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  

Easter Weekend Open House Saturday 10-1pm…..Egg-Ceptional Value, under $100 per SQ FT

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

Collier, Lee among Florida’s healthiest counties

Affluent St. Johns and Collier counties remain Florida’s healthiest communities, while the rural regions continue to suffer some of the highest rates of mental illness, substance abuse, and premature death, a new report finds.

Lee County ranks fairly high — now in 12th place in Florida — and is up from 20th place just two years ago, according to the 2017 County Health Rankings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The annual report assesses U.S. counties based on their economic health, crime, premature deaths, health insurance coverage, medical resources and a number of behavioral factors, such as smoking and drinking rates.

“We still have work to do in this community,” said Mary Andrews, who helps oversee community health initiatives for the Lee Health hospital system in Lee County. “But this type of information helps us design the types of plans that will be the most effective.”

Union County, home to about 16,000 residents and a maximum security prison, ranked last in Florida.

Some report highlights about Southwest Florida:

  • About 15 percent of Lee and Collier residents reported they were in “poor” or “fair” health. Florida’s overall rate is 17 percent.
  • Rates of obesity in Lee and Collier were 25 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Statewide, it’s 26 percent.
  • About 13 percent of Collier County adults smoke, and 16 percent do in Lee County. About 15 percent of all Florida adults still smoke.

The Healthy Lee initiative, a decade-old project to promote healthy living in Lee County, will produce its own report on the community’s health this summer.

While Lee County’s rankings have moved around year to year, Collier’s have consistently ranked high. It also earned the nation’s top spot in the Gallup-Healthways “well-being index.”

“It’s no surprise that Collier remains one of the healthiest counties to live in Florida,” said Stephanie Vick, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Collier County, in a written statement. “We enjoy great weather year-round, have access to beautiful beaches and parks, have a robust health care system, opportunities to participate in community-wide health initiatives, enjoy low crime rates, and our children attend a healthy school system.”

Affluence is generally a good predictor of a community’s health ranking.  St. Johns and Collier counties have the highest median incomes in the state: $71,896 and $62,385, respectively.

While Union County’s median household income rate of $41,078 isn’t the lowest in Florida, it is below the state average.

But such lists can also overshadow a community’s deficiencies. For instance, about 26 percent of Collier County residents under 65 were uninsured in 2014 — the sixth highest rate in Florida.

“Sometimes a high-ranking county can kind of mask what’s going on,” said Kate Konkle, an associate researcher at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. “Not everyone in the county may be feeling like that’s an accurate picture of what they’re experiencing.”

This year, the report took a deeper look at deaths among people younger than 75. Drug overdoses, particularly among opioid abusers, are behind a “dramatic increase” in deaths among 15- to 44-year-olds in recent years, the report found.

Experts had assumed this was predominantly a problem in small, rural areas, Konkle said.

“And it certainly is, but what our researchers found was that, actually, the suburban counties went from the lowest rates of premature deaths due to overdoses to the highest within a decade,” she said. “I think many of us were surprised to see that.”

The highest rates of drug overdose deaths in Florida were in Dixie (31 per 100,000 residents) and Manatee (29 per 100,000 residents) counties. Lee and Collier’s rates were 13 and 12 per 100,000 residents, respectively.

Forty-six Florida counties saw overall improvements in premature death rates, including Lee and Collier. Two, Citrus and Gilchrist, saw worsening rates.

Daniel’s Land Project

Changes in county land use rules that could bring another 2,000 homes to sites near Daniels Parkway will go before county commissioners in the coming weeks.

Neighbors of one are battling against the change, while the other faces little opposition.

A county panel that makes recommendations to county commissioners on changes in the Lee Plan, the county’s basic land planning document, has endorsed the development of 1,315 new homes on a site at Daniels and State Road 82 that’s currently a part of the protected Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource area.

The Local Planning Agency gave a negative recommendation to a county proposal that would rezone an area at Palomino and Apaloosa lanes off Daniels to allow an additional 693 housing units.


Read More:
New Daniel’s Complex

 

 

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)

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.

Construction Companies See Increase In Groundbreakings

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Dirt is flying throughout Southwest Florida.

Many construction companies are seeing an uptick in groundbreaking projects, and for an industry notably impacted by the recession, this is a welcomed — and long awaited — indicator.

“I’d definitely think it’s an improvement over where we’ve been the past four years,” said Jeff Hunt, president of EHC Inc.

EHC is a Naples-based construction company that provides pre-construction, earthwork and infrastructure services. It broke ground on five projects during the first quarter, bringing its total to nine active projects in Southwest Florida.

Its most visible groundbreaking is the Hertz global headquarters being built in Estero. EHC won the multimillion-dollar contract by Turner Construction Co. for phase I to provide earthwork and infrastructure services, such as clearing, excavation, grading, paving, off-site improvements, underground utilities, sidewalks and site amenities.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” he said. “It’s a high-profile job.”

Rich Broome, executive vice president of corporate affairs and communications for Hertz, said the global headquarters hasn’t really begun excavating yet because it took a little longer to complete financing. However, he expects it will begin this month. And Hunt said EHC has begun other parts of the contract, such as clearing and preparation for the site work. Excavating is only a small part of the contract.

EHC is also working on a new Sam’s Club at Pine Island Road and Hancock Bridge Parkway in Cape Coral, as well as various transportation improvement projects.

During the past several years, Hunt said the available private sector work has been mainly small, in-fill commercial projects, and the company survived on transportation and government-based projects. It was only recently, he said, that larger private sector work in commercial, retail and office buildings picked back up.

“All the other industries that we service … that’s coming back online,” he said.

Yet EHC isn’t the only company with a surge of groundbreakings.

“This is the year that you’re going to see commercial new construction,” said Gary Tasman, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida.

Tasman said the uptick in commercial construction is caused by a combination of things: commercial land prices are still low, construction costs are increasing but not as high as most people expect they’ll be, the housing market is recovering, there’s a low interest rate environment and impact fees have been reduced.

DeAngelis Diamond Construction Inc., based in Naples, has started 10 projects since December.

“We see a very good ’14 and a very good ’15,” said Jay Waltbillig, principal and vice president of DeAngelis Diamond Construction.

One of its bigger projects is The Arlington of Naples senior living community. DeAngelis Diamond Construction started its roughly $70 million project in December, and this is a joint venture with Archer Western.

DeAngelis Diamond Construction also began work on a memory care facility at Terracina Grand, and it recently broke ground on a fire station for the North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District.

Waltbillig said senior living has become a large market, and the fastest growing, for the company, but it has also seen an increase in new construction for private sector commercial projects and multifamily living projects.

GCG Construction Inc. in Estero finished renovating the headquarters for Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida in December. The same month, it began construction for a 6,500-square-foot Goodwill Retail & Donation Center in Moore Haven.

It’s renovating MarineMax Naples and expects to begin work on an Enterprise Rent-A-Car in May.

 

New EHC projects

EHC Inc., a Naples-based construction company that provides pre-construction, earthwork and infrastructure services, broke ground on five projects during the first quarter of 2014:

Hertz global headquarters in Estero

A contract by Turner Construction Co. to develop phase I of the Hertz global headquarters in Estero.

Sam’s Club in Cape Coral

EHC is working with R.A. Rogers Construction Co. to develop about 38 acres for a new Sam’s Club at the intersection of Pine Island Road and Hancock Bridge Parkway.

U.S. 41 and County Road 951 Intersection Improvements in Naples

Community Asphalt Corp. has engaged EHC to perform earthwork and infrastructure services for the U.S. 41 and County Road 951 intersection improvements in Naples.

Winchester Boulevard Extension in Englewood

Zep Construction awarded EHC a contract to provide site construction services for a nearly three-mile extension of Winchester Boulevard in Englewood.

I-75 bridge upgrade over the Caloosahatchee River

EHC is teaming up with Ajax Paving Industries to provide the base rock layer for the asphalt portions for the I-75 bridge project over the Caloosahatchee River.

The State of the Union is Getting Better for Homeownership

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WASHINGTON (January 28, 2014) – The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown:

“NAR commends President Obama for highlighting two key policy reforms during his State of the Union address tonight that support the future of homeownership and the business of real estate.

“Realtors® welcome the President’s call for legislation to keep the dream of homeownership alive for all Americans while protecting taxpayers from the risk of costly bailouts. NAR supports bipartisan legislation in the Senate that will restructure the secondary mortgage market to encourage private capital while also preserving the government guarantee so that middle-class homebuyers continue to have access to safe, reliable mortgage products, such as 30-and 15-year fixed-rate loans.

“President Obama also called on Congress to pass legislation to curtail the frivolous patent infringement lawsuits and licensing schemes that have unnecessarily cost Realtors® and other main street businesses valuable resources. NAR is working closely with legislators and allies to draft patent reforms that will combat these abusive trolling practices.

“NAR is ready and willing to work with President Obama and Congress to develop sound policies to promote and protect the American dream of homeownership.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.