South Florida Real Estate Blog by Shari Orland, Realtor

Surprising Delray Beach Real Estate Lessons for GenX Generation

By now, just about everyone in Delray Beach looks back on the last decade’s housing bust with a lot less consternation than heretofore—time can do that (as well as the recovery of temporarily lost value). For some Delray Beach homeowners, the temporary nosedive in Delray Beach real estate values was little more than an uncomfortable learning experience. For others, it served as confirmation of the long-term store of value their Delray Beach real estate embodies. But for others, the dominant memory is of the severe dislocation it and the accompanying worldwide financial meltdown triggered. Members of the Gen X group (those born between 1965-1980) could have ample reason to identify with any of the above—but there’s reason to believe the first two claim more adherents.

The Pew Research Center has gone over the statistics and emerged with these factoids about the generations and how they have fared, post-recession. The first one may be the most surprising:

  • Gen X households are the only ones to recover the wealth lost in the Great Recession. This was as of July 2018, but is eyebrow-raising since the Gen Xers were, according to Pew, “particularly hard hit.” That makes sense since they were younger than the Boomers, so more likely to have entered the market when prices were at their peak. Their superior rebound is explained by the fact that wealth tends to rise most quickly at younger ages—so the rebound caught their earnings sweet spot.
  • Today, Typical Gen X homeowners have more home equity than before the housing collapse. Since Gen Xers are in the prime working-age range, they’ve displayed the most consistent “ability to rebuild wealth.” Compared with the Boomers, Silent Generation, and to a lesser extent, Millennials, they have...

Boca Raton Real Estate Investing Without Pop-Up Ads

 Few Boca Raton residents who spend much time online have avoided the unnerving experience of having their screens populated with ads aimed at them, personally. Whether the culprit is Google or Facebook or one of the otherwise-useful apps, it’s close to impossible to avoid having your personal preferences noted and exploited by the omnipresent web snoops.

Among the annoying pop-up ads that result can be the ones that aim at real estate investors. Some feature piggy bank graphics, graying couples with anxious (or confident) expressions on their faces, or charts with upward-sloping trend lines. There is one that shows a toy house on top of a mountain of dollar bills—a variation on the ones perched atop stacks of coins.

But then there are the really aggressive pop-ups. Some of them actually pop up and without even asking start playing video movies about successful real estate investing. If the soundtracks are noisy, and particularly if they originate from a window buried behind other windows (so you have to stop what you’re doing to find them in order to shut them up), these can be really annoying.

Real estate investment pop-ups may promise Simple ways to invest, Hidden ways to invest, or even Secret ways to invest. The Secret ways are often free—contained in online books whose covers tend to look a lot like the other pop-up graphics (piggy banks, mounds of cash, etc.). It’s not hard to resist downloading them.

I have a not-so-hidden secret about Boca Raton real estate investing. Success takes some thoughtful groundwork, including identifying an investment goal, devising a strategy, and finding an energetic local real estate agent who knows Boca Raton and its current and emerging opportunities. When you give me...

What Qualities Do Top Boynton Beach Real Estate Agents Share?

If it’s the first time you have ever bought or sold a house, don’t fret if you’ve found yourself procrastinating—who wouldn’t? Most people are at least temporarily paralyzed by the immensity of the undertaking. The same applies to many of Boynton Beach’s current homeowners whose last real estate foray happened years ago.  

Even so, veteran home buyers and sellers have the advantage of knowing that Job One is to establish a trusting relationship with an experienced Boynton Beach real estate agent. Experienced folks may do at least some preliminary groundwork—checking out the current crop of properties being offered—but in the end, they know how the single step of teaming with the right agent accomplishes the vital job of removing the guesswork from all that follows.  

The tricky part is identifying the right real estate agent. There’s no shortage of how-to articles on the subject—but in truth, the qualifying factors are simple, logical, and uncontroversial. They break down like this:

  • Experience. Top agents have piloted their clients through these familiar waters many times. They see snags before they arrive—and steer clear of them.
  • Energy. Top Boynton Beach agents are the real estate equivalent of the Energizer bunny. In the abstract, buying and selling homes is a paperwork job. In reality, it’s that and a non-stop, out-there-in-the-field profession.
  • Teamwork. A true team player is called for because top agents are flexible enough to be able to follow the direction of the client (you: the team captain) while working harmoniously with the full roster of other local Boynton Beach professionals. They will ultimately...

Which Delray Beach Homeowners Benefit from the Rate Cuts?

When interest rates were cut after the Fed’s July meeting, the press was quick to point out that not every homeowner would benefit from the move. As Bankrate.com noted in its lead article How the Fed’s Interest Rate Decisions Affect Mortgage Rates, “the majority of Americans won’t be affected.”

That’s true—for the moment. But for some Delray Beach homeowners, by last week, the immediate effects constituted good news. The Bankrate commentators touched on some of the traditional brain-teasing economics behind the effects (“there is an inverse relationship between bond prices and yields”)—but the practical repercussions were more straightforward. Mortgage lenders reacted with rate cuts, so:

  • Benefits flowed to the “winners of the rate cut”—some home loan borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs).
  • Also benefitting were those using home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).
  • Current fixed-rate mortgage holders may be able to cut their mortgage payments via refinancing.
  • Possible beneficiaries will be homebuyers whose budgets could now stretch to fit pricier homes.

The reason only some ARM holders will benefit immediately is because these loans usually adjust annually—and some don’t adjust for the first two, three, five (or even seven) years.

The Bankrate piece linked to another article, from way back on June 3rd. It described how “nearly 6 million people can now cut their mortgage payments with refinancing.” That was after May’s “sharp drop in rates” (which came as...

Selling Your Boca Raton House: “Myths” or Assumptions?

Oftentimes those lists naysaying common “myths” about selling a house are actually addressing assumptions. If “myths” are stories handed down through the generations, “selling your house” is an unlikely topic to be part of family lore. Myths about selling your Boca Raton house are usually more like logical assumptions that many sellers make on their own, rather than information they’ve heard from someone else.

So here is a “Top 3” list of questionable assumptions sellers sometimes make about selling their Boca Raton house:

  1. Homebuyers want to remodel after they purchase a home. Many people think that the average buyer “wants to make it their own” by wreaking wholesale changes to reflect their personal tastes. In fact, this assumption is contradicted by what is far more common: most buyers are attracted by properties that are “move-in ready.”
  2. Remodeling will take so much time it will be impractical. Updating tired details in key rooms (kitchens and bathrooms are typical) can be accomplished speedily when the scope is narrow. In some instances, concentrating on details like light fixtures, faucets, and kitchen and bath hardware design—can wind up reducing the time on market. 
  3. Remodeling never pays off. This budgetary assumption actually could be close to a myth because it is often discussed. But it’s only true when indiscriminate remodeling is undertaken. Small upgrades that focus on areas that buyers center on can definitely result in a higher selling price. This is where outdated kitchens or bathrooms warrant thoughtful consideration.

Every Boca Raton house deserves to be recognized as offering...

Top 6 Garage Sale Tips before You Sell Your Boca Raton Home

As soon as you begin to plan to sell your Boca Raton home, you’ll soon find one thing everyone agrees upon: the need to de-clutter. But where to start? For any home that’s been lived in for years, it’s easier said than done. Most of us shrink from even thinking about what goes and what stays. But one way to wade into the project is to force the issue by picking a date and (now that you’re committed)—holding a garage (AKA ‘yard’) sale!

For garage sale neophytes, there are a number of tips that veterans agree upon. Here are six that top most lists:

  • Inventory as if you are serious. That means making a list of each of the major items you will be offering, then placing a price tag on each. A very general rule of thumb is to price most at 25% of what you may have paid for items that are in “like new” condition—but that is only a guideline.
  • Tables—beg, borrow, or steal as many folding tables as possible (maybe the stealing isn’t such a good idea). But most people don’t like to keep bending over to inspect items—and experts say they don’t value them as highly, either.
  • Advertise. Use any local Boca Raton free media, social media, and, beginning a week in advance, put up strategically placed, easy-to-read announcement posters. Don’t forget to include the date, day, and hours (4 to 6 hours will be sufficient).
  • Set up at least a half-hour before the sale begins. The most serious customers are likely to be “first in.”
  • Get small change: lots of it. If you will be offering a number of pricey items, it could be worthwhile to invest in one of the many mobile...

Delray Beach Multiple Offer Scenarios Still Can Happen!

Real estate market changes can be sudden or slow. No matter how the broader market shifts nationally or locally here in Delray Beach, certain types of properties or price ranges can still result in a multiple offer scenario.

Buyers: never fear! If you fall in love with one of these highly desired homes, there are strategies that will help your offer stand out that DON’T involve simply offering more money. 

Go beyond the pre-approval letter

The more prepared you are, the better.  To get ahead, be the buyer who’s further along in the loan process BEFORE you make an offer.  This means preparing all the documents your lender needs when it’s time to approve the mortgage: tax returns, W2s, pay stubs, bank statements, etc.

Find a 24/7 mortgage broker

Did you know there even was such a thing? Time is always “of the essence,” so working with a mortgage professional who is available on weekends can help when a quick turnaround is critical. That way, if you put an offer on a house on a Saturday or Sunday, your lender can contact the seller’s real estate agent directly to assure the sellers that you’ll be able to close quickly and on time if they choose your offer!

Write a love letter

Personal letters can actually work! Such a letter might include a brief intro to you and your family (and don’t shy away from including a fun fact or two to make it personal). It would go over the unique details you like about the house, the neighborhood, and the future you envision there.  It never hurts to end with a note of appreciation of how well the sellers have taken care of the property.

Be flexible with the seller

It’s not always about the money.  Timeliness matters.  Closing dates matter.  Maybe the seller needs to be out of the home...

Avoiding Expensive Buyer Mistakes!

Buying a home in Boynton Beach– especially if it’s your first – can seem like it’s just a magnified version of any other major purchase. You’re the buyer—which makes you the boss. It can be as straightforward as that—but there are also several parts of the process where it’s all too easy for Boynton Beach buyer mistakes to cost not just time and frustration, but real money, too. Here are some common home-buying missteps:

1. Looking for a home before speaking about a mortgage.

Many first-time buyers make the mistake of viewing homes before making contact with a mortgage lender. This puts you behind the ball if a home you love hits the market, or if you wind up spending time and energy looking at homes that you can’t afford.

2. Talking to only one lender.

This one is a biggie! Buyers who get a mortgage from the first (and only) lender or bank they talk to are potentially leaving thousands of dollars on the table. The more shopping you do, the better basis for comparison you’ll have for ensuring you’ve landed the best deal.

3. Being careless with credit.

In the months leading up to a mortgage application, don’t open new credit cards, close existing accounts, take out new loans, or make large purchases on existing credit accounts. Maintain that practice through closing day.

4. Assuming you need 20% down payment

Delaying your home purchase while you save up for a 20% down payment can take years. That’s...

Some Expenses Aren’t Really Avoided by Boca Raton Renters

 That “things break down” is a truism as old as mankind—possibly preceding the invention of language itself. You can picture a furious caveman staring at the shattered remains of the wheel he’d just invented—after the first time it broke. Sooner or later, “things fall apart.”

When area residents mull over their personal living arrangement decisions, one of the logical financial arguments for renting Boca Raton homes rather than buying is the added cost of maintenance. Boca Raton renters reason that they don’t have to worry about saving up for a rainy day (as when the garbage disposal clunks out). For renters, it’s someone else’s problem (that is, the landlord’s)—as well as his or her expense. True enough.

But looking at the wider picture, you see that the universal ‘no free lunch’ rule applies. The landlord doesn’t really pay for the new garbage disposal except in the short run. Built into every rental agreement is a monthly charge into which the maintenance expense for the home or apartment unit has already been included. The average rates that residences experience breakdowns or require normal maintenance are well known—and the monthly pro-rated amounts have been reckoned and included.

It’s true that the inconvenience (and sometimes, shock!) of having to pay for sudden appliance breakdowns is largely avoided by Boca Raton renters, who may put a great deal of value on that advantage. But Boca Raton homeowners have more than one way to minimize the financial distress of inevitable breakdowns. They can either put something away in a rainy day account for that purpose only, or they can sign up for any of a number of home service plans.

The decision of whether to rent or buy...

Buying Delray Beach Homes: a Smart 7-Step Progression

 Buying Delray Beach homes takes some degree of organization no matter what. Especially when time is a screaming imperative, it can make or break whether you land a home that’s right—or one you ultimately determine isn’t adequate over the long haul. Whether the time pressure is due to a sudden job transfer, family emergency, or the unexpectedly rapid sale of an existing Delray Beach residence (that can happen when I’m your selling agent!). Finding your next home in a hurry calls for no-nonsense organization.

The precise path to your house-hunting success is bound to include some unexpected elements, but having a step-by-step plan in mind will provide a useful template:

  1. Get pre-approved. This comes first, rather than determining how much you can (or want to) afford because it will reveal the lending world’s opinion, which—if you are other than an all-cash buyer—will preclude wasting time chasing just-out-of-reach properties.
  2. Set your budget. This may not be all you can borrow: it should be what you can comfortably afford.
  3. Hunt online. This is where today’s shoppers can cut to the chase way more efficiently than previous generations.
  4. Find a real estate agent who is highly experienced in the Delray Beach market (highly recommended: me!).
  5. Tour a variety of candidate properties. Your agent will manage this process to save time. Don’t be afraid to visit open houses if they pop up (but be sure to tell the showing agent you are represented).
  6. Revisit...