Naples and Marco Island Real Estate News & Information

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Aug. 21, 2020

Four Things Seniors Should Do When Looking for a New Home

Moving to a new home offers a world of benefits for savvy seniors. It allows you to cash in on your existing home's equity, downsize to a more manageable residence, and find a place where you can spend time with loved ones and pursue your favorite hobbies. Here are some tips for choosing the perfect home for your needs.

Scout Out the Neighborhood

A home's location is every bit as important as its size, condition, and features — and sometimes, even more so. Consider these important criteria when exploring a potential city or neighborhood.

Five Ways to Gauge How Safe a Neighborhood Is for Seniors

Good Neighborhood or Big House? How to Choose What's Right for You

Good Neighborhoods for Aging — What Makes Them That Way (or Not)

Research Naples Home Values and Market Trends

Look for Senior-Friendly Housing

A property fit for seniors will accommodate varying levels of physical ability. Your ideal home will vary based on your unique needs and preferences, but there are some general guidelines for finding housing that will help seniors comfortably age in place. 

Senior-Friendly Ideas for Homes

How to Find Housing for a Person with Disabilities

Simple Changes for Making a Home Senior-Friendly

Everything You Need to Know About Mortgages

Contact Expert Realtor Michelle Thomas for All Your Home-Buying Needs 

Choose the Yard that's Right for You

Landscaping might be one of the great pleasures of home ownership, but it's important for seniors to take their skill sets and physical fitness levels into account when choosing a new home. 

Landscape Design for the Elderly: A Golden Plan for Aging in Place

What to Consider Before Adding a Wheelchair Ramp

Gardens For Senior Citizens: Creating An Easy Care Senior Garden

Hire Pros for Safety’s Sake

Whether you’re moving a few neighborhoods or several states away, don’t try to do the physical move by yourself. 

Top 8 Benefits of Hiring Professional Movers

How to Choose a Reliable Moving Company

How Much Does It Cost to Move?

How to Protect Your Belongings in a Storage Unit

Moving to a new home offers a world of possibilities for seniors who approach the decision with caution and patience. Start planning your move to take charge of this exciting new beginning. 

 

Courtesy of Hazel Bridges

hazel.bridges@agingwellness.org

AgingWellness.org

 

Posted in Information
July 13, 2020

Top 6 Gardening Tips to Boost Curb Appeal

Now is the perfect time to start gardening. If you are thinking about selling your home now or in the future, this is a great time to take a few steps to boost your home’s curb appeal — the first impression visitors’ have from the outside of your home. You might be surprised by how a few upgrades can change the entire look of your home, by following these curb appeal tips. 

Trim trees and hedges

One of the first actions you can take to move your curb appeal up a notch is to get rid of the “clutter” in your garden. If trees or hedges became overgrown during the winter months, now is the time to trim them back, to show off the front of your home and allow light to shine on it. You can try to take on this project yourself, but if you have any doubts, hire an expert to advise you about what needs to be hauled away, and what can stay put.

Update walkways

Walkways can take a beating during the winter months from salt, ice, and snow. If your walkway is cracked in some areas, you might want to consider repairing or replacing it, but know that it might come at a high price tag, depending on the condition: The national average is $2,476 for a professional contractor to install a concrete walkway. If your walkway is uneven, a contractor can raise sunken slabs for a few hundred dollars. Once the pathway is even, you can add a stamped concrete overlay to add a brick, slate, or natural stone look. Another option is edging — digging a narrow trench along your pathway — or what’s called spade-cut edging, to give the entryway a clean appearance.

Add planters and container gardens

Flower beds take time and upkeep, but planters and container gardens can appear in a weekend to create a full and lush look. A couple of strategically placed planters around your front door can also add color and green, creating the feeling of a welcome invitation for guests. Consider varying them by height, size, and style, and including a diverse grouping of greenery and flowers. Planters are excellent budget-friendly curb appeal updates, because they don’t require a major financial investment, and if you don’t like how they look in one spot, you can move them to another area of your property. 

 From lawn to rock garden

Did you find a patchy lawn under the melted snow? Don’t worry. Replacing a lawn is a major endeavor, and keeping it up with mowing adds to the work. If your lawn has seen better days, you can consider replacing it completely with a rock garden, or adding rocks where the lawn is bare, using landscape edging to define a border, and then filling rocks in to take up the space.

Succulents

If you are going the rock garden route, or even if you aren’t, succulents can up your curb appeal by adding green with minimal upkeep. Infrequent watering and no trimming mean they might just be the perfect curb appeal upgrade. Succulents and cacti also add texture and color while expressing an on-trend vibe.

Get colorful

Did you know that the colors at the front of your home could influence a buyer’s first impressions about it? When you are considering adding a pop of color to your planter boxes or yard, pick your colors carefully. White can evoke feelings of cool and calm, red can be exciting and energetic, and blue is always a safe bet as it conveys trust. The front of your home is like an advertisement, and color is another tool to help your home show its best side.

Take advantage of the warm weather by giving some love and attention to the front of your home, you may be surprised by how a few upgrades can pique a potential buyer’s interest. 

Posted in Information
June 4, 2020

Naples Beaches Re-Open (with Limits)

During the COVID-19 shutdown, local governments across the country asked residents to practice social distancing. They closed government buildings, parks, and beaches to the public in an effort to flatten the curve. Just before Memorial Day weekend, Naples beaches reopened to the public. But when social distancing requests were mostly ignored, government officials decided to impose more restrictions to try to keep everyone safe.

Naples Beaches Re-Open…with Limits

First, the beach stays open from sunrise to sunset every weekday (Monday through Friday). They allow visitors to bring chairs and umbrellas for their comfort. However, you must leave your pop-up tents and coolers at home. You may walk, run, swim, paddleboard or fish while at the beach. For now, though, you must refrain from any other activities while at the beach.

On weekends, the public can spend time at the beach only in the mornings (7 am to 11 am) or in the evenings (5 pm to sunset). The beach shuts down access to the public between 11 am and 5 pm. Leave your tents, umbrellas, and coolers at home on weekends as well. But, in a bit of good news, government officials allow chairs at night. That makes it much more comfortable to watch the sunset.

Parking at the Beach

Like the rest of Collier County, Naples beaches require beach parking permits in order to park there. You won’t find any metered parking here. But, if you choose to park outside any designated parking areas in the surrounding residential community, expect to receive a fine. Right now, those fines have been doubled to $200. Plus, you run the risk of your vehicle getting towed. Then, you’ll have to pay to get it out of impound. So, it’s really not worth it to chance parking outside the designed area. Visit a Collier County park’s community center to pick up your beach sticker today.

Please remember to practice social distancing while at the beach. If not, government officials may impose even stricter limits in the future. Let’s stay safe and play safe so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful beaches.

Posted in Information
June 4, 2020

Marco Island Virtual Art Tours

Governor DeSantis implemented a stay-at-home order back in March in an effort to curb COVID-19 exposure. That shut down gyms, beauty salons/barber shops, churches, in-house dining at restaurants, and all other “non-essential” businesses. Just last week, he reopened many of these businesses in the first of his multi-phase reopening plan. Unfortunately, the Marco Island Center for the Arts remains closed. However, they site “problems in the building” as the reason for not opening at this time. Luckily, they offer Marco Island virtual art tours for the art-lover that can’t wait to step inside again.

Marco Island Virtual Art Tours

The center created its own YouTube channel five years ago. For a while, content was sparse. In the last couple of months, though, they have uploaded seven different videos for viewers to enjoy. These include Kevin Boldenow’s Vanishing Florida exhibit, Myriam Kriel’s digital artwork, a talk with artist Emily James, and the 50 Years of Fashion exhibit.

Earlier this month, the Marco Island Center for the Arts hosted an art competition for students at Collier County High. The center accepted submissions via social media. Winners were chosen by patrons of the center as well as how many “likes” each submission received. You can view the submissions on the center’s YouTube channel.

Kat Rinaldo, Editor, talks about Marco Made by Hands. This beautiful coffee table art book showcases 50 years of art as well as the Marco Island Center for the Arts’ history. The book is currently available for purchase through the center’s gift shop online.

Membership Has Its Privileges

As a member of the Marco Island Art Center, not only do you support the local art scene, but you receive some fun perks along the way. Members receive discounts for things like viewing juried exhibitions, studio time, gift shop purchases, classes and workshops, and concerts. They also gain entry into exclusive Members Only exhibitions held throughout the year. And each month, the center hosts a gallery reception for members. Each member may bring one guest with them. If you’re interested in becoming a member, visit the Marco Island Art Center’s membership page.

Posted in Information
May 18, 2020

Earnest Money Deposit and the Naples Home Buyer

When you put in an offer for a Naples or Marco Island home, you will most likely be asked to put down an Earnest Money Deposit. This shows the seller your commitment to buying the property. In return, the seller agrees to take it off the market while the sales process takes place. But what happens if your mortgage loan falls through? Do you get the deposit back? As long as you take a few measures to protect yourself.

Earnest Money Deposit

What Is It?

An Earnest Money Deposit is considered a “good faith” payment. Typically, it runs anywhere from $500 up to 2% of the sale price. This money stays in escrow until the final sale. At that time, it usually gets credited towards the down payment and/or closing costs. If the deal falls through at any time, the funds may be given back to the buyer or forfeited, depending on any contingencies in place.

Financing Contingency

One way to protect your earnest money is by implementing a financing contingency into your sales contract. This protects you in case you can’t secure funding for the property. Without this contingency, you forfeit the deposit if funding proves impossible.

One way to ensure your deposit stays secure is to seek out a pre-approved mortgage. Start the process well before you begin looking at Naples or Marco Island homes. This helps you form a budget since you now know how much a bank will lend to you. Stay within that price point and you should be OK.

Pre-Approval Doesn’t Equal Final Approval

Even with a pre-approval letter, your home loan could fall through in the end. How? Lenders run an initial credit check when they perform their pre-approval process. Then, when it gets closer to closing, they run another credit check. Any changes in that time might jeopardize your approval. So, while in escrow, abstain from making any large purchases (furniture, cars, etc.). Also, put the kibosh on opening any new lines of credit. These could temporarily ding your credit and put you below the acceptable levels for approval. Wait until after you sign your final paperwork and move into your new home before making any major purchases.

Posted in Information
May 18, 2020

Homeowner Escrow: Where Does Your Monthly Payment Go?

When you buy a Naples home, you must pay an Earnest Money Deposit. This provides a sort of protection for the buyer because the seller promises not to continue marketing the property while you go through the buying process. Plus, it protects sellers because they get to keep the money if you cancel your transaction for any reason not outlined in your purchase agreement. This money goes into escrow. However, did you know that your lender may open a homeowner escrow account for you once the home sale is complete?

Homeowner Escrow Accounts

What Is It?

In an escrow account, a third party holds and distributes money in a real estate transaction. In the case of a homeowner escrow account, the mortgage lender opens an escrow account that handles the disbursement of payments to the appropriate parties. This simplifies things a bit because then you only pay into one account each month to get your real estate needs taken care of.

What Gets Paid Out of Escrow?

These escrow accounts typically pay four things for you:

  • Principal on your mortgage loan
  • Interest on your mortgage loan
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners’ insurance

Property taxes tend to get paid three for four times a year. Your homeowners’ insurance comes due just once a year. With a fixed-rate loan, principal and interest remain steady throughout the life of the loan. But property taxes and homeowners’ insurance may vary from year to year. The loan servicer estimates the next year’s amount based on the current year’s payments. So, if you owed more taxes in the current year than the previous year, you may see an increase in your monthly payment. On the other hand, if you paid less, the surplus may come back to you in the form of a refund.

Pros and Cons of a Homeowner Escrow Account

On the plus side, you only need to make one payment to one account to cover your principal, interest, property taxes, and insurance. Instead of coming up with one lump sum when the taxes and insurance are due, these payments get split up into 12 smaller payments that you pay monthly over the course of a year. This also ensures that everything gets paid so that you don’t run into potential tax liens or judgments against you for non-payment. On the minus side, your monthly payment is higher to cover all of these expenses. And because the insurance and taxes change from year-to-year, your exact payment may vary slightly to accommodate these changes. But, again, this also means you don’t have to suddenly come up with one lump sum when these payments are due to their respective companies. That makes budgeting a little easier.

Posted in Information
May 11, 2020

Garage Cleaning Made Simple

The calendar still shows us in the midst of spring. That means spring cleaning time is in full effect. And, if you plan on selling a home in one of the safest cities in Florida anytime soon, you need to make sure everything on your property is in tip-top shape. That includes the garage. Feel overwhelmed at the thought of tackling that area of your Naples home? No need to worry. The following guide to garage cleaning makes simple work of this loathsome task.

Garage Cleaning Made Simple

Add Shelves/Bins

Oftentimes, a mess garage comes about due to a lack of storage. How about an easy way to alleviate that problem. Shelves! If that’s not the issue, consider purchasing storage bins. Best case scenario: shelves and bins. Make sure the bins include securely fastening lids. Label the outside of each bin so you know exactly what it contains before opening it. Park your large, heavy objects on the bottom shelf.

Get Organized

Sometimes, the best way to do this is to tackle one shelf at a time. First, take everything off of it. Then, sort through. Throw away any trash right away. That includes broken items beyond repair. It seems we always collect this stuff in the nooks and crannies of our homes, including the garage. Separate what you have left into three piles: keep, sell, donate.

Keep/Sell/Donate

Place items you plan on keeping into their appropriate bin. Remember to label the outside of your bin for easy reference. Bag or box up donations and take them to your local charity of choice right away (Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc). Right now, the safest way to sell your stuff would probably be through Facebook Marketplace. Take a photo of the item you wish to sell. Then, post it on Facebook Marketplace with your contact info and your sale price. Super simple. You can even set it up as a no-contact sale through PayPal, Venmo or any other online payment system.

 

Follow these instructions for a quick, simple garage cleaning that won’t stress you out.

 

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Posted in Information
May 5, 2020

How to Write an Offer During a Pandemic

Over the last few weeks, the real estate market changed dramatically. For a while now, we’ve seen both sales and prices rise. But, since COVID-19 hit our shores, things shifted. Don’t get me wrong. People still buy and sell houses in Naples. However, physical tours no longer happen. We now rely on virtual home tours. Did one of these strike your fancy? Congratulations! Now the next step: writing an offer. Learn how to write an offer during this new era in the real estate market for your best chance at success.

How to Write an Offer During a Pandemic

Lowballing

Not a good idea during a seller’s market. Certainly not a good idea during a pandemic. With current protections from foreclosure currently available, many sellers can afford to wait for a better offer. Plus, some sellers opted to take their properties off the market and wait it out. Less inventory means prices stay pretty close to the same before the pandemic. If you offer too low of an offer, you might anger the seller. However, circumstances may dictate that a less-than-asking offer is appropriate.

Is the seller under a time crunch? Is the property priced too high for the market? As in times before the COVID-19 outbreak, this could warrant a lower offer. Before you write an offer, talk to your agent. Have them check out the comps in the area to help you determine a fair price.

Closing May Take Longer

Before COVID-19, we had to “hurry up and wait”. After an offer is accepted, you need to wait for the appraisers, home inspectors, repairs (if needed), and paperwork processing to be completed. Now, appraisers, home inspectors, and repairmen all might take a little bit longer as they change over to working remotely and adjusting to limitations now in place. A 30-day escrow request may not be possible. Keep that in mind when you write an offer.

Secure Funding ASAP

Honestly, you should try to secure financing before you start looking for a Naples home. If not then, then as soon as possible afterward. Most sellers want to see an approval letter from a lender included with an offer. Interview several lenders (starting with your own bank) to find the perfect fit for your situation.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Posted in Information
April 29, 2020

Selling your home

Simple Ways to Prepare Your Home for Sale Without Breaking the Bank

By: Alice Robertson

 

Selling a home comes with a lot of hard work and preparation, and many homeowners aren’t aware of just how much awaits them when they put their house on the market. From making the front yard look inviting to making small repairs and updates, there will likely be a long to-do list, even if your home is relatively young. That’s why it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to tackle these chores and start thinking about the costs you’ll incur. 

Fortunately, there are several simple ways you can prepare your home for sale even if you’re on a budget. One great way to get an idea of where to begin is to scour the local real estate market to look at other homes for sale in your area. This will allow you to see what other homeowners have done to brighten up their rooms, add curb appeal, or keep things clean for showings. Additionally, you can also check out the average sale price in your area. Being knowledgeable about your competition is wise, especially since the housing market can fluctuate quickly.

Here are a few more simple things you can do to get your home ready to sell.

Find the Right Agent

The right agent is someone who is familiar with your area since they will be able to tell you what buyers are looking for in your neighborhood. They can also take one look around your home and determine what needs to be done to amp up the appeal, as they’ll be viewing it from a buyer’s perspective. So, talk to your agent about how you can make small changes to each room that will help a potential buyer see themselves living there; for instance, you might remove a few pieces of furniture to help the space look bigger.

Clean It Up

Cleaning and decluttering are a major part of prepping your home for sale, but it’s not always easy to look at your house with an objective eye; after all, you see those rooms every day. Ask your realtor or a friend to walk through your home and look for anything that a potential buyer might see as a distraction. Also, keep depersonalization in mind. Too many family photos, a large book collection, or lots of items on the countertops in the kitchen can all be negatives for buyers. In general, each room needs to be neat and simplified. 

 

Let in the light

Open up the blinds and curtains to let in all the natural light you can. Not only does this make the house look more favorable to buyers, but it also allows you to see dust, dirt, and damage that you might not ordinarily notice. Pets can leave behind hair, scratch marks, stains, and messes near their food bowls, so check for those things first. If the weather is nice, open the windows as well, since fresh air can only help out a home that has been closed up for a while. 

 

There are many ways you can prep your home for sale without breaking the bank, but every home is different, so it’s important to get a feel for what needs to be done. Make a list of each item you want to tackle, and be open to suggestions from your real estate agent. The more you can do to make your home appealing and inviting, the quicker you’ll get a sale.

 

Posted in Information
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

Receive the Latest Local Market Stats

Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates