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Friday, May 31, 2013

Home Inspections - What do you do next?

This is the second in a series on home inspections.  The first part discussed who should be present during the home inspection.

Here we cover what to do once the inspection is done and the report has been delivered.

Keep in mind a property inspection report is only an assessment of a property's current condition.  Most property inspectors provide a written report with photo documentation of issues. 

Once reported your real estate agent should get involved in the next step. 

The buyer's response to the inspection report, may result in several actions.  Sometimes action is delayed until a specialist (AC, electrician, roofer, etc) is called in to examine a potential issue reports are usually just the facts without advice as to resolution, etc. 

Based on the information available buyers may choose to: 
  • Go forward - nice when the inspection is "clean."
  • Request repairs be made - even if it is an "as is" offer some sellers may still fix a problem.
  • Request a price reduction in lieu of repairs.  Some sellers would prefer to go forward even if it means giving a little off the price.   
  • Cancel the contract.  With an inspection contingency buyers always have a "get out of jail free card."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Home Inspections - Who should attend?

Home Inspections - Who should attend?

One of the most critical components of the home purchase process is the home inspection.  Even if a purchase is "as is" an inspection is always recommended.

So who should attend the inspection?  Because of the enormity of the purchase the buyer almost always attends the inspection.   Inspections usually take a couple of hours at a minimum so many of the inspectors I have worked with in the Brevard County area like to have the buyer show up about half way through the process.  Then they can give them the tour and a summary of any issues found.

What about your real estate agent?  I always attend the inspection - usually near the mid-point (about an hour or so into the process).

I attend but keep my mouth shut about the actual inspection as I am not a licensed inspector (or much of a handyman anyway!).  I like to use the time to discuss the home buying process with my client and answer any questions about the process, etc.

I have run into some real estate agents who shy away from the inspection as they feel being there adds potential liability.  Personally, I do not subscribe to that philosophy.

My job is to be with my client all the way to the closing table.

So what do we do once we have a property inspection report?  The answer here tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Buyer's Question: How much must I pay you?

Not long ago I had a first time buyer ask me what they would have to pay me as their buyer's agent.  I explained it in one word - nothing!

Many things in life are far from certain.  But when it comes to real estate, three things are certain in my opinion:
  1. Real estate fees are negotiable.
  2. There are no set fees.
  3. Each transaction is different.
Here is a quick summary of the many real estate agent fee scenarios for those in the market  in Brevard County Florida.
  • Renter:  If you are looking for a rental property that is listed in the MLS, the owner pays the “renter’s agent,” not the renter.
  • Buyer:  If you are the buyer of a property that is listed in the MLS, the seller pays your buyer’s agent. Even if a buyer is interested in a FSBO, your agent may be able to negotiate the seller paying their fee.
  • Seller:  If you are the seller, you will likely be paying your seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. However, short sales are different and seller fees are most often absorbed by the lender.
If you are considering any transaction involving real estate, call a real estate agent and discuss the process and costs, if any.

There is absolutely no reason a buyer or renter should not have a real estate agent involved in their transaction.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Choosing a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Brevard County, Florida Home

This post is short, sweet and presents a message I have come to live by... Sometimes I decline a listing.

When I was a rookie agent with a different brokerage I felt the broker wanted listings regardless if they would sell or not.  I guess that is the reality of being an owner broker.

As an inexperienced agent I worked to get every listing I could possibly win. 

I worked very houses, signs, mailings, blogs, print advertising, etc. sometimes with very little chance of selling.  Many of these sellers were unrealistic and understood the chance of a buyer coming along was remote. 

Now, ten years later, I have a much different (and more successful) approach.

I will take a listing when the sellers are a bit more optimistic than I am as long as they agree to re-look at the price in thirty days if have no offers.

This is my 30-10-1 rule Basically it means if your home is listed for 30 days,  has less than 10 showings and not one offer, then the price is an issue.

A price reduction is not a bad thing....however, multiple price reductions can send a different signal (seller desperate, something wrong with house).

This is a great time to sell your home as prices are rising and inventory is low.  Call me and lets talk about selling your Viera home.

List with me and I guarantee you can have a reasonable expectation of success. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Grand Isle in Viera - Homes Moving Quickly in Florida 55+ Community

Over the past couple of months the market has been heating up in Grand Isle, one of Viera's premier 55+ communities.  By the way there are three 55+ communities in Viera - many similar features, some different.

In the past six weeks or so there have been five homes sold in Grand Isle.  Selling prices ranged from $197,500 to $300,000 ( average selling price for these homes was just below $235,000).  These homes are moving pretty quickly with the  average days on the market about a month.  There are two other homes under contract with days on the market less than 41 days.

Currently there are six active single family home listings in Grand Isle.  Four of these listings have been on the market for less than a month.  Four are listed at prices around $230,000.

Grand Isle offers gated 55+ living in one of central Florida's most desirable areas - Viera.  Located near several golf courses, shopping, and the new Viera Hospital, Grand Isle deserves a look if you are considering a move to one of Florida's 55+ communities.

For information on Grand Isle as well as Heritage Isle in Viera, call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What is the best way to sell my house?

Selling your house or condo is a process.  It is so much more than a sign in the front yard.  It is more than an MLS entry in a real estate web site.  It is more than just filling out a contract.

The process of selling a home has plenty of potential roadblocks.   The process involves disclosures, preparation, negotiations, contracts, inspections, and more.  There can be safety and security issues as well.

What is the best way to sell your house?  Hire a real estate agent who understands the process and your goals.

The first step?  The interview.  Any agent worth your business should be able to give you real answers to questions like...
  • What has sold in my neighborhood (area, similar communities, street, etc)? 
  • What has not sold in my neighborhood (active, how long, price, withdrawn)? 
  • Why did these properties sell or not sell?
  • How much can I get?  No surprise this is the number one question. 
  • When can I get it?  Selling is stressful.  People have lives that are disrupted temporarily in the process, moving plans to be made, etc.  I understand very well.  Closings typically take about 30 to 45 days from the contract date to close. 
  • How much will it cost me? Remember fees and commissions are always negotiable.
  • How much do I walk away with?  All of the above questions impact this answer as well as key things like any mortgage payoff.
When it comes to selling your Brevard County, Florida home, a Realtor acquaintance of mine put it so well...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

April 2013 Single Family Home Sales Rise in Brevard County, Florida

The below chart shows it all... single family home sales rising, cash sales rising, median sales price  rising, average sales price rising, inventory decreasing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why Hire a Real Estate Agent to Sell My Home?

This is an update of an original article posted here in 2008 titled "Go it alone or hire a real estate agent?"  

With the real estate market showing signs of recovery (fewer homes on the market and prices rising), I anticipate more sellers will consider the question of whether to hire an agent or go it alone.

Selling a house is more than placing a sign out front and maybe an advertisement on Craigslist!
  • Pricing.  Do you know the real market price of your home?  What you paid for your home or how much money you put into it over the years does not really equal the market price.  A market analysis with recent actual sales is the best predictor of a real market price.
  • Time.  Unless you price way below market there will likely be an investment of time required to get your home sold.  Do you have time for scheduling appointments and being present when potential buyers want to view your home?
  • Safety.  Who are those individuals who will be coming in your home? While most real estate agents do not usually know their clients very well, they do have mechanisms in place to verify identify and ability to purchase a home. In this day and age, safety is a real concern for all, including professional real estate agents.
  • Marketing Plan.  How are you going to market your home?  A sign only works if your target market is people driving by your home!   You need to identify who will most likely be your buyer and target efforts at that pool of buyers.
  • Experience.  Have you previously completed such a transaction?  Experience is a great teacher - just ask any real estate agent
  • Preparing Your Home.  A potential buyer will either be interested or turned off all within the first ten seconds after they arrive.  Think curb appeal, remove clutter, clean, neutral paint.  An inspection before you place it on the market with or without an agent should be considered.
  • The process.  Even if you have the negotiation skills of a car salesman, you need to understand the process.  Have you looked at all the potential closing costs so you know where you stand?  What about buyer inspections?  What about seller disclosure requirements? 
So should you go it alone or hire a professional?  Think about this... just because you can does not mean you should..

If you are considering selling your home and considering whether to go it alone or hire a real estate agent, call me.  I will answer your questions and even provide a free market analysis.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Is it time to go FSBO?

Is it time to go FSBO (for sale by owner)?

Now that the market is starting to recover somewhat I have a feeling the FSBO signs will start coming out.

There are lots of reasons why folks choose to attempt the for sale by owner route.  Probably at the top of the list is the belief they will save money.   Research has shown that this is not always the case.

Traditionally the success rate among FSBO sellers has been somewhere around 15% based on the studies I have read.  A couple of days ago I read a quote on a related website that sells FSBO adverting "we have the same success rate as full-service real estate agents." 

Many FSBOs, like their neighbors, seem to value their home higher than the market.  I think this is just human nature.

Even before the market changed I remember being asked "can a person sell their own home as a short sale?" 

So as the market changes will more FSBOs surface?  Maybe....heated markets raise optimism.

If your target market is those who drive by your home then by all means, stick a sign in the front yard!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Must I Use a Real Estate Agent to Buy a Home in Florida?

First of all, there is no requirement anywhere that one must use a third party to facilitate the purchase of a house.

On the surface, buying a house or condo is no different than going to a garage sale.  You pull up in front, get out, see something you like, make an offer, agree on a price and pay for it. 

EXCEPT the financial commitment is larger than most in one's life - ever.

You can do your own taxes or you can hire an accountant.  If you know the tax code and are confident in the process and requirements, go for it.  If you don't...well the IRS could become an issue.

The same can be said about buying a house.  If you know the process, the market and have the confidence you will get the best price possible, go for it.  If you don't...well, a lot of money could be at risk.

I doubt most buyers I have ever worked with could have attained the same results on their own.   I know why they needed me.

After the transaction they knew as well!

When you are ready to buy a house in Rockledge, Suntree, Viera or Melbourne, Florida, call me at 321-693-3850.  I can help!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Upside down mortgage solutions

The housing bust has left so many homeowners frustrated and racking their brains for solutions, especially if they are upside down on their mortgage.  If you bought your home or refinanced during 2003 through 2007 your home may be worth less than you owe, or upside down.  The first and most important step is to understand your options. Depending on your situation, you may have several options that you should discuss with your lender, servicer, or housing counselor to decide which option is best for you and your family.

If you are behind or about to fall behind on your payments there are a couple of options you should consider. Catching up on missed payments through a repayment plan is the first and easiest option. You may qualify for an advance if your missed payments are due to a temporary hardship.  Best case scenario mortgage loan terms can be changed to make payments more affordable or what is called a loan modification.

If you choose a loan modification, read the fine print and make an educated decision.  Most modifications will not lower the principal amount of the loan but will allow you to change interest rates to lower the payment.  In doing so you acknowledge the full amount of debt regardless of the value and waive rights to fraudulent or predatory lending claims in the future.  You also turn your loan into a full recourse load which could follow you for the rest of your life even if you choose foreclosure down the road.

The most drastic option to get out of an upside down mortgage is a voluntary foreclosure or a short sale.

With the first option, voluntary foreclosure, the bank will take the home back.  The second, a short sale, is when the bank or lender accepts a price lower than the loan amount as full payment on the loan.  Either of these should be your last resort as they will both negatively affect your credit score may prevent you from home buying in the future.

A growing trend according to The Washington Post is cash-in mortgage refinancing.  Homeowners who want to keep their homes and refinance at lower interest rates agree to pay in cash to lower the loan amount. This is an option about 33 percent of all homeowners chose in 2010.

The last and perhaps the most feasible option, although the most expensive, for homeowners who are upside down on their mortgage is to suck it up and continue to make payments.  Since your house still serves as shelter and you can still afford it, continue to live in your space regardless of how much you owe.  The bottom line is that you are investing a large amount of capital into something that may never give a good return but if you continue to make payments eventually you will own your home outright.

It is important to consider all your options and speak with a financial advisor and a lawyer before making a decision . Be completely forthcoming and discuss any government or other assistance programs for which you may qualify. 
This post was written for Gary L Waters, PLLC by Stephen K HacheyStephen is an Orlando real estate lawyer specializing in loan modifications, short sales, foreclosure and much more.

He is also the owner of his own practice, the Law Offices of Stephen Hachey, PA.  This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at


Friday, May 17, 2013

Short Sale, Loan Modification, Foreclosure - Distressed Home Owners Have Choices

Short sale, loan modification and foreclosure offer distressed home owners experiencing problems meeting their mortgage obligation multiple choices for a solution.

Important disclaimer:  I am not an attorney. I do not provide legal advice.  If you have questions regarding the legal or tax implications relating to a short sale or foreclosure, consult the appropriate professional.

Each of these routes, in my opinion, has positives and negatives.

A short sale is a situation where the probable selling price will be less than the mortgage(s) owed.   Short sales require any offer accepted by the owner be forwarded to the lender for approval (referred to as third party approval).

Sellers pursuing a short sale usually are facing some hardship such as job loss, death in family, employment transfer including military transfer, etc.  Short sales take longer than a standard sale.  Still a short sale is preferable to a foreclosure on your credit report.

Foreclosures (as well as short sales) can result in a deficiency judgment.  If foreclosure is a possibility - consult an attorney.

As for loan modifications - talk with your lender.  They may work out some arrangement to temporarily address your hardship.

Still, I have seen some failed loan mods because the terms offered by the lender were not realistic.  The reality is sometimes the owner should have never been the owner. 

Who is at fault when home owners face short sale or foreclosure?  Dealing with the issue at hand does not involve finding fault.

If you are facing a hardship and a short sale is an option, please feel free to give me a call or send me an email if I can help in any way.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Is the Brevard County, Florida Residential Market Returning to Normal?

Some still think the residential real estate market in Brevard County, Florida is a distressed market where every property is a fire sale!

Public opinion very often shifts at a turtle's pace.

There are 2,535 active residential property listings as of today in Brevard County.  Of these about 9% are listed as short sales and another 16.5% are listed as foreclosures.

What percentage of  the 836 residential properties sold in April 2013 were distressed properties?  Residential short sales sold in April totaled 106 properties (13% of all sales).  Foreclosures accounted for about 25% of the closings (207 properties). 

So, is the Brevard County, Florida residential market returning to normal?   

What do you mean by normal?  There will always be short sales and foreclosures.  I do not know how many of these exist in a normal market?

All I know for sure today is, in May 2013, three of four active residential listings in Brevard County, Florida are standard sales (fair market).

As summer approaches those looking to purchase a residential property in Brevard will likely find the distressed property inventory in Brevard County doesn't offer much choice.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Practice moderation in all things–including real estate market participation

Moderation seems like a good rule of thumb regardless of whether you are speaking of eating, drinking, driving or exercise.

As a real estate market participant, as a buyer or seller, moderation should be the key behavior.

Moderation is simply staying within reasonable limits especially when your budget is concerned.  As a seller, moderation is staying within realistic expectations when pricing your home to sell.

I remember back around 2004 and 2005.  Prices were climbing rapidly.  Buyers were being outbid so they kept offering higher amounts.

Mortgage lenders were getting creative in such ways they offered financing to consumers who in the long run had no way of repaying the debt.

It was the real estate market's death spiral.  OK, it was not death.  But it was like a like a trip to ICU followed by rehab for about five or so years!

Now the market has turned.

Buyers are cautioned to not get caught in the same traps.   The lenders have tightened the lending process which will stop some from making a bad decision.  Those who have not been in a coma should know what happened last time.

Responsible real estate agents will remind clients to stay focused on the things that matter including budgets.

Still, it is a good time to buy a home you can afford.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Selling Your Home - It is only a mystery if you don't know why...

In the real estate market there are some things which could be called mysterious.

For example, given two exact duplicate properties (new construction, cookie cutter, same development, same price), one will always sell before the other - unless, of course, they sell on the same day. This is not really a mystery.

But then, sometimes two very similar homes on the same street will be listed for sale and one sells and the other sitsThis is the mystery.

Why do buyers choose one property over another?  

We may never know with 100% certainty the reason one property sells and while another sits, but I propose one (or more) of these may be the cause.
  • Price.  First and foremost, all properties will sell at a given price.The key to attracting a prospective buyer (and subsequent offers) is that simple. 
  • Condition.  Related very closely to price, buyers usually want move in ready.  Most buyers are not in the market for a home that requires significant updating or repair.  Not surprisingly you can find updated and neglected on the same street.  
  • Accessibility. I have seen homes  for sale in the same neighborhood and was able to show buyers property "A" while property "B" had restrictions on when we could gain access (24 hours notice, only after 5:00 p.m., agent must be present, no lock box.... the list is amazingly long why some sellers restrict access.). 
  • Ineffective market exposure.  Each property is different so a "one size fits all" marketing plan may be ineffective.  Choose a real estate agent who can (and will) personalize your marketing plan to where your buyers are coming from (fish where they are biting!).
Want to sell your Brevard County, Florida home?
Here is what you do...(1) price it right; (2) put it in its best possible condition within reason, of course; (3) make sure qualified prospective buyers can see it; (4) select an agent who will get your home in front of your pool of real potential buyers.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Where is the Brevard County, Florida real estate market headed?

Question:  Where is the Brevard County, Florida real estate market headed?

Answer:     Who knows!

I can see frustration starting to creep in the market place.  Multiple offers seem to be an every day occurrence.  You get one chance at a property and no more!

Let me re-phrase that last statement.... You get one chance at a property if you act quickly!

For example, a new listing comes on the market today, Mother's Day.  I send it to my customer.  They respond with directions to prepare an offer at 8% over list price.

I contacted the listing agent to say a cash offer, property unseen, 8% above list price is on its way.

Response:  Sorry but seller already signed off on an offer.

With a shrinking inventory and aggressive buyers in the market place there is only one place to go...up, prices that is!

So if you are thinking about selling your Brevard County, Florida home this may be the time to do it... and don't be afraid to list higher than the recent sales....buyers are pushing prices upward!

Ready to sell your Brevard County, Florida home?  Call me at 321-693-3850.

Maybe it is time to get aggressive with that list price because buyers are competing with each other!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Should a seller set a listing price at today's prices or at anticipated prices in three or six months?

The Brevard County, Florida real estate market is changing.  Homes are selling for more than they were just six months ago.

Understanding no one has a crystal ball about where prices will be in the future but trend lines are pointing higher, should a seller set a listing price at today's prices or at anticipated prices in three or six months?   

When it comes to selling your home the listing real estate agent is not the decision maker at all

Ultimately the seller influences it all...list price (what they will accept, not necessarily what they want), selling time frame by the list price (30, 60, 90 days or never), preparation of the home for the prospective buyers (staging), etc.

In a market with increasing prices and a smaller inventory, a seller may very well choose to price their home a bit more optimistically.

But the reality is  "When it comes to selling your home the listing real estate agent is not the decision maker at all.  Neither is the seller."

The market will always set the selling price.

So, should a seller set a listing price at today's prices or at anticipated prices in three or six months?    It will always depend on a seller's motivation (goals, time schedule, reason/need for selling, etc.)

When you are ready to sell your Brevard County, Florida home (Rockledge, Viera, Suntree, Merritt Island, Suntree or Melbourne), call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.

I would welcome a chance to discuss your needs, the current market and how we can reach your goal.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Home Buyer Tips - If you can assemble a toy, you can buy a house.

I have written many times in this forum about the process of buying and selling a home.  In its simplest form it is no different than following the assembly instructions in a child’s toy.

But how many of us really read (in advance) and then follow the directions?  The preferred method of many is to jump right in and wing it.    

This may be an acceptable approach to putting a toy together (or even assembling a new computer system) but when something as life changing as buying a house is involved get your information up front - and from the right sources.

Here are some additional topics about the home buying process.

If you are considering buying a house or condo in Viera, Suntree, Rockledge or anywhere else in Brevard County, Florida, call or email me if I can assist in any way.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Some things buyers say in a changing market…

Although some are not yet convinced the real estate market is shifting to a seller's market, it is swinging to the other side.

And as the market changes some will still be asking questions about seller motivations as well as responses to offers.  What are some of the questions?

  • Why didn’t they counter?  It was a multiple offer situation. when their agent said that, it was a negotiation 
  • But a condo in the same complex with more upgrades sold for the same thing two months ago! Lower inventories and more buyers in the market place will cause prices to rise - regardless of product type. 
  • They don’t really expect to get list price, do they?  Expectations are rising as prices rise. Sellers may not get their asking price but 95-96% is realistic - not an 80-85% offer.
So what does a buyer do?  Make your initial offer a good one - reasonable price with only necessary conditions (inspections, financing, etc).

Monday, May 06, 2013

Has the real estate market bottomed out in Brevard County, Florida?

In a changing real estate market (like Brevard County, Florida) buyers need to either be serious or return to the sidelines.

For the past five or six years  many have sat on the sidelines awaiting the great bottoming out of the real estate market.

When did the real estate market bottom out?

I am not sure yet.

Statisticians will tell us one day when all the numbers are recorded and plotted.  The thing about a market bottom (or high) is that your proof is always provided after the fact.

Here are some of my observations for those considering buying a house or condo in Brevard County, Florida:
  1. Foreclosures and short sales are no longer fire sales. 
  2. Multiple offers is a common occurrence. 
  3. Prices are rising.  
  4. Inventory is shrinking. 
  5. Even "flippers" seem to be returning to the market.
If you are indecisive about whether to purchase a home Brevard County, give me a call or send me an email. I will gladly send you listings and information to consider while making your decision.

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