I recently finally went over to the US. It was hard to explain to everyone that we owned a house there, and yet neither of us had actually even visited the area. At least one of us had been to the country before! But I myself had never been to the great USA, and what an experience it was. It really was amazing to actually see it first hand, the town of Fort Myers was nothing like I really expected it to be, even though I had been reading about it, looking at photos and everything over the past couple of years, it still looked completely different to what I had imagined.
Overall it was a great trip, at first I thought it was a great success, I was able to set up a bank account for my LLC, meet with a mortgage broker who was very positive about getting finance for our next property, and of course got to actually see our property for the first time in Huntdale! Oh and I also had an offer that was accepted on a property I saw while I was over there, so all in all it seemed like a great trip.
Unfortunately soon after I landed I found out the bank had made a mistake setting up my bank account and it had to be closed. I will not go into too many details and will cover it in another article. But it is one of the most frustrating experiences I have had trying to set up a bank account in the US.
Anyway, back to the first visit in Fort Myers. What were my first impressions of the city. Well, everything was big, except houses. Roads were all big, seemed to have 4 lane highways everywhere, everyone seemed to drive big trucks, big blocks of land, large shopping centres, everything was big! But then the houses were not as big as what I had expected. During the housing boom in Sydney everyone seemed to build mansions, and I figured something similar happened in the US during the boom, but all the houses were similar. They all seemed to have an open plan living, dining and kitchen area with a small hallway that lead to 2 or 3 bedrooms.
The big eye opener was just the state some people leave their houses in when they leave, I had heard stories about people trashing their houses when they are forced to leave, but it was not so much that, it was just lots of small things, like people taking shower curtains, door knobs, toilet seats, and just general dirtiness throughout the house. Also the workmanship of a lot of the construction left a lot to be desired, saw a lot of poorly laid carpet, mix matching tiles and just generally poor construction.
It was also a big eye opener to see first hand the differences between the good areas and bad areas. I remember looking for our first house we must have queried our property manager about 100 properties at least, and she would have rejected about 90 of them! Claiming they were in poor areas, and yet they did not look too far away, but now I can see for myself that you can go from good area to bad area when you go from one street to the next. But if you are in the know and you can find the good areas, you can definitely find good properties are good value. I can see how a lot of people have been fooled into paying too much for a property. I rember one property which looked amazing, it was very well looked after and seemed very nice, but it was at the Northern end in Cape Coral, a long way from Fort Myers, so it was selling for $150,000, but there were similar quality prices in North Fort Myers (much closer to the city) for only $80,000. For some reason Cape Coral has high prices, simply because it is in Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres is a lot cheaper and is a similar distance away from the city.
I will write a few more articles on my adventures in USA and will also divulge more about the property I did end up purchasing while I was over there. And also more about how frustrating the US Banking system is!