Thursday, January 31, 2013

Condo or Single Family? Villa!

As you may have read in a previous blog post, many of the customers I work with are interested in a condo, when sometimes a single family home might actually be a better option.

If you are the type of buyer who wants the lower maintenance benefits of a condo, but like the idea of a single family home, a villa-style property may be a great option for you.

In the Sarasota area that I serve, a villa is considered to be detached or semi-detached (shared wall), and is managed in an owner's association much like a condo.

Villas are ground floor, so you don't have to worry about stairs, and have more outdoor living options like a larger patio or a lanai, than a typical condo unit.  The yard and common area maintenance are covered by the owner's association dues, just like a condo.  Some villa communities even allow individual units to have their own private pools.

Are you now intrigued by the idea of a villa property in the Sarasota area?  Visit my website to see a list of currently available villas for sale.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Real Estate Technology

Technology is rapidly changing the way we do business in real estate.  I'm a huge proponent of using the latest tools and techniques to help buyers and sellers of Sarasota FL real estate, because technology helps the process move more quickly and easily.

One of the tools I've been using is DocuSign.  I've watched clients sign offers on their I-Pad or tablet PC, and even self-admitted computer-challenged clients find it is easy to use.

DocuSign offers legal, secure signing online and eliminates paper, time consuming scanning, and faxing.

If you are a buyer, bank owners of foreclosure properties specifically ask for highly legible, non-hand-written documents.  DocuSign is a great way to help your offer stand out in a competitive multiple offer situation, because in part there is no degradation in print quality.  It also greatly reduces missed initials or signatures that can cause your foreclosure offer to be rejected by the bank.




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Million Dollar Question: Single Family or Condo?

Almost without fail, out of town buyers, especially buyers from Canada, are interested in Sarasota and want to buy a condo as an investment.

There's myriad reasons why condos are no longer the best choice for real estate investors.  Consider the following:

1) Condo prices are increasing faster than rents;
2) Condos in the entry level price range up to $150,000 are seeing multiple offers in a very competitive field of buyers;
3) Condo association fees average $300 per month, and will only go up;
4) Many condo associations restrict owners from renting to significant segments of the population, for example, tenants with pets.

The monthly expenses for an investor are virtually the same for a condo or a single family home, by the time you account for insurance and maintenance costs for single family homes.  Despite this, single family homes, in my opinion, represent a better choice for real estate investors because:

1) Single family homes rent faster than condos;
2) Single family homes rent to a broader range of prospective tenants;
3) Single family homes have been appreciating more quickly than condos since 2010.  Median single family home prices in Sarasota rose from $132,000 in 2010 to $155,000 in 2012, based on MLS data.

Forget about maintenance issues of single family homes as a long distance investor.  You can build the cost of yard and pool maintenance into the rental agreement if your tenant doesn't want to do it themselves.  Home warranties cover the major systems of a home, and you only have to pay a small service visit fee even in the event of a major repair or replacement.

Investors, contact me to discuss the benefits of expanding your investment options to single family homes versus condos.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

An Update on Debunking Zillow

Last year I created a page on my website about Zillow's misleading and unreliable data about Sarasota real estate.

As I wait for the football games to start, I thought it might be a good time to get updated information from my friends at Zillow, who love to misinform real estate buyers about price trends in our fair hamlet.

Zillow reported an 18% decline in real estate sales prices for Sarasota in 2011 versus 2010.  MLS data showed the median sales price was flat in 2011, the sign of a market that had hit bottom.

Zillow's data for 2012 is even more perplexing.  They reported the median sales price in 2011 was $130,000.  They now report a 2012 median sales price of $220,000, a whopping 74 % increase over 2011.

Wow.  I wish that was the truth.  Even so, 2012 was a nice recovery for our area, with MLS data showing the median sales price in Sarasota County was $155,000 versus $135,000 2011.

Can you really trust such wildly fluctuating data from Zillow?  This is precisely why banks and mortgage appraisers do not use Zillow "Zestimates" when valuing real estate.  This shows you need an experienced Realtor who works with buyers in several price points with their finger on the pulse of the local Sarasota real estate market.

To summarize:
2010 Median Sales Price:  Zillow  $153,600    Local MLS $135,000
2011 Median Sales Price:  Zillow  $130,000    Local MLS  $134,900
2012 Median Sales Price:  Zillow  $220,900   Local MLS $155,000



Thursday, January 10, 2013

Investors: Annual or Vacation Rentals?

One question I am asked frequently is whether to market a home or a condo for rent as an annual, seasonal, or weekly basis as a vacation rental.

This recent article from the Florida Association of Realtors may help Sarasota FL real estate buyers make a decision on how to generate maximum cash flow for their investment.

Bottom line:  Hire a good property management company if you are thinking of short term vacation rentals for a single family home, or a beach condo.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Latest on Sarasota, FL Best Real Estate Deals

I just updated my Best Deals page on my website with the latest finds from the MLS.

Although I've been writing about multiple offers and increased buyer activity in our local real estate market, I'm still seeing excellent values out there.   Some examples:

  • A 3500 square foot home in a gated community, listed in the $390's that sold for almost double that in 2005;
  • A townhome in Lakewood Ranch under $100K;
  • An imcome producing 5-unit building on Manasota Key just steps to the beach for under $500K.
You can view the property details, see the map locations, and even make an offer online.  These usually go under contract quickly, so please contact me if interested.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More Misleading Headlines from the Sarasota Herald Tribune

Today I got a link from the FL Association of Realtors with a link to an article in the Sarasota H/T titled:  "Banking Deal May Not Help Local Housing Recovery".

Hello, Herald Tribune?  It's reality calling.  We're already in a year-long real estate market recovery.

This same article quotes a local Realtor, who correctly stated that our local housing inventory for sale is at record lows.  Simple economic principles dictate that low supply and increased demand will create the higher prices and multiple offers most buyers will encounter, especially at the lower end of the price spectrum.

Our local real estate market does not need any "help" from a banking deal with the Feds.  Sarasota has a history of strong buyer demand and higher real estate values than most other parts of Florida.

Instead of creating false expectations of a weak real estate market for out of town buyers, The Herald Tribune should break it's habit of looking at government intervention as the major influencer of a free market, and look instead to all Sarasota has to offer as reasons for the current real estate recovery.