Oct. 15, 2019

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa.

In today’s world, hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.

In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.

We are, however, in anything but a “normal market” right now. The media is full of stories about an impending recession, a trade war with China, and constant political upheaval. Each of these potential situations could dramatically impact the real estate market. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’

A Sherpa is a “member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.” Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.

They are much more than just guides.

This is much more than a normal real estate market.

The average guide just won’t do. You need a ‘Sherpa.’ You need an expert who understands what is happening in the market and why it is happening. You need someone who can simply and effectively explain it to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, even in these challenging times.

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.” 

Bottom Line

Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.

Posted in Buyers
Oct. 10, 2019

4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill

By making a few key upgrades to your home, you’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. When you’re ready to sell your house, these key features will make it even more attractive to potential buyers.

As a homeowner, it’s important to keep your home running efficiently, not only to save money, but also to help the environment thrive. October 2nd is Energy Efficiency Day, a perfect time to think about making some key upgrades that will improve the efficiency of your home. If you’re looking to sell your house and increase the pool of potential buyers in your market, the upgrades below are truly a must.

According with Wallet Hub,

“In the U.S., energy costs eat between 5 and 22 percent of families’ total after-tax income.”

What should you spend on utilities?

Money Management says,

“If you’re working with a budget, and trust me, you should be, your utility costs should be no more than 8-10 percent of your monthly income.”

How can you make your home more efficient?

EnergyEfficiencyDay.Org provides some handy tips that can help you improve the energy efficiency of your home. Here are a few simple ones to consider, and how to make them happen:

1. Make the Switch to LED

LEDs are a great example of how innovation and technology can make your life easier. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

Tip: By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.

2. Seal Those Leaks

On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.

Tip: Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors to save up to 20% on heating costs.

3. Heat and Cool Efficiently

Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep and increase when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times.

Tip: Follow the U.S. Department of Energy recommended temperatures and be energy-efficient all year. 

4. Maintain Your HVAC System

Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money.

Tip: Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can be vital to improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable. 

Bottom Line

By making a few key upgrades to your home, you’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. When you’re ready to sell your house, these key features will make it even more attractive to potential buyers. Let’s get together to discuss what buyers are looking for when it comes to energy efficiency options in our area.

Posted in Sellers
Oct. 8, 2019

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs

Contrary to common misconception, a down payment is often much less than many believe.

According to the ‘2019 Home Buyer Report conducted by Nerdwallet, many first-time buyers still believe they need a 20% down payment to buy a home in today’s market:

“More than 6 in 10 (62%) Americans believe you must put at least 20% down in order to purchase a home.”

When potential homebuyers think they need a 20% down payment to enter the market, they also tend to think they’ll have to wait several years (in some markets) to come up with the necessary funds to buy their dream homes. The report continues to say,

“The truth: 32% of current U.S. homeowners put 5% or less down on their home, according to census data.” (as shown below):

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | Simplifying The MarketThe lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is unfortunately keeping many motivated buyers on the sidelines.

Bottom Line

Don’t let a lack of understanding keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s get together to discuss your options today.

Posted in Buyers
Oct. 3, 2019

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand?

The latest edition of the Realtors Confidence Index from NAR sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand). Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to rise.

The price of any item is determined by supply, as well as the market’s demand for the item. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | Simplifying The MarketThe darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 3 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now very strong; only 2 of the 50 states have a ‘weak’ demand. Overall, buyer demand is slightly lower than this time last year but remains strong.

Seller Supply 

The index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | Simplifying The MarketAs the map below shows, 18 states reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 29 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 3 states reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are looking for homes.

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together to help you capitalize on the demand in our market now.

Posted in Buyers
Oct. 1, 2019

Should You Fix Your House Up or Sell Now?

If you’re thinking about remodeling your house before you list it, take a look at these three tips to help you decide if you really need to fix it up before you sell. The answer may surprise you.

With the fall season upon us, change is in the air. For many families, children are growing up and moving out of the house, maybe leaving for college or taking a jump into the working world. Parents are finding themselves as empty nesters for the first time. The question inevitably arises: is it finally time to downsize?

If you’re pondering that thought, you may also be wondering if you should fix-up your house before you sell it, or go straight to the market as-is, allowing a potential buyer to do the updates and remodeling. If you’re one of the many homeowners this camp, here are a few tips to help you decide which way to go.

1. Analyze Your Market

A real estate professional can help you to understand your market and the potential level of buyer interest and demand for your home. Are you in a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? This can change based on the price range of your home, too. A professional can also give you some insight on what you can change or remodel, and how to declutter your house to make it attractive to buyers in your area.

2. Get an Inspector

Right now, the average length of time a family stays in a home is between 9-10 years. That’s a little longer than the historical average, so if you’ve been living in your home for a while, it might be time to make some significant improvements. Think: electrical system, HVAC units, roof, siding, etc. An inspector can give you a better idea of the condition of your home, if it is up to current code standards, and recommendations on how to have your house ready before you put it on the market.

3. Decide If You Need to Remodel

You may also be thinking about driving buyer appeal with something like a kitchen or a bathroom remodel. If so, first dig into the market value of your home, and compare it to the actual cost of the remodel. A local real estate professional can help you determine your home’s market value, and you’ll want to get a few quotes from contractors on the potential remodel pricing as well. Once you have those two factors narrowed down, you can to decide if a remodel will give you a return on your investment when you sell. Oftentimes, it is actually more advantageous to price your house to sell, list it competitively, and then let the buyer pick the colors they want for their bathroom tiles and the type of countertop they prefer. The 2019 Cost vs. Value Report in Remodeling Magazine compares the average cost for remodeling projects with the value those projects typically retain at resale.

Bottom Line

Nationwide, inventory is low, meaning there is less than the 6-month housing supply needed for a normal market. This drives buyer demand, creating a perfect time to sell. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s get together to help you confidently determine what will be the best choice for you and your family.

Posted in Sellers
Sept. 30, 2019

You’ve Got This!

When you believe in yourself, you can move boldly forward with confidence. Trusting yourself allows you to have faith in your ideas, talents and abilities, even when others doubt you. We all have potential and greatness in us, but we need to reach inside and pull it out! Confidence is that inner faith that says, “You’ve got this!” You also need external support and motivation. Look at those who have succeeded before you and borrow confidence from them. Learn from their actions as well as their mistakes. Use them as role models and mirror their activities, mindsets, and strategies so that you can also mirror their accomplishments!

Something to Think About

Each of us is surrounded by those who constantly tell us what we can’t do, or why it won’t work. Being the person who is confident in their own abilities, and willing to move forward is not always easy but it is rewarding and fun!

Weekly Activity

Surround yourself with those who support your dreams and encourage you!

Words of Wisdom

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him. – Sidney Greenberg Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened; vision cleared; ambition inspired, and success achieved. – Helen Keller The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King Jr. The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Franklin D. Roosevelt Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential. –John Maxwell

Posted in Motivation
Sept. 26, 2019

Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”?

In today’s real estate market, more houses are coming to market every day. Eager buyers are searching for their dream homes, so setting the right price for your house is one of the most important things you can do.

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, home values have risen at over 6% a year over the past two years, but have started to slow to 3.6% over the last 12 months. By this time next year, CoreLogic predicts home values will be 5.4% higher.

With prices slowing from their previous pace, homeowners must realize that pricing their homes a little over market value to leave room for negotiation will actually dramatically decrease the number of buyers who will see their listing (see the chart below).Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”? | Simplifying The MarketInstead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price their house so demand for the home is maximized. By doing so, the seller will not be negotiating with a buyer over the price, but will instead have multiple buyers competing with each other over the house.

The secret is making sure your house is Priced To Sell Immediately (PTSI). That way, your home will be seen by the most potential buyers. It will sell at a great price before more competition comes to the market.

Bottom Line

If you’re debating listing your house for sale, let’s get together to discuss how to price your home appropriately and maximize your exposure.

Posted in Sellers
Sept. 24, 2019

What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs

When searching for a home, you may end up selecting a property in a community with a Homeowners Association (HOA). Before you buy, it’s important to know how an HOA works and what they mean for you.

According to a recent article on realtor.com,

“In a nutshell, an HOA helps ensure that your community looks its best and functions smoothly…The number of Americans living in homes with HOAs is on the rise, growing from a mere 1% in 1970 to 25% today, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research.”

An HOA is governed by a board nominated by those living in the neighborhood. It is designed to make sure the residents have a support structure to maintain the value of the community while abiding by a set of guidelines called Common Restrictive Covenants (CC&R),

“Simply put, CC&Rs are just the rules you’ll have to follow if you live in that community. Unlike zoning regulations, which are government-imposed requirements on how land can be used, restrictive covenants are established by HOAs to maintain the attractiveness and value of the property.”

It’s important for homeowners to understand that each HOA is a little different, and they usually have monthly or quarterly fees required for homeowners. These fees can vary based on property size, number of residents, amenities, and more. There may be additional fees charged to homeowners if the reserve fund for the HOA cannot cover a major or unexpected cost, like severe storm damage.

The fees, however, also help maintain common areas such as swimming pools, tennis courts, elevators (for high-rise buildings), and regular wear and tear. Although they are an added cost to the homeowner, an HOA can be a major benefit when it comes to maintaining the value of your neighborhood and your property.

The same article continues to say,

“After your offer to buy a home is accepted, you are legally entitled to receive and review the community’s CC&Rs over a certain number of days (typically between three and 10)…If you spot anything in the restrictive covenants you absolutely can’t live with, you can bring it up with the HOA board or just back out of your contract completely (and keep your deposit).”

Most lenders will factor your HOA fees into your loan package, ensuring the amount of the loan is appropriate for what you can truly afford.

There are some great benefits to having an HOA oversee your neighborhood, and it’s important to understand what fees, structures, and regulations will come into play if there is an HOA where you’d like to live.

Bottom Line

When you’re looking at a potential property to buy, let’s get together so you have a professional who can help you understand the neighborhood’s HOA structure and fees. This way, you’ll feel confident and fully informed when buying a home.

Posted in Buyers
Sept. 20, 2019

Can Condo Associations Ban Smoking on common ground or in individual units?

The next time you take a listing or showing a condo you should consider checking their bylaws regarding smoking. More and more Condominium's are banning smoking at common areas and some are working towards banning smoking in individual units.

From Harris B. Katz FROM LAW FIRM GOEDE, ADAMCZYK, DEBOEST & CROSS

The Florida Clean Air Act applies to all types of tobacco smoke and is generally accepted to apply to both condominium and homeowners’ association’s indoor common elements. In addition, community associations also have the power to create smoking bans even for outdoor common elements not specifically covered by the Clean Air Act, such as pools, tennis courts, dog walks and playgrounds. Because a board’s rule-making authority is derived from the governing documents, such rules are generally enforceable, provided they are "reasonable." These restrictions on smoking can even be extended to limited common elements, such as balconies, by a proper vote of the board provided that the governing documents provide such rule-making authority. Banning smoking within the units is far more complicated because, unlike common elements and limited common elements over which the association has certain ownership rights (as defined the association’s declaration), the units themselves are owned by members. While the majority of declarations have included “nuisance” clauses that allow associations to regulate and prohibit nuisances, such clauses rarely specifically reference smoking as a nuisance. Because of this, it is unlikely that a court or arbitrator would stretch a nuisance clause to cover smoking if it is not expressly included in the clause.Therefore, if an association wishes to ban smoking within the units, the governing documents must be amended to include this specific prohibition within the nuisance clause. Although amendment procedures may vary from association to association, the declarations need to be reviewed by an experience attorney to determine the proper procedure for your association and whether such nuisance rules can be incorporated into your existing documents.

Make sure you are protecting your buyer or seller by addressing this up front!

Sept. 19, 2019

Brevard Housing Market Report - August 2019

A quick recap of the Brevard County Residential Report for August 2019:
  • Closed Sales are down -2.7% for August 2019 in which the number of units closed was 943 compared to 969 in August 2018, with a decrease in cash sales of -10.9% compared to August 2018.
  • New Pending Sales are down -1.0% and New Listings are down -19.1%.
  • The Median Sales Price for Brevard Single Family homes is down -0.4% to $234,000 compared to a year ago, which was $235,000.
  • Months Supply of Inventory is down -15.2% to 2.8 months, a decrease from 3.3 months in August 2018.
  • Traditional Sales are down -2.2%, with a median sales price of $236,490.
  • Foreclosure/REO Sales are down -26.1%, with 17 sales and a median sales price of $126,300.
  • Short Sale Closings are down -33.3% with 4 closed sale in August 2019 compared to 3 sales in August 2018.
A quick recap of the Brevard County Townhouses/Condos for August 2019:
  • Closed Sales are up to +7.3% for August 2019 in which the number of units closed was 263 compared to 245 in August 2018, with an increase in cash sales of +1.7% compared to August 2018.
  • New Pending Sales are up +4.3% and New Listings are down -16.0%.
  • Median Sales Price for Townhomes/Condos is up +2.8% to $185,000 compared to a year ago, which was $180,000.
  • Months Supply of Inventory remained unchanged at +0.0% to 3.5 months in August 2019 from 3.5 months in August 2018.
  • Traditional Sales are up +7.9%, with a median sales price of $185,500.
  • Foreclosure/REO Sales are down -33.3%, with 2 sales and a median sales price of $155,000.
  • Short Sale Closings are unchanged at +0.0% with 1 closed sales in August 2019 compared to 1 sales in August 2018.
Posted in Market Reports