Archive for January, 2013


Holy cow – there are no homes to sell…

January 30, 2013

house sideways

Things have gotten a wee bit strange in real estate recently. There are simply too few homes for sale. I have buyers…lots of buyers actually but there is an absolutely nothing to show them. If you want a home in the $200,000 to $350,000 price range in a good area of Orlando then you had better be prepared to look a long time and jump on something the minute it becomes available. I’m seeing multiple offers on homes listed and anxious agents who want contracts signed before it is too late. There is definitely a sense of urgency in the Orlando real estate marketplace.

What does this mean? The economy is affecting homes listed for sale as potential sellers fear they won’t obtain fair market value for their home. The majority of homes for sale in Orlando remain short sales or foreclosures. We need to see the inventory of distress sales dwindle and more normal market conditions return.

What is normal? Who knows? But this certainly isn’t it.


CalcMoolator – fun web stuff…

January 22, 2013

CalcMoolator: Your Financial Swiss Army Knife

CalcMoolator LogoFinancial health and stability depends upon making informed decisions about loans, debt, taxes, savings, and more. Unfortunately, most people (including first-time homebuyers!) lack a true understanding of how to apply math to help them clearly understand these essential areas.

While there are many specialized calculators out there for a particular area (say debt, or mortgage payments), there are few which consolidate all of the most popular financial calculators in one place. Not to mention, you can chalk up quite a bill paying $2 – $5 for each independent calculator you may need.

Recently we discovered CalcMoolator, an incredible online collection of calculators which also has easy-to-use apps for both iOS and Android devices. The most popular calculators include:

  • Auto Lease vs. Buy
  • Auto Loan Estimate
  • First-Year Baby Costs
  • Estimate Your Credit Score
  • Pay Off My CC Debt Sooner
  • My Lifetime Earnings
  • Salary to Hourly Wage
  • Rent vs. Buy
  • What If I Pay More?
  • Mortgage Payment Estimate

What’s more, you can even embed web-based CalcMoolator calculators in your own website/blog. It’s very handy for showing Rent vs. Buy and Mortgage Payment estimates.

Check out CalcMoolator for yourself (and share it with clients!):

Tuesday Tactics was developed in the Fall of 2008 by Scott Levitt, owner of Oakley Signs & Graphics, to help real estate agents survive and thrive in an increasingly challenging market. In addition to Oakley Signs & Graphics, Scott is also the founder of My Real Helper, a real estate marketing content service designed to help agents market themselves and build rapport with clients.

By Scott Levitt, as originally published in the Tuesday Tactics Newsletter produced by Oakley Signs & Graphics. and


What are Home Buyers looking for? This is a great read….

January 16, 2013

Buyers: Don’t just list a home – prepare it first

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 16, 2013 – To sell a home or get top dollar, sellers must look at their property through the eyes of a potential buyer. Consider the following five tips:

1. Get rid of clutter and Aunt Mary’s photo.

“Selling your house is about taking your personality out of it and having people going through it envisioning their own life and personality,” says Candice Olson, host of “Candice Tells All” on Canadian television station “W Network.”

It’s hard for buyers to imagine themselves in a home decorated wall-to-wall with photographs of people they do not know, and knick-knacks that hold no special meaning. In preparing a home for sale, all the things that personalize a home to the family within should be stored for the next home – including all the pictures and magnets on the refrigerator.

Olson says even art on the wall should be analyzed because people have different tastes. She recommends retaining any mirrors, however. “Art is very personal, but mirrors aren’t,” she says. “Mirrors are great for adding depth and dimension and visual space and light … it’s non-committal art.”

2. Focus on the kitchen and bathrooms.

Most buyers who fall in love with a kitchen fall in love with the house. However, that doesn’t mean sellers should invest in an expensive upgrade. The best kitchen is one that aligns with buyers’ tastes, and that’s not always one with upscale cabinets and granite countertops. At the least, the expensive of those upgrades may not come back to the owner in a higher selling price. Sellers should also focus on lighting.

Hilary Farr of the Toronto-based “Love It or List It” television show suggests spending upgrade money on refacing kitchen cabinets and counter upgrades, such as replacing the backsplash.

Olson has simple advice for any would-be seller considering a kitchen upgrade: “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

3. Make your home look like a hotel suite – inviting but neutral.

Floors make a big impression because they’re big, the “first thing that strike you when you walk in the front door,” Farr says.

Bathrooms should look like a just-cleaned hotel room: New soaps, clean towels and perhaps some cut flowers. Beds should be made with neutral blankets or comforters.

Jonathan and Drew Scott, the “Property Brothers” on television, suggest that sellers consider a home stager. Stagers arrange furniture and furnishings or bring in their own to make the house look as appealing as possible to potential buyers.

“Staging is such a crucial part of it,” says Drew. “It’s just as important as any sort of renovation, because if a buyer can’t walk into a space and picture themselves living there, they’re not going to give you top dollar, for one, and they might just turn and walk away.”

4. Price the home based on market value, not your personal opinion

Do you need to recoup the money you spent at the market’s height in 2006? Buyers don’t care. Did you raise three kids in the home? Your fond memories aren’t worth anything to potential buyers.

Sellers have to switch from emotional attachments and see the sale of their home as a business decision. Realtors give unbiased opinions, and some home sellers even have an appraisal done before they list their home.

5. Focus on curb appeal first

If buyers love the outside of a house – their first impression – there’s a greater chance they’ll love the inside. Sellers can upgrade kitchens and bathrooms all they want, but if a buyer chooses not to enter the home because the outside doesn’t dazzle them, but upgrades won’t do any good.

Paint shingles, doors, garages and railings. Plant new shrubbery and trim existing greenery. In summer, mow the grass twice per week.

A new-looking exterior doesn’t have to be expensive to make potential buyers look twice.

Source: Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press

© 2013 Florida Realtors®


2013 Orlando Real Estate Crystal Ball…

January 7, 2013

My Real Estate Crystal Ball...

Some of my friends like to come up with a “word” for the year. Well in real estate – my word of the year for 2013 would be “tough”.

I know that REALTORS are supposed to be overly optimistic and happy and positive and to be honest, I am all of that. But it is still going to be a tough year.
Why? Well that’s a good question with many answers.

How can it NOT be a tough year when everyone’s paycheck is smaller due to recent tax increases? Remember that promise to not tax the middle class? Have you looked at your paycheck yet? You been scammed and Congress and the President took out more payroll taxes! Frankly, I am shocked that no one is making a stink about this. I’m beginning to worry we are a nation of sheep following blindly behind a group of crazy people.

Secondly, there is so much manipulation of the job market. Our job growth is seriously underscored and it is a lot worse than most people realize. Ask your neighbor? You probably know at least ONE person who is not working at this time.

Finally, credit will be an issue. I could write a book about the inability for the credit agencies to fix their inaccuracies but I could add to that book about the mortgage lending business consolidating to provide you with fewer alternatives for mortgage loans.

Know who will be buying in 2013? Investors and cash buyers (which are basically one and the same). They are snapping up property at amazing rates.
Orlando real estate will sell and homes will turn over but to whom? It’s going to be an interesting 2013.

I hope it’s not too tough.


Orlando Home Sellers and Buyers are Worried

January 7, 2013

Orlando, FL – Economic Anxiety, Fiscal Cliff Uncertainty, Drive Traffic Lower In December

TrafficHome PricesIncentivesDecember Market Trends

“Buyers are concerned about the economy.”

(4,554 single-family permits in 2011, 12th largest market in the country)

Traffic slips on economic and political concerns.

Buyer traffic missed expectations again in December, as our traffic index fell to 36 from 42 in November, below a neutral reading of 50 (indicates lower than expected traffic for this time of year). Agents voiced buyers’ anxieties over the direction of the U.S. economy and concerns about taxes and the potential fallout from the fiscal cliff. This is similar to commentary from our November survey, in which agents also mentioned concerns about the fiscal cliff. One agent in December noted, “There is too much uncertainty and my buyers have been showing less confidence.” Another agent noted, “Concern over potential tax increases and higher unemployment is leading to lower traffic levels.” Agents also noted that lower inventories have worked to discourage some buyers, as they do not find the current selection of inventory appealing and find little reason to look for more properties. However, some agents did note steady demand from investors, while others noted that traditional buyers expressed interest in capitalizing on low interest rates.

Pricing moves higher in December.

Prices rose further in December, as our home price index came in at 80 (from 75 in November), with readings above 50 pointing to sequentially higher prices. This marks the region’s tenth consecutive month of higher prices. Meanwhile, inventory levels continued to trend lower in December, as our home listings index came in at 87 (from 75 in November), well above a neutral reading, signaling sequentially lower inventories. Meanwhile, agents pointed to a lower time needed to sell, as our index came in at 83 (from 67 in November), above a neutral reading of 50 (less time to sell). We view the lower inventories and time to sell as positives for future pricing.

Comments from real estate agents:

  • “Investors have been supporting traffic. Traditional buyer traffic has been slow.”
  • “We’ve seen some better interest from snowbirds.”




Source: Credit Suisse