How The New Tax Bill Will Impact Residential Real Estate Market

January 29th, 2018

In my November blog, I outlined the key components impacting the real estate market under each of the proposed House & Senate plans for tax reform. Since that time the tax reform bill has been signed into law and this blog will summarize what actually made it into the final bill relevant to real estate buyers and sellers.

The bill has been characterized as the most significant overhaul of the IRS Tax Code in more than thirty years. The administrations stated goals were to grow the economy, raise wages and promote economic development. While the corporate rate reduction and international reforms are permanent, the tax bill sunsets nearly all individual tax provisions at the end of 2025.

Some of the key changes in the new $1.5 Trillion Tax Bill include the following

  • Corporate tax rate has been reduced from 35% to 21%.
  • The multi-bracketed structure for individual tax rates has not changed but provides for slightly smaller reductions in tax rate paid.
  • The standard deduction has been increased from $6,350 and $12,700 to $12,000 and $24,000 for single filers and married couples, respectively.
  • The Estate Tax exemption has been raised from $5M to $10M.
  • The 1031 Exchanges have been retained but only for real property transfers. The preservation of 1031 tax-deferred exchanges for real property has been well received by the real estate industry.
  • Owners of pass-thru entities and sole proprietors are now able to deduct up to 20% of domestic qualified business income. This deduction expires on 12/31/2025. This favorable treatment of pass-thru income should encourage additional capital to enter the commercial real estate market.
  • State and local taxes will be capped at $10K for any combination of state, local income and property taxes. With Florida being a non-income tax state, we likely will see more people moving here, especially from the Northeast including New York and New Jersey where the $10K cap will be felt the most.
  • Mortgage interest on up to two personal residences can be deducted for mortgage debt originating after 12/15/2017 but only up to $750K in debt thru 2025. Any debt incurred prior to 12/15/2017 will be covered by the previous law. Even if refinanced later, the debt would continue to be covered by the previous law’s $1M cap.  With existing mortgages basically grandfathered in with the lower deduction applying to new loans may result in less people moving as there is less incentive to move.
  • Taxpayers cannot deduct interest on home equity debt thru 2025. The previous bill allowed deduction of interest payments up to $100K of home equity debt.
  • As with the previous bill, taxpayers can exclude up to $500K for couples or $250K for single filer from capital gains taxation when they sell their primary home provided they have lived in the home for at least two of the past five years.

The bottom line for these changes on real estate and how they will impact you and your housing options will depend on where you live, how much you spend (or can spend) on your home and how much the new provisions of the bill decreases (or increases) your overall tax burden.  With regards to Florida, the tax reform should have a positive effect on real estate if the economy improves generating increased employment and better wages which fuels real estate.

Should you have any questions on how the new tax bill may impact real estate in Florida or be interested in selling or buying in South Florida and not currently working with a real estate agent, please do not hesitate to contact me at 954-547-9483 or JayKenney@SFPropertyTeam.com

HOW TO MAKE YOUR DREAM OF BUYING A HOME COME TRUE

December 24th, 2017
If your goal for 2018 is to buy a home of your own, having the money for a down payment is often cited as the biggest challenge to homeownership. One way to enhance savings is to arrange automatic payments from your paycheck that would go into a separate savings account to be used exclusively for the down payment.
Another key consideration when buying a home is to ensure your credit history is clean. When you go to apply for a mortgage, lenders will want to see that you have been responsible in paying off all past debts, including credit cards, car loans and student loans. A better credit score equals a better mortgage interest rate which ultimately equals better buying power. To clean up your credit takes time, so plan ahead – usually a year to clean up your credit.
Credit bureaus recommend using no more than 30% of the total credit available to you. You also should determine if you are currently living within your means. To be able to save money for a down payment and paying down any debts to improve your credit score, you may very well need to lower your current spending in key areas such as traveling, new clothes and buying a new car. Living within a budget will go a long way towards putting you in a healthy financial position.
If you are buying your first home, chances are this is not your “dream home”. In reality, you may be one or two home purchases away from buying your “dream home”.  The key to finding the right first home purchase for you is to find a home that meets as many of the criteria that you would like in your “dream home” but is within your budget. When looking for home, keep an open mind with regard to the type of property (i.e.; home, condo or townhouse) that may be the best option for your budget to get you as close to what you’re looking for in your “dream home”.
Once you determine how much you can afford from a financial perspective you will need to decide upon the location of where you want to live. We all want to live in the best neighborhoods but your budget may not support that option. You can live in a slightly less desirable neighborhood but you shouldn’t live in a home you can’t afford.
Buying in a transitional neighborhood for your first home allows you to get into the market relatively cheaply and build some equity. The objective is to identify an area on the upswing which will allow for the potential from increased home values as the neighborhood transitions.
Another factor to consider when buying a home is to determine what you must have as opposed to what you would like to have. An extra bedroom would be a must have if needed for a new baby but would be nice to have as a home office or exercise room. Knowing your home must haves as opposed to nice-to haves help to prioritize your home search.
As previously stated, your first home isn’t likely to be your “dream home” but it can be a stepping stone if you buy smartly and build up equity by paying down the mortgage as fast as reasonably possible. You will then be in a position to move up to that “dream home” with infinity pool and chef’s kitchen or realize that your “dream home” is a less fancy home but one that you own outright.
If you have any questions on buying or selling property in South Florida and are not currently working with an agent, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at jkenney@SFPropertyTeam.com or at 954-543-9483.
Wishing the best of Holidays to all and may all your real estate goals come true in 2018!

 

HOW WILL PROPOSED TAX REFORM PLANS IMPACT REAL ESTATE?

November 20th, 2017

This month, House and Senate Republicans have each unveiled their long-awaited Tax Reform Plans to overhaul the U. S. Tax Code. Both proposed Tax Reform Plans differ in significant ways especially with regards to real estate. While there are numerous significant changes to the current Tax Code as a whole, state/local tax deductions and mortgage interest deductions are the key areas of both Tax Reform Plans that could have the most significant impact on real estate.

  •         State and Local Tax Deductions: The House Tax Reform Plan proposes to allow taxpayers the ability to deduct local property taxes on their federal tax returns up to $10K.

The Senate Tax Reform Plan proposes to eliminate all state and local deductions (“SALT”). Under the Senate Tax Reform Plan, taxpayers would lose the ability to deduct their state and local property and other taxes on their federal tax returns. Both proposals could be a hit to homeowners in high tax states such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California.

  •          Mortgage Interest Deduction: The House plan proposes to reduce the mortgage interest deduction for primary residences to $500K on new mortgages but keeps the $1M cap for existing homeowners. Whereas, the Senate plan proposes to preserve the current mortgage interest deduction for primary residences by allowing taxpayers to deduct the interest they pay on the first $1M of mortgage debt. The House Plan would also eliminate the mortgage interest deduction fro second homes.

Housing industry experts are on the record saying that lowering how much mortgage interest homeowners deduct would increase the cost of buying a home, slow down construction and discourage people from buying. If I currently own a home with a mortgage between $500K and $1M, I can deduct all of the mortgage interest. But if I sell my home and finance a similar priced or more expensive property, I would only be able to deduct mortgage interest on the first $500K. So some way decide that it makes more sense to stay put.

It should be noted that the number of homeowners who claim that deduction would drop significantly since both the House and Senate Plans include almost doubling the standard deduction resulting in fewer people to itemize.

  •          Capital Gaines Tax on Sale of Primary Home: Current law allows sellers to generally exclude $250K or $500K if filing jointly from capital gains when selling a home provided they have lived in the home for two of the past five years. Both the House and Senate plans propose to increase the period for living in the home to five of the last eight years. The Senate Bill allows for some exceptions to the time requirement such as if seller is leaving for a job change or healthcare.

This could have an impact on mobility by creating an additional tax expense for owners of homes, as well as reducing potential profit that homeowners could see.

Although, the Tax Reform Plans under consideration could ultimately create a negative impact on residential real estate; commercial property owners would see several benefits including lower taxes on their profits and the ability to avoid a 30% limit on interest expense deductions. Both bills would also preserve the 1031 exchange which allows property owners to avoid being taxed on profits from property sales if they reinvest those profits into real estate.

Both proposed Tax Reform Plans would have a potentially significant impact on the real estate market in South Florida. It will be interesting to see how the House and Senate Plans evolve over the coming weeks. If the Republicans want a Tax Code overhaul by the end of 2017, both the House and Senate will eventually have to agree on one Tax Reform Bill. Expect the powerful real estate lobby to work hard to counter attempts to reduce or eliminate the mortgage interest deduction.

Should you have any interest in buying or selling real estate in South Florida and you are not currently working with a real estate agent, please do not hesitate to contact me atjaykenney@SFPropertyTeam.com or 954-547-9483.

SHOULD I SELL MY HOME?

October 29th, 2017

If you’ve been sitting on the fence about selling your home, recent housing market suggests that it’s time to hop off and list your home today. According to CBS news, the number of existing home sales is shrinking and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has confirmed that there are only 1.9 million homes on the market right now compared to the 3 million homes that should be on the market. With the recent natural disasters, NAR believes that the numbers for new home construction in 2018 will be lower than pre-disaster estimates.

The key challenge in today’s market is a lack of inventory. A balanced inventory would have a full six-month supply of homes for sale. When inventory is more than six months, it favors buyers. When it is less than six months, market conditions favor sellers. Currently, there is a only a 4.2-month supply of inventory which is down from 4.5-month one year ago. It is important that prior to selling in your home, you must seek the advice of a real estate professional to determine what is the housing inventory in your respective market.

Other factors that are working for sellers in today’s market include the following:

  1. Mortgage Rates:  Rates are still at historically low levels with current rates hovering around 4% for a 30-year fixed mortgage. Low mortgage rates translate to lower monthly costs. Lower costs appeal to buyers which is good for sellers.
  2. Home Prices:  Lower inventory and greater demand for homes have pushed up home prices. Higher prices particularly benefit the seller whose property value plunged during the recession; in some cases, less than owed. Due to rising prices, many homeowners whose property was underwater can now sell without incurring a loss.
  3. Job Market:  As unemployment decreases and wages increase, consumer confidence will climb. Increased confidence will encourage buyers to enter the market which is also good news for sellers.

It should be noted that if you do sell your home in today’s market, you most likely will be buying another home. With this in mind, all the economic considerations that worked in your favor as a seller could work against you as a buyer. However, experts agree that this should not preclude the seller turned buyer from buying. There are opportunities for such buyers who may want to downsize in this market. With the lower interest rates, the seller turned buyer will likely benefit.

No one wants to sell lower than what their home is worth, so knowing when to sell your home in South Florida is important.

Also, it depends on the type of property that you want to sell. For example, if you are selling a family home, there are more people searching to buy before the school year in the fall. This typically happens as they want to be in their new home before the start of school. However, if you are selling a vacation home, some experts believe the best time to sell is during the winter and spring months. If your property is exclusively for investment purpose, experts say there is little or no seasonal fluctuation with such a property.

However, waiting for when sales activity is highest may not be the best strategy. Timing the market doesn’t always payoff. Market conditions can change from year to year. If you decide to wait until next year’s peak selling season, you risk having any number of things happen that could change buyer’s attitudes towards purchasing. In South Florida, some months are better than others but overall sales activity is more consistent than in other parts of the country. Sell when you are ready to sell but there is no better time than the present to list your home.

Should you have any questions with regards to buying or selling a home in South Florida and are not currently working with a real estate agent, please contact me at jaykenney@SFPropertyTeam.com or contact me directly at (954) 547-9483.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM IRMA?

September 29th, 2017
It is fortunate that South Florida was spared the worst of hurricane Irma’s 185 mph winds. It has been referred to here as more of a disruptive than destructive storm. It is perhaps too soon to know if Irma will have any long-term impact on South Florida real estate. Statistical data will take a few months to show whether the storm had a negative impact on potential buyers in any significant way. Will the images of the storm’s destruction broadcast around the world cause buyers to stay away from South Florida? Only time will tell.
However, some experts believe that history has shown people to have short term memories when it comes to hurricanes and the regions transient population means that in 5-10 years, a new generation of residents who have never been through a hurricane will be residing here.
Could Irma actually be an economic stimulus for Florida? William Dudley, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, believes that the long-term effect of such disasters unfortunately is it actually lifts economic activity as you have to rebuild all the things that have been damaged. Hurricanes kill people, destroy homes and businesses but there is an economic bright side. The South Florida real estate market will fend off the temporary disruption and return to normal. 
Although Irma’s damage in South Florida resulted in mostly landscaping destruction and debris, with minimal structural damage reported, there could be a short-term slowdown in the real estate market. This is primarily due to the difficulty to get insurance. A loan from a bank will generally require that your property be insured but with FEMA’s designation of South Florida as a disaster area, insurance companies may delay lending or insuring as they measure risk. If your lender won’t close then you usually won’t close the purchase. In some cases, a re-inspection will be needed which will delay the closing. If there is hurricane related damage and the damage is greater than percentage of value, sometimes it gives buyers the ability to walk away. In the short-term, closings may be delayed.
According to the Miami Association of Realtors, they are estimating that closings in September will be down more than 25% in pending closings basically because there was no business conducted for a two-week period. However, now that the storm has passed, people will want to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Some experts believe that an occurrence such as a hurricane will cause potential buyers and sellers to expedite their decision making in what to do. There is also a widely held sentiment that most people buying in South Florida know the risks of potential storms and weigh these risks against the benefits of living here. What will likely come out of this is that buyers will be more interested in buying properties that meet updated building codes, have hurricane impact windows and doors, detailed pre-and post-hurricane guidelines, as well as a communication plan for dealing with hurricanes.
As we look to the future to minimize the damaging results of hurricanes and tropical storms, it is imperative that local governments think about drainage and elevation. They need to think long term and not rely on the Federal government. There are such efforts underway in the form of “MIAMI FOREVER” which would leverage a new property tax on Miami property owners designed to allocate $400M towards infrastructure capital improvements. We all want growth and development but we need to ensure that our infrastructure keeps up with development to minimize the damaging ramifications of hurricanes.
Should you have any questions related to this blog, or have an interest in buying or selling real estate in South Florida and are not currently working with an agent, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (954) 547-9438 or via email at JayKenney@SFPropertyTeam.com

SIX MISTAKES HOME BUYERS COMMONLY MAKE

August 25th, 2017

Are you planning to buy a home? Looking for a home especially your first home is exciting but also can be stressful and a bit overwhelming. In the end, your objective is to secure the home of your dreams at an affordable price. Unfortunately, there are many missteps that home buyers commonly make which could negatively impact the goal of owning a home.

To better your chances of owning a home, I have outlined a few of the more common mistakes that home buyers make:

  1. Budget: If you don’t already have a budget outlining your monthly expenses including insurance, transportation expenses, student loans, credit card payments, food and entertainment; make a list and subtract the total monthly expenses from your take home pay. This will give you the amount of how much you have to spend on your new home each month. As a next step, contact a mortgage lender to review your financial information. The lender will let you know how much of a mortgage you can get along with the respective interest rate and what your monthly mortgage payments would be. The mortgage lender will also help determine how much would be needed to put down as a down payment. By knowing what you can afford will allow you to only look at properties that you can realistically buy. By securing this mortgage pre-approval, you will be in a stronger position when making an offer on a home. Offers accompanied by letter of pre-approval from a mortgage lender will be taken more seriously than an offer without any pre-approval.
  2. Credit Score: It is important to know what your credit score is as one of the other first steps that you undertake when considering buying a home. If your score is less than desired, work to raise your credit score. The lower your score, the higher your cost of borrowing will be. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge higher upfront fees to borrowers with lower than desired scores. Lower score borrowers also will not be able to receive the best interest rates which are held for those buyers with a higher credit score. Once your credit score has been established as desirable, do not do anything that would cause your credit score to drop. Anytime individuals open new credit accounts including auto loans, the FICO credit score could drop. A large purchase could use up a considerable proportion of a borrower’s total credit limit which results in a drop in the score. Lenders will often check borrower’s scores leading up to the days before closing. If the applicant’s credit score has dropped below the minimum required for the negotiated loan rate then the lender will likely pull the loan.
  3. Home Inspection: Unless you are very familiar with the home you are interested in buying, do not bypass a home inspection which can find issues with the foundation, electrical, plumbing, roof, attic, heating and cooling as well as large kitchen appliances.  By identifying such issues during the inspection period, as stipulated in the Purchase and Sale Agreement, allows the opportunity to go back to the seller to either correct these issues or negotiate a lower sale price based upon the estimated cost to make said repairs.
  4. Representation: Once you have decided to start the process of looking for a home to buy, find a knowledgeable, well respected, Realtor to help identify properties and negotiate the terms of the agreement once you have found your dream home. Realtors are held to high ethical standards and must act in both parties best interest. Also, it is important for buyers to know that both buyer’s and seller’s agent commissions are paid by the seller.
  5. Insurance: Prior to purchasing a home, find out what it will cost to insure it. Standard policies pay for theft and wind, fire, lightening, and explosions. However, certain items such as flood and/or earthquake damage most likely are not covered in standard policies. Separate policies would be required particularly when financing is involved and depending on the location, the policies can be costly.
  6. Flexibility: Remain flexible so that you don’t end up passing on purchasing a home just because it didn’t check all the boxes on your dream home wish list. Buyers may have to compromise on some items due to budget parameters. Don’t get hung up on basic cosmetic or other changes which can be made over time as your budget allows. If the home otherwise meets your criteria in terms of location, size, and layout, don’t let physical imperfections turn you away.

If you have any questions on this blog or are interested in buying or selling real estate in South Florida and are not currently working with an agent, please don’t hesitate to contact me  jaykenney@SFPropertyTeam.com or via my cell at 954-547-9483.

What’s Happening With Interest Rates?

July 28th, 2017

At the beginning of the year, housing experts all agreed that 2017 was going to be the year where we would see mortgage rates begin to rise. After years of historically low rates, and an improving economy, the question wasn’t if they would increase but instead how much they would increase. Some thought we could see rates in the 5% range by the end of the year.

 

However, the exact opposite has happened. Instead of higher rates by mid-year, we actually have the lowest rates of the year (as reported by Freddie Mac). The following graph shows the weekly mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage for the first half of the year.

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 3.96% which is still near record lows in comparison to recent history. The interest rate you secure when buying home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing cost but also affects your purchasing power.

 

Purchasing power can be defined as the amount of home that you can afford to buy for the budget which you have to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

 

The chart below shows what impact rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range and planned to keep your principal and interest payments between $1,850 -$1,900 per month.

 

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5%.

 

With interest rates hovering around 4% for most of 2017, many buyers have benefitted from the lack of rising home prices which has helped with affordability. If you are felling optimistic about your economic future and are considering purchasing a new home, doing so sooner rather than later makes the most sense. Experts are predicting that rates will increase by the end of 2017 and will be about three quarters of a percentage point higher, at 4.5%, by the end of 2018. With that said, no one knows for sure where interest rates will be in 6 months. However, you can still get a mortgage at historically low rates right now. If predictions are correct, waiting until next year to buy could cost you thousands of dollars a year for the life of your mortgage. The cost of waiting to buy can be defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices and interest rates were to increase over a period of time.

 

In addition to historically low mortgage rates, down payments under 20% are the new normal and the average FICO Scores of approved loans are actually lower today than in the past few years. It is important that you fully understand what is going on in your local housing market and know what is to be expected if your preferred option is to finance to buy your new home.

 

If you are not currently working with a real estate agent and are interested in buying or selling property in the South Florida Area, please do not hesitate to contact me at (954)-547-9483 or via email at jaykenney@SFPropertyTeam.com.

Why Setting The Right Sales Price Matters?

June 27th, 2017

The single most important factor to consider when selling a home is to ensure that the home is priced correctly for current market condition. Price is the amount actually paid in a real estate transaction not necessarily the asking price or amount offered. It may be more or less than market value. It is, nonetheless, the amount the buyer is willing to pay and the amount that the seller is willing to accept.

Many homeowners want to base their list price on what they paid for their home, the balance of their mortgage, the amount of any renovation or on the profit they want to make. In reality, your home is only worth what the market will bear. In other words, what a willing buyer will pay for the home in the current market conditions.

To set the correct price, you should undertake the following:

  1. Research recently sold comparable properties (known as “comps”) with regards to size, floorplan, condition, location, view and amenities. One can gain valuable information by looking at how your home compares in price to different properties. When looking at recently sold comparative properties, it is important to look at properties that have sold in the past 90 days or less so you are taking into consideration the current market conditions. If you are not able to find enough comparative properties within the past 90 days then you should expand the timeframe to 180 days.
  1. Look at comparative properties that are currently for sale in the market to determine how such properties are priced. To be competitive, sellers must realize that they must price their property similarly to market comparables.
  1. Check out comparable properties that were recently on the market but didn’t sell. If you are considering selling a property similarly priced to homes that were taken off the market because they didn’t sell; you are likely overpricing your home.
  1. You should also look at the most recent housing market data on supply and demand in your local market. Most data is broken down by price range and is used to estimate how long it will take for all homes including in the price range of interest to be sold given the rate homes are currently selling.
  1. Consider market conditions and rates of appreciation in your area. Have prices been increasing or decreasing? In a seller’s market (less than 6 months supply of inventory), properties will be somewhat overpriced, and in a buyer’s market (greater than six months supply of inventory), properties tend to be underpriced.
  1. The future outlook for your neighborhood can impact your price. If development is planned, the future prospects for home appreciation tend to be positive. On the other hand, if retail stores are closing down or a major employer has relocated, expected home prices will likely be lower.
  1. Once you have determined the approximate value of your property, it is important to understand the price range for the list price. For instance, if you have determined that your home is valued at $500K, a price range of $480K – $520K would be appropriate. To set a specific price, you could determine to go with the lower end of the range which would appeal to more buyers. This would be the approach to use if you want to  sell the property in a shorter timeframe. Also, by opting to go with the lower range price, your property will be included in more automated buyer searches. For example, a property priced at $480K would be included in property searches under $500K. If the home is listed at $510K, your property would not be included.

When pricing a home, it is also important to have a contingency plan should the initial price be rejected by the market. This saves time and helps set expectations. If your home is on the market and you are not receiving offers, it is more than likely overpriced. Pricing your home just 10% above market value dramatically cuts the number of prospective buyers that will even see your house.

Every homeowner wants to get the best price for their home. As outlined in this blog, correct pricing out of the gate is key. Additionally, use a real estate professional to help educate you on current housing market conditions, guide you on proper pricing and represent your property to qualified buyers. Some sellers may think they would net more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. However, multiple studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

Should you have any questions on pricing a home or are interested in buying or selling real estate in South Florida and are not currently working with a real estate professional, please call me at 954-547-9483 or email at jaykenney@SFProprtyTeam.com

HOME IMPROVEMENTS TO ENSURE BEST RETURN WHEN HOME IS SOLD

May 25th, 2017

If you are thinking about selling your home and wondering what improvement projects and/or other upgrades pay off, this blog is for you!   The top upgrades that don’t cost a lot of money and will present the home in the best possible light include the following:

  • Landscaping is always mentioned as one of the top investments that bring the biggest return. According to a recent survey of 2000 brokers, an investment of $500 can bring a return of four times that amount. Overgrown trees and bushes obscure views, darken interiors, hide unique features of the home and can cause a potential safety hazard. A well landscaped yard will go a long way to enhance the curb appeal of a home.
  • Minor Bathroom Remodel would involve replacing the tub, re-tiling the walls and floors, replacing the toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures. According to HGTV, these upgrades will provide a rate of return of at least 102%. At the very least, be sure to re-caulk the shower and/or tub and consider re-glazing the tub, remove dated wall coverings and apply a fresh coat of paint.
  • Minor Kitchen Renovation involves cosmetic upgrades such as re-facing cabinets and drawers, installing a new sink in addition to a new counter surface and flooring, upgrading to recessed ceiling lighting and possibly switching out the appliances. It does not involve major structural changes in floor plan or relocation of appliances.
  • Exterior Improvements will enhance curb appeal thereby making your home more inviting. In addition to landscaping as previously discussed, a fresh coat of neutral paint will make your home appear larger, brighter and more appealing to potential buyers. If your home was painted before 1978, be sure to test for lead before any sanding or scraping. Vinyl siding and fiber cement siding also provide a maximum rate of return while enhancing curb appeal.
  • Basic Home Maintenance must be considered before making cosmetic or other minor upgrades. Buyers want to take the basic operational systems such as plumbing, electrical, roofing, heating and air conditioning for granted. Nothing will turn off a potential buyer more than a problem with the roof or plumbing that is discovered during the inspection period. To prevent this from happening, check the insulation, repair plumbing leaks and any roof issues, ensure heating and cooling system are operating efficiently and bring any non-compliant electrical issues up to current code. These types of upgrades will go a long way towards maximizing value.
  • Front Entrance-way is a key area not to be overlooked for upgrade improvements. It is well known in real estate that buyers make up their minds within the first 10 seconds of entering a home. Be sure the front door is in good condition with a working doorbell. It should also have some type of overhang to shield against rain. It should be freshly painted with attractive decorative planters placed to each side to enhance the overall curb appeal of the entranceway.
  • Interior Walls and Floors should be freshened and restored. Walls should be painted in a light, neutral color and the trim, doors, baseboards and crown molding should be pained in a semi or high gloss white paint. Floors especially on the main floor should be looking their best. If floors are refinished but worn, have them lightly sanded and resealed. If they are beyond being refinished, consider having them replaced. Broadloom is popular with buyers for use in the bedrooms. If carpet is worn, stained or generally old, replace it with something more contemporary. Neutral slightly textured weaves such as wool “sisal” are very popular.
  • Main Room Updates also include possibly new light fixtures, window treatments, light switch plates and covers. The addition of crown molding or a chair rail can also enhance the overall look and feel of a room.
  • Window Replacement can add a great deal of value and will go far in showing the home in the best possible light. New high impact hurricane windows and sliders will not only upgrade the interior and exterior of the home but will result in lower energy and insurance costs.

By taking an inventory of what relatively low cost upgrades that provide a maximum rate of return can be made will go a long way to ensure that your home is appealing to buyers.

Should you have any questions on the above information or are interested in buying or selling real estate in South Florida and are not currently working with an agent, please do not hesitate to contact me at jaykenney@SFPropertyTeam.com or via my cell at 954-547-9483. Read the rest of this entry »

You Have Just Executed a Purchase Sale Agreement; Now What?

April 28th, 2017

Once you have executed a purchase and sale agreement for your new home in 2017, you may be wondering “what happens next?” In 2017, more than 5+ million homes are expected to be sold. In each instance, the agreement will culminate in a “closing”. In the purchase and sale agreement, a closing date which has been mutually agreed upon along with a location at which the closing will be held are designated. Closings are typically scheduled for between 30 to 60 days from the execution date of the agreement, although some closings for an all cash transaction can be scheduled for less than 30 days, and other closings (i.e. new construction) may be scheduled for more than 60 days.

The period between contract execution is sometimes called “being in escrow” where the sale is pending. It is during this time that the buyers perform additional due diligence including arranging for a home inspection and finalizing a mortgage if financing is the preferred option to purchase the home.

In only rare instances would a buyer waive a home inspection as it generally uncovers repairs or other issues with the home that should be addressed prior to closing. Should a home inspection be desired, be sure that you have checked the appropriate box in the purchase and sale agreement and request 5-10 days to conduct the home inspection. It should be noted the seller will want to minimize the inspection period as the buyer has the option of walking away from the agreement at any time during the inspection period.

Should the inspection uncover a number of needed repairs, the seller can make the necessary repairs, reduce the purchase price or give the buyer a credit so repairs can be made by buyer or refuse to make any repairs. Which option sellers ultimately decide to go with will ultimately depend on how quickly the seller wants to sell the property. The buyer must be prepared to walk away from the agreement should seller refuse to make repairs and offer no reduction.

Assuming you have been pre-approved for a mortgage previously, once you are under contract, you should move to lock in the lowest available rate if your lender hasn’t already quoted you a rate. Additionally, during this time, your lender will request income and asset verification, signatures on disclosures and other documents required to meet loan guidelines. Your lender will also order an appraisal of the home to be purchased to ensure that the home appraises for equal to or more than the amount of the loan.

Once all these items have been completed, the lender will issue a final underwriting approval which is known as being “clear to close.”

A closing is typically held in the offices of a title company and involves the completion and signing of all required paperwork to finalize the agreement between buyer and seller. Additionally, the closing costs, which are all costs required to close the real estate transaction are settled at closing. For information on closing costs such as what are they and who pays the respective costs, please refer to my blog post of August 2015, where I have written about these costs. It is important to note that you should review your final HUD Settlement Statement to ensure that all the collections are accurate and that you have been given all the credit for deposits and other agreed upon buyer and seller credits. Additionally, double check all lender, title and escrow fees to determine that they are accurate.

As one of the final steps of the closing, once all the required signatures have been recorded, money is transferred from buyer to seller. The money is usually transferred in two parts: The first part is the remaining portion of the down payment, which is the down payment less the earnest money deposited in the escrow account as outlined in the purchase and sale agreement. It should be noted that funds to the seller may not be paid in cash or with a personal check, only wired funds will be accepted in Florida.

The second part is the funds from the lender which make up the difference between the buyer’s down payment and the home sale price. After all the documents have been signed, the deed of ownership will be transferred from seller to buyer and recorded by the title company representative or attorney. At this point, the buyer has assumed ownership of their new home.

Closing Day is often one of the happiest moments in one’s life if it involves purchasing your dream home. However, the process leading to closing can also be one of the most stressful, particularly if financing is involved.

Should you have general questions on the closing process or be looking to buy or sell real estate in the South Florida market and are not currently working with a real estate agent, please  contact me at jaykenney@SFPropertyTeam.com or via my cell at 954-547-9483.



 

The data relating to real estate for sale on this web site comes in part from the REALTOR® Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale. Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Keller Williams Ft. Lauderdale Northeast are marked with the IDX logo and detailed information about them includes the name of the listing brokers.

 

All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be independently verified. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) nor Keller Williams Ft. Lauderdale Northeast shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless.