I couldn’t help but look back to this time of year as a kid growing up when we carved pumpkins and watched horror movies on Chiller Theater that left us so scared that every creak and sound we heard in our home had us diving under the covers somehow thinking we wouldn’t be seen by these creatures of the night. What Halloween would be complete without Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Dracula and a supporting cast of Ghouls, Mummies, Werewolfs, Ghosts, Witches and Vampires! After working ourselves into a terrified frenzy the thought of putting out the garbage that night was the last thing you wanted to hear your mom ask you to do. “Mom can’t it wait until morning, I really don’t want to be burned at the stake?”
We dressed up as our favorite creatures, sports heroes and celebrities. Guys dressed as girls, girls dressed as guys and we even dressed up like old geezers, which at that time anyone over 30 years of age qualified.
We freely roamed our neighborhood streets filling our shopping bags so full of candy it would take decades to consume, while keeping most dentists gainfully employed. And of course the ammunition of the day was a carton of eggs, cans of shaving cream, sticks of chalk and a sock full of flour. You never had to ask which home didn’t hand out candy, as the dreaded chalk mark on the sidewalk indicated no one was home and as a consequence for being so unthoughtful typically resulted in the owner being seen washing off the salvo of eggs from the night before.
It was fun trick or treating in disguise when no one knew who you were and the stories told the following day from that special Halloween night were priceless. It also gave us the opportunity to express ourselves in ways that were fun, carefree and creative. However, despite our unique way of expressing ourselves we seemed to bond a little bit closer.
This year has been a year of adjustment. For many it has been a year of despair and others a time of reflection. However, one thing I think we can all agree on is that it is a time when we are focusing on our differences rather than what has brought us together. Just like those horror movies we watched as kids that depicted creatures we knew not from where they came, today we are seeing different kinds of monsters who are tormenting us 24 hours a day.
Back then we could put our monsters back in the closet until the following year, the kind we are facing today think they are here to stay. They are dressed differently and walk amongst us both day and night. When we got scared we pulled the covers over our heads, today I hear kids say they don’t want to hear what is going on in our country or around the world as it sounds too scary.
I’m not sure how we got so off track, but when I think of so many wonderful things we have to enjoy that are found in community events, family and friends it seems like those are the things we need to take back out of the closet labeled “Taking for Granted,” and realize our fondest childhood recollections are within easy reach with lots of great memories still to be made.
While this year’s Halloween may be a little different, it can still be one that will be fun to enjoy and give us that emotional break we all could use. Just make sure you keep an eye out for those creatures in the night when you hear those terrifying words, “Honey, can you take out the garbage!
During this time many discovered they could work remotely and with management seeing no drop off in productivity, employees as well as entrepreneurs started to relocate south to areas such as Florida and Texas. New contracts for single-family homes in Charlotte County were up 41% in August compared to this time last year. Single family homes are the “crème de la crème” vs condos and townhomes because most feel it is not only easier to social distance in a house, but weren’t quite ready to give up homeownership and downsize into a condominium.
With inventory levels so low, if there was ever a time in which to sell your home, this would be it! As of July, the median is 49 days on the market, a trend that is 9 days less from last year, and I see it moving lower in the next few months. Looking at sales of homes over the last year, the market in our area is highly active. In July of 2019, there were 345 homes sold in our area where for July 2020 we had 488 sales. Recently Punta Gorda was in the top 3 cities for people who are relocating to Florida. A lot of interest in our housing market is coming from people relocating from the north looking to escape the harsh winter weather and high taxes, but with concerns from this pandemic are looking to move to areas with less congestion where they can work remotely and avoid mass transit. With the influx of those moving to the area competition is fierce which has resulted in the median price of homes rising to $237,450. So not only are our sales looking good, but the price of our homes are attractive as well. Homes valued in the $250,000-$350,000 range are the most popular among buyers right now.
With mortgage rates at record lows, some buyers who are self -employed are having a harder time qualifying due additional qualifying guidelines stemming from the impact of the pandemic. Others are challenged in trying to get pre-qualified fast enough in order to submit offers quickly on what has become a very limited supply of inventory. Buyers shopping for a home in our area should first get pre-approved so they know what they CAN buy. Second, you need that pre-approval or proof of funds letter as sellers don’t want to tie up their properties for those who can’t qualify. In short, get pre-qualified and if you see a house you better act on it. If you are someone who has a hard time making up your mind now is not the time to just be looking. Homes have hit the market and are immediately going under contract when priced well and buyers are trying to make their offers very attractive in order to outbid their competition.
An article I read recently, “More Buyers Nix Inspections as Bidding Wars Heat Up”, a Redfin agent study found that almost one in five offers (19.9%) waived the inspection contingency to make their offers more attractive. This study was done with agents in select major US markets. The previous year it was 13.2%. Although, I understand why some are doing this I do feel this is a major part of home buying not to skimp on.
We have a good education system, good government and we offer a vibrant waterfront town with many medical options nearby and our crime is low. It is just a great place to live and why we love to call it home!
If you’re like me it seems every time you turn on the t.v. or pick up a newspaper there is nothing but negative news. If it isn’t the Coronavirus it is the political and racial divisiveness that is making front page news. The left is yelling at you “we want change,” the right is screaming “come to your senses.” Can’t I just be left alone? And let’s not forget about the stock market. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think any Disney World roller coaster ride has anything over the highs and lows we are seeing in the stock market. One day it is up 800 points and the next day it is down 400. What is going on with this country we live in? Can’t we just go back to the way things used to be?Call me an eternal optimist, but for some time I decided to take a step back and take a look at things from a different perspective. Sure, I have my opinions, but what if I quieted down the entire minutia and got back to the basics of what were the most fond moments of my youth? What I found was without all the clamor the very things I held most dear I was having an opportunity to experience again. I, too, got caught up in the rat race of everyday life and the simple things I thought of most I was now being given another opportunity to enjoy.
I was forced to slow down and savor each day and the friends we have made along the way . It was the same feeling I had after working in the “concrete jungle” of New York City and coming to Florida 21 years ago. It was like a breath of fresh air that afforded us a quality of life we didn’t have in New York because of the fast paced lifestyle. Unfortunately like most, we got so caught up with work and projects around the home we didn’t take the time to savor the life we found those twenty one years ago. However, the Coronavirus changed all that and we’ve not only had an opportunity to reflect on what really matters in life, but how fortunate we really are.
Closer to home in the smaller cities like Venice and Punta Gorda you are seeing the embrace of a community and a quiet enthusiasm that is translating into new developments and business. Once seen only as places to escape the cold weather up north, we are now seeing somewhat of an exodus from those looking to escape the high taxes and congestion for a better way of life.
I sat down to interview Mark and Leigh McCann who are Captains with Allegiant Airlines . In fact, Leigh is the most tenured Captain in Punta Gorda that has 38 Captains based here and 36 First Officers. According to Mark and Leigh, air travel dropped in March, but came back in May and June very strong. Out of the 186 passengers the planes can hold, they were flying typically with 170 passengers and sometimes more!
Back in 2007 & 2008 when airlines were suffering from the downturn in the economy, Allegiant was the only profitable airline and up to this pandemic had 70 consecutive quarters of profitability. While the stimulus was supposed to keep the airline industry running through September, like many airlines, Allegiant had plans to furlough an estimated 30% of its pilots however, now there is not only no plans to furlough anyone, they are training new pilots.
Mark and Leigh continued by saying while other airlines are downsizing and pulling out of marginal routes, Allegiant will have an opportunity to pick up new routes and more equipment (planes). The attribute Allegiant’s success to tourist or pleasure travel, not business travel and said they have developed a loyal passenger base.
Turning our conversation to Sunseeker, Mark went on to say, we have a connection to this community, and for all the positives that Allegiant is doing for the community by bringing passengers from various points around the country to our area, the last thing they want is to be tied to a failed project. H e said while it was important to make sure the airline remained on solid ground during this time, which led them to delaying the development of Sunseeker , the 18 month delay was seen as a conservative estimate and that they hope to resume the project prior to then . He said as a company they are cautiously optimistic, but optimistic nevertheless!
Turning back to the real estate market and it’s upturn in activity, RE/MAX Harbor had 61 showings for the month of May, however that number dramatically increased in June to 458! Yes, people are still looking to move from the large cities where this pandemic has had them reconsider their routine of day to day activities. They are finding out what we’ve known all along…. “Quality of life.” And it comes from moving to those smaller, quaint towns with a feel of community.
In speaking with those in the RV and marine industries, sales have increased dramatically and as one representative from a local marine company said, “We just can’t find any new or used boats to meet the demand.”And most recently, Punta Gorda was named #2 in USA Today’s Readers Choice Awards for “Best Small Town Food Scene.”
All this and more is why we love living in Southwest Florida and why others are choosing to do so as well. As we soar through 2020, all the ups and downs, I think something we can all agree that truly matters is our faith, family, sense of community, and stopping to focus on all the good around us.
Most will find from our monthly newsletters that I tend to look at life through my years as a youth. It was a special time when you could savor the simple things life had to offer and take those exciting moments and defeats a bit more in stride. Of course we didn’t have families to support, financial responsibilities to meet, and those never-ending deadlines that collectively seemed to have stolen those precious moments of reflection and appreciation from our lives. We just savored the simple pleasures of life, oftentimes taking them for granted. I always considered myself a “summer kid,” as my fondest recollections revolved around summers spent outdoors at our home on Shelter Island, New York.
After what seemed like an eternity being confined indoors due to harsh winter weather, I couldn’t wait for spring to arrive with the awakening of its colorful plants and trees signaling summer was just around the corner. It was like watching a black and white picture come to life with color and air that smelled so fresh and clean. Once again we were outdoors looking forward to endless hours of bike riding, the start of the little league season, and a host of other outdoor activities along with those special holidays of Mother’s Day and Easter.
This year we are experiencing a different kind of spring, and one not so different in some ways from those I experienced as a child. While we are starting to “awaken” from the “confinement” we’ve experienced over the past few months and resume our “physical” connection with friends, I think we are doing it with a greater appreciation for our home life, our families and the friends who make our lives so special.
During these past few months, I’ve seen couples taking walks hand in hand, families bicycling and kayaking together, neighbors celebrating cocktail hour on the quiet streets in which they live, and with joyful amazement, I watched a group of couples from the condos across the water from our home dancing on the lawn and docks to songs from years gone by. There is no doubt in my mind, while we are experiencing a very different chapter in our lives; our inherent desire to be socially connected and enjoy the simple pleasures life affords us has not changed.
While we are adjusting to our new way of life in how we live, work and play, I find myself saying “History has a way of repeating itself,” and I’m not going to squander the lessons learned from this reset. I am going to savor my times with friends and family, along with the blessings I received, with a renewed appreciation long after the challenges we currently face have passed. I also feel our community will be the beneficiary of this renewed personal connection with each other. I sense more of a community spirit as we look to support those local businesses fighting to stay alive while doing their best to serve the community. Like many I speak to, there is a pent up desire for people to embrace their communities and each other during this time with a spirit of “We’ll get through this together.”
In an article I recently read by internationally acclaimed speaker and bestselling author John O’Leary, he describes a conversation he had with his grandfather during lunch twenty years ago that changed his perception of the meaning of success. With vivid detail he recalls his grandfather’s question, “Do you know why they call my generation the “Greatest Generation?” It isn’t because we survived the Great Depression…. It’s not because we served in World War II…..It’s not because we came home and built the most productive society in the history of the world. They call us the Greatest Generation because we never forgot all the lessons learned along the way. The Depression taught us to value the little things and to live within our means. The war taught us what real evil looked like, what real sacrifice looked like, what real heroism looked like.”
John continues, “The Greatest Generations conception has much in common with the situation we find ourselves in now…. The collapsing markets and soaring unemployment witnessed by my grandfather evolved into the practice of appreciating the little things, living within their means, and taking nothing for granted.
Likewise, we have the opportunity to shift into this mindset for the long haul, instead of shifting back to the over-scheduled, over-extended, avaricious society we found ourselves in before we were rocked by shelter in place orders.”
He concludes by saying, “Although the journey forward remains unclear, the Greatest Generation reminds us that what defines a society during adversity is not only how they respond in the midst of it, but whether they afterward apply the lessons they’ve learned from it.“
This is just one of the many lessons I’ve learned and one I remind myself that “All is well.”