—

  • Layer floor coverings: strategic placing of throw rugs over hardwood or carpeting adds dimension and interest
  • Improve visual coherence with wall cases, shelving, cabinetry or closed storage solutions (all these ideas actually systematically reduce clutter)
  • Furnish to create focal points—every room can use an eye-catching center of attention
  • Sharing Creative Touches with Luxury SW Florida Homes, Naples, Marco Island!Splash color: pillows on sofas; towels in bathrooms; pictures on hallway walls
  • Rethink lighting: consider lamps and fixtures as key décor items rather than just light sources
  • Add crown molding, chair rails, and baseboards—where surfaces meet, these simple architectural touches add subtle grace

   Sharing Creative Touches with Luxury SW Florida Homes, Naples, Marco Island! The luxury home category rightfully describes the upper echelons of Texas residences—and their price tags reflect it. But imaginative, tasteful décor doesn’t have to be overwhelming to add appeal to any residence. You don’t have be putting your own home on the market to add some extra touches of luxury. But when that time does come, I hope you’ll call me to help!

Your Home’s SW Florida Listing is the Sum of Parts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs!

 Your Home’s SW Florida Listing is the Sum of Parts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs! The art of selling a home begins with the SW Florida listings. Much serious study is continuously given to what works best when it comes to listing Your Home’s SW Florida Listing is the Sum of Parts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs!language and detail, yet a good deal remains a purely creative exercise.

That qualifying “somewhat” is necessary because creating a SW Florida listing does have a scientific component. In fact, of the two most important elements (that is, the two that listing readers pay the most attention to), one is mathematical. The first is the artistic “hero shot” photo of the home, ideally pictured at its curb-appealing best. The second is the asking price, which is an unambiguous number of dollars.

The photo grabs attention either by fitting a pleasing archetype—or by just being pretty. The asking price number works (or fails to work) by either being too high, just right, or intriguingly low. If it’s too high, the listing price can sometimes draw further attention out of curiosity (“what are they thinking?”)—but will probably result in listing readers moving on. If the number is just right or lower than expected, serious house hunters will be engaged—taking the first step toward a showing and sale.

Further down as influencers are each of the listed facts about the property. Any one or two of these might either pique Your Home’s SW Florida Listing is the Sum of Parts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs!further interest or take the place out of the running. But SW Florida listings also contain another creative element: the language. Modifying adjectives can persuade by setting a mood or a tone—or even making a promise. Accuracy is paramount—when I compose a listing, I’m summoning the most exciting language that accurately describes the property, because exaggerating can spoil the atmosphere when we get to the showing stage.

A few years back, IBM’s app Wordle was used to address the question of what the most frequently used listing words were. After analyzing 300,000 listings, the resulting compilation demonstrates that almost all the top rankers had adjectives attached:

  1. Beautiful
  2. Hardwood (with “floors”)
  3. stainless (with “steel appliances”)
  4. private
  5. great (with “room”)
  6. dream
  7. granite
  8. wood burning (with “fireplace”)

Your Home’s SW Florida Listing is the Sum of Parts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs!There were also some creative action-oriented phrases:

  1. Priced to sell
  2. Build your dream (with “home” or “house”)
  3. Must see
  4. Move-in ready

Your Home’s SW Florida Listing is the Sum of Parts, Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs! Listings are the Grand Opening of the business venture that is the selling of your {Your Town} home. I make it a focus as we launch that venture—but it’s only one step in the process that ultimately ends in your handing off the front door keys to your satisfied customer!

SW Florida Borrowers See Slight Fall in Mortgage Interest Rates, Naples, Isles Of Capri, Estero!

 SW Florida Borrowers See Slight Fall in Mortgage Interest Rates, Naples, Isles Of Capri, Estero! It was fairly clear that the table had been set for last week’s Federal Reserve meeting to result in a minimal rise in mortgage interest rates. Their Fed Funds rate directly influences the mortgage interest rates that banks observe. Since SW Florida real estate activity SW Florida Borrowers See Slight Fall in Mortgage Interest Rates, Naples, Isles Of Capri, Estero!can be spurred or dampened by the monthly payment amounts SW Florida mortgage lenders offer applicants, this national story has meaningful local repercussions.

It wound up as a non-event that nonetheless spawned action—albeit in a minor way. In May, Chair Yellen had said that a rate increase would be “appropriate” over the summer months. In the lead-up to last week’s meeting, other Fed governors had strongly implied that it was now time for a slight Fed Funds bump.

Still, most commentators kept their prognostications vague; they had been vociferously anticipating a move for many cycles, only to hear serial postponements from the Fed. In addition to having been burnt before by Fed head fakes, there was also another reason why a no-go might happen this time around. Regardless of what the jawboning had been, economic and employment growth was still stuck in first gear—and a rate hike could retard improvement.

The commentators weren’t wrong to hold fire. Once again, the Fed did nothing (except make even more noise about an SW Florida Borrowers See Slight Fall in Mortgage Interest Rates, Naples, Isles Of Capri, Estero!interest rate hike…later).

Yet, even so, the market forces that nudge mortgage interest rates one way or the other did seem to react. After the non-announcement, rates barely budged at first—but then continued steadily lower (the lowest in weeks, in fact). By week’s end, the Mortgage News Daily announced that the string of moves had brought mortgage interest rates into a “post-Brexit range”—similar to the conditions “that sent rates plunging toward all-time lows.”

SW Florida Borrowers See Slight Fall in Mortgage Interest Rates, Naples, Isles Of Capri, Estero!The reasons last week were less than certain, although frustration with the Fed’s lack of coherence was fairly unanimous. CNBC interviewed big time investment manager Bill Gross, who said that investors were left “very confused” by the meeting’s outcome. He pointed to the likely rate raise that Yellen had emphasized at last month’s Jackson Hole speech, as well as to Fed Vice Chair Stan Fischer’s earlier assurance that there would be two hikes this year.

All this left {Your Town} mortgage interest rate watchers to make their own assessments about what to expect for future conditions—most importantly, whether current favorable low-interest rates could be counted on for long. There had been at least one indicator that optimists could welcome. Almost unnoticed was a footnote to the Fed’s announcement. Back in June, the Fed had predicted the lending rate to end 2016 at .9 percent. It now said the likely number would be .6%. That would result in {Your Town} mortgage interest rates still comfortably in the historically low range—hardly a flashing red light for would-be borrowers.

SW Florida Borrowers See Slight Fall in Mortgage Interest Rates, Naples, Isles Of Capri, Estero! Wherever the Fed heads eventually, it’s indisputable that right now SW Florida mortgage interest rates remain fetching low—creating rare opportunities for buyers and sellers both. Why not give me a call to explore how you can take advantage today?