Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for the 'Pinellas County real estate' 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.

 

Tags: , , , ,

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

Things I love about Pinellas County, and Florida in general

Sometimes it’s hard to tell which season it is in Florida, because it’s always warm. The only difference is DEGREES of warm.

So I have learned to watch for seasonal cues – like the arrival of Plant City strawberries, which tells me it is February, and I get to consume luscious berries while folks in other parts of the country stoke their woodstoves.

And that brings me to the Jacaranda tree.

Jacaranda tree

Jacaranda tree

Spotting these violet beauties in the Tampa Bay area means it is spring, so it is likely April or May.

The Jacaranda is native to South America. But since it likes bright sunny conditions and sandy soil, it is  right at home in Florida.

And that, my friends, is another thing I like about Florida!

Improve your credit score before you buy that Pinellas County home

     What’s your credit score?
     You’re going to need to know the answer to that question if you are planning on buying a house anytime soon. The rules that govern mortgages and lenders have changed a lot in the past few years, and if you think getting a mortgage is going to be an easy process, you may end up disappointed.
     We all know that the relaxed lending practices during the middle of the last decade were a factor in the housing collapse. Lenders have tightened their procedures a great deal in response to that, and they are paying a lot more attention to the credit scores of prospective borrowers.
excellent credit      If you don’t have a credit score of 620 or better and at least a 10 percent down payment, you may be out of luck. A 720 credit score may not even be good enough.
     So, do these tighter rules make the Federal Reserve happier? You would think so, but that ain’t necessarily so. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently told bankers that  “current standards may be limiting or preventing lending to many creditworthy borrowers.”
     So let’s say you have a credit score of 720, which is pretty good but not great. If your loan application for a 30-year, $300,000 mortgage is approved, you can expect an interest rate of around 3.70 percent. But if your credit score is more like between 620 and 639, your rate may be more in the range of 5.07 percent rate. And that rate will mean a monthly payment that is $242 more than at the 3.70 rate.
     Those REALLY low interest rates that you see advertised are not going to be available to you unless your credit is really good.
     But don’t despair. There are things you can do to raise your credit score, as much as 100 points in just one year.
     The first thing you should do, if you haven’t done it already, is do a little research into your credit score. 
  all three   There are three major credit score reporting companies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can get your credit reports from all three from AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s free if you don’t request it more frequently than once a year.
     Study those credit reports for errors, or for things that may have been left out. Next, you may want to sign up for a first-time homeowners class that is recognized by HUD (the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
     The two biggest factors in a credit score are payment history and the amount owed. Payment history accounts for 35 percent of the credit score, and amounts owed accounts for 30 percent.
     So raising credit card balances will raise your score. (NOTE: Don’t bother paying off credit cards that are already in collection – the notation that the account is in collection is what will lower your score.)
    HUD Late payments may stay on your credit report for up to seven years. But if you are apply for a mortgage, make sure there are no RECENT late payments – those can be killers.
     Also, you may get some of your creditors to report to credit bureaus. Landlords or utilities may have good things to say about your payment history, but they may not be reporting to credit bureaus. Make sure that they do.
      It may take anywhere from three months to 18 months to actually make improvements in your credit scores. But doing so can mean money in your pocket when you get your new mortgage.

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Walking in Pinellas County is enjoyable, but not highly rated by some

It’s funny; before we moved to Florida we lived in Bath, Maine, a quaint and attractive small city on the Kennebec River. While Bath was scenic and pleasant, I almost never walked anywhere when I lived there.

There were two reasons: (1) Much of the time it was REALLY cold, and (2) it was very hilly. Walking down the hills wasn’t so bad, but walking back UP was no picnic.

walking shoesWhen we moved to Florida, I was delighted to be able to increase my walking. It was always warm (okay, maybe TOO warm in the summer, but you can always walk in the early mornings, before the toasty factor gets too high), and the nearly flat terrain means none of those challenging grades.

Since I find walking to be much more enjoyable here than up north, I was a bit surprised to find a website devoted to the “walkability” of various communities, and to note that our area of Florida, Pinellas County, and more specifically Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs, were rated pretty low on the walking scale.

Even more surprising was that cold, hilly Bath, Maine was rated very highly by this website, www.walkscore.com. Here are the scores:

Bath, Maine: 78 (out of a hundred), “very walkable”

Palm Harbor: 37, car-dependent

Dunedin: 45, car-dependent

Tarpon Springs: 38: Car-dependent

Okay, I actually get this. Our Florida communities are relatively young and they are spread out all over the place. Many lack a real central downtown, and you do need a car to get around and run errands. Bath, Maine (and other up-north older cities) are old, and many were established on the banks of rivers. They were centrally laid-out, as automobiles weren’t even around when they were founded.

Still, if you want my opinion, I’d rather walk right here in Florida. Walking in Maine? No, thanks — especially in January.

By the way, Walkscore.com says it “helps you find a walkable place to live. Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100 that measures the walkability of any address.”

Tags: , , , , ,

birds 020As I’ve noted here before, there’s no lack of birds and wildlife in the area of Dunedin, FL where we live. We spotted this osprey perched in a pine tree near our house, enjoying a fish lunch.

Vacation, investment home purchases way up in 2012

 Here’s some more evidence to support the notion that the real estate market – and the economy in general – is on the upswing.

PrintThe National Association of Realtors says that the sale of both investmnent homes and vacations home increased by quite a lot in 2011:

  • Investment home purchases rose 64.5 percent, from 749,000 in 2010 to 1,23 million in 2011.
  • Vacation home sales rose 7 percent, from 469,000 in 2010 to 502,000 in 2011.

(The NAR defines vacation homes as recreational properties purchased for the buyer’s personal use. It defines investment homes as residential properties  purchased with the intent to either rent to others or to keep as investments.)

The market share of vacation and investment homes purchased in 2011 is at its highest point since 2005, NAR reports. The information was contained in NAR’s 2012 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey.

Accortding to NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, investors used cash to take advantage of the favorable market conditions in 2011.

Lawrence Yun

Lawrence Yun

“During the past year, investors have been swooping into the market to take advantage of bargain home prices,” he said. “Rising rental income easily beat cash sitting in banks as an added inducement.”

Yun also said 41 percent of investor buyers purchased more than one property during the year.

The upswing in sales, Yun said, show that the market is able to absorb the foreclosures that are coming into the market.

“Small-time investors are helping the market heal since REO (bank real estate owned) inventory is not lingering for an extended period,” he said. “Any government program to sell REO inventory in bulk to large institutional companies should be limited to small geographic areas. Even where alternatives are needed, it’s best to rely on the expertise of local businesses, nonprofit organizations and government.”

Yun said 49 percent of investment buyers paid cash in 2011, as did 42 percent of vacation-home buyers. Half of all investment home purchases in 2011 were distressed homes, as were 39 percent of vacation homes. Of buyers who financed with mortgages, Yun said, large downpayments were typical.

-0-

Want to talk about investing in Florida Gulf Coast real estate, or about purchasing the perfect winter vacation home? Get in Touch! 727-643-7100, or [email protected].

Tags: , , , ,

Food truck fun in Safety Harbor

Food trucks line Main Street in Safety Harbor

Food trucks line Main Street in Safety Harbor

As I’ve said on this blog many times, there’s always something to do in North Pinellas County, or in all of Tampa Bay, for that matter.  Local residents love to get outside and enjoy the warm sunshine, and the local organizations and communities know that and plan all sorts of activities throughout the year.

This past weekend, Bill and I drove over the Safety Harbor to check out that town’s first-ever Food Truck Rally. About a dozen different food trucks were on hand, offering everything from barbecue to doughnuts to Korean food items.

truck lunches 1

Ordering up snacks at the Korean food truck

The city blocked off a couple of blocks on Main Street so folks could enjoy strolling from truck to truck without the danger of passing cars.

We sampled a number of items and really enjoyed it. We also enjoyed some live music.

This food truck idea has been held in a number of different local communities and they are pretty popular. There has been a little friction about some of these events – some local restauranteurs have objected to food trucks coming in and allegedly stealing away some business from local restaurants. But in this case, local Safety Harbor businesses were “in the loop” and helped with the planning of the events. If there were any objections, I didn’t hear about them.
“The idea is not to compete with our local restaurants, but to enhance our active community and get them downtown on a Saturday afternoon,” Joe Cooper, Special Events Supervisor for the city, said before the event. “We also hope to bring in new faces to the city that will come out and enjoy our shops, restaurants and pubs.”

These food truck events are becoming more popular. We’re looking forward to the next one.

x

Don't know the story of this bike, but its color brightens up Main Street
Don’t know the story of this bike, but its color brightens up Main Street

x

Interest rates are low, but they won’t always be. Remember that when you consider buying a home in Pinellas County

What single factor may splash cold water on the recovering housing market? According to a CNN/Fortune Magazine report, it could be interest rates.

“What’s that?” you say. “Interest rates are at historic lows. Interest rates seem to be the one single thing that we don’t have to worry about when we think about the housing market.”

Yup, you are correct.  But according to the report, rising interest rates could be looming. And if that comes true, it will retard the housing market recovery.

According to the report, there are a number of factors that should have favorable impacts on a better housing market – strong improvements in the rate of single-family housing starts, more construction permits being pulled, and an upward trend in home sales across the nation, to name just three.

And let’s not forget really, REALLY low interest rates.

balancing houseBut, according to the report, interest rates will inevitably rise. And when they do, mortgage costs will go up. And that will be an impediment to a market recovery.

Those historically low interest rates are around 4 percent right now. But the MEDIAN interest rate, looked at long-term, is more like 9 percent. The report says that when interest rates go up, as they inevitably will, the effect is likely to be like an anchor on the recovery of the housing market.

-0-

Something else that is probably inevitable – people saying, “Wow, I wish I had purchased a home in Dunedin or Palm Harbor when the prices and interest rates were really low.”

That doesn’t have to be you. Call or e-mail me now and we’ll discuss what you want to accomplish home-wise. I’m always available! [email protected], or 727-643-7100.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,