Category Archives: Home Buyer

Ask The Realtor: Is there still time to purchase investment property?

YES!  With the strong real estate recovery, many think the opportunity for investing in real estate is over.  But while hedge funds may have backed off, private investors are still pouring money into the market.

Core Logic reports that 37.4% of 2013 sales nationally were cash transactions.  In Florida, our cash sales were a whopping 54%.  Cash sale account for most REO, short sale and condo purchases.  Investors are putting their cash into real estate because they can get a good rate of return not found with banks.

The Chinese are investing here also, and have expanded their footprint across the USA.  Their top ten cities of choice are: New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlanta, San Diego and Memphis.  (How did they miss our wonderful Jacksonville?)

Interest rates have hovered around 4.5% and have not slowed housing sales at all.  It is possible to finance an investment purchase with 20-25% down, but cash may be required for bank properties needing a lot of work or condos not on a “bank approved” list (two top places to find bargains).

I love real estate and invest in it my myself!  If you are considering an investment purchase, please give me a call at (904) 386-9816.

2013 – A Great Year for Real Estate

What a difference a year makes!  The numbers are in, and 2013 proved to be an excellent year for real estate.  Multiple Listing statistics reflect an increase of 24% in the number of sold transactions in 2013 as compared with 2012.  The total sold volume for 2013 was up 32% and the median sales price was up by 14%.  Our Jacksonville housing market has come back to life.

Why the rapid price increases in 2013?

  • A shortage of homes for sale – With new construction just starting to come back and sellers postponing putting their homes on the market until prices improved, our inventory of homes dropped from a peak of over 22,000 five years ago to under 8,800.
  • Fewer distressed properties – As property values increased, there were fewer short sales and foreclosures.  What foreclosures did hit the market were quickly gobbled up by institutional investors.
  • Buyer sense of urgency – Buyers now realize that not only are home prices going up, but interest rates are also likely to rise, as the government backs off its stimulus programs.

The net result was a tight inventory that created a competitive bidding market – supply and demand at work.  It is interesting to note that this competitive market extended across all price ranges.

Looking ahead towards 2014, we should continue to see a recovery of the housing market, but at a more moderate pace.  If you are considering a move, or just have a question about the market, just give me a call at (904) 386-9816, and I’d be glad to help!

Here are two reports:

RealtyWeb 4thQtr

2013 Annual Report

 

Why Aren’t Agents Answering Their Phones?

As Realtors, we spend a small fortune promoting both ourselves and our listings.  We live in the most-connected society ever.  Yet, I have personally found it to be true that most agents (and people in general) simply don’t answer the phone.  It seems we want people to contact us, but then don’t respond to their basic inquiries.

A recent study by the California Association of Realtors found that the top three reasons buyers were unsatisfied with their agents were:

  1.  Slow response time (51%)
  2.  Ineffective/Inefficient communication (23%)
  3.  Undesirable communication methods (15%)

If you choose me to be your Realtor, my promise to you is to be “The agent who answers her phone” .

2014 looks like an excellent year for real estate in Jacksonville, Florida.  If you are thinking of buying or selling, please give me a call at 904-386-9816.

Foto Friday – Sunset over the St Johns River

This picture was taken at my new listing at 842 Fruit Cove Road in St Johns.    The home is 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and is priced at $629,00.

 

Real Estate Market Update

Temperatures are hot here in Jacksonville, Florida, and so is the real estate market!  As you can see in the Market Summary, there is good news on almost every front.  A few highlights:

  • Year to date Sales up 25% over 2012
  • Year to date Pending Listings up 31%
  • Absorption Rate (how long it takes to sell a house) down 34%
  • Year to date Median Sales Sales Price up 12%

And this one:

  • Number of Active Listings down 21%

Welcome to the new seller’s market!   Last year I wrote a blog post entitled “Where are all the homes for sale?”  At that time, I noted that our inventory in the Northeast Florida Multiple Listing Service had decreased from a high of around 22,000 during the recession in 2008 to 9,784  in June of 2012.  The number of homes for sale as of June 30, 2013 is 7,660.

This shrinking home inventory  is occurring throughout the country, and may be the biggest real estate story of 2013.

Market Summary

Another interesting statistic is the dramatic increase in the number of sales and pendings in the $250,000 to $1 million price range – up anywhere from 42% to 65% over this time a year ago.

Market Report

 You might ask  “What does this mean for me?”  Well, if you have been thinking of a move, now might be a good time.  Homes are selling quickly!  It is also a good time to buy a home.  Homes are still reasonable and interest rates are at a 60 year low.

Please give me a call at (904) 386-9816 or send me an email at LizPapenbrock@gmail.com if I can help!

 

Ask the Realtor

What is the most common home inspection item that can derail a closing?

That’s a great question!  And my answer, hands down, is HVAC issues.  HVAC refers to your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.  Here in Jacksonville, most of our homes are heated and cooled by heat pumps, consisting of an indoor air handler (located in the garage, an inside closet, or in the attic)  and an outside compressor (located on a concrete pad outside the house).

Repairs can be costly, and replacing a system can run between $3,000 and $8,000, or more.  Sadly, most of the items I see on a home inspection could have easily been avoided with just little maintenance.  Here is the minimum: Change the filter every month and have your unit serviced at least once a year.  That’s it!

Heat pumps offer an efficient way of controlling the indoor climate in our homes.  Just taking these 2 steps will go a long ways towards keeping your system humming for years.

 

 

Add a Houseplant to Your Home or Office Space

Indoor Plants That Filter The Air
Indoor plants can be a great asset to your Jacksonville, Florida  home or office space.  Not only are they a great aesthetic addition to your home, but they also help filter the air.  People are usually unaware that many harmful toxins are present in the air they breathe everyday.  In recent years, NASA has done several studies to determine which houseplants are best at cleaning the air inside your home. Even if you don’t have a “green thumb”, many of these plants do well under little care and are a great option for those who don’t have time to water a plant every single day of the week.
1. Snake Plant
This plant has strong, stiff, green-banded leaves that grow upward from the base. While it prefers moderate to bright light, it has been known to thrive in areas with virtually no light at all.  It only needs to be watered once a week, allowing the soil to completely dry in between watering.  The snake plant is the ultimate plant for those who do not have a “green thumb”.  The only way to kill this plant is to over water, or to completely not water at all.
2. English Ivy
This plant does great indoor, where it gets enough indirect sunlight.  It is an evergreen, woody vine that grows quite quickly.  It grows great in a hanging pot or in a pot that allows it to trail. Regular cutting and pruning will be necessary for this plant.  If your home is dry, this plant will do great in a pot with pebbles that can be watered each day to allow enough humidity to the plant.  It does not require regular watering, as the soil needs time to dry out between waterings. This plant is great at removing benzene from the air.
3. Spider Plant
This plant also tolerates neglect very well.  While it prefers bright light, it does well in dim lighting.  It also tolerates a wide range of temperatures, as long as it does not freeze.  During warm weather, it needs to be watered regularly.  In the winter, it only needs to be watered occasionally, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.  This plant is good at filtering carbon monoxide out of the air and is best kept in areas like the kitchen where carbon monoxide accumulates most.
4. Golden Pothos
This plant is leafy with varying colors of green and yellow.  It does very well in dim light; bright light will scorch the leaves.  This plant requires watering every other day or every few days, just so the soil stays moist.  The vines on this plant grow quite rapidly, so trimming from time to time will be necessary.  This is a great plant to keep in your house because it is great at filtering toxins like benzene and formaldehyde from the air.
Article by Tom Miller
<a href=”escapesomewhere.com“>Escape Somewhere</a>

Green Additions That Pay for Themselves

Green home renovations can help pad your savings account by reducing high energy bills and providing tax breaks. Many green renovations can also help make your home more comfortable and beautiful to live in.  But you might wonder: which environmentally friendly home renovations offer the best return on investment? Keep reading to discover five green home renovations that will pay for themselves in a matter of years.
1. Solar Water Heaters                                                                                                              Solar water heaters collect and store water, and then use the sun’s thermal energy to heat it. Simple solar water heaters can be installed by a savvy homeowner; whole house systems require professional installation.  You may be able to recoup your solar water heater cost in just a few years, thanks to a reduced energy bill and government rebates and tax credits. According to GreenandSave, heating the water for your home makes up about 11% of your annual energy bill. The site also states that by spending $2,500 for a solar water heating system, you’ll save approximately $280 each year.
If you’re determined to recover as much of the cost of the system as possible, be sure to research government rebate and tax credit criteria prior to selecting your solar water heating system.
2. Grow an Indoor Garden
A vertical indoor garden makes an ideal green renovation for those who live in an apartment or in a small urban structure where major renovations are nearly impossible. A vertical indoor garden helps clean the air of your home because plants trap carbon dioxide, an air pollutant, and release clean oxygen for us to breathe. In essence, plants work like natural air filters. Spider plants, Boston ferns and English ivy are just some plants that work hard to keep your home clean.
You can buy pre-made vertical wall panels, like this panel sold by uzplanters.com, or follow Sunset’s step by step guide to making your own vertical garden.  It’s hard to put a price tag on the health benefits plants offers, but whether you build or buy a vertical garden, it’s a smart and easy way to greenify your home.
3. Build a Rain Barrel
You might think building a rain barrel is beyond your ability, but you’re wrong. Building a rain barrel is easy, fun, and economical.
Watch this easy-to-follow video and learn how to build your own economical rain barrel. On average, you can expect to recoup your supply costs in less than one summer season. In fact, even if you decide to purchase a rain barrel, you’ll likely recover the expense in one summer season. That’s because it is estimated that during the summer months, the average homeowner spends 40 percent of their water bill on watering their lawn. Use the rain you’ve collected to supply your irrigation system as well as for other tasks such as watering indoor plants, washing the car, cleaning exterior windows and doors and giving Fido a bath.
If you have questions about building your own rain barrel, call your local extension center.
4. Install a Security System with Home Automation
Home automation helps green your home by giving you the ability to schedule or adjust lights, thermostats, and appliances with a few touches on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Many home security systems now have the option to install home automation as well.
You’ll not only reduce your home’s environmental footprint, you’re likely to reclaim system costs within a few years due to lower energy bills and reduced homeowner’s insurance premiums.
5. Geothermal Heating
On a basic level, a geothermal heating system uses the Earth’s heat to warm your home. Given that the Earth’s heat is a renewable energy source that is virtually pollutant free, it’s a much greener alternative to fossil fuels.
Switching to geothermal heating is a rather costly endeavor, but according to Our Energy,  cost savings achieved from a geothermal heating system can be as much as 80 percent over the use of fossil fuels. The system not only heats, it cools too.
A geothermal heating and cooling system has the lowest operating cost of any HVAC system on the market today, and the Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the installation cost on a retrofit can be recouped in two to ten years. Review the DOE’s website for information on geothermal tax credits.
What other tips do you have for going green in your home?

Guest Post by Colton Matheson.

6 Spaces Homeowners Want Most

According to a survey of Better Homes and Gardens readers, these are the six spaces that homeowners want to see included in their new homes or updated in their existing ones:

  1.  Separate laundry room
  2. More storage and built-ins
  3. A home office
  4. An outdoor grilling/living area
  5. A second bedroom with a private bath
  6. Everyday eating space close to the kitchen

In the Jacksonville and Mandarin real estate market these are all frequently listed by new home buyers as a “must have” or “really like to have”.  How important are these spaces to your family?

 

Happy, Happy 2013

Links

We are 9 days into the New Year, and there is already much to be excited about!

Real estate is hopping!  Throughout the year, market statistics have improved across the board in every category.  Lender mediated transactions (short sales) are declining, while the prices of those homes have risen  New inventory, days on market, and months supply have all seen decreases.  Pending sales, average price, and properties sold have all seen positive gains.  Some homes are even receiving multiple offers and selling over list price!

As we begin a new year, I look forward to sharing more Things to Do and, as always, welcome your comments or suggestions.  Have a blessed New Year!