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Realty Check

Let Us Thank Seasonal Renters

They clog streets and crowd supermarket checkout lines, say local grumps, but even the most cantankerous admit that seasonal renters play a vital role in keeping the economy afloat. Part-timers will still be here this season, but some rental specialists say the business has changed. Kevin Fischer, owner-broker of Advisor Realty in Naples, says there was a lot of inventory and a 10 to 15 percent price drop this fall. “Many investors put their unsold properties on the rental market,” he explains. “Last year there were fewer units available and a lot more bookings.”

“The demand is still high for waterfront properties,” says Christine Yeaw, rental division manager of South Bay Realty in Naples. “Some clients are renting rather than buying. They’re waiting to see if prices will go lower.” (Fischer notes that some renters are home shoppers
taking their time looking.)

Yeaw observes that a number of returning clients are booking less time, in response to uncertain economic times. That uncertainty, she says, has created demand from renters who booked directly from owners online, only to find the home they planned to rent has been foreclosed upon.

She notes that homeowner associations are often taking longer to approve rental applications, fearing that the owner will default on maintenance fee obligations or be foreclosed upon after an application has been approved. Ron DeFleuri, a sales associate at Patagonia Realty in Naples, says unsuccessful home sellers prefer seasonal to annual renting. “They hope to get their money in a shorter time,” he explains, “and they hope there’ll be less wear and tear on their property.” DeFleuri says renters cite the slow market as reason to negotiate rates, and those already committed are trying to renegotiate. Results are case by case, he says. South Bay started out with many bookings already made by satisfied customers. Yeaw predicts another busy, but different, season ahead. Fischer is confident the blip is temporary. “Naples is Naples,” he says. “We’ve weathered storms before.”



Look for a novel departure from traditional room placement in Harwick Homes’ Pavia, a single-family model in Mediterra with the family room next to the living room and a separate wing for three guest rooms with patios. The five-bedroom, five-and-one-half-bath home is equipped with ruggine travertine floors with etched tile trim, multi-stepped ceilings and art niches. The foyer and powder room impress with vaulted ceilings. The living room’s Burmese teak floor and travertine fireplace make a stunning combination. A special treatment gives the octagonal dining room’s walls a rustic, copper tinge, and one guest suite is shown as a lady’s study. Collins & DuPont Interior Design’s use of feng shui principles and muted tones of aqua, terra cotta, gold and cobalt create a distinctive ambiance. With 5,887 air-conditioned square feet and 9,307 total square feet, the Pavia, in Bello Lago, is $5,495,000, furnished.

Two new coach homes in San Marino at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club aim to deliver the single-family home living experience. The first-floor Roma has two bedrooms, two baths, a den and a bonus room that could be used as a third bedroom. The air-conditioned living area measures 2,160 square feet, with 2,806 total square feet. Designer Diane Oldfin and Sue-Jolie Rioux of Expressions In Design chose a botanical theme, a palette of fern green, golds and reds and exotic, floral-patterned wall coverings. The botanical print on the living room sofa and the fern pattern on the kitchen walls add to the outdoors effect.

Oldfin says she selected spa/mineral blue and mocha with bronze and copper accents for The Milano, a second-floor plan with three bedrooms, three baths, den and 3,355 total square feet. “Buyers like Mediterranean-style furniture because it works so well in the large spaces these homes have,” she says. “The kitchen’s bronze-toned wallpaper is very Old World, as is the bedroom’s blue crackle paper with bronze scroll pattern.” The Roma, priced at $493,684, furnished, and The Milano, priced at $603,602, furnished, are available on leaseback.


Designed to Sell

Real estate professionals with a load of listings and a lack of buyers might be intrigued by a new program developed by Vogue Interiors.

“We’re providing agents with an edge,” says Debbie DiMaria, president of the Bonita Springs company. “It’s a way for them to get a leg up on the competition with a brand new item in their toolbox. It’s also a way for home sellers to stand out in the crowded marketplace.” The program, called Proven Steps for Real Estate Profitability, will enable realtors to pair their listing clients with Vogue designers who can suggest ways to make properties more salable.

It’s no accident that model homes look as inviting as they do, says Vogue’s marketing director, Miravé King. That smooth flow of color, that serene personality they exude come from the designer’s years of experience in achieving those results.

Many home sellers can’t compose that buyer-tempting atmosphere on their own, she says. King points out that one of the most common mistakes people make is too much of everything. There is too much furniture in the room and often an excess of accessories.

“When there are numerous personal belongings, prospective buyers are not only distracted by looking at them, but get the feeling that they won’t really feel at home there,” she says. “Not that accessories are bad. In fact, an outstanding accessory is known in the trade as a memory point, a feature that will help home shoppers distinguish that home from the rest of the field.”

DiMaria and her staff developed a 10-point assessment list that defines what improvements will enhance salability.

“We can be budget-conscious,” she says, “and we’ll present assessments in order of importance. Times have changed in our business, and we are changing with them. This new service will help realtors attract clients, boost sales and give our firm new opportunities to work with the people selling their properties and the people who are buying them.”

For more local real estate news, read Gulfshore Life’s bimonthly blog “The Housing Game.”


Neighborhood Watch


Toll brothers’ belle lago is a community of 447 single-family estate homes and detached villas on 240 acres in mall-rich Estero. A community clubhouse, fitness center, pool, and basketball and tennis courts are on site, and residents have the opportunity for three types of membership at The Estero Country Club nearby at The Vines, with direct access between the communities via cart path. Marketing began in 2003 for homes sized from 2,058 to 4,356 square feet, with single-story and two-story options and Mediterranean revival architecture. There are 85 sales opportunities before sellout.

Number of units: 447

MLS sales, October 2007 to October 2008: 23

Price range: $320,000 to $850,000
Square footage range: 2,058 to 4,356

On the market: This three-bedroom, three-bath home at 19784 Casa Verde Way, above, includes a 2,444-square-foot floor plan and a two-car garage. The kitchen, which is accompanied by a large pantry, is equipped with Uba Tuba granite countertops, an island and downdraft ventilation. The great room sliders ferry natural sunlight into the living area and open onto a covered lanai. Rob Sowers and Marie Ackerman, the listing agents and team partners in the Lee Island Coast office of Amerivest Realty, say the home was built in 2005 and is priced at $449,500, unfurnished.

Recent sale: Built in 2006, the four-bedroom, den, three-and-a-half bath home at 8591 El Mirasol Court has 3,345 air-conditioned square feet and 4,536 total square feet. A three-car garage, 12-foot tray ceilings, preserve view and cul-de-sac location are among the features. According to selling agent Chuck Scariano of Downing Frye Realty, the home was purchased in 2006 for $671,000 and sold in 2008 for $500,000.

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