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Monday, April 28, 2014

Why does it matter if I work with more than one agent?

While many real estate agents share many of the same skills not just any agent is the best choice for a consumer - especially the agent with the sign out front of a house for sale.

Your real estate agent works with you (and for you) by gaining an understanding of your circumstances, goals and requirements.

So when someone who is considering buying a home in Melbourne, Florida calls me I ask several questions to gain an understanding of their needs as well as determine if I am the best one to provide that help.  If I am not the expert I will likely refer the caller to someone better suited.

What type of questions should the caller expect?

The above questions will not illicit all the details I will need to move forward but they will help determine how much energy to put in my response to the caller.  More importantly, the answers  will help me determine the urgency and direction to go forward (set up auto searches in MLS, meet in person, set up showings, refer to a mortgage lender, etc.). 

Why does it matter if I work with only one agent?  Your own real estate agent will understand your needs, be able to provide a single contact point for your search as well as answer questions and, more importantly, can guide you through the entire home purchase process

Ready to buy a house or condo in Melbourne, Florida?  Call me at 321-693-3850.  You already know the questions I will ask!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Home Buyer Tips: When you don't know...well?

There is some oft quoted phrase that goes something like "When you don't know where you are going, anywhere is fine."  I guess that is acceptable if you have all the time in the world and no place else to be.

But when you set out to buy a new house or condo in Brevard County, Florida that is not a good approach.  Oh yes, there are plenty of roads to follow.  I-95 runs about 80 miles from the Brevard County north border to the southernmost border.  Along the coast the drive along Highway A1A is quite scenic, for sure.

But when your goal is to find a new house or condo it helps to identify needs and prioritize those requirements.  Sure it may take some driving around Brevard County but with a plan.

Check out the areas, cities and neighborhoods.  

Up north you have Titusville and the rural areas around Mims.  In central Brevard County you will find the very popular planned unit developments of Viera and Suntree. Over on the coast there are several cities from which to choose including the more "touristy" Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach, Melbourne Beach and several others.

Of course location is greatly influenced by school needs, employment location, commute time, need for waterfront or water access, etc.

The key point - its all about location. 

Choose your location, and you will know where you are going.  And next, identify what you want.  You may have also heard another oft quoted phrase that goes something like "When you don't know what you want,anything will do."

Need professional, personalized real estate service in Brevard County, Florida?  Call me at 321-693-3850.  When it comes to a buying or selling a house or condo, you deserve individualized service.   Give me a call to discuss the general areas or advice is free!

Image courtesy of supakitmod /

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Competition and Comps - What is a buyer to do?

One of the most valuable tools a real estate agent has at their dispal is "the comps."  For those not familiar with the lingo, "comp" refers to comparables.

For more background on comparables please read "What is a comparable?"  and "What is a valid comp?"

When working with buyers I often hear the customer direct me to "pull the comps"  which I gladly do right away.

In the Brevard County, Florida market with increasing sales and a balanced inventory, I like to look back about three months ideally.   In some neighborhoods like the 55+ community of Indian River Colony Club where the maintenance free lifestyle and restricted access are a factor I may have to go back further within the community to find comparables.

A review of comparable properties serves a couple of purposes.

The sold comparable properties identify which direction the market is headed.  In our market the direction is upward as in rising prices.  [Brevard County, Florida Residential Sales March 2014 vs. March 2013]

A review of the comparable active listings tells the buyer (and seller) how competitive the market is at the time.   I also include the under contract but not yet closed listings as well here.

In the current Brevard County, Florida market there is competition although not the frenzied atmosphere of eight to ten years ago.  Rather, the competition varies in intensity based on the location within the county.  It is still all about location.

So what does a buyer do with the comparables?   Understand where the market is going and what the real comparable properties are selling for now - not six to twelve months ago.

Then, if serious, make an offer like you mean it.  When there is competition, the attitude needs to be, at a minimum, make a serious lets talk offer that can improve your chances of success.

Considering buying or selling a home in Brevard County, Florida?  Call me at 321-693-3850 if I can help in any way.

If you prefer, send me an email.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Home Buyer Tips: Sellers disclose, Buyers verify.

Who among us does not know at least one person who can keep track of all the details in their life?   I am not one of those types.  I am more of a "ballpark" figure person. 

When selling your home there are some details that need to be available to prospective buyers.

Among these are any issues with your home.  Anything that affects value should be disclosed up front.

Likewise, if there is a homeowner association, details like whether belonging is mandatory or voluntary.   In the central Brevard County, Florida areas of Viera, Suntree and Rockledge, the answer here is yes.

Another detail that should be disclosed is the price of membership and membership related questions

I always recommend buyers contact the association management or officers directly to discuss the balance sheet, issues with delinquent owners verify costs, and whether any special assessments exist or are planned in the future.

All too often while looking for homes there is an association fee listed in the MLS system that is not correct albeit most often in the "ballpark."

Key point:  Sellers disclose, Buyers verify.   Follow this simple rule and there will likely not be an surprises later on.

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

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/


Thursday, April 24, 2014

If Buying or Selling a Home in Florida, Share this with me, please.

Whether working with buyers or sellers there is one common element - a lot of questions.  The purpose of the inquiry is to not look for some deep dark secret but to gain an understanding of the purpose.

Very often I find myself working with buyers moving to Florida from the north east.  One of my major questions to them during that first visit is "What must you accomplish while here to make this a successful trip?"

With sellers, although phrased differently, the intent is the same.  Define success.

I need my buyers and seller customers to share their expectations.  Knowing what one expects will shape strategies.

More importantly, if the expectations are a little too optimistic it allows us to discuss the realities of the market and hopefully re-establish realistic expectations.

No one wants to go home after a house hunting trip to Florida thinking..."Why did I waste my time?"

Likewise, no seller wants to have their life constantly disrupted without an offer or when finally receiving an offer that is not even close to their expectations.

With clearly defined expectations, we can work together to achieve success.

The 6 Most Essential Homebuyer Tips

Ready to buy a house in Brevard County, Florida? Call me at 321-693-3850 or send me an email!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Brevard County, Florida Residential Sales March 2014 vs. March 2013

Brevard County, Florida Residential Sales March 2014 vs. March 2013 as provided by the Florida Realtors®.

The short of all the above:  Sales prices higher, more foreclosure and regular sales  and less short sales.

For information on buying or selling a home in Brevard County, Florida, please give me a call at 321-693-3850 or send me an email.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Want to Buy a Home in Viera, Florida? Questions I may ask when you call this Viera, Florida Realtor®

When most home buyers call on me about buying a house in Viera, Florida they usually fill me in with the basics...price, size and age.

This is a nice start but there is so much more to consider when shopping for a new home.

A few more questions will help me refine a buyers needs and determine the direction to go.  Some of the questions will likely center on things like...
  1. New construction or re-sale,
  2. Type of sale (short sale, standard, foreclosure)
  3. Time line
  4. Mortgage status (pre-approved, cash)
  5. Condition (new, fixer upper, move in ready, project, etc.)
  6. Familiarity with the general area
  7. Most desirable location (neighborhood, golf course course, waterfront, etc.)
  8. Homeowner association or not (in Viera there is no choice...answer yes.)
  9. Pool (none, private, community), 
  10. Commute issues, if any, 
  11. Type of construction (frame, brick, concrete, etc).
  12. Proximity to medical facilities, shopping, restaurants, golf and other recreational venues.
  13. School zones
  14. Yard size
When you are ready to move to Brevard County, Florida, call me at 321-693-3850 or send me an email if I can assist you in any way.

Image courtesy of graur codrin /

Home Seller Tips - Showings, How Long?

The below article was published in the Florida Today newspaper Sunday April 20, 2014 and is re-printed here.

Considering buying or selling your Viera, Florida home?  Call me at 321-693-3850 or send me an email.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Home Buyer Tips: I have an opinion but...

When working with sellers I prepare a comparative market analysis.   Coupled with a seller's motivation (circumstances) the comparative market analysis is a vital part of determining a marketing price supported by facts.

When working with buyers some occasionally ask for an opinion - not facts - just a "what you think about this."

I make it a practice to avoid throwing around opinions.

In the real estate business it is not my opinion or likes that matter.  Want to know what I think about a neighborhood, I will tell you but not while you are a buyer or seller client of mine.

After all, your opinion matters, not mine.

Got a question about homes for sale in Brevard County, Florida?  Send me an email. I will give you the facts as I know them without opinion.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Home Seller Tips: Preparing your home for sale

I recently read an article that advised home sellers to prepare their home by making it kid proof.

Most advice about preparing a home for sale addresses things like removing excess "stuff," cleanliness, curb appeal, fixing those little issues often ignored by owners.

As for kid proofing a home I suggest you think about who your likely buyer will be...young families, for instance.

Although no seller should expect to have children running loose in their home during showings I have seen it happen.

Still, put away items that will attract kids.  I guess this means anything small that can be picked up.   Just this week I had a family in one of my listings and the little three year guy ran over, grabbed a TV remote and turned on the TV.   Sure his behavior was corrected quickly but his energy level and actions were probably not atypical.

When you are preparing your home for the market expect accidents.   Expect that some guy is going to walk in with filthy shoes and "ruin" that carpet.   Expect that some guy is going to bump into something and crash!

It is not necessary (or advisable) to show off your collectibles.  Also, consider removing small, but valuable, items that could be easily pocketed.

Yes, it is important to deal with appearance issues and curb appeal when preparing to sell your home but lets not forget "Little Timmy" or anyone else. Accidents can happen. Minimize the potential when preparing your home for sale.

Here are a few more useful articles on preparing your home for the market that don't talk about paint, landscaping or the like but rather practical safety and security issues which should never be forgotten.

Ready to sell your Melbourne, Viera or Rockledge, Florida home?  Call me at 321-693-3850 if I can help in any way.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Home Seller Tips: What would you do if your agent responded this way?

I just read another article about a seller's real estate agent who lambasted a buyer's agent who called to schedule a showing for, get this, a Monday.  The reason for the blast was "you know today is Sunday - call me on Monday!"

I see three problems with this response.   Okay, only two as I will skip the non professional behavior by the seller's real estate agent.  Non professional behaviors is present in all professions!

OK, the issues as I see them.

First, accommodating prospective buyers, within reason, is the job of a seller's real estate agent.  In this case the sellers wanted a 24 hours advance notice before any showing.  Even with this direction the response was not necessary.  By the way, sellers who do this also break one of my major rules when selling your home - offer the path of least resistance which is addressed else where in this blog.  Notice, within reason, is the key.

Secondly, every person who looks at a home may be the buyer.  This seller's agent had no clue as to whether these people were going to be in town for only one more day or what.  How would a seller like it if they knew their real estate agent sent away a motivated buyer?  Missed opportunities can not be recreated - accommodate when possible.

If you are considering selling your Viera or Melbourne, Florida home, give me a call. I will work for you in a positive way.

If it is Sunday I will find a way to make sure prospective buyers are dealt with professionally - even if the requested showing is on a Monday.  Waters Realty of Brevard is a small brokerage offering personalized service, always!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Home Inspections - Boring and Informative.

Regarding property inspections this is the admonition I give to all buyers:  Do not buy a house without having a home inspection done.

New construction should be inspected as well as existing resale properties.  While there is a code inspection prior to occupancy being permitted it is still not the same inspection.  Code compliance is not necessarily an indicator of quality.

What about an "as is" offerInclude an inspection addendum and inspect it.    [Advice contained in this post refer specifically to buying a house or condo in Florida. If you are in another state, consult the appropriate professional.]

First of all, an inspection is not a fun time of socializing.

It is a very serious process for which the buyer is paying for a professional service (usually $300 to $400 in our area).   Buyers want a competent inspector who can stick to the facts and present them in an easily understood manner (more about the report below) and then answer any questions the customer may have about the report and house.

Here are a few other questions and answers about the home inspection process.

If you are considering buying or selling a house or condo in Brevard COunty, Florida (specifically Melbourne, Viera, ROckledge areas), pelase give me a call at 321-693-3850.

If you prefer, send me an email.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Moving to Brevard County, Florida: Should you rely solely on school grades?

Moving to Brevard County, Florida:  Should you rely solely on school grades?

Over the past weekend I had a phone call from a family relocating to Brevard County, Florida within the next couple of months.  We discussed the husband's future employment location, commute times and prices as well as their exact housing requirements.

But, in their case, the overwhelming consideration was school quality.  And their decision was being made based on ratings found online.  They had never been to Brevard County, Florida so the target area had nothing to do with anything except the quality of the schools.  There was one question about crime rate in the school's assignment zone which I answered by referring them to the local law enforcement agency.

After I pointed out that most schools in Brevard County, Florida are very good I left it at that. They had made up their minds based in the school ratings they had already found.

For information on Brevard County, Florida Schools, here are a few useful links.

Before you make an offer to purchase or sign a lease, please call the assigned school and verify school assignment. Assignment zones do change from time to time.

Still, should the overwhelming consideration be school only (or whatever else)?   The answer is simple - yes.   My focus as a real estate agent is to match the customer with their goal.

If you are relocating to Brevard County, Florida, please give me a call and let me help you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Westwood Subdivision in Rockledge, Florida - Homes for Sale and Rent

Westwood subdivision in Rockledge, Florida is a small single street subdivision (not a thru street) with easy access to major routes US1 and Interstate 95.  Nearby are several golf courses, shopping, excellent schools and much more.  Military personnel assigned to Patrick Air Force Base or Cape Canaveral will find an easy commute from Rockledge, Florida.

I currently have a home listed for rent in Westwood subdivision in Rockledge available May 2014 with 12 month lease at only $1,650 a month.  This five bedroom three bath two car garage home is located at 977 Whetstone Place in Rockledge, Florida

Built in 2007, this two story home has 2,745 square feet under air and is in move in condition.  This smoke free all electric home offers a second floor media room, a full bath down stairs and another two upstairs as well as an upstairs laundry room with storage.  The spacious kitchen with island, granite counters, stainless appliances has lots of working surface.  Enjoy the great views overlooking the lake from the breakfast nook.  Owner will consider pets - small dogs and cats only - with pet deposit.

Below is a summary of the homes for sale in Westwood subdivision and what has sold recently.

There are currently three homes for sale in Westwood subdivision. All of these are standard (fair market) sales with listing prices ranging from $289,000 to $348,900.  All of these are larger homes with between 2300 and 2745 sq. ft. under air.  Two are exactly the same size as the home I have listed for rent at 977 Whetsone Place (2,745 sq ft).

There have been two homes sold in Westwood subdivision this year.  There was one short sale, a 1,958 sq. ft. three bedroom two bath two car garage home (913 Whetsone Place), that sold in February 2014 for $192,000.

The other home sold in March 2014 was a five bedroom three bath two car garage pool home standard sale that sold for $348,000.

For information on homes for sale in Westwood subdivision or Rockledge, Florida, give me a call at 321-693-3850 or send me an email.


Home Seller Tips: Marketing a home that is "just like the others"

One key tenet of marketing a home is differentiate from the others. 

Sometimes, as in the case of Brevard County, Florida's planned unit development of Viera, the differences between many homes is very limited.  Some developments have "cookie cutter" structures while others have custom and or semi custom features and floor plans.

Not only does this apply to single family homes but this can be especially a challenge when selling condos where there are usually only maybe four different floor plans in an entire complex.

So how do you differentiate a house that is similar to all others? 

The easiest way to stand out from the others is price.  Some sellers take this approach by pricing at the lower end of the market and thereby encouraging competition among buyers.  When the inventory is low this could be a great approach.

So what do you do if you get the competition but all the offers are low?  No problem.  No seller can be compelled to accept any offer.

On the other end of the spectrum a seller can differentiate by pricing above all the other similar homes.  If a home is priced significantly higher than similar properties in your neighborhood or area make sure the differences are really there and promoted as such.

How else can one differentiate?   If there are new, newer or updated components, promote them.  Caution: Be judicious in the use of new, newer and updated.  Something done two or more years ago is not new. There is (or should be) a statute of limitations on "new" and "newer."  Hey, I was a "newer baby" in the late 1950s!

Does your home offer features that really stand out?  The key is "something will be different".  For instance, energy efficient upgrades.

Being different is a sometimes a challenge but the greater challenge is being different when you are like all the others.

Your real estate agent has one job - make your house stand out and promote, promote, promote!
Image courtesy of artur84 /

Home Seller Tips: Should you allow home showings on Easter?

Easter is coming soon. 

For many, especially Christians, Easter is a very special day.   In addition to special church services, there are often family gatherings.

As a seller, how do approach a requested showing on Easter?   As always, the decision to allow a showing is your call.

If it is not an issue for you, then ignore the question.

But, if the day is a special one, decide in advance and let your real estate agent know how to handle requests.

If your agent is like me then they will likely be involved in family events on Easter as well.

The key here is plan in advance.  This is the same suggestion I make for other major events like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Selling your home is a disruptive event.  Selling during holidays can be more disruptive.

Image courtesy of Feelart /

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

First Time Homebuyer Program - Housing Finance Authority of Brevard County, Florida

First Time Homebuyer Program - Housing Finance Authority of Brevard County, Florida

This is a great opportunity for first time home buyers in Brevard County, Florida.   And if you are a veteran the requirement that you be a first time home buyer does not apply.

Call one of the lender representatives below and then give me a call at 321-693-3850.  Most of these programs have limited funds and once they are gone, you never know when they will be available again!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Home Seller Tips: What to do when the buyers show up.

When working with home owners selling their Brevard County, Florida home I provide advice on preparing their home for sale.   I also include advice on what to do when showings are scheduled.

My advice when prospective buyers are scheduled to see their home - leave.
Buyers want the privacy to view your home under the oversight of their real estate agent.  Prospective buyers need circumstances to promote open discussion about your home while in your home.

The one thing a prospective buyer does not need is a guided tour with commentary from a seller.  If a seller's real estate agent has done a satisfactory job the marketing materials will highlight the property's strengths.

Still, not all information can be included in the limited space of a multiple listing entry.  Sometimes it is necessary to generate additional information to display in a place where it will be readily seen by all (kitchen counter, table, etc).   This may include customized flyers, the results of a pre-listing home inspection, sample utility bills (buyers always want to know) and whatever else a seller wants to provide.

When it is time for the home inspection after a contract is negotiated I offer the same advice - leave.

The property inspection is between the buyer and the inspector.   If there is an issue the buyer's agent will advise the seller through the seller's real estate agent.

If it is not possible for a seller to leave due to illness, etc. it is advisable to greet the prospective buyers and their agent (ask for business card or identification for safety), and then grab a seat on the porch or wherever.

Buyer and seller should meet at the closing table.  In the interim let the real estate agents do their job.

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