Friday, March 31, 2017

Buying a Home in Florida: I have an opinion but it is not my decision.

One of the great challenges of being a Realtor is keeping my opinion to myself.  As a Realtor I deal in the known.  I may not be the expert but I am a source of the source.  My buyers will get referred to the right expert. 

I remember a prospective condo buyer was viewing a condo with a vacant side lot.  The view of the ocean was great.  Then he asked what would be built next door.  I could not say if or when it may happen.

Many times buyers will ask about how much life is left on the roof or air conditioner.  I tell them I am a real estate agent.  I can only tell you how old a roof or air conditioner is if the information has been provided by the seller.

I recommended buyers research the presence of any sexual offenders or predators in a neighborhood.  Of course, the answer is only as good as the information available today.  And a buyer has no way of knowing who may move into an area.   [Search Florida Sexual Predator Database.]

Buyers will sometimes ask if a neighborhood is good or not.  I refer them to the local law enforcement professionals.  The same goes for the school quality.  [Brevard County Public School Link here.]

Another question I receive on occasion is how much a pool will add to the resale value of a house.  The value of a house in the future is an unknown.  As for a positive return on a pool installation who knows for sure?

While there is a great deal of risk management involved with my answers there is also something even more important - buyers need real usable information from the best source.

For me, or any other real estate agent, to answer such questions is to give an opinion.

Yes, I have opinions.  

But buyers need facts. 

Need information on buying a house or condo in Florida?  Call or text me at 321-693-3850 for real useful information!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Buying a Home in Florida - Respect the Process

The process of buying a home is really logical.  The steps are logical.  There is an order - and a reason - for each step along the way.

From "when to start looking" to "what time is the closing" the steps have a specified order as well timeline.

A major responsibility of the buyer's agent, which I take very seriously, is educating the prospective buyer about the home buying process in Florida. 

The more a prospective buyer knows about the home buying process, the easier it is to respect the process.

One of the first points I address with prospective home buyers is the importance of time.  The time necessary to close, the time limits for inspection, time line for loan processing, etc.  In real estate time is of the essence.   It says so in big bold letters in our Florida Realtors/Florida Bar Offer to Purchase contract.
Another point I make to buyers about time.... while I will always treat you as my number one customer at the time, you are likely not the only one at the time.

The reason I add this last comment about time is sometimes buyers may see a house and want me to stop everything where it is and schedule a showing at that moment.

I could possibly be at a doctor's appointment, listing presentation or even showing other buyers properties.  Still, that does not mean I will ignore your request.

The process of scheduling requires access to the MLS and either calling an office or scheduling online.  And some listings have 24 hour notice requirements, posted restrictive hours or even a loose pit bull named Satan on the premises (yes, has happened!).

I caution buyers to do not call on the listing agent to show them a house because "my agent is busy." The listing agent works for the seller and, when they find out buyers are working with an agent, will likely send them back to their agent.

Buyers and sellers should understand their Florida Realtor has obligations and responsibilities - to the process and to the customer whether seller or buyer.  And not to be overlooked - the other Realtor who he or she must play well.

Here are some related articles about the home buying process in Florida.

Thinking about buying a house in Melbourne or Viera, Florida?  Call or text me at 321-693-3850 if I can answer any of your questions or help in any way!

Call or text me at 321-693-3850 for help and information about buying a home in Florida.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Home Buyer Tips: Sometimes Buyers Must Revise Their Expectations

No matter how much you wish for steak there are times when you have to settle for a burger.  Such a time is when you are down to six bucks and payday is a week away!   

The same goes for buying a house.

Yes, I know a house is a much more significant purchase than a burger but the point is the same.     Tastes and desires will have to be moderated based on the available budget.

Home prices in Brevard County have risen significantly over the past few years as the market recovered from the last collapse.  But buyer acceptance of the recovery has been lagging a bit.

When do buyers recognize the market recovery?  Many times it is when they go shopping for a home in Brevard County.  Just a few days ago I read an article about whether one can buy a home in Florida for $100,000.  It is possible but not likely!

Median sales price for single family homes in Brevard County was $205,000 in February 2017 (up from $165,000 1 year earlier).  At the same time the number of new listings was down over 10% in February 2017 from a year prior. 

So what should a buyer do in the current market?  Well, if the budget is limited then the expectations must be changed. 

What expectations should a buyer consider changing?   It depends on the goal.   In general consider a location change very carefully.  In real estate there is one thing that can't be changed - the most important factor, location.

One day in the future every buyer will become a seller.  The most important factor when selling is location.  The impact location has on price today will probably exist when selling.

Consider size, age, amenities (pool, fireplace) as possible concessions.  There are benefits to home ownership so even if its not the perfect house the right house will still work well.

Just as a burger will solve a hunger issue for a period of time so will a smaller, less expensive home.  

Ready to buy a home in Melbourne, Florida?  Call or text me at 321-693-3850 if I can help.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Brevard County, Florida Townhouse/Condo Market February 2017 (compared to February 2016)

Brevard County Townhouses/Condos for February 2017 compared to February 2016:
  • Closed Sales - up 2.8% for February 2017 in which the number of units closed was 185 compared to 180 in February 2016. There was a decrease in cash sales of -2.7% compared to February 2016.
  • New Pending Sales - down -10.6%.
  • New Listings - up 4.4%.
  • Median Sales Price for Townhomes/Condos - down -2.3% to $139,900 compared to a year ago, which was $143,232.
  • Months Supply of Inventory - down -4.9% to 3.9 months compared to 4.1 months in February 2016.
  • Traditional Sales - up 9.3% with a median sales price of $143,000.
  • Foreclosure/REO Sales - down -55.6% with a median sales price of $117,237.
  • Short Sale Closings - no change in number of closed sales with a median sales price of $87,000 in February of 2017.   


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Biggest Obstacle to Selling Your House

I read an article this morning about the top home buyer and home seller regrets.  Not surprisingly the top seller regret is not spending enough time in prepping their home for the market.

This goes right back to the key to selling -  The Three Ps of selling your home.  

While a good professional real estate agent is crucial to selling your home it is also critical that a seller be a willing, active participant.

So what is the biggest obstacle to selling your home?  Emotions.  Regardless of the individual (seller, buyer, seller's agent, buyer's agent or whomever), the biggest obstacle will always be emotions.

I tell my buyers to relax you are buying a house, not having a baby!  The same goes for everyone.  Calm, patient, respectful and minimally emotional...that is the best way to sell a house!

Ready to buy a house in Viera, Florida?  Call or text me at 321-693-3850.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Home Buyer Tips: Why You Want a Sales Skills in Your Real Estate Agent

Sales people turn off a lot of people.  Even I, who in reality is in the sales business, do not want to experience the hard sell.  Nothing bothers me more than going to a car dealership where you have to treat sales associates like flies...swat them quickly and they don't come back!

Still, when you to buy a house or condo expect your real estate agent to be a sales person and not just a "consultant." 

What do successful sales people do?  For one, they are able to identify the prospects goals and desires.  They are able to ask the right questions to define the needs and budget.  They are able to develop a relationship with their prospect. 

Sales professionals understand the details about their product.

Note what I did not include here: assert themselves and twist arms!

For a real estate agent, details translate to local knowledge and experience.  Details include knowing the neighborhoods, the school locations, having a network of reliable, professional contacts.  

Another reason buyers need a buyer's agent with sales skills?  In a buyer's real estate market such as the current Melbourne, Florida real estate market your real estate agent may need to sell your offer to the listing side. 

There are often competing offers (multiple offers) for target properties.   Your agent's professionalism and develop relationships with other real estate agents can influence outcomes.  Your agent's experience in helping you present the best offer (not always the highest) is critical for success. 

A real estate offer is often much more than price alone.  It is the whole package - price, contingencies, timelines and more.  The cleanest offer is often the successful offer.

Looking for a buyer's agent in Viera, Florida?  Call or text me at 321-693-3850 to discuss how I can be your real estate agent.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How Long Does it Take to Buy a House in Melbourne, Florida?

Buying a house is not like grabbing a five dollar cup of coffee at Starbucks.    Buying a house is a process.  Given the best scenario - cash and contract executed then the process can be completed in a week or two if you throw in a survey and property inspection (both recommended).

But most buyers are not cash.  On top of that the inventory in Brevard County, Florida is not one where there is an abundance of move in ready homes (sellers market).

So what is a real time line for closing the deal in Brevard County, Florida for a non-cash home purchase?

I suggest buyers give themselves forty-five days once a house is found (contract executed) to close.  In a perfect world, even with a mortgage, this could possibly be done in thirty days (motivated, local lender).  Assuming flexibility and availability in viewing properties then another 15-21 days should be added for the search.

Actually, once a mortgage pre-approval is obtained, the major challenge begins - finding the purchase property.

So how long does it take to buy a house in Melbourne, Florida?  At a minimum I suggest at least ninety days and possibly another thirty on top of that!

If you are interested in buying a home within the next six to twelve months it is not too early to call a local real estate agent and lender!  Starting early can minimize some of the stress!

Here are some helpful articles about buying a house in Florida.
Ready to buy a home in Melbourne, Florida?  Call or text me at 321-693-3850 for help today!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Selling Your Home Starts the Day You Buy Your New Home!

I always urge home buyers to think long term - not necessarily about the years of mortgage payments but rather about when the time comes to sell.   After all, unless it is a retirement home, most buyers will not be living the rest of their lives in the house.
This long term consideration is especially important when a property has some distinguishing quality that may not be appealing to most others.
Still, more often, the realities (and challenges) of selling a home do not become clear until well into the process.    Hopefully, the light bulb comes on before the omissions/commissions translate to dollars lost.
For those who may one day sell a house the below list should be reviewed before the time comes.   Many of these are the opinion of the writer, only.  Some are common sense.
  • Being healthy (good condition) is always better than an insurance policy (home warranty) that pays and helps deal with problems later.   Offering a home warranty (insurance, sort of) does not compensate for poorly maintained/prepared homes.
  • Add ons and improvements should be done without an expectation of an expected return of investment.   It is all about what an owner likes now when it comes to improvements. 
  • Over-improvements don't mean much.   An addition that doubles the size of the house means little if the house is now twice the size of all others in the area!  And recoup the cost is unlikely as there is never a 1:1 return on investment. Besides, buyers do not care what you paid for anything!
  • Not everyone in Florida wants a pool, really!   Just because someone is moving to Florida does not mean they absolutely must have a home with a pool.
  • Real estate brokers are not created equal.   Being a "big box" brokerage does not mean there is an audience size advantage. Size does not matter - its the message, method of delivery, customer service, experience. 
  • Functional obsolescence must be priced out and not explained in.  Trying to rationalize  (marketing as vintage, retro, etc.)  structural design and preferences of decades ago rarely translate to value today.
  • Colors and style do matter.  Tacky rarely sells.  Of course, tacky is in the eye of the beholder!  Buyers know what they want and understand what they see.  Piecemeal (found) updating and rehab looks like piecemeal updating.  
  • Staging can help sell your home.  When getting your home ready for selling remember a great staging job will not overcome deficiencies in design, structure or condition.  Your house is what it is.
  • Outside often reflects inside.   The outside of a house is almost always an indicator of how well the inside is maintained.   If the yard is neglected, paint is fading, plants are dead it is quite likely the inside will show neglect.  It all starts with curb appeal.
  • Location can't be changed unless its an RV.    A new coat of paint will not change the zip code.  The house may look great but it will always be location, location, location. 
  • Price should reflect three things if a seller is motivated: condition, location and competition.  Proper pricing takes into account issues.  If your house is just like the rest, then the price will be pretty much just like the rest!  
  • Quick closings are always preferable.  The longer the time between the contract and the scheduled closing the greater the chance something will happen to derail the transaction.
  • Memories are mobile.    Sometimes sellers attempt to price in their memories when they are trying to sell their home.  If memories could have a price tag associated with them you can be sure the seller's price will not be anywhere near a prospective buyer's value.
  • Emotions must be contained.  Selling a home requires sellers to keep emotions in check. When deciding on a listing price for your home an unemotional cost-benefit analysis is a good starting point.
When buying, prospective buyers will find reasons to pay less. 

When selling, prospective sellers will find reasons to price their home higher.  Value, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.   A good, local knowledgeable Realtor, whether working with buyer or seller, is critical.
Ready to buy or sell in Viera, Florida?  Call or text me at 321-693-3850 if I can help!

This post was originally published on

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

First Time Home Buyer Apprehension - What If You Make a Mistake?

I had a recent first time buyer experience the ultimate in getting cold feet.  In this case the buyers, for reasons I will not specify here, walked away from the deal.  Walking away in this case included a couple of thousand dollars in escrow money.

Buyers do get cold feet.  That is why I always advise sellers to request enough escrow money from a prospective buyer to make them think twice about walking away.

First time buyers are very often afraid of making a bad decision.   This is understandable.  Makes me think of the comment I heard once from a divorced seller who told me "Not all bad choices are permanent, folks!"  While his mistake was not permanent it was a costly one!

The decision to buy a home is one of the most important one a person ever makes and should not be approached without much thought.   While a bad home buying decision is not permanent it can be a very expensive mistake.

There are lots of reasons for not buying.  Prime among these is the long term obligation created with a mortgage.  The ability to pick up and change directions in ones life is severely hampered.   Buying because prices are going up now and in a year or two affordability will be gone.  This mistake was made by many back in the 2004/2005 time frame when the market bubble was intense. 

If your current job is a "move up" position or the potential to move on to another employer is high then being saddled with a mortgage payment is not a good thing!

Still there are lots of reasons to buy a home.  Chief among these is pride of ownership.  Also things like investing in your own property versus paying a landlord's debt (or profit).   Rent is climbing!  

There is the potential of gains in value over time as well. A smaller home purchased today can set one up to move up later in five or ten years.  Interest rates are low right now.   There is the stability created by knowing where one will be living in a yer or three years!

The process of buying a home brings with it a lot of emotional experiences...apprehension, stress, excitement, relief, worry.....and much more!

It is imperative buyers have a trusted experienced real estate agent in their corner throughout this process.   The home buying process is just beginning with the contract.    Remember, in Brevard County, Florida your real estate agent does not cost you anything. 

If you are a first time home buyer in Rockledge, Florida and have questions or concerns, call or text me at 21-693-3850.  I am available to answer questions and provide direction to resources in the area.  There are first time home buyer loans available that may help with the costs as well.

Home Buyer Tips: All buyers will become sellers at some point!

If a home is not going to be a buyer's "forever home" I always urge caution in the decision.  More specifically, I suggest consideration be given to the end game.   All buyers will become sellers at some point!
By that I mean consider points such as
  • How long one will live in the house?
  • What is the purpose of the purchase (invest, primary residence)?
  • What about the length of ownership planned/potential, etc.? 
  • Design questions like pool or two story should be considered.
If the intent is to sell and move up later then consider whether some characteristics are worth paying the money now?  Some characteristics of your home will restrict your buyer pool.

What are some of the characteristics that will cause buyers to scratch your home off their list?

The obvious ones include location and/or the presence of a home owner association.  If there is a homeowner association what is the fee structure?    When it comes to associations there is no middle ground - people either like them or not!

Consider whether a two story home is really needed.  Two story homes are less common in this area.  If your prospective buyers are retirees/older then the hassle of a second floor can be limiting.  Even if the buyer is younger there is a certain inconvenience to being multi-level.

Still, if a two story design is desired consider having the master suite on the first floor.   I have found buyers will be more likely to consider a two story if the master suite is on the ground floor and the other bedrooms are upstairs!

Another consideration is the private in ground pool.   Lets face it, not everyone wants a pool.  Pools require additional maintenance as well as increases risk and property insurance.

My point is what you want but consider what you will be doing down the road. Five or six years from now when it is time to sell is the wrong time to think if only this was a one story!
Ready to buy a home in Viera, Florida?  Call or text me at 321-693-3850 for real estate information.