What Does Home Mean to You?

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No matter what shape or size your living space is, the concept and feeling of home can mean different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the emotional reasons why we choose to buy our own home are, more often than not, the more powerful or compelling ones.

Every year, The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University conducts a survey to find driving factors behind why Americans decide to buy a home.

The top 4 reasons to own a home cited by participants of the survey were not financial.

1. It means having a good place to raise children & provide them with a good education

From the best neighborhoods to the best school districts, even those without children at the time of purchase may have this in the back of their mind as a major reason for choosing the location of the home that they purchase.

2. You have a physical structure where you & your family feel safe

It is no surprise that having a place to call home with the means for comfort and security is the number two reason.

3. It allows you to have more space for your family

Whether your family is expanding, or an older family member is moving in, having a home that fits your needs is a close third on the list.

4. It gives you control over what you do with your living space, like renovations and updates

Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments that you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building, or do you want to finally adopt that puppy or kitten you’ve seen online 100 times? Who’s to say that you can’t in your own home?

The 5th reason on the list, is the #1 financial reason to buy a home as seen by respondents:

5. Owning a home is a good way to build up wealth that can be passed along to my family

Either way you are paying a mortgage. Why not lock in your housing expense now with an investment that will build equity that you can borrow against in the future?

Bottom Line

Whether you are a first time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that make a house a home.

5 Reasons To Hire A Real Estate Pro

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Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite an adventurous journey. You need an experienced Real Estate Professional to lead you to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.

The 5 Reasons You NEED a Real Estate Professional in your corner haven’t changed, but have rather been strengthened due to the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to recover.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true Real Estate Professional is an expert in their market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

According to the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, there are over 230 possible actions that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions, are to make sure that you acquire your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. However, after looking at the list of parties that you need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll realize the value in selecting a Real Estate Professional. From the buyer (who wants the best deal possible) to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people that you will have to be knowledgeable with and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to the National Association of REALTORS, “the typical FSBO home sold for $208,700 compared to $235,000 among agent-assisted home sales.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively price your home correctly at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a low-ball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has their finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying/selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic. Why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a Real Estate Professional? Please don’t hesitate to call me at 407-925-7721.

What Makes A House Different?

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I am often asked “What makes a house different?” It is pretty easy to answer. The difference from one home to another is personality. It is just that simple.

Plain, brown and boring does not sell homes. Unique, thoughtful and fantasy lifestyles make a home irresistible.

For the record, if doesn’t have to cost a fortune. I have seen amazing homes done just on flea market finds. It is a way that people position things, display things and show their love for life. If a home reflect your personality and Joie de vivre, it is going to sell. And fast!

If you are challenged in this skill, ask for help. There are a lot of us out there who know what a buyer will find appealing.

Photo courtesy of Domaine.com

 

Insurance on Older Homes

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Is your home 40 years or older? Read this:

People’s Trust limits water damage coverage

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – April 29, 2016 – Deerfield Beach-based People’s Trust Insurance has become the latest property insurer in Florida to exclude coverage of water damage on homes over 40 years old. Instead, the company offers $10,000 in limited water damage coverage as an option.

The company blamed the decision on sharp increases in non-weather-related water damage claims and losses.

The change took effect April 15 for new People’s Trust customers and will begin on June 15 for renewing customers.

Attorneys who represent policyholders in suits against insurance companies criticized the changes, saying they’ll leave customers unable to afford to repair their homes after a major water emergency. Major drainage pipe breaches, they say, often cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to floors, walls, ceilings and contents.

People’s Trust notified agents of the change this month and is sending notices to renewing customers, spokeswoman Michelle Ubben said by email.

Responding to questions about the exclusion, People’s Trust said in an emailed statement: “Our new approach for policy sub-limits on older homes was needed in order to keep rates affordable and protect the financial strength of the company to ensure that we have the financial resources to be here when our policyholders need us most – whether it is after a storm or a true household emergency.”

The exclusion removes water damage – including penetration through roofs or walls and discharge from plumbing, heating, air conditioning units, sprinkler systems or household appliances – as a covered peril for any home more than 40 years old.

New customers will be able to purchase $10,000 in water damage coverage as an option, and renewing customers will see the limited coverage automatically added to their next year’s policies but can opt to remove it for a premium discount, Ubben said.

Water damage will be covered as before for homes 40 years old or newer, but policyholders will be able to “opt for the new coverage terms in order to enjoy a significant savings on their premiums,” People’s Trust said.

State insurance regulators approved the coverage changes in February after reviewing income and loss data submitted by the company.

In adding the exclusion for homes over 40, People’s Trust joins other Florida companies, including Federated National, Tower Hill, Heritage, United Property & Casualty and Southern Oak.

Ubben said People’s Trust, like many insurers in Florida, has experienced sharp increases in non-weather-related water damage claims over the past few years.

The number of such claims by People’s Trust policyholders increased by 61 percent between 2014 and 2015, from 3,697 to 5,941, according to data provided by the company. Of the 2015 claims, at least 2,253 resulted in losses of $10,000 or more. Meanwhile, the company’s policy count grew just 12 percent, from 135,006 to 151,552, between 2014 and 2015.

Lawsuits filed against People’s Trust also rose sharply in recent years – from 78 in 2013 to 751 in 2015, state records show.

The effect of the water damage exclusion is likely to be felt more strongly in South Florida, where homes are older than the state average and where insurers say a disproportionate amount of water damage claims originate. About 43 percent of all People’s Trust policies were in the tri-county area at the end of 2014, according to data submitted by the company to state regulators.

The changes come as property insurers are raising premiums and cutting costs in response to sharp increases in water damage claims and related litigation.

Coverage restrictions sought by state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. – and approved by state regulators in March – prompted a rush of identical requests by private insurers. Citizens has warned of steep rate increases in South Florida, including 10 percent annual rate increases in Miami-Dade County, if remedies aren’t found.

Citizens is creating an optional managed repair program inspired in part by programs in place at People’s Trust, Florida Peninsula and Heritage. Managed repair programs keep costs lower for policyholders who agree to report damages to insurance companies first and allow the companies to control who makes the repair.

Like Heritage and Florida Peninsula, Citizens plans to contract with an outside company to manage the program. People’s Trust is unique because it created an affiliated company, the Rapid Response Team, to directly handle the repairs.

Increased water damage claims at People’s Trust occurred despite the managed repair program.

Miami-based insurance agent Dulce Suarez-Resnick said she understands the need for companies to lower costs by imposing the water damage exclusion. “People’s Trust was giving it away [with lower premiums] and it was just a matter of time before it caught up to them,” she said.

But attorneys who represent homeowners were critical.

Joe Ligman, a Miami-based attorney, said limiting coverage to $10,000 for homes over 40 “is a joke as the burst pipe and collapsed drain pipe case are usually far greater in damage value than $10,000.”

Ely Levy, based in Hollywood, said, “What is even more troubling about the exclusion of all water losses is that the carriers pitch this to consumers like it will be beneficial for them when that is hardly the case.”

Kenneth Duboff, based in North Miami, said many homeowners probably won’t become aware of the change until “one day a burst pipe that has been hidden behind a wall or underneath the floor suddenly causes thousands of dollars worth of damage.” He added, “That type of catastrophe is exactly what a homeowner’s insurance policy should cover and the homeowners would reasonably expect to be insured against.”

Consumers who expect various companies’ insurance offerings to be more or less the same are in for a surprise, said Lee Jacobsen, vice chair of the Florida Justice Association’s property insurance legislative committee. “The pendulum has swung lately to [state regulators] letting companies do what they please,” he said, “and it’s only after a storm hits that we’re going to realize what’s been taken away.”

© 2016 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Ron Hurtibise. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

Selling Your Home? Make Sure the Price Is Right!

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In today’s market, where demand is outpacing supply in many regions of the country, pricing a house is one of the biggest challenges real estate professionals face. Sellers often want to price their home higher than recommended, and many agents go along with the idea to keep their clients happy. However, the best agents realize that telling the homeowner the truth is more important than getting the seller to like them.

There is no “later.”

Sellers sometimes think, “If the home doesn’t sell for this price, I can always lower it later.” However, research proves that homes that experience a listing price reduction sit on the market longer, ultimately selling for less than similar homes.

John Knight, recipient of the University Distinguished Faculty Award from the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific, actually did research on the cost (in both time and money) to a seller who priced high at the beginning and then lowered their price. His article, Listing Price, Time on Market and Ultimate Selling Price, published in Real Estate Economics revealed:

“Homes that underwent a price revision sold for less, and the greater the revision, the lower the selling price. Also, the longer the home remains on the market, the lower its ultimate selling price.”

Additionally, the “I’ll lower the price later” approach can paint a negative image in buyers’ minds. Each time a price reduction occurs, buyers can naturally think, “Something must be wrong with that house.” Then when a buyer does make an offer, they low-ball the price because they see the seller as “highly motivated.” Pricing it right from the start eliminates these challenges.

Don’t build “negotiation room” into the price.

Many sellers say that they want to price their home high in order to have “negotiation room.” But, what this actually does is lower the number of potential buyers that see the house. And we know that limiting demand like this will negatively impact the sales price of the house.

Not sure about this? Think of it this way: when a buyer is looking for a home online (as they are doing more and more often), they put in their desired price range. If your seller is looking to sell their house for $400,000, but lists it at $425,000 to build in “negotiation room,” any potential buyers that search in the $350k-$400k range won’t even know your listing is available, let alone come see it!

One great way to see this is with the chart below. The higher you price your home over its market value, the less potential buyers will actually see your home when searching.

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A better strategy would be to price it properly from the beginning and bring in multiple offers. This forces these buyers to compete against each other for the “right” to purchase your house.

Look at it this way: if you only receive one offer, you are set up in an adversarial position against the prospective buyer. If, however, you have multiple offers, you have two or more buyers fighting to please you. Which will result in a better selling situation?

The Price is Right

Great pricing comes down to truly understanding the real estate dynamics in your neighborhood. Let’s get together to discuss what is happening in the housing market and how it applies to your home.

Home Prices Are Up…but there is a Challenge

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Home values continue to climb and are projected to increase by about 5% over the next twelve months. That is great news for anyone who owns a home. However, it could present a challenge for a family trying to sell their house.

If prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that closed recently) to defend the sales price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released information revealing just how prominent the challenge is in today’s market.

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And the challenge is deepening…

Every month, Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner believes their house is worth as compared to an appraiser’s evaluation in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI). Here is a chart showing that difference for each of the last 12 months.

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As we can see the difference has increased each of the last two months.

Bottom Line

Every house on the market has to be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale might be even more difficult than the first. If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, let’s meet up so I can guide you through this, and any other obstacle that may arise.

 

Why Americans Really Buy Homes

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For more than half of Americans, the main reason to buy a home is simply because they want a place to call their own, according to the “Homebuyer Insight Report” recently released by Bank of America.

“Home buyers today are motivated by both emotional and practical reasons,” says D. Steve Boland, the consumer lending executive. “Nearly all want more space, but a majority of home buyers, especially those purchasing their first home, are also looking for a place to call their own, put down roots and make memories. They value the emotional benefits of owning a home as much as financial ones.”

The survey revealed the following top emotional triggers for buyers:

  • Want a place to call their own: 52%
  • Always something they wanted to do: 43%
  • Want to put down roots: 31%
  • A place to make memories: 28%

As for the most influential financial factors, the survey found Americans are motivated to buy a home for these reasons:

  • Better than paying rent: 37%
  • Saved enough money: 26%
  • Have a steady job: 21%
  • Good time to buy a home: 15%

Survey respondents also were asked to define home ownership. Here’s what they said it means to them:

  • Security: 60%
  • Family: 58%
  • Responsibility: 58%
  • Happiness: 57%

Source: “The Top Reasons Why Americans Buy Homes,” Keepingcurrentmatters.com (April 13, 2016)