Archive for the ‘Buying Property’ Category

The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Zillow to Find Your Florida Dream Home

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
This could be your winter.

This could be your winter.

By: Adrienne Andreae

It’s going to start snowing again soon. You might be wallowing in fall colors now, but they won’t last. You take to your computer determined to escape before the first flake falls.

While you may not know exactly where in Florida you want to go, you know you’re ready for the Sunshine State. You type in Florida real estate and Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, or Homes.com comes up. It doesn’t matter which one. This advice will work for all of them.

Before I get to my tips, I’ll admit: many realtors hate these sites. You can find countless realtor blog posts lamenting the hazards of using Zillow. I have my moments with Zillow and its competitors, but I also see why many of my customers start on them. My hope is this post will help you understand when these sites will help you as a customer and when they lose their value.

Do Use Zillow: When All You Know is You Want Sunshine.

You’re starting with a wide search radius. You want to go south. Your priority is to end the snow in your life. Maybe you’ve been renting a beach condo in Destin for ten years. You love it there, but you want to explore all your options. Maybe you haven’t been to Florida since you took the kids to Disneyworld in 1997. Maybe you’re even looking at Arizona and haven’t decided on a state yet.

Zillow and Realtor.com are fine sites for you. You can get started and see what areas fit your price range.

Don’t Use Zillow: When You Know What You Want Out of Retirement

You’ve waited thirty years to live near the beach or the golf course or, like many of my customers, to have your boat in your backyard. Zillow won’t tell you that Punta Gorda is consistently rated one of the best small boating towns in Florida. You may have to Google and ask your boating friends. You may have to play around on boating websites or read about us in boating magazines. You’re better off doing the research on areas that you allow you to successfully live your dream. Most realtor websites will let you check listings, and you will find them more accurate than Zillow.

Zillow can't tell you which dock fits your boat best.

Zillow can’t tell you which dock fits your boat best.

Do Use Zillow When You’re Just Curious

Want to know if it’s possible to find any house in Punta Gorda Isles under $300,000? You’re not looking to buy. You just want to know, like you might want to know what $1 million dollars gets in Boston versus Tampa. Zillow is a great distraction and fun site to poke around.

Don’t Use Zillow For Market Research

Zillow farms off the MLS. Therefore, it is often not current. Realtors may change a status in the MLS and sometimes Zillow and Realtor.com miss the update. I have gotten calls about foreclosures that happened years ago. Even in Zillow’s own Advice section, I found questions from homeowners looking to take the home they bought a year ago off Zillow. If you’re really looking for property, call a real estate agent or at least, use a realtor’s site.

There are countless stories of the Zestimate’s inaccuracy. I won’t get to into it here. I tried to figure out how they get their numbers, but I know too much about the Punta Gorda market. They make no sense.

(My favorite story about the Zestimates is the one about the CEO of Zillow sold his home at 60% of the Zestimate.)

Do Use Zillow: If you’re more than 3 years from retirement

You’re sitting at your desk right now dreaming of boating. I’m sorry. I did that to you with the picture above and now you’re wishing you could retire tomorrow. But the kids are small or in college and you know you’re ten years away, at least. You go on Zillow to play around, daydream, and find out what penthouses in New York cost. This is normal. Zillow can be fun.

Don’t Use Zillow: If you’re within 3 years of retirement

You’re close. You may not know what city you want, but you do know you prefer west coast Florida over east coast. You want water in your backyard and sunshine. As you narrow down your scope and retirement gets closer, you should start contacting realtors. You may think four years is a long way out, but this is when you can start paying attention to the markets in the areas you’re interested in. Believe it or not, I’ve had customers call me ten years from retirement. This is a little far out, but it takes nothing for me to add them to my email list. You can start watching the market at anytime.

In Punta Gorda, where the rental market is fantastic, I have many buyers who start to see changes in the market and decide to buy now, rent the home out for a few years and then retire in it. You can only do that if you’re paying attention to good information.

Don’t Fall in Love with a Home on Zillow Before Talking to a Realtor

My final piece of advice is to resist falling madly in love with that great deal you found on Zillow. That house may be the deal Zillow presents  or it may have sold six months ago or have issues Zillow can’t know about. It happens often that a new customer calls me excited about the home they’re going to buy and I know immediately it is not what they think. I’d rather walk you through the process than be the one to tell you your dream is not what you see on the internet.

Have you used Zillow? Is it time to reach out to a realtor? We’d love to hear from you. You can call us at 941-833-4217 or email us at info@andreaegroup.com.

3 Things You Must Know When Buying A Condo in
Punta Gorda

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
Sailboats docked at the Villas at Cedar Key

Sailboats docked at the Villas at Cedar Key

By: Adrienne Andreae

You’ve been taken care of houses for 20+ years. You’re tired. You want someone else to cut the lawn and maintain the pool.

Downsizing to a Punta Gorda condo could be the perfect solution. After so many years of homeownership, you may wonder what are the main differences in buying a condo vs. a home. I’m going to give you the basics about condo buying in a minute, but first let’s discuss the differences between a condo, a villa, and a townhome.

What’s the difference between a condo, a townhome, and a villa?

It’s my understanding that some parts of the country use these words differently. We’re talking Punta Gorda here, so I’m going to tell you what these words mean in these parts. A condo is in a multi-level complex. We don’t allow highrises to ruin are quaintness or cause traffic jams, so the highest living space you’ll see is three floors. (There is one exception to that rule. That’s another story for another post.)

Condo owners usually pay $350 per month in fees on the low side and $550 on the high end. Although, we do have a few complexes that go higher and lower in the area.

We tend to use the word villa more than we use townhome although they’re similar. A villa falls somewhere in between a single family home and a condo. You don’t have anyone above or below you. Sometimes they have two floors within the unit, but most are one. You will share at least one side with another villa. Villas have an association that takes care of the grounds and usually the outer shell of the building.

Villa fees in our area usually range between $500-650 per month.

1 Colony Pt, Vivante and Solamar complexes

1 Colony Pt, Vivante and Solamar complexes

When it comes time to purchase a condo, villa or a townhome, the transaction is very similar. Here are some basics you need to know:

Association Matters

Every association runs differently. You want an association that thinks like you do. Often I know the history of a complex or it’s reputation and I’m happy to pass any information I have on. However, the best way to learn about the association, bar going to a meeting, is to read their most current condo documents. When you put an offer on a condo, we attach a condo rider. This rider requests the listing agent give you the most current condo docs. I keep using the word ‘current’, because sometimes you’ll find these documents attached to the MLS or online. The seller pays for the most current and usually only buys them after an offer is put on the unit.

After you receive the documents, you have 3 days to back out of the contract if you don’t like what you read.

Check the Financials

Along with the condo docs, you’ll receive the financials. If a complex doesn’t keep reserves, a bank won’t give you a loan. Paying cash? You still have problems without reserves. What if the roof leaks? You and your neighbors will have to get together to fix it. The bank doesn’t give loans on these complexes, because they’re so risky. When you go to sell, you’ve cut out a fair amount of buyers.

So, how much should a complex have in reserves? That’s hard to say. Reserves are like savings accounts. Some people like to be safe and keep a lot of money in them. They will raise fees over spending money from the reserves. Some associations lean towards spending. Older complexes tend to have more in reserves, because they’ve had time to build them up. Of course, their structures are older, so you could argue they need more.

Fannie Mae likes to see a certain amount of the fees being put into reserves every year. Some complexes have great reserves and stop paying into them, like you might with a savings account. Because of this, I highly recommend using someone local for your loan. They are more likely to do the research early and find loan products that will work for you. (If you need help with this, call me. I know some great lenders.)

All Condos within a Complex are Not the Same

Customers often ask me why a condo is priced so much higher or lower than the last one sold in the complex. First, it’s likely they have two different sellers. It is also likely that although they may have the same floor plans many factors go into the price of the condo.

Obviously, a differences in views or upgrades cause price differences. What you may not realize is in some complexes some condos have deeded docks and some do not. A deeded dock can add $30k-$50k on to the price of a unit.

Have more questions about buying condos? We have answers. Please email us at info@andreaegroup.com or give us a call at 941-833-4217.

Tarpon Cove condos (orange-ish roofs in the foreground) have private elevators and many have docks

Tarpon Cove condos (orange-ish roofs in the foreground) have private elevators and many have docks

 

 

 

The Andreae Group’s 2013 Best of Punta Gorda List

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

This year has been eventful in Punta Gorda. Our small town was recognized in national contests, added transportation routes, and saw real estate boom, all while residents celebrated the good life.

Let us take a look back at some of the highlights:

Punta Gorda Received National Attention

For years, Punta Gorda has repeatedly shown up on “Best of” lists. This year was no exception. RealtyTrac placed Punta Gorda on its 15 Retirement Spots for Investing. Punta Gorda was a finalist in the Rand McNally Best of the Road competition, and our town is currently the cover story for Where to Retire magazine. If you have never visited Punta Gorda and wonder why it receives such accolades, watch the video below for a glimpse of why we win time and time again.

Real Estate Buyers Came to Punta Gorda

PGI/BSI real estate annual pending contracts

PGI/BSI real estate annual pending contracts

As the graph shows (click to enlarge), the real estate market started looking like 2004 boom times in 2012. Buyers kept coming throughout 2013.  Back in August, we showed you this chart comparing the first 6 months of the last three years. The chart below reveals home prices rising in the beginning of 2013 while sales stayed strong.

chart

Allegiant Air Added Heaps of Direct Flights To and Fro

Allegiant Air announced in July it would add 8 more cities to its list of direct flights in and out of Punta Gorda. Here is the current list of direct destinations out of Punta Gorda:

  • Allentown, PA
  • Asheville, NCallegiant air
  • Bangor, ME
  • Branson, MO
  • Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Columbus, OH
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Fort Wayne, IN
  • Greenville, SC
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Lexington, KY
  • Moline, IL
  • Niagara Falls, NY
  • Peoria, IL
  • Plattsburgh, NY
  • Portsmouth, NH
  • Rockford, IL
  • Ronkonkoma, NY
  • South Bend, IN
  • Springfield, IL
  • Toledo, OH
  • Youngstown, OH

Punta Gorda Pathways Drew a Cycling Ring Around the City

While traveling to and from Punta Gorda got a lot easier this year, so did two-wheeled touring around town. The Pathways system connected every corner of Punta Gorda with bike paths. Signs went up all over town notifying motorists and cyclers of the cycling paths. Click here for a map.

The Foot Landing Got the Town Running

The Foot Landing running store hosted free Wednesday night run/walks. The runs often drew in crowds of up to 100 people. The 2-3 mile runs ended at the Celtic Ray’s front door where athletes refueled with beer and pub grub. Check out the The Foot Landing’s event calendar for their current running schedule.

Punta Gorda Celebrated the Holidays with Tradition and Enthusiasm

The Fourth of July started with the Freedom Swim and festivities in Laishley park.  And came to a close with a firework show put on by world champion firework purveyors, Garden State Fireworks.

Halloween downtown attracted folks from all over southwest Florida, as the neighborhood filled the streets with over-the-top decorations and buckets of candy. The week leading up to halloween, the harbor was haunted and the grown-ups got to party at the boo ball.

Thanksgiving started out with Turkey Trot. As many of our residents are part-time, many of our local restaurants and clubs served Thanksgiving dinner for those who had retired their aprons.

Finally, December brought lighted-boat parades, Santa at Fishermen’s village, the Christmas parade, and Mistletoe ball.

If you feel like you missed out on any of these holiday events, don’t worry, Punta Gorda residents like to celebrate. You are welcome to be apart of our traditions in 2014.

Do you have a 2013 ‘best of’ list? What made your list?

Importance of Days on Market (DOM)

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I keep hearing that a house has been on the market for X number of days so that makes it a better or a worse deal.  In our market, I will disagree with that assumption.  In fact, Days on Market (DOM) has become less of an indicator of a home than almost any other statistic.  There are homes that have been on the market for 1300 days that are better deals and better homes than ones that have been on the market for 13 days.  I know that this flies in the face of conventional real estate wisdom but it is the reality in the Charlotte County real estate market and I will explain why.

In the past, a home that was on the market for 100 or more days was regarded as “passed over” by the first wave of buyers.  When I lived in Kansas City, this was especially true.  There were numerous neighborhoods that were seen as upgrades/downgrades to other suburbs in the area.  When a new listing would come on the market in neighborhood A, potential lookers from neighborhoods B, C and D would swoop in after work or on the first weekend to look at the new listing.  If it was a good house for a good price, the property would sell.  If not, it meant that the pool of “active” lookers had been drained and now the house was a reliant on another set of less active buyers which was not good.  Our Charlotte County market never quite hit that profile because most of our buyers are from out of the area.  They are typically from Illinois, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Missouri, etc…  When a new listing hits the market, it takes weeks instead of days to get down here.   We have always been more reliant on a potential buyer coming down for 3-7 days, looking at the market and buying the best property for the best price during those 3-7 days.  With our buyers coming from out of the area, they tend to look at the whole market during their time here.  If a house has been on for 1,000 days or 10 days, the potential buyer is going to look at both because they were not here 1,000 days ago.  Both properties are new to them so the one that is priced the best and shows the best will be more attractive. 

The price slides of the past 4 years have put a high number of DOM on some of our seller’s properties.  If they priced the house a little high or even correctly in 2006 but it did not sell in the first 2 months, they were then too high because prices were dropping an average of 1-2% a month (thank gosh that that has leveled off).  Correctly priced homes were too high just 2 months later and if they did not continue to drop their price monthly, the DOM grew higher and higher.   Many of those sellers have now started to accept the market and made big price adjustments.   The DOM is high but the property is not any less desirable – they just did not have the right buyer fly in during their month of correct pricing before the market started a slippery slope downwards.

Long story short – do not let DOM determine whether a house is good or not in our local real estate market.  Some of the ones with high DOM are not well-priced, do not show well and are basically dogs.  However, some with high DOM represent motivated sellers who have been hit hard by the market and are now ready to make a deal.   Which of the two sellers do you think will be more negotiable – the one who has been on the market for 500 days or 5 days?

Learn more about Punta Gorda real estate by visiting our website.

Is it possible to get financing these days?

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

A common theme that I am hearing when visiting people who are considering listing their homes is that they do not think that they should list their homes now.  They feel that it is pointless because “no one can get a loan”.  I believe that this thinking is totally incorrect. 

I agree that there are many news stories on the TV and in national publications (magazines and newspapers) talking about the difficulty that the lending industry is facing and the difficulty that some buyers are having getting loans.   However, obtaining loans is not a problem at all in today’s market IF AND ONLY IF the buyer can meet the big 4.  For people who bought homes prior to 2000, the big 4 are not going to be a surprise.  For people who only bought during the 2000’s or got used to the lending practices of the past decade, the big 4 may be a shock.  The big 4 are:

  • the buyer must put 20% down
  • the buyer must have good credit (I did not say great)
  • the buyer must have income to support the loan (make more than the monthly payment that is going to be due)
  • the property must appraise for what the bank is lending

These are not shocking and I would imagine that most reading this would agree with these 4 if they were a bank officer or considering seller financing themselves.  The notion of “no loans” has occurred because potential buyers got used to the following phrases (how many have you heard):

  • No money down
  • 110% financing
  • No documentation (this was always my favorite – here is $400,000 but we are not going to check anything)
  • 1% interest for the first 3 years

These policies created a lot of loans because the banks believed that the market would always go up so even if they gave a loan to a person who would default, they would be able to sell the property for a profit.  Unfortunately, this did not work out so well.  Now, there are many foreclosures and bank losses.  Lenders have gone back to safer lending standards but by no means are the standards tougher than the 1990’s.  Banks make money by lending.  Mortgage brokers and loan officers support their families by making deals happen.  There are a lot of people and companies with incentive to loan money…. but they want to lend to people meet the big 4.

Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about Punta Gorda real estate or visit our website to review neighborhoods or view available properties.

Has Punta Gorda real estate hit bottom?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

I was recently asked if we have “hit bottom”.  I don’t think that there is a more loaded question for a Realtor.  If I say “Yes” and the market drops in 5 months, I look like a misguided fool and if I say “No”, I am called a pessimist who does not believe in the product (the local real estate market).

However, since I like to live dangerously, I am going to address the question.  I think that we have hit a leveling off period which may be the bottom of this drop.  The number of actual sales in Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte in 2009 is much higher than our number of sales in 2006, 2007 or 2008.  There are more deals happening which is good in two ways.  First, it helps to reduce inventory.  Less inventory means less competition from other sellers which means less pressure to reduce pricing.  The second benefit of more transactions is simply a building of consumer confidence.  It is becoming “all right” to buy real estate again.  For 2-3 years, buying real estate was not seen as a wise move.  Now, however, the statistics say that more people are buying real estate.  The summer is not typically our busiest time of year.  However, this year’s summer was busy.  If that continues through the winter and spring, we may be a much healthier market in May 2010.

Two positive sidenotes:

  1. Money magazines article ranking our area as the number one place to retire brought positive press to our beautiful area
  2. There have been many articles in Forbes magazine, the WSJ and others suggesting that real estate is one of the best hedges against inflation.  Good or bad, many of the people that I am talking to think that inflation is coming.  If it does, there are countless advisors saying “Get into Real Estate to protect against inflation”.   If we are going to have inflation (which I am not rooting for at all), at least I am in an industry seen as a hedge.

Visit our website to learn more about Punta Gorda real estate. You can search the Punta Gorda MLS or  read about Punta Gorda area neighborhoods. It is a one-stop resource when buying or selling Punta Gorda property.

Who’s Buying Punta Gorda Real Estate These Days?

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

We have seen a bit of a shift in the type of buyer for the Punta Gorda – Port Charlotte market buyer over the past year.  I do not think that this is a long-term/permanent change but it has definitely affected our sales somewhat.  In the past, a percentage of our typical buyers were “snow-birds” or seasonal buyers.  These were buyers who would come down to our area and buy a home or condo to use during the cold winter months up north.   Typically, they would arrive in November and leave in April.  Our market still has many of these property owners.   Unfortunately, over the past year, that number has not grown much.

The percentage of sales to end-users (full-time residents) has risen in comparison to the snow-bird buyer.  This is due simply to the national economy.  A second home/seasonal purchase is a discretionary expenditure.  We all may want a second or third home but none of us NEED it.  With the economy as uncertain as it currently is, many of the potential snow-bird buyers are telling us that they are going to wait a year on the sidelines and rent for a season until they know how things are going to shake out.  Many have the resources and desire to purchase a property in Punta Gorda/ Port Charlotte but are nervous about their retirement accounts or how long that they will continue to be employed.  With concerns like those, it is easy to understand why they are not jumping into a large discretionary purchase.

A positive aspect to this is that the seasonal rental market is stronger.  When talking to rental agents or investors who have seasonal rental property, they have all stated that their inquiries are up this year and that they are holding much tighter on prices.  That is good for our market because it shows that we are still a desirable place.  When the national economy stabilizes, I am hopeful and expectant that many of these “on the sideline” potential snowbirds will turn into buyers and provide a boost to our overall market.

Visit our Punta Gorda Real Estate website for more information on the Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte area. View available listings, read about neighborhoods or learn about our lifestyle.

Punta Gorda Welcomes a New, Luxury Hotel

Monday, June 8th, 2009

This week marks the grand opening of the Sheraton Four Points Hotel – Punta Gorda Harborside. For those of you keeping track that makes a grand total of three waterfront hotels with two being less than a year old. Now when you choose to visit us, your accomadations are no longer limited by lack of choice. Experience a wonderful, waterfront visit at any of our local hotels.

Browse our informative website to learn more about Punta Gorda real estate or to schedule a visit.

Unofficial End of ‘Season’ for Punta Gorda Real Estate?

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Easter weekend, for many people, marks the unofficial end of ‘season’ for many snow-birds and soon-to-be snowbirds. However, our stats show that the ‘season’ doesn’t directly correlate to any real estate seasonality that may occur. Historically, as many homes sell during the summer as they do during the winter months. Late August and September tend to be our slowest months with an uptick seen in October.

Punta Gorda Isles Christmas Boat Parade

Saturday, December 20th, 2008
Typical Lighted Boat

Typical Lighted Boat

Well, it’s that time of year again. Our palm trees are adorned with Christmas lights, festive cheer is everywhere and the annual Punta Gorda Isles Christmas boat parade will be making its way along the perimeter canal turning around in the Key Largo basin and heading back out again.

For those of you Northerners who may be unfamiliar with a Christmas boat parade, it is a parade of boats decorated to the nines with Christmas lights that travel through the neighborhood canals bringing good cheer to homeowners along the canals. Landside, many homeowners host holiday parties on the night of the boat parade so that their guests can enjoy this annual event as well. 

This is just one of several boat parades throughout the area. There is also a much larger parade that crosses Charlotte Harbor from Port Charlotte to Punta Gorda.

Learn more about Christmas in Florida or Punta Gorda, Florida at our website. Find your Punta Gorda Waterfront dream home on our website and you, too could watch the boat parade from your lanai.