Tag Archives: Buying a home

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.

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.

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?


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

<a href=”http://www.newhomesource.com/“>New Home Source</a>

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!

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.