November Real Estate Market Update Report for Naples, Florida

Naples Pier, Naples, Florida ©Rick Bethem
Naples Pier, Naples, Florida ©Rick Bethem

It’s really hard to believe we only have one more month left in 2010, but endings are rarely a bad thing because it gives us an opportunity to be forward thinkers and imagine all the good things that can occur with the new year.  Preparing and planning for an active real estate market, with our overall reduced inventory working towards the goal of a stable market, is first and foremost on most people’s minds when it comes to their real estate investment.  Whether it be our primary residence, with it being our biggest investment of our lives, or a secondary or non-primary home, we have toughened out the worst part of the soft market and are looking forward to a progressive climb that will allow for property appreciation.  Granted, nobody is expecting or even wishing for a jump into the double digits at this point in the recovery stage, we’re simply looking for and expecting a slow creep upwards.  Keeping pace wins the race.  From all the current and future investors I’ve been dealing with this year, first and foremost on their minds is the hopes that their investment will stay slightly above the historical national average of 7-8% per year and that we make it an increase that will entice future buyers but won’t put the pressure on our market as we experienced from 2003-2005.  Our real estate market in Naples did take a hit and we saw historical property value reductions.  That’s no secret.  As a large portion of my business is the sale of property to international buyers, they have a totally different conception of Naples due to information they receive in their country that envelopes all of America and doesn’t localize it to a geographically-specific area.  Educating buyers as to where exactly we are at with our market in Naples has been a totally fulfilling experience as many are simply unaware of our recovery which has led them to hold off on their investment.  Many also know this is one of the safest countries in which to put their housing monies.  I feel very fortunate to have worked with so many clients that take the information I give them, conduct their own due diligence and decide that based on that information and their own keen sense of savy that Naples real estate is still a safe and secure investment.  Nobody can foresee what will happen tomorrow, we can only deal with the facts as we have them, analyze the numbers, acutely be informed on the national level and make our decisions from there.  In November, in all areas of Naples, we had a closed sales volume of 347 units broken down as follows:   160 single family homes selling from a price range of $4,050,000 to $35,000 with 112, or 70%, of those being under $300,000.   The remaining 187 condos and villas sold from $5,250,000 – $26,000 with 135, or 72%, of those being under $300,000. Our company, Downing-Frye Realty, Inc. has already hit the $1 billion in closed sales for the year.  So, for all the negative news that has hit the airwaves, message boards, new stations, tweets, Facebook and the like, I can stand on firm ground and tell you that I have been lucky enough to make it through the most difficult market I’ve personally experienced and have seen our Naples-by-the-Sea rebound when other areas are still soft.   For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.

One on One with Ofer Bavly, Consul General of Israel

Mr. Ofer Bavly, Consul General of Israel, speaks in Naples, Florida
Mr. Ofer Bavly, Consul General of Israel, speaks in Naples, Florida
Mr. Ofer Bavly, Consul General of Israel and Ruth Bethem of Downing-Frye Realty at the Naples Hilton.
Mr. Ofer Bavly, Consul General of Israel and Ruth Bethem of Downing-Frye Realty at the Naples Hilton.

Presented by the Jewish Federation of Collier County and the Israel Affairs Committee in Naples, Florida, we were fortunate to have a one-on-one interview with Mr. Ofer Bavly, Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico last week at the Naples Hilton.  Supported by the Naples Chamber of Commerce and CIVIC, the Council for International Visitors to Collier County, of which I’m an organizational member, Mr Bavly, who was a well-spoken, articulate and easily understood speaker fielded questions from the audience but started the program answering questions from the moderator, Jeff Lytle, Editorial Editor to the Naples Daily News.  Questions raised were directed to relevant issues facing Israel today, including business, commerce and technology.  Mr Bavly pointedly stated that there were two things Israeli’s want:  Democracy and Peace.  Why and how is the Israeli economy booming?  #1 – Israel is policy driven #2 – staunchly supporting fiscal responsibility it sends a message to the stock market which reacts accordingly, which then limits damage and loss, except for those investors that are dealing with the US trade.  “Israel export totaled $3.79 billion last June. Imports went up 5.8% to $4.36 billion. Economists still warn that the final quarter of the year will feel the economic slowdown in Israel.” Jewish News World of Judaica, Aug 13, ’10. Giving credit where credit is due, Mr. Bavly emphatically stated that Stanley Fischer was pivotal in that success.  Fischer, the Chairman of the Bank of Israel, was responsible for the “steering of Israel’s economy through one of the most dangerous periods in economic history since just before the Great Depression.”  Jewish News World of Judaica, Sept 26, ’10. For those of us not familiar with all the intricacies of the rich history of Israel and it’s direct neighbors there were certain points of interest that need to be mentioned.  Wanting and achieving peace in the Gaza Strip may or may not ever occur, however, a note worthy of pointing out that I wasn’t aware of that I’d like to share with you is:  Due to the direct influence of Israel, the Palestinian economy experienced a 9% growth last year due directly to steps implemented by the Israeli government.  By helping their neighbors to prosper, it greatly reduces the risk of war.  Really, how can you fight your neighbors that have helped enrich your life, your economy?  If Naples is lucky enough to have Mr. Bavly here next year, I hope you get an opportunity to spend a few hours with him.  You’ll walk away all the wiser.  I know I did.

Downing-Frye Realty is on pace to exceed $1 billion in closed sales volume.

Downing Frye Realty, Naples, Florida
Downing Frye Realty, Naples, Florida

Mike Hughes, Vice- President of Downing-Frye Realty, Inc. has released the company newsletter for November. I’d like to share this update with you below.

The housing market is in the early stages of recovery, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® (America’s largest trade association with 1.1 million members). “A housing recovery is taking place but will be choppy at times depending on the duration and impact of a foreclosure moratorium. But the overall direction should be a gradual rising trend in home sales with buyers responding to historically low mortgage interest rates and very favorable affordability conditions,” he said.

Total housing inventory at the end of September fell 1.9 percent to 4.04 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 10.7-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 12.0-month supply in August. Raw unsold inventory is 11.7 percent below the record of 4.58 million in July 2008.

“Vacant homes and homes where mortgages have not been paid for an extended number of months need to be cleared from the market as quickly as possible, with a new set of buyers helping the recovery along a healthy path,” Yun said. “Inventory remains elevated and continues to favor buyers over sellers.

For properties priced under $300,000, the median closed sales price decreased by 3 percent in the third quarter 2010 compared to the previous year. Closed sales from $300,000 to $2 Million increased by an average of $48,000 each.
For the twelve months ending September 2010, overall closed sales of single family homes increased by 19 percent and condos by 45 percent compared to the previous twelve months.
The inventory of available homes and condos in September 2010 was 8,794 units compared to 9,209 units in September 2009, a decrease of five percent

Continuing the trend from the previous month, the under $300,000 market captured 75 percent of the closed sales during September 2010. The Bonita Springs–Estero Association of Realtors® reported 121 overall closed sales and only 30 of those were $300,000 or over. There continues to be a steady number of luxury properties ($1 million+) sold with the top five sales reported in The Brooks, Bonita Bay, Grandezza and Pelican Landing.
The number of single-family homes and condos coming on the market in September 2010 increased by 14 percent from the previous month, while closed sales of condos decreased by eight percent and single family closed sales decreased by 16 percent.

In September, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.35 percent, significantly lower than the 5.06 percent average during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

Closings were down this September compared to the same time last year,” said Mike Hughes, Vice- President of Downing-Frye Realty, Inc. “Keep in mind that last year in the second half of the year, we saw our closings go up quite a bit. Part of this was due to the first time home buyer credit. Anyway, we are still on pace to exceed $1 billion in closed sales volume for 2010.”

For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.

Naples Florida Red Cross Stocking Stuffers

Just a quick note to say kudos to all the volunteers from 8 to 80 that participated in the Stuff Stockings for our Troops event held this week at the Naples Red Cross.  Every year my wish is that this event wouldn’t need to take place, because that would be the sure indicator there was no war.  But, that’s just not reality so I pull my proverbial head out of the sand and play a very small part in helping where I can.   The Christmas stockings are a small token of our appreciation for all the memories our troops won’t be able to make with their families while we’re in the comfort of our homes with ours.  It lets them know that they are appreciated for their selflessness and sacrifice in protecting us.   The call that went out in the Naples Daily News was a big help in getting more volunteers to stuff the 850+ stockings that will be sent overseas to those that won’t be making it home for Christmas.  Every year there are great gifts that go into these stockings from the generous donations of our community.  Stockings contained everything from candies to spf, disposable wipes to sunglasses, warm socks, hard candies, phone cards, toothbrushes, etc.   Items that they need to make their lives bearable to fun things that will help occupy their minds to ease the daily grind of war including books and personal letters placed inside the Christmas card.  Santa’s workshop has nothing on our Naples Elves, what a sight to see!  For those that much is given, much is expected. For more information on how you can help out here’s their link For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.

Architectural Styles of Naples

Mediterranean home in Naples, Florida
As a generalized statement, I believe most people know what they like.  Whatever that certain je ne sais quoi is that attracts them to others, to foods, wines, fashions and even home styles may not easily be verbalized.  Nonetheless, they still know what gives them the warm fuzzies.   So today, I’m going to delve into the two most popular architectural styles that you will see a lot of when you move to Naples in Southwest Florida.  Because Naples has become a melting pot of international homeowners, they bring their unique style and preferences with them.  Some like to stay with those styles that they have grown accustomed to in their homeland and replicate them when they build in Naples.  Others, well, they like to blend into the landscape and with the rise in teardowns that started with gusto back in the late 1990’s you will see a plethora of styles.  Mostly, in our area however, the preferred architectural style is the class Mediterranean or Neo-Mediterranean.  This style is typically found in warmer climates and blends elements from the Mediterranean countries such as Portugal, Spain, Italy and the like, and bring an influence of earth-toned barrel-tiled roofs, stucco walls and ornate, classic architectural elements.  In North America during the early periods of the 1900’s, from about 1920-1940, the classic Spanish-style Hacienda was a building boom in the western states, especially California, and southwest states of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and even Florida.  Through the years, influences from other countries such as the Balkans, Greece and France were blended and they are now referred to as Neo-Mediterranean.  Harder floor surfaces like marble and tile have become the mainstay as it provides for cooler feet during warmer temps.  You’ll see a lot of arches in the structure which date back to the Roman times which allowed for building of sturdier walls.  Another often seen element are courtyard patios and fountains.  A feature that is most prevalent, however, is the use of heavy wood doors, lots of millwork and ornate ironworks within the homes, specifically on staircases and banisters.  The second popular home is the Spanish-Style, which at times there doesn’t seem to be a well-defined line that separates the two.   The style dates back to when Ponce Deleon decided to land in St. Augustine back in 1513 and the style has carried through the centuries to become one of the top ranked style homes in Naples.  Predominant are the large square pillars, arcaded porches and stucco archways that decorate windows, tiled courtyards, low pitched roofs, little or no overhang (eaves) some have parapets, pilasters, spiral columns, carved stonework, patterned tile floor and wall surfaces, murals, hand-painted ceilings and heavy usage of wrought-iron light fixtures.  Of course, all of these are characteristic of Spanish Revival architecture.  A classic example of this is the Boca Raton Resort in Boca Raton, Florida There are so many off-shoots of this style from Spanish Colonial Revival, Hispanic, Spanish Eclectic, Spanish Deco, and High Style Spanish Revival, a classic example being the ever-beautiful Santa Barbara Courthouse in Santa Barbara, CA. Bottom line, they both complement the lifestyles of the Mediterranean countries and transports well to our little city by the sea.  We’ll look at more examples later on in the blog postings but I really wanted those clients that are not readily available to be in Naples to understand what some of our classic styles are.  For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.