Fort Myers and Cape Coral Florida Home Buying Season

Season is arriving early this year it seems. Our stores are filling up with friends from up north here for the winter. Our restaurants are busier and calls for information about our homes for sale in Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Sanibel are steadily increasing. Home prices are still great and interest rates are still near record lows. Our inventory is also on the low side so if you are interested in finding a great home here in Southwest Florida I would suggest giving us a call very soon. If you would like to sell your home this season, now is the time to contact us and put your home on the market. Come visit us at our main website www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com.

 

Unique Luxury Home Marketing on www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com

I am very proud to own one of the top organically ranked real estate websites for Fort Myers Luxury Homes for Sale and Cape Coral Luxury Homes for Sale which is www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com. From that website, I have the opportunity to reach out to and be contacted by many people who are in the market for buying and selling their beautiful luxury and waterfront homes in Southwest Florida.  Years ago I decided to focus on the luxury home market in the  Fort Myers and Cape Coral areas because it is the area of expertise I am most interested in and comfortable working in.  Having the ability to focus my resources on this specific point in the real estate market allows my website to provide a unique style of marketing that showcases the finest homes in the area.

After creating the platform to present these homes for sale,  I am pleased to say I am about to go live with the expanded and improved version of www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com in August in preparation for our clients coming this season. Upgraded searches and featured homes, as well as even greater photos of luxury homes for sale in Fort Myers and Cape Coral as well as Sanibel Island and the beaches, are all coming.

Thank you to all of you who have commented on the site now.  I’m certain you will find the new design to be the finest luxury home website of all of the Fort Myers area. If you would like the exposure of the combined marketing strategy of www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com and the finest real estate company in Southwest Florida,  Royal Shell Real Estate – Koffman & Associates, then contact me right away regarding listing your home on these powerful websites where you will have the greatest exposure and unique marketing in all Southwest Florida. Call me at 239.878.0637 today.

 

Luxury Rental Homes in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and the Islands.

For most of my extensive career as a Realtor, I have not been very interested in the rental and rental management aspect of real estate. I am certainly capable of rental property management and my wife who is soon to get her real estate license has expressed an interest in heading up a rental division of our business. Myself, I enjoy working with my clients in buying and selling homes in the Fort Myers and Cape Coral area. The fact remains though, I receive many calls requesting assistance in placing a home for rent and for property management. Plus, many calls are from individuals seeking to secure a rental home on Fort Myers Beach or Sanibel Island or Ft. Myers and Cape. Coral. It is just bad service to be unable to provide this service to my rental customers so I am very fortunate to have one of the finest rental agents and property managers in the Fort Myers area as a close friend and colleague.

Just yesterday I received a call from a person asking me to rent and manage his half million dollar home in Fort Myers. This was a beautiful home complete with fine furnishings in a gated community on a golf course. I was considering taking this on as a rental property myself, but in my way of doing business, my customers best interests always come first. Yes, I could place this property in the computer and internet as a rental property, I would eventually find him a good tenant and I could manage the property. In order to best serve the needs of this client, I instead put him in contact with my colleague who, instead of occasionally works with rentals, works in fine luxury home rentals every single day. He provides the corporate connections, international contacts particularly from Europe and all the marketing in place geared towards providing the finest rental program in Lee County. He also provides the contracts for seasonal rentals, annual rentals and even vacation rentals to our clients. There is no question about maintenance or anything at all really because he has everything in place to provide a magnificent rental program from day one.

Now with that said, when it comes to selling a home or one of these rental investments, I am the best choice for the buyer and seller of any luxury home in Southwest Florida. My luxury home marketing and body of knowledge are as prolific as my colleagues knowledge of his rental business.  While there are Realtors who manage rentals and also dedicate time to home buyers and to marketing home listings, few can do both businesses extremely well at the same time. My Royal Shell Real Estate business is unmatched in luxury home marketing and sales and my personal service for my luxury home buyer clients is unparalleled partly due to my focus on my market niche. That is saying a lot considering the size of the egos of some of my competition in business, but I believe it to be the truth as do my clients. My colleagues’ dedication to his niche in the industry has made him the best at what he does. I feel it is better to be the best at what you do for your clients rather than to attempt to be everything for everyone.

When it comes to finding a luxury rental home in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel Island Ft. Myers Beach or South to Bonita, I will provide you the finest in service by connecting you with the best luxury home rental and property management business in Fort Myers, with whom I work closely. When you want to purchase or sell a luxury rental home or any property in Southwest Florida I am here to provide you with the finest service in the industry. Contact me anytime at homes@floridaluxurybroker.com or for more contact information you can view www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com.

 

Property Values on the Rise

Just a quick post for anyone still on the fence about whether or not to buy or sell your Fort Myers or Cape Coral Florida home right now. Property values are on the rise. There are still fantastic bargains to be found and the financing is still favorable, but the shockingly low prices are fading away. I do not believe there will be an unrealistic increase in values as before and I do not think home builders will make the same overbuilding mistake again. Sellers are enjoying gains on their investments and should be holding the line more times than not when negotiating their selling price. The selling prices are fair and realistic so buyers are also in a great position.

Now is the perfect time to make your purchase and the perfect time to list your home in Southwest Florida. Contact me anytime by calling 239-878-0637 or going to my website www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com for more information.

“What’s in a name?, International Real Estate”

I remembered those famous words spoken by Shakespeare’s Juliet when I returned to the Fort Myers / Cape Coral, Florida area to conduct international real estate after some extensive traveling.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet.”

I found myself with my license hanging in a fine small brokerage firm filled with good people and friends, but not an office focused on home sales opting for rentals instead. This arrangement was fine when I was selling properties by referral only and not focused on growing my real estate sales business as I am now. It was not an ideal situation for my business or my customers. I also couldn’t help but notice as I approached new clients, even with my credentials, it was more difficult to get my foot in the door mainly due to being someone unknown and working in an unknown real estate office. Driving down the streets in Southwest Florida I noticed a large number of new signs in yards from tiny independent real estate companies. As I looked into some of the properties listings, I found that the entire brokerage firm was mainly centered around a couple agents selling to their family and friends. I respect that willingness to take on the challenge and risk of running a brokerage firm. There was once a “Michael Nolan and Associates Inc.” out there in the past. We are all Realtors and “What’s in a name?” right? Romeo’s name was insignificant to Juliet, (granted he wasn’t trying to sell her home), but is a good agent working under a small, local office name just as effective as one committed to a well known international real estate organization? I have found by working both inside major real estate companies and as an independent agent that there is no substitute for the support and tools of an international real estate company. These companies offer an incredible amount of tools and benefits for the agent to offer their customers that will never be matched by a local real estate business. I know there are small companies with big advertising and technology just as mine was once and some of my friends in the business are now.  Even so, more times than not it is still another agent who will bring the buyer for your listing and that agent is typically from a major brand real estate company because of the global brand recognition and trust they have rightfully earned with the consumer. That which we call a house for sale is in itself more sweet to the buyer when it is listed with a real estate company that presents it to the market in the best possible fashion thanks to the trusted major name brand marketing tools utilized by a professional agent.

By now you’ve likely guessed I have switched to a major real estate organization. Recently as I was interviewing potential brokerage firms for myself. My real estate brokerage firm of choice is Royal Shell Real Estate. Make no mistake, most all real estate in Florida is a part of the global real estate market.  We are a growing destination for the world. Visit my website www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com to see just some of the benefits I can offer just by my affiliation with Royal Shell Real Estate. Contact me anytime to discuss how this affiliation along with my experience and knowledge makes me the best choice for your real estate transaction representation.

 

 

Around the World and Back to Fort Myers Florida

2013 was an amazing year for me personally and professionally in Florida real estate. Personally, I remarried, had a new baby girl, traveled by car the entire length of the United States from Fort Myers, Florida to Seattle, Washington and then lived in Asia for a few months. Professionally it was a fantastic experience to see more of the United States and visit some luxury real estate clients and corporate suppliers. I traveled to Asia, seeing Japan and Guam which opened my eyes to grand new business opportunities in both real estate and for my corporation.

One of the first things I noticed in my travels was that so many people from around the world love Florida. I know Southwest Florida is a beautiful place to live. I know from experience the boating is the best in the country and the beaches are ranked as some of the best in the world. The Southwest Florida lifestyle in general really is paradise by comparison to many places. I also just spent time in Indiana for one of their worst winters in decades, so I was seriously missing Fort Myers as I drove through the mountains of snow in the bitter cold. I am actually a fan of winter too. Our tranquility in Fort Myers and Cape Coral, yet proximity to Miami, Tampa and Orlando (Disney) by car and the entire midwest and east coast by short flight is perfect for the vacationer and resident. The yachting routes up the west coast of Florida or straight south to Key West; across the state to the Atlantic through Lake Okeechobee or by way of the Florida Keys is just unparalleled. If you don’t want the yacht, you can utilize a small boat through the countless islands and parks that line the Gulf coast and enjoy typically calm waters. Our cost of living is similar to the midwest and less expensive than most areas from what I can see. I always knew and loved these things about Southwest Florida real estate, but to have all of these things told to me by people all across this country and on the opposite side of the planet further bolstered my confidence in our beautiful community and makes me that much more proud to serve my luxury Florida real estate clients as they find their own piece of our paradise right here.

I’m very happy to be back home now and I am enjoying working with my real estate partners again. The market is in fantastic shape and prices are rebounding. I will write more on this later, but it is safe to say that now is the time to buy real estate in Southwest Florida as property values and prices continue to rise. Contact me with your questions or thoughts and visit www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com for more information.

The Difference Between Home Mortgage Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval

A Fort Myers mortgage broker who is now working in my office emailed this to all of the agents today and  I thought it was great information. I have seen people in all price ranges speak to an ambitious mortgage broker who tells them they can get a loan and then they come  to me, pre-qual letter in hand,  wanting to go home shopping. Then they find out the pre-qual letter the broker wrote is meaningless because it is by no means an approval for a loan or acceptable to a seller as proof of real estate financing.

I made the mistake in the past once,  which I remember all too well, of taking the word of a very legitimate banker who wrote a glowing pre-qual letter for the owner of an enormous company and I wrote a $600k + home contract for that buyer based on the pre-qualification. The offer was accepted because of my strong reputation, not the letter. Then in the approval process for the loan there arose a mountain of tax and corporate legal issues that would have made it difficult for this guy to buy a Toyota. Needless to say, that  will never happen to me again, but I am still approached by buyers with pre-qual letters only. Here is a good explanation of the difference.

Pre-qualification is the first step in obtaining mortgage financing. A potential borrower answers a  few questions to provide the loan consultant with a quick snapshot of the borrower’s income, existing debt, accumulated savings and whether or not there is a co-borrower. Signature(s) allow the loan consultant to run a credit report and begin to determine what loans are good candidates for this particular client. However, there are literally thousands of loan programs available. It is important for the loan professional to know the long-term financial objectives of the prospective homeowner.

Pre-approval is a written documentation that proves the borrower has the full support of a lender. It means the form 1003 Uniform Residential Loan Application has been completed and reviewed by an underwriter. Based on the borrower’s income, debt ratio, and savings, the underwriter will provide a dollar amount this borrower is eligible for. Now the borrower has the convenience of shopping for a home in the price range agreed upon by the lender.Pre-approval allows potential homeowners to shop as cash buyers, and that means negotiating power. Sellers will take an offer from a pre-approved shopper much more seriously and may even accept a lower bid because they know the financing is in place and the deal is secure.

I am more than happy to put you in contact with several Cape Coral and Fort Myers Mortgage lenders if you do not have your own, but when we shop for properties you will need a pre-approval if you are financing the transaction. You need that prior to making an offer on a property. Preparation is the key to a successful transaction and I am here to assist you anytime. For additional information on a Fort Myers mortgage please go to www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com.

Online Real Estate Information

Real estate transactions are a part of life where  I don’t think too much information is ever really a bad thing, except when the information ends up being completely wrong.  Customers contact me completely confused due  to all of the online real estate information, good and bad,  they receive from websites.  Frankly, even I do not understand why a property can show as active when it really has a contract accepted on it.  Web sites have become polluted with bad information.  Yes, I know the reasons about why some distressed properties need to stay active so they can try to receive more than one contract, or if they need to advertise for backup contracts. If you see a property offered on my site as active and the true status is contingent, meaning it has a contract or it is even sold, I have no way of knowing that either until  I do the direct research work. Yes, that is a problem, but it is not within my ability to fix as the online real estate database information is only as good as the outside agents who enter it. It is important that a  person takes the time to contact me to ask questions and discuss their real estate goals since the website searches are really just for the general research of online real estate.

Years ago when the internet real estate research was new, companies could only show the properties online that they offered for sale with signed listing agreements from their clients. You could go from site to site of each good company and see the properties, just like the real estate sections of local newspaper used to be.  That has completely changed.  The majority of online real estate searches now offer all properties available from centralized database systems. This abundance of property information is made available for purchase by any agents regardless of qualifications and to anyone who is willing to pay for it, including companies who sell your personal information.  When you contact me on a property you found on my site it is not always my  personal clients home that I  have under a listing contract, but as a  broker, I  am very well trained to provide real services to property buyers and sellers who want to make an educated real estate transaction.  I think one of the greatest internet disservices has been the ability of practically anyone to display real estate listing information.  I am certainly in favor of maximum exposure for sellers and the federal government involvement in the matter has ensured that those online freedoms are legally upheld.  What has harmed the quality of service in the industry is the online real estate business model that involves websites showing property information, collecting the personal information of potential home buyers or sellers and then selling that person information to any agents and who knows who else. Sometimes it is claimed that they have screened the agents in the area you are interested in and will send you to the most qualified person. Those online companies actually have no interest in your quality of service or well-being at all. The truth is you will just be sold to the agent who needs to buy your information, no matter who they may be.  It is usually called a referral, but a  real referral is when legitimate,  licensed agents call me because they have personal clients in their  location who need my professional real estate service here in my location.  We make referral arrangements in writing between offices and their clients are now my clients who get my full attention, service, and duties. You can go to www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com for more information.

The fact is we are usually pretty smart as consumers. We are sometimes misled because we want to trust others, particularly in what should be regarded as a serious matter like real estate transactions. We look for the best value and efficiency for our money and the internet can often provide that. In a business as complex as real estate there are some corners that just can’t be cut such as the direct contact and interviewing of a good professional agent, regardless of how many pictures, prices and information some website developer creates online. Simply put, research heavily online real estate if you need to, but when it is time to do business you need to contact me and let me do my job. There is always going to be too much bad information on the internet, but it is a simple matter to have me sort out your online real estate search and help you achieve your Florida home buying or selling your goals.

My review of the book “Activate Your Passion – Create Your Career” written by Madison Hildebrand

Like many real estate agents, the Bravo channels “Million Dollar Listing” show with Madison Hildebrand caught my eye while I was surfing the channels and I had to watch. I am not  a TV person. I do not mind knowing nothing about TV shows. I just don’t sit around long enough to watch any entire show. I am almost proud to say I have never seen an entire episode of American Idol; it makes me unique.  If it were not for my DVR I would never be able to  watch a complete program.  From a real estate agents perspective, the “Million Dollar Listing” show  is  very entertaining. The interaction and differences of the three personalities  are easy to relate to in our business and  the show just cracks me up constantly. Few of us ever get to see the luxury homes of the Los Angeles area and I  have considered that many of their clients are the type of people that buy properties and investments anywhere, especially in Southwest Florida  where I work.  The show  is actually useful market information  for me.  Not knowing anything  about how these reality type shows are put together, I first assumed the three characters on the show were  actors playing the roles of agents. Hollywood is right there after all. When I noticed the three guys were actually engaging in some serious and highly professional  real estate business practices I had to consider if they were being  heavily coached or maybe they were actual agents. I Googled the names and the first  I found was Madison Hildebrand who is a real  agent at Caldwell Banker in Malibu. I heard in an episode he had a book and I saw it for sale on his site. I was still skeptical of the whole idea of the  celebrity Realtor.  My wife and I  stood right next to Sylvester Stallone on the sidewalk  at South Beach in Miami once as he was waiting for his car to get brought around. I know he is a  real person because I saw him in the flesh, but I also know he is not actually Rambo or Rocky. Both characters who I enjoyed immensely. Out of curiosity and an appreciation  of the personality I see portrayed on TV, I purchased  Madison’s book. I fully expected to receive a Bravo channel promotional pack or something of the sort, but that is not what this book or what Madison Hildebrand is about at all.

I was amazed and inspired by this  relevant,  empowering  and concise book. Plus, it often had me smiling and laughing as I read which  kept it genuinely entertaining. I own stacks of books on professional sales, corporate training manuals,  motivation, even the how to  books. As a professional in  marketing and sales it  has always been important to me to stay well informed.  I have a  couple books on the shelf half finished because they just bored me too much.  They really do just  sound alike sometimes.  I received Madison’s book in the mail and  had the time right then  to open it up  and begin reading. The next thing I knew I had read the entire book. It is not a very long book which is perfect for  busy people and it was just enjoyable to read. I felt like I was reading a long letter from a friend giving me some great advice. Some of the topics covered  include goal setting, effective business  planning,  tips on making good choices personally and in your career and sound business building practices. He also makes  outstanding points on ethics, professional presentation, and  for anyone starting a new  position working with the public. To me, what makes this book different than the stack of books  on the shelf is that it is written in a way that is not preaching or from an  overly egocentric point of view.  Madison Hildebrand writes a cleaver and engaging narrative  from a real world perspective and without even realizing it, you receive the fundamentals for a great career. What I appreciate most  from the book personally  is how it reminded me about the importance of attitude and passion not only  in my professional life, but in all important endeavors. I am 43 years old, I own companies and manage people and  sometimes  see myself  too deep in  the business end of it all.  This week after I read this book by Madison Hildebrand I  re-evaluated  how I  was interacting with my clients, especially some of my past clients and  I was able to identify and open  several outstanding new  business opportunities.  If you have been around a while, this book will remind you why you got in business and how to stay on top, if you are new it will show you a clear path to success. The book has a focus on the real estate industry, but is relevant to  most any career path especially any entrepreneur. I am hardly a professional book reviewer or critic, but I enjoyed this book and got something important out of it. I recommend this book and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

You can buy the book on Amazon at the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Activate-YOUR-Passion-Create-Career/dp/1419697676/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261178726&sr=1-1

CDPE Designation and Florida Real Estate Foreclosure

Now that I have completed the CDPE “Certified Distressed Property Expert” designation  I have a much better grasp of the enormous problem of the foreclosure property market.  I have found from several sources that here about  80% of short sale contracts written do not close. Considering the time and effort that goes into making a proper offer on a property, that seems to be a colossal waste of time for everyone. There are some factors influencing these numbers including: listing agents who have only a  general idea of what the bank is looking for when presenting a sellers “contract package” causing weeks of waiting while the bank representative moves on to the properly presented contracts, multiple contracts being accepted by a seller on a single property, new scams featuring option flippers  and get rich quick schemes  that  work the  temporarily grey areas of bank fraud and the  overwhelming scope of the problem. I am all for investors buying and selling properties and investing and flipping has never been a bad thing for me personally. Especially when it improves a home and community.  There are many legitimate investors working with full disclosure and proper licenses. A predator or con artist will feed off desperation and try to convince you to purchase ridiculous e-books and CD’s  or pay hundreds of dollars for a seminar to learn about their system/scam or even worse when you can’t even make your house payment. A legitimate investor could be a great resource  depending on your circumstances, but scammers create greater losses in a short sale for everyone involved (except for themselves of course) and they expose short sale home sellers to a potentially greater default judgment and higher promissory notes.  I don’t want to think of what the lenders may do legally as they absorb inflated short sale losses and address the option flipper “or whatever the scammer calls it”  problem. Some banks  restrict the  resale of short sale properties for a time period after the short sale closing and I know  the wording  in a sales contract or letter is probably not sufficient to keep a lenders legal and loss departments  from pursuing a judgement against the  seller during the five years they have in Florida to come after them,  particularly if they believe fraud may have been involved.  The get rich quick scams and Ponzi schemes taking advantage of people are prolific and any reader who really thinks those scams are a  smart move should stop reading now because I do not offer the type of professional help you will require.

So what can be done? Short sales are a real and viable option for property owners who are in true financial hardship.  I am told the government is helping to put together some guidelines to help the short sale process move more smoothly like, attempting to set a maximum bank response time (10 days I heard), incentives for sellers and lenders, a stipulation that releases sellers from future debt liability  and even moving allowances for the sellers. Having a true hardship is one of the keys to a short sale, not just being upset because your home is not worth what you borrowed, but a true hardship that can be demonstrated to the lender. A short sale can help save the credit of the financially distressed homeowner by avoiding a foreclosure which will help them get back on their feet sooner and usually saves the bank time and money compared to a foreclosure. Helping the homeowner is the goal which any good agent will tell you. There are certainly easier contracts for a real estate professional  to work with for greater profits based on the time and effort spent. Short sales listings are not to be done on a whim and can involve much more work than the typical real estate agent is readily able or sometimes qualified to perform. If you need to consider a short sale, you should speak to a licensed real estate agent, but just don’t call any  agent who may or may not have experience or training in handling a short sale transaction. You most likely will be one of the 80% wasting their time with an unsaleable short sale. There are about 15,000 CDPE agents in the country right now who have advanced training in this matter. That is probably a good place to begin looking for answers. If you would like to contact me, please keep in mind that short sale listings still involve advertising and property expertise so unless you have a luxury or higher value property I will not be able to take on your business. There are agents who specialize in listing numerous inexpensive short sales and those agents are very well equipped to provide you with outstanding service for your particular needs. Don’t think I do not appreciate the needs of the low priced home seller, it is just a matter of what fits into my particular business model. I will provide you with a well-qualified referral within my office if needed.

When you pick your real estate agent, be prepared to open your financial books and hardships wide as they prepare a complete bank package. The package is a very specific proposal to the lender demonstrating why it would be in the best business interest of everyone involved for them to allow a short sale. If this cannot be properly demonstrated or if you really do not qualify for a short sale but submit your package anyway, you will be wasting everyone’s time. Your real estate agent will help you determine if you are qualified for a short sale or if foreclosure in the only option.  If you lie or your motivations are other than a hardship, you will fail and may open yourself up to legal issues and foreclosure. For your own sake, give your short sale the serious attention it requires by using a qualified real estate agent. If you have a luxury or waterfront home and are in a  real financial hardship and you would like some options other than foreclosure, call me anytime at 239-878-0637 or find additional information at www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com.