Selling Your Home? Price It Right From the Start!

In today’s market, where demand is outpacing supply in many regions of the country, pricing a house is one of the biggest challenges real estate professionals face. Sellers often want to price their home higher than recommended, and many agents go along with the idea to keep their customers happy. However, we realized that telling the homeowner the truth is more important than getting the seller(s) to like us.

Price It Right

There is no “later.”

Sellers sometimes think, “If the home doesn’t sell for this price, I can always lower it later.” However, research proves that homes that experience a listing price reduction sit on the market longer, ultimately selling for less than similar homes.

John Knight, recipient of the University Distinguished Faculty Award from the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific, actually did research on the cost (in both time and money) to a seller who priced high at the beginning and then lowered the their price. In his article, Listing Price, Time on Market and Ultimate Selling Price published in Real Estate Economics revealed:

“Homes that underwent a price revision sold for less, and the greater the revision, the lower the selling price. Also, the longer the home remains on the market, the lower its ultimate selling price.”

Additionally, the “I’ll lower the price later” approach can paint a negative image in buyers’ minds. Each time a price reduction occurs, buyers can naturally think, “Something must be wrong with that house.” Then when a buyer does make an offer, they low-ball the price because they see the seller as “highly motivated.” Pricing it right from the start eliminates these challenges.

Don’t build “negotiation room” into the price.

Many sellers say that they want to price their home high in order to have “negotiation room.” But, what this actually does is lower the number of potential buyers that see the house. And we know that limiting demand like this will negatively impact the sales price of the house.

Not sure about this? Think of it this way: when a buyer is looking for a home online (as they are doing more and more often), they put in their desired price range. If seller is looking to sell their house for $400,000, but lists it at $425,000 to build in “negotiation room,” any potential buyers that search in the $350k-$400k range won’t even know your listing is available, let alone come see it!

One great way to see this is with the chart below. The higher you price your home over its market value, the less potential buyers will actually see your home when searching.

Price Visibility

A better strategy would be to price it properly from the beginning and bring in multiple offers. This forces these buyers to compete against each other for the “right” to purchase your house.

Look at it this way: if you only receive one offer, you are set up in an adversarial position against the prospective buyer. If, however, you have multiple offers, you have two or more buyers fighting to please you. Which will result in a better selling situation?

The Price is Right

Great pricing comes down to truly understanding the real estate dynamics in your neighborhood.  Our team will take the time to simply and effectively explain what is happening in the housing market and how it applies to your home.

Our team  will tell you what you need to know rather than what you want to hear. This will put you in the best possible position.

Thinking of selling your home and not sure how to price it right?  Call us, We at the ASSAL team want to make sure you price your home right while reaching your goal faster, easier and with a smile on your face! Give us a call today at 786.554.8063 or send us an email at george@georgeassal.com– you can count on our help every step of the way.

Things to Consider When Buying a Home (Summer Guide 2015)

Check List Guide

Thank you to those that  have e-mailed us with questions and concerns about things to consider when buying a home, since we care about you, the ASSAL team has put together a guide called “Buying a Home – Buyer Guide”.

Click here to view our “Buying a Home Summer Guide 2015″This powerful “Buyer Guide” will help you simply and effectively understand the current market opportunities.

As we said it before, Why would you make one of your most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a Real Estate Professional?. The ASSAL team is here to help you, call us, We want to make sure you have all answers to those questions and/or concerns and most important to help you overcome your fears and reach your goal faster, (the goal is for you to buy your dream home) easier and with a smile on your face! Give us a call today at 786.554.8063 or send us an email at george@georgeassal.com– you can count on our help every step of the way.

Are Home Values REALLY at Record Levels?

Record-High-

On July 12th, we posted an article called “What is a Housing Bubble? Is One Forming?”, last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Home Sales Report. The report announced that the median existing-home price in June was $236,400. That value surpasses the peak median sales price set in July 2006 ($230,400). This revelation created many headlines exclaiming that home prices had hit a “new record”:

Wall Street Journal: Existing-Home Prices Hit Record

USA Today: Existing home sales surge, prices hit record

Though the headlines are accurate, we want to take a closer look at the story. We do not want people to believe that this information is evidence that a new “price bubble” is forming in housing.

NAR reports the median home price. That means that 50% of the homes sold above that number and 50% sold below that number. With fewer distressed properties (lower valued) now selling, the median price will rise. The median value does not reflect that each individual property is increasing in value.

Below are the comments from Bill McBride, the author of the esteemed economic blog Calculated Risk. McBride talks about the challenges with using the median price and also explains that in “real” prices (taking into consideration inflation) we are nowhere close to a record.

“In general I’d ignore the median sales price because it is impacted by the mix of homes sold (more useful are the repeat sales indexes like Case-Shiller or CoreLogic). NAR reported the median sales price was $236,400 in June, above the median peak of $230,400 in July 2006. That is 9 years ago, so in real terms, median prices are close to 20% below the previous peak. Not close.”

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal covered this issue in detail. In this story, Nick Timiraos explained that this rise in median prices is nothing to be concerned about:

“Does this mean we have another problem on our hands? Not really…There may be other reasons to worry about housing affordability by comparing prices with incomes or prices with rents for a given market. But crude comparisons of nominal home prices with their 2006 and 2007 levels shouldn’t be used to make cavalier claims about a new bubble.”

Bottom Line

Home values are appreciating. However, they are not increasing at a rate that we should have fears of a new housing bubble around the corner. Fear of loosing the opportunity of buying or selling your home? Call us, We at the ASSAL team want to make sure you overcome your fears and reach your goal faster, easier and with a smile on your face! Give us a call today at 786.554.8063 or send us an email at george@georgeassal.com– you can count on our help every step of the way.

5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional Today!

We Help each other to reach the goal
We Help each other to reach the goal

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite an adventurous journey. You need an experienced Real Estate Professional to lead you to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers and/or buyers think that they can sell and/or buy through a for sale by Owner also known as FSBO.

The 5 Reasons You NEED a Real Estate Professional in your corner haven’t changed, but have rather been strengthened due to the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to recover.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true Real Estate Professional is an expert in their market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

According to the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, there are over 230 possible actions that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, who knows what these actions are to make sure that you acquire your dream.

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. However, after looking at the list of parties that you need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll realize the value in selecting a Real Estate Professional. From the buyer (who wants the best deal possible), to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people that you will have to be knowledgeable with and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to the National Association of REALTORS, “the typical FSBO home sold for $208,700 compared to $235,000 among agent-assisted home sales.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and the internet about home sales, prices, mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively price your home correctly at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a low-ball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has their finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying/selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line:

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic. Why would you make one of your most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a Real Estate Professional?. We at the ASSAL team want to make sure you reach your goal faster, easier and with a smile on your face! Give us a call today at 786.554.8063 or send us an email at george@georgeassal.com– you can count on our help every step of the way.

The (Abridged) First Time Home Buyers Guide to Miami

miami

Buying a home for the first time can be intimidating and exciting—all at the same time! As with anything in life, sometimes the most important lessons to learn about real estate are ones you learn from your mistakes. As realtors, we have seen it all — and that is why we have put together this essential list of considerations when you are looking to purchase your first home.

(Note: For the sake of length, we will address mortgages and figuring out how much you can afford in a separate post, but this is an essential part of your first time buying experience.)

The Basics

First things first, a house is only worth its foundation. Buying a house with a poor foundation or with structural issues is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a first time homeowner, and sadly, it’s a pretty common problem here in Florida—especially if you are buying a beach front properties which suffer from coastal erosion. And the worst part?  Damage to the structure or foundation isn’t always easy to spot. That is why our next point is so important.

Before you get serious with a boyfriend or girlfriend (or a car), you take them for a test drive. Same goes with buying a house—get an inspection and a second opinion. Not unreasonably, when you find the house of your dreams you’ll see everything through rose-colored glasses, so before getting too serious, ask a friend to check out the house and be open to their feedback. Chances are that they will be able to see some of the flaws you overlooked.

Not all problems can be spotted superficially and a good inspection is extremely important. Without it, you may miss a whole host of common Miami issues that you should ask to be fixed before finalizing any offer. In addition to the structural or foundation issues we mentioned earlier, this can include roof leaks, termites and mold/mildew (from Miami humidity). Expert tip: Make sure you are onsite for the inspection and follow the inspector around to make sure he checks the entire property. Ask as many questions as you can and take good notes. You can thank us later.

Location. Location. Location.

Once you’ve made sure everything is okay inside the house, it’s time to look outside AND around the neighborhood. In addition to an inspection, you should ask to have the land surveyed so that you have a clear idea of your property lines (which will save you from boundary wars later on). All banks require a survey before approving a mortgage.

After you know the boundaries of your yard, it’s time to dig in—what is the soil like? If it’s poor, you’re going to have trouble later on with building your dream pool or organic herb garden. Expert Tip:  If there already is a pool, which is very common in Miami, it’s important to be realistic how much the upkeep will cost you monthly, not to mention the time commitment. Make sure that pool is well-fenced to avoid lawsuit fees from a neighborhood kid who slipped in and injured himself later on.

Neighborhood and location. You can spend a lot of money fixing up a house, but you still won’t be able to change neighbors or your location. As we pointed out in an earlier blog post, it pays to hire a realtor that knows the area you are looking at. Your neighborhood will determine the traffic you face every morning, the future value of your home and the schools your kids will attend (even if you don’t have kids this will affect your ability to sell or rent in the future). It’s important you also know the crime rates of your neighborhood—nothing drives down value and those happy new homeowner vibes like insecurity. Expert tip: In Miami, it’s easy to pay a high premium for a great view—but there are new buildings constantly going up, especially in Brickell and Downtown. Make sure to check future building plans for settling into yours.

The extras.

Buying a home is only the beginning—when you add the extras you could be look at doubling your original calculations for a mortgage payment.

Insurance. Make sure to shop around when buying home owner’s insurance, as rates and policies vary quite a bit. If it’s option, keep in mind that bundling insurance for car and home can give you a significant discount. Florida has one of the highest homeowner insurance rates in the US, averaging around $160 a month, so you’ll need to find discounts where you can!

Taxes. In Miami, you should have 2-3 types of taxes in mind: property, city and county. All will vary widely depending on your location, but it’s important that you know what and who you’ll be paying before moving in. Several cities in Miami Dade, Coral Gables and Miami Shores for example, require you to pay taxes in addition to county taxes.

Fees. If you’re living in a condo or your home is part of a neighborhood association, you’ll also want to add in automatic condo or home owners association fees to what you can expect to pay every month. These fees can be a deal breaker, and it’s not uncommon for you to pay more than $300 per month depending on services and amenities offered. Expert tip: Make sure to ask if there are any projects and/or special assessments coming down the line—is the building is requiring all owners to replace windows in all apartments or they’re redoing the roof, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t caught by surprise by those costs.

Still ready to buy?

Congratulations! Of course, these tips are only the beginning, but they serve as a strong starting point for all the considerations you will need to make when successfully evaluating the purchase of a home. We strongly recommend hiring a realtor (not just because we are realtors!) because that kind of investment should merit a decision that can be based on expert advice and guidance.

If you are looking to buy a house in South Florida, we would be honored to help you every step of the way. Give us a call today at 786.554.8063 or send us an email at george@georgeassal.com. We will look forward to hearing from you!

What is a Housing Bubble? Is One Forming?

Bubble

The recent talk of Greece and its financial challenges has some questioning whether the U.S. could also return to the crisis we experienced in 2008. Some are looking at the rise in real estate values and wondering whether we are in the middle of another housing price bubble.

What actually is a price bubble?

Here is the definition according to Jack M. Guttentag, Professor of Finance Emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania:

“A price bubble is a rise in price based on the expectation that the price will rise. Sooner or later something happens to erode confidence in continued price increases, at which point the bubble bursts and prices drop. What makes it a price bubble is that the cause of the price increase is an expectation that the price will increase, which sooner or later must reverse itself.”

Does Professor Guttentag believe we are in another housing bubble?

In a recent article, he explained:

“My view is that we are a long way from another house price bubble. Home buyers, lenders, investors and regulators now understand that a nationwide decline in house prices is possible — because we recently lived through one.”

What are home prices doing?

Though home values are continuing to appreciate, the acceleration of the increases has slowed to year-over-year numbers which reflect a healthy housing market. Here is a chart showing year-over-year appreciation since January of last year:

Case-Shiller

We can see that appreciation rates have dropped from double digit numbers to more normal rates of 5% or lower.

Bottom Line

We think Nick Timiraos of the Wall Street Journal put it best in a recent tweet:

“Predictions of a new national home price bubble look unfounded for now, according to data.”

Interested in selling your home or looking to buy one, give us a call today at 786.554.8063 or send us an email at george@georgeassal.com. We will look forward to hearing from you!

For Sellers – Two Graphs That Scream List Your House Today

Supply-Demand

The spring and summer months have always been known as a very popular time for homebuyers to start the search for their dream home. This year is no different!

We all learned in school that when selling anything, you will get the most money if the demand for that item is high and the inventory of that item is low. It is the well-known Theory of Supply & Demand.

If you are thinking of selling your home, here are two graphs that strongly suggest that the time is now. Here is why…

DEMAND

Foot-Traffic
According to NAR, “Foot Traffic has a strong correlation with future contracts and home sales, so it can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends two to three months into the future.”

According to research at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer activity this year has far outpaced the same months in 2014. Purchasers who are ready, willing and able to buy are in the market at great numbers.

SUPPLY

The most recent Existing Home Sales Report from NAR revealed that the current supply of housing inventory is at a 5.1 month supply, which remains below the 6-months necessary for a normal market.

Buyer demand is far outpacing the supply of homes available for sale.
Buyer demand is far outpacing the supply of homes available for sale.

Bottom Line

Listing your house for sale when demand is high and supply is low will guarantee the offers made will truly reflect the true value of your property. Interested in selling your home or looking to buy one, give us a call today at 786.554.8063 or send us an email at george@georgeassal.com. We will look forward to hearing from you!

Love at First Sight: Simple Secrets to Make your House Shine (and Sell) in Miami

Capture
Courtesy: House Beautiful

As soon as you’ve made the decision to put your home on the market, so begins the endless list of to-dos. While getting yourself and your loved ones ready to move is quite a feat by itself, selling your home at the same time can become overwhelming fast.

When trying to sell your home more quickly at the highest value possible, you will most likely be considering upgrades—big and small. With advice available at every turn on which upgrades to make, it’s hard to figure out what projects are truly worth it. Here at the Assal Team we like to keep things simple: we want to take off a few of those to-dos on your list and add only the ones that matter—those that save you time AND money!

Below please find our favorite quick tips to help you make a great impression at your next open house and make a great first impression on your potential buyers:

  1. Steam your carpets and wax your wood floors—for a minimal cost, you have people checking off (often unconsciously) the first item on their list. No one wants to buy a house with stained (or smelly) carpets and dull floors. Keep their eyes off the floor and excited to see the rest of the house!
  2. If you have popcorn-style ceilings, they must go. While this is a major tip for homeowners across America, it’s a non-negotiable in Miami. People are looking for their dream home, and outdated ceilings could easily scare them away—or leave the potential new buyers calculating how much they will have to negotiate off the final price to fix the ceilings themselves.
  3. De-clutter as much as possible, but don’t leave the house or apartment empty. If you have your stuff everywhere, it’s hard for viewers to imagine themselves in your home (and it may lead them to think you lack storage space). With nothing there, it seems less livable.
  4. Anything old goes. Don’t spend major bucks replacing adding a room on to the house, but do change out door knobs for newer, cleaner ones, replace shower curtains, switch plate covers and update your shower easily with a more modern showerhead.
  5. Let the light in! No one is looking for a cave, and people who choose Miami as their home, love sunshine. Any dark wall color should go and a fresh coat of be neutral or white paint will make a major difference. Make sure the kitchen doesn’t get left out either—a fresh coat of paint on your kitchen cabinets can work wonders. Lastly, take a good look at your light fixtures to see if any of them are in need of a major update. The more light, the bigger your rooms look.
  6. Give your lawn some love. First impressions are invaluable, and you should make sure that your buyers have the right impression before they even step inside. Hire a neighborhood kid to trim your lawn and add an extra few bags of mulch in your gardens. A little landscaping can go a long way.

These quick tips are a great start to getting your home sold faster. If you’re interested in selling your home or looking to buy one, give us a call today at 786.554.8063 or send us an email at george@georgeassal.com. We will look forward to hearing from you!

5 Tips for House Hunting in Miami: Simplify the Search for your Dream Home

homesweethome

This month, I will be featuring a series of posts that will highlight insights I’ve gained from more than seven years working in the Miami real estate market. While there are hundreds of lists of tips for home owners putting their house on the market or for those looking to buy a home, very few address the challenges (and opportunities) specific to Miami.  Every step of the home selling or searching process is quite a bit different here, considering that our home is unlike any other city in the United States.  From first time homeowner tips to house hunting, you’ll find it on our blog this June and all with a Miami twist.

The first topic we will tackle is house hunting in Miami—an often dreaded process that should be filled with the excitement of purchasing your first (or next!) home. To help alleviate some of the stress that can arise from the process of searching for homes, we have put together five simple tips we’ve learned over the years of working in the Miami market.  Our goal is to make house hunting the exciting process it should be!

  1. Find a realtor that knows the areas you are looking at (and has client references they are willing to share). Let’s be honest—it’s Miami. In a city where image and pretty words reign, don’t let good looks and a nice website decide your choice of realtor. Do your homework and find a realtor familiar in the area you are looking at, with a strong track record. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and meet with your realtor first to make sure it’s a good fit. A good realtor will be your best friend and will keep you from going crazy throughout the process- a bad one will drive you crazy!
  2. Make a list of non-negotiables and stick to it. Before starting your house hunting journey, make sure you have a list of things you aren’t willing to budge on—whether it’s convenient parking, a big kitchen or a pool. If you don’t have a firm decision on what you aren’t willing to compromise, in the moment it’s very easy to give up a dishwasher you really need when it means an ocean view—and let me tell you, that view is not going to be cleaning any dishes.
  3. Take one car—and if possible, hitch a ride with your realtor. We all know parking in Miami can be a nightmare, and nothing is worse than spending 20+ minutes looking for parking in front of each showing. Even worse is getting lost in between showings, and when combined with parking, it can make a morning of house hunting an-all day ordeal.
  4. Search smarter. With technology at our fingertips, don’t forget to use it to make your life easier during the hunt. To minimize showing time, make sure you take a look online at the options your realtor has sent your way before heading out. Some houses you will be able to eliminate just by looking at the photos. If you don’t like those—we can guarantee that the in-person view won’t be any better. While pre-screening homes (especially when you are down to your top choices), you should also take a look at the real estate values in the area to get a sense if what they are asking for is fair.
  5. Visit more than once—at different times of day. Anyone who has lived in Miami knows that a neighborhood that looks fine by day, can be a completely different place at night. This is especially true for certain parts of the beach, so it’s important to visit your favorite properties at different times of the day (and days of the week) to make sure it’s the place for you.

Following these five simple steps will make all the difference and help you on your path to finding your dream home. With any realtor at the Assal Team, that is always our goal—we want to make sure you find your new home faster, easier and with a smile on your face! Give us a call today at 786.554.8063 or send us an email at george@georgeassal.com– you can count on our help every step of the way.

Silver Bluff: One of Miami’s best-kept secrets

Most of the time, when I recommend looking at places in Silver Bluff to my customers, I’m met with a blank stare. A little known area right outside Coral Gables off Coral Way (zip code 33133 & 33145), Silver Bluff is one of the best and most affordable residential neighborhoods in the city. Often grouped in with the Gables, Brickell Hammocks or The Roads, there are few “secrets” in the Miami real estate market, and this is most certainly one of them.

As I mentioned in my last post, I would never sell a house I wouldn’t live in, and just as importantly, I would never sell a house in a neighborhood I wouldn’t live in either. So that would be why Silver Bluff comes so highly recommended by me—I live there! Therefore you have a relator’s stamp of approval of the area, and let me tell you a few reasons why…

  1. Proximity: Silver Bluff is close to everything in Miami. Only 5-7 minutes to Coconut Grove, 10-15 minutes to Brickell and Coral Gables and 15-20 minutes to South Beach.
  2. Safety: The area has a low crime rating.
  3. Neighborhood: Silver Bluff is known as being a calm, residential area with lots of trees, ample parking and families. Relationships with neighbors are important here, and there is a real sense of community.
  4. Investment: Buying a house here is a good investment with growing property values, and a much lower selling price than other areas in Miami. This is a great place for a first investment or first home because you get a lot of bang for your buck. Being so close to so many desirable areas in the city, there is only room to grow.
  5. Schools: There are three schools in the area, and the Silver Bluff Elementary School is graded “A”—perfect for all the families in the area.
    Source: http://www.city-data.com/
    Source: http://www.city-data.com/

    If the above still hasn’t convinced you and you would like to check out the neighborhood yourself, I’ll let you in on a few local Silver Bluff “secrets”:

    For wine lovers, Xixón Cafe , hip & modern Spanish eatery with multiple levels including dining room, wine cellar & bakery/deli, located on 21st and Coral Way, El Carajo is a must. Hidden away inside the BP gas station on 17th Ave and US1, they serve Spanish tapas and have an amazing bakery. At the Mighty Gastropub on Coral Way and 22nd Ave, they serve craft beer, sausages with an ambiance you can’t beat. Daily Bread Marketplace, boasts some of Miami’s best Mediterranean Food, and is located on 24 Ave and 27th St. And if you’re looking a twist on a Latin classic, Casabe 305 offers an incredible fare of Caribbean-Venezuelan Fusion and is located on Coral Way and 17th Ave.

    All Restaurants

    So whether as a place to grab a great bite, an investment, a first home to raise your family or just as someone seeking refuge from the city and its high rent, Silver Bluff is a fantastic option. In fact, if you are interested in taking a look, I would be more than happy to meet you at any of our local spots and discuss your options and the places currently available.

    My goal is to help you, even if we aren’t in direct contact, and I’d love to hear from you with any questions.

    Interested in Selling, Buying, Renting, Investing in Brickell, Downtown, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Silver Bluff, Doral and surrounding areas? Call me 786.554.8063 or email me George@GeorgeAssal.com, I can help, because working with someone who knows the numbers and area is crucial.George Assal PA