Rates are good now but it won’t last forever.

For the week beginning April 18, 2016

Should We Listen to What the Fed Says?

Rates held steady last week. This means we are still regularly seeing the same low quotes on the 30-year fixed-rate loan that we’ve been seeing. Rates continue to hold near a three-year low.

The rate drop that occurred last month continues to spur demand. The Mortgage Bankers Association reports refinances rose 11% last week compared to the previous week. Purchase applications were up 8% week over week. This was the second-most active week since May 2010.

Such high activity may be in response to pressure building for rates to rise. Commodity prices are again trending higher. Oil, the most valued commodity of them all, is up 17% so far in April. Gold continues to hover near a 52-week high. Rising commodities prices could be a sign of accelerating consumer-price inflation.

Rising oil prices are also impacting stock prices. The S&P 500 Stock Market Index is up 3% over the past 30 days. The index is approaching its all-time high. Oil stocks, which comprise roughly 9% of the S&P’s value, could propel the index even higher. If stocks and commodities continue to rise, and if economic activity continues to generate 200,000 new jobs each month, talk of Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes will also rise. Then you can be sure interest rates will rise too.

Keeping you informed on events this week that may create volatility in mortgage rates.

Economic Event Release Date and Time Consensus Estimate Analysis
Home Builders Sentiment Index
(April)
Mon., April 18,
10:00 am, ET
59 Index Important. The recent uptick in sentiment points to rising starts and more new-home sales.
Housing Starts
(March)
Tues., April 19,
8:30 am, ET
1.18 Million (Annualized Rate) Important. A recent rise in permits points to rising starts through the spring months.
Mortgage Applications Wed., April 20,
7:00 am, ET
None Moderately Important. The surge in purchase activity bodes well for sales growth.
Existing Home Sales
(March)
Wed., April 20,
10:00 am, ET
5.1 Million (Annualized Rate) Important. Sales should rebound strongly after unexpectedly weak February sales.

A Distant Memory, but Still a Memory

The housing recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. Housing has been the one sector the economy we could point to for reliable growth over the past five years.

With housing prices in the major metropolitan markets continually hitting new highs, and with prices trending higher in many smaller markets, it’s hard to believe that we endured falling prices, a dearth of buyers, and almost non-existent lending less than a decade ago. Here we are today, and things are as good as ever.

It’s worth remembering, though, that “good as ever” doesn’t mean forever. To be sure, we don’t see a return to the 2008-2010 era in our future, but trends – good or bad – don’t last forever. Therefore, it’s usually best to exploit the opportunities during the good times the best that you can.

Closing Your Florida Home for the Summer

It’s that time of year again.  Easter has come and gone, the temperatures are rising – right along with the humidity levels – and the Gulf of Mexico is starting to feel more like the bathwater that locals associate with a Southwest Florida summer.

With these changes comes the first wave of seasonal residents making their exit back up north.  While this may ease up traffic, parking, and restaurant seating for the year-round residents, there are a lot of things for our seasonal friends to consider before heading out.

Here are a few important recommendations to follow when preparing your Florida home for the summer.

key-showing

Put someone on the lookout – Ideally you should have someone stop by your home once a week.  There are any number of things that could go wrong while you’re away and it pays to know about them and have them addressed in a timely manner.  Leaks which can lead to out-of-control mold, A/C issues, break-ins, unwanted pests, and power outages that require resetting timers and security systems are just a few examples.

Friends, family, and neighbors are certainly options and can even serve on a supplemental home-sitting basis, but generally speaking, they can be unreliable at times.  A professional home watch company can provide added value and assurance.  An accredited home watch business will know exactly what to look for before you leave town – think, inspection of faulty plumbing fixtures and changing smoke detector batteries – as well as how to handle the messiest mishaps while you’re away.  They can help you get your home ready before you leave and make sure it stays the ship shape sanctuary you expect upon your return.

Regardless of the option you choose, make sure you have a list of service providers with their contact info and any applicable service agreements that you can leave behind for your home watch or house sitter.  Make a copy for yourself as well and take it with you; that way everyone is on the same page about who to call for services and what’s under warranty.

 

Batten down the hatches – Hurricane preparation is a no-brainer if you have a home in Southwest Florida, but aside from securing hurricane shutters and moving any loose furniture or yard accessories indoors, it’s a good practice to take pictures of your home and its contents for insurance purposes.  This could be a priceless tool should you need to file any insurance claims.

Start that spring cleaning –  Between tropical critters and the ever looming threat of growing mold, taking the time to do a thorough cleaning and pest control treatment will pay in dividends when you get back next season.

This is also the time to get your appliances ready for hibernation.  If you want to leave your refrigerator on, just make sure to remove all perishable items that could cause a big stink down the line and don’t forget to turn the icemaker off too.  There’s nothing worse than a frozen flood in the freezer.

If you decide to turn off the refrigerator, be sure to completely clean it out and leave the doors propped open to prevent mold from forming. That rule applies to the dishwasher and laundry room appliances as well – leave the doors and/or lids cracked.  Trust us on this.

Keep the climate under control – Mold is a real concern in Florida with moist, cool, dark, and stagnate air creating the ideal environment.  When the relative humidity exceeds about 68 percent, it becomes prime time breeding ground for mold spores that are floating in the air.  Humidistats and dehumidifiers can directly control the relative indoor humidity to help prevent mold.  If your A/C unit has one built in, then you’ll want to set the controls to 58 percent RH to account for sensors that often times are inaccurate by as much as 10 percentage points.  If your A/C does not have a built in humidistat, you have two options. For programmable A/C units, set the temperature at 72 degrees for the two hours before sunrise and in the range of 85 to 88 degrees for the rest of the day.  If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, then set the A/C at 77 degrees for condos or apartments and 80 degrees for single family homes.

Avoid the avoidable flood – It’s quite possibly one of the worst-case scenarios to prepare for, but a busted water pipe could spell untimely disaster even if left unattended for a few hours.  The best way to prevent the tragedy of an avoidable flood is to shut the main water supply off on your way out the door.  Even if the plumbing has been checked by your home watch service and all seems to be in working order, it’s always better safe than sorry when the home is sitting vacant for extended periods.

One important thing to note, if you turn off the water you MUST also turn off the water heater!  The science behind the water heater requires a certain amount of pressure be present on the cold water side.  When the water is off it can create unbalanced pressure that causes the dip tube to melt resulting in subsequent tank damage.  If you don’t know much about how water heaters work, then this is another one where we’ll just say – trust us on this!

For more recommendations on preparing your home before you leave town, you can always connect with one of our elite agents.  We’ll share resources on selecting a reputable home watch as well as how to keep your home cool and in good condition, even in the sizzling Southwest Florida summer.

Naples Growth – Are We Bursting at the Seams?

Not only has Naples, FL been consistently recognized as one of the best places to retire, but it also earned the top spot in Bloomberg’s list on metropolitan areas expected to see the most growth in 2016.

Now, here we are approaching the end of the first quarter in 2016 and it’s safe to say that the population is indeed growing right along with high-value jobs and new construction which is all having a significant impact on the Naples, FL housing market as well as the occupancy rates of local storage facilities.

Naples, FL Real Estate“Developers have jumped back into building housing,” said Phil Wood, President of John R. Wood Properties, in a recent interview he did for storage.com.  “There are new starts and new construction.  For the last two years, we’ve been building fast and furious.  It’s good for our economy.  There’s a trickle-down effect with people building homes.”

Wood goes on to say, “It’s about 50/50 between single-family homes and condos, although many people get into one or the other and switch after a few years when they change their mind.”

In many cases, the baby boomers that have moved down here are actually looking to downsize.  Once the kids are out of the house, the need for additional square footage no longer outweighs the associated costs.  This certainly plays into a need for storage units to compensate for the lack of attics and basements we see in Florida homes.

It’s not just the influx of baby boomers affecting the increased use of storage facilities, however.  There are actually businesses and home contractors using storage units as a base for things like building cabinets, creating staging areas, storing an overflow of materials, and keeping off-site inventories for restocking their retail locations.  The possibilities are certainly endless and economical especially with rules and regulations that are often flexible in the eyes of business owners.

Regardless of our growth, Southwest Florida continues to meet the demand of paradise-seekers around the world.  We are building new homes, expanding roads, opening new gourmet restaurants and high-end shopping boutiques, and supporting amazing educational and cultural development.

As far as our storage capacity is concerned, there is plenty of space to go around.  Between the corporate run facilities and smaller mom and pop locations, Naples, FL won’t be bursting at the seams any time soon.  So go ahead, pack up that moving truck and come on down. There’s a beautiful sunset waiting.

By Ashley Wells Posted April 14th, 2016

Home resale inventory rises 27%, favoring buyers

By June Fletcher of the Naples Daily News

For beleaguered buyers, there’s good news: Choice is coming back to the housing market.

After months of tight supply, overall resale inventory rose 27 percent in February, to 5,577 homes from 4,406 homes a year earlier, according to the Naples Area Board of Realtors.

The monthly report, which was released Friday, covers all of Collier County except Marco Island.

“More inventory means more opportunity for buyers,” said NABOR president Rick Fioretti. “That’s a good thing.”

Months of supply, which is determined by dividing the number of active listings by the number of closed sales in the prior 12 months, was 6.8 in February.

Nationally, 6 months of supply is considered a market that’s between buyers and sellers, with neither having the upper hand. A lower number favors sellers, and a higher one buyers.

But because of the seasonality of Naples’ housing market, balance won’t be achieved until there’s a 12-month supply, appraiser Cindy Carroll said in the report.

The influx of new supply slowed sales dramatically during the height of the buying season, partly due to the volatile stock market, the Canadian exchange rate and a shortage of inventory in the low end of the market, said Mike Hughes, vice president and general manager for Downing-Frye Realty.

Worries about the outcome of the election, which could affect the future of capital gains, also may have spurred some sellers to put their homes on the market now, Fioretti said.

Pending sales, or homes under contract, declined 22 percent in February, to 993 from 1,289 a year earlier.

Closed sales were down 23 percent, to 518 from 672 — the lowest number since November 2013.

The slowdown in sales is making more sellers willing to negotiate and to fix up their homes to stimulate sales, Fioretti said.

It’s also inspiring new homebuilders to give real estate agents higher commissions for bringing in customers, he said. Buyers are getting more incentives too, ranging from money toward closing costs and upgrades to premiums for prime lots.

However, Jeff Jones, managing broker at Coldwell Banker’s Naples-Park Shore office, said in the report that supply still isn’t sufficient to keep up with demand.

That’s why homes and condos still are being snapped up quickly. Average days on the market dropped 15 percent over the year, to 79 from 93.

That’s also why overall prices are still on the rise, to $323,000 from $290,000, an 11 percent increase.

Home prices saw the biggest increase in the highest end of the market, where they rose 5 percent, to $3.75 million from $3.572 million a year earlier.

But they fell 8 percent, to $625,000 from $682,000, in the $500,000 to $1 million segment.

Areas along the beach and in central Naples saw prices rise fastest, the report said. Slowest price growth was in North Naples, which also saw the largest uptick in supply over the year.

Bill Coffey, broker manager of Amerivest Realty Naples, noted February saw the lowest number of closed sales since November 2013, and the highest inventory level in two years,

“If we continue to see a dramatic increase in inventory each month like we did for February, then we may eventually see it affect median closed prices,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, sales are slowing and inventory is rising on Marco Island, too, noted Gerry Rosenblum, broker associate with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Realty.

Comparing February with the same month a year earlier, pending sales of single family homes dropped 36 percent, to 41 from 64, while condos fell 35 percent, to 55 from 85.

Closed single-family sales decreased 13 percent, to 33 from 38, and condo sales were down 37 percent, to 36 from 57.

Overall median home prices rose 7 percent in February from a year earlier, Rosenblum noted. But he also pointed out that out of a total of 1,138 listed properties, there were 295 price reductions during the month, including some sellers who reduced their prices more than once. Only 12 sellers raised their prices.

“I think it is crystal clear that sellers understand the market is pushing back on asking prices,” he said in an email. “And the sellers are responding appropriately by lowering their prices.”

Best Pool Homes in Naples, FL

Southwest Florida is known for having some of the most exquisite coastally inspired homes. It’s also no surprise that the tropical climate, brilliant sunlight, famous sunsets, and stunning Gulf views have become a celebrated backdrop for countless poolside sanctuaries.  After all, what would paradise be without a refreshing dip in a palm shaded lagoon, or an afternoon cocktail overlooking a striking infinity edge mirage.  Following is a collection of our favorite pools that are currently listed for sale in Naples, FL.

A magnificent Island-Colonial Mansion. Free with purchase of pool and Gulf view $59,990,000. Port Royal – Naples, FL MLS #: 214050584

A magnificent Island-Colonial Mansion. Free with purchase of pool and Gulf view.
$59,990,000.
Port Royal – Naples, FL
MLS #: 214050584

Castle by the Sea – But which sea? The Gulf of Naples in Italy or the Gulf of Mexico in Florida? $28,990,000 Pelican Bay – Naples, FL MLS # 215065652

Castle by the Sea – But which sea? The Gulf of Naples in Italy or the Gulf of Mexico in Florida?
$28,990,000
Pelican Bay – Naples, FL
MLS # 215065652

A real life Blue Lagoon and the featured cover for Home & Design’s special 2013 design issue. $12,500,000 Old Naples – Naples, FL MLS # 215017345

A real life Blue Lagoon and the featured cover for Home & Design’s special 2013 design issue.
$12,500,000
Old Naples – Naples, FL
MLS # 215017345

The never-ending oasis. A pool and view without boundaries. $10,500,000 Port Royal – Naples, FL MLS # 215065489

The never-ending oasis. A pool and view without boundaries.
$10,500,000
Port Royal – Naples, FL
MLS # 215065489

A tropical mirage surrounded by a voluminous and lush lawn that tickles your toes before each dip. $4,850,000 Mediterra – Naples, FL MLS # 215038563

A tropical mirage surrounded by a voluminous and lush lawn that tickles your toes before each dip.
$4,850,000
Mediterra – Naples, FL
MLS # 215038563

Add some posh to your pool party with this swim up Tiki bar. $3,950,000 Pine Ridge – Naples, FL MLS # 216012872

Add some posh to your pool party with this swim up Tiki bar.
$3,950,000
Pine Ridge – Naples, FL
MLS # 216012872

An infinity of lagoon-style luxury with a lake and golf course view extended just beyond. $2,149,000 Kensington Gardens – Naples, FL MLS # 216019799

An infinity of lagoon-style luxury with a lake and golf course view extended just beyond.
$2,149,000
Kensington – Naples, FL
MLS # 216019799

For detailed information on these homes or to see more incredible pool homes, search all Southwest Florida listings here.

By Ashley Wells Posted April 1st, 2016