Sunday, June 30, 2013

Choosing your real estate agent: How long have you been a real estate agent? Why this is not the right question...

I have written multiple times on the topic of "How to choose your real estate agent."  Several discussed the real estate agent interview process and questions you should expect as well as ask every agent.

One of the most over used questions when choosing a real estate agent is this one - "How long have you been a real estate agent?"

Why is this not the best question?

Length of licensure is a lessor concern.  What comes to mind if you hear a doctor saying "Been in medicine for fifty years."  If they are practicing medicine as they did in 1960 then there may be an issue.

Sometimes "How long?" becomes a focus when the real focus should be "How successful?" 

Keeping a real estate license current in the state of Florida, after initial licensing, is a matter of taking the required continuing education courses and paying a fee every two years.  Why don't they add some type of verifiable experience?

When it is time to choose your real estate agent, follow these links to articles you may want to consider.
  1. Selecting your real estate agent by asking the right questions.
  2. Why do you ask all these questions?
  3. The best real estate agent can communicate like a child.
  4. Choose a real estate agent who understands it is all about you!
  5. Selling your home should not become your life!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Real Estate in 2013: The time has come to.... change.

The changing market has placed many buyers in a position where they must do one of two things.

Choice one, change expectations.  The day of finding the move in ready home with a discounted price has gone the way of the pay telephone.  The home for pennies on the dollar is not to be found in Brevard County, Florida.  An honest evaluation of need versus want is required.

Choice two, change the budget.  This is an option that may not be as easily changed as one's expectations.  If a buyer starts out at the maximum approved level then they have little choice here unless they have the cash to put more down on a purchase.

When considering a home purchase one must be aware of the environment.  Where are interest rates going"  Last week the 30 year rates increased a half percent.  Increasing rates result in decreased purchase power for those obtaining a mortgage.

Add to the equation increasing prices and the longer a buyer waits the less they will be able to purchase.

So, are you ready to buy that house?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Increasing interest rates, increasing home prices, increasing anxiety

While listening to the news today there it was - increasing interest rates and increasing home prices. 

Add to that the increasing anxiety among some buyers and you could have a formula for trouble.

The positive direction of the market is a good thing.  Prices were depressed for several years and home values are starting to climb and bring some from their underwater situations.  Interest rates have been at historical lows for some time.  Now the buzz is an anticipation of rising rates.  And with increasing interest rates comes the loss of purchasing power.

It was not that long ago I used this graphic in a post to encourage prospective buyers to get off the fence:

I still want to encourage prospective buyers to consider buying. 

However, don't get caught up in a bidding war caused by multiple offer situations.  In a changing market you  remain in charge of your decision.

Know your budget, know your limits....control what you can!  And if you are considering buying a home in Florida, call me at 321-693-3850 if I can help in any way.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Why do I need a real estate agent to sell my home?

We know there is more to the selling a house than putting a sign up and depositing a check.  But many sellers fail to understand all that is involved.  Often these are the homeowners who decide to take the For Sale By Owner challenge.

Some who have sold a home using a knowledgeable real estate professional may not even realize all that is involved in a sale such as preparation, pricing, promotion, presentation to prospective buyers, negotiations, written offers/counteroffers, deadlines, inspections and more.
I have heard some agents say Realtors® save sellers all the the stress of what goes into a transaction which is not always a good thing.   Some agents believe they must seller every minute detail of what they do.  Maybe they see this as a way to justify their real estate fee.

I don't believe my customers want to know all that I do.  Sure I believe in communicating and providing updates but not every time I do something to market their home.

I believe sellers want one thing - a sale where they receive the most money possible for their home in a time that meets their goals with as little stress and disruption as possible.

I am alright with my seller clients who after closing think I did not have to work all that hard.  Because in those cases I know the transaction satisfied their needs and the process was "uneventful" from their view.

To get the most money possible with little stress and disruption to your daily life shows you had a professional real estate agent.

If you are considering selling your Brevard County, Florida home, give me a call for a free evaluation and market analysis.

Hire a professional, get professional results.  Pretty simple.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Khaki pants are timeless, wallpaper is not!

I previewed a house this morning that, although older, had supposedly benefited from "some updating."  After I left I had only one question...

What updating?

I have run into this before in the form of "newer" air conditioners or roofs.   A lot of these cases refer to roofing that was replaced after our last bout of hurricanes back in 2004.

When it comes to selling a home the recentness (is that a word?) of updates makes a difference to the buyer and in the price.  

If you are considering updating your house before selling it I suggest you take a look at probably the most important two areas of a home - the kitchen and the bathrooms (especially the master suite).

And the updates do not have to be major or costly.  Look at counter surfaces, appliances, re-facing cabinets and the like as potential targets. Lastly, paint and wall paper tastes seem to change more quickly than many other components.    Leave the 70s in the 70s, please! 

A decade ago I wore khaki pants.  I wear khaki pants today as well which is quite alright because....  Khaki pants are timeless, wallpaper is not!

Back to the "some updating" comment in the real estate advertising.  Perhaps the term they should use is "relatively newer!" 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What is the real estate market saying?

The Brevard County, Florida market is now a seller's market.   Buyers are learning that to buy now means competing with others.

It seems there are always a couple of buyers for every property my customers find they really like.  So far this month the average days on the market for closed sales in Brevard County is 77 days (median 34 days).  Properties are not sitting.

As for prices consider this, residential sales in Brevard County during June 1-19, 2012 , the average selling price was $154,510.  For the same period this year it is $164,719.

I am not the real estate whisperer but if I could hear the market speaking I think the words would be something like this...
  • If you are serious about buying make the offer now or it will be gone.
  • If you are making an offer, make it a serious offer with as few contingencies as required.
  • Sellers looking to move up should sell now and buy the replacement property before prices increase further.
  • Sellers looking to downsize, the time is right.
  • Interest rates favor the buyer now but who knows about next month, next year?
Moving up, downsizing, buying, me at 32-693-3850 if I can help I any way.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Home Buyer Tips - Go ahead, ask for everything including the kitchen sink but remember this...

The nice thing about showing a vacant home is that, for the most part, what you see is what you get!

Some of the foreclosures and short sales I have viewed included some things you did not want like snakes, syringes, needles and more.

Still, over the past five or six years, buyers would ask for whatever they thought they could get as a concession.  You name it...TV, gun vaults, pictures, riding lawn mower. 

And very often the sellers would "throw them in" to close the deal.  That was the market we operated in for about five years.  Buyers controlled much of the negotiation.

But the times have changed.  Sellers are receiving multiple offers.  Prices are rising.

Still some buyers are asking for closing costs to be paid, offering "low ball" prices, asking for the appliances - even if not included

Some buyers do not feel like they "win" unless they get it all... including the kitchen sink!  Of course in the current market these offers rarely end up accepted. 

Go ahead, ask for everything including the kitchen sink but remember this... The cleanest offer (price, fewer contingencies, etc) will usually prevail.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Home Seller Tips - Snooping happens when selling your home... Be ready!

Preparing to sell your home is more than addressing curb appeal and condition issues, if any.  While these are certainly important in ultimately bringing an acceptable offer, there are some oft overlooked items.

First, all these prospective buyers coming and going are strangers.   How trusting are you of strangers?

These strangers hopefully have a real estate agent who scheduled the appointment but very often agents know very little about the buyers either.  If strangers show up with no appointment, don't let them in.  Even if one says he/she is a real estate agent refer them to your real estate agent if an appointment has not been confirmed

What are some of these often overlooked areas of concern?
  • Your personal documents.   Identity theft is a major consideration.  Make sure any important papers (birth certificates, social security cards, bank information, passports, that sheet of paper with all your passwords) is secured.
  • Its the little things.   Put away anything that can be easily stolen like cash, credit cards, cameras, tablets/laptop computers, medications anything that can be easily stolen.
  • Firearms.   From a safety perspective never leave firearms where a child can get their hands on it.   Better yet, they can be stolen. 
While it is certainly important for sellers to focus on their property when preparing for the market prospective sellers should address these early on in the process and then get to work on the staging, de-personalizing, de-cluttering, a coat of paint on the front door, cleaning, etc!

If you are considering selling your Rockledge, Viera or Melbourne,  home call me at 321-693-3850.   I would welcome an opportunity to discuss how I can work with you.

If you prefer....

Friday, June 7, 2013

Will you list my house for "free" if I buy my next house from you?

This does not occur very often, at least in my business.  Consider a seller who asks prospective listing agents if they will sell their home for free if they buy from them later.

First point... real estate commissions are negotiable.  They are set by the parties to the transaction i.e., seller and listing brokerage.

An understanding of the way real estate agents are paid is important to this discussion.  Sellers are charged a commission (usually a percentage of the final selling price) for the marketing and successful selling of their house/condo.  The fee is split with the buyer's agent.  Key point:  buyers do not pay their real estate agent.

Now the question of listing a home for free?  My initial response will be "How is the buyer's agent going to be compensated?"  (See above paragraph.)

List for free? Nope.

As for the second part of the question "if they buy from the agent later."

As mentioned above all real estate fees are negotiable.  This is allowed under Florida real estate regulations for a real estate agent to rebate some of the commission received to a party to the transaction (with fill disclosure to all parties and on HUD closing statement).

My response?  Let's sell your house first.

And, if down the road you purchase a new home or condo using me as your real estate agent, I will consider possibly rebating a portion of the commission earned upon closing with full disclosure to all parties as well as being reported on closing statement.

Ready to sell your Brevard County, Florida home?  Call me and lets discuss how I can work for you.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The decision to buy a home... Where do I start?

One usually does not wake up one morning and say to themselves "I want to buy a house." 

A decision of this magnitude is usually arrived at through careful consideration starting with "Should I buy or rent?"

I routinely witness the excitement in many people when looking at homes or condos.  Is this what they call the thrill of the hunt?

But you don't go house hunting without preparation.

How does one prepare to buy a home?

The first step, after the decision to purchase, is to deal with the finances.  This can not be over emphasized.

Without a solid financial plan (budget, down payments, closing expenses, pre-approved mortgage) the time spent looking could be a complete waste of everyone's time.

There was a time about ten years ago where I found myself showing houses to snowbirds (affectionate reference to those northerners wintering in Florida) almost non-stop.  Many of these folks never bought a home.  They were not ready to buy a house in Florida but rather had what I coined "orange juice in their veins."

I thought they wanted to buy.  In reality I now believe most woke up one morning and said to themselves "I want to buy a house."

The lesson learned early on was this... Buying a house involves a plan starting with ones ability to purchase and moving forward.

Considering buying a house or condo in Florida, call me at 321-693-3850.  Lets discuss your plan starting with your ability to buy.     


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Home Seller Tips - Who gets the house?

I am no counselor so this is not meant in any way to be relationship advice.  I will leave that to the all those daytime television experts.   More importantly I am not an attorney so this is not to be considered legal advice.

However, relationships do go south.   People go in different directions.

And if they have a major financial obligation like a mortgage or even clear title to their house, it can't be divided down the middle.

Someone either gets it or they dispose of it in some way.

Depending on the animosity (and other issues) there can be serious challenges to selling.   Obstacles like agreeing on a listing price, ability to show to prospective buyers, open houses, etc.

I have observed cases where an offer is received but one side will not even consider the offer.  At some point an offer will need to be negotiated.

I have observed some homes where the occupying spouse refused showings and, when allowed, made sure the property was in less than optimal condition.

I am not an attorney.   Disposing of assets like a house is definitely something to discuss with an attorney.

If both individuals are on an existing mortgage then walking away is not the easy escape.  Talk with your attorney as "giving the house to the other party" may not free up a mortgage obligation

The key is seek the advice of an expert attorney and put together a plan.  Selling a house at any time is this situation the pressures are greater.

However, if selling your house is a first step which you agree on, let me help you.

Although this is a very serious topic I end with what I consider common sense advice.... "Get rid of the house then the spouse!"

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monthly Statistics Report - Brevard County, Florida - May 2013

Monthly Statistics Report - Brevard County - May 2013

The above statistics were extracted from the Brevard MLS system on June 4, 2013 and are believed to be accurate although not audited.

Home Buyer Question - What will they take?

"I know what it is listed for but what will the seller really take?"   If a home buyer knew this up front then the offer and negotiation process would be very short.

But this is a question where the answer is almost always an unknown.

Very often sellers do not know what they will really take.   I have worked with some sellers who ultimately accepted a much lower price than they initially would have found acceptable.

It is the old bird in the hand thing....Sometimes the offer in hand is more influential than any discussion about a hypothetical offer.

Sometimes a buyers agent will call the listing agent and ask what the seller will take.  The call could be a fishing expedition or maybe a pre-cursor to a low ball offer.

Buyers (and listing agents) should remember the listing agent has a responsibility to their client (the seller) and should not disclose any information that will potentially harm their client's position.

If I am the listing agent and receive that phone call the conversation will likely go something like....
What will the seller take?   I can't say but I suggest you put it on paper and I will check.  Thanks.
If buyers really want to know what they sellers will take they need to make an offer - a serious offer.

Serious offers get the discussion going and that is what will ultimately lead to the answer to the question.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Perfection - The elusive goal when shopping for a home.

I previewed the house before my customer arrived. It shows very well. Clean, in good repair, no problems noticeable.

When my customer arrived I made the point I always do - remember you can paint.

Buyers sometimes get distracted by things that are easily fixable.

Sellers almost always think they have a perfect house. Buyers almost always want to find the perfect house.

The reality is most houses have some type of flaw.

Some homes are flawed as a result of personal tastes.  Homes are flawed because they are made of materials that will eventually wear out.  Houses can survive for decades or longer but they are not always kept current.

Perfection is a much too large order for a mere mortal to fill.

If you are selling your home, be realistic.  It is likely not perfect. 

If you are in the market to purchase a home, remember, unless it is custom built with an unlimited budget, it will likely be only close to perfect.

Besides, your dream home may not be the perfect home - until you are finished with it!