Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Listing Prices Up....So What?

I recently was sent a notification from a Trulia blogger that blindly and breathlessly proclaimed that listing prices in our area are up significantly over last year.

Big deal.

Listing prices are meaningless as a measurement of the health of a real estate market.  If 5 canal front homes went on the market on the same street this year, but there were only non-canal front homes for sale the year before, then yes, listing prices probably went up.  Zillow in particular loves to use listing price data scraped from public websites to misinform the public about the health or weakness of real estate markets.

The Sarasota and Bradenton real estate market is thankfully healthier than our neighbors to the north and south, but regurgitating misleading or irrelevant information will only scare potential buyers away from our area if these buyers feel there are other options based solely on price.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New content on davidbarrhomes.com

I've provided some new content on my real estate website, www.davidbarrhomes.com, to further assist buyers looking for property in my service area of Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte Counties FL.

First, I've added a "Best Deals" page, where I select 4 properties in 4 different categories that are important to home buyers in today's market:  best luxury, best new home community, best condo, and best income producing:  http://bit.ly/tf4SOz

Secondly, I've added a separate page for Bradenton FL condos, based on Google analytics showing buyers were conducting searches for this:  http://bit.ly/tMACYM

Third, again based on analytics, I've added a page for beachfront condos from Anna Maria Island south to Englewood: http://bit.ly/uaX4ZI

You can also Make an Offer http://bit.ly/w4LR40 and Schedule a Showing http://bit.ly/uyMiJt

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Article: Better neighborhood lowers obesity risk

Today I received my daily email from Florida Realtors Association which highlights news headlines for our industry.

I was a bit surprised to find a link to an article that says obesity is higher in "bad" neighborhoods: http://bit.ly/n8TT9o

I'm not surprised at the data.  What I am surprised about is FAR sending it to members.  I always see agents violating Fair Housing Law by giving opinions about "good" and "bad" neighborhoods, especially on Trulia forums.  By law, Realtors cannot give out any kind of opinion on neighborhoods, to prevent steering based on perceived racial or cultural issues.

So, for FAR to promulgate this article on the effect of "bad" neighborhoods seems contradictory at best, since we are supposed to be racially and culturally neutral in providing services.  What do you think?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sign of a Recovering Market?

Today I received a lead from my website www.davidbarrhomes.com asking for foreclosure listings.

I was pretty shocked to see only 35 single family, 3 BR homes between $50-90K in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, the pricing sweet spot for potential investors.  You can see those properties in this link:  http://bit.ly/oWTzcT

This is a very low number considering North Port was the epicenter of our local market's real estate downturn.  I had clients looking at properties in this area last year, and there were a lot of newer homes with pools under $100K.  Now, the same kinds of newer homes in this price range come without pools.

Get ready for multiple offers on value-priced properties this season.  I've just been through two this week alone.  The market does seem to be recovering.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Should You Hire a Short Sale Negotiator?

More and more, I believe the answer is NO.

If you are considering a short sale, you are likely already in financial stress.  You don't have to pay money to a title company or real estate attorney to handle your short sale for you.

The short sale negotiation industry grew out of the need for real estate title companies and attorneys to increase their income as a result of the real estate downturn.  Sharply reduced sales meant sharply reduced revenue.  To make up for this, title companies and real estate attorneys marketed their services to homeowners and real estate agents.

The services were marketed to include the mundane tasks most real estate agents can't or won't undertake, including collecting the seller's financial information, disclosures, and keeping constant contact (supposedly daily) with the seller's lender to push the transaction to the head of the line with the lender, who is likely overwhelmed with the volume of short sales and foreclosures.

The reality is that these tasks get relegated to a non-licensed, low level individual on the short sale negotiating team.  On top of that, the short sale negotiators usually ask to be paid in advance.  Like any other trade service, you lose a lot of leverage if there's a problem once they've been paid.

Here's an example.  It took 2 and a half months to get the seller's lender to schedule an appraisal after we had an executed contract.  What was the short sale negotiation team doing during this time to expedite this?  No one knows, despite several attempts to find out with assurances everything was proceeding on track.

After the 2 and half months, it then took two more weeks to tell me, as the buyer's representative, that we are waiting for the agent who did the appraisal to get the report to the lender.  Is the short sale negotiator representing the interests of the seller who hired them, on top of the lender to get the appraisal completed on deadline?  In my opinion, no. Unfortunately, the seller paid the short sale negotiator in advance, which in my opinion decreases their sense of urgency to meet contingency dates sooner than later.

There are too many moving parts in a short sale to have your real estate agent hand your transaction off to a third party.  If you do decide to hire a short sale negotiator, ask if they can be paid on retainer and the remainder paid at closing.   If you are in financial difficulties, speak to your agent about handling this for you instead.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Showing Services

I've been showing a lot of properties to buyers this summer.  This is not an easy job, as it requires logistics, market knowledge, and planning, to satisfy the needs of your buyer and maximize the use of their time.

There's one company, Centralized Showings, that makes this job even more difficult. 

As a real estate agent, we are required to use so many passwords and security codes to log in to MLS, retrieve phone messages, emails, etc, that another code to remember is unnecessary and not customer focused.

So why is Centralized Showings making us provide a "showing code" when we call to schedule an appointment?  Shouldn't they be able to look us up in their system, ask us for a license number (we all should know ours by heart), or something just a little more user friendly than making us jump through their hoop? 

It's really to the point where if I have multiple options and limited time with a buyer, I will not show a property if I have to call Centralized Showings.

Listing agents, think twice about what service you are using.  Sellers, anything that makes showing your home more difficult will result in more time on the market.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

JD Power Survey 2011 Home Buyer/Home Seller Study

The release of this study was timed perfectly to dovetail with my last blog post, franchises versus independents.

This study meaures customer satisfaction of only the largest national franchises.  What is interesting is that the most influential component of home buyer satisfaction in this study is satisfaction with the real estate agent/salesperson.  Among home seller, agent/salesperson and marketing factors declined.  The study cites that many real estate companies have made cutbacks in additional services and offices during recent years.

This study directly supports my position that the key to a successful transaction for buyers or sellers is not necessarily connected to a large franchise, but through the choice of a competent agent who can skillfully manage the details in today's market to a successful close and sale.

Read more about the study:  http://bit.ly/odRvXL

Monday, August 1, 2011

Franchises versus Independents

As you may know from previous posts, I am very skeptical about the value of NAR membership. 

In the July issue of Realtor Magazine, they performed an analysis of Realtors from the May 2010 Membership Profile. 

The NAR position is that franchise brands, such as Re/Max and Century 21, have branding power, and therefore a marketing edge over independent brokers and offices.  They also noted that in November of 2010, NAR proposed a change to MLS policy which would let franchise offices tie their MLS feeds together into a national MLS listing service.  Of course, NAR didn't anticipate that independent real estate companies would see this as favoritism.

NAR leads us to believe that most Realtors belong to franchises, but the reality is that, in their own article 54% of Realtor members reported they worked for a franchise.  Hardly a landslide.

The fact is, also supported by this article, that national franchises are losing offices and members due to high fees and low return on investment from the franchise.  The old days of a franchise selling their "marketing edge" to gain Realtor members are long gone.  My own experience with a large franchise has been outlandish monthly fees for everything from making a copy to a monthly technology fee that basically paid for someone to help me reset the wifi password every month because they randomly changed it.

These fees imposed by franchises means the Realtor you hire to list your home has less flexibility to market your home.  The internet has enabled savvy independent Realtors to take advantage of social media, construct compelling websites, and blog, without the need for a central franchise to provide the service.

In my opinion, franchises do not have more branding power than independents.  NAR favors them because they are like unions.  They collect dues from members, and then vote to spend the money as they see fit.  The largest real estate company in our area is an independent (but that is another story).  Success in real estate depends on a coherent, stragetic marketing plan, and demonstration of experience and competence. 

When selecting a Realtor for your next purchase or sale, pick the individual, not the company they work for.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Now Big Government Wants More Fingers in the Real Estate Pie

Just when we haven't recuperated from Big Government insisting private enterprise provide housing through low interest mortgages for unqualified home buyers back in 2005 and 2006, causing the real estate bust, we now have this article from the Wall Street Journal:

"Government Considers Ways to Rent Foreclosed Homes": http://on.wsj.com/nxrvYd

So what new bureaucracy is Big Government going to erect to administer this?  Aren't we paying enough dues to NAR lobbyists to have them nip this idea in the bud?

The government needs to stay out of the real estate business and let market forces work for consumers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New on davidbarrhomes.com

I've added more unique content to my real estate website, http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/.

I have personally rated over 50 areas and neighborhoods in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties on 5 separate categories:  beaches, boating, accessibility, value, and amenities.  This is a first for a Sarasota real estate website.

I'm always looking to provide information that buyers search for when investigating Sarasota real estate.  After all, a well-informed customer is the best customer!

See this new feature in action by visiting http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/longboat_key.html.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Added Value of NAR?

I just received this month's Realtor Magazine. 

Predictably, the letter from the Editor is a plea for support for NAR and it's efforts to increase dues to fend off the banks and to lobby to keep the mortgage deduction.  Supposedly, the NAR is providing us all this added value in the form of government activism, Realtor.com, and this fantastic resource, Realtor Magazine.

I'll tackle Realtor.com another day, but the Realtor Magazine is a real gem.

On page 18, under Sales and Marketing, the article titled "4 Ways to Perk Up the Open House" is a real winner. 

One suggestion is to change the time and day.  One Realtor in California suggests "twilight" Open Houses, to attract buyers after work.  That's a great idea, I can't think of one other thing I'd rather do after a full day of work.

Another is to pick a theme, like a block party with an open pit BBQ, popcorn and champagne according to a Realtor in Baltimore.  So the house is open to the entire neighborhood?  Why would neighbors buy another house in the neighborhood?

This next one is my favorite.  They suggest going "virtual". Unfortunately, the virtual tours they recommend just take still photos and add animation and music, just like the ones every Realtor in Sarasota uses.  They are not true video of the property, the yard, or the street scene.  You can read more about this on my website:  http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/virtual_walkthrough.html.

Lastly, the article suggests holding a party after the sale.  Seems the NAR is big on parties to market houses, especially in this article.  And by the way, how did the Florida Open House Weekend go?  I didn't see any results of that published anywhere. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time to Boycott NAR

It's not just Obama wildly spending money and driving us off a cliff.

Now the National Association of Realtors wants to raise our dues by 50% to fund lobbying for the Realtor Party Political Survival Initiative (RPPSI).

I have two simple things to say about this.

1)  Get politics out of real estate.  You can't spend my money on candidates I don't support. 

2)  Get big government out of real estate.  As NAR says, all real estate is local.  Let us handle our real estate issues at the local and state level.

It's time to start thinking boycott of NAR if this continues.  Who else is in?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Woo Hoo! Florida Open House Weekend is Coming!

As a regular reader of this blog you know that I often like to poke at the status quo and old-school thinking that pervades so much of the real estate business.

Nothing exhibits as much old-school thinking as the breathlessly touted Florida Open House Weekend coming up on March 26 and 27.

According to the Sarasota Association of Realtors:  "More than 50,000 blue balloons featuring the Realtor logo will be flying over  mailboxes from Sarasota to Jacksonville.  The Sarasota Herald-Tribune is offering a special advertising package for the event".

In this age of technology, is the best our realtor association can come up with is hanging balloons on mailboxes?  And to add insult to injury, the cash-strapped Herald-Tribune, which has seen real estate classified and display advertising shrink to all time lows, is seeking to find any way to tap Realtor's pockets for advertising dollars.

Has anyone outside the business seen any advertising for this?  I haven't.

It's well documented that Open Houses don't sell homes, and that buyers turn to the internet first, more than any other medium including newspaper, to search for homes.

What I also find contradictory is that balloons and newsprint are inherently not "green", yet the Sarasota Association of Realtors provides "green" accreditation courses.

This dovetails with my blog posts disputing the rosy real estate market outlook of other Realtors in the Sarasota area.  Sales must be slow to create this type of event to try to generate some hype.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New content on davidbarrhomes.com

I have now included a "Just Reduced" page on my real estate website, http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/.

The page (see it here) includes results from our MLS, sorted by lowest price first, on properties that have had a price change within the past day.  The results posted include properties from Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties.  I will be updating this daily.

Everybody out there is looking for a great deal.  This is a useful way to identify properties that likely are the most motivated to sell.

In addition to the "Just Reduced" content, I've beefed up my contact page as well.  Here I provide an array of easy to use options to connect to me from North America and the rest of the world, using Google Voice, Skype, a live chat feature, QR codes from your mobile phone, my own mobile real estate app, and good old fashioned email.  I will be adding Go To Meeting in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Easy communication with buyers from around the world is the key to real estate marketing success.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Follow up to Pig/Lipstick post

Recently I posted my take on an overly optimistic read on the economy and real estate market from the area's "luxury leader".

The Florida Association of Realtors posted an AP story about the latest market figures.   You can read it here:  http://bit.ly/fdk8Lv

The AP story confirms my sense of where we are in the market cycle:  hovering near bottom and struggling to climb out.

As I blogged earlier, putting an overly optimistic spin on apparent "seasonal visitors" out and about in our area is a less than scientific measure of future prices or activity.  This type of advice results in overpriced listings, which result in drastic price reductions in our MLS and increased time on the market.

The buyer mentality is still "I want to buy, but only if I feel I'm getting the best deal".  When working with buyers, I show them the price history of properties.  In their current mind set, continual  price reductions means the seller is getting desperate to sell.  This results in a vicious cycle of lowball offers and no sale.

Homeowners, if you want a realistic approach to pricing and marketing your home, please contact me.

A Ridiculous Florida Association of Realtors Article

I always get a kick out of reading some of our industry publications and newsletters.

Obviously, the Florida Association of Realtors is struggling to find material to feed it's members and the public when there's nothing to write about.  So they picked "curb appeal" as the topic of one email blast. 

Usually these press releases are yawn-worthy at best, but this one made me chuckle.

"Still, Marilou Buffum of Eichler & Moffly, Realtors in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood, who concentrates on Northwest Philadelphia properties, cautioned that curb appeal “depends upon what a buyer is looking for.” "

Pure gold.

How about this quote: " "If you have an urban-oriented buyer, a house with a lovely lawn isn’t high on the list,” Buffum said." 

I learned something with this one.  I guess I'm making a mistake showing a townhouse or condo with a lawn in an urban neighborhood.   Who knew?  And where are these condos with lawns?

Another pressing issue in the real estate market is described like this:  "“The city is the best place to live, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” said Prudential Fox & Roach agent Jeff Block, who focuses on the Center City real estate market. “But city properties do deal with unique curb-appeal issues. “One is simply windblown bags, wrappers and leaves,” he said. “You can sweep your sidewalk every day, but if the wind blows right before an appointment, the buyer doesn’t know that.” "

Must be a great city to live in if there's the constant threat of blowing trash to ruin your showings.

Thanks, Florida Association of Realtors, I can see my dues are put to good use.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Lakewood Ranch partners with Microsoft

I just ran across some interesting video on Fox News about Lakewood Ranch. 

The story is about how Lakewood Ranch is employing color-coded tags on businesses to give smart-phone users more information, online coupons, etc.  Sounds nice, but as usual, there's more to the story.

Smart tags are not new.  In fact, I've been using them on my website, http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/, for months, as well as here on my blog.  They are called QR codes, which stands for Quick Response, and they are being used worldwide.  QR codes work with mobile phones on any operating system, Mac or Android.  Even better, the app to read the tags is free, and many websites provide free QR code generators.

The QR codes are black and white, meaning you don't need a special printer to make them, and you can print them right in your existing laser printer to apply to outdoor signs, banners, and in my case, my car.  They also are faxable.

I use QR codes on yard signs to direct potential buyers to interior video (yes video, not animated still photographs) and a detailed property listing on my website for that property.  The days of calling an office and getting a desk floor agent who knows little to nothing about the property is old school marketing. 

Here is the link to the video:  http://bit.ly/e2sOjy

While I applaud the effort of Lakewood Ranch to embrace technology, they only got it half right.  I wonder how much of the Lakewood Ranch CCD fee went to this Microsoft partnership, where only a segment of the mobile browsing public can actually use this service?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sarasota Real Estate: It's Still a Pig...

Sarasota Real Estate: It's Still a Pig...

It's Still a Pig...

...even if you put on the rosiest lipstick.

That's what I recently was treated to in a recent email newsletter from our area's self-appointed luxury real estate leader.

We are in high season here in Sarasota, as snowbirds flock south to escape arctic blasts.  "I've rarely seen more visitors out and about; happily soaking-up our sunshine by day and our culture and cuisine by night", gushes the broker.  They then further expound on the predicted boom times to come:  " After one of the worst recessions in history, consumers are finally noticing the first real signs of relief. Economic growth is accelerating, discretionary spending is up considerably; and consumer confidence is at an eight-month high as the outlook for jobs brightens."


Following another link in this same email newsletter, January 2011 versus January 2010 sales were trumpeted as further evidence of the market turn-around and happy times to come for the real estate business.  I, for one, remain unconvinced, as a modest one-month increase over a lackluster 2010 economy hardly qualifies as a rebound.

Consider this article saying metro areas previously thought immune to drastic real estate price corrections are now in the same boat as Florida:  http://bit.ly/hNP8fB  Also see this article on national new home sales, down drastically in January:  http://yhoo.it/eHeJNW

True, there's a lot of visitors here right now, but based on national statistics, those visitors are probably not as likely to be here to buy real estate if they are under water on their primary property.   They're just trying to warm up.

Maybe this is why so many of the "luxury leader's" listings are drastically reduced in price (and maybe this blog is why I stopped getting those email notifications).  A realistic view of the current market is necessary to accurately price and market properties.

I would be advising home owners in this market to price their property as aggressively as possible and don't let any potential buyer get away.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Taking on Zillow, Part 2

I've posted here earlier about Zillow and how they present misinformation to home buyers and sellers.

This morning I was reading a real estate news article about the market nationally, and they quote Zillow as an "expert source".  So I started wondering, where exactly do they get their data?

According to Zillow:  "Our data on and appreciation for these reports is based on the Zillow Home Value Index - a valuation index calculated as the median value (Zestimate) of all homes in a particular geographic area. At the national level, this data is then weighted according to population in each area".  That's interesting, since real estate is decidedly a factor of local economics and geographic specifics such as beaches and climate.  Ponder why, if Zillow's methodology is correct, Port Charlotte and Sarasota don't have the same housing prices, since we are geographically similar.

In fact, Zillow contradicts themselves as you dig further into the FAQ section of their website:  "The Zestimate is not an appraisal and you won't be able to use it in place of an appraisal, though you can certainly share it with real estate professionals. It is a computer-generated estimate of the worth of a house today, given the available data. Zillow.com does not offer the Zestimate as the basis of any specific real-estate-related financial transaction. Our data sources may be incomplete or incorrect; also, we have not physically inspected a specific home".  Correct.  Zillow does not have licensed Realtors or local contacts in any major real estate, other than the Realtors who mistakenly support Zillow by advertising on their site.

Digging even deeper, Zillow posts the accuracy of their "Zestimates" for all Florida Counties.  In Sarasota County, only 21% of their Zestimates were within 5% of the actual sales price, and only 64% of their Zestimates were within 20% of the sales price.

Bottom line:  Buyers, don't bother with Zillow.  The data is inaccurate.  They even admit they don't offer their information as a basis for you to purchase a property.  Sellers, if you are looking to sell, an agent such as myself who is prepared to counter a buyer armed with incorrect Zillow data will result in a quicker sale at realistic market prices.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New content on davidbarrhomes.com

I just added a rental page to my website, http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/.

I included condo and single-family rental property in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties, listed from least to most expensive.

If you have any questions about rental properties please contact me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Real Estate in the Museum Area of Sarasota FL

The Ringling Museum is one of the Sarasota area's most well known and recognizable landmarks.  What you may not know is that the neighborhoods surrounding the Ringling Museum are some of Sarasota's most eclectic places to live.

The Museum Area is generally defined as west of Tamiami Trail, stretching from an enclave called The Uplands, south past New School to Whittaker Bayou, just north of downtown Sarasota.

The Museum Area is home to a wide variety of properties.  Here you can find starter homes with old Florida charm and architectural detail starting in the mid $100's, ranging to bayfront estates with prices well over $1 million.  A popular area for investors, the housing inventory here offers opportunities for rental to nearby Ringling School of Art and New School students, especially as these schools increase enrollment.

Starter homes with old Florida charm like this home can be found in the Museum Area
Newer homes on Sarasota Bay can be found in the Museum Area
  Click this link to see a list of currently available properties in the Museum Area as of 2/10/2011.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Siesta Key Real Estate

Siesta Key is one of the most popular areas in Sarasota to visit with it's world-famous white sugar sand beach and azure clear waters.  It also happens to be a great place to live or buy investment property.

Investment Opportunities

There are only a handful of hotels on Siesta Key.  Most vacationers opt to rent a fully furnished condo. The most popular rental condos have an on-site property manager, which handles reservations and unit cleaning and maintenance for guests, much like a hotel.  Investors can achieve positive cash flow with units with liberal rental restrictions.  The best investments are those that rent weekly or even daily.  Some will pay utility bills and condo fees out of rental revenue. 

Expect a typical in-season beachside (not necessarily right on the beach) can rent for upwards of $5000 per month.  Off season during our summer and fall months, we get vacationers from the Tampa and Orlando areas, so the rental market remains active throughout the year.  Sales prices range from the lower $200's for a 1 BR unit and up.

Residential Properties

Properties on a barrier island such as Siesta Key sell at a premium.  A starter single-family 2/2 home usually starts in the mid $300's and will need some kind of updating.  Beachfront and bayfront/ICW homes are priced well over $1 million.  Siesta Key is fairly large and offers boaters a wide range of waterfront options.

See Siesta Key Online

I have devoted separate pages on my website to Siesta Key single family homes and Siesta Key condo listings, live from our MLS.  You can also take a video tour of Siesta Key on those pages.

If you're interested in Siesta Key real estate, I look forward to working with you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

West of Trail in Sarasota

It's easy to forget as a long-time Sarasota resident that terms like "West of Trail" may be foreign to out of towners, especially those looking for real estate.

West of Trail technically is any area in Sarasota, Manatee, or Charlotte Counties that is west of Hwy 41 (Tamiami Trail). 

In the Sarasota area, locals inside and outside the business, when referring to "West of Trail", usually are referring to the area south of Mound, stretching south to Field Road and the Oyster Bay Estates neighborhood.  The west of Trail area north of downtown Sarasota is better known locally as the Museum Area, since that area's most prominent landmark is the Ringling Museum.

The West of Trail area I describe ranks among one of Sarasota's most prestigious areas for residential real estate.  Neighborhoods here include Harbor Acres, Cherokee Park, McClellan Park, San Remo, and the aforementioned Oyster Bay Estates.

I have devoted a page on my website with MLS listings for properties located in the West of Trail area here:  http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/west_of_trail.html.  If you are looking for real estate in this area, I welcome the opportunity to be of assistance to you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

When Agents Don't Disclose

A lot of Realtor Associations are good ol' boy clubs, and I think Sarasota Association of Realtors sometimes falls in this category. 

In this type of atmosphere, the members, in my opinion, seek to go along to get along.  I don't subscribe to this philosophy, especially when less than scrupulous behavior is involved, whether legal or not.

Here's a case in point.  Today, a Broker/Owner, a member of the Trulia online Realtor community, posted a question:  "What is your favorite Sarasota webcam?".  You can see the thread on their website with this link: http://bit.ly/dIovB6.

I won't get into the ins and outs and whims of how Trulia polices their online community. What irked me was that the Broker owns the Sarasota webcam website, and used the forum to seek to increase traffic to the website, where he also has a large banner ad for his real estate website, at his collegues' expense.  So what, you may ask?

In our business, we are told to disclose, disclose, disclose.  While this Broker didn't do anything illegal pertaining to FL real estate law, it does make me wonder, if he won't disclose he owns that website to other Realtors in a bald-faced attempt to fool readers into visiting it, what else does this Broker not disclose? 

I also found it strange that other Realtors cheerfully responded without checking out the information.  If this was a real estate contract, does this illustrate their level of the understanding of due diligence?

Lesson to Trulia members and consumers:  read the content and judge the level of competency displayed there yourself. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Market Update: Foreclosure Inventory

I just updated my website, http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/, with my exclusive market inventory meter. 

It's starting to look like foreclosure inventory in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties is slowly but steadily shrinking, with only 1,052 single family and condo properties for sale, while the overall inventory is steadily increasing.  What's going on?

We are in our busiest real estate season, as buyers take advantage of a warmer climate to vacation and buy property.  These buyers are snapping up foreclosure properties right now faster than the banks are releasing inventory into the market, hence the short term drop in inventory.  If you are planning a trip here to buy real estate in the coming weeks, more than ever you should be prepared with your financing documentation and expect to be in multiple-offer situations on foreclosures.

Home sellers also know this is the best time of year to find a buyer, so we are seeing more traditional sales come on the market.  I would advise buyers right now to also consider non-foreclosure properties.  Sellers remain negotiable in pricing and concessions to get their property sold.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When the Emails Stop

I am no longer getting email updates from our "luxury leader" on price reductions.  I used to get several emails a day, which I never really understood.  It resulted in them showcasing in a shocking way, how wrong they were about their original listing price, and how much they have now lowered the price of their listings.

At one point, I calculated they had reduced prices by $10 million dollars in a week, and that was just for the property emails I had received.  One particular property which sticks in my memory was on Siesta Key that underwent a $1 million price reduction, which still is not sold.

Can you, or anyone in this market, afford to make a $1 million mistake?  "Biggest" isn't always best.  I guess someone over there figured out these emails didn't make them look especially expert at market analysis.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Herald Tribune Puffery Again?

I've heard a lot of people complain that the Herald Tribune was one of the biggest cheerleaders of the real estate boom and bust.   The real estate market, much like the stock market, reacts to consumer moods.

So this weekend the H/T posts a story about Lakewood Ranch's seeming real estate revival.   According to their real estate "expert" Harold Bubil, there were 250 contracts signed to build new construction in LWR in 2010.  Really?  I don't buy it.

What's really going on in Lakewood Ranch? 

On my website, I have posted real estate sales data for Lakewood Ranch for the past 4 years.  The number of sold units (both single family and condo) was flat, and while the average sales price increased, the average sold price per square foot decreased in 2010 versus 2009.  Average days on market went from 217 in 2009 to 203 in 2010, not exactly an indication of a reviving market.  Price per square foot likely dropped because there were more high-end properties selling at reduced price.

The H/T and most newspapers rely, or used to rely, on real estate classified advertising for a large chunk of their revenue.  I'll leave it to you to decide if they are publishing this kind of story to try to heat up the real estate market like so many thought they did in the boom years.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Marketable Title vs Insurable Title

Title claims in the current foreclosure market, such as the Bank of America/Countrywide issue, make this topic interesting for both Realtors and real estate consumers.  Lenders are more frequently looking for marketable title on properties, especially foreclosures, prior to closing.

Sales contracts generally require the seller to convey a marketable title to the purchaser. A lender will generally require the title to the property securing the loan to be marketable. 

Insurable title may come with a host of defects.  However, despite these defects, a title insurance underwriter weighs the risks involved and allows the title agent to issue a title policy even though there may be blemishes and potential problems down the road.  Ironically, should the value of the property increase dramatically, the buyer is only protected to the extent of the original purchase price.

In contrast, marketable title is a title that is clean, has no defects that will come up again in a future title examination when the property owner attempts to obtain financing or more importantly tries to sell the property.  Accepting insurable title could result in problems which need to be addressed at a later date resulting in both time and money.

Translated to the current marketplace, you should make sure you have an insurable title on the property you purchase, especially in a foreclosure.  If you purchase a marketable title, make sure there are no exceptions added by the title company that excludes them from liability if you later sell the property and the title is deemed not marketable.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sarasota Real Estate Statistics

Have you ever seen real estate statistics on Zillow, Trulia, Realty Trac, or our area's "luxury leader", and wondered, "What the hell does all that gibberish mean?".

I decided it was time to put together meaningful data that real estate consumers can understand, and that relates to their needs when searching for and evaluating property.

I put together real estate statistics for the past four years for areas in Sarasota, Charlotte, and Manatee Counties that correspond to my neighborhood maps.  There you can see average sales prices, price per square foot, number of units sold, average time on the market, and list price to sales price ratio.  These are for single family homes only.

Why did I pick these metrics?  I approached this as I would a CMA, or as a real estate or mortgage appraiser would, by looking at values to determine trends and prices.  Time on the market and LP/SP ratio are excellent indicators of a firm or soft market, and the data I compiled points to some interesting trends.  I also thought that out-of-town buyers would find the price per square foot differences interesting, for example, when comparing property on the barrier islands.

Serving long distance clients

I love using technology to provide services to my clients.  Today is a good example.  I worked with a couple from out of state during their visit to our area over the Christmas holidays.  Unfortunately, we did not get a home under contract during their time here, but we developed an excellent rapport and I gained a thorough understanding of their real estate needs.

Today, I'll be heading to North Port to do a Virtual Walk-Through of a home that is newly listed for sale.  The buyers already know and like this area quite well thanks to their visit.  By providing them a video of a home for sale, they don't have to physically be here to see a property.  I post raw video of the home, filmed as I'm walking through it, and post a link to the video on my web domain, which I can email to my clients.  All they have to do is click the link and watch the video.

According to a NAR study, 74% of buyers look for real estate video, but less than 1% of Realtors provide it (and I think it's even less than that in the Sarasota area).  I invite you to read more about Virtual Walk-Through technology on my website.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New feature on davidbarrhomes.com

I recently added some new information to my real estate website, davidbarrhomes.com, that I hope buyers and sellers will find useful.

On my home page, MLS search page, and foreclosure search page, you will find an inventory meter showing the total number of available listings in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties.  You will see actual numbers of units available, with a trend indicator showing if the inventory has grown or shrunk appreciably since the last update.  I plan on updating this weekly.

An educated consumer is the best consumer, and it's important to let show how available property inventory levels can affect pricing and buying strategies in the current market.  I believe this is a one-of-a-kind feature among real estate agents in my market area.

This, combined with my Just Listed and Open House pages, and numerous interactive maps, make davidbarrhomes.com one of the Sarasota area's most informative and innovative real estate websites.