Tampa Real Estate and Community News

Dec. 7, 2017

Is Your Home Fit for a Professional Athlete?

Have you ever wondered if your home might be fit for a professional athlete?

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Here at Tampa Home Group we are members of a national organization called Sportsstar Relocation that specializes in serving the needs of professional athletes relocating across the country.

I wanted to share with you today their exciting monthly digital publication called The Lineup. It features the best of the best of the listings that we as Sportsstar Relocation agents list around the country.

So if you'd like to expose your home to 100% of relocating professional athletes and their agents, The Lineup would be a great place to get your home featured.

I'd be delighted to give you more information on Sportsstar Relocation and The Lineup please call me on 813 907 2555.

Please click the image below to take a look at the latest edition of the Lineup.

Sportsstar Relocation - The Lineup

Oct. 1, 2017

Is the Holiday Season a Good Time to List Your Home?

The fourth quarter is a great time to put your home on the market in Tampa Bay because you’ll face less competition and the buyers you encounter will be more serious about buying.

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It’s been a fantastic year to buy and sell real estate, and we’re now heading into one of my favorite times to put a home on the market.

It’s the fourth quarter, and we’re entering the holiday season. A lot of sellers have been taught to believe that it’s a good idea to take their home off the market during the holidays because nothing sells then.

Well, I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Tampa Bay is a year-round market with a strong fourth quarter. Would it surprise you to know that last year, a full 25% of the homes that sold in Tampa did so in the fourth quarter? Out of 33,422 home sales across the entire year, 8,831 sales occurred during the fourth quarter.

If you’re thinking of taking your home off the market and listing it after the new year or once spring comes, have you considered taking advantage of the fact that inventory will be lower now because so many other sellers plan on doing the same thing? You’ll face less competition, and you’ll deal with fewer but more serious showings because buyers who look for homes during the fourth quarter tend to be more serious.

Who are these buyers? They include:

  • Out-of-towners flying in over the holidays who want to tie in visits to friends and family with their home-shopping trip.
  • People who are starting new jobs at the first of the year and need a new place to live.
  • In-town residents who want to purchase a home and close on it before December 31st so they can put a put a homestead exemption on it.
  • People who are busy with work and have some time off over the holidays to shop for their homes.

If you’ve been thinking about making a move but have been assuming it would be best to wait until after the holidays to do so, pick up the phone and give me a call so we can go over which options are best for you.

If you have any more questions about our Tampa Bay market, feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to speak with you.

Sept. 1, 2017

Have You Heard of This Amazing Down Payment Assistance Program?

Have you heard of this amazing down payment assistance program that is available in our state? Today I’m bringing you the details.

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Today I’d like to tell you about a little known program that has already thousands of people buy homes. This program can give you up to $15,000 toward your down payment. Unfortunately, many of today’s potential buyers have never heard of this program, so we want to spread the word to all of our friends and clients who might be able to take advantage of this wonderful program before it’s too late!

Back during the housing crisis, the federal government designated funds to help in the bailing out of the housing crisis.

However, because not all of this money was used, the funds that were left over were given to several of the most affected states in order to aid in their recovery.

Florida was one of those states. As a result, state bond money is being given out to aid in home purchases in many counties here in Florida.

Not only does the program give you up to $15,000 toward your home purchase, it also doesn’t need to be repaid as long as you stay in the house for at least five years.

But this down payment assistance program isn’t going to last forever—funds for the full $15,000 assistance are running low, and are set to run out around October 31-November 3 this year, and once they do, the program will change. While the program will continue, the amount of money that is offered will be dropping to $7,500, and the repayment requirements are stricter should you sell the home.

So, who qualifies for this program? If you have not owned a home in the last three years, or are a veteran, you may qualify. Additionally, the income requirements are less strict than you might think. In fact, you can still qualify as an individual with a base salary of up to $82,600.

This program is absolutely worth checking out. If you know anyone who would benefit from this program, please feel free to forward this message on to them, and call us immediately for more details.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Aug. 1, 2017

Did You Know You Can Appeal Your Property Taxes?

You should have already received in the mail your county’s assessment of your home’s value for 2017. Here’s what to do if you think it’s too high.

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We’re nearing the end of the summer, which means that your TRIM notice from your county containing the proposed assessed value of your home for tax purposes in 2017 has been sent out.

It’s not a bill that you have to pay, but it is something that you are going to want to open and read carefully. If you feel that your assessed value is unfairly high, or that you are entitled to an exemption that you have not received, you do have the right to contest it with the county appraiser’s office. However, you only have a short time period in which to do this so acting fast is key.

If you need some advice, give us a call or send us an email and we would be glad to help. It’s important to know that this assessment may not reflect what your home would sell for today on the open market—if you need to know what your home would sell for, just call us, and we’re happy to discuss what your home is worth.

If you have questions about how the Property Appraiser determines an assessed value for your home, check out the informative discussions at each of the county websites:

Hillsborough County Property Appraiser website
Pasco County Property Appraiser website
Pinellas County Property Appraiser website

Remember, if you feel your assessment is unfairly high or a mistake has been made, you have the statutory right to appeal it. Keep in mind that you only have a short time to do so, so don't wait. Here are some helpful links:

How do I appeal my Hillsborough County tax assessment?
Pasco County Real Property Value Appeal Form
How are values determined by the Pinellas County Appraiser?

As always, if you have any other questions about our market, just give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

July 1, 2017

2 Trends to Watch in the Tampa Real Estate Market

How is the Tampa real estate market doing? May and June set new records in home sales, and prices are on the rise.

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The June numbers just came in. You can check out all of the details here, but there are two important trends that I want to highlight.

We just had two record-setting months in sales volume and home prices.

In May, 3,573 homes sold, which is a record for the Tampa market. Then in June, 3,616 homes sold, breaking that record! Overall, there was a 13.2% increase in sales in June 2017 compared to June 2016.

Home prices have also seen a healthy increase of 9.3% year-over-year.

If you are thinking of putting your home on the market, now may be a good time to do so. If you have any questions about which improvements will get you the best return on investment, reach out to me and I can help you.

Homebuyers, if you are struggling to find the home you want, let us know. We search daily, along with a dedicated staff, for off market properties for our buyers. We always have a number of properties entering the market in the next three or four weeks, so we can certainly help you.

As always, if you have any other questions about our market, just give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

May 4, 2017

How Has Our Market Done This Spring?

Our Tampa Bay market is so hot it’s breaking records. Where is the dividing line between buyers and sellers, though?

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The numbers are in for the month of March, and it was a record-setting one for our Tampa Bay market. Two very important year-over-year statistics prove how well we did compared to March 2016.

First, there were 3,283 closed sales, which was an increase of 22%. To put that into perspective, our market traditionally averages between 2,200 to 2,500 sales per month. Across the market, prices were up roughly 8.7%. Depending on your neighborhood and price range, however, this figure can vary. 

March was a record-setting month for our market.

What do these statistics mean? We have a clear dividing line where we switch from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. In Tampa, that dividing line is right around the $500,000 mark. Under that price point, we have less than a six-month supply of inventory. Over that price point, the inventory starts to climb. 

To get a more in-depth look at the latest statistics our spring market has brought, click on this link. 

Who do you know who might need help buying or selling? As a friendly reminder, our Referral Rewards Vacation contest is taking place again this year, and there is still time to refer your friends and family who have real estate needs. Our winner will be drawn in December. If you have any questions about our market, don’t hesitate to give me a call. I would be happy to help you.

March 24, 2017

Is It Smarter to Remodel Your Home or Just Move?

Should you love it or list it? Depending on your situation, these factors will help you decide if it's smarter to remodel your home or simply move into a new one.

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Should you love your home or list it?

Many homeowners we talk to are thinking about remodeling projects and spending anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000+ on renovations, and wondering if it makes sense to just move to a new home instead. The answer really depends on your own situation, but you certainly want to think about whether the home will support your long-term needs if you make the upgrades, the eventual resale value of your improved home, and whether those improvements will pay off.  There might just be something about your current house that doesn't work for you and your family at this time.  Moving might make more sense, especially if you are over-improving your home for its neighborhood.

Depending on what you decide to do, getting your money out when it comes time to resell can be a challenge, so it’s worth doing a bit of research before you decide.  If you'd like help with this decision, give us a call and we can help you run through the numbers for your individual situation to figure out what's best for you and your family. Be careful about over-improving for your neighborhood.

If you decide to sell, be aware that the opportunity is good in our market right now, especially if you're selling a smaller home and moving up into a bigger home. That's because the inventory of available houses in the entry-level market and lower price ranges is low, but it's higher in the higher price ranges. You could sell your house at a high-demand level and take advantage of decreased demand and better deals in the higher price ranges. 

You can get a look at all the latest market statistics here.

If you have any questions at all or you'd like to discuss whether it's smarter to renovate your home or move, I'd be more than happy to help. Just give me a call or send me an email today!

Feb. 21, 2017

Why It’s Crucial to Have a Great Agent on Your Side When Buying New Construction

If you’re buying new construction, do you need an agent? I would highly recommend hiring one for a few reasons.

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Are you focused on a newly built house as your next home?

Many buyers have new construction at the top of their list when they go looking for a home. There’s nothing like the feeling of a brand-new, spotless home, that new-home smell, and a blank canvas ready for your own personal touches and preferences to make it your own.

If you’re in the market for new construction, be prepared. There are some common myths, hidden costs, and important things to know when buying new construction, and you’ll want an experienced, professional real estate agent who is not affiliated with the builder on your side to make sure everything goes smoothly. Buying new construction without a buyer’s agent is not unlike going to the doctor without health insurance. In many cases, you aren’t covered or protected, and you will likely end up overpaying.

A builder and the listing agent will give you guidance, but their alliances are to their company, not you. Some buyers mistakenly think they will save on commission when buying new, but the commission is built into the price whether an agent is part of the deal or not. Builders don’t remove that from the price of the home if you don’t use an agent’s services when buying from them. 

A good agent knows that prices are negotiable and will ensure the best deal on the home.

If you don’t have an agent, you may be on your own in more ways than one. Builders often offer greater incentives to agents that agents can then pass along to their buyers. There are often incentives for working with a lender and title company the builder prefers. Many buyers don’t know to ask for closing cost assistance or to have certain premiums waived or reduced.

Your lot selection can be crucial for the future resale of your home, yet not all the home sites that carry premium prices will translate into premium resale value when you go to sell your home—an experienced agent can advise you on and help you to make the best lot selection, and prevent you from overpaying for a poor lot choice.

Perhaps most importantly, new construction prices are negotiable! Many buyers feel intimidated when visiting a builder’s model center and don’t know they can negotiate on price. It’s to your advantage to have a buyer’s agent with you – that’s our job. We ask to negotiate the price and go in armed with our knowledge, skills and experience. We can pull information on comparable homes available locally, and present those to the builder to make the case to get you a lower price and a better value. That may mean asking for closing costs to be reduced, warranties to be extended, better pricing on finishes, or upgrades to flooring, appliances, or window treatments.

As you reach an agreement on price and go under contract, a real estate professional who is knowledgeable about the industry and pricing provides valuable guidance. That can be a huge help when working with the design center to select from your available options and when you consider customizing your home, including structural issues and whether to handle them during construction or outside the building process.

While your home is being built, mistakes can and do happen and the builders need to correct them—this can often be challenging for a buyer going it alone.  No home is perfect, not even new construction, and the issues we see are often crucial to the future enjoyment of your home.

Finally, as your buyer’s agent, we attend the final walk-through with you to help you identify any issues or areas of concern. A professional real estate eye will often see things a person outside of the industry might not notice. Ideally, there won’t be any problems – at least, any major problems; but there almost always are issues to address, and we have the expertise to work with the builder as your advocate and get any items of concern corrected.

One more note… One of the costliest mistakes we see is when buyers decide to purchase a new construction home, banking on receiving a certain price for their existing home, without ever getting a professional opinion from an experienced listing agent on what their home will really sell for in today’s market. It’s easy to get a sense of confidence looking at your “Zestimate”, or prices of current homes on the market in the neighborhood.  The buyer might find out down the road that their house isn’t worth as much as they thought—this can result in having to cancel a purchase, or even losing thousands of dollars in deposit money. Just be sure to consult with an experienced agent who successfully sells homes in your price range—not a brand new or part time agent.

BEST of all our services of a knowledgeable, experienced buyer’s agent are FREE.

Click here to download my free guide: Why It’s Crucial to Have a Great Agent on Your Side When Buying New Construction

Jan. 24, 2017

Why Millennials Should Be Buying Homes Now

Not buying a home is the biggest mistake millennials are making. Here’s why.

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Do you know a millennial that should be buying a home? Perhaps you yourself are a millennial who is hesitant to make the transition from renter to first-time home buyer. 

Last week, CNBC ran an article quoting self-made millionaire David Bach explaining that not purchasing a home is “the single biggest mistake millennials are making” because buying real estate is “an escalator to wealth.”

Bach went on to explain:

“If millennials don’t buy a home, their chances of actually having any wealth in this country are little to none. The average homeowner to this day is 38 times wealthier than a renter.”

In his bestselling book, The Automatic Millionaire, Bach does the math:

“As a renter, you can easily spend $500,000 or more on rent over the years ($1,500 a month for 30 years comes to $540,000), and in the end wind up just where you started — owning nothing. Or you can buy a house and spend the same amount paying down a mortgage, and in the end wind up owning your own home free and clear!”

The average homeowner to this day is 38 times wealthier than a renter.

If you or anyone you know should be buying a home and taking advantage of these historically low interest rates, please reach out to us. We have resources for first-time home buyers, a terrific team of lenders, and all sorts of different programs and people who can assist you in your first home purchase. We even have down payment assistance programs, so there is no need to worry about not having enough to put down. 

If you have any other questions about buying your first home or if we can help you in any way, give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you! 

Dec. 28, 2016

2016 Market Wrap Up & 2017 Predictions

Our Tampa Bay real estate market is ending on a strong note, and a recent interest rate hike has gotten the attention of the buying public.

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By now, we are all aware that at its December 14th meeting, the Federal Reserve increased its key interest rate by 0.25%. This was the first interest rate hike all year, and only the second interest rate hike in a decade, with the last one being in December 2015. Three more interest rate hikes are forecasted for 2017.

Buyers are now feeling the urgency to purchase and take advantage of low rates. If you have been waiting to refinance, now is also the time to do so if you still have a higher rate, or an adjustable rate. While no one has a crystal ball, the historically low interest rates we have been enjoying might become a thing of the past. 

If you have been thinking of selling your current home and buying another, or buying a home for the first time instead of renting, this is the time to put those plans on the front burner rather than putting it off until the spring or summer. Now is the time to buy a home or refinance to lock in a low rate.

On a positive note, November 2016 home sales were up over October 2016 home sales. Typically, November home sales in the Tampa Bay area trail just a little bit behind October home sales. While October 2016 trailed behind October 2015 sales, November 2016 sales rebounded, and were up 20% over November 2015 sales.

We might chalk this phenomenon up to the uncertainty preceding the election, and the increase in sales in November reflected buyers finally feeling confident to move forward.

We want to wish you a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and a blessed and prosperous New Year. 

If you have any real estate questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are happy to help.