Southwest Florida Home Watch

A service that has become much more important over the past few years is the Home Watch service. I know many people just count on their friends and neighbors to look after their homes while they are away. That is really not always the best plan especially with the busy lives we seem to lead and as we were all reminded this summer, the severity of some situations here in Florida such as hurricanes. When conditions get bad and life gets hectic, you want your friends and neighbors looking out for their own property and families instead of yours. Frankly, that will happen regardless. For a small fee, you can have a professional keep tabs on your assets and keep you informed of any problems or unsafe conditions. That gives you protection from greater losses and peace of mind.

In Lee, Charlotte and Collier County, a fine service we are proud to offer is Executive Home Services.

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.

 

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.

E-Mail vs. Phone In Cape Coral and Fort Myers Real Estate

I have been increasingly busy over the past month in  my Fort Myers real estate practice as I  continue to meet buyers from around the world wisely taking advantage of our great prices in this resort area. While I can’t help the kid looking for a $50k home easily, I can find the $500k+ waterfront home for the UK buyer in my sleep. I enjoy the ability to focus my business on what I am best at, which is the Fort Myers, Sanibel Island and Cape Coral upscale property market.

I have  written briefly about this before and I have even made mention directly on my personal website www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com about the need to pick up a phone and speak to me. I love technology. My company www.PropaneOutfitters.com  is all about the worlds newest technology in online storefronts and product ordering. Buying a property is not the same as buying an industrial steel cage on my company site.  This does not mean a client can not contact me by email which is a  typical means of first contact these days, especially with my overseas buyers. Consider this event. I recently had a  domestic client email me from my corporate web site requesting  information on a very valuable property, but  he failed to pick up the phone and ask me about the property or introduce himself even though my phone numbers are  on the web site. Meanwhile a first time buyer who wanted to spend $50k called me twice in the same time period. As the first time buyer received extensive consultation from me on financing and the search process and  a referral to an agent who specializes in first time buyers  who will give him the  expertise  he needs, the  buyer who I should  have been helping sooner was waiting  for my reply.

I know  people are jaded sometimes by the lack of competency and business aptitude that can be found in the real estate industry. I know much of that is well deserved as I  am forced  to do business  every day with some of the same people who have caused these feelings. It is maddening to pick up the phone  to conduct business and reach someone who knows less than you about their own  work. Or worse, the person you call pretends to know everything and  misleads you with the practiced lines and platitudes designed to lead you on  as they fumble through their work and hope you will  feel committed to them at some point. One of my personal pet peeves is the 24/7  agent, which means they claim they will take your call anytime no matter what. Not only does that reduce  the professional  agent to the same level as  a 7/11 store clerk, but have you ever tried to conduct serious business with someone who obviously has not had enough sleep? I keep a clock of the world time zones on my desktop so I know when not to call my clients overseas. I will take a call from some clients absolutely any time, but be assured, even if you need to leave a message you will still receive my full attention as I return you call and work for you.

Regardless of any trepidation or preconceptions you may have, when it is time to seriously conduct business in real estate, you will need to pick up the phone and speak to me at some point.  You will get specific, professional real estate consultation and up to date information on an expert  level. You can contact me by email anytime and  I will respond the same day and  usually right away. I will send you homes for review by email and extensive information about the buying process and each property  so you can practically make the decision before personally seeing the property, but I always prefer you come to  see the property. Email is especially important with my overseas clients because of the costs,  time differences and even some language accents and such are more easily understood in writing. You don’t really know a person until you speak to them and until you meet them. You should really  want to know the person who is advising you on spending hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions.  Direct communication is the most valuable and important business tool  we have in the world.

Email vs. Phone:

  • Email is perfect for data, detailed business communication and real estate research.
  • Phone calls are necessary for conducting business on a highly professional level and to ensure a  complete understanding between parties in highly complex decisions like the purchase of a property.

I have left out the  obvious importance of personal meetings just because in my area of expertise there are so many variables including attorneys, personal buyers (shoppers), spouses, outside brokers and so on who  can make decisions  besides  or  on behalf of  a client. I will probably write a complete article on that in the future.

My goal and my job is to provide you as my client with the best service possible. How well we communicate is vitally important to my ability to deliver. Both email and phone calls are very important, but  when it is time to do business do not hesitate to  pick up the phone and call me.

My Personal Real Estate Investment Picks

The press has said yesterday home prices are flattening or leveling. Sales have been picking up and inventory has been thinning, economics 101 tells us the prices will level. There is still room to move downward in some areas like north Cape Coral, Florida where the city continues with a water and sewer project that will attach an assessment of somewhere between ten and twenty thousand dollars to every property as it puts in a new water and sewer system. Considering Cape Coral is at the top of the national list for foreclosures and the well and septic systems work very well in that less populated area, that does not sound like a welcome action to the property owners. I own a property in that area and while the assessment does not affect me, especially since I already know it will mean my investment value will increase by the assessed amount or more and I will get a new road installed as well, there are those who are not so fortunate and cannot afford this assessment. While I feel bad for those people,  the best and only thing I can do is help them sell if they must, which is why I recommend that area as a great place to watch for upcoming investment deals.

My personal favorite investment now and over the next 24 months are the homes in the far southern end of Cape Coral with Gulf of Mexico access. Those homes generally peaked at over half a million dollars for basically tear downs and can now be bought for just over 100k. Not that I expect the old prices anytime soon, but consider the benefits of these investment properties: minimum 80 foot wide deep water canals with a standard lot size of 80ft water frontage and  120 to 150 foot lot depth, typical home is three bedroom two bath with a garage, usually just minutes out to the open water of the Gulf for fishing or pleasure boating, minutes away from Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach by water or land, direct access to the Atlantic directly across the State of Florida via the Caloosahatchee River which connects to Lake Okeechobee and exits near West Palm Beach. I hear people asking, “Where can I invest?” Buying an investment property at the bottom of the market in a location like this is hard to beat.

Here is my disclaimer, you need to do your homework before making any real estate investment. What is right for one person may not be right for another and if you buy a property without consulting a professional Realtor (see earlier article) and you pay too much or buy a lemon, don’t blame me. If you contact me and we get you a great property, then you are welcome to blame that on me to all of your friends.

New Listings In The Real Estate Industry

A large part of the real estate business for agents has always been about getting the listing. Sending the postcards, making the presentation even making cold calls if need be. As I built my real estate business that was an important part of my work as well. When  I began to specialize my real estate work into luxury homes, listings became more than just a piece of inventory to be placed in a file and on the Internet like most home listings are handled. Luxury homes need to be presented and advertised in the correct fashion to the right clientele. Advertising a million dollar home in a book that is only found in the discount store exit or a web site that no one sees is not usually going to put the information in the right hands. The right real estate marketing is a skill developed over years of practice,  media contacts and web site positioning. It is also a very large monetary investment to advertise a luxury home properly  which is another reason many agents should not attempt it for their clients sake.

As the real estate market changed over the past few years my business adapted. Why would I want to take on a listing that was dropping in value on a daily basis which drove off most all buyers. I consider every real estate listing into my business as an investment which I expect to make a return on. I only market a property the right way, so if I expect I will  spend $20k to $30k  in marketing for a luxury property, I will also expect a sale in a reasonable amount of time at or close to the price we set. For quite a while that has been a very difficult formula to justify when making this investment.

This year real estate buyers from around the world have realized the housing market in Fort Myers and Cape Coral has reached a price point that makes sense again and have slowly begun investing again in our properties. Many sellers have also realized they can sell their home at a fair market price and still be in great financial shape because their next home they buy, no matter where it is, can now also be purchased at a very good price. There are still the real estate sellers  holding out and  wishing for that extra  few hundred thousand  dollars or more that we just cannot justify with the facts.  Those people will have to wait until the next market peak to sell their property at that price. The sellers with realistic expectations and who are willing to work with facts for the purpose of actually selling a property are who I am willing to work with now.

As I mentioned in another article, I put together a business plan to sell your property. We will meet and discuss your property and your expectations. I will tell you what I will do for you and my expectations as well. We will decide on a sale price that will make you competitive in the marketplace, come to terms on a listing contract and then the fun begins. I do mean fun too; I enjoy bringing a property to the real estate market. I  use some of the most unique and high exposure real estate marketing tools on a local,  national and international level. The property will be exposed to all Realtors as there is a great possibility one of them will bring  our buyer, but our marketing is targeted to the right  clientele where ever they may be whether it is Miami, the Northeast, Lake of the Ozarks or California.  I also have contacts in Canada, Germany, the UK and other locations across the planet where our clients come from.

To find out more and  to contact me about listing your property, go to my web site www.FloridaLuxuryBroker.com or call 239-878-0637.

Approved Home Financing and Cash Home Buyers

I am a broker who is well positioned in the local marketplace. Because of that  I am usually contacted several times a day by people wanting me to make appointments to  show them properties and make  offers  before they even talk to a lender about home financing or  verify they have the cash to buy any property.  That is not the way the professional real estate business works.  You can easily find  other  agents who’s experience leads them to think real estate transactions are supposed to be a  series of  hazards,  headaches, and obstacles or you can work with me  and follow  simple steps to  create a professional transaction. Making sure you have the money in place is the first step, but one that is too often blundered.

Before we set up any showing appointments:

  1. If you do not need home financing and are paying cash, you will need your bank to prepare an evidence of funds letter to accompany our offer on the property and to show me you actually have the funds as well. Banks are happy to print those up for good customers like you. People have tried to lie to me about their finances in the past just to get the luxury home or investment tour. Some sellers will not let a buyer on the  grounds of  a luxury home without first  proof they can afford it.  Don’t be offended,  we will do the same thing when you have me sell it someday. Be sure you have the cash available to pay closing costs as well which I can  help you determine. If you are writing a check from a line of credit, fund or something similar, that is still cash and we would need a letter showing your line is open, sufficiently large  and available to you.
  2. If you are going to use home financing, you will need to talk to your lender before we schedule  on site showings  and have them approve you for the  general loan amount. That means you will need to tell them what you have in mind, show them some of the price figures and properties if needed which you and I  will discuss before  you approach them.  You must then provide them with all of the information they need to submit to underwriting so you can get the loan commitment  very soon after we have an accepted contract on a property. That means you give them your tax records, asset documents, whatever they need. You do not give that information to me, I do not want or need it. The lender will then give you a very professional letter on their letterhead which you will give to me that states you have submitted all of the information required to obtain a loan for “X” amount  and  your information  has been completely submitted to and approved by their institution with certain exceptions like the appraisal, survey, insurance,  inspection results, sales contract and such items related to the actual home and transaction that we can not provide yet. That letter will accompany the offer when I present it to the sellers. You can provide all the information and ask the lender how much you are approved to borrow and they  may give you an upper price  limit, but the more specific information you can provide the lender, the better the information you will get in return. Without working closely with your lender your answer from home financing underwriting may not qualify as an actual approval but instead just a pre-qualification which will not work for us. If there is any additional issue that comes up in underwriting your lender should be able to resolve it quickly with you if everything else has been done properly. If you are only home financing a small part of a purchase you need to show evidence of the funds to close as mentioned in the “cash” section above for the cash portion. Don’t even think about  asking to make a contract contingent upon the sale of your current home unless you have enormously overwhelming evidence that the other transaction is about to successfully close.

Why is this all so important? Because most sellers now will not look at an offer without this evidence or home financing approval from the bank. I don’t blame them considering how difficult it can be for even well qualified people to be financed. Even if it is not difficult, it can be time consuming and time is always of the essence in a real estate contract. Sellers do not want to take a property of the market unless they know the person can actually buy it. In the past, anyone could get quick, easy financing. There are still people out there who do not realize those days are gone and  go shopping for  a home when they can  not even  finance a car. This is the reason I can not physically show homes before we address home financing and one of the two above conditions are met. It is completely unfair to the sellers and my busy schedule if you are not qualified.  If you need advise on a good lender, I will recommend several excellent professionals who you can speak with and will take good care of you. I do not pretend to be a lender myself, I already have a good job. If you have the cash, you have the easy job. The bank can fax or email me what we need in minutes. Many banks are in trouble and I have had fully approved buyers have their loans denied in underwriting for no fault of their own. Chase Bank just recently did that to a very well qualified buyer of mine. We changed lenders and  closed, but the closing delay was  over a month. Just another very important reason to have the right agent like me to smooth over these types of contract difficulties.

Buying  or selling  property can be a lot of fun and a great experience, if you do it right. Otherwise it can be a very costly, hectic and even legal nightmare. These home financing requirements are important steps in handling your transaction properly. They are not the only steps, they are your first priority.