Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

May 10, 2024

Ideal Floor Plan Essentials

If you’ve been dreaming of your perfect home, you’ve undoubtedly imagined the configuration of the rooms and how it feels to live in those spaces. Whether you are trying to find an existing property that meets your needs or considering building a newly constructed home, it’s essential to evaluate a home’s layout thoroughly.

Here are eight essential factors to consider when contemplating whether a floor plan works for you! 

1. People and priorities

Who will be living in your home now and in the foreseeable future? How will they spend their time, and how does this translate into living spaces?

For example, if you or someone living with you works from home, a quiet space for a home office could be mandatory. 

If you love to cook and entertain, a large kitchen and room to host gatherings may be a top priority. 

If your household includes extended family or grown children, how does this impact the number of rooms you’ll need and their locations?

Maybe you have a small business making and selling items out of your home. In that case, finding space for these activities might be essential.

Consider all the ways you'll want to use your home and define what's essential versus nice in terms of the rooms' number, type, and size.

2. Room arrangement

Once you’ve established your priorities, evaluate any homes you’re considering through the lens of room arrangement. 

Remember, two houses may have similar square footage and the same number and types of rooms but still feel completely different inside. 

From a design perspective, a floor plan should successfully arrange the rooms into three major groupings: 

Living areas - Shared spaces for dining, relaxing, and entertaining.

Workspaces - Where the stuff of home life gets done. Think kitchens, laundry rooms, and utility rooms. 

Private rooms - Quiet spaces for sleeping and concentrating, such as bedrooms and home offices.

Ideally, private spaces are set apart from busy and potentially noisy rooms.

Also, do you prefer an open floor plan with clear sight lines between the kitchen, dining, and family rooms? Or would you like to separate these spaces with full or partial walls? Each approach has advantages and disadvantages.

3. Traffic flow

When evaluating the rooms’ arrangement, consider how you’ll move within and between them. For example, will you need to carry bags of groceries through the family room to reach the kitchen? How many steps will you take to set the table and serve food?

4. Furniture placement

If you already own furniture, how can it be positioned within a prospective home’s floor plan? Ideally, everything will fit nicely, so you can minimize the need to purchase new and potentially expensive pieces.

5. Are pets in the picture?

If your household includes dogs, cats, or other pets, you’ll want to consider whether a home’s layout accommodates their needs, too. 

For example, how will dogs (with wet and muddy paws) travel in and out of the house? Are the doorways narrow enough to add pet gates, if needed, to keep your dog in or out of certain rooms?

Of course, there are numerous ways to make any home more pet-friendly, regardless of its layout.

6. Storage spaces 

Ideally, a floor plan includes enough closets and cabinets to store your personal and household belongings. If not, are there spaces where you can add shelving or hooks to hang items? 

Does the home include an attic, a basement, or a garage for storing infrequently used items? 

7. Look at lighting 

When evaluating a floor plan, examine the exterior walls to see where windows are positioned, their size, and their orientation to the sun. These factors say a lot about how much natural light enters the home throughout the day.  

Many homebuyers prefer abundant natural light (especially if they like to grow indoor plants). But direct sunlight also fades fabrics and hardwood floors. You may need to move your furniture and rugs periodically so color changes are less dramatic.

8. Can you modify the floor plan?

Before rejecting a home, consider ways to make minor adjustments that optimize its space. For example, if the main bedroom doesn’t have a closet but is adjacent to a small low-priority bedroom, can you convert it into a walk-in closet?

As you evaluate your options, remember that moving or removing load-bearing walls is typically more difficult and expensive than partition walls. Also, consider hiring a construction engineer for professional feedback on options and cost estimates.

Consider future implications, too. Of course, you want your home to cater to your interests and priorities. But it’s also important to consider how your remodeling decisions may impact its resale value.  

 

Posted in Blog
May 10, 2024

20 Tools For DIY Homeowners

 

 
If you’re a new homeowner, congratulations! You've embarked on an exciting journey of home improvement project—and some not-so-exciting home maintenance chores. Choosing the best tools for each job can be overwhelming. 

Whether starting your DIY adventures or looking to bolster your toolbox, here are 20 essential tools every homeowner should own. Plus, this might be a perfect time to add items to your holiday wish list or to shop for someone else!

The Basics

When you're a new homeowner, there are countless tools to choose from, but here are the ones you’ll likely reach for time and time again.

1. Hammers

Hammers are a cornerstone of any toolkit. You'll want to own two versions:

- A heavy-duty hammer is excellent for driving in nails and indispensable for removing them. A curved claw adds versatility for easier nail extraction.

- Also, a smaller, lightweight tack hammer is ideal for delicate projects such as hanging light wall art with tiny, headless trim nails.

2. Screwdrivers

Invest in a set of screwdrivers of different sizes and types, including flat head and Phillips head, to handle various screws. Magnetic tips can be a game-changer, preventing screws from dropping into hard-to-reach places. An ergonomic handle provides a comfortable grip for extended use, reducing hand fatigue during your projects.

3. Wrenches

Wrenches are handy for plumbing repairs, furniture assembly, and general household tasks—anything that involves tightening or loosening nuts, bolts, and other fasteners. Ideally, you’ll want a conventional set that includes various predetermined sizes, plus a large and small adjustable wrench. Note that fixed wrench sets come in standard and metric sizes.

4. Tape Measure

Tape measures are essential for measuring dimensions accurately. Opt for a flexible, durable, tape measure at least 25 feet long. Look for a tape measure with both metric and imperial measurements for added convenience, especially if you're tackling projects with international or custom specifications.

5. Metal Straight Edge

You may already have an inexpensive wood yardstick, but a metal (typically aluminum) straight edge is more durable and accurate. They’re convenient for double-checking measurements and drawing or scoring straight lines with a utility knife when hanging wallpaper.

6. Carpenter’s Square

Straight lines are essential, but sometimes must pinpoint a perfect right angle, too, using a type of carpenter’s square. For example, combination squares resemble a straight edge with an adjustable head that can be used to measure both 90- and 45-degree angles.  

7. Level

For DIY projects to achieve professional-looking results, they can’t be crooked! That’s where a level comes in handy. A two-foot-long level is suitable for most projects, but longer or shorter levels can be helpful, too. Levels can also double as a straight edge for drawing lines on walls or boards.

8. Pliers

Choose suitable pliers for the job; needle-nose pliers are excellent for delicate work, while slip-joint pliers are versatile for various tasks. Consider locking pliers for stubborn, hard-to-grip items and diagonal cutting pliers for snipping wires and nails.

9. Clamps

Clamps come in various types, including C-clamps, spring clamps, bar clamps, and pipe clamps. They are indispensable for holding items securely while cutting, gluing, or drilling. Quick-release clamps, with their one-handed operation, can help you work more efficiently. 

10. Pry Bar

If you're tackling demolition work, a pry bar will increase your leverage, making it easier to disassemble and lift heavy items. If you’re doing extensive demo work, choose a pry bar with a comfortable, non-slip grip to reduce hand fatigue during prolonged use.

11. Utility Knife

A utility knife with a retractable blade is perfect for cutting rope, cardboard, carpeting, and other materials. Look for models that offer convenient blade storage inside the handle. A locking blade feature enhances safety, ensuring the blade stays in place during use.

12. Putty Knife

Different sizes and blade angles make putty knives versatile. Use them for applying spackling compound, peeling off old paint, or removing old caulk. A putty knife with a comfortable, ergonomic handle allows for precise and controlled application of compounds.

13. Staple Gun

Handy for fastening thin materials like upholstery fabric to wood—such as reupholstering dining room chair cushions. Ensure the staple gun has adjustable depth settings to control how deeply staples are driven.

14. Ladder

Every homeowner needs a lightweight and secure step ladder for various tasks! Consider investing in a taller ladder, too, for projects like cleaning gutters. It’s easier to keep your tools and materials handy if you opt for a ladder with a platform or tray.

15. Safety Glasses

Accidents are never expected, but many DIY projects can produce small flying debris. Protect your eyes with safety glasses! For outdoor projects, you might prefer glasses that provide impact and UV protection.

Power It Up!

Moving on from hand tools, here are several essential power tools for your DIY projects.

16. Cordless Drill

A cordless drill is one of the most versatile tools you can own! It’s used with bits for drilling holes or screw head tips for setting and removing screws. Look for a drill with multiple speed settings and torque control, allowing you to handle various materials and tasks.

17. Laser Level

When precision is vital, a laser level ensures everything stays aligned straight up and down. It's perfect for mounting shelves or building a deck. Some laser levels have self-leveling features, which save you time and ensure accurate results even on uneven surfaces.

18. Circular Saw

A circular saw can handle many cuts, making it an excellent first power saw for homeowners. It's perfect for everything from simple crosscuts to more elaborate bevel cuts. Consider a circular saw with a laser guide for increased accuracy, especially if you're new to woodworking.

19. Heavy-Duty Extension Cord

For working in the garage or the yard with power equipment, a heavy-duty extension cord is necessary to ensure safe power delivery. Look for cords with built-in cord reels for easy storage and tangle prevention.

20. Portable Work Light

Some DIY projects require working in dark spaces. Ensure you can see what you're doing with a powerful, portable work light. Explore modern LED options and mounting possibilities, such as tripods, clamps, or magnets. Battery-powered work lights are convenient for remote locations or when you don't want to deal with cords.

 

Posted in Blog
April 16, 2024

CWL ~ SW FL Real Estate Report March 2024

 

February Was A Solid Month for Cape Coral Real Estate

 

High-season has brought good news for the SWFL real estate market. Home prices rose from February 2023, and most importantly, inventory dropped significantly from the decade's high number in January. The charts below are most encouraging for our local market. 

 

On the caution side, insurance and property taxes continue to be buyer’s major obstacles. I expect insurance prices to ease up as several new insurance companies are gradually entering the state later this year.  

 

                                Cape Coral February 2023 vs. February 2024

 

Feb 2023

 

Feb 2024

Cape Coral

375 Sales     $503,000

 

376 Sales     $522,000

+ 4 %

 

 

                                     Lee County February 2023 vs. February 2024

 

Feb 2023

  

Feb 2024

 

Lee County

1048 Sales     $579,000

951 Sales     $580,000

                                + 0 %

 

 

 

 

Inventory: Available homes for sale in the Cape dropped from 10 monthssupply in January down to a more neutral 7 1/2 months. This was a strong indicator. 

 

Cape Coral Gulf Access Homes: Jan = 61 Gulf Access Sales, Avg Price: $915,000

                                         Feb = 73 Gulf Access Sales, Avg Price: $970,000

 

 Cape Coral $1M+ HomesJan = 17 $1M+ Sales, Avg Price: $1,526,000   Highest: $3,420,000

                                          Feb = 27 $1M+ Sales, Avg Price: $1,500,000   Highest: $3,300,000

 

 

NotesAlthough the Cape Coral home prices were only up by 4% from last February, it was a significant hike from December’s low price point of $454,000. I expect prices to remain above the $500K mark for the foreseeable future. Lee County’s prices in Feb were neutral from last Feb, but also up from the low point of $547K in December.

 

Note the significant jump in C.C. sales of both Gulf-Access and $1M+ home sales, a traditional spike each high season. 

 

 

Cape’s Crystal Lake Park Has Broken Ground

   Rendering CapeCoral.gov

 

The $9M park project in Northwest Cape Coral broke ground on February 23. Construction is expected to take approximately a year (Spring of 2025) and will offer a new beach and much more. Cape residents are excited about the new park.

 

Features of the park will include:

 

ÕA beach surrounded by a 45-acre lake        ÕRestrooms

ÕPicnic shelter                                            ÕScuba diving area

ÕSun shelters                                             ÕFitness stations

ÕHill overlook                                             ÕA boat launch that connects to canals

ÕA kayak launch that connects to canals       ÕPaved parking stalls

ÕBoat trailer parking stalls                           ÕA 10’ wide multi-use path

ÕA 6’ wide walking path                               ÕAn emergency boat launch

ÕGrass parking spots                                   ÕOverflow parking area

  

Fla. Ranks 2nd Best Small Business State

SimplifyLLC: Florida ranks No. 2 as the best state for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the U.S. in 2024. Coming in just behind Texas, Florida was No. 1 for net influx of educated workers, No.6 for job creation (12.7% increase), and No. 15 for consumer spending, which rose by 3.4%.

 

The study considered six key factors to determine the rankings of states and their level of small business development, including corporate tax rates, inflation, migration of educated workers, new business formations, job creation and consumer spending. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more small businesses were launched in the nation in 2023 than ever before, with 5.5 million new small businesses created last year. 

Lisa & Jenna: We’ve always known that Florida is a wonderful place to live, but it’s also a great place to start a small business. We see new business start-ups almost every week in our area. 

 

Sales of $100M+ Homes Are Skyrocketing


                                                     Photo Source Redfin

Sales of homes that exceed $100M are skyrocketing, with Florida taking a leading spot in megadeals. In the last four years, about 24 homes nationwide sold for $100 million or more, which is 20 years after the first $100 million home sale.

 

The number of megadeals in the U.S. has significantly increased, as the median sale price of luxury homes rose 75% to $1.14M in 2023, according to Redfin. Between 2011 and 2020, 19 homes sold for $100 million or more, compared to 22 megadeal homes sold between 2021 and 2023. Tom: I’m showing my age by admitting that I’ve been in the business so long that I actually remember when a million-dollar home was a very big deal. Now that's simply a starting point in many communities. 

 

Facts & Stats and Tom’s Musings

30% of FL. Homes Fully Paid Off, Above U.S. Average: In Florida, housing costs as a percentage of income with and without a mortgage stands at 21% and 10%, respectively. Nationally, just 27.7% of owner-occupied homes are paid off. 

 

Are New Starter Homes Becoming Smaller? As home affordability continues to challenge buyers, builders are now testing the market for smaller, more affordable homes - some just 400 square feet. So-called “tiny houses” are popular among retirees and minimalists who are looking to simplify their lives while still owning a home. In the last five decades, home buyers are increasingly couples without children, singles and empty nesters, rather than families with three or more children.

 

Florida’s Single Women Lead in Homeownership: More than 14.5% of homes in Florida are owned by single women, compared to 10% by single men, according to Axios. Florida has the fifth-largest share of single-women homeowners in the nation.

 

Lego-Style Bricks Used to Build Apartments: Interlocking bricks made from recycled glass, recycled plastic, resin and stone have been used to construct 100 apartments in Palm Springs, Ca. Eight weeks and 11 people were all that were needed to complete the apartment project which was finished off with traditional stucco. The only tools required were a rubber mallet and a glue gun, and the materials are rated to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

 

Wall Street Sees a Solid Year for Homebuilders: According to the Commerce Department, sales of new homes rose nationally in 2023 for the 1st time in 2 years, up 4.2% from 2022. Housing market trends are shaping up in favor of a solid 2024 for U.S. homebuilders – as long as mortgage rates don’t jump back to the highs they hit late last year. 

 

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*Life Changing Events That Move The Housing Market

*Why Pre-Approval Is Even More Important in 2024

Please click here to read our blog

 

 

April 16, 2024

CWL ~ SW FL Real Estate Report February 2024

Good News/Bad News: Cape & SWFL Home Prices Soar

But So Does Inventory

As projected last month, C.C. and SWFL home prices took off in January after a dismal, cycle-breaking low in December. As you'll read below, even with MLS stats to help guide me, I did not expect this big of a jump in January prices over December's. Nor did I anticipate such a rise in inventory, which typically translates to lower prices, not higher prices. 

 

If you’re scratching your head, I’m right there with you. As longtime clients know, inventory and prices almost always go in opposite directions. The only possible explanation for the abnormality of rising prices at the same time as inventory is also increasing is that we are entering “high-season”, combined with a drop in interest rates. 

 

                                                  Cape Coral January 2023 vs. January 2024

 

Jan 2023

 

Jan 2024

Cape Coral

326 Sales     $489,000

 

269 Sales     $530,000

                      +  8 %      

 

 

                                    Lee County January 2023 vs. January 2024

 

Jan 2023

  

Jan 2024

 

Lee County

887 Sales     $573,000

749 Sales     $634,000

                                +  10 %

 

 

Cape Coral Gulf Access Homes:  Dec: 42 Gulf Access Sales, Avg Price: $908,000

                                                    Jan: 61 Gulf Access Sales, Avg Price: $915,000

 

Cape Coral $1M+ Homes: Dec: 12 $1M+ Sales, Avg Price: $1,422,000              Highest: $3,300,000

                                          Jan: 17 $1M+ Sales, Avg Price: $1,526,000 (+ 7 %) Highest: $3,420,000

 

Although I can't say for certain that prices over the next few months will be at January’s level, I fully expect that December 2023 is truly the lowest point of this current cycle, at least for the next several months.

 

Inventory: Available homes for sale in the Cape rose from 7 months in Nov & Dec to 10 months in January. This is the highest inventory in C.C in several years. 

 

NotesCape Coral home prices in January were a whopping 19% higher than December's pricesNotice that both C.C. and Lee County had significant year-over-year price jumps, but fewer sales. It will be interesting, surprising, and unusual if this trend continues. It's my expectation that inventory will slowly recede over the next several months, which will put added pressure on prices. 

 

Real Estate Trends: What’s in Store for 2024

Florida Realtors Chief Economist, Dr. Brad O’Connor: “Watch for the state market to reignite over the next several months. We have weathered the worst of it.” O’Connor believes that the Florida real estate market will slowly start growing this year as interest rates flatten and consumers begin realizing what they’re seeing is the new normal in prices and interest rates.

 

Florida saw almost $200 billion in closed sales in 2023, which wasn’t far off from 2022, a super-strong sales year post-pandemic. Mortgage rates have likely peaked, and there’s a very good possibility that the Fed could begin cutting rates in the coming months – and that could reinvigorate buyers. O’Connor speculated a cut below 6% could be in the forecast with the first relief possibly coming in May. 

 

A few of the factors buffering Fl. real estate from some national economic trends:

 

* The state’s labor market is strong. (Paychecks are still coming in)

* Florida’s population growth remains strong at about 1,000 new people a day

* The state is still attractive to “untethered” remote workers

* Retirees with home equity looking to relocate are unfazed by high interest rates 

 

Six New Insurance Companies Coming to the Sunshine State

At the start of the 2024 legislation session, state leaders touted six new private insurance companies have entered the state’s insurance market, as a sign things are slowly turning around. Companies will start writing new policies in the first quarter of this year. 

 

Citizens, the state-backed insurance carrier of last resort, will transfer 76,000 policies to private insurers this month, and 338,000 policies by the end of the year. On December 31, 2023 Citizens had 1,228,718 policies or about 18% of Florida’s insurance market. 

 

Mark Friedlander, spokesperson for the Information Insurance Institute, states “These companies will be providing insurance products for consumers and giving homeowners choices, something we haven’t seen for years”. “We were told these companies weren’t going to jump in before hurricane season ended.” Jenna & Lisa: As insurance is the single biggest sales obstacle facing us today in SWFL real estate sales, even more crucial than interest rates, these new insurance companies bring a huge sigh of relief to buyers as well as existing homeowners.  

 

Could Multigenerational Housing Help Supply Issues?

At a recent National Association of Realtors panel, industry experts said that when multiple generations live together, it can help address affordability concerns and homeownership gaps. A panel member began the discussion with the topic of the pandemic and the years following when many families chose to move in together. Trends of elderly parents moving in and younger people staying home longer grew, and so did the prevalence of multigenerational housing.

 

Intergenerational living or multigenerational living is here to stay, and it’s here to stay because it’s being consumer-driven. One member of the panel noted, “we live in a society where there is a stigma that is sometimes associated with multigenerational living, and that it is a burden. But, there’s nothing wrong with a multigenerational household. It’s the future of housing”. 

 

U.S. Real Estate Investors Optimistic About The Future

According to a 2023 Investor Sentiment Survey, 72% of the nation’s real estate investors say the market is as good or better than it was last year, and 75% expect stability or improvements over the next six months. 

 

The high cost of financing was the biggest issue among investors, being mentioned by 76%, while lack of inventory was mentioned by 42%. Most focus close to home: 44% purchase within their hometown, and 79% within their home state. There wasn’t a significant difference in purchase distances between fix-and-flip and rental property investors. 

 

Is Self-Storage the Right Solution?

Storage.png

Self-storage can be a practical and simple solution for homeowners and renters who have too much stuff and not enough space. Such facilities can accommodate individuals in various situations, making this an ideal option for anyone looking to organize their homes without getting rid of their possessions. Some beneficial situations:

·         Organizing a Home

·         Renovating a Home

·         Selling a Home – Tom: I’ve often suggested renting a storage space during the sale period so that a home                                              and/or garage will look bigger and less cluttered.

  

Facts & Stats and Tom’s Musings

FEMA: Roofs Built After 2015 Fare Better: When Hurricane Ian struck SWFL in 2022, homeowners’ roofs built after 2015, when new building codes took effect, experienced significantly lower damages than older roofs. The new building codes require roofs to be attached to homes in a sturdier way and have special coating to prevent water leakage.

 

FEMA’s figures showed 90% of asphalt roofs installed before 2015 were badly damaged, compared to just 28% of those installed or replaced after. Older metal roofs fared a bit better, with 79% of pre-2015 roofs surviving without visible damage, versus just 10% of asphalt roofs.

 

Buyers Gained Purchasing Power with Lower Rates: Redfin said buyers can afford a more expensive home since mortgage rates have dropped from nearly 8% in October. A $3,000 monthly budget will buy a $453,000 home with a 6.7% mortgage rate, compared to the $416,000 home the same buyer could have purchased in Oct with a rate of 7.8%.

 

What Area of FLA. Are New Residents Moving to?  A recent Redfin report showed that more people across the country researched Miami property listings than other metro areas in the U.S. Cape Coral, Tampa, Orlando, and North Port/Sarasota also made the top ten. 

 

Gen Zers Outpace Others in Homeownership: Most adult Gen Zers are tracking ahead of where their parents were at the same age, likely because they bought when rates were near record lows. 

 

Redfin reports that a decline in rental prices means Gen Zers can put more money toward savings for a down payment. Plus, the job market is strong, and career opportunities have become less concentrated in expensive cities during the remote work era, meaning Gen Zers can choose to live somewhere more affordable.

 

 

Redfin: Lock-In Effect Loosening: A growing number of homeowners with low interest rates aren’t waiting to move until rates drop. Sellers understand that rates aren’t dropping back to 3% anytime soon. So, they’re increasingly opting to move into new homes and take on higher interest rate mortgages. The share of homeowners with a rate below 6% has fallen to 88.5%, down from its record high of 93% in mid-2022. 

 

Empty Nesters Lead in Owning Large Homes: Empty-nest boomers own 28% of the nation’s large homes, while millennials with kids own 14%. A decade ago, young families were just as likely as empty nesters to own large homes, but over the past 10 years a larger share of empty nesters now own the bigger homes.

 

April 2, 2024

Questions To Ask When Searching For a Lender

 

These are excellent questions to ask a potential lender when considering a mortgage. It’s crucial to understand the terms, fees, and options available to you. Here’s a brief overview of what each question entails:

  1. Popular Mortgages: Lenders often have a few mortgage options that are popular due to competitive rates or flexible terms.
  2. Fees: Understanding all fees, including closing costs, is essential to avoid surprises.
  3. Negotiability: Some lenders may offer room for negotiation on various costs.
  4. Discounts: Ask about potential discounts that could reduce your costs.
  5. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): This insurance may be required if your down payment is less than 20% of the home’s value.
  6. Escrow: Lenders might require an escrow account for taxes and insurance.
  7. Bill-Pay Options: Find out how you can make payments, such as online or automatic bank drafts.
  8. Mortgage Payment: Typically includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI).
  9. Recommendations: A lender can suggest suitable mortgage plans based on your financial situation.
  10. Loan Servicing: Confirm whether the lender will service the loan or transfer it to another company.
  11. Rate Lock-In: Understand the duration of the rate lock and if you can get a lower rate if market rates fall.
  12. Loan Approval: The time it takes to get approved can vary by lender.
  13. Closing: The closing process timeline can also vary.
  14. Prepayment Penalties: Some loans may have penalties for early repayment.
  15. Total Payment: Calculating the total amount paid over the life of the loan includes interest and principal payments.

Remember, the answers to these questions can vary widely between lenders, so it’s wise to ask multiple lenders and compare their answers. Please contact us if you're looking for a local lender at 239-851-3744 or 239-292-2479. We are here to help!

Posted in Blog
April 2, 2024

What Every Buyer Should Know About Closing Costs

When embarking on the journey to homeownership, it’s crucial to account for all associated expenses. As you diligently accumulate funds for your initial down payment, remember to also allocate funds for closing costs. Here’s a brief guide on these costs and the amount you should set aside for them.

Understanding Closing Costs: Closing costs encompass the various fees and charges due at the time of finalizing your home purchase. As outlined by Bankrate, these costs are mandatory payments required to secure legal ownership of a property, such as a house, condominium, or townhouse. The total amount of closing costs can fluctuate based on the home’s sale price and the financing method.

In essence, closing costs are the assortment of fees and dues payable upon the completion of your home purchase. Freddie Mac notes that these costs often cover a range of expenses, including:

  • Government recording charges
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting fees

Estimating Your Closing Costs: Freddie Mac suggests that closing costs generally fall between 2% and 5% of your home’s total purchase price. To gauge what you might need to budget, consider the median home price of $384,500. Applying Freddie Mac’s estimated range, your closing costs could span from approximately $7,690 to $19,225. It’s important to note that these figures can vary if the price of your prospective home deviates from this median value.

Preparing for the Closing Process: Freddie Mac offers valuable advice to prospective homebuyers: Begin your property search by familiarizing yourself with all potential costs, from the down payment through to closing costs. Collaborating with a cadre of reputable real estate professionals can provide you with the expertise needed to fully comprehend the savings required and prepare adequately for the closing process.

 

Posted in Blog
Feb. 28, 2024

Life Changing Events That Move the Housing Market

Life is a journey filled with unexpected twists and turns, like the excitement of welcoming a new addition, retiring and starting a new adventure, or the bittersweet feeling of an empty nest. If something like this is changing in your own life, you may be considering buying or selling a house. That’s because through all these life-altering events, there is one common thread—the need to move.

Reasons People Still Need To Move Today

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) there have been a lot of this type of milestone or life change over the last two years (see graph below):

 

 

And, these big life changes are going to continue to impact people moving forward, even with the current affordability challenges brought on by higher mortgage rates and rising home prices.

As Claire Trapasso, Executive News Editor at Realtor.comsays:

"Because high mortgage rates, elevated home prices, and stubbornly low inventory make today's housing market particularly challenging, many of today's buyers are motivated by life changes, such as growing families, supporting elderly parents or grown children, or accommodating professional needs. . .”

Lean On a Real Estate Professional for Help

Whether you're beginning your search for a home or preparing to sell your current house, you don't have to go it alone. With their expertise, a real estate agent is an invaluable partner who can help you smoothly transition through these big moments in your life. Here are just a few examples.

When Buying a Home

If you’re welcoming a new addition and want more space, the need for a new home may be a top priority. While higher home prices and mortgage rates are creating challenges for buyers, you may have to find a way to meet your changing needs, even with today’s mortgage rates.

A skilled real estate agent can help. Their expertise and knowledge of the local housing market can save you a considerable amount of time and stress. An agent will take the time to understand your specific needs, budget, and preferences, allowing them to narrow down your search and present you with suitable options.

When Selling a House

If you’re retiring or going through a separation or divorce, your main focus may be to make the most out of your investment when selling your house, so you can find one that works better for you moving forward.

This is another place where a real estate agent's expertise truly shines. They can accurately assess your home's market value, suggest improvements to enhance its appeal, and craft a strategic marketing plan. Their negotiation skills are a big asset when it comes to making sure you get a fair price for your house, allowing you to move on to the next chapter of your life with confidence and peace of mind.

No matter your situation, lean on a trusted professional for help as you buy or sell a home.

 

Bottom Line

 

If recent life-changing events have you wanting or needing to move, let’s connect.

Posted in Blog
Feb. 28, 2024

Why Pre-Approval Is Even More Important in 2024

 

 

On the road to becoming a homeowner? If so, you may have heard the term pre-approval get tossed around. Let’s break down what it is and why it’s important if you’re looking to buy a home in 2024.

What Pre-Approval Is

As part of the homebuying process, your lender will look at your finances to figure out what they’re willing to loan you. According to Investopedia, this includes things like your W-2, tax returns, credit score, bank statements, and more.

From there, they’ll give you a pre-approval letter to help you understand how much money you can borrow. Freddie Mac explains it like this:

A pre-approval is an indication from your lender that they are willing to lend you a certain amount of money to buy your future home. . . . Keep in mind that the loan amount in the pre-approval letter is the lender’s maximum offer. Ultimately, you should only borrow an amount you are comfortable repaying.”

Now, that last piece is especially important. While home affordability is getting better, it’s still tight. So, getting a good idea of what you can borrow can help you really wrap your head around the financial side of things. It doesn’t mean you should borrow the full amount. It just tells you what you can borrow from that lender.

This sets you up to make an informed decision about your numbers. That way you’re able to tailor your home search to what you’re actually comfortable with budget-wise and can act fast when you find a home you love.

Why Pre-Approval Is So Important in 2024

If you want to buy a home this year, there’s another reason you’re going to want to be sure you’re working with a trusted lender to make this a priority.

While more homes are being listed for sale, the overall number of available homes is still below the norm. At the same time, the recent downward trend in mortgage rates compared to last year is bringing more buyers back into the market. That imbalance of more demand than supply creates a bit of a tug-of-war for you.

It means you’ll likely find you have more competition from other buyers as more and more people who were sitting on the sidelines when mortgage rates were higher decide to jump back in. But pre-approval can help with that too.

Pre-approval shows sellers you mean business because you’ve already undergone a credit and financial check. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, says:

“Preapproval carries more weight because it means lenders have actually done more than a cursory review of your credit and your finances, but have instead reviewed your pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements. A preapproval means you’ve cleared the hurdles necessary to be approved for a mortgage up to a certain dollar amount.”

Sellers love that because that makes it more likely the sale will move forward without unexpected delays or issues. And if you may be competing with another buyer to land your dream home, why wouldn’t you do this to help stack the deck in your favor?

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy a home in 2024, know that getting pre-approved is going to be a key piece of the puzzle. With lower mortgage rates bringing more buyers back into the market, this can help you make a strong offer that stands out from the crowd.

 

Posted in Blog
Feb. 28, 2024

Cape Coral SW FL Real Estate Report January 2024

 

December Cape Home Prices Hit a New Low – Inventory Steady

December is typically the least active month of the year for obvious holiday reasons. It was my wrong opinion that December 2022 was going to be the low point in this cycle for Cape Coral home prices. Well, December 2023 prices were $11,000 lower than December 2022, as you’ll read in the chart below.

 

You’ll also read that inventory held steady at 7 months, almost a neutral level, but significantly higher than the past several years. I’m not sure where inventory is headed now that we are in peak season, but based on MLS data, I can give you positive news that we’ll see a noticeable increase in prices over the next several months. 

 

                                   Cape Coral Dec 2022 vs. December 2023

 

Dec 2022

Previous Low Point This Cycle

December 2023

Cape Coral

351 Sales     $465,000

 

378 Sales     $454,000

                       - 2%      

 

 

 

                                  Lee County Dec 2022 vs. December 2023

 

Dec 2022

 Low Point This Cycle

December 2023

Lee County

987 Sales     $547,000

974 Sales     $548,000

                              No Change

 

Inventory: Available homes in the Cape remained at 7 months for December

 

Cape Coral Gulf Access Homes: Nov = 51 Gulf Access Sales, Avg Price: $1,033,000

                                                   Dec = 42 Gulf Access Sales, Avg Price: $908,000 (-14%)

 

Cape Coral $1M+ Homes: Nov = 14 $1M+ Sales, Avg Price: $1,977,000  Highest $6,000,000

                                         Dec = 12 $1M+ Sales, Avg Price: $1,422,000  Highest $3,300,000

 

                                ---------------------------------------------------------

                            Cape Coral & Lee County 2023 vs. 2022 Sales Stats

 

Cape Coral Sales 2022: 5,780 Sales, Avg Price: $519,000            Avg 58 DOM

Cape Coral Sales 2023: 5,137 Sales, Avg Price: $491,000 (-6%)  Avg 52 DOM

 

Cape Coral Gulf Access Sales 2022: 1,073 sales, Avg Price: $969,000

Cape Coral Gulf Access Sales 2023:   810 sales, Avg Price: $895,000 (-8%)

 

Cape Coral $1M+ Home Sales 2022: 327 Sales, Avg Price: $1,546,000

Cape Coral $1M+ Home Sales 2023: 227 Sales, Avg Price: $1,460,000 (-6%)

 

                                         ------------------------------------------------

 

Lee County Sales 2022: 14,864 Sales, Avg Price: $572,000

Lee County Sales 2023: 13,776 Sales, Avg Price: $563,000 (-1.5%)

 

Note: 2023 prices and sales were down in all Cape Coral & Lee County home categories, but not too drastically considering that 2022 was a fairly strong year, combined with the headwinds we faced this past year from Ian and increased interest rates.

 

 

C.C. Ranks in Top 10 U.S. Cities Where Baby Boomers Move To

Boomers are people born between 1946 and 1964, and this generation makes up a substantial portion of the world’s population. SmartAsset examined Census Bureau data for 268 of the largest U.S. cities and ranked them by the rate at which baby boomers moved in 2022.

 

Boomers comprise almost three out of every 10 people in Cape Coral. Florida unsurprisingly had four of the top ten cities in the country where Baby Boomers are relocating. Cape Coral placed 4th highest percentage in the U.S., with 6,233 Boomers moving to the city in 2022.

 

Florida Population Growth Continues, But Easing May be Coming

A recent state report found Fla. with 22.6M residents – 1.61% more than it had a year earlier. But the study also predicts growth will slow over the next several years. The rate is expected to slow to 1.51% in 2024, 1.3% in 2026, and 1.18% in 2028. If that trend were to continue, the annual growth rate could dip below 1% in the 2030s, according to state economists.

 

In 2022, the 60-69 year-old-age group represented the largest share of people moving to Florida from other states according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The second-largest age group moving to the Sunshine State was people ages 50-59. A representative from Governor DeSantis’ office said “people in the 20–39 year-old age range have consistently not shown the same desire to move to Florida”.Tom: For those of us currently living here, I think we’ll greatly welcome a slowdown of population growth.                              

FSBO Sellers Regret Not Having an Agent

Survey: Sellers who go-it alone are twice as likely to be unsatisfied with the experience – and more likely to say their earlier opinion, “agents are overpaid”, was wrong. More than a third of FSBO’s (for sale by owner) or those selling to an iBuyer, said the process was more difficult than they expected. FSBOs represented only 7% of homeowners. These sellers admitted:

 

·         43% of buyers distrusted the sellers because they didn’t have an agent

·         40% struggled to understand their contract

·         36% made legal mistakes because they didn’t use an agent

·         They had a longer selling process

·         52% admit to being more overwhelmed, stressed and crying at some point in the process

·         Most glaringly, FSBO’s sold at a median price of $310K last year vs $405K for MLS listed homes Jenna & Lisa: Our team will work hard to eliminate, or at least greatly minimize the ordeals listed in this article, and we’ll assure that you get fair market value for your home. 

 

Lower Rates to Draw Buyers – Not as Many Sellers

While mortgage rates moving down to the 6.5% range will draw buyers into the 2024 housing market, several economists don’t think it will create a similar rush of sellers who are locked into lower interest rates. 

 

Forecasts from housing economists put the average mortgage rate somewhere in the 6% range in 2024, down considerably from 7.79% a few months ago, the highest rate in almost 20 years. The projected 6% rate is still about double what the average rate was just two years ago. It appears that interest rates will have to drop below 6% to incentivize homeowners to sell in large numbers.

 

2023 Lee County Facts & 2024 Predictions 

By our Fabulous Broker Yoselyn Hollow

Lee County Facts:

 

·         Inventory was the highest in 13 years, and reached a neutral level

·         Sales were lowest in over a decade, and down more than 30% across Lee County

·         11,000 total single family home sales in Lee County

·         New construction made up 18% of all sales in 2023

·         Interest rates more than doubled in one year (3.5% in December 2022)

·         Cape Coral and North Fort Myers prices depreciated for the first time in 13 years. 13 years was a much longer up-cycle than normal. Lisa: let’s hope for the same with this cycle

 

Lee County Predictions:

 

·         Overall inventory will continue to rise and sales will improve only slightly

·         Additional inventory will ease the upward pressure on home prices

·         Home appreciation will remain dismal across our market with the only foreseeable exception being the Bonita/Estero area

·         The average 30-year mortgage rate will linger between 6.1% to 7% in the first quarter.

·         If rates fall rapidly, it could create a surge of demand that will reduce inventory, and cause home prices to rebound

·         With a decline in mortgage rates expected, new construction will see a slight uptick this year and inch toward 20% of all home sales

·         Numerous new apartment units will be a major concern for investors in the rental market

  

Facts & Stats and Tom’s Musings

Cape Coral Completes Caloosahatchee Connect Pipeline: After years of progress, the Caloosahatchee pipeline is ready to bring 12 million gallons of reclaimed water to the Cape every day. The water will be used for irrigation, fire protection and to maintain canal levels, a most welcome improvement for the exceptionally dry season Cape Coral experienced last summer.

 

Homebuyers’ Median Age Jumps to 49: The median age of folks buying homes is up significantly from 39 two decades ago, suggesting finances play a critical role in homeownership. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes that today’s homebuyers are generally older and wealthier. Young Americans are dealing with inflated home prices, higher interest rates and substantial student loans.

 

Home Buyer Demand Shows Signs of Early Rebound. Redfin Homebuyer Index reports that U.S. homebuyers, encouraged by declining mortgage rates and increased listings, are moving from the sidelines. Redfin also found median sales prices across the country had the biggest increase since Oct. 2022. Jenna: Lee County did not experience the same boost in home prices as the U.S. average.

 

 

Jan. 7, 2024

CWL~ Cape Coral/SW FL Real Estate Report December 2023

Nov. Cape Home Prices Increase, But Inventory Keeps Rising

Home Prices.png

As anticipated, November home prices witnessed a decent jump in prices, in part due to a $6M home sale which you'll read about herein. Inventory rose for the 5th straight month, and it may not be until the mid-to late Q1 2024 that we see a decrease in inventory (a further drop in interest rates will certainly help). 

 

As December 2022 was the bottom of the SWFL market in the current cycle, starting next month we will report the same month year-over-year comparisons. We'll also have our annual "Timing the SWFL Real Estate Market" report out in January. 

 

                                                  Cape Coral Dec 2022 vs. November 2023

 

Dec 2022

(Low Point This Cycle)

November 2023

Cape Coral

351 Sales     $465,000

 

344 Sales     $509,000

                      + 9%        

 

 

                                        Lee County Dec 2022 vs. November 2023

 

Dec 2022

(Low Point This Cycle)

November 2023

 

Lee County

987 Sales     $547,000

913 Sales     $545,000

                                 - $2,000

 

Cape Coral Gulf-Access Homes: Oct =  50 Gulf Access Sales with Avg Price of $846,000

                                                   Nov = 51 Gulf Access Sales with Avg Price of $1,033,000

 

Cape Coral $1M+ Homes: Oct = 12 $1M+ Sales with Avg Price of $1,450,000  Highest $3,250,000

                                         Nov = 14 $1M+ Sales with Avg Price of $1,977,000  Highest $6,000,000

 

All Cape Coral Price Stats are skewed slightly upward due to the $6M home sale.

 

 

C.C. Inventory: Over 7 months of available homes - we are now barely entering a "Buyers Market".

 

 

 

 

NAR Issues 2024 Real Estate Forecast

Prediction.png

National Assoc of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun looked at the current state of the U.S home market and shared his 2024 outlook. He said home sales will likely decline by 18% once all 2023 numbers are in, and that’s on the heels of a 17% drop last year. These drops are caused by 20-year high interest rates and a lack of available homes.

 

Yun states, “Pent-up sellers and buyers cannot wait any longer. People will begin to say, ‘life goes on’”. “Listings will steadily show up, and new homes sales will continue to do well” He also noted that international buyers have declined, but once they return to the market, there will be a boost in buying.

 

Yun believes that the 30-year mortgage rate has crested. He states that the number of home sales will rise by 15% next year, and mortgage rates will hover in the 6 to 7% range by spring, and he anticipates that more sellers and buyers will enter the market. Tom: If Dr. Yun’s projections are proven correct, this will be very encouraging and timely news for SWFL real estate, as winter and spring are our most active sales months.

 

1 in 3 U.S. Buyers Use All-Cash – Highest Share in a Decade:

Cash Buyer.png

Just over 33% of U.S. home purchases in September were made in cash, up from 29.5% a year earlier and the highest share in nearly a decade, according to a report from Redfin.

 

In Florida, the percentage of cash sales was higher than the national average in all six metros included in the study, ranging from 38% in Tampa to 49% in West Palm Beach. SWFL is typically included in the Tampa metro.

 

All-cash purchases are making up a bigger piece of the home buying pie for two reasons. Affluent Americans who can already afford to pay cash are more apt to do so in an expensive housing market – and elevated mortgage rates make buying a home in cash and avoiding interest and loan fees altogether more financially appealing.

 

Florida Islands Named ‘Most Beautiful Places in The State’

Sanibel.png

The United States is home to all sorts of alluring locations, from jaw-dropping waterfalls to vast deserts to picturesque buildings and architecture. If you’re thinking about visiting these spots, Conde’ Nast Traveler pinpointed the “most beautiful” places in every state. According to the writers, Florida’s most beautiful place is the Sanibel and Captiva Islands! Here’s why this famous pair of islands are worth the visit:

 

“The sister islands have long drawn visitors with their biking trails, wildlife, and calm Gulf Coast beaches. Sanibel is particularly famous for being the seashell capital of the world. Meanwhile, Captiva is known for its untouched sand dunes and charming seaside hotels”. Lisa: If you needed another reason to love or visit our fabulous area, here it is!

 

 

Facts & Stats and Tom’s Musings

Musings II.png

1 in 3 Sellers Granting Buyer Concessions: According to Redfin, home sellers gave concessions to buyers in 35% of U.S. home sales during the third quarter of 2023 – about the same as one year earlier but up from 28% two years ago. Jenna: Sellers are more conciliatory in today's market, but we've still been able to bring reasonable buyers and sellers together. 

 

Miami Luxury Prices Soar as Billionaires Move In: RE investors are building more $50M-plus condos in S. Fla. Demand grows from an uptick in ultra-rich celebrities and business people wanting to call South Florida home. A condo on Fisher Island is under contract for $90M. Billionaire Jeff Bezos is just one of the high-profile names to relocate to South Florida.

 

NAR Releases 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers: In the face of high interest rates and rising home prices, the typical home buyer’s income rose 22% to $107K. 32% of buyers were first-timers, and 89% of all buyers used a RE agent. 

 

First-time buyers averaged 35 years old and repeat buyers were 58 years old. 19% purchased a multi-generational home. The median distance moved was 20 miles, a decline from 50 miles in 2022. The typical home seller was 60 years old and lived in their homes for 10 years before selling. 

 

Older Condo Woes Make It Harder to Buy/Sell Units: Buyers in some older condos can’t get traditional financing because the associations have made insurance trade-offs as they deal with skyrocketing expenses. This leads to sellers having to sell their condos for a lower price. Tom: I've never been an advocate of buying condos for investment, and am now even less inclined to recommend them. 

 

Are Stalled Buyer Spending, Saving Differently? - Many frustrated would-be home buyers are deferring their first house purchase due to high home prices and high interest rates. Instead they may be spending more money that would have gone toward a house on home renovations, vacations, college savings accounts, or student debt payoff. 

 

Tom’s Not That Funny Joke of the Month:  Investor: “I currently have a fortune in the stock market”. His Jealous and Curious Friend: “How did you do that?”.  Investor: “Well, I started out with a much larger fortune”.