Treasure Coast Real Estate Blog

Feb. 3, 2018

Online Real Estate Search Tips

Maximizing the Web in Your Real Estate Search

Before selecting a real estate agent or buying a home, most consumers head to the Internet first. Researching homes and real estate agents online can get you ahead of the game when it comes to narrowing down your options. But with so many sites and sources to choose from, an online search can be exhausting…and sometimes futile. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the web when searching for a home or real estate agent. 

When searching for a real estate agent: While a referral from a trusted friend or colleague is a great way to find an agent to work with, be sure to dig deeper. Search for the suggested agents on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and find out more about them. This will help you get a feel for who they are as a person and how they conduct business, including how they use social media to market homes. Another way to find an agent to list your home is to look at properties on the market in your area. Find homes similar to the one you are trying to sell and search for those agents online—they’ll usually have a personal website. Once you’ve narrowed down potential agents, be sure to meet with them in person and ask specific questions related to your needs. 

The online open house never closes: All major real estate brokers have websites that showcase their listings. You can search by town, price range, number of bedrooms, etc. Also, use the search tools available through major home listing portals. YouTube is also a new way to search for homes. These digital open houses give buyers a good sense of what the house looks like…and they’re open 24/7.

Do your homework: To ensure you won't be disappointed or become emotionally invested in a new home for sale that is out of your price range, get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a property and realize that you can't afford it. Online mortgage calculators can help you get a sense of what you can realistically afford. 

Source: AOL Real Estate 


Eric Slifkin, your local real estate expert

Are you seeking a home that suits your lifestyle, community, and neighborhood needs? Eric Slifkin offers home buyers a turn-key approach to finding and purchasing real estate along the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach real estate corridor.

Eric’s successful real estate practice can be attributed to his background in Information Technology, which helped shape his vision of marketing homes online to buyers and for sellers. Eric provides his clients the latest online home search tools and resources to enable them to monitor the local real estate market and make sound buying decisions.

This post was authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Website for more info about Heritage Enclave.

As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Feb. 2, 2018

Stuart Market Report

Zillow Monthly Market Trends for Stuart, Florida

As many local agents suspect, Stuart real estate appears to be experiencing a gradual shift towards a buyer's market. Zillow's monthly report for Stuart shows some downward pressure on prices while forecasting appreciation at under 3% for the next 12 months (average appreciation ranges from around 3% - 5%).


Market Report
Our mission at the Stuart Home Search Team is to simplify the home buying or home selling process for our clients. We are an un-corporate, local, forward-thinking team of agents and support personnel who embrace technology while maintaining a strong connection to our clients. We take the time to listen, understand your challenges and goals, and answer any questions you may have along the way.
Shared by
Eric Slifkin (Keller Williams Realty)
Stuart home values
The median home value in Stuart is $215,700. Stuart home values have gone up 3.9% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 2.5% within the next year... Read more
Market Health
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Home value change, foreclosures and more
Median Zestimate
1-yr change
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Eric Slifkin
Recent sales
Keller Williams Realty
(772) 288-1765
Posted in Market Reports
Jan. 30, 2018

New Dev Townhomes in Hobe Sound, FL

New Dev Townhomes in Hobe Sound, FL

Imagine living in a luxury townhome community just steps from the Heritage Ridge golf course. Heritage Enclave offers easy access to all the Treasure Coast has to offer including pristine beaches, world-class golf, nearby restaurants, shopping, and top-rated Martin County schools. Open daily 10-4. Heritage Enclave is located at US1 and Heritage Blvd., Hobe Sound.

The Perfect Balance of Value and Style

Heritage Enclave, located next to the Heritage Ridge Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, is a small village of 50 townhomes with a preserve and lakefront setting. These well-appointed units feature three or four bedrooms with en-suite masters and one-car garages. Residents enjoy use of the community pool and clubhouse.


The collection of townhomes at Heritage Enclave is comprised of four different floor plans with up to 1,905 A/C square feet of living space. Priced from the $270’s, residents will enjoy Hobe Sound's laid-back lifestyle and amenities that provide endless family-focused activities including a community pool, clubhouse, and playground.

Ocean & Parks

Hobe Sound is home to some of the most beautiful nature spots in the state. You can enjoy the pristine beaches and unspoiled parks like nearby Hobe Sound beach and Jonathan Dickerson State Park. Snorkelers are fond of the preserve’s limestone formations, the largest on the nation’s east coast, found right in Hobe Sound.


Heritage Ridge Golf Club is a picturesque 18 Hole Championship course designed by Dom Fazio featuring five sets of tees for all levels of play. The club also offers a golf academy, driving range and a full-service bar and grill overlooking the finishing holes.


From casual to fine dining Hobe Sound offers a wide variety of choices that will appeal to everyone's taste. American, Chinese, Italian, French, and Seafood cuisines are just a few of the choices that are a short drive from Heritage Enclave.


Eric Slifkin, your local real estate expert

Are you seeking a home that suits your lifestyle, community, and neighborhood needs? Eric Slifkin offers home buyers a turn-key approach to finding and purchasing real estate along the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach real estate corridor.

Eric’s successful real estate practice can be attributed to his background in Information Technology, which helped shape his vision of marketing homes online to buyers and for sellers. Eric provides his clients the latest online home search tools and resources to enable them to monitor the local real estate market and make sound buying decisions.

This post was authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Palm Beach Post neighborhood Web site for more info about Heritage Enclave.

As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Posted in New Homes
Jan. 27, 2018

Affordable Homes in Stuart, FL

3795 SE Middle Street

Single Family Home For Sale In Stuart, FL -- Charming first or retirement home! This is a two bed / two bath home with a den or possible third bedroom. Features include vaulted ceilings, gas fireplace in the living room, updated kitchen, a built-in Murphy bed in the guest room, 16X21 family room, huge deck, fenced yard and much more. Excellent central Stuart location minutes to shopping, dining, beaches, and top-ranked Stuart schools.


Single Family Home
Main Features
2 Bedrooms
2 Full Bathrooms
Interior: 1,572 sqft
3795 SE Middle Street
Stuart, FL 34997

Posted in Lisitings
Jan. 22, 2018

Heading out of Town? Make Sure Your Home is Protected

Heading out of Town? Make Sure Your Home is Protected

Whether you’re heading out of town for the weekend or packing up the entire family for an extended vacation, taking the time to make sure your home is protected before hitting the road is crucial. By taking the following tips into consideration, you can go on vacation knowing that your home will be safe and sound while you’re away.

1. Make it look like someone is home. Install timers on interior lights so they turn on and off periodically. There are also products available that are capable of varying the time that your lights turn on. You may even want to consider leaving a radio on and tuned to an all-news or talk show station. 

2. Disconnect and remove all exterior electrical decorations to reduce the chance of fire and theft. If you don’t already have them, install exterior lights controlled by motion sensors to make your home a more difficult target for prowlers. 

3. Make a plan for the newspaper and other deliveries. If you provide enough notice, you can put your newspaper delivery on hold. Otherwise, ask a neighbor to grab your paper and any other circulars or brochures that may be left on your front stoop. Likewise for any unexpected UPS deliveries.

4. Have the post office hold your mail. If you can’t arrange for a neighbor to pick up your mail, notify the post office up to 30 days in advance of your vacation; at a minimum, two days will be needed to process your request. 

5. If you have an alarm that is monitored, tell the alarm company you’ll be away. If possible, provide a phone number where you can be reached.

6. Nothing beats a good neighbor. Ask your neighbor to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and possibly even park their car in your driveway, if yours is on the road with you or at the airport. If police regularly patrol your neighborhood, give law enforcement authorities your schedule so they can watch for suspicious activity. If there's a crime-watch program, notify the person in charge.


Eric Slifkin

Eric Slifkin is the founder of the Slifkin Team at Keller Williams Realty. Eric and his team of experienced agents serve South Florida and the Treasure Coast, including greater Stuart, Port Saint Lucie, and the Palm Beaches.

Eric’s successful real estate practice can be attributed to his background in Information Technology, which helped shape his vision of marketing homes online to buyers and for sellers along the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach real estate corridor. 

Posted in Home Ownership
Jan. 19, 2018

The Home Equity Playbook


What is Home Equity?

Home equity seems to be a very simple calculation — the total amount of mortgages owed subtracted from the current market value of a home. Here is a simple example:

Current Home Market Value             $325,000
Existing Mortgage                                    $225,000
Homeowner Equity                                 $100,000

One side of the equation is well defined, and it is found on the monthly mortgage statement, the loan balance. The other side is less obvious — the current market value of the property.

As a homeowner, your down payment purchases your initial equity, and your monthly (or additional) principal payments increase your equity. In strong real estate markets and in-demand locations, equity can increase quite rapidly as the property value increases, but the inverse can also happen — too much available inventory and market down-cycles can lead to falling home values and a reduction in homeowner equity.

It can be difficult to put an accurate value on something that you have emotional and monetary vesting in. It is safe to say that most people think their home is worth more than then it is.

Homeowners can make savvy assessments about their home’s current market value by following the sales of similar properties in the neighborhood but should stay away from websites such as Zillow and Trulia, which provide inaccurate and outdated estimates. The most accurate measurement requires a comparative market analysis from a real estate professional or having the home professionally appraised. But, the bottom line — your home is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.

Creating Value is in Your Hands

Maintaining the condition of a home is vitally important to retaining and increasing value. Homes are judged against their peers: how they compare to similar homes in the neighborhood. Another way to retain value is to not over upgrade since it is rare to ever recoup the money spent if you exceed neighborhood value. Keep up the landscaping and do the little things to add curb appeal.

Putting Home Equity to Work

Home equity represents the largest single asset of millions of people, and because it represents so much of an individual’s net worth, it must be treated with respect. Home equity is not a liquid asset until a property is sold, or it is borrowed against.
There are two types of loans that tap into homeowner equity as collateral.

Home Equity Loans 
Many home equity plans set a fixed period during which the person can borrow money, such as 10 years. At the end of this “draw period,” the person may be allowed to renew the credit line. If the plan does not allow renewals, the homeowner will not be able to borrow additional money once the period has ended. Some plans may call for payment in full of any outstanding balance at the end of the period. Others may allow repayment over a fixed period, for example, of 10 years.
A home equity loan, sometimes called a second mortgage, usually has a fixed rate and a set time to pay it back, generally with equal monthly payments.

Home Equity Line of Credit
A home equity line of credit is similar to a credit card. The lender sets a maximum amount you can borrow, and you can draw money as you need it, though many home equity lines of credit require an initial draw. The interest rate varies daily and is usually prime plus a set number, but the required payment is usually interest only. Once the loan has been paid down, the payment is reduced, and it can be paid off and initiated as many times as a homeowner requires.

How Much Equity can be Accessed?

Since the financial institution is lending money and using a home as collateral, they will not lend 100% of the home’s equity. The bank does not want to take the risk that if the house price drops, they would be carrying a loan for more than its market value. Therefore, most banks will allow a qualified homeowner to borrow approximately 80% of their equity.

It’s Important to Use Your Home Equity Wisely

Because it is likely the biggest asset most people have, losing your home equity is hard to overcome. It must be used in prudent ways, and the payments against the loan must be affordable. Using equity money to make the loan payment is only acceptable for a short-term solution.
There are a number of good reasons to use money from a home equity loan… and some really bad ones. First, let’s cover smart uses.

1. Invest in Your Home

The best way to use the money is to create more equity in the home. Among the very best returns on your investment (ROI) include kitchen and bathroom remodels, adding square footage or an extra bath, enhancing curb appeal and repairing/keeping the existing structure sound. Making prudent investments in your home is a wonderful win-win: you enjoy the upgrades and the repairs can add value to the home.

2. Invest in your Children’s Education

Using your home equity to finance a child’s higher education may be the greatest payoff of all. Not only is the rate much lower than a student loan, it is an investment in the child’s future.

3. Supplement Retirement Needs

Older homeowners spent their working lives paying down their mortgage. At retirement, when monthly income is reduced, a home equity loan could pay for a dream vacation or an unexpected major expense.

4. Augment the Impending Sale of a Home

If you’re planning to sell soon, a home equity line of credit may be the best way to finance improvements, and you can pay it off entirely when you sell. Investing wisely on upgrades and repairs may even reap a profit on your investment.
Here are some examples of some not very wise choices.

Adding luxury amenities like a swimming pool, a hot spa, lavish landscaping, expensive appliances and exotic countertops and flooring rarely pay off.

Purchasing a car or boat or most any personal luxury items is a poor use of the funds since these items quickly depreciate in value.

Also stay away from using money on risk-heavy investments. Financing stock purchases, start-up businesses and paying routine bills is not financially smart. If you cannot afford to purchase those items with available funds, using equity from your home means they should not be in your budget.

You should treat a home equity loan as an investment and not as extra cash when making financial decisions. If your intended use of the money doesn’t pay you back in some way, it’s not the best use of your valuable equity.

We Are Happy to Assist You

If you would like an assessment of the market value of your home and the current equity you can access, give us a call for a comparative market analysis. 



Eric Slifkin

Eric Slifkin is the founder of the Slifkin Team at Keller Williams Realty. Eric and his team of experienced agents serve South Florida and the Treasure Coast, including greater Stuart, Port Saint Lucie, and the Palm Beaches.

Eric’s successful real estate practice can be attributed to his background in Information Technology, which helped shape his vision of marketing homes online to buyers and for sellers along the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach real estate corridor. 

Posted in Home Valuation
Jan. 17, 2018

Real Estate 2018: What to Expect

Real Estate 2018: What to Expect

As we head into a new year, the most common question we receive is, “What’s the outlook for real estate in 2018?”

It’s not just potential buyers and sellers who are curious; homeowners also want reassurance their home’s value is going up. The good news is that a strong U.S. economy, coupled with low unemployment rates, is expected to drive continued real estate growth in 2018. However, changes on the horizon could significantly impact you if you plan to buy, sell or refinance this year.


Get ready for another strong year! U.S. home values and sales volume will continue to rise in 2018.

Experts agree that home prices will increase in 2018, but predict a slower rate of appreciation than 2017, which clocked in at nearly 7 percent nationwide. National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicts a growth rate this year of 5.5 percent,1 while Freddie Mac’s September Outlook Report forecasts a rate of 4.9 percent. Either way, all indicators point towards continued growth in 2018.2

What does it mean for you? If you’re a current homeowner, congratulations! Real estate proves once again to be a solid investment over the long term. And if you’re considering selling this year, there’s never been a better time. Contact us to request a free Comparative Market Analysis to find out how much you can expect your home to sell for under current market conditions.

If you’re in the market to buy this year, there’s good news for you, too. Although prices continue to rise, the rate of appreciation has slowed. Still, don’t wait any longer. Prices will continue to go up, so you’ll pay more six months from now than you would today. Call us to setup a free, no-obligation property search and get notified about listings that meet your criteria as soon as (or before) they hit the market.


Lack of inventory in the housing market has been a primary impediment to homeownership for many Americans. “Ten years ago, the problem in the housing market was lack of buyers,” says Yun. “Today, the problem is lack of sellers. Inventory levels are near historic lows.”3

Yun also notes, “The lack of inventory has pushed up home prices by 48 percent from the low point in 2011, while wage growth over the same period has been only 15 percent. Despite improving confidence [in 2017] from renters that now is a good time to buy a home, the inability for them to do so is causing them to miss out on the significant wealth gains that homeowners have benefitted from through rising home values.”1

The good news? Yun expects a 9.4 percentage point increase in single-family new home construction starts.4

Economists at Freddie Mac make a similar prediction. “Existing home sales are unlikely to increase much going forward. Limited inventory will remain a consistent problem … Growth in home sales will be primarily driven by new home sales, which should continue to grind higher with single-family construction.”2

Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, agrees. "The markets that are going to grow are ones where builders can add that entry level product."5

What does it mean for you? If you’ve been frustrated by lack of inventory in the past, 2018 may bring new opportunities for you to find a budget-friendly home that suits your needs. Give us a call to discuss options for new construction in our area.


The new entry-level construction will come with a catch though … it will be located in the suburbs, where the availability of land and fewer zoning requirements make it more cost-effective to build. Economists predict that’s where millennials and first-time buyers will flock for the greater variety of homes at affordable prices.6

Rising home prices, a sluggish job market, and an increase in student loan debt made homeownership largely unattainable for many millennials in past years. However, there’s significant evidence that this trend is turning around. For the fourth year a row, the National Association of Realtors' 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends survey found that millennials were the largest group of homebuyers.7

As millennials age, they are settling down and having families, which has prompted an increasing demand for larger but affordable homes. Thus, many are flocking to the suburbs, with 57 percent of millennial buyers opting for a suburban location.

What does it mean for you? If you’re a millennial who has been priced out of urban living, or is looking for more space for your growing family, a number of suburbs in our area have a lot to offer. We can point you towards the communities that will best meet your needs.

And if you’re a suburban homeowner with plans to sell, give us a call. We know how to market your home to millennials … and can help you sell quickly for top dollar by appealing to this growing market segment!


“Boomerang buyers” comprise the nearly 10 million Americans who lost their homes to foreclosure or short sales during the housing recession of 2006 to 2014.

According to, a foreclosure remains on a credit report for seven years. It takes many boomerang buyers at least that long to raise their credit score and save up enough cash to qualify for a new mortgage.8

With this “seven-year window” in mind, RealtyTrac predicts that the largest wave of boomerang buyers – more than 1.3 million – will be eligible to re-enter the housing market in 2018.9

Markets likely to see the highest influx of boomerang buyers are those that had a high percentage of foreclosures AND have remained affordable. The majority of boomerang buyers are middle-class Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. Expect to see even more competition for entry-level homes in those markets.

What does it mean for you? If you’re a boomerang buyer, we understand your unique circumstances. We can help you navigate the real estate process and write competitive offers that will play to your strengths. Contact us to discuss your options.


 The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” passed at the end of 2017 nearly doubles the standard deduction, so far fewer Americans are expected to itemize this year. For those who do, however, it could mean less homeowner deductions are available than in the past.

Previously, homeowners could deduct interest paid on the first $1 million of mortgage debt, but that threshold has been lowered to $750,000 for new mortgages. (Existing mortgages will not be impacted.)

Additionally, taxpayers will no longer be able to fully deduct state and local property taxes plus income or sales taxes. The new legislation restricts this deduction to $10,000. It also eliminates the deduction for moving expenses (except for members of the Armed Forces) and interest on home equity loans unless the proceeds are used to substantially improve the residence.10

It’s yet to be seen how the tax bill will impact the real estate market overall. While some economists predict a price reduction in certain markets, Republican lawmakers project the bill will increase take-home pay and stimulate the economy overall. According to Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner, “Some house hunters—particularly wealthy buyers—will see an increase in after-tax income, making an already tough housing market even more competitive. This increased demand could drive prices up even higher than they are already.”11

What does it mean for you? If you’re an existing homeowner, be sure to consult a tax professional if you’re concerned about the impact the new tax bill could have on you.

And if you’re planning to buy or sell this year, we can help you determine how the tax bill could affect demand in your current or target neighborhood and price range.


No one knows exactly what will happen with mortgage rates this year, but the Mortgage Bankers Association anticipates the Federal Reserve will raise rates three times in 2018, with Freddie Mac’s 30-year fixed rate mortgage reaching 4.8 percent by the end of Q4, up from around 4 percent at the end of 2017.12 Economist David Payne also predicts interests rates will rise this year, with short-term rates outpacing long-term rates as the Fed aims to curb inflation in a tightening job market. He predicts the bank prime rate that home equity loans are based on will increase from 4.25 percent to 5 percent by the end of 2018. 13

What does it mean for you? If you’re in the market to buy, act now. Rising interest rates will decrease your purchasing power, so act quickly before interest rates go up. Give us a call today to get your home search started.

And if you’re a current homeowner who is considering refinancing or a home equity loan, don’t wait. We can help you estimate your property’s fair market value so you’ll be prepared before contacting a lender.



If you plan to BUY this year: 
  1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you plan to finance part of your home purchase, getting pre-approved for a mortgage will give you a jump-start on the paperwork and provide an advantage over other buyers in a competitive market. The added bonus: you will find out how much you can afford to borrow and budget accordingly.
  2. Create your wish list. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? How far are you willing to commute to work? What’s most important to you in a home? We can set up a customized search that meets your criteria to help you find the perfect home for you.
  3. Come to our office. The buying process can be tricky. We’d love to guide you through it. We can help you find a home that fits your needs and budget, all at no cost to you. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today!


If you plan to SELL this year:

  1. Call us for a FREE Comparative Market Analysis. A CMA not only gives you the current market value of your home, it’ll also show how your home compares to others in the area. This will help us determine which repairs and upgrades may be required to get top dollar for your property … and it will help us price your home correctly once you’re ready to list.
  2. Prep your home for the market. Most buyers want a home they can move into right away, without having to make extensive repairs and upgrades. We can help you determine which ones are worth the time and expense to deliver maximum results.
  3. Start decluttering. Help your buyers see themselves in your home by packing up personal items and things you don’t use regularly and storing them in an attic or storage locker. This will make your home appear larger, make it easier to stage ... and get you one step closer to moving when the time comes!


 While national real estate numbers and predictions can provide a “big-picture” outlook for the year, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market, and the local issues that are likely to drive home values in your particular neighborhood. If you have specific questions, or would like more information about where we see real estate headed in our area, please give us a call! We’d love to discuss how issues here at home are likely to impact your desire to buy or a sell a home this year.



  1. Inman News –
  2. Freddie Mac September Outlook Report –
  3. org –
  4. National Association of Realtors Press Release –
  5. Fox Business News –
  6. Zillow Research –
  7. National Association of Realtors’ Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report –
  8. com -
  9. RealtyTrac -
  10. National Association of Realtors -
  11. com -
  12. Mortgage Bankers Association Economic Forecast –
  13. Kiplinger Economic Forecast –
Posted in Home Ownership, News
Jan. 15, 2018

Was That Escrow Deposit Made?

Was That Escrow Deposit Made? How to Verify

By Meredith Caruso

Jan. 15, 2018 – A lot of Legal Hotline questions focus on escrow deposits, and a significant number of those questions come from listing agents who are upset that they haven't received proof that the funds actually made it into an escrow account – or even just a simple notification that the buyers did indeed deposit money by the dates stated in the contract.

Most Common Escrow Deposit Issues

Proof of deposit

No law requires an agent to send a copy of an escrow check (or wire transfer) to prove that an escrow deposit was made. Furthermore, a copy of a check doesn't do much good. It proves only that a check was written – not that it was given to the escrow agent in accordance with the contract.

Verification of deposit

The requirement for verification of the escrow depends on who chooses the escrow agent, the buyer or the seller. If the buyer chooses the escrow agent and it is a title company or an attorney, Section 61J2 of the Florida Administrative Code says the following rules apply:

If the buyer chooses a title company or attorney as the escrow agent, the licensee who prepares the contract must indicate the name, address and telephone number of the selected title company or attorney on the contract.

Within 10 business days after each deposit is due, the broker representing the buyer must make a written request to the title company or attorney, asking the escrow agent to verify receipt of the buyer's deposit.

Then, within 10 business days of the date that request was sent, the broker for the buyer must provide the seller's broker with a copy of the confirmation of receipt from the escrow agent.

If there is no response from the title company or attorney, the buyer's broker must inform the listing broker that they did not receive verification from the escrow agent.

Note that this rule only applies if:

1.The buyer chooses the escrow agent

2.The escrow agent is an attorney or title company

If the seller picks a title company or attorney as the escrow agent, the above rules do not apply and there is no verification requirement.

The listing broker can confirm receipt by contacting the escrow agent directly after each deposit is due according to the dates in the contract. If the buyer chooses a title company or attorney as escrow agent, the buyer's broker must comply with Florida Administrative Code and provide a response to the listing broker.

If a broker – not a title company or attorney – is holding the escrow, then the two brokers involved in the transaction can confirm receipt upon request, but there is no procedure for verification required by law.

Understanding the role of the agents with respect to escrow verification is key to avoiding potential unnecessary conflict.

Meredith Caruso is Manager of Member Legal Communications for Florida Realtors

© 2018 Florida Realtors®


Posted in Finance, Open House
Jan. 2, 2018

Home Buying: Negotiating Repairs


Negotiating Repairs with an AS IS Contract

Buying a new home? Your home inspection may reveal defects that you feel should be the seller's responsibility to fix. If your purchase agreement was written on "as is" contract this will typically involve some negotiation, as the seller is typically not obligated to make any repairs under the terms of an as-is agreement. Scroll down to see what has to say about negotiating repairs with an "as is" contract...

One of the most popular contracts Florida Realtors has available for members is the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar "AS IS" Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase ("FR/Bar AS IS"). As the name implies, the seller listed the property "as is," which means the seller has no obligation to make repairs.

However, many Florida Realtors Legal Hotline calls involve a buyer requesting repairs from a seller after the inspection results come in during the inspection period. While nothing prevents parties from renegotiating the terms of an existing contract, it's important to understand the nuances and risks in doing so in order to facilitate a smooth transaction.

It's imperative to recognize this: There is no obligation on the seller's part to make any repairs, nor to even respond to a request for repairs. Read More

Dec. 26, 2017

Tips For Renters in Stuart, Florida

Stuart Rental Homes

Selecting the right rental home and finding a property that meets your needs and budget can be complicated. Here are some tips to help you determine what’s most important to you and help you work your way through the rental process.

Assessing Your Needs

Carefully assessing your needs and knowing what to look for and what to avoid is the key to success in finding a rental home. Your Real Estate Agent can provide detailed information on target areas prior to your home finding trip, helping you maximize your time and efforts. One of the most important steps in finding your new home is knowing exactly how much rent you can afford. Your rent should be no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income (although there are exceptions to this rule).

Advance Deposits And Fees

It is also important to remember that renters are typically required to pay a security deposit (usually one month’s rent) in addition to the first month’s rent prior to move-in. Additionally, some renters are required to pay their last month’s rent in advance. This is usually the case when renting a home from a private owner. A rental application fee, which can cost between $35 to $100 to process, is often required as well. If there is a home owners association you can expect to pay an application fee ranging from $50 to $200. Pet owners will also have to contend with additional security deposits and/or nonrefundable pet fees in the neighborhood of $250 or more for each dog or cat.

Inspecting The Property

When you have found a property that meets your needs, examine it carefully before you sign a lease.

  • Windows should open, lock properly, and have screens.
  • Sliding glass doors should open cleanly. Screens should be operable and intact.
  • Check the roof for missing or curled shingles and ceilings and walls for water marks and other signs of leaks.
  • Check plumbing and water pressure by flushing the toilet and running the faucets.
  • Make sure any included kitchen appliances work properly (range, refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal, etc.)

Before Signing The Lease

Once you’ve decided on a property, the landlord will probably ask you to fill out a rental application. This information allows the landlord to check your credit history (usually through a credit bureau) and your relationships with former landlords. The form will request information such as:

  • Previous and current employers and landlords
  • Salary history
  • Banking information
  • Credit card information
  • Social security number
  • Personal (non-work related) references

The Rental Agreement or Lease

Before you occupy your new rental property, you will be asked to sign either a rental agreement or a lease. A lease specifies a fixed term and monthly payment, for example, a one-year lease at $1,000 per month. Rental agreements are sometimes known as “month-to-month” arrangements. Either you or the landlord may end the arrangement at any time with proper notice (specific notice requirements vary by location). Similarly, the landlord can adjust the rent with proper notice (again, the laws and regulations vary by area.) A lease is usually the more favorable option, as it guarantees a fixed rent for a longer period. However, if you are uncertain how long you will be renting, a rental agreement offers more flexibility. Lease Basics A lease is a binding legal document that states that a tenant can occupy property owned by the landlord under specified conditions. Although leases vary, they usually specify the following:

  • A full description of the rental property.
  • The amount of each rent payment and the due date, including late charge and grace period information.
  • The amount of the security deposit, and the conditions under which it might be retained by the landlord -Services to be provided by the landlord (landscaping, repairs, etc.) and tenant responsibilities.
  • Rules and regulations that the tenant is expected to follow while renting the property.
  • Available amenities or services (trash removal, swimming pool, laundry facilities).

Clauses Requiring Your Attention

One of the most important parts of a lease is the Termination Clause, which describes what will happen at the end of your lease. Some leases renew automatically unless you notify the landlord that you plan to leave. Other leases simply transform into a month-to-month rental agreement. If you anticipate being relocated by your company sometime in the near future, we recommend having the following language built into your lease: “In the event the lessee is relocated by his or her corporation, the lessee may terminate this lease upon thirty (30) days prior written notice to lessor with no lease termination penalty.” Other clauses to watch for include those that address automatic rent escalation and transfer of repair duty from the landlord to the tenant. No smoking clauses are also common and strictly enforced.

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This post was authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.


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