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Sunday, December 29, 2013

The decision to buy a home... Where do I start?

The decision to buy a home... Where do I start?

One usually does not wake up one morning and say to themselves "I want to buy a house." 

A decision of this magnitude is usually arrived at through careful consideration starting with "Should I buy or rent?"

I routinely witness the excitement in many people when looking at homes or condos.  Is this what they call the thrill of the hunt?

But you don't go house hunting without preparation.

How does one prepare to buy a home?

The first step, after the decision to purchase, is to deal with the finances.  This can not be over emphasized.

Without a solid financial plan (budget, down payments, closing expenses, pre-approved mortgage) the time spent looking could be a complete waste of everyone's time.

There was a time about ten years ago where I found myself showing houses to snowbirds (affectionate reference to those northerners wintering in Florida) almost non-stop.  Many of these folks never bought a home.  They were not ready to buy a house in Florida but rather had what I coined "orange juice in their veins."

I thought they wanted to buy.  In reality I now believe most woke up one morning and said to themselves "I want to buy a house."

The lesson learned early on was this... Buying a house involves a plan starting with ones ability to purchase and moving forward.

Considering buying a house or condo in Florida, call me at 321-693-3850.  Lets discuss your plan starting with your ability to buy.      

Originally posted at Moving to Brevard County, Florida on June 6, 2013.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Home Buyer Tips - Do property inspection contingencies allow home buyers to walk too easily?

I read an article this week where a real estate agent in another state was expressing the opinion that buyers can walk from a contract too easily because of the property inspection.   My response is simply "this is the process."

When I work with home buyers in Florida I always include a property inspection contingency in every offer to purchase.  This contingency is included even if the offer is an "as is" offer where the buyer is not expecting the seller to make repairs.

I view the inspection contingency as a "get out of jail free" card.  Property inspections are subjective and the results are evaluated by the buyer - not the seller, inspector or any real estate agent.

Is this contingency "fair" for the seller?  Most sellers would likely respond "No!"  However, it part of the risk assumed when selling.  You may be surprised at how many "contracts" never close for various reasons including financing issues, title questions, etc.  Some deals crash and burn - that is the nature of the business.

What happens if a seller repairs an identified issue or even every issue listed on an inspection report.  Can the buyer still walk?

The comprehensive rider to to the Florida residential contract includes  **"If Buyer determines, in Buyer’s sole discretion, that the Property is not acceptable to Buyer...."  Nowhere does it say "unless all repairs have been fixed by the seller."

agent@moving2brevard.comAgain, this is the process we follow in Florida.  The buyer should have their earnest money returned without issue.  To contest it will likely require an attorney.


**Comprehensive Rider to the Residential Contract For Sale And Purchase
CR-1 Rev. 6/10 © 2010 Florida Realtors® and The Florida Bar. All rights reserved.

[The above article was originally posted on my other blog Moving to Brevard County, Florida on December 17, 2013.]

Is it a Do It Yourself Project or Collateral Damage?

For some of us, even the simplest task, can be a major challenge.  I remember about 30 years ago my father in law and I started out making an enclosure for a mailbox.  The end project looked like a pulpit in most churches.

Although many deny it few of us are blessed with exceptional skills that allow us to make a weekend project of remodeling out home! 

The Peter Principle  (also the title of a 1969 book by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull) is the hypothesis that people are ultimately promoted to their level of incompetence.

Toilet, sink, stove, & not shown a shower!
As a real estate agent I think this also applies to the Do It Yourself home repair person.

People will, if given a chance, attempt DIY projects just above their level of competence!

If you have been inspired by some TV program take the time to consider your skills.

If that improvement or addition will require a permit and an inspection by the local building officials, follow the required procedures.

Short cuts and skirting the permitting process will eventually have to be dealt with - even if it is when you decide to sell your home.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Home Buyer Tips: Control what you can, prepare for what you can't!

When buying a house or condominium there are few things you as a buyer can control.

First, what are some of the things a buyer can not really control?   Although not all inclusive remember these could include
  • Association Dues.  They may be set at the time of purchase but they can change.
  • Homeowner Insurance.  Storms, wild fires, sink holes or whatever.  When insurance companies payout, consumers end up paying in! 
  • Flood Insurance, if required.  If you buy in a flood zone you may have no choice.  Currently there is quite a bit of discussion ongoing about future increases in this insurance rate in Florida and across the entire country.
  • Taxes.  No explanation required here!
  • Special Assessments (governmental, association).  They happen.  It could be for the new roadway or drainage control.  Or it could by the association for pool repair, roof replacement or whatever.
So what can a buyer control?  
  • When.  Buyers decide when they are ready and able to buy a home.  No one will compel one to buy although the current tax policy favors a buyer's mortgage interest deduction.
  • How much.  Buyers can control how much they pay for a property.  The control may be in the way of a mortgage approval limit or just a personal comfort level.  Related to how much a buyer pays is also another factor - location. 
One last item a buyer can't control but do have a choice is interest rates.  This is related to the "when" above.  Some want to gamble on where the prices are going (currently upward).  Some want to gamble on interest rates.

Where are interest rates going?  Who knows for sure?  I asked a mortgage officer earlier this week for his opinion.  His response was pretty much what I hear everywhere else - up.

How does an increase in interest rates affect a buyer?  The monthly payment changes as well as possibly a reduction in mortgage approval amount.

For example on a $150,000 30 year mortgage.  The difference in payment from 4.5% to 5.5% is $122 per month ($760 to $852).   It is not Want to check how the rate changes affect a payment.... Just go here to a mortgage calculator from

Monday, December 23, 2013

Single Family Home Sales in Brevard County, Florida November 2013

Brevard County, Florida single family home selling prices have been rising steadily.

No surprise here as the supply level has dropped to about 4.2 months. (A market in balance should be around the six month supply mark.)   The average single family home sale in 2012 was $152,068 ($144,082 in 2011).  The average sales price in November 2013 was $179,059.

The number of short sales is going down while traditional sales and foreclosures are going up.  Is this a signal banks are starting to unload some of the foreclosures they had in inventory?

Here is a summary of single family home sales in Brevard County for November 2013.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Home Seller Tips: Should I buy my new home before I sell?

Should you buy before selling your current home?

In an ideal world I would say the clear answer is yes.  But few of us live in an ideal world.

Buying your next house could alleviate some of the stress of selling.  It could eliminate most disruptions to daily life.  It could make the move timeline your timeline instead of the unknown contract when it arrives.

Still, few are in a position to take such action.

A seller could go shopping for the new house and, if found, make an offer with a contingency on selling their home.  With the current market favoring sellers I doubt very many sellers would accept such an offer.

However, they may accept an offer with a kick out clause where the seller of the new home continues showing and if another acceptable offer comes the buyer with the kick out clause must decide to remove the contingency or cancel the contract

And there are also bridge loans if you qualify.  To examine all your options I suggest you contact your local Brevard County, Florida mortgage lender.  They can look at your credit, income, budget and provide real options to consider.

Finally, in the ideal world, if cash is an option, the answer is easy.

So should a seller buy their new home before selling the old home?  As with most questions in real estate,  it all depends.

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

Gary L. Waters PLLC
Florida Licensed Real Estate Broker Associate

Monday, December 16, 2013

Selling Your Florida Home: Can a seller do "required" repairs or must they hire a contractor?

Florida Residential Home Sales:  Can a seller do the repairs or must a contractor do them?

As a Florida licensed real estate broker associate I am not an attorney and can't provide legal advice.  Still, the Florida Realtors®/Florida Bar contract I routinely use addresses the issue.

What does the Florida Realtors®/Florida Bar Residential Contract for Purchase and Sale say? 

Two phrases stand out - "by an appropriately licensed person, in accordance with all requirements of law" and "shall consist of materials or items of quality, value, capacity and performance comparable to, or better than."

Although I am not a lawyer, I think this is clearly saying hire a professional and don't skimp on repairs.  Sellers should be prepared to provide receipts to document payment as well.

Of course this could be a non issue if the "other" contract is used - the "As Is" Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase.

For legal advice regarding real estate transactions consult an attorney.

Considering selling your Viera, Florida home?  Call me at 321-693-3850 if I can assist in any way.

Real Estate Q&A - Why shouldn't a buyer consider what the seller paird for their house?

Florida Today newspaper December 15, 2013.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

If the market is favoring sellers, why do you still recommend a pre-listing home inspection?

If the market is favoring sellers, why do you still recommend a pre-listing home inspection?

Pre-listing inspections can be a good marketing tool.  Prospective buyers may have a higher degree of confidence if the property has been inspected and the results provided and issues addressed and disclosed.

Furthermore, a pre-listing inspection can be a safety net for a seller.

When an offer does come the buyer will likely have a property inspection done.  And, even if it is an "as is" contract, if something is found to be a major problem it may cause the buyer to walk.

Even if the issues found are minor and can be addressed with an easy fix, they could likely become a "deduction" in another round of negotiations.

Please review these articles about preparing your home for the market and then call me if I can help you sell your Brevard County, Florida home.

Considering buying a home in Viera, Florida?  Call me if I can help in any way.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Home Buyer Tips: Come on, tell me what you think!

Every time a home is viewed by prospective buyers the sellers are curious about “what they thought.”  It is only natural, right? 

Sellers really only want to know two things: 
  1. Is it a consideration?
  2. Will they be submitting an offer?
As your buyer's agent I want your feedback as well.  Not so I can pass along the information to the seller as much as to know where we stand.

And with your feedback I want you to be brutally honest with me.  

Many folks (including me) live by the saying "if you can't say nothing good then don't say anything."

But when shopping for a new home the rule needs to go out the window.  The truth is I am your Brevard County, Florida real estate agent.   I am showing you homes that as I understand your desires meet your requirements.

I have no personal interest in any house you view.  I am not the seller.  I will not be offended by anything you say.

My focus is on you finding a home to buy in Brevard County, Florida.  Your feedback will help me refine and further identify prospective homes to meet your goal.

So when I ask "What do you think? give it to me straight.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Grand Isle in Viera - Market Report December 2013

Currently there are four active single family home listings in Viera's 55+ community of Grand Isle.    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.

Two of these Grand Isle homes for sale are priced below $240,000 while the other two are priced above $299,900.  The higher priced listings are both located on a pond which does often command a premium price.

All  of the homes presently for sale in Grand Isle are three bedroom two bath homes except for one which is larger with four bedrooms and three bathrooms.    All homes for sale in Grand Isle have two car garages and were constructed between 2001 and 2005.  

What has recently sold in Grand Isle?    One home sold in November 2013 and two others closed a month earlier.  Recent homes sold in Grand Isle include:
  • 1410 Lago Mar Drive - a 2 bedroom 2 bath 2 car garage home with 1,765 sq. ft.  sold for $187,000 on 10/01/13. 
  • 1605 Boca Rio Drive - a 3 bedroom 2 bath 2 car garage home with 2,032 sq. ft. sold on 10/18/13 for $233,000.
  • 1683 Keys Gate Drive - a 2 bedroom 2 bath 2 car garage home with 1,422 sq. ft. under air sold on 11/15/13 for $188,000.
A sign of the improving real estate market in Brevard county is that all homes for sale and sold were standard (fair market) sales.

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

Monday, December 09, 2013

Home Seller Tips - Let These Rules Influence Your Behavior.

Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young at
As a child many of us heard lots of "rules"  usually dropped at the most opportune time to influence current behavior.  Some of these rules were quite useful like "Do unto others..." while some were ultimately found to be false like, appropriate for the season, "Santa Clause."

When you are ready to sell your home I urge you to let these two rules influence your current behavior.
  1. People will judge a book by its cover. Your home may have all that prospective buyers seek but if they have already crossed it off the list because of its poor presentation, no offer will come.  Or, if an offer comes it will likely be lower than otherwise.
  2. First impressions are difficult to change. 
And while most eventually outgrow their belief in Santa I think there are some sellers who still believe in Santa Clause.  These are the sellers who believe buyers will overlook the clutter, the red paint, the worn carpet, the tobacco smells, etc.

Unfortunately, people do judge a book by its cover.  When you are ready to sell Brevard County, Florida your home, make sure your "cover" shines.

When you are ready to sell your Viera, Florida home call me at 321-693-3850 if I can help in any way.  Thinking of buying a home in Florida, let me help you.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Home Buying Process - Two Questions That Must Be Answered Before Looking at Homes

When you are ready to begin looking at homes for sale expect to be asked a couple of questions by your Viera, Florida real estate agent.

First, "Have you spoken to a lender about a mortgage?"   Unless you have the ability to buy (qualify for a mortgage), it is a waste of time unless the property is in your budget.  If you intend to pay cash then this question will be re-phrased as "Do you have proof of funds?" 

The second question is more about how real estate agent's work and less about the purchase - "Are you working with another real estate agent?"   The home buying process is stressful and complicated.  It is best to have one agent who you work with exclusively.

If you are considering purchasing a home in Viera, Florida, give me a call at 321-693-3850 or email me

Friday, December 06, 2013

Should You Buy a Foreclosure - Risk, Reward, Uncertainty

Should You Buy a Foreclosure - Risk, Reward, Uncertainty

Image courtesy of cooldesign at
Foreclosed homes are not like your usual move in ready home

First of all, most foreclosures are suffering from deferred maintenance.  In many cases the owners were having financial problems before the foreclosure so it is doubtful they had problems "fixed."

Many times foreclosed properties have been vacant for a long time.  This opens the door for vandalism.

Further, there are some owners who have stripped as much as possible from the home before leaving  (removed appliances including the air conditioner, etc.).

In some cases the may be additional damage from a leaking roof or other plumbing issues. 

Finally, the electricity is usually off as well as the water.

At some point, if an inspection is going to be done (highly recommended even on a cash purchase), the prospective buyer will probably have to spend money to get the utilities turned on.  In some cases the selling institution will not allow water to be turned on for any reason.

Foreclosures present a lot of risk with potential rewards. and uncertainty...not for all!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Home Seller Tips: Hopefully Optimistic and Unreasonably Overpriced.

Home Seller Tips:  There is a difference between hopefully optimistic and unreasonably overpriced.

Sometimes I see listings and wonder what is going on.  The Brevard County, Florida real estate market is improving.  The pendulum has swung the other way and prices are increasing slowly. 

There is a lot more competition among buyers for fewer move in ready homes.
Image courtesy of Teeratas at

So it is natural for sellers to price at the top of the market or even a little above that price.

Back in the days when the market was trending downward (sounds better than crashing) sellers were often pricing in the rear view mirror.   Now they seem to be looking forward with sometimes very rosy glasses!

If you are considering selling your Viera, Florida home, give me a call or send me an email for your free market analysis.   This market analysis will tell you what I think your home will sell for and will provide supporting data.   This is an educated opinion that I openly share with you without obligation.   And then you can decide if I can be your Viera Realtor®.

Unlike some in the business I will not take an unreasonably overpriced listing but I will take a hopefully optimistic listing.

My first choice is to always list at market plus some room for talking.  The key to selling is to price for condition, competition, circumstances and location.

Here are a few additional articles on pricing strategies to sell your Viera home.

The Three Ps to Selling Your Home
Why you don't want to price your home with "999"
Pricing to get a "Let's Talk Offer"

Brevard County, Florida Single Family Detached Home Sales November 2013

Single family detached homes sold in Brevard County, Florida during November 2013 totaled 628 properties as reported in the Brevard MLS system as of today.  This volume is up from November 2012 reported sales (598).  This number does not include town house, half duplex and manufactured homes.

The  major shift appears to be in the number of short sales closing.  Short sales represented about 9% of last month's sales but were about 22% of November 2012 single family home sales.   Another shift is the number of foreclosures sold in November 2013 was approximately 25% of sales.

The good news is that about 66% of current sales are non distressed sales (about 57% last year).

The trend in the condo and townhouse market mirrors the single family market with an increase in REO / foreclosures and a decrease in the short sale transactions.

The above was extracted from the Brevard MLS system as of today and will likely change a little as end of the month closings are added in the system.  The data has not been audited and is presented here to provide a general summary of market direction in Brevard County, Florida.

If you have a specific question regarding Brevard County, Florida real estate, please drop me an email.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

I can't sell my home in the wintertime, right?

I can't sell my home in the wintertime, right?

Image courtesy of gubgib at

Homes sell any time of the year...if it is priced right, that is!

While it is true there are seasonal peaks such as the spring or early summer, buyers are always in the market.   The summer is an ideal time for families to relocate in between schools years.  Likewise, some find the break between Christmas and New Years Day as an opportune time to move (notice I didn't say convenient).

While in some parts of the country winter weather can be a factor in getting folks out to see homes that is rarely, if ever, the case when buying a home in Florida.  In Florida many times there are folks looking to escape the cold north and purchase a second home in Florida.

The average monthly sales of residential properties in Brevard County during the period of November 2012 through February 2013 was around 700 units while the average during May through July 2013 was around 1,075 units.  (Estimates based on data in Brevard MLS system.)

Sure, fewer homes sold in the winter but there were still sales.  The Fall and Winter time brings out serious buyers.

Selling anytime requires an understanding of the Three Ps of selling your home  - price, promotion and presentation.

Thinking about buying or selling in Brevard County?  Call me at 321-693-3850 if I can help!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Single Family Home Rockledge, Florida - Available Now, $1200 per month

1224 Serengeti Way, Rockledge, FL 32955

Year Built: 2005
Sq Footage: 1706 sqft.
Bedrooms: 3 Beds
Bathrooms: 2 Baths
Parking: 2 Garage
Lease Duration: 1 Year (See Details Below)
Deposit: $1,000
Pets Policy: No Pets Allowed
Laundry: In Unit
Property Type: Single Family House


2004 built single family home with two car garage located in Rockledge, Florida's Huntington Lakes subdivision. Carpet in bedrooms, tile and laminate in all other rooms. Screened back porch, separate laundry room. Master bath has tub and shower, walk in closets. Close to excellent schools, parking, easy access to I-95. Beaches about 10 miles, Orlando about 45 minutes. Parks and playgrounds nearby.


  • Walk-in closet
  • Family room
  • Stove / Oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Microwave
  • Garbage disposal
  • Yard
  • Lawn
  • Central heat
  • Central A/C
  • Air conditioning
  • Ceiling fans
  • Cable-ready
  • Tile floor
  • High / Vaulted ceiling


First and last month plus security required at move in, $45 per adult application fee, no pets.

Contact info:
Gary L Waters PLLC
Serving Brevard Realty

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