Southwest Florida Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

 

June 23, 2024

Real World Questions: What is the procedure in FL to evict a tenant?

Below is a post from one of the forms that I follow and assist with. It is obvious that this landlord has made many mistakes while self-managing his property. What will now cost him thousands of dollars could have easily been avoided if they had hired a property manager and in the long run, would have cost him less. Please see his question and my reply below.

Question:

Hello, asking for help with the advise about new law signed by the governor that allows to evict squatters using sheriff's help. If the tenant extended the lease twice, but when it ended, he is still located in the house refusing to leave. We contacted the tenant by email, by texting, and once talking telling that he has to leave at the end of the lease, but now the tenant does not want to communicate and does not pick up a phone. His wife, who has her house 20 minutes away, is also coming to the house without a lease agreement. Are they technically become squatters now? We tried to find a proper form for the eviction notice - as, if I understand correctly, once eviction notice is posted, we could ask sheriff's office to help us to remove the tenant. So a question is - please guide me to the proper eviction form that indicate to leave the property as the lease ended. We are in touch with the attorney, but  I decided to check here to get a form faster if someone could guide to the proper form location. 

Do I understand correctly that we cannot turn the electricity and water off, despite that it is under the owner name, not under tenant?

Any other advise on how to proceed?

 

Response:

Oh boy... It sounds like there were a lot of things done here that would not protect you when something like this happens. Hiring a property manager would have been an ounce of prevention... If you were in SWFL - Cape Coral, Naples, Ft Myers, or any of the surrounding cities we could help you with the process.

They are not squatters; they are hold over tenants. Now, I don't know what your lease says but for hold over tenants you are now allowed to retain their full security deposit and charge double rent. 

The first step when asking a tenant to vacate is to post a non-renewal notice. Being that they are considered a M2M tenant you can post a 30-day non-renewal. The second step after the 30 days is to file the eviction with the courts. You would then have to serve them and file that with the courts. Once you initially file it should take about 30 days to evict. If they appeal then it will normally take another 7 - 14 days. This is only true IF YOU FOLLOWED ALL OF THE PROPER STEPS.

If they are not paying any rent then you will have to post a 3-day notice. After 3 business days has passed and you did not accept any rent then you can file for eviction with the courts. It will then follow the same steps as above.

We normally post both just in case the tenant does pay and you accept some or all of the monies owed. Then if they don't leave after the 30 days you could proceed with the holdover eviction.

You should NEVER have the utilities in your name. You cannot shut off the utilities.

You do not have to have an attorney to do this although the process and paperwork can be daunting for someone who hasn't done it before and doesn't know the laws. There are companies that specialize in the eviction process that are more efficient and faster than attorneys.

June 16, 2024

Hiring a Property Manager is Not For Everyone

Having a property manager look after your property may not be right for you. You may be educated and passionate about managing your own properties. Here are some guidelines of when you should hire a PM based on units, location, and education.

I began my journey by house hacking and then began buying SFH to rent while at the same time I was working a full-time job. As my portfolio began to grow, I realized that I was going to be unable to manage the properties and keep a full-time job (we had 5 annual rentals). At the time I was married and my wife stepped in to help manage the properties. Our portfolio began to grow but at 10 we reached a barrier again. With both of us working FT, managing 10 rentals, and parenting our kids we could no longer grow unless one of us left our jobs or we hired a PM.

Managing one or two annual rentals is not difficult for most people, especially if you are local to the property. The further away you are the harder it gets and the more units you acquire the harder it gets. We bought a property out of state and that was extremely difficult to manage even with family and friends that were local and could help.

As a property manager, we had an investor bring us 50 properties that he was self-managing. At the same time his Full Time Job was flipping houses. The mess that we took over was substantial - no leases, little contact info, and no idea what the security deposits were. Handling 50 properties is extremely difficult especially if it is not your FT job.

Own of State Property = Property Manager

Own 1 - 5 Units and have a job = Property Manager

Own 10+ = Property Manager

If you are not interested in managing tenants = Property Manager

If you are uneducated in Tenant Law = Property Manager

June 9, 2024

2nd Step - Viewing the Property

https://youtu.be/4tA_w8AONtQ

Posted in Videos
June 2, 2024

SWFL We Have A Problem

A year and a half ago I sent an update with a warning that there were several factors that were potentially going to impact in SWFL real estate including immigration laws that have passed. A little less than a year ago I sent an update stating that a flood of inventory had hit the market and that it would impact sales prices and rental pricing in the future. And, 4 months ago I sent an update saying that the market has declined as predicted was predicted but we felt that it was starting to stabilize. Todays update is to let you know that it has not stabilized and is continuing to decline. Cape Coral, Ft. Myers, Lehigh, Naples, Punta Gorda

 

At Bartomeo we track several key indicators to not only assess the market but to help understand our internal operations. We understand that vacancy is a true killer to an investors portfolio and we track multiple metrics to keep abreast of any potential concerns. The indicators that I will be brining to your attention is total vacancies and total inquires.

An Explanation

Forgive me if this is elementary to some of you but it is necessary to explain to understand our concern. There is a direct correlation between the number of vacancies one has and the amount of inquires, showings, applications, and ultimately signed leases that one receives. As total vacancies go up so should inquires, showings, applications, and signed leases. For example, if you have zero vacancies then you will likely have zero inquiries, so, we would have to understand why we don’t have vacancies. Is it because the rent ready’s a too large, taking to long, or is it a hot market. Tracking these metrics is detrimental to understanding why a unit is not renting and what is broken in the system. We track these metrics and cover them in our weekly property management meetings in an effort have the minimium amount of vacancies AND to reduce the amount of time the units are vacant. There are multiple steps to filling an empty unit, each step builds on the other with the climax of having a signed lease. The first two steps are 1. having a  

The Problem

Below I incuded a chart and the raw data to help you understand our concern. As you can see from the chart, inquires have been steadily declining (there is fluctuation in the chart depending on how many vacancies we have). If we look at todays vacancies/inquires, we have had 9 vacancies for the month of May and have had 11 – 23 inquires per week. In contracts to Dec when we had 7 – 11 vacancies, we were having 60 – 81 inquires. This is extremely worrisome. There is a trickle effect that happens with lower inquiries, with lower inquires there are lower showings, applications, and leases. On average will need a minimum of 23 inquires to get 1 signed lease. Based on our current numbers the average vacancy will sit for 2+ months.

What Are We Doing

1.We put a big push on reducing turnover about 10 months ago which included:

  • Speeding up rent ready’s to have less down time and pushing owners to complete their large rehabs. Some of you have had vacancies for a year due to large rehabs.
  • Slowing down, stopping rent increases, and even lowering some rents. Some of our owners still have very low rents but the average rent increase right now is $0 - $50.
  • Improving the work order response time which is a factor of customer service. We have 3 maintenance technicians that have increased response time and have saved our owner tens of thousands every month.
    • In June of last year we were averaging 130 work orders every week. We are currently averaging 75. About a 40% reduction and this is with adding 30 units to our portfolio.
    • Last year we were averaging $150,000 in expenses every month. This year we are averaging $106,000/mon. About a 30% reduction in expenses for our owners. This is despite the higher turnover rate and adding 30 units to our portfolio.
  • Increased customer service - The office and phone are maned 9a – 5p, M – F to give our tenants the ability to text, email, call, or walk-in.

2.We will need to get even more aggressive with our pricing strategies

  • Not over pricing at the start.
  • Weekly price reductions based on traffic.

3.Aggressive marketing

  • We currently have a fairly aggressive marketing strategy but there is always room for improvement.
  • With the current NAR settlement we will no longer be able to market commissions to agents on the MLS. We are working on another form of communication with higher commissions.

 

The Future

All indications are showing that it will get worse before it will get better - sales inventory is still high, rental inventory is very high, more and more new construction apartment buildings are nearing and/or have been completed (at least 10 in Cape Coral that have hundreds of units are still being built), displaced home owners are returning to their homes, and a host of other concerns.

 

We have gone through years of rapid rent growth and a lack of inventory. The market had adjusted accordingly but than over adjusted with over building. The market is correcting itself again and it will reach equilibrium at some point. We are here to answer any of your questions.

 

The chart below help you visualize the concern that we are having.

  31-Oct 7-Nov 14-Nov 21-Nov 28-Nov 5-Dec 12-Dec 19-Dec 2-Jan 9-Jan 16-Jan 23-Jan 30-Jan 6-Feb 13-Feb
Listed 8 11 11 12 10 7 9 11 8 6 6 4 4 3 3
Inquiries 26 48 101 123 133 82 94 61 60 77 42 61 67 55 44
Showings 8 10 34 33 48 31 37 16 23 35 14 16 27 19 12
Applications 4 2 16 10 9 18 15 5 12 11 8 7 7 3 8
Signed Leases 1 0 3 2 5 7 0 4 3 4 2 3 1 0 3

 

  20-Feb 27-Feb 5-Mar 12-Mar 19-Mar 26-Mar 2-Apr 9-Apr 16-Apr 23-Apr 30-Apr 7-May 14-May 21-May
Listed 7 9 9 6 5 5 5 2 8 8 7 9 9 9
Inquiries 41 78 90 81 43 33 80 29 30 28 19 20 23 11
Showings 19 23 29 29 8 12 34 11 13 7 5 6 9 6
Applications 3 10 11 11 12 5 22 7 7 8 2 1 1 3
Signed Leases 1 2 4 4 4 1 3 3 3 5 2 0 1 2

                               
Posted in Market Updates
May 29, 2024

SWFL Months Of Inventory Drop But Not Because Of Sales - Cape Coral, Ft Myers, Naples

Below are two charts that show the amount of unsold "improved" properties. I broke them down into 2 charts, total unsold and unsold by property class (SFH, Condo, Townhouse).

The month of April had more unsold properties than any other month for the past 7 years. April and May are traditionally when sellers give up selling because season is over and most of the buyer's head back up north. So, it is not uncommon for SWFL to spike during the months of April and May. 

From the second chart we can see that SFH's are the reason that we had such a spike in unsold homes. Condos and Townhouses remained at normal levels in comparison to other years. A third chart that I did not include would show you that the spike was also caused by "dry lots", meaning no waterfront.

So, where did all of the inventory go? It has surfaced in the annual rents and vacation rentals. There are also the homeowners who just left it empty as a second home or are still living in the property. We are experiencing a decline in rental prices both for annual and short-term rentals. Although, it is a great time to buy because houses are still discounted but wont remain that way for long, it is getting more difficult to rent houses. We are seeing more vacancies, for longer periods of time, and for lower rents.

Personally, I am very bullish on the Cape Coral market because the prices are lower than they have been in 3 -4 years. I just purchased a SFH that we are rehabbing and will rent for a buy and hold. I am submitting 5 - 10 offers on SFH's each week in hopes of taking advantage of the current market and to take advantage of the future market.

Posted in Buying a Home
May 26, 2024

What's the First Question That You Shouldn't Ask A Property Manager?

As a tenured Property Manager I meet a lot of folks that are in the real estate industry - agents, PM's, contractors, and owners. I get a lot of questions about sales, the market, and rental pricing. But, normally, the first question that I get from agents and owners is "How much are your fees"? The second question that I get from owners is "Would you be willing to lower that"? I have to shake my head... 

It never ceases to amaze me how these questions immediately expose how inexperienced and naive these folks really are. It shows their lack of knowledge and understanding about how important a PM really is to the success their investment. Ask any experienced real estate investor and they will tell you that the most important team member you can have on your buy and hold team is your PM. The PM will MAKE or BREAK your investment. Now, I am not saying that understanding the fees or negotiating fees isn't important but it is nowhere near as important as other factors. It's like looking for someone to marry and the first question you have is "How are you in the sack"? and the second is "Can you be better than that"? No wonder you are single... 

It is much more important to get to know what a PM's experience is, how many years they have been managing properties, are they also an investor, what types of owners they work with, how many total units they manage, what their largest property is, what class of properties do they manage, how do they handle tenant communication, maintenance requests, expenses, do manage commercial or residential, and what type of software they use.

Just some advise from a seasoned investor and property manager, The First Question That You Shouldn't Ask is, How much do you charge?

May 19, 2024

Why I Opened A Brokerage

Hey there! Let me give you a quick rundown of what we do at Bartomeo Realty. As the owner and broker, my goal is to provide you with straightforward and educated real estate services - buying, selling, investing, and property management.

I've noticed that many in the industry lack the knowledge and expertise needed to truly serve their clients well. That's why I've made it my mission to be part of the 5% of agents who are truly fantastic and educated. Transparency and honesty are at the core of everything we do. Whether it's helping you buy, sell, or manage properties, you can trust us to provide you with the best advice and guidance. We are here to be the knowledgeable expert in property management in Cape Coral, Ft Myers, Naples, or anywhere in SWFL.

Recently, I had a chat with a property owner about the importance of transparent investing and how crucial it is to have someone you can trust to take care of your investments. I suggested to non-renew a tenant but they felt that they should keep the tenant. After a quick discussion we renewed the tenant because based on their goals it was a better decision for them.

So, if you or someone you know needs assistance with selling, investing, or property management, don't hesitate to reach out. You can call or text me anytime at 239-220-0735. You can also visit our website to request more information. Thanks for stopping by, and we look forward to hearing from you. Have a fantastic day!

Posted in Investing Blog
May 12, 2024

My Investing Story

Let me walk you through my journey in real estate investing in a more reader-friendly manner, focusing on key aspects like property management, Cape Coral, and fees.

From a young age, I've been passionate about real estate. In 2002, at 27, I finally took the plunge into becoming a rental property investor. Unfortunately, this coincided with the onset of a severe economic downturn, making it one of the worst times to enter the market. Despite the challenges, this period taught me invaluable lessons about navigating downward markets, stabilizing properties, and managing tenants, all without the luxury of hiring a property manager due to financial constraints.

As I honed my skills, I expanded my investments, particularly focusing on properties in Cape Coral, Florida. This strategic move allowed me to grow my portfolio rapidly. One of the key lessons I learned was the importance of thoroughly assessing each deal to ensure it aligns with my investment philosophy. I always prioritize properties that offer potential for significant value appreciation, even if they require extensive renovations.

My approach involves seeking out undervalued properties in need of repairs, then investing in renovations to enhance their value. While I'm not a carpenter or construction expert, I've developed a keen eye for spotting opportunities and negotiating with contractors to get the job done efficiently and cost-effectively.

One of the challenges I've encountered is securing financing for properties that require substantial repairs. To mitigate this, I often invest my own capital upfront and then seek refinancing options once the property's value has increased.

Throughout my journey, I've remained committed to transparency and integrity in my dealings. I always offer my investors the opportunity to participate in deals and prioritize their interests alongside my own. This collaborative approach has been key to my success in the industry.

If you're considering real estate investment or have any questions about property managers, the process, feel free to reach out. I'm here to help and share my expertise. You can contact me at 239-220-0735.

Posted in Investing Blog
May 11, 2024

Great Time To Buy In Cape Coral!

This was posted on a real estate investing social media site that I have participated in for the last decade. I can tell you for a fact that Cape Coral houses are definitely on sale right now. It is a great time to buy a house because the prices have been dropping since June of 2023. Yes, I understand that interest rates are high right now but the rates will come down over the next few years and at that point the house could be refinanced at a lower rate. But, the prices here will not last long. They may continue to decline for another 6 months but that will be it. So, buy now!

 

Neighborhood Median house price Year-on-year change
Elmira, New York $135,800 -15.10%
San Antonio, Texas $305,800 -4.60%
Cape Coral, Florida $415,000 -4.40%
Panama City, Florida $351,000 -3.80%
Boulder, Colorado $822,400 -1.70%
Salem, Oregon $446,000 -1.70%
South Bend, Indiana $180,000 -1.60%
Logan, Utah $436,100 -1.30%
Baton Rouge, Louisiana $260,000 -1.10%
Peoria, Illinois $127,200 -1.10%
Shreveport, Louisiana $213,600 -0.90%
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina $366,100 -0.60%
Austin, Texas $466,700 -0.30%
Crestview, Florida $399,000 -0.20%
Little Rock, Arkansas $202,800 -0.10%
Posted in Buying a Home
May 5, 2024

Challanges for Property Managers in SWFL

Property management in Southwest Florida (Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples) presents a unique set of challenges due to the region's diverse real estate landscape, climate conditions, and seasonal fluctuations. While SWFL offers a desirable lifestyle and investment opportunities, property managers must navigate various obstacles to ensure efficient operations and tenant satisfaction. Here are some of the key challenges for property management in SWFL:

1. Seasonal Demand:

SWFL experiences significant seasonal fluctuations in population and tourism, with snowbirds flocking to the region during the winter months and tapering off in the summer. Property managers must adjust their marketing strategies, rental rates, and maintenance schedules to accommodate seasonal demand and minimize vacancies during off-peak periods.

2. Extreme Weather:

SWFL is susceptible to extreme weather events, including hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy rainfall. Property managers must implement robust disaster preparedness plans, secure properties against potential damage, and coordinate timely repairs and maintenance to mitigate risks and ensure tenant safety.

3. Property Maintenance:

Maintaining properties in SWFL's tropical climate can be challenging, as humidity, salt air, and UV exposure can accelerate wear and tear on buildings and outdoor amenities. Property managers must implement proactive maintenance programs, conduct regular inspections, and address maintenance issues promptly to preserve property value and enhance tenant satisfaction.

4. Short-Term Rentals:

The popularity of short-term vacation rentals in SWFL presents both opportunities and challenges for property managers. Managing short-term rentals requires efficient turnover processes, effective marketing strategies, and compliance with local regulations, such as zoning restrictions and transient rental taxes.

5. Evolving Regulations:

SWFL's real estate market is subject to evolving regulations and legal requirements, including landlord-tenant laws, building codes, and licensing requirements. Property managers must stay updated on changes in regulations, ensure compliance with local ordinances, and navigate potential legal issues to protect property owners' interests and maintain operational integrity.

6. Tenant Turnover:

High tenant turnover rates can pose challenges for property managers in SWFL, requiring additional resources for tenant screening, lease negotiations, and property turnovers. Implementing tenant retention strategies, fostering positive tenant relations, and providing responsive customer service can help minimize turnover and maximize occupancy rates.

7. Rising Operating Costs:

Rising operating costs, including property taxes, insurance premiums, and utility expenses, can impact property owners' profitability and financial performance. Property managers must implement cost-saving measures, negotiate favorable vendor contracts, and optimize operational efficiency to mitigate the impact of rising expenses on property owners' bottom line.

Property management in Southwest Florida presents a dynamic and multifaceted challenge, requiring adaptability, resourcefulness, and a deep understanding of the local market dynamics. By addressing seasonal demand fluctuations, mitigating risks associated with extreme weather, implementing proactive maintenance strategies, and staying abreast of evolving regulations, property managers can effectively navigate the challenges of managing properties in SWFL and deliver superior value to property owners and tenants alike.