South Florida Real Estate Blog by Shari Orland, Realtor

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,...

Now is Perfect Time for Which Home Improvement Projects?

 U.S. News and World Report may not be the primary source most homeowners turn to for Delray Beach real estate news flashes, but this month they have brought up some relevant insights regarding home improvement projects.

A week or so before Thanksgiving Day, they published an opinion piece urging homeowners to get off the sofa and “set yourself up for success” for coming home improvement initiatives. They pointed out that timing those projects can be tricky—not just because of weather considerations, but also because hiring professionals can be more difficult during certain times of the year.

I might add that planning in advance gives our local tradespeople the kind of notice they greatly appreciate. U.S.News listed their ideas on the best time of year for a dozen home improvement projects—and these four called for winter starts:  

  1. Interior paint: Winter (low humidity helps paint dry evenly, so Delray Beach’s drier winter air is a plus).
  2. Electrical updates: Winter (avoid the crush of competing Delray Beach homeowners).
  3. Building a deck: Winter (!!) (deck builders say pressure-treated wood stabilizes best when humidity is low—and cloudier winter skies help avoid early cracking that blistering direct sunshine can cause).
  4. Full-room remodel: Winter (since updating any room can take place at any time of the year, avoiding jam-packed summer months can mean avoiding higher labor costs)....

Unexpected Boca Raton Home Repairs? Expect ‘Em!

As Thanksgiving rolls around again and our Boca Raton houses fill with visiting relatives and friends, it’s hard to repress an occasional thought like, “Gee, I hope the water heater holds up” or “Boy, this would NOT be the time for the range to give out!” But it’s true that if there’s one thing first time homeowners can learn from their more experienced Boca Raton neighbors, it’s to expect the unexpected—at least when it comes to home repairs. That isn’t to say that some wallet-draining breakdown is certain to happen a month or two after moving in—but the odds are close to 50-50 that something could need attention within the first year or so.

That was just one of the major takeaways for Boca Raton readers of last week’s NerdWallet 2018 Home Improvement Report. Among Americans who have ever purchased a home, a whopping 44% say they experienced some unexpected home repair within the first year of ownership. And 48% reported having experienced at least some level of anxiety due to unexpected home repair costs.

Fortunately, Realtor Magazine issued some follow-up research that should quell at least some of that anxiety over unexpected Boca Raton home repairs. Among 113,000,000 “high-dollar” projects, the average cost was only $1,350. The NerdWallet report furnished an explanation for this less-than-budget-breaking bottom line: the growing popularity of do-it-yourself solutions. They ascribed the phenomenon to the growing popularity of DIY TV programs coupled with the ready availability...

News for Boynton Beach House Hunters: Blessedly Calm

Last week ended with such horrendous news in California that it was a blessed relief how in at least one narrow slice of the news—one of interest to Boynton Beach house hunters, among others—there was blessedly very little worrisome to report. Against the grim reality of how November 2018 was beginning in other areas of the news, Boynton Beach house hunters could relax for a moment.

This quiet corner of the public space was in what for house-hunters is an area of key concern—the slice of the financial sector focused on home loan originators and the residential mortgage market. The news from that quarter was, in brief, not much news.

The Tuesday election had held a high likelihood of affecting credit markets, and thus, mortgage interest rates. It’s usually true, and The Mortgage News Daily thought that the quiet on Monday “suggests traders are waiting to see if other traders care about the election results.” As it turned out, at least by Wednesday, they didn’t.

The MND predicted “Probably One More Day of Waiting for any Election Impact,” but it turned out to be a longer wait than that. On Wednesday a Federal Reserve Board Statement was scheduled for release. Days like that are known in the industry as “Fed Days”—they usually move rates. But what resulted, according to Mortgage News, was only “movement…that looked small if viewed by anything less powerful than a microscope.”

And so it went. Boynton Beach mortgage rates remained in historically lower-than-average...

Unusual Lottery Story has a Real Estate Theme

A $180 Million Lotto Winner’s Massive Mountain Estate” was the headline in the Wall Street Journal’s “Real Estate” section. The photo above the headline really did look to be many millions of dollars’ worth of breathtaking. The panorama behind the stone-and-brick estate, perched on a California mountainside, provided an unobstructed 180-degree view of the valley far below. The lush landscaping around the mansion’s acreage was the very definition of “pristine” (literally, since the forest of trees was definitely newly-planted, lottery-winner style).

The surprise for Delray Beach readers is that the article was not another expected retelling about a big lottery winner who lost it all. The former roofing company employee and Mega Millions winner was not, in fact, wallowing in debt and crushed relationships. In fact, the story was about accomplishing the kind of real estate coup that usually plays out only in daydreams.  

Rick Knudsen used to look up from the front porch of his 4-bedroom home to view the progress of an enormous house being constructed on the side of distant Little San Gorgonio mountain. Then he bought the lottery ticket, won, retired, and plunked down $5.5 million for the not-yet-completed mansion. Then, “just bam bam bam…within three months, I owned it all,” he says, recounting how he added an adjoining 155-acre buffalo ranch and its accompanying steakhouse and saloon; then (why not?) another 640-acre parcel. And a home for each of his 5 kids.

The best part of this lottery/real estate story lies not...

One Way Boca Raton Listing Language Motivates Prospects

The descriptive language that goes into every Boca Raton listing is aimed at framing the way prospective buyers relate to the property being offered. Between the headline photo and the actual number-laden listing detail (square footage, numbers of bedrooms and baths, etc.) comes a paragraph or two of descriptive text.

There’s little debate that a listing’s language can be decisive in motivating prospects to take the next step: calling the Realtor® for a showing appointment. As you’d guess, that means a lot of study has gone into what works and what doesn’t work in that descriptor. One result is many lists of “effective selling words” for use in real estate listings—but those can’t really address the whole picture of what motivates house hunters.

One of many creative approaches to crafting effective listing language is to take the salesman’s “objection” strategy—to view each sentence as an opportunity to put to rest a potential concern. Here are examples of that approach—the concerns, and some phraseology that addresses them:

Size. “Spacious” and “open” or “open floor plan” work well—as do “airy” and “sweeping.” “Huge” or “enormous” also work—but are only useful when they really do apply. “Walk-in closet” and “master suite” are other ways to project an image of roominess.

Location.Desirable” is stronger than “convenient,”—but where it’s appropriate, “prestigious” is better still. Specific details like “fabulous view” and “...

Surprising Perspective on Today’s Boynton Beach Mortgage Rates

Last Wednesday and Thursday’s stock market nosedive had analysts debating whether the Fed’s hike in interest rates was to blame. Since Boynton Beach mortgage rates are likely to also be affected, local selling-minded homeowners might well have begun to wonder whether we are headed into a less-than-favorable selling environment.

If so, would listing your home now make sense? Would holding out until lower Boynton Beach mortgage rates reappear be worth the wait? The benefit to potential buyers would be immediate: more affordable monthly payments for the same asking price.

Ultimately, the answer to that timing question will always be uncertain, but one clue can be found in the history of mortgage rates in recent decades. According to the Freddie Mac’s mortgage rate archive, that history leads to an unambiguous conclusion:

 30-YEAR MORTGAGE INTEREST RATE AVERAGES

2000s:  6.29%

1990s: 8.12%

1980s: 12.7%

1970s: 8.86%

Putting it all together, the previous 40 years produced average mortgage interest rates just shy of double digits: 9.9%, to be precise! Even after the latest Federal Reserve action, last week’s national 30-year rate “jump” was to only 4.9%. With Boynton Beach mortgage interest rates currently at less than half of what U.S. home buyers have been willing to pay in past eras, it turns out that we are still in the midst of a decidedly friendly environment for buyers—which makes it seller-friendly territory,...

The Delicate Art of Considerate Delray Beach Rent Increases

 Inflation has been barely noticeable for quite a while, but as Delray Beach shoppers have begun to notice how it’s been creeping up lately. For Delray Beach landlords, that triggers a subject that directly impacts the profitability of their real estate investment.

Managing rent increases properly—and communicating them in a manner calculated to preserve your tenants’ goodwill—is a subject estate author Kevin Ortner writes about in Realtor Magazine. A few of his insights:

  • Raise rents on a regular schedule—usually, this will come at each lease renewal period (or when the agreement specifies)—but for month-to-month situations, once a year is recommended. Small increments on an annual basis are more predictable (and agreeable) than “catch up” raises scheduled less frequently.
  • Be competitive. The “sweet spot” you are looking for is the best price you can get for your rental—which is also actually “how much tenants are willing to pay.” That’s subject to compliance with Florida and local laws in accordance with the terms of your lease. Research by starting with a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual calculation of Shelter Cost Changes—most recently, 3.4% at the end of August. The national trends are good to know but are not as significant as the more important data: the rates similar Delray Beach rentals are currently advertising.
  • Give extra notice. You’re required to abide by the law and your lease, but when you give tenants more time, it makes any raise less burdensome. If the raise is competitive, tenants will have ample time to shop around and see that it’s reasonable.
  • Work to keep good...

5 Signs that Your Kitchen Needs an Update

 

 Every  Realtor® has heard this observation from a selling client more than once: “Now that I’ve fixed the place up, it’s so nice to live here!” It’s sometimes followed by a wistful, “I should have done it years ago!” They don’t need to add, “so we could have enjoyed it ourselves.”

The culprit has to be human nature—at least the part that resists spending money improving something that works (even if it doesn’t work all that well). One of the prime areas where this tends to hold true is in Boca Raton kitchens.

Since it’s generally acknowledged that the kitchen area is one place (if not the place) that gets the most intense scrutiny from prospective buyers, it is also one of the first areas that sellers decide to update. For anyone who might decide to sell within the next few years, that makes a pretty good argument to go ahead now while you can enjoy the upgrades yourself.

Since everyone tends to get used to our households as-is, it can be helpful to step back and consider where “as-is” could also be “has-been.” Here are five leading signs that your kitchen would benefit from an infusion of energy:

1.      Although everything is there (somewhere), you waste time every day rummaging for kitchen tools and ingredients. Cure: more counter and cupboard space.

2.     ...

Financing Options available through our Lenders

Bankruptcy, Foreclosure & Short Sale Waiting Periods

If you've lost your home to a financial hardship, we may be able to get you into a new home sooner than you think.

FANNIE MAE
  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy | 4 years from discharge or dismissal date
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy | 2 years from discharge date, 4 years from dismissal date
  • Foreclosure | 7 years from completion date
  • Short Sale (Deed-In-Lieu) | 4 years
FREDDIE MAC
  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy | 4 years from discharge or dismissal date
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy | 2 years from discharge date, 4 years from dismissal date
  • Foreclosure | 7 years from completion date
  • Short Sale (Deed-In-Lieu) | 4 years
FHA
  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy | 2 years from discharge date
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy | One year of the payout must elapse and payment performance must be satisfactory. Buyer must receive permission from the court to enter into a mortgage.
  • Foreclosure | 3 years from completion date
  • Short Sale (Deed-In-Lieu) | 3 years from completion date
USDA
  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy | 3 years from discharge date
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy | One year of the payout must elapse and payment performance must be satisfactory. Buyer must...