South Florida Real Estate Blog by Alfredo Ruiz, Realtor

Have Boca Raton Households Ditched Theaters for Media Rooms?

 

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal’s “Homes” section led with a splashy layout about media rooms. Boca Raton real estate veterans would probably nod at the article’s historical account that “there was a time” when high-end homes demonstrated their media bona fides through well-appointed home theaters. Many did tend to be “found in the basement,” did often have fabric walls for soundproofing, and sometimes added a Godfather or Batman poster to burnish the experience. Some Boca Raton households even included popcorn machines.

The balance of the piece (“The New Mansion Must: A Media Room”) dealt with today’s version of the home theater: “the media room.” Instead of the front-facing padded theater seats, today’s examples more often feature “cozy couches, table and chairs” arranged to facilitate TV and movie watching. The Journal contrasted yesterday’s setup—which frequently had home theatergoers immersed in a dark room on a level away from the rest of the household—with today’s more convenient version, situated at the center of home life.

The shift has been made possible by more compact technology. Instead of having to rely on a big screen projector or one of the gargantuan rear-projection TVs, we have our ubiquitous flat-screen TVs. If you’ve seen any of the newer ones, the image quality can be breath-taking. Almost “3-D”-looking. And somehow the engineers have devised ways to manufacture screens that show in regular room light. In fact, the article includes a shot of a flat-screen that’s...

Do Remodels Make Sense when Selling Your Boynton Beach Home?

 

The numbers are in!

If you are among the local homeowners counting the days until Boynton Beach’s hot selling season begins, unless your house is already in perfect showing shape, you might be pondering which—if any—possible remodeling projects would be wise to take on before you list.

The answers aren’t simple. The first consideration is the calculation for whether your property is likely to attract top dollar in its as-is condition. If not, you need a prospect’s-eye take on which areas are most likely to detract from the apparent overall value of the property. Then comes another factor: identifying which of those projects will go furthest in recapturing their cost.

Even if leaving everything as-is doesn’t inspire much confidence, it might be tempting to “test the market” just to see what happens. Unfortunately, the most common result is that offers (if any) will be lowered to reflect the cost you saved…less a premium, of course. Experienced bargain hunters look to be compensated for the value they’ll have to add.

A number of remodeling associations attempt to alleviate at least some of that guesswork via annual assessments. These survey current national data to compare average costs for remodeling projects with the average value they return at sale. These figures are difficult to pin down with precision, but the folks at remodeling.hw.net take on the challenge annually. As noted above, the numbers are in!  

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Back-Burner House Hunting: a Luxury for Delray Beach Buyers

If you’re pretty sure you will be in the hunt for a new Delray Beach house sooner or later—but have the luxury of being able to wait until you come up with THE perfect one—it’s all too easy to put off doing anything about it until some event or other forces the issue. Experience teaches that using the time at hand to prepare in advance can make the difference between actually landing that dream Delray Beach house and the alternative: just settling.

In case you fit into that category, there are some proven tactics you can adopt to make the most of your current time advantage. You might call these tips for “back-burner house hunting.” Here are four good ones:

  1. Assess your clout. Serious house hunters recognize the advantage of getting pre-approved for a mortgage before they start shopping in earnest. That can be put off until later (and it does involve some financial reporting that carries an expiration date). But the “back-burner” house hunter can usefully assess their readiness from the lenders’ point of view. It’s useful to clear up any credit misreporting, pay down any excessive credit card balance, etc.
  2. Keep a running list of ‘must-haves.’ Make a list of baseline requirements for your ideal Delray Beach house—and revisit it from time to time. Noting items that are added (or deleted) from the list will make it more meaningful—and clarify the difference between absolute gotta-haves and like-to haves!
  3. Drive around—with a purpose. Get to know the neighborhoods and their relative...

Buying Your Boca Raton Home without Credit Confusion

“It can be kind of confusing.” - Tom Quinn, V.P Business Development for myFICO in “The Scores That Matter in Mortgage Lending.

Unless you’re a buyer who falls into the all-cash category, once you begin to zero in on buying your next Boca Raton home, you will already have been paying close attention to your bill-paying reputation. You will probably have requested one or more of the free credit score reports the reporting agencies furnish free of charge once a year.

Mortgage lenders use Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax in differing ways, and since each follows its own system to rate your creditworthiness, their scores differ. And it’s more complicated than that because the agencies offers lenders different scores depending on the type of loan being considered.

In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau once ordered TransUnion and Equifax to pay millions of dollars in fines “for deceiving consumers about the usefulness and actual cost of credit scores they sold to consumers.” So Equifax’s Score 5 differs from its Score 8—and Experian’s Score 2 differs from TransUnion’s Score 4…and so on. FICO will sell consumers access to “28 of the most widely used” score versions—but when you try to find out which scores any given lender is currently using, you’re unlikely to come up with a useful answer.

That means that the successful way to navigate the system is common sense-based. As FICO acknowledges, although evolving credit models “keep pace with changing...

Last Week’s Boynton Beach Real Estate Shocker: Not So Stunning

Boynton Beach real estate activity may not necessarily reflect national trends, but anytime U.S. news media pick up on an interesting storyline that includes the phrase “home sales” (either “existing” or “new”), that can have an effect on how future Boynton Beach buyers and sellers approach their own plans. Last week there was one of those stories.

It followed the release of December’s home sales numbers, which declined by 6.4%. This was truly an unusually large decline—though hardly the “plunge” that “Stuns Real Estate Agents” (the Newsmax headline).

CNBC, which usually offers a more steady-as-she-goes viewpoint in its Realty Check column, also reported that the drop in home sales “has real estate agents baffled.” They thought the agents’ bafflement was largely due to the fact that the month hadn’t produced “some sort of change in government policy” such as a tax change. Sizeable sales volume moves can usually be tied to such gyrations. Apparently, CNBC discounted the unnerving effect that the jittery stock market had inflicted on many people’s nerves in December. The Dow’s record-setting dive mid-month should have been hard to discount entirely; but at any rate, that kind of performance had mercifully vanished with the new year.

The National Association of Realtors®’ chief economist, Lawrence Yun, wasn’t stunned. He expected that a decline in consumer confidence had a lot to do with the drop. But he was somewhat puzzled that sales volume numbers “do not reflect the lower current...

Buyer’s Market or Not, It’s Still All about YOU!

Delray Beach ears that were attuned to some of the nation’s commentators might have heard that last year’s gradual slowdown in residential sales might signal a dawning “buyer’s market.” That may be true or not, but as for its impact on your own home-buying plans, there are a couple of realities to bear in mind.

First is that any shift from seller’s to buyer’s market is at best barely discernable. Its basis would be determined by national averages, where a slowdown in residential closings is usually taken to mean that sellers are having a hard time finding customers. That wouldn’t fully take into account the effect that tight inventories might have. When fewer sellers are willing to put their own Delray Beach homes on the market for whatever reason, the result on bottom line sales volume is the same as when buyers think homes are overpriced. When there simply aren’t enough properties available for any given price range, the number of closings falls.

The second reality is that since buying or selling a home is such a major economic decision, it is your own particular situation that matters most. Forbes.com had this in mind in a recent article when they pointed out that what “third-party indicators say” should have little bearing on the course of action either buyers or sellers follow.

For buyers, when the time is right—that is, when you have put yourself in the financial position to be able to buy comfortably—that’s usually the time when it makes sense to buy. The term “buyer’s market”...

Art or Science? Tip for Making Boca Raton Homes “Happy”

 

Creating a happy home would have to weigh in as among the most rewarding of all endeavors—and, you’d have to believe, one that requires a goodly dose of what lifestyle gurus call “the art of good living.” That’s why one general interest article in Realtor® Magazine deserved at least a double-take with its headline, “The Scientific Secrets of What Makes a Home Happy.”

Really? Happiness is not generally thought to be something that lends itself to scientific scrutiny: graphs and charts and mathematical precision. If there truly are scientific ways you can make Boca Raton homes happy ones, it promised to be worth looking into.

In fact, the piece did have a scientific basis—research findings that identified conditions that produce high levels of self-reported “contentment.” The “secrets” may not be shrouded in mystery, but four of the leading ones seem sensible:

  • Long commutes are mood killers. Researchers found a strong correlation between easy access to workplaces and contentment.
  • Clutter costs happiness. UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families found that “high densities of objects in the home” raised female subjects’ stress levels (measured by presence of the hormone cortisol). Men apparently didn’t notice.
  • Know your neighbors. Relationships with neighbors leads to a sense of well-being—as anyone...

For Delray Beach Gadget Lovers and Homeowners, a Heads Up!

Last Friday was the final day for the Las Vegas mega-trade exposition: the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Forward-thinking Delray Beach homeowners have learned to keep an eye on the CES because the public debuts of new appliances, gadgets, apps, and devices that take place there often wind up influencing Delray Beach real estate. Sometimes, in major ways.

Past examples are numerous. Not too long ago, giant screen TVs were oddities—but today it’s unusual to find a single Delray Beach house for sale that doesn’t have at least one room configured to suggest an inviting big screen entertainment area. CES is where the latest television advances showed up first—and America bought into big screen in a big way.

CES is also where the newest Bluetooth- and WiFi-ready devices have their coming out parties—important because some older Delray Beach houses with dense, WiFi-stopping flooring and walls need some serious signal-boosting setups before their listing can promote “WiFi throughout.”

The 2019 CES continued its tradition of providing a launchpad for devices intended to transform the way consumers live, work, and play—but this year did so without a lot of star power in the real estate department. There wasn’t that one single standout that could grab headlines major media attention, at least not one likely to transform the prospects for future Delray Beach houses for sale.

What did debut were a collection of incremental additions to the roster of gadgets and appliances that listen to you and talk to each other. These gizmos belong...

Luxury Home Ownership Gets Fractional

Boynton Beach readers won’t be surprised to learn that anyone able to afford a multimillion-dollar vacation property is likely to be fairly adept at math. It turns out that an emerging trend in the highest end of the vacation home market also calls for some familiarity with fractions.

Closing out the year in style, the Wall Street Journal’s real estate section editors provided an interesting spread delving into the palazzos, castles, villas, and vineyards that make up the second homes of international luxury buyers. This would not ordinarily be especially newsworthy for WSJ readers since their Mansion section regularly offers similar photo spreads.

What made this December entry worthy of crossing over into the news area was what is becoming a growing trend for “some well-heeled nomads” investing in second and third luxury homes: fractional ownership.

The idea is that rather than investing millions in centuries-old luxury villas (there was an example in Tuscany) or , some wealthy vacationers are opting to “hop among bite-sized” private residences in which they have only partial ownership. Since they might visit these real estate acquisitions only a couple of times a year, they are opting to split ownership with similar-minded folks. This is known as fractional ownership strategy. A similar but slightly different incarnation is found in the private residence clubs. Both are gaining traction.

Since there is a myriad of ways the details can be handled, the article was scant on details. It pointed out that a residence club usually costs...

If Boca Raton Homes Could Make a New Year’s Resolutions List…

 

If you are over the age of 12, you’ve probably developed a healthy skepticism about New Year’s resolutions. Or at least the life expectancy any one of them can anticipate. But whether or not the good intentions they signify live past Groundhog’s Day, they do, at the very least, serve one noble purpose: that of clarifying goals.

So I was interested when the National Association of Realtors® HouseLogic website ran an end-of-year article proclaiming a “Top-10 List of New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home.” I expected the list to consist of the kind of maintenance chores that Boca Raton homes need to stay in tip-top condition—but the list was more interesting than that. The writer (home improvement author John Riha) approached the subject literally, translating the typical Boca Raton homeowner’s personal New Year’s resolution list into what you might call their “home’s-eye” counterpart.

The first resolution—a perennial list-topper for most post-holiday partying adults—looks like this:

  1. Lose weight” translates into a resolution for your home of “cut energy use.” Since Boca Raton homes do tend to be gluttons for energy, cutting back is a worthy 2019 goal.
  2. Quit smoking” becomes “maintain your HVAC system”—since purifying indoor air quality serves a similar noble cause. Interesting detail: for fireplaces, use firewood instead of the pressed wood substitutes which may contain formaldehyde....