​​Apples to Apples
November 24, 2018

Especially when shopping for a home in Florida, how much the HOA fees are in a particular community is often one of the main factors and considerations for would-be home buyers. And fees can literally be all over the map. At first glance, some appear to be very reasonable and super enticing, while others look like budget busters that seem to have no basis in reality.

​But fees are one of those things that require diving into for a clear understanding of exactly what it is that you're getting for your money. Some HOA fees barely cover anything other than lawn maintenance, while others are extremely comprehensive and inclusive of most of what the property's carrying costs and your community's recreational activities and pursuits will be.

The first step is to be totally clear on how often you'll be making those payments. In some communities you'll pay your fees monthly, and in others (like Paseo), it's paid quarterly. So be sure you're comparing a monthly carrying cost to an equivalent monthly carrying cost by dividing a quarterly HOA fee by three so that you're truly looking at similar time periods.

Understanding what amenities are included and which aren't is a critical next step in your search. Just because you see something in a community, doesn't necessarily mean you'll get access to it and or that it's automatically included in your HOA fees. If you're impressed by an elaborate fitness center or loads of tennis and pickle ball courts, be sure to find out if access to those amenities is included in your HOA fees. In Paseo, they are. But in many communities, they are often parceled out with access and usage provided in one of two ways... one being mandatory, while the other is optional.

When it's mandatory, there will be what's usually referred to as a "required sports membership". It's often some combination of the fitness center, the tennis facility, and possibly the community pool. There may or may not to be a one-time initiation fee upon membership, along with an annual fee that will be above and beyond what your HOA fees are. So if it's mandatory, you'll need to divide this annual cost by 12 and add it to the monthly HOA fee in order to arrive at the ongoing monthly expense that it's actually going to cost you to live there and use the amenities.

If there's an optional sports membership, just know that you will not have access to those particular amenities if you don't purchase a membership. But you'll at least have the ability to decide for yourself whether you do or don't want to take on that additional expense based on how often you realistically expect to utilize it.

Same with on-site dining facilities. Some communities provide free access to all residents, and others separate it out as a "club membership", or include it in some additional layer of membership that may or may not be mandatory. And even if you get access without an additional membership fee or annual dues, there's often an annual "food & beverage minimum" generally in the $1500/year range. When there is an annual minimum, even if you never go to the restaurant once, you will receive a bill for the required annual minimum whether you've ever eaten there or not. Most residents make the choice during the year to try and spend the required minimum at the on-site restaurants so they're at least getting something for the money they have to pay out each year.

But is having to dine at the community's restaurant something you want to feel obligated to do when considering the evening's dining choices available to you? Or do you want to have the option of trying numerous local venues instead? If you're writing a check to your HOA every year for $1500 to pay for food, chances are you'll be like most folks and you're going to actually want something in return for that. If access is included in your HOA fees and there's no required annual minimum, you can simply make the choice to go or not go whenever the mood strikes you, vs getting billed for something that you'll probably feel you have to use in order to get your money's worth.

In Paseo, you have access to all of the dining options with zero additional membership requirements or fees. There is no annual food & beverage minimum and you just pay for what you order at the time, just like any other traditional restaurant dining experience. So if you choose to never go at all, you won't be getting a bill for $1500 like you would in many other communities that have on-site dining options. Just additional food for thought...

And last but certainly not least, you want to clearly understand exactly what's included in the HOA fees, and what is not. This varies greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood, with what's often some high-ticket items included in Community A's fees, but not in Community B's. Perfect example is water. Water is sometimes included, and other times it's not. And water down here is probably more expensive than what you're used to up north.

Using Paseo's condos as an example, the HOA fees basically include everything your home will require to function... exterior building maintenance, landscaping, potable (drinking) water, non-potable (irrigation) water, cable TV, building insurance, trash removal, and access to all the Town Center amenities. The only other utility-related bills you have are electric, internet (if you add it), and a condo insurance policy that will insure you "from the drywall-in".

That's it...

So what at first glance may appear to be "bargain" HOA fees in another community, keep in mind that you can very quickly spend another $350-$450/month on a sports membership if the amenities you're looking forward to enjoying aren't included, or if the water and cable aren't either.

Just do your homework and be sure you're comparing apples to apples in your home search...

​​Flood Insurance
November 10, 2018

With today being a month since Hurricane Michael struck a devastating blow against the Florida panhandle, the subject of flood insurance is once again prominent in the arena of public discussion. Of course the folks that had flood related damage that weren't actually required to have it but had made the decision to do so anyway were extremely grateful that they had. And those that didn't have it rue the day that they had the opportunity to do so, but didn't.

Flood insurance is one of those things that lots of homeowners think they'll never need, and thankfully most will turn out to be correct on that point. But what if you're not... are you in a financial position to repair or rebuild your property if there was damage to your home that your insurance carrier determined the originating cause was water vs wind? It's certainly something that warrants consideration...

Paseo has an interesting history when it comes to flood insurance. As one of the very first residents in the community, I can tell you that in the early years when it was first being developed and we were selling only new-construction properties, the lenders did not require it as part of the mortgages they underwrote. FEMA had determined that Paseo was not in a high risk flood zone and it was strictly optional as to whether a homeowner wanted to have it or not. Since lenders are the ones that require flood insurance, cash purchasers always get to make that decision for themselves.

But a few years into development, homeowners received notification that FEMA had revised their floodplain map and they were rezoning the community with a new classification and flood insurance was now going to be required. Confident that this was an incorrect determination, the developer contested it and indeed was able to get the the community once again removed from the flood zone classification that mandated flood insurance. And as of today, only a couple of single family lots still actually require it.

But what I find interesting is that so many insurance carriers do not have current or correct information regarding flood insurance requirements in Paseo. Many buyers (or their agents that don't conduct business in the community on a regular basis) will ask about whether or not they have to get flood insurance. I always explain that it is not a requirement (unless it's one of the couple of homes in the back that do), and I'll give them a brief synopsis of the above series of events. To this day, I will still get some follow-up calls or emails after buyers have connected with their insurance agents, telling me that I was incorrect and that their agent said it absolutely is required. As you can imagine, most buyers are not gonna be too happy when they've been told that something isn't required, only to end up hearing from their insurance industry professional that it is.

Well... there is a document referred to as an LOMR (Letter of Map Revision) that FEMA uses to revise their Flood Insurance Rate Maps that is available for the properties here in Paseo. These were created when Paseo was removed after being placed in an insurance-required flood zone. If you're told that flood insurance is required and it's not something that you want to have to purchase if you don't absolutely have to, you'll need to locate and provide the LOMR for your particular property to your insurance company. A realtor that regularly conducts business in a particular community should have no problem in getting you a copy of that document.

So since whether you do or don't purchase flood insurance is going to be a personal call for the vast majority of Paseo purchasers, I'd suggest that you at least get a quote for it. When your property's not placed by FEMA into what's considered to be a high risk floodplain zone, the premium can be quite affordable and only a few hundred dollars a year.

It's at least something worth giving a little thought to...

Inventory Levels
October 9, 2018

Paseo’s inventory levels have come down nicely from where we were just about a year ago. At that time, we had around 100 properties for sale on the market at any given point in time… sometimes a few more, sometimes a few less. In fact, inventory levels had been running that high for a fairly significant period of time.

Of course Buyers and Sellers have competing interests when it comes to how inventory levels either help or hinder them. The higher the supply, the more competition there is, thereby helping Buyers and hurting Sellers. With inventory levels shrinking and (hopefully) continuing to head even lower, the foundation can begin to be set that gradually allows for future pricing increases.

At this time though, a large percentage of the properties currently on the market have been offered for sale for a substantial period of time. Because it’s not possible to raise prices on homes that have already been for sale for months with probably even a few price reductions having already been done on them, we’ll need to move through some of the older inventory before there’s a realistic chance of seeing prices head back up.

Since Florida overall is considered to be a fairly transient marketplace, a good general rule of thumb is that 5% of any given neighborhood being on the market for sale at any given point in time is considered a “balanced market”. That means no advantage goes to either the Buyer or the Seller and there’s an orderly sales process with reasonable periods of time for homes to be on the market before going under contract for sale (something along the lines of 60-90 days).

When there’s less than 5% of a total community for sale, it’s considered to be more of a Seller’s market and prices will rise more significantly. When there’s less that's available for sale of something that people want to buy, it only stands to reason that prices would increase due to very basic supply & demand effects.

Same goes when there’s more of something for sale… prices get affected, but not to the positive. They get depressed due to the increase in competition and time becomes their enemy as financial pressures force some sellers to reduce in order to try to be the next one that sells. But as that person sells their property for less money, the groundwork gets laid for lower comps that affect what the next person can ask for their home. So once the pricing hole gets dug, it takes some time to work your way out of it.

But the first thing that absolutely has to happen if prices are to have a shot at rising, is for inventory levels to subside. And that’s what we’re beginning to see occurring. Paseo’s got just about 1146 total homes in the community, so in a balanced market, we’d have 57 properties for sale (5% of the 1146 homes).

As of today we’ve got 70… 23 single family homes and 47 condos. When considering it was just about 100 on the market a year ago, our inventory level's down 30% from that time. We need about another 20% reduction from our current level in order to get to the 5% inventory levels that would establish a balanced market in the community.

If the trend lines continue in that direction, valuation increases will follow and Sellers will regain footing in the marketplace. No market condition lasts forever, so Buyers that are serious about purchasing a home need to pay special attention to what may be the tail end of the favorable buyer’s market conditions that they’ve probably grown quite accustomed to.

August 25, 2018

Every homeowner becomes a seller at some point in time. It may not be today or tomorrow, but the day will definitely come. And when it does, I assure you that the single most important decision you'll make is the hiring of your listing agent. This is after all, your personal "town crier" messenger that's responsible for getting the word out that your home's for sale, and that it's worthy of consideration by serious purchasers in your market. This is not the time to hire a neighbor or friend, if that neighbor or friend has little or no experience in the specific community that you have something to sell in. 

Think about it... if you had a large boat, this decision is the equivalent of who you'd hire to be your captain... right? After all, this is the person that's responsible for charting the course and navigating what's often highly unpredictable waters. Their job is to successfully guide you on this journey by utilizing their knowledge and experience in order to get you safely to your desired destination. You'd surely want someone who's got familiarity and experience with the waters you'd be traveling on, no? Same with real estate.. especially in Florida!

Florida is chock full of gated communities that are basically all little villages and economic microcosms on their own. Factors that positively or negatively influence one community may have zero effect on the community right next door. Between the cost of HOA fees and what they may or may not include, build-quality and reputation of the developer, available amenities for the residents, or any of the dozens of other influencing factors, you want someone who understands how your community compares to the competition. If they don't, good luck with moving from Point A to Point B!

And as far as Paseo goes, in my opinion, there are just way too many properties on the market that have been listed for sale by agents that have little or no experience in the community. Because of the underlying lack of a historical perspective on the growth and evolution of the community, there's little meaningful guidance or appropriate level of expectations management that can honestly be offered to a seller. Only when you truly understand the how's and why's of a particular market can you give non cookie-cutter advice that is based on facts specific to the conditions on the ground there. Pricing yourself as the least expensive of something and intentionally significantly undercutting the competing homes on the market is often not fair to a seller, nor necessarily the best way to effectively position a property against the marketplace competition.

And when it comes to price reductions, sometimes it's the answer when a property hasn't sold.. and other times it's not. Sometimes a price reduction is ill-timed or wasted if practically nobody's in the market even looking, as Florida can be very cyclical and seasonal. If an agent's only ever had 1 or 2 listings somewhere, how would they even know if the level of showing activity a property's receiving is in line with the rest of the market there? With more of a portfolio to reference, it becomes easier to see how a property should be performing against like-kind competition.

And I'm not saying you have to hire us. Do I want you to? Of course, as there are plenty of good reasons why we've done way more Paseo business than anyone. But there are 4-5 agents with other companies that have extensive experience with dozens of closed Paseo transactions under their belt. ANY one of them would be a far better choice than an agent that doesn't know their way around the community, has no ability to articulate where we are marketplace-wise and how we got there, what our multitude of different neighborhoods are and how one compares to the other, what our HOA fees are and what they include, what the pet policy is, or even what amenities we have.

Every community has it's own specific nuances that make it unique unto itself. And the more experience the captain has navigating the sale-ing waters in your particular neighborhood, the smoother that journey will be.

July 28, 2018

While the erratic nature of our market is still a consistent feature, the past month has been something I wouldn't mind repeating over and over. Like all summer off-seasons in SW Florida, there's definitely fewer bodies in town looking at real estate. But those that are here, are seriously looking for something to purchase. Showing activity is sporadic and minimal, but those showings are higher quality and have often led to offers and contracts.

We got five of our listings sold during the past 30-days or so, and they kinda covered the whole Paseo price spectrum. I personally think these are some of the more interesting aspects of those deals:

- four of the five contracts were for cash with zero financing involved

- four of the five selling prices on those contracts were for 98-99% of list price

- four of those five are single family homes

- and three of those five have already closed

Starting with the least expensive property and going up, we just sold:

- Castella casita #6404 list priced at $209,000 closed on 7/24 for $205,000

- A Ravenna single family home located at 8103 Felisa Ct listed for $439,000 closed 7/27 for $429,000

- A San Remo III located at 8665 Mercado Ct was listed at $435,000 and sold on 7/23 for $430,000

- A Ruffino at 11863 Rosalinda Ct priced at $475,000 went under contract on 7/11 and is scheduled to close in August

- And a Montessa II at 11043 Esteban Dr in Esperanza list priced at $609,000 went under contract 6/27 and is on track to close late next month

So conventional wisdom aside, if a property shows well and is priced attractively against the competition, some summer sizzle is indeed possible...

May 15, 2018

Anytime you see or hear anything about the current real estate market, you'd think everything everywhere was flying off the shelf the minute there's a signed listing contract in place. You hear about multiple bidders submitting their "highest & best" offers during the first weekend of availability, often resulting in a property selling for more than list price. And buyers that are more than happy to waive inspections in order to make their offer even more appealing to a seller.

Apparently there's inventory shortages, hordes of hungry buyers with checkbooks in hand, and sellers wishing they'd have priced their homes even higher than they did. Sounds like every realtor's dream, doesn't it? If only that were true in our area... sigh...

It's true for large swaths of the country.. many parts of New England, lots of areas on the west coast, and most major metropolitan areas. But it's definitely not true here. Here we continue to have more inventory than buyers, which of course leads to pricing pressure in the down direction vs up.

The difference in those areas, is buyers often need to be in a certain area or neighborhood due to proximity requirements for family or work. The factors considered when one is purchasing a primary residence are often very different than those when selecting a vacation or retirement home. Here, the accessibility to one's preferred leisure amenities suddenly moves up higher on the scale than what the caliber of the local school system may be. So basically "up north" it's needs that influence the purchasing of a home, and down here it's wants.

But why's inventory more plentiful here? Lots of different reasons. One is that our local market's consistently been more transient than those up north. As a percentage of existing housing that's on the market and available for sale at any given point in time, we've pretty much always been higher. There's always going to be a certain amount of transplants that FL just doesn't work out for. The reasons might be personal, financial, health-related.. lots of different reasons. So when that happens, those owner's homes come on the market in order for them to be able to move back to where it is that they came from. Like an airport, there's an endless cycle of departures and arrivals here.

Then of the ones that do stay in the area for more than a year or two, there's a lot of shuffling around from home-to-home that goes on. From bigger to smaller and smaller to bigger. From condo to single family and from single family back to condo. It's just the way it is down here. Real estate becomes a participatory sport for a lot of folks. 

And then there's the ever-present allure of the latest and greatest new-construction communities that are constantly under development in the area. It's a temptation many can't ignore. Sometimes it's logical, sometimes it's emotional. But when you've got some extra time and money on your hands, why not? It took a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice to get to where you are now and suddenly it's just easier to entertain options and indulge oneself in ways that would have seemed frivolous "up north".

Another influencer of inventory levels is something quite unique to Paseo.. the amount of step-up buyers that we have. It's still amazing to me (in a good way) how many Paseo purchasers already own something here and are making the choice to spend more money and upgrade to something larger and stay right here in the community. In fact, a majority of the single family home sales in the Esperanza neighborhood are to current Paseo owners that are upgrading from a condo, villa, or casita they already have. And of those folks, some choose to keep their prior home and rent it out annually, while others opt to sell. You'd be very surprised how many of the homes on the market are owned by people that have more than one property in Paseo.

But at least at this point in time, locally there are more homes for sale than there are ready, willing, and able purchasers. Will that change? Of course. The only variable is when, not if.

So when you hear about real estate inventory shortages and escalating record-breaking pricing, just know that's absolutely not our story down here. We are instead in a buyer's market with amazing opportunities just ripe for the picking. So what might be real news on somewhat of a national level, is really just kinda fake news down here.

April 6, 2018

When your home's on the market for sale, you never know which "looker" that walks thru the front door is going to end up becoming the next owner. You therefore need to treat every single showing like you're introducing your home to someone who's already made an acceptable offer on it sight unseen, but who still retains veto power over whether or not they proceed with the purchase. Whether they buy it or not all hinges on this one showing and their all important first impression.

The little details absolutely matter when you're on the market for sale. Trust me.. whatever you miss, is only helping your neighbor down the road to get their home sold quicker. Because they're not missing a trick. The beds are all made, there's no dishes in the sink, the carpet's clean, the house smells great, every lamp & light is on, soft music's playing in the background, there's no doggie waste can by the front door, which also happens to be cobweb-free, as are the exterior entry lights.

Developers understand this quite clearly and super prioritize the cleanliness and presentation of their furnished model homes. Think back to your experience visiting them.. the ambience was relaxing and bright and everything was perfectly staged, shiny, clean-smelling, and clutter-free. That's what helps them to sell their homes. Same philosophy when it comes to resales. No, we probably can't make it look like nobody ever lived there. But with a little extra effort we can be sure to always present it in it's best possible light without going crazy in the process.

I get it.. showings can feel repetitive after a while and like you're wasting your time. Going through all this trouble to "stage" your home and then vacate it just to have an unknown group of people march in and out in 10 minutes or less that you often never hear from again isn't exactly anyone's idea of a good time. But it's a necessary part of the process that eventually moves you from Point A to Point B.

Without showings, there will be no sale. And that is after all why you're on the market to being with, right?

March 22, 2018

Still lots of snowstorms going on up north, so plenty of folks are passing the time surfing the web, dreaming of the day they'll have their own piece of paradise down in the Florida sunshine. For a while it seemed like this season may not have the fits & starts associated with the past few years and that it might instead be returning to the more predictable rhythmic nature of the past. But as more time has unfolded, it seems our start/stop cycle hasn't fully dissipated... yet.

Over the past 12-days we've put three of our listings under contract to be sold. They fall within very different market segments of the community, thereby demonstrating that there is indeed interest at all price points:

- Carmel casita #805 priced at $199,000

- the Montessa at 8836 Sarita Ct priced at $465,000

- and the Jasmine II at 10948 Esteban Dr priced at $749,000

These three listings combined with our prior eleven that went under contract since November 1st, translates into 1 of our Paseo listings selling every 10-days. So every week-and-a-half we get another one of our properties sold.. certainly can't complain about that!

With consistently high inventory levels, the ones that continue to receive the most attention are those that buyers perceive as being a good value when compared to the competition. So if a property's:

- list price is lower than other like-kind homes

- and/or the level of options, upgrades & features are higher

- and/or the location & view are superior,

then that's the one that'll receive the most showings, eventually leading to offers and a contract.

Condition and price continue to be crucial factors if a property is to attract any serious interest when there's anywhere from 85-100 others on the market, all competing for a limited number of serious and capable purchasers.

Owners therefore need to be sure their property is in tip-top shape and priced as close to their personal "pain threshold" as possible, something sellers can of course only define for themselves.

Even then, that certainly won't guarantee a sale... but it will greatly increase those odds.

February 19, 2018

So far, the 2017-2018 season has been a very good one for Paseo Properties at Morris & Hunt Realty. The number of our listings that have sold, as well as some of the prices that have been attained, are quite encouraging as we enter a few key months for sales.

Of the 25 Paseo listings thus far in our portfolio for this season, 5 went under contract and have already closed and 6 are currently Pending Sales. That means that we've secured contracts for 44% of our listings, with 14 others currently available for purchase. And of those 14, several have second showings scheduled with varying degrees of interest expressed by potential purchasers.

These are the 11 properties that we've sold/closed so far this season, 36% of which we've sold ourselves that did not involve a co-broke or cooperating agent:

- 10953 Esteban Dr (Montessa II) List Price $589,000  Sold 12/15/17 $565,000

- 11751 Rosalinda Ct (Montessa) List price $465,000  Sold 12/29/17 $455,000

- Capistrano #6402 (furnished) List price $205,000  Sold 1/26/18 $205,000

- 10964 Esteban Dr (Montessa II) List price $650,000  Sold 1/31/18 $625,000

- 8622 Renata Ct (Tivoli III) List price $519,000  Sold 2/2/18 $505,000

- 10959 Esteban Dr (Jasmine II) List price $840,000  Sale Pending

- 8380 Dario Way (Montessa) List price $539,000  Sale Pending

- 8244 Provencia Ct (Sicily) List price $399,900  Sale Pending

- 11067 Esteban Dr (Granada) List price $355,000  Sale Pending

- Laguna #2708 (furnished) List price $249,000  Sale Pending

- Santa Isabella #4107 (furnished) List price $185,000  Sale Pending

You can view photos & floor plans for any of these properties by visiting the Our Listings page of this website by clicking here

Our current inventory ranges in price from $204,900 for Carmel Casita #805, up to $799,900 for the spectacular Jasmine II at 10948 Esteban Drive. And while showing activity did take quite a hit when the stock market craziness kicked in, thankfully there have been some renewed signs of life over the past couple of days!

As purchasers get serious again about committing to a Florida real estate purchase, the value that Paseo represents should once again continue to drive market momentum.

February 3, 2018

I've heard from a few folks asking why we don't post the prices that our listings actually sell for. Since that's something we've always done, I figured they can't be the only ones unable to locate that info on the website and maybe it was time for a little navigational walk-thru..

We publish all of our company's listings on the "Our Listings" page under the "For Sale" tab, by price, starting with the most expensive one on top. This page was formerly titled "Featured Properties" and I'm thinking maybe the new Our Listings page name will help a bit too.

Once on the Our Listings page, the property addresses (or unit numbers in the case of a condo) are links that you can click on that will bring you to the property page specific to that listing. On the listing's individual property page, you'll find an awful lot of information there.. a photo slideshow, a link for the floor plan, another one for the site plan showing the property's specific location within Paseo, and an overall property description. And all that info will continue to be available on the website, even after a property has sold.

Think of the Our Listings page as a real-time overview for our company's activity within the community for the most recent three dozen or so listing transactions. When we've got a New Listing, it will be labeled as such for about the first two weeks. When we've got a price reduction, we post the JUST REDUCED info there as well. When a property goes under contract it will have it's status changed to SALE PENDING, and when closed it'll be changed to SOLD. All the while the individual property pages never go away..

Once sold, the property address is still the link that takes you to that listing's individual property page. At the top you will see the original list price that the property came on the market for and under that the date the property sold and what the sales price was. All the information that was there when a property was on the market for sale, will continue to be there once it's actually sold.

Buyers as well as potential sellers should find the breadth of information there to be extremely useful when trying to get an understanding of what we have available on the market for sale, what's gone under contract, and how much someone was willing to pay for something.

Check it out!

January 27, 2018

No matter how long you've been in real estate, there's a new first-time experience waiting for you around every single corner. Try this one on for size..

How about being under contract for a few days on the sale of a property and having the agent for the buyer call you up to and say they just realized that they're under contract for the wrong price? You read that right. The contract that the agent drafts on behalf of their own buyer was not for the price that they intended to offer our seller. Say what??

So let me get this straight... you drafted the contract, your buyer signed it, it was sent to us to present to the seller, they accepted the offer, you were sent a fully-executed copy and a few days later the most important number on the contract got noticed for the very first time? Really.. OK. 

Everyone makes mistakes. But in this business, don't you think that's kind of a whopper? And this gets rectified how? Oh. By me contacting the seller and explaining the mistake that a higher price was offered than intended. And we can expect the seller to respond to that how?

Let's just say that conversation went exactly as I expected it would. The seller felt strongly that a deal was a deal and if the buyer no longer wanted the property for that price, we'd move on to find the next buyer that would. Of course the seller felt that if this most basic of contractual details was incorrect and a revision was being requested this early on, what other aspects of the contract might also become a target of interest as things progressed? The analogy about pulling the thread on the sweater seemed to be a perfect fit for where we found ourselves.

The other agent was of course disappointed, but certainly not at all surprised when updated with the seller's reaction. After a little bit of time the return phone call came that we were "still on track" and that the agent would "make it right" with their buyer. Based on the situation, that was of course the perfect outcome.

What a difference just a little bit of extra time and attention-to-detail upfront would have made for everyone involved.

January 15, 2018

Whenever you buy or sell real estate, you're gonna pay something extra to get in or get out. Just one of those hard cold facts of life. Now that we're past the holidays and peak season is literally right around the corner, one of the questions so often asked by buyers and sellers is "what else am I going to have to pay for if I decide to do this".

Sellers would like to think they can just add closing costs to the bottom-line that they're hoping to net. Unfortunately that's not how we can assign market value and a corresponding list price to a property. And buyers would like to think that sellers will pay for everything in order to get their home sold. Real estate veterans reading this know that in the real world, neither of these perspectives is realistic.

Sellers will have the real estate commission and a couple of other somewhat significant costs to factor in. In Lee County, it's traditional for sellers to pay for the new owner's title insurance policy. (In Collier County, it's traditionally the buyer who pays). That cost is a promulgated rate throughout the State of FL and a quick Google check will locate an online calculator that'll show you the cost based on a hypothetical sales price. For example $250k is $1325.00 and $500k is $2575.00. In return for paying that cost, the seller gets to select the title company that will handle the closing process.

The other higher-ticket cost that sellers are responsible for is the documentary stamps tax to record the deed. This is .70 per $100, or $7 per $1000. So on a hypothetical $250k sales price, the seller's looking at a cost of $1750.

There are of course other miscellaneous fees that will need to be paid at the time of closing, but those are the main ones to factor in when estimating what you expect to net from a sale. Also keep in mind that you'll have prorations as of the date of closing.. some which may be credited to the seller (like pre-paid HOA fees) and some which may be debited (like an unpaid tax bill that covers a time period you owned the property). But prorations are not really closing costs (the costs to close a real estate transaction), but rather ownership costs. It feels the same because it's money you pay out when you sell, but they're actually very different from each other.

Buyers on the other hand will have any associated lender fees if the purchase is being financed. But whether it's financed or a cash purchase, if the property's located in a gated community you should plan on paying a capital contribution or transfer fee of some type to one or more of the associations that the buyer will become a member of. In Paseo there's a $1500 capital contribution fee payable to the Master Association and one for the specific Neighborhood Association that the property's located in. Currently this ranges from $0 up to the amount equal to one quarter's HOA payment. There's also usually an application fee that's required for purchasing a home in a planned community, which in the case of Paseo is $100. Like sellers, there will also be prorations for items that may have already been paid in advance that a buyer needs to reimburse them for. Again, items like annual property taxes and HOA fees being the most common.

By investing a little time in understanding the costs associated with being a buyer or seller, the chances will be greatly diminished for significant surprises down the road.

December 31, 2017

With a New Year right around the corner tomorrow, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to thank each and every one of you that in any way at all has contributed to the continued success that we are so privileged to enjoy right here in Paseo.

I'm talking directly to you:

- if you've ever listed a property for sale with us

- purchased a property through us

- recommended our services to a friend, neighbor or business partner

- visited this website on a regular basis (and maybe even shared links to this blog)

I am very aware that EVERY action (large and small) is what has contributed to our outstanding track record of achievement during these past 9 years!

Please know that I sincerely appreciate every single opportunity I've been presented with. I never take your kindnesses and loyalty for granted, and am continually humbled at the lengths to which our clients will go to in order to include us in this Paseo journey we're all on.

May 2018 be your best year yet, and may it bring you more of everything that matters most to you in this world.

So from my home to yours... Happy New Year everyone!

December 10, 2017

Most of the times the contract that's used for the sale of real estate in Paseo is an "As-Is" contract. Even though the property is technically being sold as-is, there are perceptions that Buyers & Sellers have that an agent will want to take the time to explain to the party that they're working with. 

From the Buyer's side, they are agreeing to purchase a property in as-is condition. But combined wth that, Buyers retain the right to have the property inspected, unless they are waiving inspections in order to make an offer potentially more appealing to a Seller. Here however, it's way more common for a Buyer not to waive their right to inspect.

With the right to inspect the property comes the right to cancel the contract during the inspection contingency period (as per the contract, but usually 15-days) "in the Buyer's sole discretion" if for any reason whatsoever they are not satisfied with the results of the inspection. Buyers can request the repair of deficient items, but the Sellers are not obligated to make any repairs at all, based on it being an As-Is contract.

But almost universally Sellers instead do choose to make all (or most) requested repairs because they know that the Buyers can cancel the contract for any reason whatsoever during the inspection contingency period.

So even though a sale is drawn up on an As-Is contract and the Sellers aren't required to make any repairs, almost all As-Is Contracts will end up with an agreement between the Buyers & Sellers to have some repair items taken care of by the Sellers prior to closing.

It's important for Sellers to understand that it's the Buyers who are really the ones with all the leverage regarding how deficient inspection items are addressed, because they're the ones who have the right to cancel the contract.

So if the Sellers goal is to continue with the contract in-hand, there will probably need to be some kind of negotiated agreement with the Buyers if all parties are hoping to move forward in the direction towards a successful closing.

And please keep in mind that since real estate agents are not attorneys, if you have questions regarding the interpretation of your individual contract, it's always recommended to seek the advice of professional legal counsel.

November 11, 2017

As season approaches, we continue to be on the lookout for tangible signs of market momentum or what could potentially be viewed as a trending market shift. And if so, is it across-the-board, or rather just within certain price categories.

What's been occurring over the past few weeks has been an uptick for inquiries and overall interest in the largest and most expensive homes within the community. The entry-level under $250k price points have been seeing a tad more activity, but what's most notable is our higher-end. Currently the slowest segment seems to be the $300-$500k price range.

Most of the properties priced over $500,000 have been seeing some kind of buyer activity during the past few weeks. Sometimes that's reflected as decent showing activity... sometimes as agents having questions on specific properties that their buyers have asked them to get answers to... and on others it's been actual offers to purchase.

Case in point was a new listing this past week for a $650,000 home in Esperanza. Within a couple of days it was under contract to a buyer of ours before it even hit the MLS! It's been quite a while since that occurred on one of the more expensive homes in Paseo. But that ties right into the increase in showings and inquiries on similar priced properties in the community. So hopefully it's not just an anomaly, but rather more of an indicator regarding a market shift that will trickle down and eventually include all price points.

I've commented before how I've noticed over my past almost 25-years down here that when a market goes through an anemic sales period, the increase in activity at the highest price points within a community is what most often serves as a pre-cursor to shifting market forces and dynamics.

Will that be the case this time around? We'll have to see. But at the very least, it is an encouraging sign to see in early November.

October 1, 2017

September is routinely a super slow month for real estate sales in our area. So when you combine that with Irma's disruptive visit on the 10th, you get an exceptionally slow month for both realtors, and sellers.

As far as overall Paseo market activity during the past 30-days, there were:

- 7 properties that came on the market as New Listings.. shown as "Active" on the report below

[5 Casitas, 1 Townhome, and 1 Flat. There weren't any Twin Villas or Single Family homes that came on the market in September]

- 5 properties went Under Contract, but have not closed yet.. shown on the report as "Pending" or "Pending with Contingencies"

[2 Casitas, 1 Flat, 1 Townhome, and 1 Single Family home. No twin villas went Under Contract this past month]

- 1 property Closed.. shown as "Sold"

[A Santa Maria townhome listed on 6/2/17 for $215,000 that sold for $191,000]

At this time there are not any significant indications one way or the other as to how this upcoming season will fare. Showing activity is extremely light, but that in and of itself is not unusual for this time of the year.. especially considering that we are only 3 weeks out from Irma. October will hopefully give more insight as the month progresses and more and more folks start arriving.

Click here to view the September Market Activity report including photos, addresses and property descriptions.

September 19, 2017

It's now been nine days since Irma stormed thru the area on Sunday September 10th.

Without cheating and peeking at the answer below, if you were guessing, how many properties do you think have gone under contract in the SW FL marketplace during those 9 days?

Out of curiosity, I just performed that search in our local MLS and found that the answer is 137.. 62 of which went Pending between yesterday and today alone!

Think about that for a moment..

Most areas had downed trees and landscaping debris that had to be cleaned up, some localized street flooding and of course no electricity for a few days. Some in fact are still waiting for electric service to be restored. Yet even under these circumstances, combined with non-stop Irma images from the 24/7 news cycle still being endlessly featured, deals are being struck and real estate investments continue to be made in this immediate aftermath of the storm.

Here's the price points of the properties that went under contract:
- 4 are list-priced between $1,239,900 and $2,795,000
- 7 are priced from $519,000 - $689,000
- 6 are priced from $418,500 - $499,000
- 20 are priced from $300,000 - $399,900
- 47 from $204,700 - $299,900
- 53 under $200,000

If you think about it though, you probably shouldn't be surprised. There's a certain segment of the buying population that makes it a point to strike while they believe the iron is hot. They know that the sunshine's not going anywhere and that our winter weather absolutely cannot be beat! That combined with Florida's world-famous beaches and an extremely tax-friendly environment due to not having a state income tax. These are just some of the long-term intangibles that will continue to make Florida one of the most desirable places in which to own real estate.

Do you think these 137 buyers might be onto something timing-wise??

September12, 2017

Now that Irma has passed, it's safe to say that Paseo was so blessed to have dodged a super-serious bullet from this monster storm system that had the potential to strike with absolutely devastating force and effect.

From everything I know at this time, the extent of our damage seems limited to the loss of electricity, some torn screens, blown off roof tiles, downed trees and some streets that have water pooled in them.

This email was just distributed to Members:

Dear Paseo Members,
The Village Center survived Hurricane Irma intact. The Village Center was inspected this morning. There is no major, visible, physical damage to the building or the pool areas. There is some minor cosmetic damage such as small branches down in the pool area and in the Village Center Circle.
Once power is restored and the water is deemed safe, KW will work  quickly to open Member Services, the gym and the library. Preparations are in progress to clean & restore functionality to the property. The pools will take longer to open as the pumps and infrastructure need to be evaluated for potential damage.

Once it is determined the pool is safe to operate, the process of cleaning the water and preparing it for use will begin. We will send updates on the use of the pool as we go through the process. 

If power is restored by Thursday, KW will attempt to reopen The Tiki for Beverage service only this weekend.
The Board and KW have been in touch directly with FLP and the Sheriff's department for updates on reestablishing power and other emergency services. Power is being restored quickly to the area, but there is no estimate when it be restored to Paseo. Additionally, we have been advised that gas supplies in the area are diminished and that refueling gas facilities has not yet started.  Therefore, gas shortages are likely to continue in the immediate future and is a recurring theme throughout the State. 

Additionally, we have been advised that due to the high demand for emergency and vendor services, restoring complete functionality will take some time. KW has preferential agreements with many of the Village Center vendors that give is this priority.  
We appreciate everyone's patience as we work to restore all amenities as quickly as possible. 
Board of Directors Master Association

I'm sure that most of us pictured much, much worse as we heard the forecast and watched the cataclysmic and dire predictions on TV.

Even though dealing with the aftermath and cleanup from a storm such as this is never a pleasant experience, we all need to find time for a quiet moment of reflection and thank our lucky stars.

September 8, 2017

To each and every one of you that has reached out to me in one way or another, thank you so much for all of your kind thoughts and prayers.

Paseo is such an awesome community with so many incredible people that I am just so fortunate to call friends. It is times like this that you can't help but be reminded of the incredible folks that have chosen to call this wonderful place of ours home.

Please know that each and every one of you are so important to me and that you are all on my mind.

It is imperative that you be safe and that you be smart. Material things can always be replaced, life cannot. 

As long as we have each other, we will come out of this just fine. We can then face whatever we need to, as individual homeowners and as neighbors.

God Bless you, your family and your home.

September 1, 2017

I know so many folks just can't seem to squeeze in enough SnapChat, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter in any given day. But after a while, don't they miss interacting with some real live people? Like anything, it can have it's time and place and serve a purpose in today's ultra crazy busy always-connected world. But not everything related to one's life or community translates well to the internet, truth & accuracy often being the first casualties.

Years before Trump I had realized just how much fake news was out there and had stopped visiting these sites to get my info. I often found it amazing to see how the loudest and most frequent voices were routinely the ones that knew the absolute least.

What got me thinking about this was the email to the residents from the management company this past week addressing some community misinformation they've apparently become aware of that's been posted out there on some of these sites and forums. What a shame that it's got to a point that they feel they have to invest time and personnel in something like this.

If you have a question or concern about something, doesn't it seem to make sense to go directly to the source?  I always try to make it my business to connect with the one person I can think of that can give me the answers I know I can take to the bank. That's who we should be reaching out to and relying on. The entities and individuals that we believe are the most knowledgeable ones that are available to us.

Same if you have a complaint about something. Doesn't it only make sense to get it into the hands of someone that actually has a shot at being able to do something about it? Ditto with comments and ideas... get in touch with the person that has some actual power to influence the end-result.

It doesn't do anyone any good to be circulating inaccurate information. We have a lot of friends and neighbors working tirelessly on our multitude of HOA boards to continue to make Paseo one of the premier communities in the area. And I'd like to think we can all agree that one of the best ways to show appreciation for their efforts is to give them the respect they deserve by getting the facts straight before participating in online chatter.

Certainly that can't be asking too much.

August 2, 2017

I know a lot of my Canadian clients and friends are going to be interested in the fact that on July 27th U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York) introduced the "Canadian Snowbird Visa Act" into the U.S. House.

Under the bill – which would need to be passed by Congress and signed by the president to be law – Canadians would be allowed to stay an extra two months in the United States if they own or lease a home.

Deutch says the bipartisan measure would be good for business because Canadians visiting Florida add about $4.5 billion annually to the state's economy.

"If our chilly neighbors to the north want to spend more time on our warm Florida beaches, we should welcome them with open arms," Deutch says.

Canada is the top source of international visitors to Florida, but the numbers have been falling, according to Visit Florida, the state's tourism organization. Approximately 3.2 million Canadians visited Florida in 2016, down 15 percent from the previous year.

Existing law limits the amount of time a Canadian visitor may spend in the U.S. to 182 days per year – about six months. Deutch's bill would permit Canadians over the age of 50 who own or rent a U.S. residence to stay in the U.S. for an additional two months each year. They would be prohibited from working for a U.S. employer or collecting public assistance, and they would still be subject to the vetting process required by law.

Source: Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (07/28/17) Swisher, Skyler

© Copyright 2017 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

July 10, 2017

Wowie-kazowie... can hardly believe it's July! Almost seems surreal.  When a friend of mine mentioned that I hadn't blogged since April, I could hardly believe it. Definitely time to put pen to paper... I mean keystrokes to keyboard.

Since my last post, Stock Development has now 100% sold out at Paseo. The sale of the last two casitas in Building 51 (the newly constructed building where the sales center was previously located) is what sealed the deal for them just a couple of weeks ago. As of this writing, they have only three new-construction properties left to close on.

As far as Paseo's resale market, we're now in our usual summer slowdown mode, as there's far less people looking this time of the year than during season. But the ones that ARE, are very serious about purchasing.

If you're currently on the market and seeing only sporadic showing activity, not to fret because you're right in line with everyone else. Season sees way more showing activity, but it usually takes a lot more showings to actually get an offer. Since "looking at houses" has always been one of the most popular recreational snowbird activities, lots more folks look at a property before sifting through the prospects to find the ones that are truly serious.

One of the single family homes that we put under contract mid-June hadn't had a showing for a few weeks before that. But then a current Paseo homeowner who was thinking about upgrading from their condo to a single family took a look at it and quickly made a cash offer with a 30-day close.

Same thing with one of our condo listings that was put under contract last Friday. VERY minimal showing activity, but someone looking at it went back twice in the same day and made a cash offer that closes by the end of this month.

So same scenario... very little buyer activity, but the folks that are actively out there searching have been extremely qualified and serious about finding and purchasing something.

The sales prices attained haven't been record-setting, but they certainly haven't been fire sale's either. The prices per sq ft considering their locations and floor plan desirability, have been right in line with previous closed sale comps within the community.

You probably know that we're not able to divulge the sales price of a property until it actually closes. But if it's our listing, once it does close we will post the info here on the website.

Regularly check back on the "Featured Properties" page for listings that have recently gone under contract and had their status changed to "Pending".

Once it closes, it will say SOLD where it once said PENDING. Click on the property address and it will take you to the webpage for that property. There it will give you the list price, closed sales price and the closing date.

Just another way to try to keep you informed on the market activity here within Paseo.

Here's to hoping you make some awesome summertime memories with your family... and stay cool!

April 5, 2017

The stats are in for the First Quarter of 2017 and the personal production for Steve Zajas has again ranked him as the #1 producing agent in Paseo with a total closed sales volume of $4,679,000. (He also has $1,069,000 in pending Paseo contracts that are scheduled to close in the next couple of weeks, but are not included in this total as they did not close during the 1st quarter)

Of the Top 25 Agents that had sales in Paseo for Q1 2017, the personal production dollar volume ranged from $199,990 up to $4,679,000.

As far as the number of transactions, Steve Zajas was also #1 for Q1 2017 with 13 total transaction sides... 9 listing (Seller) sides and 4 sale (Buyer) sides. The Agent Rankings ranged from a low of 1 transaction-side, up to a high of 13.

Of those Top 25 Agents, 14 agents had 1 transaction-side, 7 agents had 2 transaction-sides, 2 had 3, 1 had 4, and Steve had 13.

And of the Top FIVE Agents, their total dollar production for closed sales along with the number of listing sides and sales sides that represents is:

Steve Zajas - $4,679,000   Transaction sides - 13 (List 9/Sold 4)

Agent #2 - $1,012,000   Transaction sides - 3 (List 1/Sold 2)

Agent #3 - $925,100   Transaction sides - 2 (List 1/Sold 1)

Agent #4 - $821,980   Transaction sides - 4 (List 2/Sold 2)

Agent #5 - $710,000   Transaction sides - 2 (List 1/Sold 1)

Please note that the combined closed sale production for these 5 Agents represents 50% of the business that occurred in the first quarter of this year.

At this time though, there are more agents than ever listing a property for sale in Paseo that never once closed a transaction in the community! Whether they are friends or acquaintances of the seller, or simply someone willing to take the job on for a cut-rate commission, it's unclear to me as to why sellers would make that kind of decision, in this kind of market. The facts continue to clearly speak for themselves... year after year.

Talk is cheap, and the numbers don't lie. The same 3-5 agents that have consistently been doing the vast majority of business here in Paseo, continue to get the best possible job done for their sellers, while the rest just languish directionless on the market.

Can ANY agent get every single one of their Paseo listings sold in 90-days? Absolutely not. That would be impossible for anyone to accomplish under current market conditions. Impossible.

But as a seller, why wouldn't you at least stack the deck in your favor? It just seems to make sense to do business with those that are actually DOING business, doesn't it??

And for those willing to work harder than ever for less money, I say go for it.

I've found that in life, everyone knows what they're worth.

March 26, 2017

That's actually one of the tougher questions to answer, because it totally depends on who you ask and who's doing the measuring. And when it comes down to it, who's opinion should you really place the most weight on. Discussions about size can definitely (and more often than not) end up being all over the map.

Case in point:

I was recently working wth single family buyers of mine that looked at several properties that could have potentially worked for them. We looked at the homes that were around the size and price range they were looking for. When it was getting closer to decision time and we headed back to one of them for another showing, the buyers decided that they wanted to measure some of the rooms in order to start furniture planning.

Keep in mind that this particular property was not a listing of mine and we were of course utilizing the information the agent had provided in MLS... the name of the floor plan, the home's overall square footage, room dimensions, etc.

So during this follow-up showing, the Buyers brought up the subject of the size of the home. They had noticed that the square footage was listed in Zillow as 1649 sq ft, but the listing had it at 1809 sq ft. A quick pull up of the property on the property appraiser's website showed that it was also listed there at 1649 sq ft. At this point, there wasn't really anything all that unusual about the discrepancy, as I've noticed in the past that:

a) Zillow is not a consistently reliable provider of information, and

b) the property appraiser's website will often show square footage as a totally different number than what the developer's brochure will show for a specific floor plan.

But as more and more measuring was done, it seemed that none of the rooms were coming out that close to what was shown on the floor plan.

What first appeared could possibly be happening, was that the property had been disclosed as an 1809 sq ft "San Remo", but maybe in reality it was a 1649 sq ft San Remo I. We've had three different versions of that floor plan built in Paseo... San Remo I, San Remo II, and San Remo III.  All have variations from each other with changes to both room dimensions and overall size, as the design of the San Remo evolved over time.

So I went directly to one of my sources with the developer and asked if they could provide me with a copy of the actual floor plan that was used to build that home. When the information came back to me that it was indeed a 1649 sq ft home, the real news flash was that it wasn't even a San Remo after all.. it was a Verona! Both floor plans have the exact same layout and "feel" the same way inside. But nonetheless, it was being marketed as something that it was not.

The square footage difference was not what was of paramount importance to these particular buyers, as the home itself with it's 2/beds +den, lakefront location, southern exposure, pool/spa, and nice level of fit & finish were what they were looking for, and had found.

But it got me thinking about the whole square footage thing and how all these different entities end up coming up with different numbers when they're all measuring the size of the exact same property. There's the developer's brochure (after all, they're the ones who built it), the local taxing authorities, the appraiser that goes out during the financing process, and of course the multitude of public real estate related websites.

And almost as if on cue, a few days later my daily realtor email update had an article in it that dealt with this very subject. I decided to retain it so that I could use it in this column when I had my next opportunity to post a blog. It's just another piece of information for your knowledge-bank arsenal when you're out there looking at properties.

But when push comes to shove, only you can decide exactly how much size matters to you...

How to calculate a home’s square footage? No one really knows

 Appraisers, developers, builders, real estate professionals, tax assessors and architects all measure spaces differently, and no universal standard exists for calculating a home's square footage – and it also varies regionally.

For example, some pros calculate square footage based on the interior dimensions of finished living space. Some may count the garage or finished basement in the square footage; others may not. There's no universal agreement on whether to count the square footage of balconies, basements or garages. There's not even agreement on whether to count the walls or not, as some measure outside the home and others measure inside.

In a recent Houzz.com survey, 58 percent of 400 consumers said estimates of their home's square footage varied among real estate professionals.

However, square footage is an important number when it comes to buying real estate. Buyers may even narrow their home search online and compare homes based on price per square foot, and some may not even know a 1,950-square foot home exists if they search only for homes 2,000-square feet or larger.

"People want more space and have become very sensitive to that (square footage) number," says Robert Edelstein, a real estate and business professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Real estate professionals, however, are not required to verify the square footage cited in the listings database, says Quincy Virgilio, chairman of the board of directors at MLS Listings. Real estate pros often draw from several sources, such as county records, developer floor plans and previous sale listings.

Buyers who want to know more about the home's true size need to ask more about how the size was computed. For example, they should ask the source of the measurements and what is included in that number, such as private outdoor terraces, the garage, basement, utility closets or even staircases.

"Developers tend to say, 'We are selling you this much square footage.' But is it really living area?" says Chip Wagner, a real estate appraiser based in Naperville, Ill. Wagner told The Wall Street Journal that he spots size discrepancies of more than 50 square feet about 20 percent of the time in the homes he appraises.

Encourage your buyers to look past the "big number" and instead focus on the dimensions of individual rooms, suggests home builder Brian Hoffman, a principal with Red Seal Homes, based in Northbrook, Ill.

Source: "How Big Is Your House? That Depends," The Wall Street Journal (March 10, 2017) [Log-in required.]

© Copyright 2017 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

March 3, 2017

That's got to be the #1 question I hear whenever I see one of my friends or clients in the community. Actually, I think it's replaced the more common salutation of "Hi Steve" or "How are you doing". I totally get it though. It's the #1 thing (or close to the #1 thing) on lots of homeowners minds. And if they're running into me, it's their chance for a quick synopsis of what the market temperature may be.

Even though we're barely into the third month of the new year, the past two months represent just about half of our prime selling season. So I figured it couldn't hurt to take a look at the numbers and give a quick rundown of Paseo's documentable sales since January 1st 2017.

Because I'm someone that just loves being busy all of the time, when things do slow down, it feels like an absolute eternity to me. But when I stop to reflect on the YTD sales statistics in the community, I have to say that overall I am quite pleased with production.

I just ran an MLS Broker Market Share Report and it showed that so far this year, I've personally closed seven transaction sides (5 listing & 2 selling) representing a total of $3,089,000 worth of Paseo real estate. Those numbers firmly established me as the #1 producing agent in Paseo, with no other agent in the Top Ten having more than two transaction sides or $730,000 worth of closed transactions in the community.

I also have five transaction sides (4 listing & 1 selling) representing another $1,378,890 of Paseo properties that have gone under contract since 1/1/17 and are now just waiting to close. That's a total of almost $4.5 million worth of personal production for the first 58 days of the year.

Those numbers are right up there when compared to the same time period in prior years. The difference now is that there are way more properties on the market, with each almost universally taking longer to sell than it would have in the past.  So for all involved, at times it can just feel  like not much is happening. But the numbers say that that's just not the case.

So when I'm asked how things are selling, in the grand scheme of things, I certainly can't complain...

February 23, 2017

This week is starting to feel more like a traditional mid-February one should feel in the SW Florida real estate business. Showing requests have definitely picked up, although not yet remotely rising to the level of our past statistical high-season norms.

Offers have come in on a couple of listings and there are other contracts mere inches away from being put together. Some of the offers have been very reasonable, while others have been quite un-reasonable and rejected by the sellers. With current inventory at historically high levels approaching 100 properties on the market in Paseo, some buyers are obviously going to want to see just how anxious the seller may be to get their home sold.

But if a property is priced right, there are still homes being sold for full price, or very close to full list price. In a market such as this, price can indeed be the most critical aspect of the offering. Condition and presentation also factor right up there. But when scrolling through the list of homes that are for sale, buyers and their agents are often going to select the ones that are the most appealing price-wise to go out and take a look at first.

That being said... there'll always be those unique properties that based on their location, views and floor plan desirability, sell quickly and for higher prices than others on the market will. No matter what the sales environment may be, trophy properties that define "location location" have built-in demand that tends to serve their owners quite well over the long haul.

So while there are currently lots of properties to choose from on the market, you should always select the best possible views and location that your budget will allow. The least expensive one of anything is often not the best performing one over time. Both from an appreciation standpoint, as well as liquidity.

One day, every buyer becomes a seller. And surely you want to buy something that someone else is going to want to buy from YOU!

January 29, 2017

It's starting to seem within the realm of possible that what Trump giveth, Trump has the power to taketh away. I doubt very much that it's because of any specific action that's been taken and just probably nothing more than waning enthusiasm.

There was about eight weeks of significantly more activity in our local real estate marketplace... an uptick in showing requests, offers and successful contracts that were negotiated and put together, some of which have closed and some that are yet to close.

But the same switch that was flicked on around Election Day, was flicked off about a week before the Inauguration. Inquiries and showing activity slowed down dramatically and with that, any offers or would-be contracts.

What has increased in the past few weeks is our inventory levels. As of this writing, there are now 94 properties on the market here. That's about 40 units more than the 5% of the total number of homes in the community being offered for sale that would define a balanced market.

Anything more than 55 properties for sale in Paseo creates a buying opportunity that puts downward pricing pressure on those homes. There's been a significant number of recent price reductions as the properties that have been on the market attempt to compete with those that are coming on fresh at lower prices than those that have been offered for sale and are as yet unsold.

Our total number of days on the market has also continued to increase within the community. As we are just about to enter the best two sales months of the year in our area, those properties representing the best value, in the best condition and in the best locations, are the ones that buyers will approach first when making their offers.

I'm anticipating that we will see our normal uptick in sales activity during February & March. And if combined with that we see a slowing down in the number of properties coming onto the market, we should be able to work our way through a good portion of this inventory and move towards a sales environment that is again conducive to rising property values.

Paseo is undervalued at this time.. make no mistake about it. There are some absolutely fantastic buying opportunities for the astute purchaser that understands the artificial and temporary market conditions that influence property values to the negative in a community that's just experienced the effects from over a year-and-a-half of extremely aggressive developer pricing in order to move the last of it's remaining new-construction inventory.

But on the positive side, there have just recently been some extremely significant high-end sales in Paseo, which in the past has proven to be a reliable predictor of the beginnings of a market shift within a neighborhood or community.

I've consistently noticed that the "smart money" appears to move first as they gobble up the prime properties, and then there's those that follow... sort of like a real-life version of Follow-the-Leader, but for grownups. They buy the best, but they buy it right!

And what a time this is to do just that!!

December 17, 2016

It's definitely not my imagination, because someone absolutely flipped the Paseo real estate switch on Wednesday morning November 9th. And that would be from the OFF position to ON! Holy smokes!!

Since then, we've written contracts on over $3 million worth of Paseo-specific real estate, some of which had been on the market for up to 10 months!

And it's been a real nice variety and mix of things... not just one specific price range or type of property.  There's been everything from condos in the low $200,000's up to $500,000+ single family homes.

Is it the infamous "Trump Bump"? Rising interest rates? Or a combination of both. Can't be just the interest rates, because about half of our recent transactions have been cash with no financing involved.

Interestingly, buyers have been commenting about how they've been monitoring specific properties online "for quite a while" at places such as this website.  Many have only wanted to see just the one specific property that they've been watching. And that's the one they're now under contract on.

Whatever it is, there's no slowdown in sight. Not every property's been getting attention...yet. After all, season's just beginning.

But at current artificially depressed pricing levels, now is surely the time to buy. If you don't, please take note of today's pricing on the particular floorplan you like. Then compare that against the prices next year at this time.

Your choice... participate, or spectate.

December 4, 2016

There's only five left... total new-construction properties remaining in Paseo, that is. There's one single-family home for $640,000, a casita for $215,000, and three 2-bed townhomes ranging in price from $190,000-$205,000.

Do they represent good value for what they are? They sure do. Do you have to be flexible with floorplans, options/upgrades, location and view? Definitely. If you have specific things in mind on your must-have list, you'll need to spend some time looking at and comparing some of the resales     on the market that could potentially work for you.

The sales center has now been demolished and the final casita building that's being built where it once stood is well underway construction-wise.   Five of the six units in this building are now sold... one's available. As season ends, these homes should be completed, ready to be closed on, and    the last six families to buy a new-construction home in Paseo will begin the process of moving and settling in. How exciting for our community as construction is about to wind down and we transition into a finished neighborhood!

With almost 25 years of local real estate experience to reflect on, what comes to mind is how well so many past purchasers have tended to do that invested in communities that were at the exact same stage that Paseo is now. When you reach the point that new-construction is basically sold-out, often resale inventory is correspondingly high.

That's due in large part to the inability of private owners to be able to compete head-to-head with the developer's closeout pricing and the allure of "brand-new" with a builder's warranty. High inventory defines a buyers market with opportunities that often deliver rewards that can often seem like pie-in-the-sky at the time of purchase.

Trust your instincts, stake your claim, and just sit tight. I'm confident you'll be glad that you did.

November 14, 2016

The signs of season's arrival are everywhere... including a much-welcomed breath of life in our real estate marketplace. The summer has been exceedingly slow, but we've been watching with hopeful eyes to see how things start to "feel" by mid-November. Well here we are..

Be it ever so slight, there has indeed been a noticeable uptick in both showing activity and sales over the past two weeks. We put a townhouse listing of ours under contract that's been on the market for almost 10 months, listed a casita and had it under contract to a purchaser in 8 days, had a buyer that we sold a resale end-unit townhouse to, and yet another one that's currently negotiating on one of the two remaining new-construction single family homes. Also several listings that had multiple showings in a 7-day period... it's been a while since we've seen that occur.

I'd be the first to say that's not very impressive at first glance. But considering that there have only been 5 resales properties in all of Paseo that went under contract during the preceding five month period, a sale per month transitioning into a sale per week is huge! Two weeks does not a market make, but it's the exact kind of early sign that we were hoping to see as we started to approach Thanksgiving.

There's been no activity to speak of above the $300,000 price point, with the focus being mostly on properties priced at $250,000 or less. As of this morning there are 86 properties offered for sale in MLS, which is about 60% higher than it should be in order to establish a balanced market that's weighted neither in buyer's or seller's favor.

New construction homes in Paseo are just about sold out with right around 8 total units remaining available. The last multi-family building is currently under construction... a casita 6-plex. This season will surely see our full transition to an all-resale community.

With the election over and people starting to focus on their own lives again, we're cautiously optimistic about success for the upcoming season. If you're on the fence about buying, it's time to make your move. Time will show what an awesome opportunity this is to secure your place in paradise!


October 10, 2016

The launch of our new website is finally here.

In-between all of the seemingly endless editing and fine-tuning that's involved in a project such as this, a lot of the prior blogs were lost in the process. Some were able to be recovered, but most disappeared into cyberspace during this transition. Sorry to say that it's not a complete retrospect any longer, but it's just one of those "it is what it is" situations..

Other than the obvious visual differences, this website also functions differently. Most of the information and features that were on the old website are still here, while others are gone. Since Paseo only has a handful of new-construction properties remaining, all of the pages related to the building of a new community have now been deleted... the construction progress photos, pricing & availability, and developer promotions & specials. All content on this website is now related to the community and amenities, information on the surrounding area, and the specific resale or rental properties that are currently on the market. 

Each of our listings now has it's own showcase page on the website, which you can visit by clicking on any of the addresses on the "Our Listings" page. When one of our listings sells, it will be added to the "Our Sold Listings" page. Just click on the address and it will bring you to the property information sheet that will have the interior photos, the description and original list price, as well as the sales price that it actually sold for.

You should find that the pages will now load quicker, as the photos and content have been divided up over many pages vs all listed on one. The platform itself has also been upgraded, allowing for higher quality photos and what should also be an overall better visual experience for you.

Even though there have been many sets of eyes double and triple-checking for spelling errors, properly functioning links that take you to the appropriately requested pages, and photos and descriptions that correspond to the correct subject matter or property listing, you may still find an error here and there. I ask for your patience in advance if you find something that isn't completely accurate. It's been a huge process and it is most definitely still a work in progress.

It continues to be my goal to bring you the most complete one-stop information resource that's available for all things Paseo.

Enjoy... and thank you for visiting!


August 5, 2016

Buyers definitely have the upper-hand in Paseo right now. 
Market conditions are almost always defined by inventory levels. 
A "balanced market" in Paseo would be 50 or so properties for sale.
But as of today there are app. 80 properties on the market, 
thereby creating more supply than is being absorbed 
by the current ready/willing pool of buyers. 

Only 4 resale properties have gone under contract in the past 60 days. 
Of those 4, we represent the buyers, sellers, (or both) 
on 50% of the business that's been written. 
The list prices have ranged from $210k for a 2-bed town home 
to $445k for a lakefront single family home. 

The new-construction here is just about sold out.
There are app. four casitas that remain,
eight 2-bed town homes and
eight single family homes.
That's twenty new properties left
in an app. 1100 home community.
That's it.

If you are contemplating a purchase and 
have the option of coming down to the area 
prior to November, DO IT!! 
If you buy while few are looking, 
an offer will almost surely receive 
totally different consideration now, 
vs year's end. 

If you wait to come down to buy 
once everyone else has started to arrive, 
sellers know it is the beginning of season 
and your strategic advantage will be gone. 

And what opportunities there are!!
There are many properties on the resale market 
that are list-priced tens of thousands of dollars LESS than 
what the same floor plan sold for in a lesser location in 2015!
My strong advice is that buyers should be
all over this current market like "white on rice".

Sellers that are in a position to sit tight, 
should do exactly that and revisit the market 
at some future point in time. 
Use the inventory levels to gauge whether it's 
potentially a good time to come on the market or not. 

 In Paseo's case, 55 properties is the equilibrium 
that will define a balanced market 
with no clear advantage to either buyers or sellers. 
Much higher than that and the advantage goes to buyers...
much lower and the advantage goes to sellers. 

 Florida's historic norm for defining a balanced market 
is when 5% of the total number of homes 
in a neighborhood or community is available for sale.
In Paseo's 1100 home community, that number is 55. 

If for some reason you would prefer 
to have less properties to choose from
and pay more money for the same thing, 
waiting until season to pursue a purchase 
should be your course of action. 

make it a point to visit us before Thanksgiving.
You'll end up with something to really be thankful for!!


The End is Near
July 4, 2016

The Sales Center's last day will be Monday July 11th.
On the following day, the sales staff will be moving out.
There's only a handful of remaining homes & condos to be sold,
which will be done out of the San Remo model in Esperanza.
The current building is scheduled to be removed 
from the community anytime after July 13th. 

This is going to be a HUGE change from what 
the residents and clients have grown accustomed to 
over the last decade of development for Paseo. 
No longer will someone be able to just stop by 
and get a tour of the furnished model homes, 
pick up some floor plans, get pricing, 
and catch up on when the next building 
is going to be released for sale. 
All that will be a distant memory in the coming weeks.

 if someone wants to be introduced to the community
  and tour the amenities and see homes for sale, 
they can only do that with the assistance of a realtor. 
Telling the guard at the gatehouse that you are 
"going to the sales center" 
will no longer grant access to our community. 

Shortly all of the available homes will be resales, 
and Paseo's market will no longer be influenced 
by the artificial ceiling of what the developer 
has priced their inventory at,
or what sale or incentive they might be offering. 

 Sellers will only be competing against other sellers,
not new-construction developer offerings!
The free market will take over and resale inventory will begin to decline. 
It simply has to…it's not like there won't be anymore buyers or sellers. 

 And every time someone becomes a new owner in Paseo, 
they will have purchased a resale home in order to get in here. 
That is what will cause inventory levels to decline and prices to increase. 
Simple supply and demand economics at work… 

Right now we are super bargain-priced at app. 50 cents on the dollar 
from what things sold for at the peak of the market. 
But the end of much of the reason for the price stagnation 
is literally right around the corner. 
The 2016-2017 season will be our first
as an all-resale community.

Very exciting times are ahead,
and personally I expect great things.

 Happy Independence Day, Paseo!!

What problems tend to derail a Closing Date?
June 6, 2016

WASHINGTON – June 3, 2016 – Watch out for financing, home inspections and appraisals – they're the three most commonly cited culprits for delays or even terminations at closing lately, according to the Realtors® Confidence Index Survey.

Those issues comprised more than a quarter of all the delays in contracts from the February through April. While 66 percent of contracts were settled on time during that period, 28 percent of contracts faced a delay. Six percent of contracts were terminated.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) identified the most common problems that delayed contracts or cancelled contracts

Top problems that delayed closings

Issues related to obtaining financing: 38%
Appraisal issues: 22%
Home inspection/environmental issues: 12%
Titling/deed issues: 11%
Contingencies stated in the contract: 10%
Issues in buy/sell distressed property: 5%
No problems encountered: 5%
Top problems that terminated closings

Home inspection/environmental issues: 28%
Issues related to obtaining financing: 21%
Appraisal issues: 12%
Contingencies stated in the contract: 12%
No problems encountered: 5%
Titling/deed issues: 4%

 Source: "Contract Settlement Issues in February-April 2016: 
Financing, Home Inspection, and Appraisals Are Major Issues," 
National Association of REALTORS® Economists' Outlook blog (June 1, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

May Sales Activity
June 1, 2016

As you can see in the May Sales Reports 
(found under the "Properties For Sale" tab), 
there were 12 properties in MLS 
that went under contract last month. 

What you can't see, is that of those 12 
we were either the Listing or Selling Agents 
on EIGHT of those transactions. 
That's 2/3 (or 66%) of the Paseo MLS transactions! 

So even though sales have definitely slowed down,
the proof is there that we continue to do
the lion's share of the business here in Paseo…
just as we've consistently done year after year.

And speaking of sales…
SIX new-construction condos 
were sold over the holiday weekend.
That means only 17 new condos are left!  

 The sales center is scheduled for removal in July 
and the very last casita 6-plex will be built in it's place. 
We are now just inches away from being sold out 
and becoming a "resale only" community.

So if you want something "new", 
it is totally down to the wire 
and you need to contact us today!!

Sell your home, rent it... or BOTH??
April 30, 2016

Anyone that's been involved in the same business in the
 same area for close to a quarter of a century has
obviously experienced all kinds of market cycles.
The ups...the downs...the thrill ride of it all!

 And real estate is one of those businesses 
that certainly never fails to disappoint!!

When the day comes that it's time to sell,
owners basically fall into two distinct groups of sellers:
those that NEED to sell, and those that WANT to sell!
A few will fall into a kind of middle-ground
and don't really have to sell (but might like to),
with neither end-result considered life-altering.

If a property hasn't sold in a certain period of time 
and a Seller really needs (or wants) to sell,
chances are that they will reach a point when 
"options" start to be explored and discussed.

  Often a price reduction alone can't do the trick
if a viable pool of buyers just isn't there 
during the slower market cycles.
So the concept of leasing for a year or so with the 
anticipation of a better market down the road
  may be one of the strategies that "cash-flow needs" 
begin to make sound more appealing.

If and when a seller who's property
is currently on the market for sale
reaches a point that renting is considered,
first and foremost have that conversation
with your current listing agent...
whoever that may be.
After all, they know your particular situation best.
That includes first-hand knowledge of
the market dynamics and intricacies
as to why it is that your home hasn't sold.

 They're also familiar with your needs, wants,
(and probably some of your specific personality traits), 
thereby best-positioning them to 
help you decide as to whether renting is 
truly a viable option that could work for you!
Not everyone is cut-out to be a landlord...
no matter how "hands-off" you 
may hope the experience will be.

If your listing agent or the brokerage firm they work at
offers rental & leasing services to it's clients,
this is probably the first avenue for you to explore.
If the agent or company does offer rental services,
more often than not they are usually willing
to simultaneously list it for sale, and for lease.

 There is also usually an understanding 
and agreement that whichever occurs first
(the sale or the rental of the property),
the listing contract for the other will be terminated. 
If there's another company that does get involved, 
there is no obligation on the part of the original listing firm 
to terminate their listing contract for the sale of the property,
since contract termination is by mutual agreement of the parties. 

So if you're tossing around the idea
of whether you want to rent or sell...
it only makes sense to explore all your options first,
before signing a contract for the sale of your property.

But if you make the decision to list your property for sale
and your plans or needs evolve as time goes by,
having a conversation with your current listing agent
is your most logical and sensible next-step.

If they can't help you and you therefore need to have
another company involved with the rental aspect,
be sure to ask questions about how your
current listing contract for the sale of the property
will be handled if it rents before it sells...
which in all likelihood is what will happen.

 It's obviously much easier to find a renter
for a couple thousand dollars a month
than it is to find a buyer who's willing to make
a multi-hundred-thousand dollar commitment.

Also the logistics planning and comfort-level with two
different companies and their individual showing agents
coming and going from your property.

Morris & Hunt Realty does offer rental services via our rental agent,
but we cannot accept a listing contract for the leasing of a property
if another firm has an Active listing for the sale of that same property.

There are way too many potential issues that could arise
related to the security and ultimately the responsibilities
that come along with having access to somebody else's property.

So even though we may have the
#1 Rental Agent in Paseo on our Team,
regrettably we will not be able to help you lease your property
if it is actively listed for sale with another brokerage firm...
a position we're confident you'll see
takes everyone's interests into consideration. 

We definitely appreciate all the opportunities you present to us...
even when it turns out that we aren't the company best equipped
to assist you with some of those specific real estate needs.