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Archive for August, 2016

Mortgage Rate Blahs are the Good Kind for SW Florida Home Buyers

This is sort of fun:

Mortgage Rate Blahs are the Good Kind for SW Florida Home Buyers. Mortgage rates, SW Florida home loan applicants and soon-to-be-applicants should be delighted to hear, went down again last week. The national average quoted in the Mortgage Rate Blahs are the Good Kind for SW Florida Home BuyersWashington Post notched down to 3.61% on a 30-year fixed loan, down from blah blah blah

You will probably not be surprised by the presence of the multiple blahs. By now, everyone in SW Florida has simply heard this so often and for so long that it has practically lost all meaning. But it’s sort of fun to realize that we were already celebrating the decline in mortgage rates to 3.8% a year ago, although it was pointed out even back then that we’d been hearing it for so often and so long…

Despite the repetition, in the real world of SW Florida —where low mortgage rates translate into very real payment dollars saved every month—this is the kind of news that impacts a family’s future disposable income more than any other. The difference between last year’s average mortgage interest rate and that average last week means savings of more than $13,000 over the span of a $350K loan. And that was just the improvement since last year. The savings over historical average mortgage rates (7.49%) amounts Mortgage Rate Blahs are the Good Kind for SW Florida Home Buyersto a gasp-inducing $306,000 for the same loan…a difference that surely deserves banner headlines.

That didn’t happen. Even the most financially sophisticated journals seemed to have all but succumbed to the numbness-producing sameness of the news, partly because the Fed’s announced plan to raise their Fed Funds rate seems to be fizzling out. The Economist described the moves by the Federal Reserve variously as “lackluster” and “dovish.” “If any other lift-off were so sluggish,” they yawned in the print edition, “you would not want to be aboard the rocket.”

There was little more excitement evident at The Wall Street Journal, who focused Mortgage Rate Blahs are the Good Kind for SW Florida Home Buyerson guessing what mortgage rate changes might be in store. They found that the mix of good and bad economic numbers meant that the Federal Reserve “may opt to simply wait”—rather than rocking the boat and raising in June, as had been expected.

“Mortgage Rates: Trending Down Going Into Homebuying Season” was the most excitement Forbes’ headline writers could muster; possibly because the news that followed was anything but new. Forbes quoted Freddie Mac’s chief economist with his less than stirring pronouncement: “Since the start of February, mortgage rates have varied within a narrow range.” Forbes’ deduction? “For now, home loans are really cheap.” 

Mortgage Rate Blahs are the Good Kind for SW Florida Home Buyers. Does this mean that SW Florida home buyers can relax for a while longer, content to rely on an extended period of this kind of bargain-basement financing? Perhaps. But although those historical averages are reassuring when compared to current mortgage rates, they also stand as a sobering reminder of what the new normal could become. In other words, if striking while the iron is hot is still common sense, giving me a call sooner rather than later could be a prudent move!

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Knowing When You’ve Found the Right SW Florida REALTOR®

Knowing When You’ve Found the Right SW Florida REALTOR®. When you find yourself being drawn to the real estate listings, even only to peek, it’s a clue that something big may be on the horizon. Either you’ve begun to think you’ve begun to outgrow your current SW Florida home, or you’re just curious about what could be available in case you should decide Knowing When You’ve Found the Right SW Florida REALTOR®to upsize, or downsize—or to move on because of a professional change that only just might be hanging there as a possibility…

The tip off is the twinge of curiosity about those other SW Florida homes—the ones that are out there on the market this summer. It’s always somewhat interesting to see what’s on the SW Florida market at any time, but if you find yourself visiting the listings more than every once in a while, it’s probably because you sense that you might find your own future somehow intertwined with one of them. Or that these could become the competition if you decide to put your own home on the market. If that particular twinge sounds like something you recognize, there’s a logical next (post-twinge) step: it’s finding a sympathetic Realtor® to talk things over with.

If you already know and have come to trust one of our SW Florida Realtors, that’s a done deal. Call ‘em up! But if that’s not the case, what to do? Finding the right professional may not seem awfully important when you are in the earliest pre-planning stages—just looking to have a brief chat about what’s going on Knowing When You’ve Found the Right SW Florida REALTOR®currently—but there’s another way to look at it. In case you do wind up making an important residential move, even if it doesn’t happen for a while, having been in touch with the right Realtor over an extended period can be a significant benefit when the time comes. Professional relationships strengthen over time, as individuals get to know each other and grow comfortable talking things over. That’s makes for the kind of team-building that’s a hallmark of success in any enterprise.

That being the case, what’s a short and direct way to distinguish a likely candidate for your SW Florida  Realtor? The right Realtor for you will of course be a strong salesperson—so any of us will be able to tell you about our skills, experience and accomplishments. The best will present those bona fides without seeming to brag—you just find out about them in the course of chatting.

Knowing When You’ve Found the Right SW Florida REALTOR®The key to finding a Realtor who is most likely to help you accomplish your goals is to find someone who is genuinely interested in you—in your situation, your background, likes, dislikes…the works! The fact is, selling a home, or buying one, is a uniquely personal business transaction. It is not like buying an automobile, because no two residential properties are identical. Buying and selling a home is a life-altering event in which personal likes and dislikes must be taken into account. The right Realtor is one who won’t hesitate to take the time to understand who you are—and what are the set of expectations that are uniquely yours. That only happens when you find someone who is interested in more than selling a house. The right Realtor is one who’s thinking how to help you build the future you envision.

Knowing When You’ve Found the Right SW Florida REALTOR®. It’s one of the key reasons that being a Realtor is such a satisfying profession. Being able to help a family find the right SW Florida home and make it their own is immensely gratifying—as is shepherding a sale from preparation to closing. Of course, either only happens when I know as specifically as possible where my client’s best hopes reside…and that’s not just about listening—but also caring too!       

Painless First Steps for Selling Your Home in SW Florida, Marco Island, Naples, Estero

Painless First Steps for Selling Your Home in SW Florida, Marco Island, Naples, Estero. Selling your SW Florida home is the kind of major undertaking that has so many facets just deciding where to start can delay liftoff. Since there is no actual “right” place to begin, like other mammoth projects, just digging in anywhere will do. The happy truth is that when Painless First Steps for Selling Your Home in SW Florida, Marco Island, Naples, Esteroyou’re selling a home, once momentum gets going, the rest of the pieces tend to fall into place.

To get the ball rolling, here is a pre-sale checklist of major activities that selling your SW Florida home will entail. To get started, pick any one:

  • Nagging problem elimination. Very few of us attend to every home maintenance problem as they gradually develop. If there were a reliable poll on the subject, I’d guess that 95% of SW Florida homeowners have at least a two or three areas that we’ve learned to live with—but which will need to be attended to before we get very far toward selling our home. Identifying them is a pre-sale first step…then fixing them is the action item that transforms the idea of selling your home into reality.
  • First impression inspection. Any time you return from an outing you have the opportunity to get started on what willPainless First Steps for Selling Your Home in SW Florida, Marco Island, Naples, Estero become your marketing approach. Do this by stopping and seeing what kind of first impression your property makes on someone setting eyes on it for the first time. What seems least fresh and appealing? Is it fencing that could use a quick coat of paint? A planter that needs colorful blossoms? The numerals on the mailbox? Selling your home starts with favorable first impressions.
  • Lights! Camera! Action! An essential element to get prospective buyers clamoring for a tour is the photography that highlights your SW Florida listing. To start preparing for that, pick a room—any room—and stage it: clear Painless First Steps for Selling Your Home in SW Florida, Marco Island, Naples, Esteroit of unneeded objects, furniture, etc. This will entail figuring out where to store the objects that you want to keep, but which clutter up the visual appeal…and once you’ve identified where they will be stored, you’re seriously on your way to selling your home.
  • Getting down to business. Educating yourself about the competition means taking a look at this summer’s SW Florida listings to get a feel for where the market is. Which comparable homes have just sold, and which haven’t moved for months? Your home may not be ready for market for a while, but the earlier you start familiarizing yourself with today’s SW Florida real estate market, you better the odds that your listing price will be right.
  • Exit strategy. (My favorite of all) Be prepared to move! Any action you take in this direction, be it checking out reliable moving companies or beginning the hunt for your next house makes selling your home that much less of a long shot.

Painless First Steps for Selling Your Home in SW Florida, Marco Island, Naples, Estero. Each of these is a step that begins to transform the idea of selling your SW Florida home from a looming cloud of uncertainty into a doable certainty. I didn’t even mention the easiest and surest pre-sale checklist item. It’s one certain to get the ball rolling:

  • Call me Today!    

For SW Florida’s Accidental Investors, the ‘Accident’ Can Be Happy

For SW Florida’s Accidental Investors, the ‘Accident’ Can Be Happy. SW Florida real estate investors include a subset that’s more common than you might think: the unplanned ones. The press calls them “accidental investors”—but that’s unfortunate. Let’s face it: when you read “accidental investor,” it conjures up mental images of a car crash. Or falling For SW Florida’s Accidental Investors, the ‘Accident’ Can Be Happydown stairs. Or failing to smell a gas leak…

The phrase is inappropriate. When you think of accidents waiting to happen, the last thing you think of is SW Florida real estate. Yet the phrase “accidental real estate investors” continues to pop up to describe individuals made property owners through happenstance—even though that turn of fate does, in fact, turn out to be beneficial. More than anything, that’s a happy accident!

Accidental real estate investors can be created because of any number of common situations. Sometimes, inheritance plays a role. If a family home is willed to children whose careers have taken them far from town, time may need to pass before a clear-headed decision is best For SW Florida’s Accidental Investors, the ‘Accident’ Can Be Happymade about the disposition of the property. Perhaps the accidental investor will ultimately choose to sell. In that case, because distance can cause a special complication, it’s important she or he team with a Realtor® who knows how important prioritizing communication can be.

In some cases, the “accident” involves a sudden promotion or other unanticipated life change calls a homeowner away from SW Florida for an extended stretch of time. Whether or not it’s clear that the owner will return, the best course of action could be to become an accidental landlord. That’s eminently doable when there are reliable property management professionals in the area—and SW Florida is For SW Florida’s Accidental Investors, the ‘Accident’ Can Be Happyfortunate in that regard. From rehabbing, painting, and renovating to screening potential tenants and handling emergency calls 24/7, I can help assure that potential landlords—accidental or not—have access to professional property management services that not only remove the burdens of remote ownership, but provide consultation services aimed at improving the ROI of ownership.

 For SW Florida’s Accidental Investors, the ‘Accident’ Can Be Happy. Town’s accidental real estate investors would better be described as fateful, or fortuitous, or even providential real estate investors—but that’s not going to happen any time soon. What might happen any time at all is your own decision to join the prosperous ranks of SW Florida’s intentional real estate investors. A deliberate, premeditated first step is to give me a call to check out the inviting possibilities that are out there this summer. They’re waiting, right now!  

SW Florida House Hunters Get Welcome Mortgage Rate News

SW Florida House Hunters Get Welcome Mortgage Rate News. The headlines last week had a familiar look to them, but in terms of what they actually signified for readers who might be potential home buyers or sellers in SW Florida, they SW Florida House Hunters Get Welcome Mortgage Rate Newsreally should have triggered a snap-to moment:

“Mortgage Rates Fall to New 2016 Lows,” was the Star Tribune’s headline.  Yahoo Finance echoed that, adding, “Is Now the Time to Buy?” 

“Ho-hum,” readers might have reacted; “same ‘ol, same ‘ol…”

The so what? treatment was also what most media outlets gave the news. After all, haven’t mortgage rates been low for a long time now? So what if rates hit the lowest mark since May 2013? TV newscasters (cable and otherwise) were mostly mum, except on the financial channels. News is about what’s new—and this just didn’t seem to qualify.

Wrong!

In terms of real people’s lives, the actual impact of what those headlines mean is all but seismic. If you are selling yourSW Florida House Hunters Get Welcome Mortgage Rate News SW Florida home, the number of potential buyers depends on how many people can afford to shop in your asking price’s range. Likewise, for serious house hunters, the real contenders are those that fit your budget.

That’s where the current SW Florida mortgage rate picture is more than slightly interesting. It can be decisive. The impact that even small rate adjustments make are substantial—and that makes the current environment truly momentous. The average mortgage rate over the past 3 decades has been 7.49% (that’s what you get if you average out the official numbers since April of 1986). That means that a $300,000, 30-year fixed rate home loan would create a $2,095 monthly payment.

That’s why last week’s news should have been earth-shaking—at least to anyone on the fence about making a move in the current market. The official word from quasiSW Florida House Hunters Get Welcome Mortgage Rate Newsgovernment entity Freddie Mac was that nationally, mortgage rates actually dropped again, inching down to a national average of 3.58%.

The math is remarkable. That same $300,000 home loan payment would today cost only $1,360—a savings of $735 every month. About a third. Put another way, on the same budget, the same SW Florida house hunter could afford “a third more house.” In terms of any kind of shopping discount, that’s a wild one!

So I’d argue that there was actually a great deal of news value in last week’s drop in mortgage rates, whether the actual percentage shift was a small one. The news is that these incredibly low rates aren’t being treated as news—despite their importance to real people buying and selling real homes.

SW Florida House Hunters Get Welcome Mortgage Rate News. There is a danger in how people have the capacity to accept current conditions as normal—even if they’re extraordinary. That capacity has a downside: it means we can be lulled into acting as if today’s reality will continue on forever. History has a way of creating dramatic wake up calls on that score…all of which is another way of suggesting why today is a terrific time to give me a call Today!

5 Preventable Reasons SW Florida Closings Might Stall, Naples, Ft. Myers, Marco Island

5 Preventable Reasons SW Florida Closings Might Stall, Naples, Ft. Myers, Marco Island. It’s a great feeling to assist clients on the great adventure of discovering and landing their new SW Florida home. The final part of the real estate sale 5 Preventable Reasons SW Florida Closings Might Stall, Naples, Ft. Myers, Marco Islandcomes with the closing, where the papers are executed and house keys handed over.

Virtually all of my SW Florida real estate sales proceed to closing without significant hitches. That’s not by accident: I’ve helped clear the path by methodically checking off every item on each sale’s unique ‘to do’ list. That checklist has evolved to include the various technical legal and financial items that need to be addressed before a change of ownership can happen. At closing, they’re all addressed.

But—as everyone with many closings to their credit will tell you—even well-laid plans can begin to unravel when the unexpected pops up. Apparently “closing nightmare” stories make for great internet fodder, because you can find scores of them online. Some are tall tales, but others are exactly what’s to be expected if care isn’t taken to head them off.5 Preventable Reasons SW Florida Closings Might Stall, Naples, Ft. Myers, Marco Island

Here is a list of five of those kinds of closing predicaments. They reflect common missteps that can derail things when everything else is in order. Since most are easily preventable, they’re unlikely to occur at the last-minute if real estate professionals have been part of the picture from the start:

  1. Agreed-upon repairs aren’t completed. This can happen for any number of reasons, but innocent or not, if the timetable for completion hasn’t been met, it can threaten to derail the real estate sale. This one doesn’t have to prevent closing. If everyone wants to proceed, the Realtors® for the parties can work out an escrow arrangement with funds set aside to cover the shortfall.
  2. The house can’t be sold. This rarer situation should have been identified before closing, but it’s possible that a mechanic’s or tax lien can show up late in the day. In cases where there has been a death in the family, it’s also 5 Preventable Reasons SW Florida Closings Might Stall, Naples, Ft. Myers, Marco Islandpossible that the heirs may mistakenly believe they will have a legal title to home in SW Florida before the probate process can be completed.
  3. The home loan appraisal comes up short. Both buyer and seller may be in perfect agreement about the value of the SW Florida property— but if the chosen bank’s appraiser demurs, it may be back to Square One.
  4. The buyer’s finances change. When a lender green-lights a loan based upon the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio, that’s considered a key qualifier. If the buyer changes that ratio by losing income or taking on new debt (or even paying off an existing debt!) it alters the ratio, which can trigger a new investigation, stall the loan—and waylay the closing.
  5. Homeowner’s insurance falls through. It’s a bad idea to assume that every insurance company will grant required homeowner insurance. Since their binder or policy will be needed, better to take the extra moments to call to more than one agent.

5 Preventable Reasons SW Florida Closings Might Stall, Naples, Ft. Myers, Marco Island. The best SW Florida closings are no accident: they happen when all contingencies have been discussed and worked out well in advance. They start at the very beginning—hopefully, with a call to me!

In an Ideal World, SW Florida Market Values Would Reconcile Easily

In an Ideal World, SW Florida Market Values Would Reconcile Easily. “Ideal” is a Shangri-La  kind of word. It’s not just because of its feel-good, pie-in-the-sky definition (“a standard of perfection or excellence”)—but because contained right In an Ideal World, SW Florida Market Values Would Reconcile Easilythere inside the word itself is a tacit admission. It’s only an idea—not something necessarily connected to concrete reality.

SW Florida residents don’t come across “ideal” anything very often in their daily routines, so few would be surprised to learn that even in something as important as determining the value of their SW Florida residence, the calculation turns out to be less than straightforward. The ambiguity owes to the fact that it all depends on how you look at it.

In reality, there are two quite different approaches for determining any SW Florida home’s value. Ideally, both methods would produce the same value for the same SW Florida property. That would be the Shangri-La outcome—a fine idea—but it’s seldom the case. The two methods are the Market Value approach and the Replacement Cost approach. Knowing how and why they differ explainsIn an Ideal World, SW Florida Market Values Would Reconcile Easily why they yield dissimilar results.

When SW Florida homeowners examine their home insurance policies, they may find a breakdown of the replacement cost. The face amount of such a policy is meant to cover what the current cost would be to construct a similar building of equal quality—one that would have the same utility as the one that was destroyed. Such factors as materials, labor, the builder’s overhead, profit and fees are probably part of that calculation. In actuality, some of the costs that might be encountered may not be included, though: things like demolition of the old structure, debris removal, licenses and permits. It depends on the policy.

In an Ideal World, SW Florida Market Values Would Reconcile EasilyThe market value is an estimate of the amount a buyer would pay in today’s market to purchase the same home in its current condition. Right off the bat, you can see that this would include the cost of the land—so you might deduce that its market value would automatically be greater than the replacement value. Ideally, that might be true. If the home were brand new. But for structures that have been in existence for a while, that might or might not hold true. For a home in less than top condition, the total might be less… likewise, if the local residential market were in a slump. On the other hand, for older homes having architectural details with fine workmanship that is expensive to duplicate today, the reverse would be true. You get the idea: given the vast number of variables that can influence the difference between market and replacement value calculations, it would be miraculous if the two ever came out the same.

In an Ideal World, SW Florida Market Values Would Reconcile Easily. When you are buying, selling—or even insuring—your SW Florida home, weighing market and replacement values is more than an abstract exercise. I’m here to help with those and many other issues that will help you determine how to make the choices that serve you best. Call me Today!