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Category Archives: Real estate advice

SELLERS BEWARE OF iBUYERS

Price Group Realtors is working with a new client to list her home after a disastrous experience with an on-line real estate investment company Offerpad!

OfferPad is a company that, in a “simple 6 step process” will determine the value of your home (sight unseen), send you a purchase contract to sign and VOILA…you wait for your selected closing date!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way.  Our client, Carolyn felt like she had done her homework before going with OfferPad.  She’d seen their ads on tv, she read reviews on their website and she was encouraged after reading, “OfferPad pays cash so you don’t have to worry about last minute unmet contingencies.”

After receiving her offer and signing the purchase agreement, everything seemed to be going as planned until…SIX DAYS BEFORE CLOSING she received a call from OfferPad that they were rescinding their offer to purchase because “the market is too unreliable right now!”  

During the time they were “under contract”, Carolyn contracted to purchase a condo and put down $5,000 earnest money deposit.  Fortunately, the sellers were understanding of her dilemma and have agreed not to sue her for failure to performance (which they had the right to do) and keep her $5,000 but instead they agreed to a delayed closing, allowing her time to get her existing home sold.  Price Group Realtors is now listing her home for sale, with every reason to believe that we will have her home SOLD in short order.

While working through all of this with Carolyn, we’ve learned more about OfferPad.  They mis-lead their customers into thinking that they aren’t charging a commission but in the fine print of their contracts they are charging 7.5% and building that into the “purchase price” they offer.  What we know is that they are investors and as investors they are in business to make a profit, period.  

For anyone considering using a company like OfferPad to save you the “hassle” of putting your home on the market, or to save money by not paying a commission or to get a quick closing…please look further than their website for reviews, they only put the good ones on there.  Instead, check out a third-party organization as in this link https://www.revdex.com/reviews/offerpad-llc/2047344 . 

In summary, when deciding to put your home on the market work with a Realtor.  Realtors aren’t just agents.  We’re professional members of the National Association of REALTORS® and we subscribe to its strict code of ethics.

Jan 2019 interest rates

Jan 2019 mortgage interest rates

The market continues to favor home buyers when it comes to mortgage rates!  We’ve seen the conventional loan interest rates for 30-year loans drop to around 4.375% to 4.5% range and 15-year mortgage rates fall to 4% to 4.125% range on average depending on credit score and lock period (30-45 days from lock to close, longer loan locks will affect interest rate).  FHA and VA programs have seen similar rate improvements compared to where we were the beginning of December.

With home prices showing signs of trending up in 2019 and a pull back on the mortgage interest rate now is a great time to take advantage and lock in on a new purchase.

Before starting the home buying process I would recommend speaking with a local mortgage lender, John Fenech with Guaranteed Rate in St. Pete is a great choice. He can be reached at John.Fenech@grarate.com or 727-409-5646

2019 Real Estate Prediction for Pinellas County.

2019 Real Estate Prediction for Pinellas County.

With 2018 behind us, we’re focusing on the new year and predicting where the real estate market is going in 2019. With so much data out there about the market, we have had to sift through the noise and sort the accurate data from the hyped-up data in order to set some realistic expectations for the year ahead of us.  As with all predictions, no one has a crystal ball able to see the future and how all of the cards will fall. I have however, distilled information from credible resources, based this post on my 20+ years of experience and what I am currently seeing in the marketplace. Let this information serve you as a barometer in your decision making this year as we optimistically head into 2019. Let’s take a look at how we’re expecting the real estate industry to shape up this year here in the U.S. and most importantly, Florida and Pinellas County.

With so many opinions on the web and in newspapers, most of which is just “Click Bait”,  it can be hard to decipher what you should pay attention to and really what’s going to happen with the real estate market this year, but if we look at consistent, reliable data sources such as the National Association of Realtors, realtor.com, Zillow and the National Association of Home Builders, the fog starts to clear and we begin to envision what’s ahead in 2019.

Over the last 4 years the U.S. housing market has seen roughly 5.2 to 5.4 million real estate transactions per year, this year it’s expected that 2019 with be right on par with 2018 with 5.4 million real estate transactions. So, we are not expected to see more sales but a steady market. However, the prediction for value changes isn’t quite as rosie. From 2016-2018 we saw roughly 7-8% appreciation each year. For 2019, based on a number of disruptors in the market, the largest factor being an unknown for mortgage interest rates, real estate is predicted to appreciate at roughly 4% nationally. Keep in mind that this is a nationwide average and every micro market will be different.

Some factors that I feel could help the real estate market in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County are: we are landlocked, Pinellas County is almost built out, new construction will require the removal of existing buildings which will push up real estate prices, builders are left building townhomes, condos and apartment buildings to accommodate the need for housing in more densely populated areas. The cost of building materials and labor are also on the rise. Population increase is another major factor, in 2018 Pinellas County saw a 7% increase in our population, Hillsborough saw a 13% increase and Manatee/Bradenton saw a 17%-18% increase. This data leads me to believe that Pinellas County should, on average, see a higher property appreciation rate than the predicted national average stated above.

Interest rates will be the biggest factor in 2019, making homeownership less affordable as we move though the year, the FED has given a dovish forecast for an additional rate increase this year. However, predictions of mortgage rates increasing over the next 12 months suggest that we could see mortgage rates climbing to 5.5% by the end of the year. This could make an average mortgage of $300,000, 12% more expensive per month by the end of the year.

Let’s add up all of these factors for a more well-rounded assessment of 2019 being your year for making a real estate move. Property values are continuing to increase with each month here locally and mortgage values are expected to increase at some point this year. If you have been considering making a move, it looks like the sooner you make a move in 2019 the better off financially you’ll be. Start your home search with the Price Group at PriceGroupRealtors.com  and call us for a consultation of your specific circumstances and home owning vision.

10 Things You’re Not Looking For When House Hunting

10 Things You're Not Looking For When House Hunting

10 Things You’re Not Looking For When House Hunting

 

 

10 Things You’re Not Looking For When House Hunting

 

 

You’re ready to buy a home in the St Petersburg, Florida area. You’ve been watching House Hunters on HGTV and you know exactly what you want: Spacious bedrooms, updated kitchen, close to shopping and beaches. But there may be things you aren’t noticing in all the excitement. Here are 10 common things home buyers overlook when looking for their dream home.

 

1. Commute

Check Your Commute

Check Your Commute

 

 

You’ve found the perfect house with all the amenities you need, but what does your commute look like? Pull up Google Maps on your phone while you are at the property and you can easily decide if the commute (or lack thereof) will work for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Noise

Noise Level

What’s the Noise Level Like?

 

 

Chances are if your route to work is nearby, the noise level from major highways is the trade off which can be an obstacle for most buyers. Some other things to consider are whether the house is in a flight path or near major transportation hubs like bu stops.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Neighborhood

The Neighborhood Matters

The Neighborhood Matters

 

 

While this may seem like a common factor to think about, there are some concerns and questions your realtor will be able to help you sort through. What does the neighborhood feel like at different times of day? Is the street busy at different times during the day/night? Are there late night parties happening at nearby rental properties? It’s important to get a feel for the neighborhood at all points in the day.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Association Fees and Rules

Association Fees And Rules

Association Fees And Rules

 

 

Some homes are located in a community where fees are required to maintenance or grounds upkeep or have restrictions like what sort of car you can have in your driveway or what color you paint your home. Some questions your realtor can answer are what fees are due and what the schedule is for those fees (some are due yearly or quarterly).

 

 

 

 

 

5. Cellular Signal

Is There Cell Signal

Is There Cell Signal

 

 

Probably the most overlooked item on this list of 10 things you’re not looking for when house hunting is whether your cellphone works in the home. As you’ll be spending most of your time at home, it’s a good idea to test what the cellular signal is not only in the area but inside the home. Will it be an issue if inside you’re missing calls or can’t send a text message?

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Neighbors

Meet The Neighbors

Meet The Neighbors

 

 

If you can, try to pop in and meet some of the neighbors or go to a local neighborhood event to see if your personality fits in well with people established within the community. Talking with people who live there can give you valuable insight to what the neighborhood is like that you can’t see from just touring the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Water Pressure

Water Pressure

Water Pressure

 

 

Water pressure inside your home is important whether you’re buying a large family home or a downtown condo. Imagine waking up in the morning to shower and the barely dripping from the shower head. When you take your multiple tours of the home, be sure to ru nthe faucets and give those toilets a flush just to be sure the water pressure is fit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Resale Value

Consider Resale Value

Consider Resale Value

 

 

Resale value is important whether you plan to stay in the home for a few years or ten plus years. It’s important to know the factors that can affect the value of the home you’re looking at. Are there empty lots nearby? Are their plans to build condos or apartment buildings next door? Can your picture perfect views be obstructed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Additions

Room for Additions

Room for Additions

 

 

If you fall in love with the bones of the home and the neighborhood or you just hate the idea of moving, you may want to consider having a professional advise on any future additions that can be added and have them draw plans for you. This can be particularly helpful information to have if you do end up moving. Buyers like to see that there is room for the improvements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Bedrooms and Bathrooms

More Bathrooms Are A Plus

More Bathrooms Are A Plus

 

 

Here’s a little secret we’ve learned from over 50+ combined years of real estate experience: You will never regret having that extra bathroom. Whether it’s your family expanding, having people visit, or throwing those parties you’re well-known for, having the right bathroom number for your needs is an important factor when buying a home.

 

 

Hurricane Safety Tips

Hurricane Safety Tips

Hurricane Safety Tips

Hurricane Safety Tips

 

After Hurricane Irma hit Tampa Bay and left 6 million people without power including many in St Pete for at least a week in 2017, most of us are on high alert this hurricane season. Our proximity to the waterfront makes us very vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms.

These hurricane safety tips will help you stay prepared and keep your mind at ease this year, rain or shine.

 

 

 

 

Prepare now, relax later.Hurricane Safety Tips for St Petersburg, Florida and the Tampa Bay area

 

It seems obvious, but we cannot stress this enough: Don’t wait until a storm is imminent to start preparing. We’ve all seen photos of empty shelves at grocery stores right before a large storm hits, and you don’t want to be that family driving all over town to find the supplies you need to secure your house. Or, even worse, be stuck without food and water for days on end.

Start now and you can save yourself a lot of headaches.

 

 

 

 

 

Stock up on supplies. Hurricane Safety Tips for St Petersburg, Florida and the Tampa Bay area

 

Make sure your safety kit is stocked and ready to go each year (you can add this to your Spring Cleaning list, which we’ve already prepared for you here!). Along with the following items, you’ll also want to ensure your bathtubs are filled  so you can use that water for bathing and flushing the toilet in case the power is out for multiple days.

Things you want to include:

  • First aid kit (you can buy these at any drug store)
  • Any necessary medication for you and your family (and pets!)
  • Flashlights
  • Battery powered radio
  • Extra batteries (for any devices that are battery powered)
  • Portable cell phone chargers
  • Non-perishable foods and water (the State of Florida website suggests 3 days worth)
  • Entertainment such as books, crosswords, board games, etc.
  • Cooler, ice and/or ice packs (you can make ice days or weeks in advance so you’re not waiting in line at the store)
  • Manual can opener
  • Personal hygiene items (deodorant, baby wipes, feminine hygiene items, etc)

 

 

Know your evacuation route. Hurricane Safety Tips for St Petersburg, Florida and the Tampa Bay area

 

In addition to having all your supplies stocked up in advance, you should always plan for a possible evacuation, especially if your home is located in a flood zone. If local officials call for an evacuation of your area, you don’t want to be scrambling to find the most efficient way to get out or not give yourself enough time to do so and be stuck in traffic for hours unnecessarily. Plan ahead, find your route and have a back-up plan just in case. Keep your gas tank full, have an extra container for emergencies, pack your hurricane kit in your trunk with any documents you may need in a water proof container, and confirm a place to stay with family or friends if you aren’t staying in a hotel.

Make arrangements with hotels as soon as you can to ensure they are not already booked. If you have pets, call ahead to hotels and shelters and see if they allow pets. Click here for a map of local evacuation routes, lists of public shelters, and other resources from the City of St Pete.

 

 

 

 

Secure your home. Hurricane Safety Tips for St Petersburg, Florida and the Tampa Bay area

 

Before you evacuate, or if an evacuation isn’t mandatory, you’ll want to make sure your home is safe and secure well before a storm approaches. Make sure windows are covered with storm shutters or secure them with wood covering at least 5/8″ thick to prevent projectiles from breaking the windows. Note: make sure to measure your windows so you can cover it in entirely. Stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot will cut wood for you. Take a note of any tree limbs that are hanging over or around your home. Trim any limbs that may cause damage to your home or surrounding homes or may cause your driveway to be obstructed.

Take any lawn/patio furniture, potted plants, decorations, children’s toys, etc. and bring them inside to avoid the wind sending them into surrounding buildings/vehicles. Secure driveways and garages with sandbags if necessary.

 

For more information on hurricane safety, please visit the links below.

 

State of Florida Essential Guide to Hurricane Preparedness

FloridaDisaster.org

St Pete Hurricane Center

National Weather Service Hurricane Safety Tips and Resources

Fall in Love with Your Home: Living Room

Fall in Love with Your Home

Fall in Love with Your Home: Living Room

 

Fall in Love with Your Home: Living Room

 

This February is all about loving your home. From the moment you walk in, how do you feel? Anxious? Relaxed? Is it warm and cozy or does it feel stiff and stale? Follow these easy tips to learn how to love your home a little bit more.

 

The living room is one of the most used rooms in your home. From the flooring to the decor, every surface should be inviting and make you feel welcome and comfortable. From bottom to top, here are some ways to love your living room. 

 

Spruce up your flooring. If you can’t afford to replace the flooring on a whim, give it a good cleaning. For carpets, you can Love Your Living Roomrent a steam cleaner at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot using the recommended cleaning solution. For a natural more eco-friendly cleaning method, use 1 cup white vinegar, 2 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, 15 drops of your favorite clear essential oil for scent.

 

Spray over carpet shaking well between sprays, allow to dry, then vacuum fully. Either way, test a small patch of carpet before overall use to ensure the mix does not stain. For tile, wood, or laminate floors, give them a good normal cleaning and consider adding some comfy area rugs that appeal to you.

 

 

Psst… You can find more useful cleaning tips and tricks here! 

 

 

Color is everything. Ever walk into a home and felt anxious or uneasy? A lot of that have to do with the color scheme. Right now, the most popular color is a sage-y green. It’s cool, calming, and goes well with any neutral color. But if green isn’t your thing, pick the color that speaks to you.

 

If your color of choice is bright, use it on an accent wall or cover your couch cushions with it for a pop of color without being too overwhelming (because there is such a thing as too much of a good thing). If neutrals or muted colors are your cup of tea, cover those walls to your heart’s content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put what you love on the walls. This will depend on what your style is. For example, if you’re a minimalist, you probably won’t want 25 photos and 10 pieces of art on your walls no matter how neatly organized they are. If bare walls make you love your space, you can totally skip this step. Otherwise, take the photos, artwork, shelving, posters, whatever you love to look at and what makes you happy in places you will see them.

 

 

For example, if you love airplanes, consider hanging those aviation themed paintings you bought on your last vacation above your television. Have a large family you can’t wait to see every holiday season? Get some frames and load up your walls with love. The more you see the things that make you smile, the more you’ll love the room.

Real Estate Secrets Every Realtor Knows

real estate secrets

real estate secrets

 

Real Estate Secrets Every Realtor Knows

 

Greener is Better

It’s no secret that buyer love a move-in ready home. But this doesn’t just apply to the inside of the property. Ensure your yard is neutrally manicured with native plants. Place new grass in patches or re-sod the whole yard if necessary. Pro tip: Give your lawn a fresh mow before showings if possible.

 

Lost Listings

Your realtor should know that the best time to list your home isn’t the weekend before a major holiday. Most buyers are not searching for homes while traveling or enjoying a nice weekend at the beach. Listing at the wrong time can hinder your chances of finding the right buyer at the price that’s right for you.

 

Want to know when the best time is to list your home? Contact us today.

 

Staging, Staging, Staging

It is difficult for most people to imagine themselves living in a home that looks like a storage locker. And why make your buyers work to envision themselves in your gorgeous home? Staging provides potential buyers with the ambiance and romance they need to feel connected and make the purchase. But it’s not all about furniture. Some light music and the smell of freshly baked cookies or coffee make buyers feel right at home.

 

Honesty is Key

If you’ve been online dating, you know that meeting people in real life can go one of two ways: Either they’re exactly how they described themselves or they embellished just a tad too much. Same goes for listings. You don’t want to oversell your home and disappoint buyers who may have been interested in exactly what your home has to offer.

 

Keep it Moving

When the market is hot you have to keep your house relevant and in front of as many eyes as possible. If your home is on the market more than three-four weeks, it may be time to consider a price adjustment. Listing realistically from the start will help keep the listing from getting stagnant.

 

Selling Season is Here

February is the official start of selling season. Holidays are over, homes have been remodeled and buyers are ready to find their next dream home. Season will peak in June, but you don’t want to wait and be beaten out by selling competitors in your neighborhood. Find out what your home is worth today and check out our selling tips to get your home sold, quickly.

Why Hiring a Licensed Contractor is a Smart Move

Hiring a Licensed Contractor

Hiring a Licensed Contractor

 

Hiring a Licensed Contractor

 

You’ve decided to remodel your kitchen, move walls, update bathrooms and take advantage of the equity you could be building in your home. If you’ve never done these types of renovations you will probably want to hire a contractor to do the work for you. Keeping the costs down is always important, but the one place you don’t want to cut corners on is hiring a licensed contractor.

 

 

It can actually save you money

 

 

While paying significantly less for the seemingly same work may seem like a steal, hiring a licensed contractor can actually save you money. Unlicensed and uninsured contractors are able to offer lower prices because they often don’t carry worker’s compensation insurance required by the state. This means that if an employee is hurt on the job in your home you could be liable for missed work and bills due to injury if you go with the less expensive unlicensed contractor.

 

 

Have questions about how much your home is worth after renovations? Contact us today!

 

 

Licensing also ensures that they are knowledgeable their field. This can save you money by not only having the work done correctly the first time, but for legal fees in going after an unlicensed person who did shoddy work or did not complete the work paid for. What you’re paying for is more than work, it’s peace of mind.

 

 

 

Finding reputable contractors

 

 

The state of Florida has recently cracked down on unlicensed contractors. According to the Tampa Bay Times, 11 people face felony charges of doing work that requires a license without worker’s compensation. There are resources to help you find the best, licensed company or individual to do the work you need. Visit the Better Business Bureau here to find accredited, trustworthy businesses. You can also visit the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation here. They have a list of work that requires and does not require a license. You can report unlicensed activity here.

 

 

Understanding HOA Rules: Why it's Important

price group realtors st pete

 

Home Owner’s Associations have a variety of different functions. They may collect fees that are collected monthly, quarterly or yearly and cover anything from gates to the community, buildings, landscaping and general maintenance of the common areas. There are also rules, or covenants, that must be followed.

 

These covenants can be quite restrictive, but with the right HOA rules not only will your neighborhood remain beautiful and functioning well, your property value will not be diminished due to neighbors untidy keeping of their homes. Understanding these rules before you buy is crucial because once you agree to them, changing the ones you cannot live with can be quite difficult.

 

First, read the HOA documents thoroughly. Then think about how the rules will affect your way of life. To put is plainly, if you own a boat and large trucks, you may want to reconsider the condo where the HOA prevents you from owning a vehicle larger than mid-sized SUVs. If something isn’t clear, ask your realtor for clarification. After all, a professional realtor will know or find the answers for you.

 

Want more home-buying tips? Check out our buyer’s guide here!

 

Also, double check to see if the home you fell in love with isn’t already out of compliance with the current HOA rules. Otherwise that’s an extra expense you may have to deal with, or rely on the seller to fix which can delay closing. Something as small as an unapproved paint color can be a major pain if you’re not expecting it.

 

Finally, double check that there aren’t any major assessments coming up. (This is something your realtor should ask, too.) Sometimes condo buildings and communities will have assessments to make major changes, improvements or repairs to the community. This means each resident is charged a fee to cover these costs. While you’re at it, check to see what kind of insurance the HOA has. Especially in St. Pete where (knock on wood) we are vulnerable to flooding and hurricanes.