Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for the 'North Pinellas County' Category

Pinellas County real estate: Demand UP, supply DOWN

If you are thinking about BUYING a home in Pinellas County, or if you are thinking about SELLING your home, here are a couple of very important things you need to know:

  • Sales are UP. A lot.
  • Listing inventory is DOWN.

Closed sales in April 2015 were 2,103, up almost 20 percent over April in 2014 (1756). At the same time, listing inventory for the same month was 7,566 units — DOWN 1.5 percent.

What does that mean? Well, it means a couple of things.  First, more buyers are chasing fewer available homes. And when demand exceeds supply like that, it pushes prices UP. And that’s exactly what’s happening in Pinellas County right now.

I have buyers right now who are frustrated because the houses they want to buy are simply not on the market.

So I have a couple of things to tell you: If you are a buyer, prices are going to be higher than they are right now. And if you are a seller, or a potential seller, this is a great time to get your home on the market. There’s a buyer out there right now who is ready to make you an offer.

 

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Come out and have some fun at the Dunedin Orange Festival

If you are looking for something to do this weekend – AFTER the fourth of July celebrations – think about coming by the Dunedin Orange Festival Saturday, June 6 in Dunedin’s Edgewater Waterfront Park, which is right next door to the Dunedin Marina in downtown Dunedin.

dunedin orange festival This should be a fun day, with music and entertaining events of all kinds taking place from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Various musical acts will be on stage continuously, and there will be plenty of activities for kids. The mojo cookoff will begin at 11:30 a.m. and will feature pork dishes of all kinds. Dunedin is a restaurant mecca, and a bunch of the town’s best will take part in the competition – Flanagan’s, Kelly’s, SeaSea Riders, Serendipity Café, The Livingroom Smokehouse, Margueritte’s and Broadway Deli.

The public will be the judge of the cookoff, in exchange for a $10 ticket.

There is lot’s more to see and do, so come on out! Check out all the details at http://dunedinorangefestival.com/festival-details-dunedin-orange-festival.htm

Pinellas County real estate becomes a sellers’ market

 

 

Here’s a recent development in real estate that I don’t think too many people would have predicted: In recent weeks, we’ve sort of quietly shifted from a buyers’ market to a seller’s market.

 That’s right, buyers are having to scramble to get good, solid, timely offers in on the homes they really want to buy. If they don’t, POOF! The house is gone to someone with quicker reflexes.

sold sign And this shift does not just apply to Pinellas County homes; it’s a phenomenon that’s being noticed across the country. The WALL STREET JOURNAL even wrote about it today.

 According to the JOURNAL, buyers are increasingly competing for homes, and even entering into bidding wars. I haven’t seen anything that I would describe as bidding wars locally, but I have had several buyers submitting offers above the asking price, knowing that the house of their dreams won’t stay on the market.

 According to the JOURNAL (and my own sense of what’s going on locally), this sellers’ market is not so much about increasing numbers of sales – it’s more about a lack of good, desirable properties on the market.

 It makes sense when you think about it. Sellers keep their homes off the market because of declining values. If someone owes $300,000 on a home that is now worth $200,000, why put it on the market if you don’t have to?

 And we are now about six years into the housing slump, which means a lot of homes that would have been sold in a more normal market have simply never been listed.

 And there’s another reason, too. Lenders have been extremely slow to put their foreclosed properties on the market. There’s plenty of foreclosed-upon, unoccupied homes out there, in this market and most others, but the lender-owners seem to fear more value declines if they put all those properties on the market.

 It’s a strange market, no doubt. But it is a market with many great opportunities, for buyers and sellers alike.

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Waterfowl love living in Dunedin

As I’ve said before here, I love Florida’s birds — they are one of things that make living here so interesting.

crane in pondThere’s a pond a few steps from my back door, and it attracts all sorts of different birds. There’s a family of ducks that live there, and they are there every day, but other waterfowl pop in for vistits pretty regularly.

I was outside the other day when this big guy dropped in. I think it’s a heron of some sort, but I’m no expert and I couldn’t find a picture on the internet of a bird that exactly matched this fellow, so I’m not really sure what he is. If you recognize it, please post what you know.

What’s the point of bird pictures on a blog that specializes in Pinellas County real estate? Good question. But it’s my blog, and I like birds, so you can expect to see some photos of birds that I come across in Pinellas County. This particular guy is in Dunedin, a little south of Palm Harbor.

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Ducks living happily in the middle of Dunedin real estate

One of the things I love most about Florida is all the birds. Some of them are pretty exotic, such as the cranes and flamingoes and the flocks of wild parrots that you see in some places. Others, like these two ducks, are commonplace just about anywhere, but still neat to watch and to photograph.

ducks 2These two ducks live in a marshy pond that is on the edge of a golf course right next to our Dunedin condo. Taking this picture involved stepping out the back door and walking maybe 20 steps to the end of the water. These guys must see enough golfers every day that they hardly took any note of my presence at all.

Usually the Christmas holidays bring the real estate business in Pinellas County to pretty much of a halt. That hasn’t really been the case this year. My phone has been ringing steadily — people were calling to look at property on Christmas Eve, and then again on the day after Christmas. Also, the entire month of December has been pretty busy. I’m not sure if that means anything in terms of trends, but I’m always happy to see an active Pinellas County real estate market, whatever the reason.

I do think we can expect a pretty active real estate period starting right after the New Year. Are you thinking about buying or selling a home in Pinellas County in the next few weeks or months? Now is a good time to get the ball rolling. Give me a call anytime at 727-643-7100, or e-mail me at [email protected].

Nature’s paradise in Cross Creek

woodstream pier 1I don’t usually broadcast individual homes that are for sale on this blog, but I’m offering an absolute gem in Cross Creek in Oldsmar that you really have to see. It’s immaculate and beautifully decorated, but the truly gorgeous feature is what’s out back — a dock that overlooks a small river, with an island nature reserve on the other side.

The pictures tell the story, so click below and take a look at the photo gallery on the website I put together for this outstanding property.

http://1514woodstreamdr.epropertysites.com/

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Hurricanes don’t come ashore in Pinellas County very often, but if one does…

hurricane windsWe need to be prepared. So plan, plan, plan, and take measures that will minimize risk and damage.

 Below is a list of hurricane preparation tips. Have a tip of your own to share? Tell us below and help keep others safe.

 If you are evacuating your home:

  •  Turn the pilot light off on your water heater and furnace, then turn off the gas line valve near the appliance. Finally, turn off your gas at the meter. This will reduce the probability that a tree falling on the roof will break an active gas line and create the chance for a spark to cause a fire. Turning off valves working from the appliance to the meter will make it easier to reignite on your return by reversing the process.
  • Turn off your master water supply
  • Hurricane supplies

    Hurricane supplies

     While some would recommend leaving your master breaker on for your alarm and refrigerator function, if you are leaving the property due to the severity of the weather, chances are the power may be lost anyway. It’s really safest to shut it off. The reason is that if the power surges, as it does when the power company is trying to restore the down service or with blowing transformers, it can damage electronics including HVAC systems. Homes equipped with a generator must turn off the main breaker to avoid shifting power back out to the street, as this can be dangerous for utility company workers or if a line has broken from the property with the generator. If you are not going to be leaving the property you can, and should, keep the main breaker on until the power goes out.

  •  Unplug all fixtures or small appliances that can be accessed.
  •  Bring into the garage, or otherwise secure, all movable exterior items such as small plants in pots, lawn furniture and pool equipment.
  •  Fill all vehicle fuel tanks.
  •  If you have time, trim all branches or heavy bushes that could damage windows.
  •  Use wind shutters: either pull down your professionally installed hurricane shutters or install your own plywood panels.*

Take with you:

  •  Food and snacks for two days
  • Two gallons of water per individual
  • Clothing for one week
  • First aid kit
  • Medications for 30 days
  • Flashlights and spare batteries
  • Cash
  • Important documents (wills, insurance, licenses, medical and bank records as needed)
  • Pet care items
  • Tell a neighbor who is staying where you are going and how to contact you. Exchange numbers.

 If you are staying: (Highly discouraged if you are in a storm surge area or near the immediate path of the storm):

  • hurricane plywood Increase food supplies to 3-7 days—preferably non-perishable food items.
  •  Fill up your propane tank for your grill or buy two sacks of charcoal.
  • Make sure you have a functional fire extinguisher. ABC type will work on any fire.
  • Remember, with down trees and no reliable phone service, 911 may not be an option.
  •  Increase water supplies to one gallon per person per day.
  •  Adequate toiletries, diapers and special items to last at least one week
  •  One flashlight per individual and one spare set of batteries per light
  •  Increase cash on hand.
  •  Battery operated radio
  •  Toys books and games
  •  Tools
  •  Clean and fill the tub the night before land fall. This water will be used for pets and flushing toilets.
  •  Do all of your laundry before land fall. You may not have a chance for a week or so.
  •  Take digital pictures of your home and each room. This will support future insurance claims.
  •  Store your valuable papers in a waterproof container or bank vault
  •  Fill bags with ice from your ice machine
  • Back up your computer data and store it in a safe place

 Additional steps for family safety:

  • Discuss hazards that could affect your family (storm surge, rising water, down power lines).
  • Determine a safe escape route and two meeting points if you have to evacuate your house unexpectedly. Have a contact person out of the area that each family member can contact if you are separated.
  • Locate the safest room in your home. Pre-stock with pillows and blankets if room allows.
  • Plan for taking care of your pets.

*According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), “In past hurricanes, many homeowners upon returning have noticed their temporary plywood shutters blown off because they were not adequately fastened. If you have a wood-frame house, use adequate fasteners to attach the panels over the openings when a hurricane approaches. Have these temporary shutters stored and ready to use since building supply stores generally sell out of these materials quickly during a hurricane warning. If your home is made with concrete blocks, however, you will have to install anchoring devices well in advance.”

A map showing evacuation routes, county shelters, and emergency numbers can be see here.

(Thanks to USInspect.com for this article)

 

 

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Animal laws in Pinellas County

 Back in the old days, having a pet was a pretty simple matter. If your doggie wanted to go out, you let him out. You knew he wanted to come back in when he scratched on the door. Every evening you’d open a can of Alpo for him. End of story.

Pet ownership is a lot more complicated now. You can tell by all the people who walk, zombie-like, through your neighborhood at all hours of the day and night, leash in one hand and plastic poop bag in the other.

Pet ownership can be especially problematic if you own a pet and hope to move into a condo. Make sure you check the condo documents before you buy and read all the fine print if you hope to take your doggie along when you move.  Some condo developments restrict pets to a certain weight limit; others simply don’t allow pets at all.

Bo

Bo

If you want to buy a single-family home, restrictions like that don’t generally apply. However, you should make sure to check the homeowner association regulations just to double-check. Some may limit the number or type of pets you are allowed to have; others might impose restriction by weight. Almost all of them contain some language pertaining to animal waste and what you have to do to clean up after your pet.

Just for the fun of it, I thought I’d check on the laws in Pinellas County that apply to pets and other animals. Some of them are a little surprising. For example, I knew it was against the law to let your dog run free, but did you know it is equally unlawful to let your cat do the same thing?

Here are some other things you should know:

  • It’s illegal to leave food or garbage out where it can attract “cats, dogs, raccoons, coyotes or other wildlife and thereby creates a public nuisance”
  • While it is illegal to let dogs run free, the law doesn’t apply to police dogs or to “any dog which is actually engaged in or being trained for the sport of hunting during a legal hunting season…” So if your dog is caught running free, tell the officer you’re training him to hunt squirrels.
  • If you have a dog or cat that is in heat, and you don’t keep her away from male dogs and cats, you’re breaking the law.
  • It is unlawful to “molest, harm, frighten, kill, net, trap, snare, hunt, chase or shoot” any animal, unless they are fish. So apparently you can molest all the fish you want without fear of prosecution. It’s also against the law to “capture or collect for any purpose any animal, nest or egg or any animal, whether dead or alive.” So forget about those yummy road kill buffets.
  • It’s illegal to “place, dump, abandon or leave” any animal on park property.
  • You can’t use gasoline or chemicals to drive off wildlife.
  • You can’t feed pelicans or sand hill cranes.
  • And I like this one a lot: You can’t shoot wildlife with remote-controlled guns “when that person is not physically present at the location of that gun.”

Now, just so you won’t think that I am above all this, I’ve included a picture of Bo, our year-old Puggle (that’s a dog that is half pug and half beagle) – 28 pounds of muscle and attitude.

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What’s the outlook for first-time homebuyers in the Pinellas County real estate market?

One bright spot in the recent residential real estate market has been the opportunities that first-time homebuyers have been able to enjoy. Falling home prices have made it possible for a lot of first-time homebuyers to finally enjoy the benefits of home ownership.

mortgage-loan-app-picThe Obama Administration’s first-time home buyer tax credit (remember that?) contributed to the opportunity, and quite a few people who had never owned a home before were able to buy. In the second quarter of 2010, 46 percent of homebuyers were first-timers.

So what’s happened?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Making the most of that Pinellas County open house

     There’s no doubt that the internet has made buying a home easier. You can look up all kinds of information about a given home or Pinellas County neighborhood, you can see what other nearby homes have sold for, you can even check to se if any sex offenders live nearby. 

openhouse     Still, there’s nothing that replaces the sight, smell and feel of an actual visit to the property. And one of the best opportunities for checking out that Pinellas County house for sale is to attend an open house.

    Open houses give you a chance to actually tour a Pinellas County home, look in all the nooks and crannies, and see if you can really picture yourself living there. 

     If you are going to tour a home that is for sale during an open house, make sure you take full advantage of the opportunity. Here are a few suggestions of things to do when you tour a home: 

  1. Before you even park your car and go inside, drive around the neighborhood a little and check things out. What do the neighbors’ homes look like? Are they kept up and painted? Are the lawns trimmed? Are there abandoned cars parked in the yards?
     
  2. What’s nearby? Is there an interstate highway a block away that’s going to generate noise and keep you awake at night? Are there any manufacturing plants or other commercial properties that will generate lots of noise or truck traffic? Here in North Pinellas County, we don’t have an interstate, but we certainly DO have some busy roads that can generate a fair amount of noise.
     
  3. Are there schools within walking distance? Grocery stores? Parks?
     
  4. How about the nearby neighbors? What do their homes look like?
  5. How the home’s exterior? Is it well-maintained outside? Does it look welcoming? Does the roof look old and worn? 
     
  6. Once inside, you may want to go through the home twice – once to get a general feeling for the layout and to get a good or bad first impression, then a more careful inspection. Notice the condition of the floors; look for signs of water damage; have the systems and appliances been updated?
     
  7. Look for things that seem out-of-place or strange. We looked at a home once and immediately noticed that the living room furniture was arranged strangely; it turned out that the living room floor had been damaged by a refinisher, and the furniture had been moved to hide the gouge marks.
     
  8. Have a talk with the agent on duty. If it is the listing agent, he or she should be able to tell you why the sellers are selling, how long the property has been on the market and if there have been any price reductions. If the home has been on the market for a long time, that may be an indication that it is priced too high. But it could also mean that the sellers are ready to listen to a more reasonable offer.

 Since open houses give you a chance to really see, feel and smell a home up close, the experience may allow you to have a strong feeling for the property. If that feeling is positive, maybe it’s the house for you. If the feeling is negative, well, move on to the next open house.

 What have YOU learned by going to open houses? I’d like to know – click on “Please leave a comment” up near the top of this post and share.

 And call me or e-mail me anytime – 727-643-7100, or [email protected]

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