Great new Tex-Mex in Naples: Blue Agave

Strange Name. Great food.  Shimmy on over to Blue Agave in East Naples for traditional Mexican fare and the ever popular Tex-Mex for an evening of great food and tequila baby!  So, once I discovered what exactly Blue Agave is, it all made perfect sense to name this Tequila Bar and Grill this unforgettable name, which is a Mexican plant that is used as the base for tequila.  Every now and then, you come across a restaurant that hits it “out-of-the-ballpark” and I think this is going to be one of those that will be hanging around for a while.  The interior is a well planned open space with half walls in the front areas for privacy, warm lighting with wood ceilings in the main area, sparkling dark ceiling tile in the front of the urban kitchen and dining area with picture windows and just an overall warm atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re stepping into a friend’s home.  The wait staff is very knowledgeable and friendly, without being pushy, and can navigate you through the well selected menu.  I can’t even tell you how many selections of tequila they have but if you’re a fan this is one place you’ve got to put on your list.  Everything from an appetizer of salmon & shrimp ceviche marinated in fresh lime juice and cilantro, to daily made guacamole, to mini tostada loca, there’s something for everyone to start your dining experience, not to mention the low-heat salsa & warm chips served upon seating.  My mother-in-law ordered the chicken chimichanga, and yes I did sample it and it was truly a gift from the heavens.  I rarely eat anything that is deep fried but felt I needed to sample it if I was going to talk about it.  My husband had the traditional beef tacos and I was served the Tex-Mex version of red-sauced chicken enchiladas.  The serving size of the entrée on all three, plus those that were eating around us, were all very ample and generous sized with the refried beans and rice just the perfectly sized duo meant to accompany, not overpower.  Next time, I think I’ll try their signature Blue Agave Salad with cactus, pinto beans and avocado tossed with blue cheese in a balsamic vinegar dressing.  This menu challenges you to actually pick just one entrée.  I’d suggest dining with friends that you don’t mind sharing with and enjoy their great selections because with a menu like this, you’ll need to go back weekly to sample everything.  All in all, it was a great dining experience and I just hope the owners, Judy Barney and Arturo Perez will stick around for a long time.  They seem to have the recipe for success at the Marco Island fav, Arturo’s Italian Restaurant, which has been around for 15 years.  Let’s hope word spreads on Blue Agave that’s only been open since mid-December.  I heard about it from a friend, who heard about it from a friend, who heard about it from a friend.  And so the story goes.  When you need a break from dining, let’s look at some homes for sale. For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at Ruth@RuthBethem.com or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.

Nature’s Greatest Gifts

Conservancy of SW Florida
Conservancy of SW Florida
Conservancy of SW Florida

Conservancy of SW Florida
Conservancy of SW Florida

While finding their real estate property in Naples, I like to give my clients a little time to discover one of Naples’ greatest treasures:  the Conservancy of SW Florida.  After I take my clients on a tour of Naples, highlighting our beautiful beaches, amenity rich communities and unique real estate opportunities, they head out for a tour of a different type.  Marine life, terrestrial life, flora and fauna are all tucked away in one place known to Neapolitans as The Conservancy.  It’s been an exciting time for them as they have been undergoing some changes and renovations as part of their Sustainable Campus Initiative but still provide a memorable time at the Nature Center.   They’ll be having monthly eco-themes, a mini Nature Zone where many of the Discovery Center residents are located as they created the new Dalton Discovery Center.  They now have “Take Action Tuesdays” where you can get hands-on knowledge on preserving our paradise and “Sensational Saturdays” which is a celebration for the entire family.  This will prove to be a great year for the Conservancy as they’ve scheduled their Earth Day for April 16 and the “Magic Under the Mangroves” gala fundraiser in March, sure to be a success.  Try their “Dining for Wildlife” in April and the Red Snook Catch & Release Tournament in October.  A few days ago, as a volunteer for the Naples Chamber of Commerce, I was fortunate to participate in a get re-acquainted tour that included a 45 minute narrated electric boat cruise that took us through the winding backwaters off the Gordon River and provided us with a “boatload” of new knowledge.  The volunteers are simply a walking Wikipedia!  It was followed by a tour of the touch tank in the temporary Nature Zone that offered live encounters with a 6 year old sea turtle, a baby horseshoe crab and some slippery little reptiles.  It’s also a great opportunity to take a walking trail tour where I came across the Gumbo Limbo and the answer is no, just in case you thought it was the name of a new tropical cha-cha.  It’s actually a hardy, smooth-trunked tree that sheds a papery-thin red skin.  Some of you may remember that the Ritz-Carlton on the beach has a lovely little beachside cabana that serves great fare and refreshing libations of the same name.  Plan to be stay a while, in other words, pack a lunch, if you care to try to identify some of the 140 species of birds that have been recorded at the Nature Center.  The dozens of volunteers, interns, administrators and just some concerned citizens have joined forces years ago to make this a truly one-of-a-kind experience that melds learning and conservation so that our future generations will be able to enjoy the Naples we’ve come to know and love.  One of my clients commented just last week that she always had such a hard time describing Naples to those friends and family that hadn’t yet discovered Naples.  Then, frustrated because she just couldn’t find the right word that would sum up how she felt about Naples, she simply gave a heavy sigh and said “paradise.”  ‘Nough said.   For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at Ruth@RuthBethem.com or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.

Inexpensive Improvements When Preparing Your Home for Sale – Part Two

Yesterday, I discussed Part I of inexpensive improvements you can do to have the best curb appeal when preparing your home for sale.  Click here if you didn’t see it.

A great, inexpensive weekend project that will bond a couple faster than anything else is tile.  Yes, guys, I said tile.  Many hardware stores have “How To” classes and you have many great sites on the internet to help you, try the DIY site for one.  Due to the small square footage of a bathroom you’ll stay within your budget & you will have an enormous impact on a buyer when they see you’ve updated but only you will know how fiscally responsible you were in achieving that great look.  Get rid of that old wallpaper that Grandma really thinks is pretty because it reminds her of her youth.  That should be a red flag.  Forget that, it should be a huge neon sign with a blow horn telling you to Rip It Down and if nothing else, paint the room a very neutral but warm color.  A light mushroom color always works.  I love, love, love showing a home that has the smallest trace of a fresh paint smell.  Ain’t nothin’ like it.  Amp up your light fixtures throughout the house and max them out.  Buyers like light!  Showem’ what ya got.  Soft mood lighting is great for a romantic evening, not so much when you’re trying to sell.  Since we know that kitchens and baths with improvements are the top two areas that sell a home and allows for about 80% recoup on that expense, doesn’t it make sense to look at yours from a non-emotional point of view to really get to the heart of what is reasonable for you to do, both with your budget and time allowed.   Also, don’t overlook your neighborhood and what level of improvements most of those have.  In some areas, rejuvenating by replacing old laminate may be all you need to do, however, other neighborhoods may have solid surfaces or granite.  Depending on your budget, think strongly about granite as most of it is competitively priced to match corian costs and what chef wouldn’t love a kitchen with granite?  Spend a few hours on a Sunday and check out open houses in your area to see what’s “under the hood” of your competition.  If you’re in an upper end neighborhood, it’s a good chance you’ll need to put in granite to stay with current trends and value.  You don’t want to be the big fish in the little pond though.  Stay reasonable in your improvements.  And lastly, check all your windows for functionality.  Buyers really do open and close windows.  I see it more times than not.  If it’s stuck or half goes up while the other half stays put, it’s always such a treat to see the expression on my client’s faces.  So, oil them if needed, but do clean them.  Put new weather stripping on your doors.  A significant portion of buyers are looking for energy efficient homes.  Make it more comfortable for you while you’re occupying it but make your property the one that buyer’s will put the offer in on by being the shiniest apple in the neighborhood.  For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at Ruth@RuthBethem.com or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.

Inexpensive Improvements When Preparing Your Home for Sale – Part One

On January 6, I posted a blog article on your New Year’s Resolution for selling your home.  If you missed it, here’s the link, it was in two parts:  http://www.ruthbethem.com/blog/selling-your-home-part-one/2011/01/06/

Part of that was discussing that little inexpensive projects can really create a warm, welcoming atmosphere for prospective buyers.  I didn’t specifically talk too much on those items that put the shine on your home so today I’ve got a few ideas for you that may help.  Inexpensive but priceless! I’m not talking major renovations, it’s too late to do those anyway.  Let’s start with the curb appeal and move inside.  Remember you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Oh, so true.  Especially in real estate.  Spruce up the front.  Cut back overgrown shrubs, pull weeds, place mulch that will give contrast to your home so it pops! Power wash the porch & deck or re-stain/repaint them.  Freshen up the trim paint, that helps to give a fresh look.  For our northern friends that have brick, sometimes you get mold in the grout.  Rent a power washer from your local hardware store to freshen it up.  Front door: Most important, do not overlook this.  Here, I’ll say it again:  Do not overlook the front door.  I have been with buyers that get really turned off by a front door in disrepair with chipped paint, brass that looks like it had been there since the Civil War, spider webs, bugs and hinges that creaked like the Herman Munster house, leaves that collect and swirl as you try to get through the front door.  If all your budget allows is for new handles, fixtures and a new front porch light, that is where you need to spend your money. You should read the iq option legit review so you can get a bigger picture. If you can afford a new front door, do it.  Ripped or torn screen door, again, really cheap to replace and you can do it yourself.  There’s no cost in labor when you do sweat equity, so get out and thin the herd of bushes.  Inside:  if you have a leaky, dripping faucet, FIX IT!  A buyer thinks that if you can’t take care of such a minor repair, you more than likely haven’t taken care of the major ones and they are out the door like Jack Flash.  Into the bath we go:  Update your lighting fixtures, you can get really reasonable ones at Lowe’s or Home Depot that won’t break the bank or your budget.  Same with your faucets.  There are great inexpensive styles that you can put in yourself.  Ladies, that means you too if you don’t have a handyman with a honey-do list.  Even check your local newspaper for garage sales or eBay or any online store like Overstock.  If your budget allows it, think of ripping out the old bathroom vanity and replace it with a pedestal sink.

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

Naples, Florida Real Estate Overview for 2010

So, now we have a clean slate in which to start our Naples real estate market statistics again, just one of the beauties of having a new year.  That is why it’s on the top of my list of reasons that I have great anticipation and excitement when January rolls around.  Most people say that because the previous year was such a hotbed of negativity, or tragedy, a sluggish economy and even slower real estate market in some areas, they just want to end one year to start another.  But for us in this sweet seaside community of Naples, Florida, we were very fortunate to have such a great bevy of buyer and seller activity as depicted for you in this report.   The good news, NO, the GREAT NEWS, is that we had a 10% increase in closed sales from 2009.  We have reduced inventory AND we had significant increases in specific price points that had in previous years been, well, let’s just say this:  it was the opposite of activity that we’d experienced during the dotcom years of 2001-2005 when the 1-2 million dollar properties couldn’t be listed fast enough for the demand of buyers wanting to dive head first into Naples real estate.  So, again I say, what a wonderful opportunity to have a New Year.  A clean, pure canvas in which to paint a positive market with increases where they should be and decreases where they should be and not vice versa.  So, without further ado, I present to you our market overview report from our Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR). If you are in search of a house read Sarah Williams Transaction Checklist, on what to ask of a realtor before hand.

2010 A TURNING POINT

 

NAPLES, Fla.-January 14, 2011- The year 2010 has shown healthy housing market gains in the Naples area according to the Naples Area Board of REALTORS® (NABOR), which tracks home listings and sales within Collier County (excluding Marco Island).

The annual statistics compiled by NABOR show increases in overall pending and closed sales, inventory declining and an increase in the median closed price.  “2010 was a strong year despite the unprecedented challenges we faced. The news of the oil spill in the Gulf, the bank freeze on foreclosed homes and the end of the homebuyer tax credit left many sitting on the fence due to uncertainty. In the face of those challenges, the market showed great resilience,” said Mike Hughes, Vice-President of Downing-Frye Realty.

Overall closed sales increased 10 percent to 7,840 sales in 2010 compared to 7,126 sales in 2009. “Closed sales in 2010 showed double-digit increases over the 2009 figures in every price category above $300,000,” said Jo Carter, President of Jo Carter & Associates.

According to NABOR President and Managing Broker of Prudential Florida Realty, Brenda Fioretti, “The most improved segment of our market is the $1 million and above price category. In the $1 million to $2 million price segment, pending sales increased 29 percent and closed sales increased 33 percent.”

The report provides annual comparisons of single-family home and condo sales (via the SunshineMLS), price ranges, geographic segmentation and includes an overall market summary. The statistics are presented in chart format, along with the following analysis:

Overall pending sales increased 4 percent with 9,318 contracts in 2010 compared to 8,933 contracts in 2009.

Single-family home sales increased 3 percent to 3,959 sales in 2010 compared to 3,847 sales in 2009.

Condo sales increased 18 percent to 3,881 sales in 2010 compared to 3,270 sales in 2009.

The median closed price increased 1 percent overall to $180,000 up from $179,000 in 2009. For properties over $300,000, the median closed price increased 4 percent to $544,000 up from $525,000 in 2009.

Home sales grew steadily in 2010 resulting in a decline in the months of inventory. “The level of housing inventory has decreased for the fourth consecutive year. This is helping to bring the market back into balance,” said Steve Barker, Managing Broker of Amerivest Realty.  To view the entire report, visit http://www.NaplesArea.com

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