Aug. 28, 2012

Palm Harbor Homes for Sale - Who Are "Typical First Time Homebuyers"

Although these days it can be a bit more challenging to purchase a new home, there are Palm Harbor homes for sale and first time homebuyers to buy them.

Palm Harbor Homes for Sale - Who Are "Typical First Time Homebuyers"Those first time buyers are of all races, creeds, religions, ages and nationalities, but they all have some similarities in what makes them “typical.” A “typical” first time home buyer, according to the National Association of Home Builders, is an average age of 33 and the average household size is 2.7 people, some a couple, some single some small families.

Their average income is $64,000, and those incomes are the median for the area where the home is. That means that they have a typical income for the area where they live. About a third of them are married with children. Interestingly enough, about two thirds of first time buyers are white, 11 percent are African American and 15% are Hispanics.

First time buyers typically purchase homes in the $150,000 range, and those homes have an average square footage of about 1500 square feet, and those homes tend to be older homes. This is because most new homes average 2,000 square feet or more, leaving smaller, older homes that are lower in cost. Those homes also tend to be single family homes. Almost 79 percent are this type, while 22 percent are townhomes or condominiums.

So why are all of these “typical homebuyer” facts important? Because if you are doing anything in the market right now, you know that true starter homes for "typical first time homebuyers" are harder to come by than you think! There are some short sales out there, there are some in high insurance areas and there are foreclosures that have been stripped to the teeth, but that glut of first time homes has come and gone.

If you are looking for a starter home, you need to be really clear with what is important to you. You also need to be pre-approved for financing so that you can make a move if that perfect starter home comes on the market.

What if you are thinking of moving up to your second Palm Harbor home for sale? You lost some value on your starter home, BUT what you lost is probably in balance with your move-up home and you will come out ahead in the long run! For example, if you bought a house for $150,000 and lost 10% of the value, you are down $15K. Now consider your move-up home which may be in the $400K range. If they lost 10%, then they are down $40,000 and you get the difference of $25,000 in the process!!!

Neat huh? So, whether you are looking to sell or buy one of our Palm Harbor homes for sale, please, please, please make sure to get with a professional to make sure your transaction goes well! If you are looking for a great Palm Harbor realtor, please give me a call today!!! 727-366-0324

Aug. 21, 2012

Palm Harbor Open Houses - Nosy Neighbors or Potential Sellers

So we do Palm Harbor open houses from time to time and LOVE when we get neighborhood traffic through the door - the funny thing is what these lovely walk-ins actually mean!

Palm Harbor Open Houses - Nosy Neighbors or Potential SellersImagine this, you are a top-notch Palm Harbor Realtor, sitting in an open house for two hours on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. You have your stack of Realtor mags, a few postcards and thank you notes to send out and a Starbucks latte by your side.

Ho-hum...well it IS a nice day out there, hopefully you will get some people to see this great ti dah...anytime now.

Next thing you know, BAM! Someone walks in and says, "oh I am just the neighbor from across the street, do you mind if I take a peek?" Mind, OF COURSE NOT! First off, they could have a friend or family member who is looking for a place to live close by (we call this picking your neighbors!)

But more likely for us, they are a potential seller! Maybe not now, but NO ONE stops after work or on a glorious day at an open house unless they are considering listing their home sometime for sale within the next year or so.

Now while most realtors are FAMILIAR with listing and selling homes, a word to the wise about picking your LISTING agent at an open house...

Most Realtors who are holding an open house are Buyer's agents. They work primarily with people looking to purchase a home, not sell them. They do open houses to get buyer leads and think of the people who just pop by as "nosy neighbors", not potential clients.

Lucky for you, here at the Pinellas Peach we work as a team, Matt mostly handling the buyers and me handling the seller's sides. SOOO if you are looking for a great agent, please consider giving us a call 727-366-0324!

That having been said...we have a couple of more bits to consider about using open houses or researching potential home prices on your own!

Going to open houses to figure out pricing...

We have talked about it before, but it bears repeating, what a home is PRICED for is not necessarily what it will sell for! There is nothing to stop your neighbor from pricing their home 10, 20, or even 30 THOUSAND dollars over market value. In fact, if you see a house that has been for sale in your neighborhood for a LONG time, you know that it is overpriced. Either it costs too much for the neighborhood or the condition compared to other houses for that price is not comparable.

The reason this matters is if you are really scoping out realtors, you don't want to pick one that will let you overprice your home! These conversations are hard and not fun, but we will always tell you the truth about the market!

Going to open houses to figure out pricing, part deux...

We find that oftentimes houses in adjacent neighborhoods (also called subdivisions) are not always comparably priced. Real estate IS all about location, location, location and going just one street over could mean a swing of REALLY big proportions pricing-wise.

If you are thinking about listing your home in the next year, we have tools that will let you track ACTUAL selling prices of homes around you and in comparable neighborhoods (free ones that let you search the MLS just like you are a realtor yourself). We can also do a CMA (comparative market analysis) to give you a snapshot of pricing today. Oh, oh, oh and we are happy to come out and let you know which updates are worthwhile to do and which you can skip.

Seriously, this is not just a job to us...this is our life's work, helping people sell their homes and finding them new ones that they LOVE. We are always happy to come out and chat, even if you are not ready to list today!!!

Aug. 14, 2012

Palm Harbor Foreclosures

What are Palm Harbor foreclosures and what does it mean when banks release more delinquent homes?

Palm Harbor foreclosures are no different than other areas of the US when it comes to banks notifying homeowners of eminent foreclosure. A look at the circumstances in the housing market that affect foreclosures might be a good idea.

Shadow inventory Palm Harbor ForeclosuresRecent reports seem to show that the housing market is rebounding, albeit slowly. One of the signs is the fact that lenders are now starting to notify more delinquent homeowners that foreclosure is imminent. It is a step they are taking to clear their backlog of properties and hopefully accelerate a housing market rebound. There are probably a fair number of Palm Harbor foreclosures included in that group (which is sometimes referred to in the media as the "shadow inventory").

Anthony B. Sanders, an economics professor at George Mason University was recently quoted, saying, “You have to get to the point where the housing market can heal itself and foreclosures and price adjustments are the only way that can happen,” This is because the market rebound has been restrained by a “shadow inventory” of homes with mortgages at least 90 days delinquent, in foreclosure or already owned by banks. This process has been stalled since late 2010, when state attorneys general and federal regulators began investigating abuses by banks, including lost or doctored paperwork. Five of the nation’s largest banks settled the investigation for $25 billion in February of this year, starting the self healing process again with more foreclosures.

Fortunately, mortgage delinquencies are dropping. The housing market is also becoming a buyer’s market due to record low interest rates and tight inventories of available real estate. The shadow inventory of homes fell in April to the lowest level in more than three years. This is because of the improved delinquency rates, and also because lenders are finding ways to settle bad mortgages without having to take back properties. They do this through loan modification, refinancing loans or reducing loan principal, or through short sales.

Short sales are when a bank allows delinquent borrowers to sell their property for less than they owe. The lender’s last ditch effort is to proceed to foreclosure. The fact that some will end up in foreclosure may mean that prices will drop a bit more, but the drop will be slight, and working through the inventory of distressed properties is very necessary to keeping the housing rebound going.

So Palm Harbor, as with many other areas of the US, is still going to see more foreclosures, but the housing market will rebound.

When you are dealing with Palm Harbor foreclosures as either a buyer or a seller, it is vital that you have a Realtor who is well versed in the ins and outs of these properties! I have a Palm Harbor CDPE designation, meaning that I have taken advanced training and have the Certified Distressed Property Expert designation. If you have ANY questions about the foreclosure process or what your options are, please give me a call today! (727) 366-0324

Aug. 7, 2012

Crazy Real Estate Sales Tactics Do They Work?

Crazy real estate sales tactics are on the rise, some say because of the slow market.

In these bad economic times, it can be very difficult to sell real estate. Some owners and realtors use some crazy tactics to sell a property.

Crazy Real Estate Sales Tactics Do They Work?Stories abound about home owners and realtors doing some nutty things to sell a property. In some cases, they try “smudging.” Smudging is a Native American and Wiccan ceremony that uses prayer and the burning of sage, cedar and sweetgrass to “purify” and “lighten” a person or home, and to chase out bad influences while bringing in good influences. This one, while interesting, doesn't get to crazy! Let's see some more...:)

Also on the saner side includes tying three old Chinese coins to a red ribbon. The ribbon is then tied onto the inside front door handle. This is found in many "normal" feng shui homes.

On a religious note, some Christian home owners will bury a statue of St. Joseph outside of their home on the west side for luck. We have had a number of homeowners who tried this one! As we spend most of our time working with our noses to the grindstone, we haven't tracked the success of this tactic, but hey, it doesn't hurt anything! If you are homeowner going the route, you may appreciate the St. Joseph Statue and home sale kit...we have never purchased here but it seems to cover all the parts!

Just as a side note, while researching this article we found that some people turn to voodoo to get their homes sold....not sure we are proponents turning to dark magic or animal sacrifice to make a sale, AND we are hesitant to post a how to here!

Some other extreme home sale tactics are practiced by home owners who use car wraps that advertise their home on their car. One recent article showed that there was a homeowner who purchased a billboard with their listing. We are always happy when our sellers are willing to go the extra mile to help us sell their home!

Okay last one...this one was a bit beyond the pale...some realtors get in on the craziness by dressing as extreme characters to attract attention to a property for an open house. They dress as superman or wear crazy hats or twirl signs. They dance around like funny is no wonder the general public has a hard time treating our profession, well, professionally!

What these extreme tactics should be telling you is that you don’t need luck to sell your property, you need to rethink how you’ve traditionally marketed it: look at your pricing strategy; look at the condition of the property and how it is staged; and so forth. Selling a property really just boils down to hard work and paying attention to the basics.

A good realtor will work hard to market the property and will not use extreme tactics. Advertising the listing with other realtors, posting it on the internet and in social media, showing the house whenever possible, holding open houses, and so forth. Using extreme tactics like those above are not things that will honestly market a property. Real estate sales are still hard work, and nutty tactics really do nothing to help them!

Give me today. Julia Fishel 727-366-0324

July 31, 2012

Buy A House NOW!

Buy a house - it's the American Dream… one that has been stymied for the last 4 or 5 years by the Great Recession. The economy is still shaky at best, but for some, that could mean it’s the best time to buy, and the reasons why you should...

 Buy A House NOW!One reason to buy is because renting isn’t such a great deal anymore. Demand for rentals has been SUPER high. Those who are losing their homes now have to rent, those who would have bought before the economy imploded also have to rent. High demand means that rents are higher as well. The benefits to buy a house now outweigh the benefits of renting.

Lower mortgage rates mean lower mortgage payments, and the tax benefits that still exist for the time being mean that home ownership makes sense.

Home prices have declined for several years, but that decline has most likely hit its plateau and will stabilize and possibly rise. Waiting for them to drop again might mean that you will miss the house that works best for you. It may also mean that you miss the historically low mortgage rates. Waiting for them to keep falling or even stay where they are could be risky. Even if prices drop a bit more, waiting and finding out that interest rates rise even a percent mean your mortgage payments are higher.

Here’s a for instance: a $300,000 30-year fixed rate loan today at 4.6 percent gives you a payment of $1,537. If you wait a year or so thinking prices will still fall, and in the meantime, interest rates rise to 5.7 percent you would need home prices to fall nearly 12 percent to get the same monthly mortgage payment as you could get now.

Prices are not expected to decline even 6%, at the most. Getting that mortgage could get harder for a lot of people as well. The debacle with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac means that Washington is closing holes that made it easy to get mortgages. That means most will have to look to the private market and banks aren’t in a great hurry to free up loan money. They will require higher down payments and more up front costs. Getting that mortgage now will be easier.

There is also a lot less competition for homes these days as well. Fewer bidding wars, lower home prices.

Lastly, a plea from your friendly neighborhood realtor!!!! If my Mom was asking me, I would tell HER to buy a Palm Harbor house right now for the above mentioned reasons, because the housing sector (today) is the one area that seems to have some life, because home ownership means more stability, higher grades for kids and a whole bunch of other GREAT benefits!!!

Give me a call today to find out more about available houses or just to take a pulse for how the market is in your neighborhood (or even your dream neighborhood!) 727-366-0324

July 24, 2012

Selling Your Palm Harbor Home - 5 Things to Think About

You are considering selling your Palm Harbor home and are a little nervous about the market. What should you do to improve your chances for a sale, and especially a sale for your asking price? Plenty, so read on.

Selling Your Palm Harbor Home -5 Things to Think About First, call a reputable Palm Harbor real estate agent with experience in the local market. As you would with a doctor, having a specialist is highly beneficial to having a generalist. A Palm Harbor Realtor who specializes in your area is going to be an invaluable part of your home selling team, from pricing to condition and knowledge of local area problems BEFORE they become deal breakers!

Second, take a good hard look at your home. How does your front yard look? This is the first impression that people get of your home so make it memorable. The grass should be neatly mowed, gardens colorful, green and weed free. Make sure your real estate is presentable inside and out.

Third, let your neighbors know that the house will be going up for sale, even before you list it. They may know someone looking for a home - we call this letting them "pick" their neighbors!!!

Fourth, know what your bottom price is before the offers come in. We all know what we’d like to get for our homes, but realistically, you may need to accept less, so figure out what your rock bottom number is, keeping in mind what your mortgage balance may be and what other comparable homes have been sold for in the area.

Fifth, and lastly, be sure that you have the “story” of your home available for other realtors to use. Many listing agents use a lock box that has your key in it. This means that other agents can get to the key and show the property even if you or your listing agent isn’t available. While this means others can get in to see it, it also means they won’t be familiar with the plusses, and minuses, of your home. Create a list of top features of your property, print it up in color, alongside photos of the various features and attach it to the listing sheets on the kitchen counter.

If you want to sell your Palm Harbor home, these tips will help you get there!

July 17, 2012

Palm Harbor Home Renovations Focus on the CURRENT Owners

The Palm Harbor home sale market is slowly coming back, and as a homeowner making renovations, under traditional wisdom, renovating a good thing for the value of your home and a future sale. Well, traditional wisdom is sometimes wrong and when making renovations keep in mind that your personal taste could kill a future sale!

Homeowners these days are staying put and making do in the homes they own. Many are making changes and renovations to them to make them into what they want and more beautiful. Warning: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What you do to your home may be good for you, but it could diminish the value of your home at best, or make it unsaleable at worst. Minor changes like paint colors are easily changed come time to list your home, but other things are more permanent. Here are a few things that many people do that can be problematic.

Palm Harbor Home Renovations Focus on  the CURRENT Owners1. Swimming pools. In Florida a swimming pool is a definite plus, and in most cases won’t lower the value of the home. However, if your yard is small and the pool takes over the whole area, YOU may be thrilled BUT harming the value of your home.

2. Think twice before converting rooms. First, taking away a bedroom to make it into an office may sound like a good idea, or be necessary if you work from home, but losing that bedroom decreases home value, especially if you remove the closet to gain more space (truly making it a non-bedroom). Another tricky one is making the garage a bedroom. This one seems like a no-brainer when you have more people than house, but can be a deal breaker when it comes time to sell (ESPECIALLY if it is a do-it-yourself job!)

3. Keep size in mind when adding an addition. The extra space is a plus, but if the addition makes your home the most expensive on the block, you won’t recoup the investment. Worse yet, if you did it yourself and it’s not up to snuff, you’ll not only lose value, but maybe on the hook to pay a professional to fix your project in order to get a home inspection through!

4. Decks. Generally decks are a good idea, but be very careful when installing it yourself or hiring someone to do it. Installed improperly they can damage the home, meaning lower value and probable expenses to fix the damage and deck at sale.

5. Kitchen and bath improvements. Okay, I almost didn't add this one because of the touchy-ness of the subject. Please, please, please do not pick a strange color marble or stone for your countertops. Recycled green glass or concrete may make YOUR heart soar, but could turn a buyer away. Butcher block counters, when not maintained are a health hazard AND an eyesore. While I understand that countertops are not a big deal to change out, buyers go CRAZY about the cost and effort to change them. You may have all new appliances, immaculate cabinets and waterviews BUT if they see a pink marble countertop, they can't stop looking!

Making your Palm Harbor home comfortable and your dream castle is a good thing, but just remember that the dream could become a nightmare down the line.

July 10, 2012

Palm Harbor Homesellers - A Broken Switchplate Cover IS A Big Deal

We talk to A LOT of Palm Harbor homesellers in the course of our real estate practice! Most are AMAZED at how their house is perceived by them as opposed to how the potential homebuyers view it. Here are just a few of our observations and what they mean to you!

A Little Palm Harbor Homeseller Background

You are living in Palm Harbor and something happens, you have a baby and your house suddenly shrinks, your husband gets a transfer and you have to move, your kids all leave and your empty nest is REALLY too big now. Whatever the reason, you think, "we need to put this house on the market." With this in mind, you find a couple of great Palm Harbor Realtors (like us, nudge, nudge) and figure it will sell like hotcakes.

What is SO hard to realize is that you live there and can't see all the minor things that have broken or been used a little to hard over time!

A Broken Switchplate Cover IS A Big Deal

So now your house is on the market and you have people coming through and giving feedback. You hear that there is a broken switchplate cover and think, "really, they are worried about a dollar, forty nine cent item?" What you don't realize is that when they see the broken switchplate cover, it starts a whole landslide of feelings and fears...
Palm Harbor Homesellers - A Broken Switchplate Cover IS A Big Deal
if the switchplate cover is broken, then maybe they didn't use a filter in the refrigerator...

no fridgie filter, probably they didn't maintain the pool well enough...

bad pool maintenance, bet they haven't cleaned the gutters...

dirty gutters, HOLY COW, the roof is going to cave in on our family...

RUN!!!! this place is a death trap!!!!

What Is Deferred Maintenance

I KNOW, as a Palm Harbor Homeseller, you are probably thinking that is ridiculous, AND IT IS!!! But when someone is making the kind of financial investment that a house takes, they can get a little weird! EVERYTHING is amplified and they are looking for reasons to not pick your house.

Any little broken thing could be considered a sign of deferred maintenance. A garage door panel that got backed into, cobwebs on the front porch, a torn screen, crumbling sidewalk, brown patches in the yard, lightbulbs out, a drippy faucet...really EVERYTHING that YOU don't see anymore scares the heck out the potential homebuyer.

What they do is think, "if they don't take care of the little stuff, probably they don't take care of the big stuff either!"

Our Palm Harbor Homeseller Suggestions!

So what do we recommend?

  1. Go through your house and fix ANYTHING that is broken! Look at the blinds, the light sockets, light bulbs, furniture, toilet paper holders, EVERYTHING!
  2. Now that you have fixed what YOU can see, invite an honest friend over to take a peek. She might notice that the grout in your shower is dingy or cracked...fix that too!
  3. Lastly, invite your Realtor over to take a peek and tell them to be honest! They will find things that you never even imagined people will look at. They will open closets (homebuyers open closets), they will look under beds for dust bunnies, they will white glove your lamp shades!

Does this seem like a LOT of work? Well, yes....BUT if you can get top dollar for your house and get a quicker sale, sure seems worth it to us!

If you need an honest opinion from a pair of Palm Harbor Realtors about what needs work BEFORE you list, give us a call today! Julia and Matt... 727-366-0324

July 3, 2012

Palm Harbor Real Estate Sales - Appraisers, Financing and the Elusive Cash Buyer

Palm Harbor real estate sales, heck any real estate sales, depend on a number of different financial milestones to get to the closing table. One HUGE one is financing (how your buyer is going to actually pay for your property). There are some misconceptions in the market and we wanted to give a heads up on a number of them today!

Palm Harbor Real Estate SalesWe talk to A LOT of home sellers who are (understandably) proud of their home and want to get the most money possible for it. With this in mind, they overprice the property, beyond what the market says it is worth. Darn that market! But what does that mean EXACTLY?

When we come out to talk to you about listing your Palm Harbor home for sale, we will take a good hard look at the "comps" or comparable recent sales in your neighborhood, city or other nearby locations. These comps generally need to be within the last six months and should compare similar homes to yours. We are able to add additional money to your home compared to the others, if say you have a swimming pool or waterfront. What we cannot add for is granite countertops, new flooring, upgrades or even a brand new Jacuzzi tub. All of these are considered to be a part of the property and do not warrant additional monies according to the...dum de dum...appraiser.

So say you get your house under contract and you did happen to find a buyer who was not shocked that it was overpriced. Their loan institution (the bank) will send out a Real Estate Appraiser to look at your home, take measurements and...wait for it...look at the recent sale comps. RATS! If your house is overpriced, the bank will not loan the buyer enough money to purchase it. So say in this example you listed your house at $200,000 and the comps say it is only worth $175,000. The buyer would then have to come up with enough cash for the difference ($25,000 PLUS any money they were putting as a down payment on the property!)

This is huge amount of money to come to the table with on closing day and we find that often the buyer will back out of the deal (most Realtors have a financing contingency clause in their contracts). If they do stay in, they come from a REALLY strong negotiating standpoint.

So what is "the elusive cash buyer"?

A lot of sellers, when we show them the market data, ask, "but we can price it higher if we get a cash buyer right?" Um, yes. There could be someone out there with money to burn who would be willing to buy your house without considering its actual value. BUT what we have found it that people with $200,000 to spend are generally not as gullible as you might think! At the very least, they will probably take a look around other houses and and see what they have sold for!

So what should you do? In a relatively normal market (half a buyers market, half a sellers market) like we have been creeping up on, you should list your house at a fair market price and then stick to your guns during negotiation! Just because you get a low offer doesn't mean you have to take it!

Also, comps can vary and you want a Realtor who will go to bat for you if the comps do come in low when you have an offer...we are that kind of Palm Harbor Realtors! Give us a call today to find out how we can work with you to get the most money for your Palm Harbor home for sale...727-366-0324!

June 28, 2012

The Pinellas Peach Welcomes Cheryl Roberts! Buyer Realtor Specialist

Julia and Matt Fishel, Managing Agents of Suncoast Partners at RE/MAX Elite Realty, are SUPER pleased to announce that Cheryl Roberts has joined their office as the new r Buyer Realtor Specialist.

"We're very excited to be adding a sales professional of Cheryl's caliber to our office," said Julia Fishel, who along with her husband-partner Matt is ranked in the top 1% of the 5,500 agents serving Pinellas County. "She's extremely customer-service focused, and her track record of accomplishment in her prior endeavors make her the perfect addition to our team."

Some more about Cheryl and why we are so happy to have her on our team!

Cheryl Roberts - Tampa Bay Buyer Realtor SpecialistCheryl Roberts attended Plant City High School in Eastern Hillsborough County. Plant City, Florida is recognized as the Strawberry Capital of the world, producing 15% of the nation’s strawberries which are all grown predominantly during the winter months.

Cheryl began working at 15 years old in fast food and retail. In time, Cheryl joined an automotive insurance agency where she helped her employer start a marine insurance company. The experience ignited Cheryl’s entrepreneurial spirit and she launched a cleaning business where she enjoyed 15 highly successful years.

During this time, one of her accounts was a 9-office Real Estate Company in the Tampa Bay market. Working very early mornings and late evenings gave her the opportunity to meet and become friends with a lot of hard working Realtors who encouraged Cheryl to try her hand at Real Estate. In 1993 she earned her license and became a Realtor.

Cheryl was a divorced single mom making plans to buy her first home when she met an amazing man with 3 kids. She quickly snagged him and stepped away from Real Estate
to embrace being a full time Mom for many years.

Eventually Cheryl and her husband partnered with another couple to start an insurance agency, Life Insurance and Annuities. The business enjoyed success for many years until the troubled economy forced a close.

This change gave Cheryl the inspiration and opportunity to return to Real Estate, where she found a home with Suncoast Partners at RE/MAX Elite Realty. Cheryl is a highly qualified and driven Buyer Specialist. Her expertise on Tampa and it’s surrounding communities along with her can-do attitude make this true professional a joy to work with. With more than 113,000 listings available, Cheryl is excited and confident that she can help buyers be ridiculously happy with their Real Estate experience.

Cheryl also has a passion for Ladies Ministry and has a long history serving in church Leadership, where she learned and developed her skills as a public speaker.

Cheryl likes anything to do with the water, is scuba certified, and loves boating! If your passion is waterfront living in the Pinellas Coastal communities, Cheryl Roberts is your go-to gal!

To work with Cheryl:

Suncoast Partners @ RE/MAX ELITE Realty
35190 US Hwy 19 N., Palm Harbor, FL 34684
813.267.0242 direct | 866.615.3308 fax