July 11, 2018

Buying This Summer? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars

Summer is traditionally a busy season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on those buyers who are looking to purchase before the new school year. This year will be no different!

Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way. The challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has led to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.

A recent article by the National Association of Realtors touched on the current market conditions:

“Realtors® in areas with strong job markets report that consumer frustration is rising. Home shoppers are increasingly struggling to find an affordable property to buy, and the prevalence of multiple bids is pushing prices further out of reach.”

Realtor.com went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in such big numbers:

“A booming economy and stable employment in most parts of the country have created a new generation of eager home buyers – and led to fevered price battles spilling over into some unexpected, smaller markets.”

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for Realtor.com had this to say about competition:

Multiple-offer scenarios are no longer reserved to the usual big, fast-moving markets…demand for homes has spilled outward into secondary, smaller markets, and more buyers are gearing up to face fierce competition in more places around the country.”

Realtor.com looked at the number of homes that were selling above asking price to determine which markets were heating up. Below are the Top 10:

  • Akron, OH
  • Worcester, MA
  • Lexington, KY
  • Irvine, CA
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Madison, WI
  • Louisville, KY
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Little Rock, AR

Bottom Line

Let’s get together to discuss our exact market conditions so that we can help you create a strategy to secure your new home in this competitive atmosphere!

Posted in Buyers
July 9, 2018

5 Signs that Your Kitchen Needs an Update

Every REALTOR® has heard this observation from a selling client more than once: “Now that I’ve fixed the place up, it’s so nice to live here!” It’s sometimes followed by a wistful, “I should have done it years ago!” They don’t need to add, “so we could have enjoyed it ourselves.”
The culprit has to be human nature—at least the part that resists spending money improving something that works (even if it doesn’t work all that well). One of the prime areas where this tends to hold true is in Melbourne kitchens.
Since it’s generally acknowledged that the kitchen area is one place (if not the place) that gets the most intense scrutiny from prospective buyers, it is also one of the first areas that sellers decide to update. For anyone who might decide to sell within the next few years, that makes a pretty good argument to go ahead now while you can enjoy the upgrades yourself.
Since everyone tends to get used to our households as-is, it can be helpful to step back and consider where “as-is” could also be “has-been.” Here are five leading signs that your kitchen would benefit from an infusion of energy:

1.    Although everything is there (somewhere), you waste time every day rummaging for kitchen tools and ingredients. Cure: more counter and cupboard space.
2.    You can’t make coffee and toast simultaneously. Cure: electric circuitry needs modernization.
3.    You need a flashlight to read product labels. Cure: an interior lighting redesign or window enlargement.
4.    Electric bills are painful. Cure: wholesale appliance upgrades (yesterday’s models can be serious power hogs).
5.    You don’t like to be there. If the typical American spends 6 hours a week in the kitchen (for Melbourne, I’d guess that’s an underestimate), a quality of living improvement will result if those hours are spent in surroundings that please. Cure: a top-to-bottom design rethink is in order.

For sellers whose homes have been lingering on the market without success, that’s a sixth sign. Prospective buyers are quick to notice when kitchens are outdated—and those who don’t flee are bound to subtract kitchen upgrade costs from any offer.
Even if selling isn’t on the immediate agenda, We'd be pleased to share some of the cost-effective ways today’s local homeowners are finding to bring attractive amenities to their kitchens. Call anytime! 

Posted in Homeowner Tips
July 7, 2018

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000

Rising home prices have many concerned that the average family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – their own home.

However, it is not just the price of a home that determines its affordability. The monthly cost of a home is determined by the price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it.

Today, mortgage interest rates stand at about 4.5%. The average annual mortgage interest rate from 1985 to 2000 was almost double that number, at 8.92%. When comparing affordability of homeownership over the decades, we must also realize that incomes have increased.

This is why most indexes use the percentage of median income required to make monthly mortgage payments on a typical home as the point of comparison.

Zillow recently released a report comparing home affordability over the decades using this formula. The report revealed that, though homes are less affordable this year than last year, they are more affordable today (17.1%) than they were between 1985-2000 (21%). Additionally, homes are more affordable now than at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006 (25.4%). Here is a chart of these findings:

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | Simplifying The Market

What will happen when mortgage interest rates rise?

Most experts think that the mortgage interest rate will increase to about 5% by year’s end. How will that impact affordability? Zillow also covered this in their report:

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | Simplifying The Market

Rates would need to approach 6% before homes became less affordable than they had been historically.

Bottom Line

Though homes are less affordable today than they were last year, they are still a great purchase while interest rates are below the 6% mark.

Posted in Buyers
July 4, 2018

9 Ways to Cool Down Your House this Summer

Cranking up the AC can also crank up your electric bill. Here are a few alternative ways to keep your home cool this summer.

1. Swap Bulbs
If you still haven't switched to CFLs for environmental or economic reasons, do it to be cool. Incandescent bulbs waste about 90 percent of their energy through the heat they emit.

2. Keep A Cool Head
Try out a buckwheat pillow for bedtime. They don't absorb and retain heat like cotton and down pillows.

Place a big bowl of ice water in front of a fan for a cheap alternative to central air.

4. Mind the Blinds
Close your window blinds or curtains during the day (particularly if you are out of the house) to prevent your home from heating up like a greenhouse.

5. Grill and Chill
Cooking outside on the grill keeps you from heating up your home with a stove or oven. Bonus: It also minimizes the time you have to sweat over the dishes.

6. Don't Block Your Breeze
Open internal doors at night to maximize any fresh, cool breezes that blow in.

7. Change Direction
For the summer, set your ceiling fan to rotate in a counterclockwise direction to create a cooling, downward airflow. In winter, turn the setting back to clockwise to recirculate warm air.

8. Suck It Up
Use your bathroom fan when you shower and your exhaust fan when you use your stovetop. They'll help draw the hot air up and out of the room.

9. Unplug
>Electronics emit heat when they're plugged in, even if they're turned off. Unplug them, or use a smart power strip, when they’re not in use.

Want a cool new place to call home? Learn what your cold cash (or approved mortgage amount) can buy in today's market. Start by contacting us today!

Posted in Homeowner Tips
July 2, 2018

8 Great Homes Staging Tips

When selling a home, it’s important to set the perfect “stage” for potential buyers. If hiring a professional isn’t in the budget, here are some tips on how to prep for the market:

1. Declutter
You want buyers to focus on things like your home’s lovely wood floors, not the commemorative spoon collection. Box it, sell it or gift it. Clear counter tops in the kitchen and bathroom and minimize the number of items on shelves.

2. Clear out the closet
For some buyers, closet space can make or break a sale. The fewer the items within, the larger the closet will appear.

3. Pack away the personal
Store family photos, kids’ art projects and anything else that may distract buyers from envisioning themselves living in your home.

4. Scrub and scrub again
Clean everything, from tile grout to windowpanes. You want your home to sparkle and shine when the spotlight’s on.

5. Scrub and scrub again – outside
Don’t forget your home’s exterior. After all, your porch will make the first impression on buyers. A few hours with a pressure washer, easily rented from a home improvement store, can make a world of difference.

6. Freshen up the paint job
A fresh, neutral coat of paint is a relatively inexpensive way to boost your home’s allure.

7. Focus on lighting
A well-lit room not only feels bigger, it helps people to feel more energized and improves their mood. Don’t forget to replace light bulbs and add lamps in rooms with limited natural lighting.

8. Take a deep breath
If you inhale anything other than clean, fresh air, deodorize before showings with a mildly scented diffuser or candle.

Make sure you’ll have a steady stream of prospective buyers to appreciate the home you’re selling – and all your hard prep work. Contact us for more tips on how to make the homebuying and selling process go smooth.

Posted in Sellers
July 1, 2018

You DO NOT Need 20% Down to Buy Your Home NOW!

The Aspiring Home Buyers Profile from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the American public is still somewhat confused about what is required to qualify for a home mortgage loan in today’s housing market. The results of the survey show that the main reason why non-homeowners do not own their own homes is because they believe that they cannot afford them.

This brings us to two major misconceptions that we want to address today.

1. Down Payment

A recent survey by Laurel Road, the National Online Lender and FDIC-Insured Bank, revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan.

According to the survey, 53% of Americans who plan to buy or have already bought a home admit to their concerns about their ability to afford a home in the current market. In addition, 46% are currently unfamiliar with alternative down payment options, and 46% of millennials do not feel confident that they could currently afford a 20% down payment.

What these people don’t realize, however, is that there are many loans written with down payments of 3% or less.

Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

2. FICO®Scores

An Ipsos survey revealed that 62% of respondents believe they need excellent credit to buy a home, with 43% thinking a “good credit score” is over 780. In actuality, the average FICO® scores for approved conventional and FHA mortgages are much lower.

The average conventional loan closed in May had a credit score of 753, while FHA mortgages closed with an average score of 676. The average across all loans closed in May was 724. The chart below shows the distribution of FICO® Scores for all loans approved in May.

You DO NOT Need 20% Down to Buy Your Home NOW! | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If you are a prospective buyer who is ‘ready’ and ‘willing’ to act now, but you are not sure if you are ‘able’ to, let’s sit down to help you understand your true options today.

Posted in Buyers
June 23, 2018

4th of July Festivities along the Space Coast!

No matter where you are in Brevard County, you can enjoy 3 days of 4th of July Festivities along the Space Coast!

Tuesday, July 3rd:

Post Canaveral: Smoke on the Water - Fireworks over the Harbor!  Enjoy the festivities at the Cove at Port Canaveral.  Fireworks around 9:30-10pm

Wednesday, July 4th:

Cocoa Riverfront Park: The entire family will have a blast and enjoy the fireworks over the Indian River Lagoon.  Don't forget to catch the Brevard Symphony Orchestra too!  Fireworks around 8:45-9pm.

Melbourne: Front Street Park - Fireworks over the Indian River Lagoon.  Free shuttle service fromthe Melbourne Auditorium, Fireworks around 8pm.

Palm Bay:  Independence Celebration at Eastern State Community College,  Live music and Fireworks around 9pm.

Viera: Great American Celebration - Celebrate Independence Day with your family at the USSSA Space Coast Stadium in Viera.  Gates open at 5:30pm, gamies begin at 6:30pm and Fireworks are around 9pm.

Titusville: Red, White & Boom - Sand Point Park, live music and lots of activities for the entire family.  Fireworks arounf 9:15pm from Marina Park.

Thursday, July 5th:

Cocoa Beach: Fireworks over the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45-9pm.


Posted in Around Brevard
June 23, 2018

Brevard County Housing Statistics - May 2018

May 2018 MLS Statistics

Courtesy of Florida Realtors® Industry Data and Analysis Team


A quick recap of the Brevard County Residential Report for May 2018:
  • Closed Sales are down -4.5% for May 2018 in which the number of units closed was 943 compared to 987 in May 2017, with a decrease in cash sales of -13.2% compared to May 2017.
  • New Pending Sales are up 0.4% and New Listings are up 11.1%.
  • The Median Sales Price for Brevard Single Family homes is up 6.6% to $225,000 compared to a year ago, which was $211,000.
  • Months Supply of Inventory is up 19.2% to 3.1 months, an increase from 2.6 months in 2017.
  • Traditional Sales are down -1.3%, with a median sales price of $225,000.
  • Foreclosure/REO Sales are down -65%, with a median sales price of $154,400.
  • Short Sale Closings are down -54.5%, with a median sales price of $186,000. 
A quick recap of the Brevard County Townhouses/Condos for May 2018:
  • Closed Sales are up 11.9% for May 2018 in which the number of units closed was 302 compared to 270 in May 2017, with an increase in cash sales of 7.9% compared to May 2017.
  • New Pending Sales are down -3.9 % and New Listings are up 13.8%.
  • Median Sales Price for Townhomes/Condos is up 10.7% to $179,950 compared to a year ago, which was $162,500.
  • Months Supply of Inventory has decreased to 3.5 months in May 2018 from 3.6 months in May 2017.
  • Traditional Sales are up 16.7%, with a median sales price of $180,000.
  • Foreclosure/REO Sales are down -91.7% with a median sales price of $55,000. 
  • Short Sale Closing statistics did not change, as there were no short sales in May 2017 or May 2018.

To see these and previous reports on Brevard MLS Statistics, please click here »


Posted in Market Reports
June 21, 2018

Homes are More Affordable in 44 out of 50 States

With both home prices and mortgage rates increasing this year, many are concerned about a family’s ability to purchase a major part of the American Dream – its own home. However, if we compare housing affordability today to the average affordability prior to the housing boom and bust, we are in much better shape than most believe.

In Black Knight’s latest monthly Mortgage Monitor, they revealed that in the vast majority of the country, it is actually more affordable to purchase a home today than it was between 1995 to 2003 when looking at mortgage payments (determined by price and interest rate) as compared to incomes. Home prices are up compared to 1995-2003, but mortgage rates are still much lower now than at that time. Today, they stand at about 4.5%. Here are the average mortgage rates for each of the years mentioned:

  • 1995 – 7.93%
  • 1996 – 7.81%
  • 1997 – 7.6%
  • 1998 – 6.94%
  • 1999 – 7.44%
  • 2000 – 8.05%
  • 2001 – 6.97%
  • 2002 – 6.54%
  • 2003 – 5.83%

On the other hand, wages have risen over the last twenty years.

Black Knight’s research revealed that, when comparing “the share of median income required to buy the median-priced home” today, to the average between 1995 to 2003, it is currently more affordable to purchase a home in 44 of 50 states.

Here is a state map of the percentage change in the price-to-payment ratio. Positive numbers indicate that it is less affordable to buy while negative numbers indicate that it is more affordable.

Homes are More Affordable in 44 out of 50 States | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Whether you are moving up to the home of your dreams or purchasing your first house, it is a great time to buy when looking at historic affordability data.

Posted in Buyers
June 11, 2018

Days on The Market Drops to New Low in April

According to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median number of days that a home spent on the market hit a new low of 26 days in April, as 57% of homes were on the market for under a month.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, had this to say,

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace. Since NAR began tracking this data in May 2011, the median days a listing was on the market was at an all-time low in April, and the share of homes sold in less than a month was at an all-time high.”

Strong buyer demand, a good economy, and a low inventory of new and existing homes for sale created the perfect storm to accelerate the time between listing and signing a contract.

The chart below shows the median days on the market from April 2017 to April 2018:

Days on The Market Drops to New Low in April | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner who is debating whether or not to list your home for sale, know that national market conditions are primed for a quick turnaround! Let’s get together to discuss exactly what’s going on in our area, today!

Posted in Buyers