Babcock Ranch Sells First Homes in SWFL Green Community

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A new town in Southwest Florida is changing people’s expectations on how to live. Babcock Ranch off Highway 31 near Ft. Myers is using solar energy to become a greener community.

Babcock Ranch said when all said and done they hope to have more than 50,000 people calling the place home.

“It’s about front porch living, we want people to reconnect,” said Babcock President Rick Severance.

Home sales have begun for Babcock Ranch with several already sold. What makes the town so unique is the approach to a sustainable and green lifestyle.

Babcock Ranch owns their own water and waste water.  They are using gray water for all the irrigation and we are getting water from the aquifers on the property.

But water isn’t the only thing they are doing differently than most communities. The way they produce energy is also new.  It’s the cleanest form of energy of any town in the United States right now.  It’s solar during the day, and when the sun goes down it pulls back.  And natural gas with TECO comes in the evening.

The entire 18,000 livable acres is a Florida Green Building Coalition certified town with even the smallest details like sidewalks and tree-lined streets being environmentally friendly.

It makes people realize that if you take the collective elements associated with sustainability, a little bit goes a really long way.

Beyond using the most efficient products, the community is about knowing your neighbors and enjoying where you live.

Babcock Ranch plans to have model homes open to the public starting in the next few weeks.

To learn more about investment opportunities in Babcock Ranch and throughout SWFL, contact 9 Core Realty today.

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Ft. Myers/Cape Coral named Trulia 2nd Hottest Real Estate Market to Watch

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Good news for home buyers and sellers in Southwest Florida.  The website Trulia.com is naming Fort Myers and Cape Coral the second-hottest real estate market to watch in 2017.

The site factors in weather, job growth in the area, and vacancy rates over the past year.

Real estate experts say right now, we are in a sellers market, because we don’t have a large inventory.  But that isn’t to say the market isn’t good for buyers too.  Experts say that it’s really good for both because they still feel that houses are going to continually go up in price.

Right now the Fort Myers and Cape Coral regions have between 4 and 6 months of inventory, depending on the neighborhood, which is a normal inventory.

Experts say just 5 years ago the area was averaging about 18 months of inventory, making it a tough market for everyone. Since then the area has seen a lot of growth in the past few years, something realtors believe is here to stay.

To learn more about the SWFL real estate market, contact an experienced member of the 9 Core Realty team.

Construction on Babcock Ranch Furthers in Early 2017

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As construction of Phase I of the Downtown District and furnished models in the Lake Timber neighborhood at Babcock Ranch continues to progress as planned, Master Developer Kitson & Partners’ unique brand of place making is becoming evident. A new town being built by Kitson in Charlotte County, Babcock Ranch will be the first solar powered town in the world and will include 19,500 homes, nearly 50,000 residents, and 6 million square feet of commercial space.

Kitson’s development strategy is focused on creating a sense of place that will be embraced by residents and visitors alike. As a result, Babcock Ranch will provide a new version of “Home Place,” a term that speaks to the fabric of a community, a level of connectedness that residents enjoy with one another, a feeling of belonging and being safe, and the opportunities a place offers for creating memories with family members and friends.

Kitson’s vision for Babcock Ranch has been designed to appeal to the passion for a better, more fulfilling, more deeply connected life that resides in people of all ages. Kitson’s new and better kind of town invites residents to take pleasure in creating and recalling moments in time that conjure a sense of joy in new and exciting ways that have, until now, been imagined but unrealized. Places that offer a real opportunity to experience and know that joy firsthand have been incorporated into every facet of Babcock’s design.

Children will know the freedom and the joy of finding special “hidden” places along Babcock’s 50-mile network of trails, climbing a particularly tall tree for the first time, racing their bikes to beat their friends to a favored fishing hole, stopping at the ice cream shop on their way home from school, playing ball in the park, enjoying a backyard camp out, or spending an afternoon at the Lake House neighborhood pool and recreation center.

Parents will know they are part of a neighborhood and a town where other adults know their children by name and watch out for them.  They will enjoy front porch conversations and pot-luck barbecues with neighbors, spending an hour or so working in the neighborhood garden, enjoying a hike, bike ride, kayaking on Lake Babcock, or attending a concert on the lakefront green at Founder’s Square followed by dinner at the adjacent Table & Tap restaurant. Time spent in the Hatchery’s Encore Career Center and at the Wellness Center will revitalize the mind and body while providing opportunities to socialize and connect with others.

In sum, Kitson and its team of town planners have created places to which people will naturally gravitate and will become favored, memorable destinations for people of all ages and backgrounds to interact, to come to know one another, and to experience life at Babcock Ranch together. Central to the design are the notions that effective place making is about developing streetscapes that invite a walkable, bikeable lifestyle; incorporating neighborhood parks that offer children a place to play and neighbors to gather; providing every neighborhood with a trail head that serves as a gateway to the town’s nature trails; establishing neighborhood gardens for neighbors to share; and creating the Founder’s Square lakefront green space at the heart of the Downtown District that will serve as a venue for community celebrations, concerts, civic events, or simply relaxing with friends.

The Babcock Neighborhood School (BNS), a free public charter school open to all students in kindergarten through grade eight who qualify to attend a public school in Charlotte County, is now accepting applications for the 2017-2018 school year. This includes out-of-district students who are allowed to request admission under Florida’s new open enrollment law. BNS offers a “place-based” environmentally focused “greenSTEAM” educational program that integrates science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics within a holistic learning environment.

Taken in combination with Babcock’s commitment to clean energy sourced in solar power by day and natural gas by night, the resulting town and country lifestyle afforded by Kitson’s development approach has been heralded as a model for how towns of the future will be developed. As such, the town will provide a powerful context in which the STEAM focus at BNS can flourish.

There is another facet to Babcock’s design that provides the greatest gift of all: time. The town’s neighborhoods will be walkable or bikeable to the Downtown District’s stores, shops, markets, restaurants, Wellness Center and Encore Career Center. Time lost sitting in traffic during shopping trips or waiting in the afternoon school pick-up line will be transformed into time available for individual pursuits or connecting with family members and friends.

Whether it’s the neighborhood recreation center, a park or lakefront green space, the neighborhood garden, a trail head or kayak launch, the places Kitson has created for people to enjoy at Babcock Ranch are literally within minutes. Every home and business at Babcock Ranch will be wired with ultra-high speed internet service capable of sending an email, downloading a song or movie, conducting a content search, or completing an on-line purchase literally within seconds.

To learn more about investing in Babcock Ranch contact a member of the 9 Core Realty team!

Tampa, Sarasota Named ‘Hot’ Real Estate Markets For 2017

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House hunters in the West Central Florida area will find several of the region’s real estate markets are considered ripe for major growth in the coming year. That’s according to the real estate website Trulia, which just released its top 10 list of “hot” real estate markets across the country.

Florida’s Jacksonville gets No. 1 honors on the list, which is based on five key metrics. The factors the rankings were based on include job growth, high affordability and home searches conducted on Trulia.com, among others. Jacksonville’s 3.8 percent job growth rate in 2016 is one of the biggest reasons behind its top placement, the website noted.

Sunshine State metro areas also scored second and third-place rankings. The Cape Coral-Fort Meyers area came in second. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach earned third. Dearborn, Michigan, earned fourth-place honors.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg area scored fifth-place honors. Job growth was again cited for the high placement with local real estate experts pointing to such things as the Vinick-Cascade project helping make the region hot. Having the University of South Florida and University of Tampa in the area doesn’t hurt either.

Florida doesn’t reappear on the rankings until the No. 10 position. Those honors went to the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area.

While the weather is the most obvious draw to the area, it’s much more than sunny skies and 80-degree days that attract people.  The Sarasota-Bradenton area is a full-time community that boasts not only great weather but also critical infrastructure – the arts, great schools, small to medium-size companies, small universities.

To learn more about the Florida real estate climate in 2017 contact a member of the 9 Core Realty team.

 

These 5 Trends Will Shape the Housing Market in 2017

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If the U.S. economy is to hit escape velocity in 2017, you can expect the real estate sector to serve as its rocket fuel. At its most broadly defined, housing can be counted on to compose 15% of GDP. It hasn’t done that much heavy lifting lately, however. That’s because in the wake of the real estate bubble, lending standards have remained tight, while the cautious builders who survived the crisis have been reluctant to dive headfirst into expanding their operations again.

But there are signs that these trends are about to change.  As the new year rolls on, we’ll fill you in on the health of builders and other key trends to watch below.

  1. Rising Rates

In December, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for only the second time since 2006, and a majority of the members of the Fed’s rate-setting board predict there will be three more increases coming in 2017. These decisions will cause mortgage rates to rise, potentially making it more difficult for prospective homebuyers to be able to afford the home of their dreams. (In fact, those rates have already started creeping up.) But don’t worry too much about this trend experts expect mortgage interest rates to increase, but to no higher than 4.3 percent on the 30-year fixed rate. That’s still a great deal compared to historical norms.

  1. More Credit

Experts also point out that though rates may rise, mortgage credit will likely be more widely available due to slightly looser lending standards. They advise that the Federal Housing Administration will likely lower fees it charges first-time homebuyers, a continuation of a trend begun in the Obama administration, under which it lowered fees in 2015.

In addition, starting in 2017, government-owned mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will begin backing larger mortgages for the first time in over a decade, making it easier for buyers in expensive markets to finance their purchases.

  1. More New Homes

Though the most recent data on new home construction showed that builders pulled back on new projects in November, the overall trend in home construction is clearly positive, with the average annual rate of new groundbreakings reaching a 1.163 million rate so far in 2016, up about 5% from 1.108 million in 2015.

Expect this to continue in 2017, as home builders are encouraged by higher wages, looser credit, and increased demand from buyers.

  1. The Continued Rise of Medium-sized Cities

One of the dominant stories of the current economic recovery is that top-tier economic cities like New York, Seattle, and San Francisco have seen property values rise as workers flock to these locations to take advantage of high-paying jobs. But this trend has put a strain on those cities’ real estate markets , because new construction is often unable to keep pace with demand due to geographic constraints, or restrictions imposed by local government regulations.

That’s why more younger folks are finding themselves attracted to medium-sized cities, which may not have the same professional opportunities as their larger counterparts, but provide housing affordability. Cities like Raleigh, N.C., and Fort Collins, Colo., have seen building permit issuance soar over the past six years as they attract younger adults seeking cheap rents and lower asking prices. Expect the trend to continue in 2017.

  1. Foreign Buyers Aren’t Going Away

One trend that is helping drive prices beyond the realm of affordability in places like New York and Los Angeles is an influx of foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. This has only increased of late, fueled in particular by buyers from China who are looking for safe places to store their wealth, away from the slowing economy of the homeland, where repressive financial policies make it difficult to earn decent returns on savings.

To learn more about investment real estate and to get investing and growing wealth in the new year, contact a member of the 9 Core Realty Team!