Guide to Buying and Selling in Southwest Florida
The goal of this document is to acquaint you with the process of buying and selling in Southwest Florida.
Listings appear in MLS with a link to ShowingTime to schedule showings. The advantage of this method for a buyer is that I can monitor the number of showings and gain insight into activity.
Two recent examples: a house near me in North Naples was listed at $415,000 on a Friday with Showings starting on Saturday. I could see that showings were back-to-back- to-back and on Sunday the listing agent asked for offers by 5 pm. The house sold for
The second one involved a buyer from out of State. We looked at a house which had just dropped from an aspirational $745,000 to $675,000. Despite this, there were still only very occasional showings, so we waited a while and then put in an offer. We were able to buy the house for $619,000.
As you are aware I look very closely at market statistics and have developed some metrics for judging current market activity.
I can also make introductions to insurance agents who specialize in this market and can help inform your clients about such matters as wind mitigation, types of roof, storm protection, flood insurance and more.
The photos don’t tell the whole story
Another recent example: a house came on the market on a Thursday and the status was changed to pending with contingencies (PC) on Saturday. The buyer was from out of State. When he arrived for the inspection, he discovered that the hot tub was not functioning and would need replacement, there were 6 dead trees that had to be removed, the roof was 25 years old, and the house did not flow. He pulled out.
When I “show” a property virtually, I start with the area – a video on my dashboard showing the area and then the approach to the house. I look at the roof and condition of the windows (are they impact?) and the age of the air conditioning handler.
When we go inside, I look for the items that do not show in the photos: the condition of the A/C, the material of the kitchen cabinets, the quality of doors and general finish. Etc.
My goal is to make the video buyer feel as though he or she is standing in the property.
The offer process
Instead of CTG and UAG, SWFL uses Pending with Contingencies (PC) and Pending (P). But there is no P&S: the Residential Contract For Sale and Purchase is the sole document and is therefore a little more detailed than a MA Contract to Purchase.
In general terms we use an As Is Contract – sellers often insist upon it. This actually gives the best flexibility to the buyer, allowing her to pull out after the inspection. And it does not prevent negotiation.
After acceptance of the inspection the remaining contingency is financing.
I am happy to provide a copy of the Contract to Purchase on request.
Closings are handled by a Settlement and Escrow Agent rather than by an attorney. In most cases the Seller chooses the Settlement Agent who runs the process – including the receipt of Deposit checks, which are not held by brokers.
When I bought a house, I did hire an attorney (who was associated with the Settlement Agent) to review the Contract, but that is a matter of personal choice.
A friend listed a condo for sale with the agent through whom she bought the unit 10 years ago. When I saw the listing, it was clear that the photos did not do the unit justice: they were shown in the geographical sequence of the unit but that meant that the second bedroom was shown early, and it was 20 photos on before the kitchen and lanai were shown. I suggested that the order be changed, and the number reduced.
I asked my friend about the agent’s marketing plan. He came back to tell me “MLS.” At my suggestion Open Houses were then scheduled for the coming weekend – and two offers were received. But beyond that there was no attempt at marketing – no social media advertising, no brochure. Sticking it in MLS and using an online scheduling service and lockbox may work in a strong market (especially for the agent!), but the seller is getting no first-hand feedback from the agent to whom she is paying good money.
I believe in the way we do business “up north” – personal showings.
When I moved to Florida, I was told I should get a real estate license as they were used for identification more than driving licenses – and didn’t have to be given up when one got older!
It was said in jest, but there are an awful lot of agents down here and the quality does vary.
I have come across some excellent ones – and they tend to be very busy. Since showings happen via ShowingTime, agents tend to concentrate on getting listings – largely leaving the process to work itself. When I called one agent to see when showings would start, he said, with annoyance in his voice: “I am not sure – the owner wants me to be present at showings.” How unreasonable!
Another factor is that the major firms will usually have a requirement that any agent who joins must demonstrate that they did $4 million of business in the prior year in the local market. Or, as one broker put it to me: “we are grad school, not undergraduate.”
The best agents, therefore, may not have a great deal of interest in a $400,000 referral on which they will give up 25% of their commissions.
If you are interested in buying or selling in Southwest Florida, I am very happy to accept a referral from your local agent to whom I offer a higher than standard referral fee. That way you will have two agents working for you – your local agent and me.
www.OliverReportsFL.com – a sister site to the long-standing www.OliverReportsMA.com – contains Market Reports as well as more general information related to real estate. You can sign up to receive emails when I post an article.
Please contact me for more information, and read these recent reports.
Andrew Oliver, M.B.E., M.B.A.
Real Estate Advisor
800 Laurel Oak Drive, Suite 400, Naples, FL 34108
Licensed in Massachusetts