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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We're Going Green

Coldwell Banker Previews International Fifth Avenue South office here in beautiful Naples Florida is "Going Green"! Although recycling is currently not mandatory at business addresses here in Collier County, our office made the decision recently to begin a recycling program. This takes a little bit of effort on the part of the staff and agents, but with over 80 people recycling here at the Coldwell Banker office we now have 4 large recycle bins outside...and the results have been terrific! Coldwell Banker and The Harris-Peppe Team are committed to keeping it green! Our very own Meagan Harris is the only agent listed on the popular search site: when searching for a "green" agent in Naples Florida! Meagan prides herself in being Earth friendly! You might want to check out her blog at: Please call Meagan if you have any questions concerning green builders & neighborhoods in SW Florida! Her direct line is: 239-398-0186

Monday, January 26, 2009

Financing Condos in Florida

It just became even more difficult to finance a condo. Fannie Mae, which buys most of the residential loans from lenders, announced more requirements that only apply to Florida:
  • If more than 15% of a condo's units are delinquent in their association dues or fees, Fannie Mae will not back the new mortgage.
  • In new condos and condo conversions, at least 70% of the units must be sold, up from 49% previously.
  • Down payment requirements could possibly go up from 25% to 40% or more in some cases.

I know there are some obvious backlashes from these new requirements. Potentially prices could drop further, and there could be an increase in foreclosures. However, I believe this will create unbelievable opportunities for cash buyers!

If you have any questions at all regarding today's stricter financing guidelines, I would highly recommend you contact our in-house Senior Loan Officer, Kelly Rebimbus at 239-273-5239. She is happy to answer your questions directly. Kelly is a top professional with whom our team has had the pleasure to work. She can pre-approve you in record time so that when you are ready to go out and find your dream home in paradise, you'll have the tough part, financing, behind you!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Short Sales

In an effort to explain what has become one of the most frequently asked questions of the 2009 season: "What is a short sale?", I will attempt as simple and as concise answer as possible with my limited experience in the matter... When the proceeds of a real estate transaction fall short of what is owed on the property, it is referred to as a "short sale". In many cases the lender agrees to reduce the loan balance due to an economic or financial hardship. The owner of the home is still in title, therefore gets to work directly with the real estate agent in order to come up with an asking price which will create activity on the property and encourage offers. What I have found in many instances is, the home is listed considerably less than the agreed "short sale price". In some cases direct negotiations with the lender do not even begin until multiple offers on the home are obtained...and at times the home actually sells for more than the listed price. Most buyers are finding this confusing and are specifically requesting not to be shown short sale listings. As an example, I recently received a call from a prospect inquiring about a listing which was posted on our IDX site. It was a brand new, waterfront home listed below $1 million dollars and when I looked it up I immediately concluded that it was clearly under priced. When I phoned the agent handling the property he told me the home was valued at over $2 million. He also told me that the home already had over 2 dozen offers and that the highest bid was about $1.6 million. I think you can see why, in any price range, the buyers are a bit confused with these marketing strategies. Keep in mind though, it looks like the home will sell, and possibly for a higher price than if they had listed at market value. By the way, the local multiple listing system now has a category whereby agents can search specifically for short sale and non-short sale listings. The most recent search I conducted determined that approximately 12% of the Naples residential listings were categorized as short sale properties. (This does not take into account foreclosures, which will be another blog post). Up until recently, lenders had few guidelines for dealing with the extraordinary number of short sales being requested. The process and amount of paperwork was cumbersome and they were overwhelmed with the amount of time it took. Today we are beginning to see more streamlined negotiations as banks and mortgage companies are developing departments within to handle both short sales and foreclosures. It is still a relatively complex procedure, but in time, and with new legislation effecting short sales, we should begin to see it made easier. Another side of short sale pricing is as follows: Recently my partner Chip sold a home in an upscale country club community which is not as broadly effected by the short sale situation. We negotiated a sale of a home which was originally bought by the present owner in 2004 for approximately $500,000. In 2006 similar homes in that neighborhood sold for over $1 million dollars. The short sale homes there are now listed in the $800 and $900's. Chip's buyer closed for $775,000. The point again is; in many cases, the short sale listings do not always present buyers with the best opportunities. When it's all said and done, it is always your best bet to work with a seasoned real estate professional with local knowledge and trusted experience.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama's Inaugural Address

I know this is a real estate blog, but yesterday's inauguration will have its effect on all of us in the days and months to come...we must rally behind our new president, and reach across party lines and continue to wish only that goodness and prosperity come to our nation. The day we have long awaited has now come and gone...Our new president is wished nothing but safety and success from us here at the Harris-Peppe Team. No matter your political leanings, was it not truly amazing that President Obama was sworn in with his hand upon Lincoln's bible? ~and, Were you not moved by over 2 million people all saying the Lord's prayer out loud together? The president of the National Association of Realtors offered the following statement, as reported on CNN: "Today is truly a historic day for our country. On behalf NAR's 1.2 million Realtors, we welcome the new president and his administration and pledge to work with them to stabilize the U.S. housing market and set the economy on the road to recovery...NAR looks forward to working with President Obama and his team to quickly move forward with meaningful legislation and policies to help make home ownership part of the American Dream again." Now we can go forward with our plans and our business. Ahead, many challenges, but...a positive outlook and true knowing that tomorrow, and all its blessings, IS ultimately up to us. Destiny IS in our hands. Responsibility and accountability...these are words that shape our country. President Obama's quote from George Washington proves how timeless the laws of truth are: "Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it." How can we not overcome any obstacle? How can we not succeed? For the inauguration speech in its entirety, please log onto:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Equity vs. Bundled

We are well into our "season" and there's been a lot of activity already. Chip was out of the office all day showing condos yesterday; and today he has a 9:00 o'clock, a noon and a 3:00 PM appointment with three different prospects! Our website leads are rolling in daily...If the past two weeks are any indication of what is in store, I think we are going to have a great year! I am nearly finished calculating the 2008 year-end statistics and will be following up this post in a few days with those results. Till then, I thought I would take a few minutes to decipher "Equity vs. Bundled" golf memberships. This is a frequently asked question. I will try to be as concise as possible in my explanation. Most of the golf courses here in Naples are equity courses. In fact, I've heard that we have more private golf holes per-capita than any other city in the United States. Equity courses are private and are usually capped at under 375 members per 18 holes. Initiation costs can vary, but average around $50,000...some of the equity membership initiation fees can be as high as $250,000, as is the case in Bay Colony Golf Club as an example. Many of the private courses also offer Social and Sports memberships which may include some limited golf privileges off-season. When available, most clubs include the social membership in with the full golf equity membership. Some clubs offer 100% refundable memberships if you ever leave the community; others can vary from 50% to 80% equity. These of course are factors in deciding where you want to ultimately live and play. The Harris-Peppe Team has put together a full brochure of Naples Area golf courses and club information, which we are happy to share with you upon request. This brochure lists each course's number of members, designer, total yardage, slope and rating. People usually buy in Naples for one of three reason: Beach, boating or golf. It is our commitment to make your golf course home or condo purchase as easy as possible. Bundled golf is when your full golf membership is included with your home or condo purchase! The golf dues are usually built into the Home Owner's Association fees. Typically the membership is capped at 799 members, which means you will not be able to play golf as often as on an equity course. This will not appeal to the avid golfer who wants to play often. But, the buyer looking to golf a few times a week on a less challenging course will usually like this format. Most of the bundled golf communities have adopted a new computer program called The Chelsea System which keeps track of the members' play dates and tee times in order to keep balance and fairness for all members. One of the really good things about bundled golf, is that the membership is transferable when you goes with the property! Also, in many cases, a tenant can also use the golfing privileges if the owner transfers membership, making them an interim member during their lease period. This is a big boost to an investor looking to maximize their rent potential. There are many nice choices for bundled golf communities in Naples now. Prices start at under $200,000. for condos to well over a $million dollars for homes in these neighborhoods. Of course, don't forget, we do have a few well maintained public golf courses in Naples, too! Call us today for a complete list of the area Golf Courses & Country Clubs and for a customized list of all golf course residential listings. We look forward to hearing from you soon! 239-370-0574...oh, by the way, that's our grandson Leonardo in the photo!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Staying Up in a Down Market

People ask me how I stay "up" in such a down market...the answer is really quite simple. First, we know that there isn't anything that we can't accomplish together. This is a must: Be part of the solution, not part of the problem...Be creative, think outside the box, look at challenges as opportunities to learn and improve...A positive attitude, a strong faith. Be pro-active! Also, Chip & I made the decision when we got home from our summer vacation this year to discontinue the local newspaper delivery. We found that we would sit each morning and read the paper and watch the news while drinking our coffee and before we even left the house we were already inundated with too much negativity. Of course, our customers and clients are tuned into what is happening in the world, primarily the financial markets, so we need to stay up to date with what is happening...logging onto a few key websites will bring us up to speed in just a few minutes. We both check the headlines, but steer clear of reports that editorialize. Steer clear of dome and gloom! Next, we concentrate on all the positive things that are happening in our local real estate market rather than the negative reports...and there's plenty of good news! Real estate is LOCAL, and even within Naples there are pockets of the market doing very well. The media creates the perception that the entire town is off by 40 or 50%, but that simply is not true. There are some great bargains right now, and interest rates have never been better. ~Probably one of the greatest football coaches of all time, Vince Lombardi, had a wonderful coaching philosophy. Each week before the game he would show his players films of all the plays they got right the previous week...I believe this had so much to do with his success. What you focus on becomes your reality; so, if you worry, more things to worry about WILL come your way. Accentuate the positive! It's easy once you make it a habit. And besides, people like working with happy people! We look forward to hearing from you. Please call us with any questions about any specific areas in Naples. Call us or check out our website at We will be happy to assist you and hope to earn your business! 239-370-0574

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Two Homes for The Price of One!

This is a wonderful opportunity to purchase two beautiful homes in Naples Florida for the price of one! The 3 bedroom main home is a well maintained ranch style residence featuring a split bedroom design, formal living room, a step-saver kitchen which opens up to the family room with vaulted ceiling and an oversized screened porch. There is a refreshing below ground pool surrounded by magnificent landscaping. The cottage style guest house offers two bedrooms plus two full baths, a 2-car garage and a perfectly outfitted granite and stainless kitchen. In addition the cottage boasts a huge screened lanai for hours of outdoor living. All this is located in the prestigeous area of Logan Woods on over 2 acres! Call today to see this fabulous buy! 239-370-0574 ~or For additional photos, a virtual tour and other listing information please visit our website at
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Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year from

A lot of folks were glad to see 2008 come to a close. We certainly had our share of economic challenges, but I always believe, life is easier to handle when you count your blessings instead of your woes. A special thanks right now to all those who helped bring joy and happiness into our lives. Both family and friends as well as the wonderful people we've met through our business contacts and networking! We feel so lucky to be selling real estate in Naples Florida! A year ago when I began this blog my intention was to post entries every few days. Looking back I have averaged just under 1.5 entries per week...not bad for a blogging novice. I've enjoyed the great emails and calls I have gotten in connection with both this blog as well as our website We are presently in the process of creating our 3rd website which is just days away from being unveiled! It's an exciting time here at The Harris-Peppe Team! My blogging goal for 2009 is to post at least 3 X's per continue my upbeat and positive outlook on the market and to create blog posts which are helpful and informative! Any and all ideas are considered and appreciated. If there's a topic you'd like me to write about, please let me know! ~Till next time, we wish you a very happy and healthy New Year!