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How To Search For Pensacola Real Estate The Right Way

If you are searching for Pensacola Homes for Sale, you will most likely begin your search on the Internet. While there are many sites available on which to search for Pensacola homes for sale, all are not created equal.

To get the most accurate and up-to-date search results, you need to be searching on the Pensacola MLS. Other home search sites will have information about homes available on the Pensacola real estate market, but these sites often don’t have a complete and current database of Pensacola homes for sale. You may find homes on these sites that show as active listings, but which actually are already under contract or even sold. This situation can happen because other sites do not have a direct Internet data feed from the Pensacola MLS. Thus delays in record updates are common.

A fellow real estate blogger in Alabama posted a great article about this recently. You can read it at his Dothan Home Search site.

Remember, when you are performing a search for a home to buy, you can search the Pensacola MLS by clicking the “Search For Homes” link in the menu bar at the top of this page. This will take you to the most accurate and up-to-date listing of homes for sale in Pensacola Florida. If you need more criteria defined in your home search than are available through the Pensacola public MLS, please feel free to Contact Me .

As a Pensacola Realtor, I have the ability to perform a search based on a wide range of criteria not available on the public MLS. In addition, I can provide a service for you whereby you can receive an email when any home that matches your criteria becomes available on the Pensacola real estate market.

If you would like to sign up for this free notification service, just call or email me and I will help you find exactly what you are looking for. You will never be spammed with unrelated emails. You will only get emails when a home comes on the market that meets your criteria.

Click on Pensacola Real Estate News for a list of articles the most popular articles on this site indexed by category.

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Earnest Money: Clarifying The Confusion For Pensacola Home Buyers – Part 2

 

Earnest money shows commitment to buy. My real estate experience has shown that many home buyers in the Pensacola real estate market do not understand the concept of earnest money. This is an important concept to understand when making an offer on Pensacola real estate. 

Click the link below to read Part 1 of this article:

Earnest Money: Clarifying The Confusion For Pensacola Home Buyers – Part 1

In Part 1 we discussed what earnest money is and how much should be offered when buying a home in Pensacola Florida. In Part 2, we will address the following questions:

1. Who holds the earnest money?

2. What ultimately happens to the earnest money?  

These are 2 questions I encounter regularly when working with Pensacola real estate buyers.

When a buyer makes an offer on a home, the buyer will give their real estate agent a check for the earnest money deposit. The real estate contract Earnest_money_check_writing_RS250will dictate to whom that check is made payable. The check may be written to the real estate broker, who is required to deposit it in a trust fund. However, this tends to be a burden on the brokers, so the check is commonly made payable to the title company that is expected to handle the closing of the real estate transaction. The title company holds the earnest money in escrow.

At the end of the real estate transaction, whether it be a successful closing or fail to close, there are 3 things that can happen to the earnest money.

1. It is applied to the purchase price of the home
2. It is returned to the buyer
3. It is disbursed to the seller

If all goes well and the real estate transaction results in a successful closing, the earnest money is applied to the purchase price of the home. Thus if the home is sold for $100k and the earnest money deposit was $1000, the buyer will need $99K to close.

If the real estate transaction cannot be completed, the earnest money will be returned to the buyer if the buyer complied with the terms of the contract. Most real estate contracts, including those used in the Pensacola real estate market, require that the buyer apply for financing within a certain number of days from the effective date of the contract. If the buyer makes a good faith effort to obtain financing and cannot, the earnest money will be returned to the buyer. If financing is obtained, the buyer still has the option of having a home inspection. If the buyer is not satisfied with the results of the inspection, the buyer can back out of the the contract and have the earnest money returned.

This has been a simple overview of how earnest money can be returned to the buyer. I go into much greater detail with my Pensacola real estate clients with regards to their obligations under the real estate contract.

If buyers fail to act in good faith in complying with the terms of the real estate contract, the earnest money can be disbursed to the seller. This generally happens if the buyer is determined to be in breach of the real estate contract.

A good real estate agent will do everything possible to prevent breach of contract, but ultimately it is the buyer’s responsibility to meet the terms of the contract.

Temp1

 As a final note, there are 2 important points that I need to address in regards to earnest money. These points are:  

The fact is, earnest money is not a requirement of an offer to purchase real estate. If a seller is willing to accept an offer without an earnest money deposit, so much better for the buyer. However, the reality is that most sellers will require an earnest money deposit.

Buyers also need to know that they must have the funds in their account to cover the earnest money check. The check is not held by the designated escrow agent until closing, it is immediately deposited into an account. Thus the earnest money funds must be available immediately. A bounced earnest money check can cause serious problems with the real estate transaction.

Look for detailed discussions of real estate contract terms is upcoming articles. We’ll see just how interesting I can make a contract discussion. I can hear the yawns already. 
 

Click on Pensacola Real Estate News for a complete list of articles indexed by category.

 

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Earnest Money: Clarifying The Confusion For Pensacola Home Buyers – Part 1

Earnest money is all about commitment. My real estate experience has shown that earnest money is a topic unfamiliar to many home buyers in the Pensacola real estate market. I have worked with many clients who did not understand the earnest money concept when making an offer on a Pensacola home.

We’ll tackle the 4 biggest questions I have encountered when working with Pensacola real estate buyers:

1. What is earnest money?Earnest_money_check_writing_RS250

2. What is the proper amount of earnest money to put down?

3. Who holds the earnest money?

4. What ultimately happens to the earnest money?  

We’ll start with question 1, “What is earnest money?” Earnest money is money that the buyer provides along with an offer on a home. It is considered “good faith” money. The buyer is offering good faith to the seller that the buyer will do everything possible to obtain financing and purchase the home. Without an earnest money deposit, the buyer has nothing to lose by backing out of the real estate contract. Note that there are legal ramifications, but these are rarely pursued due to the legal costs involved. In other words, the real winners end up being the attorneys.

When the seller accepts an offer, the seller effectively takes the home off the real estate market. This is done by having the real estate agent mark the listing as “Pending” in the Pensacola MLS. Thus the seller is risking losing a potential buyer while the home is under contract. Buyers in the market will no longer be looking at this seller’s home. In addition, the seller is paying holding costs up until the home is sold. For this reason, larger earnest money deposits make the seller more comfortable with the potential buyer. Larger earnest money deposits show that the buyer is more committed to the purchase of the home. 

Sale_Pending_Sign_RS250
2. What is the proper amount of earnest money to put down?

The answer depends on the price of the home and local real estate market conditions. Typically in Pensacola homes under $100K, a $1000 earnest money deposit would be acceptable. For higher priced homes, generally 1% of the purchase price is generally considered acceptable.

Real estate market conditions are also a factor in the amount of an earnest money deposit. Pensacola, as with much of the country, is experiencing a strong buyer’s real estate market. In a buyer’s market, buyers generally offer a minimum earnest money deposit. However, in a seller’s real estate market, as Pensacola experienced after hurricane Ivan, the amount of the earnest money deposit can make the difference between acceptance and rejection of an offer. If a seller has multiple offers, or expects more offers soon due to market conditions, the seller is more likely to accept an offer with a larger earnest money deposit, all other factors being equal. Temp1

A common negotiation tactic used by seller’s real estate agents is to include an increased earnest money deposit in a counteroffer.

In some situations, when acting as a buyer’s agent, I counsel my buyers to break the earnest money deposit into 2 separate payments. A minimum deposit is included with the offer. Another earnest money deposit is promised after the completion of a home inspection. This method works in the interest of both the buyer and seller. The seller ultimately gets a larger earnest money deposit, and the buyer learns of the condition of the home before making a full earnest money deposit.

In part 2 of this article, I will discuss questions 3 and 4. Who holds the earnest money, and what happens to it in the end. 

Click below to read Part 2:
Earnest Money: Clarifying The Confusion For Pensacola Home Buyers – Part 2 
 

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Overpricing Homes – Sellers Can Lose Out In The Pensacola Real Estate Market

In my previous article on home prices in Lake Charlene I shared some information regarding pricing of homes in this West Pensacola subdivision.  A couple of days after writing that article, I wondered how many of those homes had dropped in price since being put on the market for sale.

Click here to read my previous article on Lake Charlene

Here are my findings:

Of 10 homes for sale, not including the lakefront homes, as they skew the numbers:

Average Original Price when listed: $205,360
Average Price Per Square Foot when listed:  $97.64

Average Current List Price:  $188,660
Average Current Price Per Square Foot: $90.03

This shows that the average price reduction on homes in Lake Charlene is $16,700. I’m sure this is typical of the rest of the Pensacola real estate market. 

Of all of these 10 homes in my test market,

Now what does all this data show in regards to its impact on home sellers in Pensacola? My previous article showed that 8 homes sold in Lake Charlene for $89.51 per square foot in 2007. While these homes were selling, the overpriced homes at $97.64 per sq ft were sitting on the market. They are still sitting on the market, and the market has gotten worse for sellers during 2007.

So sellers on the market now who have reduced their price would have had a much better chance of selling their homes at around $90/sq ft if they had originally priced them to be competitive in the Pensacola real estate market.  However, they tried to “test the market” and as a result their homes are still sitting, and they will likely end up having to either sell at less than $90/sq ft or take their homes off the market.

Lesson: Pensacola sellers, please listen to your real estate agent. The agents know the market and know how to price your home. Just make sure you get a good experienced Pensacola real estate agent to ensure your home is priced to sell.  The agent should be able to show you the numbers by providing a comparative market analysis. In this market, the numbers don’t lie.  

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If Your Realtor Is CAPPING Your Listing, You May Be Losing Prospects For Selling Your Home

 

If you are listing your home, you want your prospects to read every detail in the Pensacola MLS description. You want them to feel like they must see your home. Do you think they will feel this way if your agent is SHOUTING at them? Shouting_at_Computer

Note that this is meant to be an educational post. I am not trying to criticize anyone, only improve the quality of everyone’s real estate experience.  This agent who blogs on Activerain is a little more emphatic about it.

Here is an excerpt from another article about using ALL CAPS. Thanks to Dave Casali from readMedia in Albany, N.Y. for this simple tip about writing in upper case:

“Nothing kills a reader’s momentum quicker than a section of text in all caps. Blocks of capital letters are extremely difficult to read, and tend to immediately turn readers off.

On average, upper case type is read approximately 13 percent slower than lowercase text. The reason for this is simple: Readers are used to lower case type, and actually view words as pictures, allowing them to put sentences together ahead of the point they’re reading. Using large blocks of capital letters cause readers to focus on individual words rather than taking in a whole sentence. Don’t let your message get lost in capitalized text!”

The use of ALL CAPS when typing online is considered shouting. It is also very difficult to read, especially when the description of a home is 30 lines long with no breaks. You can pretty much guarantee that no one is going to read the whole description.

And who gets hurt? YOU, THE PENSACOLA HOME SELLER.

If no one can stand to read about the details of your Pensacola home for sale, do you think they are going to want to come take a tour?  Maybe they will look past the shouting, but maybe not. Do you want to take that chance?

I wasn’t sure how prevalent ALL CAPS was in the Pensacola MLS, so I did a little experiment. I picked an area in Pensacola and searched for all active listings in that area. Then I looked at 20 of them, in numerical order.

Of the 20 Pensacola MLS entries I checked, 6 of them had descriptions written in ALL CAPS. That’s a 30% CAP rate. Must have been a fluke I thought. So I tried some other areas of Pensacola. I even went across the bridge (figuratively speaking) into Gulf Breeze.  Now I was impressed by the Gulf Breeze listings. Only a 15% CAP rate. But I couldn’t stop there. I just had to check out Milton. 

NO! It couldn’t be! Milton had a 35% CAP rate! CAP_RATE

Now these results really mean nothing statistically. But they do show that some real estate agents need to become a little more internet savvy. Maybe an E-Pro certification could help. My Tomato buddy Jim  loves those E-Pro certs. More on Realtor certifications in a later post.

And remember, along with the description, good pictures are extremely important.

Read my article about the importance of pictures here:
How Important Are Pictures For Your Listing

For fun, check out this site on Bad MLS Pictures. I wonder if we have any of these in the Pensacola MLS. If you want to find out for yourself, you can go Search The Pensacola MLS.

Click on Pensacola Real Estate News for a complete list of articles indexed by category.  

 

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