WHAT TO EXPECT AS A PROSPECTIVE HOME BUYER

You have decided that it is time to buy a home. Whether you have purchased several times or if you are a first time home buyer, there are opportunities as well as pitfalls to acquaint yourself with. Market conditions and changes in the real estate industry are always prevalent which is why a Realtor is your safest option. Presumably you have been scanning the market and selected a Realtor that, above all, you trust. Purchasing a home is a major event and you must have a trusted agent to help you through the process. Normally, all the work done by an agent costs you as the buyer nothing. Agents get paid after the sale from the sellers proceeds in the transaction.

In our first meeting with customers, we usually meet at our office In Panama City in a confidential environment where customers are comfortable to share their goals. At Full Sail Realty it is our mission to first understand the customer’s needs and then help them get there. In so doing we help you find what is right for you and navigate the obstacles of buying and get you to a satisfactory closing. We as agents will educate you and help you understand the options, but we want you to have what meets your criteria. So early in the process, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. 1)  What is your time frame for purchasing?

  2. 2)  Do you currently own or rent? If you own now, do you have to sell before purchasing

    again?

  3. 3)  Do you need financing and if so have you been prequalified by a lender?

    Now you are ready to identify your property criteria :

  4. 4)  Description of property desired?

Area of town, square footage, # bedrooms and baths, are school zones important, are the # of floors important, size lot, extra space needed ( example storage or garage ), price range

With these issues answered, we as agents can determine if you are “ready to buy” or need to accomplish a few things before moving forward. With changing markets, buyers often look at properties before “ready” to buy and the property is sold before the customer can qualify or get an offer submitted. For customers not ready, the agent can direct them as to potential properties to review vs wasting time showing a property that is not going to be available or out of the customer’s purchasing range. Once you have focused in on a property, we as agents research the property and determine relevant information relayed to your criteria as well as zoning, home owners association, real estate taxes, flood zone, school districts, etc. If the property, is acceptable the agent arranges a showing to determine suitability. For a desired property, we do a comparative market analysis to determine a proper market value and a possible price when composting an offer. If the customer desires to move forward, The agent will compose an offer for the buyer to sign and submit it to the seller’s listing agent. The offer will either be accepted, rejected or returned with a counteroffer. Once an offer is accepted, it becomes an effective contract and is forwarded to the buyers lender and the title company. The process continues with a professional home inspection, an appraisal, a pest inspection and loan approval. Unless there is a determinant reason the closing is scheduled and the buyers and sellers complete documents and the property is transferred to the buyer.

Throughout the process, the agents will perform a number of duties the buyer will never know about, but that are required to facilitate the transaction. The primary message to you as a buyer is, to be responsive and have a responsive agent. Getting things done on time and in the proper order can mean a big difference in not only closing on time but saving both the seller and buyer money.

Thank you for letting us share.

Bob Douglas, Broker Associate

Direct 850-596-4714

Full Sail Realty LLC

Real Estate Transactions...... Be careful what you click !

In this day of online everything, the world is a smaller and more familiar place. The internet has availed buyers and sellers to information that aids them in determining much in preparation to buy or sell a property. It has become so open and freely available, that it encourages customers to have confidence to enter into transactions and ventures without due caution. We have all watched the television shows where a couple buys a house , fixes it up and earns a tidy profit. What is seldom shown, in true light, is the hidden dangers. MOST of the time, there are other factors that may have been either prevented or risk reduced by using a professional facilitator. In the case of real restate, this means a licensed Realtor. There are many well known online sources to find real estate and gain information like the big Z company and many others. But what you don’t know is how accurate and reliable their information is and that they are not responsible for anything you do as a result of reading their posts and advertising. The reason Realtors exist to to coordinate and facilitate transactions. We as Realtors perform according to a code of ethics and remain accountable.

Most buyers do not understand that they normally do not pay for the services of having a Realtor as their agent. A commission is paid to each brokerage out of the sellers proceeds at closing unless other agreements have been made in advance. It is absolutely essential to have a qualified agent working for you and protecting your interest. This occurs through the agent’s knowledge, research an negotiation when considering acquiring a property or eliminating it from consideration. Agents benefit when a market knowledgable customer is served, however there is no substitution for local knowledge and recent experience. At a convention with one of the largest online real estate marketing companies, the CEO stated “ We compile and distribute information, but there is no replacement for the local agents and their personal knowledge of the market”. He further stated that their estimates were generated from algorithms developed by their company, which is based in the State of Oregon.

There is a trend of online marketers to encourage buyers and sellers to transact without competent representation. We consider every property your investment of the future and care about your risk. One of the most overlooked issues is home security. As we engage more and more with internet based companies we move farther away from personal interaction and knowing who we are dealing with. As a Florida licensed Broker Associate in Panama City Beach Florida, I am knowledgeable about my market and varying degrees of markets across the State. We also work in networks with other Realtors to provide personal service to customers or connect them with reliable service in other areas that we may not serve. We encourage customers to do advanced research, but be curious and question everything. A fancy ad is no indication of accuracy or reliability. Be prudent and ask questions. Develop a relationship with an agent that you trust. We believe that the effective buying or selling of any property depends on a team relationship with our customers.

If we can be of assistance to you as a buyer, seller or just wanting to know more about the market and property values, please contact us.

Bob Douglas, Realtor
Broker Associate / Full Sail Realty LLC

Direct 850-596-4714

email: flaproperty@gmail.com

liveatthegulfcoast.com

Why Flood Zones Matter

Buying a home has many concerns. Your best protection is to use an experienced REALTOR® to research the issues prior to making an offer. Before you buy a home you must consider that there are issues you control and issues beyond your control. Some of those uncontrollable are zoning, homeowner associations, covenants and restrictions, real estate taxes and flood zones. All of these can and usually do affect costs to the home owner. This blog will discuss the issue of Flood Zones. 

Anytime a property is mortgaged, the lender will require insurance. This includes a homeowners policy that covers damage, medical, contents insurance and other buildings soon the property. If it is in a flood zone a separate policy will be required. Most properties in the United States are classified in specific flood zones. These can be accessed thru the federal governments FEMA web site or on the individual County web site where the property is taxed or appraised. 

For example, in Florida, properties are classified as X , A, AE, V, or VE with X being the lowest or safest zone and not requiring flood insurance. A rating of other than X will require flood insurance if you a financing the property. The premium rate is determined by a scale from the federal government and will depend not only the zone but the elevation above or below the flood stage level. A cash buyer could be inclined to buy without insurance but be warned; if they later sell, a new buyer may not be able to buy with cash and need a mortgage thus requiring a flood policy. Insurance later may surely be more costly and cannot be anticipated. 

In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana devastating the State and properties further inland. As a result, the federal government and specifically FEMA reclassified much of the United States. Basically areas that were never in flood zones but contiguous to wetlands or low areas came under flood zone classification. Many homeowners were notified by lenders that they had to obtain flood insurance to cover the property or the lender would obtain a policy and be billed with the mortgage. Some properties were in areas where by shear height were above the stated flood elevation but still subject to the ruling. In cases where the property is higher than flood stage and evidenced by a survey and elevation certificate they can be exempted from the insurance or get a much lower rate. If you currently own property that has been reclassified, and above flood elevation, I recommend you see if you are eligible for the waiver under the Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) at the FEMA website. 

When shopping for a home that is classified as in a flood zone, there are a few considerations before you eliminate it from the list. First, does the seller have a survey and elevation certificate. What is the elevation compared to the “Base elevation “ level and does the seller currently have a flood insurance policy? If so, is it transferrable? A transferrable policy could lock a lower rate than a new policy. The wild card is that any property that requires a flood insurance policy to get a mortgage is subject to three influences. First, if it is actually low it may be damaged by rising water during an event. Second, that there is no guaranty of where the insurance premium will be and how much it could increase. Third, when you sell the property that it will be as attractive to a new buyer as one not located in a flood zone. 

Some agents automatically discount properties located in flood zones. I prefer to research all the data and relative factors for prospective buyers. If a property is well above the Base Elevation and subject to exemption, it could be an overlooked gem. On the other hand, buying a property without doing the research and weighing out the buyers goals compared to risk could tie him to a property with outrageous insurance costs, limited value or problems with liquidity. 

If we can be of assistance to you with regard to property in Florida, please give us a call. 

Thank you for letting us share. 

Bob Douglas, Broker Associate   850-596-4714

Full Sail Realty LLC 

www.baycountyproperties.com

Panama City, Florida 32405

What to Expect as a Home Seller and Preparing Your Home for Sale

Selling your home can either be a comfortable experience or a nightmare. How that turns out is a result of planning and preparation. Although every state has different laws on property transfer, they all share the same process and sequence of events. 

The first determination you should make is to answer a few simple questions: 

1. Have I sold a property in your home state in the recent past?

2. Do you have the resources to advertise, market and present the property to potential buyers?

3. Do you understand negotiation as well as the contract process and do you have the time to devote to effectively sell the property?

Only if the answer is YES to all of these questions should a seller attempt to market his own property. 

It has been consistently shown that being represented by a Real Estate professional results in the seller ending up with more money in their pocket after closing than sellers who represent themselves. This is because trained licensed agents have more experience in marketing and negotiation on a daily basis as well as will have your interest as their primary goal. They also will have you complete disclosures that better define the property. 

In most cases, a seller should prepare their home to its best presentation condition before placing the property on the market. This is also time to select the best real estate agent available that services your market. Once you have settled on an agent that you feel a bond with, have them come and visually evaluate your home. They should have done some background research on your property as well as recent sales in the area and your competition. The meeting should start with you sharing you goals and time line with the agent. The next step should include a visual evaluation of your home with the agent and making a list of must do items prior to sale. This is a good time to discuss whether you should get a professional inspection that evaluates all the systems and the condition of the entire home. The real estate agent will advise you on what to get repaired immediately and what may not be cost effective prior to getting an offer. This should eliminate any surprises that will delay a sale and maybe loose the buyer. It is important to remember that curb appeal is a valuable marketing tool and improves the salability but does not increase property value. So, in plain language, painting, mowing and adding flowers to the front of a property can make the difference of getting the potential buyer to take a second look. 

Once you have obtained a quailed real estate agent and gotten your property in showing condition, you are ready to move forward. It is important to have the agent advise you on the interior presentation of your home. Many buyers have been lost at the front door because of pet odors. Most home owners do not smell odors in their own home. Next, if the home is occupied (not vacant), declutter and pack up items not used on a daily basis and get them out of the way in storage or boxed and in the garage or outbuilding. Walk thru your home and remove personal items including family pictures, nicknacks and items that distracts buyers. Kitchen counters should be clear, sinks empty and clean and refrigerator fronts should have everything removed. All appliances should be clean including stoves and dishwashers. Special attention should include securing and protecting valuables, removing jewelry and firearms and placing in locked locations. Remember, buyers are going to look everywhere including under counters and cabinets. 

Home showings should always be done by appointment. Your agent will call you and establish a time when they or another agent will come to show your home. Many agents use a lock box that only agents can get the key to gain access and also tracks who enters the property. We recommend that agents leave a business card indicating that they have entered and secured the property when the showing is complete. After any showing you should ask your agent for feedback. If the property is suitable to a buyer and realistically priced, you will likely have your agent be calling with a written offer on your home. 

Thank you for letting us share. 

Bob Douglas, Broker Associate   850-596-4714

Full Sail Realty LLC 

www.baycountyproperties.com

Panama City, Florida 32405