Sunday, August 25, 2013

Are you a good candidate for a FSBO (For Sale By Owner)?

Photo attribution at bottom
As a seller, are you a good candidate for a FSBO sale?  As a buyer are you ready to deal with a FSBO? 

Whether buyer or seller the For Sale By Owner route takes specialized knowledge about the real estate sales process.  An inexperienced party on either side of the FSBO transaction may be significantly disadvantaged if the other person is experienced.

If one is determined to sell as a "for sale by owner" I will not twist their arm in order to change their mind.

Some FSBO sellers succeed while others fail.   I read an article this morning that stated only 12% of FSBOs succeeded in 2012.  Another article I read had the number at 30% which is the highest I have ever seen anywhere.

Regardless of success percentage I think one of the most important numbers is "FSBOs accounted for 9% of all home sales in 2012."

Why would a buyer opt for a FSBO?  For the same reason a buyer thinks a foreclosure or short sale may be the preferred choice - an attempt to save money.   But the reality is a FSBO seller may be willing to pay your real estate agent.  As a buyer, talk to a buyer's agent before approaching a FSBO.  They may just save you money and not cost you a dime!

I encourage anyone considering the FSBO route to research the process.  Take a look at the pros and cons.

If you are considering a FSBO send me an email with your questions.  Like I said above, I will not twist your arm to change your mind!

photo credit: laudu via photopin cc 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Home Buyer Tips: What are closing costs?

Closing costs are the charges associated with obtaining a mortgage and transferring ownership of real estate.  These are above the purchase price of the property.

In general closing costs include items mostly related to the buyer's loan.  While not all lenders charge these fees these charges are not standardized so expect them to vary.

Some of these charges may include loan application fee, loan origination points, underwriting, tax service, processing and others.  Your lender should provide a good faith estimate of closing costs within three days of loan application which will provide general information about terms of the loan applied for and estimated borrower costs.

In addition to the above lender charges some other closing costs may include the appraisal, settlement costs (or attorney fees), credit reports, inspections and surveys.

Some of these charges (for example inspections or a survey) may be paid in advance at the time of service and will be reflected on closing documents as POC (paid outside of closing).

Another potential closing cost is the escrow requirements for insurance and taxes.  In addition to paying the premium for a year in advance there will likely be additional funds charged at closing to be placed in escrow for payment of insurance renewal and taxes when due.  In Florida, real estate taxes are paid at the end of the year instead of in advance so most mortgage companies collect 1/12th each month so that can pay when due (more information on Brevard County, Florida real estate taxes).

A couple of other key points:
  • In most places cash buyers will have minimal charges.  
  • What can be charged to buyers will vary by loan type (i.e. VA borrower).
  • Buyers can try to negotiate with seller to pay some of the closing costs.
  • Some charges like the owner's Title Insurance policy is typically paid by the seller in Brevard County, Florida.
  • Average fl closing costs
When it comes to closing costs remember, its real estate...almost everything is negotiable.


Home Buyer Tips: Step one....get the letter.

One of the first steps in the home buying process is obtaining "the letter."

What is "the letter?"  The mortgage pre-approval letter. 

Why is this step so important it must be done first?  Because it controls most decisions made in the home buying process unless a buyer is paying cash. 

What is the difference between a mortgage pre-approval and a mortgage pre-qualification?   
  • Mortgage pre-qualification ("pre-qualified") means very little when you are considering buying a new house or condo.  It is based on just the information an individual provides and can be done in a few minutes.  It has not been verified and is really an amount a buyer "might be qualified for if all things check out."
  • Mortgage pre-approval, on the other hand, is based on a review and verification of information submitted such as employment history, income, submitted W-2s and credit history.    
The reality is a mortgage pre-qualification letter means very little to a seller in the current Brevard County real estate market.
In a market where it is more common for sellers to receive multiple offers its imperative serious buyers be pre-approved  before they make their offer.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Home Seller Tips: The "Secret" to Selling Your Home.

Houses sell themselves.  Real estate agents are only a mechanism to facilitate the process. 

A real estate agent will provide exposure to the right pool of buyers.  A real estate agent will advise on preparation and pricing and monitor the process once a deal has been reached..

But a real estate agent can not sell your house.

Here is the secret to selling your house:  Appeal to a prospective buyer's motivation. 

Most sellers know who their buyer will likely be.  While sellers may not know the buyer's name, they should know the general characteristics of the buyer.

So the key is simple - appeal to their motivation.  [Notice I did not say "your" motivation.]

If the buyer is an investor, what is the potential for return on investment?   Does your price offer some room for eventual positive cash flow?

If the buyer will be an owner occupant, does your home and neighborhood offer the right location, proximity to work, schools or recreation?  What is the buyer's time frame?  Do they need a quick closing?

More importantly, if your target is the owner occupant, is your home in the condition your target buyer expects?   Is it being marketed as a "move in ready" home?   If so, is it move in ready?   If it is a "fixer upper,"  say so and price it as one.  

As a seller you are in complete control of the message your house sends to prospective buyers.  

Make sure your home speaks to the buyer's motivation! 

When you are ready to sell your Rockledge or Viera, Florida, me at 321-693-3850. 

Home Buyer Tips: You have closed...what to do first?

The excitement of the closing has ended.   The stress of the home buying and closing process is over!

You have just been handed the keys to your new home. 

What is next?

There is all the obvious stuff to do like...
  •  turn on the utilities, 
  • move in, 
  • forwarding of mail,
  • possibly some new furniture on the agenda,
  • maybe even some fixer upper things to do before the actual "move."

All of these are important.

But the number one thing to do after the closing is to change the locks.

Here's a link to some Brevard County, Florida locksmiths.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Home Buyer Tips: Should I have a survey done?

"Why should a home buyer have a survey done?   Don't all the new developments have lot markings and boundaries that are good enough?"

Good enough for what?  That is my response when someone asks me if they should have a survey done.  

Surveys serve a purpose.  First and foremost, the survey will tell you if your house is located within your property borders.  The survey will let you know if there are any encroachments on your property by the neighbor's fence or something else. 

The survey will tell what easements exist.  Several years ago my buyers were buying a home which had pool added after construction and the pool deck extended into an easement.  The survey made them aware of the issue should the utility company ever need to work under their deck.

If you are buying new construction chances are the lot borders have been staked off already with pretty clearly defined borders.  Even though with new construction in a brand new development there is probably less chance of an encroachment as a buyer you should want to know with certainty where your property lines are located.

Most lenders require a survey be done when there is a mortgage loan.   Regardless if required, anyone buying a house or vacant lot should insist on having a survey.

So why should a buyer have a survey done?   Why have home owner's insurance?   

To protect a sizable financial investment!


Monday, August 12, 2013

Selling your house - Where will your buyer come from?

Most home owners probably already have a good idea who their buyer will be when they sell their home.  While they may not know them by name they probably know them some pretty broad characteristics.

Your real estate agent's primary job will be to get your home in front of the pool of buyers from which your prospective buyer will likely come from.

Where will the buyer find your home? 

Most likely your buyer will find your home on the Internet.  Few buyers never search for homes on the Internet.  Nine out of ten home buyers searched on the Internet as part of their home buying process (52% made this their first step).
Nine out of 10 house hunters searched online during the homebuying process with 52 percent choosing that as their first step in the process, - See more at:
Nine out of 10 house hunters searched online during the homebuying process with 52 percent choosing that as their first step in the process - See more at:
Nine out of 10 house hunters searched online during the homebuying process with 52 percent choosing that as their first step in the process - See more at:
Nine out of 10 house hunters searched online during the homebuying process with 52 percent choosing that as their first step in the process - See more at:

So will your buyer arrive as a result of an open house?  Will they find your home while driving by and seeing the for sale sign out front?  Will they find your home on the Internet?  Will they find out about your home from a relative or a co-worker who lives down the street?

No one knows for sure.

The key is to select a real estate agent who knows where your buyer will likely come from but who also has a marketing plan to cover the other bases as well!

When you are ready to sell your Brevard County, Florida home, call me at 321-693-3850, please.  Let me tell you how I will market your home to get it sold!


Friday, August 9, 2013

What is a buyer's agent? Must I sign a contract with a real estate agent?

The real estate process is not something most people are familiar with unless they are in the business.   Although it is really not that complex it does have a language of its own.

More importantly, the enormity of the financial decision makes it imperative the process is clearly understood by buyers and sellers.

Home buyers need to start with their own real estate agent... a buyer's agent.

The first thing home buyers should understand is the seller pays for their real estate agent.  So why would they not have their own agent?  (In Brevard County, Florida call me at 321-693-3850).

What is a buyer's agent?  Must I sign a contract with a real estate agent?

Some real estate agents want all prospective buyer customers to sign a buyer agency agreement or else they will not work with them.  The agreement says that they will use their services to buy a house.

I have never had a buyer sign an agency agreement.

Maybe I am a bit naive but my client relationships are built on trust.   I will trust you, the buyer, to stick with me throughout the process.  Of course there may come a time when I part ways with a buyer or seller.

Real estate transactions are stressful whether buyer or seller.

One key to a successful real estate agent-customer relationship is establishing a comfort level that will allow open, honest communication. 

If you are looking for a buyer's agent in Brevard County, Florida give me a call at 321-693-3850. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Should you buy a house unseen?

As more buyers enter a real estate market with fewer homes for sale one issue that sometimes comes up with out of town home buyers is buying a house unseen.

Technically, it is not a case of buying without seeing but rather a potential buyer getting it under contract "until we can see it" and then decide if we like it.

I have never had a seller opt for this type of offer.  Still there may be some sellers willing to take their house off the market until someone travels to look it over.

If I were representing the seller would I recommend accepting this type of offer?  Not likely.

If I were the buyer's agent would I recommend making this type of offer?  Possibly if there was no other option and my buyer really likes the property.  This can easily be a contingency to an offer to purchase.  Still, in a market that has shifted in favor of the sellers, I doubt it would be met favorably.

In a seller's market where multiple offers are common place it is the cleanest offer that often gets accepted.  The best offer may not even be the highest price or the cash offer.

One option in this circumstance could be the inspection contingency.   Usually an inspection contingency allows the prospective buyer to have an inspection done within a designated number of days (usually 7-10 days in this area).

Although the property inspection is really not a get out of jail free card it does allow a buyer to cancel an offer if not satisfied with the inspection.  And there is no pass or fail but rather a completely subjective interpretation of the findings.

Still, with the ease of video photography, it would be rare an out of town buyer would be completely in the dark about a property.  Plus with Google Earth and other resources available it is easy to get a neighborhood tour and really not be "buying without seeing."