Real Estate Information Archive


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Market Trends for Polk County in August 2015

by Lisa Castanet

Real estate market data for Central Florida provided by Lisa Castanet of Native Palm Properties

Polk County Home Prices

I was taking a look at the current market data for Polk County. I think the news is very positive in 2015 compared to five years ago.  The volume of closed sales for August 2015 compared to August 2010 has increased by 110 sales. The average price has also increase by $22,719. since 2010 which is very good news. Our current market inventory has greatly declined and I would highly recommend that now is the time to place your home on the market for sale.  If you would like to request a copy of the August 2015 summary report, just call us or email me at  For specific zip code market conditions, you should see our market trend reports for Lakeland, Mulberry, Auburndale, Bartow and Winter Haven.

If you are interested in how much current inventory is on the market in Polk County or specific cities you can find that information by clicking on the links provided above. The average days on market for single family homes in Polk County is currently 85 days.  Year over year in August 2015 the average sales price increased by 10.6%. This is very good news for homeowners. 

Have you noticed that the volume of short sales has also greatly decreased and the REO or bank-owned inventory levels are way down from 2014?.  We have our theory about both. I believe that the banks made the decision to slow down on approving short shale transactions and focus on the foreclosure route for distressed property owners. Since approximately 2013, we have seen banks move away from handling the majority of their own REO inventory to having their various asset management companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac take charge of selling off their assets. This happened after the controversial "Robo Signing" settlement in 2012.  From about 2012 through 2014 the REO inventory on market and sales volume was extremely high.  This caused values to come down a bit and that is the exact opposite objective of these institutions whose goal was to stabilize communities and improve home values.  However, we have seen a trend since early 2015 to correct this by slow releasing bank owned properties on the market and now have seen the local home market values improve.

Lakeland Real Estate Report Summary

The following information covers zip codes: 33801, 33803, 33809, 33810, 33811, 33812 and 33813.

The average sales price in August for single family homes in Lakeland is $171,805.

The number of sold transactions for fair market type (an owner selling directly to a buyer) was 193 and the number of REO (bank owned homes) sold was 50.

The average days on market in August was 66 days for single family homes which is slightly lower than Polk County overall.


Winter Haven Real Estate Report Summary

The following information covers zip codes: 33880, 33881 and 33884.

The average sales price in November for single family homes in Winter Haven is $125,437.

The number of sold transactions for fair market type (an owner selling directly to a buyer) was 107 and the number of REO (bank owned homes) sold was 40.

The average days on market in November was 83 days for single family homes which is quite a bit higher than Polk County overall.

Find Homes for Sale in Polk County

Visit my website to search for homes in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Auburndale, Bartow and Mulberry or to be notified when homes come on the market.

To find out what your home is worth in the current market click here or call our office at 863-647-1679.

Turn Your Home Into A Rental Property, part two

by Lisa Castanet

You are thinking about the possibility to turn your home into a rental property.  We have mentioned previously that current local market conditions are improving and that values in our area are also increasing.

I would recommend that you should be current on your mortgage payments, property taxes, home owners insurance and home owners association dues, if applicable.  Then the following questions can be asked when you talk with potential property mangers:

  • Ask the company to outline how they market their rental properties.
  • Have them describe the screening process for potential tenants.
  • Ask them to explain their management terms and fees, discuss any contracts or forms used.
  • What kind of accounting system do they use for their rental escrow account?
  • Will they share with you exactly what makes their company outstanding?
  • Does the management company view their properties on a regular schedule?
  • Is there an initial walk through with tenants prior to move-in day or final inspection prior to the tenant moving out?
  • Do they employ a full-time maintenance coordinator and how does the maintenance process work?
  • How many properties do they manage and how big is their staff to manage these properties?
  • Can they provide customer testimonials?
  • Are they a member of any trade organizations?

A little up front investigation and homework can help you turn your home into a rental property. Then your family can rest assured and continue with your life’s plan. For more information, please feel free to call our office and speak to one of our agents today at 863-647-1679. 


Turn Your Home Into A Rental Property

by Lisa Castanet

Have you wondered if you should turn your home into a rental property?  The Lakeland market has been inundated with short sales and bank owned (REO) properties since 2007.  Some owners have felt their choices were limited due to these depressed market conditions.  However, in 2013, a large number of investors have been purchasing homes as rental properties.  If you want to move on, transfer jobs or need more space then I suggest you too can turn your home into a rental property.

 I think you can hold onto your home another 3 to 5 years before selling it and the market conditions will continue to improve. That would allow you to move on and continue to live your LIFE!  You can expand or downsize your home according to your family’s needs and move within town or even relocate for change in employment. Lakeland may have been hit by the “bust” but we have fared better than other parts of the State and our real estate market is showing signs of recovery.

If you have never owned rental property it can be very confusing and quite time consuming.  Property managers must know the Florida Landlord/Tenant Act. The law is cumbersome and the State requires the Landlord to handle issues regarding security deposits, maintenance and evictions in a very specific manner. Many property owners may not be aware of their obligations regarding tenant relations.

Property Management is a specialty within the real estate community that requires expertise and knowledge of legal requirements.  A property that is managed properly can turn a home into a good real estate investment for the owner. The old adage still remains true, real estate ownership is a key factor in building real wealth in your lifetime. Our market conditions are improving and should continue over the next few years. Follow the trend of the large investment firms that are purchasing homes as rentals in the central Florida market.  They have purchased thousands of homes as rental properties in the I-4 corridor.  In fact, a friend in Pensacola sent a recent article from their local newspaper that list Lakeland as one of the hottest markets for investors this year.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog post "Turn Your Home Into A Rental Property" later this week.  We are here to help with all your real estate needs so call our office 863-647-1679.

Market Trend Reports

by Lisa Castanet

Wow, we are so excited to bring you current market trend reports. We have created several new pages to our website which include statistical data, charts and graphs for Polk County and parts of Hillsborough County FL.

This information is supplied by our multiple listing service and automatically updates each month for the previous month's statistics.  These new pages contain the most-up-to-date, accurate market trend reports for the entire Polk County area.  We have also created web pages that target individual zip codes for Lakeland, Auburndale, Winter Haven, Mulberry, Bartow and Plant City in Hillsborough county. In the weeks to come we will be adding statistics for additional cities to include Haines City, Davenport, Lake Alfred and Lake Wales zip codes.

Do you want to know information about how many closed sales, active listings and the average sales price in your zip code?  Are you curious how many single family, condo or mobile homes have sold in your zip code in 2013 at a month by month glance? We provide data for days on market, information on short sales, bank-owned or foreclosure sales and fair market or traditional sales in your zip code.  We also provide information on sales price to original list price ratio for various transaction types.  If you like, we can provide a written report as well.

Now you can find out what is going on in your zip code from actual data collected from our multiple listing service market trend reports. So, please check this out when you get the opportunity and let us know what you think.

Market trend reports for Polk County, Lakeland, Mulberry, Bartow, Auburndale and Other surrounding cities are here for you and update every month automatically.

It is a crazy time in real estate today

by Lisa Castanet

It is a crazy time in real estate today.  This week I received calls from two different asset management companies. They are in the process of bidding on large portfolios of under performing loans.  Each company needed a “ broker’s price opinion” (BPO) which is a determination of value on the property.  I do these types of reports for many banks and asset management firms. They needed a local professional who is familiar with the local market.  This valuation report will help them decide what amount to bid on the portfolio.  If they win the bid and purchase the portfolio then I would be hired as the real estate broker to list, market and sell these bank-owned homes.

I am working with another asset management company specializing in rental property portfolios.  The company is waiting to hear from their client; the investor that owns the bulk portfolio. The investor will decide whether or not they will rehab each home and have us handle the property management or whether they will have us list the homes for sale.  The decision will be based, in part, on our BPO and the repair bid estimates obtained by general contractors.

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that there are several hedge fund entities that are gobbling up properties in central Florida markets.  Local buyers trying to purchase residential property have to compete with these corporations who have deep pockets of cash.

Yes, it is a crazy time in real estate today.  The market is swiftly changing from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market because of such low inventory of available homes.  Potential home buyers and home sellers really need professional advice and guidance in such a market.   

When choosing a Realtor to represent you in a real estate transaction today you need to do your homework.  There is a wide variety of transactions in today’s market.  There are “traditional” or “fair-market” transactions, “short sale” transactions, “ REO” (bank-owned) transactions and property management.  A transaction can even begin as one type of sale and wind up as another type in certain circumstances.  Potential home buyers and home sellers need to understand how the various types of transactions can affect a purchase or sale of a property. 

There are many good people who are licensed and want to help a friend, neighbor or family member.  I understand the generous heart that wants to help someone.  However, perhaps the best help is to refer them to a full-time agent active in the current market and knowledgeable about these transaction types.

We welcome buyers, sellers and other agents to contact us with questions about your real estate needs. Our office is open Monday to Friday 8:30am  to 5:00pm  and our agents are available weeknights and weekends.  It is a crazy time in real estate today but our doors are open wide and our hearts and experience are here for you. 

Consumer Confidence

by Lisa Castanet

I keep reading reports and stories that consumer confidence is on the rise.  Real estate articles are also suggesting that there is an uptick in activity throughout the nation and prices are rising quickly in several markets.  Agents are reporting to their associations and industry news outlets that volume and transaction dollar amounts are on the rise. Interest rates are still at historical lows although some of our lenders have said interest rates increased slightly this week.

I am curious as to whether or not the buyers in our local area feel confident and positive about the real estate market today.  I wonder if home buyers are reading the same reports or hearing this type of news and whether or not it is influencing their feelings about making a decision.  If you are looking to purchase a home today or in the near future do you feel a sense of urgency or frustration due to the lack of available inventory?  Do you think you have missed out on good opportunities to purchase a home due to the amount of competition?

As a home seller, are you feeling better about the market value of your home?  I wonder how many home owners have waited to put their house on the market for sale in past few years due to declining values.  Perhaps now is the time to reconsider if the inventory is extremely low and the values have stabilized.  Our local market values will most likely not regain the incredible losses experienced from 2007 to 2011.  If your home value is greater than the mortgage on your home then you are in great shape.  However, if you owe more then your home is worth now may be the right time to list your home for sale as a short sale and move on with your life.  We can help you determine if you may qualify for a short sale on your home.  A short sale is less destructive to your credit score than a foreclosure.  Home sellers can get top dollar in this market since the inventory of available homes for sale is so low.

Whether you are a home buyer or a home seller this is quite a volatile time in the real estate market and you need a professional working on your behalf.  Today’s market conditions and fast paced changes in direction require a full-time dedicated professional.  We are here to help you buy or sell your home.  Give us a call today!

We really enjoyed attending the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals’ business rally this past Friday in Orlando.  There was some good information regarding the default industry and a variety of panelists spoke on such topics as Homeowner’s Associations and the short sale process for Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo. 

These three banks are the largest and represent over 5 trillion in assets.  They are focused on homeowner retention but also discussed detailed information on the best practices for a successful short sale and some key issues that real estate agents need to know. 

We also enjoyed the presentation from Alex Charfen, CEO of the Charfen Institute.  This is the organization where I receive the Certified Distressed Property Expert certification.  His presentation was packed with information and relatable stories.  He recapped the previous five years and the effects of the economic downturn on the real estate industry. 

Our current real estate market and inventory levels were apart of the discussion. For instance, Alex was citing the following statistics.  Between 1968 to 2008 the typical number of new homes built was 1.5 million nationwide.  In 1982 new home building was at the lowest point with 1,005,500 homes built and the peak was in 1973 when 2,100,500 million homes were built.  Then in 2011, new home construction hit an all time low.  The following construction levels were recorded: 2009 – 794,300 homes; 2010 – 651,700 homes; 2011 – 584,900 homes; 2012 – 651,400 homes and the projection for 2013 is 724,000 new homes to be built nationwide.  This information was preceded by a discussion on our current market and the fact that inventory levels are extremely low.  A factor that has lead to a stabilization of market values which may be good news for a home owner wanting to sell.  However, low inventory makes it extremely difficult for agents who represent home buyers wanting to purchase and live in a home. 

In fact our market has been driven by investors the past several years.  In 2012, 1 in 5 buyers was an investor. The good news for real estate agents is that 89% of buyers are working with an agent to find and purchase a home.  The home search is difficult and buyers need to be patient in the process and understand there is heavy competition out there.  However, with interest rates at 3%-4% and current home prices it is a very good time to buy real estate.  In comparing whether it is better to buy vs. rent; it is a great time to buy and perhaps hasn’t been this good since 1973.  We enjoyed the presentation and it is always uplifting to attend events like this one.

Market Report

by Lisa Castanet

CoreLogic® is the company financial services and real estate professionals turn to for comprehensive data, analytics and servicesAccording to their latest market report data tracking national property values, they found that 200,000 more residential properties returned to positive equity during the fourth quarter of 2012 stating this is an improvement from the previous year.

CoreLogic market report states that 40.2 percent of Florida mortgaged properties are still underwater and showing negative equity values.  Within the state, the Tampa bay area had the largest number of mortgaged properties with negative equity. This information was obtained from an article by the Florida Association of Realtors website earlier this month.

The Lakeland Association of Realtor’s statistics regarding inventory levels for residential property for sale reached a high in April 2009 of 15.6 months of inventory and has steadily declined through 2012.  Currently inventory levels are at six year lows at 4.6 percent.

Lakeland statistics also report the average sales price in early 2009 was $128,902.00 and today that average is at $111,318.00 with the lowest average sales price reported in February 2011 at $90,645.00.  This shows an improvement overall and this is good news for our housing market locally and nationally.

If you are considering selling your home, please contact us for assistance and a complimentary market report analysis of your home’s current value.

Foreclosure Filings

by Lisa Castanet

The latest numbers for February 2013 foreclosure filings have been reported. According to RealtyTrac’s Foreclosure Market Report, Florida once again is the highest state in the nation.

Nationally, Realty Trac reports an increase in foreclosure filings of approximately 2% while Florida foreclosure filings have increased by 6%.  Florida’s largest metro areas hold 7 of the top 10 cities nationwide for filings.  As a state, Florida is up 20 percent year over year.  This is due , in part,  to the lengthy time line for processing foreclosures in our judicial system.

There has been a significant decrease nationwide from the highest levels in 2007 to end of 2012 calendar year.  However, due to the so-called “shadow inventory” of foreclosure filings that still loom out there we think it will be another year or two for Florida to work through all the back log in the judicial system.

The good news for sellers in this market is that we have experienced a stabilization of values.  The tepid news is that depending on when the back log in Florida foreclosure filings hits the market and the volume level that the banks release this inventory could affect property values positively or negatively.  Call one of agents today or visit our REO listings page for available homes to purchase in Central Florida.

Home Inspections

by Lisa Castanet

When you are purchasing a home we always recommend that you get home inspections and negotiate a contingency for inspections with the contract offer.  The type of inspections a homebuyer may want to have performed would be a general or all over inspection of the home, a termite or wood destroying organisms inspection, a roof inspection or perhaps a septic tank inspection.  The cost is paid by the buyer and can range from $75.00 to $500.00 depending on the type and combination of home inspections that you order.  If you write a contract offer which includes a contingency for inspections then the cost in nominal for the valuable information that you obtain.  The contract negotiation will allow the buyer a set time period or number of days from the date the contract offer is accepted or terms agreed upon between seller and buyer to have these inspections completed and make a decision to go forward with the home purchase.  If the inspection reports show a repair issue or major problem then the buyer would also have the opportunity to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their earnest money deposit back in full.  This type of contract is called and “As-Is” contract with right to inspect.  It allows the seller to sell a property without having to make repairs and making it clear to any buyer that they would be purchasing the property “As-Is”.  It allows the buyer to have home inspections and a set time period to decide to proceed to close on the home as agreed or walk away with little out of pocket expenses.  For more information on the home buyer process, check out our buyer’s resource page or call one of our agents directly.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 16

Contact Information

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Native Palm Team
Native Palm Properties
5925 Imperial Pkwy, Suite #111
Mulberry FL 33860
Fax: (863)701-8309