South Florida Real Estate Blog by Alfredo Ruiz, Realtor

What Boca Raton Homeowners Need to Know about Millennials

Millennials are buying homes!

This was what The Dallas Morning News reported last week—but Boca Raton homeowners didn’t need any Dallas real estate to be interested in the statement. It was based on data from all across the country.

Millennials (anyone born between 1981 and 1997) made up 34% of homebuyers last year—"more than any other age group” according to the National Association of Realtors®. Boca Raton homeowners probably found that surprising, given all the contrary news that’s been long reported about the group. The stereotype had it that the whole pack of “plastic straw-hating snowflakes” were going to be doomed to a future of nothing much more exciting than avocado toast feasting in their permanent quarters (i.e., their parents’ basements).

Particularly for Boca Raton homeowners whose properties fall into the starter home category, those assumptions about the entire millennial generation—that they might never even aspire to a home of their own—have been disconcerting. If legions of younger folk drop out of line in the traditional progression of residential ownership, that would constitute a monkey wrench in the whole economics of home ownership. And there had been some evidence that this was in fact taking place…

The latest reports brighten those gloomy suspicions. The non-profit Urban Land Institute finds that millennials have very different plans. Perhaps...

What Experts Say about Selling Your Delray Beach House Now

From the home sales analysts at Pulsenomics comes the latest findings on how home sellers are likely to fare if they decide to list their properties this autumn. Our Delray Beach market is only one data point in national surveys like this one—but Pulsenomics has a history of accurately zeroing in on the direction of real estate activity. For Delray Beach homeowners who are exploring selling their house anytime within the next few years, that’s worth checking out.

The major points covered in their most recent release:

  • Home value appreciation has improved in 2018 over 2017, with a predicted growth by year’s end of just shy of 6%. Since that’s the bottom line demonstration of the continuing investment value of owning your own home, it keeps home sellers in the power position in negotiations.
  • The speed of that same appreciation has begun to slow in more than half of the nation’s metropolitan markets—suggesting that the days when sellers hold the upper hand may be numbered.
  • Appreciation in home values remains above the historical average.
  • Inventories at the most affordable price points continue to lag—another factor which encourages selling.

The report is a compilation of the opinions of more than 100 real estate economists and experts whose overall prediction is that sellers’ market conditions will likely continue in most places through 2019; then possibly tilting toward buyers at some point in 2020....

One Way Boca Raton Listing Language Motivates Prospects

The descriptive language that goes into every Boca Raton listing is aimed at framing the way prospective buyers relate to the property being offered. Between the headline photo and the actual number-laden listing detail (square footage, numbers of bedrooms and baths, etc.) comes a paragraph or two of descriptive text.

There’s little debate that a listing’s language can be decisive in motivating prospects to take the next step: calling the Realtor® for a showing appointment. As you’d guess, that means a lot of study has gone into what works and what doesn’t work in that descriptor. One result is many lists of “effective selling words” for use in real estate listings—but those can’t really address the whole picture of what motivates house hunters.

One of many creative approaches to crafting effective listing language is to take the salesman’s “objection” strategy—to view each sentence as an opportunity to put to rest a potential concern. Here are examples of that approach—the concerns, and some phraseology that addresses them:

Size. “Spacious” and “open” or “open floor plan” work well—as do “airy” and “sweeping.” “Huge” or “enormous” also work—but are only useful when they really do apply. “Walk-in closet” and “master suite” are other ways to project an image of roominess.

Location.Desirable” is stronger than “convenient,”—but where it’s appropriate, “prestigious” is better still. Specific details like “fabulous view” and “close to everything...

New Smart Bathrooms Emerge to Help Sell Your Boynton Beach Home

When it comes to selling your Boynton Beach home, kitchens get the Grand Prize for being the room that gets the most attention. But it’s increasingly possible for bathrooms to give them a run for the money.

Kitchens take first place because so much of a typical Boynton Beach family’s “together” time is spent there. Preparing and serving meals is, for most of us, a positive part of the day we look forward to. As a result, the quality and practical layout of a kitchen get a lot thorough going-over during showings and open houses. It’s amazing how frequently prospective buyers stop to chat with the showing agent right there in the kitchen. People just like kitchens—so having one that’s especially appealing is an indisputable plus for selling any Boynton Beach home.

On the other hand, Boynton Beach bathrooms might or might not get more than a perfunctory walk-through, depending on which of two categories it falls into:

TYPE A: This is an ordinary Boynton Beach bathroom. It is run-of-the-mill; functionally adequate; perfectly okay. It should be (actually, as a practical selling-your-home matter, must be) sparkly clean, fluffy-towel laden, altogether presentable—and unmemorable. It is what prospective buyers expect and demand—and if they don’t remember anything about it, that’s perfectly okay. It won’t present a barrier to selling your home.  

TYPE Z: A memorable bathroom, on the other hand, can be an unexpected difference-maker. Grand, marble-emblazoned master...

Why Didn’t Mortgage Rates Jump after Last Week’s News?

By last Friday, anyone planning Boca Raton real estate dealings would have been following the week’s developments on the mortgage interest rate front. Since Boca Raton’s mortgage interest rates are the most volatile factor influencing affordability, changes can have large consequences.

The key information source in that arena is the Mortgage News Daily, a must-read for industry insiders. As soon as Wednesday’s big news broke—the Federal Reserve’s decision to hike its benchmark interest rate—it made for interesting reading.

If the Fed’s morning announcement had most everyone expecting a quick move to higher Boca Raton mortgage rates, by noon MND readers would have been less certain. By Wednesday afternoon its lead headline was “Mortgage Rates Improve After Fed Announcement.” That seemingly illogical reaction was attributed not to the Fed’s decision, but to Fed Chair Powell’s follow-up press conference. Inflation drives up rates, and Powell expects inflation to remain within predicted limits.

By Thursday, analyst Matthew Graham’s column headlined “Mortgage Rates Lowest in More Than a Week.” He poo-pooed others’ doom-and-gloom headlines “floating around the web.” Why was his analysis believable when it ran counter to the majority view? “Easy!” he wrote; “I’m right and they’re wrong.” The reason had to do with “boring” technical details about when rates are sampled.

By week’s end, Graham looked to be correct—even if only for the moment. “RECAP: Month-End...

Waiting Periods for Derogatory Credit

Experiencing a damaging credit event such as a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy, does not mean you are out of the mortgage market forever.  Depending on the circumstances, there are wait times before a lender can approve you for a new mortgage. If you are experiencing extenuating circumstances, the wait time may be shorter. Extenuating circumstances are temporary events that are beyond a person's control, such as a job loss or death of a wage earner.  These events must be verified and documented and are subject to review by an underwriter.

Below are some general guidelines on how long you must wait before a lender can approve you for a loan.  When in doubt, check with an expert.  I can certainly guide you to the right individual. 

FANNIE MAE

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy | 4 years from discharge or dismissal date
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy | 2 years from discharge date, 4 years from dismissal date
  • Foreclosure | 7 years from completion date
  • Short Sale (Deed-In-Lieu) | 4 years

FREDDIE MAC

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy | 4 years from discharge or dismissal date
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy | 2 years from discharge date, 4 years from dismissal date
  • ...

What are the Most Common Questions Homebuyers Ask?

A couple of years ago, the National Association of Realtors® sent out a compilation of answers to the most-often posed questions home buyers have for their agents. Delray Beach home buyers do sometimes come up with these. Here’s the NAR list, its answers—and a few brief observations:

  1. “How much can I afford?” The answer depends on your personal financial details, which are easy to determine—just search for “house affordability calculator.” Avoid the “ad” entries at the top of the screen; most of them make you surrender your personal info before they will display the answer.
  2. “Can I buy a home and sell mine simultaneously?” Yes, there are several ways to do this via offer contingencies. Alternatively, some sellers decide to rent while finding and securing a new home.
  3. “What do you think the seller will accept?” The NAR’s suggestion is “knocking 5% off the list price.” Since every situation is different, I think a more precise recommendation would be to take the seller’s profile and recent market comps into account (and don’t forget your agent’s input)!
  4. “Should I demand a home inspection?” Simply, ‘yes.’ When a property seems for all the world to have been perfectly maintained, it can be tempting to just speed past that inspection “technicality.” But don’t do it: the report your seasoned Delray Beach inspector produces will be well worth the cost and time invested. You might find yourself reviewing its details for years...

Simple Tips for Achieving a Bigger-Looking Kitchen

Probably because any “achievement” is something that’s honored and rewarded from kindergarten on, the word automatically triggers a positive reaction.

So for Delray Beach readers who happened upon last week’s Realty Times article about how to “achieve a bigger kitchen” without busting the family budget, the piece would have been worth a look. And in fact, author Brad Miller actually did offer up some creative approaches. Here are some wallet-friendly ideas for Delray Beach sellers looking to increase the value of their kitchen:

  • Go for a slimmer fridge (the tall, thin 28-inches hold a lot of food).
  • Ditch double sinks (a single large one takes up less space; actually makes washing large pans easier; allows more counter space).
  • Use a compact dishwasher (appropriate for condos—but we might question this one for the average Delray Beach family).
  • Remove some hardware (press-activated cabinet doors and drawers provide a less cluttered, expansive appearance).
  • Light the cabinets (eliminating shadows makes a kitchen “feel roomier”) There are a wide range of possibilities (glass-doored cabinets can even be handsomely lit from the inside).

The Realty Times layout included photos illustrating the bigger-looking kitchen ideas in action—and they really did look convincing.

...

Friday’s Mortgage Rate News Extends Delray Beach’s Winning Streak

The Mortgage News Daily gives the home loan industry’s workaday professionals something to read with their first cup of coffee. It catches them up on the latest numbers from the previous day’s activity and provides a running commentary on the why’s and what next?’s for mortgage issuers.

Friday’s edition gave Delray Beach homeowners, soon-to-be homeowners, and those soon to be home sellers ample reason to head into the Labor Day weekend with renewed confidence in the current state of affairs. Friday’s lead headline in the MND provided the reason: “Mortgage Rates End Week Near Best Levels.”

The opening sentence began, “Mortgage rates caught a break…” and went on to explain that an array of underlying reasons continues to prevent home loan rates from rising. That extends a near-freeze in the low rates that has recently prevailed. Despite widespread expectations that home loan payments would rise throughout this year, rates have actually moved downward since April.

And lately?

Yawn.

Commentator Matthew Graham summarized the plight of journalists who cover the loan industry: “If You Like Boring,” his headline read, “You’re in Luck!”  “Mortgage rates didn’t move at all again today,” he groused. “If we broaden our definition of ‘sideways’ just a bit, we can legitimately fit most of 2018 into the same conversation...

Does the “Perfect House” Checklist Match Your Own?

It has been largely unchallenged since its debut in 2014: the list of nine elements that make up the “perfect” house. Originally formulated for a Houselogic feature by builder John Riha, the nine features that comprise an “ideal” house make a more meaningful list than most similar compilations. It can serve a thought-provoking checklist for house hunters weighing today’s Boynton Beach offerings—if for no other reason than deciding which listed items are personal priorities. The nine (with a few of my parenthetical asides):

  1. Single level (unless there is a  killer view from a higher floor)
  2. Nine-Foot Ceilings (except in grand rooms)
  3. Southern Exposure
  4. Outdoor Living Spaces
  5. Maximized Insulation
  6. Separate Master Bedroom (understood to mean“suite”)
  7. Low-Maintenance Siding (for practicality, certainly—but aesthetically, maybe not)
  8. Great Storage (absolutely!)
  9. Ergonomic Touches

Author Riha cheated, though, by adding as a postscript an unnumbered 10th feature. It’s one that I agree with (and I bet most Boynton Beach house hunters will, too). The extra element for the perfect Boynton Beach house is an “intangible dimension—defined as the quirks that provide individuality and personality. They serve to “keep a house...