Real Estate Information Archive

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Real Estate Websites

by Lisa Castanet

There are hundreds of real estate websites out there for buyers and sellers to research.  Real estate brokers usually have their own company website.  We are also members of a multiple listing service which is affiliated with our realtor association membership. The multiple listing service or MLS is used to advertise and market our own homes listed for sale.  In addition to the MLS we use syndication resources that send our listing information into hundreds of other real estate marketing websites that exist.  Real estate agents share their listing information and welcome other real estate agents to bring a buyer and submit contracts even if the agents work for separate real estate brokerage companies. The real estate industry is unique in this regard.

Sellers benefit from this plethora of real estate marketing and get the maximum exposure when we are trying to sell their property.  Once information on a home listing is sent out into the vast internet it exists for an unlimited amount of time.  As real estate agents, we can change the status of a home for sale from an “active” available listing to “pending” once we have a contract and then finally to “sold” once that transaction is closed.  This information is reflected in our MLS system and on our company website as the listing moves through the different stages of the sale process.  However, the different “status” changes are not sent out to the hundreds of websites that exist.  There is only one third party website that updates and is fed data directly from our MLS system.  Information is populated onto that third party real estate website every 15 minutes.

While sellers may benefit from the variety and numerous marketing opportunities, buyers can find themselves extremely frustrated.  A potential buyer might see a home listed for sale and call the real estate brokerage shown as the listing company only to find that the home has already sold.   The typical website that offers real estate information and shows homes for sale is also operating as a marketing service, which is intended to sell advertising opportunities to real estate agents.  In other words, an agent would have to have a membership for that website in order to directly input information about their own listings.  Due to the numerous real estate websites that exist, updating listing data to reflect the proper status could be a “full-time” job in itself. 

Buyers should know that searching online for homes to purchase can be fun and offer some information. However, when a buyer is serious about looking to purchase a home the best advocate for them is to find a Realtor.  The Realtor is someone working on your behalf and will have the resources to provide the most accurate and complete information on homes listed for sale.  Realtors can provide detailed information such as how long a home has been listed for sale, the pricing history and any price reductions. They can tell a buyer whether or not a listed  home is a traditional sale, a “short sale” or bank-owned home for sale.  In addition, they can give you the sales history of a home and inform you about the latest market trends in the city or neighborhood where a buyer is searching to purchase.

As with many other things on the internet, real estate websites offer information and data exists in abundance. However, sellers and buyers of real estate are best served by a professional, knowledgeable “Real” person. 

Buyers should be prepared

by Lisa Castanet

The other day our agents were discussing the current market conditions and the fact that inventory levels are so low.  The fact is that with such steep competition due to low inventory levels buyers should be prepared and have a prequalification for financing or proof of funds for cash purchases.

Inventory levels are 20 percent lower in today’s market than just one year ago.  Many buyers find themselves in multiple offer situations.  Therefore, buyers should be prepared to work with their Realtor in creating a strategy before they begin shopping for a home.  Your agent can help determine what would make your contract offer more or less attractive than another buyer’s offer on the same property.  Multiple offers are quite frequent in our local market and if you are prepared with a “purchase strategy” this will speed up the time line in submitting an offer.

It is also important for buyers to know the various financing programs and options available to them.  Your real estate agent can help recommend a loan officer to discuss the available loan programs so you can decide what will work best for you.  The amount of money a buyer has saved for a down payment will determine whether conventional, FHA or VA financing is an option.  There are other government programs such as USDA or local down payment assistance which may also be available.  Your lender and real estate agent can help you through the buying process.

Typically lenders offer prequalification at no cost to buyers. They will ask questions about your income and generally pull a credit report to analyze your credit worthiness.  This evaluation can determine a sales price range so that you can shop for a home to purchase with confidence.

In our current market with so much competition buyers should be prepared with the right professionals to help them purchase a home.  Call one of our agents to schedule your “purchase strategy” session today!

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.

Sinkhole Loss Coverage

by Lisa Castanet

Just read an article from the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) about sinkhole loss coverage.  Quoting an Associated Press article FAR stated that a Florida court upheld a decision by state insurance regulators that insurance companies must offer sinkhole loss coverage in an amount equal to the dwelling coverage limit.

According to the article, one insurer in the state of Florida had requested the Office of Insurance Regulation to approve an amendment to its endorsement form that would limit sinkhole loss coverage to 25 percent of the overall coverage amount.  The article goes on to mention that this request was denied and that insurer went to the courts for a decision.

The article states that “Florida property insurers are required to provide catastrophic ground cover collapse in addition to optional sinkhole coverage.”

Good news for property owners in Florida, for more news regarding sinkhole loss coverage check out this link to the Insurance Journal.

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.

Who pays for the service call?

by Lisa Castanet

Tenants often ask us when they need a plumber or air conditioning company to come out to their rental property, "Who pays for the service call?".  We try to address this in our Tenant Handbook which can be found on our listing page for long term rentalsThe fact of the matter is that if there is a problem with the mechanical systems of the rental property or with the plumbing fixtures or sewer that needs to be fixed then the landlord or property owner would be responsible for the service call and repair. 

However, if there is nothing wrong or the repair service vendor determines that improper use caused a problem or malfunction of that system or appliance then the tenant would be responsible for that service call or repair.  Sometimes this is not fully understood by a tenant but we try to communicate from the beginning of the tenant and landlord relationship what is the landlord's responsibility and what is the tenant's responsibility.  Every lease also delineates each party's responsibility.  Reviewing the Tenant Handbook prior to moving into the rental home or when trouble arises may answer the question "Who pays for the service call?".

We want to make sure the tenant has a very pleasant experience when renting a home or condo from our company.  We are always available to discuss scenarios or clarify terms so that a tenant understands who pays for the service call.

Title Insurance

by Lisa Castanet

There are so many questions buyers have regarding title insurance and whether or not they will get a clear and marketable title when purchasing a home.  Part of our business is listing and selling bank owned homes.  Buyers can get a really great deal but need to be aware of the process in purchasing such a property and issues related to the title of the home.  When we first receive an "assignment" from a bank to market and sell a home that has been foreclosed there are many steps taken to prepare that home for sale. 

We may have an "assignment" 30 to 45 days before we list it for sale.  In this time period, we are securing the home, preparing it to be listed for sale, determining the value of the property and investigating whether or not there are any existing code violations or liens which may have been placed on the title of the property.  We check to see if there is an existing homeowner's association and if there are any delinquent balances on the HOA account or if the HOA has placed a lien on the property.  We contact the government entity where the property is located (either the City government or County government offices) and check with code enforcement and we check with the utility service companies for any violations or liens which may have been placed due to unpaid fines or account balances. In some cases, we may order a lien search and title search in advance of any pending contract and closing agent performing these searches.  It is best to try and get this information in the early stages and before listing the home for sale so that those items can be paid and cleared in advance of a buyer purchasing and closing on the home.

However, this being said, we believe and encourage a buyer to obtain a title insurance policy and carefully review the policy when issued so they understand exactly what is covered and what, if any, exceptions are listed by the insurance company issuing coverage.  In some cases, we have seen buyers also hire an attorney or closing company of their own choosing to preform the lien and title searches.  We encourage discussion about this for buyers so they can make an informed decision and so that they understand exactly what are the benefits of having a title insurance policy.  When purchasing any home a buyer should always read, ask questions and understand exactly what title insurance is all about.

Existing Home Sales

by Lisa Castanet

Well, as we wrap up February 2013, the existing home sales appear to be increasing and buyer traffic is fast-paced.  It seems the minute a new listing hits the market there are several showings and plenty of competition between buyers.  If your home is priced right and ready to sell (meaning clean and clutter free) then you can believe there will be a high level of activity.

Now our buyers who are looking for a bargain, or just a nice home to live in, are competing with investors large and small.  I always caution that buyers need to be prepared in this market.  If you plan on financing your home purchase, then speak with one or two lenders to get prepared for what you will need in order to qualify for a mortgage.  The home search process may take a little longer with existing home sales moving so quickly.  Be patient! Make sure you communicate with your agent frequently.  It can be frustrating when we find a home that meets our customer's needs and send details with photos in hopes of setting up property showings only to have several days pass before a buyer responds.  In the meantime,  the home goes under contract and is no longer available.  As the saying goes, "If you snooze, you lose!".

We like to create a home buying plan with our buyers so that we understand their expectations and so that our buyers understand the current market conditions which may affect their home buying experience.  Make a plan of action, communicate frequently, set up specific days in advance to view properties and know exactly what you want so that you can make a decision to make an offer or not when you see a home.  We are here to help you and want to make the home buying experience a pleasant one for everyone.  Give us call 863-647-1679 or start searching the entire MLS today!

Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Contact Information

Photo of Native Palm Team Real Estate
Native Palm Team
Native Palm Properties
5925 Imperial Pkwy, Suite #111
Mulberry FL 33860
(863)647-1679
863-838-1318
Fax: (863)701-8309