Southwest Florida Real Estate and Community News

Sept. 1, 2017

Top Rated Gated Communities in Southwest Florida

Luxury REALTOR'S Opinion of the Best Neighborhoods in Southwest Florida

top rated gated communities in southwest floridaHave you ever been disappointed with a restaurant, hotel, or entertainment hotspot after the experience didn’t live up to the description and pictures you viewed online? On the internet, it can be difficult to evaluate something as small as what you’ll have to eat for dinner, let alone, the neighborhood of your next home.

In an effort to help you evaluate these potential developments, we’ve put together a series of articles that detail the top rated gated communities in Southwest Florida. Here you’ll find information on the amenities, homes, price ranges, and location to nearby shopping and dining.

As a REALTOR®, I get asked common questions regarding quality of life and what a new resident can expect, so it will be my goal to highlight each neighborhood’s features and how they’ll benefit you.

Without further ado, let’s kick off the list of the Top Rated Gated Communities in Southwest Florida. (Note: this list is in no particular order)

  1. Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club, Miromar Lakes, FL 33913
  2. West Bay Beach & Golf Club, Estero, FL 33928
  3. Renaissance Golf & Country Club, Fort Myers, FL 33912
  4. The Colony Golf & Country Club, Bonita Springs, FL 34134
  5. Mediterra, Naples, FL 34110
  6. Grey Oaks, Naples, FL 34105
  7. Quail West, Naples, FL 34119
  8. Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club, Fort Myers, FL 33908
  9. Bonita Bay Club, Bonita Springs, FL 34134
  10. Grandezza, Estero, FL 33928
  11. The Plantation Golf & Country Club, Fort Myers, FL 33913
  12. Wildcat Run Golf & Country Club, Estero, FL 33928
  13. Talis Park, Naples, FL 34110
  14. Bay Colony Golf Club, Naples, FL 34108
  15. Twin Eagles, Naples, FL 34120
  16. Heritage Palms Golf & Country Club, Fort Myers, FL
  17. Tiburon, Naples, FL 34109
  18. The Quarry, Naples, FL 34120
  19. Paseo, Fort Myers, FL 33912
  20. The Preserve at Corkscrew, Estero, FL 33928
  21. Lely Resort
  22. Heritage Bay Golf and Country Club
  23. Burnt Store Marina
  24. Bella Terra
  25. Vineyards
  26. Village Walk
  27. Verandah
  28. Treviso Bay
  29. Pelican Preserve
  30. Shadow Wood & Shadow Wood Preserve
  31. Esplanade
  32. Pelican Bay


Dec. 11, 2015

Four Tips to Help Find and Work with an Out of State Realtor

Having to search for a home out of state can be difficult. Advantages at your disposal when looking for a home in a town or city you have lived in for years are no longer available once you decide to shop out of state, such as knowing where the good school systems are located, how property taxes have changed, and where that one of a kind home can be found. No matter where you live and where you want to buy a home, Orchid Realty wants to help you find a realtor who is able to help.

Orchid Realty serves home buyesmall jen purplers in Southwest Florida, a part of the United States that attracts many out of state home buyers every year. If you’re looking to buy a home in our part of the country, we hope you will contact us as you interview realtors. No matter where you are buying a home, these four tips from Orchid’s staff will help you evaluate and work with a realtor that will be your most valuable resource.


  1. Choose a Realtor with a Network of Contacts

Rather than make ten separate calls to different businesses and services providers you will need as part of buying a home, make just one call – to a well-connected realtor. It’s important to work with a real estate team that has cultivated the contacts who can help you during any phase of the home buying process. Orchid Realty’s relationships with interior designers, attorneys, general contractors, handymen, and roofers make it so our clients save time. Our strong network of service related people become our buyer’s network so they have peace of mind on who to call once they move in to their beautiful home or even before the closing like working with an attorney or lender. Make sure you choose a realtor with a list of vendors and service providers who are local to the area.

TIP: While a realtor may not want to share their entire list of contacts, it’s not out of the question to ask for a few contacts that you can reach out to independently and evaluate on your own.

  1. Find a Realtor Who Understands Your Lifestyle

People buy homes with different intentions. Make sure your realtor understands yours. Buyers should work with a real estate team that has agents who can relate to the lifestyle you want to create in your new home, a person who understands why you are buying: for leisure, for family, as an investment. In Southwest Florida a home buyer will need to know the options a home in a gated community brings versus ungated neighborhoods. Orchid Realty has designated agents that focus on gated communities, golf communities, properties close to the beach, and even starter homes or luxury condos. A realtor should align you with a property based on your needs, and the best way to guarantee you’re getting this is to work with a realtor who has been down that road before.

TIP: Before sharing your favorite neighborhoods (if you have them), ask your potential realtor to share theirs. See if these recommendations match the area you have in mind.  

  1. Look for Great Communication at the Start

Buyers should work with real estate agents that know how to work remotely, which includes promptly responding to messages: email, phone calls, and texts. It’s possible to buy a home out of state, from home tours to closing, without ever boarding a plane. This only works if your realtor is a great extension at helping you from afar. We all have different communication styles, even real estate agents. Some of us know how to leverage digital communication to overcome the challenges of working with the home buyer who is not face to face.

TIP: Never feel pressured to stick with a realtor if the communication begins to break down. As deadlines loom and documents start to stack up, you want to make sure you feel like you’re a realtor’s top priority.

  1. A Realtor with an Intricate Knowledge of the Areas is Essential


All cities and towns have their quirks. Some homes are part of a historic districts and include construction restrictions. Other home, like those in Florida, have Home Owners Associations (HOA) and rules to follow as part of a gated community. These nuances can be confusing to buyers not familiar with their area of interest. It’s best to know about these details in advance, so you can make informed purchasing decisions. The only way that will happen is by working with a realtor who has an intricate knowledge of the area.


TIP: At your first meeting with a potential real estate agent, always ask about the special considerations that a home buyer must weigh to live in your specific area of interest.

We can’t overstate how important it is to evaluate an out of state realtor before deciding to work with them. A great looking website or well-spoken sales person isn’t all it takes to make your home buying process a success. Those are good sign posts to guide you toward a fantastic realtor, but make sure to go the extra mile in getting to know the person on the other side of the phone call or Skype conference call. If you find yourself in need of a realtor in Southwest Florida, give a realtor from Orchid Realty a call: 239-849-2230. We’d love to be among those you consider to help you buy a home in Southwest Florida.

Dec. 7, 2015

The Easiest Way to Buy a Florida Home When You’re Out of State

Partner with a real estate agent you trust; one who knows their market and puts your interests at the top of their list.

Finding your place to vacation, your rental property, or your new primary residence is difficult if you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away from where you want to buy. How do you find a property in your budget and in a neighborhood that meets the items on your wish list? The fact is, shopping for a home when you’re out of state will always include additional stresses, but adding a trusted real estate agent to your team can eliminate many of the problems you would have to figure out alone.

Orchid Realty Group’s out of state clients work with us because of our years of experience in Southwest Florida. You may have first fallen in love with Southwest Florida’s picturesque shorelines and idyllic winter climate from one of our favorite stress free vantage points: being a tourist. Now, you’ve decided to call Florida home, and we know there’s a lot to consider and more at stake with your new investment. You want to live in a great neighborhood, and there are many great neighborhoods in Southwest Florida. How do you find the one that’s right for you? That’s where Orchid Realty can help, especially using our list of Top Rated Gated Communities in Southwest Florida.

There’s a lot of general information online about this year’s housing market. You may have read from the National Association of Realtors website that the average home listing remains on the market for 39 days. What does this mean to an out of state home buyer? General facts will only get you so far. Your local real estate agent will give you specifics about the area you want live. Orchid Realty can help you understand details related to taxes and fees, home values, and price changes in Southwest Florida. For instance, new construction and new business growth is creating new desirable locations to call home in our area. This is making it advantageous to buy in areas where outdated satellite images and street views might show only a tree line. Our page on new construction in Southwest Florida is regularly updated, and we recommend keeping it as a reference.

With everything you have to do to find a home in Florida, make sure meeting with a real estate agent is one of the first items on your list. Please fill out our contact form if you’re interested in scheduling a helpful call to learn how Orchid Realty can make this process the easiest way to buy a home in Florida. You can also just give us a call at 239-849-2230. We’re here to help.18200 Via Bellamare Aerial 9553

Aug. 25, 2015

Don’t Let Wall Street Deter Your Investing

Why You Should Invest in Southwest Florida Real Estate


On Monday, Wall Street experienced some turmoil as numbers continued to drop amid aggressive selling due largely because of the uncertainty of China and the absence of good economic news in general. In fact trading was halted 1,200 times on Monday! Tuesday has seen a turnaround as China slashes interest rates in an effort to boost economic growth. Overall, Wall Street remains fearful of the global economic status, and although the numbers of the last few days might make you think we’ve stepped into a time machine and gone back to 2007-2008, though currently, economically we are more stable. The housing market remains strong, and according to CNN: “homes, not stocks and bonds are the biggest investment Americans make. And that investment is doing very well…home prices nationally are up 4.4%.” It’s a great time to buy a home in Southwest Florida right now. Interest rates remain low (although are expected to rise this fall), new construction is on the rise and improving jobs and rising rents are contributing to the stability of the market. In fact, only 1/3 of the housing market is dominated by investors, meaning that the rest of the emerging buyer population is taking advantage of the low interest rates and investing in the housing market. Investment in Real Estate at this time is a savvy investor’s best investment. Here in Southwest Florida the real estate market continues to recover with low inventory in popular gated communities such as Miromar Lakes, The Plantation and Renaissance Country Club. Home prices are on the rise in Southwest Florida, from Naples to Fort Myers. If you are thinking of buying, now is the time! Contact me today for a free market analysis, or to schedule a private showing.

Aug. 21, 2015

New Construction: WildBlue in Fort Myers, Florida

Explore New Construction in Southwest Florida: WildBlue

Miromar Lakes’ newest proposed neighbor is WildBlue, a future development planned by Private Equity Group that will provide a unique opportunity for environmental restoration and beautiful residences surrounding three expansive lakes.

WildBlue is located between Alico and Corkscrew Roads, east of I-75 and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway. The property was formerly owned by Bobby Ginn but was lost in 2010 to land foreclosure. The site is a former limestone mine and is surrounded by conservation land. The plan includes restoring the Stewart Cypress Slough and donating 488 acres to Lee County for a regional park.

WildBlue, at build-out, will be home to 1,100 (maximum) residences. The planned development is supposed to get underway in late 2016 and will offer lifestyle amenities such as a clubhouse, restaurant, pool, lakefront beach, and boat club. In addition the recreational opportunities offered by the three large lakes will be endless! Much like its nearby neighboring community, Miromar Lakes, WildBlue is anticipated to be very attractive to buyers looking for the Florida lifestyle with sun, fun and boating at the forefront of the amenities.

There are many wonderful communities and new construction options throughout Southwest Florida. If you would like to learn more about the possibilities for your next home, please email me.

wildblue sitemap

Aug. 19, 2015

Real Estate Myths in Southwest Florida

Top Realtor Debunks Real Estate Myths in Southwest Florida

As a top producing real estate team in the Southwest Florida market, we often encounter buyers and sellers who have a misconception about the local market or the services Realtors provide. There are three myths that we deal with most often and I’ve debunked them here:

Myth 1: As a buyer, I’ll do the home search process myself so I don’t have to pay a real estate agent’s commission.

Debunked: In Southwest Florida (as it is in most parts of the US and world) the seller pays the commission on both sides of the transaction. As a buyer your right to be professionally represented and have the expertise of a Realtor on your side comes free of charge. Choose wisely and pick someone who knows the lay of the land. In Southwest Florida, we have a vast geography so an agent who specializes in Venice and Sarasota will most likely not be familiar and knowledgeable with Naples and Bonita Springs. Check out your Realtor’s website and make sure your area of interest is covered by their purview. For instance, we specialize in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Estero, Bonita Springs and Naples. Also, ask questions and answer your Realtor’s questions. If they are going to find you the home of your dreams be sure you accurately tell them what you are looking for and what you can afford!

Myth 2: If I want to live on or near the water I better be a billionaire!

Debunked: While it’s generally true that the closer you get to blue in Southwest Florida, the more green you’ll need to pony up – we do have many affordable waterfront or very close to water homes. The homes for sale in Cape Coral and Fort Myers offer an abundance of residential options near or overlooking the water that will knock your socks off but not burn a hole in your pockets! You can also choose a boating community and keep a boat at your private dock or a nearby boat/yacht club and access the great outdoors and some of Southwest Florida’s finest shelling, waterfront dining, shopping, etc any day of the week. Let us show you the blue and you tell us if you’ve got enough green for it!

Myth 3: If I live in a Southwest Florida gated community, the fees I pay will be absurd.

Debunked: I’m not going to sugarcoat it, we do have very luxurious and expensive top rated gated communities in Southwest Florida. BUT, we also have affordable homes in affordable communities. Many of the Homeowner Associations even include the lawn and landscaping maintenance, cable, internet, pest control and access to community amenities such as resort style pools and tiki bars, tennis, fitness centers, spas and more! It’s difficult to recommend communities without knowing your threshold for quarterly or monthly fees. Tell us what you’re willing to pay for HOA fees and what kind of amenities you hope to have access to and we’ll find you homes inside the Southwest Florida communities that fit the bill.

Hopefully you’re seeing a trend from these three common myths that I’ve debunked. Real estate in Southwest Florida is affordable, accessible, and can be purchased by you while you are represented by a professional Realtor, like me! Send me an email and let’s setup a time to discuss your Southwest Florida real estate needs.

Aug. 13, 2015

New Construction: Coral Lakes, Cape Coral, Florida New Homes for Sale

Explore New Construction in Southwest Florida: Coral Lakes

coral lakes in Cape CoralCoral Lakes is located in the Northeast Cape area just off of Del Prado Blvd. Single family and townhomes are nestled amongst sparkling lakes inside this gated community. This planned development offers comfortable amenities and quality homes at affordable prices. Currently, there are new homes for sale built by Lennar in Coral Lakes.


Residents of Coral Lakes enjoy an active lifestyle. Choose to complete your daily exercise in Coral Lakes at the full size soccer field, softball field, tennis courts, basketball courts, and more within the sports complex. Mingle with your neighbors at the nearly 5000 sq. ft. clubhouse that features a large resort style pool, fitness center, meeting rooms and kiddie pool. The convenience and security of a gated community, coupled with these nice amenities are both provided for a reasonable HOA fee  in Coral Lakes of $330-$700 per quarter depending on home.

Residential Options:

Coral Lakes has comfortable townhomes and single family homes for sale. Prices start in the mid $100s and go into the mid $300s. The townhomes were built by Engle Homes and many of the single family homes were built by Lennar. Treat yourself to a wonderful vacation or full time residence in this nicely appointed Cape Coral, Florida gated community.

Here are the current homes for sale in Coral Lakes. If you are interested in seeing these homes, contact me to learn more.

If you or someone you know is interested in the new construction communities of Southwest Florida, contact me to learn more.

Aug. 3, 2015

Pet friendly living in Southwest Florida

puppy-1340078Get the pooper scoop on pet friendly living in Southwest Florida!

We work with buyers and renters all the time who have a dog (or 4) or a few cats and need to determine whether they can move into a certain condo or neighborhood and what quality of life Fido or Fancy will have when their owner makes the move to Southwest Florida. The truth is that we're moving more and more toward very pet friendly living in Southwest Florida.

Many of our restaurants and shops/malls are outdoors and welcoming to furry friends. They often have water stations, bowls for use, bags for picking up after your friends, etc. ready to provide to pet lovers. As long as your pets are well behaved, bringing them out in public is acceptable and often times welcomed. They may also meet some nice friends while out! Southwest Florida also has several dog beaches, parks, and play areas that are a great pass-time on the weekends.

So where do we come in? Not all homeowner's associations and neighborhoods are pet friendly or they may have limits on your pet allotment. Perhaps it's a weight limit or a quantity/breed limit or they may only allow cats or dogs and no other animals. We can help provide guidance on which Southwest Florida neighborhoods, communities, and subdivisions allow pets and what limits exist. Drop us a line about your pet(s) and Southwest Florida real estate - we look forward to helping you find a great home for you and Fido!

Posted in Buyers, HOA Fees
July 31, 2015

5 Reasons you should Buy instead of Rent a Home in Southwest Florida

Home Ownership vs. Renting in Southwest Florida

cold wintersWe receive phone calls daily leading into what we call "Southwest Florida Season" for rental availability. As the chilly fall days blow into the northern states, our email becomes inundated with requests for 1 week to 6 months in a sunny SWFL rental. Unfortunately, most of our rentals book up long before the warm northern summer ends and we rarely have anything left by the time the leaves start to fall. So what can you do if you are dreading this coming winter but cannot find a rental? Buy of course - buying a home in Southwest Florida is a very smart idea and here's the top 5 reasons why:

1. Build equity instead of someone else's!

home equity in southwest floridaThe majority of rentals we often have available are located in the Top Rated Gated Communities of Southwest Florida. This is a great thing in terms of amenities and quality of home available to renters; however, these homes and locations also come with a premium rental price. Most of our rentals are between $3,000 and $20,000 per month. When you consider the average rental is typically 2-3 months long you can quickly see how the rental income adds up. So instead of providing that revenue to a homeowner, cover your own annual carrying costs in a home you own that builds equity over time. Prices on average should rise 4-5% per year; however we've been seeing growth at a much higher rate (7-9%)  in Southwest Florida.

2. Earn rental income when you're not using it

While it's true that you can charge more for the winter (seasonal months) in a rental (income property), it does not mean you won't make anything to rent it in the off season months! If you plan to use your vacation home most of the winter, rent it during the summer and fall. There are great websites where you can handle this yourself, like (Vacation Rentals by Owner) or you can enlist the services of Orchid Realty Group at Keller Williams to help find your renters and execute the leases! Many of our homeowners use rental income to cover their annual carrying costs (HOA fees, taxes, etc.).

3. You'll have more friends than ever before

We kid a little that friends you never knew you had come out of the woodwork when you buy a vacation home in SWFL, but why not capitalize on it. Rent to your friends and family members when you're not utilizing your new piece of paradise for short term or long term. Don't be afraid to collect departure cleaning fees and charge all of the applicable rents, taxes, etc. with your friends and family -- just because you know them does not necessarily mean they should stay for free. You can explain that the fees are county and state regulation so it takes the pressure off of you but allows you to capitalize on all the new-found friends you'll have!

4. Prices and interest rates are still favorable but that could change soon

We are constantly analyzing inventory and market conditions. Prices have been creeping up largely due to low supply here in Southwest Florida. Buyers are still active and maybe more so than in recent years but there aren't nearly as many homes for sale. When supply is low and demand is high, prices rise! The Fed is also speculated to make a slight hike in interest rates this fall. Get in now before prices and interest rates change.

southwest florida sunshine5. Less stress, more sunshine

I'm not sure you can put a price tag or value on not having to stress about where you'll rent in Southwest Florida this coming winter. Some of our customers are lucky to stay in the same rental year over year; others contact us and have rented in just about every Southwest Florida city: Sarasota, Venice, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Naples, Marco Island and anywhere in between! The stress doesn't end when you find a rental, in fact, most of our customers start worrying about where they'll stay the next year on the first day they arrive for this year's rental! Save yourself the stress of searching and hunting for your upcoming rental and just enjoy the sunshine this year.

To conclude, there are many reasons why buying makes more sense than renting. Largely you can stress less, build equity, earn rental income, and make new friends! Drop us a line if we can help you with your Southwest Florida real estate needs!

Posted in Buyers, Income Property
July 17, 2015

New Construction: Marina Bay, Fort Myers New Homes

Explore New Construction in Southwest Florida: Marina Bay

Marina Bay is a new GL Homes development located on Treeline Ave close to several shops and dining facilities as well as Jet Blue Park. The neighborhood is comprised of villas and single family homes from the mid $200s.

marina bay fort myersAmenities:

Marina Bay offers a 12,000 sq. ft. clubhouse with a fitness center, indoor sports court, resort style pool, cabanas, lap pool, fire pit, tot lot, and tennis center with three lighted Har-Tru courts. Residents also enjoy a full size basketball court, social hall & catering kitchen, game room, card room, and party pavilion. Use the amenity center for family fun and gatherings year round!

Residential Options:

Twin villas offer two bedrooms (some with a den) and two bathrooms, the range in size from 1428 sq. ft. to 1857 sq. ft. They have open floor concepts with great rooms, screened and covered patios and two car garages. Prices start in the mid $200s and range just over $300,000.

The single family options have anywhere from two bedrooms to 5 bedrooms and prices start in the high $200s and range over $500,000. Sizes range from 1985 sq. ft. to nearly 3400 sq. ft.

Here are the current homes for sale in Marina Bay. If you are interested in seeing these homes, contact me to learn more.

If you or someone you know is interested in the new construction communities of Southwest Florida, contact me to learn more.