Market Report - Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and North Naples
BEST FLORIDA BEACH TOWNS
We couldn’t have had more beautiful weather last week during the Lee County Tour of Homes along the Gulf of Mexico and in one of the best Florida beach towns. Bright blue sunny skies and temperatures just under 70 degrees are what Florida’s known for this time of the year. We visited 12 master planned communities and toured 28 new homes in Naples FL during the parade. Trends we’re seeing are new homes with sliding glass doors in the back completing opening up to a super-sized pool deck, swimming pool with water features, a full blown outdoor living room and dining room setting. Most of the homes we toured have outdoor fireplaces and/or social fire pits, a functional outdoor kitchen and relaxing waterfall cascading into the swimming pool which can be heard upon entering the home.
The most popular color schemes this year are soft whites, creams, shades of gray and chrome accents in all textures making the home feel clean and spacious. Clearly making a new fashion statement, we observed the use of antique glass or a modern art chandelier hanging from the high ceilings in both the master bedrooms and living rooms. Kitchens in white clearly prevail in the majority of the homes.
Stock Development is the predominate home builder and real estate developer in the Naples area. The quality of construction and professionalism of the Stock Development staff carried through to every community we toured. It’s no wonder they’ve collected too many awards to count! In our opinion, they are the best luxury home builder in the Naples area. Seizing the opportunities presented at the bottom of the real estate market in mid 2000, we’ve observed Stock Development gobbling up the remaining lots, amenities and trophy properties in many of the master planned communities.
A smart trend we are seeing in the Naples area is the mandatory requirement to be a social club member at gated golf communities. We believe this engages the community as a whole and financially supports the amenity’s operational costs. Equally important, it doesn’t force a costly golf membership on folks who don’t golf yet enjoy the country club lifestyle.
Things to be aware of are when purchasing property in the Naples area are the annual mandatory CDD fees (Uniform Community Development District Act of 1980) imposed for a period of time, typically 20-30 years. About half of the communities in the Naples area have them. CDD fees are imposed on homeowners after the fact for costs incurred by the county to build out the infrastructure such as the roads and utilities. From what we observed, the CDD fees typical run about $150 a month and that’s not the worst of it. In a gated Naples golf community, it’s easy to spend over $1,000 a month in membership dues. Unless you live on the fringes of the Everglades, it’s gonna cost ya' to live in Naples. According to realtor. com, the average home price in Naples is $876,535!
Thus our search expanded north into the suburbs, to the areas of North Naples, Bonita Springs and Fort Myers. We didn’t find any real bargains among what would be considered the best master planned communities. Here’s what we did find:
PAESO - FORT MYERS
Reflecting off the success of Ole at Lely Resort, Paeso is a colorful 444 acre gated community comprised of all types of home styles and designs. Approximately 800 homes are built to date of the 1,300 planned. Stock Development’s signature look is the use of deep reds, lime greens and dark browns although that’s not the only color scheme within the community. It’s likely families choose Paeso because of the resort-style amenities, affordable new homes and mixed-use outdoor living space. Residents of Paeso have fun bundled all within their gated community.
At the 26,000 square foot Paeso Village Center, families of all ages enjoy the cafe, ice cream shop, old fashioned pub, state-of-the-art 4,000 square foot wellness center, full service spa, resort-style swimming pool, tennis facility and 99 seat movie theater. Golf carts and bicycles are the popular mode of transportation leading to community parks and amenities. From Spanish-style casitas to luxury estate homes, buyers can find all types homes here. Multi-family town homes and flats begin under $200k. Multi-family Casitas from the mid $200k’s. Traditional single family residences from the low $400k’s. Paeso was named Community of the Year for 8 years in a row. Paeso’s CDD fee is approximately $1,700 per year. Monthly membership fees are around $300 a month depending on the neighborhood.
PELICAN PRESERVE - FORT MYERS
Lovely, lovely, lovely. This established WCI 55+ gated community is beautiful. In the heart of the community is a 70,000 square foot recreational plaza called Plaza del Sol Town Center. Here you’ll find restaurants, a fitness center, resort-style swimming pool, six lighted tennis courts, and movie theater. It’s the type of master planned community where one wouldn’t have to leave and if they did, there’s a large shopping center just beyond the gates. The 55+ gated community also has an optional 27 hole championship golf course designed by Chip Powell and another golf clubhouse, fitness center and more. Pelican Preserve is golf cart friendly making it easy for seniors to get around. The Pelican Preserve Master HOA & Town Center Fees range from $4,315 to $7,844 per year plus the maintenance fees. The CDD fee, lawn care and common area fees are $799.93 per year. This puts the total monthly cost around $426-$720 (not including the private golf club) which is reasonable considering the level of amenities within the gates. Cottage homes, villa homes, and carriage homes begin in the mid $200k’s. Larger villa homes and single family homes are priced from the high $200k’s to mid $400k’s. We felt the new homes we toured here offered a good value to the senior buyer looking for the safety of a 55+ community and active social scene.
RENAISSANCE - FORT MYERS
Beautiful inside and out, Renaissance is show stopper in South Fort Myers. The gated community is refined, well cared for and elegant in every way. Located about 15 miles east of the Sanibel Island Bridge, The Club at Renaissance is one of the lowest density luxury golf communities in Naples. Planned for 390 homes, the community is about 90% built out. We toured several homes during the parade and each was equally attractive. The two story award winning Mediterranean-style clubhouse situated just beyond the gated entrance is a statement itself. The domed ceiling, grand staircase and beautiful views of the golf course add to the club member’s experience. Adjacent to the club is the community’s wellness center, resort-style swimming pool and tennis facility. The 18 hole golf course is designed by Arthur Hills. Golf membership is optional and social membership mandatory. Full golf membership dues are $7,325 annually (full time residents) plus a $68,000 refundable deposit. Social membership is $3,650 per year with no initiation fee for full time residents. Single family home prices begin in the $500k’s and many exceed $1 million. Coach homes can be found just under $400k. We were impressed with the architectural designs and curb appeal at the Renaissance.
RIVERHALL - FORT MYERS
Our first impression of Riverhall wasn’t that great. We weren’t sure where the community officially began until we reached the end of the road and gated entrance. Spread across 2,000 acres, 850 homes are planned. Approximately 150 have been built to date. We didn’t see many mature trees or distinctive features. Amenities include a championship golf course, resort-style swimming pool, fitness center, balls courts and two community clubhouses. The builder we spoke with said the big plus for Riverhall is the larger lot sizes, most averaging 85’ in length. New home prices here begin in the mid to high $200k’s. At Riverhall, golf membership is mandatory. Bundled HOA fees are $739-$755 a month and include golf. Riverhall’s CDD fee is $2,167 per year. To us, the $937 a month is a hefty price tag considering Riverhall’s location.
THE PLANTATION - FORT MYERS
Conservative is the first word that comes to mind after touring The Plantation. Homes in neutral tones blending in with the tropical landscaping and accent lakes. In other words, nothing jumped out at us which to the conservative buyer, is a good thing. Call it 'plain vanilla' and pretty. Approximately 600 homes have been built to date of the 900 planned. Amenities include a golf course designed by Hurdzan-Fry, a 38,000 square foot clubhouse, swimming pool, fitness center and six tennis courts. People likely choose The Plantation because of its close proximity to I-75, the airport and nearby shopping. A tad bit further away, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island can be reached in about 30 minutes. The community is golf cart friendly making it easy to get around. HOA fees range between $298-$472 per month plus the CDD. The CDD fee ranges between $1,298 - $1,494 per year depending on the neighborhood. Full golf membership at The Plantation is $4,764 per year plus the $29,500 initiation fee. Social club membership is $480 a year plus the $1,000 initiation fee. New homes can be found starting in the low $200k’s to the $400k’s plus the lot premiums.
VERANDAH - FORT MYERS
Located about 4 miles east of Interstate 75, the gated community of Verandah along the Orange River is no doubt attractive. People choose this area off the beaten path to get ‘more for their money’. At Verandah, $300k will buy a new, spacious home in fully amenitized master planned community. The average home price in Naples is in the $800k’s. Amenities at Verandah include two championship golf courses, the River House with dining, kayak launch and storage, a swimming pool, fitness center, tennis courts and dog park. The community has a nice riverfront boardwalk and nine miles of walking/bike trails. Approximately 1,100 homes are built to date of the 1,600 planned. Home styles include Florida Modern and Mediterranean. The CDD fee for Verandah is $1,800 a year. HOA fees are $212 a month. The community plans to expand the River House clubhouse in the summer of 2015 and in 2017. Golf membership fees are $6,600 per year plus the $15k initiation fee. A social club membership is $100 month plus a $2,500 initiation fee. To us, $900+ a month in dues to live at Verandah seems pricey.
WATERMARK - FORT MYERS
A sight for tired eyes, the Carribean-style new gated community was a refreshing change from the Mediterranean-themed neighborhoods we’d seen thus far during the parade. Royal blue window shutters, fucia pink flowers and white washed buildings are a distinctive fashion statement at Watermark. The gated community is located 5 miles east of the Midpoint Bridge leading to Cape Coral and 18 miles north of the Sanibel Island Bridge. Approximately 40 homes are built to date of the 300 planned. Amenities in place include a community clubhouse with a resort-style swimming pool, jacuzzi, outdoor social firepit, barbecue grill, screened eating area and fitness center. Adjacent to the clubhouse are the community’s dog park, tennis courts, basket ball courts, and bocce ball court. Watermark does not have a CDD fee. HOA fees are $225 a month and the community has natural gas. Home prices in the tight-knit gated community begin mid $200k’s. Watermark left its mark on us as a bargain hunter’s new home paradise. The developer has 11 floor plans to choose from.
BONITA BAY CLUB - BONITA SPRINGS
We’ve had our eye on Bonita Bay Club for several years. The member-owned private club looked great during our visit. Amenities include five golf courses, 18 Har-Tru tennis courts, a fitness center and two clubhouses. The 55,000 square foot golf clubhouse was recently renovated and a new 18,000 square foot fitness center is planned. A privately owned marina on the Imperial River at the south end of Estero Bay is also located within Bonita Bay Club. The full service marina offers dry and wet storage.
The gated community with 3,000 homes is spread across 2,400 acres accent by lakes and mature foliage. There are 57 neighborhoods within the gates. The 12 miles of biking and walking trail system are among the most active we’ve seen. Families of all ages can be seen dog walking, jogging, bicycling and soaking up the Florida sunshine during a leisure stroll. From November to April, the community offers a beach trolley service to the community’s beach park.
The master Bonita Bay POA fees are $2,638 per year. Full golf membership is $13,654 per year plus an initiation fee of $75,000 per year. Property owners are not required to join the club. A sports membership is $4,522 per year plus a $35,000 initiation fee. All types of homes are available here. You’ll find estate homes, low maintenance villas and patio homes, carriage homes and condominiums in high rise building with breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. Prices are as low as in the $300k’s or can be over $2 million. Being a full golf member at Bonita Bay Club is expensive.
OLDE CYPRESS - NORTH NAPLES
Developed in 1998, we found it interesting that the Olde Cypress golf clubhouse and wellness amenities are located outside the gated entrance and wondered about the original intention. We were told Stock Development purchased the amenities back in 2011 along with the remaining homesites within the gated community. Since then, the 36,000 square foot clubhouse, Olde Cypress P.B. Dye golf course and 4,100 square foot wellness center were renovated and/or improved. Purchasing one of the new homes in Naples FL at Olde Cypress requires a social club membership which is $2,695 per year. Full golf membership is $9,395 per year plus a $45,000 refundable deposit. The community’s location is 2 miles east the I-75 north/south corridor and about 7 miles from the beach. Spread across 540 acres, homes begin in the $300k’s and can easily exceed $1 million. Home styles include villas, courtyard homes, single family homes and luxury estates. Olde Cypress does not have a CDD fee.
QUAIL WEST - NORTH NAPLES
Perhaps Naples most prestigious address, living at Quail West may be 'the' unspoken status symbol. There were 21 stunning model homes to see during the parade designed, built and furnished by some of the area’s finest home builders and interior designers across six neighborhoods within the gated community. Home after home we toured felt like a mini private resort with spectacular swimming pools, outdoor living areas and floor to ceiling glass bringing the tropical atmosphere indoors. They were all architectural masterpieces in one of the best Florida beach towns.
The cobblestone roads throughout the community added to the curb appeal. Amenities include a grandiose 70,000 square foot clubhouse with dining, two Arthur Hills championship golf courses, eight lighted red clay, hydro tennis courts, a fitness center and beach club on Naples beach. At the project’s completion, the community will have approximately 670 homes. To date, approximately 450 new homes in Naples FL have been built here. There are primarily two types of homes within the community, villas and large estates. The least expensive home was $988,265. Homes average about $1.5 million. A full golf equity membership has a $90,000 initiation fee (partially refundable) with annual dues $14,000 plus an annual $1,400 capital reserve contribution. The Quail West beach club dues are $450 a year plus a $5,000 one time fee. It was a pleasure to see how Stock Development has catapulted Quail West into Naples' best selling luxury gated community after the 2009 Ginn-LA default.
TWINEAGLES - NORTH NAPLES
The ACE Group Classic - PGA Champions Tour was underway during our tour of TwinEagles. The gated community is spread across 1,115 acres. Development began in early 2000. Canada based, The Ronto Group purchased TwinEagles for $11 million back in 2010 after the real estate collapse. Some golfers claim TwinEagles in the finest golf community in Florida. The Talon course is designed by Jack Nicklaus. The Eagle course is designed by Steve Smyers. Amenities include a 47,000 square foot clubhouse with dining, resort-style swimming pool, fitness center and tennis courts. Built in east North Naples and on the fringes of the Everglades, nothing out of the ordinary jumped out at us about TwinEagles. We did not play the golf courses. Perhaps because the club charges no initiation fee is the attraction to home buyers. Dues are $10,700 per year and club membership is mandatory. Sports membership fees are $4,280 per year and a social club membership is $3,210. Home prices range from the $500k’s to over $1 million and the gated community has no CDD fee. TwinEagles is surrounded by wetlands and is located approximately 12 miles from the beach.
If you’re exploring the best Florida beach towns for relocation and/or retirement, ask for our free Naples relocation information to help you learn more about the area.