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Notes from Rob:

Craftsman bungalow - new with the charm of old

My tenth sale of the year just happened – probably the most unexpected sale of the year for me.  In October 2006 we met with Dan Karcher of Dan Karcher Construction.  I had seen several homes that he had built in Snell Isle:  very nice, million dollar waterfront homes.  He had just built two new bungalows.  They were both fabulous little homes.  Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, granite counters throughout, hardwood floors, upgraded appliances, and even a white picket fence out front.  After meeting with Dan, our team agreed to help him sell the homes.

Unfortunately, from the time Dan started his project to when the homes were finished, the market changed dramatically and the location made them a hard sell.  As time went buy, Dan agreed to rent the bungalows and ride out the market.  Recently, the tenants moved out of one of the bungalows and Dan decided to put it back on the market, rather than rent it out again.  Before we knew it, we had an offer on the house and six weeks later the sale closed and we had another happy client.  I think the buyers got a great deal and Dan was happy to finally sell the bungalow.

Talked to Dan this morning.  I have another client looking to buy a short sale home that was not quite completed.  Dan is going to talk to my client about finishing the house for him.  All I know is that if Dan Karcher Construction finishes the house, it will be a work of art when it is completed.

Spoken by Rob Johnson | Discussion: No Comments »

Why should I use a real estate agent when buying new in a development or condo?

New constructionHaving an agent who represents you exclusively rather than an agent who is working for both the developer and the buyer can have advantages. In most cases, you won’t pay any more to have your own representative and you may even pay less. Your agent should be able to compare this condo, development or builder with others and give you the advantages and disadvantages. Your agent should be able to suggest clauses to insert in the contract or put in an addendum to protect your interests. It extremely important to remember that anything verbal is NOT enforceable. Be sure that anything you’re relying on is in writing and signed by both parties. Most developers DO care about you and keeping you happy – but perhaps they’ll care a little bit more if they’re also accountable to someone who represents more current and future business. You may not think to ask about pet restrictions or water connections or electrical outlet locations or whether the corridors have air conditioning – but a good real estate agent should bring these up.

If you’re buying in another country, such as Costa Rica, it’s even more important to have a good real estate agent (and a good attorney) representing you and covering your back. A homesite buyer commented on his experience buying a lot in Costa Rica. In response to his situation, I wrote about getting help buying real estate in Costa Rica. Clarifying all the conditions that you want to be met before you have to close on your purchase is important, and needs to be written in the contract! One of our services to clients who want to buy real estate in Costa Rica is to introduce them to an experienced real estate agent in Costa Rica with excellent local knowledge, good credentials and a track history, professionalism and integrity – someone who will “cover your back” and who will treat you there like we treat our clients here.

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Condo fees and homeowner association fees

Most buyers ask the amount of monthly condo fees or homeowner association fees, but they don’t always ask how many people are behind in their payments. Fortunately lenders do ask, and may reject loans in a building or development if there are too many unpaid fees.

Yes, the association may have recourse against the owners for unpaid fees, and may sue for them – and if they successfully sue, then it’s a matter of whether the owner has the ability to pay the judgment. In the meantime, bills have to be paid. The guards need their salaries, the electric company needs to be paid, the landscaper, the elevator repair contract, etc. When these costs can’t be met from current income or from available reserves, the association will generally have to charge an assessment to the owners to make up for these unpaid fees. That in itself may cause more owners to be in arrears.

So – when you’re checking into a condo, and looking at their budget, be sure to check their reserves and be sure to ask how many people are behind in their fees, what is the total amount of overdue fees, and whether there is any pending litigation.

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Short Sales – are they a bargain?

Many of today’s “bargain” properties are short sales. Are they really a bargain?  Maybe.

Some properties are listed below what the lender will ever agree to – it’s the current owner setting the price (often at a price recommended by their agent). These homes are “short” in that the sales price is less than is owed on the property. They are NOT “short” in time. Any offer that the seller accepts must still be approved by their lender. If the seller has more than one loan, it gets even more complex. It may take several months before the lender tells you if your offer is accepted. and they may continue accepting other offers during that time.

If you don’t have that much time or don’t want the uncertainty, you may want to look for properties offered by owners at short-sales  prices that don’t require third party approval.  If you’d like help finding these, contact The Simms Team at ALVA International, Inc.

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Nice to hear

Notes from Rob.

After I wrote out an offer for a home with some clients earlier today, we sat back and had a beer and chatted for a while.  As we talked, my client mentioned that she felt they had looked at almost 300 homes over the past two years as they searched for just the right house.  Me being me, I made a comment about the fact that they needed to find the right Realtor – once they found me, then things fell into place.  She looked at me and told me that was true.  Of all of the Realtors that had shown them homes over the past two years, they said I was the first to actually listen to what they were looking for, then actually go look for that house and find it for them.  It was a very nice thing to hear from a client.  Working with buyers is my specialty and I feel I continue to do better at it as I have learned more and more about the business over the past 3 1/2 years.  It felt great hearing it from one of my clients, that I am doing it right.  Now we need to get their offer through the sellers, through the bank, and closed.  Then I will have done my job for these great folks.

Spoken by Rob Johnson | Discussion: No Comments »

Largo – Lake Seminole

Notes from Rob:

Perseverance.   Some times it takes a while to get someone in their new home.  I remember receiving a call in July 2007 from a woman who was getting ready to move to Florida.  They lived in Massachusetts, but wanted the warmer weather of Florida.  The husband had a job offer and they were ready to move.  They came down, we looked at properties and everything looked good.  But then life happened.  Things changed and the move was off.  Always the optimist, I kept in contact and every few months I checked in.  Mrs. Buyer continued to check out her Gateway to see what homes were coming on the market and life went on.  Then this spring, I noticed a increase in activity on her Gateway.  I called and things were looking up.  By the beginning of April, Mrs Buyer called to say they would be down for a house-hunting weekend.  After two days of looking, we had to revise our search to find the right house.  Then we were down to the final two…and we made an offer.  Sellers were ready to sell, buyers were ready to buy….deal was made.  Finally, after almost two years they have their dream house in Florida.  I’m thankful I was able to help them make it happen.  My best wishes to them in their new home.  I hope you enjoy many sunsets over Lake Seminole from your beautiful new home.

Spoken by Rob Johnson | Discussion: No Comments »

Bank Owned

Notes from Rob:

Sometimes you get great clients.  In January I talked to a nice couple that were renting a house in Clearwater. They wanted to buy a house around their daughters school.  That was the only neighborhood they wanted to look at.  They had a specific budget and wanted to buy now!.  I met with them several times, each time when we were done, we made an offer on a short sale or bank owned property…but no luck.  On our fourth trip out, we were successful.  Bank owned property, they accepted our price, everything is great.  No six month wait for a decision on a short sale, they could be in their house in a month.  Not so fast.  First, the bank needed an extension as we asked for a closing date too soon.  Okay, we can wait.  Then the title company needed more time.  Finally we made it to the closing table a month after our original proposed closing date.  Everybody’s happy-Wrong.  Turned out some title issues were not resolved.  So the waiting game begins.  It’s good we insisted on a title commitment so that our buyers were protected! We had to sign extensions and still keep waiting.  My great buyers really wanted this house.  Last week we had a second closing (or was it the first, as the title company pretended the first one never happened).  Finally the UPS driver came to our office this morning with the HUD statement and our commission check.  I called my clients and congratuated them on their new home…only took an extra four months.

My ninth sale of the year…don’t believe any of them have been easy.  But I do know that I’ve made nine clients/families very happy in helping them find their dream home.  It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.  Now need to get to work to keep number 10 on track for August 5th.

Spoken by Rob Johnson | Discussion: No Comments »


Notes from Rob:

Broadwater waterfront home St Petersburg Florida

For the team, Broadwater has always been important.  Mom has lived there for 15 years and knows the neighborhood better than any agent I know.  For me, I’ve sold homes from Sarasota to New Tampa, from Apollo Beach to Madeira Beach, but the neighborhood that I’ve sold the most homes in is Broadwater.  So when a nice couple contacted me several months ago to say they were moving here from Texas and were looking for a nice waterfront home, in a neighborhood that would be right to bring up their two children…Broadwater was my first choice.  They quickly agreed, so the job was to find them the right house.  They key to any buyer’s agent is to listen to their clients.  Even though they said they could live with a 3-bedroom house, that is not what they needed.  Broadwater doesn’t have too many 4-bedroom homes, and then matching up all of the other criteria…water, not too much sun, nice dock, right floorplan…it all narrows down the possibilities.  One house came to my mind, but it wasn’t even on the market yet.  The team had talked to the owners and told them all the things they needed to do to get the home ready for the market.

The opportunity for a perfect match was here.  I called the owners and said, yes I know the house is not ready and is a mess, but your home is perfect for this family.  They let us in, and it was the perfect house.  The sellers were ready to move, the buyers wanted to buy, the deal was made.  Had a long closing to allow time to sell the buyers home in Texas….and yes, it sold!  One week later, our closing happened and everyone is happy.  Broadwater welcomes their newest family.  They will be a great addition to the neighborhood.  I wish them many happy years in their new home.

Spoken by Rob Johnson | Discussion: No Comments »

What’s a split plan?

Many Florida homes are advertised as having a split plan. This may be an unfamiliar term to people from other parts of the country. A split plan means that the bedrooms are split apart – generally with the master bedroom on one side of the house and the other bedrooms on the opposite side of the house. Sometimes instead of a 3/1 split (master on one side and 3 on the other) it’s a 2/2 split, with 2 bedrooms on each side. Generally when this happens, the 4th bedroom is more like a den or a nursery, in that it shares the master bath. More recent homes may have a 3 way split, a 2/1/1 where the master bedroom is on one side of the house, 2 bedrooms are on the opposite side, and the 4th bedroom is at the back of that side, with a different access point – great if you want a somewhat separate area for guests. Here’s a floor plan with split bedrooms.

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

What’s a Florida room?

Florida Room 1

This Florida room is perpendicular to the house.

2 bedroom waterfront home for annual rent at $1,500/month.

Florida Room 2

This Florida room is parallel to the house.

3 bedroom waterfront pool home $499,000

While a Florida room is similar to a Family room in being designed for more casual living and enjoyment, a Florida room typically has windows or glass on three sides – so that you can enjoy Florida. Back in the 50s some of thee 2 bedroom 1 bath winter homes had a small Florida room built on the side or back of the house. Some of the 3 and 4 bedroom homes have long Florida rooms built across the back of the house – some designed that way and others converting a lanai or screened porch.  Click on the above photos for a larger view. Both of these Florida rooms are on the back of waterfront homes that we are currently marketing.

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

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