Tampa Home Searcher Blog - Hyper Local Tampa Bay, Florida Real Estate and Tampa Homes For Sale Information.

Our Tampa Home Search Blog is a wealth of local information for Tampa Bay area real estate.  If you are looking for homes for sale in Tampa or you are thinking about selling your home in Tampa, our blog will provide you with great information about the local Tampa market as well as industry trends and best practices.

Before you start your Tampa home search, skim some of our articles and get familiar with the local market.  It will help you in the long run.

Please reach out if you have any questions about the local Tampa Bay area real estate market. We’d love to talk with you!

Sept. 7, 2018

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO SELL MY TAMPA HOME USING A REAL ESTATE AGENT?

Costs to sell your home in Tampa using a real estate agent

The big question that has some homeowners cringe when they think about selling their home.  How much will it cost me to sell my home in the Tampa Bay area?

The Short Answer:  92% of Sold Price Less Mortgage Owed

On average, you will receive about 92% of the price the house sold for, including commissions, prorated taxes, stamp taxes on deed and other fees, LESS whatever you owe on your mortgage.

Quick example:

You sold your house for $300,000.  You owe $125,000 left on the mortgage.

$300,000 x .92 = $276,000.  $276,000 minus the mortgage ($125,000) = $151,000.  This is how much cash you would have at closing.

There are SO MANY variables that go into these numbers.  The example above is just a ballpark for you to get a rough idea of what it might cost.

Commission Fees

Commissions are a big chunk of the fees to sell a home.  Realtors in Tampa typically charge 6% commission to list and market your property.  That is what I charge and what most agents in the area charge.  That fee gets split between the buying side and the selling side (3% each) and then that 3% is typically split between the broker (Keller Williams in my case) and the agent (me). 

I won't go into too many details to justify our fees here but I will say that marketing a home to be sold for top dollar is exhausting, expensive and a TON of work.  I know I earn every bit of the portion of the 3% I get to list a home for sale.  It is a fact that despite the fees real estate agents charge, on average, we help get your home sold more quickly and for a higher price than you would sell it for on your own, financially justifying the expense of using an agent.  In my case, I am a marketing expert as well as a real estate expert.  These are just some of the skills you pay me to use to help market and sell your home and represent you throughout the transaction.  Selling a home is a tough process and hiring a good agent can make something that is normally very difficult to do on your own and make it easy and pleasant.  If you would like to discuss selling your home, feel free to contact me.  I'll take a look at your home and put a value on what I think it is worth on today's market.

Taxes

You'll pay for what you use.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Taxes of course can vary widely depending on which county you buy in and how large of a home you buy.  Here are some very rough example I pulled from the MLS to give you an idea of how much taxes cost per year.  Keep in mind as a seller, you will be responsible for the amount of taxes you use.  If you've lived in the home all year and it's now November 1 and you don't pay your taxes until December, you are going to owe the new buyer of your home those taxes you've used for the year from January through November when the home is sold.  If you pre-paid the year's taxes, the buyer will owe you the part they will use from November through December.

Samples:

$200,000 Home. 1300 - 1600 square feet.  3 beds, 2 baths.

You'll typically pay between $800 and $2,600 per year in taxes, with $1,000 per year being about average.

$275,000 Home.  1600 - 2100 square feet.  3 beds, 2 baths.

You'll typically pay between $1,600 and $3,500 per year in taxes, with $2,600 per year being about average.

$335,000 Home.  2100 - 2600 square feet.  4 beds, 2 baths.

You'll typically pay between $2,100 and $5,500 per year in taxes, with $2,900 per year being about average.

Note that these few samples were random homes I pulled from the MLS.  The range varies widely so check with your agent when buying a new home.

The Seller's Net Sheet

Your agent, a mortgage company or a title company can provide you with a much more accurate settlement value to give you a better idea of how much cash you would actually end up with, if any, after selling your home using a Realtor.

Seller's Net Sheet Sample

In our area, the SELLER typically pays for the Owner's Title Policy.  On an expensive home, this could be a fairly large number you'll need to consider.  The Seller's Policy is also negotiable as to who pays it.  There's a checkbox on the standard offer contract and who pays for the title policy is part of the offer.

Again, its customarily a seller expense but it can also be used as a bargaining chip during negotiations.  If you have an offer you are contemplating but its on the lower side of your comfort level, ask the buyer to pay this expense.  It might mean the difference between being able to accept the offer or not. 

Real estate agent commissions are also negotiable (sort of).  Well they are, but do you negotiate your salary with your boss each paycheck?  I work for 3% as a Seller's Agent.  I'm worth it.  I earn it.  I will rarely negotiate my pay.  Some agents might regularly negotiate away their commissions in order to persuade you to list with them.  Do you really want an agent selling your home who is so desperate to secure your business that he's willing to negotiate his pay away?  I personally don't offer a discounted level of service so I don't discount my fee.  Like anywhere, you get what you pay for.  I've got a lot of gray hair on my head that has earned every bit of the 3% I charge to market the heck out of your home.  The other 3% (6% total) goes to the buyer's agent - the agent that brings buyers to your home to hopefully make an offer.  Again, this is simple economics.  If you want real estate agents to make the effort to show your home, you've got to pay them.  Negotiate paying an agent on the buy side 1.5% instead of 3% and see how many showings you get through your home.  Yes, you may find someone who has a client who absolutely loves your home and will buy it but since the bulk of the sellers out there offer 3% to the agent's broker who finds a buyer, why would the buyer's agent bring his buyer to see your home?

I don't mean to sound condescending with all this talk about paying commissions.  I am trying to give it to you straight.  Yes, there are agents who will charge 2.75% on each side and do a wonderful job marketing your home.  Even 2.5% is fairly common.  Anything lower than 5% total (2.5% buy, 2.5% sell) and I believe the service will start to suffer. 

The bottom line is that a good agent should easily be able to justify his fee and even cover his fee by drawing so many eyes to your home it means the difference between selling it at the highest possible price or selling it lower than you could have without him, which could cost you a lot more money than commission fees in the end.

If you would like to list your home for sale, CONTACT ME - give me a call, text or email me and let's get a conversation started.  There's no obligation whatsoever and I'll try to provide you with as much free information as possible to start you on your home-selling journey.

 

 

 

Aug. 2, 2018

RELOCATING TO TAMPA, FLORIDA?

Are You Thinking About Relocating To Tampa Bay?

Tampa Bay relocation real estate agent specialist

If you are considering relocating to the Tampa Bay area there is no need to stress.  It's almost as easy as buying a home in your current neighborhood IF you have the right people to do the worrying for you.  That's my job!  ;-)

Lots and lots of people move to the Tampa Bay area from other places for a variety of reasons.  I too moved here from Buffalo, NY way back in 1999.  Take one guess why?  If your answer was BLIZZARDS, yes, you were correct.  I just got tired of the constant snow and freezing temps so I packed up and headed South until we hit Clearwater.

Fast forward a few decades later and I am still here and still loving the Tampa Bay area.  Now, as a licensed Realtor, I can help others who are planning their escape.

When you have a great real estate agent on your side, relocating to Tampa is not a difficult task.  Your real estate agent will take a lot of the stress off your shoulders.

Technology Makes Relocating To Tampa Easy!

Between FaceTime walk-throughs, text messaging, detailed photos online and videos, you can practically buy a home site unseen these days.  However, if you plan correctly and work closely with your Realtor, when you do fly in, you can make the best use of your time and really get things done so you are not flying back and forth a million times.  It truly is a lot easier than you might think but you need to be able to trust your Realtor to help you get through it all.

You handle your business on your side - the mortgage, getting pre-approved, calling reputable movers to get estimates hopefully with rate caps, packing, wrapping up your affairs locally.

A Bit About Moving Long Distances

Before you hire a long distance moving company, do a TON of research and make sure you get the maximum price not to exceed written into your contract!! 

If you don't, the moving company could hold all your stuff hostage if they gave you a low estimate but the truck weighed a lot more when it got on the scales - and it happens all the time.  Be cautious and do research and google everything you can about the company you are going to hire before signing any contracts.

Some movers will give you an estimate based on a binding price, also called a guaranteed price or firm price.  In this case the price is as the contract states.  It shouldn't be higher and won't be lower.  The nice thing about this is that you'll know in advance how much you'll pay.  The bad thing is that if they over-estimated how much stuff you have when they gave you the price, you'll still pay that rate when you could have gotten it less expensive.  It covers everything in the estimate so you won't be able to add stuff to the move after the estimate without being charged for it.  You need to read your moving contract VERY carefully before signing.  Getting jammed up on a long distance move can turn something that would otherwise be a great experience into a nightmare really quickly.

The moving company may also quote you a "guaranteed not to exceed" price.  This price caps the most you'll pay in case the estimated less weight than it actually was but if they estimated more weight than you actually packed onto the truck, you'll pay the lower price.  The moving truck stops at a weigh station and physically gets weighed.  That's how they know how much stuff you've included in the move and that's typically how they charge you - by how much weight they estimate you have going on the truck.  Im not a mover but Im pretty sure they account for volume too.  You can't pack the truck with packing peanuts that weighs 30 pounds and expect not to pay a lot of money for the volume it takes up. 

Non-binding contracts are based on the weight.  The initial estimate can be way off and you'll pay for the amount of weight you put on the truck.  Sometimes this could lead to a surprise when it comes time to deliver your things and the driver hits you with a big bill because what they estimated and what it actually weighed were two different things.

Buyer beware!  Do your research, read reviews, google "long distance moving nightmares" and the sort before you sign on the dotted line and most importantly READ YOUR CONTRACT before signing!

Search For Homes Online And Narrow Your Search

Your Tampa real estate agent will probably set you up with an MLS auto-search well before you plan on moving.  This will help you a lot as you will get a good feel for the local market where you are moving.  It will also help you start narrowing your criteria which is also important.  As you research the different parts of Tampa Bay and find an area that suits you best, you'll not only start learning the local hot spots and things to do in the process, you'll start getting comfortable with your decision to relocate.  You'll start to feel more and more comfortable about the move the more you learn about where you are moving to.

I can't stress enough how important a good, patient, mature, smart real estate agent is to have on your side when you are considering relocating to Tampa, Florida.  I think I meet most, if not all of that criteria and would be happy to help you on this exciting journey.  Feel free to reach out to me at any time if you have any questions.  I would be happy to be your "eyes on the ground" here in Tampa.  I'll make the move as easy on you as possible and I'd like to think you can really trust my decision making skills and ability to put you in the perfect place for you and your family.

I look forward to working with you

Phil Bernie, Realtor

Cell / Text: 813-420-8488

Dalton Wade Real Estate

Tampa Home Searcher Bernie Group

Email: phil@tampahomesearcher.com

Web: TampaHomeSearcher.com

Facebook: facebook.com/tampahomesearcher

Instagram: instagram.com/tampahomesearcher

July 25, 2018

WHY HIRE A GOOD TAMPA REALTOR WHEN BUYING OR SELLING A TAMPA BAY AREA HOME?

The Realtor you hire DOES matter.  I know from speaking with clients most new clients think a Realtor unlocks doors and shows houses and other tasks that seem pretty fundamental.  We do that too of course but so much more.

A good Realtor is one who thinks well.  One who knows how to analyze a deal, read body language, thinks quickly on his or her feet, can multi-task and understand the market very well.  He or she needs real world experience in making deals.  Ultimately, we are paid negotiators.  We do the other things you all know about too but the most important part – the part that is often overlooked by clients is what goes on behind the scenes – the stuff I do for hours into the night, researching, structuring deals, finding the perfect property for clients.  That’s the important stuff.

A lot of it starts with a good, sharp mind.  You want someone on your team who can focus with pinpoint accuracy and pull from vast experience and a high intellect to work the deal in your favor.

The differences between Realtors becomes pretty apparent when its time to negotiate.  I’ve been up against some tough negotiators and some of the toughest seem to be the oldest and most experienced.  I’m not saying younger Realtors won’t possess these skills too – they can, but in my experience the older, wiser agents really understand how to fight for what their client needs.

I’m 48 years old.  Single custodial father of two boys, ages 11 and 15.  In my past life, I’ve successfully gone to battle with QVC (I had my products on QVC TV shopping channel), Walmart, Home Depot and more.  I did battle with some of the best in the business and won.  Harvard MBA’s.  Brilliant people.  I hashed it out and found success.  Now I do it for my clients and instead of physical products, I am doing it for homes.  You can read more about me HERE.

If you need a Tampa Real Estate Agent, make sure they've got experience negotiating deals.

Above, my camping mat products in a popular sporting goods catalog and on TV through QVC television shopping channel.  This was my former life but I use that same experience to work for my clients.  Getting product into these mediums is NOT an easy thing to do and neither is buying or selling homes.  Both require very strong negotiation skills.  You need someone who knows what they are doing to represent you.

Let me help you buy or sell your next home.  I can’t guarantee a particular price you’ll pay or receive, but I can guarantee that the person I go against at the negotiation table will not have an easy time taking your money.

Put my Mensa-level IQ and vast business experience on your side and let me find, buy, sell and negotiate your next real estate deal.

I look forward to working with you!

Phil Bernie, Realtor

Cell / Text: 813-420-8488

Dalton Wade Real Estate

Tampa Home Searcher Bernie Group

Email: phil@tampahomesearcher.com

Web: TampaHomeSearcher.com

Facebook: facebook.com/tampahomesearcher

Instagram: instagram.com/tampahomesearcher

July 25, 2018

TAMPA REALTOR | THE ART OF REAL ESTATE NEGOTIATIONS

If you don’t have experience negotiating large deals, seek the help of an experienced real estate agent when buying a home, particularly one who knows how to work a deal and has done it before.

It seems simple enough – two people working toward a common goal (to buy or sell a home) – or is it that simple?

The opposing party wants nothing more than to squeeze every dime out of you and get top dollar for his or her home.  If he’s got a good agent on his side, you’ll be getting double-teamed by both the seller and his agent unless you are represented too.  That’s where I come in.  If you want a PIT-BULL, hire me.  I understand the fine balance between aggressive negotiating and toning things down when needed to make progress.  Let’s face it, if you are too aggressive from the start, you will only leave the seller thinking, “this guy is not serious about buying a home.  He’s demanding way too much, too soon.”

You can really show your hand quickly when it comes to negotiating a deal.  If you are not comfortable with this part, I’d strongly suggest having someone represent you.  Not many people are cut out for this part of the job – even some Realtors – good Realtors – are not comfortable talking about and fighting for money.  I am. 

I’ve been in the cutthroat business world a lot of years before turning to real estate and I’ve gone head to head with some of the best in the business to get deals done.  Negotiating truly is an art that takes some experience and it can mean tens of thousands for you.

Although negotiations are but a relatively small part of the home buying or home selling process, it is incredibly important it is done right.

EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE!

In real estate, everything from the furniture in the house to the agents commissions are negotiable.  As an agent, however, I will rarely negotiate my fee as part of the process unless it is absolutely necessary to get the deal done and 99% of the time, it’s not.  I work hard for my clients and don’t typically put my pay on the line or everyone would expect me to do it and I’d be broke – however, everything is negotiable.

Listening and picking up on small queues is important when you are negotiating deals.  If you are a home seller and a husband and wife couple come see your home and the wife is very apparently the call-maker in the family, you need to know you will likely be dealing with her when it comes time to negotiate a deal so watch her expressions.  What does she love about the house?  What does she not like about it?  How much influence over her husband does she have?

You analyze everything and you do it quickly while dealing with the other party.  You have to be quick to analyze, digest and come up with an approach that will work.  You need to know the other sides pain points.  You need to know where they will be more flexible and where they will stand their ground.  You have to understand that you may not win every battle along the way but you need to win the war.

Negotiations can be very tough and nerve-wracking.  A good real estate agent you trust has the skills to be effective will help you relax a lot.  With me on your team you can step aside and breathe while I go to work protecting your interest.  I don’t get rattled and have learned over the years and years of doing deals that I can trust my instincts and intellect to get a fair deal done.

When the Deal Gets Done…

The deal gets done when there is equal pain from both sides.  You’re a buyer paying a few bucks more than you wanted and she’s a seller getting a few bucks less for her home than she wanted – that’s where a deal gets struck.  If its lopsided in one direction, you’ll lose the deal.  An experienced negotiator knows how to find that sweet spot – sometimes it’s a very fine line – between pleasure and pain – but that’s where deals get done.  You need to know how to use every bit of leverage you have to your advantage.  Leverage is your best friend when negotiating a deal.

“We have to be out of this house and into our new home in 3 weeks before school starts!”

That’s leverage.  Use it.

“I’ll tell you what, if you accept $3,000 less, we will close earlier than we wanted to and in time for you to move into your new house before school starts.”

That’s how it works and we use EVERYTHING we can.  But so do they…..if they’re any good.  Hire me and I’ll go to bat for you when it comes time to talk money.

I look forward to working with you!

Phil Bernie, Realtor

Cell / Text: 813-420-8488

Dalton Wade Real Estate

Tampa Home Searcher Bernie Group

Email: phil@tampahomesearcher.com

Web: TampaHomeSearcher.com

Facebook: facebook.com/tampahomesearcher

Instagram: instagram.com/tampahomesearcher

July 22, 2018

TAMPA REALTOR | HOW TO USE A REAL ESTATE AGENT TO BUY A TAMPA BAY HOME

I wanted to talk about the order and process of buying a home.  I get questions about this all the time so I figured I’d email my contacts and put it all in a single helpful post.

Tampa area real estate moves FAST! 

If you love a home you find and aren’t financially prepared to buy, it will likely be gone the next time you return to make an offer.  I’ve seen it happen and it’s HEARTBREAKING!  You finally find the perfect home, your finances aren’t together yet to actually make an offer and the home gets sold before you get your pre-approval letter from the mortgage lender.

Here’s the order in which you should start your home search:

Step 1:  Find a good licensed real estate agent.

I am a licensed agent and know that agents are a dime a dozen but GOOD agents are hard to find. 

Buying or selling a home is likely a major event in your life.  Will you trust this task to your neighbor who moonlights as an agent on the side?  Will you try to go it alone to save commissions when you are up against an opposing side who does have an expert agent working for him, fighting tooth and nail for his client to win?  Are you prepared for that?

Choose wisely.  It’s important to choose one agent who you can trust and who has the experience to get you from Point A to closing.  He or she should work with integrity and transparency.  He or she should just as easily tell you the bad news as quickly as the good news so you can make an informed decision and he or she should not be afraid to face a problem head on when problems arise.  Family members and neighbors don’t always work out so well.  In a business where personal views can really get in the way of progress, you should choose someone best suited for the job and not someone you know just because you know them.  Things can get crazy when buying or selling a home.  Do you want your personal relationship strained if things don’t go well? 

These are all things to consider when choosing an agent so talk to a few but choose one good one.  It’s an important decision and it’s important to just work with one Realtor. 

Most Realtors will ask “Are you working with another Realtor?” as one of their first questions to you.  You may be contractually obligated to work with a certain Realtor if you signed a contract with him or her already.  If you did, he or she will be the one that shows you homes when you are ready to start looking.

You can start checking out some great homes right now by playing with our search tool here:

 

Step 2:  Find a mortgage lender unless you are buying the home outright in cash.

A seller in today’s market wants to know the buyer I bring to them is qualified to close on a home if they make an offer. 

A strong offer includes a strong ability to make it to closing successfully.  As a home seller, I’d want to know the offer you bring me can close and that you are financially prepared to buy my home.  As a seller, I have a lot of expense associated with selling my home – marketing, open houses, man hours, inconvenience, etc.  I really don’t want to change the status of my listing from the MLS to “pending” after you made me an offer without being able to close the sale.  I’d prefer you not make me an offer at all if you can’t close so I can continue to entertain showings and offers that can close.  As a home seller, if you want me to take your offer seriously, include your pre-approval letter with the offer.  I will likely not even consider your offer without it.

So what do you do as home buyer?

As a buyer, you need to speak with a mortgage lender and get your financial affairs in order.  DO NOT go out and buy a new car or miss a credit card payment or anything of the sort for 6 months BEFORE you even decide to buy.  Try to prepare as far in advance as you can and get your credit in order before anything.  The better your credit, the better deal you’ll get on your mortgage.  Really work to get the best credit you can in the months before starting the buying process.  If you need to speak with a credit repair company to help guide you, do so 6-12 months BEFORE thinking about buying a new home.  The more time you allow to repair your credit, the better.

You will need a pre-approval letter that shows the seller you are ready and qualified to buy.  If you are going to pay for the house in all cash, you will likely need to submit a bank statement (in most cases), showing that you have the cash funds in your bank (or IRA or stock account – somewhere – proof you have relatively liquid cash to close) in the amount needed to close on the sale.  Seller’s agents want the pre-approval or bank statement submitted as proof you can close, along with the offer contract submitted together. 

As a listing agent (representing the seller), I need to protect my client’s interest so when we receive offers for a home from you, my client will likely pick the strongest offer.  Strong offers are those which offer the seller the highest price (in most cases) AND those that have furnished proof they can close – or some combination or variation thereof and a promise of a solid Earnest Money Deposit.  Without that proof in hand, not many sellers will take your offer seriously and you’ll lose the house to someone else.

Example:  You are selling your home for $200,000.  You get two offers.  The first is for $195,000 cash with a bank statement showing the buyer has $450,000 cash in his bank account and he wants to close in 3 weeks and will put $10,000 down in escrow.  The second is an offer for $196,500 and the buyer will put $500 cash down and has submitted a pre-approval for $196,500 and wants to close in 10 weeks.  Which offer would YOU take if you were the seller?

Sometimes the highest price doesn’t make the best offer.  A strong offer takes many things into consideration.

Speaking to a lender is the first step of the process and the step most people want to avoid until the very last minute. 

Let’s face it, it’s fun to dream of that new home and get decorating ideas while visiting open houses and scheduling showings, but unless you prepared financially, you are really just wasting time – your time, your Realtor’s time, the homeowner’s time – everyone’s time – with a few exceptions. 

The owner of the home you schedule a showing to go see the home is excited to show his home thinking he may have a buyer.  The house gets cleaned, the owner packs up his family and leaves the home for you to go see it undisturbed.  There’s a lot that goes on.  The owner is hoping to get his house sold so he deals with the inconvenience of having potential buyers walk through his home at different hours and sometimes with short notice.  It’s stressful.  If you haven’t discussed how to pay for a home with a lender, you really aren’t a potential buyer yet and should probably wait to schedule those showings until after you have that pre-approval letter in hand.

Once you are prepared to buy and have a pre-approval, searching for that new home becomes so much more fun because now you know you can actually buy a home if you find one you love!  It becomes very real and so much fun!

Who likes speaking with a lender about finances?  This part is usually not the most fun – at least not as fun as going to look at houses.  It is necessary however.  Today’s lenders have really streamlined the process.  A lot of the process can be done online and the lender is there to help you along the way.  A good lender will make this part easy.  We have lenders we work with all the time who are great at what they do.  If you need help with this, just ask and I’ll send you some referrals.

How much will I need?

The great thing about a good lender is that they can tell you how much house you CAN actually afford and also tell you how much you CANNOT afford.  It’s good to know. 

You don’t want to over-leverage yourself and get into a huge mortgage that is over your head and putting stress on you and your family.  A good lender will provide you a realistic expectation of how much home you can afford.  Sometimes the numbers will surprise you in a positive way! 

Once you’ve gone through this process, looking for a home becomes easier.  You’ll now know what you might be getting yourself into with regard to monthly payments and cash needed to close on a home.

What about escrow cash? (Also called a good faith deposit or Earnest Money Deposit)

When you do finally find a house and want to make an offer, the strength of that offer will be contingent upon how much cash you can put down, your pre-approval letter and the price you are offering compared to other offers the seller may have received. 

Your offer will compete directly with others, if others exist, and the strongest offer usually wins. In the Tampa area, on a home priced between $300,000 and $400,000, a $5,000 or $6,000 escrow deposit is not uncommon and that is typically broken up into two payments.  On a $900,000 – $1,200,000 home, escrow of $25,000 cash is pretty typical in today’s market for a seller to take you seriously. 

I provided these numbers as real world examples from my own experience but your Earnest Money Deposit can be almost any amount.  The seller will consider the amount you put in escrow during his or her analysis of how strong your offer is.  The more you put down initially lets the seller know you are serious about making it to closing and buying the home.  Submitting an offer with very little down tells the seller you likely don’t have cash to close or are not very committed to actually closing the deal or trying to just “save” the home to buy some additional time but you have no real intent on closing any time soon.

How does this work?

Example:  You find a home in Tampa listed for $315,000.  You love it and speak with me about making an offer on the home for $300,000 (I will help you with the offer and provide my expert opinion as well as comparable home sales so we have a basis to justify the cost).  Included with the offer is your pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender that says you qualify to purchase a home up to $325,000.  You discuss with me including an Earnest Money Deposit of $6,000 to be written into the offer contract. 

The first $2,500 of that $6,000 will be due 3 days after your offer is accepted (if it is accepted) and the other $3,500 will be due a week or two later, after the property has been inspected by a home inspector and checks out ok.  If your offer is accepted, you will overnight or wire the first escrow deposit to the title agent before the first 3-day deadline is up then wire or overnight the second escrow deposit after the home inspection report comes back and you decide to move forward with the purchase. 

Once both escrow payments have been made, it may be difficult to get your escrow money back without legal action, depending on how the offer contract is written up and what deadline dates are written into the contract. 

All of these dates and deadlines will be written into your offer contract but typically once the inspection period runs out, you are then committed to purchasing the home, barring any contingencies and other contingent deadlines, like an appraisal.  Again, there are exceptions and I am not a contracts attorney but most of the provisions and deadlines are clearly outlined in the contract. 

Regardless, there is usually a “point of no return” in the contract – a point at which you either give up your escrow deposit or face legal action against you for backing out of the contract you signed.  In other words, signing an offer contract is a serious matter so don’t sign a contract unless you read it and if you prefer, run it by a lawyer for interpretation. 

The offer contract is legally binding once executed (signed) by all parties.  Both you and the seller will have contracted obligations and deadlines to meet until closing once the contract is executed.

Above is a pretty vague, yet real-world description of the process.  There are a million variations to purchasing a home and a lot of it depends on how the contracts are written up and what kind of leverage you have to get a deal done.  I provided the example above as a reference – a typical deal we might see in the Tampa area using numbers I’ve seen in actual deals.  A good chunk of the deal has to do with cooperation.  When the buyers and sellers and listing agents and buying agents all work together to achieve a common goal (buying the home), the deal tends to go very smoothly.  Having a great agent on your side helps a lot.

Next – let’s go look at some homes!!!

We jumped ahead of ourselves by talking about escrow and offer contracts before you even found a home but it’s an important part of the process.  You usually do need some actual cash money to buy a home these days. 

The Auto-Email Direct From the MLS

You chose an agent and you have your pre-approval in hand and now it’s time for the fun part – home shopping! 

By now, as your agent, I have probably put you on an automated MLS email where you get emailed currently active listings direct from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service – the system we Realtors use to find you homes) that match your criteria.  I will usually start this process before you even get qualified for a mortgage because it will take a little time for you to refine your search. 

As you start looking at homes, you will get a feel for the local market and get a better feel for the features you love about certain homes and those features you do not want as well.  This part is like shopping for a home but from the comfort of your own home and through email. 

You can sift through thousands of homes or only a few.  It’s up to you. The auto-email is nice because I can really dial in the criteria for you.

  • Here are just some of the things I can include or exclude from your search:
  • Location – a radius around a neighborhood, a zip code, a city, a subdivision, a street, a school zone
  • Number of Bedrooms
  • Number of Bathrooms
  • Does it have a pool?  If so, private pool in backyard or community pool?
  • Square footage of home
  • Year it was built
  • Price range (minimum, maximum or exact price)
  • Single Family Home, Condo, Townhouse or Mobile home
  • New construction or not
  • Garage space
  • Number of floors

The search capabilities of my system are truly nearly endless.  The point is, I can really dial in a search for you and you can’t do that on any other web site.  This is data that comes direct from the MLS. 

We can keep it broad so you get to see more homes as you decide on features you’d like or we can fine-tune it right from the start so only the homes that match perfectly are sent to you. 

Either way, this email is free, takes me 5 minutes to set up for you and is really valuable.  It’s a great place to start.

Next, start refining your search. 

At first you might feel overwhelmed with the decision.  There are SO MANY homes to choose from!!  This is why we start the auto-email early on in the process.  It will give you time to understand the market and start narrowing your search.  Don’t worry, you WILL narrow your search as you check out these properties.  It gets easier as you go along and eventually you will know exactly what you want. 

I’ve found some homes, can we go look at them now?

When you find a home you love, text your Realtor (me) the address or the MLS number shown in the listing. 

The MLS number looks something like this:  T2938676 or T3107498.  

With that number, I can find any home listed in the MLS.  We would then schedule a showing and go see the home at your convenience.

What do I do at a showing?

Show up!! (please) on time.  Please do show up on time for the showing you scheduled.  The seller has likely made accommodations to show you their home and left the home empty to allow you to see the home without them there. 

I know for a fact, some people take their pets for a long ride while a scheduled showing occurs, waiting for a text from me when the showing is done so they can return home.  Others make accommodations for pets and other sellers might just take a long walk.  It’s not easy on them so please show up on time so the seller can get back to his normal life as quickly as possible.

Once at the showing, I will let you in to look at the home.  I will usually give you some space to allow you to look freely without me hovering over you but I will be in the home with you to answer questions as they come up.  If I don’t know an answer to a question, I will jot it down and ask the listing (seller’s) agent when we get done with the showing then text or email or call you after the showing with the new information.

Be objective but not too critical – paint and wallpaper can really sway your decision but try not to let it.  Try to see beyond some of the superficial stuff like decor and make sure the home is right for your family with regard to more permanent issues, like structure, size, neighborhood, etc. 

Many clients at this stage can choose a home once they’ve seen between 8 and 12 different homes. 

Some clients need to see more.  Some need to see less.  There is no pressure to hurry up and buy whatsoever.  You need to choose what’s right for you and your family.  Take your time. 

Clients often say things like “the house spoke to me” or “if it’s meant to be” or “I felt a great vibe” from a particular home.  However you choose, choose carefully and try not to let a preconceived notion sway you.  Logic and reason works best here but a good vibe helps too.  :-)

I hope you’ve found this piece interesting and informative.  If you have questions about anything real estate related, feel free to shoot me a text or email or call. 

I’d love to work with you and help you with this process.  

I look forward to working with you!

Phil Bernie, Realtor

Cell / Text: 813-420-8488

Dalton Wade Real Estate

Tampa Home Searcher Bernie Group

Email: phil@tampahomesearcher.com

Web: TampaHomeSearcher.com

Facebook: facebook.com/tampahomesearcher

Instagram: instagram.com/tampahomesearcher

July 21, 2018

Why Are There A Million For Sale Signs On My Street? Demographics of Tampa Real Estate.

Why is everyone moving at the same time?

In this article we will discuss the demographics of moving.

Have you noticed while driving around or maybe even on your own block, you'll notice a FOR SALE sign then 3 or 4 weeks later there are 6 more signs up very close to home?  Have you ever wondered why that was the case?

People tend to move into areas at certain times of their life - they just got married and moved into a larger apartment.  Then they have a child and move into their first single family home.  Then the second or third child comes along and that home is no longer big enough and it's not in the school district you love so once again, you're moving.  This "family home" tends to last typically between 8 and 14 years while the kids are in school.  Everyone likes stability so parents tend to stay in one place.  Since they originally picked a neighborhood with lots of kids in a good school district, many of the parents in the neighborhood are about the same age - and so are the kids.

Fast forward and your baby girl is now a Senior in high school and is about to move out of state to college.  Do you still need that big 5-bedroom house on the cul-de-sac that is 2 blocks from the elementary school?  Nope.  You sell.  Downsize.

If you are thinking about moving, odds are others in your neighborhood are too.  Neighborhoods tend to mature with it's residents.  Before you know it, there are 7 other homes listed for sale on your block because everyone is in the same boat as you are.  They've either outgrown their current home, the old home is too big or the neighborhood no longer fits their current lifestyle at their current age.  Of course there are always exceptions, like work transfers, neighborhood changes or simply to find a nicer home or less expensive one.  This is how it usually happens though.  

Since I am a licensed Realtor with access to the MLS, I can sort homes for sale by neighborhoods and it always amazes me to see 9 or 10 homes for sale within a 2 block radius because everyone bought at the same time and now everyone is moving at the same time.

What does this mean for the sale of your home?

Well, you need to price it right because your home will be directly competing for buyers with the other homes for sale in your neighborhood.  You'll need to price it correctly right from the start.  Some aggressive marketing can help as well as updating the home to make it more appealing.

Hopefully now you understand why and how certain neighborhoods have many homes for sale at one time and others don't.  It's usually a function of the age of the residents and their kids' ages.

I look forward to working with you!

Phil Bernie, Realtor

Cell / Text: 813-420-8488

Dalton Wade Real Estate

Tampa Home Searcher Bernie Group

Email: phil@tampahomesearcher.com

Web: TampaHomeSearcher.com

Facebook: facebook.com/tampahomesearcher

Instagram: instagram.com/tampahomesearcher

July 13, 2018

DEALING WITH FINANCING

It wasn't too long ago the real estate market was in turmoil.  People tend to forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril. Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that “for sale” sign on your new home.

Get pre-approved. Sub-primes may be history, but you’ll probably still be shown homes you can’t actually afford. By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford. You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Unlike pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history. By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you’ll be less likely to get in over your head.

Choose your mortgage carefully. It used to be that the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible. Today, the debt the average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it’s better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year. This way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good. Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you plan to stay in the house for a long time—and given the current real estate market, you should—taking the points will save you money.

Do your homework before bidding. Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood with sites like Zillow. Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three months. For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8 to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

I look forward to working with you!

Phil Bernie, Realtor

Cell / Text: 813-420-8488

Dalton Wade Real Estate

Tampa Home Searcher Bernie Group

Email: phil@tampahomesearcher.com

Web: TampaHomeSearcher.com

Facebook: facebook.com/tampahomesearcher

Instagram: instagram.com/tampahomesearcher

July 9, 2018

PREPARING TO SELL

Selling your home doesn't just mean hiring a realtor to stick a sign out front. There are a lot of preparations you should make to ensure you get the best offer possible in the shortest time.

Repair. Just because you’ve gotten used to the cracks in the walls and the rattles in the radiators doesn’t mean a buyer will too. If you have hardwood floors that need refinishing, be sure to get it done—hardwood is a huge selling point. Buyers like to snoop around, so be sure to fix any sticky doors or drawers as well. Finally, don’t forget to address any issues with the exterior—fences, shingles, sidewalks, etc. After all, without curb appeal, some buyers may never get to see the inside.

Neutralize. You want buyers to see themselves in your home. If your living room has lime green shag, wood-paneled walls, and all your collectibles and personal photographs, this will be much harder for them to do. Try replacing any bold color choices in your floors and walls with something more neutral—beiges, tans, and whites. Repainting and reflooring will make everything look fresh and new, and help prospective buyers imagine all the possibilities.

Stage. Once your house is clean and updated, it’s time to play dress up. Home stagers can add small details and décor touches that will bring out the possibilities in the various spaces in your home: lamps, mirrors, throw rugs and pillows, flowers, decorative soaps and towels, patio furniture. Home staging can be particularly useful if your home is especially old or if the exterior looks dated. Think of it as a little mascara and rouge—if it’s done right, you notice the beauty, not the makeup.

Phil Bernie, Realtor

Cell / Text: 813-420-8488

Dalton Wade Real Estate

Tampa Home Searcher Bernie Group

Email: phil@tampahomesearcher.com

Web: TampaHomeSearcher.com

Facebook: facebook.com/tampahomesearcher

Instagram: instagram.com/tampahomesearcher

Feb. 12, 2018

RELOCATING TO THE BIG CITY

RELOCATING TO THE BIG CITY

Moving from a small town or suburb to a large city can be an intimidating proposition. Here are a few tips to help make your move as painless as possible.

Research before you move. It’s important to understand the culture you’re joining. Do research online and find out about school systems, neighborhoods, parking, weather, public transportation, and laws that are native to that area. If you can, visit a city before moving and connect with someone who’s lived there before.

Have a plan. There are a lot of steps to go through before you start packing the moving truck. Find housing before you leave, or at least know where you’ll stay while you look for a home. Never sign a lease on an apartment that you haven’t seen. If you can’t get there, find a friend or an employer to check for you. Have a job waiting for you, or if that’s not possible, know what you’ll do for money in the first few weeks of living there. Try to line up things like driver’s licenses, car insurance, renter’s insurance, and parking passes ahead of time as well.

Get involved. Meeting people in a big city can be daunting. Don’t expect the neighbors to knock your door down with a casserole when you arrive: city life is often too noisy and hectic. Take the initiative. If there are things you liked to do in your town, find ways to do those things in the city. Try new things. Volunteer. Big cities offer so many opportunities to engage other people, so find what you like.

Mind your wallet. City life is expensive. Everything costs more: food, insurance, clothes, rent. There are also a lot more ways to get ripped off, whether legally or criminally. Be careful how you spend, and know where your money is going.

I look forward to working with you!

Phil Bernie, Realtor

Cell / Text: 813-420-8488

Dalton Wade Real Estate

Tampa Home Searcher Bernie Group

Email: phil@tampahomesearcher.com

Web: TampaHomeSearcher.com

Facebook: facebook.com/tampahomesearcher

Instagram: instagram.com/tampahomesearcher

Feb. 7, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

Receive the Latest Local Market Stats

Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

I look forward to working with you!

Phil Bernie, Realtor

Cell / Text: 813-420-8488

Dalton Wade Real Estate

Tampa Home Searcher Bernie Group

Email: phil@tampahomesearcher.com

Web: TampaHomeSearcher.com

Facebook: facebook.com/tampahomesearcher

Instagram: instagram.com/tampahomesearcher