Andrew Darda
O: (239) 319-2357
C: 239-849-3883
Mike Darda
O: (239) 319-2357
C: 239-851-6494

Monday, January 09, 2017

We’re thrilled to be able to start off our blogs for 2017 with some very good news for home sellers in Lee County.

The latest stats, for November, recently issued by Florida Gulf Coast MLS, show that single family home sales were up by 16% compared to the previous year.

There was also a 3.6% rise in median sales price for the same period, while condo sales also improved by 11%.

Looking more locally, it’s worth noting that the Sanibel/Captiva areas saw the biggest gains, with no less than a 112.5% jump in sold single family homes.

Other areas that experienced substantial improvements included Bonita Springs (54%), Lehigh Acres (27.9%) and Estero (28.1%).

Inventory of available properties for sale also improved as high winter season approached, with condos up by 38% year on year and single family homes up by 14.4% in the same time frame.

Single family residence inventory supply consequently rose to 5.2 months, an almost 21% improvement on November 2015. This is very good news for better buyer choice, an important component in the purchasing decision equation.

We thus begin the New Year with very positive market conditions and there are so many reasons to be optimistic about prospects moving forward.

All the predictions are for another very successful year in real estate, with more millennials entering the market, and not just for entry level homes. A recent report by Corelogic predicts that homeowners’ net worth will rise by 5.2% during this year.

While some will point to the recent higher mortgage rates, these are a pretty direct response to greater confidence in the economy going forward, following the stock exchange rally that has been ongoing since November’s election.

Current rates are, in fact, still very, very competitive from an historic perspective and are arguably the result of a long overdue market correction.

We’d be delighted to discuss your real estate aspirations for the year ahead. Why not contact us today for an informal chat.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

It has been quite an amazing ride for stock markets since the election.

Although the climb has to end at some point, stocks have shown no sign of letting up yet.

For an area like Lee County, this is an especially welcome trend.

We are, of course, living in a location where luxury second homes are a vital component of the real estate market.

Financial markets are, first and foremost, a reflection of confidence in the economy. And right now those levels of confidence are sky high.

This gives rise to a more investment-led mindset and helps to reinforce an already health second home market, which has seen healthy price growth in 2016.

Earlier this year a Corelogic report showed that equity levels were rising well above the national average in Florida. Indeed the state outperforms any other East of Colorado. This helps to create a perfect storm for would be luxury property investors, buoyed by a confident economic outlook and the possibility of strong returns soon, or perhaps even immediately after, purchase.

While stocks are on their current wild ride upstream, investors know that the ride doesn't last indefinitely and luxury property offers an excellent opportunity for risk diversification and a more measured and secure long term return.

Apart from the financial considerations, it's also very true that buying a second, or maybe third or fourth, property offers far greater lifestyle opportunities than a stock certificate.

We are in the last few days of 2017 and, as we increasingly look to prospects for the New Year, the likelihood is that, all things remaining equal, we're going to see a very lively luxury second home market in the coming months.

If you've been delaying the sale of your luxury property for any reason, we hope you find the above thoughts interesting and would of course be pleased to discuss the possibilities with you in more detail, so don't hesitate to contact us.

As this is our last blog of 2016, can we take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

As we are now so close to the end of another year, we thought we'd take a look back over the past 12 months in Lee County real estate.

Overall, 2016 has been incredibly positive with healthy price growth in most sectors and high sales levels.

At the Darda Group it has been another year of significant achievement and one of our personal highlights was making the highest value sale in Buckingham for nine years.

This sale amply demonstrated that there has been great interest in property right across the board in 2016. We've seen remarkable levels of buyer enthusiasm.

While cash is an important component in our market, there's no question that the ultra-low mortgage rates we enjoyed for most of the year were a significant purchaser motivation, not least for the growing numbers of first time buyers that have made such a strong comeback in 2016.

The election had little effect on real estate until it happened. Almost immediately following the result, stocks began a steady climb that continues to this day. Mortgage rates, which do better when safe haven bond purchasing is in vogue, suffered as a result. However the reality is that they had been artificially low for a very long time and we have arguably seen a long overdue market correction as the year draws to a close. And although they have risen steadily, rates are still extremely competitive on any historic scale.

The recent upward trend in stocks is incredibly positive for an area like ours that is such a strong location for luxury second homes and we'll look at this in a bit more detail in next week's blog.

Low inventory of available homes for sale is a nationwide issue and Lee County has not been immune to this problem, not least due to consistently high buyer demand.

Over this year we've seen some strong upticks in the number of condos for sale, not least because Canadian snowbirds have been selling to cash in on the US/Canadian dollar exchange rate. There was also an early start to the winter season, with inventory numbers up in early fall on the previous year. Despite these influences, overall inventory levels have declined for most of the year, creating great opportunities for sellers in terms of reduced competition and more robust asking prices. The flip side, of course, is less choice for the buyer. It will be interesting to see if continued growing confidence in jobs and the economy persuades more homeowners to finally make the move they've been putting off for years.

In conclusion, 2016 has lived up to its billing of being the best year for real estate in a decade. There's every reason at present to expect more of the same in 2017, with widespread predictions for another good year.

We'd be delighted to have an informal chat with you concerning your real estate aspirations in 2017.

Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 16, 2016
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Friday, December 09, 2016

We are just around the corner from one of the happiest times of the year, and yet there will be many sellers who will be approaching it carrying the huge disappointment of not having sold their property in 2016, even though it has been on the market for many months.

A common conclusion that we have witnessed sellers reaching over the years is that their current agent simply hasn't made a strong enough effort to get the home sold.

As we've said before in these blogs, average agents sell less than a handful of homes per year, with the obvious implication that they have other calls on their time and real estate is, in fact, not their full time occupation.

Therefore if your home is not attracting any interest after many months of being listed, surely the moment has arrived to seek out your agent and carry out a review of progress to date.

All that being said, if you're having to chase your agent, you kind of already have your answer as to what efforts are being expended on your behalf…

We never cease to be amazed that so many agents adopt an entirely passive approach to representing their clients.

By passive we mean that they literally take listings and sit behind a desk waiting for someone else to sell them via access to the local MLS listing service.

While this approach may very occasionally work by accident, the agent's failure to proactively talk to contacts and other agents, as well as carry out a wide range of other marketing activities, simply means that your home sale is pretty much being left to chance.

Contrast this with the active marketing philosophy here at The Darda Group that sees us prospecting four hours per day talking to 20-30 prospects every day to find a buyer for your home. Active marketing will expose your home to our over 3000 past clients, our current sellers who will turn into buyers when we sell their homes, as well as neighboring property owners who have friends and family who would like to live nearby.

We back all this up with extensive online marketing, including this very blog and website, plus exposure to potential customers worldwide, plus a range of other advantages like the use of professional photography to present your property at its very best and an expanded hours showing service, making it easier for agents to set showings on your home vs. your competitors.

And it works! Last year The Darda Group ranked 8th in the top of all Century 21 Realtors nationwide, 10th globally and placed 2nd for Century 21 agents in Southern Florida representing beachfront and Gulf-front properties, Gulf access and Golf course communities. Year after year, we have consistently achieved the highest of accolades for our representation of buyers and sellers. We will achieve similar high performance results this year.

If you've decided to start 2017 with a new agent, why not contact us today and find out more about our track record and how we actively tailor our approach to each individual home sale.  As a result, we think you'll be able to face the holidays in a positive frame of mind again.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

We hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Can it really be a week already!

It's been an interesting seven day period for mortgage rates, which have averaged 4.08% for a 30 year fixed rate home loan during the past week.

This has led to all kinds of press speculation about where the real estate market is headed, some of it pretty unrealistic and doom laden.

The key issue is that, as an industry and as buyers and/or sellers, we've all gotten very used to sub 4% rates, and we've even seen dips below 3.5% for a 30-year loan in recent months.

This has essentially distorted everyone's view of the market and, especially because we've been in this business a long time and have good memories, we thought it would be useful right now to take a trip back in time and put today's rates in a wider historic perspective.

Our first port of call was the Freddie Mac website which contains an extremely enlightening chart of annual averages for 30 year fixed rate borrowing - click here to see it for yourself.

We firstly decided to note down the average 30-year rates for the past 10 complete years:

2006 - 6.41%
2007 - 6.34%
2008 - 6.03%
2009 - 5.04%
2010 - 4.69%
2011 - 4.45%
2012 - 3.66%
2013 - 3.98%
2014 - 4.17%
2015 - 3.85%

We can immediately see that in 2014, a very successful year for home selling and buying, the average rate was somewhat higher than it currently is. These averages amply demonstrate that, while it's clearly disappointing that rates have risen, they still offer tremendous value and compare very favorably with other boom years like 2006's 6.41%.

And that year of 2006 brings about another relevant perspective for us. The latest Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index, released yesterday, is slightly above the peak it reached prior to recession in July 2006, rising 5.5% between September 2016 and September 2015. In other words, this is a great market to be in and we still have mortgage rates far lower than in 2006.

It's also worth reminding ourselves at this point that, at an average of 4.08% in the past week, rates still have somewhere to go to match the predictions of many experts who, at around this time last year, were anticipating progressive rate rises in 2016 to between 4.5% and 4.65%. With just 30 days left, reaching those heights is not looking very likely.

There's a very strong argument to suggest that where we're seeing rates at the moment simply represents a market correction from what have been some staggeringly low figures in recent times, by any historic measure. It's a correction that was always likely to happen, but no-one knew when. As it turns out, stock market confidence after the election made bonds less attractive and caused mortgage rates, which are closely allied to the fortunes of bonds, to begin a climb.

While we were looking at the Freddie Mac average interest rate chart, we couldn't resist going even further back in time to between 1996 and 2005 when the 30 year average was 6.889%. There was no sign of 4.08% average rates back then, as the yearly breakdown of averages proves:

2005 - 5.87%
2004 - 5.84%
2003 - 5.83%
2002 - 6.54%
2001 - 6.97%
2000 - 8.05%
1999 - 7.44%
1998 - 6.94%
1997 - 7.6%
1996 - 7.81%

Perhaps what we most need to remember at the moment is that rate increases are a pretty direct result of less risk aversion and more confidence in the economy moving forward. Those headlines predicting some sort of real estate crash are failing to factor in this vital, and very positive, consideration at all.

As we reported in last week's blog, some buyers are taking the position that locking in rates now makes sense in case they should move higher. No one knows what will actually happen, of course, but we hope that by giving you a wider historic picture you'll be able to see that today's mortgage rates still represent the most incredible value and a truly wonderful opportunity.

Why not contact us today for tailored and expert advice on making the very best of the current situation.

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