Treasure Coast Real Estate News & Market Insights

This Treasure Coast real estate blog originated out of a need to provide valuable Treasure Coast real estate market information to our clients and website visitors. The tips, trends, news articles, market updates, and informational pieces you find on this site are our original content, and we take a lot of pride in being about to offer you expert information about the Treasure Coast real estate market. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or questions about anything we post here, we'd love to talk with you!

Oct. 1, 2019

Treasure Coast Real Estate Market Update!

The newest real estate market statistics for St. Lucie and Martin Counties so you can see exactly how the market is acting. 

Martin County Real Estate Information

 

St. Lucie County Real Estate Information

If you have any thoughts, questions, or ideas regarding the latest market stats, contact us at any time!

Posted in Tips & Advice
Sept. 27, 2019

Seller's Market vs. Buyer's Market - Know the Difference!

Understand what time of real estate market you're in and what it means for you and your goals.

There is a lot of confusion between these two terms, and we see it a lot when dealing with potential clients. Most of the public seems to think that when prices are up, we are in a Seller's Market, and vice versa for the Buyer's Market. While the market values of real estate can certainly be a testament to which type of market you're in, there is much more to think about to make an informed and accurate assessment.

Seller's Market

A "Seller's Market" is characterized by an increase in demand for real estate which causes there to be more buyers in the market than there are homes for sale. 

  • Lowering Interest Rates - as interest rates decrease, buying power will increase, creating more homebuyers and possibly enticing others to capitalize on the low borrowing cost. If there is a fear of rates increasing, many buyers will be afraid of missing out on the lower rates and start their home search.
  • Positive Economic Outlook & Productivity - when potential homebuyers feel confident in the market, or labor forces increase in an area, this tends to influence home sales. New businesses can attract an influx of residents who will also have an impact on the real estate market.

How to Buy in a Seller's Market

  • Be Pre-Approved & Know Your Goals - talking to a good local mortgage lender and getting pre-approved is the first step in buying a home. It gives you hard numbers and figures so you can know what you will pay and what your costs will be. If you have questions about getting connected with a good mortgage lender, go to our Treasure Coast Mortgage Pre-Approval page and we'll help you out.
  • Stay Vigilant and Flexible - the perfect home at the perfect price could come up and you might have to take an hour or so out of work, or during your lunch break, to go see it. The best homes sell very quickly in a Seller's Market, so expect to be one of the first to see it. If you see a home on the Treasure Coast MLS Search that looks interesting, you can request a tour right from that page to ensure you're getting in ASAP.
  • Make a Strong Offer - the first side of this is the numbers: have a strong purchase price (it's not uncommon to pay over asking price in a seller's market) and ensure you're financing and escrow deposit depict you as a capable buyer. On the other side, capitalize on tactics to tug at their emotions. Write a letter to the owner with a picture of your family, tell them how you see yourself and your growing family in the home, etc.

Buyer's Market

A "Buyer's Market" is a situation where the supply of homes for sale exceeds the demand for houses in that market. In these circumstances, sellers find themselves with more competition than usual, leading them to be more flexible on their sales price. Some of the most common causes of Buyer's Markets include:

  • Rising Interest Rates - as interest rates rise, buying power goes down and the number of homebuyers in any given real estate market decreases.
  • Increased Inventory - many sellers wanting to unload their properties at once can cause an imbalance in the real estate market. New developments and new construction homes can also cause a boost in inventory that can create especially lower prices for older or functionally-obsolete homes.
  • Fear or Uncertainty - living in Florida, the potential for hurricanes or flooding can create a lack of demand for homes in certain area or methods of building. Many weary homebuyers will look for newer homes built to the most recent codes to hedge any risk. General market uncertainty can also inhibit home purchases; when people are afraid the market will drop, they are hesitant to spend more than they could at another time.

How to Sell in a Buyer's Market

  • Price your Home Correctly - in a highly-competitive market, there is no "wiggle room" in pricing. Any fluff in your price tag could be the difference between a potential buyer scheduling a showing and turning elsewhere.
  • Market your Home like HGTV - Stage your home beautifully for showings (think sight and smell) and spend time on curb appeal that will be the first impression. Get stunning professional photography to show your home in it's best light. If you plan to list your home, contact us to ensure you'll have a top Treasure Coast Realtor to deal with the 9-to-5 marketing and prospecting that it takes to sell homes in difficult times.
  • Be Accommodating and Flexible - some buyers might have to see the home first thing in the morning or during your family dinner time; aim to be as flexible as possible. Remember, no one can make an offer on a home they haven't seen.

I hope this information was valuable for you. This is another topic that I find myself discussing constantly with clients and I feel it is worth sharing with anyone else who may be interested. If you have any thoughts, questions, or ideas about the real estate market on the Treasure Coast, we're always at your complete disposal. 

Posted in Tips & Advice
Sept. 25, 2019

When is the Right Time to Buy a Home?

Buying a home is probably the most important investment you'll make in your lifetime. Make sure the market, your finances, and your goals are aligned so you can make the best real estate purchase possible.

This is probably the most common question we get from clients when we begin the real estate search process. We all want to know if now is really a good time to buy a home, but the question doesn't have one simple answer. While there are websites that will tell you that you can save a few bucks by buying a home during a certain season, month, or even day of the week, there are more individual, intimate factors to we need to take into account. For every home buyer, just as with every home seller, there are different circumstances, motivations, goals, and financial capabilities that are critical to determining if now is the right time for you to purchase a home. That being said, here are the main things to consider so you can answer the question for yourself.

Keys to New Home

Treasure Coast Real Estate Market Conditions

When most people ask the question of whether now is a good time to buy real estate, they are usually asking about the health and stability of the real estate market. For example, right now the Treasure Coast has seen a slight rise in median sales prices and those shopping for properties want to make sure they aren't overpaying. On the flip side, interest rates are at record lows, which means that many buyers are saving tens of thousands of dollars compared to other more recent rates. You'd also want to take into the costs of not buying a home (i.e. renting or risking that the market continues to rise).

One thing to consider is that as long as you determine when you sell your home, we can work together to ensure you list your home for sale when the market is primed for you to make the most money possible. When homes are sold for less than the owner owes on the home, it is usually due to the owner being forced to sell because of financial constraints, family illness, job move, etc. Therefore, you want to start by ensuring you are comfortable with your budget and the monthly liability of owning a home. From there, it's up to us to negotiate the best deal possible for your house and when you decide to sell, we can gauge when the time is right for you to net the most money possible.

Financial Situation of the Home Buyer

In between your goals and the conditions of the real estate market is your financial standing. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is the first step, ensuring that you are comfortable with the costs and monthly liabilities of what you will spend. From there, we would gauge what your options will be based on your criteria. The perfect home might mean saving up for another six months or having to spend some time repairing a credit score to ensure you're getting the best deal possible. You might also feel more comfortable settling for a more affordable home that doesn't fit all of your criteria. Once you have a budget or a roadmap to get there, you have options, expectations, and flexibility. Having the power and knowledge to make these decisions is the first step to deciding if you want to buy a home or wait until a more appropriate time.

How Buying Real Estate Impacts Personal Goals

Remember that if you are forced to sell your home at a certain point in time, there is a risk that the market might not be in your favor. If you see yourself moving for a job or to be closer to family in the near future, buying a home might not be the best decision. If you don't plan to live in a home for at least a couple of years, the costs of purchasing the property could be more costly than renting. If your goal is to build a rental portfolio and keep the home as an investment after you move out, that is an avenue that could make this short-term situation profitable.

If you don't plan on moving in the near future, I would ask you to imagine the perfect home that fits your budget, checks all of the boxes for you and your family, one that you will grow old in and never sell. When is the right time to buy this home? The answer is any time it comes available. There are certain things - comfort, security, and pride of ownership - that the market simply cannot put a price on for us. These more abstract and emotional aspects are what make this such a different and personal decision for every home buyer.

 

In closing, there is no single answer to the question "When is the right time to buy a home?" Each situation is different, and your answer will always start with the goals of you and your family. From there, we talk about how the market is acting and what your financial capabilities will allow. If you'd like to discuss this topic further, leave us a comment below, or call us at any time. We are always at your complete disposal for any thoughts, ideas, or questions regarding Treasure Coast real estate.

Posted in Tips & Advice
July 30, 2019

St. Lucie Real Estate Market Update!

St. Lucie FL Homes for Sale spend 1/3 More Time on the Market Compared to Same Time in 2018.

With inventory in the St. Lucie real estate market increasing by nearly 20% compared to last year, homes are spending over 30% more time - nearly two weeks - on the market. Increased new construction homes in Port St. Lucie have led to more competition for active listings. Those wanting to sell a home in Port St. Lucie have encountered this bottleneck while still being well ahead of the national average in the median days to contract and median sales price. If you have any thoughts or questions, reach out to us today!

St. Lucie Real Estate Market Update

Posted in Tips & Advice
July 29, 2019

Market Update: Martin County FL Real Estate

Martin County Real Estate Enjoys Median Sale Price Increase as Inventory Remains Constant.

Those looking to buy Martin County homes will be interested to see that the area is still encountering a balanced market. Increased demand has led to a slight rise in the sales price of real estate in Martin County although there is not much of a change in the level of inventory. With interest rates expected to decrease, there could be another rise in home-buying in the Martin County real estate market. If you have questions about this information, reach out to us at any time!

Martin County Real Estate News

Posted in Tips & Advice
April 16, 2019

Questions to Ask Your Treasure Coast Home Inspector

Ensure your buying a Treasure Coast home that's in good condition by asking these before, during, and after the inspection.

Not all home inspectors are equal. As a matter of fact, there are a ton of terrible inspectors, and a few great professionals that do a wonderful job when their clients are buying a home and trusting them to spot out any potential problems. If you're wondering why this is important, read what a home inspection is and why you need it. The home inspection is one of the most critical steps of the Treasure Coast home buying process and it shouldn't be overlooked. It's during this time that a home buyer will find out anything that's out of working condition in the property, and be able to renegotiate with the seller. 

Neighborhood on Treasure Coast

What is your background?

Often times, home inspectors will have past careers in similar fields such as construction, general contracting, or other similar field. Find out what disciplines they are most comfortable with and make sure you have them spend as much time as possible giving you insight in that respect. If your home inspector was a licensed electrician in the past, get their feedback on how to fix any electrical issues, what companies have the best reputation with professionals, etc.

How long have you been a home inspector?

Inspectors with a lack of experience can cost home buyers a lot of money if they can't spot things out of working condition that are in plain sight. Keep in mind than many contractors aren't trained to spot certain things, especially those not in their wheelhouse, and that going with your Cousin Jim because he is "handy" could cost you thousands of dollars. If you're looking at Treasure Coast homes, and have questions about this, give us a call and we can clarify this.

What do you charge?

Typical home inspections should run between $300-500 and include a wind mitigation report and termite (WDO) inspection. This will vary based on the size of the home. You will also have to pay for an additional Four Point inspection if the home is 30 years or older (this is needed for insurance). 

Do you have any references from past clients?

Go with someone that either (1) referred by your real estate agent, or (2) has a great reputation with local residents. Ask them for testimonials and call past clients as well. 

What is out of working condition?

In your report from the inspection, there should be a summary that lists everything out of working condition. Most of it will be redundant (e.g. bushes close to the house, cracks in sidewalks), so you'll have to talk with your agent, your family, and possibly a contractor, to discuss (1) what needs repairing/replacing, (2) what that will cost, and (3) how you can negotiate to get some of the items fixed by the seller before you buy the property.

What needs to be looked at by a certified/licensed contractor?

Your home inspector can tell you when something is out of working condition, but a licensed contractor will often be the one to give you a repair estimate or a more accurate diagnosis. The inspector is highly trained to spot out issues that even a general contractor may not see, however they typically aren't going to be privy to the repair estimates unless they have experience in the field. Many individuals buying a home will have licensed contractors double check these issues.

Can you elaborate on _____?

After you get your home inspection report, don't be afraid to contact your inspector with any questions or advice on issues that arise. When you are buying a home on the Treasure Coast, it is typical for home buyers to negotiate for items out of working condition during the inspection period of a Purchase and Sale Contract, so you'll want to ensure you have all of the information when you share it with the other party. 

 

Posted in Home Inspections
March 26, 2019

Martin County Flood Zone Information & FAQ

Extensive information on where Martin County Flood Zones are, what Flood Zone types exists, and what they mean to homeowners.

Knowing where the Martin County flood zones are and what they mean to you as a homeowner can provide a lot of value when there is a large storm on the horizon and it can save you a lot of money when you are shopping for insurance. Below, you can find FEMA's flood zone map for Martin County, as well as a break down for what the different zones mean to you, and how they can cost you as a homeowner. If you are searching for homes for sale, give us a call and we can clarify any questions you might have.

martin county flood zone map

FEMA Flood Zone Map (Martin County): http://mcgov.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=4b72b96cb58c4e49bbb25ecb5313f681

Flood zones are split based on risk. The different colors will lend varying risk and often mean that homeowners with a mortgage will have to carry certain levels of insurance coverage. Knowing if your house is in these Martin County flood zones could be the difference between a home seeming affordable or otherwise. Below is a list of risk break downs so you know what they mean when you see them on the flood zone map.

 

Moderate/Low Risk Flood Zone

Zones B & X, C & X

If you are buying real estate in Martin County that has this flood zone type, flood insurance is available but usually will not be required by a lender.

 

High Risk Flood Zone

Zones A, AE, A1-30, AH, AO, AR, A99

While many of these Martin County flood zone classifications vary, the important factor for homeowners is that they all require flood insurance coverage. A comprehensive breakdown of each of these zones can be found here: https://snmapmod.snco.us/fmm/document/fema-flood-zone-definitions.pdf. Many of the names address the base flood elevation and annual chance of flooding.

 

High Risk Flood Zone (Coastal Areas)

Zones V, VE, V 1-30

Areas in Martin County with these flood zone classifications are high risk and also pose an additional hazard from storm waves and other coastal velocity hazards. Mandatory flood insurance will apply to anyone buying a waterfront home with a mortgage in these areas.

See all flood zone classifications here: http://www.floodmaps.com/zones.htm.

 

If you have any other questions about where the Martin County flood zones are, what they mean, or how you can get the best coverage possible, contact us at any time. We are at your disposal to make it easier for you to find, own, and thrive in your Treasure Coast real estate.

 

 

 

Posted in Tips & Advice
March 5, 2019

[MORTGAGE HACKS] Tips for Making Your Mortgage Effective & Easy

Must-know tips & tricks for getting the most out of your mortgage in Martin & St. Lucie Counties! 

If you are planning to get a mortgage on the Treasure Coast, this article will address some tips to ensure the entire loan starts and ends smoothly. It is geared at anyone holding a mortgage, or getting pre-approved for a mortgage in Martin County or St. Lucie County.

1. Plan Your 30-Year Mortgage Like It's a 15-Year

As most people know, interest rates are much better for buyers financing a 15-year mortgage than a 30-year mortgage. Many people, however, don't want to commit to 15-year terms and still want to benefit from the pros associated with the shorter loan. If you are buying a Treasure Coast home, get cost savings by simply paying off your loan faster. One end of the spectrum, doubling your monthly payment, will allow you to pay off the loan before 15 years. Alternatively, you can simply pay a few thousand dollars towards your loan principal whenever you come into cash and that will save you a multiple of the amount in interest and years on the loan.  

2. Put a Stop to Private Mortgage Insurance

If you're getting a mortgage on the Treasure Coast, the best way to avoid PMI is to simply put down 20% or higher. Additionally, if you put money into remodeling your home, or if home values have increased, after purchasing, you may be able to knock off PMI by getting a new appraisal through your bank and showing your mortgage is 80% or less of the current value.

3. Pay Your Mortgage Bi-Weekly

Save money on interest by paying your mortgage every two weeks. If you buy a $200,000 home on a 30-year mortgage, paying biweekly would save you over $20,000 assuming a 4% interest rate. This is not paying any more in principal during that time! This tends to work better for home buyers that want to put more money towards their loan but want a schedule to hold them accountable. You can add $50-$100 to a payment to further-increase the amount you will benefit.

4. Check Your Credit Report for Errors

Before looking at homes for sale on the Treasure Coast, or contacting your lender, get a free credit report and ensure there aren't any mistakes. You would be surprised how many times things like this can happen and how easy it can be to rectify these issues by simply contacting the credit bureaus.

5. Know Local Loan Programs

Many buyers qualify for loan programs that will allow them to avoid needing a down payment, get state or federal grants towards closing costs, and lower interest rates based on other factors. Many won't find out because they do not talk to the right lenders and/or get multiple opinions for their mortgage. If you are looking to buy Treasure Coast real estate, and get pre-approved beforehand, contact us to get hooked up with the best mortgage lenders on the Treasure Coast!

 

Feb. 14, 2019

Documents Needed for a Mortgage Pre-Approval [CHECKLIST]

What you need to get pre-approved to buy Treasure Coast real estate.

Getting these documents to your lender will make for a quick mortgage pre-approval process and get you ready to start looking at Treasure Coast homes. This should be the first step before you even think to start looking at what is on the market, because it gives you an idea of what you can afford and how to finance a Treasure Coast home. You'll also learn what loan programs you qualify for and get an estimate for your closing costs and total cash needed to buy a home. These are all the steps you'll want to get covered: 

Treasure Coast Mortgage Pre-approval

1. Proof of Income

Verifying your income is usually an easy step. For W-2 employees, you'll usually want to have two years of tax returns and two most-recent pay stubs handy. Self-employed individuals will usually need a couple of years of profit and loss statements and tax returns for their businesses. If you are a contractor, you'll also need your Form 1099 that you get from your employer. If you have other income, such as rental properties, include that also to further increase your case. Along with your income information, your lender will likely call your employer to verify your occupational status all the way up to the day of closing!

2. Proof of Assets

Borrowers should have 60 days of activity for each asset-holding bank and brokerage accounts. You'll also want to include other retirement and investment accounts such as IRAs, 401k, mutual funds, stocks, CDs, and the like. 

3. Debt Liability

Your debt-to-income ratio is very important when getting preapproved for a mortgage. Before you start looking at Treasure Coast homes, list all of your monthly debt payments (credit cards, other mortgages, student loans, etc.) and give that to the lender. Also let your lender know if you intend to sell a Treasure Coast home that you currently own, perform a 1031 exchange, or rent out your current residence. You'll also want to let your lender know if you will be getting gift funds from friends or family members to help fund the transaction.

5. Personal Documents

When you go to get prequalified for a mortgage, bring your driver's license and social security card so your lender can make copies. You'll have to sign to give them approval to pull your credit report and then they'll probably request additional paperwork from there.

6. Other Things to Consider

Additional documentation will usually be requested if an individual has undergone a bankruptcy, divorce, foreclosure, or other similar life event.

If you are still in the beginning process of getting pre-approved for a Treasure Coast home, work on paying down debts, increasing credit score, and ramping up your income if and when possible. This will allow you to get a lower interest rate and dictate for yourself how much you want to spend on your future home. If you have any specific questions, or want help getting pre-approved for a mortgage, contact us today.

Feb. 12, 2019

5 Habits to Break (or Never Start) as a Homeowner

These unsightly and distasteful habits need to be kicked to the curb, or strongly avoided, before costing you big bucks as a homeowner. 

From a real estate agent's perspective, it is agonizing to see homeowners settle into bad habits that reduce the value of their home, cost them thousands of dollars in maintenance, and usually don't benefit the person's well-being to begin with. The worst part is that most of the time, the person is completely ignorant of the effects and externalities their habits are having on their financial health (and possibly physical health as well). So here are five habits that you, as a homeowner, need to avoid and/or drop at all costs.

1. Smoking in Your Home

smoking in home

I have shown clients an uncomfortable amount of Treasure Coast homes that have a smell of tar and smoke. No matter how much you think you are masking the smell - replacing carpet, painting rooms, lighting candles - even non-smokers can tell when they visit a property that has been habitually smoked in. Not only does this severely devalue your home when you want to list it, but the maintenance costs (if you keep up with regular maintenance) can be astronomical with the damage this does to A/C systems. Whether you want to sell your home in the future, save on maintenance costs now, or keep a more comfortable guest, the smoking needs to be kept outdoors at all times. 

2. Being Unorganized

Messy House

When any room in your house is cluttered to the point where you cannot see some of the floor or walls, you can have some major maintenance problems that may be avoiding you. One major problem I have seen is when a home inspector gets into an attic and sees an active roof leak, which the homeowner never noticed because before that day it was disorderly and filled with random boxes. Another issue is when pest problems and leaking cleaning supplies go unnoticed because temporarily unneeded items get thrown into their default location in a garage or closet. Along these same lines, you should be very organized with any maintenance or work you've had done to the home - when it was done, what it cost, and who did it. This will allow you to convey this to future buyers, and will give you a contact point should anything break down in the years after the work was done.

3. Neglecting the Yard

The curb appeal of your home is invaluable, and overdue landscaping can be costly or even impossible when you finally decide to rectify the problem. Even if you are living in condos on Hutchinson Island, and don't have a "yard", the exterior presentation of your property is important and needs to be kept up. This means regularly washing windows, pulling weeds, trimming bushes, cleaning downed branches, etc. If large trees or shrubs are getting out of control, get them taken care of before it is too late. 

4. Not Setting Boundaries for Pets

Pet in House

Most people have close relationships with their pets, so it is difficult for them to set boundaries. When a homeowner asks me what to do about their pets to ensure their home can be shown in the best light, and ultimately result in them getting a high offer for their home, they usually already know my response before I say it. Allowing pets on furniture can cause an unappealing smell and unsightly dander and fur that turns off guest and potential home buyers. The pet's food and water should also be in an area out of site and on a solid flooring so as to no absorb any mess or overflow. Going back to the third tip, do not let your dogs dig in the yard, and if they do, fill it in immediately. When someone goes to buy a home, they want to see pride of ownership. Even if something may not be a big deal to you, it's a sign of something greater to them. 

5. Avoiding Regular Maintenance of the "Big 4"

You should have a plan of servicing your plumbing, electrical, roofing, and HVAC system on a monthly, semi-annual, and annual basis. Take care of these items and everything else should be an afterthought. When you go to sell a Treasure Coast home, buyers will see value in knowing that you have a maintenance schedule, and it will save you time in money when they have a home inspection done. Common sense treatment of these items - replacing air filters, only flushing toilet paper, etc. - should be top of mind so you are treating these four major bones of your home well and keeping them in good working condition.

Posted in Tips & Advice