High Hopes for 2015

According to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), economists and hosing analysts have high hopes for 2015.  The national real estate market is expected to build momentum due to a strengthening economy.


Here’s a recap of some of the real estate forecasts for 2015:

  1. Millennial force: Younger professionals are having more luck in the job market, which is expected to help more of them jump into home ownership in the new year. Overall, employment is on the rise, but jobs for Millennials — particularly those aged 25 to 29 — has risen by 3 percent. That’s one percentage point above the nationwide rate. According to some forecasts, Millennials are expected to drive two-thirds of household formations over the next five years. The forecasted addition of 2.5 million jobs next year, as well as an increase in household formation, will likely drive more first-time home buyers into home ownership, according to realtor.com® projections.
  2. Home prices stabilize: The double-digit price increases seen in 2013 have slowed, and more stable growth was the trend in 2014. As investors have retreated from the market, so have the rapid home prices in many markets. Home prices are expected to continue to edge up in 2015, with realtor.com® predicting a 4.5 percent gain.
  3. Mortgage rates rising: Interest rates the last few months have been dipping below 4 percent, lowering the borrowing costs of home buyers and refinancing home owners. However, don’t expect the low rates to stick around much longer. Mortgage rates are expected to rise next year. Freddie Mac projects mortgage rates will likely average 4.6 percent but inch up to 5 percent by the end of 2015.
  4. Return of the 3 percent down payment: In early December, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae announced conventional loan down-payment programs that will allow qualified first-time buyers to secure a fixed-rate mortgage with a 3 percent down payment. Prior to that, they needed at least 5 percent.
  5. Housing affordability declines: Affordability for homes, based on home-price appreciation and rising mortgage interest rates, will likely fall by 5 percent to 10 percent in 2015, according to realtor.com® forecasts. However, the decline in affordability could be offset by an increase in salaries next year for many households. “When considering historical norms, housing affordability will continue to remain strong next year,” realtor.com® notes in its report.
  6. New-home sales rebound: Single-family new-home starts barely budged in 2014 compared to 2013, and new-home sales remain far from normal levels. But that could finally turn around in 2015. Sales of new homes are expected to rise 25 percent as single-family construction picks up traction in 2015.
  7. Foreclosures recede to pre-recession levels: The number of foreclosures is expected to continue to fall in 2015, but expect them to still be elevated in some pockets across the country — particularly in judicial states where foreclosures must wind through the courts. Foreclosure filings have been on the decline for most of this year. From January through November, foreclosure filings fell about 172 percent compared to the same period one year prior, according to RealtyTrac data.
  8. Drop in oil prices will boost housing: Oil prices have plunged 45 percent since June, which could inadvertently provide a lift to the housing market. “Households in the U.S. spend more than $1,800 on energy-related costs annually, and 22 percent of that energy consumption is due to residential real estate,” according to CoreLogic’s 2015 Housing Outlook. “So while the drop in oil prices typically has been linked to a reduction in driving-related expenses, it clearly also reduced energy-related expenses for residential real estate.”
  9. Rent rises to outpace home-value growth: Rents likely will continue to rise in the new year, and an increase in rental costs in 2015 could outpace annual home-price gains. Expect the rental market to remain a “landlord’s market” in 2015, with vacancy rates expected to stay below 5 percent in the new year, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. That should lead to demand pushing rents up even higher and keeping them above inflation, notes NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. Apartment rents are projected to increase 4 percent in 2014 and 4.1 percent in 2015.
  10. Stronger economy leads to greater confidence: A stronger economy will likely lead to more demand for housing in 2015. “Overall, the economy finally appears to be gaining enough momentum to help provide the support that the housing market has needed for stronger recovery,” Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, notes in the company’s 2015 Housing Outlook. “The combination of stronger employment growth and especially Millennial job growth makes for solid footing for the real estate market. “

Naples Art Shows

There were so many sights to see this past weekend on Fifth Avenue S Downtown Naples during the New Year’s Art Fair!  The two day event attracted more than 15,000 artsy lovers and lookers.  More than 400 artists applied for a booth reservation, but only 250 were featured and displayed their work to the public – from oils and watercolors to ceramics andNaples Art Show jewelry.

If you missed this show, then you’re in luck! This is only the first of three planned shows for the year by the Naples Art Association.

Another show is scheduled to take place on Fifth Avenue S for March 21-22 and the renowned Naples National opens February 21-22 in Cambier Park.


The Latest 2015 Real Estate Predictions

We are about to ring in the New Year which is very exciting! Here are a few interesting 2015 real estate predictions!  Keep reading for the latest set of predictions coming from Freddie Mac…


“The good news for 2015 is that the U.S. economy appears well-poised to sustain about a 3 percent growth rate in 2015 — only the second year in the past decade with growth at that pace or better,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

“Governmental fiscal drag has turned into fiscal stimulus; lower energy costs support consumer spending and business investment; further easing of credit conditions for business and real estate lending support commerce and development; and consumers are more upbeat and businesses are more confident, all of which portend faster economic growth in 2015. And with that, the economy will produce more and better-paying jobs, providing the financial wherewithal to support household formations and housing activity.”

Here are Freddie Mac’s predictions for 2015:

  1. Mortgage Rates: Interest rates will likely be on the rise next year. In recent weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has dipped below 4 percent. But by next year, Freddie projects mortgage rates to average 4.6 percent and inch up to 5 percent by the end of the year.
  1. Home Prices: By the time 2014 wraps up, home appreciation will likely have slowed to 4.5 percent this year from 9.3 percent last year. Appreciation is expected to drop further to an average 3 percent in 2015. “Continued house-price appreciation and rising mortgage rates will dampen affordability for home buyers,” according to Freddie economists. “Historically speaking, that’s moving from ‘very high’ levels of affordability to ‘high’ levels of affordability.”
  1. Housing Starts: Homebuilding is expected to ramp up in the new year, projected to rise by 20 percent from this year. That will likely help total home sales to climb by about 5 percent, reaching the best sales pace in eight years.
  1. Single-Family Originations: Mortgage originations of single-family homes will likely slip by an additional 8 percent, which can be attributed to a steep drop in refinancing volume. Refinancing is expected to make up only 23 percent of originations in 2015; they had been making up more than half in recent years.
  1. Multi-Family Mortgage Originations: Mortgage originations for the multi-family sector have surged about 60 percent between 2011 and 2014. Increases are expected to continue in 2015, projected to rise about 14 percent.

Naples FL Real Estate and More: 3 Percent down payments for buyers

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac just officially announced their 97 percent loan-to-value products, which is aiming to expand credit to first-time home buyers.

FHFA Director Mel Watt said:

“The new lending guidelines released by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will enable creditworthy borrowers who can afford a mortgage, but lack the resources to pay a substantial down payment plus closing costs, to get a mortgage with 3% down. These underwriting guidelines provide a responsible approach to improving access to credit while ensuring safe and sound lending practices.”

MortgageTo mitigate risk, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will use their automated underwriting systems, which include compensating factors to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness.  In addition, the new products will also include homeownership counseling FHFA will monitor the ongoing performance of these loans.

These products came just when economists have predicted 2015 to be a significant year for millennials.  Economists say that households headed by millennials will see significant growth as a reflection of economic gains. Millennials will also drive two-thirds of household formations over the next five years. Next year’s addition of 2.75 million jobs and increased household formation will be the two key factors driving first-time buyer sales.

Regarding Fannie and Freddie’s products, there are notable differences between the two.  Unlike Fannie, Freddie is not limiting its product to first-time homebuyers. But if they are first-time homebuyers, they must participate in an acceptable borrower education program, like Freddie Mac’s CreditSmart, to qualify for the program.

Real Estate: NAR Reports Home Sales Increase Nationally

Existing-home sales rose in October for the second straight month and are now above year-over-year levels for the first time in a year, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, Marketcondominiums and co-ops, rose 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.26 million in October from an upwardly-revised 5.18 million in September. Sales are at their highest annual pace since September 2013 (also 5.26 million) and are now above year-over-year levels (2.5 percent from last October) for the first time since last October.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist stated:

“Sales activity in October reached its highest annual pace of the year as buyers continue to be encouraged by interest rates at lows not seen since last summer, improving levels of inventory and stabilizing price growth. Furthermore, the job market has shown continued strength in the past six months. This bodes well for solid demand to close out the year and the likelihood of additional months of year-over-year sales increases.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in October was $208,300, which is 5.5 percent above October 2013. This marks the 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

Total housing inventory at the end of October fell 2.6 percent to 2.22 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace – the lowest since March (also 5.1 months). Unsold inventory is now 5.2 percent higher than a year ago, when there were 2.11 million existing homes available for sale.

All-cash sales were 27 percent of transactions in October, up from 24 percent in September but down from 31 percent in October of last year. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in October, up from 14 percent last month but below October 2013 (19 percent). Sixty-five percent of investors paid cash in October.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 2.8 percent to an annual rate of 2.17 million in October, and are now 5.3 percent above October 2013. The median price in the South was $178,000, up 5.1 percent from a year ago.

November 2014 Naples Real Estate Market Update

A friendly market update just for you… Every month, John R. Wood releases an accurate update on the number of properties that have been listed, are pending, and have closed in the Naples, Bonita, and Estero market. Closings are up 7%, Avg home price if up 10.5%, and the number of available properties is still less than last year!

Please click on the photo to see the report.


Market Report NOV 2014.indd

What do Buyers Really Want?

Luxury Home

What do luxury home buyers REALLY want?

According to some recent research performed by Redfin, some trends were uncovered that includes home features and interior designs. According to their research, here is what’s trending among luxury buyers:

  1. Luxury showers: Forget the Jacuzzi tub. The luxury buyer wants a luxurious shower.  Most people take more showers than baths, so a luxurious stand-alone shower is what’s wanted.
  1. Fire pits by pools: Fire pits and gas fireplaces beside a pool are gaining in popularity. One quick way to warm up after a dip in the pool is to curl up next to a fire that is just steps away!
  1. Tasting rooms: Wine cellars are no longer a dark place in a basement or a closet. Home owners are placing more in living areas to host tastings with friends.
  1. White kitchen cabinets: High-end kitchens with cabinets in white, gray, or black with matching or contrasting countertops are gaining in popularity among the luxury market. Meanwhile, natural-colored wood cabinets are on their way out, she says.
  1. Quartz countertops: Quartz or sandstone in countertops are making granite countertops look more outdated. Quartz comes with a few benefits over granite; it is not as porous and therefore requires less maintenance, and it is less prone to staining.
  1. Grand powder rooms: The powder room is getting a big makeover. These half-baths are getting more attention and fancier with elaborate mirrors, sinks, and lighting fixtures.

The Plan is Out! Central Ave Go-Ahead!

Now we know what will be on the old Naples Daily News property on Central Avenue East of 41! NewCondoConstructionPlan

The plan is out for the 5 year construction plan for a fabulous new 220-condo development on Central Avenue in Old Naples and is underway! The Naples Daily News has released the good news that they got the go-ahead from the Naples Planning Advisory Board on December 10th.  The 8.8 acre development will feature a three-story, mixed use building with 8,000 square feet of commercial space and apartment amenities on the ground floor, including a café, a community room, fitness center, and offices.  Behind it will be the four-story building with 220 one to three bedroom condos and a four-story garage. The building also offers the residents guest suites for friends and family, a landscaped courtyard, and a pool.

The developer, Jon Rubinton of R&B Development not only had a vision of the condo building, but the also a park for the children on the northeast end of the property with an additional 32 parking spaces.  I am very familiar with Jon Rubinton, who with his dad has been along time developer in Naples. I have sold many of his properties over the years in Old Naples, Pelican bay and Mediterra.  A reported $1.18 million donation has been added to the city’s park and trust fund to aid the building of Baker Park, a bridge connecting the park to Gordon River Greenway and add off-site greenways linking the River Park Community Center with the park and greenway.

The only concerns from the local business owners are mainly about how the condos will affect the traffic on Central and 12th Avenue. Robert Polizzotto, a Fun Time Nursery board member expressed worries of safety for children saying that it could be a ‘disaster’.  The reaction has persuaded the Naples City Council to approve a $2.33 million Central Avenue improvement project for three traffic roundabouts and to make it more pedestrian friendly for walking and bicycling by connecting streets and parks. Thus far two roundabouts have been approved by the council.

The building location is where the old Naples Daily News Headquarters previously resided on 1075 Central Avenue which is close to the beach, 5th Avenue. Central Avenue clearly used to be the center of Old Naples. Old Naples now stretched north to the Naples beach hotel and golf club. In earlier days, only properties south of Central Avenue were considered Old Naples.  It is a location wonderfully convenient to shopping on Tamiami Trail.  The library is at 6th St S and Central Ave, the Naples Community Hospital is steps away, and also only four blocks to the renowned 5th Ave of Downtown Naples with it’s variety of restaurants, galleries, and boutiques.  Just beyond is Cambier Park, the Allen Tennis Center, and the von Libig Art Center. You can also find the community children’s playground, the bandstand and the Norris community center with its many activities including Gulf Shore Playhouse.

Lifelong Learning Enriches Your Mind

Never Stop Learning

The Renaissance Academy…a GREAT favorite of mine when I can squeeze in time for some brain cell invigoration!!

As a new year approaches, new opportunities arise for change! Why not utilize some of your time expanding your knowledge and connecting with new faces by enrolling in the Renaissance Academy for a variety of lectures and courses with the opportunity to participate in day trips and even travel abroad!  Are you interested in art, science, health & wellness, music, philosophy, writing, photography, or film? Classes are offered each week with interesting topics that will enrich your life.

Speaking of enriching your life, the Renaissance Academy has a Life Enrichment course.  13 classes are offered that may answer many of your burning questions about intuition and can reveal inner understanding that you’ve never had before.  You can register to participate in the highly interactive sessions that will help you recognize, measure, access, teach, learn, develop, and apply your strengths it in practical ways.  For one who is interested in the concept of lifelong learning, there are many exciting opportunities waiting for you.

Florida Gulf Coast University continues to provide outstanding education since the founding of the Renaissance academy in January of 2001.  FGCU’s passion and value for excellence encourages the exchange of ideas and provides both intellectual simulation and personal enjoyment.  There are no exams or grades, just learning for the joy of learning with friends, neighbors and peers! “It is based on the premise that learning should never cease, that keeping the mind intellectually, creatively and culturally active fundamentally enriches and invigorates our lives.” – Renaissance Academy Mission Statement

You can become an academy member and save up to 20 percent on most programs.  The great thing about membership is how cost efficient they are! Are you here annually? Spend $50 per person or $80 for same-household couples.  For those that are snowbirds, a seasonal membership is $35 per person or $60 for same-household couples.  The classes are offered at different locations in the Collier, Lee, and Charlotte Counties: Marco Island, Naples, Bonita Springs, Estero, Fort Myers, and Punta Gorda.