When it rains, it pours!
Today I spoke with a county official who shared a surprising statistic with me. Even if we don’t get one more drop of rain, we’ve already come close to matching the 2018 rain measurement. In fact, our area has experienced 32” of rain, just since June! The ground “sponge” is near capacity.
As you might imagine, rainy days and real estate dreams aren’t exactly a great match. When the weather is less than ideal, anything and everything seems to go sideways. Showing a home during a downpour is the absolute worst! You would think after years of experience and golf umbrellas galore, we’d be used to the June-October rainy season, but that’s not necessarily so!
When it’s soggy out, even the basics can be a challenge for sellers. Because we believe professional pictures showcasing the sunny side of Florida are the best way to capture the true lifestyle of our area, we often wait to shoot the exterior of the home pending rain delays. Inevitably, when a sunny day finally arrives, the grass may be a foot high!
Though sellers hate to get a call we showing their home during one of our famous downpours, buyers see the rains in a more positive light…Yes, it’s annoying to get soaked between houses, but the benefits can certainly outweigh the wet clothes. Sellers take note-
Suppose you are a horse lover and looking for that perfect home with a barn and fenced pasture. Great news! This weather was made for you and now the best time to shop potential properties. Why? When it’s raining, or we’ve had a recent downpour, your visual inspection of the land will yield much more information than it would on a sunny day. Will your horses be standing in ankle deep water for several months of the year? How dry is the barn? What is the drainage situation? Without rain, these critical discoveries might not have been realized until it was too late.
Drainage isn’t just a problem in pasture areas. As a buyer, pay special attention to any potential flooding issues. After a heavy rain, does the water seem to run off quickly or is there a good chance you be hosting ducks and tadpoles in your yard? One agent shared seeing a local subdivision with catfish swimming down the street in front of one of the houses!
Yes, when it rains it pours! Even if everything else seems to line up perfectly, rain delays can wreak havoc on closings and contracts as well. Home inspections are challenging as virtually no one wants to stand on the roof or crawl under a house in this weather, especially while dodging lightning bolts. Inspectors who routinely tackle several houses a day are sometimes lucky to complete just one. Couple that with system replacements and roof replacements, and you have yourself a scheduling nightmare.
So to those of you selling and shopping in this squishy weather, take advantage of the positives when you can. Much of it is out of our control. Mother Nature has a way of letting us know who is really in charge!
Whether you just landed in paradise on this side of the Manatee River, or your roots already run deep in our community, I promise there will always be something new to discover!
Sure, if you take a quick scan through social media, you’ll see chatter regarding the hope for a new restaurant, new shopping opportunities, movie theaters and more. We’re growing by leaps and bounds and there’s little doubt these “wants” will one day become reality. The rumor mill is abundant, and everyone is quick to guess the “next big thing.” That said, much of this area’s appeal is still the calm, everyday life that we enjoy today with nearby amenities and room to roam. From an inexpensive outing with family to an educational trip with the kids, it’s important to remember we already have so many opportunities at our fingertips. Staycation anyone?
Have you had the chance to visit Parrish’s own Florida Railroad Museum and take the 13-mile train ride? Maybe it’s time to ride the rails! Check out their website at http://www.frrm.org/ for a complete list of all upcoming events. What about a tour of the Gamble Plantation? Like me, you probably drive by it several times a week without thinking twice. Next time do give it a second look. It’s a beautiful and historic state park featuring the only surviving plantation house in South Florida.
The wonderous Emerson Point Preserve is another must-see. It boasts plush 365 acres bordered by the Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay and features views of the Skyway, pristine shores and miles of hiking trails. Climb up the observation tower or maybe have a seaside snack; it’s a great place to find shark’s teeth or other treasures from days gone by.
Don’t miss Madera Bickel Mound on Terra Ceia Island! This 10-acre attraction dates to 1450 A.D and is a state recognized archeological site filled with artifacts from Native Americans. It’s open from 8am to sundown and costs nothing to explore! There are several picnic areas to enjoy and the overall peaceful setting is the envy of our northern neighbors.
Charity minded? The Southeastern Guide Dogs campus is right in our backyard! This hidden gem features multi-sensory experiences like “Beyond the Dark” and campus tours that allow you a behind-the-scenes look at the entire training process. Both options are only $15 each and the cost helps to transform the lives of those with vision loss as well as veterans with PTSD.
Add these opportunities to our already plentiful assortment of area golf courses, soccer and baseball fields, wineries, county parks and tennis courts and you have quite a to-do list ready to go.
So Now You Know!
“A baseball swing is a very finely tuned instrument. It is repetition, and more repetition, then a little more after that.” Reggie Jackson
Recently I tuned in to watch a live Facebook presentation led by local business owners who run a baseball camp for young players. One of the owners, a former major league player himself, was interviewing a young man clearly on his way to the top. They discussed the thrill of beating the statistics, making it to the “bigs” and the challenges and sacrifices that come along with that type of commitment.
Training is a big part of any winning sport venture. The amount of time spent focused on the fine details has a direct correlation to a player’s success. In fact, it’s what helps them stand-out amongst their peers. They spend countless hours with trainers and specialty coaches who are willing to invest in the unknown and thrive on helping an athlete soar to the next level.
Great coaches are rarely born that way. Instead, they possess what some call “Institutional Knowledge,” or the knowledge gained by translating historical data to wisdom. Their skill and strategy have become so intrinsic based on past experiences, it becomes second nature. This, combined with a sincere love for the game and the desire to give it their “all” without fear, is how true legacy is born.
It’s amazing to note the parallels between baseball and Real Estate. At first glance, the concepts seem like polar-opposites. However, if you dig a little deeper (and ignore the salary levels and signing bonus dollar signs), the journey to a successful outcome is very similar.
As a Seller or Buyer, you deserve a major league real estate agent. One that is 100% committed to doing what it takes to be the best, one that has practiced and trained to be a stand-out, and one who is mentally prepared to learn and grow with the everyday challenges real estate transactions can pitch. Like most successful baseball coaches, we aren’t born great. We become that way through years of hard work and study. Acting as your “coach,” we apply our love for the industry and the Institutional Knowledge we’ve gained along the way to help you strategize and achieve your best win.
Do your research and study the playing field. You owe it to yourself to find an agent that will “knock it out of the park” for you. Make sure they are trained to always bring their A GAME!
Will your open house be a hit or a miss?
We’ve all seen open houses on our favorite lifestyle television channels. You know the ones- people lined up to get in, multiple buyers, bidding wars, a sale over asking price! Everything seems practically perfect. So, when it comes time for your open house, it should be a breeze! Right?
Ah, the power of TV!
It’s time for a dose of reality vs. reality TV!
For many, the idea of an open house congers a floodgate of apprehension. This is going to be work and your best weapon is a carefully crafted plan of attack. Make a list of the following questions and make sure you and your agent are on the same page.
- How will the open house be promoted?
- Will the neighbors be invited?
- What are the hours and how were they chosen?
- Is my home priced to sell or will this open house turn into a place for the agent to sit and pick up buyers for other properties? There is an important distinction…and this does happen.
- What end-result does the agent expect?
- What is expected of you?
With a plan in place, it is almost certain your agent will require your home to be “show ready.” This means a well-manicured yard. The kitchen and bathroom should be spotless, the living areas barely lived in with toys and pet goodies out of sight. Speaking of pets, you’ll want to remove then, not only for their safety but to allow your home to smell as fresh as possible. You’ll want to remove yourself as well. Sellers always want to know what potential buyers think, but please leave. Buyers will not be candid in front of owners or take the time to truly appreciate your home.
Try to plan your open house around neighborhood activities and keep your agent abreast of community open houses, garage sales and other events that draw traffic to your neighborhood. Ask your agent to try different days of the week or other times.
In the end, your house will be presented in the best light possible. Don’t despair if the attendance is low or if contracts didn’t exchange hands. Yes, even with stellar promotion, this is sometimes the reality. The upside is your house is amazingly clean, your yard looks great and you are all ready for the first showing of the week!
If you were to describe what a real estate agent’s typical day would entail, you might imagine us placing ads in the local paper, adding listings to MLS, taking photos and arranging for virtual tours. You might even guess that we work with surveyors, inspectors, attorneys and title companies on your behalf in addition to negotiating sales contacts.
But what about cat herding?
Initiations of newbie agents are always fun. The agents are full of questions, eager to learn and ready to hit the ground running. It’s always great to have fresh energy in the office! We also love seeing the look of surprise on their faces when they learn that cat herding, bed-making and refereeing are all part of the job description they signed up for. No, my friends, they don’t teach that part in school!
Clients are often curious what makes up the cost (commission) of working with agent and many are surprised to learn a sign in the yard is just one step in the total process of selling. The truth is, there is no such thing as a typical day in the life of a real estate agent. The line between the professional job description and the “gotta do it” job description is sometimes blurred.
Beyond the sign…Weeknights spent with aging parents, helping their children find the perfect home and the best deal. Sunday mornings calling in favors from electricians so the seller can save some money. It’s hours on the phone helping to rent trucks and move furniture, meeting trappers when raccoons have made their home in an attic, cleaning kitchens so the photographs will shine on the internet, sweeping floors, hanging up towels, making beds, mulching flower beds and pulling weeds. It’s Febrezing a teenager’s room full of sports cleats, babysitting kids, going to the airport, refereeing feuding spouses, offering a shoulder to cry on and yes corralling those stubborn cats who will pull out any stop to escape during a showing.
By the end of the sale, we’ve become a family. During the short time we work together, we talk almost daily, we get to know all about your lives. We share selling tips, cleaning suggestions, organizational tips and more. Closing the sale is sometimes bittersweet because at the end of the day, it’s so much more than a sign in the yard. It’s a piece of our lives.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
We love you all…even the cats.
A New Home for the New Year
Ahh, January, the time we resolve to work on our priorities for the upcoming year! Is it the gym, the diet, spending less or saving more? Is it making time more time for the people and things that matter the most? Yes, every January is the time for new beginnings.
If you are thinking that 2019 might be the year for you to move to a new home, upgrade to a larger home or downsize to a smaller home, there are some things that will require your immediate attention.
Getting your “financial house” in order needs to be number one on your list. Speak to a local lender about their requirements that would enable you to make preparations. Having your credit history run will help tell your financial story. There may be credit issues that need to be cleaned up before you can purchase or possibly, you simply don’t have enough of a credit history. Both are issues that could take time to correct before you can purchase.
You will also need to start putting together your tax returns (or extensions), pay stubs from your employer (s) and documentation regarding alimony or child support. Lenders will need these items to start your file.
Credit card debt and student loans also play a part of your financial future. Refrain from opening new accounts while you are considering a buying a home (It’s tempting at the check out to save 20% if you open an account today, but don’t do it!) and especially wait on major purchases such as appliances or vehicles.
Having these done ahead of time will save a great deal of time and a letter of loan prequalification could move your offer to the number one position!
Lists, lists and more lists, make a list of the most important features your new home should have. If you are buying with a partner, carefully think about the space that you currently have and what kind of space will be best for your future. Make a list of areas that are the most appealing to you; are they close to your jobs, schools or child care? Does a new location simplify your life; drive to and from locations to your job at different times of day to see if that is the best location for you.
Other considerations are new construction vs. pre-owned homes, are you handy, will you have money for updates and repairs in the future? Deed restrictions vs. non-deed restricted neighborhoods, important to know before your begin your quest. You will also need to consider how Home Owner Association fees, Community Development fees, Flood insurance and homeowners insurance will impact your monthly payments.
Finally, find yourself a Great Realtor! Find someone that is responsive to YOU and will be there for you every step of the way. Find an agent that KNOWS the market, market trends and neighborhood pricing. A great Realtor can make your 2019 the best year of your life and your New Year resolution come true!
Happy New Year!
Just a few short weeks ago, residents of Mexico Beach and Panama City were going about their everyday lives in Paradise; getting up and going to work, tending to family and enjoying this beautiful state like so many of us do. Then there was Michael.
It seemed the storm came out of nowhere. Sure, we saw it on the radar for a few days, but I doubt anyone predicted it would create the devastation and destruction we see in photographs today. There were no weeks of tracking the wobble, nor speculation of spaghetti lines changing course prediction. The fate was certain, only the intensity unknown.
Governor Rick Scott and his team were diligent in their urgent messages to residents, “Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades, you can not hide from storm surge…Evacuate.” Many listened, sadly others decided to ride it out. National media converged on the small-town residents questioning those who hesitated. Lifelong residents reported they had “ridden out worse (or so they thought).” Others felt that the media had hyped Hurricane Florence just a few weeks prior and this might be more of the same. It wasn’t.
The satellite photos are hard to look at, homes and business demolished; families displaced, years of memories gone and of course, lost lives. The death toll is still undetermined. Preparedness efforts and updated building codes likely saved more lives that we will ever know. Our Governor, along with multitudes of volunteers and other agencies were quick to move in once the storm had passed. Survivor rescues have been plentiful. Power continues to be restored. For that, we are so thankful!
As we gather around the table this year to count our many blessings, those who lost so much as well as those of us who were spared the hurricane’s wrath will surely be in our prayers. We’ll hold our loved ones just a bit tighter and we’ll reflect on the many wonderful memories we’ve shared.
The Mayor’s Annual Feed the Hungry Food Drive is once again in focus. I am proud that our office has been a drop off point for many years and will be collecting again in 2018! This program, which began in 1987, has collected more than 600 tons of food and over $3,500,000 in gift card donations that stay in our community. I invite you to join with us to make this holiday just a little more special for those in need. Whether it’s this campaign, a Red Cross donation or another charity close to your heart, small donations can make a big difference when we all join together.
Ready to get rich quick? We’ve all seen the shows on HGTV. A couple buys a flip home, (sometimes without even looking inside), knocks out a wall, remodels the kitchen and it sells quickly. By the end of the show, they’ve pocketed a nice chunk of change and are off to the next flip.
Sounds awesome right? According to RealtyTrac, home flippers averaged approximately $66,000 profit per home in 2017 and $62,000 in 2016. Who wouldn’t want to make that kind of “easy” money.
Well, hang on, it may not be so easy.
It may just be a sign of the times but everyone seems to be dabbling in real estate. Think you have what it takes to be a “flipper” in today’s market?
In Florida, in cities such as Miami and Tampa, investors can readily find foreclosures with potential for big profits. Locally however, our market doesn’t have as many properties with the same potential. Flip properties tend to be born from foreclosures and short sales, and our availability is extremely low. While great news for the local economy, it’s not advantageous for a quick flip scenario.
If you think you have what it takes to become a flipper, there are a few things you should consider first.
- How will you pay for the initial purchase? This is an important consideration because the condition of the property may make them ineligible for financing, so having some cash is important.
- How will you pay for the repairs? Sure, you can put the supplies on a credit card, but there will most likely be labor costs to be paid. Will you be doing the repairs yourself or hiring a contractor? Keep in mind updating will most likely require permitting and repairs that must be completed by licensed professionals.
- Finally, do the math first! Calculating the cost of the home and repairs to determine if the future payoff is even worth your time and money. Know the market, know trends that are important to buyers in your price point. Get advice from the pros, learn what work requires county or city permitting and if a homeowner can do the work if it is going to be resold within a certain time frame.
Would it surprise you to know many real estate agents also flip properties? We have the advantage of checking the latest listings minute by minute and have the knowledge necessary to know what the potential could be based on recent sales and neighborhood trends. However, even with all our expertise and tools, flipping can be a gamble.
Rolling the dice in real estate isn’t for the weak at heart, but a jackpot just might be in the cards! Good luck!
So Where Do You Live?
North of the River, North Manatee, North of the Manatee, Northern Manatee, North County, or North? Sometimes it’s difficult to know just how to answer this question. All can apply.
With Parrish now becoming “the center of the universe in real estate” some are even referring to the Bradenton side of the Ft. Hamer Bridge as “North Side.” As you might you might imagine, area Realtors face an interesting challenge explaining this oddity to newcomers. Are we an area best defined by the side of the river you choose to reside? Hmm.
Recently, while attending an event, I was touting the many wonderful things happening “North of the River,” to a friend who lives “South of the River” in an area I commonly refer to as “South County.” She had a bewildered look on her face, stating she referred to everything on our side of the river as simply “Palmetto.” That statement made me take pause. While Palmetto is indeed the largest municipality in our area, it does not encompass, Terra Ceia, Parrish, Ellenton and Rubonia.
By many, North County is defined as starting at the North side of the Palmetto Bridges, extending to Emerson Point, to the middle of the Skyway Bridge, to Port Manatee, along SR62 to State Road 39 and to the areas on this side of Rye Bridge.
As many of you well know, my curiosity gets the best of me sometimes. Lately I find myself asking everyone I meet how they define our area. My not-so-scientific research has yielded the following results: Longtime residents use all the terms above to describe this area. The river as a divider resonates with kids because of sports and school. Business owners who use specific terms within their business name say it helps potential customers know they specialize in this part of town. Doing so, helps locals pinpoint backyard businesses!
The county also differentiates our area with references. Think North River Fire District. The Sheriff’s office refers to the location as North Side, churches have North Campuses and even our new high school will be named North River High School.
Geographically, I guess we’re all correct. And from a real estate perspective, we’re hot on the map! So, from all of us on the North side of the Manatee River, we wish everyone a safe Fourth of July; celebrate your freedom and proudly fly our flag!