Real Estate Information Archive


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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. 

If it smells then it won't sell

by Lisa Castanet

There is an old saying in real estate familiar to agents that says  “If it smells then it won’t sell”.  This is so very true. Of course, we try to relay this information to home sellers in a more diplomatic way. 

When preparing your home for sale one of the most important tests to perform is the “smell test”.  Do you have pets?  Does anyone smoke inside the home?  Do you use air fresheners or scented candles often?  Do you cook foods that produce a lot of strong aromas? All of these types of odors can permeate into your carpet, drapes, walls and fabrics and cause negative reactions from potential buyers when viewing your home.

When you are living in the home these odors can go unnoticed because of daily exposure to them.  If you have close relatives or friends then it is helpful to ask them for an honest opinion. Step outside of your own shoes as a home seller and you can probably understand how an unknown smell or fowl odor can be a turn-off to a home buyer when evaluating a home to purchase.

There are several things you can do to eliminate or at least mitigate such odors when preparing your house to sell.  For example, a fresh coat of paint on the walls or having carpets and upholstered furniture professionally cleaned will do wonders to improve the aroma.  Curtain panels that are made of washable fabrics can be cleaned or removed completely if that is a better solution for showings.  The air conditioning filter can be changed and a new filter installed to help reduce or eliminate certain odors from recycling through the home's air ducts.

We own an Air-Zone ozone treatment machine that we have used to prepare homes for sale or for rent in our business.  This machine does wonders to eliminate fowl odors. We generally run the machine 24 to 72 hours with no one indoors then we thoroughly air out the home before anyone goes inside. 

When the odor is removed then home owners can plan on making any necessary changes so that odors do not return.  For example, cat litter boxes can be placed elsewhere or cleaned more often and smoking can be moved to the exterior of the home and away from entry doors.

There may be unique situations or circumstances and each home has to be evaluated for the best solution to remedy any existing fowl odors.  If the goal is to sell your home for the best possible price in current market conditions then the efforts are well worth the trouble.

I hope this was helpful and explains the old real estate saying “If it smells then it won’t sell”.  You can find an estimate of your home’s current market value here or contact one of our agents today.

OMG! What's with that picture?

by Lisa Castanet

Did you ever look at real estate listing photos and think “OMG! What’s with that picture”?  We all have our pet peeves when it comes to marketing a home for sale.  When it comes to pictures to best “showcase” a home I have to admit that I have NO idea why people take pictures of bathrooms showing a toilet with the toilet seat up; YUCK!

I believe you need to show as much of the house,  yard and neighborhood amenities as possible when you are taking pictures to market a property.  No one is perfect and we all have our own points of view but I think the absolute worst pictures are of the bathrooms.  Sometimes you have to move and wiggle around in smaller spaces to take a good photo. Sometimes it would be better to leave a picture out of the marketing photos or slideshows than to include a photo that potential buyers see and think “OMG! What’s with that picture?”.

Is it just me?  Have you seen some of the ALL-TIME worst marketing pictures taken of a home for listed for sale or when searching for a home to purchase?  How about the pictures that include people or pets?  I mean, don’t you just want to purchase that home by looking at the cat or dog who has inhabited the dwelling and thinking perhaps they left their “mark” in their favorite spot?  I have pets so believe me it is not about the fact that pets have lived in a home.  It is always about the perspective of the potential buyer who is trying to envision how they will live in the space.

I try to take photos that show off a home’s best features, neighborhood and community.  Then I review them with a home seller and make adjustments, take more photos or delete the pictures that are not as flattering.  We open window blinds or coverings, turn on lights and make sure the lighting is good.  For example, too much natural light or not enough interior lights can cause the pictures to turn out dark and uninviting so you have to try different things in each room.  Marketing pictures are supposed to entice a potential buyer to want to see the home in person.  We understand this is not always easy when marketing a property but that is why attention to detail is so important. 

In listing a home for sale, my goal is to attract potential buyers to add this one to the list of properties they want to view in person and potentially buy.  I hope in all the marketing photos I take that I never hear the reaction from a buyer who says “OMG! What’s with that picture?”.  Call us today, we can help you sell or purchase your next home!

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Extend the HAMP Program

by Lisa Castanet

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been directed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to extend two programs known as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the streamlined modification initiative.  These programs are now extended and available through 2015.

Both programs are aimed at helping homeowners struggling to keep their loans current by offering two options for loan modification as prevention for foreclosure.  The streamlined modification offers borrowers who are at least 90 days delinquent on their mortgage payments an alternative path to avoid foreclosure and lower their monthly payment without requiring hardship or financial documentation.

In addition, the U.S. Treasury and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development also announced they will be extending the HAMP program for mortgages that are not backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

This is good news for homeowners that continue to struggle making their payments or perhaps have just recently found themselves in financial circumstance which may cause them to miss payments.

For more information on the HAMP programs and to evaluate your options you should speak to your current mortgage servicer.  Homeowners trying to list and sell their home as a short sale may be required by their lender to explore the HAMP options prior to approving them for the short sale.  Feel free to call us regarding listing your home as a short sale, we are here to help.

Showing Appointments

by Lisa Castanet

I read an article the other day about simple tips that can help you sell your home quickly. The advice included good, basic suggestions for successful showing appointments.  Showing appointments are so important, I thought I would dedicate the entire blog post to this single aspect about  giving buyers privacy during their showing appointments.  

As I read the various tips I thought of many experiences we have had over the years that related to the suggestions.  I laughed as I remembered both embarrassing and frustrating moments we have had when trying to show houses.  We have encountered a variety of situations when showing homes for sale or hosting open houses. 

One of the scenarios that can make a big difference is the homeowner that just won’t leave the house during a viewing.  Some home sellers are worried about the security of personal items left in the home.  I would suggest gathering valuable or treasured items, taking them with you during showings or placing them in a safe or safety deposit box during the marketing period.  Some home sellers want to be available during a showing in case buyers have questions or to showcase their home and point out all the improvements made over the years.  This could be accomplished by making a flyer with an itemized list of improvements or other documentation about the home’s features or specialized details. Your Realtor can incorporate this into the other marketing materials.

Home sellers remaining inside the home or around the property during a showing appointment may be the worst idea when trying to sell your home. A home buyer looking at a property is trying to evaluate whether or not they can see themselves living in the home.  They may have emotional reactions to the floor plan layout, fixtures, finishes or décore and they need to feel comfortable in expressing their thoughts and feelings to their agent and anyone else who may be with them.  In their minds, this showing appointment is about them and their future lives.  How will their furniture fit into the space?  Do they need to purchase additional furniture, paint or do anything before they move in?  Can they picture their family at holiday gatherings or enjoying the backyard space with friends?   When a home seller is present during a showing then the potential buyer feels like they are intruding on someone else’s turf instead of being free to evaluate the potential new home for their own family.

Try this rather simple concept: allow potential buyers to feel comfortable during a showing appointment by giving them privacy to view your home.  This is a very important part of the marketing strategy to discuss ahead of time with home owners who want to list their house for sale.  For more on this subject and other “How-to” advice for selling your home give us a call for a home evaluation and market analysis today!

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

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