South Florida Real Estate Blog by Shari Orland, Realtor

One “Delray Beach Land for Sale” Detail That’s Make-or-Break

It might be the ultimate real estate daydream: finding a choice parcel of Delray Beach land for sale, figuring out the best way your house should be cited upon it—and ultimately building your own home on it. Whether it’s constructed to your own custom-specified floor plan or using a more budget-minded approach, finding the right piece of land comes first. If it’s priced within your budget, that’s all to the good—but before you write the check, no matter how appealing it might be, there could be one detail that might spoil the daydream.

It falls under the heading of the “perc.” It’s not about brewing the cup of coffee you envision enjoying as you take in the morning view through your kitchen window-to-be. It won’t be an issue if the parcel of Delray Beach land for sale is located where it can be served by our local sewer system. In that case, you and your contractor will choose a site for the house that will afford a trouble-free hookup. Perc is not involved.

But if the parcel is more remote, in order to build on it you must demonstrate how well it will support a septic system. To get a permit, the proposed septic area must pass a percolation test. And, as the saying goes, “no perc, no house.”

The test measures the drainage characteristics of the soil usually expressed in minutes per inch of drop-off. In general, sand and gravel drain the best, while high clay content or solid rock drain poorly. Most soils are a mixture—and individual site characteristics vary not only in soil composition but also by the depth of the water table, the steepness of the incline, its distance from open water, as well as a variety of other...

Why Investors Turn to Boca Raton Rental Property in 2019

Last Saturday investment commentator Rebecca Lake presented the kind of analysis that would warm the heart of Boca Raton rental property proponents. Her report appeared on the U.S. News website under the title “3 Reasons to Invest in Single-Family Rentals.” The piece was all the more persuasive because of its fresh perspective: according to the author, 2019 looks to be an especially advantageous year for rental property investments.

Since Lake’s article was aimed at the financial community, it occasionally lapsed into FinanceSpeak like “…there tends to be a ‘beta’ between the rental market and the stock market.” Especially for Boca Raton investors looking for relief from the stock market’s volatility, that translates into English as “daily swings in stock prices don’t affect real estate investors like equity investors.”

The “3 Reasons” in a nutshell:

  • The 2019 outlook is strong. With demand growing and supply limited (most notably in entry-level housing), one analyst predicts rent increases “landing in the 5%-7% range.” That would outpace even commercial real estate prospects.

 

  • Housing is bolstered by low unemployment. (Last Friday’s announcement of surprisingly strong employment numbers reinforces that “bolstering”).

 

  • Renter profiles are changing. Renting single-family homes has “become the new norm” among three well-populated...

8 Tips for Selling Delray Beach Homes Despite a “Size Issue”

When you decide to sell your home for the maximum return, it’s important that you recognize all of its selling points: both the positive and negative. I can help with that, but as a starting point, if your Delray Beach house is a bit on the smallish side, you probably already know it. There is a good chance it’s one reason you’ve decided to move on.

The good news is that once you recognize that your Delray Beach home’s other fine points might be overpowered by the relative lack of spaciousness, there are measures you can take to downplay that drawback. The most important actions are those recommended for every Delray Beach home for sale, large or tiny:

  • Do away with excess furniture  
  • Add light everywhere you can

To minimize any “cramped” feeling:

  • Ditch the drapes (especially the heavy ones)
  •  Do away with the tchotchkes
  • Go with solids instead of prints in everything from wallpaper to artwork. In fact—
  • Lose the artwork
  • Consider removing interior doors where they chop up the home’s “flow”
  • Minimize your color palette—experts even suggest a single color everywhere!

Selling your slightly undersized Delray Beach home for the best price will involve putting its outstanding features front-and-center—but that will only be possible if the magnitude issue doesn’t...

Boynton Beach Homeowners Needn’t Fear the Sound of a “Pop!”

There is one persuasive reason why Boynton Beach homeowners (and prospective homeowners) don’t hear much about the likelihood that a new “housing bubble” could be in the making.

For any Boynton Beach homeowner who’s had the comfort of watching their property’s value grow steadily for years, a mere mention of the words “housing bubble” can squelch the enthusiasm. Even though real estate is “real” in a way few investments can equal, there was the last decade’s property value nosedive. Momentarily, at least, it rained on residential real estate nearly everywhere.

“Housing bubble” was the derisive term that described the previous run-up in prices that subsequently “popped” when sellers could no longer find buyers. A large part of the chaos was due to the home loan industry’s inability to finance mortgages at the previous valuations. In fact, for a while, even well-heeled buyers could scarcely find financing at any valuation.

 In 2008, the bubble metaphor seemed especially apt because the “pop” came so abruptly. When things go south suddenly, it’s particularly unnerving. But today Boynton Beach homeowners can take comfort in at least one reason why today’s circumstances bear little resemblance to what happened ten years ago.

  The Mortgage Bankers’ Association charts something called the “MCAI.” It’s a reliable measure of the availability of home loans, measured on a scale from 1 to 1,000. The higher the number, the easier it is for applicants to obtain home loans. A chart shows how, in the three years leading up to the...

For Boca Raton Homeowners, Clarifying PMI-MPI Confusion

Checking out an online piece dealing with some technical adjustments having to do with mortgage insurance the other day, I came across an indisputable statement:


“Many homeowners are confused about the difference between PMI (private mortgage insurance) and mortgage protection insurance (MPI).”

 

That, if anything, is a considerable understatement—especially because Boca Raton homeowners can sometimes find “mortgage protection insurance” abbreviated as well. If your professional duties include distinguishing the finer points of Boca Raton mortgages for your clients, you are unlikely to confuse “PMI” with “MPI.” But for the rest of humanity, that’s not necessarily the case. Since the difference is substantive, here’s a 30-second primer:

PMI is Private Mortgage Insurance. It’s designed to protect the lender rather than the homeowner. If Boca Raton homeowners run into trouble—for instance, if they were to lose their job—the PMI coverage will reimburse the lender for any shortfalls. PMI coverage is usually required when Boca Raton homeowners pay less than 20% of a property’s sale price as the down payment. When the loan-to-value of the mortgage reaches 78%, these policies can usually be canceled (sometimes that’s done automatically).

MPI is Mortgage Protection Insurance—a very different animal. This protects the Boca Raton homeowners, covering missed mortgage payments for designated periods of time under specific circumstances. Unlike PMI, this insurance is strictly voluntary on the homeowner’s part. MPI...

For Delray Beach Real Estate, Friday’s Quadrupled-Barreled News

Last week ended with a quadruple-barreled blast of good news that bolstered prospects for Delray Beach real estate—an effect magnified by how unexpected all had been.

When times are good, Delray Beach real estate can’t help but benefit. That may seem to be so obvious that it doesn’t even need to be said, but a close cousin is arguably even more important: When people feel times are good, Delray Beach real estate benefits.

Friday’s positives were magnified by the contrast with what had been reported in earlier days. Although the holiday-shortened week had seen evidence of strong holiday sales, that was dampened by a grab-bag of alarming developments: government shutdown; China trade standoff; Apple sales losses... This meant that Friday’s raft of unexpected good news made for commentators who were, by day’s end, all but giddy.

First came reports of shockingly good U.S. economic performance. Wages in December “surged” (the Wall Street Journal). The annual wage gain of 3.2% “matched the fastest pace since 2009” (Bloomberg)—a trend that was accelerating (3.5% in December).

That wasn’t all. Not only were wages rising—jobs were, too. Employers had “shattered forecasts” (MarketWatch) by adding 140,000 more jobs than had been predicted. It “underlined that the American economy remains strong despite market turbulence” (CNN Business). Even an incremental rise in the jobless rate was greeted as welcome news—it meant that more workers were actively seeking work. Discouraged by bleak prospects, they’d been sitting on the sidelines for years.

...

Homeowners Insurance Defensive Role in Nov. Firestorms

Last fall’s devastating California firestorms gripped the nation’s attention as flames engulfed whole communities, North and South. For Boynton Beach residents, the loss of life and wholesale destruction that played across our TV and laptop screens seemed otherworldly—almost unbelievable. Hundreds of thousands of residents displaced. Thousands of homes destroyed. In a year that brought an ample share of natural disasters (including Hurricanes Michael and Florence), to many Boynton Beach homeowners, this one was particularly distressing. It’s hard not to relate to our own homes and their irreplaceable contents—and to wonder if there isn’t anything wildfire-aware homeowners could have done to prevent such devastating losses.

In fact, at year’s end, The Wall Street Journal posted a video that explored a little-known service that exists to address that concern: private firefighters.

It turns out that some homeowners insurance companies who cover the mansions most exposed to wildfires contract with private companies to protect their investment. One such company is Capstone Fire & Safety Management. The Journal sent a reporter to ride along with a Capstone private firefighting unit as they visited Ventura County properties threatened in last November’s maelstrom. For the “pricey mansions” covered by their risk mitigation service, they assessed the oncoming danger and responded accordingly. That meant anything from simply checking in with homeowners to moving flammable objects away from structures. In extreme situations, they were prepared to spray fire-retardant foam on exposed areas.

In action, the service is limited in significant ways. Private personnel...

One Word Keeps Cropping Up about Selling Delray Beach Homes

The word is “clutter.” It keeps cropping up whenever a Realtor is asked for advice about selling Delray Beach homes.

The clutter factor might not seem to be so overpoweringly important. After all, a housekeeping crew can scour and shine most homes in a day or two–and that would seem to outrank the clutter component by a mile. So why all the fuss about clutter?

I believe the reasons are many. Of course, selling any Delray Beach home requires it to be at least freshly cleaned (best if immaculately so)—but everyone accepts that without a second thought. Clutter is another matter. It goes to what’s meant by the term.

After a home has been prepared in every other way, de-cluttering action means ruthlessly removing just about everything that tends to attract attention, fill the space, or otherwise distract the eye of the beholder.

In the living room, that means gathering up all the books and newspapers and removing them from the scene. It means doing away with the ashtrays, paperweights, and coasters. It means losing the magazine rack by the fireplace and pruning the number of throw pillows that usually populate the big sofa. It means dispensing with unnecessary throw rugs and any hall wall hangings that make narrow hallways more claustrophobic. Importantly, it means removing all the photos and memorabilia that make your house a home—because they make it your home when you want it to become their home. 

The same goes for the kitchen, where it means gathering up all the paraphernalia that’s needed to fix a breakfast or throw lunch together. Salt and pepper shakers, spice rack on the sink,...

Will Tomorrow’s Boca Raton Real Estate Be Much Like Today’s?

No one needs convincing to agree how much buying and selling Boca Raton real estate has changed since we entered the 21st century. Not only can you review homes for sale whenever you wish but you can also use Boca Raton real estate sites like this one to compare properties by all sorts of metrics.

This consumer-friendly advance was actually foreseeable in 1999. It was the subject of plenty of forward-looking commentaries. So it’s not hard to imagine that the glimpses into real estate’s future that Forbes’ panel of experts came up with last week could actually come to pass. The published piece promised “Six Ways Tech Could Change the Real Estate Process,” but the six panelists saw similar advances. The progress came in three areas:

  1. Artificial Intelligence will help agents instantaneously adjust documentation to conform to legal requirements. Florida and Boca Raton laws are in fact subject to change—so I am definitely in favor of this one!
  2. Remote Transactions will become even more thoroughly supported so that searching, viewing, purchasing and even closings will be able to be conducted remotely. A second expert described essentially the same advance as “Time and Distance Removal.”
  3. Disintermediation. This six-dollar word entered the vocabulary when people started talking about the “Bitcoin” and “blockchain” phenomena. The word means dispensing with unnecessary processes in a transaction—and in Boca Raton real estate, that could apply to aspects of title insurance and home loan generation. I’m pleased to note that...

What One Boynton Beach Listing Detail Has to do with Hong Kong

Our Boynton Beach listings contain one figure that’s quite useful for apples-to-apples comparisons of the properties being offered. This one is quietly tucked away beneath the more prominent pieces of information. It doesn’t usually draw much attention, although it probably deserves more. And last week, it also happened to prove how fortunate home shoppers in Boynton Beach really are—especially compared to what their counterparts have to contend with in places like Hong Kong.

That point was evident in a feature on the CBS Overnight News TV show. It dealt with current real estate reality in the Chinese enclave of Hong Kong. The details were truly gasp-worthy—especially the one we were describing earlier. That one—the figure that doesn’t get much attention—is the cost per square foot. Most house hunters have in mind a price limit they will be willing to spend as well as a general idea of the amount of space they need—a square footage number. Those two factors help them zero in on the homes they’ll be interested in exploring further; it’s why those figures are up near the top of the listing.

But also useful is the cost per square foot. It can help online house hunters get a relative idea of how a slightly smaller home might stack up, price-wise, against a slightly larger one. If you also compare it with another figure, the average sale price per square foot in the surrounding community or zip code, you get another view of the offering. If the listed price per square foot is starkly higher than comparable properties, it might signal a home of much higher quality—or sellers who have an unrealistic idea of what their home is worth. Likewise, a considerably lower figure might signify a real bargain...