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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Home Buyer Tips - Home Owner Associations

An important part of the due diligence process home buyers should undertake before buying any home is an evaluation of the homeowner association (HOA).

To put it bluntly I believe homeowner associations exist to assure conformity within a neighborhood.  

There may be restrictions on types of vehicles, house colors, parking on the street (or even overnight on your drive way), investment property rentals, number of owner occupied properties and whatever.

Review the HOA rules.  Ask questions of the board and officers such as..
  • How often are the rules modified?  
  • What does it take to change the rules?   
  • How strictly are the rules enforced?  
  • How many times have the dues been increased? If so, for what reason?
  • Review the financial picture as well. 
Prospective buyers who have never lived under the auspices of a home owner association need to consider the boundaries and whether they can handle the restrictions.  As a buyer, you know your lifestyle.

Buyers should examine their attitude toward home owner associations.  Do you view an HOA as a self appointed neighborhood police force? 

Finally, associations are made up of people.  And people do not always get along.  And sometimes disputes arise.  Another question might be "how are disputes resolved?"






Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Home Buyer Tips - What is a walk through?

Home Buyer Tips - What is a "walk through?"

One of the very last things a buyer should do before signing on the dotted line and writing the check is the "walk through" inspection.   Although the word inspection is used this is not meant to be a check everything hours long detailed examination.

That property inspection should have happened early on during the contingency period.  If there were issues discovered during the initial home inspection those repairs should have already been addressed before the closing day arrives.   

I recommend any repairs resulting from the property inspection be evaluated a few days or weeks in advance of closing.  Several of the home inspection companies I know of in Brevard County will go back and assess repairs free of charge.  Check with your inspection company.

I also recommend buyers ask for copies of paid receipts from the licensed, qualified professional tradespeople who completed the work.  (The closing company may also ask for the proof of payment for some work.)

So what is the "walk through?" 

It is a quick walk through the property.  It may take 15 to 30 minutes or so.  It is usually done on the way to the closing table if logistically possible.  It can be done the day before if that works best for the buyer.  Its purpose is to make sure the property is clean (broom clean), all appliances listed in the contract are present, and the general condition is the same as when contracted.  It is not the time to flush every toilet, run the dishwasher, walk the roof, run the sprinklers,  etc.






What is the best day to list my house?

I just read an article about the best day of the week to list a house for sale.  The article referenced a mentioned in the Wall Street Journal blog that stated "Friday was the best day."

First of all, I think this stuff is most likely hogwash!  That is not a real estate term but still quite appropriate.

I think the best day of the week is the day you do it. And that means whatever day - choose, you have seven!

Selling your home is all about price, presentation and promotion.   And they should all be the same regardless of the day of the week.

Now when you place a home on the market I do believe there is a golden period.   It is during this period a new listing receives the most activity.   I think this golden period runs for about two weeks.  

Buyer's real estate agents and shrewd buyers are always watching for new listings -  especially with the smaller inventory we have in Brevard County in 2013. 

It is during these critical first two weeks that your listing will likely garner the most activity.  Use the time wisely by pricing right and putting your home's best foot forward!

Now, which day is best?  Today. 

Call me at 321-693-3850 to sell your Viera, Suntree or Rockledge, Florida home today!



Friday, July 26, 2013

Brevard County Florida Real Estate Sales Trends June 2013

The below summary of June 2013 real estate sales in Brevard County, Florida for June 2013 as prepared by the Space Coast Realtors®Association.

 Residential Sales June 2013 Brevard County, Florida
  • Closed sales are up 13.6% for the month of June with an increase in cash sales by 7.7% compared to June 2012
  • New Pending sales are up 33.9% and New Listings are up 23.8%
  • Median sales price for Brevard County Single Family Homes are up 4% to $130,000
  • Median days on the market are down -19.5% which is 33 days compared to June 2012 which was 41 days
  • Months Supply of Inventory is down -22.8% to 3.9 months compared to 5.1 months last June. 
  • Traditional sales are up 44.8% with a Median Sales Price of $165,000.
  • Foreclosure/REO sales are also up 44.8% with a median sales price of $77,200.
  • Short Sale closings are down -41.1% with a median sale price of $100,000
Condo and Townhouse Sales June 2013 Brevard County

  • Closed sales are down -14.8% for the month of June  with decrease in "cash" sales of -27% compared to June 2012 
  • New Pending sales are up 10.6% and New Listings are up 7.9%.
  • The median sales price for Townhouse/Condos are up 20.1% to $120,000
  • Median days on the market are down -42.5% which is 42 days compared to June 2012 which was 73 days
  • Months Supply of Inventory is down -9.8% to 5.5 months compared to 6.1 months last June. 
  • Traditional sales are down -3.7% with a Median Sales Price of $133,950
  • Foreclosure/REO sales are down -28.2% with a median sales price of $69,200.
  • Short Sale closings are down -48.3% with a median sale price of $65,000.
 

Heritage Isle in Viera - What one resident thinks about this Florida 55+ community.

When I work with buyers considering purchasing a home or condo in the Heritage Isle 55+ community in Viera, I always start with a tour of the club house and facilities.  Almost without fail, there will be residents there who welcome them, answer questions and give them an unsolicited opinion of life in Heritage Isle.

Recently Heritage Isle resident Richard Hertz posted on Facebook some of the things he loves about Heritage Isle.  With his permission some of his reasons are listed here...
  1. I like my house. It is probably too big for the two of us, but I am not the boss.
  2. I like wild life and I get to see deer, coyotes, armadillos, rabbits, alligators, birds, ducks, etc.
  3.  I like the diversification of people who live here. So very interesting!
  4. I was impressed with the clubhouse when I first saw it, and I am still impressed.
  5. The clubhouse gym or the swimming pool is never too crowded for me.
  6. I like Lennar. They have been very good to us. They also try to fix any problems discovered in our community.
  7. I like the way the community looks. It is always a pleasure driving through our front entrance.
  8. I like all the activities offered by the clubhouse and our residents.
  9. I like the fact that I can socialize or be a hermit and still enjoy myself.
  10. I like the friends I have made here. I even enjoy the people who don’t like me.
  11. I like Viera. What a great town we have the pleasure to live in.
  12. I like that the VA and Air Force base are so close. I am retired military.
  13. I like the new hospital being so close. I recently used the emergency room. It is very good.
  14. I like that the wetlands is so close. It is great for us nature lovers.
  15. I like that the shops at The Avenues are so close and so nice.
  16.  I like that the zoo is so close. I bought a season pass.
  17. I like all the choices of restaurants here, even if we hardly ever go out to eat.
  18. I like the low crime rate here.
  19. I like the fact there is hardly ever any traffic.
  20. I like the peace of mind I enjoy here.
Heritage Isle is more than a house.  It is a gated community with a lot of things to offer outside your front door.

For information on homes for sale in Viera's Heritage Isle, call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.






Monday, July 22, 2013

Real Estate Values in Brevard County, Florida: Deciding on your price.

Depending on where you are in the real estate situation (buyer or seller) your choice of comparable values will shape your price position.

If you are the seller, you want high.  On the other hand, if you are the buyer, you want low. 

When sellers are discussing a listing price they very often cite the house down the street that sold for "X" dollars last month.  They do not need an analysis because they just know the house sold, it is in their neighborhood and so that is their price.

When buyers consider an offer price they may want to use the foreclosure down the street that sold at a huge discount.

The problem here is neither party wants to use the best comparable proeprties.  This is where their real estate agent will have to show them the "good" comps.

Good comparable properties serve as a reality checkGood comps include a couple of key characteristics.
  • Physical traits. Close proximity, similar qualities like age, square footage, materials similar such as wood frame or concrete, same bedroom count,  garage size, similar views, etc. 
  • Circumstances of sale.   Often called arms length transactions, these are sales where there is no special circumstances or financing.  No distressed sale, no special relationships (selling to son or daughter), no liquidation quick sales, etc.
These valid comps are the best measure of what a buyer should pay and a seller should expectThey also represent what an appraiser will use when evaluating the property..

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



Sunday, July 21, 2013

A simple question - What is a bedroom?

What is a bedroom?  Contrary to what many sellers believe a bedroom is not just any room with a bed in it?

I had an owner tell me this week her house had four bedrooms.  As I was leaving I asked her again about the bedroom count.  She explained that I was missing the last one.

Then I remembered.

It was the "bedroom" that had the fireplace and the sliding glass doors and the dining table on the other side of the room and was open to the foyer. 

Silly me... I thought it was the living room!

So what is a bedroom?   First of all I can not locate a national standard anywhere.  What do I go by myself as a real estate agent?  In my opinion a space may be considered a bedroom if it has a door that can be closed, a window, and a closet.  Many of the agents I have dealt with consider the key to be the closet and door.

I guess the thing most agree on is what is not a bedroom

Ready to sell your Viera or Rockledge, Florida home?  Call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Chelsea Park in Rockledge, Florida - Activity picking up as summer heats up!

Chelsea Park in Rockledge currently has eight homes on the market.  List prices in Chelsea Park range from a low of $209,900 (also the smallest home at 2,108 square feet under air) to a high of $375,000 (one of the largest, a 5 bedroom 3 bath home).

Five of the homes for sale in Chelsea Park been listed within the past thirty days - possibly a sign sellers know the time is right to sell.

Another signal of the shifting market is that only one listing is a distressed sale (a short sale at $289,000).

Only two homes have sold in Chelsea Park since April 2013.   First, 413 Lenore Court - a 2,335 sq ft 3 bedroom 3 bath 3 car garage pool home sold for $274,000.  The other home was located at 425 Stonehenge Circle - a 2,416 sq ft 4 bedroom 3 bath 2 car garage home that sold on July 15, 2013 for $235,000.


Chelsea Park subdivision.... a little information.

Rockledge, Florida’s Chelsea Park subdivision provides home owners with larger homes on larger lots – no zero lot line parcels here.   Conveniently located near I-95 and US 1, Chelsea Park provides commuters easy access to major employers in Melbourne and Orlando (45 miles). 

One of the nice features offered by Chelsea Park is the reasonable home owner association fees which are about $77 per quarter.  This covers the playground, park area, jogging trail, and other recreational offerings.

Chelsea Park offers owners a little room to roam  and a little privacy as well as a location near top quality schools, shopping, several excellent golf courses, restaurants and much more.

Chelsea Park is well suited for those who commute to Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral or many other major employers (Harris Corp, Health First, Rockwell Collins) in Melbourne, Florida.


For information on buying selling a home in Rockledge, Florida's Chelsea Park subdivision, call me at 321-693-3850 or send me an email.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Going through foreclosure or short sale? Thou shalt not strip....

The stripping I am referring to is the removal of all components possible in a house facing foreclosure or, less often, a short sale.  I am not referring to personal property but rather the things that are permanently installed as part of the structure.

If you are facing a short sale or foreclosure I am not going to tell you what to do with your home.  This is only my opinion.

I have heard this discussed by many real estate agents.  Some believe that until a property is sold or taken back by the bank the owners are free to do as they please regardless.  Others take the opposite position.

Over the past five years or so many owners have found themselves in circumstances resulting in a short sale or foreclosure.  With emotions running high some may even be angry.

I was in a house yesterday that had only suffered minor stripping (faucets, ceiling fans, lights).  I have been in some where the AC is gone, the garage door opener gone, the cabinets and vanities gone, the appliances gone, the carpeting gone, walls painted with graffiti, drywall smashed and more.

Here is my personal opinion...to strip a home is to steal.

I recently read somewhere that lenders of foreclosed properties have gone so far as to file a claim for damages with the insurance company on file for previous owners.  I am not an attorney so I don't know whether such is possible.

As the owner, you decide how you will deal with the disposition of "your" house.  If it is a short sale you should want it in the best condition possible so as to get the highest dollar possible.  Read why here 

Short sales require a plan or strategy much like a normal sale.   What should your short sale strategy be?

Opinions expressed are those of the writer Gary L. Waters PLLC, a Florida licensed real estate agent.  I am not an attorney nor a moral judge.




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Does a pool add value to my home? Will adding a pool help me sell my house?

Will a pool help me sell my house?  Certainly, if the buyer wants a pool home!

Some buyers are insistent on any home they consider purchasing already have a pool.  Some buyers do not want a pool at any cost.

So, should a pool be installed only to add value? 

Here is an article on   6 things you think add value to your home but really don't Of course adding a pool is on the list or I would not referenced it here.

I have spoken with some buyers from out of state who have the impression all Florida homes come with a private pool.

Not so.  Of the 2278 active single family home listings today only 727 have a private pool (32%). 

So will a pool help me sell my house?   I suggest you consider the addition of a pool as enhancing your quality of living rather than concentrate on the return on your investment.

Perhaps if it is 95 degrees and sunny when the prospective buyers are seeing your home and your pool beckons to them, it may have an influence.  On a cold winter day, maybe not so much.

Ready to buy a pool home in Florida?    I can be reached at 321-693-3850 or by email if you prefer.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Home Buyer Tips: Will the seller accept FHA or VA financing?

As part of the listing process a prospective seller will identify the listing conditions such as price and and the form of payment (cash, third party financing, or possibly seller financing).

Often while viewing a prospective property a question is asked about the terms of a sale.  After all buyers can't remember all the details of all the homes they view.

Many times the question asked is "Will the seller accept FHA (or VA, if applicable)financing?"  

My experience has been most sellers will accept any kind of financing with an agreed on price.  That is, if they want to sell.

There are cases when a seller would gladly accept financing but the subject house will not qualify for financing due to problems.   While there are some loans that allow for repair costs to be included in the mortgage like an FHA 203k rehab loan most buyers are not searching for a project but rather a move in ready house - even if it will require some work later.

When working with buyers it is important to match the buyer's needs with their ability to complete the purchase.  I avoid showing properties where any conditions exist that do not match my buyer's needs and situation (financing, location, price range, time, etc).

After all, my goal is to find them the home that matches their needs.




Monday, July 15, 2013

Heritage Isle in Viera, Florida - Homes for Sale in Florida 55+ Communities

As of July 15, 2013 there are only 13 active listings in the Heritage Isle subdivision in Florida's planned unit development of Viera.

Of these active residential listings three are patio style homes. All three are the same size 1,407 under air with two bedrooms two baths and a one car garage. (prices $148,500 to $164,900).

The remaining ten listings are single family detached homes priced from $209,000 to $299,000. This range is a bit misleading as all but one are priced from $209,000 to $245,000.   Included in these are two foreclosures and one short sale priced between $209,000 and $209,900.

In the past six weeks there have been 18 homes sold in Heritage Isle.  All properties sold were standard sales with selling prices ranging from $150,000 to $360,000. Of these there was one patio style home (2/2/1 car garage) and one half duplex (2/2/2 car garage).

For those who prefer condo living there are five active condo listings in Heritage Isle at this time.  All are standard sales priced between $114,900 and $139,900.

What does Heritage Isle offer homeowners?  Here is a short list...gated entry staffed 24 hours,
21,000 sq.ft. clubhouse, fitness center, library with computer stations, pools, tennis, multiple residence styles (single family, villa or condo living), lawn service, golfing next door at the Duran Golf Club, located near the new Viera Hospital,  and shopping and restaurants nearby.

Want to hear more about Viera's premier 55+ community of Heritage Isle?  Call me at 321-693-3850 or email me.



Saturday, July 13, 2013

Home Buyer's Question: How long does it take to close a home purchase?

Question:  How long does it take to close a home purchase?
Answer:    It depends.


 What kind of answer is that?  The truth is a real estate closing depends on several issues.  First, where are you buying the property?  The answers I provide here refer only to Florida so it may vary somewhat depending on your location.

Another issue is the seller's schedule.  Sometimes the seller is ready to move right away or has already moved.  This is the best situation for a buyer.  Sometimes, as in the case of a family move, it may be a case of waiting a couple of months for the kids to get out of school, etc.

If it is a cash purchase, the closing can move along about as quickly as you want it to depending on others' workload.  Of course, an inspection is usually recommended as well as a survey which take some time.  And then there is the closing paperwork and title search. Let's be optimistic and say ten days for it all....less if a survey or inspection is skipped.  Again, not recommended by me - ever!

Finally, if the purchase is being financed by a mortgage, the time stretches out a bit further and can increase the uncertainty. This is exactly the reason why it is critical to have a professional mortgage lender who knows how to deliver.

I always recommend allowing up to 45 days when as mortgage is involved.   A few years ago it was a thirty day closing (which may still be possible) but I find it best to be less optimistic.  Maybe this goes to the old "under promise, over deliver" practice.

In a perfect world... real estate transactions do not exist in the perfect so lets just say "on or before "XX" days if we are lucky!"

Friday, July 12, 2013

Are there still a lot of short sale homes on the market in Brevard County, Florida? (plus other short sale information)

There are 2,262 active residential (single family detached home) listings in Brevard County, Florida as of this morning.  This number is quite a bit smaller than a few years ago.

About 200 of these homes are listed as short sales.  Without a calculator it is easy to see this number  represents less than 10% of all single family homes for sale in Brevard County.

The number of single family home short sales under contract (pending closing, contingent on lender approval) stands at 772 today.  That is a lot of parties waiting an answer!  Know this one thing about short sales...they take time!

Patience and flexibility is required when one is buying (or selling) a short sale.

So how many short sale listings get approved and closed in one month? Just last month 87 short sale listings closed in Brevard County (109 in May 2013).

So how many of the 772 will ever close as short sales?   It is hard to say.  Short sale approval depends on so many factors.

Still, a short sale is often the best option for sellers to take if the situation requires they dispose of their house or condo.


If you are considering selling your home in Brevard County, Florida as a short sale or standard sale, call me at 321-693-3850 if I can help in any way.








Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tis the season... the real estate season, that is!

Real estate is cyclical.  It has always been cyclical.  Beyond within the bigger real estate business cycle there is a "local" real estate cycle.

Broadly, the real estate cycle in Brevard County,  Florida involves increased activity from the spring to end of August or September.

If one must sell their home it is always preferable to do it on one's terms (schedule, price).

Ideally a seller would like to sell a home at the peak of the market.  Besides not knowing when the peak will occur most people have schedules that do not mirror the real estate cycle.

So why is this the time to sell your Viera, Florida home?
  1. Prices are rising. 
  2. Inventory is shrinking.
Both of these reasons results in more buyers competing for fewer "move in ready" properties.   Lastly, this is the "real estate season" in Brevard County.

The increasing prices and potentially increasing mortgage interest rates makes it an ideal time to buy that replacement home.

If a new home is in your future in the next year or two this may be the best time to act.

Whether buying or selling, if it is real estate in Brevard County, Florida, call me at 321-693-3850.


Monday, July 08, 2013

If the real estate market has changed then why has my house not sold?


I received a call from someone this past week who had read an article I posted a few weeks ago about multiple offers and the changing Brevard County, Florida real estate market.

They have had their home listed for several months with no offers.  And the listing was about to expire.  They were frustrated.  They wanted me to tell them why their house had not sold yet.

So I take out my crystal ball and see what I can visualize....

The obvious issue is price.  I know it but the underlying problem in this case is one of "expectations."

Somehow this hopeful seller had drifted down a primrose path that was not grounded in reality.  She was hopeful...overly hopeful. 

The problem here was the seller's expectations were not established and clarified at the onset (several months ago) when the list agent agreed to a higher than market price.

I am not completely opposed to a seller listing at an optimistic price. 

However in such cases I clarify the seller's expectations.  And then I set the stage at the time of listing for any future price change this way... 
"if we don't have at least 10 showings and 1 serious offer within 30 days then we will need to talk about the price."
The above I call my "30-10-1 rule."   It gets the seller's attention.  And, if we need a price adjustment after the first month, they know it is coming.

Working together we will get the job done so my seller does not call another real estate agent to ask them why their home has not sold!

When you are ready to sell your Viera, Suntree or Rockledge, Florida home, give me a call at 321-693-3850.  Want a free market analysis? Just ask.



Sunday, July 07, 2013

New phone, new car, new house.... you decide

Lets face it...there are good bills and bad bills.  Put another way, some debt is good debt while much is bad.  But even the good debt must be balanced and reasonable, right?  Like a car payment for example.

I recently read about a prospective home buyer who applied for a mortgage in the high $200,000s.  The prospective home buyers were glad to find they were prequalified for a mortgage that would buy them a very nice home.


Then they purchased a new car.  Well, they financed a new car.  And the $500+ a month car payments decreased their credit score.  Their monthly total obligations and debt to income ratios went the wrong way - higher.

Then they found out the the cold hard facts.  They were now only qualified for a $95,000 loan.  Their home dreams had vanished!

This brings to light a couple of points people considering buying a home need to ponder.

First, do you need or just want that new car?  A couple of weeks ago I went over to my local Sprint Store. My contract is up on my Blackberry.  I went over to check out the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5 and even the HTC One.  Nice phones.  Not really expensive with a new two year contract.

But then I thought about my Blackberry.  I have had it two years or so.  It does what I need.  It works fine.  I left, convinced I had no need for a new faster, better looking phone (Admittedly my Blackberry has a pretty boring look with a keyboard). 

If one really has a need for a new car, is it possible to wait until after you close the deal on the new home purchase?

If you are in a situation where a new vehicle is required, speak with your mortgage person to gain insight and prepare a strategy.   Consider how much car you should buy.  I have found ones attitude toward the automobile's importance determines the choice. 

Still prospective home buyers should remember this... anyone (almost) can get a car financed but not everyone can get a house financed.







Friday, July 05, 2013

Home Buyer Tips - In a seller's market don't negotiate like you are buying a car!

I recently read an article that discussed buying a home in the new "seller's market."  The strategy of the writer was simply this ...make your first offer your highest and best. 

There may be situations where this approach is appropriate but I would shy away from it as a "fits all" guide to buying a house.

I have seen some use the "buying a house is like buying a car negotiation strategy" only to see a great big rejection (no counteroffer, just a big no!).

There are a few major differences between buying a house and a car besides the amount of money.

First, the nature of the car sales business encourages a low offer with subsequent multiple counters and a final agreement.  I think auto sales folks expect this to be the process.

Secondly, there are hundreds, if not thousands of cars, like the one you are making an offer on.  But that house you want to buy is a one of a kind.  Sure it can be recreated but not in the same location.  And real estate is location, location, location.  Scarcity create demand.

Finally, there are usually not several buyers at the dealership trying to buy that same car at the same time.  Wouldn't a car salesperson love to have several buyers competing for their product!

It is true I would never offer my top price initially for a car nor would I do that for a house.  But I would make a reasonable "let's talk offer."

This is the point where your real estate agent can serve as a key adviser.  Ready to buy a house in Florida?  Call me at 321-693-3850 or email me if I can help.




Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Home Seller Tips - Your new baby is....ten years old!

Your new baby is....ten years old!  How many ten year old kids would like to to be called a "new baby?"  Probably very few.

But when it comes to selling one's home in many cases "new" is stretched ten years!

I just read an MLS entry promoting  a house's new roof...."new roof in 2003."  Maybe this sounds better than roof only ten years old!

Similarly there is the occasional reference to "$XX worth of upgrades."  When we those upgrades installed? Fifteen years ago?  Is that dollar figure based on today's dollars or when installed?  Was the figure a builder's inflated upgrade charge?  FYI, I am being a bit sarcastic here!

My point here is simply this... tell it like it is.

No need to put a new spin on old.  Disclose the facts as they are and let prospective buyers decide.

But, should you decide to promote an upgrade or recent update, please have the documentation just in case the buyer asks for it.



Monday, July 01, 2013

June 2013 Residential and Condo Sales - Brevard County, Florida

The below real estate sales statistics for Brevard County, Florida were compiled on the morning on July 1, 2013.  These numbers will shift somewhat over the next few days as end of the month closings are entered.  However, there is no major shift expected.

Residential sales in Brevard County June 2013 (vs. June 2012)

Units Sold - 720 (707)
Average Selling Price - $166,483 ($154,890)
List/Sell Ratio 96% - (95%)
Median Selling Price  - $128,000 ($122,000)
Average Days on Market  - 75 (93)

Condo sales in Brevard County June 2013 (vs. June 2012)

Units Sold - 127 (152)
Average Selling Price - $158,566 ($140,213)
List/Sell Ratio - 95% (93%)
Median Selling Price  - $120,000 ($95,250)
Average Days on Market  - 88 (112)

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