Category Archives: Home Buyer

Where Have All the Listings Gone?

The October Year-to-Date Market Summary from our Multiple Listing Service  shows what most of us in Jacksonville, Florida and the First Coast area are easily able to see: our listing inventory is down!  There are only 8,365 homes for sale.  To put this in perspective, at the height of the real estate crash in 2006, we had over 22,000 homes for sale.  By 2010, that number had dwindled to around 16,000.

Here is the report:

 What is especially interesting is the increase in home sales in the $250,000 to $500,000 price range and in the sale of luxury homes over $1 million.

In summary, if you are considering selling,  now may be a good time to put your home on the market.  If you are thinking about buying, I would consider looking seriously now while interest rates are still at historic lows and before prices jump up.

For the complete report, personalized statistics in your area, or a list of great homes for sale, please call me at (904) 386-9816 or send me an email using the contact form on this site.  I will have the information right out to you!



What Makes a Good Home a Great Home?

Several aspects go into consideration when ranking a home as bad, good or great.  Not only should you consider the aesthetics of the interior, exterior and the actual durability of the home, you should also take into account these few aspects that can take a home from being good to great.

 1.    Location.   Location can make or break a house.  It could be one of the ugliest houses on the block, but as long as it is located in a nice area with a great school district, the house is golden.  Location is everything.  Remember this when you are shopping around for homes.

2.    School District.  Whether or not you have children, buying a house in an area with a great school district can play an important role in the worth of your house.  Great schools can ensure that there will be a consistent demand for properties.  Over time, this can help increase the value of your home.

3.    Neighborhood.   The type of neighborhood can greatly affect a home. You should see what the other homes look like in your neighborhood.  See how the neighborhood is during early morning, day and evenings.  Even if it is the perfect home, certain characteristics of the neighborhood can affect the house you want to buy.

4.    Crime.   Is the house located in a safe neighborhood?  How about outside of the neighborhood.  Is it located near a poor area where crime rates are high? Even if it’s a beautiful home, the probability of high crime rates can negatively affect the value of the house.

5.    Walk ability.   How close is the neighborhood to downtown?  Grocery and convenience stores?  How close are the schools your children will be attending?  In an ever-growing, green-conscience society, walking has become more and more popular.  If you are in close walking distance to places you visit on a daily basis or weekly basis, the homes value can increase.

Article by Tom Miller

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Home Prices Rebound to 2003 Levels

More good news about the real estate market came yesterday when RISMedia reported that  home prices nationally had rebounded to 2003 levels.  That is the year started its journey towards the 2006 peak.

“Single family housing starts are well ahead of last year, existing home sales are up, the inventory of homes for sale is down and foreclosure activity is slowing”, said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P.

The recent S&P/Case Shiller national home price index showed that prices rose for the 3rd consecutive month in all 20 major markets followed by the index.  This also marks the first month that prices were higher than they were the previous year.

While Jacksonville is not one of the 20 markets followed, two other Florida cities hard it by the real estate crises, Miami and Tampa, were noted as having made dramatic comebacks.  It appears that great pricing and low interest rates are finally helping turn the real estate market around.

Here is a link to the S&P report.

The Disappearing Home Inventory

It’s no secret to anyone driving through our Jacksonville neighborhoods that the number of “For Sale” signs is way down from years past.  And many of those homes that do have signs are no longer available; they are homes offered as a short sale that now have accepted contracts awaiting bank approval.

This morning I read on Zillow that we have approximately 9,500 homes for sale in our Multiple Listing Service.  That’s down from over 20,000 at the height of the recession.

Where did the homes for sale go?  Zillow graphs show a direct correlation between negative equity (percent of homes underwater) and the change in inventory of homes for sale.  Simply put, many sellers who wanted or tried to sell their homes during the recession can no longer afford to do so, because they now owe more on their home than its value.

What does this mean for a home seller or home buyer?  For a home seller, a drop in supply means an increase in demand.  Homes priced competitively are selling quickly,  frequently with multiple offers.  For a home buyer, prices are still down and interest rates remain at a historic lows.

Finally, a great time to buy or sell!

Lakefront Home

Looking for a lakefront home in popular Lake Mandarin?  Check out my new listing at 3470 Catamaran for $179,500!

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Buying a Home? Do This Today!

No, we’re not talking about buying a car.  If you are considering a home purchase, please do NOT buy a car or make any other large purchase until your your loan is approved and you have closed on your home.

Today, I would like to suggest that you get into your present car and drive!  Jacksonville has had over 20 inches of rain in the past few days, and some of the worst flooding in years.   If you are considering buying a home, you have a chance to see what your potential neighborhood or house looks like after tropical storm Debby’s visit.

I consider this an opportunity, because most people shop for a home when the weather is pleasant, and then discover months or years later that their property is low and retains water.  Please be careful, and do not drive through a flooded street.

If you are just starting to think about a new home, now is a great time to look.  Just give me a call today!

How to Save Big When Buying New

By Andrew Hill @

How can I save myself time, money and stress when buying a new home?  It seems like a dead end question.  After all, buying real estate demands your time, money and energy doesn’t it?  Yes, of course anything worth having takes time and energy, but that doesn’t mean you have to exhaust yourself when buying your home.  All it takes is answering this one simple question and the entire process of buying new construction can be much more enjoyable.

Have you ever thought about who pays an agent’s commission?  Chances are you might not have ever considered it. After all,  it seems like common sense that you can either pay for your agent or opt to go it alone and save yourself a small commission fee,  right?  Wrong.  In fact, when buying a new home, in nearly every transaction the builder is responsible for paying your agent’s commission!  What does this mean to you?  For starters, it should encourage you to hire your own Realtor!  No matter how much of an expert you may be on real estate, nothing beats having professional service on your side, especially when it’s already paid for.  Having your own Realtor will aid you in finding the right home, working through negotiations,  signing those final papers, and even ensuring that your home has had a quality home inspection completed.

While many people can easily recognize the benefits of hiring a Realtor when buying new, there’s a second train of thought that also derails buyers’ attempts to get the best deal possible.  This thought stems from the belief that if one enters into a transaction without hiring their own agent, then the builder will lower the price of the home, because he has one less commission to pay.  It only seems fair doesn’t it?  Perhaps, but this logic neglects one thing.  Real estate is a business and the builder is trying to earn his fair share. Your builder can be an upstanding citizen and a great person off the worksite, but when you’re talking real estate, you’re on opposite ends of the transaction, and there’s nothing you can do about that.  Furthermore, the builder’s agent will not, and oftentimes by law cannot, give you a better price simply because you lack representation.  This agent is working for the builder alone.  That means if you meet with the builder’s agent as your go between,  you’ll have no professional representation to defend your interests.

All this is to say nothing bad about the reputations of builders and listing agents.  It’s simply business.  But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer, either. Because your agent’s commission has already been paid for, there’s nothing stopping you from going out and hiring the best Realtor for you. Just be sure to bring your agent with you to meet with the builder from day one; otherwise the builder can force you to complete the transaction without your own representation.  Don’t waste another minute searching for the perfect home without your own Realtor!  Before you step foot on a lot or search the internet for new homes, be sure to contact Liz Papenbrock for all of your real estate needs!


Buying or Selling a Short Sale

Have you ever heard  Realtors complain about short sales?  There is endless paperwork, they take forever, no one at the bank returns their calls or answers their emails – the list goes on and on.

So, why do I love short sales?  Because in my work, there is no more satisfying way to help a seller out of a distressed situation while helping a buyer find a really great house.  Short sales are a win-win situation for both the seller and buyer.

For the Seller:

  1. Yes, there is some paperwork.  You will be asked to furnish tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, as well as a financial worksheet and a letter explaining your financial hardship.
  2. In a short sale, a seller does not take away any money at closing; nor does he have to bring any money to the closing (unless negotiated with his lender).  If someone asks you to pay in advance to help you with a short sale, don’t do it.  It is most likely a scam!

For the Buyer:

  1. Your purchase and sale agreement is negotiated between you and the seller, but will be subject to the seller’s lender approving the reduced pay-off.  The time it takes for the seller’s lender (or lenders) to approve the short sale can take between 2-3 weeks and 9 months or more!  If you need to be into a new home immediately, then a short sale may not be a good idea.
  2. It is important to work with a Realtor who understands the short sale process.  You want to be certain that once accepted, your offer will be the only offer presented to the bank.

In summary:  For a seller who wants or needs to sell and owes more on his home than it is worth, a short sale is almost always the best solution.  Quite often, the seller is able to negotiate total debt forgiveness on the unpaid portion of his loan.

For a buyer who has a flexible time schedule, purchasing a home offered as a short sale can offer a great value and instant equity.

For more information on Short Sales vs Foreclosures, please visit my website.

Buying a Foreclosure

Buying a foreclosed home can be an excellent way to purchase a home far under market value.  Since the bank already owns the home, you can expect to receive an answer on your offer within a couple days, and be able to close in 30 to 45 days.

So what  should you be aware of when considering a bank-owned home?  First, as mentioned in my previous blog, bank-owned homes, or REOs, are normally sold “as is”.  What you see is what you get!  I  highly recommend both a home inspection and a wood destroying organism (WDO) inspection.

A second concern is a potential title problem.  It has become an alarming trend in our real estate industry of banks listing properties for sale before verifying that they have clear title to that property.  Many foreclosures in Florida were not done properly.  If the foreclosure was not done properly, then a bank is unable to obtain clear title, and thus, cannot complete a sale to the buyer.  Unfortunately, the buyer is usually informed of the title issues AFTER he has invested many hundreds of dollars in inspection and loan fees.

In summary, purchasing a bank-owned home carries some risk but can offer an incredible return.  Contact me  for more information.

What Is the Difference Between a Short Sale and a Foreclosure?

The difference between a foreclosure and a short sale is one of ownership.  In a short sale, the seller still owns the home.  Because he is underwater on his mortgage, meaning he owes more on the home than the home is worth, he is asking his mortgagor, the bank, to accept less than the full amount he owes as payment.  In order to qualify for a short sale, the owner must be able to demonstrate financial hardship and must show that he is unable to make his present mortgage payment.  Usually, but not always, the seller is already behind on his payments and is in some state of pre-foreclosure.

In a foreclosure, the bank has already foreclosed on the home, and is now the owner.  The home is  maintained by an asset manager for the bank while it is listed for sale.  Foreclosed homes are called REOs,  meaning real-estate-owned.

Why would a buyer consider purchasing a short sale or foreclosure?  Simply put – money.  It is possible to get a great deal on an REO or short sale.  A buyer with some risk tolerance and a lot of patience,  can walk out of closing with instant equity in his new home.

What should a buyer look out for when purchasing an REO or short sale?  One thing to be aware of is that most REO and short sale properties are sold “as is”.  Short sale sellers are already in a distressed financial situation and rarely have money for repairs.  Banks are not in the “fix-up” business; they want a quick, as is sale.

The best defense a buyer has is to get a home inspection and a wood destroying organism (termite) inspection.

Next: Differences in purchasing an REO and a Short Sale