South Florida Real Estate Blog by Shari Orland, Realtor

What Timeless Adage Applies to Selling Delray Beach Homes?

Last Tuesday night, as rickety Father Time welcomed in the infant New Year, an old saying was resurrected (as it is most years): “Everything old is new again.” It’s usually heard in relation to the temporary nature of fashions—like the width of neckties or the lengths of skirts. That has little to do with buying and selling Delray Beach homes, other than reaffirming the value of deep walk-in closets. If they’re roomy enough, temporarily out-of-style finery can await their next at-bat.

The nature of buying and selling Delray Beach homes differs from clothing purchases so greatly that it seems outlandish to think you can draw any useful conclusions by comparing the two. The size of a homebuying transaction and the complexity of the procedures that must be followed certainly point in that direction. Even so, in the broader context, there is more than a kernel of wisdom in the old saying. The national experience from the past two decades bears this out.

In the Year 2000 and for the first years following, the housing market showed all the signs of normalcy: where home values grew, the rise was slow and steady. But then, for a number of reasons only mildly related to the intrinsic value of homes, there developed a virtual stampede to “buy in” to avoid missing out on the widespread boom in U.S. housing values. Lax home loan oversight was a major culprit. Then came the puncture of the bubble—and an equally overdone plummet in market values. By the beginning of the second decade, market forces finally stabilized, allowing a bounce back, then today’s resumption of slow and steady value growth.

This is not to suggest that we will soon see another bubble, stampede, and the like—on the contrary, it will almost certainly be a long time before living...

History of New Year’s Resolutions Hard to Find

Delray Beach New Year’s Eve partygoers will be taking part in one of the most ancient of human rites—one that dates back thousands of years. New Year’s resolutions probably started about the same time, but there aren’t any traces of them (not surprising, when you consider that all traces of most New Year’s resolutions disappear entirely before Groundhogs Day).

If one of your own resolutions is to become a more knowledgeable New Year’s Eve partygoer (or even just to be better prepared to break awkward silences), the following New Year’s historical facts could come in handy:

  • Ancient Babylonians hosted the first known New Year’s Eve parties (back around 2000 BC).
  • The Romans celebrated New Year’s Day on March 1.
  • Auld Lang Syne is Scottish for “times gone by.”
  • The Times Square ball drop features Waterford Crystal triangles that change every year (for 2020, the pattern is called “The Gift of Goodwill”).
  • The last place to celebrate the New Year is Baker Island (it’s in the South Pacific).

On the other hand, if you’re one of those Delray Beach New Year’s Eve partygoers whose New Year’s resolution is to be less of a know-it-all, keeping these New Year’s trivia to yourself could get you off to a better start.

In any case, on a much more serious note, this Wednesday marks the opening of a whole new decade—one that bears multiple signs of a decidedly prosperous future. If your year will include Delray Beach real estate dealings, I’ll be here to ensure they...

2020 Predictions: Good News for Boynton Beach Home Sellers

 If the commentary from TheStreet.com is on-target, “housing and real estate experts” are largely in agreement about how real estate will fare in the coming year. If the local scene falls in line with their predictions, it will be a good year for Boynton Beach home sellers.

That’s not to say the prognosticators haven’t left themselves some wiggle room—a good idea since future events rarely completely conform to expectations. But the drift of TheStreet’s 12 top predictions does point in a direction that holds ample encouragement for Boynton Beach home sellers. High points:

  • There are many factors that point to a “more competitive” housing market. As fewer sellers list their properties, buyers will vie for what’s out there.
  • A “return of bidding wars” is possible. Redfin is the most optimistic, putting a figure to the result—with the first half of 2020 notching prices up 6% year-over-year. In the second six months, it expects supply and demand to halve that rate.
  • Mortgage rates are expected to “stabilize at the low end”—further encouraging buyers to strengthen offers.
  • In the event that a recession occurs, housing won’t be affected. Again, the low inventory picture is expected to shield sellers.
  • Overall, with demand exceeding supply and first-time buyers newly becoming “a very significant component” of the market, U.S. home values should rise.

These predictions do fall in line with trends already in place, so no raised eyebrows should result. Potential...

Are Huge Changes Sweeping the U.S. Housing Market?

The National Association of Realtors® is a sunny organization whose pronouncements can be relied upon to promote (you guessed it) real estate. Like any gigantic organization (we have more than a million dues-paying members), the NAR tends to be cautious in its public pronouncements. But in last Wednesday’s article about the course of residential real estate in 2020, Boca Raton readers would have found the kind of sweeping statement that makes people think twice. “Is that really so?” “If that’s true, what then?

The statement was this: the decade just past “has been the most consequential stretch in American real estate history…one that fundamentally altered the landscape.”

Quite a pronouncement.

There followed a quick summary of the decade just past, making a convincing case that so much has changed that it might as well be part of “a different landscape.” Ten years ago, “many homeowners were desperately hoping to hang onto their homes” and, “buyers were struggling with newly skittish lenders.” The turnaround in those crucial elements is undeniable, yes, but reversals in conditions happen regularly. What makes this decade’s about-face “the most consequential” ever?

Their answer boils down to the scope of the recovery combined with a dearth of entry-level housing starts. The recovery has meant a sustained, robust rebound in existing house values, but unaccompanied by the resurgence of entry-level builders who were stricken from the scene. Even as price rises are finally leveling out, the starter house inventory remains strikingly sparse.

This is happening as major demographic changes take...

Why Delray Beach Holiday Travelers Set No Records

Delray Beach’s Sunday was officially called “Sofa Sunday”—possibly in recognition of its service as a welcome interlude between Black Friday sales, Small Business Saturday sales, and Cyber Monday sales. Football games on TV also drove many Thanksgiving celebrants to the sofas, where early pregame news flashes projected Sunday as “the busiest travel day” in history. By midday, it turned out that local viewers would have started to doubt those predictions.

The obstacle was the California storms that had been drenching the West Coast. By Sunday, they were well on their way East, shredding Midwest and East Coast airline travel schedules. For the majority of Delray Beach travelers who’d avoided the airports, holiday highway traffic at least gave them a shot at returning home on schedule.

The whole experience (including the blanket news coverage) did put travel convenience top-of-mind, even for Thanksgiving celebrants who remained homebound. When it comes to Delray Beach real estate, a property’s connection with transportation convenience is most often given minor prominence. For one reason, Delray Beach’s airport proximity is a given—there would be little sales advantage to noting it. On the other hand, some Delray Beach properties may shave travel minutes by ready access to major auto arteries—that can be an attractive convenience factor for breadwinners whose routine includes daily commutes.

Usually in urban contexts, mention is also cited for the impact that proximity to public transportation can have. A recent collaboration by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute and the American Public Transportation Association found a measurable sales price advantage for properties with good access to public transportation. In any case, this weekend, for Thanksgiving...

Boca Raton Home Sellers Get Unlikely Staging Input

It’s fair to say that Walmart—the iconic American superstore—isn’t the first place most Boca Raton area home sellers are likely to think of when it comes to staging their property. After all, Walmart is most famous for “everyday low prices” (advertising code for ‘cheap!’). That’s quite a contrast with your house—the most costly purchase most people ever make.

So it was something of a head-turner when realtor.com, web home of the National Association of Realtors®, published an informative piece under the heading, “5 Home Staging Essentials You Can Find at Walmart.” Especially when you think about staging million-dollar Boca Raton estates, the Walmart connection seems like a stretch—much less a “home staging essential.”

That headline does make for some irresistible reading, though—and although Boca Raton staging professionals might debate some of the “essentials,” the list is worth quoting:

  • Fluffy white hand towels. No argument—as long as the fluffiness is (as described) “soft.”
  •  Round accent mirrors. They can be “a stylish accent” as described—but that depends on the quality of the frame (the one pictured fits the bill).
  • Fake green plants. Not a bad idea for corners where the real thing wouldn’t thrive. The examples pictured shows “the greenery” in nice-looking vases.
  • Flameless candles. In many settings, this could be debatable. Because they attract attention, such “safe LED candles” risk unnecessarily communicating “fake” more tellingly...

Where is Boynton Beach Real Estate Headed? The 2020 Predictions

Now that we’re almost to Thanksgiving, we find ourselves at the traditional moment when real estate’s soothsayers dust off their crystal balls and get busy. In the coming weeks, they will go to press with their projections, informed guesses, and unbridled hunches about how real estate will fare in the coming year.

Everyone contemplating Boynton Beach real estate transactions in 2020 will be affected to some degree by shifts in the national disposition, so it’s always worth keeping an ear open to the experts’ conversations—their projections do influence what actually comes to pass (even if they’re ultimately off-target).

Last Friday’s Forbes release led the pack this year with Senior Contributor Aly Yale’s roundup of six opinions from Forbes-selected mortgage, real estate, and housing experts. For Boynton Beach readers hoping to gain fresh insights about the coming year, the consensus views were less than electrifying: if any big changes are hovering over the horizon, the experts are keeping them on the q.t.

Details:

Housing.  Throughout 2019, housing inventories have remained limited, in large part because people are choosing longer stays in their current homes. One study found that the average duration was 8 years in 2010—but is now 13 years. Says O. Kushi, chief economist for First American title insurer, “you can’t buy what’s not for sale;” hence, the cap on housing sales. The prediction for 2020? More of the same.

Real Estate: With interest rates low and incomes climbing, the share of younger buyers has been growing. Even so, it has still been an uphill battle due to higher prices and a dearth of starter homes. For 2020? Expect more price...

What Bathroom Preferences Differ by Age Group?

 Luxurious bathrooms are getting to be a staple in nearly all the new homes being built today. For future sellers whose older Delray Beach homes come up short in that department, an upgrade may be warranted—giving rise to a relevant question about which features are most likely to attract future homebuyers.

Earlier this month, The National Association of Home Builders issued a press release that addresses the issue. It summarized the findings compiled in their What Home Buyers Really Want publication—an exhaustive breakdown of the findings in the NAHB’s national survey of prospective buyers. The survey documents significant deviations in the features different American generations value—particularly when it comes to bathroom features.

It is fairly unanimous that all age groups would value having both a stall shower and a tub—but three-quarters of Millennials list a double vanity as their second most sought-after feature. Preceding generations (broken down into GenXers, Boomers, and Seniors) find that less compelling.

The greatest bathroom preference disparities between young and old appeared in four areas—

  • Dual toilets in the master bath
  • His and Her baths
  • Color vs. white toilet, tub, and sink
  • Whirlpool tub

—    with the youthful respondents showing markedly greater partiality for dual accommodations, splashes of color, and whirlpools.

As a practical matter, when sellers consider remodeling their existing bathrooms, space limitations render some upgrades impractical. But for Delray Beach homeowners...

Nobelist’s New Idea Could Bear on Boca Raton Real Estate

Gaining insight into today’s Boca Raton real estate market doesn’t usually call for Nobel Prize-level theoretical input, but you can make a pretty good argument that last week provided an exception. For those of us who are relied upon to provide knowledgeable insight into the myriad forces that can move our market, an intriguing interview in Yale University’s YaleNews roundup could go far in explaining one nagging question.

The Nobel Prize connection is with the interviewee: Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller. His Case-Shiller Indexes are the undisputed go-to economic measures of home price fluctuations. Dr. Shiller just published “Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events,” a book that delves into a novel explanation for why markets and pricing so often seem impervious to scientific analysis. If you’ve ever come away with more questions than answers after listening to academics discussing future conditions, you know what I mean.

Professor Shiller’s book is a plea for more study of “the epidemics of popular narratives,” which he believes have a strong influence on how economies and markets behave. For him, “popular narratives” aren’t the kind that are based on economic data. They are “simple stories, true and untrue” that underlie regular people’s thinking. Although these are often based on oversimplifications, they can be contagious—and sometimes lead to illogical conclusions that send markets in irrational directions.

He thinks they explain things like why people tend to believe that the stock market measures the health of the economy, or why they spend more money during booms than in busts. That’s hardly a rational strategy, as those who bought Boca Raton real estate during the darkest days of the last...

Inheriting Boynton Beach Homes: Not without Issues

The wisdom behind the truism that there’s no such thing as a free lunch can even apply in a context as virtuous as inheriting Boynton Beach homes. Parents bequeathing the family home—or generations passing down the ancestral vacation cottage—are intended to be acts of unalloyed generosity. But common to many commentaries on the subject are some common unintended consequences. For Boynton Beach homeowners who have ever weighed the idea of passing the family homestead onto their progeny, it’s a point worth exploring.

 The most acrimonious outfalls surface when multiple heirs are involved. Since individuals fare differently as careers develop and life’s opportunities and challenges unfold, the obligations accompanying homeownership present difficulties for some heirs more than others. Given the fact that taxes, insurance, utility bills, and maintenance expenses are ongoing even for a property that is debt-free, the choice of which possible disposition (occupying, renting, or selling) may affect heirs very differently.

Overlaying the financial outfall is the likelihood that the latter two income-generating solutions are bound to raise sentimental issues when clearing the property for sale or new tenants. The emotional stress often causes heirs to avoid cleaning out an inherited property, sometimes, for years. Says Rhea Friedman, a CFP in Manhattan, “Not selling a house and not living in it makes for increased maintenance and insurance costs without much to show for them.”

The best solutions seem to result when everyone can summon “their best selves” to cooperate in formulating a precise agreement spelling out how ongoing expenses and obligations will be shared. Another variation is for the donors to engage Boynton Beach legal help to create a framework that addresses the specifics in ways...