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Strategies for Falling Real Estate Markets – Selling in a Slow Market

When real estate prices fall and more than six months of inventory remains on the market, the market is (take your pick):

* Slumping

* Depressed

* Softening

* Falling

* Slowing Down

Whichever term you choose, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the fact that people still buy and sell. The market hasn’t come to a crunching stand still. You simply adjust to the market. Those who don’t will get squished.

Strategies for Slowing Markets

If you are a seller, shoving a For Sale sign in your front yard isn’t going to help much. Nor is plopping the listing into MLS. You’ve got to be aggressive and make your home stand out like a shining star among the hundreds of others on the market. Whether you plan to hire an agent or you want to sell your home yourself, you can use these strategies to sell quickly and for more money in a depressed market:

* Getting Your Home Ready for Market

Here’s how to make it sparkle and twinkle with that come-hither-and-buy-me look. We’ve left no cobwebs behind and no window sill unpolished.

* Setting the Stage

All about how to add the “WOW” factor to your home. Staging goes beyond decluttering and cleaning. It’s inserting the magic and invoking that mysterious urge that makes a buyer say “Yes, I want this house.”

* The Queen of Home Staging

Barb Schwarz founded home staging and shares her secrets with you. This interview highlights the methods Schwarz preaches that actually do work!

* Improvements that Return the Investment

If you have time before hitting the market, a bit of cash and the energy to do it yourself, this is about the little repairs and upgrades that will return rewards.

* How to Effectively Market Your Home

The top 10 tips to market your home the way professional agents do it. From signage to virtual tours and open houses, this is a complete A to Z tutorial.

* Selling a House With Pets

Here is how to delicately balance between trying to keep your pets safe yet out of the way when selling.

* Marketing Blunders

Especially in markets with falling prices, you can’t afford to mess up, yet people do. Learn how to avoid making mistakes when selling and how to gain that upper hand by recognizing the difference between good marketing and bad marketing.

* Protect Your Identity

While your home is on the market, the last thing you need to worry about is identity theft or strangers rifling through your personal belongings. Here’s how to protect yourself while your home is on the market.

HAFA Short Sale Program Debuts

The HAFA Short Sale Program starts today and runs through December 31, 2012.

HAFA is the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives offered through the government’s Making Home Affordable Program. It’s an effort to help more underwater sellers either receive a loan modification or streamline the presently lengthy short sale process. While the truth is fewer than 200,000 homeowners in the country have been granted a loan modification through the HAMP program, it’s possible that the HAFA short sale program may help sellers to sidestep the hassles inherent in a short sale and let them sell their homes without recourse.

Tips for a First Tallahassee Time Home Buyer

Benefits for a First-Time Tallahassee Home Buyer

You should buy a home in Tallahassee. That’s what you’ve been hearing from friends and family, right? So, by now you have likely already weighed the benefits and decided that home ownership was the best decision for you. That’s a major hurdle now passed. You are focused and certain. Good.

Defining Search Parameters for a First-Time Home Buyer

Almost 80% of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, home buyers can search through hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes. You’ve probably defined your goals and have a pretty good idea of the type of home and neighborhood you want in Tallahassee. By the time you reach your real estate agent’s office, you are halfway to home ownership.

How Long Should It Take to Buy Your First Home in Tallahassee?

In seller’s markets, often I show only one home. After all, how many homes does one family need? A few buyers will look for years, but buyers who do that aren’t motivated. A motivated buyer will find a home within two weeks. Most of my buyers find a home within two days.

Good real estate agents will listen to your wants and needs and arrange to show only those homes that fit your particular parameters. Your agent should preview homes before showing them to you as well.

How Many Homes Will a Home Buyer See?

Studies show that your memory dramatically improves after consumption of carbs and slows upon consuming sugar. So, lay off the soft drinks and have a hearty meal of carbs before venturing out to tour homes. The average number of homes that I show to a buyer in one day is seven. Any more than that, and the brain is on overload. Therefore, don’t expect to see 20 or 30 homes; although it’s physically possible to do so, you probably will not remember specific details about any of them.

The “Red Shoes” Experience for a Home Buyer

Women will relate to this. Say, you need a new pair of red shoes. You go to the mall. At the first shoe store, you find a fabulous pair of red shoes. You try them on. They fit perfectly. They are glamorous. Priced right, too. Do you buy them? Of course not! You go to every other store in the mall trying on red shoes until you are ready to drop from exhaustion. Then you return to the first store and buy those red shoes. Do not shop for a home this way. When you find the perfect home, buy it.

How a First-Time Home Buyer Can Rate Inventory

  • Bring a digital camera and begin each series of photos with a close-up of the house number to identify where each group of home photos start and end.
  • Take copious notes of unusual features, colors and design elements.
  • Pay attention to the home’s surroundings. What is next door? Do 2-story homes tower over your single story?
  • Do you like the location? Is it near a park or a power plant?
  • Immediately after leaving, rate each home on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

View Top Choices a Second Time Before Buying That First Home

After touring homes for a few days, you will probably instinctively know which one or two homes you would like to buy. Ask to see them again. You will see them with different eyes and notice elements that were overlooked the first go-around.

At this point, your agent should call the listing agents to find out more about the sellers’ motivation and to double-check that an offer hasn’t come in, making sure these homes are still available to purchase.

Making the Selection To Buy a Home in Tallahassee

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I generally know which home a buyer is going to choose, and I suspect most other agents operate the same way. It’s an intuition. But I make it a practice not to steer buyers, and I insist that buyers choose the home without interference from me. It’s not my choice to make.

Real estate agents are required, however, to point out defects and should help buyers feel confident that the home selected meets the buyer’s search parameters.

Tips for Buying Tallahassee Foreclosures

Get the Tallahassee Property History

Ask your buyer’s agent to find out the bank’s purchase price on the Trustee’s Deed or Sheriff’s Deed. Generally, it is noted on the document itself, which you can get from the tax rolls or a title company. Compare that price to the price the bank is asking.

Look at the amount of loans that were once secured to the property. Somewhere between the original mortgage balance(s) and the foreclosure sale price is the amount the bank will accept, if the home is under-priced.

Determine Comparable Sales

In many cases, the list price has little bearing on the value of the home. The market value carries the most weight. If you are up against competing offers, other buyers will offer more than list price.

* Look at the last three months of comparable sales, a mini CMA, for that neighborhood to determine how much this REO is worth. Try to use only those homes that most closely match the REO regarding square footage, number of bedrooms, baths, amenities and condition.

* Look at the pending sales. Ask your agent to call the listing agents of those pending sales to try to find out the accepted offer price. Some will share that information and some will not.

* Look at the active listings. Those are most likely the listings other buyers will use to formulate a price because they are the only homes those buyers actually tour.


Analyze Listing Agent’s REO Solds

Most REO agents work for one or two banks. Some listing agents are exclusive listing agents for REOs, and they do not list any other type of property. Since REO agents deal in volume, they typically apply the same pricing principles to all their REO listings.

* Ask your buyer’s agent to look up the listing agent in MLS.

* Run a search using that listing agent’s name to find the last three to six months of that agent’s listings.

* Pull the history of those listings to determine the list-price to sales-price ratio. If most of those listings are selling for, say, 5% over list price, then you may need to offer 6% over list price, and vice versa.

Ask About Number of Offers

If there are no offers on the REO home, you can probably offer less than list price and get your offer accepted. However, if there are more than two offers, you will most likely need to offer above the asking price.

If there are 20 offers, bear in mind that some of those offers might be all cash. Banks like all cash offers. If you are obtaining financing, then you may need to increase the price on your offer to be considered.

Submit Preapproval Letter

It goes without saying that you do not want a prequal letter. You want a preapproval letter. Get preapproved from your choice of lender in advance.

Moreover, get preapproved by the lender who owns the property. Do not expect to use this lender for your loan, but submit the prepproval letter from this lender, along with the letter from your own lender. Banks don’t trust other lender preapprovals but trust their own departments.

Don’t Ask for Repairs / Inspections

Sometimes banks will pay for repairs, but typically will not agree to do so at the offer stage. If there are problems found during a home inspection, renegotiate after your offer has been accepted.

Shorten the Inspection Period

If other buyers ask for 17 days, for example, to conduct inspections, and you ask for 10, you will be deemed the more serious buyer.

Offer to Split Fees

Some banks will not pay transfer fees, for example. If the buyer offers to split those fees, the bank will feel more amenable to accepting the offer. Same thing for escrow fees.

Many banks negotiate discount fees for title insurance. If the bank will pay for the owner’s policy, the ALTA policy might cost a bit more. But it’s still a good idea to let the bank choose title if you want your offer accepted.

Tallahassee Home Sellers’ Biggest Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Lots of Tallahassee home owners cry when they sell. Before the ink is dry on the listing agreement, eyes often swell with tears, and we’re not talking about the listing agent. That’s because sellers have developed relationships with their homes. Homes hold treasured memories. It’s common for sellers to be very emotional about their home. Some are overcome by seller’s remorse. However, some sellers weep for a different reason. They sob because they can’t sell their home.

The Tallahassee Home is Priced Too High

* By far, the worst Tallahassee home selling mistake a seller can make is hanging the wrong price tag on a home. If the home is priced too high, buyers won’t look at it. If it’s priced too low, sellers worry that they’ll give away profits.

* Pricing a Tallahassee home to sell is an art. Part of the market value is based on comparable sales, but other factors to consider include market movement, demand, the home’s location and its condition.

* If the home is overpriced, buyers might submit lowball offers, which tend to result in an immediate offer rejection. These extremely low offers tend to infuriate and insult sellers.

* Some agents deliberately overstate the value of a home and push a seller to sign an overpriced listing. There are many reasons why agents do this, but the bottom line is sellers lose a competitive edge when later reducing the price. The bottom line is sellers who “test the market” get stung.

The Tallahassee Home is in Bad Condition

* Getting your house ready for market goes beyond making the beds and washing dirty dishes. Although I’ve seen plenty of homes with toys scattered throughout and dishes piled in the sink; buyers can’t get out of those homes fast enough. There are at least 10 essential steps to take to preparing the home for sale.

* Some homes need updating and quick fixes. Doing repairs before resale can boost chances of quickly selling. If items are broken or buyers see deferred maintenance, they wonder what else is wrong. It’s more expensive, actually, not to fix the house.

* Dressing your home for showings is called staging a home. Think of the process like arranging flowers in an attractive vase. If you or your agent lack the vision or ability to stage, consider hiring a professional home stager.

Home is Marketed Wrong

* Whenever I see a badly shot photograph in MLS, and perhaps it’s the only photo, I want to shake the agent and scream, “What are you thinking?” But agents and sellers make plenty of marketing mistakes.

* The battle cry of frustrated sellers is: “Why isn’t my home selling?” These are likely sellers who are not employing marketing strategies designed to expose a home to the largest pool of buyers. Here are 10 good marketing tips that take the guesswork out of selling your home.

* Once a buyer has entered a home, the marketing continues. To increase the chances that a buyer will entertain an offer, here are 10 home showing tips.

Seller Hired an Inexperienced Agent

* You can hire a good listing agent or a mediocre agent. They all cost about the same. Here are 10 reasons to hire an agent.

* If you want full-service, then hire a full service agent. If you are fairly confident your home will sell without a full-service agent, then talk to a discount broker. Learn the difference between REALTORs® and real estate agents.

* Carefully read the listing agreement to make sure the agent who brings a buyer is fairly compensated because one surefire way to make sure an agent won’t show your home is to offer a silly commission percentage.

10 Ways to Sell Your House During a Recession

Here are 10 sure fired ways to sell your house during a recession:

1. Acquire the documents that are required to legally sell your house, such as a legal sales contract for your state, a certificate for inspection of your septic tank, if you are not on a city sewer system, and a home inspection to assure your buyers that your home has been inspected for any defects.

2. Check in your area for similar size and amenity houses that are for sale or have recently sold, to assure you that you will price your house accurately.

3. Decide on a sales price, less than comparable houses for sale in your immediate area. You could ask a real estate agent to price your home at current market value. Offer the agent a 3% commission or a flat sales fee if he/she can produce a buyer. DO NOT sign any written agreement with an agent or real estate company.

4. Determine where houses are advertised for sale on a consistent basis, your local newspaper, traders post, or local cable channel. Some weekly newspapers have a specific day of the week when agents run more ads, choose that day to run your ads.

5. Run ads that standout! ZERO DOWN! BELOW MARKET! IMMEDIATE POSSESSION! NO CLOSING COSTS! BUY THIS HOUSE PAY LESS THAN THE COST OF RENT!

6. Locate a local real estate attorney and have him/her explain what costs are involved for a specific sales price, for both you and your buyer and have them explain how much you can legally pay on behalf of the buyer to assist them in their purchase.

7. Be willing to accept a second mortgage for your equity. This is where you are willing to be paid your equity over time, or at a delayed point in time, so the buyer who wants to buy your house but hasn’t got the immediate cash required to pay your equity amount. They can do so in increments over time based on your stipulations.

8. Offer incentives to your buyer. Think about including a boat, a car, a truck, an RV, that you own, to be a part of the sale of your house. Tempt them with something extra. Recently in Wisconsin, a homeowner was willing to include 2 season tickets to all the home games of the Green Bay Packers. If you are not aware, they are sold out for years in advance.

9. Accept offers of a car, a boat, an RV, or whatever a buyer may have, that you could sell later, after the house is sold. This offer could be a down payment tool for the buyer.This could be a value toward your equity that you can liquidate later and create your equity recoup in that method.

10. Make sure you stipulate to your buyer that they show written proof from a bank or mortgage company that they are good to purchase, before drawing up a sales contract, or make it a condition of the contract, if the buyer doesn’t want someone to go ahead of them on the purchase of your house.

Keep in mind that as long as there are people getting married, getting divorced, or changing jobs, they all need a place to live and you have what someone else wants. During desperate times, desperate measures are required. Focus on the ‘have to do’, and don’t let sentimental value be a part of what must be accomplished. There will be better times and using your intelligence to let go, to move on, is the right path to take. Sell your house, lighten your burden, and make it a good decision for the times you are currently living.

Be creative, informative, and smart, he who takes on a challenge in desperate times lives to see better days ahead. Patience and persistence does pay off.

Get ready for Panera

Regency Centers , a national owner, operator and developer of grocery-anchored and community shopping centers, has leased some Tallahassee Real Estate space at Ocala Corners to Panera Bread.  Specializing in deli sandwiches, salads and soups, Panera Bread has leased 3,600 square feet of restaurant space and is slated to open for business this summer.

So, get your appetite ready.

Home sales, prices up slightly

Sales are up 3% from this time a year ago, while median prices are up 8% from that time.

February home sales in the Tallahassee real estate market barely budged from a year ago, while the median price – though up from a year ago – hit a 12-month low, according to a report from Florida Realtors on Tuesday.

Local Realtors closed on 109 existing single-family homes in the metro area up just 3 percent from 106 sales a year ago.

It was the sixth straight month of year-over-year increases, though the annual gap continues to narrow in recent months.

The median sales price was up 8 percent from $136,000 to $146,900, bucking the state’s downward price trend with the second-fastest price increase in the state, behind Pensacola’s 14 percent increase.

However, the February median is the lowest in Tallahassee since February 2009 and is down from $170,000 a month ago.

The Tallahassee foreclosure rate increased from 1.81 percent of mortgages in January 2009 to 3.84 percent a year later, according to CoreLogic, a real estate data firm. Delinquent payments were up from 3.97 percent to 7.43 percent.

Statewide sales were up 21 percent over the year – marking 18 months of year-over-year gains – and 14 percent since January, while the median price dropped 7 percent from $141,800 a year go to $131,300 in February.

Foreclosures and short sales are downwardly distorting median prices nationwide, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Ways to Ensure your Tallahassee Remodle pays off

1: Repairs get the biggest returns

The smartest money now goes into “undeferring” needed maintenance. That’s because while buyers might appreciate enhancements like Jacuzzis and Sub-Zeros, they won’t tolerate a house with a leaky roof or antiquated plumbing. “If a property is known to have issues, today’s buyers won’t even look at it,” says Austin real estate appraiser Jim Amorin.

And trying to keep problems a secret can cost you big-time. If buyers discover them during inspection, it’s now common practice to ask sellers not only to pick up the tab for the repair but also to pay a penalty to compensate the buyer for the inconvenience of having work done.

So the $20,000 you saved by putting off a roof repair, say, could turn into a $30,000 credit to the buyers at closing, says Amorin.

2: Remodeling beats adding on

McMansions have gone the way of the SUV — and large additions don’t pay off either. “There’s been a fundamental shift toward quality over quantity,” says Warwick, R.I., real estate agent Ron Phipps.

Having a big, formal living room plus an everyday family room is less desirable than having one multi-use common space. So rather than adding on, you’re better off repurposing existing square footage by reconfiguring the floor plan or capturing unused basement or attic space.

Want an eat-in kitchen? Knock down the wall between the kitchen and dining room ($2,000 to $8,000, depending on whether it’s load-bearing or contains plumbing). That will instantly create a large eat-in kitchen and give the whole house a more open feel — without a huge investment to make up at resale.

3: Eco-friendly upgrades can save cash

Some green improvements pay you back long before you sell your house. Install energy-efficient features, such as EnergyStar appliances and extra wall insulation, and you’ll see lower energy bills every month.

Add in the federal tax credit of up to $1,500 that lasts through 2010, plus many local rebates and tax incentives (see dsireusa.org), and the work may pay for itself in just five years. Green features are also increasingly a selling point, says Phipps. “Most people in the market right now are first-time homebuyers in their thirties, and they’ve been raised to care about carbon footprints and being ecofriendly,” he says.

The best way to go green is with a while-you’re-at-it job: When it’s time to replace your furnace, for example, upgrading to super-efficiency might add only $500 (after tax credits), compared with standard new equipment, but it will save you — and your buyers someday — $150 or more in annual heating costs.

4: Tech infrastructure trumps cool gadgets

Home electronics seem like a deal, since prices have fallen about 50% over the past three years and continue to drop, according to Stephen Baker, president of industry analysis at NPD Group, a market research firm.

Still, that doesn’t change the fundamental problem with expensive built-in technology: Put in a $10,000-plus dedicated home theater today, and something better will come along tomorrow and make your system look as if it’s from the Mesozoic Era. With buyers seeking any excuse to low-ball their offers, they’re not going to reward you for an out-of-date system.

Tech infrastructure is different, however. Anytime you’re opening up walls for a construction project, have cabling and Ethernet ports installed. At about $80 a room, it’s a low-cost way to provide the capability for whatever technologies come along.

5: Let the Joneses be your guide

During the boom, you could be the first on your block to have a luxury kitchen, spa bathroom, or in-ground pool and count on others following suit. And even if the neighbors never took your lead, there was plenty of equity growth to cover your costs.

Nowadays that fudge factor is gone. “You really have to keep your house’s amenities in line with the neighborhood now,” says Kermit Baker, director of the remodeling futures program at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

If other houses on the block have real marble countertops, by all means add one to your house, but if everyone still has faux blue-marble Formica from the ’70s, you’re not getting your money back.

Also, keep your projects design-neutral so they’ll appeal to the greatest number of people. Choose neutral colors and traditional electrical and plumbing fixtures unless your house has a modern architectural style.

6: The new payback time is five years

As with any volatile investment, the longer your time frame, the lower the risk. Don’t take on a big project if you’re likely to move in less than three to five years. There’s just too much chance that any money you put in — aside from necessary repairs or superficial cosmetic work — could be lost while the housing market continues to meander.

But if you plan to stay awhile, don’t delay starting a project. Home improvements are a bargain right now, with contractors bidding 10%, 20%, even 40% lower for the same work than just a year or two ago, says Bernie Markstein, senior economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

Grab them while they’re hungry for work and make it clear that you’ll be getting multiple bids so they’ll be motivated to undercut one another’s prices. You’ll fulfill the first rule of investing: Buy low. Then hope that when you’re ready to move, you can sell high.

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