The 5-year slide in Southwest Florida home prices has been a painful experience for local homeowners. However, one group’s pain is another group’s gain. More and more potential home buyers from “Up North” are getting excited about the bargain prices available throughout the Naples, Bonita Springs, and Estero communities. We consistently get inquiries from Northerners who are ready to “buy a piece of this paradise”. Unfortunately, some of these folks lack a clear picture of their wants and needs in Florida. Perhaps this series of questions will be helpful in bringing that picture into clear focus.
1. Single Family Home or Condo? There are pros and cons to each type of housing. Important considerations may include:
a. How much time do we intend to spend in the home? Will it be a seasonal home, or our sole residence? If less than full time, will we want to rent it part of the time to generate income and offset expenses? Will we allow family and/or friends to use the home when we are away?
b. How “social” are we? Are we OK with a lot of people in a small area, or do we need our privacy and “space”? Can we live with group decisions of condo associations?
c. If less than a full time resident, do we want to “forget about” our home when we are away, knowing that management is handling any hassles that may come up?
d. How many cars will be kept here? Is it important that each vehicle be housed in a garage or carport? Do we need garage space for other activities, such as hobbies?
2. What type of community best meets our wants and needs? We are blessed with an incredible variety of neighborhoods from which to choose. Ask yourselves: a. Do we prefer the security of a gated community, or is an un-gated neighborhood just fine? Usually, there are additional expenses (and amenities) involved in living within the confines of a gated community.
b. Is a neighborhood country club with golf course important? If so, consider how serious you are about golf, and whether golf needs to be “bundled with mandatory membership” or “unbundled with golf optional”. There are lots of options now available to golfers that were not available a few years ago. We can fill you in on golfing choices.
c. Do we prefer a “cookie cutter” approach to the architecture, or is it important for homes to be unique and distinctive?
d. What amenities (if any) are important to us? E.g. pools, spas, walking/bike paths, tennis, bocce, shuffleboard, workout facilities, gathering places for cards, parties.
3. What are we looking for with respect to location? a. Proximity to the Gulf beaches. Everyone living in Southwest Florida has easy access to the beaches, but some neighborhoods are more accessible than others. Home prices tend to be higher near the coastal beaches.
b. Distance to the airport. For most residents, it is important to be able to get to and from the airport quickly and easily—but not live so close that jet planes are roaring overhead.
c. Naples, Bonita Springs, and Estero each have a distinctive “flavor” with respect to types of communities, population density levels, restaurants, shopping, parks, etc. It is important that homebuyers feel comfortable with their new hometown.
d. For seasonal residents, distance from the Gulf may be important only when family or friends are visiting and want to “beach it”. However, anyone intending to spend summers in Southwest Florida needs to be aware of the climate changes between the coast and 10 or more miles inland. In general, near the coast tends to be milder and breezier; further inland tends to become hotter and muggier.
e. What is traffic like within, and around, the community? Some communities offer easy access in and out. Some are located off busy arteries, with significant traffic noise and dangerous traffic patterns.
f. How close to home are banks, grocery stores, restaurants, drug stores, medical facilities, retail, professional offices, etc.? If so inclined, how easy would it be for us to walk or ride a bike to these establishments?
g. If we have a strong religious affiliation, where is our likely new church located?
4. What are the expenses involved in Florida home ownership? a. Annual property taxes will be based upon the original purchase price, and subsequent assessed values. A safe “rule of thumb” is that property taxes should not exceed 1.5% of the value of the home. The exact amount will be dependent on factors such as Homesteading, the county and taxing districts in which the home is located, available exemptions, etc.
b. Homeowners insurance varies depending on the type of housing, whether it is a condominium or single family home, proximity to the Gulf, and other factors. Typically, condominium associations insure their buildings, and the unit owners’ liability is limited to the insides, contents, and liability. This usually results in lower direct insurance costs to condominium owners.
c. Homeowners Association and/or Condominium Association fees. There will be a wide range in these fees, based on amenities and location. Current fees will be disclosed at the time of making an offer to purchase.
If you are considering the purchase of a home in Florida, we highly recommend that you form a working relationship with an experienced local Realtor. The Boeglin Team will be pleased to work with you, combining the global resources of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate with our local knowledge and experience.