Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent.  It is not really that difficult. 

The first thing most consumers do is head to the Internet to do a Google search.  If the process involves moving to Brevard County, Florida then that is the initial Google search.

With Google search result in hand how does a consumer know who to choose?  Is the person on page one of Google search an obvious choice?  Not really.

All the technology skills (or paid services and advertising) in the world will not replace these three components in choosing your real estate agent.
  • local knowledge - Anyone can advertise on the Internet while knowing the who, what,  when, where and how of the neighborhood and surrounding area is a different thing.
  • local experience - The customs, rules, practices and laws in real estate are local. 
  • responsiveness.  Consumers should have a reasonable expectation when they choose a real estate agent they will be available by phone, email or face-to-face (as needed).   While it should be understood that real estate agents work with multiple customers at the same time an expectation a call will be returned within a couple of hours is reasonable.  DO THIS BEFORE HIRING ANY REAL ESTATE AGENT!

Lastly, if I had to give one piece of advice on choosing your real estate agent this is it... 

To have a real estate agent who is willing to tell you what you need to hear is more important than one who tells you what you want to hear.  After all, whether buying or selling, it is all about you!

Here are some related articles about How to Choose Your Real Estate Agent.

No "Do Overs" in Real Estate

If the home buying or selling process mirrored government data keeping or reporting imagine how different things might be.  

I saw a report released this morning showing where the government had revised the first quarter 2014 gross domestic product (GDP).

"The economy, contracted at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.9% in the first three months of the year, according to the Commerce Department's third reading released Wednesday."

What would things be like if a buyer could reassess selling prices three months later and renegotiate the price they paid?  What if the sellers could do this?

And what about the home loans and interest rate terms?  What if  the buyer could get a lower rate three months later?   What about mortgage companies raising the rate because the previous quarter earnings were initially overstated?

Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Unfortunately, in the real estate market, there are no "do overs" or revised prices.

But there is a next time....

Image courtesy of digitalart /

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Home Seller Tips: Do you make the repair or roll the dice?

Sometimes sellers, in the face of all this "get ready to sell" advice, have to decide if it really is worth it to do all this work!

Of course the answer for many of the little tasks is an overwhelming yes!  But what about things like replacing worn flooring?  After all few buyers really want to come in and replace carpet or deteriorating laminate or hard wood.

Some flooring experts I have spoken to have the same advice.  Go for inexpensive temporary (not lifetime warranted) flooring if needed but never invest too much.  There is likely to be much return on investment for a seller.

The key is to make the house look appealing and not like a rehab project in need of a low ball offer!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Friday, June 20, 2014

Home Seller Tips: Dealing with "special" challenges when selling your home...

Unless a house is vacant there are often little challenges that have to be "worked" around.  A few of these "challenges" may involve one or more of these. 

Tenants.  Selling a tenant occupied home can be a real challenge.  A good relationship with your tenant will go a long way to help you sell.  Cooperative tenants make for easier access for showings, a potentially better presentation and less negative talk about the house or neighborhood which sometimes occurs when the tenants don't want to leave.

Pets.  I remember once I was scheduled to show a house with pit bull named "Satan" who would be in his crate.  He wasn't.   So we skipped the house. I love dogs...others don't!  Some people are afraid of dogs. If it has teeth, it has the potential of biting!   What happens if there is an accident?  This is a litigious society. Why open up yourself to a potential lawsuit

Work schedules.  Shift work is common.  Establishing a "published" showing availability and sticking to it will help sellers as well as make for fewer surprises.

Work at Home.  Along with the work schedules mentioned above there are many who work from home.  The nature of the work very often requires an environment where privacy is guaranteed (for example, call center support (medical/financial related jobs) that deal with personal sensitive information).  Again, schedules need to be adhered to in order to work.

These are not the only challenges that must be dealt with when selling a home but they do provide anyone who is considering selling their Viera, Florida home a few points to consider.

Ready to sell your Melbourne, Florida home?  Call me at 321-693-3850 or send me an email if I can help in any way.

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Monday, June 16, 2014

Home Seller Tips: Neutralize does not mean sanitize.

When sellers are preparing a home for the market they often receive tons of "expert" advice like "de-clutter" and "de-personalize."

While this advice is well intended it needs to be put in an appropriate context - moderation.

An occupied will look lived in.  This is not a problem when selling a house or condo.   Still, it can show off its best features.

De-cluttering does not mean remove everything or most items.  It means to make sure there is not so much furniture the rooms look small.  It means make sure traffic patterns are unobstructed.

It means leaving enough furniture to allow prospective buyers to visualize the space available for their own furniture.  An empty or almost empty house can work against a seller almost as much as an overstuffed house.  Lastly, I am not implying any seller's belongings are clutter.

Neutralize doe not mean sanitize.  By neutralize I mean depersonalize somewhat.  Again, notice the somewhat.  It means do not have so many pictures on the walls it distracts.  It means do not have collections on display so they collectible garner the attention your house should receive.  It means to remove some of the pictures off the refrigerator.  It means open up space on walls.

Neutralize does not mean wipe away all evidence of the existence of a life.  Buyers understand sellers continue to have a life even though it is being disrupted somewhat.

Considering selling your Melbourne, Florida home?  Give me a call at 321-693-3850 or send me an email if I can assist in any way.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Home Seller Tips: What if I don't want a long term commitment?

Why does one consider selling their home as a for sale by owner (FSBO)?  There are lots of reasons and risks.  Considering selling as a FSBO?  Read more here: Go it alone or hire a real estate agent?

One of the reasons I believe some go the FSBO route is they do not want a listing contract that locks them into a long term arrangement.  Many home sellers who do list their home with an agent share the same concern.

I suggest prospective home sellers include this question in their list of questions to ask when interviewing a real estate agent to sell their Brevard County, Florida home - "What if I don't want a long term commitment?" 

The ability to have a short term listing commitment makes some less apprehensive.  While there are a lot of factors involved when marketing a home and getting the buyer, a short term listing agreement is possible.

There are some real estate agents who will not deviate from the long term, inflexible listing agreement.   These may be the same ones who tell sellers that the "standard" commission is set.  (There is no standard fee for the Brevard County, Florida market or anywhere else.)

I have always believed the listing agreement can be figuratively torn up. This goes for either side of the transaction (seller or real estate agent).   No matter the reason if the relationship is not working (or the seller changes their mind) sellers should be able to cancel the listing without penalty. 

Ready to sell your Melbourne, Viera or Rockledge, Florida home?  Call me to discuss how I can work for you without a long term lock in.  I can be reached at 321-693-3850 or by email.

Image courtesy of nongpimmy /

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Should Your Real Estate Agent Provide an Opinion?

Your real estate agent should be your local expert.   Part of being an expert is the ability to know when you don't have the answer.  In those cases your real estate agent should become the "source of the source."
Sometimes customers ask for an opinion.   Some real estate agents never offer an opinion as it exposes them to risk.  Some real estate agents will not be present during a home inspection because it exposes them to potential risk.  [Let the inspector do their job.  The inspection result is between the buyer and the inspector.]
There is nothing wrong with risk management.   There is some potential risk in getting out of bed every morning!

There is an expectation that a real estate agent will have knowledge, skills and experience that is of value to buyers.  Otherwise the agent becomes nothing more than a doorman or door-woman. 

In my opinion a precisely worded opinion based on fact that is clearly prefaced as "opinion" is not a significant risk.  Perhaps the greater risk is not saying something when it should be said.

When I provide a free market analysis to Brevard County home sellers it is clearly an opinion of value.  I am not a licensed real estate appraiser so I do not prepare appraisals. 

When offering opinions I am careful to never tread in areas I am not licensed including legal, tax, structural engineering and especially clairvoyance!
  • I do not know what the value of a house will be in a year or five years.  Sure we can look at the trends based on current prices and the general trend as of today. 
  • I do not know where interest rates are going.   Your mortgage professional will be able to tell you what the rates are today but they don't know about six months down the road. 
  • I do not know what any seller will take for their home.  The only way to know if a seller will take a certain price is to make a written offer. 
  • I do not know how much the repairs on a house will cost.  Lets get an professional to provide an estimate.
My customers expect me to be an information resource.   I know they will use my answers and advice, at least partially, to possibly make one of the most expensive purchases in their lifetime.  For that reason my opinions will always be based on the facts as known by me at the time.   Still, it is only my opinion.

As alluded to above there are some areas I do not offer opinions.   What are some of those areas?
  • Crime rate.  Call local law enforcement.  
  • School quality.  Consult the school district office or visit the principal and talk with parents of children at the school.
  • Neighborhood make-up.  Drive through or take a walk in the neighborhood after people come home from work or over the weekend.  Consult the census data.
  • Homeowner Association Rules and Finances.  Read the documents. Call a board member. Consult an attorney.
  • Any question that touches on fair housing and discrimination - period!

House / ? image courtesy of jscreationzs /
Risk  image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Brevard County, Florida Real Estate Market 2014 - Stability is key.

Someone asked me recently if Brevard County, Florida home prices were rising fast enough.  My response was the prices were increasing some although not fast.

In the real estate market stability is key whether talking price, interest rates or inventory.

The problems in the market about ten years ago were exacerbated by the uncertainty of what would happen tomorrow.  Additional pressures were applied by investors and speculators.  Home buyers looking for a home to live in were forced to join the fray or risk being priced out for the foreseeable future. 

Then the housing market crashed or, more accurately, corrected.  The charts below show trend lines for Brevard County closed sales and mortgage interest rates.

Single Family Home Sales Brevard County since 2010.   

Produced by Florida REALTORS® with data provided by Florida's multiple listing services


And the trend in interest rates as provided by


Reproduced with the permission of

For information on buying or selling a home in Melbourne, Florida call me at 321-693-3850 or send me an email.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Home Buyer Tips: Do I need a Home Inspection?

A good home inspector is vital to protecting the buyer and the buyer's real estate agent.  While I do not believe all sellers can know all aspects of their home's condition I do believe that most will disclose what they know and can remember

While sellers will likely remember the big problems like a flood issue, a small fire, termites that were treated, etc. little things may slip the mind if they have been living in a house for a decade or more.

The Florida real estate laws do put a responsibility on the seller to divulge information that will adversely effect the property value.  Likewise, Florida real estate laws place a responsibility on real estate agents to divulge material facts that are known but not readily visible.

Let me put it in its most simplest terms... Disclose, Disclose, Disclose!   Although I am not an attorney  my guess is if a defect is really serious down the road, perhaps years, there may be some legal implications for failing to disclose material defects.

Eventually if a home that is priced right will have a buyer.  And the buyer will have a home inspection performed.

The home inspection will probably reveal some issues. Your buyer may walk away - especially if there was an attempt to hide or not disclose a major problem.  Or your buyer may ask for repairs. Your buyer may ask for a price reduction or some other credit

The best course of action for anyone selling their home - disclose, reveal, disclose.   After all, like your mom said, honesty is the best policy.

[Hint: get a pre-listing inspection and address any issues!]

As part of the listing process the form we use as Florida real estate agents require the seller to answer questions.   There is even a miscellaneous question at the end of the form that provides sellers an opportunity to disclose something, even if not asked about, they think is important.   Although I do not advise customers how to answer the questions I do offer this advice - if you were the buyer, would you like to know this?
 Finally, if I recommend a buyer client have an inspection done or an appraisal (in cash deals) and the buyer declines that is their choice.

But with me as your agent you will be asked to sign a document acknowledging my recommendation.