Sunday, June 1, 2014

And so another hurricane season is upon us.

Like tax season, we are now blessed with hurricane season. I am writing this post to help all those new to our Jacksonville area understand that while we have been blessed in years past and spared major storms, we cannot be guaranteed that we will escape storms in the coming years. So with that, I am here to discuss some helpful sites if and when we have a storm on Florida's First Coast.

National Hurricane Preparedness Week is intended to raise our general awareness of how important it is to be fully prepared, should a hurricane hit. Although the most recent hurricane seasons here in Jacksonville have been fairly mild, it’s always smart to be prepared, to devise a plan, and to assemble the necessary supplies in case of an emergency. You don’t want to be that last-minute person trying to stock up on water and supplies, only to find that all the shelves are empty. To help you prepare, Florida’s 9-day sales-tax holiday for hurricane preparedness supplies kicks off today, Saturday, May 31, and runs through Sunday, June 8. Visit the Florida Department of Revenue for a complete list of tax-exempt items. In case a hurricane threatens to strike in our area, check out these local resources for helpful information:

WJXT’s Hurricane Tracker App: This interactive tracking app gives you up-to-date info and alerts.
WJXT’s Hurricane 2014 Survival Guide: This guide includes all the info you need to prepare for a storm, including a supply and first aid kit checklist, tips from the Red Cross, evacuation routes, and more!
Duval County Emergency Management’s Jax Ready Emergency Survival Guide and Jax Ready’s Facebook page gives news and updates, and you can download the Jax Ready App.

Other Resources:

  • Ready: resources for kids and parents to be prepared in case of a disaster. It includes games for kids and teaches parents to help children cope during and after a disaster.

  • Young Meteorologist Program: This one is fun for the kids–Owlie takes them on a “Severe Weather Preparedness Adventure” and upon completion of the game, they will earn a Young Meteorologist Certificate.

Being ready when a storm hits is so important. You need to make sure that you have enough water, batteries and food for many days as the authorities may not be able to get to you with so many affected. Plan now and have your water and supplies ready. Add a jug of water each time at the store, add a few more batteries, make sure the flashlights and candles are within reach. Make sure you have an evacuation plan as well as a solution for elderly with you as well as pets. Many shelters will not take in pets, so plan accordingly ahead of time. Make a list of hotels and before a major storm is to hit, make sure you can get to a hotel if necessary.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

What do Realtors Spend money on to find you Mr/Mrs Buyer or Seller?

From an Inman News Report released this week, I thought it was interesting to share with my clients, friends and colleagues. Most clients think Realtors are lazy and not needed. What do they need their 3% for, when I can do all the work myself and save the commission and headache. I think its only going to get worse with Zillow, Trulia and Realtor flashing red lights at consumers saying they should work with them, instead of a broker/agent. Well, enjoy:

The National Association of Realtors’ 2014 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report is packed with must-have knowledge for any real estate professional who wants to generate the best return on his marketing dollar. Where should you be spending your money?

Are you spending thousands of dollars each year on search engine optimization, Facebook ads or other types of Internet advertising? How much do you spend each year on direct mailing, newspaper ads, calendars and magnets?

If you are spending heavily in these areas, you may seriously want to reconsider whether the return justifies the costs. In fact, you may be wasting valuable marketing dollars that would be better spent elsewhere.

Surprising findings: Where do sellers find their listing agents?

Because listings are in short supply, agents are being much more aggressive about advertising. According to the NAR report, however, many agents are spending their marketing dollars in the wrong places.

Consumers and agents both agree that having a Web presence is absolutely necessary. With all the millions of real estate dollars being spent in this area, however, did you know that the percentages of sellers who found their listing agent from any Internet site in this survey was equal to the same percentage of sellers who found their listing agent at an open house or from a yard sign? (Only 4 percent!)

With all the noise around prospecting using websites, social media and other online resources, the one factor that really makes the difference is a referral from a trusted resource or face-to-face contact."
Putting it a little differently, a yard sign coupled with an open house generated twice as many closed seller transactions compared to all categories of Internet websites (8 percent vs. 4 percent).

Moreover, you were just as likely to receive a referral from a relocation company or from another real estate agent or broker as you were to have a seller find you on an Internet website.

Ever-shrinking returns

Search engines, newspaper ads, Yellow Pages or home book ads accounted for less than 1 percent each of all closed seller leads. Mobile or tablet applications, direct mail pieces (newsletters, fliers, postcards), and “advertising specialty (calendars, magnets, etc.)” all accounted for less than 1 percent of the closed seller leads reported in this survey as well.

Perhaps the most startling statistic was that floor duty (“Walked into or called office and agent was on duty”) generated almost as many closed seller leads in this survey (3 percent) as websites.

Buyer findings

The results from the buyers mirrored the seller results. Specifically, websites were responsible for generating 9 percent of the buyers in the survey who closed a transaction as a buyer.

As before, you still would be more likely to meet a buyer who will close if you have a yard sign combined with an open house. Nine percent of buyers who closed were from websites. Twelve percent of buyers who closed came from either an open house (6 percent) or a For Sale/Open House sign (6 percent.)

Floor duty held constant at 3 percent.

With all the noise around prospecting using websites, social media and other online resources, the one factor that really makes the difference is a referral from a trusted resource or face-to-face contact. This is true for buyers and sellers from all age categories.

For sellers, 39 percent found their real estate agent through a friend, neighbor or relative. Another 25 percent used the agent they had previously used to list or buy a home. Another 4 percent came from referrals from other real estate agents or brokers, and 3 percent came through an employer or relocation company. That’s a whopping 71 percent of all closed seller transactions resulting from “trusted sources” or face-to-face contact.

The buyer numbers mirror the seller numbers. Seventy percent of all closed buyer leads came from a “trusted resource” or face-to-face contact. (Specifically, 42 percent came from the agent’s sphere of influence, 12 percent had used their agent on a previous transaction, 6 percent met at an open house, 4 percent were referred by another agent, and an additional 4 percent were referred by a relocation company.)

Where to spend your money

These findings make it abundantly clear as to what your best ad spend will be.

  • First, your No. 1 priority should be expanding your database and generating referrals from people who like you and the services that you provide.

  • Second, it is vital that you stay in contact with past clients. Not only are they great sources of referrals, they are highly probable to hire you the next time you transact if you stay in contact.

  • Third, any activity that puts you face to face with buyers and sellers is more likely to produce a closed deal than activities that rely on impersonal contact.

Most of my business comes from you, my friends and colleagues. Referrals from a trusted source are like a warm blanket on a cold night. But, you have to meet a LOT of people and get yourself out there. You need people to know you are "Open for Business".

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Zillow adding 5000 new agents in the first 3 months of the year?

I know that there are millions of Realtors and Real Estate Agents practicing in the United States of America, and I also know that there are many who have a marketing plan and equally a number without a marketing plan, looking for the magic bullet to solve all their sales and marketing issues. However, to hear that 5000 brothers and sisters are using Zillow to assist with their business is interesting.

Real estate search portal Zillow boosted website and mobile traffic to new highs and added nearly 5,000 real estate agents to its subscriber base in the first three months of the year, helping the company surprise analysts with a 70 percent jump in revenue from a year ago, to $66.2 million.

At 52,968, the number of Zillow “Premier Agent” subscribers at the end of March was up 56 percent from a year ago. The portal grew its subscriber base by 4,654 agents in the first 90 days of the year, or about 52 a day.

Each of those agents was also spending more — $286 a month, on average, compared with $259 at the same time a year ago. Nearly 60 percent of new Premier Agent sales in January, February and March came from existing Premier Agents buying more advertising, the company said.

Average monthly unique users during the first quarter were up 51 percent from a year ago, to 70.7 million, with mobile and Web traffic peaking in March at nearly 77 million. Traffic continued to grow into April, with close to 79 million monthly unique visitors.

I have used before and had some leads but nothing serious. I get a few leads here and there, but the same old same old works best for me, referrals from past clients and friends/family. 70%+ of my business comes from people I already know. I have been a Realtor now for 10 years, so know that there is no magic bullet no magic potion, you need to work on meeting new people, building your business daily.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Schools are a big issue as we wrap up another school year

Maybe its the end of the school year that has people talking about the next school year. Our school district in #Jacksonville, according to many teachers I speak to, is getting better, but it has incredible competition from the folks next door in St. Johns County, where their schools are number 1 in the State of Florida. Yes, only 67 counties in Florida and being number 50 out of 67 does not seem so bad, but then you see the real issues.

Our  high schools were so bad for so long, we needed someone to help us turn that issue around. It takes, per my resources, almost 10 years to go from plans to complete construction items regarding a high school. Take Lee High School, they just completed a multi-million dollar remodel and the school looks amazing with new emphasis on technology, but where was this push for tech 15-20 years ago, when Tech was really becoming prevalent? These high schoolers will be getting what they need for the future, but those who were stuck using the abacus from 10 years ago, sorry we did not do better?

As a Realtor, I am not supposed to discuss the education or ratings of schools. It is in the ethics of the Realtor guide. It is something that has been there for a long time, and discussing the ratings of a school system could cost me my license. Thankfully, I have a number of friends who are teachers or in charge of schools in the area, I mention to those asking to reach out to them, my friends, and discuss their thoughts on kids, schools and what is important to them in a neighborhood with a good school system.

There are countless neighborhoods for kids, good ones with parks, here in #Jacksonville. The issue that I find is for parents to find the right one for their kids. We do feature some of the top schools in the USA here in Jacksonville and some very good magnet schools, but sadly, there are not enough of these in Jacksonville. While our focus is on development of downtown or some area of Jacksonville, shouldn't our focus really be on the schools and education we provide to our kids? After all, they are the future leaders of Jacksonville and it would be a shame for them to leave our great city, just because the next trend is occurring elsewhere.

Come on Jacksonville, we can do this, lets make it happen.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

5 Home Improvements that COST you money at closing

You are selling your house, you have a great Realtor, of course, and you are getting traffic, but no offers. Could it be because of one of these 5 reasons? 5 Home improvements that cost you money and keep you from closing.....

When home owners think of renovations, home improvements or other additions, they are often thinking of ways to increase the value of their homes. Typical renovations do increase value, so it is a logical thought, whether a homeowner plans to stay in their home long-term or they are preparing to sell.

What homeowners may not realize is that some home renovations or home improvements actually can decrease the value of their homes. Yes, you read that correctly. There are home “improvements” that can lower the value of your home.

If you are considering making renovations to your home this spring or summer, here are five that you may want to avoid:

1. Wild Colors and Wallpaper

Bright colors and patterned wallpaper may be in for the moment, but homeowners who choose to go the trendy way with their home improvements and renovations need to proceed with caution, particularly if they intend to sell anytime soon. Your shrine to the Cowboy Cheerleaders will probably not win you many fans, unless you are in Dallas.

Today’s buyers often are seeking homes that are move-in ready and if they see a home they like, but know that painting or tearing off wallpaper will be one of the first things they have to do when they move in, they may be less likely to make an offer.

So, that bright home renovation idea can become a dark spot for some homeowners.

2. High-End Enhancements that Outshine Your Home

We can’t say enough about updated kitchens and baths, but there is a limit when it comes to renovating these high traffic areas of the home. Many of today’s home improvement shows may encourage homeowners to install professional kitchens or luxury bathrooms in their homes. While those high-end features may be a dream for some, the reality is that they don’t always fit the motif of many homes. This is particularly true if the kitchen and bathrooms are the only areas of a home that receive those high-end updates. They actually can make the rest of the house appear less enticing.

Do you really need a $5,000 stove to make fried eggs or will the $500 item work just the same? Safe bets for kitchen and bath improvements? Stick to the countertops, cabinets and sinks.

3. Outlandish Landscaping

When homeowners hear the words “curb appeal,” they often want to do everything they can to make their home stand out among their neighbors’ homes. But, it is important to consider the reasons that a home’s exterior stands out in a neighborhood. That shrine you saw to Mickey Mouse at Disney belongs there at Disney, not in your front yard when trying to sell your house.

Yes, greening up a lawn, pruning shrubs and planting flowers are all great ways to enhance a home’s beauty. Adding expensive fountains, ponds or other intricate lawn décor that make it harder to keep a lawn well-manicured can not only be considered eye sores, but they also can detract from a home’s selling potential due to their high maintenance issues.

When it comes to landscaping improvements around the house, simplicity may be the key to increasing home value.

4. Bedroom Conversions Gone Crazy

Everyone loves functionality; so, when Jimmy and Susie are heading off to college, the thought of turning their bedrooms into a home office, gym or sewing room may seem like an excellent idea. But, for homeowners who intend to sell any time in the near future, those short-term improvements can cause long-term headaches. Take your office apart, you're moving anyway, make the office back into a bedroom.

When a buyer sees a home advertised as a three-bedroom beauty, they want to see three bedrooms. One bedroom plus a home office and a small gym may make it hard for them to envision themselves and their children calling the house “home.” Give them the three bedrooms, make it easy for the buyer to see three real bedrooms.

If you’re a homeowner with intent to sell, keep in mind that you may be deconstructing that home gym to restage Jimmy’s bedroom for the sales process.

5. Waterworks that Just Don’t Work

Installing a hot tub or pool at a home may seem like a no-brainer for increasing home value. However, those expensive upgrades can detract from a home’s value and resale potential. Of course, for homeowners in it for the long haul, home spas and pools can be dreams come true.

For homeowners with any intent to sell, these water additions can leave them all wet. Some buyers can find another person’s hand-me-down hot tub to be a bit of a turn off, either for sanitary or other maintenance reasons. Depending on the weather in your region, a pool sometimes can be seen as impractical as well. I envision every owner having 20+ people in a hot tub at once, ick!

The bottom line when it comes to home renovations or home improvements is to choose wisely. When it comes to home improvements, one person’s treasure can end up being another person’s trash.

Bottom line, unless you inherited the house with all of these lovely new additions, you will catch far more opportunities to sell the house if the amenities are plain vanilla. Turn these over-the-top additions back into the basics when you first purchased the property. Not only will you sell the house quicker, your Realtor has more to work with in terms of working with prospects.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Some 32205 and 32210 Home Sales Data here in Jacksonville, FL

Here is some data on the course of sales in #Jacksonville, FL and some of the hotter zip codes in the area. Please enjoy.

With home sales in the 32205 zip code market already below average, in this week's report they slid 9.7% to 28 homes sold over the last 30 days. On the other hand, the close-by 32210 zip code registered 55 homes sold in the same period, the most of all surrounding zip codes. Prices are rising in the 32205 zip code, and the median sales price this period increased from $95,000 to $120,500. The 32205 zip code is a solid buyer's market, thanks to a big nine months of inventory to choose from and a pullback in sales.

Mortgage rates fell this week to 4.30%, signaling that it's probably a good time to think about locking up financing. Some interesting details on 32205

  1. The population of Riverside, Avondale, Normandy, Murray Hill has decreased 9.2% in the last 10 years. 
  2. The safety rating of this urban area is a 21 out of a possible best 100 score, reflecting the location of houses in such a close area.
  3. The average commute to work for people in this area is 23 minutes, showing that most of the folks who make up this statistic work outside of this zip code.
This week saw a record in sales growth for the 32210 zip code market. It resulted in 55 homes selling over 30 days, which is a 14.6% spike from last week's number and also the highest amount since January. When comparing other close-by zip codes within the same period, the most came from the 32244 zip code with 50 sales. As sales reached a new peak, they seem to be correlating to a drop in months of inventory, which hit a three-month low at six months.

  1. The average elevation in this area is only 28 feet.
  2. The median income per household is $44,449 for this zip code, higher than 32205 which came in at $42,837. 
  3. There are more indian named streets in the Ortega area than in any other part of Jacksonville. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Almost 20 percent of U.S. metros will surpass their housing boom peaks in the next year

Before all the naysayers throw me under the bus and claim, "that Zillow data is not worth what you paid for it", well maybe not, but this is interesting to see if it lives up to its claim. Imagine 20% or more of metro areas in the United States surpassing the boom of the earlier years. So while we thought 2005 and 2006 looked frothy,  we may find that the next few years may be worse in some areas.

Home values in almost 20 percent of all U.S. metros will surpass their housing boom peaks over the next year, and affordability problems that have begun to affect a fraction of markets may spread to others over the next few years, Zillow reported.

“The lows of the housing recession are becoming an increasingly distant memory as home values reach new highs and homes become more expensive than ever in many areas,” said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries in a statement. “This is a remarkable milestone coming only two and a half years after the end of the worst housing recession since the Great Depression.”

Home values nationwide were up 0.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, and were up 5.7 percent from the same time a year ago, according to the latest Zillow Real Estate Market Report.

Over the next year, Zillow forecasts that national home prices will appreciate by an additional 3.3 percent.

Price gains have already pushed values close to or above their housing boom peak in about 12 percent of the 8,700 markets tracked by Zillow.

Among the more than 300 metros tracked by Zillow, home values in nearly 20 percent of them have already passed or are expected to pass their prerecession peaks over the next year. Those fully or almost fully recovered metros include Dallas, Houston, Denver, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Texas, San Jose, Calif., and Austin, Texas.

In a most metros, homes will remain affordable even as prices continue to climb, according to Zillow. Markets including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose and San Diego are already unaffordable, however, and as mortgage rates rise, that will become a concern in other markets, Zillow said.

“As affordability worsens, more residents will be forced to search for affordable housing farther from urban job centers, and home values in some areas may have to come down,” Humphries said.