Pending Home Sales Leap 5.5% in February

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2017) — Pending home sales rebounded sharply in February to their highest level in nearly a year and second-highest level in over a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions saw a notable hike in contract activity last month.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* www.nar.realtor/topics/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, jumped 5.5 percent to 112.3 in February from 106.4 in January. Last month’s index reading is 2.6 percent above a year ago, is the highest since last April (113.6) and the second highest since May 2006 (112.5).

https://www.nar.realtor/news-releases/2017/03/pending-home-sales-leap-55-in-february  

The good ole days……. so they thought

Like any frontier town, Cape Coral’s first businesses included a grocery, a bank, a newspaper and, well, like any Florida frontier town, a realty—aptly named Wonderland Realty, as most early buyers were wondering what they had gotten themselves into. They seemed to be abandoned in the middle of a strip-mining operation. In one direction, nothing but miles of white sand and raw canal banks; in the other, glittering water. They were marooned in “Wonderland.”  more

The Top 3 Hottest Real Estate Markets

Trulia recently published its list of the 10 hottest real estate markets to watch in 2017, and-no surprise-several coastal markets made the list. Trulia based its ranking of the 100 largest metro areas across the country on five criteria: a high search interest, a decreasing rate of vacancy, high affordability, a high rate of job growth, and a high population of people happy with the outcome of the presidential election.

The “hottest” markets vary depending on who you talk to-Zillow’s ranking of the hottest markets of the year looked very different. But if you’re looking for coastal real estate in an affordable city that has few people moving out of it, this list of the hottest coastal markets of 2017 might offer some suggestions. If you’re looking to capitalize on the recovering housing market and purchase your dream coastal escape, consider these hot markets:

1. JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA

Number one overall and number one on the coastal list, Jacksonville has a high rate of job growth and high interest from out-of-towners looking to move there. Best of all, it’s more affordable than other, similar markets in the state.

2. CAPE CORAL-FORT MYERS, FLORIDA

Coming in at number two both overall and for coastal metro areas, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area on Florida’s Gulf Coast has the fourth-highest rate of job growth in the country and a falling vacancy rate as people flock to its sunny shores.

3. DELTONA-DAYTONA BEACH-ORMOND BEACH, FLORIDA

Number three for coastal areas and number three overall on Trulia’s list, this area on Florida’s Atlantic side has a rate of job growth to match the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area and a great ratio of people looking to move there vs. people looking to move away-not to mention its long, sunny days and high temperatures year-round.

4. TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG-CLEARWATER, FLORIDA

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area is on the Tampa Bay, on Florida’s Gulf side. It came in at five overall but is number four for coastal areas, with great job growth and affordability.

5. CHARLESTON-NORTH CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Charleston has been in the spotlight as a tourist hotspot so much lately that it’s not surprising that it’s also a great place to move. Ranked number seven overall and number five for coastal areas, this Lowcountry port city has a huge number of people looking to move there (while few are looking to move away), good affordability, and decent job growth-and an amazing culinary scene.

The next five coastal cities share the previous five’s high interest, good affordability, and job growth. Read on for the next best coastal areas to live:

6. NORTH PORT-SARASOTA-BRADENTON, FLORIDA

7. WEST PALM BEACH-BOCA RATON-DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA

8. FORT LAUDERDALE-POMPANO BEACH-DEERFIELD BEACH, FLORIDA

9. NEW ORLEANS-METAIRIE, LOUISIANA

10. SAN DIEGO-CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA

This article was originally published on CoastalLiving.com

Forclosures Decline, Home Sales Up!

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The median price of an existing single-family home in Lee County was $200,000 in June — an 8.1 percent increase from $185,000 in June 2013.

Also, sales of existing homes in Lee County in June spiked up from the same period last year, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach. However, the number of sales and the size of inventory decreased slightly from May.

Steve Koffman, broker and associate for Century 21 Sunbelt Realty in Cape Coral, said only the median price is up.

“If you look at waterfront properties, those prices are looking pretty flat,” Koffman said.

In May, the median price for a house was $195,000.

In June, there were 1,213 single-family sales, up 15.3 percent from last years’ 1,052 sales. Despite the increase, single-family home sales are down 6.2 percent from May 2014’s 1,293 sales.

“Buyers, in general, are declining,” Koffman said.

Short sales and foreclosures made up 20.1 percent of single-family home sales in June, while traditional sales made up 79.9 percent. Short sales and foreclosuresmade up 22.3 percent of sales in May 2014.

“Foreclosures and short sales are declining,” he said. “Those were remnants of people affected by the real estate crash.”

In Collier County, the median price for a house rose to $392,000 from $322,000 in June 2013.

 

The existing homes market is starting to level off from the real estate crash eight years ago.

The inventory of single-family homes for sale in June was 5,229, up 5.5 percent from June 2013. June’s inventory was down 311 from May 2014.

Increased prices gives people a chance to put their homes up for sale and then become buyers.

 

Foreclosure rates in Cape Coral-Fort Myers decreased for the month of May over the same period last year.

Information compiled by CoreLogic reveals that the rate of Cape Coral-Fort Myers area foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans was 4.02 percent for May, a decrease of 3.11 percent in May 2013 when the rate was 7.13 percent. Foreclosure activity in Cape Coral-Fort Myers was higher than the national foreclosure rate, which was 1.73 percent in May.

Also, the mortgage delinquency rate in Cape Coral-Fort Myers decreased. In May, 7.27 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent compared to 11.25 percent for the same period last year, representing a decrease of 3.98 percent.

Source: CoreLogic

Highlights from reports

  • Highlights from the June 2014 existing homes reports:
  • In Lee, the median price of condos increased 5.6 percent in June to $171,000 from the $162,000 it was in June 2013.
  • The percentage of sellers getting the original listing price was 92.8. This is a 1.1 percent decrease from the 93.8 percent it was in June 2013.
  • The median days home was on the market in June was 53. This is a 7 percent decrease from June 2013, which was 57 days.
  • In Collier, closed sales on houses jumped to 419 from 408 in June 2013. Sales at $2 million or more declined to 16 from 22 in June 2013.

Sources: Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and The Beach; Naples Area Board of Realtors

Look For Us In This Saturday’s News-Press!

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This Saturday’s Issue of The News-Press features TechVenture Real Estate and largest unit located in the luxurious Marina South at Cape Harbour!
click here for details!

Plenty Cooking Outdoors

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 7.50.03 AMHomes in Southwest Florida are bringing the inside outside. All the comforts of home from the plush couches to dining room tables to state-of-the-art kitchens are heading outdoors. A huge trend in outdoor living keeps getting bigger and more elaborate in new homes.

It used to be that homeowners wanted a small covered area on their lanai for a gas grill and a table to eat outside. Now the stand-alone grill is something of the past. The new outdoor kitchens have everything from grills and slow cookers to stovetops and refrigerators. The tables have gone from plastic to metal or glass and the seating from wooden chairs with a cushion to full couches.

“Everyone has an outdoor kitchen,” said Nicky Weston, marketing manager for London Bay Homes. “That one I do have in every house. That is important to every client that I have. I haven’t met one that doesn’t want an outdoor kitchen.”

London’s Bay’s new Brighton model not only has an outdoor kitchen and living area, but a design that keeps the flooring, ceiling and furniture inside and outside streamline so with the doors pushed fully open it is hard to tell where the inside ends and the outside begins.

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 7.50.16 AMBuilders say it’s a lifestyle that their clients clamor for.

“We hear a lot of times people get off work and they want to be outside,” explained Dan Dodrill, owner of Daniel Wayne Homes. “I just live out there. We have a barbecue, nice furniture, TV, fireplace.

It’s a lifestyle. They say they just want to live out there, retreat and really enjoy the Southwest Florida weather.”

Snowbirds spend their time here when the weather is at its best. They don’t have to worry about the heat and bugs. They are also grateful to be away from the snow and cold and want to take advantage of the outdoors.

Dennis Casey loves his huge lanai that feels like an extension of his Quail West home.

“That adds 1,000 square feet to the house,” Casey said. “When we’re down there we spend a lot of time outside so that the outdoors are important, not just for entertaining, but for living.

That living just keeps getting bigger and more elaborate, local developers say.

“It used to be just a niche for a gas grill,” described Karen Tracey of Tracey Quality Building. “Now it is much bigger and they want the outdoor living atmosphere.”

“This is a big trend. They want lots of room for outdoor entertaining,” added Rob Woods, vice president of Michelangelo Custom Homes.

Don Krispin had a Michelangelo home built in Miromar Lakes and loves the outdoor living his home provides.

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 7.50.25 AM“The attention to architectural detail is second to none, and it just allows for the full enjoyment of the outdoor living that Florida offers,” Krispin said. “We have a covered lanai with roll-up screens, huge pool area, and a cabana house as well, which is sort of unique.”

Some of the more upscale homes have lanais with screens that roll down from the covered portion of the outdoors. That allows residents to have an unobstructed view when there are no bugs and nice weather, yet roll down the screens when needed.

“Especially in season we all want to be outdoors,” said Regan Reed, owner of Croix Interiors. “That’s why they buy in Naples.”

(via NewsPress)

8 Stunning Florida Towns You NEED To Visit!

Florida’s a big state, and possibly the best one to road trip through!

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1. For secluded and untouched beauty, visit Sanibel Island.

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You won’t find many buildings that are taller than a palm tree on Sanibel Island, and that’s because the city has taken careful measures to preserve the natural beauty of the area. The town is markedly devoid of fast food restaurants, which were banned, and even stoplights. So get ready to step into a world that feels totally removed from the norm.

Where to stay: For an all-inclusive resort, stay at Casa Ybel, which is right on the Gulf Of Mexico and features a spa and gourmet dining. And if you’d prefer something cozy, the Mango Street Inn B&B is perfect.
Where to eat: Don’t let the name fool you, The Mad Hatter restaurant is excellent fine dining and seafood; you’ll want to take home the hot sauce from Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grill.
What to do: Do the “Sanibel Stoop,” which is when you stoop down to collect some of the 250 different kinds of shells found on the island.

2. If you’re looking for fresh seafood, sponges, and Greek culture, visit Tarpon Springs.

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Tarpon Springs is a riverfront town with a historic downtown district and brick streets. It’s also heavily influenced by Greek culture — the Greeks began to immigrate there in the 1880s when they were hired to harvest sponges — and as you walk down the main drag you’ll find authentic foods, like moussaka and baklava.

Where to stay: The 1910 Inn is packed with charm and fresh bread baked daily.
Where to eat: Get a Greek combo platter at Mama’s, then indulge in some spanakopita at Hellas.
What to do: Shop for fresh sponges along the famous sponge docks; If you’re there in January, make sure to watch the Epiphany celebration held each year.

3. If you’re longing for white sand and outdoor adventures, look no further than Santa Rosa Beach.

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Santa Rosa Beach is all white sugar sand and nestled along a 26-mile stretch of Florida’s Emerald Coast. It’s home to a unique artist colony, as well as the Point Washington State Forest, a 15,000-acre preserve, making this town one of those rare places where you can go from luxury to the rugged outdoors easily.

Where to stay: If you’re traveling with a family, the WaterColor Inn & Resort will have everyone covered. Or if you’re looking for something outdoorsy, pitch a tent in the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.
Where to eat: If you’re in need of a lively atmosphere, head to The Red Bar for live music and fresh grouper. Be sure to save room for a slice of key lime pie at Christiano’s.
What to do: Catch a concert at the Seaside Amphitheater, or rent a kayak and sail down the breathtaking Dune Lakes.

 

4. Delray Beach is a slice of paradise you won’t want to miss.

 

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Delray Beach was named the Most Fun Small Town in America in 2012 by USA Today, which probably has something to do with the busy downtown area. You can sip wine as you roam through a gallery art walk, or snorkel through a sunken steamship during the day.

Where to stay: If you’re looking for cozy and fun, then Crane’s BeachHouse — with 27 guest suites and live music on the weekends — is ideal. While the Sundy House is perfect for a romantic getaway, with just 11 guest accommodations, private gardens, and an all-natural pool so you can swim with tropical fish.
Where to eat: Sip sangria and share tapas at Papa’s, or get your fill of oysters at the J&J Seafood Bar.
What to do: Walk across the three-mile boardwalk on the Wakodahatchee Wetlands to try and spot alligators and identify the more than 140 different species of birds.

 

5. For a quintessential beach town, it’s Destin for the win.

 

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Most people go to Destin for the unbelievable beaches, and it’s easy to see why: They’re quite perfect. Plus, there’s a fun (and free!) boardwalk to stroll on. If you’re looking for loads of outdoor action, Destin is a great spot to visit.

Where to stay: The Sandestin resort is in a great location and perfect for those who have some cash to burn. But if you want to stay outdoors, you can set up camp at Henderson Beach State Park.
Where to eat: You can literally have dinner on the sand at the Beach Walk Cafe, or get your fill of seafood at the Louisiana Lagniappe, which also serves complimentary hush puppies with every meal.
What to do: Take a professional sand sculpting class from the masters, and wade around Crab Island, which is a part of the beach where the water is waist deep and floating vendors (think ice cream and sandwiches) cater to your every whim. Also, if you’re a movie buff, take a detour to Seaside, Fla., where The Truman Show was filmed.

6. For southern charm in a small town, take a side trip to Mount Dora.

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Located more centrally in Florida, Mount Dora is a sleepy little town with enough charm to knock you off your feet. The historic downtown area is packed with boutiques, local coffee shops, and events like the annual art festival. If you’re in the mood for some southern charm, and wraparound porches, then definitely stop here.

Where to stay: For a little slice of history, stay at the 130-year-old Lakeside Inn (President Calvin Coolidge vacationed there for a month!) Or for a cozier stay, try the Heron Cay B&B.
Where to eat: You can devour a pulled pork sandwich and top it off with some key lime pie at Sugarboo’s BBQ. Or grab some authentic Cuban food at Copacabana.
What to do: Do you like antiques? Get ready to shop in the two enormous markets. Then grab a Mount Dora brew at the brewing company. Or take an eco boat tour around Lake Dora and learn about the Spanish moss. There’s an adorable farmer’s market with fresh seafood, local crafts, and produce.

7. Don’t miss visiting America’s oldest city: St. Augustine

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St. Augustine is America’s oldest city. It was founded by the Spanish and settled in 1565, and because of that it has a lot of history to explore.

Where to stay: The St. George Inn is located smack in the middle of the historic district and even has a view of the oldest masonry fort in the U.S., the Castillo de San Marco.
Where to eat: For perfect cocktails, go to the Ice Plant Bar, and The Floridian has amazing options for vegans and omnivores.
What to do: The most unique part of St. Augustine is just how historic it is. Make sure to see the Castillo, Fort Matanzas, the city gate, and the oldest wooden schoolhouse in America.

8. For underrated history and serene beaches, check out Fort Myers

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Certain areas of Fort Myers are more bustling than others, but the historic district is quaint and lined with hip bars, galleries, and plenty of trendy restaurants. The real highlight, though, are the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, both of which are still intact and worth a trip.

Where to stay: The Mango Street Inn is a B&B that’s run by a husband-and-wife team who cook up gourmet breakfasts just a short walk from the beach.
Where to eat: Start your day off right with a cinnamon roll from Heavenly Biscuit, and get your fix of southern comfort food, like shrimp and grits, at Fancy’s.
What to do: Did you know that Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were buddies? Well, they were. So much so that they owned adjacent homes where they spent their winters. You can visit both of them and walk through Edison’s laboratory and Ford’s garage. It’s well preserved and absolutely fascinating.
& Why not stay? TechVenture Real Estate would love to show you the beautiful homes and golf course communities while you’re in town, such as The Renaissance Country Club!
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Foreclosures Stay Low in Lee County

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Lee County continued its streak of pre-recession-level foreclosure numbers in May while residential home permits for the month showed continuing strength. Lenders filed a mere 188 foreclosure lawsuits in May, according to statistics released Monday by the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investment Association. May’s number came on the heels of April’s 195 foreclosures, the lowest since mid-2006. That returned the county to a time before the avalanche of defaults that followed the implosion of home prices at the end of 2005. Complete numbers for home permits issued throughout the county weren’t available Monday but early indications were for a strong home construction market. Builders in unincorporated Lee County pulled 88 permits in May, up from 68 in April and 80 in May 2013. In Cape Coral, 56 permits were pulled. That was up from 54 in April and 42 in May 2014. “Welcome to the new normal,” said Jeff Tumbarello, director of the investment association and owner/broker of Steelbridge Realty in North Fort Myers. “We’re pretty much just a normal market again and with twice the national cash percentage, that’s a beautiful thing.”

Tim Rose, president of Fort Myers-based Arthur Rutenberg Homes, said May’s numbers reflect the number of new residences sold about two months earlier, when sales were solid but “relatively quiet.” However, he said, “The second quarter picked up quite a bit” both in Southwest Florida and around the state. The late season came as a surprise, Rose said. “It’s unusual. Nobody has been able to put their finger on it. Has the weather affected people being able to get down here?” Tumbarello said he expects the continuing drought in foreclosures to keep the market for existing homes tight without the constant flow of homes being taken back by lenders and re-sold. Also, he said, there should be upward pressure on prices because buyers won’t be able to buy cheap from banks forced to sell large numbers of houses they’ve taken back. “Now they’ve got to buy the home from the guy who’s owned it for who knows how many years and isn’t concerned with blowing it out like the bank,” Tumbarello said. Besides Cape Coral and Lee County, numbers were released by Sanibel (three permits) and Fort Myers Beach (one permit). Numbers from Fort Myers and Bonita Springs weren’t available Monday.

 

Cash Rules Southwest Florida Home Sales

Cash is king in Southwest Florida where the certainty of a quick, uncomplicated home sale can trump a higher offer that’s at the mercy of a bank loan officer.

That’s what local buyers, sellers and brokers alike say, and the sentiment is borne out by a recent report by Irvine, Calif.-based housing data company RealtyTrac.

Among metro areas with 500,000 or more residents, Cape Coral-Fort Myers is No. 1 with 73.6 percent of its home deals in cash in the first quarter, according to the report.

 

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The Naples area wasn’t included in the report because it has fewer than 500,000 residents.

“It’s amazing how much cash offers there are,” said Courtney Neuhausel, co-owner of Fort Myers-based Sandbill Homes, which buys and sells homes and property. “You would think things would be tighter” with the recession still vivid in people’s memories.

He cited an example of a purchase brokered by Sandbill in which the buyer “offered $20,000 under list price, and the seller took it just to have the comfort of knowing it was a done deal.”

But deals don’t always play out that way, Neuhausel said, because someone in no hurry to sell won’t be swayed by the prospects of a speedy transaction.

Still, he said, some sellers — especially of land — buy and sell at a rapid pace and won’t deal with anything but cash offers because they can’t afford the delays and the uncertainty that go with financing.

When Sandbill buys land, Neuhausel said, he has to close the deal quickly and irrevocably. “If I have a nonretractable contract and I put $5,000 down, I don’t want to walk away from that money.”

Jeff Tumbarello, owner/broker of North Fort Myers-based Steelbridge Realty, said the difference between cash and carry can cut both ways.

A cash buyer using his own money might be unwilling to bid up to the price needed to close the deal in a rising market, he said, while “a leveraged buyer will pay more” because he’s financing the deal with a loan.

In that case, Tumbarello said, “the narrative favors the leveraged buyers, who are able to respond more to the sellers.”

Bob Knight, co-owner of Cape Coral-based Paul Homes, said that for a buyer having a house built, there’s been a recent shift back toward financing.

“During the recession it was more cash for building new construction because it was difficult to get financing,” he said. “Banks were still reeling because of what happened. Now, in the past 18 months, the banks have opened up a lot more.”

As a result, Knight said, some of his clients who have the wherewithal to simply write a check are financing because low interest rates make that a more attractive proposition.

From a builder’s perspective it’s a wash, he said. On the one hand, “With the bank, the money’s in place and it will be to the end of the project. It’s more work, though, dealing with the bank’s regulations.”

Dealing directly with a buyer is generally simpler but the builder has to make sure he’s good for the total cost of the project,” Knight said. In the end, “It’s probably about the same amount of time.”

Mike Diamond, of Diamond Custom Homes, who builds upscale houses in Lee and Collier counties, said his clients generally can pay cash although sometimes they choose strategically to use a private banker or a line of equity. “Most of these people aren’t obtaining a mortgage.”

Also, he said, a lot of customers simply have a lot of cash lying around with no attractive options to invest it: interest rates are low and the stock market is arguably over-bought after five years of strong gains.

“There’s just a lot of cash on the sidelines,” Diamond said.

Zillow: Buy A Home In Southwest Florida

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To the age-old question of whether to buy or rent, Zillow has an answer: buy if you live in Southwest Florida.

The Seattle-based real estate data collector says in a recent survey that people in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Hendry counties have better odds than most of the country of coming out ahead if they buy.

Nationally, buying is a good decision for people who plan to stay in the home for at least two years, according to an analysis of first-quarter financial data.

But what Zillow calls the “breakeven horizon” is much shorter here: 1.1 years for Lee County; 1.0 for Collier; 1.1 for Charlotte; and 0.7 for Hendry.

Commercial real estate agent Jim Garinger of Colliers International Southwest Florida said Zillow’s analysis is borne out by what he sees in the apartment complex market.

“Traditional apartment complex occupancy has become stronger over the past 12 months or so,” he said. “There’s been a significant increase across the board but especially in Class B apartments.”

As that’s happened, rents have increased as well, Garinger said.

The average apartment complex in the Fort Myers area in March had a vacancy rate of 96.7 percent, up 1.8 percent from March 2013, according to Carrollton, Texas-based ALN Apartment Data.

In the same period, the average monthly rent rose 7.9 percent to $920, ALN’s report says.

Even as occupancy rates and values rise for apartments, however, lenders are still skittish about financing multi-family housing, Garinger said.

“Lenders are still looking at comparable sales as distressed properties,” which makes them reluctant to finance purchases or new construction, he said.

That problem will resolve itself with time, Garinger said, but meanwhile “If you’re a renter, it’s a great time to buy if you can swing it. As occupancy rates increase, rents are increasing as well.”

Home prices are also going up and interest rates are still historically low, contributing to the advantage of buying, he said.

There’s no shortage of prospective home buyers.

The share of Americans who own their homes was 64.8 percent in the first quarter, down from 65.2 percent in the previous three months, the Census Bureau said. The rate is the lowest since the second quarter of 1995, when it was 64.7 percent.