Archive for January 2012
If you’re serious about buying on the West Coast of Florida, be ready. If you’re getting a loan make sure you are prequalified and have the letter to submit with your offer. Get to know the market so that you know when you see a great deal.
And when you do see that great deal – jump! The last THREE offers I’ve submitted for buyers have been one of several being submitted. At first it was a surprise – now we’re used to it. Depending on your negotiating style, you might consider going in with your ‘highest and best’ offer. And don’t put a financing contingency if possible. You can go ahead and get a loan if you want, but you committing to the purchase even if you can’t get a loan. So make sure you have cash or a line of credit ready if you need it.
Your main objective is to get your offer selected by the seller.
Seen in Ernest Hooper’s column in today’s St. Pete Times (oops – now it’s the Tampa Bay Times): His sister is moving here and mused about living in Tampa. Ernest suggested that she might like the ‘vibe’ in downtown St. Pete better! He thinks that – although Tampa offers a lot – she might like downtown St Pete better.
The good thing is that you don’t have to choose. It’s only a bridge away to access the cultural events, shopping, restaurants, sports… on either side of Tampa Bay.
This is the headline in the St. Pete/Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday, January 18. If true, sellers should keep their fingers crossed and buyers should get off the fence and buy now before the prices go up!
Much of the basis to this headline is the fact that we have only 6 months of inventory in the metro Tampa Bay area. That is typically the breakpoint between a healthy and an unhealthy market. In fact, in 2008 Hillsborough County (Tampa) had a 25 MONTH supply of inventory!
Specific to the beaches, inventory is still higher than the magic 6 month mark. On the Pinellas Beaches, the average inventory supply was over 10 months. However, our high season on the Florida Beaches is just starting and activity is picking up on the phones and on the Internet. So we’ll keep an eye on sales to see what happens between now and April.
Boomers are the biggest market. Over and over they say that they are buying now for seasonal/vacation use for 5-10 years. Then they’ll retire and move down here for part of the year. Many are in their 40’s and have achieved upper management positions. Others are in their 50’s and retiring from jobs they’ve held since their 20’s. They’re all looking for white sand and warm winters!
Another change from last year is that not a single buyer has questioned whether prices are “at the bottom”. Last year, almost every buyer questioned that. This year – not one.
That’s the state of the beaches from Clearwater Beach down to St. Pete Beach. South Florida may have a different timeline since there was more new construction there. Remember that Real Estate is a local business!
During the exciting time of having your house built or remodeled, make sure to consider one of the most important features that will keep you and your family safe for years to come: security.
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, about six out of 10 completed burglaries take place without any sign of forced entry, suggesting that either a door or window was left unlocked or that a duplicate key was used to open one.
Residential burglary is one of the most frequently reported crimes. It also is the most preventable. Locking your windows and doors and having proper lock security is the easiest and most cost-efficient way to prevent burglary.
The first step in securing your remodeled or newly built home is to deadbolt exterior doors. Deadbolts are available in several formats. Some are key operated from both inside and out, key operated from the outside and open with a thumb turn on the inside, or solely operated with a thumb turn on the inside. Check with your local crime prevention authority to determine what kind of lock is recommended in your area.
Remember that not all locks are created equally. For maximum protection, choose high-security locks. For example, locks made by Medeco incorporate features that protect against drilling and picking. Keys for these locks can only be made by authorized Medeco dealers after you show proper identification. This ensures that only you can authorize the duplication of your keys.
Sliding glass doors tend to be an easy point of entry. Special locks and bars are available to prevent lifting and prying of the door. You also can put a wooden dowel or broom handle in the door track.
When thinking lock security, don’t forget about your windows. Traditional double-hung windows, which have a top and bottom sash that slides up and down, continue to be the most popular window type installed in remodeled or newly built homes. To secure these windows, install a window sash lock, a lock that’s attached to the sashes of a double-hung window to keep in a shut position.
The next time you pull up to your home and think it’s looking a bit run-down, think of what it might look like to a discriminating home buyer. In today’s competitive real estate market, curb appeal is among the most important challenges homeowners face. If the siding on your home is in need of repair, drive-by home buyers will just keep on moving.
That’s one reason many homeowners are opting for long-lasting, low-maintenance siding. One popular brand, Weather Boards 2; Fiber Cement Siding by Certain Teed, offers the visual appeal of natural wood with the lasting durability of a modern material. In fact, Weather Boards features the most authentic wood grain in the industry, which allows homeowners to enjoy the appearance of wood without all the upkeep.
A blend of Portland cement, sand, wood fiber and specialty additives, this fiber cement siding has a less porous surface than others. In other words, it holds paint well. So you will spend more time admiring your house and less time worrying about maintaining it. This siding also comes in a broad selection of pre-finished colors and stains.
Selecting siding that works well with your home may seem overwhelming with so many shapes, styles and trims on the market today. Be sure to look for brands that continually earn recognition for appeal and performance. Weather Boards in particular consistently outperforms wood and other old-world materials with its overall durability and natural style. It also comes with a Class 1(A) fire rating, is resistant to wood-boring insects and UV rays, and features a 50-year warranty.
Curb appeal is VERY important in today’s market! For more ways you can boost curb appeal contact Megan Bower your local real estate agent who can provide you with tips and tricks to boost not only your home’s curb appeal, but its value as well.
WASHINGTON – Jan. 9, 2012 – You may owe federal income taxes in 2013 if you have a short sale, foreclosure after this year. Now is the time to make the hard decision: Are you going to walk away from your underwater home?
Uncle Sam is still giving homeowners until Dec. 31, 2012, to go through a short sale or foreclosure without tax consequences – as long as the lender officially releases the debt.
But on Jan. 1, 2013, the rules change: The amount a lender forgives, ether in a short sale or foreclosure, on a primary residence will be taxable on federal income taxes.
So if a house sold $50,000 short of what is owed on the mortgage, then the selling homeowners will owe federal income taxes on that $50,000. Homeowners would owe $12,500 if they’re in the 25 percent bracket; $7,500 if in the 15 percent tax section.
Homeowners would be on the hook even if the house sold but the bank had not formally forgiven the loan in a letter: The banks must officially sign off in writing before Dec. 31.
“It’s a huge issue – it will be a shock to many taxpayers after 2012,” said Mark Steber, the Florida-based chief tax officer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.
The law first came into affect five years ago as the housing market went bust nationwide.
The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 “generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence,” according to the Internal Revenue Service. “Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.”
Up to $2 million of forgiven debt can be forgiven this year, $1 million if married and filing separately, according to the IRS.
Homeowners declaring bankruptcy could escape paying income taxes on any cancellation of debt income if the debt is forgiven in the bankruptcy even if the debtor is solvent, said Nick Jovanovich, a board-certified tax attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“Bankruptcy trumps everything,” he said.
Or homeowners might not have to pay income taxes on any cancellation of debt income to the extent that they are insolvent immediately before the cancellation – that is, their debts exceed the value of their assets, Jovanovich added.
Steber and Jovanovich said homeowners should decide now what they are going to do – to give themselves time.
Short sales can take a long time, said Timothy Singer of Coldwell Banker in Fort Lauderdale.
He said he knows of one that had been pending for three years.
But lenders “have been gearing up” and speeding up the process, Singer added.
But even if banks quickly approve a short sale, the would-be buyer may get cold feet and the deal fall through, Singer said.
Then the sellers have to begin again, he said.
Copyright © 2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Donna Gehrke-White. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service
If you’re in the market to buy a home you may come across many short sales the key in purchasing one successfully is by dealing with a professional who is extremely versed and experienced in purchasing sales short sales. A professional will be able to walk you through the process seamlessly and go through each and every motion with you. Megan Bower is a professional Realtor for Coldwell Banker who can navigate you through this process and will educate you about it every step of the way. Contact Megan 727-581-9411, or better yet schedule an appointment.
It’s hard to know exactly what will happen with foreclosures, REOs, and short sales in the coming year. Factors such as employment, home values, and consumer confidence will determine whether they go up or down. The one thing that’s certain is that they’ll still be around and affecting the housing market.
“Foreclosures aren’t going away right now,” says Andy Firoved, CEO of CounselorDirect, a technology company that specializes in automating processes for various government foreclosure-prevention programs. “We’re going to have a certain level. The question is, how many?”
Apart from quantity, there are certain things regarding distressed properties that can be predicted with some level of assurance, says Firoved, whose clients include housing departments in states with the highest unemployment and biggest declines in home values — the so-called “Hardest Hit.” Here are three of his prognostications for 2012:
Prediction #1: Government home owner assistance programs will get more effective.
Most of the government’s initial efforts at helping home owners who were threatened with foreclosure due to problems like job loss or medical expenses came up short. This was primarily due to a combination of poor promotion of the programs and arcane, overly bureaucratic processes.
Firoved says the underlying issue here was that federal and state governments were in too much of a rush to roll out these programs. “People came in with the best intentions, but had problems with the execution,” he adds.
However, newer initiatives, such as the “Hardest Hit” mortgage assistance programs and the revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), will likely get more traction because they’re better publicized and administered.
“The word is getting out, and people are starting to get assistance,” Firoved says. “These programs are starting to find higher-level efficiencies as well.”
Prediction #2: The amount of evictions will stay the same or even go down.
While the number of evictions that have taken place over the past couple of years seems high compared with healthier economic times, they actually aren’t as high as they could be. “The majority of [delinquent and foreclosed-on borrowers] have not been evicted,” Firoved says.
Why? For one thing, banks are hesitant to pursue foreclosures because of the robo-signing issue, which still hasn’t been settled. Also, evictions are labor-intensive and involve some thorny legal procedures, Firoved explains. Many banks simply don’t have the will or the resources right now to evict all of those borrowers. “The problem is that there are a lot of people out there who haven’t paid their mortgage in a while, and they have gotten used to it,” he says.
Although “the party’s got to stop at some point,” Firoved is guessing it’ll keep going, for the most part, through 2012.
Prediction #3: Banks will get creative in dealing with REOs and delinquent home owners.
That’s not to say that lending institutions will remain passive this year. “In 2012, the theme is going to be managing the shadow inventory,” Firoved says. “That’s going to be two different things: REOs and delinquent home owners who they haven’t done anything with yet.”
According to him, banks will accomplish this by working out special deals, such as leasing foreclosed and bank-owned homes to their former owners. They may even allow foreclosed-on and delinquent borrowers to continue living in homes without making any payments — at least in the short term —because they want properties maintained for eventual resale, Firoved says.
This Blog post was posted by Megan Bower Realtor for Coldwell Banker located on central Florida’s west coast. Megan specializes in upscale and luxury properties in Clearwater Beach, Belleair Beach, Madiera Beach, Sand Key, St. Petersburg Beach and Indian Rocks Beach. If your looking for an expert native from the area Megan is your girl! Contact Megan 727-581-9411, or better yet schedule an appointment shes always ready to help!
This article was written by Brian Summerfield, REALTOR® Magazine
By Megan Bower
The bedroom is the place we spend most of our time, yet also tends to be the most neglected when it comes to decorating. Nowadays, money may be a significant factor! Here are some great tips for brightening up your space with no money at all!
1.Rearrange! A new fresh arrangement always makes a room feel new. Don’t be afraid to try new angles for your furniture…place your bed on a diagonal, or even right in the middle of the room!
2. Search your drawers for scarves, tablecloths, or even pillowcases that compliment your color scheme. You can use things you already own to soften a dresser top or the edge of your nightstand, or perhaps lay a pretty shawl over the foot of the bed. If you already have throw pillows on your bed (if you don’t, it’s time to steal them from another room!) you can also wrap these fabrics around the pillows for a new look, and just safety pin it in back.
3. Add a plant to your room. Look around your house to see if one of your existing plants would be happier in your bedroom, then move it there! If you can’t find a plant ready for relocation, make one! Many plants can be grown from cuttings, either your existing houseplants, one a friend may let you cut, or even some outdoor plants. Ivy and many shade ground covers are very good houseplants. You can even relive your childhood a bit and grow a cut potato, pineapple, or carrot tops in a pinch! For containers, look into your kitchen cupboards. Old teapots and cups, glass bowls, even baking dishes can make unique containers.
4. Add memorabilia to your room. I keep a photo of each one of my children when they were small next to my bedside, and it always makes me smile. How about hanging your wedding veil from the headboard, or framing your wedding invitation or old love letters?
5.Add scent. If you don’t have any potpourri or incense in the house, cut up some orange peels and allow to dry, then mix with whatever sweet spices you have in your cupboard. (It only takes a pinch, try cinnamon, ginger, or allspice.) Place your potpourri in an open bowl in your room to freshen and inspire! Later in the summer, make sure to include flowers in your room, if you don’t have roses or other scented flowers in your yard, roadside daisies can smell great too!
Just a few small changes, no money involved, and a better, more positive place for you to start and end each day!
These are just a few tips on how you can spruce up your home to sell it without spending any extra money out of your own pocket by Megan Bower of Coldwell Banker. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks from Megan! If you would like a more personalized discussion with Megan about your home specifically contact Megan at 727-581-9411, or better yet schedule an appointment
Daily Real Estate News | Friday, January 06, 2012
Freddie Mac announced it has eliminated its minimum credit score requirement for borrowers wanting to refinance, but they must have at least 20 percent equity in their home, HousingWire reports. Freddie Mac used to require a minimum credit score of 620.
In following instructions from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, government-sponsored enterprises Freddie and Fannie Mae are both looking at how they can ease requirements to spur more refinances so more borrowers can take advantage of record-low mortgage rates.
Fannie Mae has removed a refinancing requirement that lenders must determine the borrower’s ability to repay — aimed at increasing refis and helping more underwater borrowers stay current on their mortgages.
HousingWire reports that about 4 million loans serviced by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are underwater, in which the borrower owes more on their loan then their home is currently worth.
Source: “Freddie Cuts Some Refi Credit Score Requirements,” HousingWire (Jan. 5, 2012)
If you’re in the market to buy a home or sell your current home for top dollar Megan Bower, Realtor for Coldwell Banker specializes in selling upscale homes on the central west coast of Florida. Her areas of specialty are St. Petersburg, Clearwater Beach, Madiera Beach, Bellair Beach, & Indian Rocks Beach. Contact Megan or better yet schedule an appointment, she is always happy to share the latest real estate news in the area.
The number of housing markets showing measurable improvement nearly doubled in January, with the addition of 40 new metros to the Improving Markets Index put out by First American and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The index tracks housing markets that are showing signs of improving economic health based on three independent data sets – employment growth from the Labor Department, home price appreciation from Freddie Mac, and single-family housing permits from the Census Bureau.
The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in employment, home prices, and housing permits for at least six consecutive months.
These 40 metro areas were added to the Improving Markets Index this month:
- Florence, Alabama
- Tuscaloosa, Alabama
- Fayetteville, Arkansas
- Denver, Colorado
- Greeley, Colorado
- Bridgeport, Connecticut
- New Haven, Connecticut
- Cape Coral, Florida
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Punta Gorda, Florida
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Ames, Iowa
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Dubuque, Iowa
- Elkhart, Indiana
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Lafayette, Indiana
- Lake Charles, Louisiana
- Worcester, Massachusetts
- Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Lansing, Michigan
- Monroe, Michigan
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Columbia, Missouri
- Joplin, Missouri
- Fargo, North Dakota
- Manchester, New Hampshire
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Corvallis, Oregon
- Erie, Pennsylvania
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Clarksville, Tennessee
- Nashville, Tennessee
- College Station, Texas
- Dallas, Texas
- Victoria, Texas
- Madison, Wisconsin
Though small metropolitan areas seem to dominate the list, a variety of major metro areas in diverse parts of the country were added this month, including Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Nashville, and Philadelphia.
The full list now stands at 76, with 31 states and the District of Columbia all represented by at least one entry. The current count is up from 41 in December. Five metros on the list in December were dropped from the index in January. These included Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Canton, Ohio; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Charleston, West Virginia.
This list would be much larger if it wasn’t for restrictive lending from banks and the growth of delinquent and distressed properties in certain areas of the country.
A complete list of all 76 metropolitan areas currently on the Improving Markets Index is available at: nahb.org/imi.
What does all of this information mean for you? If you’re buying or selling a home in any of these markets there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you are looking for housing information in the state of Florida especially the beaches of the west coast such as St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Indian Rocks Beach, or Madeira Beach contact Megan Bower Realtor for Coldwell Banker 727-581-9411, or better yet schedule an appointment to grasp ahold of the current market and see how far your dollar can stretch in this area.
This post was written by Megan Bower in conjunction with information from Carrie Bay and NAHB.