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Sometimes you like us so much that you don’t want to bother us.  You see a real estate sign and you’ll call the listing agent – just to find out a price.  Then you wind up seeing the condo/house with the listing agent.  Well, you like what you see.  So – you tell the listing agent that you already have an agent.  Oops – he tells you it’s too late.  He tells you that since he showed it to you, you have to work with him.  So – he’s uncooperative and greedy and now you’ve lost the opportunity for buyer representation (after all, the listing agent is representing the seller or the transaction, not representing you) and Read the rest of this entry »

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: 2 Comments »

Warren Buffett says homes are a very attractive investment

Warren Buffett told CNBC that single family homes are a very attractive investment right now. He went on to say that he would be buying single family homes now if it were practical. He stated that single family homes bought low and held long are better than stocks.

There have been several articles lately as well noting that rental rates are going up and inventory is going down. That’s what we’ve been finding in St Pete.

Some of our clients didn’t need to hear this from Buffett and have been buying single family homes over the last several months. Usually well priced investment homes sell quickly, often with multiple offers the first day on the market. You need to be ready to move quickly.


Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Save money on closing costs with any Florida credit union

 All Florida credit unions are exempt from the intangible tax on mortgages, according to Julie Holt of Anclote Title Services. I recently blogged about saving money by using the Navy Federal Credit Union, which was correct, but I thought you should know that the intangible tax exemption applies to all Florida credit union mortgages.

The intangible tax is 20 cents per $100, which would be a $200 saving for every $100,000 of mortgage. It is generally paid by the buyer, unless the contract states otherwise.


Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: 2 Comments »

Buying a condo with a mortgage

Are you buying a condo and planning to get a mortgage? If so, remember that the lender needs to approve:

  • the buyer
  • the price (through an appraisal)
  • in the case of a condo, the property

What’s involved in approving the property? The lender will check the ratio of rental units, the ratio of commercial space, the number of delinquencies with condo fees, the sufficiency of the reserves, the adequacy of the condo insurance, and even the condo docs. They could deny to finance, for example, if the condo has a right of first refusal to buy a condo.

You should have your lender check the qualification of the condo upfront. It’s frustrating for everyone involved if the lender leaves this to the last minute in underwriting and a day or two before the scheduled closing lets everyone know that condo won’t qualify so they won’t make the loan.

Some lenders have a list of preapproved condos. Some have a variety of programs and can finance with a larger down payment. 

If you’re paying cash for your condo purchase, you may be able to negotiate a better price, just to avoid all the uncertainty of the mortgage process. 

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Market Changing?

Home with Multiple Offers

Home with Multiple Offers


Notes from Rob

After hearing for five years that the real estate market is turning around, I’m not going to be the one to say the good times are back for home owners looking to sell their homes, but I will tell you that recent experiences are good news for them.

In the past two weeks I have made three offers for buyers at or above the list price on homes, none of which were bargain priced, bank-owned properties and we did not get any them to contract. We were out bid on each. In one case, we offered above the sale Read the rest of this entry »

Spoken by Rob Johnson | Discussion: No Comments »

Emergency Response Time in Broadwater St Petersburg Florida

Firetrucks in Broadwater

Firetrucks in Broadwater

When you are showing property, the buyers always have many questions.  For those who might be worried in the case of an emergency, they might ask where is the fire department and how long will it take them to respond to an emergency.  Today I was able to demonstrate the answer that question.  I was scheduled to meet a family at one of our listings at 1 pm.  As I drove up a few minutes before the appointment, I found the street full of fire trucks and emergency vehicles.   My clients were in the driveway Read the rest of this entry »

Spoken by Rob Johnson | Discussion: 1 Comment »

Yahoo! Real Estate

Yahoo! Real Estate

Yahoo! Real Estate

Yahoo! Real Estate is the most-visited real estate website. It took over the #1 position from Realtor.com in August and maintained that lead in September.

Our most recent sales contract (this week) is a buyer for our newest home for sale  in Euclid/St Paul. That buyer first found the property on Yahoo! Real Estate, so apparently it’s working.

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Flood insurance suspended – what happens to closings?

Flood insurance may be needed

Flood insurance may be needed

New flood insurance policies have been suspended, not only in Pinellas County and Florida, but across the whole US.  Lenders require flood insurance for closings on homes that are in flood zones. If a closing is delayed due to lack of flood insurance, perhaps the seller can void the contract and perhaps the buyer’s lock will expire and either the buyer will have to pay a higher interest rate or perhaps may not even qualify at the higher rate.

While Congress has been wrangling over health insurance, they have not extended flood program funds and went on recess last weekend. Congress should readdress this when they return on April 12th.  Read the rest of this entry »

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Backup Offers

Notes from Rob:

Backup offers are happening much more often these days, especially with short sales.  Since I mainly represent buyers, the topic comes up regularly.  In some cases, I encourage them.  If it is a short sale, so many of the deals fall apart, if you really want a house, it is a way to be next in line if anything happens.  On a regular contract/sale, the odds are against things falling apart, but depending on how much someone wants the house, it is still worth the effort.

On one of my contracts last month, the seller was being very difficult.  She kept telling me how my buyers were getting the deal of the century and since it was put under contract, she had three other interested parties.  None put in a backup contract…one said, that would only make my clients (the ones with the executed contract) in a position to keep going, since others wanted the house.  I disagreed, to me, it meant the others were not serious about wanting to buy it.  The deal did go through and my clients are living in there dream house.

On the other side of the coin, I had some clients on Thursday that fell in love with a house.  By the time we submitted our offer, the sellers had already accepted a different offer.  My clients choose to submit the offer as a backup just in case.  The original buyers got cold feet the next day, the sellers quickly accepted our backup offer, and as of 4 pm today, my client has an executed contract on his dream house.

Every listing and sale is different, but backup contracts can work!

Spoken by Rob Johnson | Discussion: No Comments »

Short Sales

Short sales are sales at a price that’s not high enough to pay off the mortgage. So – the money is short. Sadly, the time to complete a short sale is anything but short. USA Today had an article this morning on short-sale frustrations. We’ve represented both sellers and buyers in short sales and it’s generally a case of Wait – Wait – Wait. We’ve had buyers that didn’t get a lender response for 6 months. Many times buyers will get tired of waiting for months for an answer to their offer and will withdraw. Sometimes the lender will counteroffer and the buyer will decline.  Back to the starting gate. USA Today cites a study that says just 23% of short sale offers actually close. If I had to make a guess from experience, I’d say perhaps only 5% of the offers actually close – perhaps 23% of the offers that get a response from the lender close.

The timing and complexity gets more complicated if there is more than one loan. If it’s a home equity loan, even with the same lender, it’s a totally separate department. Sometimes there are second or third mortgages. Sometimes FNMA needs to approve. Sometimes a guarantor needs to approve. Sometimes the mortgage is owned by multiple investors. And yes – by the time the lender responds, the market may have changed and the buyer may not longer be willing to pay the once-offered price.

It helps if the real estate agent and/or title company checks to be sure the original documentation (financial statements and hardship letter from the owners, brokers price opinion, etc) is complete, as the package will keep getting rejected if anything is missing, so the time line doesn’t even start.

We hear that the government has plans to streamline the short sale process.

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

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