Archive for January, 2009


REALTORS – worth their weight in SOLD?

January 29, 2009








These are great times for real estate agents…it is FINALLY our chance to show what true professionals can accomplish for clients under the most trying circumstances.

The numbers of Orlando REALTORS who are still working (successfully) in our profession continue to diminish hourly. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We are left with the agents who are prepared to move forward utilizing the most innovative tools and relying on outstanding experience to get homes sold.

I am proud to be a part of this group. I feel change and I think it will be good news for all people who want to see real estate rebound. Will it be the craziness of 2005? No. But will it be fair market value and a sense of order and civility. Absolutely.


And the Oscar goes to…

January 23, 2009

Recently I had the “rare” opportunity to view the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”  Rare because I don’t have enough time to go to movies anymore.

This movie was special to me in so many ways…First, I attended LSU and been a spent many hours with friends in their lovely Southern homes in the Garden District of New Orleans. Secondly, I am a tremendous fan of the writer F. Scott Fitgerald. It is Fitzgerald’s short story that is the basis for this movie. Three, what’s not to like about Brad Pitt?

But as a proud member of Sotheby’s International Realty, I am also happy to report that our affiliate is listing the home used in the movie for sale. Following is the article on this outstanding home in the Garden District of New Orleans. For the record, I don’t think there is a more beautiful place on the earth than the Garden District. If you haven’t been there…you have missed a little glimpse of what the Garden of Eden might look like.

Benjamin Button’s House is For Sale in New Orleans

January 23, 2009 at 9:00 AM | 0 Comments


Most homeowners these day are fretting over whether or not their house is still worth anything but the owners of the house featured in the Oscar-nominated movie (several times over), “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” might not have much to worry about.

The house, located in the Garden district of New Orleans, is now on the market. According to the rental listing on Sotheby’s, the 7,800-sq.ft. Victorian-era mansion has six bedrooms, six baths, central air and heat, a library, music room and reception hall. That’s a far cry from the movie incarnation of the house which was a nursing home. And the listing price? $2.85 million.

The Sotheby’s listing has a 30+ page slideshow of interiors photos of the house and you can practically see Brad Pitt as an old seven-year-old in his wheelchair on the porch. Or Oscar-nominated actress, Taraji P. Henson picking up an abandoned Benjamin Button on the home’s back steps. However, if you are interested in buying the house, remember to put some money aside to furnish it.

Also, we’re no real estate experts here but if we were the owners, we would hold out until after the Oscars is over. That way if the movie does win all 13 nominations, you could probably get at least your asking price. Of course, there’s a chance the movie will only win one Oscar (and a lesser one like “Makeup.”) Then you’ll just have to use the “Brad Pitt was here” selling angle.


Momma’s Boys

January 22, 2009

I love the show Momma’s boys…guilty pleasure. But I am really pleased to hear that Sotheby’s is selling the house featured on the show. See article below:

The house where television personality Ryan Seacrest filmed reality show “Momma’s Boys” is for sale in Santa Barbara, Calif., for $21.8 million, 45% below its original listing.

The seller, financier Chris Lancashire, originally listed the 14,000-square-foot Tuscan villa in May 2007 for $39.5 million. In 2002, he’d built the villa on three acres overlooking the ocean. The home is in the Hope Ranch community, west of downtown Santa Barbara.

The NBC reality show, which had its season finale on Monday, centered on 32 women vying for the attentions of three single men, while their mothers watched and judged.

Mr. Seacrest came to fame as the host of “American Idol.” The show’s filmmakers shot around the kitchen, living room, hot tub and grounds. Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby’s International Realty has the listing.


Walk don’t run…

January 18, 2009





There is a new criterion for judging home value. It’s called “walkability rating” and you may see it in the very near future.

The vision is for a listing to read: bedrooms 2, bathrooms 2, Walk Score: 84. These scores reflect the proximity to stores, shopping and restaurants. In this day of green homes and energy conservation; the less you drive the more you walk and the more valuable your home.

Walk Scores are going to be a part of the future of real estate. It will be surprising to see if they make a difference in home prices.


Don’t worry…be happy

January 17, 2009


A client asked me today when he was going to hear some good news. When was he going to hear something positive about the real estate market? He was tired of hearing that his home isn’t selling because no one is buying. I feel his pain.

But here’s some simple truths. There is good news. It’s the old silver lining in every cloud syndrome and I think it bears repeating.

1. THINGS WILL GET BETTER. Once we work our way out of this (and I think it will be sooner than later) – the housing industry WILL recover and we will have a stable and secure real estate market. Will it happen tomorrow? Unlikely.  But could it happen THIS YEAR? Very likely.

2. HOUSING IS STILL A GREAT BUY. Rates are ridiculously low and prices are even lower. If you EVER wanted to own a home – buy now. BUY…BUY…BUY. Homes are listed at crazy low prices. I can tell you this, investors are buying and they are going into the rental market. Smart people see the opportunities. Other people see problems. Be smart!

3. ENJOY YOUR HOME. Life is not only about the bottom line. If you loved your house before…you will still love it now even if it isn’t worth as much. It’s STILL YOUR HOME.

4. LEARN TO COPE. Life has its ups and downs. Good times and bad times. But hey…we are still here, we still have a roof over our heads and the sun will come up tomorrow. Enjoy.


If Looks Could Kill – Help for Home Sellers

January 11, 2009

Our homes are so well-used that we rarely take a moment to really look at them and we miss the clutter.

My advice to sellers who are wondering why their home isn’t selling? Break out your camera. You need to photograph each room and see what stands out. Start at your doorway of each room and try to view the space as if you’d never seen it before.

By using photography, you will notice little things that make the room looks messy, cluttered or just plain ugly. Just as you can “tune out” noise in your life…so too can you “tune out” the visual imagery that you see every day. You become blind to your home’s defects.

You don’t notice the dirty walls; you maybe miss the fact that there are too many pictures on the wall. You are so de-sensitized to your “objects” that you don’t realize your space is gasping for air. I have had many sellers tell me that they never realized what their house REALLY looked like until they viewed photos taken prior to a virtual tour. I do this so they will see what we need to remove to make their home tour spectacular.

Like a lady dressed for the evening…you look in the mirror and take one thing off. Too much is still too much. So it goes with your house. Take out the extra stuff and get down to the bare (and I mean bare) minimum. It will make your house look fresh and if you still aren’t sure…break out the Polaroid and look at your home as other’s see it. It may not be as glossy as you think.


It’s not about swamp land – it’s about GATORS!

January 9, 2009

Tebow is happy

This has nothing to do with real estate. It’s just about being in the great State of Florida and being an alum of the University of Florida and a part of the Gator Nation. It’s also about being proud of having one of the finest and most talented young football players to ever lead a team in the college football arena. In our case…the “swamp.” How lucky are we to have Tim Tebow?

Thanks for letting me enjoy the win! Tomorrow…it’s back to selling real estate.

It’s great to be a Florida Gator! 2008 National Champions! Woohoo


From Hummer to Hybrid – Home Trends in the Future

January 7, 2009





Real estate is evolving and changing. We are going from Hummer to Hybrid when it comes to homes. The next few years you are going to see a lot of homeowners who are CONTENT and HAPPY with smaller homes, smaller yards and a hybrid type of home.

What is a hybrid home? It is a house that won’t take as much of your hard-earned money to heat and air condition. It is a home that doesn’t have a huge water guzzling yard and a home that is energy efficient. The next generation does not appear to be going toward the bigger is better concept. They like understated elegance and eco-friendly homes.

It’s going to be a gas (pardon the expression) to watch this trend unfold!



Orlando Real Estate in 2008 – Looking back while looking forward!

January 3, 2009


New Year and New Beginnings:


It has been an interesting year in Orlando with sales suffering as a result of the mortgage meltdown and economic recession.


In Orange County, year to date, there have been 8,586 sold homes compared to 9,306 in 2007, which represents about a 7% decrease in sales. While this figure is not too shocking, it is the price point where things change dramatically.


In December, sales under $300,000 accounted for 84% of all homes sold in Orange County (for the record, the statistics are similar in Seminole County as well). Total sales of single family residences in Orange County for the month of December were 595 units. Only 9 homes over $1M were sold in December with eight (8) of these homes having been built post 2001 and four since 2007. Only one older home sold over $1M and it was built in 1991.


There are currently 9,392 homes active and for sale in Orange County and a significant number of these homes are foreclosure/short sale opportunities. None of the above figures include condominiums for sale or sold in today’s marketplace.


What does this mean to us? Clearly, homes in the FHA funding price range (under $300K) are selling at a quicker pace. FHA is considering reducing their loan limits to $274,850 (previously $353,750) starting January 1st so you may see a decrease in sold prices in the near future.


FHA loans are popular because they allow the seller to contribute to the buyer’s closing costs and they allow for creditor’s who have less than stellar credit scores to borrow money backed by the federal government.


On the plus side, interest rates are at lows rarely seen since the 1960’s for borrowers with great credit scores. The Orlando buyer of today has a multitude of options and many properties to choose from.


So where do we go from here? We stay the course, keep current on market trends and realize that homes have to be darn near perfect to sell. There is a new term called “frugal chic” and buyers of today are demanding high-end finishes (like granite countertops) in homes under $300,000. I am also seeing buyers who can afford homes in the $500K price point but buying homes priced much lower. It’s an interesting phenomenon.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me. Thank you for the opportunity to be of service.