People not Paychecks.

I saw a Facebook post a colleague made this morning.  He said, “My day started out great and ended with a real estate nightmare. Sleepless night and hoping that today is a better day. Real estate isn’t for the faint of heart.”

He’s right, real estate isn’t for the faint of heart.  Things can change on a dime.  At a moment’s notice sellers and buyers can go from carefree and feeling fine to wondering if they have to unpack and start from scratch – or worse.

The response that prompted me to right this blog post was this, “Keep telling yourself… it is only a house , it is only a house…”  True, it is only a house.  It’s the lives attached to the house are what keep a Realtor up all night, tossing and turning, concerned for a clients’ well being.

I have had buyers’ on the brink of homelessness at the possibility of a deal falling through.  I have seen family members heart broken at the sale of a long loved family home filled with memories.  I have seen buyers break down and cry over the stresses of daily life compounded with a home search/purchase/lender demands for documentation.

Real estate is not cut and dry.  Combine one of the largest purchases and sales of a person’s life with the emotional attachment/drain such a transaction can make, and a real estate purchase/sale can be one of the most emotionally challenging events of a persons life (next to marriage/birth/death).  If a transaction has bumps along the way, those emotions compound.

Many agents find themselves wearing many hats – including counselor.  We are attached to our clients.  We care about them and the outcome of the transaction.  Not for the paycheck – for the people.  We understand the heavy burden we chose to carry.  We understand how important home ownership – having a roof over your head is.  We care about you and are working towards your success.  It’s not about the mighty dollar, and those who think it is, are sorely mistaken.

We do our best, often time going above and beyond, to “fix” situations that are beyond our control, we offer alternatives and advise that may not be apparent, we work hard to ensure our clients are taken care of and their best interests met.  Are there some bad apples, yes.  Every field has them.  But if you ask me, most Realtors care about their clients.  They want them to be happy.  They want their dreams to come true and they will do everything in their power to make that happen, even, no especially, when the chips are down.

Real Estate News and Reality

The Central Florida market has been on fire. Lenders, appraisers and Realtors® are busy, busy, busy. Year over year statistics are impressive.

Right now, the Orlando area market appears to be pretty stable. Month- over- month prices are increasing gradually and at a healthy pace, inventory of homes for sale has increased considerably in the past 2 years, and buyer traffic is steady. On the whole, we in the Orlando area are in a stable market.

On a national level, I hear and see news about prices skyrocketing and concerns of another bubble. I had those concerns a while back myself. Our market righted itself though, and I suspect other markets throughout the U.S. will follow; this has been the trend since the market crash and recovery – hardest hit states are where the trends start and the rest of the U.S. follows in time.

It’s hard to ignore the news, especially in the age of connectivity we are in. If you’re in the market to buy or sell a home, the best thing you can do is ignore the news.  Instead, examine local data. Better yet, save yourself from data overload. Find a Realtor® that is in tune with the data, knows how to interpret it, and has the know how to sort the facts from the fluff. This is a world of T.M.I (too much information). There are a number of factors to consider when working to determine where the market is going and where values are, and real estate is truly local – in some cases hyper local. Values can and will vary from town to town and even from neighborhood to neighborhood. Finding an agent that will be honest with you about your market and where you stand in it is crucial, and is likely to save you time, money and stress in the long run.

Home Buyers: How to Win in a Multiple Offer Situation.

It’s a great time to buy real estate — really.  I know the real estate world was touting that line in their marketing campaigns a couple year back as prices were plummeting and tax credits were being offered to first time home buyers.  I didn’t really buy into it then.  I truly believe it is a great time to buy now.  I’m confident we have seen the bottom of the real estate market and are well into the beginning stage of recovery.

It’s ideal to buy as prices are going up, and with interest rates hanging in the 3s, now is a great time to grab a piece of the pie.market on fire

There are challenges in purchasing in today’s market.  With inventory low and demand high, multiple offers are common place – especially in the Orlando area market.  On top of that, cash is king and as of late nearly half of all real estate sales were cash deals

What does that mean for the average buyer, dependent on financing, and ready to buy?  It means be ready to act, swiftly and with precision.  It means stay positive and keep in mind that everything happens for a reason. It is possible for a first time buyer to beat out the hedge funds, investors and others with deep pockets.  It may take a little more time and the possibility of being out bid a couple of times before securing a home exist.  (This is where staying positive and knowing everything happens for a reason comes into play.  If the winning bid wasn’t yours, then there is a reason that house was not meant to be.  I am a strong believer in this and have seen this theory proven first hand time and again.)

I have had a number of buyers beat out cash offers – strong cash offers.  It is being done, and I am about to tell you how.

First and foremost, make your first offer your strongest offer.  Agents are not required to Lisa Jones Sale Pending Orlando-001disclose whether a property has multiple offers on it.  Don’t assume yours is the only offer, and don’t assume you will be given an opportunity to negotiate.  It’s quite possible you will not be given the chance.

Often times I have seen buyers disappointed that their offer was not the winning offer.  I have heard the phrases, “I should have gone up $5000” more times than I would like to count.  Honestly, $5000 in the grand scheme of things will not make a whole lot of difference in a mortgage payment (maybe $20- $30).  It could make the difference between an offer being accepted or rejected.  Knowing you gave your all should provide comfort if your bid is not the winning bid.  This was you know you gave your best and don’t keep yourself awake at night wondering “what if” or “would’ve should’ve could’ve.”

Strongest offers also include things like strong escrow.  Your good faith deposit needs to be attractive.  (1-2% of the purchase price is customary in the Orlando area market).  Putting $500 or $1000 down on a $100,000 purchase does not say “I am a serious buyer” to a seller.  Putting $3000-$5000 down speaks a little louder.  (Keep in mind this good faith deposit, your escrow, will be applied to your down payment and closing costs.  It is all going towards your cost to purchase anyway.)

Strongest offers also include things like reasonable closing times.  If the house is vacant, the seller will likely want to close as soon as possible.  If it is a short sale, you have a better chance of the offer being accepted if you agree to wait for short sale approval for an extended period of time, say 100-120 days instead of the customary 60-90.  If the house is occupied and it is a traditional sale, try to find out how much time the seller would like to close.  If you aren’t able but notice there is a lot of stuff in the house, giving 60 days to close 16019 arrowheadcould make the difference since the idea of packing up an entire household in 15-30 days could be a little nerve racking for a seller.  Not everyone likes the idea of a quick close.  Tailor your closing date accordingly.

Strongest offers also include few contingencies or short contingency time lines.  When writing an offer, the less you ask for, the more attractive your offer is.  Get inspections out of the way in 7-10 days.  Do not ask for a Home Warranty just because you can.  Do not ask for the seller to contribute to your closing costs if you don’t need the help.  If you do need the help, don’t ask for more than is necessary.   Keep it simple, keep it clean.

Another way for buyers needing financing to find success in today’s market is to seek out homes where owner-occupants have the first right to purchase.  Being able to cut a big chunk of the competition out of the game is definitely a plus.  Homes with First Look Initiatives and Neighborhood Stabilization Programs (NSP) give owner-occupants (not investors) the first right to purchase within a certain time frame – usually the first week or 2 the property is on the market.  Often times, these homes are in good shape and move in ready.  Granted there will likely still be competition; not nearly as much at there would be if investors were able to bid.

Lisa Jones Realtor at Keller Williams Sells HomesLastly, be prepared to pay a little more than market value.  I would never counsel a client to pay an outrageous amount over market value.  Sometimes the need arises to pay a couple/few thousand more than appraised value.  If you love the house and have the ability to do it, do it.  Often times paying a little more now is worth the time and expense of having to start all over again in the home search (including paying for home inspections and appraisal.)

Allow yourself some wiggle room as well.  If you are qualified up to $150,000, you may want to limit your search to properties up to $130,000 to start.  This could give you the cushion you need to have a little more offering power.

In conclusion, multiple offers can be challenging.  Patience is required.  Having the ability to act fast when the right home is found is crucial.   He who hesitates often times loses in this market.  Be ready to act.  Get qualified with a lender before you look at houses.  Know your budget, keep it in mind.  Do not stretch yourself beyond your limits but be prepared to stretch for the right house.