Pet Lovers’ Concerns Impact SW Florida Real Estate Activity. SW Florida residents don’t have to be pet owners to get a sense of just how nutty Americans are about our animals. Just a few minutes of watching TV will do it. After you’ve been bombarded with the images of happy/sad/exuberant/listless cats and dogs who are saved/rewarded by the pet products in the commercials, you won’t doubt that $60.59 billion is being spent on pets this year. It becomes clear how Fido and Kitty can afford to foot the bill for so much of today’s prime time television.
Another fact—one that directly relates to SW Florida real estate—is that slightly more than 56% of all American households are said to include a pet. The ASPCA says that 37%-47% of households have a dog, and 30%-37% of households have a cat (as far as the cats are concerned, it’s the cats that have the households, not the other way around). Whether or not Fido and Kitty are part of your own family, this does give rise to how important the real estate concept of “pet-friendly” homes has become.
Does your finicky cat need a room of his or her own? Does your MegaDog require a large yard? Space is always a leading qualification when you go to assess minimum real estate requirements for your SW Florida family, but since 68% of families include pet needs in their calculations, that is one of the basics that qualify a property. That’s why it makes increasing sense to emphasize pet-friendliness. For instance, if the back yard has a low or not very restrictive fence, a proactive seller might research the cost of installing an invisible fence. Even if they don’t go ahead and actually put it in, having a bid in hand showing that the cost is reasonable could be enough to sooth pet-owning prospects’ concerns.
Although pet owners are unambiguous about considering the four-footers to be family members, that’s not a universally shared concept. If you don’t see (or hear) any signs of pets in a prospective neighborhood, buyers should make certain that a property they are thinking about buying doesn’t carry restrictions that could cause pet turmoil. Local ordinances and neighborhood associations can enforce restrictions on the number and kind of pets.
Along with the growing popularity of pets have come a number of pet perks that have real estate implications. Pet amenities like dog parks are becoming more and more common in newer communities (in some areas, a movement is afoot to feature dog- and even cat-friendly cafes and public buildings).
Pet Lovers’ Concerns Impact SW Florida Real Estate Activity. I hope you will give me a call if you are embarking on an SW Florida house-hunting exploration¬¬, or are preparing to list your own property¬¬¬¬¬ this summer. Pet accommodation is only one dimension I’ll help you make sure is fully addressed!
Calculations before Committing to a New Home in SW Florida. You want your approach to finding a new home in SW Florida to be at least somewhat hard-headed and businesslike. The financial stakes are certainly major, and to some extent, much of what your future lifestyle will be like will depend on making a good choice.
This is not to totally discount the emotional component that’s inevitably part of finding your new SW Florida home. You do want your family to feel good about the final choice—you’ll be moving to the dwelling that will become everybody’s center of operations.
So if your repeat visit begins to convince you that this really is the place you’ve been hoping to find, it’s the appropriate time to take a step back to do your most hard-headed, businesslike projection. This is beyond the back-of-the-envelope kind of calculation (the one that originally guided the price range you gave to your Realtor). This is time to take everything into account to see how well this new SW Florida home truly fits—on a number of counts.
A new home’s true affordability begins with the banker’s basic price formula—purchase price, mortgage, insurance and taxes. You should also contemplate the cost of having the property inspected and the closing costs (your REALTOR® can give you a close estimate). But that’s not the whole picture—a new home’s true affordability also incorporates the difference between your family’s current expense profile and any factors that will change it.
For instance, if the square footage of the new home greater, you can expect that simple maintenance costs will rise proportionately (unless the new home’s condition is a good deal better than your current one). Utility costs may rise, too, if the living space is greater—unless more efficient systems are in place.
If the location will necessitate a change in driving distance or other transportation expenses, they should be taken into account. Does the new place have a significantly larger lawn or other landscaping features? If you have a green thumb and enjoy getting that kind of outdoor exercise (IOW, mowing), that won’t have much effect. If not, you’d better factor in a gardener’s bill.
There is one other element that’s easy to overlook, but accounting for it can eliminate the possibility that the whole move results in an unexpectedly depleted bank balance. Most people who are moving into a terrific new home forget to fully account for the few changes they’ll need to make before the place is perfectly suited their family. These could be minor, like changing out a light fixture that doesn’t fit the dining room table. Or they could be major, like addressing wholesale décor clashes that call for choosing between repainting the walls—or reupholstering— or even purchasing new furniture!
Calculations before Committing to a New Home in SW Florida. Helping you make sure your new SW Florida home is a comfortable match for your family’s needs is a large part of the service I provide my buyers. If you are ready to take a look at the latest crop of SW Florida new home offerings, I’ll be standing by for your call!
Early Action Plan for Selling Your SW Florida Home¬¬-Much Later! This is actually a situation that’s very common, but not much remarked upon: you know you are going to be selling your SW Florida home—only not for a while…and perhaps not for a very long while! Is there anything you should be doing now, long before actual preparations are called for?
There sure is! Let’s call these low-intensity preparations. They may be low-intensity in the immediacy department, but when the distant day arrives when you are selling your home, they can be very fortuitous. Here are some of the elements you can benefit from putting into action long before you expect to need them—
Number One (the most obvious and perhaps most important) is landscaping. Trees and bushes are part of the backdrop of our everyday living, and something many people—even gardeners—may tend to accept without envisioning large-scale changes. That’s because they grow so slowly it doesn’t seem realistic to worry about what might be possible. But when you think long-range, landscaping should be at the forefront. When the time comes for selling your home, a vision first initiated five or 10 years earlier can become a colorful and shady reality, worth a very great deal in terms of the overall impression your SW Florida property makes.
It’s human nature to just put up with heating, plumbing, air conditioning and other systems that could operate much more conveniently and economically, but which are expensive to overhaul. But think realistically: if you know that later on you will be selling your SW Florida home—and realistically will certainly have to upgrade those vexing mechanicals when that happens—give serious thought to taking action earlier…even NOW! Not only will you be able to enjoy the improvement¬, it’s entirely possible that savings realized from the gains in efficiency will materially offset your initial outlay. Why let the future owners get all the benefit?
When you are selling a home, photography is one of the most impactful marketing tools you’ll have at your disposal. A couple of years before you plan to join the SW Florida listings, keep a camera ready to snap those fleeting moments when the season and light combine to make some detail of garden or home magically illuminated. Even a professional photographer can’t ‘make’ such moments happen. As Ansel Adams’ outdoor masterpieces confirmed: the perfect light at the perfect season is worth more than money can buy.
Early Action Plan for Selling Your SW Florida Home¬¬-Much Later! It doesn’t hurt to keep abreast of happenings in the national and SW Florida real estate market, so that you’re informed about what to expect when you ultimately join the fray. One of the best ways to do that (other than to keep reading my blog) is to check out the neighborhood listings from time to time: they’re here on my site. And one of the best ways to proceed when the moment does arrive when you will be selling your home in SW Florida is (of course) to give me a call!
SW Florida Residents Get Vital Info from REALTOR® Interviews. Everyone agrees that getting the right SW Florida REALTOR® for your team is vital when you’re buying or selling a home¬¬. Defining ‘right’ isn’t hard, either: for some of us, that will be a REALTOR with the kind of dynamic sales personality that seems to make obstacles just disappear; for others, the ‘right’ REALTOR® is the one we just ‘clicked’ with instantly¬¬—somebody who speaks the same language—is on the same wavelength—who we sense immediately will be someone with whom we can work seamlessly.
Sometimes even veteran homeowners who have bought and sold residences over the years have never had to develop a penetrating interview plan. Their trusted circle of friends may have included a real estate professional, or they may have had a good experience with the REALTOR who introduced them to the community. But if that individual is no longer available, it’s going to be necessary to find a suitable replacement.
It all comes down to interviews—and why it’s important to get the most out of them. Personality is a perfectly valid basis for weighing candidates who will be performing the kind of vital¬¬ service your SW Florida REALTOR will be called upon to do, but what if there is no single standout candidate in that department? If, after interviewing a host of equally sympathetic candidates, you can’t pare down the field with any degree of confidence¬—what then?
You won’t have to flip a coin (or consult a fortune-teller!) if you’ve asked each candidate the same group of relevant questions. Some of them will differ depending on whether you are choosing a REALTOR to help you buy or sell a property, but these are universally relevant:
• How long have you been working as a real estate professional? How long here in SW Florida?
• How do you keep your clients informed of progress?
• What if I need to get in touch with you?
• What kind of SW Florida service providers can you connect your clients with?
• Will you represent me only, or will you represent both buyer and seller?
• What kind of team do you work with?
• What is the proposed fee arrangement?
SW Florida Residents Get Vital Info from REALTOR® Interviews. If you make note of the answers to these and other similar questions, you should emerge with a feeling that you’ve gotten the most from the interview process. Along with the ‘track record’ materials every candidate REALTOR will be sure to volunteer, at the end of the day, you’ll have with a solid basis for comparison. I hope you won’t hesitate to include me in your group of candidates!
SW Florida Location Location Location is More than a Catch Phrase. “There’s No Place like Home” is one of those quaint sayings that somehow lasts forever, probably just because it’s so true. “Home is Where the Heart Is” is another one: corny, maybe, but undeniable.
There’s a strictly real estate saying that SW Florida residents will recognize at once, too. Less corny as well as a good deal more practical. It’s “Location! Location! Location!”—and it’s every bit as true as the other ones. It’s the where of real estate, and although it is usually thought of in its commercial connection, to a slightly lesser degree, it has major SW Florida residential significance.
For those of us who are already SW Florida residents, where our next home should be located is almost certainly one of the two or three primary considerations. But even more so for out-of-towners who will be moving into our area. After price range, it’s a ruling factor: location location—which SW Florida neighborhood will be our best choice for home—is a good place to start.
When you’re brand new to any area, just thinking ‘location location location’ is one thing, but going about finding the right one in a timely manner isn’t necessarily easy. First step will be to consult the real estate professional you’ve teamed up with (a good one would be me!) and have an in-depth orientation conversation about our neighborhoods. Next come prioritizing your own priorities:
Professional. If you know the ‘location location location’ of where you’ll be working, the commute distance is likely to be a key factor. The convenience of having your SW Florida home as close as possible to your SW Florida work will only grow with time.
School. If you have school-aged children, you’ll want to research how the schools are rated, or opt to a top-notch private institution. Either way, getting the kids to and from can be less of a hassle if home is in the right place. Location, location, etc.!
Shopping. Weekend mall visits certainly don’t need to be right around the corner, but things like visits to the grocery store can become an irritant if it involves 15-minutes each way…every day! Perhaps not a governing factor, but one that gains importance over time.
Community. Church, social groups, cultural gatherings are either to your liking or less so. Once you have gauged all of those “practical” factors, it will take some local visits and conversations with residents to get the real flavor of the possible communities—and determine which seem most inviting. Access to sports and outdoor recreational facilities also fit into this category…which, taken together, can easily turn out to be the most important quality of life factor.
SW Florida Location Location is More than a Catch Phrase. Unless you happen to be a longtime local resident, many of the qualities of a listing’s location location in SW Florida isn’t fully evident from the listing information. It takes some on-the-ground knowledge, and (ideally) more than one visit. It also will benefit when your buyer’s REALTOR® is a knowledgeable and experienced local resident…which is another good reason to give me a call!
Become a landlord!
Be your own boss!
Build equity that someone else pays for!
Four Skills to help turn a SW Florida Property into Rental Gold. These may sound like the kind of come-ons that you tune out when you hear them on the radio or TV, but, surprisingly, they’re actually more reality-based than not. Whether you’re buying a SW Florida property for its rental potential, or preparing to turn a currently owned property into an income-producer, the game plan is straightforward. Locate a suitable SW Florida property: one with the rental potential to create cash flow either as income, or to build real estate equity…or both!
So what’s the catch?
In fact, there is one. Becoming a successful landlord has more to it than spotting an appropriate SW Florida property and sitting back, waiting for someone to nail up an ‘Easy Street’ sign. In order to make the most of the opportunity an SW Florida rental property represents, you need to either already have, or develop, a requisite set of skills. Chief among them:
1. The relationship between landlord and tenant, and landlord and the tradespeople he hires, should be purposefully professional. Your tenants may also be fellow SW Florida residents (or even neighbors), yet skillfully establishing and maintaining an amiable yet businesslike relationship takes dexterity and finesse. Substituting an overly personal relationship instead of the more proper businesslike one can result in counterproductive consequences…like tardy rent payments or superfluous demands.
2. As much as any other business, successful landlords are usually ‘people people’: they don’t shy away from interactions on a face-to-face basis. Whether it’s dealing with renters’ concerns, interviewing potential tenants, or handling the personnel who help maintain a SW Florida property, great landlords have great leadership skills. They have the knack of bringing positive energy to everyday dealings. Good landlords exhibit authority without being overbearing, and they allow their tenants to feel the right degree of investment in what is their home, if only temporarily.
3. It may seem as if turning a property into an income-producer is an extremely simple task, but in fact it takes organizational skills to accomplish it efficiently. There are laws that have to be observed, and documentation to be maintained. People who cultivate clarity in such matters are nicely suited to the demands of running a rental property.
4. There are unavoidable time availability demands that mustn’t be ignored. A tenant with a maintenance emergency needs to have it addressed. Now. It’s one thing that even the most people-oriented, organizationally proficient business titan should be prepared to attend to without delay.
Four Skills to help turn a SW Florida Property into Rental Gold. But suppose you lack some (or even all) of these traits? Should you just walk away from a SW Florida property—even after you’ve spotted one you know has great potential? Actually, there is a Plan B, which is to hire a property manager—a professional practiced in all the requisite skills. To explore the current crop of SW Florida property listings with serious potential, just give me a call!
Housing News Surprises few SW Florida Readers…Until Tuesday! With SW Florida’s housing news behaving pretty much in line with the rest of the nation’s—that is, exactly as expected for a brisk spring selling season—you don’t usually expect to see much eye-catching housing news in the national press. That’s why last week’s USA Today Money section’s front page story was interesting. Inside, there was more, too. Tucked inside the same section was “THE WEEK AHEAD” which provided a day-by-day schedule about imminent housing news releases—a welcome heads-up for any devoted SW Florida housing news observer. I’ll get back to how that wound up working out later…
The lead housing news item, headlined “AS RENT GOES UP, SO MAY HOUSING MARKET,” centered on the sort of shift that can wind up being indicative of something: for the first time in at least five years, they found “a milestone that should spur the sluggish home-buying market.”
That milestone was a rise in U.S. median rent prices, which climbed 4% from a year earlier—the most robust increase since March 2013. A little less firm was what the ‘something’ that this indicated, but the balance of opinion seems to be that the climbing rent number will prod more renters into buying a place of their own. This seems a reasonable enough takeaway, and it’s one that is supported by history. Underlying that conclusion is another contributing factor: “multifamily construction fell off a cliff after the…financial crisis in the late 2000s…”, so the tightening availability of rentals also factors in.
The item ends with a slightly contrary (and logical) point: rising rents means it will be tougher for tenants to save up for down payments, all the more because rents are now rising faster than wages.
That earlier-mentioned “THE WEEK AHEAD” article on the second page had a list of real estate news reports that were scheduled to be released last week. It was headlined, “Data may point to warmth,” and was indeed more real estate news (rather than a weather update). But the optimism about warm spring weather possibly pointing to a rise in home builder sentiment was slightly chilled when the actual report came out: sentiment dropped two points in May.
Housing starts data were scheduled to be released on Tuesday—and this one turned out to be GREAT! The Census Bureau “surprised the market” with the strongest monthly report for starts and permits in 7 ½ years—soaring 20+% in April (with single family housing up 16% from March). So, one has to wonder: if home builders are less optimistic than predicted, why are they breaking out the hammers and saws so energetically? The housingwire.com website thought it represented a rebound from “weather-depressed” previous numbers…so maybe the “Data may point to warmth” headline had been right, after all.
The rest of the real estate news releases for the week were less interesting because they centered on reaction to the Federal Reserve’s release of the minutes of their meeting, which (let’s face it) are traditionally confusingly vague. But the week was slated to end with Friday’s Labor Department release of consumer prices, as indeed it did: price rises slowed to 0.1% from the 0.2% in March. Good news, also. All in all, SW Florida readers had to come away from the spate of housing news with a considerably warmer feeling than they’d had for much of the winter.
Housing News Surprises few SW Florida Readers…Until Tuesday! For an up-to-the-minute update on how SW Florida’s market compares with the rest of the nation’s—and how your own plans stand to fare—just give me a call any time!
“Buyers make their decisions in exactly eight seconds. After that, they’ve either fallen in love or are just honoring an appointment.”
SW Florida Home Curb Appeal—an Eight-Second Opportunity? You’re likely to come across that quotation (from prominent Manhattan REALTOR® Barbara Corcoran) whenever you’re researching how to add the most value to your SW Florida home with the least expense. For SW Florida home owners about to list their property, it’s a somewhat unnerving prospect. If true, then every showing may start with what sports fans call a sudden death playoff!
If you are a future seller with an SW Florida home that needs improvement, it’s only realistic to accept the likelihood that should you go to market without doing anything about it, it will cost you one way or another. Either the offers you garner will be lower than they needed to be, or (worse), the home will linger too long with no real offers at all. If you have any leeway in time and/or budget, there are two approaches you can take to fix the problem.
First, you can hire a professional to assess the problem and lay out solutions. It may be expensive (not necessarily); but it’s a pretty foolproof approach. You and your real estate representative can go over the recommendations, assess which will be most cost-effective—most certain to reflect in the value your home realizes—and then get them done.
The other way is to make your own evaluation, and act on it. Drive up to your curb just as prospective buyers will, get out of the car, approach your home, and take in what needs fixing. If your curbside mailbox doesn’t have clearly recognizable numbers on it; if the walkway looks stained or broken; if the bushes have last fall’s dead leaves lodged in them; if the front doorbell is rusty…you get the idea! Note what’s wrong (heave a sigh of relief for what’s right), and get going! It will pay off!
On the other hand, if you have an SW Florida home that’s undisputedly a true eye-pleaser, you’re probably content with the Love at First SW Florida Home Curb Appeal—an Eight-Second Opportunity? Sight precept—as you should be. If you’ve done your job of maintaining your home’s exterior and landscaping, you’re steps ahead. But a word of caution: that first decision doesn’t have to be final. If what buyers experience once they are inside is persuasively positive, any off-putting first-glance judgement can be turned around. What’s of key importance is that no single glaring negative element be present. If it is, it can seal a negative first impression…or undermine a positive one.
I’m here to lend experience and advice every step of the way. And a good first step is a really simple one: call!
Weighing Improvements to Increase an SW Florida Home’s Value. When it comes to boosting your SW Florida home’s value, the question arises about which of the possible improvements that you might undertake would wind up paying for themselves. At first blush, you might think this should be a cut-and-dried analysis¬—that is, any improvements that don’t at least add their own cost to the asking price should be disqualified.
But that would be to discount the fact that a property’s improved condition can speed its sale. When a few improvements might change the overall impression from ‘fixer-upper’ to ‘move-in-ready,’ true value is added. Too many days on market can wind up being costly to the seller, not only because of the inconvenience factor, but because interested buyers may assume a deeply discounted offer will have a better chance of being accepted.
In any case, especially when the budget for improvements is especially tight, there are some cheap fixes that can be counted as especially likely to recoup their cost. Here are three that SW Florida sellers can consider:
Let There Be Light
Nothing torpedoes an SW Florida home’s marketability like the impression that it’s a creaky old relic. We’re not talking about homes that merit ‘antique’ status, which is a plus, but those with rooms that seem gloomy: the opposite of those with bright, airy spaces that convey a cheerful feeling. Because rebuilding a room to actually expand its physical dimensions is expensive, one solution is to create an improved atmosphere with light: adding or replacing light fixtures.
To maximize your bang for the buck, consider adding a showpiece fixture or two—perhaps a chandelier or pair of wall sconces—in key locations. The kitchen, dining room, and entryway/foyer are all great choices for a hanging light fixtures. Buyers often tend to focus on those areas, and respond well when they are transformed into warm and inviting spaces.
Seed Your Way to Curb Appeal
It’s a truism that curb appeal is vital, but when time and budget make it impractical to deal with a full front yard do-over, one of the least costly improvements that immediately boosts eye-appeal is to put the lawn in top condition with a quick reseed. Brown patches and bare spots are a sure way to kill a lawn’s visual appeal, and even otherwise-healthy areas can get a boost from thicker growth. A variety of easy-to-use products are available that allow you to simply sprinkle an all-in-one mixture of fertilizer and seeds that will take root and grow quickly. Take a pass over the lawn now, and with consistent watering, by summer the entire yard can look terrific!
Update Vintage Plumbing
While appearance matters, buyers are still going to be very interested in the “guts” of the home. If you’re dealing with an older SW Florida house, it’s likely that the plumbing has seen better days. Fortunately, replacing or upgrading pipes doesn’t have to be as expensive and disruptive a project as used to be the case. Modern technology allows new plastic piping to be snaked between the walls through a few small holes. Amazingly, today’s plumbers can sometimes even avoid installing new pipes by lining existing pipes with self-expanding vinyl bladders that seal leaks and protect water quality.
Weighing Improvements to Increase an SW Florida Home’s Value. I’m always happy to provide a no-obligation consultation to discuss which budget-wise improvements have a track record of adding appeal to SW Florida home buyers. Why not give me a call?
Relocation Scramble Goes Better with the Aid of a SW Florida Expert. Remember the good old days, when most people could depend on staying in the same job in the same community for an entire career? Okay; the truth is, I don’t actually remember any time like that—but I do remember watching TV shows about it… The truth is, as with so many other facets of 21st Century life, sudden career upheavals that cause a SW Florida citizen to undertake an abrupt relocation are fairly common today. And accelerated timing requirements can make the situation more intense.
Even without that added obstacle, familiarity with the ins and outs of practical relocation is one of the most valuable assets you gain access to when selecting an experienced SW Florida REALTOR®. Especially when a relocation is in your immediate future (even if it’s a future that became apparent without a lot of warning), the reality of having to deal with the mass of details accompanying both moving out and moving in can seem like a huge gray, angry-looking cloud hanging overhead.
Just getting a handle on the details can go far to remove the mystery and dispel anxiety. A short list of the elements that need to be determined and coordinated are:
a. Professional and school requirements
b. Transaction imperatives in both communities
c. Moving and storage details
d. Utility requirements
Once a timeline is determined and a To Do checklist assembled, it will be possible to stay on top of the process. Most importantly, it will help highlight those details that seem to be falling behind— allowing them to get extra attention. Staying abreast of relocation details is the single most important keys that will lead to a smooth outcome. It’s one of Murphy’s Laws that, come moving day, any detail that has been put off until the last minute is likely to cause foul-ups of one kind or another. For instance, if the electric service wasn’t notified far enough in advance, count on the move taking place on the hottest day of the year. Unpacking cartons and moving furniture around without working air conditioners is a memory best avoided!
Any relocation is a challenge that requires a welter of decisions in areas that fall outside what people encounter in everyday living. Fortunately, it’s a challenge that your SW Florida real estate professional encounters regularly. Help with practical relocation to (or from) SW Florida is just one of the areas of practical expertise that is yours to tap into when you put an experienced REALTOR on your team.
Relocation Scramble Goes Better with the Aid of a SW Florida Expert. The days when most Americans expected to stay in the same community for a lifetime may be fading from memory, but being able to rely on your SW Florida real estate professional to help master some of the most challenging upshots is still here. They may say that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving me a call, anytime!