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South Florida

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Making A Success of Your Rehabbed Purchase

Posted on September 25, 2013 at 7:27 AM Comments comments (144)
It is common to find newly rehabilitated or, rehabbed homes on the market that were previously bought as foreclosed properties by investors. These homes are renovated and re-enter the residential real estate market with the investor in position as the seller. A reputable investor will have performed all renovations and improvements to code with proper permitting and paid all contractors in full. Is this always the case? Well, not always. However, don’t let that deter you. There are a few simple precautions potential buyers can take to assure their purchase of a newly rehabbed property will be unencumbered by incomplete or non-existent permitting and free of any shoddy workmanship or outstanding liens from contractors.
Make Friends in High Places- Contact the Homeowner’s Association to introduce yourself and express your interest in buying the property. Not only can you ask if there are any outstanding fees still due on this property, you can also gain information about the homes history from the very people who govern the community.
Call in an Expert- A home inspector will be your saving grace in this situation as his expertise is well worth the fee charged to safeguard the buyer from potentially costly and long-standing issues. The inspector can catch inexpensive cover ups that could potentially be hiding costly issues. An experienced home inspector will know if the workmanship and materials used are up to par, installed correctly and will perform as per their warranty. Mold can be an issue with homes that have remained vacant for long periods of time and your inspector can identify potential trouble spots. A home inspector will have the knowledge, experience and advice to help you proceed as an educated buyer of any home, including one that was once a distressed property.
Get it in Writing- If there are structural improvements or additions to the home insist on proof they are up to code and all permitting has been satisfied. In addition, request for proof that all contractors are paid in full. You can also visit the local city and/or county government agencies and ask for assistance in confirming there are no issues outstanding on the property. Your attorney can assist you in reviewing the title insurance policy to confirm that the foreclosure itself was properly and fully concluded, free of any outstanding issues.
Speak to Those Newsy Neighbors- If you see curious on-lookers from adjacent properties, offer a friendly handshake and introduce yourself. These neighbors probably knew the previous owners and observed the home throughout the foreclosure and rehab process. They may offer unknown information that could encourage or discourage your decision to buy the previously distressed property.
As the saying goes, “caveat emptor,” let the buyer beware. Distressed properties that return to market as newly improved homes can be a fantastic purchase, nearly like a new home. With a bit of legwork, you can forge happy new beginnings in a rehabbed home, resting assured you’ve made an intelligent purchase, likely to bring you many satisfying years as a homeowner. 
Copyright 2013: Valerie Anne Martinetti

Hang Ten Home Buyers - Surf is Still Up for Home Ownership!

Posted on September 17, 2013 at 12:47 PM Comments comments (89)
I have some good news … because we had a few interest rate spikes, qualified home buyers do not need to abandon the idea of home ownership. You did not miss the boat! Interest rates are still lower than they’ve been in nearly 50 years. Think about that for a minute. That is not an opinion, that is reliable data all qualified home buyers need to consider before they give up their goal of home ownership. Interest rates have not been this low in nearly 50 years.
In the United States, we are beginning to nudge into the 4 percent interest rate range. Even if interest rates reach 5%, this is still historically quite low. What does this mean when it comes to buying a home? We don’t need to over-react and run scared that we’re somehow going to get ripped off if we buy a home now. What it means is, we can still borrow money at considerably low rates, right here, right now.
If you think you missed the opportunity a few months back when rates were lower, you are only considering one factor and one factor alone, interest rates. There is more to the home purchase equation than interest rates.
An encouraging shift is that more inventory is now showing up as active sales. Home buyers are enjoying the benefit of a consistently increasing amount of homes to choose from in today’s residential real estate market. When rates were lower, inventory was also lower; giving potential buyers less choice and frequently forcing compromise.
So, you see, there is another side to this trend … rates are admittedly slightly higher yet, home buyers have more reasonably priced properties available to them; which could likely mean a more satisfying overall experience as a buyer.
Since home prices are not shooting up sky high and inventory is more plentiful this can considerably offset the less favorable trend toward slightly higher interest rates. Buying a home in this market with the currently attractive fixed rates can still prove to be an essential and smart investment.
Once you do a little leg work and learn more about your current financing options you may be inspired to call your REALTOR and visit local homes for sale. There may just be an opportunity in the waiting for you to ride the wave as a smart, saavy home buyer!
Copyright 2013: Valerie Anne Martinetti

South Florida Homeowners Freshen Up Pools with Fresh New Ideas

Posted on August 25, 2013 at 4:22 PM Comments comments (191)
As Labor Day approaches, most of our neighbors to the north are savoring these last few weeks of sun and fun around the family pool. Before long, tarps will cover once sparkling blue pools, soon to be covered by the amber leaves of Autumn.
Not here! It‘s pool season all year long in South Florida which is just one of the benefits of life in the Sunshine State. There are many new design styles and technological innovations for the backyard pool; below I highlight just a few:
Earthy Enhancements: More and more, pool designers are incorporating rock features, waterfalls and even torches and fire pits to add dramatic flair. From subtle and romantic to exotic backyard grottos; fountains, stone water slides and natural flame lighting are being featured more commonly in South Florida back yards.
Color my World: LED advancements have brought the light show, to the pool! LED lighting is energy efficient, available in a myriad of colors and can be synchronized between features like spas, landscaping and the pool itself.
Take the Plunge: Pool entries are changing, traditional steps or ladders are being replaced with infinity edges, wading areas, tanning shelves, swim up bars and the gentle slope of zero-entry pools.
Everything Old is New Again: Colorful tiles are making a comeback in pools today. Glass tiles are especially popular as they come in a generous range of colors and unique textures like swirls and bubbles.
A Pinch of Salt: The soft-water feeling of a Salt Water pool, is something unique and memorable. Containing only approximately 1/10 the salt experienced in the ocean, salt water pools are increasing in popularity and contrary to what you may think, they do not sting your eyes. Although slightly more expensive to build, salt water pools are less costly to maintain.
Since you’ve got 365 days a year to enjoy your South Florida pool, increase the fun and get creative! Check out some of the cutting edge design and technology features available today when sizing up, how to freshen up, your very own backyard oasis!
Copyright 2013: Valerie Anne Martinetti

Low Inventory: A Buyer’s Plight. What Now?

Posted on August 12, 2013 at 7:07 AM Comments comments (119)
If you are financially-qualified and motivated to buy a new home yet, frustrated with low inventory don‘t get discouraged. Stay positive!There are a steps you can take to increase your chance of finding a new home sweet home!
Buy Florida Real Estate
BUY Florida Real EstateDuring this inventory squeeze, buyers are best served to cast the widest net possible when establishing their home search criteria. One way to bring more homes into contention is to open your mind to neighborhoods you may not have considered in the past. This doesn’t necessarily mean a compromise. In searching new areas, you may find a community you actually like better than the subject of your original search.
Another way to see more inventory may involve your search criteria for housing type. If you are looking for higher density housing, like a town home; add zero lot line homes and villas to your home search. A slight tweak to your housing type criteria will yield more inventory to consider and possibly, a better fit in the long run. 
Another option is to ask your REALTOR to include “active contingent” listings in their MLS search. This listing designation indicates the seller of the property has accepted an offer but there are a few unresolved issues. Most often, contingencies are ironed out within one to three weeks. Contingencies may include stipulations like the home appraisal being required to meet or exceed the sale price; there may be costs for repairs under negotiation or time durations allowed for buyer inspections might be at issue.
BUY Florida Real Estate
In many cases, there is enough motivation on the part of both the seller and buyer to resolve contingencies and the property will receive a “pending” status indicating a closing is soon to follow. However, this is not always the case. If a contingency cannot be resolved, buyers will most often walk away and the property returns to market.
If you are interested in a property listed as “active contingent,” you can ask your REALTOR to inquire frequently about any changes to the status, hoping it may come back to market. Or, you can also have your REALTOR submit a back up offer. If a home is particularly desirable, there may be multiple back up offers. In the event the primary offer falls through, the seller will then consider all back up offers and you could potentially have an opportunity to own a home that you once thought was off market.
BUY Florida Real Estate
Eventually, available home inventories will rise, bringing more homes to market for sale. Until then, buyers will benefit by being flexible as to neighborhoods and housing types and open-minded to submitting back up offers. These approaches will increase the amount of homes matching your search criteria and maybe, finding that cozy home sweet home is closer than you think!
Happy House Hunting!
Copyright 2013:Valerie Anne Martinetti

Buyers Are Confident - Rates Are Still Low

Posted on August 2, 2013 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (152)

Home Sales Are Up 2013
A highly regarded industry source, the S&P/Case-Shiller real-estate index, released encouraging new figures; the best news since the peak of the bubble in 2006!

Home prices in South Florida are up an average of 14% this year. Lets all share a collective
, Yay!

That is good news as it pertains to home equity for current owners. This encouraging index also offers an opportunity for current home buyers to invest at a time when the market is on an upswing, increasing their confidence and potential for building equity.
There are many reasons individuals opt to purchase a home, as opposed to leasing. In addition to the good news from S&P/Case-Schiller real estate index, here are a few good reasons why it may be a good time to give your landlord notice: 
Security - Buying a home is a big step toward establishing roots in a community. The stability of being an owner in a new neighborhood brings a secure sense of being part of a community. You have a vested interest in not only your own home but in the surrounding area, as well.

Enhanced Freedom - You can paint the walls any color you choose, add fixed decorator touches like moldings, flooring and window treatments. Homeowners can install anything they choose from booming audio/video centers to built in furniture or their favorite appliances. Whether adding a built in swimming pool or new bathroom fixtures, home owners enjoy newfound freedom and flexibility in truly personalizing their homes.

Tax Deductions - Dependent upon your equity, as well as type and duration of ownership, there can be many tax breaks to take advantage of from mortgage interest and green improvements to those associated with property tax. Your tax professional can work with your banker to assure you make the best decisions during the financing process.

Equity Loans - Your home is often your largest investment. As you build equity in your home, you can borrow against that equity with a line of credit. Interest rates on equity loans are frequently far lower than traditional consumer credit cards and often deductible come tax time.

To start the process of considering whether home ownership is right for you, begin with a qualified REALTOR along with your accountant and banker. These experts can help you determine many factors from the best neighborhoods for your lifestyle and budget, to what type of loan best suits your income and goals.
The market is currently building momentum. South Florida home values are up 14% this year, that is the best 12 month gain since mid 2006! After you’ve determined purchasing a home is right for you, join the other confident buyers who are shopping the exciting possibilities of home ownership in South Florida.

Copyright 2013: Valerie Anne Martinetti

Goal Post Shifting - What It Means for Buyers in Today’s Market

Posted on July 25, 2013 at 10:53 PM Comments comments (260)
Most REALTORS make it a habit to advise buying clients they should stave off any happy new home purchase celebrations until they are leaving the closing table, new house keys in hand. This has never been more true than in today’s market where inventory is exceptionally low and competition is exceptionally high.
This market creates a new environment wherein some sellers are opting to keep the bidding open on their properties even after they’ve accepted an offer and written a contract. This practice is commonly referred to as goal post shifting. If you don’t think this sounds fair to the buyer, who in good faith believes their offer is accepted and all negotiating done, you’re not alone. However, goal post shifting is legal and becoming more common.
In most cases, any seller opting to keep bidding open will give the original buyer the opportunity to meet their newly raised price. As you might predict, this is not always a well-received consolation when presented to a buyer who was under the impression negotiations were complete. Although, it does provide an opportunity to keep the deal alive.
As a buyer, what does this mean for you? Goal post shifting is a potential practice for you to be aware of, not afraid of. Stay on top of the entire purchase process and in frequent communication with your REALTOR. Not all sellers are goal post shifting and chances are, if the negotiated price is fair and the seller is motivated to close, there will not be any compelling reason to continue to keep bidding open and delay closing.
Today’s market still offers attractive interest rates and plenty of opportunity for consumers to find great homes at fair prices. Keep your focus positive. Be aware, be prepared and keep a clear, open line of communication with your REALTOR. This is good advice in any real estate market, absolutely essential in today’s market.
Happy House Hunting! 
Copyright 2013: Valerie Anne Martinetti

Coastal Living in South Florida: It’s a Great Time to Take the Plunge!

Posted on July 18, 2013 at 4:27 PM Comments comments (149)
South Florida is a sensational destination for those yearning for a warm and breezy coastal home. Beachfront homes, from condos to opulent estates, dot miles of pristine beaches from the Atlantic Ocean, to the Florida Straights and west to the Gulf of Mexico.
Highly regarded for magnificent views, balmy breezes and a sandy backyard, oceanfront living is an exceptionally enjoyable Florida lifestyle. Many homes are oriented to showcase the ocean view which adds considerable value to the property. When contemplating an oceanfront home, especially those in higher density communities of town homes or condominiums, higher floor residents savor the best views and lower floor residents enjoy the sound of our tranquil ocean. Amenities like swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms, saunas, clubhouses and manned security vary from community to community along the shoreline.
Running parallel to our ocean front and also considered coastal living, is the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW was authorized in 1919 to provide a protected, toll-free waterway for small craft boaters. Living on the ICW offers an exciting, ever-moving landscape of active blue seas and watercraft of every size and shape. You can also enjoy the ICW by living adjacent to it, on one of the many secondary canals with direct ocean access. Docks are part and parcel of ICW living and, if you own a larger boat, be sure your REALTOR looks for properties with “no fixed bridges” between your home and the ICW.

Coastal living in South Florida makes the most of our year round fun in the sun climate. Each day feels like you’re on vacation when you watch the sun rise over turquoise waters, the salty breeze on your skin. The glistening Inter-Coastal Waterway, as well our magnificent ocean, can truly be your back yard if you take the plunge into South Florida coastal living!
Copyright 2013: Valerie Anne Martinetti

Hot Trends in the Sizzling South Florida Market

Posted on May 19, 2013 at 10:29 AM Comments comments (65)
Hot Trends in the Sizzling South Florida Market  
By now, we’ve all read the headlines and heard the news that home prices in South Florida are rising at rates not seen since 2006. As swiftly as those summer temperatures are on the increase, so are housing prices in South Florida. And, there is no sign of a cool off anytime, soon!
What does this mean to you as a potential buyer in this exciting market? This conveys a buyer’s investment will potentially be stronger because you’re buying at the early stages of an upswing. This position is further secured by the theory that, at its earliest stages, there is no place to go but up in a robust housing market.
Another positive indicator for buying a home in South Florida during the current market is that inventory is at record lows. We are just coming out of an extremely slow market here in South Florida. Many home owners took their homes off market during this period as values dipped and home prices fell along with them. Other home owners were victims of the economic downturn and lost their homes outright to short sale or foreclosure.
What inventory remains is sparse which indicates home prices are slated to continue rising until more homes come to market. The age old economic model of supply and demand surely plays out succinctly; as demand increases and supply is not markedly changed, it is predicted there will be continued rises to home prices.
Next week I will post about what this means to specific markets throughout South Florida. After all, South Florida is so diverse, perspective home owners can look forward to owning everything from a sprawling horse ranch out west to an estate home on a championship golf course - buyers can consider the enjoyment of owning a boater’s paradise along the glistening intracoastal waterway or living the luxury life in a high rise waterfront condo with ocean views for miles. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!
Please continue to read my blog as you contemplate life as a potential investor in the year round playground that is South Florida real estate!
Copyright 2013: Valerie Anne Martinetti

Selling in a Seller's Market

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 5:58 PM Comments comments (127)
Okay Sellers on your mark, get set, get ready …. GO! This is your day in the sun! Enjoy the advantage of demand exceeding supply; it‘s a Seller’s Market!
The trends are evident that buyers are scrambling to find properties in our thin South Florida inventory. Serious buyers come to the table these days pre-qualified and ready to buy. Happy days are here again! Question is, how can you best position yourself for a quick and successful sale?
Be prepared for multiple bids. A rarity in years past, this is becoming common practice. Keep calm and cool; let your REALTOR® clarify what is good and bad about each offer and take your time to choose wisely. A lower offer with a qualified buyer is better than a higher offer with a weak buyer. It is tempting to accept the highest offer but, don’t get caught tying up your property for a buyer who’s financing is likely to fail in the bank’s initial investigation. This can happen for many reasons ranging from the higher scrutiny of FHA loans to the negotiated price being higher than the appraised value.
An old adage in the real estate industry is for sellers to hold first offers in high regard. It may take a bit of a ping pong game, lobbing offers and counters back and forth, but give it your best shot. Oftentimes sellers lament that had they made a more ardent effort to negotiate with their first buyer, in the long run, they would have saved valuable time and money.
As a seller, if you have a defect you can address, fix it! Homes that need repair are less desirable. Also, credits are subjective and after taking your home off the market by accepting an offer, you may end up at an impasse with the buyer once credit demands come into play. A clean, organized “show worthy” home is your best bet for acquiring attractive offers.
If you truly want to sell your home quickly, don’t be tempted to price your home excessively high, regardless of the market being in your favor. Your realtor will give you an honest brokers price opinion. Remember, your REALTOR® doesn’t make a thin dime if the home goes unsold so, they are going to give you their earnest estimate of a list price that will move the home off the market in the quickest time at the highest possible price. If you price the home too high, the days on market will drag out and area REALTORS® will become hesitant to show it. The final sale price will likely be higher if you price it right to begin with; as opposed to starting out too high, being forced to repeatedly or drastically reduce the price over time.
Make sure your home is easy to show. Cooperate with your REALTOR® on showing times and open houses as much as possible. The more your home is seen by potential buyers, the more likely it will sell. Establish a schedule with your family and your REALTOR® so that potential buyers have quick and easy access to your home. A little sacrifice will go a long way.
In today’s market you are best served to only accept offers accompanied by proof of funds to close or pre-approval letters. Sellers do not need to wait for financing to be approved with so many buyers competing for so few homes.
Be very clear with your REALTOR® on what items are not included in the contract. Potential buyers can be confused when wall mounted televisions, chandeliers or anything of a seemingly permanent nature are missing come the day of the final walk through. Disclose everything up front so there are no surprises along the way.
If you are ready to move, enjoy the advantage of being in a Sellers market! Remember these few tips to help smooth your path to a quick and successful sale;
  • Price it right from the beginning if you want the quickest possible sale;
  • Request proof of funds and/or pre approval letters with all offers;
  • Weigh all offers respectfully giving priority to the financially strongest buyer;        
  • Repair all you can to avoid buyer’s credit snafus;       
  • Establish clearly what items are not selling with the house;
  • Make your home truly “show worthy” and convenient to see. 
It is quite likely your closing day will come and go without a hitch. Although, there is potential for twists and turns. Sustain a singled-minded intention that whatever issue arises, you and your REALTOR® will work together to see that it is quickly resolved.
Stay positively focused on a successful sale and the happy new beginnings at your next address!   
Copyright 2013: Valerie Anne Martinetti    

Buyers, Be Aware

Posted on March 14, 2013 at 3:34 PM Comments comments (60)
Buyers, Be Aware
 Yes, it happened… throughout 2012 the signs became more and more prevalent, the “buyers-market party” was coming to an end, house lights came on and the music died.
Well, it’s official, the sellers have now hired their own DJ and hit the dance floor, prices are rising and inventory is exceptionally low. Economics 101: demand exceeds supply. 
As we are about to enter the second quarter of 2013, there is no denying that the South Florida real estate market is now in favor of the sellers. With home inventories down throughout South Florida by amounts as significant as 50% over last year, there is less inventory to choose from and sellers are taking full advantage of demand outweighing supply. It is not uncommon to see “cash only” on our MLS listings and not surprising to see homes sell above list price.
So what does this mean for buyers? It means, as buyers you’ll be paying closer to list price than you have for quite a few years on most of the accurately priced homes throughout South Florida. Buyers also face a high probability of having offers rejected if they muddy contracts with frivolous contingencies, unreasonable credit demands or attempting to have the seller pick up closing costs. 
This does not mean as a buyer, you are getting “ripped off.” It merely indicates home values are recovering and the likelihood of a low ball offer getting accepted is unlikely as the ball has now been lobbed into the sellers court. It also means, pre-approval letters or proof of funds accompanying any offer are part and parcel of having a fair shot at swift and successful acceptance of your contract.
As a buyer, I suggest if you like a home you see, ask your REALTOR® to prepare a realistic offer, immediately. In this market most accurately priced homes will move quickly and if you genuinely believe you found your next home sweet home, make a serious offer, as soon as possible. Otherwise, the home may be sold to another buyer if you fail to act fast.
Perhaps you are thinking … Typical REALTOR®, of course she is recommending to offer list price or close to it as soon as possible. However, my advice is not self-serving, it is merely what the market dictates. As REALTOR®, if I fail to apprise my clients of the market, I waste their time, my time and the selling agent‘s time, not to mention allowing clients to set themselves up for disappointment.
I enjoy the privilege of helping people find their new home, prepare a successful offer and ultimately shake hands with them after closing. However, I must be forthright and dissuade buyers from thinking there is a 2008 Time Machine we‘re going to jump eagerly into and buy a home far below list price. Like my buyers, I am excited to get to that joyful hand shake after closing and to do so, we have to start with realistic expectations and submit market-appropriate offers.
Buyers, be aware; It is a sellers market in South Florida.
Sellers you have a few things to be aware of, as well. Find out what they are in my next blog.   
Copyright 2013: Valerie Anne Martinetti