Summer 2017 Newsletter

Summer Newsletter

Flood Insurance – Whats Coming?

Dear Neighbors, Clients, Friends and Fellow Realtors…
It is a monumental task to find long term solutions to address the sustainability and continuity of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and still balance the affordability needs of consumers. The issues involving the upcoming makeover of the NFIP are critically important for our coastal communities, including 22,000 communities that depend on it. It is important Congress get this right.

NFIP has been a law for almost 50 years, but has gone through several transitions, most recently in 2014: the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act. That Act reinstated grandfathering of lower rates, and also changed the process for subsidizing premiums.

NFIP needs the reforms to be reauthorized by September 30 this year. Following is discussion of the seven bills. The reforms submitted and relative issues contained in these bills affect me as a Realtor and property owner, and I have organized my Summer Newsletter to outline the proposed bills and provide a source of information for fellow real estate professionals and property owners.

Address individual concerns to your insurance agent, I am no expert in this field. But I will convey resource information as concisely as I can. I am drawing directly from the summary article published by Inman News on June 30, by Amber Taufen, staff writer, Inman.com/2017/06/30: “NAR Supports Six of Seven Bills Proposed to Re-authorize, Reform National Flood Insurance Program.”
In her article, Ms. Taufen publishes and summarizes a letter from William E. Brown, 2017 President, National Association of Realtors, to Honorable Jeb Hensarling, Chairman, House Financial Services Committee, and Honorable Maxine Waters, Ranking Member, House Financial Services Committee, Washington, D.C.
Following this summation I am directly forwarding the information and resources provided me by Doug Izzo, who is in charge of Legislative Affairs for the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce. Both organizations, NAR and TBBCC, appear closely aligned in their areas of support and/or concern.

The INMAN summary article reports the new legislation would exempt commercial property owners from purchasing flood insurance for properties in “Special Flood Hazard Areas.” The bill that NAR opposes would eliminate “all future grandfathering for existing homeowners who have followed the law, built to code and invested tens of thousands of dollars to reduce their risk, as well as NFIP’s exposure.” NAR further says the flood mapping reforms “don’t go far enough. FEMA must obtain the elevation data necessary to calculate and disclose full risk rates for all homes in the NFIP by transitioning to building specific flood maps like North Carolina’s….It should not be incumbent on homeowners to spend hundreds of dollars to provide information that a federal program funded by their tax dollars should be collecting in the first place.” (NAR President William E. Brown). “NAR is very concerned about the cumulative impact of the bill’s new surcharges and fee increases on the total cost of flood insurance; additional analysis is needed to evaluate the cumulative impact of the collective changes for a range of policyholders….legislation that strikes a balance between the long-term sustainability and affordability of the NFIP.” Concluding the NAR recommendations, NAR President Brown assures Congress the NAR looks forward to working with legislators to “strengthen and improve the 21st Century Flood Reform Act as it works its way through the legislative process.”
Ms. Taufen summarizes: NAR supports 6 of the 7 bills, those containing the following propositions:
Establish an NFIP rate cap of $10,000 per year — NAR supports this but wants to remove a requirement that homeowners file a valid elevation certificate in the previous calendar year to access the rate cap.
Remove barriers to private flood insurance while keeping NFIP viable.
Set standards for communities to develop their own flood maps and clarify the opt-out provision so it applies “only to large commercial portfolios where many buildings could be covered by one private market flood insurance policy.”
Develop plans for mitigating repetitive loss.
Requiring the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to use replacement cost values for individual structures instead of a national average..
Double the amount of increased-cost-of-compliance (ICC) coverage and “allow homeowners access to mitigate their property before it floods.”
Below is the letter sent me by Doug Izzo of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce which provides us direct links to the seven new flood insurance bills, “most good legislation,” he notes. I include it in its entirety:
There are seven flood insurance bills. Most are good legislation. The good bills are listed below

  • HR 2875, the NFIP Administrative Reform Act. This bills allows for additional ICC Coverage and improves the claims process.  
  • HR 1558, the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Act. It now allows (as opposed to requires) the Administrator to sanction and removes the suspension of communities from the NFIP as a sanction.  It essentially mirrors FEMA’s current sanctioning authority. 
  • HR 1422, the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization  Act. 
  • HR 2565, Uses replacement costs in determining premium values
  • HR 2246, Taxpayer Exposure Mitigation Act of 2017.
  • HR 2868 NFIP Policyholder Protection Act. 

However, one (HR 2874  21st Century Flood Reform Act) needs changes. We are urging congress to vote no on the The 21st Century Flood Reform Act, unless major changes are made.
See below for our top concerns with the legislation. 
Raises the flood insurance rate increase from 5% to 8%
Removes Grandfathering
Prohibits offering coverage in the SFHA for new construction
Prohibits covering the replacement value of homes over $1 million

See below for more information on these issues:
Removal of Grandfathering and Prohibition on Coverage for Certain Properties  
Any renewal of coverage on grandfathered property where new maps have been adopted after construction of the structure –The legislation prohibits a renewal of coverage for grandfathered properties that have been remapped into higher risk zones beginning 1/1/21. A grandfathered property is designated as any property built to FEMA’s required Base Flood Elevation and standards at the time of construction and is thus allowed to be grandfathered in to the zone and BFE at time of construction. Under current law, if your community adopts a new map and under the new map, your property is now below the Base Flood Elevation or you are remapped into a new zone, you are not forced to pay a rate based on the new base flood elevation. Those who played by the rules and built as they were told should not be penalized under new, sometimes inaccurate, maps. This scenario is what caused premiums to skyrocket post Biggert-Waters. A helpful overview of grandfathering can be found here.
 New Construction in Special Flood Hazard Areas (A or V zones) – The legislation prohibits offering NFIP coverage for new construction in the Special Flood Hazard Areas after 1/1/21. 
 Any structure with a $1M replacement value cost – The legislation prohibits offering NFIP coverage for any property with a replacement cost value of $1M+ in the Special Flood Hazard Areas after 1/1/21.
·       Rate Increases – The legislation increases the floor of rate increases from 5% to 8%, which compound annually. This provision will impact pre-FIRM subsidized homeowners, which is about 20% of NFIP properties. These properties are already on a glide path to actuarial rates, and Congress does not need to accelerate that. 
The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act retains the Biggert-Waters requirement that these properties move to actuarial rates but slowed phase in. Congress should not accelerate this mandate. Further, if the provisions regarding grandfathering outlined above are implemented, grandfathered post-FIRM properties will be subject to this increase as well. 
My special thanks to Doug Izzo and the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce for providing us this invaluable source of information.

Spring 2017 Newsletter

 

  • BUYER  GUIDELINES AND TIPS
  • LEGISLATIVE  NEWS
  • FINANCING TIPS

BUYER  GUIDELINES AND TIPS

In the National Association of Realtors 2016 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, it was reported 90 percent of buyer and sellers used an agent during the real estate process.  This was not only to negotiate a deal or handle the mountain of paperwork and disclosure issues in a given transaction.  Given the present day  preponderance of on-line data, the plethora of misleading valuations and false realities, and the  well-meaning advice of family and friends, an overwhelming number of buyers eventually  sought  the help of a Realtor.  They looked to a professional real estate counselor as someone they ultimately trusted to help them identify and purchase the most suitable location, properly priced, also affordable, property for their individual needs and wants, and to guide them to the appropriate financing sources.

Buyers need to come to the table with a firm understanding of what kind of home they need and what they can afford to pay for it.  They should narrow their  search to neighborhood(s) that suit  their work, play, school, lifestyle;  they should have an idea of their plans for that home in say, five years.

It’s interesting to note during 2016, for the third year in a row, the average age of a typical homebuyer was 44 years old.  The largest number of buyers were married, but the percentage of single female observed opportunity for single women is making home-buying more feasible for them.

Inventory is now at a 20 year historic low.  Credit, although easing a bit over recent years, remains tight.  Documentation requirements are quite detailed.  Sellers are understandably leery of buyers who have not aligned with a mortgage professional, let alone who have not even started the process with a lender, before viewing their home.    When you find the right home, do everything possible to be, and be viewed in, the best position you can to buy that home, or you could lose it..

 Be Prepared!

To Inman News (www.Inman.com/2016/11/02/poll), there are three major mistakes made by  first–time homebuyers…and they are worth calling to mind for even the  seasoned buyer, especially the one who is in a relocation situation, simultaneously selling and buying, with tight moving deadlines:

 

    •  Not talking to a lender first…   ‘Pre-qualified”  means a lender has taken a simple glance at your credit score and you’ve had a quick conversation about income.  Get a “pre-approval” which means you have provided that lender with the required income documentation .  Get your paperwork in order, including 3 months asset account statements, two years IRS Returns, paystubs, paper trail of down payment.   A seller will consider your offer stronger if you are pre-approved,  and if you’re competing with a cash buyer, this may be the only foot you have in the door.
    • Waiting too long to make an offer…do your homework, vet your  real estate agent so you feel confident in his or her guidance, narrow your wish list, and search only the most plausible areas and price range for the features you want.  Do your part, i.e. communicate with your agent, and be ready to step up when you find the right property.
    • Offering too little for properties…    Making a strong offer doesn’t necessarily mean making a full price offer.  Sometimes sellers are working in a tight transfer situation, sometimes their property, for whatever reason,  has lingered on the market longer than others in the same area.  A Realtor can  help you determine if these are meaningful considerations when making your offer, and also help you evaluate that market and prevailing conditions and pricing so you feel confident you are not over-paying.

Ten times out of ten, rather than making a low ball offer to that seller, which can immediately move him into an antagonistic position, it’s better to make an offer that at least seems fair or well-thought-out.    There are times, even  where he may not have considered it acceptable under different circumstances, a seller may be inclined to accept rather than counter… given your quick action, your financial qualification, the proposed length of escrow, the number of contingencies you put in the contract.  There are situations where price is not the only seller motivation, terms might play a major role, and your own qualification, sincerity and stability weigh in..  In any event, listen to your agent, and when you decide to make your move, give thought to the structure of your offer and keep it reasonable.


LEGISLATIVE NEWS

April 28, 2017, Tallahassee, Fl.  HB-483/SB  398 has passed, thanks to a multi-year effort by Florida Realtors to reign in the astronomical fees some association management companies have been charging sellers for estoppel certificates when they go to sell their units.

A title  company closing a condominium sale will require an estoppel certificate  be ordered and paid for by the seller, it is an affidavit from the HOA management company that seller is up to date with homeowner association dues and any other pending assessments as of the date of closing and transfer to a new owner.  Whereas a management company should by definition of duty have this information at their fingertips, there has been no control  on what is considered a fair charge for a relative courtesy, putting this information in writing, in the form of a letter of affidavit, to the title company on the seller’s behalf.   

Up to now there has been no cap, no legislation stating what is considered a “reasonable fee” to charge a seller for this letter..    Across our State, there have been  estoppel fees reported as high as  $1610, charged to the seller  of a property that sold for only $190,000!
 
Once signed into law, the statutory cap will go a long way to curb exorbitant fees charged many owners of condos / deed restricted communities by association management companies.    The cap is now proposed to be $250 per unit for owners who are current in their assessments.  An additional  $100 can be charged for “expedited” estoppel certificates (delivered within 3 business days), and another $150 can be charged if that owner is delinquent in assessments.  Thus the maximum will be $500 for a single delinquent expedited estoppel certificate.  There will be a standard estoppel form used across our State, and it will be valid for 30 days.  

Thank you Florida Realtors!

FINANCING TIPS

The Home (Mortgage) Run…
When buying a home, or refinancing your present mortgage, it’s wise to consult a mortgage specialist to match your individual needs and goals with the right mortgage, in this case  a Fixed Rate Mortgage amortized over 15 years versus 30 years.  If you borrow $100,000 for 15 years at an available rate of 3.65% you’ll end up paying $130,008.60 in principal and interest.  Borrow for 30 years at a rate of 4.02% annual interest rate, you’ll pay $172,284.85.  Thus you’ll save $42,276.25 if you can afford the 15-year loan with a monthly payment of $722.27 versus $478.57 per month for a 30-year program.  The $243.70 extra per month adds up to $43,866 over the 15-year term of the loan.

However, consider this:  each year that a mortgage amortizes, a smaller portion goes to pay interest…which is tax deductible … while a larger portion repays principal.  As you continue to lose deductions you must earn more pretax dollars to make the monthly payments.  Consult your tax advisor.  Depending on your tax bracket, you may need to earn more than a dollar pretax, say $1.43 per dollar at a 30% tax bracket, to pay each nondeductible dollar.

After accounting for lost interest deductions, let’s look again at this scenario.  You would need   $154,750 in pretax income to pay off the 15 year loan.  But with more dollars going to interest, you would need to earn just $146,442 to make 15 years of payments ($8,6142) on the 30-year loan.  The difference, $8,308 is the  cost of making extra payments totaling $43,866 on the 15 year loan .

Although you still owe $86,142.43 on the 30 year mortgage after 15 years, the lower payment lets you save $243.70 per month.  If you have the discipline to invest these monthly savings, say in stocks or mutual funds, and the portfolio returns 10% after tax over 15 years, it could grow to enough to pay off your mortgage with a few dollars left over.  ……All food for thought perhaps, in a perfect world.  Consult your personal financial advisor.

Here’s an example of one solid strategy if you select a 30 years program…make one extra payment each year on the anniversary of your loan, you will pay off your 30 year mortgage two years four months early, saving $8,322.24.

The bottom-line advantage of a 30 year mortgage is flexibility.

RECENT MARKET STATISTICS

Pinellas County
David Bennett, CEO of the Pinellas Realtor Organization, reports some powerful numbers ending the first quarter of 2017 in our County. Dollar Volume for Townhomes/Condos was $199.3 million in March 2017, an increase of 35.6% from $147.0 million in March 2016. Dollar Volume for Single Family Homes increased 21.5% year-over year, with $408.9 million in 2017 versus $336.6 million in March 2016.   Median time for contract and sale has reportedly decreased across the board.  The Median Sale Price for Single Family Homes was up 15.0% from last year, at $230,000 for March 2017 versus $200,000 for March 2016. Average Sale Price for Single Family Homes grew 16.0%, at $299,356 in March 2017 versus $258,152 in March 2016. The Median Sale Price for Townhomes/Condos was $139,000 for March 2017, up 4.5% from $133,000 in March 2016. Year-over-year, Closed Sales for the Single Family segment were up 4.8%, and Closed Sales for the Townhome/Condo segment grew an impressive 26.3%.

New Listings for Single Family for March were 1,607, up 4.8% from last March, at 1,533. New Listings for Townhome/Condo for March 2017 were at 1,063, up 5.6% from 1,007 in March 2016. The strong seller’s market grew even stronger in March, with Months Supply of Inventory down 6.9% year over-year for Single Family Homes, with a 2.7 Month Supply this March, as compared to a 2.9 Month Supply in March 2016.   Months Supply of Inventory for Townhome/Condo fell an astounding 15.0%, with 3.4 months in March 2017 and 4.0 months in March 2016.

Representing more than 8,000 members, the Pinellas Realtor® Organization is one of the Tampa Bay area’s largest professional trade associations. The organization advances and promotes the real estate profession through professional development programs, government affairs, and political advocacy and maintains a high standard of conduct by real estate professionals through professional standards training and administration.

Two Historic Market Graphs,  Pass-a-Grille Area. ( including Don Cesar, Pass-a-Grille and Vina del Mar)

Fall 2016 Newsletter

 

GLOBAL TRENDS HIT HOME:  RECAP OF GLOBAL TRENDS AND INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITY 2016/THE PINELLAS INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL, THE  GLOBAL REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL.

DYNAMICS OF THE VACATION/SECOND HOME MARKET

RECENT MARKET STATISTICS, PINELLAS COUNTY

CALLING ALL FIRST TIME HOME SELLERS20160926_192126

TAMPA BAY is in the TOP 10 U.S. CITIES SEARCHED BY INTERNATIONAL CONSUMERS.
was the headline from a Realtor.com release this past  June, 2016……..1st place was Miami, 5th was Orlando…. and TAMPA BAY was 7th!… exceeding even the most enthusiastic expectations of real estate professionals in the global arena.

One such professional group is the Pinellas International Council, which operates under the umbrella of the Pinellas Realtor Organization.  I am honored to be a small part of this organization, among the handful of excellent Directors who volunteer time and talent and share the experience and wisdom of many collective years in the real estate profession.  

The PIC mission is to promote our area to other global real estate organizations and put Pinellas on the global map for meaningful investment and cultural exchange..  We strive to generate worldwide recognition of our beautiful Gulf Coast of Florida, our unmatched location and access,  our opportunities for home, vacation, retirement, investment, business growth, recreation, sports, beaches, sharing our vibrant and culturally diverse community….  

PIC promotes awareness,  understanding and recognition through our global networks. These goals are being achieved, as confirmed by that mid year Realtor.com survey, through educational programs, conventions, cultural exchange events, and  professional interaction and cooperation with and  among real estate professionals around the world.   PIC  consists of approximately 12 volunteer and  nominated directors and chair persons, PRO staff, and several hundred Realtor members and Affiliates  who expand our own  business  opportunities and resources globally to benefit the consumer as well as our Realtor association  It is in exhibiting high professional standards among our peers, that we generate positive economic and cultural impact for the communities we serve.

This November the annual National Association of Realtors Convention will be held  in Orlando.  Our Pinellas International Council will be there, especially on Global Day to connect and  interact with our peers from across the globe.   Meanwhile our PIC has just received Platinum, the Global Achievement Award of the National Association of Realtors, an honor awarded  only a handful of like associations throughout the USA, for the second year in a row!…. this year under the Chairmanship of Phil Riek, Future Home Realty… in recognition of the Council’s continued  creation of global opportunities for our members and our Realtor Association, and the dedicated implementation of our goal to put Pinellas on the global real estate map.

As member of the Board of Directors of the Pinellas International Council, I assumed Chair of the Cultural Awareness Committee of PIC about 5 years ago.  Our Mission is to  promote  understanding of other cultures and to inter-relate with all other PIC committees in an effort to enhance  the PIC experience as a whole, to generate engagement and awareness,  and promote international networking opportunities between our members and other global organizations.  This committee has established outreach efforts to maintain recognition of PIC as a community of global real estate professionals within the diverse global community of Tampa Bay, and to further international relationship development among our members.

Many accomplished Realtor members are part of the Pinellas International Council.   Some build on this focus by pursuing  NAR’s (National Association of Realtors) CIPS Certification,  joining an inspiring network of professionals around the world.  These Real Estate Professionals who have attained the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Certification, and Trans National Certified (TRC), are adept at guiding global real estate investors, either foreign nationals entering our country to purchase a property, or U.S. citizens wishing to buy or sell property abroad.  We are part of a unique global network of real estate professionals who share resources and business ethics, who achieve  specialized training on critical aspects of the international transaction, including  regional market and cultural differences,  variations in business practice and types of ownership,  who partner with other professionals to assure smooth closing procedures, and proper education for the consumer regarding issues such as fluctuating  exchange rates, international tax treaties, IRS issues, taking title properly….

We are able to provide an exclusive level of service, knowledge, resources and expertise to all our  consumers, sellers and buyers …whether it’s our  next door neighbor Stanley, looking for a vacation home in Costa Rica, or Antoine over in France  who wants to buy an investment condo on St. Pete Beach.

The recent count of CIPS designated real estate professionals totaled  just over  2800 worldwide,  in 40 different countries including the USA.  It is a very elite group.

The PROFILE OF INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITY IN U.S. RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE  published by the National Association of Realtors  in July reported an increase in price of U.S. real estate, together with the depreciation of foreign currencies against the U.S. dollar, made foreign investment  in U.S. real estate quite a bit more expensive than the year ended June 2015.    The median sale price of an existing home became  45% pricier for Venezuelans,  24% pricier for Brazilians, and at least eight other countries including China and Canada saw a double- digit increase measured in their country’s currency.

Yet foreign buyers continued to purchase move  residential properties than in the previous 12 month period.   Foreign buyers typically purchase more expensive properties, the year ended July 2016 the median purchase price was  $277,380.  Overall foreign buyers most commonly purchased a home priced between $250,000 and $500,000 while 10 percent paid over $1 Million or more.

Exactly half of all international transactions were all cash purchases in the mid year 2015/2016 time frame, predominantly made by non-resident foreign buyers from Canada, China and the United Kingdom.

Five states accounted for over half of the total residential property purchases made by foreign nationals, Florida representing an  overwhelming 22%; California, 15%; Texas, 10%; Arizona, 4%; New  York, 4%.

According to this survey, the National Association of Realtors  also notes a 50% increase in the number of Realtors who report  working with U.S citizens to purchase property outside of our country….. topped by Mexico, then Costa Rica, Philippines, Colombia and Canada.    The majority, 87%  of these, planned to use the property as a vacation home or residential rental unit.

DYNAMICS OF THE VACATION/SECOND HOME MARKET:
Trends in Investment and Vacation Home Buying is highly significant for local markets.     2015 was  the second highest level of vacation home sales since 2006, a level largely propelled by baby boomers’ demand for vacation homes.  Furthermore, according to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, “the expanding pool of buyers amidst a dwindling number of bargain-priced properties led to tighter  supply and fewer sales, causing the price of the vacation home to rise.”  The median vacation home price nationwide was $192,000,  an increase of  28% in 2015.   

RSPS, Resort and Second Home Property Specialist, is a designation of  expertise in the vacation and second home marketplace, especially effective training where vacation and second home purchases represent a high percentage of market activity.   We stay abreast of issues that can specifically affect the buying decisions of these buyers, while helping them  attain and balance vacation, short term and long term investment goals.

Selling a Lifestyle, Specializing In You…For over 100 years Florida has been a top vacation market in our nation.  Today visitors come from around the nation and around the world, to enjoy the natural beauty, recreation, many amenities and lifestyle our State offers.  And every year a significant number of those visitors decide to buy a vacation home, to invest in property in our communities. U.S citizens and foreign nationals alike search the globe for retirement destinations, vacation/second homes, and investment properties.

Are you looking for your own vacation home?… there’s no better place than the Tampa Bay area.  How about a second home or vacation retreat along  our Gulf Beaches or beautiful downtown St. Petersburg?  The market is tight, search here in real time:

CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF ALL CONDOS, GULF BEACHES, PRICED UNDER US$300K, in real time.
http://jwalker.protechflorida.com/gulf-beach-homes-300k/

CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF ALL LUXURY NEW CONSTRUCTION CONDOS
(Beaches, Tierra Verde, St. Petersburg)
http://jwalker.protechflorida.com/new-construction-luxury-condos/

Please visit my Website, www.GulfToGlobalRealEstate.com, to research the market trends in any area of Pinellas County, in real time,  to locate the home of your dreams, or to find  the perfect property for your investment goals.

RECENT MARKET STATISTICS, PINELLAS COUNTY:

Pinellas County Real Estate Statistics for August 2016  just released by David Bennett, President and CEO of the Pinellas Realtor Organization:  As we transition into Fall the market continues to heat up with New Listings for Single Family reported at a 15.9% increase August 2016 over last year, and new Townhome/condo Listings up 10.8%.  The Median Sale Price for Single Family was up a staggering 22.4% at $222,000 this August, versus $181,399 last August. Median Sale Price for the Townhome/Condo segment was down 4.8% from last year, at $128,950 for August 2016 versus $135,500 for August 2015.

The number of Closed Sales for Single Family August 2016, year-over-year, was up 5.9%, and Closed Sales for the Townhome/Condo segment were up 12.6%.  Dollar Volume for Single Family was $356.5 million in August 2016, an exciting 27.1% increase from $280.4 million in August 2015. Dollar Volume for Townhome/Condo was $146.6 million in August 2016, up 12.7% from $130.1 million in August 2015.

Months Supply of Inventory for Single Family continues to reflect a seller’s market, with inventory down 8.3% year-over-year, with a 3.3 month supply this August, as compared to a 3.6 month supply in August 2015. Months Supply of Inventory for Townhome/Condo was unchanged year-over-year, with 3.9 months in both August 2016 and August 2015.  Active listings for August 2016 Single Family and Townhome/Condo combined were 6,648, down 1.5% from 6,749 in August 2015.

Representing more than 7,000 members, the Pinellas Realtor® Organization is one of the Tampa Bay area’s largest professional trade associations. The organization advances and promotes the real estate profession through professional development programs, government affairs, and political advocacy and maintains a high standard of conduct by real estate professionals through professional standards training and administration.

CALLING ALL FIRST TIME HOME SELLERS/RECAP FOR SEASONED SELLERS:
If you look around your neighborhood you’ll probably notice most seasoned sellers list their property with a Realtor. Even in a “Sellers’ Market.” Pricing, predicting, presentation, problem solving, processing…peace of mind. It takes a professional.

A. HIRE A REALTOR. You won’t be sorry.

As a prospective seller, it’s wise to interview a number of real estate professionals in your market to determine your best “fit.” You are choosing your available point person, who is going to be with you beginning to end. Consider references, overall reputation, expertise, connections, community and global engagement. Be sure to discuss the hands-on management and services you expect. It’s important you participate in this groundwork, review the professional’s networks, her proposals for exposure and her/his marketing plan offered, and iscussthe program best suited to your specific needs and goals.

And meanwhile, keep in mind one very basic key to success…Share with your agent all the things you love most about your home, details and insight you’d like her/him to share with consumers. Then from that very moment on, think of your property as a product instead of your home.

This is the art of selling.

Don’t put your property on the market until you’re ready to sell. Then be educated to sell. Selling property properly means get professional, non-subjective advice, especially if it’s your home. If the owner isn’t ready to let go, buyers will know and the house will likely sit. And don’t “test” the market. You will fail.

B. PRICE PROPERLY. Your key to success.

A seasoned Realtor can help you target the perfect pricing position for your property in any current marketplace. Pricing a property for the most successful sale is not only a science, based on what actual statistics tell you, it is also an art, a perception that the professional Realtor develops over years of experience, added to the intimate study of your home real estate market, its histories and the relative sales climate at any given point in time.

There is often a spread between the original offering/list price and the price where the property actually sells…Alert!: the narrower this spread, the more successful your sale. Be sure to analyze, and disregard fabricated or manipulated data.

Time on the market must be factored into your pricing decision. It’s proven today, just as it was before we had computers and fax machines and cell phones, the longer a property sits, the lower the sales price.

Also a proven statistic, no matter the market trends, up or down, the further above the actual market activity your initial list price, the longer it will sit. That’s the basis for the advice given by Bryan Robertson, co-founder and managing broker of Catarra Real Estate, Inman.com 8/2/2016…”6 Things That Help A Home Sell Faster.”… who says, “in most markets, the best strategy to attract the most buyers is to price just a bit low.”

In my experience, you will lose nothing by determining the savvy pricing position…Before you begin.

Today’s buyer has all manner of access to statistics and histories and trends, viable or not, and while of  course,buyers seek to pay as little as possible, they essentially want a fair deal. When it comes to buying their first, or their fifth, home, they are largely willing to step up to the price that can be supported by professional and reasonable analysis of what the market will, or should bear. In other words, be prepared, and demand your agent be prepared to provide this in writing to a prospective buyer and/or his agent.

In addition to these guldelines, I’ll repeat a segment of my previous discussion referencing a 5/1/2016 article that appeared in Inman.com, professional on-line real estate journal…by Joseph A. Rand, a managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate…

6 BIG MISTAKES sellers make in pricing their property.
1. Biggest mistake, pricing to what has not sold rather than what WAS sold.

When I was a new Realtor the saying went like this, “Price a little high, and a little low…” given a stable market, you can successfully price a little higher than what just sold, but also price it lower than what is currently offered for sale, i.e. the competition. Don’t worry that a neighbor might sell for more than you. If he is priced way higher, focus on your goal. That competitor will not likely sell sooner, certainly not for more..

2. Overvaluing the amenities.

What is important to one owner may not be important to another, or even preferred, such as granite countertops and high end fixtures and appliances. No two women like the same kitchen. Even a pool may be a drawback, perhaps for an out-of-town owner who doesn’t prefer the added maintenance and liability, or a family with an infant who are concerned about family safety.

3. Reflecting improvements you’ve made dollar for dollar in the list price for your home. Buyers may not appreciate the improvements you’ve made along the way as much as you did when you paid for them. It’s often difficult for a home seller to recognize when his cherished improvements and decor seem out-dated, even ill-advised, to the prospective buyer. In any event, we all know a car or a couch never brings the same price 5 minutes off the lot or the showroom floor. A buyer will not, cannot sincerely appreciate your personal clutter, nor even perhaps your financial investment. None of this will weigh so much as your clean, manicured, professional presentation.

4. Pricing with your next home purchase needs in mind.

Buyers won’t care what you need to net for your next purchase..

5. Pricing according to on line computer estimates, Zestimates, automated valuation models. These sites are available everywhere, even on some agents’ websites (!), fun tools to “see where you are today”… But these are macro-level, at-a-glance unwarrantable valuations that no one, even the people who create them, believes to be accurate enough or substantive enough to be dependable indicators of where a property is properly placed on the market. A good buyer, one who will pay the price, will seek professional guidance and expertise. You as a Seller, should, too.

An example given by Mr. Rand: www.inman.com/2015/02/23/have-a-problem-with-zestimate-more-avmsare-  coming-your-way “For homes with Zestimates of , say, $400K, only half those homes are going to sell inside a range of about $368K to $432K. The other half is worth more or less than that range.” What if an agent knocks on your door and suggests you list your home in a range of $368k to $432K, then adds he’s confident you have a 50% chance of selling it in that range…? That’s essentially what you get with these valuation models.

6. Ignoring feedback and traffic indicators.

Really look at the actual, not manipulated, listing to selling to time ratios when you price your property. AND once you have listed your property on the active market, stay engaged. Listen to what the market is telling you: listen to what buyers are saying and feedback from showing agents, watch the traffic patterns, on-site and on-line, keep up with what your neighboring competitors are doing, and find out what your prospective buyers bought instead of buying your property.

Your agent should be prepared, in writing, to help you make an informed decision about pricing your property. Then your agent will be kind, your agent will be understanding, and ultimately your agent will do his or her best job to continuously counsel you and to ensure you’re not still sitting in your home six months later, along with  he other Un Solds. There are Un-Solds in any market.

C. PREPARE AND PRESENT your property for sale…Ready, Set, Go…

Again, think of this property as a product to sell, not your home. You won’t live there any more, someone else will. And the best odds of finding your buyer sooner rather than later is to de-personalize it, and show your buyer a palette (s)he can use to imagine himself living there, not you.

1. Curb appeal…first impressions, the initial determination of what your home is like inside…yes? Clean the yard, manicure, get rid of obstacles that detract from this in any way. Re-mulching, new grass, new plants can add color and appeal without costing a fortune. Keep a realistic budget, don’t replace the driveway unless it’s a major irreparable detraction. You’re providing a snapshot, a first impression to bring that buyer back, or to stay with him while he visits inside.

2. ‘Clean clean clean,’ says Bryan Robertson, and I can’t agree more. Be very sensitive to this, it’s above all the major feeling that will weigh in with prospective buyers. Not only clean, make it sparkling…which of course denotes attention to that sort of detail, and gives a prospective buyer peace of mind. You want the buyer to know you think well of your home, not just what you have in it. This can surpass the countertop upgrade you couldn’t afford, and it costs the seller virtually nothing beyond time and detergent and polish.

3. Repair/remodel. Small improvements go a long way… details such as fresh trim at doors, baseboard, crown molding, cabinet handles, fresh paint (neutral shades only!…such as warm white), and get rid of the wall paper… Cleaning and making sure all lighting fixtures are in working order is a big plus. You can step up another level…to new or continuous (all rooms matching) flooring, new windows…all of these items can significantly brighten and improve the look of your home and help your home sell faster, thus for more. Attention to such items can also likely increase the return on dollar spent.The next step might be appliance upgrades, but basic attention to major mechanical items, indicating your home is well maintained, will likely win you more points with a buyer.

Substantial interior upgrades such as bathrooms and kitchens, for the purpose of selling faster or for more, are ill-advised, not only for potential dollar return on your investment, but also for the time, not to mention unexpected hurdles, it will likely take to complete. And after all, second-guessing what your buyer will prefer is very risky…especially with kitchen and master bath arrangements.

4. De-cluttering and staging.  You don’t need to have a huge budget to be staging savvy. Staging can mean professional, really upscale designers, or it can translate to de-cluttering, de-personalizing, and/or “styling” a house. Less is more. De-cluttering is top of the list…which may mean renting a pod or storeroom, removing a couple of pieces of furniture from each room. Whether you hire someone, or you and friends and your agent are the staging sages, do it before you put your property up for sale. It will sell faster, for more. It may take a trained “third” eye to transform a space to suit the latest trend in home buyer wants and needs, but often someone besides the owner, a friend perhaps, can help pin-point where attention is most warranted. Re-styling a home may be as simple as neutralizing, reorganizing and redistributing some pieces you already own, with the idea of drawing attention away from what detracts…or screams… and putting focus on what is spatially positive, what has general appeal. Perhaps you might create a focal point in a room with a piece of furniture that suggests how the buyer might use the room. But then give your buyer prospects the space they need to visualize and to engage.

D. KEY IN TO PROFESSIONAL MARKETING … get the word out.

Proper pricing is crucial, but the price a buyer offers is driven by cleaning, preparing, presentation (staging/ styling)… and of course, bringing your public in. Traffic is generated by professional marketing, unique to your property, your product, and to proper market exposure..

Once your home is ready to go on the active market, your Realtor can assure your photography, your brochures/ flyers, are attractive, and your marketing material is thoughtful, relevant, informative, and demonstrates pride of ownership for a new owner. The expert marketing representative has not only the resources, but all so the resourcefulness, the know-how to focus attention aggressively while in good taste, with the most beneficial and effective results.

A savvy real estate agent is equipped to hook you into all manner of networks, local and global, to expansively and properly expose your property for sale. All of us who are MLS and PRO members are syndicated on nearly a thousand on-line websites, and many of us are professionally linked through our certifications and designations and associated with countless other professional networks to assure you enjoy maximum exposure for your product, both in your own backyard, and across the globe.

Here is a do-it-yourself market analysis… Click On This Link… Find out what your property is really worth…in real time.

http://gulftoglobalrealestate.com/search-mls/#/

You will land on a designated page on my website which allows you to search homes in your neighborhood that are for sale, under contract, and closed/sold over recent months. Real time. Linked directly into our Multiple Listing Service.

Now you’ve taken the first basic step toward determining what is actually going on in the real estate market in your neighborhood..

Then call me.

You’ll be glad you did.

joan

COMING NEXT ISSUE….BUYER TIPS AND TOOLS