Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Home Buying Process - Who is driving the bus?

Anyone who has ever ridden a bus knows the person in charge is the driver.  In the real estate transaction there is only one driver - the customer.

Whether the customer is in the role of  buyer or seller they are sitting in the driver's seat.

The real estate agent serves as navigator charting the course they will travel to their destination.  Sometimes the navigator ends up being a tour guide when the driver ends up being a tire kicker! 

With their destination always in focus the real estate agent will utilize available information (customer needs, financial parameters, time frame, etc.) to recommend the best choices along the way.  Sometimes the trip is quick, sometimes its long.  Occasionally they may have to pull over at a rest stop to discuss the path and progress made.

Still the real estate transaction involves parties who are voluntarily on the bus.

The driver can park the bus and leave if they desire (subject to any written agreement like a listing contract or buyer agent agreement).  The navigator can ask to be let off at the next stop.  (Of course they should recommend another navigator first.)

Buying and selling involves a team effort.  It involves trust and open communication.  It requires all on the bus work together.

When you are ready to buy or sell your home in Melbourne and Rockledge, Florida  call me at 321-693-3850.  If you prefer, email me.

I will let you drive the bus!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Home Buyer Tips - Sometimes the wallflower may just have wallpaper!

With the Brevard County, Florida real estate market heating up again there are fewer move in ready homes on the market.  The ones that show up are very often under contract pretty soon after the listing hits.

For this reason many times buyers will see some homes that are wallflowers.  You know the one that sits on the sideline while others get the action.  
In real estate buyers and sellers see things differently.   A seller sees a property with the greatest attributes and no flaws.  A buyer sees "potential" with some effort.

Sometimes the wallflower needs updating.  It could be something as simple as a good cleaning or a new coat of paint on the front door.  Or maybe the 1970s decor including shag carpet and avocado green appliances.

Or maybe the real turn off to buyers is the awful wallpaper.  I expressed my opinion of wallpaper here a few years ago when I wrote "wallpaper...never a good sign."

In this market home shoppers should not pass by the wallflowers on the market totally.  After all, sometimes the wallflower may just have wallpaper. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Home buyer tips - Does cash really matter in this market?

It was not that long ago buyers thought they could get a better deal simply because they were offering cash.  During the market run up I think these cash offers contributed significantly to the out of control prices.

Why the cash offer?  No appraisals, a quicker closing, plus they get a price discount.

Depending on the circumstances of the sale many sellers were accepting of these lower offers.

Over the past few years qualifying for a mortgage has become more challenging.  Mortgage underwriting requirements are tighter.  Now you must do more than fog a mirror to get a loan.  Many of the questionable creative loans have gone the way of the dinosaur.

More importantly, lenders are doing their homework better before providing a pre-approval. 

Any real estate agent worth their title knows to submit a pre-approval (not pre-qualification) letter with any offer.  What is the difference between a pre-approval and a pre-qualification? 

Any real estate agent worth their title knows what it takes to present a competitive offer.  And, if an offer is compete, with few strange contingencies, then a mortgage should not be a huge hurdle that would make a seller want to opt for a lower cash offer.  "What is a clean offer?"

The old cash is king fallacy still lives on and will likely die a slow death until the next cycle.

In today's market I suggest buyers get a mortgage pre-approval and work with a real estate agent to be competitive.  

Don't worry about the cash competition - for now.

Call Gary L. Waters PLLC at 321-693-3850 for your Florida real estate needs.   Florida licensed real estate agent, Serving Brevard Realty, Merritt Island, Florida.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Home Buyer Tips: What's the story on this property?

I had a buyer once who asked me the same question every time we entered a new property. "What's the story on this property?" 

This buyer wanted me to have the complete history of the listing with any price changes.  He wanted to know why the seller was selling.  He wanted me to know what the seller would take for the house.  He wanted me to tell him what was wrong with the house.

I will gather as much information as possible for the buyer.  I will even ask why the seller is selling although an answer may be difficult.  How much a seller will take is usually not disclosed.  My guess is the list price would be an acceptable price 

So where can a buyer gain insight into a listing's "story."

A good starting point is the days a property has been on the market.  This may provide some useful clues about the property like..
  • seller motivation.  If the price is higher than the others in the neighborhood and the price has not been lowered (or even a minimal drop), the seller is likely not interested in selling.  I saw one on the market in Rockledge yesterday. Over 165 days on the market, highest priced home in neighborhood.  
  • condition.  Price should be directly related to condition.  It should reflect real updates or upgrades. It should not reflect blind hope.  
  • location.  Within a neighborhood there are good locations and some that are less desirable.  It may be the only house that backs to the highway or some other less than ideal spot like the entry into the development.
Very often a listing's story is a short story.  Very often it is a long tale.

Perhaps the days on the market should be used like a book's dust jacket and tell you whether it is worth the "read."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Real Estate is all about...Location within "Location"

Ask anyone remotely familiar with real estate values and they will tell you that location is key.  What some buyers (but few sellers) fail to realize is that even within location "location" is important.

For example, take a home in a very desirable neighborhood that borders a busy street.  Or, what about a home that backs to an interstate highway (although there is a sound wall nearby).

Or perhaps the condo unit that has a nice view of the dumpsters behind the supermarket on the other side of the six foot wall separating the condo complex from the shopping center next door.  Or the ocean front condo complex where the unit nearest the busy highway while others have direct views of the surf.

Each of the above represents a location within a location in the Brevard County, Florida real estate market. 

What does this mean to sellers?  For example, take three homes on the same street in similar condition and construction but one sits on the corner lot at the entry to the subdivision.  All other things being equal this location is less desirable.

And "less desirable" means less valuable.

Buyers need to understand less desirable now (read this as cheaper) will equate to less desirable to next buyer.

But then it is better to buy a less desirable home in a very desirable neighborhood than the largest  home in a less desirable neighborhood.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Preparing to sell your home - What about the garage?

Most sellers know they need to prepare their home for the critical eye of prospective buyers. They often de-clutter the kitchens and clean.  They work on the yard to increase curb appeal.

Some sellers go so far as to have a pre-listing inspection to identify problems - and fix them.

Most sellers understand the kitchen and bathroom are the most important spaces in a house to most buyers.  If you don't have the money to spend on updating handle the repairs.  And remember to clean extremely well including the appliances as well.  Buyers will look in your oven and refrigerator  

These areas are all the places most sellers remember to prepare.

But what about the garage?  Most garages in newer construction are not large.  It takes very little clutter to make a garage look even smaller.

And what about that work bench?  I read an article today that suggested folks put away the "stuff" on the work bench as it may be a clue of potential issues (PVC piping, plumbing items, glues, stain covering paints, new roofing shingles, etc).   First, sellers must disclose issues and not hide them!

A work bench is only a clue to the home's occupant.  He or she may be a hobbyist who rebuilds or refinishes furniture.  There could be a retired master carpenter living in the home.  Or it may be a "do it yourself" novice who is a threat to life as we know it! 

The absence of a work bench means what?  Potentially a home that has been neglected?  Or a seller with full contact list on their smartphone? 

Or, could it be the seller read this post and decided to remember the garage when preparing to sell their home?

Thinking of selling your Viera, Florida home?  Call me at 321-693-3850 to discuss how I can work for you.

Thinking of selling your Melbourne, Florida home?  Call me at 321-693-3850 to discuss how I can work for you.

Email me for a free market analysis.