South Florida Real Estate Blog by Shari Orland, Realtor

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,...

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”...

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...

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...

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...

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...

This Delray Beach Halloween, Real Estate Horror Stories Abound

Since Halloween comes around with ‘nary a difference from one year to the next, you’d think that editors eventually would be stumped to come up with a new topic for their writing staffs. This month, Delray Beach subscribers to the Wall Street Journal’s real estate pages were treated to a creative solution: The Journal simply dug up some scary stories about real estate.

The first was “Home Renovation Horror Stories,” a chilling retelling of just how wrong remodeling attempts can go. These spooky construction nightmares that happened in real life lived up to the premise, starting with readers’ complaints that, rather than the good old days when a kitchen renovation was a huge ordeal, today “just finding qualified workers to do the job is a huge ordeal.”

The various renovation horror tales included one contractor who tried to remove the cabinets he’d just installed when a progress payment was delayed (because the work was behind schedule) and crews who “showed up and immediately began to destroy our home” (because their skill sets had been “overstated”).

Just as spooky for Delray Beach families with dogs or cats was “Pets Can Take a Big Bite Out of Your Home’s Resale Value.”­ The headline may have been a little misleading since most of the horrifying details didn’t have much to do with selling a home. They dealt with pet hi-jinx whose consequences would surely be addressed before any marketing could begin. One example was the puppy who found a bottle of red food coloring, which he chewed and then…(well, some horror stories are scariest when details are left to the imagination).

Beyond the “stains, chips, rips, scratches, watermarks” and other minor signs...

Holiday Decorating Timetable: Trustworthy or Dubious?

According to last week’s news release, if you already see your Delray Beach neighbors putting up their holiday decorations, they’re just going with the flow. At least that’s the conclusion you’d come to if you trust a newly cited consumer poll by minted.com, the online gift marketing site.

As widely reported by NBC and CBS affiliates, eight in ten Americans report that they begin decorating “before autumn leaves fall”—and six in ten “think holiday decorations in stores can be put up before the end of October.”

Now, since it’s widely agreed that most folks consider November 1st to be the earliest launch date for holiday ornamentation, it would be quite a surprise if Pre-Halloween holiday decorating is actually the norm in 60% of Delray Beach households. If true, you have to wonder if the witches and goblins now have to move over for Santas and reindeer (or menorahs and dreidels). It would make for some crowded displays.

The report notes that “about half of respondents say decorations around town” mark the beginning of the holiday season. That part does sound credible.

But as for the other findings, there are good reasons why Delray Beach householders may not really be in the minority if they decide to hold off for at least a couple more weeks before unpacking the Christmas or Hanukkah trimmings.

For one, it’s proving difficult to find published evidence of the survey results the TV shows are citing. For another, since minted.com is a purveyor of custom-printed holiday greeting cards, if their polling is limited to their customers (who probably order cards well in advance, since they have to hand-address all of them), any such survey wouldn’t typify many...

This Gesture Makes for Gracious Boca Raton House Selling

When you first begin thinking about house selling, most Boca Raton sellers are rightly focused on getting the property in top shape, establishing a solid relationship with their Boca Raton Realtor®, and making some key decisions (like what the optimal asking price should be). In other words, laying out a practical strategic house selling game plan.

About the last thing anyone thinks about is their relationship with the ultimate home buyers. It would be impossible, anyway; until the first offer is tendered, the buyer’s identity and personality are unknown. That might even remain true throughout the entire house selling process—particularly when the agents manage the communications for the many details in the buying and selling process.

But even when some thorny disputes need to be ironed out, by the time the keys are handed over it is in everyone’s best interest that the relationship end on a graceful note. After all, the new owners will be taking their own place in the Boca Raton community in which so many of your family’s relationships have flourished—and whether your new home is in Boca Raton or elsewhere, it can only be a plus when the final takeaway from your house selling transaction is a gracious one.

Leaving behind a welcome letter that’s more than a polite pleasantry can do that—especially if it’s a thoughtful one. Some ideas on that score:      

  • Share your family’s favorite Boca Raton restaurants and watering holes, local tradespeople (including quirks, when relevant), and details like your personal “best” lists of shops and stores.
  • If it’s been agreed that you are leaving household extras, give helpful information. If planters are included,...

A Break for Some Boynton Beach Real Estate Transactions

Last week ended with some good news that can affect many Boynton Beach real estate transactions—specifically some with bottom lines equal to $400,000 or less. It came in the form of a rule change from Washington’s rule-makers, and whether or not it applies to your own property, it may signal a shift in regulatory outlook.

 Many Boynton Beach real estate transactions are subject to Federal regulations—rules devised to ensure the soundness of the financial institutions that provide home loans. Theoretically, everyone who buys or sells Boynton Beach real estate should benefit from legal regulations that restrain lenders from granting loans too easily. When that takes place, widespread “easy money” usually results in the kind of abrupt return to reality we saw in the last decade. Nobody wants that!

One way regulators prevent residential real estate “bubbles” is by seeing that home loans are legitimately collateralized—that home loan amounts don’t exceed the real value of the underlying properties. That’s realized by requiring that strictly professional appraisals be performed. Appraisals demonstrate that homes true values equal or exceed proposed loan amounts.

But—it’s always a balancing act. Appraisals take time and cost money—making buying and selling that much more cumbersome. Any regulation that is too strict unnecessarily retards legitimate Boynton Beach real estate transactions. Over time, that’s what had happened with the appraisal requirement.

Last Friday an official press release announced a lightening of the appraisal requirement. The Federal Reserve, FDIC, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency “have adopted a final rule that increases the threshold for residential real estate transactions…from...