ORLANDO, Fla. – A Florida home with lots of fresh air and a pleasant aroma is highly appealing to buyers. On the other hand, unpleasant odors from tobacco, mildew, pets, cooking ingredients or other causes can be immediate turn-offs.
“Airing out your home before buyers arrive can also eliminate those odors,” says Raygan Sessums, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Advantage Team in Wesley Chapel, Fla.
So, take the initiative and follow these tips as you prepare your house for showing:
- Let in Fresh Air — This one can be easy to overlook in Florida where virtually every home is air-conditioned. However, a well-ventilated property will smell fresher than one with the same air re-circulating endlessly. So, open screened windows and doors and let the Florida breezes freshen your home.
- Scrub Floors and Walls — Washing your home’s hard surfaces will help eliminate many odors, like mildew and tobacco. Thoroughly scour or polish wall tile, backsplashes, bathroom fixtures and appliances. And don’t overlook floor tile and grouting, wood, vinyl or terrazzo floors, walls, paneling, cabinets, doors, windows, mirrors, and even protective glass covering for paintings and photographs.
- Refresh — Sessums suggests pouring inexpensive cleaning products in the back of toilets and burning candles with neutral scents. Using fabric fresheners can also make a big difference. “You need to spray all of the fabric in your house on a regular basis to keep the odors away,” she says.
- Change or Replace — If you’re using your air conditioner, replace the filter or clean a washable filter monthly. Even if the filter looks clean, it has absorbed dog dander, dust mites and whatever cooking smells (fish, garlic, onion) you’ve created.
- Take Out Trash — Remove garbage frequently, and be sure that all your trash receptacles have a clean, fresh plastic liner before every showing. You’ll also want to clean litter boxes daily, deodorize a pet’s eating area and remove any animal droppings from the yard.
- Sprinkle a Little Baking Soda — Baking soda absorbs and banishes odor. Try sprinkling a small amount on floors or carpeting before sweeping or vacuuming. This is a cheap way to remove odors and leave your home smelling fresh. You can also put vanilla extract on light bulbs to give your home a warm and inviting smell.
- Check Your Closets — Closets can trap various offending smells. Since you’ll be moving anyway, discard old shoes and put odor–fighting liners inside the offenders you’ll be keeping.
- Paint Over — A fresh coat of paint seals up some odor problems permanently. Besides, buyers like rooms freshly painted in a neutral color.
- Clean the Unseen — It’s a good idea to clean your garbage disposal. “When you cook, especially when you fry food, you pour the food or oil down the disposal,” says Sessums. “This can leave your home smelling like food for days. I put fresh citrus, like slices of oranges, lemons, or limes, down the disposal. This not only makes it smell better, but it cleans your disposal at the same time.”
Still curious as to how to clean, stage, and sell your home? Talk to your local Realtor for more ideas about creating the sweet smell of sales success for our home.
ORLANDO, Fla. — If you want to sell your home in today’s market, the price has to be right. You don’t have to have the cheapest home in the neighborhood, but your home should offer an excellent value in its particular market category.
Whether you have an inexpensive starter home, a “move-up” family home, a luxury penthouse condominium or something in between, members of Florida Realtors® say the same principle applies: Price your home so the buyer can perceive its value.
To help you determine an effective asking price, consider these suggestions:
- Analyze the Market— Start by analyzing the current housing market and the pricing of comparable nearby homes. “Every seller needs to be aware of the level of normal sales and distressed sales (i.e., foreclosures and short sales), and the pricing of homes in your area and act accordingly,” says David Dabby, president of Dabby Group in Coral Gables, Fla. Realtors® can help you through this process by conducting a comparative market analysis (CMA), which shows the prices of homes with similar features that have sold recently in your neighborhood. In markets with a large inventory of homes for sale, setting a competitive price may well be the most important factor in achieving a rapid sale.
- Be Realistic — Because local market conditions can change quickly, don’t base your pricing on outdated information. Remember that it’s the buyer who decides how much to pay for a home – not the seller. If you price your home too high, it simply won’t sell.
- Don’t Factor in Your Costs — Most owners have made improvements to their homes over the years. But when it comes time to price your home for sale, you may or may not be able to recover those costs. A $20,000 pool, for instance, might have been worth every cent to your family. But it might have little value to a non-swimming buyer.
- Creating a Win-Win Scenario — Setting a price that is fair for the home, the neighborhood and the local market will make everyone involved with selling your home happy. Think of it as a win-win situation for you and the potential buyer!
With longer marketing periods, foreclosures and large inventories, Realtors can help you price your home for sale. “Realtors are critical in today’s market, even more so now than when the market was booming,” says Dabby.
ORLANDO, Fla. – International real estate deals made up 8 percent of all existing homes sales in Florida over a one-year period ending in July 2013, according to Florida Realtors®’ recently released “2013 Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida.” By dollar volume, international real estate transactions made up 9 percent of sales over the same period.
The report is based on an annual study done by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) in cooperation with Florida Realtors. A total of 977 Realtors responded to this year’s survey conducted July 9-Aug. 16, 2013.
For the study, foreign buyers were defined as non-resident foreigners – individuals who purchase property in the U.S. but live here only part of the year. These buyers typically use the property as a rental unit, vacation unit or both.
The international real estate market is important to Florida. Nationwide, 61 percent of all reported foreign sales take place in five states: Florida, California, Arizona, Texas and New York, according to NAR’s larger study on international homebuyer activity in the U.S. Of those five states, Florida has the largest share: 23 percent of national sales to foreign buyers closed in the Sunshine State.
For the 12 months ended July 2013, existing home sales in Florida – single-family homes, townhomes and condos – accounted for 327,350 transactions worth $74 billion dollars. Of that total, there were 22,572 transactions worth $6.4 billion dollars to foreigners.
Prices paid by non-resident foreign buyers tend to be higher than domestic buyers, though overall, international sales have been down due to the worldwide recessions, according to NAR.
- Two in three (63 percent) of Realtors in Florida have international clients, compared to the national average of 27 percent.
- Of the Realtors who have international clients, 33 percent (one in five state Realtors) said that international transactions made up 26 percent or more of their business compared to 12 percent of Realtors nationally.
- 80 percent of surveyed Realtors said that international clients found Florida property less expensive than similar property in their home country. Overall, foreign buyers say the U.S. residential housing market provides a good value.
- 31 percent of respondents say Florida’s percentage of international clients has increased in the last five years, compared to 21 percent at the national level.
- Canadians lead the way (30 percent of total Florida international sales) as the largest source of buyers, followed by Venezuela (8 percent), Brazil (7 percent), and the U.K. (6 percent).
- International buyers focused most of their effort in Miami-Miami Beach (21 percent of international sales in Florida), Orlando-Kissimmee (14 percent) and Fort Lauderdale (9 percent).
- International buyers paid a median price of $216,477 for a home unit in Florida compared to the state’s overall median price of $144,074, and the U.S. median price of $187,483. In general, buyers from Brazil, Venezuela and Western Europe purchased above the median price.
- 84 percent of international transactions are cash sales.
- International buyers had a preference for detached single-family homes (47 percent of Florida foreign sales), followed by townhouses (11 percent) and condominiums (34 percent).
The complete 2013 Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida can be downloaded on the Research page of Florida Realtors’ member website at https://www.floridarealtors.org/Research/index.cfm. Once on the Research page, look under Research Reports on the far right, then under International, and click on the pull-down bar to find the 2013 report.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Any type of insurance coverage can be confusing and property insurance is no exception. Realtors® in Florida work with many new first-time homebuyers who need property insurance for the first time. Understanding the levels and types of coverage is key, according to Florida Realtors®. Here are a few tips from the insurance industry:
1. Know the difference between replacement cost and market value. Rebuilding a home is usually cheaper than buying an existing structure, unless the property was a foreclosure. The key: Accurately determine the cost of rebuilding when finalizing the details on a homeowners insurance policy.
2. Take a home inventory to determine the proper amount of personal property protection. Generally, policies cover 50-75 percent of the replacement value of the house and usual contents. However, this may not be enough to cover certain valuables, such as jewelry, fine art, collections, electronics and other expensive items. A separate rider may be needed and should be discussed with an insurance agent.
3. Have enough liability protection. Liability coverage protects a homeowner if they’re sued for an injury that takes place on their property. Many policies will even cover a policyholder if an incident happened away from the house. Depending on their assets, some homeowners might want an additional umbrella policy if they’re worried about being sued for more than the liability coverage offered in a basic policy.
4. Know what isn’t covered. Carefully study the exclusions section of a homeowners insurance policy. If anything raises a red flag, consider additional coverage. One example: Almost no insurance policy covers flooding. If a homeowner lives in an area prone to flooding, he or she might want to consider flood insurance too.
5. Consider additional living expenses if forced from the house. If a house becomes unlivable due to a flood, earthquake, fire or other disasters, a family will need to pay for living accommodations; and they may need additional money for food, transportation and other expenses. This coverage is called “additional living expenses” (ALE) and a benefit that’s usually worth about 20 percent of a home’s replacement value. Be aware of a specific policy’s benefits, limitations and exclusions.
ORLANDO, Fla. – In today’s Florida real estate market, buyers can choose from a wide selection of homes. That makes it easier to find suitable single-family homes, townhouses or condominiums. But the knowledgeable advice of a Realtor® in Florida is more important than ever in determining which one offers the best fit.
“Buyers need to set reasonable expectations and have done their homework,” says Suzanne Sherer, a sales associate with RE/MAX Realty Team in Cape Coral. “A Realtor can advise you on what home is right both for today and tomorrow.”
Florida’s Realtors understand that a home is more than just a collection of bedrooms and bathrooms. Two homes with similar bedrooms, baths and prices, for instance, may offer very different designs, commuting distances, lot sizes, tax costs, interior dimensions, and exterior finishes.
Therefore, it’s important for buyers to identify the features that are most important for their current lifestyle and for their potential needs in the future. A couple in their 20s, for instance, might prefer a three- or four-bedroom home so they don’t have to relocate if they start a family.
Here are some questions to consider:
• How many bedrooms do you want?
• How many bathrooms?
• Do you prefer a clean, modern design or something with a more traditional ambiance?
• Would you prefer a yard for children and pets or a lower-maintenance condominium?
• Do you want a formal dining room?
• Do you prefer an open floor plan?
• Would you want a two-story home?
• Do you want energy-saving appliances and systems?
• Do you want to have a pool, whirlpool spa or outdoor patio?
• Do you need space for a home office?
• Are there any other special features you need, such as an elevator or ramps for wheelchair access?
“Buyers need to be clear as to the features and amenities their new home has to have versus would be nice to have, and be able to prioritize them,” Scherer says. “That will help you narrow your choices until you find the home that’s just right for you.”
ORLANDO, Fla. – Every city, village or town in Florida has its own unique character and personality. That’s one of the reasons why so many homebuyers seek out a Florida community that’s a good match for their desired lifestyle.
Wherever you might be considering buying a home – from Key West to Pensacola – it’s important to find the right neighborhood for yourself and your loved ones.
“Speaking to an experienced Realtor® in Florida, one who knows the area well, can save you a ton of hours and even more-frustration,” says Vladimir F. Golik, a broker with Keller Williams Realty Premier Properties in Miami.
Most buyers today begin their search online, taking advantage of the wealth of information now available on thousands of websites. Others use their social networks like Facebook or Twitter to gather other people’s opinions.
But as you search for the right neighborhood, many of the key questions can’t be answered by online sources. For instance, it’s difficult to get a sense of the neighborhood’s character, and the availability and pricing of current listings without talking to a Realtor who is familiar with the local market.
The same holds true if you’re looking for a condominium or townhome, as buildings and communities can differ widely from each other. For example, one building might be occupied primarily by owners in their 60s and 70s, while another might be filled with renters in their 20s or 30s. That’s an important difference for buyers that might not be evident from online sources.
“A Realtor® can help you narrow your search to the right neighborhood before you start hunting for a specific property,” says Golik.
To help you find a good neighborhood, here are some questions to discuss with your Realtor®:
• What type of neighborhood do you want?
• What is your desired lifestyle?
• How do you picture your life in five years?
• Do you want a home of condominium?
• What is your price range?
• Do you want to live close to work?
• Do you want to live near a beach, golf course, shopping or other amenities?
• Are security and privacy important considerations?
• Would you prefer to live in a more social community, such as a condominium complex?
As you search for a neighborhood with the right home prices, amenities and location, you may need to make tradeoffs. A Realtor who knows the community can help you discuss these issues and find a Florida location with the ideal characteristics for your individual or family lifestyle.
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