My Real Estate Blogs

Tips for Winning Negotiations

10/18/2015

Negotiation Strategies

If you ever buy or sell real estate, you'll be involved in negotiations. Negotiating is a skill that is learned from both research and practice, and is incredibly important in the business world, especially in real estate. In real estate, your negotiation skills can be the deciding factor for thousands of dollars. Of course, you want them to end up in your pocket. Here are a few negotiation tips to make sure they do.

Pay attention to the other side

This may seem counterintuitive, but it's one of the most important concepts in negotiation. Everybody involved is trying to get what they want, and nobody really cares about anybody else. Pay attention to what your opposition actually wants. Don't assume that you know, ask, and then actually listen. Even just knowing what they want will make them like you more, and therefore want to help you. Once you know what they want, show them that you can give it to them. All they have to do is help you out too.

 

Never give anything away

Negotiations are not about being nice. There's no reason to give something away for free. Whenever you give something up, make sure you're getting something in return. In addition to making sure you get as much as possible out of the negotiation, it will create a better attitude in your opponent. If you start giving them things, they'll start to feel entitled and expect even more, but if you expect them to make a concession every time you do, they'll feel like they have to work for whatever they want, which is where you come out ahead.

 

Don't take anything personally

Sometimes during negotiations people get frustrated and the conversation can get personal. Try not to let this happen. Negotiating has nothing to do with either person directly, and neither side will benefit if they start taking things personally.

Real estate negotiations tend to come with extremely high stakes, but negotiation happens every day. Take advantage of these tips, and hopefully you'll find that a few more people end up on your side.

James Williams, III REALTOR 321-402-6261; email: jaw3remax@gmail.com

Why Work With a Certified Residential Specialist - What's in it For You?

10/17/2015

Certified Residential Specialist

When you want to buy property or you want to sell property, you have two choices – do it all yourself or work with a Realtor. The Greater Orlando area is well-served by experienced and dedicated real estate professionals. Some of them are considered the crème de la crème - the top 3% of all Realtors. These Realtors are the Certified Residential Specialists. You will recognize them by the designation CRS.

When you decide to buy your dream home, your vacation home or your rental property, you want to work with the best – the Realtors who know more about specific areas and specific properties. When you want to sell, you want the best result possible – marketing, selling, negotiating, and taking a sale through to a successful closing, take more than knowledge – they take skill, experience and a great track record.

Getting everything right, including the customer service side of things, is what the CRS designation tells you about the Realtor you decide to work with. CRS Realtors, on average, have three times as much experience and manage three times the amount of business as other Realtors (per the Council of Residential Specialists).

This means that when you choose a Certified Residential Specialist, you choose someone with an excellent track record – they sell more properties and help people to buy more properties than the other 97%.

On September 17th the National Association of Realtors published a new report based on a lot of Buyer research. It covered not only the obvious – more people begin their search for property on the internet, but it also said that in 2014 (2015 results are not compiled as of this writing) 88% of people used a Realtor to help them get the results they wanted. The report also said that most property searches took between 8 and 11 weeks before a Buyer wrote a contract. If you take that amount of time to make such an important decision, you want to make sure you have your expert available when you need them. If you are selling property you want not just first class marketing, but you want your Realtor continually working on your behalf, and available to handle the many questions that come in from potential Buyers and other Realtors who are working with their own Buyers. Success isn’t a part-time job!

To answer that first question – what's in it for you working with a Certified Residential Specialist? The answer is because they are in the top 3% of all Greater Orlando area Realtors, they have the best of track records, and they will be there for you, doing what needs to be done so you get the results you deserve. If you would like to get to know us better, or if you have questions of any sort, please learn more, and send me an email by clicking here you'll be glad you did!

James Williams, III REALTOR 321-402-6261; email: jaw3remax@gmail.com

Use a Free Home Evaluation So You Make All the Right Decisions

10/16/2015

Free Home Evaluation

An accurate and properly detailed home evaluation is worth its weight in gold. When you really know what your home’s market value is you can make high-quality decisions. Those decisions will enable you to achieve at least three goals:-

  • Getting the highest price the market will allow for your property
  • Getting it in your preferred timescale
  • Getting it with least hassle on your part

Without an accurate home evaluation you are ‘shooting from the hip’. The old ‘Ready - Fire - Aim’ strategy is not always that successful. There are four ways that many home owners decide how much to ask for their home:-

  1. They go on the internet and look at the price tags of similar homes to theirs
  2. They do the same as 1) but also check to see how long those properties stay on the market, and they keep checking to see if any prices change. They also go to their local tax appraiser site to see what price the ‘Sold’ properties actually sold for compared to the asking price
  3. They pay hundreds of dollars for an appraisal by a licensed appraiser who will take sales price information for three similar properties. Then they will do some very complicated, and accurate, calculations to produce a valuation for your home, as though your home had just sold. You then have to calculate whether to ask more, or the same, for your home. Most people add a little ‘dicker money’, as they call it

Or they have a real estate professional, armed with exactly the same information as the appraiser – plus a lot more – do the work for free. And that is where a free home evaluation proves its weight in gold

By using Orlando Area Home Evaluation you achieve more than any of the four common processes we just described. Here is what you will get:-

  1. A complete home evaluation you can rely on
  2. The evaluation will be based on homes like yours (size, age, floor plan, features like pool, etc) in a similar area to yours
  3. How long they have been on the market - with price changes
  4. The asking prices of homes like yours that are under contract but not closed. And how long it took for them to go under contract
  5. 'Asking' and 'Sold' prices of homes that have closed, recently

This is a comprehensive document – emailed to you FOR FREE – by a local expert. Armed with this detail you will be able to make all the right decisions. You will know how best to compete with homes like yours that are on the market, now, what price you should ask for your home, and what price it is likely to sell for compared to other recent sales. For more information to help you make all the right decisions, please click this link.

James Williams, III REALTOR 321-402-6261; email: jaw3remax@gmail.com

Is a Rehab Loan Right For You? A 203k Specialist Can Tell You Everything You Need to Know

10/8/2015

Buying a "fixer upper" and paying to have the necessary renovations done can be an excellent way to get the house of your dreams at a bargain price. However, affording not only the mortgage on a home, but the renovations as well, can be difficult for many buyers. This is where a 203k rehab loan can be beneficial, as it can help cover not only the sale price of the home, but remodeling costs as well. Before you decide whether or not a 203k rehab loan is right for you, however, it's a good idea to speak with a 203k specialist.

How Do 203k Loans Work?

Essentially, a 203k loan works through financing the cost of the fixer upper, in addition to the estimated cost of repairs. For example, if you want to buy a $150,000 home that desperately needs a new kitchen and bathroom, your 203k loan will cover the $150,000 sale price of the home, plus the renovation costs estimated by your contractor. In many cases, a 203k loan will also include up to a 20% contingency fund that can be used in the event that the cost of the renovations ends up being higher than originally planned.

Advantages of 203k Loans

There are many advantages of 203k loans, including the fact that taking one out may help you to afford a home that you otherwise might not be able to. Furthermore, interest rates and other loan terms on these loans are quite competitive and in line with many other more traditional types of mortgages (though you'll still want to shop around to find the right lender.

What You Need to Know

Before you move forward with a 203k loan, however, there are a few things you need to know. For starters, these loans can take awhile to get approved for because, more than likely, your lender will want to work with your contractor in addition to an appraiser to ensure that your home's value will be worth at least the loan amount when all is said and done.

Furthermore, understand that not all renovations qualify for financing through a 203k loan. Specifically, "luxurious" additions, such as adding a pool or basketball court to your property, generally won't be financed.

If you're considering a 203k rehab loan but want to make sure you're making the right decision, consider meeting with a 203k specialist today.

Orlando Area Waterfront Homes

10/7/2015

Visitors to Orlando may only be familiar with Disney World's Bay Lake, but residents know that's just one of many gorgeous lakes that cover the area. Orlando which is known as "The City Beautiful" may not be on the coast, but it doesn't lack for waterfront property. Waterfront homes are available in virtually every community in the Metro Orlando area and prices are more affordable than you'd think. 

Downtown

Lake Eola with its iconic fountain is the heart of downtown Orlando. The park hosts festivals virtually every weekend and is the perfect place for a stroll or picnic. Only hi-rise condos border this lake, but many single family lakefront homes are close-by. The Ivanhoe district just west of I-4 contains a large lake and historic Thornton Park on the east side of downtown also sports a lovely tree-shaded body of water. If a stately, character filled older home is at the top of your list then make these neighborhoods your first stop.

Baldwin Park

Baldwin Park is a large planned community located around the shores of Lake Baldwin. The property used to be a military base and was developed in the last ten years so everything is new. There are even new construction homes by top developer David Weekly available. This area is convenient to downtown and UCF. It also boasts some of the best schools in the area including Winter Park High School which is accessed directly from the community. The lake is large and there are many walking paths that follow it.

Windermere

Windermere is home to the famed Butler Chain of Lakes. These lakes are connected and together span approximately 12 continuous miles of water. They are perfect for boating and have decent fishing too. Many of the waterfront homes are part of prestigious gated communities like Isleworth, former home to Tiger Woods. Others are set back from the road in secluded wooded spots. Many include private docks and covered boathouses with lifts. 

No matter what your budget, there are waterfront properties available. Even Orlando's retention ponds are desirable as they have fountains, are always full and for all purposes appear to be natural spring fed lakes. Let James Williams and RE/MAX find you and your boat a new home.

How to Finance Home Repairs Before You Buy

10/6/2015

Homes that need repairs are a problem for all buyers, but they're particularly problematic for first-timers. People have worked hard to scrape together enough for a down payment, and having to cough up more money to make improvements after close is challenging.

Why don't sellers make repairs before listing, or make them after the home inspection report? There are lots of reasons, but these are common:

  • They don't have enough extra cash themselves, either because of the economy or  because they don't have enough home equity to tap into.
  • They don't want to. After living in a home for a period of years, people learn to live with dings and flaws, and don't think they're that big of a deal.
  • If the home is in an estate, the heirs prefer to lower the price instead of paying upfront for repairs. If it's a foreclosure, the asset manager sells the home "as is."

These situations challenge a buyer, and may even cause the buyer's lender to disqualify the house. In the old days, seller, buyer, and lender could agree to leave repair funds in an escrow account for the buyer's use after closing. But the housing crisis ended all that.

Fortunately, there is a solution that many buyers don't know about. Often, their agents or lender won't tell them about it, either, because it takes experience and expertise to make it work. The solution is called the FHA 203k Rehab loan.

Under a 203k scenario, the appraiser values the home as though the repairs had been made by adding repair or upgrade costs to the "as-is" value. The lender then issues the loan based on the higher as-repaired value. The difference between the high and low valuations goes into an escrow account that the buyer may tap for repairs after move-in.

To make a FHA 203k loan work, a buyer needs a lender who understands the program, a contractor who's used to filling out the forms and following the FHA's checklist, and a real estate broker who's a 203k specialist to coordinate the whole program. Since it's a federal government process, it has some detailed requirements that few brokers have the patience to follow, but it gives buyers so many more options than they would otherwise have.

Contact me if you'd like to know more.

Five Tips To Make The Home Buying Process Less Stressful

10/5/2015

The home buying process can be very stressful. You may look at homes for several months and still not find the "perfect home" for you and your family. You may also find the best home, only to lose it because your home didn't sell in time. Maybe the whole packing process scares you. Any way that you look at it, the home buying process can be very daunting for everyone involved.

Here are some tips to make the home buying process a little less stressful.

  • Hire a Realtor that you trust. A good Realtor’s job is to make the whole process smoother for you.
  • Decide what your wants and needs are in a home. Know this BEFORE you start looking. You need to know what you can and can't live without.
  • Meet with a mortgage company right away to find out what you can and can’t afford in a home. Then, decide what you realistically feel comfortable paying every month.
  • Stick to homes that you can afford. Do not look at homes that are priced more than you can afford, thinking that you will just put a low offer in. You may end up falling in love with a home that you won’t be able to buy.
  • If you have a home to sell, put it on the market as soon as possible. This will give you time to sell it while you are looking at homes.

The home buying process can be daunting. However, a Realtor will help the whole process go a lot smoother. You should also decide exactly what you want and need in a home. How many bathrooms and bedrooms do you really need? What would you prefer? Then, meet up with a mortgage company so you know what you realistically can afford so you don’t fall in love with a home that you can’t afford.

Find Orlando's Best Luxury Homes for Sale

10/4/2015

Bravo Television just added San Francisco to their portfolio of Million Dollar Listing reality shows after a whirlwind tour of South Florida in the Miami version. If producers spent time touring Orlando FL's Luxury Homes for Sale, they'd know it would make a dynamite addition to the popular series people call real estate porn. A number of notable sports figures call the city home, and even more have vacation homes in the area to take advantage of blessed weather, year round golf and relaxed easy living.

Luxury homes in Orlando take many forms. There are marble clad mansions complete with a pair of stone lions flanking the electric gate, expansive Mediterranean influenced properties with tiled roofs and even traditional Southern plantation style homes. High end real estate is found in all directions so buyers never have to compromise on location.

Topping the list of ultra luxury homes in Orlando is Westgate Resort magnate David Segal's 90,000 sq. ft. literal palace under construction in Lake Butler Sound. While this replica of Versailles isn't on the market, there are some equally fabulous homes in the area that might fit the bill. Many are lakefront, have private tennis courts and offer the security of manned gatehouses.

Segal's palace isn't the only one in Orlando. Cinderella's castle is famous the world over. Those hoping to actually live at Disney in a palace of their own now can! Golden Oaks, a luxury community developed by Disney is currently selling homes. It comes with extraordinary amenities including access to the concierge at the Four Season Hotel located within the property.

If luxury to you should be more stately and old money, then Winter Park is a good area to look for homes. These homes, many of which are on cobblestone streets, are in the areas most desirable neighborhoods. They have all the modern must-haves but maintain the character of older homes.

Sadly most of these luxury communities are very private and don't allow Sunday drives to peruse them. If you are in the market for an executive home or grand estate, contact James Williams, III at RE/MAX to schedule a series of private showings of Orlando's finest homes.

 

Negotiation Strategies for Home Buyers: Important Dos and Don'ts

10/3/2015

So, you've found your dream home and you want to make it yours. At the same time, you also want to make sure you get it for a fair price. This is where knowing and utilizing some effective negotiation strategies can make all the difference. Before you begin the negotiation process, however, there are some things you should know.

DO Keep the Big Picture in Mind

During negotiations, it can be easy to let the little things get to you. Perhaps the seller refuses to pay your closing costs as requested, or maybe the sellers want to take their fancy, stainless steel refrigerator with them. Ultimately, it's important to keep the big picture in mind; is it really worth losing out on your dream home over a few thousand dollars in closing costs or a $1,500 refrigerator?

DON'T Take Things Personally

Speaking of not letting the little things get to you, it's also important to remember that you shouldn't take anything personally during the real estate negotiation process. If a seller rejects your offer or counters, it's nothing against you. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in buying a home is letting your emotions get the best of you.

DO Keep an Eye on the Market

Always make sure you keep a close eye on the local real estate market so you can have a better idea of whose court the ball is in when it comes to negotiations. For example, if you're buying in a neighborhood that's in high demand, it's probably in your best interest to avoid making a low-ball offer, since the seller is likely to get lots of competitive offers. 

DON'T Ignore Your Realtor

Above all else, be sure to work with your Realtor through every step of the negotiation process. He or she will be able to run neighborhood comps and figure out what would be considered a fair offer, allowing you added confidence and peace of mind in your ultimate decision.

These are just a few important dos and don'ts to keep in mind as you negotiate on a fair sale price for your new home. By keeping these tips in mind, you'll have a better chance of getting your dream home for a fair price!

Some Reasons Foreign Buyers Rely on Re/Max

10/2/2015

The Orlando-Kissimmee area is a prime real estate center. It is a world-famous vacation capital, attracting people from all over the world. The area population has grown every year since 2010 and, depending on the specific area, between 18% – 26% of home owners are foreign-born (per the US Census Bureau.)

A steady stream of vacationers and a growing population usually means two things – rising property values for owners and a steady rental income for investors. If you are considering buying your own vacation home/rental property, the one golden piece of advice we can give is – work with an expert Realtor®. As a foreign buyer you should be aware of some important factors.

Buying real estate in Florida is different from buying anywhere else – even other parts of the United States. Buying and selling real estate is governed by Florida Statutes 475 and 476. Realtors® work to a strict code of conduct. They can operate as either a ’Transaction Broker’ or ‘Single Agent’. Each of these puts specific responsibilities on the Realtor®, and you should ask for these differences to be explained. That way you can agree, exactly, how your agent will work with you.

It comes as a surprise to many that, in Florida, homes are marketed via a true and comprehensive Multiple Listing Service. The net result is that your Re/Max agent will be able to search for, locate, show you and negotiate on any property on the market. It does not matter which company is marketing the property, the ‘listing agent’ (the person contracted to market the home and to find a buyer) is , effectively, required to co-operate with any other agent who brings a potential buyer.

The USA is very happy for non-residents to buy real estate, provided they follow certain guidelines. Your Re/Max Premier Properties agent is very well placed to guide you. If you want to buy with a mortgage, he will help you decide on a mortgage lender that also knows the ‘foreign purchaser’ process. He will help you to get pre-approved for a suitable loan, so you can search with confidence and make a strong offer – it is good for a seller to know you are pre-approved, and also that you are working with an expert. Many transactions fail – or don’t even get off the ground - because the seller is not confident that the buyer can follow through. This is especially true of a foreign buyer.

Your Re/Max agent will also explain the escrow process, how much 'good faith money' you should deposit, the importance to you of title insurance and having the property ownership transferred to you via a general warranty deed. He will also help you to choose an attorney, if you want to use one - again, in Florida, you do not need a lawyer to buy real estate.

Buying property in the Orlando area is exciting but you also want it to be smooth, trouble-free and successful. An agent like James Williams III will help you to find your perfect property in exactly the right location.  He will advise you on the ins and outs of the purchase process and be able to follow the whole process through to completion – especially if you are back home waiting for that good news phone call.

The Orlando-Kissimmee area is a prime real estate center. It is a world-famous vacation capital, attracting people from all over the world. The area population has grown every year since 2010 and, depending on the specific area, between 18% – 26% of home owners are foreign-born (per the US Census Bureau.)

A steady stream of vacationers and a growing population usually means two things – rising property values for owners and a steady rental income for investors. If you are considering buying your own vacation home/rental property, the one golden piece of advice we can give is – work with an expert Realtor®. As a foreign buyer you should be aware of some important factors.

Buying real estate in Florida is different from buying anywhere else – even other parts of the United States. Buying and selling real estate is governed by Florida Statutes 475 and 476. Realtors® work to a strict code of conduct. They can operate as either a ’Transaction Broker’ or ‘Single Agent’. Each of these puts specific responsibilities on the Realtor®, and you should ask for these differences to be explained. That way you can agree, exactly, how your agent will work with you.

It comes as a surprise to many that, in Florida, homes are marketed via a true and comprehensive Multiple Listing Service. The net result is that your Re/Max agent will be able to search for, locate, show you and negotiate on any property on the market. It does not matter which company is marketing the property, the ‘listing agent’ (the person contracted to market the home and to find a buyer) is , effectively, required to co-operate with any other agent who brings a potential buyer.

The USA is very happy for non-residents to buy real estate, provided they follow certain guidelines. Your Re/Max Premier Properties agent is very well placed to guide you. If you want to buy with a mortgage, he will help you decide on a mortgage lender that also knows the ‘foreign purchaser’ process. He will help you to get pre-approved for a suitable loan, so you can search with confidence and make a strong offer – it is good for a seller to know you are pre-approved, and also that you are working with an expert. Many transactions fail – or don’t even get off the ground - because the seller is not confident that the buyer can follow through. This is especially true of a foreign buyer.

Your Re/Max agent will also explain the escrow process, how much 'good faith money' you should deposit, the importance to you of title insurance and having the property ownership transferred to you via a general warranty deed. He will also help you to choose an attorney, if you want to use one - again, in Florida, you do not need a lawyer to buy real estate.

Buying property in the Orlando area is exciting but you also want it to be smooth, trouble-free and successful. An agent like James Williams III will help you to find your perfect property in exactly the right location.  He will advise you on the ins and outs of the purchase process and be able to follow the whole process through to completion – especially if you are back home waiting for that good news phone call.

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