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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Property Inspections–Not a time to panic!

I recommend property inspections for all real estate transactions  - even if the offer to purchase is an "as is" contract.

Most real estate transactions I am involved with have two contract contingencies (1) property inspection and (2) financing unless a cash transaction. 

The first step is always the property inspection as the other steps involve additional expense to the buyer so finding out if the condition warrants going forward is the logical starting point.

There is no pass or fail grade for the inspection.  Property inspections are subjective and the results are evaluated by the purchaser alone.

Still I have seen buyers panic when the report is prepared.  If there are issues there are several approaches to consider.

If the property is deemed by unacceptable to the buyer then appropriate written notification is provided to the seller.

If there is an agreed upon repair contingency, the buyer can ask for the repairs to be done by a qualified professional.

If the contract is "as is," the buyer can still ask for repairs.  Many times a seller would rather spend a few dollars (or more) to have the deal closed now rather than weeks or months later.  [If the transaction is a foreclosure or short sale, repairs are less likely to be done.]

I do believe the property inspector sets the tone.  Most home inspectors I have dealt with in Brevard County, Florida approach the inspection as an educational process for the buyer.  At the other end of the spectrum I have seen some inspectors who are alarmist in their approach.

The key to dealing with the property inspector and property inspection report is remain calm, evaluate the extent of issues and decide which way to go.

A similar response by the seller will work well as well. A pre-listing property inspection with appropriate repairs, if needed, and disclosure to prospective  buyers can prevent much anxiety!

Buying and selling a house or condo is a stressful process for all involved.  Remaining calm throughout the transaction is the only way to go.

I know as I have been there several times as buyer, seller, and many more as Realtor®!  When you are in need of an experienced real estate agent in Viera and Rockledge, Florida, call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.

Inspired by The Scot Loper Team Lansdale and Harleysville PA Realtors

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It’s a short sale…so?

Short sale transactions are no different than a standard real estate sale except for the requirement for lender approval of the transaction which can add two to six months to the closing process!

I have a closing this week.  It is a short sale.  I work for the buyers who are located in another state.

Since they are not here at the moment I did a walk through of the home yesterday.  A few minor housekeeping issues but nothing out of the ordinary that I could see.  I did take pictures to document the current condition and forwarded those to the buyers.

Still I heard a comment from someone yesterday that "after all it is a short sale."   Being the diplomat I can be (did not say "always am") I remarked  homes need to be  "clean" when vacated.

What I really wanted to say was...“So?”

And here I say it to all sellers...
So, when selling your home there should be no difference in the condition you leave it in regardless of sale type - standard sale or short sale.
I am not proposing a sanitized, sterile condition rather no trash, no food, no filth clean.  Be courteous and considerate.

Besides, it is the best housewarming gift a seller could leave - even with a short sale.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mother always said it -- Now it's my turn….

First impressions may not make the deal but they sure can kill one!  Your home is likely not the only one on the market in your immediate area.  Buyers usually look at at least five or six houses similar to your home. 

It is critical sellers understand the importance of first impressions.  Your home may have a few flaws that can be overcome or overlooked by buyers - if they like the rest of the home.  If the initial impression is one of "No Way!" you have no chance.

A few articles on curb appeal, staging and making a good impression are presented below.  Some were written several years ago and are even more important than ever.

When you are ready to sell your Viera home, call me directly at 321-693-3850 or email me to discuss how I can work for you.

Selling in a Gated Community: Could Your Security Guard Cost You a Sale?

Gated communities are very popular in Viera, Florida as well as in many areas of Brevard County, Florida.  There are lots of reasons people want to live in gated communities.  For one thing it does keep the general public out and provides some additional privacy.

Although being in a gated community implies secure remember it is not a guarantee

Gated communities in Brevard County can be divided into two types:  (1) gated with automated gates and (2) staffed by a human.

Some of the local neighborhoods have some real personable folks on the gates like out at the 55+ community of Heritage Isle in Viera.

And then some communities have those who are indifferent, never smile and interrogate as if a real estate agent showing clients the neighborhood, is really an intruder!

There is especially one neighborhood where I let my clients know up front that getting in is harder than access to Fort Knox!   I have had clients remark to me the guard's attitude was uncalled for!

As a real estate agent I ignore the rudeness. 

But if you are selling in this competitive buyer's market, think about it.   Does your security guard portray your neighborhood in a positive manner?

I wonder if prospective buyers feel the attitude reflects the general friendliness of the neighborhood.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Home Buyers -- Perform Your Own Homework

Your real estate agent can show you properties that meet your search parameters like price range, structure age, square footage, school district, beach side, rural, etc.  Your agent can show you golf course communities, gated communities, 55+ communities, new developments, short sales, foreclosures or whatever.

However, this real estate agent will not do anything to violate the Fair Housing Act - Don't ask!

The Fair Housing Act prohibits any different treatment of persons based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap. 

If you find interest in a particular property your real estate agent can request the seller disclosures and HOA rules.

As a buyer it is a good idea for you to also perform your own research.
  • Worried about crime, check with local law enforcement.
  • Wonder if there are sexual offenders in the area, check the state database.  
  • Really wonder about the schools, research the local schools and visit them.  
  • Wonder what the neighborhood is like after all the kids are home from school and people return from work, visit in the evening or weekend.
  • Wonder how the neighbors like living in the area, ask them.
  • Wonder how the homeowner association is doing, attend a meeting and ask for a financial disclosure or summary from the seller.
As a buyer these areas can be just as important as a property inspection (or more) as they impact your future quality of life.

The information is available – use it!

This post was inspired by a recent article by Debe Maxwell, Realtor®, Charlotte, NC.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Real Estate Buyers: Consideration for Seller an Appropriate Courtesy

I can live with your failure to meet as agreed upon yesterday.  Sure I scheduled the appointments for the homes you wanted to view.  Sure I went to the office to meet you as agreed upon.

I even waited for an hour.    No answer at your phone either.

Still I got work done as I returned calls, scheduled appointments, emailed listings to clients, etc.  So, although I am disappointed a bit I am not outraged!

But, I am pretty sure the three home owners who were expecting you to see their homes were not happy!

It may be a buyer’s market.... still some consideration for the seller remains an appropriate courtesy.
Here is a next time!

Tenant Placement and Owner Managed Rental Property in Brevard County, Florida–My Two Cents Worth…

Although I primarily work with buyers and sellers in Brevard County, Florida I do occasionally work with owners and investors in finding tenants for their rental properties.

As the real estate market evolved from a seller's market to a buyer's market I see more investors opting to purchase properties and turn them into rentals rather than “flipping” properties for a profit.

Things have changed.

As I mentioned earlier, I assist with tenant placement only - not property management.  Many of these investors choose to handle their own properties if they live locally.   Besides, when one is in a position to collect the rents, do the little things necessary to address issues, and be available for those calls, it does save that 10% gross rent most property management companies charge!

Now my two cents worth of unsolicited advice for owner managers.
  1. Most tenants are real people.  Some may have had a few bumps in the road including a short sale in the past.  Don’t be too harsh if the only bump was real estate.  Lots of folks got burned or, at least, singed a bit!
  2. Build a relationship from the start.  When the tenant and landlord are on good terms then there is more likely going to be open communication if when there is a problem – with the house or the tenant’s next rent check!  If a tenant knows you are concerned they may be more likely to call you when a minor problem shows up instead of ignoring it! 
  3. Don’t be too kindhearted.  It is great to have a nice relationship but ignoring or letting missed payments slide can add up…and the eviction process takes time!
OK, there is my two cents worth!

If you are an owner investor in Brevard County (or leaving the area and can’t sell for now) and need help with tenant placement, call me directly at 321-693-3850 or email me to discuss how I can work with you..

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Deal Closing Tomorrow is Better Than Maybe a Deal Closing in a Month or Two or Three…

Getting to the closing table these days requires give and take on the part of the seller and buyer.  There has been much written on the secrets to successful negotiation.  In real estate I think it is pretty simple when it comes to negotiation. 

I had a transaction recently where the seller chose to throw in the 500 pound gun safe at the last minute. (It probably weighed a lot more!).  In this case the contract was already signed, the inspections done, and all that was left was the closing.

But then the buyer asked for one last thing.  **We had a contract and the seller did not have to do anything else.

So why did the seller comply with the request? 

The sellers did it because they understood that a deal closing tomorrow at full price is better than an unknown deal closing in a month or two! 

When you receive that offer on your home, consider it wisely.

And, if they ask for the safe, consider it wisely!

**There are legal issues involved with contract performance. I am not an attorney. If you are placed in similar situation consult an attorney.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cost of Living in Heritage Isle (and Master Planned Communities)

While discussing costs associated with living in Viera's premier 55+ community Heritage Isle with a caller yesterday afternoon, I realized many prospective buyers fail to understand all the costs associated with living in a master planned community.

Buyers appear to look primarily at the taxes on the property which are based on the assessed value minus all the exemptions.  To understand property tax exemptions in Brevard County, check with the Brevard Property Appraisers Office.

Buyers in master planned communities and developments like Heritage Isle need to look at the other associated costs.

Most prospective buyers understand there will be association dues (around $300 a month in Heritage Isle as well as the other 55+ community in Viera, Grand Isle).

Heritage Isle residents pay an additional assessment with their annual taxes called a Heritage Isle Community Development District.  Property owners in Heritage Isle see this non-ad valorem assessment on their annual property tax bill.  Some of the things the CDD is responsible for are sidewalks, water management, conservation areas, common area landscaping, parks.

The current Heritage Isle CDD is around $866 (single family homes), $628 (villas), and $630 (condos).  There appears to be some variation so check the tax account for specific properties.  Also the CDD budgets annually so there is no permanent set amount.

Here are some links for additional research.

Heritage Isle at Viera Community Development District (CDD)

What does the CDD offer its residents?

"The CDD’s business is conducted in the “Sunshine,” which means all meetings and records are open to the public. Public hearings are held on CDD assessments. and the CDD’s budget is subject to annual independent audit."

By the way, there are other assessments added to your tax bill.  These non-ad valorem fees include solid waste collection, an annual county fire assessment, solid waste disposal assessment, stormwater assessment, and likely others.

Knowing in advance (as much as possible) the costs involved with a Heritage Isle purchase is very important!

When you are ready to buy your Heritage Isle or Grand Isle home, call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.

***The above is presented as general information.  I am not a tax expert, CPA or attorney. 

Sometimes it is obvious why a house will not sell at its listed price...

Pride in ownership is a good thing.  Being able to make improvements to your home to retain value is a good thing.  Being able to add the touches that make your life more enjoyable is a good thing.

But… improvements to your home will not likely be recouped dollar for dollar when selling.  There is no need to add 100% of the cost of the new AC to your listing price or the cost of the "newer" roof.  Sure those improvements or maintenance items add some value.

I saw a newer listing this morning that caught my eye because of its high price.  Upon a bit of research I found it to be priced about 36% higher than anything sold in its Rockledge neighborhood during the previous eight months.

Why will this house not sell for this high price?  It has lots of positive characteristics. Like a pool addition,  privacy fence,  newer AC and hot water heater, an updated kitchen and is obviously a well maintained frame construction. 

  • Because…. for $30K less a home with 500 sq.ft. more, concrete block construction, built in 2006,  for sale in Phillips Landing in Rockledge.
  • Because….for $40K less a home with 200 sq.ft. more, built in 1999, concrete block construction, fenced yard, for sale in Ashwood Lakes.
  • Because…for $40K less a 2003 built concrete block home with 400 sq.ft. more, located on a pond in Viera, listed for sale in Auburn Lakes.
  • Because… for $35K less a 2007, larger, concrete home is listed in Viera’s Indigo Crossing.

None of the above  have a private pool but they do have community pools, parks, playgrounds that the first neighborhood lacks.

So why will the older house not sell? 

It is called competitionSellers must look beyond the local street or neighborhood. 

Gary L. Waters PLLC, Florida licensed real estate agent, Century 21 Baytree Realty, Rockledge, Florida serving Florida's Space Coast including the cities and communities of Melbourne, Viera, Rockledge, Suntree, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach and the surrounding region.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is selling your home a competition?

Some of us are much more competitive than others.  Some of us play (compete) to win while others play to participate or get the exercise. 

What is this I speak of?

It could be golf (great golf courses in Brevard County, Florida), tennis or even track.  It could be a science project you are “helping” your child prepare for or even a Cub Scout project like the pinewood derby.

Or….It could be selling your home.

Real estate is a competition.

Successfully selling your home is work on the part of the seller and their Realtor®.

Recognizing this at the outset will put things in perspective and will help keep you focused.

No one puts their home on the market to just participate.  Or do they?

When you are ready to sell your Brevard County, Florida home, call me to discuss how I can work with you. I can be reached directly at 321-693-3850 or by email

Real Estate 101: A Flawed Pricing Theory

I showed a house over the weekend located in a very nice gated community in Viera, Florida.  I must admit that this particular house was not necessarily one the buyers had selected but rather one I chose as it was vacant.

It was Father's Day and I did not want disturb sellers unless my client really had a real interest.  This opportunity did allow me to further define my client’s preferences.

As it turned out this one was pretty much what they had in mind.   Of course I told them the price was way too high and why I chose to show it.

After I gave the seller's agent feedback on the price I was advised the seller knew it was way too high but wanted to guard against getting low ball offers.

Such flawed selling thinking because…

Sellers have no obligation to entertain low ball offers – reject them or counter the offer, period.

Sellers usually don’t get showings if they are not reasonable on the price  (a let’s talk price).  This vacant home was getting shown as an example – not as a real consideration.

If you are really interested in selling your Viera Florida home, price it to sell otherwise it will likely just be ignored!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Ethics (?) of “Buying” a Real Estate Listing

I am not here sitting in judgment of anyoneonly making a personal observation.  I do not claim to know the motives of others. 

Every day I see listings that are, in my opinion, much too high for the current market.   You can spot them yourself with very little effort.

Anyway, when I see a listing that is really really (double really!) too high for the area, it makes me wonder a bit.
  1. Does the seller really believe that someone will pay so much over the established neighborhood prices?  Are they wishful thinkers or looking for what I call a “bigger sucker?” 
  2. Did the listing agent tell them what they wanted to hear in order to get the listing?  This is commonly called “buying the listing.” 
  3. Did the listing agent decide to take the listing at their price in order to get leads from the calls that come from the sign out front?  
If any real estate agent takes a listing knowing it will not sell at a reasonable negotiated price in a reasonable period of time that meets the seller's needs then they may be misleading the sellers.
    And to mislead is not ethical – ever!

    When you are ready to sell your Viera home, call me. I will give you the numbers to support my recommendations. And then you decide! Call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Mortgage Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval can be light years apart!

    Buyers often get pre-qualification and pre-approval confused.   Many erroneously think they are the same thing. 

    The first step in either of these is contact with a mortgage lender.  Some go for the online approval process like with   This may work fine for many however I am a bit more old fashioned.  I prefer the brick and mortar lender like a local credit union,  bank or mortgage lender's office.

    Pre-Qualification is basically the process where the lender takes the information provided by the borrower and reviews the income, debt, assets, credit history, money available for down payments, employment history, and other information.   With this the lender can provide a pre-qualification letter which tells the borrower how much they are qualified to borrow. 

    Pre-Approval goes further and is the step to take if you intend to purchase a home.   In the pre-approval process the loan application is completed and submitted.  This is where the lender will pull the credit report, ask for tax returns, pay stubs, and other documentation.   This is where you want to be when you are serious about a purchase.   At this point you should request a pre-approval letter be provided.  Make sure the lender provides you with known closing costs!

    When you are ready to make an offer to purchase, a copy of this letter will carry much more weight withe a seller than a pre-qualification letter.  The reality is most sellers want the pre-approval letter and nothing less! 

    Of course the loan approval goes further with appraisals, verification of data again, etc

    Talk to a lender if you are considering a home purchase.   In Brevard County, Florida, call me and I can provide you with several lender contacts. 

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Real Estate Activity in Viera Suntree and Rockledge, Florida - Perception and Reality

    To hear people talk these days, nothing is going on in real estate except foreclosures and short sales!   The reality depends on where you look and what you are looking for.

    Buyers want to see low prices with lots of short sales and foreclosures in great condition while sellers want to see reasonable prices on standard sales with little distressed property inventory!

    In the Viera, Suntree and Rockledge areas of Brevard County, Florida there is a mix of activity between the fair market, short sale and REO (foreclosure) markets.

    For example, as it relates to single family homes (using data from May 1, 2011 through June 15, 2011 as reported in the Brevard Realtors® MLS system) in the Viera, Suntree and Rockledge markets.....

    Total number of active listings for single family homes in Viera, Suntree and Rockledge – 437.   Of these 437 properties for sale there are 18 foreclosures (bank owned) and 81 short sales.   If my numbers are correct, fair market/ standard sales listings comprise more than 3 of every 4 listings (77%).

    Of the 286 properties under contract (pending or contingent in MLS), 164 are short sales or foreclosures.   Many of these are short sales (149) and are waiting for lender approval which can take 3-6 months (sometimes longer!).

    So what is selling in Viera, Suntree or Rockledge, Florida?   Since May 1, 2011 there have been 73 single family units sold.  Of these 73, twenty five were distressed properties – about one of every three.

    While over half the single family homes under contract are distressed properties (57%)  and 34% of the closings being distressed properties,  one could look at the glass as half full rather than half empty.... 

    43% of the homes under contract are fair market sales and 66% of the recent closings were fair market sales!

    Buying and Selling in Brevard County Florida – Its about you, not me.

    One of the things I find annoying is excessive personal promotion overload.  I see it on Twitter every day.  I see it on Facebook.  I see it on the boob tube every day.

    When it comes to selling your Viera Florida house or condo, I will let my actions speak.

    If you have a NEED for YOUR Brevard County home to be SOLD, this Viera Florida real estate agent will get it done.

    Call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.

    There, I said it - not a lot of personal information or excessive personal promotion! Call me!

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Three Things Home Buyers Must Understand About Today’s Real Estate Market

    Home buyers must understand a few things before they hop in the car looking for homes – at least in the Brevard County, Florida real estate market.
    1. All great deals are not steals. Sellers are competing with distressed properties as well as their neighbors who are also selling in this market.  The  prices are, for the most part, competitive.  You will find many great deals although they will not be "steals!"
    2. Short sale does not mean fire sale.  In a short sale the seller is trying to sell for less than the mortgage owed.  This type of sale takes time to get the lender approval of any offer. Lenders are wanting reasonable, even if discounted, offers.
    3. Banks don't give homes away!  The foreclosures on the market are priced competitively. But, just as with short sales, the banks are not looking to give away foreclosed properties.
    For information on homes for sale in Brevard County, Florida, call me directly at 321-693-3850 or email me.

    How to Buy a House...

    Home Buyers - Take the time to evaluate the junk before it goes in the trunk!

    One thing I have learned over the years while working with buyers is once we start looking at homes and serious consideration is given to a prospective property, the question that often arises is "Will my XXXX fit in this space?  What about my XXX?   Is this garage big enough for my XXXX?"

    Moving can be stressful as well as exciting. 

    It is also an opportunity to take a serious look at your "stuff."  Do you need to buy (and cool, heat, clean, and pay to move) extra space to store things you don't use?

    Buyers should take the time to evaluate the junk before it goes in the trunk - or the moving van!

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Home Seller Tip: How do buyers get in my house to see it?

    There are many things involved with selling a home.  From preparation to closing table lots of details to be handled but for a home to sell one thing must occur – prospective buyers must be able to see it!

    Real estate agents working with buyers usually screen properties and work with buyers so they only see properties that meet their needs.   If your home is on the list, then it may just be "the one."

    You do not need to be present to open the door as it is usually best for a seller to not be home for showings.   The buyer's real estate agent can access your home through an electronic key box if you allowed one to be placed on your home.

    In Brevard County, agents use an electronic device with an individual pin number to access the box.  Your agent can be notified by the iBox when someone accesses the key if they are using its capabilities fullyI set my listings up to send me an email with date, time and name of individual accessing the property.

    The electronic key box is much more secure than the old fashioned combo lock boxes where you have no way of knowing who accessed the key.

    Your home's security and your safety is important to me.  Some key advice I offer my sellers...
    1. Never open your door to an agent unless my office (or Showing Service) has contacted you to advise of scheduled showing. 
    2. Never open the door to strangers.  I provide my card at the time of listing.  If anyone comes to your door, tell them to contact me.
    Electronic lock boxes have made accessing homes for sale much easier.  However, courtesy demands an appointment be made - in advance.
    And don't worry about off hour intrusion as the lock boxes can be programmed for access only during set hours! 

    When you are ready to sell your Viera, Rockledge or Suntree, Florida home, call me directly at 321-693-3850 or email me.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Home Buyer Tip: If you have four months which do you choose, new construction or a short sale?

    While looking over the recent activity in Rockledge, Florida’s Phillips Landing subdivision I noticed most of the active listings fall primarily into two categories – new construction and short sale.

    Of the six active listings in Phillips Landing on June 14th,  there are three short sales , two new construction properties and a lone foreclosure.

    First of all, I will discount the foreclosure from this discussion as foreclosures are not the same as either of these.

    Several of these homes are very similar in size (2000-2400 sq.ft. under air).  The prices are not that far apart either – perhaps $10-15,000 once you get a reasonable offer signed off by the seller.

    The new construction properties are listed with four months as the build out time.   If you are lucky a short sale will likely take at least four months.

    So, which do you choose, a short sale or new construction in Phillips Landing? 

    A short sale may or may not be approved.  New construction is more of a certain thing – if there is such a thing in real estate!

    If new construction is your choice....

    If you are looking for a new home in Phillips Landing, Chelsea Park, Augusta Trace or any of Rockledge, Florida's great neighborhoods, call me at 321-693-3850 or email me

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Ventura at Turtle Creek in Rockledge, Florida–Newer Condos under $100,000

    Ventura at Turtle Creek in Rockledge, Florida offers newer condos (built 2006 -2008) for less than $100,000!

    Seven of the eleven active condos have been on the market for more than four months probably an indication of a pricing issue.

    There are two foreclosures on the market – a 1,112 sq.ft. unit listed at $74,900 and a 1,412 sq.ft. unit listed at $79,900.  There are also two short sales listed at about $99,900.  There are plenty of opportunities for investors and owner occupants at The Ventura at Turtle Creek. 

    If you are looking for a vacation/second home or looking to downsize, consider the Ventura at Turtle Creek complex in Rockledge.

    Here is a little background information:

    The Ventura at Turtle Creek is a newer construction gated condo complex near the Turtle Creek Golf Course in Rockledge, Florida were built by Pulte Homes.
    The floor plans offered within the complex by the builder included these:
    • Napa, 1,112 sq. ft. under air, 2 bedrooms Sonoma, 1,247 sq. ft. under air, 3 bedrooms/2 bath
    • Santa Rosa, 1,412 sq. ft. under air, 3 bedrooms/2 bath
    • Santa Cruz, 1,391 sq. ft. under air, 3 bedrooms/2 bath
    • Santa Anna, 1,447 sq. ft. under air, 3 bedrooms/2 bath
    The Sonoma model is a corner unit and the Napa an end unit. Although the buildings are four stories, elevators make it easy to get up and down! Some units offered single car garages and others have single carports with storage.

    The homeowner's association fee (now about $300 a month) includes the community pool, 4 pavilions, clubhouse, gated entrance, lawn maintenance, insurance (buildings), water-sewer and maintenance of the building.

    Of course, read the association documents and disclosures to verify all included in association fees!

    For information on condos for sale in Viera and Rockledge, Florida including Ventura at Turtle Creek, call me directly or email me.

    Listing Interviews–Why Real Estate Agents Better Have Their Act Together!

    Consumers have access to so much information these days.  Buying a car?  They are headed to Edmund's, or Kelley Blue Book or wherever!  Buying a new computer or refrigerator…Consumer Reports may be on the research list.

    Selling a house?  Likely researching topics like homes sold data, the active listings on the local MLS site.  Or headed to one of the big sites like the one that is always popping up during listing interviews – Zillow and their Zestimates – or the other one, Trulia.

    The point is sellers (and buyers) have massive amounts of data at their disposal.  More so today than years ago.

    And, as a real estate agent in Brevard County Florida, I better know your neighborhood and what that data means.  After all, data is of little use unless it is evaluated in the context of a specific decision or process.

    I better know
    • what is selling, 
    • what is not selling, 
    • what the property appraiser data tells me about your house, 
    • what needs to be done to prepare your house, 
    • what selling will cost you, what must be done to successfully market your home,
    • whatever you ask.
    Every listing interview is a job interview.

    Will you hire me?  I hope so but to make sure it happens, I better have my act together when I pull up to your driveway!

    When you are ready to sell your Viera, Suntree or Rockledge, Florida house or condo, call me. I will be ready for your interview!

    Email me or call me directly at 321-693-3850.

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    New Construction in Viera and Rockledge, Florida

    I am always happy to promote new construction in Viera and Rockledge, Florida.  It could be because with new construction there will likely be less challenges to the deal like a bad home inspection! 

    Some buyers want everything!

    And if new is on your list, Viera and Rockledge have buying opportunities.

    Like in Heritage Isle - chosen on of the best master planned communities in the USA for 2011 - where you can get new homes at great prices from builders like Lennar and Burgoon-Berger.  Just recently Lennar has re-started construction of the larger estate models in Heritage Isle.

    There are larger new construction homes in the gated Sunstone community as well as in the higher end gated community of Fairway Lakes in Viera where you can get new construction overlooking the Duran Golf Course.

    As with all new construction, I highly recommend you negotiate with builders.  Before you visit any new model homes, find yourself a knowledgeable real estate agent to represent you.

    If new construction is a consideration, buyers need to understand there are price differences between “cookie cutter” homes, semi-custom homes and custom built homes.

    If you are considering buying your new home in Viera or Rockledge, Florida, call me to discuss how I can assist you in the process - including new construction!

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Selling Your Home - The Key

    I have written numerous times about how pricing sells – anything!   I have written about how to prepare your home for selling.  I have written about the home buying process.  I have written about why you need a buyer's agent and who pays for your real estate agent.  All very important topics.

    Still, with all the work involved, selling is ultimately achieved because of exposure.

    At some point, buyer “A” must see the listing.

    The exposure may be by one of the lesser effective means like a newspaper advertisement of real estate magazine or drive by with the sign out front.  It could have been a direct mail action like a postcard or even word of mouth.  Of course, lesser effective means is not the appropriate term if it works!

    The trend has been buyers come from the Internet more than any other source.

    Click on any of the below searches and verify I am on the first page of Google.

    Viera Realtor
    Viera real estate agent
    Chelsea Park Rockledge
    Phillips Landing Rockledge
    Heritage Isle Viera
    Grand Isle Viera
    Fairway Lakes at Viera
    Baytree Homes for sale
    Ravencliffe Viera
    Ventura at Turtle Creek

    It is all about exposure...getting the word out.  And if it isn't on the Internet is isn't being exposed!

    When you are ready to sell your Viera, Suntree or Rockledge, Florida home,  call me to discuss how I can work for you!

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Homeowner Associations – You can’t Choose Your Family But You Can Choose Your HOA!

    Say "homeowner association" (HOA) and the first thing many think of is  - rules!chartreuse

    And many see these rules as a positive.  Most associations have architectural restrictions that may keep your neighbor from painting their house a bright yellow chartreuse, for instance. 

    Association rules (as well as city ordinances) can restrict the use of a home.   Some associations restrict the type of vehicle you may have on your driveway overnight (like no pick up trucks out of the garage or vehicles having a magnetic sign on the door).  Some limit the rental use of your property – like never, or establish minimum lease periods.  Some may require tenant screening and approval as well.

    And lets not forget the yard – mow the grass, pull the weeds, etc.!

    Associations are made up of people.  And people do not always get along.  And sometimes disputes arise. 

    Having lived in developments with and without associations I tend to believe they are a good thing.  It is up to each buyer to decide for themselves.

    Here are a couple of posts that may be helpful.
    "You ain't the boss of me!" To live with homeowner associations and deed restrictions or not?
    Deed Restrictions, Homeowner Associations and the like... Help or Obstacle?
    In Florida, before you purchase any place…if there is an association – read the rules.   Ask to speak to members of the Board of Directors, the association manager, attend an HOA meeting if it is allowed.

    In Viera, Suntree and many of the newer areas in Brevard County, you will find homeowner associations are not an option!

    The reality is....

    As long as you own a home in a development with an association, you are going to be hindered, oppressed, stressed, harassed or protected  by belonging to a homeowner association. 

    Viera’s Heritage Isle Named One of USA’s Top 50 Best Master Planned Communities for 2011!

    Heritage Isle in Viera in central Brevard County, Florida has been named one of the Nation’s top 50 Master Planned Communities by “Where to Retire” Magazine.  


    The magazine’s upcoming July/August 2011 issue will acknowledge what those of us in central Florida already know – Viera’s Heritage Isle is among the very best 55+ communities in the United States!  I have been posting articles on this web site as well as Florida Homes and Condos For Sale for several years about Heritage Isle’s features including:

    1. gated entry (staffed 24 hours)
    2. 21,000 sq.ft. clubhouse
    3. fitness center library with computer stations
    4. pools
    5. tennis
    6. golfing next door at the Duran Golf Club 
    7. location - near the new Viera Hospital 
    8. shopping nearby
    9. access to beaches and cruises within minutes, and more!
    10. lawn service/landscaping included in HOA dues
    11. choice of single family, villa or condo living
    12. concierge services available
    13. attractive prices and much more!
    For information on Viera’s Heritage Isle, drop me an email or give me a call at 321-693-3850.  In the words of one of my past clients, “Viera is one of Florida's best kept secrets!”  Check us out!

    By the way, I was interviewed by one of the magazine’s staffers several months ago while they were gathering background info for this article.   How did they find me? 

    Thursday, June 09, 2011

    Indigo Crossing in Viera–Once the short sales are sold, what next?

    Back in April I said this about Indigo Crossing in Viera, 

    "With a market where the prices are still falling a bit my guess is the price of a home in Indigo Crossing is about….$150,000 +/-  five or ten thousand depending on condition variances."
    Now, two months later, I am going to see if things have changed in Indigo Crossing.

    Let’s see…. there are now seven active listings which includes three short sales.   Four of the listings are 1,911 sq.ft. – the same as the four short sales that sold over the past three months for $138,000 to $160,000.

    There are also four 1,902-1,911 sq.ft. short sales under contract with list prices of $145,000 to $170,000.

    The active listings are priced at $149,000*; $194,900; $198,000; $225,000*, $219,000*; $179,000 and $187,300.  [*=short sale]  The two properties over $200,000 are larger than the others (2,200-2,300 sq.ft.).

    The big question is with the last four sales around the $150,000 mark, what will buyers pay after all the short sales are gone?

    I doubt the increase will be rapid or significant, if at all!

    If you are considering buying or selling in Indigo Crossing in Viera West, call me directly at 321-693-3850 or email me. 

    Wednesday, June 08, 2011

    Heritage Isle Condos in Viera–Market Activity through June 8, 2011

    Back on March 26,2011  I posted a market report about the Heritage Isle condos in Viera's popular gated 55+ community.

    After reviewing the recent activity in the Heritage Isle condo market I chose to just edit the March 2011 report to emphasize the changes in the market.

    The original text is in black print with the current status is the blue print.

    I am not sure why - can't be the prices - the condos at Heritage Isle, Viera, Florida's premier 55+ community, seem to be taking forever to sell!
    Presently there are fourteen fourteen condos listed for sale.  Of these, there are three four short sales.

    Listing prices for the condos in Heritage Isle range from $99,950 $89,000 to $139,900 $135,000.  With seven eight of the active listings at Heritage Isle priced at or below $120,000, it is obvious the prices are going to stay down for a while. 

    So what has happened in the previous several months…list prices have fallen and the last sale was on March 23, 2011 for $109,000. 

     For information on homes and condos for sale in Heritage Isle (or Grand IsleViera’s other Lennar built 55+ community – call me directly at 321-693-3850 or email me.

    Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    Famous Last Words in Real Estate – It is NOT "Just Reduced Again!"

    There are many phrases frequently used in real estate to emphasize the desire to sell.   Some make sense while others can be puzzling like the ubiquitous  "seller motivated."

    If one is going through the motions of selling  - hired real estate agent, sign out front, advertised in magazines, open house conducted, etc. - is it not a given they are motivated?

    Sadly, it is not a given.

    Home buyers are much more savvy these days.  They have at their disposal lots of information.  Some found on the Internet themselves, some provided by their knowledgeable real estate agent. 

    Suffice it to say, buyers know when a seller is motivated.

    When you are ready to sell your Brevard County, Florida house or condo, call me at 31-693-3850 to discuss how I can work for you.  Let me get to work on finding you a ready, willing and able buyer for your Brevard County home!

    Grand Isle in Viera, Florida–Homes are selling fast in this Florida 55+ community!

    Looking over the listings in Grand Isle in Viera this morning it was very apparent the Grand Isle homes are selling as summer approaches!

    Just in May 2011 there have been five single family homes sold. And the homes selling are going for attractive prices – all between $160,400 and $215,000 (four at/below $190,000).

    As June begins there are seven active listings in Grand Isle.  These single family detached homes are not cracker boxes either - five of the listings at 1,991 sq.ft. and above.  And the price are attractive as well with three of the listings priced under $190,000( highest priced at $259,000).

    Need more information on this gated, 55+ community? Email me, please for more information.

    Here are a few links to several other informational posts about Grand Isle in Viera.

    If you are considering a retirement home in Florida, call me to discuss the great deals at Grand Isle and Heritage Isle in Viera!

    Viera, Suntree and Rockledge, Florida Home Sales in May 2011

    Viera, Suntree and Rockledge, Florida Home Sales in May 2011 were consistent with April 2011 sales with 89 residential units sold in May (87 in April).
    The average selling price for all sales in Viera, Suntree and Rockledge in May 2011 was $220,389. The average median selling price was $177,000 with the average days on the market (list to contract date) at 122 days for all residential sales.

    Perhaps a good sign for the Viera and Rockledge market is there were fewer distressed properties sold in May than April 2011 with 14 short sales and 10 foreclosures selling in May.  During April there were 18 short sales and 15 foreclosures sold.

    As is always the case, the days on the market were greater for distressed sales with short sales being 170 days and foreclosures at 223 days on the market.  It is also no surprise the average selling price for short sales ($207,271) and foreclosures ($143,989) was lower than the fair market sales.

    The small difference between selling price for all and selling price for short sales does show the short sale is not a fire sale but rather a modest discounting.  For information on homes for sale in Viera, Suntree, and Rockledge, Florida email me or call me directly at 321-693-3850.

    Monday, June 06, 2011

    The “Secret” to Selling Your House - Mind The The "P's and Q's"

    Everyone wants to know what "the secret" is to selling their home.  Is it any wonder why so many books have been written pitching "the secret to WHATEVER!”  

    There is no real secret to selling your house.

    Selling requires:
    1. preparing your home for sale 
    2. pricing you home to sell 
    3. promoting your home to expose it to your potential buyer pool.
    4. quickly getting an offer...longer on market, less appeal, "The golden period!"

    As in all things, in its simplest is work that creates rewards.  Selling your home is no different!

    When you are ready to sell your Brevard County, Florida home, call me at 321-693-3850. I promise you a no obligation consultation with no annoying follow ups.   If you prefer, send me an email.  If you want me to sell your Brevard County, Florida home, you tell me so after we meet!

    Brevard County Florida Real Estate Sales in May 2011: Banks SHOULD want a short sale instead of a foreclosure!

    It is not rocket scienceselling a house as a short sale is much better than as a foreclosure.  So, banks, get on with the short sale approvals and clean up this mess!   After all, it was your easy lending policies that contributed to this mess.

    An unscientific look at the residential sales in Brevard County for May 2011 will show  the realized sale price declines as a property goes “down the hill” to foreclosure.

    During May there were 360 standard residential sales, 120 short sale residential sales and 133 foreclosed residential sales in Brevard County.  The average selling prices, respectively were $181,761, $136,617 and $86,613.

    Key point: Foreclosures typically have been vacant for an extended time.  Foreclosures have very often been stripped of appliances and much of the removable components.

    Seller motivation is very often a major difference between a short sale and a foreclosure.   In a short sale the seller typically wants to get as much as possible for the property.  The incentive here is to minimize  the difference between monies owed and proceeds.  Thus, an incentive to maintain the property in its best showroom condition!

    The steady decline in sales price is pretty consistent regardless of property location or price.   For example, take the May 2011 sales in one of the “good” areas of Brevard County – Viera, Suntree and Rockledge.

    In May there were 58 standard sales (average selling price of $216,522),  13 short sales sold  (average selling price of $174,889) and 7 foreclosures sold (average sales price of $98,769).  Again a very steady decline as the sales type goes “down the foreclosure path.”

    So what is the message here?
    1. Investors – your best bet may be a foreclosure for a deal if price is most important.
    2. Banksapprove the short sale before you let the proceeds decline even further while you throw away money maintaining (loosely used here) the property!
    3. Standard SellersKnow thy competition.
    4. Short sellersDon’t accept just any offer. Help the banks (and yourself) out by negotiating up front for a real, perhaps slightly discounted, sales price!

    Sunday, June 05, 2011

    Oh the devil is always in the details - The Real Estate Transaction

    "It all about the details..."
    Oh the devil is always in the details and can really get you if you are not careful.”  Those were the comments left on one of my posts by Lisa of The Scott Loper Team Lansdale of Harleysville PA.

    I just encountered one of them “devil” moments this week.   Like when the mortgage broker sends me an email that says “XXXXX St. is a town house?”  My response, "yes, we spoke about it when I sent you the buyer’s contract."

    Apparently the lender he was sending my buyers through only does financing on second homes with 30% down. As my buyers were planning on 20% it was now one of those devil is always in the details moments.

    Now the mortgage guy will be re-processing through another lender while I do an extension for a few weeks and hope the lender will wait.  After waiting four months on short sale approval I would hope the lender would accept a slight delay. 

    Now, just thinking to myself now….do mortgage brokers and loan officers look at tax records or verify the type of structure when they start a loan transaction?

    Heritage Isle in Viera, Florida – Market Activity Summary for May 2011

    As June 2011 begins there are 22 active single family detached residential properties for sale in Viera’s premier 55+ gated community Heritage Isle.

    These active listings are priced from $169,900 to $300,000 with size ranging from 1,600 to almost 2,500 sq.ft. under air.  Folks are buying single family homes in Heritage Isle as seven properties have gone under contract since May 1, 2011!

    There are also two villa style homes for sale in Heritage Isle.  Both are short sales listed for $120,000 and $139,900.  One villa style home closed in May 2011 for $100,000 (substantially less than the list price of $115,900).  Another four units have gone under contract since May 1st as well.

    Folks are buying in Heritage Isle with eleven total units going under contract since May 1, 2011.  [And this does not include new construction – call me about new construction homes in Heritage Isle!]

    The below chart summarizes what has sold in May 2011 as compared to May 2010.

    For information on homes and condos for sale in Heritage Isle, please call me directly at 321-693-3850 or email me.

    Unless it’s a "custom build," flexibility may be required when buying a home!

    Finding the perfect house or condo happens – occasionally.  But, most of the time, unless it is a custom built property, there will be some give and take required.

    This is exactly why it is important for a buyer to understand their needs before looking for a home to purchase.  I wrote about it three years ago this month.  I put it this way…
    1. Must haves:  Some things a house must have - can't live without. Know these up front! 
    2. Can't haves:  Just like you must have certain things, there are things you just do not want. Know what these are from the start! 
    3. Nice to have:  Sometimes an extra just happens to show up in a house you find...what a nice find! Identify all these parameters up front.
    Buying a home can be exciting, frustrating, challenging, and a host of other emotions. 

    Key point:  When ready to purchase a home first obtain a mortgage pre-approval and then figure out what you must have and go from there!

    When you are ready to buy that Brevard County, Florida home or condo, call me directly at 321-693-3850 or email me. I would welcome a chance to be your Brevard County, Florida Realtor® of Choice!

    Saturday, June 04, 2011

    Larger Homes for Sale in Viera–All Price Ranges!

    While looking over the new Brevard County, Florida MLS entries this morning I noticed a few new listings including some larger homes.  If you are looking for a larger home in Brevard County, regardless of your price range, you can find them in Viera, Rockledge and Suntree (Melbourne), Florida.

    You can have a large, less customized home in the lower/under $200,000 range or a huge customized home in the $400,000 plus range.  There is definitely a large home for every budget! 

    A few examples are listed here.  If you want information on any of the subdivisions listed, email me, please. 
    • In Indian River Colony Club (one of Viera’s three 55+ communities) you can find a 2,800+ sq.ft. home for $139,900.
    • In Capron Ridge you can find a 2,300+ sq.ft. home for $159,900.
    • In Rockledge’s Enclave subdivision there is a 2,600 sq.ft. listed for only $174,900.
    • In Viera West the Terramore subdivision offers new construction, 2,300+ sq.ft. for $263,000!
    • Heritage Isle (another of Viera’s 55+ communities), a 2,400+ sq.ft. home is on the market for $278,000.
    • Within the gated Baytree National Golf Links gates you can find homes at almost 2,500 sq.ft. listed at $329,900. (also homes as large as 7,000 sq.ft.).
    • Over at Eason Landing, more than 3,000 sq.ft. new construction at $413,000!
    • Wyndham Way next to Duran Golf Course has very large homes – 4,000 sq.ft. and larger, in the $600,000+ range!  Wyndham actually offers the largest homes on the market in Viera at this time – 5,900+ sq.ft. listed at about 1.3 million!
    This is just a sampling of the variety of homes on the market in Viera, Suntree and Rockledge, Florida.  There are lots of other subdivisions offering very large properties!

    Key point:  The differences in these homes are basically location (key) and customization.  When comparing cost per square foot there is a difference!

    When you are ready to buy a home in central Brevard County, call me directly at 321-693-3850 or email me.

    Friday, June 03, 2011

    Chelsea Park Subdivision in Rockledge- Homes are selling…Act Now!

    In this buyer’s market homes don’t sell, right?   Wrong – at least if Chelsea Park in Rockledge, Florida is the subdivision.

    During May 2011 there were three closings (seven since March 1st) in Chelsea Park:
    • 405 Cobblewood Drive – 2,385 sq.ft. sold for $189900
    • 467 Stonehenge Circle – 3,156 sq.ft. sold for $219,000
    • 428 Stonehenge Circle – 2,416 sq.ft. sold for $198,000
    And the homes that are selling?  Six are under contract awaiting closing (two under contract in past two weeks!).  Of course five of these are short sales which may take some time to get closed.  One that is not a short sale, 292 Barrymore Drive, went under contract in about a week because it was priced nicely at $199,900 for a four bedroom three bath three car garage home with 2,800 sq.ft. under air!

    At this time there are only two homes actively listed for sale in Chelsea Park.  One, a 2,800 sq.ft. 4/3 is listed at only $189,900 while the other 4/3 with 2,369 sq.ft. is listed at $215,000.  Both of these are definitely pried nicely if a home in Chelsea Park is what you are looking to purchase!

    For information on homes for sale in Chelsea Park (or if you are considering selling your Chelsea Park home), call me at 321-693-3850 (email me)

    I sell Chelsea Park homes like 467 Stonehenge Circle (34 days on market!).

    Thursday, June 02, 2011

    behind every “short sale” is…..

    I have read many articles about how all these folks doing these short sales are shirking "their responsibility," just being a deadbeat!   I get tired of all the whining about those pursuing short sales!

    The reality is …..
    Behind every short sale or foreclosure is a person, a family, a story to be understood.”
    I have never understood why some feel the need to be so judgmental.   Perhaps it makes them feel good about themselves?

    What is a short sale?
    Should I really consider a short sale?
    Do I need a real estate agent to sell my house as a short sale?  

    Sometimes we let our circumstances distort our view of this.

    If a short sale is a consideration, in Brevard County, Florida, call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.  I am not an attorney though. If you need legal advice or tax advice, consult the appropriate professional. I do know a couple of good attorneys should you ask!

    Gary L. Waters PLLC, Florida licensed real estate agent, Century 21 Baytree Realty, Rockledge, Florida serving Florida's Space Coast including the cities and communities of Melbourne, Viera, Rockledge, Suntree, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach and the surrounding region.

    What Home Staging is ( and is not)…

    Home staging is a term that gets attention these days when you read any article about selling Brevard County, Florida home.  I am not a home stager nor an interior decorator!

    As a real estate agent in Brevard County, Florida, I will defer to the experts but here is my opinion of what staging is:  preparing a home or condo so as to emphasize its strengths and minimize it’s shortcomings.    Sounds a lot like what is done very often in fashion.

    No place in the above statement are the words “hide,” “disguise” or “distract” or anything for that matter that implies anything is not above board and honest!

    When you are ready to sell, fix the little things or discloseI have written multiple times about disclosures in this web log.

    Disclose, Disclose, Discloseso simple.

    Now, when you are ready to sell your Brevard County, Florida home, call me directly at 321-693-3850 to discuss how I can work for you!

    Wednesday, June 01, 2011

    Brevard County, Florida Real Estate Market May 2011–The Early Returns

    Here are the really early numbers on the real estate activity in Brevard County, Florida during May 2011.   As always, these are preliminary and the data will change as end of the month transactions are entered into the MLS system.
    • Residential Properties Sold (all) in May 2011 – 546  
    • List to Sell Ratio – 93%  
    • Average Days on Market – 125  
    • Average Selling Price – $153,157 
    • Median Selling Price – $119,900 
    • Residential Properties Sold (short sales) in May 2011 – 107 
    • List to Sell Ratio (short sales)  – 94%  
    • Average Days on Market (short sales)  – 162  
    • Average Selling Price (short sales) – $132,061  
    • Median Selling Price (short sales) – $100,000

    Sometimes you forget something and it costs…

    Buying and selling real estate involves lots of details.   If you are not a detail oriented person, hopefully your real estate agent is one!

    I am not going to list all the processes involved in a real estate transaction but suffice it to say there are many!

    What brings this to mind this morning?

    There is this house in my neighborhood.  I don’t know the owner as he just recently purchased this house.  He had mentioned he was going to get the landscaping in shape for the summer.  Sure there are some weeds but there is a good base of St. Augustine grass.

    Then I see where he brings in a huge tiller (big tractor!) to rip up most of the grass.  I see sprinkler heads and PVC piping in the yard as well.  I wonder if this is one of those details he forgot?  Not sure but he did have an irrigation company over the next day! is all about the details!

    When you are ready to buy or sell in Viera, Florida, call meLet's talk about the details!

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