South Florida Real Estate Blog by Alfredo Ruiz, Realtor

What Two Positives Coincide with Monday’s Boca Raton Tax Day?

Boca Raton’s week starts off with Monday’s federal income tax filing deadline—AKA, Tax Day. Boca Raton’s Tax Day may not be the kind of annual observance that people look forward to—although for homeowners at least, it does serve as a glorious reminder of the value of the home loan interest deduction. Then, too, for Boca Raton’s non-procrastinators, a second positive may already have been experienced with the early arrival of a U.S. Treasury refund check.

Along those lines, last Friday the IRS put out a news flash noting that a third of taxpayers had yet to file their returns. Of the 153 million individual returns Uncle Sam expects to receive for tax year 2018, 50,000,000 had yet to be filed. That meant that for many Boca Raton residents, the weekend was spent with less time devoted to the pro basketball and hockey playoffs or the  Master’s golf tournament. Instead, teeth-gnashing encounters with the income tax forms had taken place—sometimes resulting in Automatic Extension form filings.

As a side note, taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts get until April 17 to file because of their Patriots’ Day—a legal holiday celebrating the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Why two days instead of one? That’s because Tuesday is Emancipation Day in Washington D.C., and the IRS can’t require that anybody’s tax return be filed when they aren’t open for business. For residents in those two states, it must be nice to know that (at least when he’s got the day off) Uncle Sam keeps his hands in his own pockets.

If your own Tax Day has been observed without that vital home loan interest...

Wary Delray Beach Readers Suspect Real Estate Trickery

 

You can’t blame Delray Beach residents who’ve been bamboozled in the past for having grown cautious as April 1 approached. They braced themselves for this Monday, knowing that the practical jokers will have been hard at work concocting 2019’s April Fools Day tricks. There would be spoof ads, fake headlines, and who-knows-what else? to watch out for.

That’s why you could hardly fault those who instantly dismissed last Friday’s banner headline in the Wall Street Journal. It might be unfair to print an April Fools prank ahead of time—but pranksters have done that before.

And the article certainly bore all the earmarks: an almost believable premise (slightly understated to build credulity) followed by the requisite goofy supporting specifics. Maybe it wasn’t as wild a story as one the Onion might foist off—but it did add the kind of ridiculous details that would set up a satisfying “APRIL FOOLS!” payoff. 

The 4% Mortgage Is Back! was the shocking headline—followed by the parody subhead, “Its Biggest Drop in Over a Decade.” The supporting text talked about mortgage rates “fast approaching 4%”—rates “so low” that “economists and lenders believe it will help jump-start the housing market again”!

For Delray Beach real estate watchers who have been following actual Delray Beach mortgage interest rates over the past few years, the overwrought...

Will Boynton Beach Homeowners Follow Downsizing Trend?

For as long as I can remember, it’s been an unchallenged prediction for real estate—in Boynton Beach and throughout the nation. Sooner or later, the great postwar population bulge known as the “Baby Boomers” will decide en masse to downsize their residences—and when they do, it will have predictable repercussions throughout the housing markets. Smaller Boynton Beach homes should soar in popularity, while larger properties languish—well, at least take a bit longer to sell.

So last week’s Wall Street Journal article scarcely raised an eyebrow. “A Growing Problem in Real Estate: Too Many Too Big Houses” dealt with recent Sunbelt market conditions without suggesting the trends don’t also apply nationally. For sure, Boynton Beach homeowners whose properties fit the article’s focus—“large, high-end homes”—could easily assume the author’s cautionary pronouncements could apply to them. The “deep price cuts” Sunbelt sellers increasingly had to offer were, after all, what has long been predicted. The diagnosis was as expected. “Large, high-maintenance houses no longer fit [boomers’] needs”—and “younger people aren’t buying them.”

As a generalization, it’s hard to argue with the long-standing reasoning. But another truism in real estate is that individual properties are by definition unique—something that’s even more true of those “large, high-end” homes. There is also some contravening evidence. Boynton Beach homeowners will also find reassuring an earlier feature, “Why Many Retirees Are Upsizing Into Larger Homes.”...

Four Words Sum Up the Goal for Choosing Your Agent

 

When you boil down what most people are looking for when it comes to choosing their Boca Raton agent, it’s usually an outcome that can be summed up by a simple 4-word phrase, “best price, least hassle.” It’s no different whether you’re buying or selling.  

For Boca Raton home sellers, the best price, least hassle observation certainly holds—but it might not be the first thing that leaps to mind. That is probably, “get it sold!” The price/hassle factors may prevail after all is said and done, but at the outset, simply accomplishing the Big One (selling your home) is likely to overshadow everything else. Larry the Cable Guy’s famous, “Git ‘er done” is a lot more than just a throwaway laugh line.

These ideas seem to have been confirmed by interviews with actual American sellers and buyers. In the most recent National Association of Realtors®Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the number of “go it alone” sellers fell to an all-time low. For-Sale-by-Owner sales have now dropped to 7% of all successful sales. When that percentage was first measured in 1981, it was 15%, and it’s been dropping ever since. If you assume that sellers choose a licensed agent because they know that professional guidance is the surest path to a completed sale, the growing popularity of their choice isn’t surprising.

There’s little doubt that choosing a licensed Boca Raton real estate agent results in significantly less hassle—but since the primary motivation of For-Sale-by-Owner sellers...

Delray Beach New Home Market Shake-up on the Horizon?

When it comes to industries, you’d have to place Delray Beach real estate into the “stolid” category. The rules are set and agreed-upon. Everything having to do with real estate is entirely “real”—the opposite of “imaginary.” Certainly not frivolous, fleeting, or mercurial.

Major changes don’t come about often or quickly. It is true that one facet of the way real estate business is conducted has undergone a noticeable change due to the web. But that is actually only a shift in how clients find and qualify properties they might be interested in. They still overwhelmingly rely on real estate professionals to take responsibility for the consequential details of buying and selling.

But wait!

A new technology suddenly presents the possibility of making a substantial difference when it comes to new homes—one that might come to pass pretty quickly. It promises to shave as much as 30% off the total cost of constructing new Delray Beach homes. If and when that gets real, it’s hard not to envision widespread repercussions.

The technology involved is 3-D printing—up until now, a technology that has been confined to a ‘gee whiz’ futuristic corner of the residential construction industry. But if Texas startup Icon, Inc. is to be believed, by the end of this year, it will be producing printers that can create up to 2,000 square foot bungalows in a matter of days. That’s 80% of today’s average-size home.

Their Vulcan II is a machine that can print concrete...

Boca Raton’s 1st Day of Spring can Trigger Beneficial Activity

Wednesday is the First Day of Spring—which provides an excellent impetus to dig in and do something that only seems like a tedious chore. In actuality, it can be a sure way to treat yourself and the whole family.

That “something” is decluttering your house!

Why is this a “treat” rather than a tedious way to spend a morning? For one thing, it’s the relief you’ll feel only a short time after you get started. The stuff you get rid of has been lurking in more than the drawers, closet floors, and cupboards. The space it occupies isn’t just in your house—it also has a foothold in a corner of your mind, taking up valuable consciousness space.

If you don’t believe it, just grab a cardboard carton and go through the kitchen drawer (the one where all the pencil stubs, old rubber bands, and twist-ties are mixed in with the expired coupons)—and ruthlessly scrap the stuff you’ll never ever use again. Once you seal up the carton and put it out where the trash goes, check your demeanor. Chances are it will feel as if a weight has been lifted, as surely as if you’d just mailed a parking ticket payment before the deadline. 

It seems to be a universal human condition, putting off decluttering. It doesn’t make sense since getting rid of useless stuff always feels good, but there it is.

One practical tip for how to get started is described by the ICD (Institute for Challenging Disorganization)—a very serious group of productivity specialists and professional organizers. They recommend writing down your own list describing...

Boynton Beach Investors Note News of Broadening Rental Market

The past weeks have provided some news that could lift the outlook of Boynton Beach landlords and those who’ve been thinking about rental real estate as an investment. The reports surfaced from statistics compiled by the Census Bureau and by rentcafe.com—an internet company that tracks the current U.S. rental market. Both pieces of information shed light on the makeup of the renter population. It’s broadening in ways that can’t help but boost the prospects for the rental market as a whole.

The first encouraging information was last month’s finding that the percentage of high-income households opting to become renters increased 175% over the past decade. The number of households earning $150,000 or more who decided to become renters swelled by 1,350,000.

The statistics were culled from Census Bureau data for the years between 2007 and 2017. It confirmed that the segment of the renter population consisting of top earners was growing at a faster clip than any other income bracket. Theories to explain the trend ranged from the lifestyle preferences of newly prosperous millennials to echoes of the post housing crisis mentality. Whatever the reason, it should come as welcome trend for Boynton Beach landlords whose investments are in higher-end rental properties.

Added to this came last week’s finding that the same decade saw another increase—this time in the number of older residents who are renting their homes. Although the market is still dominated by renters in their 20s and early 30s, the number of renter households aged 60 and older grew disproportionately. According to rentcafe.com, that segment “jumped...

Among Homes for Sale Features, a Surprise ‘Must-Have’ Leader

This spring’s Delray Beach homes for sale will, as always, highlight the special features that make them stand out. Just which features those are for today’s buyers is what realtor.com calls “the billion-dollar real estate question.” Zeroing in on them is the goal of a number of “must-have” lists. One of the most carefully-researched of those was just announced—and it’s topped by a surprisingly practical feature. It’s one that reached the number one position for the first time ever.

  The National Association of Home Builders’ Home Buyer Preferences poll strongly indicates that practicality is growing in importance in buyers’ minds. It’s still a cinch that a stunning, well laid out kitchen will always rate high on most everybody’s must-have list—and that a leading 21st-century contender is the open-concept design. But the 4,000 respondents’ answer to that billion-dollar real estate question was, as one commentator put it, “both surprising and extremely practical.”  

So: what is that top feature—the one that 91% of 2019 homebuyers said was a have-to-have?  

It’s “a laundry room.”

When you think about it, it does make good practical sense—and it’s not hard to see why it deserves a prominent place in many a Delray Beach home shopper’s checkoff list. Today’s washers and dryers are energy efficient, quiet, and many really do do a superior job compared with their predecessors. But...

Some Golf-Home Developments Face Unsure Property Values

The game of golf remains a leading participation sport across Florida—but over the past decade, its growth as an industry has rolled into a hazard. According to a sobering report in The Wall Street Journal, some unanticipated demographic factors have combined with legal problems to drive some golf-home property values out of bounds. Even Golf Operator Magazine calls golf’s decline “a perfect storm.” As a result, it’s fair to say that Boca Raton golfing enthusiasts who resisted the allure of some golf course community developments now have reason to celebrate their forbearance.

You didn’t have to have been a top-notch golfer to have appreciated the promise of life along the links. Especially in the 1980s and ‘90s, developers flooded the market with resort-like golf-course developments. There are 3,800 private clubs in the U.S.—a quarter of them built after 1970. Even non-golfers could appreciate the appeal of living near the wide-open green spaces of a beautifully kept private course—not to mention the anticipation of property value growth as the newly planted links matured into ever more desirable golf destinations.

Problems began to develop a few years back, as younger Americans failed to match their elders’ enthusiasm for the game. The National Golf Foundation counts 23.8 million active players, down from a 2001 peak of 30 million. The repercussions are many, but the dramatic falloff in revenue has caused the closure of 1,000 courses—with dire consequences for the real estate developments associated with them. For courses that continue to operate despite lower participation rates, homeowners’ association member fees can skyrocket...

Boynton Beach Luxury Homes Point to an Electronic Future

Last week, word arrived about a newly constructed luxury home that sold for an “undisclosed” multi-million-dollar sum. Since the closing was an ocean away, that news would normally not have been of special interest here in Boynton Beach. But the Australian mansion’s sale was noteworthy not only because of how quickly it was snatched up (only three days after listing) but because of the breadth of advanced electronics it included.

The Aussie web site news.com reported that the seven-bedroom tri-level luxury home had been listed for auction in March (that’s how homes are sold Down Under) with the public invited for a 30-day inspection period. To the surprise of all, “within hours” after the well-heeled buyer took a single tour of the place, he snapped it up. The home’s noteworthy attributes were its abundance of “new-age” features—an abundance of built-in electronics that were, as its builders modestly described, “tech-savvy.” To promote the property, appropriate electronic media were engaged—including an outdoor electronic signboard announcing the sale and playing videos of the property.

 It’s a long-standing trend for Boynton Beach luxury homes to increasingly incorporate advanced electronic features, yet this property’s remote-controlled toilets and bidets in the guest rooms, as well as the master, reflected an unmistakable “all-in” approach. A partial list of some of the other features included keyless entry and lift access, a full house air conditioning system allowing individual room settings, remote controlled motorized blinds, and a driveway with undisclosed security features, among others. The home theatre was iPad-controlled, as was the...