Saturday, December 5, 2015

If you need to sell your Central Florida home before you can buy... Avoid this mistake

Do you need to sell your home in Central Florida before you can buy? If so, you naturally need to know what a new home will cost and whether you'll qualify for the payments. You don't want to let go of your present home only find that you can't purchase a new one!
That said, you should do a little looking on line and speak with a mortgage lender before going any further.  Looking on line will give you a good idea of pricing on homes of the size you need in the neighborhoods you want. You'll likely see a wide range, because some of those homes will be in top condition and some won't. Assume that the home you'll choose will be at the high end of the range.
Speaking with a lender will tell you whether you'll qualify for a purchase at that price.  BUT – Don't make the mistake of shopping for that new home just yet!
Wait until you've listed your present Central Florida home and have accepted an offer from a qualified buyer.  Shopping for a new home before you have the ability to make a purchase can cost you money and lead to disappointment.  Very few sellers will accept an offer contingent on the sale of a house that is not yet under contract. It just doesn't make sense for them to take their house off the market on the chance that your house will sell and you'll be able to close. Of course, a few will do it if you're willing to put down a sizeable non-refundable earnest money deposit.  Even if you do already have an offer on your current home, sellers are wise to be cautious and will perhaps counter with a "bump clause" allowing them to accept a different offer if you can't close within the specified time frame.
If by chance the seller does accept your offer, you'll have put yourself in another difficult situation – that of needing to sell your present house quickly. That, in turn, means you'll be more likely to accept a low offer just to get it done.  The need to hurry could cost you thousands of dollars.
So what else will happen if you shop too soon? The worst case: You'll find "the perfect house" and you won't be able to buy it. And after that, no other house will measure up. Even if you find a different home that in reality is a better fit for you and yours, you'll always think the other one would have been better.
My advice: Exercise patience. First, list your home at its current market value. Then do all you can to make it attractive, appealing, and accessible to qualified buyers and their agents. Then negotiate reasonably and get that home under contract. Once your house is under contract with a solid buyer, start shopping for your new Central Florida home.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

311 N Henley Cr., Davenport ChampionsGate 4/3 Pool Home $225,000

323 Terra Lago St.- Regal Palms Townhome $114,850

Should You Sell Your Home Or Remodel?

You may be thinking of selling your Central Florida home because the floor plan no longer suits you or because the house itself is "tired." The kitchen and baths are outdated, you need new paint, and your flooring is screaming "1980!"  Perhaps it needs something major, like new roofing or a new heating or cooling system. Here are some thoughts to ponder before making your decision.  
  • Do you love your neighborhood and your neighbors?
  • Could you find a newer home in that neighborhood?
  • Is the location "just right" for you in terms of travel to work, school, recreation, shopping, etc.?
  • If lack of space is the problem, do you have room on your lot to build an addition?
  • Would it be possible to remove a wall, or open up an attic or basement to provide more space?
  • Are you willing to put up with the inconvenience of living in a house that is essentially "under construction?"
If you really like living where you live and there are no homes available that would suit you better, the next step is to call a contractor and find out what it would really cost to make the improvements you're dreaming about. Be sure to ask about the time and expense to get permits as well as the cost of the actual work. You may find that getting a construction loan and then re-financing would be more economical than buying a different home.
I have a list of reliable contractors who would be glad to meet with you and give you estimates so you can make your decision based on facts, not supposition. I can also refer you to lenders who know how to put this kind of transaction together.
On the other hand, you may find that a total renovation would not be cost effective. In that case, the best choice is to sell and purchase a new home. I'll be glad to meet with you and prepare a market analysis to show you the price your house would bring in today's market.
Home prices have been rising here in Central Florida, so even though the house may need work, you might be surprised. I'm happy to prepare a free market analysis for your home and assist in finding the perfect home to buy once you're is sold or close to closing! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Want to sell? Pre-qualify your Orlando home.

You know you want your buyer pre-approved before taking your Orlando home off the market to await closing.
But what if your house that won't qualify?
Yes, that can happen – without your knowledge. And while most of the issues that prevent closing can be cured, they can cause enough delay to send your buyer looking for a different home.

 What kinds of issues disqualify a home from being sold?
1.    IRS tax liens are a big one. These can generally be negotiated, but until they get permission from the IRS, the title company won't clear for closing.
2.    "Extra" people on the title can also cause a problem.
·         If someone co-signed your purchase they might appear.
·         If you've been through divorce and believed the house to now be entirely in your name, you could be mistaken.
·         If your co-borrower is deceased and you haven't been through probate, you will need to see a lawyer to complete the appropriate paperwork.
3.    Old mortgage loans can cause the most time-consuming problem of all. These occur when a homeowner refinances and the original loan is not cleared from the title. How could that have happened? Someone simply forgot to record the release. I heard of one that took 6 months' of the listing agent's diligent follow-up (otherwise known as nagging.) The original lender had sold to a larger bank a few years earlier and the records were in an archive somewhere in California. No one from the old bank remained and no one from the new bank was particularly interested in assisting. It was one of those cases where the people in a position to solve the problem thought "What's in it for me?" and the answer was "Nothing."

To avoid these last minute surprises, order your title report as soon as you know you want to sell your home. It costs a few dollars, but if you use the same title company when you sell, they may be willing to apply those dollars as a credit at closing.

If you're getting ready to sell your home in Orlando and don't know who to call, call me first. I can put you in touch with a Title Officer who will provide what you need. 

Before you move into your Central Florida home... a checklist

 A few days prior to closing it's time to put some things in motion:
  • Visit the post office for a change of address packet. Be sure to tell your mail delivery person that you're moving and ask that any mail that slips through be forwarded to you. While you're at it, thank him or her for past service, because a little appreciation from you will help assure success.
  • If you have a choice of utility providers, do your research. You might save money with a package of TV, phone, and Internet service. See what various providers have to offer, then get set up to have service when you move in.
  • Let your current providers know that you're planning to move and the expected date – then notify them again at the last minute.
  • If you have service providers at your current home (lawn care, pool cleaning, etc.) give them plenty of notice that you're planning a move.
  • Hold a yard sale and/or make a donation to a non-profit with a thrift store. Instead of moving all those items you never use, simplify your move by lightening the load before moving day.
When the big day arrives…

The day you receive the key to your new home is an exciting one, but before you start moving in, you have a few more tasks to attend to:
  • First priority! Change the locks. You have no idea how many people have copies of keys to those current locks, so think safety and security first and change them. If you're handy, visit a hardware store. If not, call a locksmith.
  • Do some deep cleaning. Yes – the previous owners probably cleaned before they vacated, but you'll feel better if you either do it yourself or hire a service to come in and give everything another once-over. Get a steam cleaner in to sanitize the carpets, even if they look fine.
  • If you've seen any sign of "varmints" in the house – get the exterminator in before you unload any of your possessions.  
  • If you plan to replace the carpets or paint any rooms – do it before you move in, simply because it's easier.
As soon as you know when you'll actually move into that new Central Florida home…

Go online and change your contact information with creditors, financial institutions, schools, and publications.

And don't forget your friends. Just because we communicate electronically much of the time doesn't mean your friends shouldn't have your new address. (After all – they might want to come and visit, or send you a housewarming gift!)  

If you haven't found that new home yet... call me! I'll help you find the perfect match for your lifestyle! 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Turned down for a mortgage loan? Don't give up!

When you want to own a home here in Central Florida and know you are ready for that step, don't let a rejection from one lender dash your hopes.

Different lenders have different guidelines and interpretations of guidelines. Some are willing to make exceptions that others are not. So the fact is, while one lender may reject your application, another might welcome it.  If you've gone to your local bank and been given a "no" proceed to a mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers are paid on production and are more willing to explore options with you. In addition, they have multiple sources and will research those sources looking for a loan that fits your situation. Credit Unions can also be a good source of loan programs that other banks don't have.

So don't give up. If you know you have the down payment funds you need, a steady income, and a history of paying your bills, keep trying.  You may not yet qualify to purchase the home of your dreams, but you can probably qualify to buy a good home that will allow you to begin building equity – so that in a few years you WILL be able to "trade up" and buy your dream home. 

If you need a referral to a good Central Florida lender or mortgage broker, give me a call. I can give you names and numbers of lenders who have served my clients well. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Buying new appliances for your Central Florida home? Word of caution!

Whether you're buying new appliances for the Orlando home you just purchased or buying to update your home before putting it on the market, heed this advice: Measure your space before you leave for the store. Then take both the measurements and the tape measure with you to the store. Measure the width between the cabinet sides, and measure the space between the counter-tops. If you're buying a kitchen range, look behind it. Is the electrical outlet recessed or does it stick out from the wall? 

As my neighbor learned not long ago, when it comes to kitchen ranges, 30" isn't always 30". The actual space needed between counter tops can vary depending upon the style of the stove. In addition, while most kitchen ranges allow space in back for the electrical outlet, not all do.
He happened to choose a new range that required the skills of both a carpenter and electrician before it fit in place. Another friend had to trim back a cabinet in order for his new, very expensive refrigerator to fit. That was an even bigger undertaking, since it involved cabinet doors, etc.

While you may have factored new appliances into the cost of selling or of moving in to your new Central Florida home, you probably didn't put the services of a carpenter or an electrician in your budget. So save yourself both time and money – take the time to choose appliances that will fit into the designated space without alterations.

One more thing… As a convenience to you, most stores will haul your old appliances away for disposal. But if they're still in working order, think about donating them instead and also receive a tax deduction. Some non-profit organizations help support their causes through the sale of used merchandise. Before your new stove arrives, give one of them a call to see if they'd pick it up.

If you haven't chosen that new Central Florida home yet, get in touch. I'll be pleased to show you homes that fait both your lifestyle and your budget.

And, if you're just getting ready to put your Central Florida home on the market, I'll be happy to provide you with a no cost, no obligation market analysis.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Looking for a Home in Central Florida? Don't Get Distracted by the Homeowner's "Stuff"

Most real estate agents in Orlando will advise his or her listing clients to stage their homes. If they don't actually hire a stager, they should at least clean, de-clutter, and de-personalize their home before it goes on the market. Unfortunately, not all homeowners take that advice.  The result: Homebuyers touring the home may be distracted by things like a messy living room, the homeowner's collections, family photographs, or even colors that don't please you. If you fall into that "distraction trap," you could fail to recognize a home that could be "just right" for you.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you view homes:

  1. Worn carpeting or vinyl is not a drawback, but an opportunity. The price has either been reduced for this defect or you may be able to get a flooring allowance. Either way, it means you can live with brand new flooring in the color and style you choose.
  2. "Ugly" paint colors are another opportunity. Why? Because they discourage buyers who can't see beyond them. Thus, the home may not be getting other offers. Paint is inexpensive, and when you re-paint after closing, you have the opportunity to choose the colors that are most pleasing to you.
  3. Stay focused – Ignore the family photos, the trophies, the collections on display, and the interesting furnishings. The puppy may be cute, but don't let him capture your attention. None of those items comes with the house, and they're not why you're there.
  4. Look past decorating that's not your style. All those things will be removed – you'll be decorating in your own style. An ugly couch or bedspread has nothing to do with the house.
  5. Look past cobwebs and fingerprint smudges on cabinet doors – because most buyers can't. You may be able to get a bargain on the house in exchange for a couple of days' worth of cleaning.
  6. Do look at the size of the rooms and the placement of doors, windows, and built-ins. Even if the room is over-full, try to visualize how your own furnishings would fit. 
  7. View each room with an eye toward how you'll use it – not how the current residents are using it.
  8. Visualizing yourself living in an Orlando or Central Florida home that hasn't been properly prepared for sale isn't always easy. But do your best to focus on the home – and not on what's in it.
  9. You just might find a "diamond in the rough" at a price that will keep you smiling for years to come.

When you're ready to find a new home in Orlando, Kissimmee, Davenport and surrounding areas, get in touch. It will be my pleasure to help you find the one that's "just right" for you. 

Home Buying: The Features You Want vs. the Features You Need

Have you determined what features your new Orlando home absolutely must have?

Often, buyers approach the home search without a clear idea of what they're looking for. They think "they'll know it when they see it" so spend a lot of time viewing homes that just won't do. Others have a long list of "wants" and become frustrated because no one home offers all of them.

Save yourself time and streamline your home search by making two lists. The first is for those features and benefits that your new home absolutely must offer.

For instance, you might work from home and require an office or an extra bedroom to turn into an office. Put that on the list. You might be a gourmet cook and would be miserable without extensive counter and storage space in the kitchen. Put that on the list.

You might be a musician and own a grand piano – your list needs to note that you need a room large enough to accommodate that piano.

Once your list is made, share it with me. Using it, I can narrow our search to homes in Central Florida that meet your most important requirements.

Next, make a "nice to have" list.  These are the features and benefits that appeal to you but aren't absolutely vital. For instance, a bay window, cathedral ceilings, or a river rock fireplace.

After we’ve eliminated the choices that won’t work, we’ll have a list of possibilities that match your “must have” list - and can focus on viewing homes that include the items on your “nice to have” list.

Once we begin viewing homes together, we can further refine the search by paying attention to how you feel about the details in each home. You might notice features that you hadn't thought of before and want to add them to your list.

Paying attention, sorting through the listings, and saving you time in your home search are some of my functions as a buyer’s agent. Your lists will help that process go smoothly. 

The Value Of Your Agent's Reputation

When you choose a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a house, you probably don’t think very much about his or her reputation in the real estate community. But it is important to your success either in buying or selling. Here’s why:
Most of the time, the agent who lists a home or land will not be the same agent who brings a buyer. In fact, in some agencies, it is against company policy for one agent to work with both the buyer and the seller in a given transaction. That’s why cooperation and trust between agents and agencies is vital.
For Sellers:
When your listing agent has a reputation for dealing fairly with buyers' agents, those buyers’ agents will be more eager to show your home.
To maintain a good reputation, your listing agent must:
  • Return all phone calls from agents – either with questions about the home that aren’t answered in the MLS information or with requests to show
  • Make it easy to show your home – preferably with a lockbox and through convincing sellers that it is unwise to restrict times and days when a home can be shown.
  • Enter complete and accurate information in MLS – Some agents leave blank spaces and even enter incorrect information.
  • Keep MLS information up to date, especially with regard to homes under contract. No agent wants to take time to arrange a showing on a home that is already under contract.
  • Present all offers fairly and quickly. Some agents have a reputation for holding on to offers from competitors while they attempt to get an offer from their own buyers – it’s illegal, but some do it.
  • Present counter-offers within the time limits specified in the offer
  • Present complete counter-offers – no blanks left unfilled and open to questions. 
  • Cooperate with buyer’s agents when its time to arrange inspections, and throughout the closing process
  • Communicate. Short sale transactions can take many weeks or months to negotiate with the banks – buyers and their agents want to know what progress is being made, so it’s good for the listing agent to communicate regularly.
  • Be polite. Such a simple thing, and yet some agents are simply rude to other agents.
When listing agents develop a reputation for failing in any of these respects, buyer agents try to avoid showing their listings. They may get there eventually, but only if the buyer has specifically asked to see the home, or after they’ve shown all the properties listed by agents who are pleasant to deal with.
For Buyers:
While all agents will allow even an agent with a bad reputation to show their listings, an agent’s bad reputation can harm their buyer’s chances of a successful purchase.  This is especially true in situations with multiple offers on a home. But in any case, if a listing agent has had a few bad experiences with a certain buyers’ agent, he or she will warn the seller to be wary.
To maintain a good reputation, a buyers’ agent must:
  • Be on time for showings…or call if there’s an unavoidable delay. This may not harm chances once an offer is made, but raises a question about how the agent will conduct business throughout the transaction.
  • Work with pre-qualified buyers. When listing agents know that a buyer’s agent doesn’t require pre-qualification, their offers get shifted to the bottom of the pile. No one wants to tie up a listing on an offer with low probability of closing.
  • Present complete offers. There can be no questions caused by spaces left blank.
  • Respond to counter-offers on time
  • Complete inspections and other contingencies on time
  • Behave reasonably after the inspections. Some agents routinely use this period to begin re-negotiating the price – even if the inspection didn’t reveal expensive problems.
  • Communicate willingly – keeping listing agents in the loop regarding the buyer’s loan process, any anticipated delays, etc.
  • Be polite –  Again, it matters if an agent is pleasant to work with.
Reputation matters in all areas of life, but in real estate it can affect results for buyers and sellers – not just the agent.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What do shoes have to do with selling a Central Florida home?

As it turns out, shoes – and whether or not they should be worn into the house - can have a significant impact.

Some sellers are horrified at the idea of people coming into their home wearing shoes – others are horrified at the idea of "someone's sweaty feet" leaving prints on the hardwood or soiling the carpets. Of course, some don't care one way or the other, but buyers and their agents have no way to know which is which unless the listing agent makes good notes – and the buyer’s agent reads those notes.

Sellers aren't the only ones who have an opinion. Some buyers simply refuse to view a house if they're expected to remove their shoes. For others, removing shoes presents a physical barrier – think of someone who wears orthopedic shoes or braces, or who needs a shoe horn to get their shoes back on.

At the same time, there are buyers who won't consider a home where "people care so little that they let visitors walk around in shoes.”

What's the answer? Booties. Sellers who want to protect their floors should provide a box of booties and a sturdy chair at the entrance door. But since not all do, I carry a few in my car for those occasions. 

So have no fear, when you search for a Central Florida home with me, you won't be required to remove your shoes.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Orlando Ranked #4 In Best House Markets For 2015 crowned the following 10 housing markets as 2015's Best Buy Cities:
1. Austin, Texas
  • Average home price: $261,923
  • Annual price growth: 12%
  • Population growth (2010-2013): 8.9%
  • Annual job growth: 3.6%
2. Provo, Utah
  • Average home price: $211,273
  • Annual price growth: 6%
  • Population growth (2010-2013): 6.2%
  • Annual job growth: 3%
3. Houston, Texas
  • Average home price: $214,049
  • Annual price growth: 12%
  • Population growth (2010-2013): 6.2%
  • Annual job growth: 4.1%
4. Orlando, Florida
  • Average home price: $187,568
  • Annual price growth: 9%
  • Population growth (2010-2013): 6%
  • Annual job growth: 9%
5. Dallas, Texas
  • Average home price: $197,159
  • Annual price growth: 10%
  • Population growth (2010-2013): 5.9%
  • Annual job growth: 3.8%
6. San Antonio, Texas
  • Average home price: $189,080
  • Annual price growth: 8%
  • Population growth (2010-2013): 5.8%
  • Annual job growth: 2.5%
7. Denver, Colo.
  • Average home price: $278,130
  • Annual price growth: 10%
  • Population growth (2010-2013): 5.6%
  • Annual job growth: 2.6%
8. Boise, Idaho 
  • Average home price: $183,649
  • Annual price growth: 9%
  • Population growth (2010-2013): 5.3%
  • Annual job growth: 2.2%
9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Average home price: $166,044
  • Annual price growth: 4%
  • Population growth (2010-2013): 4.8%
  • Annual job growth: 3.3%
10. Fort Worth, Texas
  • Average home price: $180,312
  • Annual price growth: 7%
  • Population growth (2010-2013): 4.8%
  • Annual job growth: 2.6%
Source: "Best Buy Cities: Where to Invest in Housing in 2015," (Jan. 9, 2015)

There's More To A Central Florida Home Purchase Offer Than The Stated Price

While the stated purchase price of a home in Central Florida is the starting point in an offer to purchase, other details of the offer determine the true costs to the buyer and the true proceeds to the seller. These details, along with the price, become points of negotiation.
The most obvious, common, and costly detail is the request for the seller to pay some of the buyer's closing costs. Depending upon the loan program, this could equal as much as 9% of the purchase price.
On a home valued at $300,000, paying buyer's closing costs would mean a $27,000 reduction in proceeds for the seller - and a $27,000 savings for the buyer.

Then there are the inspections and the repair allowances. Buyers usually pay for the inspections, but they can ask the seller to pay these costs. If you request the seller pay for the inspection, the seller may agree but with terms that they (or their agent) choose the inspector.

Sellers usually request offers be made on the Florida Association of Realtors AS-IS contract.  The seller is not responsible for any repairs in the inspection and therefore usually agreeing to their lowest price. As a buyer, expect some repairs.  If the repairs are over 1.5% of the contract, the seller may agree to a reduction in price or credit at closing for a portion of the repairs.

But those aren't the only factors that can affect the buyers' or the sellers' finances.

Timing can also play a role. If the buyer is leaving another home or the seller is buying a new home, the closing/possession date can save or cost them dollars. Think of the cost of putting your household furnishings into storage and renting temporary shelter in the interim between closing on one home and moving into another.

Next, look at what's included in the purchase price. Kitchen and/or laundry appliances may already be included per the listing. If not, the buyers can ask for them. Inclusion saves the buyers money, while it may cost the sellers to replace them in their new home. So even though these items are not given monetary value on the purchase offer, they do have value that both parties need to consider.
The same is true for items like a riding lawn mower. The seller may not need one in their next home, but leaving it behind does add value for the buyer.
Whether you're buying or selling a home here in Central Florida, before you focus on the stated purchase price, look at the true price. You'll see it after you make the additions and subtractions.

If you have questions about these costs and how they affect your bottom line, call me at 407.274.8476 or drop me a note at I'll be happy to speak with you.
And when you're ready to buy or sell a Central Florida home, it would be my pleasure to guide you through a smooth transaction.  I cover Orange, Osceola, Polk, Lake and Seminole counties.