Getting Ready to Buy?

Did they mean “hassle” rather than “haggle” for SW FL houses?

Posted on 09/10/2009. Filed under: Getting Ready to Buy?, SW Florida Investments | Tags: , , , , , , |

pulling-out-hairI also thought this was important enough to post on my ActiveRain blog also!

In a recently released article, used research supplied from saying the best place to “haggle for home prices” was Florida.  While this is true in a few markets (they named four areas), us in SW Florida aren’t seeing it this way.  The areas where this is working have an abundance of luxury homes that are still over-priced, even in this market.

I have spent countless hours educating customers that this is definitely a buyers’ market, but an “intelligent” buyer’s market.  Why would a buyer think they are the only ones looking for a great deal.  If their agent is really watching the market for them, they are aware of a new listing that is a good deal.  But are they naive enough to believe they are the only ones spotting that house today?  Some don’t even believe it when we are sitting in the van, in line, waiting for our turn to look at the house.

In my experience, these deals only last a few days and due to current practices by some banks and listing agents, the agent will take offers for several days to find the “highest and best price” for this listing.  If I got paid every time I had a listing agent tell me there were multiple offers, I could have retired this year a wealthy man.

In the Fort Myers/Cape Coral market, our customers need to be aggressive with offers.  “Low balling” to start a conversation is a waste of time here.  Many of the listings in the botton half of the listing prices are selling for listing price or even higher than listing price.  Giving a low offer just frustrates the customer and the agents.  Even if it is against our advice, customers still hear about all the “great deals” the media throws out there.  Yes, as the media reported, we did have a three bedroom, 2 bathroom house sell for $25,000.  What they forgot to tell you,  it was a marijuana grow house that was completely gutted inside and is in a very unsafe neighborhood.  More importantly, it was the ONLY one and it’s GONE!  All of the houses in SW Florida are not priced this way.

Buyers need to be realistic.  Haggling gets you no where in the mid to low price range houses.  Come in strong, with financing in place or cash in hand.  You are not the only “smart” investor to be working this market!  Remember, the media makes money selling news, not selling houses.

Mike Cathell         Florida Future Realty, Inc          Email:

Cell:  (239) 770-6250                                                    Web site:

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Great Time To Buy Florida (From FAR)

Posted on 08/04/2009. Filed under: Baby Boomers, Getting Ready to Buy? | Tags: , , , , , |

Used with permission from Florida Association of Realtors

Used with permission from Florida Association of Realtors

The upside of Florida real estate: 15 market positives

Let’s take a look at some of the opportunities for today and the future of Florida’s real estate market.

1. Great prices. Statewide, the existing-home median sales price was $161,200 in the fourth quarter of 2008; a year earlier, it was $216,600 for a decrease of 26 percent.

2. The time is right. Home sales volumes are rising again – a clear signal that today’s “buyers market” may be changing soon. In fourth quarter 2008, statewide sales of existing single-family homes were up 13 percent compared to the same period last year, according to FAR statistics.

3. High inventory levels. Conditions are ideal for buyers to find their dream home. Inventory is still plentiful in all price ranges. But as sales volumes increase, inventory levels are likely to shrink. That reality translates into this advice for buyers: Don’t wait too long.

4. Low mortgage rates. Mortgage rates are still at the lowest levels since the 1960s. Lower rates multiply a buyer’s financial power. Even half a percent can make a sizeable difference. For example, on a $200,000 home, half of 1 percent could save the homeowner about $815 a year. Buyers can get more home for the money, which is a perfect scenario for families looking to upsize.

5. Incentives to buy. Federal, state and local housing programs can help buyers make that big purchase. The U.S. Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2009 includes an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers. President Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package also identifies and offers incentives to help home buyers with mortgages. Talk to a local mortgage lender about state and federal incentive programs.

6. A long-term-growth state. Long-term economic and demographic trends continue to favor Florida. By 2010 economists forecast that Florida will be the third-most-populated state in the country. Florida’s population is expected to swell about 75 percent by 2030. Florida has been one of the 10 fastest-growing states in the U.S. for each of the past seven decades, and often the state has been in the top four, according to census data. Population growth will continue to provide a foundation for other economic development, such as new jobs and growing incomes.  All of these trends are positive indicators for real estate growth.

7. A migration magnet. Even with a slowdown in economic growth nationally, projections call for Florida’s population to return to more normal growth levels of about 317,000 a year between 2010 and 2020, similar to the 1980s and 1990s, said Stan Smith, director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. That’s a lot of new buyers coming into the market.

8. A favored retirement destination. Over the long term, Florida stands to benefit from the migration of the aging Baby Boomer generation, roughly 80 million strong. Demographic studies show that the Sunshine State’s mild climate and outdoor amenities continue to make Florida a top retirement destination.

9. Business-friendly state. Florida has always been a business-friendly state – no state income taxes, plus incentives from local municipalities encourage businesses to set up shop here. Even with the current economic downturn nationwide, Florida leaders continue to keep business needs in the forefront of planning for the state’s future. The Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners ranked five Florida communities on its “Best Performing Cities Index 2008,” which ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. Florida’s business climate ranked fourth among executives and sixth overall on “Site Selection” magazine’s 2008 Top State Business Climate rankings.

10. Positive investment outlook. Every quarter, the University of Florida’s Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies conducts a survey of industry executives, market research economists, real estate scholars and other experts. In the third quarter 2008 survey, the investment outlook for various types of Florida properties remains steady. “People who have responded to our surveys have not lost their faith in Florida as a place to be and a place to invest,” said Dr. Wayne Archer, director. “We have 40 pages of comments from our respondents, and although the dominant theme is the disruption of financing, perhaps the second theme, as one person put it, is people being on the sidelines with full pads and helmets just waiting to jump back in.”

11. Homeownership has value. Realtors believe – and research supports that belief – that homeownership provides a variety of tangible and intangible benefits to the community and homeowners. Studies show that home equity is still the largest single source of household wealth, both for the individual homeowner and for homeowners as a group.

12. Greater sense of well-being. Owning a home leads to increased personal well-being. Research shows that people who own their own homes tend to show higher levels of personal esteem and life satisfaction, which in turn helps to make homeowners and their children more productive members of society.

13. Beneficial for kids. Studies show that children raised in homes owned by their families are more likely to stay in school and more likely to graduate high school. They’re also shown to have a higher lifetime annual income.

14. Community involvement. People who own homes have a strong financial stake in what happens to their community and tend to become more involved in community and civic affairs. Studies show that homeowners also interact more with their neighbors and communities. Compared to renters, homeowners join up to 41 percent more civic and/or nonprofessional organizations, such as the PTA or Scouts; vote in local elections 15 percent more often; enhance their neighborhoods with gardens 12 percent more often; attend church about 10 percent more often; and have a 3 percent greater chance of being interested in public affairs.

15. An unsurpassed lifestyle. Finally, let’s not forget the things that brought people to Florida in the first place, and will continue to attract them – beautiful beaches, fabulous weather and a friendly business climate, with no state income tax.  It’s no wonder that Florida’s combination of temperate climate, outstanding recreational amenities and economic opportunity has consistently put Florida in the top three of Harris Poll’s “Most Desirable Places to Live” survey.

Copyright 2009 Florida Association of Realtors ®

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But it says it’s “Active”!?!

Posted on 05/28/2009. Filed under: Getting Ready to Buy? | Tags: , , |


There seems to be some confusion about what certain terms mean on the Multiple Listing Services that confuse the public.  Actually, they even confuse real estate agents at times!  These are the terms used to show the status of the listing.  I am going to try and explain those terms as well as I can, but secretly, I get confused at times too.

I don’t think “Active” needs an explanation but here goes – the property is for sale!  No ifs, ands or buts – go look at it and buy it!  But the customer wants to look at one marked “Active Contingent”.  Now what happens?  This property has an offer but there might be a contingency that the buyer needs to fulfill first.  The two most common are financing or selling the house they presently own.  If the contingency does not get fulfilled, then the property is “Active” again (well, it’s supposed to be).

Now let’s add more words and make it more complicated…another property is “Active contingent short sale”.  More words must mean more things to worry about!  Actually, this phrase was brought about with the rise of short sales.  Short sales usually have time constraints since you are dealing with 2 agents, a seller, a buyer, sometimes 1 or more attorneys and the big huge unknown entity called “the financial institution” (yikes).  There are more forms and many more signatures needed to have an offer go to contract.  This phrase warns prospective buyers that there is another offer on the table and it could be awhile before an answer is reached.  Some banks will take a back-up offer in case the first buyer pulls out of the deal because of the time constrains.  To sum up, “Active contingent short sale” means pray for patience and divine intervention.

“Pending” is a little friendlier.  This term means an offer has been accepted and a contract now exists between a seller and a buyer.  The hope of everyone involved is that the term “Sold” is on the horizon.  These are two of my favorite terms with “Sold” bringing many smiles and shouts of hurray!

I hope this helped a little bit in understanding what all these scary terms mean!  The next step will be working towards everyone using them uniformly, but that’s a whole other blog – so don’t get me started or it will really get scary here!


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First Time Home Buyers Credit!

Posted on 02/19/2009. Filed under: Getting Ready to Buy?, SW Florida Investments | Tags: , , |

First time Buyers - take advantage!

First time Buyers - take advantage!

Another reason it’s a great time to buy in Florida – first time home owner tax credit!  A first time home buyer can receive up to $8000 tax credit if they purchase now.

Some of the details:

  • New definition of 1st time home buyer is anyone who has not owned a home in the past three years.
  • This is a credit which means it does not need to be repaid.
  • The credit is based 10% of the purchase price of the house up to $8000.
  • The house needs to be purchased between January 1, 2009 and December 1, 2009 (need to hurry!).
  • Can be claimed on 2008 taxes if not filed yet (another hurry to get on this!).
  • Based on single income of up to $75,000 or married, combined income up to $150,000.

Combined with the large inventory of available homes, special mortgage programs for first time buyers and the rock-bottom house prices, what’s stopping new home owners?  I think it needs repeating that the new definition of a first time buyer is anyone who has not owned a house in the last three years.  If the economy, a transfer or change of  family has turned you into a renter for the past three years, now is a great time to buy a house again.

To see the great prices on houses in Lee County, Florida the way Realtors do, check out this great site:

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