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Archive for January, 2016

Reverse Mortgage Ads Deserve SW Florida Applicants’ Scrutiny. Naples, Ft. Myers.

Reverse Mortgage Ads Deserve SW Florida Applicants’ Scrutiny. Whenever the words “reverse mortgage” are uttered, any SW Florida TV viewer immediately makes the connection with one of several celebrity spokesmen who blanket the Reverse Mortgage Ads Deserve SW Florida Applicants’ Scrutiny. Naples, Ft. Myers.airwaves with commercials touting the concept. If you listen carefully, those reverse mortgage ads do actually describe the product with legal accuracy. If you have the standard degree of sales resistance most of us have developed after years of exposure to Madison Avenue pitches, you probably guess that instead of relying solely upon the celebrity spokesman’s trustworthiness, you’d better investigate further before running out and applying. Most people do.
So it was surprising when the government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found it necessary to issue a special advisory on the subject. Potential SW Florida reverse mortgage applicants—that is, SW Florida homeowners who meet Reverse Mortgage Ads Deserve SW Florida Applicants’ Scrutiny. Naples, Ft. Myers.the minimum age requirement of 62 ½—were warned “not to be deceived” by the “late night TV ads that seem too good to be true.” Without quibbling with the CFPB about when those commercials appear (you can see them almost any time after about 3 p.m.), it is easy to see how they might create broadly mistaken impressions on at least two counts. And it’s too bad, because although a reverse mortgage can be a useful instrument, it really can have nightmarish consequences for someone who doesn’t fully understand the concept and its ramifications.
The warnings were the result of the consumer watchdog organization’s focus group study that showed many viewers coming away with misimpression following screenings of the ads. Many did not understand that a reverse mortgage is a loan. Reverse Mortgage Ads Deserve SW Florida Applicants’ Scrutiny. Naples, Ft. Myers.Others got the impression that a reverse mortgage is a government benefit—and worse, some thought it guaranteed that consumers could stay in their homes for the rest of their lives.
The fact is, these loans are simply a specialized way seniors can tap into their home’s equity: the value that has built up over the years. It’s true that they are designed so that the homeowners do not have to repay the loan until he or she passes away, sells or moves out—but it’s no guarantee that other factors (like taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and maintenance expenses) might not still cause a default should the borrower run out of money. Reverse Mortgage Ads Deserve SW Florida Applicants’ Scrutiny. Naples, Ft. Myers.
There are other fine print details that are not mentioned in most of the ads…and they’re every bit as important as the terms of any loan. Among those that are barely touched upon are the fact that there are costs and interest provisions attached to reverse mortgages—and the CFPB finds them to be relatively expensive.
Reverse Mortgage Ads Deserve SW Florida Applicants’ Scrutiny. Most SW Florida homeowners are probably skeptical enough of any “too good to be true” pitch to automatically take a harder look—especially when it involves their SW Florida home’s equity. If you have questions about financial matters having to do with that equity, your best bet is to discuss the details with a trusted financial adviser or a federally approved housing counselor. And for any other questions about SW Florida real estate, you needn’t hesitate to give me a call!

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New Reports Help Guide SW Florida Real Estate Market Decisions. Naples, Ft. Myers.

New Reports Help Guide SW Florida Real Estate Market Decisions . At the beginning of any month, SW Florida onlookers can find batches of fresh reports about national real estate market activity. Take October, for instance. We’ve just learned New Reports Help Guide SW Florida Real Estate Market Decisions. Naples, Ft. Myers.a bunch about what happened across the country. September’s numbers won’t be collected and analyzed for a while, but the fresh real estate market data for August is out, as well as July revisions. Since earlier findings are always being tinkered with as estimates are replaced with hard results, we also get improved readings from the earlier month.
This latest batch of real estate market news was upbeat, downbeat, and, uh…sideways. Thursday was the first day in October, which was when CNN Money came out with some good old-fashioned cheer leading. “Americans went shopping for homes in August,” they headlined. The reason cited was for new home sales: New Reports Help Guide SW Florida Real Estate Market Decisions. Naples, Ft. Myers.they notched the highest volume since early in 2008: 552,000. It was a nice way to get the month’s data reports started.
Home prices, on the other hand, were not yet available for the August timeframe—but July’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index had pointed upward. It showed a 4.7% rise in prices paid for homes from a year earlier. This made for “moderate, but still above average, price appreciation,” according to Realtor.com’s chief economist. The prices were seen to have edged up just 0.7% from June, which was “barely higher” yet “much higher than last year.” If that summary had been illustrated, it would have merited both a frown face and a smiley face.
New Reports Help Guide SW Florida Real Estate Market Decisions. Naples, Ft. Myers.There were other preliminary soundings about what the August price information was likely to be, and they were just as equivocal.
The National Association of REALTORS® tracks pending home sales data (homes under contract but not yet closed), and by that measure, there was a slight retreat from July’s level. Yet although the preliminary number showed a 1.4% drop, that was still more than 6% higher than August 2014’s had been. Which was more compelling? Altogether, the news for sellers was deemed to be stronger. “Demand continues to outpace supply,” according to the NAR. “Shed no tears for sellers.”New Reports Help Guide SW Florida Real Estate Market Decisions. Naples, Ft. Myers.
If that sentiment is shared by SW Florida homeowners, it might nudge some into listing their home now rather than waiting for the next truly robust real estate market—traditionally not expected until next spring. Although fall and winter usually find fewer buyers on the prowl for new digs, those who do surface are generally regarded as serious shoppers. And since the number of SW Florida listings usually declines as the holidays approach, there’s a good argument to be made that less competition tilts in favor of sellers.
New Reports Help Guide SW Florida Real Estate Market Decisions . We have to wait until next month to get a read on how September activity fared; but for anyone who sees the advantages this fall’s SW Florida real estate market offers, I share your opinion! It’s definitely worth giving me a call.

Freed from Cliché-Ridden Vocabulary, SW Florida Listings Sparkle. Naples, Ft. Myers.

Freed from Cliché-Ridden Vocabulary, SW Florida Listings Sparkle . If 90% of home buyers use the internet at some point in their search, the percentage who go to the SW Florida listings has to be close to the same ballpark. It’s hard to Freed from Cliché-Ridden Vocabulary, SW Florida Listings Sparkle. Naples, Ft. Myers.imagine anyone NOT wanting to take at least a peek at the current listings. Even if they have already settled on a target property, curiosity would send most of us to check out the way it’s described in its SW Florida listing.
When you begin your house-hunting project online, the chances are you just scan the listings’ major features to narrow down the candidates, leaving out the majority of the finer details until later. Some of that information might turn out to be decisive—but most likely not until you’ve settled on the major contenders, and possible already toured them in person.
What can be more important than you’d think might be the descriptive language that describes the overall property: the ‘blurb’ that’s up there at the top of SW Florida listings. Just as a good salesman in Freed from Cliché-Ridden Vocabulary, SW Florida Listings Sparkle. Naples, Ft. Myers.any field strives to present the most attractive facets of their product, a SW Florida listing’s descriptive paragraph can be as important as the glamour photo that accompanies it.
In pursuit of facts that might support that idea, Zillow’s writer Catherine Sherman took a look at some research that dissected the language used in some 24,000 listings. They all resulted in sales—but some brought higher sale prices than did others. Her summary of the findings is pretty interesting:
Luxurious, Captivating, Impeccable (and Spotless) were among the adjectives that appeared most often in listings that resulted in above-average sale prices. That stands to reason: adjectives pointing to higher-end features would be apt to set a Freed from Cliché-Ridden Vocabulary, SW Florida Listings Sparkle. Naples, Ft. Myers.superior tone.
Less obviously, some of the nouns that accompanied larger price tags were Basketball, Pergola, and Granite. “Granite” will surprise no one who has been exposed to home design over the past 20 or 20 years—granite counters are the default go-to material that’s come to symbolize quality in kitchen décor. And pergolas are landscaping plusses…
But…“Basketball”?
Apparently for lower-priced homes with listings that mention ‘basketball,’ selling prices are 4.5% more than expected. You have to suspect that the word gives some color to a run-of-the mill listing—yet Freed from Cliché-Ridden Vocabulary, SW Florida Listings Sparkle. Naples, Ft. Myers.I’d be surprised if just setting up a hoop over the garage door made much of an impact. When Author Sherman writes “Among lower-priced homes…an indoor basketball court is a huge selling point,” I have to think, “DUH!” How many SW Florida listings for lower-priced homes have indoor basketball courts (or bowling alleys or soccer stadiums, either)?
More practically, Upgraded and Updated were listing words that coincided with slightly higher sale numbers—at least in mid-priced homes. And Gentle was a surprising winner, too, as in “gentle rolling hills.”
Freed from Cliché-Ridden Vocabulary, SW Florida Listings Sparkle . I think ‘gentle’ highlights the most important take-away that I believe is relevant and true. Thoughtfully composed, accurate descriptions are what give SW Florida listings a working advantage over cookie-cutter summaries—especially those weighed down by cliché-studded vocabularies. I work hard to insure that my clients’ online presence stands out from the crowd. If you plan to be listing a SW Florida property soon, I hope you will give me a call to demonstrate what I mean!

New Year’s Resolutions with a SW Florida Real Estate Flavor. Naples, Ft. Myers.

New Year’s Resolutions with a SW Florida Real Estate Flavor. It’s hard to even think about New Year’s without the word ‘resolutions’ popping into your head—not to mention that it’s nearly impossible to go to any kind of SW Florida New New Year’s Resolutions with a SW Florida Real Estate Flavor. Naples, Ft. Myers.Year’s Eve get-together without the topic coming up. In the realms of diet and exercise, New Year’s resolutions are highly relevant, and the pledges made on their account are the most likely to be followed religiously (at least until the Super Bowl parties put an end to them).
You might think that the field of real estate (even SW Florida real estate) would be unlikely to inspire any resolute oaths for the coming year, but that proves to be an incorrect assumption. A quick survey of real estate new year’s resolutions yields any number of lists of recommended pledges. There are 6 of them at the Bankrate mortgage site; another 5 at AOL; and a whopping 10 at both the REALTOR® and Houselogic websites!
Whether or not you feel duty-bound to put any of these pledges into your own personal action queue on January 1 is up to New Year’s Resolutions with a SW Florida Real Estate Flavor. Naples, Ft. Myers.you¬¬—but these are among those that are repeated most often:
• Get Your Financial House in Order. This is actually a good one, for a couple of reasons. First, no matter what you do in 2016, any and all transactions that have a monetary dimension can’t help but go smoother when they fit into a well-ordered financial picture. Second, once you’ve followed it, there’s very little involved in following through. This resolution doesn’t need to have anything to do with SW Florida real estate to be a good idea, either.
• Sellers: Resolve to Think of Your Home as a Product. This is cheating: it’s New Year’s Resolutions with a SW Florida Real Estate Flavor. Naples, Ft. Myers.nothing like a real New Year’s resolution—but a darned good idea, anyway. The downside is that it’s only applicable if you are going to sell you area home in 2016. It’s probably not a joyful idea to think of your home as a product when its single purpose is to shelter your family.
• Protect Yourself with Insurance. This one was prominent in a National Association of REALTORS list, and although it was aimed at new home buyers, it has wider utility. When you take care to confirm that you’re neither over- nor under-insuring the key areas that require protection, peace of mind is a New Year’s Resolutions with a SW Florida Real Estate Flavor. Naples, Ft. Myers.guaranteed byproduct. This New Year’s resolution also needs very little additional effort throughout the coming year¬—so it ranks near the top of the RLK Scale (Resolutions Likely to be Kept).
• Buyers: Resolve to Start Feeling Out the Market. This one might be a smart resolution for anyone planning to buy a SW Florida home any time in the coming year. Getting a bead on the market ahead of time can help you recognize sooner rather than later when you come across the right SW Florida home for sale.
• Buyers and Sellers: Resolve to Engage a Real Estate Agent Now. This is one SW Florida real estate new year’s resolution I can heartily endorse for both buyers and sellers (it appears on almost all the lists). A truly grand resolution!New Year’s Resolutions with a SW Florida Real Estate Flavor.

SW Florida Mortgage Insurance Solves Lender-Buyer Dilemma. Naples, Ft. Myers.

  SW Florida Mortgage Insurance Solves Lender-Buyer Dilemma. PMI is a set of initials that can be a bit perplexing—particularly for new SW Florida homeowners who are about to write their first mortgage payment check. They may notice it as a line item that adds a bit more to the payment than they had remembered…and then have that forehead-SW Florida Mortgage Insurance Solves Lender-Buyer Dilemma. Naples, Ft. Myers.slapping moment when they remember: it’s that insurance!
PMI is a good thing and it’s a bad thing. For many homeowners in SW Florida, mortgage insurance, (or ‘Private Mortgage Insurance’) may be an irritating extra monthly charge—but since without it they may not have been able to buy their new SW Florida home in the first place, it can also be indispensable.
Some call it lenders mortgage insurance (‘LMI’), which would be perfectly fair, since it’s really insurance for the benefit of the lender rather than the homeowner. LMI or PMI or whatever you call it can come in handy—particularly when a low down payment is part of a negotiated mortgage loan. If for any reason the SW Florida Mortgage Insurance Solves Lender-Buyer Dilemma. Naples, Ft. Myers.borrower ceases to repay the home loan, it insures that the lender will not have to bear the loss.
In most instances, such mortgage insurance payments continue until a certain amount of the lender’s risk is judged to have been removed. Typically, in the past, since a 20% down payment was standard, mortgage lenders considered loans of 80% of the value of the home to constitute the normal, run-of-the-mill degree of risk. This was important because banks and mortgage companies really don’t like the whole idea of risk. They would hate to play roulette or blackjack (unless they were the House).
So whenever a borrower decides to furnish less than the standard 20% for a home’s down payment, that means that they SW Florida Mortgage Insurance Solves Lender-Buyer Dilemma. Naples, Ft. Myers.have less at risk in the deal—and experience shows that the likelihood of a default increases as a result. Yikes! Banks smell risk! But if both parties really want to make a sale happen even though the buyer insists on a 10% down payment, the problem becomes how to make it possible…
Voila! Mortgage insurance is born!
There are other ways to solve the same logjam. For instance, a ‘piggyback’ mortgage can be arranged: the buyer takes a standard 80% loan-to-value mortgage, and simultaneously agrees to a ‘second’ mortgage for the missing 10%. The borrower makes regular payments for both—usually retiring the second as quickly as possible. Another method: find a less expensive home!
  SW Florida Mortgage Insurance Solves Lender-Buyer Dilemma. Helping line up smart real estate solutions—including advice on the ins and outs of financing SW Florida real estate transactions—are all part of the service I offer all my buying and selling clients. Which is why they call me up with their questions and ideas. You should, too!

SW Florida Listing Language VS “Listing of the Year” Contest. Naples, Ft. Myers.

SW Florida Listing Language VS “Listing of the Year” Contest. A key step in preparing a home for sale is creating its listing for SW Florida’s online MLS. It’s part science—getting all the physical details exactly right (trickier than you’d SW Florida Listing Language VS “Listing of the Year” Contest. Naples, Ft. Myers.think)—and part invention. The goal is to devise phrasing that accurately portrays the property’s unique appeal without relying on clichés.
So it’s not surprising that when The Wall Street Journal sent out the email plea for all its Mansion magazine readers to “vote for the listing of the year,” it struck pay dirt around here. Oh boy! We’d be able to compare our SW Florida listing efforts with the best-of-the-best from around the globe! Visions of an online Academy Awards-type show for real estate listing writers materialized…
But from the start, there were issues. For one thing, there was the actual ‘ballot’ itself. These best-of-the-best listings: there were 65 of them. It made for one of those bottomless web pages. You keep going down and down and down through listing after listing, yet the slider on the side of the screen barely moves. Then there were the listings themselves. They all seemed to be for multi-million dollar SW Florida Listing Language VS “Listing of the Year” Contest. Naples, Ft. Myers.estates…
Then there were the photos that illustrated the entries; they weren’t exactly typical. In our online SW Florida listings, all the photos are on an equal footing: the curbside glamor shot has to fit into the prescribed thumbnail space. None is larger than any other; fair is fair, after all. But here, these best-of-the-best listings seemed to have gigantic, travel poster-sized blowups…some taken from helicopters (or, for the larger estates, perhaps satellites) …and all of them looked like they’d been lifted straight off the cover of Architectural Digest…
As for the part of the contest that should have been most relevant—the language—there was little of use. “A PENTHOUSE WITH BUILT-IN PARKING” read one SW Florida Listing Language VS “Listing of the Year” Contest. Naples, Ft. Myers.headline. It appeared above the photo of a contented-looking Ferrari, which seemed to be parked in a gleaming marble hallway. The car looked to be enjoying its own panoramic view of The City. Below it, the copy started out, “This Manhattan residence features a ‘sky garage’” (which turns out to be an elevator that the car can take from the apartment down to the street). The text leaves to your imagination whether or not the auto might decide to tip the concierge at Christmas. The asking price (clearly set to appeal to the economy-minded) was $19.9 million.SW Florida Listing Language VS “Listing of the Year” Contest. Naples, Ft. Myers.
Then there was the South Carolina home, illustrated with a “listing” photo that must have been taken from orbit. It bore the understated headline, “A SEASIDE ESTATE ON KIAWAH ISLAND.” The descriptive text began, “The South Carolina home features 5,000 square feet of verandas, walkways and porches…”
In fact, all of the candidates for Listing of the Year were like that. It was pretty clear that the skill of the listing writers was not what was on display here. In fact, the contest’s small print admitted that the ‘ballot’ was simply a way for the Wall Street Journal to reprise their paid ‘Listing of the Day’ ads.
SW Florida Listing Language VS “Listing of the Year” Contest. I’m happy to report that our own SW Florida listings do their job without having to rely on ‘perks’ like penthouse car elevators. I hope you will give me a call when the time arrives for putting together your own SW Florida listing!

SW Florida Homes’ Christmas Decorations Trigger the Magic. Naples, Ft. Myers.

SW Florida Homes’ Christmas Decorations Trigger the Magic. Last week, those of us who were out and about du ring the increasingly short daylight hours could take in what looked like the regular number of SW Florida homes decked out with the familiar Christmastime paraphernalia. When the weather cooperates, it can’t help but bring a smile to your face SW Florida Homes’ Christmas Decorations Trigger the Magic. Naples, Ft. Myers.to spot the reindeer, Santa, giant candles, elves, menorahs—all the elements that help bring home the familiar feelings the season seldom fails to muster.
I bet it’s just that—the sheer familiarity—that explains a large part of why the magic of Christmas is no exaggeration. Sooner or later we feel it. It grabs us. It’s Christmastime again!
This usually starts (for me at least) with a valiant attempt to reject reality. Sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving, with the first department store ad or the first notes of a carol playing somewhere in the distance, we think “OH NO! – NOT ALREADY!!!” This is the part when the ‘magic’ part of Christmas is nowhere in prospect. The whole concept is at its most materialistic (the ‘material’SW Florida Homes’ Christmas Decorations Trigger the Magic. Naples, Ft. Myers. being that we haven’t started serious Christmas shopping, are too busy to even think about it, can’t recall whether the turkey pan was wrecked when last year’s gravy got burnt, etc. etc. etc.).
Immediately thereafter, in a truly magical disappearing-of-time act, it’s suddenly a couple of weeks before the big day, when all the preparations had better have been set into motion. It’s already holiday running-around time. This is when we are out and about, and can take in all the SW Florida homes belonging to SW Florida homeowners who have the organizational skills that allowed them to erect the reindeer, Santa, giant candles, elves, menorah, etc. It’s also the time of year when we may begin to experience some of the true magic of Christmas…especially if our running-around to get ready happens at night, when the Christmas lights are ablaze…
SW Florida Homes’ Christmas Decorations Trigger the Magic. Naples, Ft. Myers.For some of us, there is something about those area homes decked out in lights, and the ornaments, and the carols, eggnog, cookies, turkey. Even the fruitcake. It’s the familiarity of the way all the trappings combine to bring back memories: images of our kids’ Christmases, or our parents, or dearest friends…and finally, of our own childhood.
In spite of all the running around, sooner or later, this most special, set-aside top of the year puts us in mind of how very much we treasure the ones who are dearest to us. If we’re lucky enough to have them gathered close, it’s pretty wonderful. If this year, that can’t happen—the memories will have to provide the magic. Sooner or later they usually do.
SW Florida Homes’ Christmas Decorations Trigger the Magic. Whether this Yuletide brings you Christmas or Hanukkah gatherings (or both!), here’s wishing you and yours the happiest, most joyful of holiday celebrations—the kind that create future Christmas magic!