Saturday, April 19, 2014

Home Seller Tips: Preparing your home for sale

I recently read an article that advised home sellers to prepare their home by making it kid proof.

Most advice about preparing a home for sale addresses things like removing excess "stuff," cleanliness, curb appeal, fixing those little issues often ignored by owners.

As for kid proofing a home I suggest you think about who your likely buyer will be...young families, for instance.

Although no seller should expect to have children running loose in their home during showings I have seen it happen.

Still, put away items that will attract kids.  I guess this means anything small that can be picked up.   Just this week I had a family in one of my listings and the little three year guy ran over, grabbed a TV remote and turned on the TV.   Sure his behavior was corrected quickly but his energy level and actions were probably not atypical.

When you are preparing your home for the market expect accidents.   Expect that some guy is going to walk in with filthy shoes and "ruin" that carpet.   Expect that some guy is going to bump into something and crash!

It is not necessary (or advisable) to show off your collectibles.  Also, consider removing small, but valuable, items that could be easily pocketed.

Yes, it is important to deal with appearance issues and curb appeal when preparing to sell your home but lets not forget "Little Timmy" or anyone else. Accidents can happen. Minimize the potential when preparing your home for sale.

Here are a few more useful articles on preparing your home for the market that don't talk about paint, landscaping or the like but rather practical safety and security issues which should never be forgotten.

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

Home Seller Tips: What would you do if your agent responded this way?

I just read another article about a seller's real estate agent who lambasted a buyer's agent who called to schedule a showing for, get this, a Monday.  The reason for the blast was "you know today is Sunday - call me on Monday!"

I see three problems with this response.   Okay, only two as I will skip the non professional behavior by the seller's real estate agent.  Non professional behaviors is present in all professions!

OK, the issues as I see them.

First, accommodating prospective buyers, within reason, is the job of a seller's real estate agent.  In this case the sellers wanted a 24 hours advance notice before any showing.  Even with this direction the response was not necessary.  By the way, sellers who do this also break one of my major rules when selling your home - offer the path of least resistance which is addressed else where in this blog.  Notice, within reason, is the key.

Secondly, every person who looks at a home may be the buyer.  This seller's agent had no clue as to whether these people were going to be in town for only one more day or what.  How would a seller like it if they knew their real estate agent sent away a motivated buyer?  Missed opportunities can not be recreated - accommodate when possible.

If you are considering selling your Viera or Melbourne, Florida home, give me a call. I will work for you in a positive way.

If it is Sunday I will find a way to make sure prospective buyers are dealt with professionally - even if the requested showing is on a Monday.  Waters Realty of Brevard is a small brokerage offering personalized service, always!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Home Inspections - Boring and Informative.

Regarding property inspections this is the admonition I give to all buyers:  Do not buy a house without having a home inspection done.

New construction should be inspected as well as existing resale properties.  While there is a code inspection prior to occupancy being permitted it is still not the same inspection.  Code compliance is not necessarily an indicator of quality.

What about an "as is" offerInclude an inspection addendum and inspect it.    [Advice contained in this post refer specifically to buying a house or condo in Florida. If you are in another state, consult the appropriate professional.]

First of all, an inspection is not a fun time of socializing.

It is a very serious process for which the buyer is paying for a professional service (usually $300 to $400 in our area).   Buyers want a competent inspector who can stick to the facts and present them in an easily understood manner (more about the report below) and then answer any questions the customer may have about the report and house.

Here are a few other questions and answers about the home inspection process.

If you are considering buying or selling a house or condo in Brevard COunty, Florida (specifically Melbourne, Viera, ROckledge areas), pelase give me a call at 321-693-3850.

If you prefer, send me an email.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Moving to Brevard County, Florida: Should you rely solely on school grades?

Moving to Brevard County, Florida:  Should you rely solely on school grades?

Over the past weekend I had a phone call from a family relocating to Brevard County, Florida within the next couple of months.  We discussed the husband's future employment location, commute times and prices as well as their exact housing requirements.

But, in their case, the overwhelming consideration was school quality.  And their decision was being made based on ratings found online.  They had never been to Brevard County, Florida so the target area had nothing to do with anything except the quality of the schools.  There was one question about crime rate in the school's assignment zone which I answered by referring them to the local law enforcement agency.

After I pointed out that most schools in Brevard County, Florida are very good I left it at that. They had made up their minds based in the school ratings they had already found.

For information on Brevard County, Florida Schools, here are a few useful links.

Before you make an offer to purchase or sign a lease, please call the assigned school and verify school assignment. Assignment zones do change from time to time.

Still, should the overwhelming consideration be school only (or whatever else)?   The answer is simple - yes.   My focus as a real estate agent is to match the customer with their goal.

If you are relocating to Brevard County, Florida, please give me a call and let me help you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Westwood Subdivision in Rockledge, Florida - Homes for Sale and Rent

Westwood subdivision in Rockledge, Florida is a small single street subdivision (not a thru street) with easy access to major routes US1 and Interstate 95.  Nearby are several golf courses, shopping, excellent schools and much more.  Military personnel assigned to Patrick Air Force Base or Cape Canaveral will find an easy commute from Rockledge, Florida.

I currently have a home listed for rent in Westwood subdivision in Rockledge available May 2014 with 12 month lease at only $1,650 a month.  This five bedroom three bath two car garage home is located at 977 Whetstone Place in Rockledge, Florida

Built in 2007, this two story home has 2,745 square feet under air and is in move in condition.  This smoke free all electric home offers a second floor media room, a full bath down stairs and another two upstairs as well as an upstairs laundry room with storage.  The spacious kitchen with island, granite counters, stainless appliances has lots of working surface.  Enjoy the great views overlooking the lake from the breakfast nook.  Owner will consider pets - small dogs and cats only - with pet deposit.

Below is a summary of the homes for sale in Westwood subdivision and what has sold recently.

There are currently three homes for sale in Westwood subdivision. All of these are standard (fair market) sales with listing prices ranging from $289,000 to $348,900.  All of these are larger homes with between 2300 and 2745 sq. ft. under air.  Two are exactly the same size as the home I have listed for rent at 977 Whetsone Place (2,745 sq ft).

There have been two homes sold in Westwood subdivision this year.  There was one short sale, a 1,958 sq. ft. three bedroom two bath two car garage home (913 Whetsone Place), that sold in February 2014 for $192,000.

The other home sold in March 2014 was a five bedroom three bath two car garage pool home standard sale that sold for $348,000.

For information on homes for sale in Westwood subdivision or Rockledge, Florida, give me a call at 321-693-3850 or send me an email.


Home Seller Tips: Marketing a home that is "just like the others"

One key tenet of marketing a home is differentiate from the others. 

Sometimes, as in the case of Brevard County, Florida's planned unit development of Viera, the differences between many homes is very limited.  Some developments have "cookie cutter" structures while others have custom and or semi custom features and floor plans.

Not only does this apply to single family homes but this can be especially a challenge when selling condos where there are usually only maybe four different floor plans in an entire complex.

So how do you differentiate a house that is similar to all others? 

The easiest way to stand out from the others is price.  Some sellers take this approach by pricing at the lower end of the market and thereby encouraging competition among buyers.  When the inventory is low this could be a great approach.

So what do you do if you get the competition but all the offers are low?  No problem.  No seller can be compelled to accept any offer.

On the other end of the spectrum a seller can differentiate by pricing above all the other similar homes.  If a home is priced significantly higher than similar properties in your neighborhood or area make sure the differences are really there and promoted as such.

How else can one differentiate?   If there are new, newer or updated components, promote them.  Caution: Be judicious in the use of new, newer and updated.  Something done two or more years ago is not new. There is (or should be) a statute of limitations on "new" and "newer."  Hey, I was a "newer baby" in the late 1950s!

Does your home offer features that really stand out?  The key is "something will be different".  For instance, energy efficient upgrades.

Being different is a sometimes a challenge but the greater challenge is being different when you are like all the others.

Your real estate agent has one job - make your house stand out and promote, promote, promote!
Image courtesy of artur84 /

Home Seller Tips: Should you allow home showings on Easter?

Easter is coming soon. 

For many, especially Christians, Easter is a very special day.   In addition to special church services, there are often family gatherings.

As a seller, how do approach a requested showing on Easter?   As always, the decision to allow a showing is your call.

If it is not an issue for you, then ignore the question.

But, if the day is a special one, decide in advance and let your real estate agent know how to handle requests.

If your agent is like me then they will likely be involved in family events on Easter as well.

The key here is plan in advance.  This is the same suggestion I make for other major events like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Selling your home is a disruptive event.  Selling during holidays can be more disruptive.

Image courtesy of Feelart /

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

First Time Homebuyer Program - Housing Finance Authority of Brevard County, Florida

First Time Homebuyer Program - Housing Finance Authority of Brevard County, Florida

This is a great opportunity for first time home buyers in Brevard County, Florida.   And if you are a veteran the requirement that you be a first time home buyer does not apply.

Call one of the lender representatives below and then give me a call at 321-693-3850.  Most of these programs have limited funds and once they are gone, you never know when they will be available again!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Home Seller Tips: What to do when the buyers show up.

When working with home owners selling their Brevard County, Florida home I provide advice on preparing their home for sale.   I also include advice on what to do when showings are scheduled.

My advice when prospective buyers are scheduled to see their home - leave.
Buyers want the privacy to view your home under the oversight of their real estate agent.  Prospective buyers need circumstances to promote open discussion about your home while in your home.

The one thing a prospective buyer does not need is a guided tour with commentary from a seller.  If a seller's real estate agent has done a satisfactory job the marketing materials will highlight the property's strengths.

Still, not all information can be included in the limited space of a multiple listing entry.  Sometimes it is necessary to generate additional information to display in a place where it will be readily seen by all (kitchen counter, table, etc).   This may include customized flyers, the results of a pre-listing home inspection, sample utility bills (buyers always want to know) and whatever else a seller wants to provide.

When it is time for the home inspection after a contract is negotiated I offer the same advice - leave.

The property inspection is between the buyer and the inspector.   If there is an issue the buyer's agent will advise the seller through the seller's real estate agent.

If it is not possible for a seller to leave due to illness, etc. it is advisable to greet the prospective buyers and their agent (ask for business card or identification for safety), and then grab a seat on the porch or wherever.

Buyer and seller should meet at the closing table.  In the interim let the real estate agents do their job.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Buying in a Shifting Market - While everything is negotiable it may be a poor strategy.

Florida home prices, like most other areas of the U.S., are beginning to creep upward.  And while there is not an abundance of homes on the market in Brevard County, Florida there is sufficient inventory to offer most buyers several choices.

But, in some areas of Brevard County, the choices are more limited

For example, the two most popular 55+ communities in Viera are Heritage Isle and Grand Isle.  In these 55+ communities there are only 22 single family homes for sale (19 in Heritage Isle, 3 in Grand Isle).  The same holds true for many of the more popular subdivisions in central Brevard County. 

If you are a buyer in an area where, after much looking and waiting, you have found "the house," consider your negotiation strategy.  While everything is negotiable it may be a poor strategy.

Here is a selection of previous posts about negotiation strategies.   Just click on the title and the post will open in another window.

Your offer is more than a price...
Improve your chances of having an offer accepted.
Responding to an offer
Ready to make an offer? Know your competition.
Show sincerity...even in a buyer's market.
Take it or leave it is not negotiating!
Negotiation strategies to close the deal.

If you are considering buying or selling your Brevard County, Florida home call me at 321-693-3850 to discuss how I can help you.

If you are new to the home buying process, please give me a call.   First time home buyers need a real estate agent who will educate them as well as proceed at their pace.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Am I ready to buy a house?

If you have followed the arrows down this chart and find you are ready to buy a home in Brevard County, Florida then...

Are you ready to become a homeowner? Find out here!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Rockledge, Florida Home for Rent - 5 Bedroom 3 Bath $1685

Available May 2014 for 12 month lease at only $1,685 a month this five bedroom three bath two car garage home is located at 977 Whetstone Place in Rockledge, Florida.

Built in 2007, this two story home has 2,745 square feet under air and is in move in condition.  Located in a small subdivision (one street), this home is ideally situated with easy access to major routes US1 and Interstate 95 as well as several nearby golf courses, shopping and excellent schools.  Military personnel assigned to Patrick Air Force Base or Cape Canaveral will find an easy commute from Rockledge, Florida.

This smoke free all electric home offers a second floor media room, a full bath down stairs and another two upstairs as well as an upstairs laundry room with storage.

The spacious kitchen with island, granite counters, stainless appliances has lots of working surface.  Enjoy the great views overlooking the lake from the breakfast nook.

Owner will consider pets - small dogs and cats only - with pet deposit.

There are restrictions in the neighborhood regarding commercial vehicles as well as no on street parking.

The current lease is through May 15, 2014 however may be available as early as May 1, 2014.

For information on this home for rent in Rockledge, Florida, please give me a call at 321-693-3850 or send me an email.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Heritage Isle in Viera, Florida - Homes for Sale in March 2014

Currently 20 homes for sale in Viera, Florida's premier gated 55+ community Heritage Isle.

Homes for sale in Heritage Isle range from new construction to some of the oldest homes in the young community (built in 2004-2006).  Of these twenty homes for sale in heritage Isle there are six which were built (or being built) in 2014 and another seven constructed between 2004 and 2006

List prices for these homes for sale in Heritage Isle range from a low of $157,900 to the highest right now at $479,900.

At the high end of the Heritage Isle single family home market there are three homes priced above $400,000 (all either for or five bedroom with three of four baths and  three car garages).

As of today the three lowest priced homes in Heritage Isle are either duplex of patio style homes priced from $157,590 to $212,000.

The $157,590 is a new construction patio home offering two bedrooms two baths and a one car garage with 1,400 sq. ft. total under air.   A very general description of the homes for sale in Heritage Isle:  1,750 to 2,000 sq. ft. range with prices around $225,000 to $245,000 (7 listings).

For those looking for a foreclosure or short sale in Heritage Isle you are out of luck as there are only fair market listings in Heritage Isle.

What about recent sales in Heritage Isle?  Since February 1, 2014 there have been 24 sales.

Since March 1, 2014 there have been ten homes closed in Heritage Isle.  Of these nine were standard sales and one was a short sale.  Selling prices for the single family homes sold in March ranged $185,000 to $400,000.  (This is somewhat misleading as the $185,000 sale price was the short sale.)

All other single family homes sold at or above $215,000. There were also two townhouse/villa homes sold in March with selling prices at $137,000 and $150,000.

There are also condos for sale in Heritage Isle as well. Ask me about condos for sale in Heritage Isle.

For information on homes fro sale in Heritage Isle in Viera, please give me a call at 321-693-3850 or send me an email.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Buying a Foreclosure - Due Diligence is Required

February 2014 single family foreclosure sales are up almost 32% in Brevard County, Florida over the previous February.  Although foreclosures sometimes offer opportunities to buy for much less foreclosures are not for every buyer.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Foreclosures are generally not move in ready properties.   Many times they have been neglected, stripped of major components (AC, for example) and even vandalized.  Some have been boarded up for a year or more.  Many have had issues neglected for years before the actual foreclosure resulting in further damage (roof leaks, for example.).

A major component of the normal home buying process is disclosure.   In Florida sellers are required to disclose issues they are aware of that affect the property.  Sellers are required to disclose association fees.

But with most foreclosures there are usually no disclosures.   I have seen  many investor owned properties where there is little disclosed because seller "has not lived in the property so has no knowledge."   I personally believe an owner likely has knowledge of repair issues if they have been the landlord for years.

Foreclosure buyers must verify the association fees.  Foreclosure buyers must review the association documents (by laws and financial statements).  Foreclosure buyers must have an inspection done.  Foreclosure buyers should have a survey.

Due diligence takes on additional meaning when dealing with foreclosures as the usual disclosures are usually absent.

As a buyer's agent I do not make the disclosures - only advise.  The seller's real estate agent does not provide the disclosures either.

Lastly, another area of consideration for foreclosure buyers is the closing costs.  While not a significant cost, there are some usual seller costs that institutions will pass along to the buyer including state transfer taxes (in Florida).

Buying a foreclosure requires extra effort by the buyer.