Newsmakers: Realty prices and trends, fire consolidation, new Naples park
Burning questions for:
Brenda Fioretti, president, Naples Area Board of Realtors: How soon can I sell my house or condo at a profit? Are foreclosure and short-sale buys still such a hassle?
Developer Jack Antaramian: The worst is over for the housing market — but what about commercial?
Naples City Council member Teresa Heitmann: How about a new park at U.S. 41 and Goodlette-Frank Road?
They are guests on this week’s “Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle” news/interview program airing at 10 a.m. Sunday on ABC7.
Highlights are online at naplesnews.com/newsmakers.
Lytle: I think that most people, if they had a chance to talk to you, and they knew what you do with the Realtors, they’d say, Brenda, tell me. When can I sell my house and make a profit? That’s what I really want to know.
Fioretti: Well, now is a good time to sell your house. It’s a great time to buy a house, but it’s a good to sell a house.
Our inventory is down. We had 37 months of inventory of home to sell back in March 2007. We’re down to below 12 months now, which is a much healthier market. The prices have stabilized. Our prices over $300,000 have actually increased over the past year, just slightly, 3 percent.
So it’s a good time. The season is coming. The population increases drastically between now and May, and it would be a great time to put your home on the market.
Lytle: So I could sell my house or my condo. It’s just a matter of will I get my price or close to it?
Fioretti: That’s true. You have to price it realistically. And using a good Realtor, it is easy to collect the information and get some good advice on how to price your home.
Lytle: We’ve heard so much in the media about headaches with foreclosures and short sales. Is it still the mess that it was made out to be? Or was it ever that big a mess in the first place?
Fioretti: It’s a bit of a mess. Less than 50 percent of our market involved short sales and foreclosures. I know that’s one of the myths that’s out there is that the short sales and foreclosed and distressed properties are a majority of our market. They’re not. They never have been.
We’re getting better at it. It’s getting a little easier to do — the transactions. Because we know more about it now that we’ve been involved with them for the past two or three years.
Lytle: I was going to ask you: my sense, as an outsider, is that as a Realtor, if you want to work hard in today’s market, you can make money. And if you don’t then you’re going to be on the sidelines complaining.
Fioretti: And it doesn’t matter what the market is.
If you work really hard and really smart, you can make a lot of money in a good or bad market. And if you don’t want to work, you’re not going to make much money.
Lytle: The federal government: is it helping?
Fioretti: Slightly. Slowly and slightly.
One of our toughest issues right now is getting a mortgage, and strict mortgage underwriting guidelines that are changing every day.
So they’re working on trying to help with that, but it’s coming along slowly.
Lytle: So I can get a mortgage.
Fioretti: You can get a mortgage. It’s a little more painful than it used to be. It’s not just ... they don’t have the no-documentation loans anymore. There’s a lot of documentation involved and a lot of explanation.
Other issues covered in the interview: Marketplace myths and the commercial real estate market.
Lytle: You had a chance to hear the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR) Presdient Brenda Fioretti’s size-up for the market. What do you say?
Antaramian: I agree. I don’t disagree with what she said. I have some caveats on the commercial component, and I think we have a long way to go on the commercial component, but I do believe the residential market has stabilized, and I believe it’s coming back.
Lytle: You’ve stated publicly before: the worst is over.
Antaramian: The worst is over for that part of the market. I do feel that.
Lytle: But commercial?
Antaramian: It’s just overbuilt in substantial quantity, and the rents are going to fall dramatically; and the value of those properties will fall dramatically. Because the value of commercial property is based on the income component of it and the capitalization rate.
So basically, you’re seeing free rent right now in a lot of commercial properties, and reductions in rent which are going to affect value and financing.
Lytle: How soon will it be before we see new residential projects start and then new mixed-use projects which is really your speciality?
Antaramian: In Naples specifically?
Lytle: Yes, the Naples marketplace.
Antaramian: Naples is a very unique marketplace. We’re so lucky to be here; people just don’t get it.
That can happen in any point in time, depending on the price point.
Lytle: Tell us how Naples Bay Resort is going to play out. We see financial issues; we see lawsuits flying back and forth. We’re not used to seeing your name associated with that kind of thing.
And how are you going to wind up?
Antaramian: Well, the good news is that I sell newspapers, and it will support the rent here (at the Daily News).
But no; I think it’ll all work out fine in the end.
Lytle: Can you tell us what’s in the future for the piece of the property that was going to be called Renaissance Village, I believe, at U.S. 41 and Goodlette-Frank Road.
Antaramian: I can tell you what I’d like to see happen there.
It’s a unique piece of property. It’s a blessing that it is where it is, in a way. And I really would love to see that become a park.
I just think we’re just so lucky as a community to have that, and it would distinguish Naples worldwide if we could just find some way — even if we took a piece of it, 10 acres of it, and we were able to find some way to put a park there.
Lytle: That would mean selling it to the city, and the city appears to have not any extra money these days.
Antaramian: It also could mean a referendum. It could mean a referendum where everybody gets to decide what they want to happen with that.
But what distinguishes Naples from every other place is that Naples is so unique. But I’d love to see that become a park.
Lytle: But Florida Gulf Coast University, in a perfect world, would keep its piece and develop that as a campus.
Antaramian: I just spoke to Dr. (Joe) Shephard (vice president of administration and finance) about that a couple of weeks ago, and he loved to listen to whatever proposal that I could come up with to incorporate them into that. They are very open to any suggestions.
Lytle: So FGCU would maintain a presence there.
Antaramian: According to him, they would, yes.
Lytle: You heard Jack Antaramian’s idea for a park on at least part of the property at Goodlette-Frank Road and U.S. 41. What do you say?
Heitmann: Well, if you don’t recall, that was one of the things that I was hoping would happen, mainly for stormwater storage and some retentions ponds. So I’m really excited to hear what he had to say.
Lytle: But you don’t have any money.
Heitmann: I have money. (Laughter).
No, the city is ... yes, we’re being very conservative. But we do have some money put away for greenspace.
Lytle: That much?
Heitmann: Not enough.
Lytle: OK. Referendum?
Heitmann: I think a referendum is exactly the way we should go. I think that the voters should decide with the new numeric nutrient criteria.
Lytle: For the bay.
Heitmann: For the bay, for clean-up, that if we’re really committed, and we’ve been talking about this for a long time, that this might be the opportunity to have some water quality in storage.
Lytle: Hate to be a Grinch, but there’s going to be a voter who comes along and say, oh yes, well, why does the city have to bail out a developer? That property is not being used for anything else, so why should we bail out Jack Antaramian?
Heitmann: I wouldn’t look at it that way. I would look at it as an opportunity to actually do what we’ve been wanting to do as a city and as a county, and that’s clean up Naples Bay.
Lytle: There’s a discussion going on across the county that so far the city doesn’t seem to be really a part of, and that’s about the future of fire and ambulance service consolidation.
My question to you is, should the city be a part of that, or should the city remain off to the side?
Heitmann: The city should not be a part of that. I think that the county is wise to do what they’re doing and to consolidate. They had the monies to build the facilities and the equipment, and I think that the city needs to focus in on its citizens and the issues that we have within our city.
Lytle: But maybe you could save some money on fire protection by pooling resources and efficiencies and cutting administration — all those good things.
Heitmann: The theory is good, but if you really do some homework on it, which I have since the day I was elected and approached about this consolidation, you really need to look at the numbers.
Because they have boards. They have the millage rage. Our millage rate for the city covers fire, so I think that we would increase our millage rate in order to cover and go into consolidation with the county. So I encourage them to do it, but I think the citizens of the city would prefer that it remain separate, being that we are very cost effective as a city and are able to do it without a separate millage rate.
Other issues discussed in the full interview: Naples Municipal Airport and business reimbursement for the TECO gas line break.