Taking Ample Time to Choose Your SW Florida Buyer’s Agent. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Captiva Island, Estero, Cape Coral. “Hello there! I noticed you admiring this stunning open house. How would you like to sign with me as your SW Florida buyer’s agent, and find your dream home?”
The appropriate answer for this question depends on what leads up to it—first off, whether you have already decided to enlist the services of a SW Florida buyer’s agent. It’s a good decision, but even if you have—and this agent seems well-mannered and likeable— at this point, the answer real estate professionals would recommend is, “Give me your card—I’ll get back to you.”
The reason not to jump at the first offer is the same as why you wouldn’t agree to buy the first house you visited without first looking around the neighborhood. So why do so many people sign up with the very first agent who says hello? It probably comes from some simply being unfamiliar with buyer’s agents and their industry.
You want to team with a buyer’s agent who is educated, quick-thinking, experienced, and most of all, thoroughly familiar with the current real estate offerings in SW Florida. Before teaming up with anyone, there are a few questions to be answered:
Is this agent licensed?
The agent’s card should show a valid real estate license number (if not, in the immortal words of a certain Cuban bandleader, they’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!). You can verify that the licensee is currently active on the state website, or you can go to the ARELLO (national database) to confirm the information. Having a real estate license is the most basic requirement you require for legal as well as practical reasons.
Does signing with this agent obligate you to use other recommended services?
Sometimes a buyer’s agent works in tandem with other associated home-buying service providers (like home inspectors or mortgage brokers). There’s nothing wrong with recommending professionals they know to be trustworthy—but using them should never be a requirement. You want to keep your options open for identifying good prices and services, so recommendations need to be that…and only that.
Does the agent have a good recent track record in SW Florida?
It’s not enough just to ask the agent about his or her track record, although you certainly should have that discussion. Ask if you can speak to a recent client to get an appraisal of their experience. That’s key, because having a full staff and plush offices may be attractive, but they’re just window dressing. What you are after is the service a buyer’s agent actually delivers. And don’t be reluctant to check the web for the agent’s online reputation, although that’s less reliable. You want to get a picture of the full scope of this person’s skills and credentials. If the agent doesn’t seem to measure up, move on to another candidate.
Taking Ample Time to Choose Your SW Florida Buyer’s Agent. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Captiva Island, Estero, Cape Coral. Signing with the first SW Florida buyer’s agent that you meet, like choosing the first name that turns up in an online search, is a first step that’s likely to be in the wrong direction. Doing a little extra research to find the right candidate will pay off in time and effort saved later on!
SW Florida REALTORS® Recognize Changing Marketplace. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Isles Of Capri, Sanibel Island. When I think of the term ‘marketplace,’ the first mental image that comes to mind is of a local farmer’s stand or of one of those community farmers’ markets where you get the old-fashioned experience of picking through the offerings of local farmers and bakers. The goods may not be as inexpensive as you’d wish, but the experience is worth it. It’s the kind of ‘marketplace’ our great grandparents would have recognized immediately.
As a SW Florida REALTOR®, a good part of the success I offer my home selling and buying clients comes from staying abreast of today’s very different kind of marketplace. Thirty years ago, that would have been a much easier assignment: a Realtor in SW Florida had merely to keep an eye on local newspaper readership (to know which papers and which “throwaway” marketing mailers brought the best results); then do all the other things that the real estate pros had been doing for decades.
It’s barely exaggerating to say that a SW Florida Realtor in 1980 was following the nearly same playbook as a SW Florida Realtor in 1950. The marketplace was almost entirely here in SW Florida. Prospective home buyers had little choice but to travel here in order to check the ads, visit a real estate office, or (the least efficient method) drive through the streets looking for ‘For Sale’ signs. That made the Realtor’s outreach area simple and well-defined. Intensely local.
Then came the Internet! Today’s most successful SW Florida Realtors know that the potential home buying ‘marketplace’ is literally everywhere on the planet. Statistics from the NAR show that international buyers purchased more than $68,200,000,000 (yes: those are billions!) in U.S. property between 2012 and 2013. At least part of what amounts to that huge increase is due to video-sharing platforms that have empowered Realtors to market properties in innovative ways. Hugely popular YouTube is an example of one new media tool that enables Realtors to reach audiences who would have been impossible to find in the past. Search engines like Google have replaced the role of the local throw-away—but today, it’s a “throw-away” that can land on any porch in any corner of the globe.
To be sure, some elements of the marketplace remain the same. The vast majority of buyers will still show up right here—but today, they’ve traveled here only after having ‘visited’ a wide sampling of the current crop of SW Florida homes for sale via their computer or laptop or cell phone screens. And have no doubt: today’s SW Florida home seller is that much more sophisticated, too. Features and asking prices of neighboring properties for sale are, after all, now just a mouse click away…
SW Florida REALTORS® Recognize Changing Marketplace. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Isles Of Capri, Sanibel Island. It’s knowing today’s marketplace and keeping in tune with the quickening pace of innovations that keeps this Realtor excited and active. Call me anytime to chat about what’s new—and how we can put all of it to work for you! Thank you.
Real Estate Markets ‘Better Off’ by Five to One. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island, Golden Gate Estates. SW Florida real estate observers got some background information last month that seemed to confirm much of what we’ve been seeing for a while now. Mid-term election politicking is now safely behind us (for a brief while, at least), but in the run-up to the elections, this was a comprehensive real estate canvass that yielded some comparisons of note. It was called the 2014 Election Housing Scorecard, released mid-month by RealtyTrac. The idea was to rate how national real estate conditions had fared in the two years since the previous national election. The answer: better off.
Think back just a couple of years, and it’s not hard to recall the period following the bursting of the housing bubble, when it was hard to find anyone with a cheerful attitude about investing in residential real estate (SW Florida’s included). It may have been intellectually certain that those deflated prices wouldn’t last forever—but even so, it took hardy resolve to step up and buy into such an outwardly unstable market.
That was then; this (as they say) is now—and by mid-October, the Housing Scorecard ‘s findings were in. By something like five to one, the majority of Americans now live in a housing market that is better off than it was two years ago.
The scope of the study was broad: residential real estate markets in 1,547 counties were evaluated based on affordability, median home prices, unemployment figures and foreclosure start rates. What the study found was largely positive.
A full 811 of the analyzed markets—or 52%—rated as “better off.” Only 176 markets (11%) rated as “worse off.” The remaining 36% were tossups. The total combined population in the “better off” markets was 140 million. The population in the “worse off” category was just 24 million.
Those positives paint a fairly broad picture of the recovering real estate market. Other statistics show that foreclosures and short sales recently hit their lowest level since the start of data collection in 2011. Add to that the sales numbers released in October showing existing home sales in America at their most robust in a year, and with SW Florida mortgage rates still down in historically low territory, and it’s easy to agree with Reuters’ opinion that the housing market recovery is gradually “getting back on track.” Real Estate Markets ‘Better Off’ by Five to One. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island, Golden Gate Estates. If you are of a mind to take advantage of the rising market, I hope you will stop by or give me a call!
SW Florida House Hunting’s a Breeze by Comparison. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Golden Gate, Lehigh Acres. You got the big promotion at work, but there’s one catch: you have to move across the country. SW Florida homeowners may have mastered SW Florida house hunting, but doing it in a location that requires travel can be a logistical nightmare—especially when the distance in question is more than an afternoon’s drive.
Chin up! Many others find themselves in the same kind of house hunting bind all the time. No matter how unworkable it seems as first, you will find your new home—and there’s plenty of help out there to see that it happens with less difficulty than you’d suppose.
Here are some of the ways that make long distance house hunting easier:
If you know little about the area you are heading to, there are many painless way to get your bearings online. It’s easy to get a sense of what the area is known for, which places are safe, what the local cultural highlights are, and other characteristics that distinguish the area. Almost every town has its own site and a Chamber of Commerce site as well; and resources like the City-Data website can flesh out lots of other details.
Your long distance house hunting will require the services of an energetic real estate agent there on the scene. You can ask your future employer for a local recommendation, or use the web to search for stand-out candidates. In addition to a solid track record in the community, the agent you choose should be familiar with the unique challenges that go with out-of-state house hunting. The phrase you are looking for is ‘relocation experience.’
Cost of Living Differential
There may be significant cost of living differences between your current location and your new one. Consult cost of living charts (they’re online, too!). When you visit, pick up local store fliers to get a more visceral feel for the current cost of goods and other expenses in your new area. If the numbers shock (in either direction), be doubly sure factor in the percentage differential when you establish your housing budget.
Create a concise list of must-haves for your new home. This doesn’t just help your out-of-town real estate agent to find the listings that best fit your relocation needs, it also focuses your own priorities. An accurate list can cut down the number of trips you’ll need to take before you zero in on your house hunting target.
Make the Most of Visits
Every trip will take a lot of energy, but after the home tours are over, stick around to experience what the target neighborhoods feel like at all times of day. If it’s practical, consider renting a room or apartment through a service like AirBnB. It’s a real plus if you can arrange your stay right in a target neighborhood instead of in the kind of commercial area where hotels are usually located.
SW Florida House Hunting’s a Breeze by Comparison. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Golden Gate, Lehigh Acres. If you are an out-of-state about to arrive for a SW Florida house hunting adventure, or a SW Florida resident with an impending long distance search of your own, don’t hesitate to give me a call. I’m here to offer all kinds of relocation help and advice!
When Sellers Won’t Negotiate: 3 Tips for SW Florida Home Buyers. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Cape Coral. Part of the art of listing a SW Florida home for sale is to highlight features that will catch eyes in a wide assortment of different groups of prospective buyers. It’s “the more, the merrier”—and very often the ultimate buyer winds up being unlike the typical prospect you would have thought most likely.
For prospective buyers searching SW Florida homes for sale, the same is true: the seller of your future dream home could be anyone. It could be a motivated young professional dealing with an out-of-town promotion, or an elderly librarian hoping to hand the home off to a loving family. Or the seller could be a stubborn, angry tyrant, willing to compromise on nothing. You never know.
Sooooo…what can you do (other than walk away) when you’ve found the right SW Florida home for sale and made a reasonable offer—only to have it summarily rejected? Perhaps even with a ‘you don’t understand value’ thrown in for good measure? In short, what’s left for you to do when a home seller refuses to negotiate? Some ideas:
1. Let Your Agent Handle Negotiations
If you’ve been trying to deal one-on-one with the seller or seller’s agent, maybe it’s time to call for reinforcements. Home buyers with agents don’t need to talk to sellers—and that’s often a good thing! When your agent is doing the talking, emotions have a chance to cool. Sometimes a perfectly reasonable offer has elicited an emotion response simply because it wasn’t presented in the professional manner. Always let your agent handle the business end of negotiations; if someone has to look like the bad guy, your agent’s willing to accept the burden. A seasoned agent knows how to effectively appeal to a seller’s most reasonable impulses—making sure that negotiations never fail to spotlight the benefits that will flow to the seller.
2. Find Common Ground for an Amicable Deal
Sellers who refuse to budge on their asking price might respond to other negotiation tactics that allow them to rethink their position without losing face. Perhaps the seller won’t take a nominally lower offer—but would be willing to contribute some money to update the home, pay for the first year’s insurance, or expand the inclusions (perhaps adding in the new appliances they were planning on taking).
3. Know When to Move On
Some sellers don’t know how to recognize a good offer—just as some correctly know that a better one will come if they wait. When buyers find themselves butting heads with immovable owners, sometimes it’s best to just walk away and find another suitable home for sale.
When Sellers Won’t Negotiate: 3 Tips for SW Florida Home Buyers. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Cape Coral. For buyers and sellers alike, having an experienced SW Florida REALTOR® on your side provides an advantage that’s hard to pass up. It’s why giving me a call is your strategic first step!
A SW Florida Short Sale Succeeds by Staying On Top of Delays Short. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Lehigh Acres. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, across the nation, short sales and foreclosures accounted for about 10% of sales in September—down from 15% a year earlier. Seventy percent of those were foreclosures, leaving the remaining 30% as short sales. For bargain-hunters who wish to take advantage of one of the remaining SW Florida short sale opportunities, declining numbers can be a double-edged sword. Fewer opportunities mean a sharp eye and more nimble footwork is likely to be required—but the shrinking market has also coincided with less competition from institutional buyers (whether as cause or effect is anyone’s guess).
From the seller’s perspective, completing a SW Florida short sale can be the most welcome result from a difficult situation—usually resulting in the least problematical future credit and financial fallout. For that reason, once having secured lender approval, SW Florida short sellers are eager to do what is needed to see the sale through to completion. They are ahead of the game when they enlist the expertise of an experienced SW Florida Realtor who knows what to do when the time factor drags on…and on!
Since there are limits to how responsive institutional lenders will be to the timing needs of the participants, it usually takes proactive involvement to encourage a SW Florida short sale buyer to stay in the game. Most strategies incorporate psychology in one way or another—sometimes obvious, sometimes not.
Setting a deadline for lender approval is one of the more straightforward ways. The short sale addendum was made standard in many states during the height of the last wave of distressed sales after many overwhelmed or uncooperative lenders failed to respond to buyer offers. The inclusion of drop-dead timing deadlines removes the feeling of being in limbo from the process. It tends to encourage buyers, who feel more empowered when they see approval deadlines in place.
Experience teaches that lenders who know a motivated buyer is on the line are more likely to approve a short sale, particularly if a buyer is paying with cash. At the same time, buyers who feel a sense of ownership and control during the approval process are more likely to pursue the contract no matter how time-consuming it turns out to be. Contacting the loss mitigation department regularly for updates on their approval progress is one way to prevent a deal from slipping through the cracks.
Buyers who require a dependable closing schedule—or who lack inherent flexibility—are unlikely to weather bureaucratic delays gladly. One way to soothe jangled buyer nerves is to prepare in advance a market analysis that demonstrates in black-and-white what a great deal they’re getting. Likewise, if the buyer is taking out a mortgage, a side-by-side printout of two amortization tables—one for a comparable MLS listing at full price and one for the short sale— can buy some extra patience. Meanwhile, at all times while doing as much as possible to hang onto a buyer, adept short sellers keep their property attractive and well-maintained. There’s no downside to that!
A SW Florida Short Sale Succeeds by Staying On Top of Delays Short. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Lehigh Acres. These are some tried-and-true tactics for driving a short sale through to completion. If you are looking for success on either side of a local short sale transaction, I hope you won’t hesitate to give me a call!
SW Florida Home Sales Charts Are Never a Straight Line Situation. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Golden Gate Estates, Estero, Cape Coral. In TV commercials, the idea is to get the point across as economically as possible. That’s why, when the theme is a thriving business, they show a graph with lines that move up (often at an angle that would worry a mountain goat). It makes for an easily grasped, direct message.
Alas, graphs showing SW Florida home sales never seem to show such neat, orderly trajectory—and that’s for any number of reasons. For instance, if some closings happen to be delayed by a day or two for clerical reasons, they may show as having fallen out of one month, only to show up the next. The real world is like that.
Keeping track of national home sales numbers is subject to the interventions of that same stubbornly real world, of course; so when home sales registered a slight drop in August, few seasoned analysts saw it as an emerging trend…or so it seemed.
That reading was confirmed when it turned out existing U.S. home sales notched the fastest pace of the year in September. Commentators who had been noting the August falloff picked up on the shift quickly. A few gleanings:
“…existing home sales increased 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.17 million units, the strongest reading since September of last year.” –Reuters
“…single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million in September from 5.05 million in August. Sales are now at their highest pace of 2014”–the Realtor®
“…Sales in September were up 17% from a year earlier…in the U.S. rose…to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 467,000…”–The Wall St. Journal
Area homeowners have been hoping that the continued level of low mortgage interest rates would spur home sales in SW Florida, especially now that regulators are working on relaxing tough regulations that have discouraged lenders from issuing loans to any but the most prime credit risks. Young people and others with less than stellar credit have sometimes found themselves eyeing those low rates, but frustratingly unable to take advantage of the situation. It has been a real weak point in the housing rebound, so opening up the mortgage spigots would allow many first time SW Florida home buyers a chance to enter the market.
SW Florida Home Sales Charts Are Never a Straight Line Situation. Naples, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Golden Gate Estates, Estero, Cape Coral. In case you have a rooting interest in the SW Florida home sales picture either as potential buyer or seller, don’t hesitate to give me a call to discuss the outlook for this fall and winter.