South Florida’s luxury market is rebounding. The majority of buyers are cash

Lockdown paralysis ended with a roar as luxury home buyers fled taxes elsewhere, creating a third-quarter surge in South Florida.

After a whopping 55.6% drop in year-over-year luxury sales in the second quarter, third-quarter sales of existing homes skyrocketed by 65.2% for single-family houses and by 18.2% for condos when compared with the same period in 2020, according to the latest Keyes Luxury South Florida Market report. The firm based its findings on data from the Multiple Listing Service for residential sales priced over $1 million across Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Martin counties.

“The opening after the shutdown created a surge of pent-up demand that exploded the luxury market. What happened is that the shutdown accelerated the decision-making of everyone that was thinking that they wanted a bigger home or a Florida home. When they were given the chance, they jumped on it,” said Mike Pappas, the CEO and president of the Keyes Company.
Buyers, both full-time and second-home owners, are coming from New Jersey, Connecticut, California, New York and California. Many are part of the tax flight set off by the SALT deduction, Pappas said.
“For the real estate market in general, it’s a V-shaped recovery,” Pappas said. “It looks like it might resemble a Nike-check-mark recovery.”

The sales activity is diminishing luxury inventory. As of September 2020, Miami-Dade and Broward have eight months supply of single-family homes — a dramatic decrease over the 21-month supply of September 2019. Both existing and new residents have flocked to single-family homes amid the pandemic, seeking less density and open space.

In terms of condos, the two counties together have 30 months of supply now versus 44 months during the third quarter of 2019.

“The real estate market has never been as hot as it is today. ‘Home’ has taken on a different meaning due to COVID. It’s taken on a more important role. You’re going to school there, you’re working there,” Pappas said. “We’ve always been a safe haven since George Merrick was promoting Coral Gables as City Beautiful. South Florida has had a charisma and charm that has appealed to the world.”
The number of single-family home sales grew by 67.4% from third quarter 2019 to 2020, from 193 to 323. The median sales price rose by 8%, from $1.733 million to $1.871 million. The number of all-cash buyers rose by 56.1% year-over-year, from 82 to 128.

House hunters are primarily searching Las Olas, Rio Vista, Pompano, and Weston, Pappas said.

Condo sales increased by 27.7%, from 47 to 60. The median sales price decreased by 1.8% — a “minimal drop,” Pappas said — from $1.556 million to $1.527 million. The number of all-cash deals grew by 32.3%, from a total of 31 to 41 in the third quarter 2020.

Condo buyers are primarily looking at Fort Lauderdale, Pappas said.





House prices?

Why Home Prices May Be Rising During the Pandemic

Many sellers are reluctant to cut prices. About 4% of sellers cut their prices in the week ended April 25, down from 5.7% in the same week last year.


Florida Realtors is monitoring everything regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the real estate industry and Realtors and sharing it here.LEARN MORE ►

WASHINGTON – The median home price rose 8% year-over-year in March, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). While buyer demand has softened and sales fell 8.5% from February, recent preliminary data indicates that the supply of homes on the market is contracting even faster.

The March NAR data largely reflects purchase decisions made in February or January. Even by the end of last month, many sellers were reluctant to cut prices. Only about 4% of sellers cut their prices in the week ended April 25, down from 5.7% during the same week last year, according to Some sellers believe their homes aren’t moving because buyers haven’t viewed them in person or do not want to make offers right now, not because the asking price is too high.

Redfin Corp. said its measure of home-buying demand was down 15% in the week ended April 26, while total listings of homes for sale have hit a five-year low and the median listing price was up 1% from last year at $308,000.

While many economists expect home sales to tumble this year, many forecasts call for prices to climb slightly or hold flat. A new forecast from CoreLogic predicts that nationwide home prices will rise 0.5% between March 2020 and March 2021.

CoreLogic forecast annual price declines in some cities including Houston, Miami, and Las Vegas. It is unclear if mortgage-forbearance policies will prevent a wave of distressed sales.

“In the next 12 months it’s hard to anticipate price declines because of the mortgage forbearance in place,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “You would have to see continuing job losses for a prolonged period leading to foreclosures and even then we may not have oversupply.”

Source: Wall Street Journal (05/05/20) Friedman, Nicole

© Copyright 2019 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Should I Sell my House

Should I sell my house? No matter how many fond memories you’ve accumulated in your home, there may come a time when you start wondering. Maybe it’s because your local real estate market is booming and you stand to score a sweet payout. Maybe you’re relocating. Or your expanding family has outgrown your space. Or you’re just looking for a change of scenery. But questioning is easy; deciding to put your house on the market is tough.

Here are some steps to help you pinpoint when the time is right.

Should I sell my house?

A key variable in the decision on whether to say, “yes, I should sell my house,” is how much equity you’ve built up over the years. Home equity is the amount of money tied up in your house—what you’d receive if you sold it, minus what you owe on your mortgage.

So how do you calculate your home equity? You’ll need two numbers: the remaining balance on your mortgage and what your home is currently worth. You can get a ballpark of the latter by typing your address into®’s home value estimator. For a more in-depth assessment, ask your real estate agent, who will do an analysis by checking comparables, or comps (the prices of recently sold, similar homes in your area), as well as other aspects of your home.

Here’s how this calculation looks with actual numbers: Let’s say you purchased your home for $300,000, but its market value has risen to $325,000. Let’s also assume that you’ve whittled down your mortgage over the years so that all you owe is $75,000. To get your home equity, subtract $75,000 from $325,000 and you have $250,000 in home equity, which is pretty sweet!

Of course, the more you owe on your mortgage and/or the more your home’s price has plummeted, the less home equity you have. If that number is much smaller or even negative (which can happen if housing prices plummet), consider holding off on selling until conditions improve.

Watch: 4 Telltale Signs It’s Time to Sell Your Home

Is it a seller’s or buyer’s market? Here’s how to tell

Another factor in deciding if it’s time to sell is whether you’re in a seller’s market. This essentially means that the demand for homes is outpacing the supply, which gives sellers more leverage during negotiations. To figure out if you’re in a seller’s market, browse through some listings and look for these two signs: houses are selling for over asking price, and homes aren’t sitting on the market for long (generally less than six months). If that describes your area, then it’s a great time to sell. (Just don’t forget that if you sell, you may also have to buy, which may present problems unless you’re leaving the area.)

On the other hand, if homes in your area are selling for under asking price and sitting over six months, that means you’re in a buyer’s market and that market forces aren’t working in your favor. This means if you want top dollar you may want to wait.

What’s up with interest rates on mortgages?

If you’re planning to sell your home and buy a new one, you should definitely consider interest rates on mortgages. Fortunately, right now, interest rates are at historic lows, hovering around 4%. That’s an astounding deal! In the ’80s, they were a whopping 17.48%—and while they probably won’t shoot up quite as high in the near future, we’re expecting them to move up by next year. Homeowners eager to upgrade to their dream home might want to grab them while they can.

Have your housing needs changed?

Market forces and interest rates aren’t the only things to keep in mind when deciding if you should sell your home. A lot has to do with you, and whether the house suits your space requirements. For instance: Is your current place too small now that you’ve been joined by a couple of kids—or is it too big now that your grown children have moved out on their own? Both scenarios are fine reasons to find a home that better suits your needs, so be sure to consider all of these factors in weighing whether the time is right to sell.


#millenniumsales #selling #fsbo #homes4sale

What is a Good Credit Score to Buy a House?

What Is a Good Credit Score to Buy a House?

By Daniel Bortz | Feb 11, 2019

SpiffyJ/Getty Images

If you’re hoping to buy a home, one number you’ll want to get to know well is your credit score. Also called a credit rating or FICO score (named after the company that created it, the Fair Isaac Corporation), this three-digit number is a numerical representation of your credit report, which outlines your history of paying off debts.

Why does your credit score matter? Because when you apply for a mortgage to buy a home, lenders want some reassurance a borrower will repay them later! One way they assess this is to check your creditworthiness by scrutinizing your credit report and score carefully. A high FICO rating proves you have reliably paid off past debts, whether they’re from a credit card or college loan. (Insurance companies also use more targeted, industry-specific FICO credit scores to gauge whom the

In short, this score matters. It can help you qualify for a home, a car loan, and so much more. Which brings us to an important question: What type of score is best to buy a house?

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Inside your credit score: How does it stack up?

A credit score can range from 300 to 850, with 850 being a perfect credit score. While each creditor might have subtle differences in what they deem a good or great score, in general an excellent credit score is anything from 750 to 850. A good credit score is from 700 to 749; a fair credit score, 650 to 699. A credit score lower than 650 is deemed poor, meaning your credit history has had some rough patches.

While FICO score requirements will vary from lender to lender, generally a good or excellent credit score means you’ll have little trouble if you hope to score a home loan. Lenders will want the business of home buyers with good credit, and may try to entice them to sign on with them by offering loans with the lowest interest rates, says Richard Redmond at All California Mortgage in Larkspur and author of “Mortgages: The Insider’s Guide.”

Get Pre-Approved Find a lender who can offer competitive mortgage rates and help you with pre-approval. Enter the ZIP code where you plan to buy a home GO

Since a lower credit score means a borrower has had some late payments or other dings on their credit report, a lender may see this consumer as more likely to default on their home loan. All that said, a low credit score doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t score a loan, but it may be tough. They may still give you a mortgage, but it may be a subprime loan with a higher interest rate, says Bill Hardekopf, a credit expert at

How a score is calculated

Credit scores are calculated by three major U.S. credit bureaus: ExperianEquifax, and TransUnion. All three credit-reporting agency scores should be roughly similar, although each pulls from slightly different sources. For instance, Experian looks at rent payments. TransUnion checks out your employment history. These reports are extremely detailed—for instance, if you paid a car loan bill late five years ago, an Experian report can pinpoint the exact month that happened. By and large, here are the main variables that the credit bureaus use to determine a consumer credit score, and to what degree:

  • Payment history (35%): This is whether you’ve made debt payments on time. If you’ve never missed a payment, a 30-day delinquency can cause as much as a 90- to 110-point drop in your score.
  • Debt-to-credit utilization (30%): This is how much debt a consumer has accumulated on their credit card accounts, divided by the credit limit on the sum of those accounts. Ratios above 30% work against you. So if you have a total credit limit of $5,000, you will want to be in debt no more than $1,500 when you apply for a home loan.
  • Length of credit history (15%): It’s beneficial for a consumer to have a track record of being a responsible credit user. A longer payment history boosts your score. Those without a long-enough credit history to build a good score can consider alternate credit-scoring methods like the VantageScore. VantageScore can reportedly establish a credit score in as little as one month; whereas FICO requires about six months of credit history instead.
  • Credit mix (10%): Your credit score ticks up if you have a rich combination of different types of credit card accounts, such as credit cards, retail store credit cards, installment loans, and a previous or current home loan.
  • New credit accounts (10%): Research shows that opening several new credit card accounts within a short period of time represents greater risk to the lender, according to myFICO, so avoid applying for new credit cards if you’re about to buy a home. Also, each time you open a new credit line, the average length of your credit history decreases (further hurting your credit score).

How to check your credit score

So now that you know exactly what’s considered a good credit rating, how can you find out your own credit score? You can get a free credit score online at You can also check with your credit card company, since some (like Discover and Capital One) offer a free credit score as well as credit reports so you can conduct your own credit check.

Another way to check what’s on your credit report—including credit problems that are dragging down your credit score—is to get your free copy at Each credit-reporting agency (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) may also provide credit reports and scores, but these may often entail a fee. Plus, you should know that a credit report or score from any one of these bureaus may be detailed, but may not be considered as complete as those by FICO, since FICO compiles data from all three credit bureaus in one comprehensive credit report.

Even if you’re fairly sure you’ve never made a late payment, 1 in 4 Americans finds errors on their credit file, according to a 2013 Federal Trade Commission survey. Errors are common because creditors make mistakes reporting customer slip-ups. For example, although you may have never missed a payment, someone with the same name as you did—and your bank recorded the error on your account by accident.

If you discover errors, you can remove them from your credit report by contacting Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion with proof that the information was incorrect. From there, they will remove these flaws from your report, which will later be reflected in your score by FICO. Or, even if your credit report does not contain errors, if it’s not as great as you’d hoped, you can raise your credit score. Just keep in mind, regardless of whatever credit-scoring model you use, you can’t improve a credit score overnight, which is why you should check your credit score annually—long before you get the itch to score a home.

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Can my landlord kick me out in 30 days?

Owner of Gibraltar Title, Board-certified real estate lawyer Gary M. Singer writes about the housing market in the Sun Sentinel each Monday.

Q:I have been renting my apartment for six years using annual leases. This year at renewal time, I asked to go on a month-to-month lease due to some maintenance concerns. The landlord agreed, and we signed a month-to-month agreement that calls for 30-day notice to terminate the lease. I just received notice that the landlord wants me out in 30 days. I pay my rent at the beginning of each month, but the letter wants me out in the middle of next month. Can he do this? Also, I always pay on time, and the landlord has no reason to kick me out other than me not wanting to sign an annual lease. Is this OK? — Darlene
A: Leases are contracts, and both landlords and tenants must follow their terms. Because you agreed to a month-to-month lease, neither you nor your landlord have any obligation to extend the lease each additional month, as long as proper notice is given. Your landlord could elect not to continue renting the property to you at the end of each lease period the same as you could if you decided to move. When entering into any contract, such as a lease, it is important to remember that each party has rights and responsibilities that flow both ways. You signed a month-to-month lease to give yourself options to move to a more suitable home, but these same terms gave your landlord the opportunity to find a different tenant.
However, since your monthly periods begin on the first and run with the calendar, your landlord cannot ask you to leave in the middle of the next monthly period.
The law typically allows for 15-day notice to terminate a monthly lease, but you and your landlord agreed to a 30-day notice instead. This notice period means that you both need to provide the other with appropriate advance notice that you will not be renewing the lease for an additional monthly period.
Since you were already in the middle of the current month, the next monthly period will begin inside the 30-day window. This means it is the following month that will not renew, and you will need to vacate the apartment at the end of next month, not in the middle of it. It is not 30 days to leave, rather that there will be no more monthly renewals after 30 days. Be aware that you will still need to pay him for next month unless he is already holding the “last” month of rent as is common in most leases.
If you have any questions you would like to see Gary answer, please email him at

#millesales #realtor #realestate #leases

Ask a real estate pro: Can board pass this latest special assessment?

Owner of Gibraltar Title, Board-certified real estate lawyer Gary M. Singer writes about the housing market in the Sun Sentinel each Monday. 

Q: Our association is specially assessing all of the owners several extra payments to fund a refinance of a loan we took out for the clubhouse renovation from a few years ago. Can they do this? — Joel

A: As long as your association follows the correct procedure, it can pass a special assessment. When your association has a unique expense that the regular maintenance dues cannot cover, it can pass a “special” assessment. These assessments can be a one-time payment, or they can be spread out over a period of time. However, unlike your regular dues, they do not continue indefinitely. Once their purpose is funded, the assessment is complete, and the money cannot be used for any purpose other than what it was created for.

Generally, your board can pass a special assessment without a full vote of all the owners. The board must specifically notify the owners in advance that the issue will be voted on at an upcoming meeting and must publicly decide. Of course, like with many association-related matters, your community may have more stringent requirements, so be sure to check your community’s documents.

Special assessments are often levied for needed repairs that the association cannot currently afford, or to renovate the community. Common examples are for roofing projects, to replace fences or repave the roads and lots. Since your association may not have saved the necessary reserves, and it is not realistic to expect the homeowners to pay for the entire repair up front, your board may choose to borrow the money from a bank and have the special assessments repay the loan.

Boards can also refinance such loans to get better terms or to pay off the loan early, as seems to be the case for you. While it is unpleasant to have to pay extra, it is often the only way to maintain your community while keeping your monthly dues as low as possible — something every homeowner wants.

If you have any questions you would like to see Gary answer, please email him at


Demolition Daze: 7 Ways to Botch Renovating a Home


“Renovating my house was a piece of cake,” said no one ever. Indeed, even seemingly simple projects, like installing a screen door, staining hardwood floors, or refacing kitchen cabinets, can surprise homeowners with unexpected challenges and ever-escalating costs. And the problems multiply if you make certain all-too-common mistakes.

We’re not trying to discourage you from renovating your house, but if you’re planning to give your house a face-lift, be sure to avoid these seven renovation fumbles.

1. Starting without a plan

Fact: Only fools rush into home renovations. To conserve time and money, you should create a detailed, step-by-step plan of what the work will entail instead of just “winging it.”

For example, to add a tile accent to your kitchen or bathroom, you need to gather the right tools (tile spacers, goggles, measuring tape, etc.), turn off the power to the area you’ll be tiling, mix and spread the mortar, and install the tile in small sections.

2. Hiring a handyman when you need a licensed contractor

You can certainly use a handyman to take care of minor tasks, such as fixing broken windows, swapping out old ceiling fans for palm blades, or repairing a leaky toilet. But for more complicated projects you’ll want to hire a professional who specializes in the type of work you need to be done.

While you may have to pay more for a licensed contractor, doing so gives you peace of mind that the work will be of high quality. You also get an extra layer of legal protection, since licensed contractors typically need to have insurance that protects customers if they fail to complete the job properly.

Pro tip: Don’t just hire the cheapest contractor you can find. Instead, get bids from at least three contractors, research online reviews, and talk to former customers before choosing whom you want to work with.

3. Overestimating your renovation skills

One obvious way to save money is to skip hiring a contractor and do renovations yourself. But that’s not always a good idea.

“DIY is OK for making aesthetic updates, like replacing a kitchen’s backsplash or retiling a bathroom, but there are major safety risks when you remove walls,” says Jesse Fowler, president of Tellus Design + Build, based in Southern California. (Read: If you don’t know how to handle plumbing issues, repair ductwork, or wield a sledgehammer, leave it to a pro.)

Also, consider that if you have to redo the work, you may have to spend twice the amount of money to fix the damage you’ve done, says Allen Shayanfekr, co-founder, and CEO of Sharestates, an online crowdfunding platform for real estate financing.

4. Underestimating renovation costs

Pricing out some home improvement projects is fairly straightforward. If you’re replacing a washer and dryer, it’s fairly easy to calculate how much the new appliances and installation cost. However, budgeting for bigger renovations can be trickier, especially if you have to tear down walls, which could reveal problems (e.g., mold) hiding behind the drywall. Hence, it’s no surprise that 36% of last year’s home renovators said staying on budget was their No. 1 challenge, a recent Houzz survey found.

Do thorough research on the total cost of your project (for structural changes, don’t forget permit fees, which can be substantial), and then add a 10% to 15% cushion so that you have room in your budget for unforeseen expenses.

5. Buying cheap materials

It might be tempting from a cost savings perspective, but you don’t want to skimp on building materials. For one thing, cheap materials tend to have a shorter lifespan. They are also more susceptible to damage and, in some cases, can even create health risks if they contain toxic chemicals, says the Healthy Building Network, a nonprofit that researches and publishes information on the sustainability of building materials.

You don’t need to buy the most expensive materials, but make sure you factor in quality when planning your renovation designs.

6. Making your house clash with the neighborhood

One way to sour relationships with neighbors—and hurt your home’s resale value—is to make renovations that change your house’s facade so sharply, it clashes with other homes in the neighborhood.

For instance, if you live in a community with Craftsman bungalows, transforming your house into a Cape Cod or Mid-Century Modern style might make your home stand out in a bad way.

Similarly, you don’t want your house to be the largest one on the block. (On that note, have you heard McMansions are falling out of favor with young home buyers?)

7. Neglecting safety measures

Safety always comes first, and with respect to home renovations, that means you have to take precautions throughout the project. Research from the Home Safety Council shows that of the 43 million DIYers taking on projects each year, 1 in 5 ends up in the hospital because of accidents that relate to those projects.

Be sure to wear safety glasses and a hard hat when needed, and earplugs during loud construction. Also, practice proper ladder safety. If you’re creating a large mess, a lot of dust, or paint fumes, it might be best to stay at a hotel until the work is complete.

#buyers #homeowners #ownership #waterfront #soflo

Daniel Bortz is a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. He has written for Money magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, CNNMoney, and more.

House encroaches on utility easement-

Ask a real estate pro: House encroaches on utility easement — is this a problem?

Owner of Gibraltar Title, Board-certified real estate lawyer Gary M. Singer writes about the housing market in the Sun Sentinel each Monday. 
Q: My house was built 2 feet into the utility easements. There is a utility pole with electric transmission wires 3 feet from the back of my house. If the pole should need to be replaced, would the utility company be able to place it in the same spot? — William

A: Yes, and you might have some other concerns. An easement is a legal term for when one landowner gives another party, often a utility company, the right to enter or use a portion of the property for a specific purpose. Common easements are for water pipes and electric poles. Most easements “run with the land,” meaning that the easement will pass from one property owner to the next, and many people don’t even realize they have easements crisscrossing their yard. In fact, the easement you are dealing with was probably granted several owners ago, before your house was even built.

When part of a structure that is built on your land crosses an easement, it is called an encroachment because the structure is encroaching on the easement holder’s rights. Because easement holders have the right to use the space for their specific purpose, such as running power lines, they are able to enforce their right by making you remove the encroaching structure.

Usually, this is not that big of a deal — for example, if a fence or the corner of your pool deck is the encroaching structure. But because part of your house is doing the encroaching, this could be a big problem for you.

The first thing to do is to make sure there really is an encroachment, and that it isn’t a surveying mistake or an easement that was adjusted or removed when the house was built years ago. If the encroachment still exists, check your title insurance policy, since it will cover the cost of repairing an encroachment that was not found at the time you bought your home.

Be aware, though, those encroachments are often found before closing, and excited homeowners waive coverage because they are eager to close and don’t anticipate an issue, so your title policy may have a stated exception for this. If this is your case, and there is no coverage, you will need to try your best to try to work things out with the utility company. In my experience, the company will try its best to work with you on the issue. But in the end, if it can’t be worked out, the power must run through.

You should look to your community documents to see which specific guidelines you need to follow. As mentioned above, all of the rules must be reasonable. In your case, making owners wait to address agenda items until after voting is over is neither reasonable nor within the law, since it seems to defeat the very purpose of the rules.

If you have any questions you would like to see Gary answer, please email him at

#millenniumsales #homeowners #waterfrontproperty #luxuryhomes

How Much Do You Really Need to Put Down on a Home?

Can you negotiate rent? While rental leases may appear set in stone, they’re more flexible than many tenants think—so if you think your rent is too damn high, it’s definitely worth speaking up.

Negotiating rent with a landlord might seem like a hard battle to win, but it’s entirely doable if you can prove two things: 1) the rent being charged is higher than similar units elsewhere, and 2) you’re a model tenant who pays rent on time. Such negotiations can be done whether you’re applying to rent a new apartment or just want cheaper rent where you currently reside.

Here’s how to negotiate rent and help your landlord realize you’re worth the sacrifice.

How to negotiate rent before you move in

As a prospective tenant, it’s a bit harder to persuade a new landlord to accept lower rent, since you two have no history together. A competitive market counts here: Landlords who’ve been struggling to fill apartments will be far more willing to negotiate than most.

Here are some ways to stand out.

  • Prepare a stellar application. “The best way I’ve seen renters negotiate rent is to be an amazing applicant,” says Glenn Carter, a real estate investor at Condo.Capital. That means submitting your application quickly and including tax returns, proof of employment and references from previous landlords saying you pay rent on time. “This will show potential landlords you’re diligent and will treat the property well,” Carter says.
  • Show a high credit score. If possible, also bring a recent document showing your high credit score, which indicates you reliable pay your debts on time. “As a landlord, I would accept lower rent from a dependable source,” says Boston landlord Steve Silberberg.
  • Gather rental statistics. Comb through online listings to find out the rents of comparable properties in the area. Also research how long the property you’re interested in—or a similar unit in the area—has been on the market. When you speak to the landlord, have a print-out of comparable units that are slightly lower in rent and, if the unit has been unoccupied, have this information on hand as well. Then point out how these factors make the rent he’s charging too high for the market to bear.
  • Suggest a realistic rent reduction. Be sure to have a realistic rent reduction ready based on your research. Don’t lowball, but let your first offer be one your landlord can haggle with you on. Make your case in a non-confrontational way. Say something like, “I love this place and am looking for a long-term commitment. Unfortunately, my budget is X. Would you be willing to meet that in exchange for signing a longer lease?”

How to negotiate rent as a current tenant

As a current tenant, you’ll have more leverage—that is, if you’ve paid rent on time and otherwise proved to be a good tenant.

Here’s how to negotiate rent when you’re already living there.

  • Time it right. Start the conversation shortly before your lease is up for renewal. Begin by saying you’re not thinking of moving out but rather want to stay—for the right price. Then state the facts: You like your current apartment, but you’re seeing cheaper rents elsewhere.
  • Point out the benefits of your staying. Remind the landlord that keeping you as a tenant saves him the hassle of listing a vacancy, showing the apartment, screening applicants, and losing potential rental income during the time the property is unoccupied.
  • Offer something in return. Ask your landlord what he wants in exchange for a lower rent—a longer lease commitment or prepaying a month or two—to make your request fit his needs.
  • Demonstrate you’re a model tenant. Frame your reduction in rent as a return on investment, because you have a stellar payment record and value as a tenant. Remind your landlord you pay rent on time, keep your place in good condition, and help your neighbors. “If less reliable tenants miss even a half-month’s rent during their lease, that translates into a loss,” says Silberberg. “I recently accepted $150 less per month on a year and a half lease for very stable renters, instead of a year lease with less stable tenants.”
  • Point out repairs. You may also want to tactfully bring your landlord’s attention to anything in your unit that’s worn out or needs painting. Then suggest that the current condition of the items in question merits a proportionate reduction in rent. You can also offer to repair or replace these items yourself in exchange for reduced rent.
  • Suggest a temporary rent reduction. If you suspect your landlord won’t budge on a permanent rent reduction, consider suggesting a temporary reduction instead—say, during off-peak seasons when it’s harder to rent places out. “I’m most open to price negotiations anytime between November and January,” says landlord Domenick Tiziano of “If I have a vacancy, a good candidate has a pretty good chance of talking me down a few bucks.” For a $900 property, Tiziano will consider a $50 reduction but only for a six-month period.

By: Zillow  #millenniumsales  #piecuadrado #waterfront #buying #homebuyers

Everything you need to know about buying a home

Everything you need to know about buying a home — on one index card.

A home is often the biggest financial investment you’ll make in your lifetime. In fact, a recent Zillow analysis reports that the typical American homeowner has 40 percent of their wealth tied up in their home.

Several years ago, I wrote a complete guide to financial planning on one index card, which went viral and later became a book: “The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated” (co-written with Helaine Olen).

Now, following up on my original index card, I’ve written a guide on buying a house. Below is the housing index card — a handy resource to print out and take with you as you look at houses or think about buying one, plus some additional advice as you contemplate making the big decision.

1. Buy for the long run. Assume you’ll own your home for at least five years.

A home is a significant investment, not to mention a linchpin of stability. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, the majority of Americans who sold their homes last year had lived in their home for at least a decade before selling.

Some are even staying for the long haul. Almost half (46 percent) of all homeowners are like me — living in the first home we ever purchased. In short: Buy a home you want to live in — one equipped (or ready to be equipped) with the features and space you need, both now and in the future.

2. Buy to improve your life, not to speculate with your money.

Your home is more than a financial investment; it’s where you sleep, eat, host friends, raise your children — it’s where your life happens.

The housing market is too unpredictable to buy a (primary) home purely because you think it will net a big short-term financial return. You will most likely be living in this home for several years, regardless of how it appreciates, so your first priority should be finding a home that will meet your needs and help you build the life you want.

3. Focus on what’s important to you. Don’t be distracted by features you don’t need.

Today’s housing market is short on inventory, with 10 percent fewer homes on the market in November 2017 than November 2016.

So, focus on finding a home you can afford that meets your needs — but don’t get distracted by shiny features that might break your budget. Nice-to-have features often drive up the price tag for things you don’t particularly value once the initial enjoyment wears off.

Make a list of your basic needs, both for your desired home and for your desired neighborhood. Stick to finding a home that meets these needs, without buying extra stuff that adds up.

4. Determine a budget and stick to it. Don’t look at houses above that budget.

It’s important to set a budget early — ideally before you even start looking at homes. In today’s market, especially in the more competitive markets, it’s incredibly easy to go over budget — 29 percent of buyers who purchased last year did.

The most common culprit? Location. Zillow’s data indicates that urban buyers are significantly more likely to go over budget (42 percent) than suburban (25 percent) or rural (20 percent) buyers.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Local schools matter, and psychologists tell us that a short commute improves your life. But be realistic about your local market and about yourself. Know what you’re willing to compromise on — be it less square footage, home repairs or a different neighborhood.

5. A 20 percent down payment is ideal. If you can’t afford that, consider a smaller down payment, or lower your budget.

If you can afford it, a 20 percent down payment is ideal for three reasons:

  • Buyers who don’t put a full 20 percent down pay a premium, most commonly in the form of private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is less financially punishing than it used to be, given today’s low mortgage rates. A monthly mortgage payment (with PMI) may be lower than a monthly rental payment in many markets — but still.
  • Buyers who put more down upfront typically make fewer offers and buy faster than those who put less down. Zillow research found that buyers with higher down payments make 1.9 offers on average, compared to 2.4 offers for buyers with lower down payments (after controlling for market conditions).
  • A higher down payment reduces your financial risk. You don’t want to owe more money than your house is worth if local markets dip when you need to sell.

6. Keep a six-month strategic reserve after down payment. Stuff happens.

While a down payment is a significant expense, it’s also important to build up a strategic reserve and keep it separate from your normal bank account.

This reserve should cover six months of living expenses in case you get sick, face an unexpected expense or lose your job. A strategic reserve will not only save you from financial hardship in the event of an emergency but also provide peace of mind.

When we accumulated a strategic reserve, my wife and I finally felt ready to build for our future. Without it, we were living from paycheck to paycheck, anxiously managing our cash flow rather than saving or budgeting.

7. Get pre-approved, and if you want to avoid uncertainty down the road, stick with a boring 30- or 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

The pre-approval process requires organizing all your paperwork; documenting your income, debt and credit; and understanding all the loan options available to you. It’s a bit of a pain, but it saves time later. Getting pre-approved also shows sellers that you’re a reliable buyer with a strong financial footing. Most importantly, it helps you understand what you can afford.

There are a variety of mortgage types, and it’s important to evaluate all of them to see which is best for your family and financial situation. Those boring 30- and 15-year mortgages offer big advantages.

The biggest is locking in your mortgage rate. In short: A 30-year fixed mortgage has a specific fixed rate of interest that doesn’t change for 30 years. A 15-year fixed mortgage does the same.

These typically have lower rates but higher monthly payments, since you must pay it off in half the time. Conventional fixed-rate mortgages help you manage your household budgeting because you know precisely how much you’ll be paying every month for many years. They’re simple to understand, and current rates are low.

One final advantage is that they don’t tempt you with a low initial payment to buy more house than you can afford.

8. Comparison shop to get the best mortgage.

Though a home is the biggest purchase many of us will ever make, most home buyers don’t shop around for a mortgage (52 percent consider only a single lender).

I certainly didn’t. This did save me some annoying phone calls and hassle, but it cost me $40 or $50 every month, for years. The difference of half a percentage point in your mortgage rate can add up to thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan. It’s important to evaluate all the available options to make sure you’re going with the lender who meets your needs — not just the first one you contact.

The three most important factors to buyers are that the lender offers a loan program that caters to their specific needs (76 percent), has the most competitive rates (74 percent) and has a history of closing on time (63 percent).

9. Spend no more than a third of your after-tax income on housing (unless you live in an especially pricey market).

It’s better to regret spending too little on your home than spending too much. One-third of your after-tax income is a manageable amount. This isn’t always possible if you live in a place like San Francisco or New York, but it’s still a good yardstick for where to be.

10. When getting ready to buy, always be willing to walk away.

Buying a home is a time-consuming, stressful but ultimately rewarding endeavor — if you end up closing on a home that meets your needs. But it’s important to manage your expectations in case you don’t immediately find a home you can afford with the features you need.

Always be prepared to walk away if the sellers don’t accept your offer, the home doesn’t pass a rigorous inspection or the timing isn’t right. Hold fast to your list of must-haves, stick to what you can afford and don’t overreach or settle.

It’s no tragedy to miss out on any particular house. Remember that you’re playing the long game. You want to be happy 10 years from now.


by: Harold Pollak 3

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