Area Real Estate News and Market Trends

You'll find our blog to be a wealth of information! We will cover everything from local market trends and statistics to tips on selling to SW Florida 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. We'd love to chat with you!

Dec. 16, 2023

Mortgage Broker vs Mortgage Lender

Mortgage Broker vs Lender

Buying a home is a significant financial decision and securing the right mortgage is a critical component to the process. As you start on your journey to home ownership, one of the key decisions you'll need to make is whether to use a Mortgage Broker or a Mortgage Lender. In a nutshell, a Mortgage Broker can offer you a wider choice of options and streamline the process while a Mortgage Lender may give you more control with less cost. Let's explore the pros and cons of both!

Pros of Using a Mortgage Broker:

1. Expertise and Guidance: Mortgage brokers are financial professionals with in-depth knowledge of the mortgage market. They can guide you through the complexities of loan options, interest rates and lender requirements, ensuring you can make a well-informed decision.

2. Access to Multiple Lenders: One of the primary benefits of using a mortgae broker is their access to a wide network of lenders. Instead of approaching individual banks, a broker can present your application to various lenders, increasing your chances of finding the most favorable terms.

3. Time and Effort Savings: Shopping for a mortgage can be time-consuming and, quite honestly, a bit verwhelming. Mortgage brokers streamline the process by doing the legwork for you. They can compare loan offers, negotiate terms and handle paperwork, thus saving you time and effort.

4. Customized Solutions: Mortgage brokers work to understand your unique financial situation and goals. They can tailor mortgage solutions to fit your specific needs such as credit history, income and future financial plans. 

Pros of Going Directly to a Mortgage Lender:

1. Familiarity and Loyalty: If you have an existing relationship with a bank or credit union, you may feel a loyalty towards them or feel more comfortable working directly with them. 

2. Direct Communication: When you work with a lender directly, you have the advantage of direct communication. You can discuss terms, negotiate rates and get a first hand understanding of that lender's requirements.

3. In-House Products: Some lenders offer exclusive, in-house mortgage products that may come with unique benefits or incentives, such as closing cost assistance if working with a builder's chosen lender.

4. Potential Cost Savings: While mortgage brokers earn a commission, going directly to a lender may eliminate the broker's fee. This could potentially result in cost savings.

Deciding between a mortgage broker and working directly with a lender depends on your preferences, priorities and individual circumstances. Both options have their merits. The key is to choose the path that aligns with your goals. It never hurts to compare options, and of course, be sure to ask your real estate professional if they have any broker or lender recommendations!

Posted in Financing, Home buying
Feb. 1, 2023

Why I Love Naples

I moved from Minnesota to Naples in 2016 to - let's be honest - escape the miserable Minnesota winters. I had always  dreamed of living in the tropics. When the stars aligned for the move, I jumped! Or rather, I drove. 3 days. 3 kids. 3 cats. After being here for 7 years, I'd like to share why I love Naples so much!

1. Tropical plants & animals. Naples is surrounded by lush, tropical landscapes whether natural or planted. There's an abundance of palm trees (I still don't know all their names) and huge, really awesome birds! The alligators are fascinating, the otters are entertaining, and the armadillos are just plain weird! There are so many parks to explore. The Botanical Gardens are enchanting, especially during the holidays. If you don't mind rustic, which I don't, the CREWS trails show the natural beauty of Florida. 

2. Sugar sand beaches. Naples is known for its pristine white-sand beaches, crystal clear water and warm Gulf temperatures. While those living here don't spend time at the beaches like vacationers do, we absolutely appreciate what we have! It's not ususual to find me watching a sunset or spending a Sunday morning walking on the beach. I will admit I am guilty of "tomorrow is a better day", but I absolutely love living near the water! My daugher and I were recently certified for scuba. The water was so warm we didn't even need a wetsuit.

3. Safety. Naples is known for its low crime rates. While it's important to always be aware of your surroundings and make good choices, I feel comfortably at home knowing we have a strong sense of community and excellent law enforcement.

4. World-class Dining. Naples is home to some of the finest restaurants in the state! We have a wide range of cuisines, both international and local. Depending on the mood, I can find exceptional Thai or Mexican or Italian! I love meeting friends on 5th Avenue (so many great options!) or celebrating happy hour at Mercato. I have several tried-and-true favorites, but I am always up for trying new places and am seldom disappointed!

5. Thriving arts scene. Naples is known for its exceptional arts community. We have galleries, theater and performing arts. We have local dance companies as well as traveling productions! Bonita Springs' Center for the Arts and the Barbara Mann Theater are just a short drive away, and of course we are home to Artis, the Gulf Shore Playhouse and the Sudgen Community Theater. My favorite is the local dance studios' holiday performances at Mercato!

6. Schools. I'm not sure why Florida seems to have a bad reputation for education. My kids excelled in the local public schools, and are currently attending excellent Florida universities. If you are thinking of moving here and for some reason are stuck on education, please check out GreatSchools.com or SchoolDigger.com. I think you will like what you see! We have a wide range of options for public, private and charter schools!

7. Clouds. I don't know why I am so fascinated by clouds, but I am. The clouds here seem to be lower, more dramatic, more intense. I love watching our storms roll in. You can literally see the wall of water coming at you in the summer! And then 2 hours later, it's sunny again!  :)

We all have reasons why we choose to live where we live. I love Florida and would welcome the opportunity to show you why I love being a Floridian!

 

Dec. 22, 2022

Schools in Naples

One of the common questions I am asked by people relocating to SW Florida is about our school system. As a mom, I completely understand! Schools can be one of the more important factors when choosing a new home. While my kids are now in college, they grew up in the Collier County public school system and it was a fantastic experience! I feel like I can speak well to our schools.

Collier County and Lee County are 2 separate school districts. Collier County consists of Naples, Marco Island, Immokalee & Ave Maria while Lee County encompasses Bonita Springs, Estero, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beack, North Fort Myers & Babcock Ranch. In Collier County, children attend the school for which their home is zoned. In Lee County, however, there is school choice based on which zone the home is in. The County is divided into 3 zone, with each zone having 3 sub-zones. Families then rank their choices within those zones. There are also options within each district to open enroll depending on availability. More information on boundaries and zoning can be found on the school districts' websites.

Collier County Schools

Lee County Schools

Here in Collier County we have about 48,000 students attending 31 elementary schools, 10 middle schools and 8 high schools! There are also 13 alternate school programs and a virtual school. We are super excited about our new high school currently under construction - Aubrey Rogers High School! 

If you are looking for a smaller school or one that aligns with your personal values, you may want to consider one of our private schools. Below are a few of our more well-known schools:

  • First Baptist Academy
  • The Village School
  • Community School
  • Seacrest Country Day School

We have quite a few charter schools, a public (free) school which receives government funding but operates outside of the school district:

  • Mason Classical Academy
  • Collier Charter Academy
  • Naples Classical Academy

There are also a great number of homeschooling families here. Connections can be found online or chatting with other homeschooling families.

The Lee County School District is the 9th largest district in Florida and the 34th largest in the US! They education over 90,000 children with a staff of over 12,000 full-time and part-time employees. They have 96 traditional schools and 119 schools with charters. 

School spirit is very strong here. Most schools have a wide range of opportunities for sports and personal interests in both middle school & high school. Sports compete not only with other local schools, but many of our sports teams make it all the way to state.

So if you wonder if we have kids here in SW Florida, I believe you found your answer! I'll address more on schools in future blogs. I'd love to tell you about our new high school.