It is important to us that our clients are well informed of any matters that may affect your property and its value.
Visit this portion of the website often; information is added frequently.
Sue, Lynne, & Courtney
Please feel free to contact any of us with questions or comments.
Most consumers think their insurance covers flooding
The national flood program might be in better financial shape if more homeowners knew they needed coverage. A recent study found that 56% do not. Read More.
The risk of home prices going down? 'Ultra-low'
Latest Arch Risk Index report finds little chance home prices will decline anytime soon. Only energy-dependent U.S. regions face a slightly higher threat. Read More.
Love the kitchen - hate the bedrooms
While most buyers focus on kitchens first, the bedrooms can kill a deal if buyers can't look past the bright paint, cluttered shelves and thick curtains. Read More.
Top buyer/seller regret? Not prepping soon enough
Survey: Most buyers and sellers said they jumped into the market too quickly, even though the sellers spent about five months doing pre-sale prep work. Read More.
NAR: This is the worst 'housing drought' ever
The number of homes for sale is at the lowest level on record, according to NAR, which began tracking inventory 18 years ago. Some culprits: Too few new homes, too many low-end homes owned by investors and stronger buyer demand. Read More.
Consumer confidence hits 17-year high
Americans felt pretty good in March. Confidence increased sharply to its highest level since Dec. 2000, with both current and future expectations heading higher. Read More.
Home prices rose in January by most in 2½ years
U.S. home prices jumped 5.7% from a year earlier at the fastest pace since July 2014, as a tight supply of houses for sale spurred bidding wars in many cities. Read More.
How to calculate a home's square footage? No one really knows
House size seems like a fact rather than an opinion, but appraisers, developers, builders, Realtors, tax assessors and architects all measure space differently. Read More.
When it comes to flips, watch out for this
Investors buy homes that need repairs, fix them up and sell them for a profit. But buyers should make sure all those like-new home upgrades aren't just cosmetic. Read More.
Study: Fla. property taxes average compared to other states
Fla. has no state income tax, but that doesn't translate into higher-than-usual property taxes, according to a study that found Fla. 27th in a 50-state ranking. Read More.
Clean air? Fla. cities some of least polluted in U.S.
Naples has the cleanest air in U.S.; Ocala ranks No. 3. Realtor.com study credits Fla.'s ocean breeze and limited industry for an overall lack of air pollution. Read More.
Don't do these 4 risky mortgage moves
Buyers excited about purchasing a new home sometimes sabotage their final loan approval by changing jobs, applying for credit or moving money around. Read More.
50.1% in Fla. say 'It's a good time to buy a house'
Which Fla. city is best for a real estate business?
Population: Fla. is growing but eight states shrink
Why is golf cart insurance a new thing?
Low-ball offers don't work in today's market
Granite countertops take second place to quartz
A kitchen designer says 75% of clients now prefer quartz countertops to granite, in part because quartz has greater color consistency and doesn't require sealing. Read More.
Home improvements: Which ones recoup the most money?
If a home improvement project costs $1,000, how much money will the homeowner get back if he sells the home? In 2017, only attic insulation recoups more than its cost, though a new steel entry door returns 90.7% when the house sells. Read More.
Fewer buyers care about a home office
Fewer buyers put "home office" on a must-have list when house shopping, and developers are shifting gears to accommodate greater demand for open space. Read More.
5 home design fads fading out in 2017
Why buy a home? Top 10 benefits of ownership
It's a lot of work to buy a home, but millions of Americans do it. Why? The positives outweigh the negatives for most people who plan to stay five years or more. Read More.
Kitchen features buyers will pay more for
Of the homes listed for sale on realtor.com, 69% highlight the kitchen as a selling point. Features that add value include custom cabinetry or a large pantry. Read More.
Lots of positive trends in today's housing market
Trump presidency expected to help housing
Many real estate industry leaders say Trump's proposals to rebuild roads and bridges, reduce taxes and increase jobs likely would strengthen the economy. Read more.
Realtor.com forecast: 2017 real estate trends
Mortgage rates will hit 4.5%, home sales will rise 1.9% and prices will go up 3.9% as millennials, boomers and Western cities dominate the real estate market. Read More.
ATTOM: The foreclosure crisis is over
For the first time in a decade, the time it takes to foreclose on a home is down. Fla. remains a top foreclosure state, but it's now No. 5 for foreclosure rates. Read More.
Buyers and sellers may be getting nervous
Fannie Mae's monthly survey of homebuyers declined again last month, including a 5% drop in the percent of people who think it's a good time to buy a home. Read More.
Pending Home Sales Slump
Not great news for the housing market: Pending home sales fell 2.4% in August, the third decline in four months and the slowest pace of sales since January, according to The National Association of Realtors. Economists were expecting a flat reading after a strong July. Read More.
4 Fla. metros at top of 'best cities to invest' list
Orlando ranked No. 1 as the best city in the U.S. to own investment property in a GOBankingRates survey, and Tampa came in second. Miami came in 10th and Jacksonville No. 13 in the top 15 list. Read More.
Pending sales down in Aug. as inventory shrinks
NAR: Low supply took the wind out of housing market momentum as more buyers are put off by steeper home prices or disheartened by the competition. Read More.
5 Fla. cities top fun-city list
Study looked at 51 "fun" metrics, including fitness centers, movie costs, open hours of breweries and more. Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa topped list. Read More.
Can the condo board change common areas?
Legal Q&A: Is it lawful to amend bylaws by a majority vote to allow the board to approve material alterations to common areas that cost $10,000 or less? Read More.
How will Fla. grow? UF maps show options
A UF study projects about 15 million more people in 50 years, and interactive maps show potential population distribution under various smart-growth scenarios. Read More.
Insurance discounts tied to quality of shutters
Real estate Q&A: A homeowners' property insurance company left Fla., and his new insurer wants proof that he has hurricane shutters. What can he do? Read More.
Colors that make a room look bigger
Some paint colors create the illusion of more space by making it appear that walls expand. Use white, creamy yellow or soft gray to help a room feel more open. Read More.
How hurricanes affect the home market
Prepping for hurricanes involves processes before, during and after a storm reaches land. Assess insurance coverage before a hurricane hits, for example. Read More.
Bad habits that may ruin a home
Slamming the front door, not cleaning the gutters or actually flushing "flushable wipes" could harm your house and lead to major improvement projects later on. Read More.
Legal challenges mount over new Fla. water standards
The state changed water quality standards, but the Seminole Tribe of Florida, city of Miami and paper-mill industry are each challenging those new standards. Read More.
With rain on horizon, insurers say 'be prepared'
There's a good chance Fla. will see gusty rain this weekend, and an insurance association issued a reminder on hurricane-preparedness steps owners should take. Read More.
What do you do if floodwater rises unexpectedly?
The floods in Louisiana came without warning, spurring FEMA to issue homeowner guidelines on steps to take before and after floodwaters enter your home. Read More.
Will property ins. protect you if the Big One hits?
While Fla. hasn't had a major hurricane in 11 years, that also means many of the state's newest property insurers haven't been tested yet. However, most experts agree: Everything should be fine. Read More.
WalletHub: Fla. has 4 of top 10 retirement cities
The website rated 150 cities on affordability, health care, activities and quality of life. Of 11 Fla. cities, all ranked above average - and Orlando was No. 1. Read More.
Shades of gray: The new 'it' neutral paint color
Gray walls are becoming the modern, neutral choice for a home's interior spaces. According to paint experts: "Gray is the new beige." Read More.
TaxWatch: Fla. beating pre-recession job growth
After a debilitating recession from 2007 to 2009 that cost thousands of Fla. jobs, the state is once again a national job-creation leader at mid-year 2016 and on a path of economic growth. Read More.
Renovation ideas owners may want to rethink
Fixer-upper TV shows give homeowners big ideas, but some projects - like tearing down walls or using the highest-priced materials - could cause problems.Read More.
3 Fla. cities tops for budget real estate investing
A realtor.com/HomeUnion study ranked U.S. cities for the best place to invest in single-family homes on a budget: Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando topped the list. Read More.
State panel backs controversial water standards
Fla.'s environmental commission voted 3-2 to support a higher amount of regulated chemicals in the state's waterways. It goes to a federal agency for approval. Read More.
Do ultra-clean homes appraise higher?
Appraisers say no but some homeowners think they do. "Appraisers are normal people," says one owner. If clean, they "have a better impression of the property."
6 moving packing hacks
CHICAGO – July 5, 2016 – Moving experts recently shared some creative tips and tricks for helping people buying or selling a home to pack up their belongings.
Glasses and cups: Insert stemware into a tube sock to prevent cracks. Also, "pick up wine or beer boxes with cardboard separators to pack glasses and other fragile items – liquor stores give these away for free," says Mim King, a professional organizer in Minneapolis.
Jewelry: Prevent necklaces and bracelets from getting tangled up by using a few empty toilet paper rolls or drinking straws. Thread each chain through the toilet roll or straw, and then fasten the clasp.
Plates: Use bubble wrap or insert paper plates between ceramic plates and stand them up in a box, suggests Randy Shacka, president of Two Men and a Truck in Lansing, Mich.
Clothing: Slide a trash bag over hanging clothes to make them easier to carry or stack, suggests Wes Taft, co-founder of the mobile app moveCHECK.
Linens: Use towels, sheets and dishcloths to cushion other objects. For example, roll up wooden and plastic utensils in dishtowels, Shacka suggests. "Pack pillows at the top of boxes to add extra cushion and wrap artwork in blankets," King says.
Electronics: Use the plastic tabs from loaves of bread to secure electronic cords to prevent tangles. "Be sure to label them so you don't lose track of which cord goes to which piece of equipment," says Taft. He also recommends snapping a photo of your electronics before unplugging them so you remember how everything connects in your new home.
Source: "Weird Packing Tricks That Actually Work," realtor.com® (June 24, 2016)
© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688
Buy vs. rent: 5 things to consider
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – July 1, 2016 – Buying a house is the largest investment most people ever make, and it's not a decision you should enter into lightly, say personal finance experts at the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants. If you're considering making the leap from renter to owner, there are some things you should consider.
Where you are
A 2016 study from the National Association of Realtors found that more than one-third of all homebuyers are 35 and younger. While people five or 10 years older might still be recovering from the housing crash, millennials seem ready to start a new chapter in their lives. And this group may be onto something.
In 70 percent of the major markets across the nation, buying beats renting in less than two years. A Zillow analysis of rent vs. purchase costs found that it takes an average of 1.9 years to break even on a home purchase. In larger cities, you would need to live in a home for three years or more to break even on comparable rent, but that number drops to 1.5 years or less in Cleveland, San Antonio, Kansas City, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit and Indianapolis.
When to buy
A study from Black Knight Financial Services analyzed national price appreciation and household income. Today, 21 percent of median income is required to purchase a median-priced home with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Considering the current rate of home price appreciation, combined with a 0.5 percent annual increase in mortgage interest rates, it may become more difficult.
If home prices and interest rates continue to rise at the same pace, the average monthly payment on the median home will rise by $114 within 12 months and would be $240 more per month in 24 months.
How long to stay
House prices fluctuate year to year. And you're leveraged when you buy, so a price drop of just 5 percent could mean a huge loss if you have to sell. However, if you own for five or more years, there's much less risk. Home prices are more likely to move at least a bit higher over longer periods of time. And you'll have built up more equity in your home by paying down the mortgage over five years that will cushion you against a drop in prices.
CPAs advise not spending more than 28 percent of your gross pretax income on your monthly housing payment. Another rule of thumb is that your combined debt (housing expenses, credit cards, student loans, alimony, car loans, etc.) should be between 30 percent and 40 percent of your pretax income.
Costs of remaining a renter
Renters aren't immune from price increases. If you live in a popular neighborhood with no rent control, your rent is most likely to rise over time. A fixed-rate mortgage won't increase, and you will build equity if you own rather than rent. Also, there aren't any tax write offs available to renters; your landlord generally gets those honors.
When you sit down and crunch the numbers, does it make more financial sense to buy or rent? There are many free calculators online to help you create and analyze different financial scenarios. If now isn't the right time, you can continue to save for a downpayment until you're ready.
A CPA can help
As a trusted, independent financial advisor, a CPA understands the different options available to you.
Source: Florida News
Citizens seeks rate hike over water claims
The state-backed insurer wants an average of 6.8% statewide for 2017, as water-damage claims rise. Wind-only policies would grow on average 8.3% across Fla. Read More.
Goal of owning home still strong
Study: Americans still want the American Dream, if they can afford it. Other trends of note? Larger houses, smaller apartments and more household formation. Read More.
Credit mistakes potential homebuyers make
To maintain a strong credit score, buyers should pay bills on time, establish a credit history, be wary of applying for new credit and avoid high balances. Read More.
In a bidding war, the winning buyer is well armed
Many buyers with school-age children want a house immediately. Winners tend to be preapproved, and while personal letters can help, they're no guarantee. Read More.
Fannie Mae: Sellers happy, buyers frustrated
In the buy vs. rent battle, 'buy' is winning
The latest buy vs. rent analysis from Florida Atlantic and International universities finds that buying makes more financial sense in most metro areas. Read More.
Hurricane reminder: Avoid unlicensed contractors
The 2016 hurricane season started Wed., but Fla. DBPR Sec. Ken Lawson already issued a post-storm warning about using unlicensed contractors for repairs. Read More.
CoreLogic: About 6.8M homes at risk from hurricanes
When it comes to hurricane storm surge, no state has more houses at risk than Fla. - and the state is also home to six of the top 10 riskiest metro areas. Read More.
Unpaid HOA assessment can lead to foreclosure
Real estate Q&A: What can happen if several homeowners in an HOA don't agree with a special assessment and refuse to pay it? Read More.
What “NOT” To Do While Trying To Get A Mortgage Or Loan
Trying to get approved for a homeowner loan?
Not as easy as it was once upon a time, but here are some tips that will help you.
These are things NOT to do:
** Don’t jockey money around
** Don’t purchase new furniture, cars, etc.
** Do not make financial changes…. Leave things alone right now!
** Do not deposit grandma’s generous monetary “Christmas gift” at this time.
Banks are looking for “seasoned money”. This means they are looking for
** No surprises
Avoid gas pump credit card fraud: 7 tips
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – May 26, 2016 – Thieves install skimmers on gas pumps, and an uneventful trip to fill the tank can easily turn into credit card theft. To the untrained eye, the skimmer looks like a regular slot for inserting a credit or debit card, and even trained eyes miss some skimmers.
Since 2015, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has found and removed more than 230 skimmers in Florida – devices that illegally captured consumers' credit or debit card information. The number of consumers victimized by each skimmer is estimated to be about 100 per device, with an average of $1,000 stolen from each victim. Each skimmer represents a $100,000 threat to the state of Florida and its consumers.
"Identity theft is the last thing Floridians and visitors want to deal with while traveling this Memorial Day weekend," said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. "An educated consumer is the best defense, and I encourage travelers to follow these simple tips."
Steps to avoid gas station skimmers
Pay cash inside the store
Make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and not tampered with. Many stations now put security tape over the cabinet to ensure it has not been opened
Use a gas pump close to the front of the store. Thieves often place skimmers at the gas pumps farther away – the ones not noticed as quickly
Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.
If using a debit card, run it as a credit card instead of putting a PIN number in
Monitor bank accounts to spot any unauthorized charges
If you suspect a credit card has been compromised, report it immediately to authorities and the credit card company
Consumers who suspect that a gas pump has been tampered with should contact the gas station manager, local law enforcement or the department's consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800- FL-AYUDA (352-9832).
© 2016 Florida Realtors®
Sellers Happy, But Home Buyers Are Frustrated
Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, May 10, 2016
The number of home buyers who say now is a good time to buy dipped to an all-time survey low in Fannie Mae’s latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index. Meanwhile, homeowners who say now is a good time to sell soared to an all-time survey high.
Indeed, “we can partially attribute the sizable gain in April in home selling optimism both to a correction for last month’s unexpected dip and to typical seasonal strength in housing activity in the spring and summer,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Even after accounting for these factors, continued tight housing supply has led to renewed strength in home price appreciation, making selling a home a more attractive prospect this year in particular. This improved sentiment could provide an extra boost of much-needed supply for the spring selling season.”ome
Some highlights from Fannie Mae’s latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index:
30% of Americans say now is a good time to purchase a home, a drop of 3 percentage points from the previous month and now at an all-time survey low.
15% of Americans say now is a good time to sell a home, now at an all-time survey high.
More consumers think home prices will rise over the next 12 months compared to March, and slightly fewer consumers also expect mortgage rates to go up over the next year.
The percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned with losing their job increased 6 percentage points to 74%, nearly a 7 percentage point decrease in March.
The percentage of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago held at 11%.
Source: Fannie Mae
Agents, investors making unsolicited offers
Real estate Q&A: A couple occasionally gets handwritten notes from strangers asking if they'd like to sell their house. Are these offers serious? Read More.
Citizens tells owners about new claims restrictions
Coverage by the Fla.-owned insurer changes July 1, and Citizens says it will educate policyholders. Emergency repairs, for example, cap out at $3,000 after that. Read More.