Category Archives: Community Affairs/Special Interest

This catagory is designed to feature articles not neccessarily related to real estate but in some way may affect local Orlando real estate in some way.

Multiple Offers?, I thought this was a buyer’s market?

Sorry I haven’t had time to write any articles lately. I’ve been extremely busy with foreclosures representing both buyers and sellers. (Sellers being banks).

Investors and first time homebuyers are picking up all the deals it seems. Many agents that I’ve been speaking with in the Orlando area are telling me the same story, busy busy busy.

Last month, the Greater Orlando Association of Realtors President, Leslie Simmons, announced the bottom of the market. I would have to agree. Of course I refer to this area only, since real estate cycles are localized. The bottom of the market has come and gone in many parts of the country already. I do wonder about the rash of foreclosures that the government has stalled, (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.) Since they put a moritorium halting foreclosures on these government backed loans, I’m wondering since this has recently been lifted, if we’ll see any significant changes in our market.

Recently I’ve represented a bunch of buyers in all price ranges who’ve ran into bidding wars with the homes they’re interested in. It’s common now to have 5-10 offers in on one property at the same time. Banks are pricing aggresively and it seems buyers want the best deals. Good idea but do you have the stamina? One buyer had to put in 5 offers with me before he got one accepted. One offer was $20,000 higher than list price and this poor buyer still didn’t get it!

Since there are so many investors out there now snatching up the best deals before prices increase again, there are more buyers out there then ever with cash. Buyers with cash often win out over financed offers because the banks realize that more deals are falling through because of tighter lending restrictions.

I’ve taken a few bank owned foreclosure listings recently and have seen it from both sides of the real estate fence, representing buyers and sellers on these foreclosures so I can tell you that cash does talk. Sometimes when we’re lucky, we’ll find a house that no one else is interested in, make a decent offer and get it accepted.

Not too worry if you did miss out on the exact timing of the “bottom of the market”. Typically, the market rebounds at a much slower pace on the way back up.


First Time Home Buyer $7,500 Tax Credit

Good news for first time homebuyers! Homes purchased on or after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009 are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. It really is a great time to buy, especially with all the low priced foreclosure homes available now. Investors are coming out of the woodwork buying up all the deals. Financial advisors nationwide are advising their rich clients to place their investment money in real estate. Typical of any down market cycle, the sign of a recovering market are the investors. These are not the run-of-the-mill investor types, rather these are the real investors with loads of money. If they’re out buying multiple properties, a first time home buyer should get a signal that this might be the best time to purchase instead of signing another 12 month lease. There are many skittish potential first time home buyers out there sitting on the fence waiting for someone to say it’s the best time. Though difficult to pin down to a specific day, week or month, if you buy within the year of the bottom of the down cycle, you’re going to be doing well. No one will know exactly when the bottom has hit until long after it happened.


I saw a news report on the local news which stated that real estate was up about 50% from this time last year. Another report issued by our local Realtor board stated that we were up 25% in the previous month as compared to 12 months ago. The media certainly has more control over the public perception of the real estate market than the actual facts. Certainly people are always going to be influenced by the negative press releases about the economy. This is only prolonging the down cycle. I hear many buyers say they’re still waiting.


I’d like to remind buyers of the homestead exemption purchase and filing deadlines.  You must own and occupy your home prior to January 1st of the year that you make application for the exemption. The deadline for filing is March 1st, however, you can pre-file at any time during the year for the following year. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding filing. 

More great news! For 2009 homeowners can claim double exemptions for up to $50,000 but you must be in the home by December 31, 2008 to qualify for 2009.


With the tax credit and homestead exemptions and low low Orlando home prices, It could make a huge difference in their monthly payment come December 2009 and beyond.  This alone won’t save our Orlando real estate market by itself, I believe the investors will, but great for the entry level buyers!


Here’s a website that will explain in more detail about the $7,500 credit…

History Repeating

Is the real estate market crash really a big surprise? Real estate is cyclical.  Since the 1950’s, when they first started tracking such cylces, the real estate market has had a history of peaks and valleys. There is always a peak followed quickly by a huge  valley  about every 10-15 years. Most savy investors know this. Buy low and sell high is the mantra. Do you think that the banks and mortgage lenders out there who were giving 100% loans, (sometimes more), would have learned a lesson from the last crash and all the crashes before? You certainly would think so. I find it hard to believe that mortgage underwriters didn’t know that we’d have another fallout. UGH!

A Real Estate Agent’s View Of The Current Orlando Market… Buyers are from Venus and Sellers are from Mars

Today I have a moment, finally, to sit down and post some of my thoughts about today’s current  housing market situation in Orlando. Lately I’ve been extremely busy with buyers. Not that that has been particularly a great success, but I’ll write more about that later. I’ve also been quite busy talking to a lot of prospective sellers. A sellers view of this market is completely different than a buyers.


I have the opportunity in my line of work to speak with a great deal of people, some experts, other Orlando rea estate agents, and prospective sellers and buyers.  I’d like to share my collective thoughts with you from each of these groups of people in this posting so that I can convey what is actually going on here today.

Let’s start with Buyers and Sellers. Buyer’s are from Mars and Sellers are from Venus. Yes, like the famous well known book written by bestselling author, Dr. John Gray, I have observed, over the years, that this set are in fact worlds apart. In this market, however, the distance between the two is growing further apart. Some are getting lost in space. Sometimes an expert can bring the two worlds together, bridging the gap between millions of miles of empty outer space Not without a few thousand approaching asteroids and space storms along the way. I believe the public’s opinion of a real estate agent is way over simplified. I recently read a blog by some Real Estate Radio talk show host who was bashing agents because they could not tell them how they justify their commission. I wrote a long response, which he posted but he replied with an expected smug reply. This guy makes bashing agents a hobby and a business. Normally I’d link to his blog article, but I really don’t think this guy is an expert, so not only won’t I link to the blog, but I won’t bother to mention his name. There seems to not only be a simplified view of an agent’s role in transactions these days. My opinion on that is that these bashers are throw backs from the boom which recently crashed. A very lucky bunch of people who call themselves experts and who now write blogs were able to successfully sell without a Realtor and buy home. Of course it was much easier then, when there was a shortage of homes for sale. I’m always happy to hear success stories, who wouldn’t want to save thousands of dollars?, I sure would. Unfortunately, an easy and swift transaction is most often times, not a common thing in the world of a private seller. With our current situation of over inventory, a private seller is having a much harder time of it.


Lately, it seems, prospective sellers are still way out in the depths of space, not quite realizing how difficult it is going to be to sell a home in today’s current market. When I interview with prospective sellers to list their homes, I tell them that roughly 3% of the total M.L.S. inventory is selling each month in the Orlando area, yet they are still resistant to comply with today’s wave of buyers. Today’s buyer is lost in the endless ocean of real estate inventory. Buyers have so many choices today, which is great for them but bad for sellers. This over inventory is creating extremely competitive pricing that some sellers are not able to deal with. I tell them that their house must be the best deal, must be in the best condition and certainly has to offer more than the other lowest price listings with the type offerings within their area.  As an experienced agent, having weathered the storm of a soft market already, I know exactly how to sell a home in this market. When people listen to my specific advice, they sell.  Most sellers listen to some of my advice while ignoring other important tips, which usually ends up costing them more. I am often surprised that they call on experts and often completely disregard advice. I, like the words, of the Rolling Stones hit, Tears Gone By, sit and watch as tears go bye. Tears from the sellers, that is. Admittedly, I too get upset when a listing languishes on the market, sometimes forgetting that the real reason is that the seller failed to take some or all my advice in the beginning. What’s driving prices down further is the rash of foreclosures and prospective sellers are having a hard time excepting that buyers want the cheapest home for their money. Many buyers tell me they only want bank foreclosures. After talking with many other fellow Orlando real estate professionals, like me, the consensus is the same everywhere. Everyone wants a deal.

My greatest hurdle in today’s market is bridging the gap between the buyers and the sellers to bring deals together. Buyers are generally offering way too low and sellers are still trying to cling on to thier equity as best they can. They’re resitant to hearing the truth about just how bad the market is for sellers. It’s difficult to make a seller realize that next month, their home will be worth less than today in a declining market. Granted, most buyers are low balling sellers, but the counter offer strategies must be more proactive to keep that buyer interested. Judging by the actions of the last 7 buyers I’ve worked with over the past month, and hearing what other agents are telling me, most buyers are making low offers and refuse to take even a slight counter offer from the seller. Traditionally, it’s wise to counter, less the buyer feel that they might have gotten a better lower deal if the seller quickly accepts their intial low offer. To make a buyer feel like they’ve gotten a deal psychologically, the seller must counter something. Today’s buyer’s who are not sitting on the fence, are out there making several offers. Can you blame them? Some have time restrictions, and give up low balling after the first few failed attempts. We have to remember that buyers still do have particular tastes and needs, so even with more listings to choose from, they still can narrow it down pretty quickly, especially if they have an agent working for them. So by the third or fourth low ball offer, they realize that this house isn’t one of their favorites, so they often give up at this point and decide to rent. Their fear is that the market will continue to decline, so they want to be sure to get a very good deal today.

This point is extremely hard to convey to a seller. I am advising a proactive pricing strategy because I know that this will work. I work with buyers, so I know what they want. I’ve sold many listings in this market climate so I know the recipe for success. A seller must first have their want and need in parallel. They not only have to merely want to sell.  In my previous post I wrote about Short Sales. A great deal of the sellers today in our market cannot list their home at market value simply because they owe more than it’s worth. If these people need to sell, it’s definitely worth trying to avoid a foreclosure. I work with a third party Short Sale processor who handles my short sales. They have contacts established with the lenders and banks and can most often speed up the process. I market the property and once a contract comes in I hand it over to them so that they can coordinate it. Too many agents are touting themselves as Short Sale Experts. It’s impossible to be an expert with so many different banks and lenders, each having their own processes and requirements and those requirements change too quickly. As time goes by, there are more short sales offered and lenders are so inundated with requests that they can take as long as two months to respond. Certainly for someone who’s got a shorter time frame a bank owned foreclosure, one that’s already been foreclosed can be a better bet. I have a list of bank foreclosures that I give to my buyers. I give them this list and try to convince them to shy away from the short sales because of the extra time and the probabilities of the seller not qualifying for the short pay off in the first place. A seller who can successfully negotiate a short sale must prove to their lender that they cannot pay.

Weather you decide to buy a short sale/pre-foreclosed home, bank owned foreclosure, or a regular non-distressed type listing (many of the non-distressed listings can be a better deal), many real estate experts agree that now is statistically the best time to buy. Inevitably prices will go up again. If you’re a millionaire and can hold your real estate portfolio for a few years, you’re going to be rolling in it when the cycle comes around again. If I were rich, I’d be very rich, for sure! If you’re buying a principle residence or second home in any price range it’s still a great time to buy. You won’t be able to flip the house and turn a tidy profit in a short time like we saw a few short years but you’ll be buying at the right end of the cycle and there are truly great deals out there as sellers are forced to compete with many other listings, which have driven the prices much lower. We’re seeing prices reflect those found before the boom equivalent to the prices seen in 2004.

What a great time to be a buyer. I just hope you don’t have to sell first! If you do call an expert, you really should in this market. There will always be a great distance between the buyer and seller planetary systems but using an expert can guide you in the right direction so that you’re not lost in space.

Here’s a You Tube video I found on avoiding forclosure…

Pre-Foreclosure Pitfalls

What is a buyer to think? Everywhere you look, Foreclosures, Pre-Foreclosures, Bank Owned, Auctions, etc. I would like to share some personal experiences in this field to clear some clouds of doubt for buyers who may be interested in a Pre-Foreclosure. I would like to write this article to educate buyers on some of the benefits and pitfalls of a pre-foreclosure. There are many aspects to a pre-foreclosure sale that an average person may not know.  I heard an expert in this field talk recently about the subject of Short Sale Pre-Forclosures. 

 Foreclosure Homes Orlando Real Estate

A short sale is one where the lender has agreed to accept less than what’s owed on the mortgage in order to avoild a foreclosure. Certainly there must be a bunch of buzz out there about short sale pre-foreclosures because everyone is talking about it. He said that roughly 50% of pre-foreclosure, short sales are not qualified to sell with a reduction of the mortgage balance. The seller must be able to show and document that they are in financial duress and are unable to pay the mortgage payments. They must also, with the help of their Realtor, show that the property is not worth what is owed or that there is no way to sell it for what is owed. 


I am seeing an over abundance of short sales in the MLS. Untrained agents are submitting listings in the MLS in rapid form to grab some of this action. It would seem that many are untrained in dealing with this complicated and time consuming process. What’s in it for the seller? They can avoid as many as 10 years of derogatory credit if they foreclose. With a short sale, their credit is effected, however they may be effected for as little as 12 to 18 months.

 Is this short sale process being abused? I’m sure it is, but most are abusing it without even realizing it. Sadly, it is effecting the normal seller. Many short sale listings in the MLS are priced way lower than all the others which grabs the buyers attention. Most buyers right now are only looking at the largely discounted prices. Most are not aware, however, that a good portion of the short sales are not priced at a price in which the bank will accept.

 The bank’s pre-foreclosure process is intense and buyers are forced to wait as long as 2 months to get a response to their offer from the bank. The bank will not counter an offer if it unacceptable. Usually the bank will generate a few other offers and they will choose the best one. So a buyer may wait that long only to find out that they did not get the house.

” Buyers are forced to wait as long as 2 months for response from banks for thier offer”

Bank owned foreclosures are certainly easier and less time consuming however there are always certain risks involved with buying a bank owned foreclosure. The bank doesn’t give you a regular deed and there may be unpaid liens on the house which the buyer may have to pay in order to buy the house.

 In the past, bank underwriters would allow between 10 to 15% less than what the property would appraise for. We are seeing that number increase however over the course of the last few months to as much as 20%.  Many buyers are dead set against paying more than 20% below appraised value for anything right now, however in a short sale, they may not get that.

Sellers who are needing to sell in this market must compete with the short sales and bank owned properties in order to get a shot at receiving an offer. Currently, less than 3% of homes in our local MLS are selling each month. Many listings are expiring and many sellers are blaming their agents inability instead of looking at the market and how bad it actually is for a seller. Great market for a buyer, however. So many homes to choose from and certainly more than a bunch of motivated sellers out there.

If you would like to know more about short sale pre-foreclosures, please contact me on the contact form provided in this blog or call me at (407)925-2526

28 Month Supply of M.L.S. Listings!

 Do sellers really know just how bad the market really is in Central Florida? I have to believe that they don’t, based on my recent phone conversations and listing interviews with potential home sellers. There is only a slight chance that their home will sell at an average price, yet most home sellers still are demanding higher prices still. If they go ahead and list at the higher price, they’ll most likely have to reduce and sell for a much lower price in the end. Buyers, afraid that prices may still fall, are proactively seeking out homes which are great deals.


   Reduced Real Estate Orlando Market Pulse

There is currently a 28 month supply of listings on the market in our M.L.S., (Orange, Lake, Seminole and Osceola counties), over 28,000 available listings which doesn’t include new home builder inventory or For Sale By Owners. If we added those together we’d have somewhere close to 40,000 available homes for buyers. Over the past few months in this same area, only 1,000 or so are selling each month. Sales in September were down 53.6 percent compared to September 2006. With roughly 4% of the M.L.S. inventory selling each month, what is happening to the rest of these listings? They are reducing their prices.


Are the real estates properly coaching the sellers on pricing? I’m not so sure. I mention the bleak statistics to potential sellers, yet I’m sure, what I’m saying is not quite sinking in because they always seem to want more than my recommended price. The fact is, if they really need to sell, they will have to price less than anyone in the area, be in the best possible condition and offer great terms. I’ve been through a down market before as a Realtor, I’m familiar with fierce competition and what it takes to get a home sold in this climate.


Are we at the bottom of the cycle? I can’t be quite sure, but for the first time in months, the Orlando Association of Realtors reports that the inventory did not raise this past September, however the decrease was small. Only 3 less homes listed.  In preceding months inventory was growing each month. More listings were taken and less were selling.


Also troubling, is the fact that the average price differential is 93 percent. That is. A home which is listed for $250,000 should expect an average discounted price to be about $232,000. We as agents need to coach our would-be sellers who are thinking about listing their homes to not do so, so that this unprecedented over-inventory will decrease. Certainly there are more sellers who have their home on the market currently, who really need to sell. I realize that there are currently a great deal of sellers who purchased during the peak of the sellers market, who now must sell.




Many people of them cannot afford to list lower than what they’ve paid. Some have taken their homes off the market and placed them for rent, usually not covering their monthly expenses. I speak to many home owners that are now in this predicament. Still some of these people have their homes on the market. When I look at most of the larger subdivisions and their inventories in the M.L.S., I see a bunch of homes sitting on the market. A number of homes, which are approximately the same size as the higher priced listings, are offered for much less. Do the sellers not realize the competition? They must be complaining to their listing agents,


                    “My house wasn’t shown to any buyers in over 2 months!”



Some sellers who fail to sell with one agent will go ahead and re-list with a new agent. As a top selling agent in my area, I tend to list a lot of these previously listed properties. The sellers always seem to be very unhappy with their previous agent. Most times, the price was the reason that their home failed to sell. The agent wasn’t responsible, less you consider negligence on the pricing consultations. Many who list refuse to lower their price to keep up with the declining market around them. They will blame the inactivity received on their house on their agent. If the agent didn’t coach them regarding the pricing decreases around them while their home was listed, or if he failed to take the listing at the correct price in the first place, he is certainly to blame and should be yelled at.


If you don’t have to sell, don’t. If you must sell, sell at a competitive price. Don’t waste any precious time testing the market, you will surely fail. If you must sell, be sure to set a competitive price and be certain to insist that your agent consult with you on a weekly basis to check the pricing regularly. A lot of the listings priced too high are undoubtedly the outcome of listing agents and sellers not keeping tabs on the declining prices around them.

For Sale By Owner or Realtor?

For Sale By Owner Sign           For Sale By Owner or Realtor?

Sellers often find themselves asking the question,  “Why should I pay thousands in commissions when it seems so easy to sell myself?”  Are agents guilty of making the task of selling a home look too easy?, You bet! There are many self help books published for people who want to sell their homes themselves.  I would have to write my own book, or at least recommend a few good books myself, if a seller was adamant about trying it themselves. I think its a smart idea to read one or two, even if a seller had already at some point sold their home successfully without the help of a real estate agent. It might be harder then ever in a buyers market to save all this money, however.

In this crazy uncertain market I’m continually amazed when I see a home that was previously listed with a broker which failed to sell become a for sale by owner without a price drop. Certainly, a price drop equal to the amount of the commission is what most buyers expect. Is it advisable to try to sell your home yourself if you have a limited time frame?

As an agent myself, I certainly advocate a seller who would like to save the commission so long as they have patience and a knowledge of the real estate transaction process. In the absence of a good Realtor, I would advise that they also seek out a good real estate attorney.

An astounding percentage of privately sold homes end up in some kind of legal action, usually arising from some sort of failure to disclose certain latent defects or misrepresentations.  I read a report published by researchers from the National Association of Realtors which stated that in a certain year there were as many as 40%. Another staggering statistic, which most sellers are unaware of, is that nationally, for sale by owner sellers net 16- 20% less without an agent.  If your wondering why, read on… Continue reading