Clues to Analyzing SW Florida First Time Home Buyers! Naples, Ft. Myers, Marco Island, Isles Of Capri, Bonita Springs, Estero. The upheaval in global financial markets over the past few years may have been unnerving for almost everyone, but among the hardest-hit group was first time home buyers, in SW Florida and across the country. Many had to deal with the stress caused by an uncertain economy, the fallout on business and job security, and, more directly, a pronounced increase in the difficulty of securing mortgages.
The good news for SW Florida first time home buyers is how the national situation has stabilized. It’s confirmed by the increase in the number of people interested in buying a home for the first time—which has climbed out of the slump. The latest NAR (National Association of REALTORS®) annual Profile—a yearly report describing home buyers and sellers—shows that new entrants into the residential market accounted for 39%, just 1% shy of the pre-crash mark.
If you’re selling an SW Florida home this summer and have priced it attractively, it could pay to be mindful of this important segment of our market.
So just who are SW Florida’s first time home buyers? That’s where the NAR report gives us some important clues. Three-quarters of first time buyers across the nation fall into the category of current tenants —those living in rented accommodations—with 18% still living with parents. As you’d expect, almost all (98%) of that segment hope to fund their purchase with a mortgage, with 81% preferring a fixed-rate loan. Some first time home buyers plan to use personal savings for the down payment, but many others plan to get help from family. ( SW Florida home sellers take note: one possible incentive to make your listing stand out might be to include an offer to cover closing costs.)
Three-quarters of respondents were aged from 22-42. The single most common reason given for buying a home is to start a family (70%), and of those buying a home for the first time, 51% are married couples. With proportions like those, any home in a family friendly area should benefit by pointing out attractions like local parks, playgrounds and superior schools.
Maybe the most interesting statistic in the report was that 28% of the first time home buyers were already making plans to move again within five years! It may follow that, at least in many cases, first time home buyers in SW Florida may not want to deal with remodeling issues. Attracting them could be the final reason to bring your property into “move-in” condition.
Clues to Analyzing SW Florida First Time Home Buyers! Naples, Ft. Myers, Marco Island, Isles Of Capri, Bonita Springs, Estero. Well thought-out marketing is the key to success with any listing, whether it’s catering to SW Florida first time home buyers or to any other segment. If you are thinking of selling your own home, a call to me and a some preliminary groundwork on a marketing plan that will work for you is definitely in order!
Whether Selling a SW Florida Home or Not, Upgrade Choices Matter. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Cape Coral, Estero. For owners who are contemplating some major upgrades with an eye to eventually selling a home in SW Florida, there’s always the question of where to do the upgrading. Last year, the National Association of Home Builders weighed in with a study of what today’s home buyer “really want”—which supplies some guidance that may be helpful.
Although the findings aren’t directly applicable for every home, the concepts that were cited as most popular can be informative, particularly to creative-minded homeowners ready to take a fresh look at how they might add allure and value to their property.
While the kitchen remains the top location for upgrades, there are several other valuable options for adding appeal in other areas of your home.
A Drop Zone is designer-speak for any area that conveniently serves as a catch-all utility area. As such, it can be just about the most cost-effective upgrade for owners selling a home because many prospective buyers recognize their value. Such spaces can be customized for use as laundry rooms, mudrooms, or areas where children can store backpacks and coats.
Open Plan Family Area & Kitchen
While many upgrade preferences are regional, one that continues to hold appeal across the board is the creation of an open area where family and friends can congregate. Whether it’s part of an eventual campaign for selling a home in SW Florida, or simply to accommodate your family’s appreciation of the property, it’s worth considering an upgrade that would result in creating more of an open, airy multi-use area.
Master Bedroom as Retreat
When it does come to selling a SW Florida home, one of the most alluring investments an owner can make is to transform the master bedroom from a ho-hum bed-and-dresser into a welcoming sanctuary. Some design specifics to help achieve that effect:
• Lighting improvements, like recessed fixtures and wall sconces
• Upgraded ceilings and moldings
• Hardwood flooring
• Walk-in master closet
• Custom-designed storage multipliers (like tilt-out bins and pull-down racks)
Master Bathroom as Spa
Transforming a master bath to include spa attributes is increasingly popular (when you think about it, it’s really a continuation of the master bedroom/retreat idea). Selling a home today means anticipating the value many buyers place on bathroom upgrades—like separating bath and shower, and upgrading tile floors.
Whether Selling a SW Florida Home or Not, Upgrade Choices Matter. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Cape Coral, Estero. If you are weighing remodeling choices—especially if you suspect you’ll be selling your SW Florida home in the future—give me a call. I’ll be happy to consult about the alternatives, and which are most likely to maximize your property’s resale appeal!
Sniffing Out Some of the Best Investment Properties in SW Florida! Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Lehigh Acres, Marco Island. When promising investment properties, in SW Florida or anywhere, are well-promoted, you can count on them drawing a crowd. Why wouldn’t they? Investment properties that perform well are like money machines: put in a quarter, get back a quarter and a nickel (and another nickel, and another, and another…). What’s not to like?
But not all SW Florida investment properties are well-promoted. There can be any number of reasons why, but the bottom line is that some of the best ones are hard to sniff out. In that case, they may take a “Bird Dog” to discover.
A word about the term. Ask any hunter (or even any regular viewer of Duck Dynasty—and there are a lot of those!) about the value of a good bird dog, and you’ll get an earful. Those canine sleuths use their highly-evolved senses to locate and retrieve the quarry—even when it is all but invisible to their human companions. Without a good bird dog, hunters would be the ones thrashing through swamp and forest to find supper. Not a pretty picture (and one that could often end in McDonalds’ for the folks back home).
In the world of investment properties, the counterpart is the real estate Bird Dog. Like the hunter, real estate investors highly prize a quality bird dog. They may not bring back a duck or pheasant, but the distressed and undervalued real estate that they locate can be orders of magnitude more lucrative.
If you’re thinking of scouting the many promising investment properties in SW Florida this summer, a few things about real estate Bird Dogs…and the “woods” they hunt in…may be of interest:
Investopedia offers the most concise definition. It says that a Bird Dog (also known as a ‘deal scout’), finds distressed property deals for a real estate investor and gets paid a referral fee according to the terms of their agreement.
One of the mistaken assumptions that first time investors frequently make is to believe that simply finding property on the local MLS is all that’s needed. Although that can be the case, since everyone else seeking investment properties in SW Florida also has access to MLS, the most promising listings usually draw a crowd of competitors. You need to be able to find deals that every other buyer isn’t privy to.
Success can depend on understanding the historical criteria that have worked best for investment properties in SW Florida that fall within your budget range. Maybe you should target multi-unit properties, or maybe the most lucrative investment properties will be mid-range residential homes. Some investors should be looking for rundown properties to rehabilitate, whereas others might most usefully be scouting out SW Florida’s investment properties that are in better condition but with motivated sellers.
Sniffing Out Some of the Best Investment Properties in SW Florida! Naples, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Lehigh Acres, Marco Island. For new investors or those with limited capital, thinking like a real estate Bird Dog will put you ahead in the hunt for the most lucrative SW Florida investment properties. Even better is working with your own SW Florida real estate bird dog who can source quality deals—and save you a lot of time!
I work to uncover leads and deals for my clients. Call me anytime to discuss your own goals.
For Folks in SW Florida, Downsizing Just One of Many Possibilities! Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Lehigh Acres, Golden Gate Estates. Many people assume that when the kids leave home, their newly empty nest automatically signals that downsizing into a smaller house or condo is the next step. In truth, for such families living in SW Florida, downsizing is a common option—one that could very well be the best choice.
But, as the old Gershwin tune says, “it ain’t necessarily so…”
For many of us, once we establish a firm direction in life, a lot of decisions are more or less made without much hesitation. Career, family, and even community needs head us in certain directions, so a lot of choices are obvious. But every once in a while the paths open up, and it’s time to take a breath, clear the head, and realize that there may be a lot more freedom to change course than we are used to. When the downsizing idea bobs to the surface, it’s likely to signal such a turning point. That’s when it’s your true interests and passions should govern your next step—especially with respect to your residential options, which will shape much of what happens next. If this summer you find yourself musing about downsizing, it might be fun to also consider-
Upsize: It sounds backwards: moving into a larger home with your smaller family. Yet if you have special interests or hobbies that have always called for a lot of elbow room, this could be the chance to add a workshop, rehearsal space, or studio that you’ve never quite been able to wangle. A larger home can also provide extra space you may need to accommodate the rest of the family when they come for a visit (especially if that family is going to be growing!).
Follow your heart: Have you always wanted to live near water, or wake up to a view that looks like it belongs on a magazine cover? Maybe you’d like to move close to a totally new metro area with museums, shows and restaurants you’ve never been able to explore before. Or perhaps it’s a planned community that suddenly doesn’t look so much like a refuge for ‘old people’ as a place that’s loaded with bustling sporting and cultural activities…or a development built around a golf course…or winter sports complex. Downsizing in SW Florida may be able to deliver on your ideal dream refuge…or maybe it beckons from far away. It might involve downsizing, or upsizing, or same-sizing!
Splurge a little: With the children gone, it may also be time for some guilt-free indulging. A luxury home or condo could include some amenities you’ve always wanted: a swimming pool or home spa—or classic architecture set in a storybook garden. Downsizing in SW Florida by selling the family home and claiming a smaller but more upscale residence might also be a way you wind up claiming the home of your dreams.
For Folks in SW Florida, Downsizing Just One of Many Possibilities! Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Lehigh Acres, Golden Gate Estates. Of course, many considerations will go into choosing your next home. As an experienced real estate professional, I’m here to help guide you through the process of selling and/or buying here in SW Florida—and depending where your move takes you, can very likely help with referrals there, as well. If and when the pull to downsizing strikes, I’m here to discuss all the many possibilities!
Buying a SW Florida Home Takes the Right Professionals! Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island, Captiva Island. I’ve written about the professionals who are on call to help anyone who sets about selling their house—but there is another team of pros who can be called on when it comes to buying a SW Florida home. Buying a home in SW Florida is not quite like any other purchase—even those with high dollar amounts. Buying a new Audi or Dodge Viper, for instance, can run you well over $100,000, but you don’t need much more than a fat savings account and willing car salesman to complete the deal.
Buying a home is just different; you need to be able to count on the help of a number of professionals from a number of different fields of expertise. Before you are handed the front door key, you’ll need to secure the necessary funds, acquire the property in a legally-bulletproof manner, and diligently investigate various aspects of the home’s plant and history—all the while protecting you against any kind of fraudulent representation. Here are four of the professionals whose assistance will greatly facilitate the process.
The most basic requirement for buying a SW Florida home is the substantial amount of money involved. Most often, the actual cash is pledged by a third party—bank or other financial institution—which supplies it in exchange for your promise to repay it over time. There are several financing options, with mortgages being the most popular: that makes the Mortgage Broker the person to consult. The broker will advise you on the types of mortgages available, the amount you qualify for, lay out the chosen payment plan—and take you through a substantial amount of paperwork.
A great REALTOR® contributes a lot more to buying your home in SW Florida than just selecting which of the current listings will be the most suitable. That Realtor will arrange showing schedules that make the best use of your time and energy, will be a trustworthy key player when you are evaluating and negotiating the price of a potential home, and sometimes will unearth possibilities that are only available to one who is plugged into the ongoing real estate market 24/7. Your REALTOR can also help you field other members of your team.
Your Inspector is the pro who will give you the go-ahead on the condition of the property. That Inspector will use a lifetime of experience to go over the physical plant and prepare a comprehensive report on it’s every critical aspect. It’s often the prime determinant that guides your decision about whether it truly fits the price you are agreeing to pay.
When you’ve reached the final stages in buying a home, it’s the Escrow Officer who facilitates the actual transfer of the property. He or she will prepare the legal documents that legally record the transfer of ownership from the seller to you, as well as oversee the proper and timely deposit and disbursement of funds.
Buying a SW Florida Home Takes the Right Professionals! Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island, Captiva Island. This summer will be prime time for buying a home in SW Florida. It all starts with a phone call—if you’re looking for a top-notch professional, I hope you’ll be making that call to my number!
The Pros to Consult before Selling a Home in SW Florida. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate, Sanibel Island. It’s a bit complicated, selling a home in SW Florida. Although you can make a case for the feasibility of doing the whole thing yourself, there are enough areas of knowledge where experience, expertise, and even licensure are recommended that few would ever try it.
At the end of the day, selling a SW Florida home is a true team undertaking. And you’re the one selling a home, so you’re Captain. In addition to interviewing and selecting the SW Florida real estate agent you will be working with, there are other professionals you should plan to engage as well. Here’s who and why:
It’s quite a good idea to have a professional inspection performed at your property before selling a home. In addition to any major issues that could affect your smartest listing price, you want to be made aware of any minor issues before buyers come across them. Sometimes small details that are easy to fix can upset timing and even derail a deal entirely.
As a seller, you shouldn’t try to value your property blindly. To do so runs the risk of over- or undervaluing it—and a smart listing price is a key element in the successful selling of a home. Your agent will give you key guidance on pricing. However, having a professional appraisal performed in advance can help support your price to potential buyers (especially if you are asking a high number that could be difficult to otherwise support). While the buyer’s bank will require their own appraisal, the money spent here in advance can help speed up the offer and/or negotiations.
The most difficult part of selling a home is finding and attracting a serious buyer. Fortunately, this is a burden your SW Florida real estate agent will shoulder for you. But before everyone has signed on the dotted line, it’s important to understand what the financial and tax implications will be once you’ve sold. If you have gains, you want to know how much—if any—tax burden it will trigger. If there is a loss, you’ll want to know how to turn that to your advantage. Either way, knowing the tax implications before you list may well affect the price you list at or will accept.
The Pros to Consult before Selling a Home in SW Florida. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Isles Of Capri, Golden Gate, Sanibel Island. Thinking of buying or selling a home in SW Florida soon? Why not come by or give me a call? I’ll be here at the office, working hard for my clients all summer.
Matching a REALTOR® in SW Florida with Bottom Line Goals! Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Cape Coral, Estero. When you set about buying a house, you will have already taken as a given that this will be among the most expensive purchases you will ever make. It’s going to be your house on the line; you’ll want to make sure you have the top resources in your arsenal. Chief among them will be having a REALTOR® in SW Florida who understands your goals, respects your bottom line—and who sees the joint goal the way you do: recognizing the right properties when they become available, and helping to remove any and all obstacles to securing it.
But this summer, just how will you recognize the REALTOR® in SW Florida who fits the bill?
Who Do You Know?
The right SW Florida REALTOR knows every leading vendor in the business and can introduce you to as a valued client. Need an inspector or attorney? Maybe a floor guy to price out staining the hardwood? The right REALTOR will know the key players at every step, and will be able to get the facts and inside scoop to help you sound out the right decisions. Often you’ll be presented with multiple options for each resource so you’ll be sure you have a vetted group of experts to choose from.
What am I Looking For?
The right REALTOR in SW Florida will interview you to pin down as closely as possible which of your goals are must-haves…and which want-to-haves. Before long, your REALTOR will understand instinctively what matters to you, how that translates to the current listings; and even how it matches inventory that’s waiting in the wings. If you’re a first-time home buyer, you’re likely to find that the right SW Florida REALTOR will answer some of your questions even before you know what to ask!
How Can I Reach You?
If you’ve ever had trouble—real trouble—reaching an agent, you’ll appreciate that a great REALTOR in SW Florida has not only excellent communication skills, but back-up systems in place to be quickly available for questions, showings and negotiations. So make sure you ask all REALTOR candidates how she or he plans to field last-minute or urgent requests.
Matching a REALTOR® in SW Florida with Bottom Line Goals! Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Cape Coral, Estero. The right REALTOR in SW Florida will always demonstrate having your best interests at heart—from the first home viewing to the day you close. If you’re interviewing REALTORs in SW Florida to help with either buying or selling a home, I’d love to show you what my team and I can accomplish for you this summer!
Last Year’s SW Florida Real Estate Investors: They’re Smiling Now! Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, Golden Gate. Last year comprised a decision point for many a local investor who had been holding back from the SW Florida real estate market. There’d been a number of good reasons for them to hesitate.
First, there were memories of the pervasive price drops that followed the global financial meltdown. Not exactly what a prudent investor was looking for—even given the real estate’s traditionally invincible long-term record. Then there were fears that the economy’s slow reverse out of the Great Recession (a term that was in itself enough to freeze many a checkbook!) would hamper apartment and single family unit rental increases. A landlord could get squeezed by inflation…if there were any inflation…who could know for sure?
But as 2013 began, some positives that were at last beginning to provide a degree of optimism. Last year’s SW Florida real estate investment decision was looking a little less risky when the historically low mortgage loan rates were taken into account. They penciled out to what looked like a potentially rosy cash flow outlook. And even the more hesitant investors had been noticing for a while how institutions had been pouring their own cash into residential real estate—you had to wonder why so many of the larger investment concerns suddenly seemed to want to become local landlords…
Now we can look back at 2013 and realize what a fantastic year it was for a SW Florida real estate investment. First, there was the rise in real estate prices, which was nationwide. According to the S&P Case-Shiller Index, U.S. real estate prices increased 11.3%—the highest rate of increase in many years. By the end of the year, website Zillow was predicting that the rise would continue through 2014 at a steady (and less superheated) rate. That tempering was attributed to the gradual rise in still-low mortgage interest rates—and to the inevitable fact that the most extreme bargain properties had been snapped up.
The latest news on multi-family dwellings shows that fears of inflation outpacing landlords’ ability to increase rents were exaggerated (to say the least). National research firm Reis has just reported that for the 12-month period ending in June, rents rose 3.4%—the 18th consecutive quarter of rent increases! “You have definitely seen the recovery now spread to all of the major markets around the country,” according to Reis economist Ryan Severino. Single-family home rentals are on the rise also. According to Zillow’s latest Year-over-Year Rent Index, “increase renter demand is driving rental appreciation” even though rent affordability continues to be low in terms of percentage of incomes.
Last Year’s SW Florida Real Estate Investors: They’re Smiling Now! Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, Golden Gate. What does this mean for today’s investor deciding whether to enter the SW Florida real estate market? That’s always a choice individuals make for themselves—although, as a not-entirely neutral observer I tend to side with landlords throughout the ages whose reliable backstop has always been the real estate “they aren’t making any more of.” One thing is for certain: checking out the values to be found in this summer’s SW Florida real estate offerings is the only sure way to gauge the opportunities that are out there. In other words, give me a call.
It’s only prudent!
A SW Florida Foreclosure Needn’t Disqualify Responsible Applicants! Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Golden Gate, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres. There is encouraging news for some prospective homeowners with a SW Florida foreclosure in their recent past: more common sense seems to have entered the picture.
The financial crisis that began in 2007 caused global disarray: across the U.S. (and SW Florida was no exception), large numbers of responsible homeowners were clobbered by the fallout, often finding their incomes suddenly reduced or even obliterated as business cutbacks and closings reverberated through the economy.
The SW Florida foreclosure rate jumped as a direct result—and it’s taken quite a while for the effects of that to work through the system. But even after the economy has resumed something like normal activity, more than a few local residents have found themselves having to deal with how a SW Florida foreclosure on their record dims their home ownership prospects.
Even if the reason for the SW Florida foreclosure was due to circumstances beyond their control—and even if they had recovered enough to no be able to service a home loan—many found that qualifying for a mortgage with reasonable terms was difficult to impossible. That was bad for everyone, and the effect on the market was such that the Federal Housing Administration decided to address the problem in specific situations. For those who qualify, it can make the availability of a normal home loan newly possible.
The idea was to enable FHA backing for borrowers who could show that their SW Florida foreclosure or bankruptcy was caused by external economic factors. With few exceptions, borrowers had not previously been eligible for an FHA loan until two or three years after a foreclosure. Exceptions to that rule were granted only if the death of a spouse or medical emergency had caused the forfeiture: now “loss of income” was added as an extenuating circumstance.
It means a much swifter rehabilitation. For those who can demonstrate that a job loss, pay cut, or decline in business income caused their SW Florida foreclosure, the previous years-long waiting period may be waived. There are other details that can affect any individual applicant’s eligibility—and the guideline change is temporary—but overall, the recognition that the Great Recession was the true cause of many and SW Florida foreclosure does seem to be a fair accommodation.
A SW Florida Foreclosure Needn’t Disqualify Responsible Applicants! Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Golden Gate, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres. In the wake of a foreclosure, you’d expect it to take more work to arrange a new home loan, and that’s the case. But the good news is that for those who qualify under the widened eligibility guidelines, they are increasingly likely to be able to obtain a new home loan—even following a recent foreclosure in SW Florida. Whether or not that is your situation, if you’re looking to buy a home this summer, Step One is to get pre-qualified. I’m standing by to help get the process rolling!
Selling a SW Florida Home—Little Things Can Be a Big Deal! Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Lehigh Acres, Estero. This summer, success in selling a home in SW Florida will depend upon the same factors as always: location; quality; buyer appeal.
A home’s location—short of calling in the house movers—is pretty much what it is. The structural quality of workmanship and the level of maintenance that it’s received though the years can be gussied up where it shows (and should be!), but that, too, is largely a done deal.
Which leaves that other factor in selling a SW Florida home—the little things that reach out to appeal to buyers. The difference between receiving a swift offer and not can hinge on what makes your home more desirable than others in its price range.
A good example is with closet space. Any property with a closet organization system will carry great appeal to a large number of prospective buyers. Likewise, advanced technological touches can stick in buyers’ memories at the end of a long day of house tours. They don’t even have to be expensive or whole-house systems: a simple programmable thermostat that can be accessed on a smart phone can be an interesting selling point that sticks in the memory. It’s the kind of touch that isn’t a great deal of trouble to install—but it can provide the edge that makes selling your home that much easier.
More extensive tech-savvy features, like tricked-out media rooms or home offices wired to the hilt, are also very hot right now (especially for today’s younger home buyers) and can provide the edge you’re looking for—if.
What’s the “if”?
If when you are readying your home for showings and open houses, you
• prep to emphasize each of these special features (like leaving that system-organized closet door open with the light on);
• you make sure your agent is in the loop, ready to showcase key elements; and
• stage to bring out less visible features—whether it’s printing up a list of newly refurbished utilities or setting out a wine bottle and glasses with a note to “be sure to check out the killer wine cellar downstairs”
It’s also possible that some appealing features are ones that you take for granted; you’ve simply gotten used to them, yet they ought to be emphasized. Often those are details that your agent will be helpful in pointing out. Whatever is unique and desirable will make selling your home that much easier.
Selling a SW Florida Home—Little Things Can Be a Big Deal! Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Lehigh Acres, Estero. If you will be selling your own SW Florida home in this summer, I hope you will give me a call. There’s never an obligation, but if you wish, we can go over your property to uncover the marketing options that will make it a stand-out: the one with the edge!