South Florida Real Estate Blog by Alfredo Ruiz, Realtor

What Will 2019 Bring for Delray Beach Real Estate?

As Delray Beach plunges fearlessly into the New Year, it’s the perfect time to present a roundup of the experts’ predictions for 2019 real estate. Last year’s national forecasts turned out to be more-or-less accurate for Delray Beach real estate—probably because nothing very surprising happened. Throughout the year, despite several onslaughts by Mother Nature, the overall economy continued to bolster optimism—even counting the stock market gyrations at year’s end.

What do the majority expect for the coming year in real estate? Here’s what they are willing to commit to on the record:

MarketWatch predicts that there will be a general tilt away from seller’s market conditions to favor buyers—but just. Although acknowledging that such shifts often “lead to fewer offers and bidding wars;” this one will be mild enough that homeowners are “still likely to walk away with a decent profit in 2019 if you sell.”  

Forbes foresees that mortgage rates should continue to rise, but even so, Millennial-aged buyers will keep buying homes. The reason is oft-repeated: as they reach the age when peak household formation takes place, their need for housing will trump the price obstacle. Although first-timers will struggle, older Millennials will “have more options in higher-end tiers.”

The Realtor...

A Holiday Gift Surfaces for Boynton Beach Home Sellers and Buyers

Last Thursday, the Washington Post described “a holiday gift” that could find its way to the doorsteps of Boynton Beach home seller and buyers. The Post might not have identified him by name, but there was also a hint that the Grinch could be lurking in the shadows.

Real estate writer Kathy Orton’s headline story described an unanticipated December boon “for those looking to buy or refinance a home.” It was a package that materialized in the wake of wild fluctuations in the stock market. A variety of national and international worries had combined to trigger widespread “investor anxiety.” The result a headline echoed in the Mortgage Bankers Association daily newsletter:

“Mortgage Rates Plunge to Their Lowest Level in Three Months.”

For prospective Boynton Beach home buyers who have been hoping to lock in favorable home loan offers, the news could have seemed worthy of a scene out of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But before that holiday standard’s joyous ending could be echoed in real life, home buyers who were slow to react might be cautioned that another Christmas classic might be called to mind before long. Realistically, the Post’s “holiday gift” could fall prey to a Grinch-like plot twist.

In this year’s real-life Boynton Beach version, that villainous role might be played by the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee. “Markets expect another rate hike in December” according to one economist. If so, it could quickly reverse the rate...

Why Shouldn’t You Buy Your Boca Raton House with Cash?

It’s a tempting scenario: after succeeding in gathering a substantial trove of cash, you find your Boca Raton dream house—and sit down to write out a check for the entire agreed-upon sum, buying it outright! The future looks like ultra-smooth sailing, financially speaking. No mortgage payment. No interest. No monthly insurance set-aside or property tax pre-payment shunted into some account the mortgage company insists upon. And you really own the place yourself, with no strings attached!

Although there are definite plusses to buying your Boca Raton dream house with cash, there are at least three opposing reasons why it would be prudent to at least think twice before writing that monster check:

1.      Taxes! The federal tax reform passed in 2017 may limit the interest tax deduction to $10,000, but that’s still a hefty plus come tax time—one that cash buyers might miss. It has the effect of reducing a mortgage’s bottom line cost. ...

What 4 Reasons Could Power December Delray Beach Home Sales?

Normally, December is a ho-hum month for Delray Beach home sales—and that could well be the case again. Across the nation, 2018’s leadup has performed pretty much as expected.

Home sales slowed as the number of home listings stayed in short supply and mortgage interest rates crept upward. So it would surprise no one if Delray Beach home sales followed the national trend.

But instead of a sleepy year-end market, a year-end surprise might be possible. That’s the studied opinion of CNBC’s respected real estate commentator, Diana Olick. December is “usually the slowest month for home sales,” she writes; “but that might not be the case this year.”

Last week’s pronouncement came on the heels of a dynamic stock market swoon but had little to do with that or other financial jitters. She pointed to three unique dynamics that make this December “one of the better times” to both buy and sell:

  1. Interest rates. After rate increases having turned “what was a red-hot market into a lukewarm market,” Olick found that buyers are now likely to seize the moment. With mortgage rates hovering below 5% yet almost universally expected to move higher in 2019, that fact alone is “motivating buyers.”
  2. Prices. ‘Tis the season for bargain hunters. Web titan Zillow reports seeing a “sharp increase in the share of properties with price cuts.” Although the housing market can always be counted on to let up once the kids get back in school,...

Location, Location, and Location Rules Boynton Beach House Hunts

The common observation that “the three most important things in real estate are location, location, and location” has been around for the better part of a century. The wisdom of that wisecrack is still undeniable—including for when it comes to buying Boynton Beach homes. It is, after all, why a house in one of Boynton Beach’s more desirable areas will generally sell at a premium to one of equal size and construction in a less sought-after area.

For 21st-century house hunters who might be inclined to pay location less heed than their forebears, that could be risky. After all, what originally made one area more desirable than others has usually been a combination of meaningful factors. The first has to do with its raw attributes—the visual appeal of its setting, the quality of its microclimate, or its relative insulation from natural hazards.

Then there’s the livability factor of a location’s accessibility—its ease of access to places of work, shopping, and recreation. We may be have become an ever-more-mobile society, but a lengthy daily commute does exact a price in terms of quality of life. For anxious parents, a home’s location in a superior Boynton Beach school district can be the decisive draw. And as the holidays approach, it’s easy to recall how near proximity to a major airport can keep far-flung family members in the fold.

I counsel my clients to give full weight in their buying decision to the distinct equation that is location. It is, when all is said and done, the quality that stands alone—the one that’s utterly...

Sell Your Boca Raton Home Now? Poll Hints at an Answer

Boca Raton’s holiday season is well underway now that we’ve passed the commercial post-Thanksgiving kickoff days: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. If you are one who is debating whether or not to sell your home during the holidays, there are plenty of both pros and cons. One good reason is the relative lack of competition; another is the attitude of most house hunters in December: they tend to be an earnest crew.

As to whether this particular holiday season looks like a good one to sell your own Boca Raton home, last week offered what might be a relevant hint. Although it’s true that measuring consumer “moods” can be an iffy proposition, last week delivered at least one piece of hard evidence. Since Boca Raton home buyers are by definition the ultimate consumers, it was one element pointing to how this year-end market might be expected to fare.

On Tuesday, the Rasmussen Reports polling organization published one of its periodic consumer attitude polls—this one zeroing in on residential real estate. Among the findings in a report titled “Homeowner Optimism Still Among Record Highs”

  • U.S. homeowners are “more optimistic than ever” about their home’s value.
  • 69% of polled U.S. homeowners say that were they to sell their home now it would be worth more than what they owe.
  • Already last May, 66% fewer had held that opinion—and that was the highest in nine years!
  • ...

For Delray Beach Landlords, the Rental Home Pet Dilemma

Delray Beach rental homes can provide their owners with an investment that’s competitive on many fronts. It can provide cash, positive equity growth, tax advantages—and even a variation on the “pride of ownership” that live-in homeowners feel. But at least in one area, it also brings a brow-wrinkling decision that those who live in the homes they own don’t have to think twice about.

We’re talking about pets. Fido and Kitty—yes or no?

For a huge proportion of American families, it’s a no-brainer. Despite potential less desirable side effects, that new puppy or kitten will be welcomed without hesitation into parlors from Delray Beach to Anchorage. Any damage that might result is just part of the wear-and-tear any household expects. The American Pet Association used to point to the 39% of households that own a dog or two—and to the 33% who own at least one cat. That might be greater today, now that 94 million cats and 89 million dogs populate U.S. homes.

What this results in for Delray Beach landlords is a tough choice about whether to allow renters to have pets. It might seem to make sense to simply rule them out—thus avoiding the clawing, scratching, digging, chewing on floors, walls, and fixtures, etc. Who needs those mental images to keep you up at night?

But if you decide on a no-pets policy, you eliminate something like 40% of your potential rental candidates. They’re spending $70 billion (!) a year to take care of their pets—which is why it’s sometimes argued that some of the personality types drawn to fostering animals are also highly...