Treasure Coast Real Estate News

Articles on Our Housing and Real Estate Markets

March 29, 2022

Accessory Dwelling Units

Is an Accessory Dwelling Unit Right for You?

Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, also known as granny flats, or in-law suites, are part of a shift toward smaller, more affordable, and energy-efficient homes. Where permitted,  ADUs can be residences for elderly parents or adult children to live in or utilized as home offices and guest homes. In some areas, they can be rented out or provide housing for the owners, renting out the main house.

As a home buyer or homeowner, you may be considering adding an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to your property. For example, you could create an ADU by converting a detached garage or building an apartment above an attached garage. It could be part of a basement, with a separate entrance, or a new structure (if the property is big enough).

Study: ADUs Can Add 35% to Your Home’s Value. Get the Report

Accessory Dwelling Unit

Above: A 1977 Stuart, FL residence shown with an original attached ADU

RESEARCH ADU REGULATIONS

Determine if your area is ADU-friendly by visiting your city’s planning and zoning website or calling or visiting the local office. Some areas encourage ADUs, and others don’t. Even if your city’s regulations seem to discourage ADU construction, you may be able to secure a waiver to build one. Ask.

DO A COST EVALUATION

If you want an ADU to bring in rental income, look at the total cost for permits, construction, and the increase in annual property taxes. Compare this to the monthly payment you expect to receive to determine how long it will take for the ADU to pay for itself before you realize any income.

CONSIDER YOUR LIFESTYLE AND NEEDS

Important considerations include:

Privacy vs. Company – If you are a private person, having a renter on your property may present difficulties. However, finding the right renter may be what you need if you are looking for more social interaction. Assistance – If you have special needs, consider trading maintenance, cleaning, or personal services for part or all of the rent on your ADU. It may be an economical way to retain your independence, even with physical limitations.

Aging in Place – If you want to age in place, an ADU built with universal design concepts may help you stay on your property while improving your financial situation. For example, you could rent out a house that is too large or unsuitable for aging in place while staying in the ADU and the neighborhood you know and love.

Adult Children – If you have adult children who have returned home to live with you, an ADU may be economical to keep your children (and possibly grandchildren) close while maintaining privacy.

TALK TO YOUR REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST

An accessory dwelling unit may be just what you need. For additional perspectives, talk to an SRES® in your area to help you determine if this is a good option for you!

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This post is by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach Eric at 772-288-1765.

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Eric Slifkin, Broker Associate

Eric Slifkin, Team Lead

Your local real estate expert

Are you seeking a home that suits your lifestyle, community, and neighborhood needs? Eric offers home buyers a turn-key approach to finding and purchasing real estate from the Treasure Coast to the Palm Beaches and beyond with his team.

 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Whether buying or selling a home on the Treasure Coast, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs, with no obligation.

 

 

March 9, 2022

Real Estate FAQ's for First-Time Home Buyers

Okay, first-time buyers, it's time to turn the dream into the dirt you can stand on—your very own home. I'm sure you have questions. I'm sure your questions are like most first-time buyers, which is why I've put together this down-and-dirty answer guide for the most common questions home buyers have.

1. What kind of credit score do I need to have? Generally, 630 or above is what you'll want to have. The better your score, the better the terms will be on your loan. Some lenders may give you wiggle room on this, but it all depends on the circumstances. Again, a loan professional can help you navigate this as you go.

2. How much of a down payment is required? Some loans will let you in for as low as 3% - 5% of the home's value, but I would consider 5% to be the floor. More is better, especially if your credit isn't as optimal as you'd like it to be. Again, working with a loan officer will help.First Home Buying Guide3. What's the first step to home buying? Getting pre-approval for a mortgage is the first step towards a successful transaction. Don't shop for a home until you know what you can afford. There's no use in falling in love with a $300,000 home in your dream neighborhood if the banks will only write you a loan of $150,000.

4. How much do I have to pay my real estate agent? You don't have to pay your real estate agent as a buyer. The seller is responsible for listing fees, including a portion of those fees delivered to your agent for helping with the transaction.

5. Why should I use a real estate agent? Like a lawyer, doctor, or other professional hired to represent your interests, the agent will not only advise you about the transaction but protect and facilitate the process.

6. How long does it take to buy a house? After you find the home you want to buy, it generally takes between 30 and 45 days. The home search can take longer, however, so have a clear idea of what you're looking for and able to afford. (Your agent can help you with this. Another reason to have one on your side!)

Naturally, there's more to buying a home, but this covers the essential introduction to the process. Then, as your agent, I will walk you through the rest, guiding you along the way. When you're ready to make a move, reach out to me at 772-678-1600 or contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Whether buying or selling a home on the Treasure Coast, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs, with no obligation.

March 4, 2022

Real Estate Team Invests in Success

Team Founder Prides Himself on a Forward-Looking Approach to Selling Homes

Eric Slifkin may have the catchiest slogan in real estate: "Need a new address? Start with ours!" It's a bit like the man himself: Clever, solid, and on point.

Digital Marketing Team

Slifkin has been relocating families to Florida's Treasure Coast for over 20 years, a little longer if you include his relocation from New Jersey in 2002, which sparked a new career in real estate. Today he's a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) and Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) who serves the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach real estate corridors.

 

As a Broker Associate at Keller Williams Realty, Slifkin leads a team he founded in 2012. The team's mission is to simplify the process of buying or selling real estate while getting the best possible price, terms, and conditions for their clients.

 

The Slifkin team can deliver. They recently sold out a 50-unit townhouse project in Hobe Sound and virtually sold a $2,000,000 condo at the newly built Riverhouse in downtown Stuart. Slifkin is also helping market a 40-acre Canadian winery for its Florida-bound seller, an opportunity that came through his Website.

 

Background Summary

 

Slifkin's background in information technology came in handy as the real estate market moved into the digital world. Today, most home buyers start their search online, but in 2003, Slifkin's rookie year, online real estate was a huge challenge. So he "McGivered" various software applications to enable lead capture on his Website and a way to manage them. It was a game-changer.

 

The first years were hard. "New agents typically don't earn much money starting," he said. "But for us, every year was better than the one before."

 

He was doing well enough that he got the attention of Keller Williams. "They pursued me for two years before I agreed to join. I'm a loyal guy, but KW was rolling out some new technologies, and that got my attention."

 

After seeing what happened with the dot.com crash in the '90s and the great real estate recession a few years later, Slifkin has been a careful custodian of his cash. "We always put away money for marketing," he said. That let him thrive during the real estate recession. Slifkin kept the money coming "by working our butts off in the rental business, which paid the bills and led to listings as the market recovered."

 

Slifkin worked for many years independently as an agent, but he likes the team dynamic. "It's not for everybody," Slifkin said, but there are advantages. First, there's someone to back you up in an emergency and shoulder a bit of the workload. Second, Slifkin enjoys teaching others, so he tries to serve as a sounding board or share a solution to a problem that has worked for him in the past. "I like to impart the knowledge of my experience," he said. "And problem-solving is very satisfying." 

 

His current team is four strong, and his secret weapon is the incredible detail person running the back office: Barbara, his wife of more than 40 years. Her attention to detail has earned her praise from brokers, title companies, and lenders.

 

Slifkin's team continues to reach new highs: "We began listing high-end property several years ago," Slifkin said. As a result, many of their sales are now in the $1M plus range.

 

The other advantage of a team is that you can take a vacation now and then, and the Slifkins are looking forward to a trip to Amsterdam to visit their son, Andrew, who lives and works there. The Slifkins live in Palm City in the same house they bought over 20 years ago. "I call it rural-suburban," Slifkin says. "It's a peaceful little town that is close to shopping, medical facilities, and top-rated schools."

 

Q&A

 

Where were you during the Great Housing Recession that began in 2007? 

We were right here in Stuart, listing, selling, and renting homes.

How has the real estate market changed over the last 10-12 years?

We have seen the emergence of iBuyer services, virtual real estate, and a plethora of new brokerage models.

What's the best part of your job?

Seeing my team members succeed due to my efforts and helping folks find or sell their homes.

What's the worst?

The myriad details it takes for a successful transaction.

How do you balance your career and family?

I am guilty of overwork, but now that we have the team, time off and vacations have become easier to take. 

What makes you most proud?

I have built my practice from nothing and helped my agents become successful. 

What's the strangest request a client ever made?

They wanted to pay cash for a house with money they stashed away in shopping bags. But there are others; never a dull moment in real estate.

What's your best advice for someone who is house hunting? 

Listen to the advice of an experienced real estate professional. It will save you time, stress, and probably money.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Stay in school (joke). But, seriously, I wish I had started my real estate career sooner.

What's your philosophy?

Clients first, profits second.

Slifkin Team

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Whether buying or selling a home on the Treasure Coast, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs, with no obligation.

 

Posted in Company Info
Feb. 15, 2022

Home Ownership Tips and Topics

Posted in Home Ownership
Feb. 13, 2022

The Home Buyer’s Guide to Getting Mortgage Ready

Preparing Financially to Buy a Home 

The Home Buyer’s Guide to Getting Mortgage Ready

If you’re like most homebuyers, you will need a mortgage to finance your new home. By preparing in advance, you can avoid the typical delays and roadblocks many buyers face when applying for a mortgage.

This also applies to homeowners looking to buy their next house. As lending requirements have become more stringent in recent years, any changes to your credit history, debt levels, employment, and other factors could impact your approval chances. Preparing in advance for a mortgage ensures you don’t encounter any issues along the way towards closing.

The requirements to secure a mortgage may seem overwhelming, especially if you’re a first-time buyer, so we’ve outlined three simple steps to get you started on your path to homeownership. Follow these three steps to begin laying the foundation for your future home purchase today.

STEP 1: CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Your credit score is one of the first things a lender will check to see if you qualify for a loan. It’s a good idea to review your credit report and score yourself before you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. If you have a low score, you will need time to raise it. Sometimes, fraudulent activity or erroneous information will appear on your report, which can take months to correct.

The credit score most lenders use is your FICO score, a weighted score developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation that takes into account your payment history (35%), amounts owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%), and credit mix (10%).

Base FICO scores range from 300 to 850. A higher FICO score will help you qualify for a lower mortgage interest rate, which will save you money.

By federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion). Request your free credit report.

When Should You Start to Check Credit Scores?

Check credit scores at least six months before applying (or more if you’ve had previous credit issues). Loan options can be limited if you've got a lower credit score. An early check gives you time to fix any problems. Even with excellent credit, you need to maintain your high score until closing to ensure your financing doesn’t fall through.

Lender Minimum Score Requirements

To qualify for the lowest interest rates available, you will usually need a FICO score of 760 or higher. Most lenders require a score of at least 620 to qualify for a conventional mortgage.

If your FICO score is less than 620, you may be able to qualify for a non-conventional mortgage. However, you should expect to pay higher interest rates and fees. For example, you may be able to secure an FHA loan (one issued by a private lender but insured by the Federal Housing Administration) with a credit score as low as 580 if you can make a 3.5 percent down payment. And FHA loans are available to applicants with credit scores as low as 500 with a 10 percent down payment.

Improving Your Credit Score

There’s no quick fix for a low credit score, but the following tips will help you increase it over time.

  1. Make payments on timeAt 35 percent, your payment history accounts for the largest portion of your credit score. Therefore, it’s crucial to get caught up on any late payments and make all of your future payments on time if you have trouble remembering to pay your bills on time, set up payment reminders through your online banking apps, a free money management tool like Mint, or an app like BillMinder.
  2. Avoid applying for new credit you don’t need. New accounts will lower your average account age, which could negatively impact your length of credit history. Also, each time you apply for credit, it can result in a small decrease in your credit score. The exception to this rule? If you don’t have any credit cards—or any credit accounts at all—you should open an account to establish a credit history. Just be sure to use it responsibly and pay it off in full each month. If you need to shop for a new credit account, for example, a car loan, be sure to complete your loan applications within a short period of time. FICO attempts to distinguish between a search for a single loan and applications to open several new credit lines by the window of time during which inquiries occur.
  3. Pay down credit cards. When you pay off your credit cards, you lower your amounts owed or credit utilization ratio (ratio of account balances to credit limits). Some experts recommend starting with your highest-interest debt and paying it off first. Others suggest paying off your lowest balance first and then rolling that payment into your next-lowest balance to create momentum. Whichever method you choose, the first step is to make a list of all of your credit card balances and then start tackling them one by one. Make the minimum payments on all of your cards except one. Pay as much as possible on that card until it’s paid in full, then cross it off your list and move on to the next card.
  4. Avoid closing old accounts. Closing an old account will not remove it from your credit report. In fact, it can hurt your score, as it can raise your credit utilization ratio—since you’ll have less available credit—and decrease your average length of credit history. Similarly, paying off a collection account will not remove it from your report. It remains on your credit report for seven years; however, the negative impact on your score will decrease over time.
  5. Correct errors on your report. Mistakes or fraudulent activity can negatively impact your credit score. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your credit report at least once per year. The Federal Trade Commission has instructions on their website for disputing errors on your report. While it may seem like a lot of effort to raise your credit score, your hard work will pay off in the long run. Not only will it help you qualify for a mortgage, but a high credit score can also help you secure a lower interest rate on car loans and credit cards, as well. You may even qualify for lower rates on insurance premiums.

Home Buying Expenses

STEP 2: SAVE UP FOR A DOWN PAYMENT AND CLOSING COSTS

 The next step in preparing for your home purchase is to save up for a down payment and closing costs.

Down Payment

When you purchase a home, you typically pay for a portion of it in cash (down payment) and take out a loan to cover the remaining balance (mortgage).

How much do I need to save for a down payment? Generally speaking, the higher your down payment, the more money you will save on interest and fees. For example, you will qualify for a lower interest rate and avoid paying for mortgage insurance if your down payment is at least 20 percent of the property’s purchase price.

But what if you can’t afford to put down 20 percent? You will be required to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) on a conventional loan if your down payment is less than 20 percent. PMI is insurance that compensates your lender if you default on your loan.7

PMI will cost you between 0.3 to 1.5 percent of the overall mortgage amount each year. So, on a $100,000 loan, you can expect to pay between $300 and $1500 per year for PMI until your mortgage balance falls below 80 percent of the appraised value. For a conventional mortgage with PMI, most lenders will accept a minimum down payment of five percent of the purchase price.7

If a five-percent down payment is still too high, an FHA-insured loan may be an option for you. Because the Federal Housing Administration guarantees them, FHA loans only require a 3.5 percent down payment if your credit score is 580 or higher.7

The downside of getting an FHA loan? You’ll be required to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) of 1.75 percent of the total loan amount, as well as an annual MIP of between 0.80 and 1.05 percent of your loan balance on a 30-year note. There are also certain limitations on the types of loans and properties that qualify.

There are a variety of other government-sponsored programs created to assist home buyers, as well. For example, veterans and current Armed Forces members may qualify for a VA-backed loan requiring a $0 down payment.7 Consult a mortgage lender about what options are available to you.

Current Homeowners

If you’re a current homeowner, you may have equity in your home to use toward your down payment on a new home. We can help you estimate your expected return after selling your current home and paying back your existing mortgage. Contact us for a free evaluation!

Closing Costs

Closing costs should also be factored into your savings plan. These may include loan origination fees, discount points, appraisal fees, title searches, title insurance, surveys, and other fees associated with the purchase of your home. Closing costs vary but typically range between two to five percent of the purchase price.

If you don’t have the funds to pay these outright at closing, you can often add them to your mortgage balance and pay them over time. However, this means you’ll have a higher monthly payment and pay more over the long term because you’ll pay interest on the fees.

STEP 3: ESTIMATE YOUR HOME PURCHASING POWER

Once you have the required credit score, savings for a down payment, and a list of all your outstanding debt obligations via your credit report, you can assess whether you are ready and able to purchase a home.

It’s important to have a sense of how much you can reasonably afford—and how much you’ll be able to borrow—to see if homeownership is within reach.

Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is one of the main factors mortgage companies use to determine how much they are willing to lend you, and it can help you gauge whether or not your home purchasing goals are realistic given your current financial situation.

Your DTI ratio is essentially a comparison of your housing expenses and other debt versus your income. There are two different DTI ratios that lenders consider:

  1. Front-End Ratio. This is also called the housing ratio, which is the percentage of your income that would go toward housing expenses each month, including your mortgage payment, private mortgage insurance, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and association dues.

    To calculate your front-end DTI ratio, a lender will add up your expected housing expenses and divide it by your gross monthly income (income before taxes). The maximum front-end DTI ratio for most mortgages is 28 percent. For an FHA-backed loan, this ratio must not exceed 31 percent.

  2. Back-End Ratio. The back-end ratio considers all of your monthly debt obligations: your expected housing expenses PLUS credit card bills, car payments, child support or alimony, student loans, and any other debt that shows up on your credit report.

    To calculate your back-end ratio, a lender will tabulate your expected housing expenses and other monthly debt payments and divide them by your gross monthly income (income before taxes). The maximum back-end DTI ratio for most mortgages is 36 percent. For an FHA-backed loan, this ratio must not exceed 41 percent.

  3. Home Affordability CalculatorTo get a sense of how much home you can afford, visit the National Association of Realtors’ Home Affordability Calculator, which will help you determine your home purchasing power depending on your location, annual income, monthly debt, and down payment. It also offers a monthly mortgage breakdown that projects what you would pay each month in principal and interest, property taxes, and home insurance.

    The Home Affordability Calculator defaults to a back-end DTI ratio of 36 percent. If the monthly cost estimate at that ratio is significantly higher than what you’re currently paying for housing, you need to consider whether or not you can make up the difference each month in your budget.

    If not, you may want to lower your target purchase price to a more conservative DTI ratio. The tool enables you to scroll through higher and lower price points to see the impact on your monthly payments so you can identify your ideal price point.

    (Note: This tool only provides an estimate of your purchasing power. You will need to secure pre-approval from a mortgage lender to know your true mortgage approval amount and monthly payment projections.)

Can I Afford to Buy My Dream Home?

Once you have a sense of your purchasing power, it’s time to find out which neighborhoods and types of homes you can afford. The best way to determine this is to contact a licensed real estate agent. We help homeowners like you every day and send you a comprehensive list of homes within your budget that meet your specific needs.

Suppose there are homes within your price range and target neighborhoods that meet your criteria—congratulations! It’s time to begin your home search.

If not, you may need to continue saving up for a larger down payment … or adjusting your search parameters to find homes that fit within your budget. We can help you determine the right course for you.

START LAYING YOUR FOUNDATION TODAY

It’s never too early to start preparing financially for a home purchase. These three steps will set you on the path toward homeownership … and a secure financial future!

And if you are ready to buy now but don’t have a perfect credit score or a big down payment, don’t get discouraged. There are resources and options available that might make it possible for you to buy a home sooner than you think. We can help.

Want to find out if you’re ready to buy a house? Give us a call! We’ll help you review your options, connect you with one of our trusted mortgage lenders, and help you determine the ideal time to begin your new home search.

Disclaimer: The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

Sources:

Quicken Loans Blog
myFICO
Bankrate
The Balance
Investopedia
The Lenders Network

 

Eric Slifkin, Broker Associate

Eric Slifkin, Team Lead

Your local real estate expert

Are you seeking a home that suits your lifestyle, community, and neighborhood needs? With his team, Eric offers home buyers a turn-key approach to finding and purchasing real estate from the Treasure Coast to the Palm Beaches and beyond.

 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Whether buying or selling a home on the Treasure Coast, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs, with no obligation.

Eric Slifkin has authored this post, a Broker Associate at Keller Williams Real Estate and the Slifkin Real Estate Team founder. Eric and his experienced agents serve South Florida and the Treasure Coast, including  Stuart, Hobe Sound, Palm City, Port Saint Lucie, Jupiter, Tequesta, and the Palm Beaches.

 

Feb. 12, 2022

How to Find Hidden Real Estate Deals

Ever notice a home that sold without even a yard sign?

Hidden Deals

Find Hidden Real Estate Deals (before they hit the market)

It can be hard to track down great deals on Florida homes for sale but, if you want to be among the first to know about properties that will be coming soon, this is the place to start. These are homes that are listed but not ready to be listed shown.

Eliminate Searching Endlessly

As Realtors, we often get the inside scoop on upcoming property listings before they are available to be seen, giving YOU a distinct advantage over other buyers in our area. 

Get the inside scoop on coming soon properties. Start by completing the form below, and a team member will be in touch to set up listing alerts that are custom-tailored to your specific search criteria.

 

 

Here's what you get when you become our client:

  • Access all MLS listed homes and condos for sale using our local database
  • Get notified when coming soon homes or properties become available
  • Learn about our local housing inventory, home values, and market trends 
  • Schedule private or virtual tours of any homes you'd like to see.
  • Get expert answers to your real estate questions.

Eric Slifkin, Broker Associate

Eric Slifkin, Team Lead

Your local real estate expert

Are you seeking a home that suits your lifestyle, community, and neighborhood needs? Eric offers home buyers a turn-key approach to finding and purchasing real estate from the Treasure Coast to the Palm Beaches and beyond with his team.

 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Whether buying or selling a home on the Treasure Coast, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs, with no obligation.

 

Posted in Home Buying
Feb. 8, 2022

Are You an Accidental Landlord?

The odds are that if you own a rental property, you acquired it deliberately as an investment after careful planning and research. But many owners of income properties did not choose to be landlords. These “accidental landlords” could be someone who ended up with two homes after getting married or inherited a house from a family member and decided to take advantage of a hot rental market.

Stuart Rental HomesIn some cases, a house may have little or negative equity. Renting it out while the property appreciates may be an option and can help prevent foreclosure.

Becoming an Accidental Landlord

If you've become an accidental landlord, congratulations! Income property can be a highly profitable investment that offers both long-term and immediate returns. But it’s important to remember that regardless of how you ended up with your income property, it’s vital that you manage your investment to ensure that it generates the best returns possible.

Seek Professional Help

I am not talking about seeing a psychiatrist (your friends may suggest this). But if you are about to become an accidental landlord, you must understand the process, including how to screen prospective tenants, prepare a lease, and understand tenants’ rights about repairs, collections, and evictions. While this may seem overwhelming at first, professional help is available. A Realtor experienced in procuring tenants, coupled with a competent property manager and real estate attorney, can minimize the stress of renting out your property, which is essential if you are out of town or plan to relocate.

Talk to Your Accountant

Often rent that a property will generate will not cover the total monthly overhead of owning the asset. Still, this negative cash flow may provide you with a valuable tax deduction. Also, as the value of your home rises (along with the rent), cash flow can go from negative to positive. Be sure to talk to your accountant to discuss the benefits of owning an income-producing property.

Update Your Insurance Policy

Updating your insurance should be one of the first things that you do when becoming a landlord. Rental insurance is very different from homeowner’s insurance, and you’ll want to ensure that you consult your insurance carrier to tell them that the property has become a rental.

Tenant Screening

Screening is crucial when it comes to procuring a tenant. Tenant screening can be outsourced and should include credit, eviction, and criminal background checks, as well as nationwide eviction, sex offender, and criminal reports. The tenant typically pays for a screening report as part of the application process.

Run the Numbers

Do your research and find out what the fair market rent is for your property. You should also calculate your expenses, which include such items as maintenance, taxes, and utilities (if applicable), vacancies, insurance, and property management fees, to name a few.

Assemble Your Team

Having a team of professionals in place can help minimize problems along the way. Be sure to select local real estate experts who will fill your vacant rental and manage the process.

 

Feel free to contact us with your rental property questions. Whether buying, selling, or renting a home, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs, no obligation.

 

Eric Slifkin, a Broker Associate, 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  Stuart, Port Saint Lucie, and the Palm Beaches.

 



Feb. 5, 2022

Hiring an Amazing Real Estate Agent

A Guide to Choosing the Right Agent for You

When buying or selling a home, working with a qualified real estate agent is crucial. Not just a professional, but a fantastic agent and a market expert. So how do you ensure you're hiring an excellent real estate agent?

Sold Home

There are currently more than two million real estate professionals in North America. How does a home buyer or seller choose the right agent with so many options from which to choose? According to the National Association of Realtors®, trust and reputation are the top deciding factors consumers use when hiring an agent.3

 

But how do you measure trust and reputation, and what criteria can you use to help you make your decision?

 

In this guide, we've outlined the top attributes that outstanding agents possess, as well as the questions you can ask to make sure you're working with the right market expert to achieve your real estate goals.

 

FIVE ATTRIBUTES OF AN AMAZING AGENT

 

Not all real estate professionals are the same. Following are five key attributes of excellent agents to help you understand what makes top agents and market experts stand apart from the competition:

 

1. A Pricing Specialist: For buyers, outstanding agents have a strong understanding of market trends to help you identify and secure a deal to ensure you get the home you want within your desired budget. For sellers, market experts have experience pricing homes optimally for the market, helping you sell for your desired price and avoid costs like additional mortgage and utility payments.

 

Takeaway: Whether buying or selling a home, pricing can be tricky. Market experts can help navigate the best-possible pricing strategies and secure the home you want within your budget.

 

2. An Effective Time Manager: The average agent may not utilize the latest tools and technology to make the transaction more accessible and cost-effective. Market experts have tools and strategies at their disposal to minimize the amount of time you spend on the process. 

 

For sellers, they can also ensure you only deal with qualified buyers, not "window shoppers" who waste your time. For buyers, a market expert knows how to prioritize your needs and wants to find you the ideal home within your budget without wasting your time on houses that aren't a fit or are likely to turn up major issues in an inspection.

 

Takeaway: Even a well-intentioned agent may not have the skills, tools, or technology to make the experience easy for you. Many hidden activities may take up unexpected time, and a market expert will save you time and energy.

 

3. A Market Insider: While most agents can pull market stats about a neighborhood, community, or city, they may not understand significant trends or developments that would affect your transaction. Market experts live and breathe local real estate and know the trigger points for buying and selling in your market. We also stay current on effective marketing and negotiation practices, resulting in our track record of success.

 

Takeaway: An experienced real estate agent is often the best source of information about a city, neighborhood, or even street; we're conducting market research every day.

 

4. A Strong Negotiator: Amazing agents truly set themselves apart in their ability to negotiate. Real estate negotiations take skill, experience, and a knowledge of fighting for your client's best interests. While any agent can enter negotiations to buy or sell a home, experienced Realtors understand what to do before entering negotiations (establishing the upper hand) and during the process (when to offer or accept concessions) to set up the best outcome.

 

Takeaway: Working with a market expert will help ensure you get the best deal on your terms, not just the fastest deal.

 

5. An Effective Closer: Closing a deal fast is often a good thing. However, top real estate professionals know how to not only achieve your real estate goals quickly but in the right way to avoid pitfalls. Like negotiations, the paperwork and closing of a real estate transaction are complicated. Market experts have a strong understanding of the contracts, timelines, clauses, and contingencies within the closing process.

 

Takeaway: Real estate transactions often involve a significant investment, so even a tiny mistake can mean serious trouble. With that in mind, it's best to work with a true market expert.

 

FIVE QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT

 

The first step would be to "shop around." Many people work with the first agent they come across without understanding their experience level. Therefore, it's always a good idea to interview several agents before selecting one. If you've gotten referrals from people you trust, then you may only need to question 2-3 agents.

 

However, it can be tough to know what to ask in the interview process. Here are some questions that can help you qualify as the best agent to help you achieve your real estate goals:

 

1. Can you send me some information about yourself? Look for professionalism and consistency. What are their accomplishments? See how they approach their work. If they're a newer agent, ask about their team's dynamic and accomplishments.

 

2. How long have you been in real estate? While longevity is necessary, the number of transactions they close or are involved in is even more telling. So feel free also to ask: "How many homes have you sold in this area?"

 

3. What will you do to keep me informed? Will the agent be able to meet your expectations? First, determine how much communication you want, and then find an agent who will give you the attention and time you deserve.

 

4. Can you provide me with further resources I may need? From market reports and pricing trends to school performance and crime statistics, top agents should have resources at their disposal or know where to find them.

 

5. Seller only: Can you share your plan to market my property with me? Many agents will put your home in the MLS and wait for it to sell. An excellent agent should have a detailed plan of how to get your home exposure on social media, to their local networks, and more.

 

 

GET STARTED

 

Now that you're armed with the 5 Attributes of Amazing Agents and the Top Questions to ensure you work with the best possible real estate agent, you're ready to start interviewing agents. 

 

We'd love an opportunity to win your business. Schedule a free consultation with us to find out how true market experts can help you achieve your real estate goals!

Eric Slifkin, Broker Associate

Eric Slifkin, Team Lead

Your local real estate expert

Are you seeking a home that suits your lifestyle, community, and neighborhood needs? Eric offers home buyers a turn-key approach to finding and purchasing real estate from the Treasure Coast to the Palm Beaches and beyond with his team.

 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Whether buying or selling a home on the Treasure Coast, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs, with no obligation.

 

Feb. 4, 2022

Closing Costs in Florida Real Estate

What are Closing Costs?

Also referred to as settlement, the bundle of fees associated with buying or selling a home is called closing costs. Specific costs go to either the buyer or the seller; other expenses are negotiable or dictated by local custom.

Closing Costs

Typical Fees You May Encounter

Your lender must disclose a Good Faith Estimate of all settlement costs. The title company or other entity conducting the closing will tell you the required amount to bring to settlement. Here are typical fees you may encounter:

  • Down payment
  • Loan origination fees
  • Points or loan discount fees you pay to receive a lower interest rate
  • Appraisal fee
  • Credit report
  • Private mortgage insurance premium
  • Insurance escrow for homeowners insurance if being paid as part of the mortgage.
  • Property tax escrow, if being paid as part of the mortgage.
  • Deed recording fees
  • Title insurance policy premiums
  • Survey
  • Inspection fees (building, termite, etc.)
  • Notary fees
  • Prorations for your share of costs such as utility bills and property taxes

Notes:

Lenders keep funds for taxes and insurance in escrow accounts that you may pay with the mortgage, and then they pay the insurance or taxes for you. Note: when financing more than 80% (LTV), escrowed property taxes and insurance are required, which will increase your monthly mortgage payment. 

About prorations – At the closing, certain costs are often prorated (or distributed) between buyer and seller. Because such fees are due monthly or yearly, you might have to pay a bill for services used by the sellers before they move. Proration is a way for the sellers to pay you back or for you to pay them for bills, they may have paid in advance. The most common prorations are for property taxes. They are typically due at the end of the year they are assessed. Thus, if a house sells in June, the sellers will have lived in the house for half the year, but the bill for the taxes won’t come due until the following year, so to make this situation more equitable, they prorate the taxes. In this example, the sellers will credit the buyers for half the taxes at closing.

Do you know how much to expect in closing costs? I can help make sure you’re not surprised by them. Message me with any questions you may have. #thehelpfulagent #home #houseexpert #house #househunting #listreports #homeowner #dreamhome #finances #themoreyouknow #realestate #realestateagent

 

Eric Slifkin, Broker Associate

Eric Slifkin, Team Lead

Your local real estate expert

Contact us today to learn more about home buying and the closing process, or call us at 772-678-1600 for immediate service.

Whether buying or selling a home on the Treasure Coast, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs, with no obligation.

 

Leave a Comment

 

Feb. 3, 2022

No More Closing Surprises

Keys to Maintaining Your Credit Score While in Escrow

While waiting for final approval or a "clear to close" mortgage, underwriters will monitor your credit and bank accounts up to the hour of closing to ensure that you have not assumed any new debt that could affect your ability to pay your mortgage. Here are a few more tips to help keep your credit consistent during closing. No More Closing Surprises

Plan Ahead to Avoid Closing Surprises

The clock starts ticking as soon as the seller formally accepts your offer and the contract becomes bilateral. Knowing the next steps towards closing on your home purchase may not eliminate surprises along the way, but it will help you understand what to do when something unexpected occurs. About Closing Costs in Florida

 

Eric Slifkin, Broker Associate

Eric Slifkin, Team Lead

Your local real estate expert

Contact us today to learn more about home buying and the closing process, or call us at 772-678-1600 for immediate service.

Whether buying or selling a home on the Treasure Coast, we are always happy to meet with you to discuss your wants and needs, with no obligation.

 

Leave a Comment

 

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