Chris Griffith: Buying in the entry level market


Naturally, this is the time of the year Southwest Florida is visited by tourists. This year those visitors recognized some of the tremendous real estate values and were inspired to start buying real estate.

We’ve had a robust winter sales season and the mountain of great deals which was once lying around waiting for buyers have not only been selling off in record numbers but it has nearly completely sold off in many value priced neighborhoods. Lately, the offers are flying and we’ve even been experiencing multiple offers.

What the typical, future snowbird thought they knew about the Southwest Florida real estate market before they got here wasn’t remotely close to the reality when they finally arrived, especially if they are cautiously moderate, entry level buyers.

The real estate market under $200,000 continues to be the fastest segment of the market and we’re selling a record numbers of units this season.

Hopefully, the buyers have done some homework before they got here but if not, here’s the crib sheet on buying in the spring Southwest Florida real estate market:

• Buying real estate these days means you have to bring proof of funds or an approval from a local mortgage broker which proves they’re willing to loan you money. A great credit score or cash in the bank is the new black.

• If your agent didn’t e-mail you a blank or draft contract to review when you were “back home,” have them e-mail one now or fax one to you. You’re probably going to have questions about it so it’s best to get them answered up front when time isn’t of the essence.

• Whether it’s a short sale or a foreclosure, there’s still a portion of our real estate which is bank involved on some level and sold “as-is.” Buying as-is real estate is not a hostage situation for buyers.

• Get a firm understanding of the neighborhood or price point of choice. If the pickin’s are slim and you’re only in town for a few days, you seriously need to be prepared to take action if and when an opportunity presents itself.

• Not all real estate offers are below list price. You’re not the only buyer out there trying to score a deal in a thinning price point. Whether the real estate in your budget range is in short supply or a property is “drama priced” to generate offers, it’s going to sell to the savvy buyer who understands the value. Sometimes it takes a failed offer or two for real estate purchase offer evolution to kick in.

• If you end up in a multiple offer situation, you should know that they’re serious when they ask for the “highest and best offer” from all parties. Brush up the offer or make the terms more attractive or you’re going to be starting over again tomorrow.

• Not all real estate is eligible for financing…no matter how awesome your credit score is. Your local mortgage broker can tell you a few reasons why. Local. Mortgage. Broker.

We have an extra long tourist season this year. With Easter landing at the end of April the heated market will continue moving swiftly for the next several weeks. Happy house hunting!

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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at

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