Sarasota Real Estate Market News

Staging homes for sale now includes real people

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – June 6, 2011 – Instead of just decorating vacant homes or condos with furniture and art, some real estate agents are allowing renters to move in – as long as they keep the house spotless and can disappear on short notice when potential buyers come by.

Nashville-based Showhomes, a home staging company with 75 franchises in 24 states, thinks the formula is a win-win because the lived-in homes seem more appealing than vacant ones and tidy renters get a great place to live at a fraction of the cost.

“There is an increased acceptance that staging is hugely critical in order to get the best sale price for your house, and so people are more receptive for it than they might have been in the past,” says Bert Lyles, Showhomes’ CEO. “It was just a growing trend for a long time, but it’s much more the norm now. And a service like ours can really add to – and change – that landscape.”

According to the Nashville Ledger, Showhomes works with banks, real estate agents and owners to find tenants for empty properties and they are tasked with keeping the property spotless and filled with high-quality furnishings. But they also have to leave on a moment’s notice if a potential buyer is coming.

“If you walk into a house and see furniture in one room, or maybe two, you know it’s vacant,” he says. “If you walk into a home that looks well cared for, with food in the fridge and clothes in the closets, then you can see how effectively you could utilize that space.”

Not every real estate agent thinks renting out vacant properties will lead to sales, but it shows that a tough environment leads to creative thinking.

“Listing agents want homes off the market as quickly as possible, and if the owner is willing to cooperate with something like this, and everyone’s working as a team, there’s nothing wrong with trying something different to stage a home,” said Kenneth Bargers, a Realtor with Pilkerton Realtors’ Brentwood office.

“I think with a service like this you’re talking about larger-square-foot homes, but this would be something to do just like working with clients to look at the lighting, the windows, all the features that might need some attention to help make the sale happen more quickly,” Bargers said.

Lyles said his staging service is also priced lower because of the rental income it generates.
AP Logo Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press; information from The Nashville Ledger.

June 6, 2011 Posted by | News related to Sellers | Leave a comment

Take steps to avoid REO surprises

CHICAGO – June 6, 2011 – Surprises can pop up when handling REO transactions, so real estate agents need to take steps to prepare for the unexpected. For example, they should stress to buyers that they are negotiating with a bank – which is not emotionally invested in the deal and is unlikely to be affected by the buyer’s hardship or to engage in complex negotiations – and that the bank’s asset manager knows little about the property’s condition.

Agents also must be aware that foreclosures may eliminate subordinate liens but will not get rid of ad valorem taxes or title problems that were not discovered when the previous owner completed the purchase, making title insurance a smart option.

In addition to emphasizing the need for patience during REO transactions, agents should encourage buyers to re-key the property after closing and change garage door opener and gate codes; suggest that buyers purchase a one-year home warranty; and ask that a clean title report be provided by the closing agent upfront.

Source: Realtor (06/11) Vol. 44, No. 5, P. 39; Goggans, Vanessa E.

June 6, 2011 Posted by | News related to Buyers, News related to Investors, News related to Short Sales and Foreclosures | Leave a comment

Most Americans believe homeownership still a great investment

WASHINGTON – June 6, 2011 – Seventy-five percent of Americans say that “owning a home is the best long-term investment they can make and is worth the risk of ups and downs in the housing market,” according to a new survey of 2,000 bipartisan voters by the National Association of Home Builders.

Despite their situation — whether underwater on their home or even renters — the survey found Americans to be optimistic about homeownership. Eighty-one percent of those who own their homes outright, 76 percent with mortgages, 67 percent of renters, and 65 percent who have underwater mortgages cited homeownership as the “best long-term investment.”

When survey respondents were asked whether they’d recommend buying a home to a friend or family member just starting out, 80 percent of Americans said “yes.” Even homeowners currently underwater — those who owe more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth — overwhelmingly (78 percent) said they would recommend homeownership to family or friends starting out.

More buyers are coming up through the pipeline too. The survey found that 73 percent of those surveyed who do not own a home said their goal is eventually to buy one.

The NAHB survey also found:

Fifty-eight percent of Americans oppose eliminating the mortgage-interest deduction and 63 percent oppose lowering it. What’s more, 57 percent of those surveyed say they are less likely to support a candidate for Congress who wanted to eliminate the mortgage-interest deduction.

Respondents were split on about requiring a 20 percent downpayment to purchase a home: 49 percent were in favor and 49 percent opposed it. However, mortgage holders and renters aged 18 to 54 were more opposed to it: 58 percent of younger mortgage holders and 59 percent of younger renters opposed adding a 20 percent downpayment requirement.

Source: “The Cook Report: The Home Front,” National Journal (June 2, 2011)

June 6, 2011 Posted by | News related to Buyers, News related to Investors, News related to Sellers, News related to the Market | Leave a comment

Fixed mortgage rates drops for 7th straight week

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fixed mortgage rates slid for the seventh consecutive week, but the lowest rates of the year have done little to lift the struggling housing market.

Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 4.55 percent from 4.60 percent. The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinance option, slipped to 3.74 percent from 3.78 percent. Both are lows for the year.

Rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has dropped over fears that higher energy prices could slow economic growth this year.

Most people are unable to take advantage of the lowest mortgage rates because they can’t meet tougher lending requirements. And those who could afford to refinance likely did so last year, when rates fell to the lowest levels in decades.

Sales of new and previously occupied homes rose in April. But sales for well below healthy levels. Waves of foreclosures have pushed prices down. Many would-be buyers are holding off, worried that home prices have yet to hit bottom.

Home prices fell in the first three months of this year to the lowest levels since before the housing bust. Prices are expected to keep falling until the glut of foreclosures for sale is reduced, companies start hiring in greater force, banks ease lending rules and more people think it makes sense again to buy a house. In some markets, that could take years.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac collects rates from lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a single day.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage stayed flat at 3.41 percent. The five-year adjustable rate loan hit 3.25 percent in April, the lowest rate on records dating back to 2005.

The average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate loan rose slightly to 3.13 percent.

The rates do not include add-on fees, known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount. The average fee for the 30-year fixed loan in Freddie Mac’s survey was 0.6 and it was 0.7 for the 15-year fixed loan. The average fee for the five-year ARM and the 1-year ARM was 0.6 point.
AP Logo Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press, Derek Kravitz, AP real estate writer.

June 6, 2011 Posted by | News related to Buyers, News related to Financing | Leave a comment

CoreLogic Index shows home price increase

SANTA ANA, Calif. – June 2, 2011 – CoreLogic released its April Home Price Index (HPI), which shows that home prices in the U.S. increased on a month-to-month basis by 0.7 percent between March and April, 2011 – the first such increase since the homebuyer tax credit expired in mid-2010.

However, national home prices – including distressed sales – declined by 7.5 percent in April 2011 compared to April 2010 after declining by 6.8 percent in March 2011 compared to March 2010. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices declined by 0.5 percent in April 2011 compared to April 2010 and by 1.6 percent in March 2011 compared to March 2010. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned (REO) transactions.

“While the economic recovery is still fragile and one data point is not a trend, the month-over-month increase based on April sales activity is a positive sign,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “This is the first month-over-month increase in the HPI since government support for homebuying was removed, and it provides reason for cautious optimism.

Highlights of the April 2011 report:

• Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: North Dakota (+4.2 percent), Vermont (+3.4 percent), New York (+3.2 percent), The District of Columbia (+2.2 percent) and Mississippi (+1.4 percent).

• Including distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Idaho (-15.2 percent), Michigan (-13.2 percent), Arizona (-11.9 percent), Rhode Island (-11.6 percent) and Nevada (-11.4 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: West Virginia (+8.4 percent), South Carolina (+6.1 percent), Hawaii (+5.8 percent), Mississippi (+5.0 percent) and North Dakota (+4.5 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Nevada (-10.3 percent), Idaho (-9.5 percent), Arizona (-6.0 percent), South Dakota (-5.9 percent) and Minnesota (-5.6 percent).

• Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to April 2011) was -33.8 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -21.9 percent.

• Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 92 are showing year-over-year declines in April, an increase over March when 91 of the top CBSAs show year-over-year declines.

Full-month April 2011 national, state-level and other data can be found here.

© 2011 Florida Realtors®

June 6, 2011 Posted by | News related to Buyers, News related to Sellers, News related to the Market | Leave a comment

Cities see rise in rental homes

WASHINGTON – May 31, 2011 – In the aftermath of the nation’s housing-market collapse and recession, more than 500 midsize and large cities have seen a rise in the share of homes that are rented rather than owned, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Census data.

Almost 4 million homes have been lost to foreclosures the past five years, turning many former owner-occupied homes into rentals.

The shift to rental housing is potentially long lasting and portends changes for neighborhood stability and how people build wealth, economists say.

“The changes are big but glacial,” says Mark Zandi, economist at Moody’s Analytics.

The swing from owner- to tenant-occupied homes in the past decade has been dramatic in some places:

Of the 100 largest cities, some of those with the largest shifts were Irvine, Calif., which went from about 40 percent of occupied homes rented in 2000 to 49.8 percent in 2010; Philadelphia increased from 40.7 percent to 45.9 percent; and Birmingham, Ala., rose from 46.3 percent to 50.7 percent.

Twenty-five cities including Baltimore, Minneapolis, Sacramento and Salt Lake City swung from having more than half of homeowners in 2000 to majorities of renters in 2010. In Reading, Pa., 57.6 percent of occupied homes were rentals in 2010, up from 49 percent in 2000.

Florida, California and Arizona had the most cities where the share of renter-occupied housing grew by at least 5 percentage points. All three states have been hit hard by foreclosures.

Nationwide, 34.9 percent of occupied homes were rented in 2010, up from 33.8 percent in 2000.

The Census data that USA TODAY analyzed for cities covered only housing within the cities’ boundaries, not their much larger metropolitan areas.

Vacant properties, excluding seasonal or vacation homes, accounted for 7.9 percent of U.S. housing units in 2010.

It’s not clear how many of those have since become rentals or owner-occupied homes.

The renter household market had remained fairly stable from 1990 to 2006, says Daniel McCue, senior research analyst at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Since 2006, when housing prices peaked, the number of renter households in the U.S. has grown an average of 692,000 a year, while owner households have fallen an average of 201,000 a year, Census surveys show.

Several factors will boost the growth of rental homes for years to come, Zandi says, including continued foreclosures, continued drops in home prices that frighten buyers and potential cuts to government subsidies supporting homeownership.

On the other hand, 74 percent of renters think owning is superior to renting, said a recent survey by mortgage giant Fannie Mae.

“There’s still a pull toward homeownership although it’s been diminished,” McCue says.
Contributing: Paul Overberg

© Copyright 2011 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc., Julie Schmit and Barbara Hansen.

June 6, 2011 Posted by | News related to Buyers, News related to Investors, News related to Sellers, News related to the Market | Leave a comment

Home-price index at lowest point since 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) – May 31, 2011 – An index of home prices in the United States’ major metro areas has sunk to its lowest level since the housing bubble burst in late 2006.

Prices fell from February to March in 18 of the metro areas tracked by the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index. And prices in a dozen markets have reached their lowest points since the housing crisis began. Prices in March rose only in the Seattle and Washington, D.C., metro areas.

A record number of foreclosures are forcing home prices down, and they are expected to keep falling through this year.

The 12 cities now at their lowest levels in nearly four years are: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), and Tampa.
AP Logo Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press.

June 6, 2011 Posted by | News related to Buyers, News related to Investors, News related to Sellers, News related to the Market | Leave a comment

Survey: Local markets heat up with investors

CAMPBELL, Calif. – May 31, 2011 – Real estate investors, by three to one, will be more active in their local markets compared to typical homebuyers in the next 24 months; and 69 percent of investors say it’ll be easier to find properties in the near future, according to a survey of real estate investors released by Move, Inc., the management company overseeing Realtor.com.

The Move Investor survey suggests that local markets will be heating up with renewed investor interest and activity. Compared to a year ago, 62 percent of investors are paying more attention to home values in their local markets – only 43.5 percent say it will be harder to find bargains and 41.5 percent expect it to be easier to sell their properties in the next six months.

Meanwhile, 22 percent of investors are bullish and expect prices to rise in the next six to 12 months, and 53.5 percent expect prices to remain relatively the same. Twenty-three percent expect prices to fall in the next six to 12 months.

The Move Investor survey also found that investors are prepared to compete vigorously with traditional first-time homebuyers for hot deals. Two-thirds of investors (65.5 percent) said they expect that first-time buyers’ problems getting a mortgage will make it easier for investors to compete for properties. One in five investors (18.5 percent) say they’ll be cash-only buyers, a strategy that’s out of reach for most first-time buyers. Eight out of 10 (80.5 percent) expect cash discounts from sellers.

Today’s investors – not stereotypical, deal-driven flippers

Contrary to the tactics used by “flippers,” 50 percent of today’s real estate investors plan to hold their properties for five-plus years. Only 11 percent expect to sell within 12 months of purchase. Two-thirds (67.5 percent) say they’re investing for the long term.

Fifty-nine percent (59 percent) told Move they’re new to real estate investing, with 33.5 percent considering their first investment purchase and 8.5 percent in the process of buying and selling their first investment property. Another 17 percent said they just completed their first transaction and plan to make more. Only 36.5 percent have experience in more than one property transaction.

When it comes to repairs and maintenance, 56.5 percent of investors say the repair and maintenance of investment property has not been difficult. Moving forward, 42 percent plan to invest their own time and energy to improve, repair and maintain their properties. The rest said they’d hire a contractor for repairs (29.5 percent) or purchase move-in-ready properties (28 percent). The majority (65.7 percent), don’t expect repair costs to exceed 20 percent of the property’s purchase price.

“This data suggests today’s climate is hot for investing and is attracting a lot of new people that don’t fit the stereotypical deal-driven flippers that buy and sell properties quickly,” said Move, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Berkowitz.

Investors combine cash and credit to snap up properties

While cash is king in many circles, 75.5 percent plan to combine cash and credit to purchase properties as they build their real estate portfolio. In fact, 59.5 percent plan to put less than half down on their next property purchase and they’ll finance the rest. Those planning to use more than 50 percent cash and finance the remainder account for 16 percent of today’s investors. Investors told Move the second most difficult challenge has been finding financing (57 percent).

“The fact that most real estate investors plan on combing cash and credit for their purchases goes against the conventional wisdom that investor transactions today are mostly cash-only sales,” says Berkowitz. “We were surprised to learn that 75 percent of investors are financing portions of their purchases. This suggests they’re seeing tremendous or once in a lifetime opportunities and may be tapping into credit or taking out second trusts on existing properties. The data also shows they’re expecting high returns to match the level of investment they’re making in an arena that is new to many investors.”

High risk leads to high ROI expectations

Based on the investments they’re making in today’s environment, real estate investors clearly expect high yield returns. Nearly half (48 percent) expect a profit of 20 percent or more from their property investments, a 4 percent annual rate of return over five years. Another 40 percent expect a profit of 10 percent, and only 6.5 percent expect a 5 percent or less return on investment. Half (50 percent) of today’s real estate investors plan to hold their properties for five-plus years.

Property investments gateway to homeownership for many

While the survey shows investors will outnumber traditional homebuyers three to one, nearly half (49 percent) plan to live in their investment property until it’s sold or turned into a rental property. Slightly more than half (56.5 percent) will put their investments to work as rental properties, and 28 percent plan to purchase vacation property that they’ll eventually sell. The Move Investor survey also found 30 percent of real estate investors are interested in buying retirement property as an investment.

“The survey suggests some first-time buyers may be looking at investing as a strategy to becoming homeowners,” Berkowitz said. “While today’s market is tough for some, it’s also motivating millions to take an unconventional approach and creatively search for new ways of entering the housing market.”

© 2011 Florida Realtors®

June 6, 2011 Posted by | News related to Buyers, News related to Investors, News related to the Market | Leave a comment

Siesta Beach is #1 in America

SARASOTA – The powdery white shoreline of Siesta Key just got the ultimate seal of approval from “Dr. Beach.”

Siesta Beach was ranked No. 1 in the nation May, 27, 2011 in the annual survey by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University.

“The sand is like sugar,” Leatherman said. “Some people can’t believe it. It’s super soft, super fine. They claim to have the finest, whitest sand in the world, and I can’t argue with that.”

For the past two years, Siesta was ranked No. 2 in the survey. Now local tourism officials can boast of the top spot.

“This is absolutely the best thing we could ever hear,” said Virginia Haley, president of the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We know we’ll be on national TV in the morning. Live shots across the country.”

On Thursday afternoon, visitors to Siesta weren’t surprised by early news of the No. 1 ranking.

“Every time I see it, it’s like the first time,” said Shelley Harman of Dayton, Ohio. “The sand is like powdered sugar under your feet. And it’s clean and the water’s clean. It’s just awesome.”

A dozen tourists from Buffalo raved about Siesta, too. They’re staying at a beach hotel in Clearwater, but still made the drive down to Sarasota.

“We told our friends, we’re going down to Siesta Beach,” said Dennis Walczak. “That’s the top of the line.”

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June 6, 2011 Posted by | News related to Buyers, News related to Investors, News related to the Market | Leave a comment

Summer’s the season for Siesta

So, according to Dr. Beach, Siesta Beach is now the No. 1 beach in the country? Um, tell us something we don’t already know! 

Look, I’m not a sun worshiper by any stretch of the imagination. I slather on a 45 SPF just for a walk from my front door to the mailbox. But even for someone like me, Siesta Beach is nearly irresistible.

From the moment you slip off your sandals and sink your tootsies into the warm, white sand, Siesta is sublime. You can almost feel the emotional imprint of the millions of people who’ve come to the beach for fun, sun, romance, solitude, weddings, break-ups and make-ups, remembering, forgetting, praying, and celebrating.

Yes, Siesta’s seen it all … and soothed it all. Somewhere between the sand and the saltwater and the sun — a magic works itself on nearly every individual who sets foot on the beach — and later, when they leave, as they gather up their picnic baskets and shake the sand from their towels, they may not even realize it, but they feel somehow “better.” Lighter. Less worried, more calm. Feeling almost imperceptibly more connected to the world.

If you live here year-round, it’s easy to forget just how soothing Siesta can be. For natives, “season” can be a time to stay away from the beach — who wants to fight the crowds and circle like vultures for a parking spot?  But summer’s different — you can park and relax and enjoy … a lot.

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June 6, 2011 Posted by | News related to Buyers, Uncategorized | Leave a comment