Search This Blog

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blogging and the future of Real Estate marketing

When I first started this real estate blog in December 2007, it was estimated that less than 3% of the public blogged. The percentage of real estate bloggers at that time was slightly less. A recent poll in the 2008 Realtor Technology Report, as reported by the National Association of Realtors says that 7% of the country's licensed sales associates post to their own self-hosted blogs daily, another 9% blog weekly. From less than 3% 18 months ago to 16% today. That's more than 5 times the number of bloggers in just a year and a half. Any agent thinking this is more than just a passing fancy better think about getting another job. Just think back about websites and web pages and web presence in general as a means to market real estate a dozen or so years ago...How many agents had a website a dozen years ago compared to today? Today, print media is on the decline, and web marketing is where it is at! I've been in this business a looooong time...I remember when 30% of my buyers came from a newspaper classified ad. Today, less than 5% of our team's business comes from traditional sources. The majority of our business still comes from referrals from our satisfied past customers, but in 2008 more than 40% of our listings and sales were a direct results of our internet marketing campaigns! Watch any TV show, news program or commercial and they are all referring the consumer to their websites...You can follow just about anyone on Twitter, make friends on Facebook, or recommend a professional on LinkedIn. Myspace isn't just for teenagers anymore, Youtube is an excellent way to get virtual tours & podcasts out to the public, buyers can bookmark favorite listings on Dwellicious...the list goes on and on! As for me, I like connecting on the internet...As busy as people are these days, it allows a person to connect when they want to rather than when you make the call...I find that when a person begins communication via the internet then that is usually their preferred means of communication. We send out "postcards" via saves on paper (think green), the cost of stamps, AND it's just as effective! Blogging is great because it isn't "in your face" marketing; the consumer actually seeks you out. By offering useful information they subscribe to you and once they get to know you, they want to do business with you! Today's consumer is becoming more and more technology oriented...the days of a seller wanting to see a pretty picture of their home in a glossy magazine is nearly over. Everyone asks us, "How many websites will our home be featured on?" Thank you for reading our blog. Take a minute and go back through the archives; we think you'll be impressed with the amount of information we have posted. From Naples Real Estate trends and statistics to Chinese drywall and public Art, 1031 Exchanges or how to get a beach parking sticker or Homestead a new purchase...We welcome your feedback; we hope you'll tell your friends...and of course, if you're looking to buy or sell a home in Southwest Florida, we hope you'll give The Harris-Peppe Team a chance to earn your trust. Please consider subscribing to this blog and following us on twitter at

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Restore Naples Bay

Back in the 1950's, Naples Bay began its metamorphosis as it changed from being a natural, mangrove lined, shallow estuary to a dredged body of water. Instead of being filtered naturally, stormwater now enters the bay via canals, including the main Golden Gate canal which connects to the Gordon River. This canal alone spills an average of over 200 million gallons of water a day into the bay!~ This excess fresh water damages the bay's natural balance of fresh and salt water and in doing so disrupts the delicate estuarine process. There are three fairly easy methods available to all of us which can greatly improve the overall health of Naples Bay:
  • Landscape Guidelines
  • Riprap vs. Seawalls
  • Mangroves

Here are a few suggestions on how you can help:

Don't fertilize close to waterbeds! It is suggested that you have a buffer of 10 to 20 feet along the shoreline consisting of plants that require less water and very little fertilizer or pesticides. This will minimize the amount of stormwater run-off that is potentially harmful. For additional information about landscape guidelines I invite you to log onto an interactive website at )

Riprap is a collection of loose rocks placed at an angle along a shoreline of a property. It provides an excellent habitat for oysters to thrive and plants to grow. Riprap is actually more effective than seawalls at dissipating wave energy. If you have an existing seawall, it is recommended that you place riprap in front of it; this will extend its life and assist in restoring the bay. If your seawall is in need of replacement, consider installing riprap if possible.

Mangroves form the base of the food chain in the Naples Bay estuarine ecosystem. Today, 70% of the mangrove fringe has been lost. If you have mangrove on your property please use care when trimming. The proper technique is called "windowing". You can contact Natural Resources for a mangrove trimming guide, or log onto a website that I found interesting at

There are some major issues facing Naples Bay which include: Habitat loss, Poor stormwater quality, Excess freshwater and Residential development. If we all work together, as part of the solution instead of the problem, we CAN restore Naples Bay!

*My partner Chip Harris was appointed by the mayor and currently serves on the East Naples Bay Advisory Committee. If you have any questions about the committee and what they are presently involved in, please feel free to call him at 239-370-0574.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Celestine Moments

It happens every now and then, no matter how hard one might try to keep life in perspective...We get caught up in the daily routines and the simple beauty all around us goes unseen. -And then all of a sudden, in that dizzying rush to get things done, something or someone steps into our path and we slow down to see. I had several moments like that yesterday. As I turned out of the road leaving the community where I live on my way to the grocery store I accidentally made the wrong turn...deep in thought, I drove for a few minutes before asking myself, "Where are you going Michele"? Realizing I was driving on the wrong road, I decided to shop at a different store than I where usually go as I was now heading in that direction...after checking out and walking to where my car was parked I saw a couple that looked familiar to me...In a hurry, I just kept walking to my car, but something in my head said, go back and see if that is Raphael and his wife...I did, and it was. They were new to America when I helped them buy their first home 20 years ago. We hugged and cried and they shared some stories with of all they were proud to tell me that their son had graduated from college last year! They then told me, that through their church, they learned of a seminar featuring the author Dave Ramsey. I was familiar with this as my youngest son is also attending the same class! Raphael told me that at last Thursday's lecture they were told that now is a great time to buy a home. They had sold the home I helped them buy some time ago...and now they needed someone to help them again. They weren't sure who to turn to...they put it in God's hands and hoped they could find me! Three days later, there I was, in the parking lot at a store I don't normally go to reuniting with a sweet couple who could not believe that I remembered them! Then, last night we went out on our deck boat to catch sunset. The sky was a little hazy because of the fires in the Everglades, but the sun shining through the clouds was a neon orange. We knew it wasn't going to be a very good sunset, but we headed out the pass anyway. As we were coming back in from the gulf we idled to watch a fisherman who looked as though he had hooked a big one! Not once, not twice, but three times we watched him try to reel in a tarpon! Each time the fighting fish broke the line as it neared his boat, but to see a 100+ pound tarpon fly out of the water and bend the rod as the young man tried to tire him out was an amazing thrill that you don't get to see very often. Tarpon are not a fish you catch to eat, so I was really quite happy that they didn't land that beautiful creature, but the fight they both gave was quite exciting to witness. And so, here's to Raphael and to the tarpon, and to this amazing phenomenon called's to slowing down, and being aware...I can't wait to see what crosses my path today!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chinese Drywall

So, what's the scoop on Chinese Drywall? Yes, we've added yet another disclosure to those that already exist...Lead based paint disclosure, mold disclosure, radon disclosure, insurance disclosure, special taxing district disclosure...and so on and so on. Now, in the stack of paperwork that a buyer will be recommended to sign when making a purchase offer, there is another form: The Chinese Drywall Disclosure. It simply reads that drywall which was imported from China and installed in various homes in Florida, primarily during the shortages in 2004, may contain hazardous contents which can potentially cause health risks. There are an estimated 36,000 homes in Florida which are believed to contain drywall manufactured in China. According to a recent report published by the Florida Association of Realtors, many builders were forced to buy drywall imported from China between 2004-2007 due to a shortage in the U.S. manufacturing during those years. The imported drywall has been linked to numerous complaints about the release of a sulfide gas which can pollute the home with a rotten egg smell and cause problems structurally such as corroding electrical wiring and components of air-conditioning. U.S. Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL) sent a letter to Governor Crist requesting the Governor declare a state of emergency. Several federal class action lawsuits have been filed. It is believed that homes 13 states may have been effected. It is anticipated that this could end up being one of the largest product liability cases related to home construction in U.S. history. Chip & I are suggesting that any of the homes or condos that we have listed, that have either been built or renovated during these years, be tested for the "Chinese" drywall. If you are thinking of buying or selling and would like to get your home tested, please call us as we are happy to provide you with the name and number of a competent inspector. *Please note that not all Chinese drywall is defective, and not all defective drywall is from China.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! I thought you might enjoy logging onto the following websites and taking their quizzes to calculate your personal Global footprint. How much land area does it take to support your lifestyle? I thought I was very conservative...I recycle, I use low energy bulbs, I only run the dishwasher and washing machine on full loads, I eat very little meat, I primarily buy local produce, I only live a mile away from my office...but I was shocked to see it takes 3 planet earths to support my lifestyle! Yikes! I think you'll find both sites interesting and informative: Thanks. Have a Happy Earth Day! Plant a tree!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Naples Beach Parking Permits

If there is one thing for sure, that sets Naples apart, it's the easy beach access. From Pelican Bay south to Port Royal, Naples has seven miles of sugary-white sand beaches with public accessibility. Unlike much of the rest of the Sunshine state where the beaches are dotted with hotels & motels, restaurants & ice cream parlors and t-shirt shops with neon arrows pointing the way...Naples beautiful beaches are predominantly residential...all spectacular beach front single family homes & large estates at the south end...and all majestic, towering high-rises and well manicured mid-rises and villas at the north end...Perfectly landscaped mediums, jogging trails, bike paths, and picturesque bridges. The beaches in Naples are pristine, and best of all they can be enjoyed by everyone! In the downtown area, at the end of every avenue there is public beach parking (avenues run east and west, streets run north and south). North of downtown as you meander along Gulfshore Boulevard you wind back and forth to and from the gulf up over bridges that look out over Moorings Bay and Venetian Bay. This is where the condos begin and there are several convenient locations along the boulevard which accommodate parking for beach access; Via Miramar and Vedado Way to name a couple. Getting a beach parking permit is easy, too. There are several locations around town, but most folks go to Naples City Hall at 735 8th Street South. They are open Monday-Friday from 8-5. Their phone number is 239-213-1800. You can also go to the Collier County Government Center, but they only do resident permits. Their phone number is: 239-252-8999, if you'd like to call first.
  • Full time residents only require 2 documents: 1). A current Florida vehicle registration displaying a Collier County address (no copies please), and 2). A current Florida driver's license displaying a Collier County address.
  • Part-time residents require 3 documents: 1). Current vehicle registration or rental car agreement, 2). Current driver's license, and 3). Current Collier County tax statement or deed or closing papers within 6 months.
  • Visitors who are "non" residents (those who do not own property in Collier County) can get an annual beach parking permit with two documents: 1). Current vehicle registration or rental car agreement and 2). Current driver's license. The cost is $50. for the year and valid for 12 months.

In 2005 the Travel Channel voted Naples as having the nation's #1 beach. The sunsets are breathtaking and the parks along the beach are fabulous. We have some of the best shelling in the world, too! Lowdermilk Park is located just north of Old Naples in Coquina Sands, and Clam Pass Park is located north of Park Shore near the Naples Grande Resort. Come on down, get a little bit of sand between your me, you'll never want to leave!

*If you have any photographs of the beach in Naples that you would like to have featured on our website, please email them to me at Thanks and have a great day!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interest Rates and Credit Scores

Yesterday, at our weekly business meeting here at the Coldwell Banker Previews office, Kelly Rebimbas- Senior Loan officer for Sunbelt Lending, spoke about current industry news concerning mortgages. Here are a few topics that I think you will find very interesting:
  • Did you know that mortgage rates have been higher in 35 out of the past 35 years? Fixed rates in March of 1974 were 8.41%. Going up each year from there, they reached their peak in March 1982 at 17.16% (shortly after I had gotten my real estate license...whew!) In the years that followed rates went up and down, but stayed fairly level with another upswing in March 1989-March 1990. This was the last time we saw double digits! Since March 2002 rates never went above 7%. Currently 30 year fixed rates are at 5%, an historic low!

  • Did you know that the current credit scoring system was originally designed in the 1960s to help lenders with the approval process when looking at the financial profiles of customers. A credit score can range from 350 points to 850. The higher the better. Only 1 in 1300 people have a credit score over 800! (I found that to be amazing) Some customers ask me why the rates are advertised at 5% but the rate they are quoted is higher...this is due to their credit score. A higher credit score translates to a better interest rate for the consumer. An underwriter interprets the credit score in terms of risk. Today a mortgage lender considers a score of 700 or higher to be a good score.
If you would like additional information about what factors are used to determine credit scores or how to dispute errors on a credit report, please feel free to call me at 239-250-4370. Or you can call Kelly directly to be pre-approved before looking at homes or condos! Her direct # is: 239-273-5239. Now is the time! -and As I mentioned in an earlier post, Naples was just named the #2 place to find real estate bargains in the Nation! Great rates, great value, great time to be a buyer!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Naples Previews

The Harris-Peppe Team has upped the ante with its new website which caters to the affluent home buyer. This state-of-the-art site is completely tech-friendly and makes searching for that multi-million dollar home in Naples easier than ever! We have always prided ourselves in the service we deliver to buyers and sellers in all price ranges. Those of you that are familiar with us know that the first website that we designed has become one of the most successful in the industry today. We expect the new Previews site to be just as successful. This content-rich site gives the consumer lots of different options when looking online for a luxury property. The search criteria is thorough, and the results include all currently available residential listings in our local MLS, not just our own Previews homes and condos. We've even included a concierge list of select vendors with whom we have either had the pleasure of working with ourselves or who have been referred to us by one of our clients. One stop shopping for all your luxury home needs in Naples Florida! We hope you'll let us know if we've left anything off the list! It is our commitment to make our site, not just the most popular, but also the best source for high-end listings... as well as a website that you will go back to time and time again for other local information; stock quotes, theatre schedules, airport arrivals...No one else offers this much information on one website! Thank you. We look forward to hearing your comments!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Best Time to Buy is NOW

"The best time to buy is always now"...I've heard that said many times over the past 28 years of my real estate career...and in most times that has definitely rung true...Of course, a lot of the folks who bought in 2004 through 2006 might not necessarily feel that way, but for those who did that don't need to sell right now, they have had the enjoyment of a wonderful home in Naples Florida...and many of them feel the price they paid pales when compared to the great times they've already shared with friends and family since making that purchase... I can think back about a customer I worked with years ago who "overpaid" for a home in Aqualane Shores...he paid $800,000. and in less than a year the home went down to $600,000---I was relatively new in the business and I felt awful, but told him to hang onto it if he could and I would let him know when the market came back and would suggest a better time to sell...Well, for those of you who know the Naples market, you'll know that it's tough to find a nice home in Aqualane Shores today for much less than $2 million...He doubled his money a few years later...Real Estate is cyclical, and these times too shall pass and in the years ahead we will be looking back at "now" and will recognize the great opportunities that buyers had in 2009. A few years ago when home values were escalating more quickly than we could track, people were kicking themselves for not having bought earlier...Personally, I think that's what people will say again someday when they talk about 2009! Even if prices go down a little bit more, the selection today is fabulous and the interest rates may never be better! There are 78 million baby boomers beginning to retire this year...we don't need a very high percentage of them to select Naples as their destination city for retirement or 2nd homes to see the market take off...Right now we are experiencing an extremely favorable buyer's market, and the Boomers will be fueling real estate sales in places like Southwest Florida for years to come! So, if you're sitting on the fence trying to decide whether "now" is the best time to buy, take it from me..."The best time to buy is always now"! For a personalized, detailed custom search for a home or condo in the Naples area, please do not hesitate to contact us either by email or direct phone at or 239-370-0574 Thanks. We look forward to hearing from you and hope to earn your business!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This is NOT the end!

Normally Easter-time marks the end of "season" here in beautiful Naples Florida, but I think things are just now starting to get fired up! More and more of the customers we've shown property to in the past 12 months are calling to tell us that they'll be back now to find the best deals! There are so many fabulous opportunities out in the marketplace! Call or email us with your wish list and we will do a custom, no-obligation search on your behalf...Let us show you the best buys in each neighborhood. Whether it is a beach front estate, a home on a golf course or a waterfront residence with a boat in your back yard...We are out there in the field each and everyday listing & showing homes and condos so we are confidant we can help guide you through the search & buying process with ease. Yes, this is definitely not the end, but perhaps it is the beginning of years of happiness in a new home in Naples Florida! Thank you in advance. We hope to hear from you soon and we look forward to earning your trust and future business! Happy Easter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Number 2 Never Looked So Good

As reported today in the local newspaper, The Naples Daily News, in an article contributed by HGTV's, Naples is the No. 2 bargain home buyer market in the United States. We trailed Stockton California as the nation's second best destination where good homes buys can be found! The article continued by stating we [Naples] are known for our "artsy side" and natural wonders, including the nearby Everglades. We were followed by Las Vegas in the 3rd position. Other cities which made the top ten list included Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Napa California, Phoenix Arizona, San Diego California and Washington D.C. is an online real estate listing service powered by HGTV. It is the top source for home-related media content. Currently the site offers over 3 million homes for sale and partners with other leaders in the industry, including Realogy Corp., the company with which Coldwell Banker is affiliated. So, if you are looking for an opportunity--a place in the sunshine state with real value, please call us today. Being number 2 never looked so good! We hope to hear from you soon and we look forward to earning your business! 239-250-4370

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Naples Real Estate Information

Here are a few interesting things to report which were discussed this morning at the office weekly sales meeting:
  • The best news of all, our office was up over 82% in sales pending in the first quarter of 2009 as compared to the first quarter of 2008!
  • The average list price in our office was up 5.8%
  • Currently there are 10,405 Active residential listings in Naples per the MLS. Of those 1,586 are potential short sales and 339 have been foreclosed. [These figures do not reflect the entire inventory of homes in Naples that are either in foreclosure proceedings or in a short sale position.] These are only taking into account the homes or condos listed for sale in our MLS.
  • At this time last year, the MLS inventory was approximately 12,000 residential listings. 12% were either short sales or foreclosed homes or condos as compared to 18% currently.
  • 80% of the residential listings in MLS that are either potential short sales or foreclosure properties are listed at or below $300,000.

For additional information about current real estate trends in Naples Florida, or in specific communities and neighborhoods in Collier County, please call the Harris-Peppe Team today at: 239-370-0574.

Thank you and have a great day!

Data has been obtained from the SunshineMLS system and is deemed accurate and reliable but not guaranteed.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another "Alley" Surprise

I had the pleasure yesterday, while driving through the alley behind the 800 block of Fifth Avenue South, of coming upon another lovely surprise in our beautiful little city. (see blog post dated March 5th, 2009 for another recent entry about "alley surprises")
The first installment of public art, made possible by an ordinance passed in 2006, was recently erected in front of the new parking garage. The piece was created by artist Mark Fuller of Palm Beach Gardens. It consists of 2 lattice-like structures that are nearly 12 feet tall. They each have 108 diachronic coated panels. Each panel pivots as the wind flows through allowing them to change color as they reflect the surroundings. It was titled "Cambier's Quilt" by the artist and can actually be seen from Cambier Park, right across the street. (click on photo to enhance image)
I think the best part of all, in addition to the beauty it adds to the city, is the fact that it makes art available to everyone. You don't have to be confined within the walls of a museum or gallery to see art in Naples Florida...there are wonderful sculptures and other lovely works of art dotting the streets downtown. While I was there taking photos countless passer-bys were commenting on the colorful, fun piece..."It makes you smile", one lady said. I agree.
I encourage anyone driving into Olde Naples to take a turn down the back alley on the south side of Fifth Avenue...then make a special stop to look at this delightful work of art up close!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Beauty On The Bay!

Palatial Estate
Fabulous opportunity to buy a palatial 5 bedroom estate with breathtaking bay views, new 90' dock plus protected boat slip! Attention to detail beyond reproach. Click here to view virtual tour. For a personal tour of this majestic residence, or for additional information, call us today at 239-370-0574. For information about this and other multimillion dollar homes in Southwest Florida, please log onto our newest and most exciting website to date at: Thanks, and make it a great day!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Naples Real Estate 1st Quarter Statistics

Pending home sales are at their highest point since 2005!
It has always been my contention that the best barometer to judge the "temperature" of the market is by studying pending sales. In a report recently released by the Naples Area Board of Realtors, January 2009 showed the highest number of sales pending since 2005. This is a key indicator of buyer activity. The first quarter of 2009 came and went quickly. -and We have been very busy showing and selling real estate...At yesterday's weekly business meeting here at the Coldwell Banker Fifth Avenue office, our broker announced that we, The Harris Peppe Team, were the top agents for written business for the first quarter! Here are some *statistics and comparisons that I think you will find interesting:

1st Quarter Pendings 2008: 1668

1st Quarter Pendings 2009: 2775

2008 Pendings with a list price over $1 million: 231

2009 Pendings with a list price over $1 million: 154

2008 Pendings with a list price under $300,000: 773

2009 Pendings with a list price under $300,000: 2068 Total 1st quarter closed units 2008: 965 Total 1st quarter closed units 2009: 1285 Median Closed Sale Price in the past 12 months: $247,327. Average Closed Sale Price in the last 12 months: $484,213. Available inventory in all price points in January 2008: 12,086 Available inventory in all price points in January 2009: 11,308 All indicators point to the fact that we are at, or near, the bottom; however many predict that the number of short sales and foreclosures could continue to effect the lower price points (particularly in the under $500,000 range). When looking at the pending numbers of the Previews Properties (listings priced at $ 1 million or above) it is quite obvious that they are also feeling the downward pressure of pricing. The listings that are most likely to sell are those which are the most aggressively priced. The buyers are out there, of that I am certain, but never before has perceived value played such an important role in determining which home will sell. There has never been a better time to buy real estate in Naples Florida! Please feel free to call or email us today for a more detailed report of any specific community in the greater Naples area. We look forward to hearing from you soon and hope to earn your business. Thank you and make it a great day! 239.250.4370 *Statistics were calculated using data provided by SunshineMLS and reflects Naples residential properties.