Monday, April 29, 2013

Why are some real estate agents so lazy as to not put enough pictures or even video of a property?

Yes for Work and No for Lazy Royalty Free Stock PhotoThere are many reasons but we'll only discuss a few possibilities...
When interviewing listing agents, the seller should ask, "How are you going to market my property And... any agent should be providing the seller with a copy of the MLS listing once it's listed so the seller can see and give input on what they would like changed, this would of course be more pictures and/or video.

To touch on a few points:
1. Some agents not tech savy - This is the business and it's only going to grow more technology dependent so agents should sharpen their skills.
2. Not having access to the home because of a long term renter - Listing agents should make a point and it should be added in the listing agreement that the seller gains access to the property for the agent. I do not list a property until I have the appropriate pictures and have accessed the home myself. If it's the owner in the home, this shouldn't be an issue.
3. REO's - agree with Antonio's statement and the seller (the lender), isn't involved on a personal level like an owner would be.

If it's a short term rental property, many times the agent wants to get the listing up right away and then intends to take additional pictures once the guest is out of the home.  But, this should be stated in the listing so buyers and other agents know what to expect in the near future.

Can I buy a house in a short term rental area in Florida and live in it all year round?

You most certainly can, there are some terrific communities zoned short term that have owner occupants and/or long term tenants. It's a nice feature to have as when you sell you are opening yourself up to more buyers on an international level. And if you ever decide to move and don't want to sell you're home you have the option of renting long term as well as short term.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Does a foreign investor pay more property taxes in Florida?

Property tax for foreign nationals are exactly the same as property tax for US residents. Property tax in Florida is based on property value as assessed by the county. You can look up a property tax amount yourself by visiting the county Tax Appraisers office and looking at tax records.

However, US residents can claim homestead exemption on their primary residence which entitles them to a tax break.  If a US resident purchased a second home as a vacation home, it wouldn't qualify as homestead exemption.

Most looking to invest in the short term zone in/around Disney and the Orlando area are looking for a secondary vacation home.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

If a foreclosed home/REO is taken off the market, will it be re-listed at the same price?

The reason why it's difficult to answer this dynamic question if because there could be many variables which could cause the price to be adjusted. Here are a couple:
1. If there are repairs needed that weren't evident originally, the lender may decide to take the home off the market while the repairs are done. If the condition of the home is improved, this will most likely affect the market value of the home and the lender may decide to increase the price to reflect the new condition of the home.
2. A lender may request a BPO or Broker's Price Opinion to assess any changes and fluctuation in the market value of the property when it's relisted which could also affect the price.

If you're really interested in the property, the best situation is to have your Realtor continue communication with the listing agent for any updates which they can legally share and be ready when it's listed again. Have your pre-approval and/or proof of funds ready to make an offer.

Do I need proof of funds or a pre-approval to make an offer on a home?

Yes, proof of funds is required by the seller and is to be presented with the offer so you should be prepared with documents having the portion of your purchase which is cash and if financing a pre-approval letter from a lender.

For the cash portion, a certified letter from your bank or copy of your investment/banking account(with the account numbers and personal information blacked out or other verifiable depository or a current balance statement will do. This must be no more than 30-days old.

If you intend to finance any portion of the transaction, you'll need a pre-approval letter.  If you need assistance with a reputable lender in the area, I can help. Most of the time, we can have a pre-app in just a couple days time.

Don't wait to find the home of your dreams and not have these documents in place, a day or two gathering them could mean another offer being accepted before we can submit yours. The market is very strong and some properties sell the day they are put on the market so being prepared is in your best interest.

The best deals are those that move quickly so be ready!

Cathy Starkweather
Realtor & Vacation Home Specialist / 01.407.274.8476

What do I need to tell my Realtor so I find the perfect home and area which fits my needs?

There are many factors you should share with your Realtor to ensure he/she is focused on what is appealing to you.  Some questions to ask yourself and share the answers with your Realtor are:
  1. What size (number of bed/baths), type of home (condo/town home/detached home) are you looking for?  If detached home, is one with a pool important?
  2. What is your price point?
  3. Are you looking for a home which is ready to move in or would you consider distressed properties which may require work?
  4. What are you looking for in a community?
  5. Are you hoping to be within certain distance from certain attractions, parks, downtown/city life, access to major highways, or other specific landmarks?
  6. If working, what is the driving distance you'd prefer to be from your job? 
  7. What academics/sports are you looking for in local schools if you have children?
  8. Other ammenties/features that are helpful to know - Golf community?  Gated community? 55+ community?
This is not a full list of what your Realtor may ask but it's a good range to get you started. If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact me at -
Cathy Starkweather
Realtor and Vacation Home Specialist