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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why have a short response on an offer?

As the housing inventory shrinks and the number of move in ready properties becomes less and less the importance of making a solid purchase offer becomes even more critical.

An important consideration in preparing the offer is the response time given a seller.  After all, most prospective buyers want an answer sooner rather than later.

So a reasonable response time must be a part of the offer

What is a reasonable time?  It depends.

In my opinion reasonable is usually 24 hours or perhaps 48 hours at the most. In today's high tech world obtaining an electronic signature is a matter of hours, not days.

Still there are times when a reasonable response deadline may be several days if the sale involves unusual circumstances (absentee owner, divorce, estate sale, etc.)

The time allotted for a response to an offer is really up to the prospective buyers.  It is their offer.

Sometimes it is a tight schedule, a choice between multiple equally desirable properties, or some other reason that drives the response time. 

In most real estate transactions time is always of the essence.   And that starts with the offer!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In a changing market evaluate the cost of waiting to buy a home...

Buy, sell or hold?  That is the question many have asked themselves over the past five or so years when considering the real estate market. 

The market now appears to be on the rebound.  An article in the Florida Today newspaper this morning proclaimed...

So should you continue to wait out the market?  What does it cost to wait a little longer anyway?

There is always an “opportunity cost” in anything you do or not do.   It is what you are giving up by staying put instead of moving in another direction. 

Some are holding out longer with the hope of getting more for their current houseThen they will buy that larger home.

But the cost of the replacement will also be higher with potentially higher mortgage payments (especially if the rates start to climb from their near record lows).

Is it time to get off the fence?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Viera, Florida Homes For Sale - February 2013 - Zip Code 32955 32940

The selling prices of homes in Viera (west of I-95) in Brevard County range from just under the $200,000 mark to over a million dollars.

A survey of sold (not active) homes located in eight of the subdivisions in Viera (west of I-95) that sold between November 1, 2012 and February 22, 2013 reveals the following average selling prices.

  • Summer Lakes -  $943,000 
  • Colfax Landing - $533,000 
  • Cortona -$383,000  
  • Fairway Lakes at Viera -  $586,000 
  • Gatwick Manor –$297,000  
  • Indigo Crossing – $195,000 
  • Ravencliffe – $300,000 
  • Sonoma – $284,000

Note the above average selling prices do not take into account condition of sale (foreclosure, short sale, new construction, standard re-sale).  All of the above subdivisions except Indigo Crossing are gated developments.

For information on buying or selling a home in Viera, Florida (zip code 32955, zip code 32940), call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.

Search homes for sale in Viera, Florida (on search form highlight areas 215 and 216 for Viera)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why is the home purchase process so confusing?

I was speaking with someone recently about the home purchase process - specifically about the steps after the contract is signed.

Although most steps after the offer is accepted are similar there are some variations based on the type of sale (short sale, foreclosure, standard sale).

So assuming you have the finances in order, have defined your requirements, successfully located your purchase target and have a signed offer.

What's next?

First and foremost - FREEZE.  If you will be financing your home purchase do not do anything that affects your credit or employment/income.  Do not apply for a new credit card or run up charges on a current card.  Do not make a major purchase that diminishes your cash reserves. Do not change jobs.  Lenders likely will do another credit and employment check prior to closing.

Now that you are protecting your mortgage application, your real estate agent will guide you along the process to the closing table.

First will be your home inspection and termite inspection   The results may be a clean bill of health or there may be repair issues to be resolved.

Once the inspection contingencies are cleared then there is the appraisal.  This is key if you are obtaining a mortgage and a good idea even if it is a cash offer.

With the inspections and appraisal hurdles cleared the next steps involve having a completed survey to make sure property lines and setbacks, are identified.  And while this is going on it is a good idea to get that insurance binder in place.

As you get closer to the closing date the nerves will start to get on edge as you review the final closing statement, obtain your certified funds for closing, do a final walk through of your home and sit down and sign your purchase documents.  This does not include all steps like review of association documents or finances, etc.

The home purchase process is really an orderly process.  The key is having a competent real estate professional to guide you though the process.

If you are looking for a Brevard County real estate professional to guide you through the home purchase process, call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

As a seller how much should I expect a buyer to put down? As a buyer how much should I put down?

The subject of earnest money always comes up when you are ready to prepare a purchase offer on a house or condo.

What is earnest money?

Basically it is an amount submitted as a deposit on real estate you want to purchase.  The definition tells it all – deep sincerity, serious, not made lightly.

When working with buyers I usually suggest this as a guideline.  Put down  enough to let the seller know you are serious but not so much that you would not be afraid to walk from if something strange happens.  [I have never had a buyer lose their earnest money but still you never know!]

When working with sellers I usually suggest this as a rule.  Expect enough to make sure the buyer is serious and an amount that would make them think twice about walking away for no reason.

So what is an appropriate amount?

If there is financing involved I believe about 1-2% of the offer price is an appropriate amount (as well as a mortgage pre-approval letter).

If it is a cash offer I believe a buyer should expect to provide a higher amount (as well as a proof of funds letter).

Buying or selling a house in Viera, Rockledge, or Melbourne, Florida?  Call me if I can help in any way!

How is my listing price?

It was not so long ago I received an email contact from a seller who was listed with another agent in the Viera, Florida area.  She wanted to know what I thought about her listing price.

I usually never comment on the listing price - except to my client.

I looked at the listing and noticed it had been on the market for six months.  She indicated she was getting very little showing activity now although there were a few showings at first.

This situation had all the classic signs of an overpriced home.

The first sign a home is not priced right is you have very few showings in what I call the "golden period."  The first few weeks a home is listed will likely generate the most interest.  Eventually it is looked upon as if it has some serious problem.  Competent real estate agents and shrewd buyers are always watching for new listings.  They want to buy but they are particular.

Another sign is what I call my 30-10-1 rule.  If your home is listed for 30 days, has less than 10 showings and not one offer, then the price is an issue.  

So how is my listing price?   Discuss the listing price with your real estate agent.  Take a fresh look at the comparables.  What has sold while your home has been sitting?  

Considering selling your Viera, Suntree or Rockledge, home?  Call me for a free market analysis or email your request.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Multiple Offers - Is this a scam? How do I know this is the case?

"It "seems to be happening more often these days than in the past five or six years. 
What is “it?” 

It is multiple offers.  And it will be more common as the market heats up. 

Why is the market heating up?  Lower inventory, increasing demand, and still some pretty low interest rates.

What should this mean to a buyer?   Not every situation involves multiple offers.   But when it happens the seller is in a perceived position of advantage.

And the seller's agent will likely contact all of the buyer's agents with this message - give us your best offer.

In this situation one of the offers already on the table is the highest and best.

But which one?  The seller's agent is not going to tell you if offer is currently the highest.  After all, they are trying to get the highest price possible for their client.

I remember being asked by a real savvy buyer a couple of years ago "Is this a scam or are they just trying to get more money out of me?"   I knew the answer in this case - "No" and "No."   Do I know 100% if there really is another offer?  Usually not.

So what should a buyer do when presented with a multiple offer situation?  Seriously consider your offer price.  Are you alright if you do not get the property?  Are you satisfied your offer is reasonable and the highest you think a property is worth?  Consult with your agent and respond in a way that, regardless of outcome, you are satisfied.

As the market heats up buyers should consider the offer.  Low ball prices are no longer the order of the day - even on foreclosures and short sales!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Home Buyer Tips - Key Considerations When Purchasing a House

Knowing what is important allows us to have balance in our lives.

And placing the greatest priority on those things will ultimately allow us to rest at night without regrets over having made a less than good decision.

The same can be said about purchasing a house or condo.

After having made the decision to purchase a home, a buyer must decide what is most important based on their current (and near term) circumstances.

Key among all decisions is budget. Ultimately buying a house involves a long term commitment of money. Having a budget that includes your monthly payment (PITI: principal, interest, taxes and insurance), homeowner or condo association fees, upkeep expenses (repairs, replacement, and routine maintenance), plus other expenses including utilities.

And buyers should not forget about current living expenses experienced now as a non-homeowner. They will not go away either.  Things like utilities, school loans or tuition, automobile payments, etc.

Your lender will look closely at the financial side of the home purchase decision and will hopefully only approve you for an amount that sets you up for success as a homeowner.

So what are the key considerations when considering the purchase of a house?  Things like

If you are considering buying a home in Brevard County, please allow me to assist you in the process.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How much should "your" buyer’s agent know about the sellers in the area?

Market knowledge is vital.

Anytime someone interviews a real estate agent to sell a Viera, Florida home they should ask all the right questions and expect the right responses.  It is not enough to be associated with the biggest name in the business.

Surprisingly most of the time when I receive a contact from out of the area about buying a home in Viera or anywhere else in Brevard County, Florida I do not get as many questions as I should about what I know about the market.  Sure I receive general questions but nothing that really challenges my awareness of the local market.

What should buyers ask me about Viera or another central Brevard County neighborhood? Here are some suggestions.

  • Number of homes for sale,
  • Composition of homes for sale (short sale, foreclosure, fair market),
  • Number of short sales currently under contract,
  • The "numbers" - average list price, average selling price, average days on the market, selling price as a percentage of list price,
  • Market change in the past six months. 

The above list is not all inclusive but does provide some suggestions to gauge a real estate agent's market knowledge.

Notice the above questions are aimed at the neighborhood or area - not the process or a real estate agent's experience.  These areas are just as important however a real estate agent's market knowledge is what a buyer relies upon to find the right homenegotiate the right price and get to the closing table.

So how does one select a buyer's agent in Brevard County?  It should not be enough to be associated with the biggest name in the business.  It should be about market knowledge and experience.

Experience–Mental Barrier or Realistic Boundary?

This is completely off topic for me but since it is my blog I guess that is permissible.

Author Jon Gordon’s Weekly Newsletter this week offers some advice we can all use – Think Like a Rookie.

Whether real estate agent, mortgage broker, insurance agent or whatever, remember when the times you would get up early and enthusiastically headed out in search of that next deal?

As a real estate broker I sometimes find myself not doing something because of "experience."

Why?  Because I tried it once before and it did not work as well as I had hoped.

"They" say experience is a great teacher but we need to recognize the real lesson of experience.  Sometimes it isn't that it won’t work or produce results but rather it just needs to be tweaked a bit.
Experience can be as much a mental barrier as a realistic boundary.
It is up to us to choose which one.

When you are ready to buy or sell a house or condo in Brevard County, Florida, call me if I can assit you in any way.

Florida Homes for Sale - Search Homes for Sale in Melbourne, Florida - Search Homes for Sale in Florida 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Where is the Florida condo and town house market headed in 2013?

As the population continues to increase and usable land becomes less affordable I believe there will be an increased tendency for buyers  to purchase attached units, both town homes and condominiums - not just along the coastal areas but throughout Florida.

Condominiums, in particular, offer a lifestyle free of the landscaping and exterior maintenance required with single family detached home ownership.  Town homes usually require the owner maintain the exterior although landscaping may be included in the monthly association fees.

Still, both forms of construction, offer buyers opportunities for home ownership they may not get for the same price.

Think about many buyers could afford ocean front or golf course direct views if their only option was a single family detached home?  Just the cost of the land may be prohibitive to many of us!

Single family detached homes made up almost 77% of all sales reported in the Brevard County MLS for calendar year 2012.

Still there were 2,133 condo and town home sales in Brevard County during 2012.  This is a continuation of an upward trend in condo and town home sales that started a few years ago after the big crash of the housing market.

Although not included in the chart above, the 2008 Condo and town home sales in Brevard County was 1,184 units.

So where is this segment of the market heading in 2013?  At a minimum it is currently just ahead of the pace at this time last year (228 sold vs. 221 in 2012) but with a shrinking inventory and increasing prices.

If you are considering the purchase of a condo or town home in Florida, this may be the time to move forward.

What are the most important things to look for when shopping for a new home?

Knowing what is important allows us to have balance in our lives.   Placing the greatest priority on those things will ultimately allow us to rest at night without regrets or worry over having made a poor decision.

The same can be said about purchasing a house or condo.

After having made the decision to purchase a home, a buyer must decide what qualities they desire in a house or condo.

It goes without saying that location is the first consideration.  You can change many things about a house but location is not one of them! 

Prospective buyers need to consider the “must haves,” “can't have,” and “nice to have” characteristics of their new purchase.

  • Must haves:  Some things a house must have - can't live without these.  Know these up front.  Location, space inside and outside, safety, age and type of construction, school district and the like may be included here.
  • 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 as well.  This is a list that needs to be shared with your Realtor® early on to avoid wasting everyone's time.
  • Nice to have:  Sometimes an extra just happens to show up in a house you find which meets your must have criterion.  Identify these extras so your Realtor® can include them in the search because, as a buyer you never know what is on the market.  But your Realtor® is the market expert and may just know where to find these as well!

In deciding all these qualities the prospective buyer must keep in mind their budget.  Buying a house involves a long term commitment of money and having a realistic budget will set you up for success as a homeowner.  

Having a defined budget and understanding your needs before you go looking will make the process a lot more enjoyable - I assure you!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Condo Sales Brevard County, Florida 4th Quarter 2012 - Sellers should be hopeful while buyers should be moving!

The condo market in Brevard County, Florida (Melbourne, Cocoa Beach) is looking better every day!

In the fourth quarter of 2012 the Brevard County condo and town house market showed more sales, higher prices, fewer days on the market and a lower inventory! 

The below chart provided by the Florida Realtors® should give some hope to condo sellers.

Likewise it should serve as a wake up call for condo buyers who have been sitting on the fence!

When you are ready to buy or sell a condo in Brevard County,  Florida I would appreciate an opportunity to discuss how I can work with you! Call me, maybe.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Home Buyer Strategy in a Changing Market: How to (not) negotiate yourself out of a deal….

The real estate market is changing in Brevard County, Florida. 

Below is a comparison of the final quarter of 2012 and the final quarter of 2011.

The above chart provided by the Florida Realtors® paints a pretty accurate picture of the Brevard County market - declining inventory, higher selling prices.  

I heard a real estate broker comment this week that in her opinion the average consumer's view of the market is about six months behind reality.  I think that may even be generous as some buyers I have spoken with recently still believe that all sellers are desperate and buyers are scarce.

Buyers who have found the right home in the right neighborhood should consider the changing market when making an offer.  The new market is seeing more multiple offer situations.

When an offer is presented and the seller counters, consider the difference.  Consider the big picture. Is the difference in price significant or in the "let's talk" range?  Consider the possibility of someone else presenting a higher offer from out of the blue before a deal is reached. (A counter offer negates a previous offer).

How much difference will a few thousand dollars make in payments?  For example, with a $175,000 contract price at 4.5% for 30 years the monthly payment (principal and interest) will be about $887.  If  your offer was $173,000 the payment would be around $877 - around ten bucks a month.

If you are that close to a deal is it worth the potentially losing a house and starting again?  Don't get caught in a situation where you negotiate yourself out of a house you really want to buy.

Ready to buy or sell your Brevard County, Florida home? Call me at 321-693-3850 if I can help!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Can a pre-listing home inspection save a deal?

Fact: Very few sellers have pre-listing home inspections.

The reality is most of us believe our homes are in good, if not excellent, condition with no real issues.

But even the most conscientious home owner can be surprised by issues that show up after a contract has been accepted and a home inspection has been done.

I remember I once had a seller remark how they were surprised so many problems showed up in a house barely a decade old.

My response was something like “you never know.”

And that is the truth.

Homeowners may even believe they have been dealing with issues as they surface.  I have worked with sellers who were aware of some minor things that needed attention although they were far from being major issues.

Sometimes these small issues surface and, when taken as a whole, can kill a deal or possibly lead to a request for a price concession or repairs to salvage the deal.

I believe a pre-listing home inspection can save a deal and is well worth the few hundred dollars it may cost. If you are considering selling your home, I encourage you to be proactive and have a pre-listing inspection done.

If an inspection gives a clean bill of health – fine.

If not, either fix it or price accordingly and disclose to prospective buyers.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Low Ball Offers No Longer a Negotiating Strategy in 2013

Just saw a story on Foxnews giving tips for home buyers in the current market.  The one tip that caught my eye was the "look for the home with the most price changes."

When discussing pricing with sellers I advise against intentionally pricing high only to lower the price later.  

When the prices were falling during the past five or so years many sellers learned the sometimes costly lessons of chasing a falling market.

However, the housing market in Brevard County, Florida is shifting.  Prices are steadily rising while inventory is shrinking.

Now my advice to buyers...avoid low ball offers.

With many sellers now receiving multiple offers, an offer of 75-80% of  list price will likely not receive a warm welcome by very many sellers!

Low ball offers often do not even receive a counter offer and may even alienate a seller from accepting another higher offer.

In 2013 the key characteristic of any offer to purchase a house or condo is....

A serious buyer will make a reasonable “let’s talk offer.”

“Completely Remodeled” should bring more questions…

Occasionally I see investor flips in the Brevard MLS system.

Sure there are some foreclosure deals out there these days although prices are rising.  Although the deals seem to be great one must remember the old warning caveat emptor still holds true.

You can identify most of these by the key phrase "completely remodeled."

These may in fact be a good deal but buyers of these flips should approach them with caution.

Sure there will be new paint, maybe new appliances and new carpet.  But, just like with people, the outside is not necessarily what you really get!

The "recently remodeled" should illicit a "by whom" and "where are the permits?"

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Is there always a position of advantage in real estate transactions?

As the Brevard County, Florida  real estate inventory shrinks and prices start (slowly) climbing, seller attitudes appear to be evolving.

I suppose there is always a lag period in any market change.  I remember being told by buyers that they would get in the market when it changes direction.  The change is happening.

And as the market changes, sellers seem to be gaining the position of advantage.

I remember eight or nine years ago when sellers usually got more than they asked for even the most humble property.

Many properties sold for prices that amazed many of us in the business!

Hopefully we will never reach that level of craziness - again!

Still, as the market shifts back to a seller's market I believe the gloves will come off...always someone wanting the big advantage!

If it is time to sell your Viera, Suntree or Rockledge, Florida home, call me at 321-693-3850.

If it is time to buy that Viera, Suntree or Rockledge, Florida home, call me 321-693-3850.

You want to have the position of advantage?  Choose a real estate professional who knows your market - whether buying or selling!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Home Buyer Tip - What does “As Is” really mean?

Most foreclosure and short sale homes for sale are offered "as is."

"As is" simply means in its current condition - period.  And "as is" rarely means "perfect."

I encourage all buyers to have the appropriate inspections before you purchase - even on an "as is" cash transaction.

While it is true many buyers accept the "as is" part of the deal, some still attempt a return to the negotiation table after the home inspection.

And many times the sellers will agree to the requests for repairs or concession.

Sometimes, a qualified willing buyer ready to go forward is better than going back on the market and re-doing it all again!

The key point for buyers to remember when it comes to "as is"  purchases....

"as is" does not mean many as "as if" in perfect condition.

Most properties are priced for their current condition - good or not so good!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Home Seller Tips - Please give your prospective buyers a little privacy…in your home.

As much as most sellers would like to think, their home is not the only one on the market in Brevard County, Florida.

I saw a listing today that included these discouraging instructions:


So what is so discouraging here?

A two hour notice is very reasonable for an occupied dwelling.   However, List Realtor® will escort, is not a positive step in the process.. 

While it is not completely unusual to see a requirement for the listing agent to be present at showings, it is more common with higher priced properties.  This was the lowest priced property in a modest subdivision.

I am not going to question the seller’s reasoning to have their agent present for all showings.

I am only pointing out it is a hindrance for buyers.

Buyers want to look around with their agent (oversight) who can provide information about the property.   It is the seller's agent who is responsible for making sure buyer's agent's have the appropriate marketing information available.  Buyers should be at ease to ask pointed questions of their agent.

More importantly, when the prospective buyer is a couple, they are encouraged make serious comments to each other about the property while on site.

Having the seller’s agent present can hinder a potentially positive process.  If there is a need for additional information the buyer’s agent will contact the seller’s agent.

In the interim, please give your prospective buyers a little privacy…in your home.

Number three on my “Three Ps to Selling your Home” is presentation – the ease of showing.   Take a look at the others here.

Monday, February 04, 2013

What is an estate sale? Buyers and sellers view them differently!

When many people see an “estate sale” sign posted they think bargain - not just another garage sale!  I think the same thinking occurs when home buyers see an MLS listing that includes the magical words "Estate Sale."

But bargains may or may not be on the agenda at these sales.

First of all the context of the "estate sale" could be anything from an owner relocating to an assisted living facility, a recent death or even the owner is just simply moving.

Depending on the circumstances an estate sale can bring out a lot of emotion on those involved with the selling.  

It may be in the form of an emotional attachment (memories) that makes the offer price too high for the market.  It may even be in the form of greed by one of the survivors. (It happens!)

On the buyer side it may very well bring out almost predatory attitude in some buyers who thinks it’s a desperation liquidation sale.

A normal real estate transaction is an emotional roller coaster anyway.  If it is an estate sale – expect a bit more!

If you are considering down sizing or recently experienced an event where an estate sale is necessary call me if I can help in any way.

If you live out of the area I would be happy to provide a free market analysis.

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

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Home Seller Tips–Enlist the help of your neighbors when selling!

I just read an article where Richard L. Borges II, president of the Appraisal Institute is quoted saying
“I’ve seen many situations where external factors, such as living near a bad neighbor, can lower home values by more than 5 to 10 percent.”
This really should not be surprising to anyone.

Think about some of the things that you may find annoying about your neighbors…disruptive or loud, a yard with absolutely no curb appeal, a home with obvious deferred maintenance, several nuisance dogs who bark constantly, etc.

Sometimes buyers will ask a question about the neighbors.  I never met a seller who said they had a jerk for a neighbor.   Nope, always the salt of the earth!

I often suggest buyers visit the neighborhood later in the day or over the weekend to see what it is like when folks are home.

When you are ready to sell your home, enlist your neighbors help, if possible.  You want to make your home stand out.

Sometimes the one thing that makes your home stand out are your neighbors – for good or bad!  

Indian River Colony Club in Viera, Florida - January 2013 Market Activity

As February begins here is a summary of the January 2013 activity at Viera’s gated 55+ community of Indian River Colony Club.   

Inventory remains high with 64 residential listings – 3,half duplex homes, the remainder single family detached.  Listing prices range from $85,000 to $229,000 with square footage ranging from 1,222 sq.ft. to 2,699 sq.ft.

There were three homes sold in IRCC in January 2013.  These homes were on the market an average of 133 days.  Of the 64 active listings only 13 have less than 100 days on the market with most being on the market more than 200 days.

There are reasons homes do not move as quickly in IRCC than at the other 55+ communities in Viera.   IRCC is different than the other 55+ communities.

First of all, homes in Indian River Colony Club are older.  All 64 active listings are frame construction and were built between 1988 and 1997.   This is different from the other two 55+ communities in Viera (Grand Isle and Heritage Isle) where the homes are more recent concrete construction.

Another major difference - the fees charged monthly.

In Brevard County the 55+ communities come with varying degrees of "maintenance free" services.  For example, in Heritage Isle and Grand Isle the maintenance provided is primarily exterior (landscaping and exterior paint).   Of course, there are services available where residents can easily get "handyman" help for a reasonable charge.

The IRCC monthly fees are for total maintenance including roofing, appliances, pest control, painting, lawn care, pressure washing and the like.  The last time I checked the monthly fees were approximately $580 to $880 depending on the size/sq.ft. of house.  There are additional optional monthly fees for golf and tennis.

The 55+ communities in Brevard County are not the same.

If you are considering relocating to a Viera, Florida age restricted community, I recommend you check them all out.  All of these communities have different "personalities!"

For information on moving to Brevard County, Florida call me directly at 321-693-3850 or click on the link below to email me.

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