Bradenton Florida Real Estate News

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Send a message to Florida Legislators: Lower my property taxes!

A special Florida legislative session has been called for June 12-22, 2007. The purpose of this session is to find a solution for astronomical increases in our property taxes. Between now and the session's beginning a committee is working on a proposal. It is likely some proposal will be ready for the lawmakers when the session begins.


Please send an email, fax, letter, or better yet make a call today!!

Find your Senator or Representative and send a and Tell them we want a roll back in property taxes to 2001 levels, increase the sales tax and eliminate or at least significantly reduce property taxes, plus set limits on local and state spending.

We need property tax relief.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

150 steps ahead....12 steps back

From the National Association of Realtors

"Okay, so the median price of an existing home is expected to fall 1 percent this year -- hardly a "correction" when prices have risen more than 50 percent over the last five years. Even the relatively large price decline of 12 percent in Sarasota, Fla., this year isn't much of a "correction" when you consider that it comes on the heels of a 150 percent price increase during the boom. Let's see, that is 150 steps forward and 12 steps backwards...."

Lawrence Yun, NAR Senior Economist

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How to get top dollar for your home in a down market

Most sellers have one thing in common. They want to know how they can get top dollar for their home. Here are some suggestions from a top selling agent.

See your house through the buyer’s eyes

I spoke with an agent today who showed one of my listings. She and her buyer looked at 30 homes, before making an offer on another home.

I have been encouraging my seller to make some minor improvements which would help sell the property. The seller just doesn’t get it. The seller is not looking at the property through the buyer’s eyes.

Buyer’s today aren’t excited about a home’s possibilities. They get excited about a home that is completely move-in perfect….

What do buyers want?
· They want to see curb appeal.
· They want fresh and clean carpets
· They want a freshly painted home with modern colors
· They want appliances that are clean and modern

What buyers do not want:
· They aren’t excited about a converted garage
· They aren’t excited about a back-porch that’s been closed in.
· They aren’t excited about your above-ground pool or an in-ground pool needing marcite
· They don’t want to paint, clean, and update your tired home.
· They don’t’ want to pull weeds and rescue and dying lawn

Imagine yourself as the buyer. Take a good look at your home from the street out front. Then walk through your home with a critical eye. If you were a potential buyer, would this home excite you?

Spend a few dollars to make cosmetic fixes and save yourself thousands

Often times when we meet with a seller they want to offer a carpet or painting allowance. Their idea is that the buyer can then pick out their own colors.

We recommend that you go ahead and replace the carpet and that by doing so you will actually save money. You see, a buyer will often estimate four times what it actually cost to replace carpet. If it only costs $2,000, the buyer will imagine it is going to cost $8,000.

When a buyer is looking at your house they begin to discount the price for all the cosmetic deficiencies they see. Does it need painting? Ca-ching. Does the carpet need replacing? Ca-ching. Does it need new countertops? Ca-ching.

What kind of cosmetic fix-ups should you complete?
· Carpet
· Paint, caulking
· Countertops
· Cabinets, cabinet knobs
· Lighting
· Sinks, faucets
· Landscaping

It will cost you a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars to make these cosmetic improvements. However, it will put even more money in your pocket at the closing.


One listing client had strong maroon colored walls in the family room and bright yellow and blue walls in the kid’s rooms. The home had failed to sell with the first agent with whom they listed.

We suggested they repaint the interior with neutral colors and replace the carpet with a neutral color as well. Buyers who walked into the home were pleasantly greeted by a home that was inviting and in which they could visualize their own belongings.

If you have a wall full of personal photographs, it’s best to remove them. Too many personal photographs, trophies, and the like make the buyer feel like a guest. It’s hard for them to imagine the home as their own.

Remove knickknacks and collectibles. De-clutter bookshelves and dresser tops. Throw out old magazines and newspapers. Clean out closets and garages. Create the illusion that there’s plenty of storage space throughout the house.

Remove ornaments from the yard and flowerbeds. I remember one client whose front yard looked like Disney World. The flower bed had about 20 statues of Mickey Mouse and his gang. There was no way that was going to make a good first impression.

If you need to see what a staged home looks like, take some time to visit new model homes. Many builders hire professional decorators and stagers to prepare their models. You are sure to pick up some good ideas.

Price your house competitively

I believe that proper pricing is 80% of getting the job done. In fact there are four factors that determine whether your house sells or not: location, condition, marketing, and price. The most important factor is price.

It’s common for Sellers to compare their homes with other active listings and think their price is fine. The problem is that the price of active listings is sometimes “fantasy land.”

Right now, we are seeing homes languish on the market for months without selling. Many of the neighbor’s homes are listed and not selling either. They all belong to the same club. It’s the “I’ve got my home on the market club.”

You must compare your price to the recently sold homes. This reflects what buyers are actually willing to pay. Compare the features and amenities of your home with other sold homes to determine what your home should sell for?

Should you raise the price to leave room for negotiating? That’s often a fatal mistake. Most buyers won’t make an offer on your home if other homes are priced more competitively. In fact, if your home is the best priced home you may actually get full price or more!

A skillful Realtor is probably the best person to consult about pricing. Realtors have access to all the active, sold, pending, and expired listings. They will know if a price accurately reflected the deal or if the seller contributed thousands towards the buyers closing costs. They will also know the features and amenities of the homes and have access to both interior and exterior photos.

Be careful when consulting a Realtor. Some may overprice your home just to get the listing. Inquire about the Realtors track record. How many homes do they list and sell? How of their listings expire? How long does it usually take them to sell a home?

Our advice for homes located in a buyer’s market is to be priced as the obvious best value in the area. This may mean pricing your home even below recent sales. In a seller’s market you may price your home a little bit above recent sales.

Implement an aggressive marketing plan

When I meet with potential listing clients I like to ask, “What are you looking for in the agent you choose?” Most sellers will say, “I want an aggressive agent.” I’m always happy to hear that because I am aggressive.

What you really want though is an aggressive agent with an aggressive marketing plan. Even if you decide to try to sell your house yourself, you’ll need an aggressive marketing plan.

Here is what I would consider to the minimum standard marketing plan:
· Multiple Listing Service entry with plenty of photos
· Virtual tour in the MLS and other websites
· Personal web site for the subject property
· For sale sign with a flyer box
· Full color real estate magazine ad
· Newspaper advertising (if warranted for your area)
· Open house depending upon location

My own marketing plan includes at least 30 steps to achieve maximum marketing exposure.

Offer buyer incentives

When buyers visit builders today they are likely to hear about incentives like free pools, free cars, free closing costs, and more. It’s hard to compete with builders’ incentives, but buyers are looking for whatever they can get.

You need to make your home the most attractive deal in the neighborhood. Incentives you might offer include:
· A free home warranty that protects the property for the first 12 months.
· Offer to pay some or the entire buyer’s closing costs.
· Offer the buyer a free gift card to the local home store.
· Throw in the big screen TV or appliances.
· Prepay the first year’s insurance or HOA fees
· Offer to buy down the buyer’s mortgage rate

Consider offering an incentive to Realtors as well. You might offer a higher commission than your neighbors are offering. This will get agents excited about showing your home.
It’s important to get your home on the showing list of agents. A higher commission will usually help.

Be Realistic

I recently had an inexpensive listing priced at $200,000. We have had 4 offers of $185,000 which the seller rejected, and another offer of $175,000 which was also rejected. The seller has maintained that his price of $200,000 is reasonable.

That’s unrealistic.

Finally, months later, the seller accepted the 6th offer of $199,000 with $12,000 credit to the buyer. Essentially, it comes out to $187,000. Obviously the market value of that home is $185,000 - $187,000.

To get top dollar in a down market you must be realistic about how much your home is worth. Remember the adage, “your first offer is usually your best offer.” I believe that’s right 99% percent of the time. Take you first offer, negotiate it up as high as possible and take it. An offer in hand is worth a lot more than hopes of future offers to come.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bradenton - Sarasota home sales surge

Bradenton-Sarasota home sales surge

MANATEE --The Bradenton-Sarasota housing market was the only one in Florida to experience an increase in sales in the first quarter of the year, compared to the same quarter last year.

Existing home sales were up 6 percent, according to numbers released by the Florida Association of Realtors on Tuesday. The median price slid 12 percent to a median of $290,500, good news for buyers.

During the same quarter last year, the median price was $331,100.

In contrast, sales in neighboring markets like Tampa-St. Petersburg were down 37 percent; Fort Myers was down 35 percent; and Naples was down 30 percent. Statewide, sales were down 26 percent.

"It's all relative because our sales were so dismal, the only direction they could go was up," said Dan Forbes, co-owner and broker of Premier Team Inc. in Bradenton.

Re/Max Gulfstream's Ken Miller was a little leery about calling Tuesday's figures the first step toward full recovery.

"No one can speak from experience about where we are now, but I don't think you're going to see any big change until mid-2008," Miller said.

He agreed the increase in sales was a good thing but says coming off an unprecedented boom makes it even more difficult than usual to predict the path the market will take.

Locally, condos appreciated by 15 percent in the first quarter, with the median price at $312,600.

Although local condo prices inched upward, those looking to buy a home under $200,000 have a chance now that was unheard of just a year ago, said May Aston, president of the Manatee Association of Realtors.

"There are quite a few decent homes under $200,000. Last year, if someone were to ask me for a home under $200,000, I couldn't have found one," Aston said.

Forbes thinks there is an underlying demand growing, but many people are waiting to see what the Legislature does about property taxes before making a move.

"I think we are accumulating some pent-up buyer demand," Forbes said. "I think there are a lot of folks that would like to move that are waiting to see what happens with property taxes."

Miller said it's for that reason many who want to make lateral moves are holding back. A significant part of any real estate market are families moving upward to larger homes, but that market remains quite a bit quieter with insurance and property taxes up in the air.

Those who are buying are looking for deals, experts said.

"We are definitely seeing positive numbers," Forbes said. "For the true, seasoned investor, it doesn't matter if it's a buyer or seller's market, they are looking."

And what are they looking for? "Steep discounts," Forbes said.

Miller agreed. He finds that buyers and sellers are at a standoff, with buyers expecting sellers to cut prices tremendously and sellers expecting to get unrealistic amounts of money in the current market situation.

"If the home was purchased before 2004, they are a little more realistic when it comes to listing price," Miller said.

During the height of the real estate boom, there was only a 1.7-month supply of homes on the market, but as speculators and other sellers scurried to get out of their homes, that number skyrocketed to more than a 10-month supply.

That tide is finally turning, Forbes said. Currently, there is a 9.7-month supply of homes and with more than 500 sales pending in Manatee County, that supply is expected to decline further.

In an ideal market, there is a two- to three-month supply of homes on the market.

"I think because of our location, we will definitely be one of the first markets to bounce back," Aston said.

Market analysts said that home prices are staying even with the rate of inflation.
"We see this as a benchmark," said Wayne Archer, director of the University of Florida's Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies, in a statement accompanying Tuesday's figures from the Florida Association of Realtors.

"When prices maintain the same level as inflation, then we're probably in some kind of equilibrium. It indicates the market is stabilizing."

Bradenton Real Estate

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Monday, May 14, 2007

UF professor says now is time to buy

UF professor says now is the time to buy

Grant Thrall, a University of Florida land economist, said he believes the state's real estate market is poised to rebound in the not-too-distant future. But first, Florida's Legislature has to get its act together on taxes and insurance.

'Without insurance, you can't get a mortgage, and without a mortgage, you cannot buy a house,' Thrall said. '

If potential buyers think they will either not be able to obtain insurance or believe they will lose their insurance, they won't bother looking or buying in Florida.

'As to taxes, unless millage rates are rolled back and Save Our Homes benefits become portable, Floridians will not trade up into bigger houses or trade down into smaller ones. They will just stay put, he said, and that hurts real estate agents, mortgage brokers, bankers, title agents, appraisers, lawyers and anyone else involved in real estate transactions.

Thrall is convinced that state lawmakers will make the right choices, and once they do real estate prices will stop falling and start climbing again.

Adding to the rise will be the return of the baby boomers.

Part of the reason prices spiked upward so sharply during the boom is that the period coincided with a massive transfer of wealth from the World War II generation to the baby boomer generation -- people born from 1946 to 1964.

'Because prices were rising, many baby boomers rushed into the market, figuring if they did not buy soon, they would forever lose their place in the sun,' Thrall said.

'Housing builders responded with supplies of housing. But the peak of this intergenerational wealth transfer passed, bringing a slowing Florida second home market, softer prices and less urgency to buy.'

Now there is a large inventory of unsold homes hanging over the market. But Thrall thinks that inventory will be depleted quickly as baby boomers start thinking about retirement again.'

Aging is inevitable,' Thrall said. 'Baby boomers' numbers are legend, and baby boomers will eventually seek a place in the sun.'

So anyone who wants a good deal on a house, Thrall said, had better buy before that massive wave of buyers gets geared up again.


Bradenton Real Estate

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Home-Price forecast: First ever decline noted the National Association of Realtor's news release indicating the decline in home prices.

"National Association of Realtors cuts 2007 forecast; would mark first drop since it began tracking values in 1968."

"Home prices are expected to finish down for the year, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said Tuesday, which would mark the first drop since the group started tracking values in 1968.

"NAR projects a 1 percent decline in the median price of an existing single-family home, to $219,800. The group, in a forecast made a month ago, had previously been expecting a 0.7 percent decline. Prior to that, it had expected a gain of 1.2 percent. "

Read the article here:

Our Bradenton - Sarasota markets suffered an 18% decline in 2006 and that is continuing into 2007.

Bradenton Real Estate

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The $5 Home Makeover

Real estate professionals in Sacramento, Calif., suggest five $5 investments that boost curb appeal or make a listing more attractive to potential buyers:

• Give the trim around the front door a fresh coat of paint, covering up fingerprints and dings.
• Fertilize the grass so it’s bright green.
• Hang a small flag that says, “Welcome.”
• Place a big pot of yellow marigolds in the foyer – yellow makes people feel comfortable.
• Dribble a few drops of vanilla on the oven door and turn it to low. (It’ll smell just like cookies baking.)

Source: The Sacramento Bee, Jim Wasserman (05/04/07)

I would add:

  • Lay out a fresh welcome mat for the front door

  • Upgrade lightbulbs to a higher wattage for more light

  • Install a scented A/C filter

  • Spread a few bags of fresh mulch in the flower beds

  • Set the table with new attractive place mats

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Where are the buyers? Renting perhaps

Home sales down. Prices down. Where are the buyers?

Many people who have moved into our Bradenton - Sarasota area with intentions to buy have decided to rent instead. With some many cheap rentals on the market, why buy?

If you are trying to sell your home, your competition is not only other sellers, but rental properties as well.

Read this article in the Herald:

Bradenton Real Estate


Sunday, May 06, 2007

For Sellers: waiting can be costly

The Herald continues it's article series on the Manatee Money Squeeze. We encourage all of our listing clients to read this article:

In a declining market, like we have seen in the Bradenton - Sarasota , Florida area holding out for "your" price means only one thing. You will end up with even less in your pocket as the days tick by.

We have seen it happen for month after month now. We list a home at what seems like market value at the time. However, the market is declining every month. What seems like the right price is soon rejected by the market.

Sellers who wait too long to drop their price too little see their listing languish on the market. However, sellers who repond quickly to lack of showings and lack of offers with a significant price adjustment soon have offers. We have seen some of our clients receive 3 offers at a time and sell above the asking price.

Our recommendation:

1. Price it "right" to begin with.

2. If you have few showings, make a price adjustment.

3. If you have lots of showings but no offers, make a small price adjustment.

4. Have your house in super, tip-top shape.

5. Make it sparkle during showings.

We have sold 30 houses this year already. That's about 10 times the number sold by the average agent in our market. We know HOW to sell your home, but you control the price.


Bradenton Real Estate

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Are Manatee county homes worth the price?

This article from The Herald is worth the read:

The Herald is running a series of articles called Manatee Money Squeeze in which they are focusing on several local money issues.

This article talks about the dilemma home buyer's face in our market due to rising house prices.

Here's a formula we've seen happening:
rising house prices + rising property taxes = less buyers in the market.

Bradenton Real Estate

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Foreclosures way up in Manatee County

Foreclosures are skyrocketing in our Bradenton - Sarasota , Florida market.

Yesterday's paper noted, "Lenders have filed 573 foreclosure actions in Manatee County Circuit Court through the first four months of 2007, including a record 156 in April alone, according to the Manatee County Clerk of Court's Office. At that pace, the county's annual foreclosure-filing record - 901, set in 2002 - could fall as early as mid-July."

If you need to sell your home and are struggling to keep up with the mortgage payments, give us a call. If you are behind in your mortgage payments, we may be able to help you save your credit.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

An irate customer

Every once in a long while we run across and customer that we just can't please. But this one takes the cake, as they say.

We took this customer's listing for only 90 days at his request. Even though the average listing is taking over 100 days to sell in our MLS. Normally, we list the property for 6 months and give our clients our Easy Exit Agreement that they may cancel at anytime with 30 days notice.

He also priced it a little higher than we suggested. We had good showing activity, but the market just wasn't supporting his price. We suggested a price adjustment which he adamently refused.

On the last day of the listing I called and asked if he wanted our continued help. His answer was no, and if anything he was going to raise his price. (Like that makes sense). I wished him well.

Anyway, we removed the sign and lockbox on the final day of the listing. Our normal procedure is for the sign guy to return the keys to the office the next day and then we call the customer to arrange returning the keys.

So after 5:30 pm this guy starts calling the office and leaving voice mail messages for EVERYONE on staff. He's cursing and demanding that someone bring his key to him to immediately!!! He also threatened to come to the office in the morning and "cause a scene."

I gave him a call to explain that I hadn't even received his key yet and that it would be available the next day. He cursed so violently that I had to hang up. It's been a long time since I've heard anyone that abusive.

I decided to drive to the sign-guy's house, pick up the key, and personally deliver it to the guy. Of course, at the door, he said nothing....just took the key. Who knows he might be a wacko and show up with a gun.

I'm thinking that just like there is a Better Business Bureau for people to complain about businesses, there ought to be a Better Customer Bureau for businesses to warn others about dangerous customers.

What do you think?

Bradenton Real Estate