5 Mistakes First-Time Buyers Often Make

One of the aspects of my real estate career that I love is working with first-time home buyers here in Naples. It is incredibly rewarding to watch them sign the final document at the closing table and get handed the keys to their new home.

Unfortunately, there are a number of mistakes buyers consistently make, which is why it is absolutely necessary to have the right agent when purchasing real estate.

  1. Not speaking to a local lender before going out to see property.
    I see this frequently. Buyers assume a certain price is in their budget and they venture off to see open houses or they have an unexperienced agent open doors to houses they cannot afford.Obtaining a pre-approval letter is absolutely critical *before* stepping foot in your first home. What if you are approved for a mortgage that is far less than you expected? All of those homes you’ve fallen in love with are now out of reach.
  2. Treating the home search as an emotional decision.
    I know this is extremely hard to do, but buying a home needs to be treated as a business decision. I often work with buyers that are approved for plenty of money but have a strict amount that they want to stay under. What inevitably happens is that they see a home far above the number that they wanted to stay at but emotions get in the way. “I know it is *way* above what we said we wanted to spend but I love it.” Pick a purchase price that translates into a comfortable monthly payment and do everything you can to honor your own decision.
  3. Using a newly licensed friend (or worse, a stranger) as your Realtor®.
    Buyers are *crazy* to do this in my opinion. Buying a home will be the largest financial transaction you make, so why would you trust someone without any experience? I know that an agent would be upset to have a friend choose someone else, yet a true friend with the buyer’s best interests in mind can shake it off. It may be your first time buying a home, but it shouldn’t be your Realtor’s first time too.
  4. Not properly budgeting for expenses that arise.
    Buying a home comes with its fair share of costs other than the deposit. Appraisals, taxes, inspections, surveys and the general moving costs add up! If you are unsure if you have enough money to buy, [email me](mailto:chris@listingnaples.com) and let’s make sure you’re in a good position to buy. **Hint:** I can get the seller to pay the buyer’s closing costs!
  5. Not working with a local lender.
    Counties have their own grants and programs to help first-time buyers and local lenders will know about those programs. Many lenders work by you phoning into a call center and speaking to whomever answers. Avoid this! Ask me who I recommend for a mortgage and I will give you the answers you need.

Have you made any mistakes thus far? Share with us in the comments!

Chances are, you’re in the process of buying if you’re reading this. I would love to earn the position as your trusted advisor. Please reach out by phone, text or email and let’s discuss your very important goals.

Customer Appreciation Event! Listing Naples Group goes to the movies!

We are so thankful and appreciative to our amazing customers for being a part of our lives. On Sunday, the Listing Naples Group took these great people to see the movie Abominable (96% on Rotten Tomatoes!) at the Paragon Pavillion Theater in Naples, Florida as a small token of our appreciation.

It was a great event with great people and we can’t thank all of you enough.

Please reach out if you or anyone you know is looking to buy, sell or rent real estate. The people in these pictures have helped keep this ship sailing and we are truly grateful!

THANK YOU!

6 Tips for Navigating Naples “Season”

Tip #1: Think Ahead

Any time you need to leave the house, think ahead! Traffic is heavier, wait times are longer, and parking lots are fuller. Allow at least 15 minutes more for your commute or errand.

Tip #2: Reservations are the Key to Eating

Restaurant reservations certainly help alleviate the two-hour wait times at some popular eateries. Opentable.com is a great resource for foodies because you earn points for every reservation you make! Many restaurants that don’t offer reservations at least honor call-ahead-seating, so pick up the phone and let them know you’re coming!

Tip #3: Avoid Rush Hour When Making Appointments

If you aren’t heading to work or taking a child to school, try to avoid the roads between 7:30 am and 8:30 am and then between 4:30 pm to 6 pm on weekdays. I-75 gets especially backed-up during those times with frequent accidents. Keep those times in mind when making any type of appointment and you’ll save yourself a lot of stress by not dealing with the heavier traffic! If you must use I-75 to get to the airport around those times, give yourself at least an extra hour to travel.

Tip #4: Expect Beach Parking to be Difficult

If you plan on going to the beach, allow time to wait for a parking spot to open up. Oftentimes, I will expect to drive to at least two beach parking areas before finding a spot. Be open to trying different beaches, depending on the parking situation. Parking lots are usually full from 9 am to 2 pm, so either get there in the early morning or later in the afternoon. If you’re staying at a hotel, use the hotel shuttle when you can! If you’re a homeowner, get a beach parking sticker to save on parking fees! You can read more about beach parking here.

Tip #5: Don’t Get Gas on Saturday

This may seem like a crazy tip, but believe me, gas lines can get crazy on the weekends, especially at Sam’s and Costco. Why? Boaters! People are filling up their boat tanks for a fun day on the water. Be cognizant of your gas tank’s status on Friday!

Tip #6: Have Patience

Need I elaborate? Customer service personnel are working their tails off and often putting in over-time to make up for the lower income months. Give them grace. Sitting in traffic is going to happen. Try not to get too frustrated. Lines at any pharmacy will be insane. Use the time to catch up on a podcast with headphones. Do what you have to do to manage your patience!

Bad MLS Photos for the Week of August 12

From farm animals to unintentional selfies, this week has some pretty great photos for you to enjoy!

Screen capture of an M Night Shyamalan movie

No need to step aside. You’re hardly noticeable.

Anybody have a flashlight?

This had to be an accident, right?

I wasn’t sold until I saw this picture.

Here, I’ll just tuck behind this wall. There we go.

You should MOOOOooove here

(Sorry, I had to.).

We bought our house because of ample spice space. True story.

You were this close to avoiding the unintentional selfie.

Where do you even buy a camera that puts the date and time on the picture anymore?

How to Break a Lease

Your work wants to transfer you to a different city and give you a promotion and a raise? You decide to buy a place of your own? Your apartment routinely has problems and your landlord won’t fix anything? You lose your job and the rent suddenly becomes too expensive? These are all common reasons given when tenants break a lease and each can be life-changing and, more importantly, house-changing.

Know the Penalties Spelled out in Your Current Lease

Every lease is different so it is absolutely imperative that you speak to a lawyer before attempting anything herein.

It is no surprise that leases favor the landlord since they are the people that decide which lease to use in most cases. A good lease, though, will spell out obligations that both parties have to respect and a large portion is typically dedicated to leases prematurely ending. There is almost always a financial penalty charged to the tenant and it is often the forfeiture of the security deposit and the prepaid last month’s rent.

Read your lease carefully and seek legal counsel on what you will be required to pay by leaving early.

Speak to Your Landlord

Unless you’re leaving because of a problem with the landlord, you may be able to come to an agreement that doesn’t hit your wallet as hard as what is in the lease. Landlords can be understanding! They may be ok with your departure.

Make Leaving a Win/Win for you and the Landlord

Sometimes doing something as simple as finding a new tenant to take your place can be enough to let the landlord allow you to leave with out penalty. Sites like Craigslist make it awfully easy for you to start the search for your replacement.

If you are working with a real estate agent to find a new home, ask him or her for help to find a new tenant. When our clients are breaking a lease, we will list the property for free for the landlord and increase that goodwill.

Bonus Tip: If you want to propose to your landlord that you will find the replacement tenant, yet your landlord still doesn’t bite, convince her why this actually benefits her over time. It’s simple! If your lease is up in January, for example, the landlord will likely not find a new tenant until March. However, if you find the tenant who will move in right as you move out, then you will be closing that gap of missed income for the landlord. You truly can create a win/win scenario!

Subletting may be an Option

Most leases, especially those used here in Southwest Florida, preclude a tenant from subletting the property. Be sure to read through your lease and ensure you’re able to sublet. If you are allowed to do so, and the rental market has strengthened, you may even be able to earn a profit subletting.


Overall, breaking a lease doesn’t have to mean war with your landlord. When both parties enter the conversation with open minds and good intentions, agreements can be made that satisfy both of you. Just remember to contact a lawyer prior to approaching your landlord so that you know the terms of the lease clearly.

Why School Zones Matter Even if You Don’t Have Kids

Why School Zones Matter, Even if You Don’t Have Kids

Empty-nesters and retirees still need to be mindful of school zones when buying a home.  Here’s why!

“Location, location, location” is the mantra of real estate! When you’re shopping for a home and you don’t have children, it’s easy to overlook homes’ school zones. If you don’t need the school, why should it matter? One word: resale.

Unless you plan on this being the last home you’ll ever buy, you need to think ahead and plan for your home’s value down the road. School zones dictate a lot of a home’s value. The higher performing schools increase a home’s value because of the demand of families that want to live there. When you go to resell, your home will have retained its value better than a similar home in a less desirable school zone.

If you’re buying a single-family home, school zones should be at the forefront of your mind when purchasing. Even though you don’t have kids, your home’s next owners most likely will.

Don’t assume this is only for single-family homes! Condos and townhomes are frequently purchased by families with children because of the school zone. A family looking to enroll in a particular school will frequently compromise on their desire for a single-family home for the sake of education.

The same goes for investors! Homes in highly rated school zones demand higher rents. And people are willing to pay it! Investors should carefully consider homes with good schools.

Plan for your future and protect your investment by checking out the schools prior to purchasing.

Do Open Houses Sell Homes?

This question is very easy to answer. Yes! Open Houses sell houses!

If you are working with a real estate agent that will not do an open house because she says they do not work, you may need a new agent.

The argument most Negative Nancies bring up is, “What are the odds that a person randomly walks into your home and it happens to be a perfect fit?” Well, this entire argument is flawed because most buyers start their search online so they are choosing to view this home in person after reading about it and seeing pictures.. Sure, you get people that are out driving around and just swing in because they saw the open house signs yet they are becoming the minority.

Why would an agent say that open houses don’t work? Well…

  1. They’re lazy. Who wants to spend their Saturday and Sunday afternoon sitting around at a listing for no reason? (Hint, we do).
  2. They don’t know better. I find that too many new agents hear something like, “Open houses don’t sell homes” and take it as the gospel until they’re out of the business.
  3. They’re actually doing an open house at a “better” listing. Certain homes are better for open house traffic than others. Perhaps another listing is on a very busy street with lots of places to put open house signs. That’s going to be a better place for the agent to spend his time if he’s out looking for buyers.

So there you have it. Be absolutely careful who you hire to sell your home. Exposure on your listing is what it takes to find buyers and open houses are a phenomenal way to get those potential buyers to fall in love with your home.

Have you had an agent tell you that open houses don’t sell homes?

4 Reasons Why Your Home Isn’t Selling

    1. Your Home Doesn’t Show Well Online

90% of homebuyers begin their search for homes online according to the National Association of Realtors statistics. Your home needs professional photography to really shine, yet only a handful of real estate agents invest the money in this absolutely fundamental aspect of selling. You wouldn’t get excited to see a home that looks dark and small and neither will your buyers. It is also imperative that the listing description sells the buyer on how great it is to live in your home. Saying that the home has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths isn’t exciting but selling a lifestyle sure is!

    1. Your Home Doesn’t Show Well in Person

Your home needs to look as close to perfect as it can be when a potential buyer makes a showing request. One deep-cleaning and decluttering before the listing hits the MLS sets you up for success; then a nightly 15 minute investment of time will keep your home looking great. Buyers will not want to purchase a home that doesn’t look cared for. Need some help? Read 11 Things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market.

    1. Your Real Estate Agent isn’t Actively Marketing Your Property

Those of us that respect this profession will work tirelessly to get your listing in front of buyers’ eyes. Unfortunately, not all will. Many real estate agents will put a listing on the MLS and hope and pray that a buyer will come along. Homes don’t sell themselves. We spend a lot of time on the phone, in person at open houses, and online to show buyers and agents the strengths and benefits of each listing we take.

    1. Your Price is too High

The number one reason a home sits on the market is due to pricing errors on the part of the agent. Pricing a home too high simply wastes the seller’s and agent’s time. Some real estate agents will do what we call “buy the listing” where they present a high price to the sellers in order to get the listing. Then, the sellers are usually under contract for 6 months while the agent begs them to lower the price. It is a highly unethical practice and casts shame on this industry yet we see it all of the time. Does it sound familiar?

What to do With a Listing That is not Selling

If your home looks great in person and even better in professional photographs, look to your agent for clues. It is absolutely fine (and encouraged) to ask your agent what he or she is doing to sell your home. This question will catch your agent off-guard and you’ll know right away if it is the agent that is at fault. If the agent is truly putting forth the effort, then you can only look at price. Honest mistakes happen when pricing a home—it is an art and not a science. However, did other agents that you interviewed all come in lower than the one you picked? Look at your agent’s other listings and see if they all started high with a number of price changes before selling (or sadly… failing to sell). If this is the case, someone bought your listing.

11 Things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market

An often overlooked aspect of selling a home is generating a positive experience for potential buyers through curb appeal and great interior condition. These 11 tips will will have your home ready for buyers and help to net you top dollar!

Outside Your Home

  1. Let’s do some much needed trimming.

Your curb appeal is too important to overlook. This is your first chance to pique the buyers’ interest!

  • Add mulch in flower beds and around trees.
  • Bring in color with low-maintenance flowers such as dwarf daffodils, peonies and hydrangeas.
  • Cover blemishes in the lawn with sod. Any brown spot needs to be fixed.
  • Replace your welcome mat with a fresh, new one! This inexpensive tip gives a sense of upkeep as the buyer enters.
  • Need a bath? Check the entryway for spiderwebs, wasp nests, and dead bugs. This is a first impression, you don’t want your buyers to be disenchanted before they walk in the door.
  • Make sure your front door hardware is in working condition. An agent having to jimmy a lock to get inside leaves a bad taste in the mouths of buyers.
  • Consider painting your entry door if it shows any signs of peeling.
  • Make sure your house numbers are perfect! There’s something creepy about missing or dangling house digits.
  • Clean the exterior of all the windows.
  • Polish up the exterior walls – make sure they’re free of any hard water stains and dirt.
  1. Pressure wash (this is really the fun part).
    Pressure washing can be so rewarding! Make sure you hit up the front entryway, walkway, driveway, backyard patio and walkway, and even the sidewalk in front of your home!

  2. Clean tile and grout.
    Make sure tile shines and grout lines are clean. A quick and easy way to clean grout is to use toilet bowl cleaner (we suggest watching a YouTube video for instructions).

  3. Destroy carpet stains.
    You can rent a steam cleaner at many grocery stores or home improvement stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot. Get those pesky carpet stains out. The Listing Naples Group also recommends ChemDry by Warren for an alternative to steaming.

  4. Declutter, declutter, declutter.
    You’re moving anyway, so box up things you don’t use often and put them in storage. Try to clear up the garage, too. Ask a trusted friend to store items for you or rent a storage unit for a little bit. The more spacious your home feels, the better. Think about it, buyers want to feel like they’re getting the largest home for their money. Remove large, bulky furniture and knick-knacks that don’t serve a purpose. Take awards off of the walls and personal items off of the fridge. Animal toys and beds need to be put away neatly.

  5. Clear out closets.
    Storage space is always at the top of buyers’ lists. If your closet is bursting at the seams, it will appear that there isn’t enough storage space for you, which will make them think that applies to them. Clear out clothes that you won’t be wearing in the next six months and put them in storage along with those boxes of baseball cards you’re collecting. Anything you don’t think you’ll have an immediate need for should go to storage!

  6. Banish those marks on the walls.
    Marks and holes in the walls need to be taken care of immediately. Nothing screams “we didn’t take care of our home” like messy walls.

  7. Address ceiling issues.
    Stains, dips, or falling seams in the ceiling can be a big red flag for buyers. Here in Florida, buyers are very aware of signs of water intrusion or mold, and they go hand-in-hand. Don’t scare your buyer away with a water stain from an issue you fixed ages ago.

  8. White out your accent wall.
    “When in doubt, white it out!” This is always an awkward conversation with sellers. While you might like the Alabama Crimson red accent wall (Roll tide!), 95% of your potential buyers will immediately see it as a chore to cover it prior to moving in. Help me avoid this conversation as your listing agent by just painting that wall to match the others before I even walk through your door. The same goes for kids’ bedrooms – princess decals and dinosaur murals, sadly, need to be removed.

  9. Replace light bulbs with daylight bulbs.

These bulbs are slightly more expensive than others, but worth their weight in gold when it comes to making your home stand out. We always tell our clients to think “light and bright” when it comes to getting their homes ready and these bulbs do 90% of that work for them!

  1. Add finishing touches.

* Grab WD40 and make sure every door is easy to open and nothing squeaks.
* Windex the inside and outside of every glass surface.
* Wipe down surfaces that have accumulated drips, finger prints, or stains.
* Clean your baseboards.
* Dust ceiling fans and décor.

What did we miss?

Tell us in the comments below what you would do to get your home ready for the market!

The Top 5 Most Expensive Homes in Naples, Florida

2750 Gordon Drive

2750 Gordon Drive

$42,500,000

Naples’ most expensive home sits directly on the Gulf of Mexico in on 1.55 acres of land in Port Royal. You really have space to roam with over 18,000 square feet under air and your vehicles will even appreciate the space in their 5 bay collector’s garage. Can you even imagine being able to sit back and stare at the Gulf from this beautiful home?

1777 Galleon Drive

1777 Galleon Drive

$22,900,000

There’s no surprise this home was the featured cover story of Florida Home and Design magazine. The boater that buys this home will appreciate the large dock to house a yacht and the whole family will enjoy the 77 foot glass-tiled pool.

1000 Admiralty Parade E

1000 Admiralty Parade East

$19,900,000

You will absolutely love the location of this masterpiece within Port Royal—sweeping views of the bay and quick access to the Gulf of Mexico. The separate guest house is perfect for the friends that will surely visit.

575 Admiralty Parade

$17,999,999

Another Port Royal home makes the list and also sits on the bay. This remarkable home has 250 feet of water frontage and water views from nearly every room.

7621 Bay Colony Drive

$17,500,000

Our final home is in Pelican Bay and sits directly on the Gulf of Mexico beach. Wine connoisseurs will appreciate the 4,000 bottle wine room amongst the 10,345 square feet.