Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Have a Page for That!

Have you been searching for Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, or Englewood real estate and found the process frustrating?

Many of my competitors advertise that you can see listings for these areas on their websites.  This is true, but it takes a bit more work for the consumer.  Most make you go to a blank search form for the MLS, and if you aren't that familiar with our area, the results you get back may not be exactly what you're looking for.

When I created davidbarrhomes.com, I put myself in the shoes of the customer.  I have specific pages with real estate listings for over 45 popular local towns, areas, and neighborhoods in the greater Sarasota area.  Want to search for homes west of the Trail in Sarasota?  I have a page for that:  www.davidbarrhomes.com/west_of_trail.  The public MLS does not have a field for this geographic area, and unless you are from the here, you may not be exactly sure of the boundaries for what the locals call west of Trail.

Want to search for homes in Palmer Ranch?  Beachfront homes? The Museum area? Lido Key? Downtown Sarasota? East County Manatee?  Not easy to do on the public MLS site, but davidbarrhomes.com has pages for each of these, and more, with up to date listings ready to browse.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Wearing Your Customer's Shoes

As I get older and wiser I find the old cliches about business do have a basis in fact and success.  When dealing with a customer, try to put yourself in their shoes.

A great example of this happened to me this morning with a customer from Canada.  As much as I enjoy working with Canadian buyers, they are extremely risk averse.  This buyer in particular was sensitive to the potential for mold in a condo unit that was not a primary residence for the current owners.  His thoughts were that moisture build up in an unoccupied residence could cause hidden mold issues.

Of course, it didn't help that the sellers left one of those timed Lysol fragrance spritzers on in the unit.

To the buyer, it seemed like the fragrance was covering up a moldy or musty smell.  Putting myself in the buyer's shoes, and since I am from up north myself, it must seem "musty" to a visitor because of our high humidity, even compared to Canada's hottest, most humid days.

Since the home inspection did not reveal mold or a potential problem requiring a mold inspection, we turned the fragrance sprayer off and returned the next day.  No more smell.  Problem solved.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Single Family Home versus Condo in Sarasota FL

I've blogged about this topic before.  If you are getting a mortgage for your vacation property, or are looking to buy as an investment, single family homes are the best bet compared to condos.

View my analysis here:  http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/#!condo-versus-house-sarasota/c1tqw

The carrying costs for single family homes versus condos (insurance, fees, maintenance) are roughly the same.  However, getting a mortgage for a condo is turning into a nightmare.

Prepare for 30% down for a condo purchased as a vacation property.  Your interest rate will be higher if you are purchasing a condo as an investment property.  Add to this the fact that mortgage lenders are now sending questionnaires to condo association managers and asking for detailed financial statements before approving the mortgage.  One of my recent client's closing was delayed because the condo association did not reply to the intrusive questions from the lender in time.

I probably don't need to tell you what those clients went through personally, to satisfy last minute demands from the lender.

Just another reason to choose a single family home over a condo in the Sarasota FL.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Condo Mortgage in Sarasota

Getting a mortgage for a condo in Sarasota, or any other area in Florida, is possible but not an easy process.   To make the process as easy as possible, please use a local lender.

If you are planning on using your condo as a vacation home, you will need at least 30% down, regardless of your credit score, as of this writing.  If you are using your condo as an investment property, the 30% down still applies but you will likely have a higher interest rate.

As a buyer, you should get a mortgage qualification letter from your lender prior to starting your search.  One thing to watch is condo association fees.  The average condo fee in the Sarasota area is $350 per month.  These fees can negatively affect your income/expense ratio and could decrease the price range of the condo you can afford to purchase.

Banks no longer check just your own individual credit when making a lending decision.  They are interviewing condo associations through written questionnaires, as well as scrutinizing their financial statements and their association insurance limits and deductibles.  The irony is that you may well qualify for a mortgage, but the condo association won't meet your lender's guidelines.

Most of the condo associations in the areas I serve won't have a problem with meeting lender criteria for your mortgage.  The issue comes into play when selecting a realistic closing date, to give you enough time for final mortgage approval.  

Furnished Condos in Sarasota

So you're looking for a condo for sale in the Sarasota area, but you only want to see furnished condos?

It can be difficult to narrow down exactly what you're looking for on the public MLS portal, so I created a page on my website specifically for furnished condos for sale:  http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/#!condos-furnished-sarasota/cfev

Furnished condos are perfect for investors and out of town owners who want to use their condo from day one.  If you are getting a mortgage for a furnished condo, the furnishings agreement should not be a part of the purchase agreement.  

New community: Arbor Lakes is Coming to Palmer Ranch

If you've been on I-75 south near Clark Road, you've no doubt seen the signs for a new home community called Arbor Lakes.  It will be located on the undeveloped parcel you can view on this map south of Clark Road, east of Honore, surrounding the U-shaped lake:  http://goo.gl/maps/4IVVm

Arbor Lakes will be a mixed development of single family homes and townhomes.  The builder is still breaking ground and clearing the site as of this writing.  Community maps, floor plans, and prices are not yet available.  I have been told this information will be released in the fall.

As a local Realtor I will be among the first to get updates on Arbor Lakes.  If you are interested in this new home community, please email me your name, email address, and phone number.  I will let you know as soon as floor plans and prices are released.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tropical System Andrea

The big green blob on the weather radar is bringing much needed rain and spring-like breezes to the SW Gulf Coast of FL today and into tomorrow.  High winds are not expected and I doubt there will be any major flooding.  This area has been in a drought for a long period, so the rain is definitely welcome.

Time to get the mower out!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Punta Gorda Bridge to Beaches?

People are always asking me why real estate in Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte is relatively less expensive than Sarasota and Venice.  The simple answer is:  they're not close to a beach.

To get to a beach from either PG or PC, you have to take a lengthy journey down Hwy 776 to get to Englewood Beach or Stump Pass State Park.  In some cases you're looking at a 40 to 45 minute drive.

Real estate is driven by demand, and demand for real estate within easy reach of a beach in FL is in higher demand, hence part of the reason for the higher real estate prices in the Sarasota area.

So why aren't Charlotte County officials looking into some kind of bridge over Charlotte Harbor directly to one of their beautiful beaches?  I know there's all kinds of environmental issues, but wouldn't the tolls they could charge on the bridge, and the access fees, the fishing piers, and the increase in real estate tax receipts from increased values, make a bridge worth a look?

Just an idea on a rainy day in FL.  Let me know what you think.


Unique Content on davidbarrhomes.com

In case you missed it, I have several pages on my site devoted to real estate that can be hard to find on the public MLS.

On davidbarrhomes.com, you can find:


  • Pool homes:  Single family homes with private pools
  • Gated communities:  Single family homes in gated communities
  • Turn key furnished condos:  Great for investors or out of town buyers
  • Villas:  Single story, detached or semi-detached properties, managed like condos.  Maintenance free!
  • Townhomes:  Perfect for buyers looking for townhome-style properties
  • New home listings:  All the latest new construction offered for sale in the MLS
  • Owner financing:  If you've got 30-50% for a down payment, you can see available properties offering non-qualifying assumable loans or owner financing
  • 55 and over communities: View condos and villas for sale
  • Vacant land:  Lots and land for sale for building your vision
You can find these links on davidbarrhomes.com under the "More Choices" drop down menu at the top right of every page 


Foreclosure Market Update

What's going on in the foreclosure market in Sarasota right now?

Let's talk about inventory first.  The number of available forclosure properties for sale in Sarasota County is staying steady, in a range between 500 and 600 single family homes and condos.  This is, however, down from a peak inventory of between 1500 and 1700 properties for sale in the MLS in 2010 and 2011.

The current situation of prices and where the properties are located is the real story behind our area's foreclosures.  A few months ago, there was a fiercely competitive market for properties in Sarasota, just east of Tamiami Trail, listed under $100K.  Those properties were attractive to investors for buy and flip.

What seems to be available now are homes and condos in locations that are more conducive to investors looking to buy and hold as income properties.  The rental market in Sarasota continues to be in high demand.  We have few large apartment complexes for an individual investor to compete with, so a condo or a single family home in Sarasota, Bradenton, or Venice has a good chance at attracting a high quality annual or seasonal tenant.

Client Service and Transaction Management

We all hear about great customer service when working with our real estate clients.  One part of the great service we often don't talk about is shielding our clients from unnecessary stress or problems that arise when working with other Realtors during a transaction.

Our profession is constantly in a state of change, especially when it comes to real estate law and the documents involved, such as contracts and disclosures.

Many Realtors get distressed when I tell them that a seller's disclosure is no longer required in Florida, unless the seller is making a negative disclosure about the property.  I have no problem providing a buyer with a seller's disclosure if the listing agent went to the unnecessary trouble of having a seller complete the 5 page disclosure.  Unless there is a negative disclosure, a buyer working with me is not signing or initialing an unnecessary 5 page document.  There's enough paperwork already.

Other Realtors seem to have a problem with the "either, or" clauses in our updated contracts.  If one of the choices is completed, the other choice is then not applicable.  Seems simple, right?  That doesn't stop many from completing both choices, creating extra work for the buyer by requiring another set of initials and printing, faxing or scanning the revision.

One recent example is a Realtor that demanded certain written notifications from the buyer I was working with.  In this transaction, the appraisal contingency was considered satisfied if the buyer either submits written notice to the seller of a satisfactory appraisal, or the appraisal deadline has passed (there's that either/or again).  In the case of the latter, no written notification is required.  Unfortunately, that didn't stop one Realtor from creating a storm of emails demanding something in writing and accusing the buyers of being out of contract.