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Realty Check

The casa majestic at quail West has a striking, eclectic, continental ambiance, composed of elegant furnishings and rustic details. For example, there are tea-stained, plaster-like walls, stack stone, stained Spanish cedar lintels and a mahogany, glass-paneled entry door with iron detailing.

McGarvey Custom Homes Interiors infused the home with European flair by choosing chiseled-edge, Turkish travertine marble floors in some spaces and a mix of Scabbos and Sada marbles for the dining room.

The living room’s keystone fireplace and art niche are complemented by furnishings in gold, terra cotta, champagne and bronze, while in the master suite, floor-to-ceiling windows are flanked by cream silk side panels topped by platinum silk swags.

An eye-popping outdoor living area includes a chiseled-edge travertine marble floor and a cypress ceiling with intersecting beams and cypress inserts. A keystone fireplace anchors a seating area overlooking the lake and lagoon pool.

The four-bedroom-plus-study, four-and-a-half bath home has 8,347 total square feet and is priced, furnished, at $4,195,000, golf membership included.

Roz Travis, of Roz Travis Interiors, says the natural surroundings of Aqua, EcoGroup’s two-tower complex in north Naples, was the inspiration for the design she composed for Model 710, a three-bedroom, den, four-bath home on the seventh floor of the 48-unit, Tower I building.

"The sunsets are spectacular, and they enhance the outdoor beauty in colors of pale aqua, lime green and neutrals," she explains. "This is what I based my palette on. The style of this unit is clean, with a touch of elegance. The furniture, artwork and accessories all combine to offer the buyer a soothing environment to relax and entertain in."

Model 710 has 3,963 square feet of living area, 4,748 total square feet and is priced at $3.9 million, furnished.

market news ...

Boost in Sales for Cape Coral Foreclosures

Foreclosures are looking better and better to more Cape Coral homebuyers, says Fran Davis, general manager of Century 21 Birchwood Realty on the Cape.

"Starting with the spring, we’ve had sales growth every month," she says. "In August, we saw 90 houses sold.’’

Davis says several reasons have contributed to her firm’s steady sales rise. "Two of the main factors are that more foreclosures are on the market and fewer short sales [when the mortgage payoff is discounted to prevent foreclosure] are on the scene. At least with a foreclosure, the buyer knows he’s got a good chance of getting the house."

Davis explains that there have been instances when buyers were in the contract stage with short-sale sellers, only to find the bank had sold the property to someone else. She tactfully chalks these situations up to miscommunication at the bank.

Time is another factor. "The agents know that a foreclosure transaction can be completed more quickly than a short sale," she says.

Davis, who has been with Birchwood for 21 years and manages 75 active real estate agents, adds that well-kept foreclosures also contribute to the busy Cape market.

"Freddie Mac is doing an outstanding job of maintaining the foreclosures they have on the Cape," she says. "They have crews who come in weekly, make repairs, check the property, mow the lawns and trim the shrubs. They seem to be seeking buyers who want to occupy the property, rather than investors.

"The neighbors tell us they’re thrilled that Freddie Mac is making such an effort to keep the value of the houses up, which also protects the value of their neighborhoods," Davis adds. "And of course, buyers are impressed when they see foreclosed properties in such good shape."

Attractive prices don’t hurt either, she says. In early fall, some three-bedroom, two-bath homes could be bought for $100,000.

Beware of Unlicensed Contractors

Homeowners who are investing in remodeling because they can’t sell their properties may get more than they bargained for if they use unlicensed contractors.

"More and more homeowners are using unlicensed contractors and trying to get away with not pulling a permit," says Kathryn A. Guyitt, president and general contractor/qualifier of DesignTech of Southwest Florida, Bonita Springs. Guyitt upgraded her contractor license from residential to general in August.

"The typical story of an unlicensed job is where the jack-of-all-trades makes off with the client’s money after performing substandard work, or simply not finishing something and making off with the deposit or progress payment," she explains.

In Collier County, the fines for license violations are expected to triple this year, according to Mike Ossorio, Collier County contractors licensing manager. "In all of our last fiscal year, which ended in September, we collected $25,000 in board fines," he says. "In October of 2009, $26,000 was already on the books."

Tom Lykos, vice chairman of the Collier County Licensing Board, explains that in this tough economy, even licensed contractors could be risky. "A contractor having trouble paying all his bills might let his liability or workman’s comp insurance lapse," he says. "In case of trouble, the homeowner would be liable."

He advises homeowners to check with their local licensing boards to see if contractors are licensed, and if their insurance is current. "Another way to check is to ask the contractor to put the homeowner on his policy as insured," he says. "If he can’t supply a certificate, there could be a problem."

Joan D. LaGuardia, communications manager, Lee County Department of Community Development, notes that consumers have few options beyond a civil suit against an unlicensed contractor who delivers shoddy work. "Local and state regulators can compel a licensed contractor to make good or lose their license," she says, "but there is no such leverage over an unlicensed contractor."

There are, however, fines. According to a story in Fort Myers’ The News-Press on Sept. 4, an unlicensed contractor sting operation by the Cape Coral Code Compliance Division and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation earned three people nine citations ranging from $500 to $2,500 each. Building officials are unanimous in urging consumers to check licensing status before signing contracts or giving deposits.

Neighborhood Watch

Aqualane Shores

Aqualane Shores is located at the southern end of Naples, sandwiched between the Old Naples shopping district and Port Royal. Developed by the Walker family, first with the dredging of its 294 acres in 1949, the community of deep water canals was completed in 1957 and grew in the ’60s into a prestigious community of gracious homes. It has been the site of extensive home remodeling and new construction in recent years.

Number of properties: 389

Number of MLS sales, Aug. 31, 2008
to Sept. 1, 2009: 10

Price range of sales: $1.2 million to
$4.1 million

Number of MLS sales, Aug. 31, 2007
to Sept. 1, 2008: 30

Price range of sales: $1.2 million to
$6.8 million

On the market: The western exposure of this four-bedroom, den, five-and-a-half bath home on Ibis Cove, above, delivers sunset views and maximum sunshine on the pool and lanai. The boat lift and floating dock are ideal for boating enthusiasts, says listing agent Tim Savage, co-owner/realtor at Gulf Coast International Properties. Built in 2003 and located at 1976 Fifth Ave. S., the home is priced at $4,790,000, unfurnished.

Recent sale: Three blocks from the beach is a three-bedroom, three-bath beach cottage with pool. This home, built in 1962, has 3,317 total square feet. Selling agent Ruth L. Trettis with Premier Properties of Southwest Florida says the home, at 1700 Third St. S., sold in 1997 for $467,500. The August selling price was $1,275,000, furnished.


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