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Luxury Market Report - June 2018

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

May is considered to be the barometer month in which to measure the year’s luxury trends and discover the influences of today’s affluent, discerning buyers, and investors in their decision processes. In 2018, these trends are proving that there may be a need to Zag when everyone else is Zigging, to achieve success.

The world is cultivating Millennials, providing for their tastes, but it should be remembered that it is the Boomers who have the greater spending power right now! Boomers might be less effected by current trends, but they embrace and appreciate unique experiences, new opportunities, value for money, customer service, and most importantly personalization. In the luxury retail market, 45% of customers are asking for personalized products and service – which translated into real estate means that it’s time for your marketing and their experiences to be both personalized and unique – so don’t be scared to do things differently!

Click here to read the full report!

Statistics provided by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.

Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.

Insurance 101

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Becoming a homeowner for the first time can seem like a daunting task. There are so many details and many first-time homebuyers don’t know all the ins and outs of homeownership. It’s important to educate yourself and be prepared for what’s to come.  One aspect of being a homeowner is paying homeowner’s insurance. 

To understand how you pay for homeowner’s insurance, you need to understand your monthly mortgage payment and how it breaks down.  There are four parts to you mortgage payment: PITI. This stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance.  The insurance part of your payment can vary depending upon your loan type.  There are some insurances that are required when you obtain a mortgage, and others that are not.  It’s up to you to decide what you need and to do so, you need to understand what they cover.

Mortgage insurance (MI) will usually be required if you are putting down less that 20% on your home purchase.  But not all loans require MI.  For example, a VA Loan does not require the borrower to pay MI. It is replaced by an upfront VA Funding Fee.  Even if you are required to purchase MI, once you have 20% equity in your home, it can be dropped.

Homeowners insurance is another requirement of getting a mortgage loan.  This is the insurance that protects your home in the event of fire, theft, or damage.  Depending on the insurance you choose, you may be covered for things like stolen jewelry and stolen or damaged electronics and/or furniture.  You must be able to provide proof of insurance to your lender before closing on your home. This insurance not only protects you as the homeowner, but it also protects the lender in case of foreclosure or in the event of a disaster.  It is common for the lender to require you have at least enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding the home. 

Another requirement is that you purchase Title Insurance. This insurance protects you by providing proof of legal ownership should someone else try to claim ownership of the property.  Should a title dispute arise resulting from a sale, the title insurance may be responsible for paying specific legal damages, depending on the policy you have.

There are additional insurances that are not required by your lender, but you may want to consider them for more protection.  Personal property insurance may cover personal belongings that your homeowner’s insurance does not cover, like art, collectibles, and firearms.  A home warranty is not insurance, but does offer further protection should something break. For example, you might want a home warranty for your HVAC system to cover the cost of service should it need repairs.  Purchasing additional insurance or a home warranty is a personal choice. You can talk to your mortgage banker and insurance agent regarding your options.

Are you ready to SELL your home?  Call the TAMPA BAY real estate professionals, Linda & Craig Nowicke, at Tampa Realty Now and let them assist you in getting your home STAGED and SOLD for the highest possible price!  CALL THEM TODAY at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030.

Homeowners Associations - Pros and Cons

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

You’ve found your dream home!  The neighborhood is lovely, with well-kept lawns and freshly painted exteriors. There is a resort-like pool and a playground for the kids.  Awesome. Oh, and there is a Homeowners Association that will cost you $500 a month.  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  It’s important to be informed about the pros and cons of living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association (HOA).

Pro - The neighborhood will look nice.  Most HOAs establish rules for residents that ensure keeping up the appearance of the neighborhood.  The guidelines might include keeping lawns manicured, whether you can have a fence (and the type and color of the fence), and what exterior paint colors you can use.  You may even have to get permission to remove or add trees and shrubs.

Con - HOA dues.  They can be expensive, sometimes as much as $1,000 per month depending on what amenities are offered.  These fees need to be taken into consideration when deciding if you can afford a house in the neighborhood.  They will be included in your mortgage lender’s assessment of your Monthly Mortgage Payment,  so you will have to qualify for a loan amount that includes them.

Pro - Awesome amenities.  You will enjoy the amenities that come with your HOA fees.  Most HOAs offer luxuries such as a pool, a fitness center, play areas, parks and security gates.  That’s in addition to covering the expenses of landscaping and maintenance of the common areas.

Con - Needing permission to make changes to your property.  If you want to add a room to your home or modify it in some way, you will have to make a request that will go before the HOA board for approval.  If they don’t approve it, you will not be able to make the changes you want.

Pro - Maintenance costs are shared.  You won’t have to worry about the upkeep of the pool, fitness center or common areas.

Con - HOA financial problems could become your problem.  If your HOA is struggling financially, it could damage your ability to obtain a loan for a home and it could be detrimental to home sale prices in the community.

Pro - An HOA will handle disputes between neighbors.  If someone has a dog barking at all hours or loud parties, you can contact the HOA and they will contact the neighbor; especially if HOA rules are being broken.

Con - Keeping up with the dues.  If you fall behind on your HOA dues, it can do great harm to you financially.  You may even end up facing foreclosure. That’s why it is crucial that you include the fees when determining if you can afford a house or not.  You may also be subject to late fees if you don’t pay on time.  In addition, HOAs can fine you for not following guidelines and rules, so it’s imperative that you can afford the upkeep required for living in the neighborhood.

It’s vital that you make sure to consider all these pros and cons before deciding to purchase a home in a neighborhood with an HOA.

Are you ready to SELL your home?  Call the TAMPA BAY real estate professionals, Linda & Craig Nowicke, at Tampa Realty Now and let them assist you in getting your home STAGED and SOLD for the highest possible price!  CALL THEM TODAY at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030.

Photo Credit: dhclaw.com

Study: Amendment 2 failure would spark $700M tax increase

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – May 16, 2018 – Florida TaxWatch released a study on Tuesday projecting that property taxes could increase by more than $700 million on non-homestead properties like businesses, apartments and second homes should Florida fail to extend a property tax yearly rate cap.

According to TaxWatch, the increase would happen if voters reject a proposed constitutional amendment that they'll consider on the November ballot.

Known as Amendment 2, the proposed amendment would extend a current 10 percent cap on annual increases in assessed values of non-homestead properties – a cap that voters approved in 2008.

TaxWatch Vice President Kurt Wenner said many Floridians aren't aware how much taxes could go up if the cap is lifted.

"If Amendment 2 fails to pass, it doesn't mean that the cap is just no longer going to be in effect going forward," Wenner said during a media event at the Florida Press Center. "It means that all of this property will suddenly be assessed at full value. This can be quite a big sticker shock when some people get their tax bills."

Wenner said he expects that these potential tax increases would be passed along to renters and business customers, making the issue important whether someone owns property or not.

Supporters of the amendment say it's currently polling at just under 60 percent, which is the threshold for amendments to pass.

The Florida Legislature decided in 2017 to put Amendment 2 on this year's ballot. Senator Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican who sponsored the proposal, estimated at the time that failure to extend the cap would effectively lead to a $688 million tax increase.

In all, Florida's November ballot will include 13 proposed constitutional amendments.

© 2018 Florida Realtors®

First-Time Homebuyer Assistance

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Have you been hesitant to purchase your first home because you are worried about having enough cash for a down payment or that you won’t qualify for a loan?  Don’t despair!  There is help out there for you.  Owning a home is a sound financial investment and there is no reason to keep paying a landlord’s mortgage when you could be paying your own and building equity for your future.

The Florida Homebuyer Loan Program offers 30-year fixed rate FIRST mortgage loans to first-time homebuyers through participating lenders and lending institutions throughout Florida. If you are eligible, you may also qualify for one of Florida Housing’s second mortgage or grant programs to help with your down payment and closing costs.

Florida also offers a Mortgage Credit Certificate Program.  This offers qualifying first time homebuyers a nonrefundable federal income tax credit that can be used with a lender’s first mortgage.  This reduces the borrower’s federal income taxes and as such, creates additional income for the borrower to use in making mortgage payments or other household expenses. The requirements for this program include being a first-time homebuyer, the purchase price of the residence and the total household income.

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation offers First-Time Homebuyer Education (HBE). You can also take a course through the Tampa Housing Authority. Taking one of these classes is a great first step toward understanding all you need to know before you start your home search.  The class teaches things such as:

-          Shopping for a home

-          Understanding credit

-          Money management

-          Obtaining a mortgage

The first-time homebuyer program uses income and purchase price limits to determine eligibility.  Potential buyers must complete a home buyer education course and qualify for a mortgage loan and have a qualifying FICO score,

The real estate professionals at Tampa Realty Now can explain these programs to you and answer any questions that you have.  Contact them and start your home search today!  Call Linda or Craig Nowicke at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030

Moving with Kids - How Important is the School District?

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

When choosing a new home, there are usually several items on the buyer’s list of priorities, but when kids are involved, school systems often top that list.  People are generally willing to pay more and sacrifice other desires to make sure they are in the best school district for their children.  Private schools may be a feasible alternative for some, but that is not the case for many. Even if buyers don’t have children (or plan to have them), they may want to buy where the schools have the best reputation because it will have a positive effect on resale value down the road. However, it’s important to remember that a poorly ranked school district does not automatically mean that the overall quality of local education in an area is poor.  You must do your research. The website Niche is an excellent resource for information on schools in the Tampa area.  Consider the age of the schools, their physical condition, the student-to-teacher ratios and standardized test scores. Understanding how the school system works in Florida will be helpful in your search as well.  According to Florida School Choice, there are many options available to residents including Charter Schools, Magnet Schools, Career Academies, Virtual Schools, Controlled Open Enrollment, Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Programs, Dual Enrollment and ABC School Programs.  In addition, there are scholarship programs for private schools and resources for people who choose home education.

Finding a home in the Best School Districts  is something the real estate professionals at Tampa Realty Now can help you do.  Contact Craig & Linda Nowicke at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030 and begin your search today!

Tampa Luxury Home Housing Report - March 2018

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

The charts below show the 7-day and 90-day rolling averages for list pricedays on market, and inventory for the metro area's luxury market (e.g. top 10 zips with median prices above $500k)

ILHM-TAMPA VS NATIONAL

The charts below compare the ilhm-tampa luxury market with the ILHM National Luxury Market Index and show 90-day rolling averages for Median List Price and Days on Market.

The chart below shows the Altos Market Action Index for the metro area's luxury market and the National Index.

Statistics provided by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.

Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.

Now is a Great Time to Move Up!

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

We hear a lot about people downsizing and simplifying, but if you are looking for a larger home, now is a great time to sell your smaller home and move up to something that better suits your wants and needs.  Perhaps you have a growing family and need more space, or an additional income-earner has joined your household or maybe you have enough equity in your current home that you can now afford your dream home. Whatever the reason, movin’ on up is an exciting prospect!

Ok, now let’s contain that excitement a bit and think about what it means to purchase a more expensive house.  First, just because you can afford something on paper, doesn’t mean you should commit all your resources to the most expensive property on your radar.  It would behoove you to take a thorough look at your current budget and then play with the numbers a bit to determine how much more you’re willing to spend each month on a higher mortgage payment.  A dream house is wonderful, but being house-poor is not.  Think about your lifestyle and don’t make the mistake of getting into a financial bind that doesn’t allow you to do the activities you enjoy.

When financing your new home, you have a couple of options.  If you haven’t sold your current home yet, you can choose a Home Equity Loan to make the down payment on the new home.  A home equity loan allows you to borrow against your current home’s equity and is usually less expensive than other loans. 

Before you put your house on the market and commit to purchasing a new one, educate yourself about the prices of houses in the areas where you will be selling and buying. Whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, an experienced professional Realtor will be able to assist you in navigating the process. The goal is to sell high and buy low, and in today’s market that is an achievable dream!  Call Craig & Linda Nowicke of Tampa Realty Now at 813-675-5030 or 813-728-3880 and let them help you find your dream home today!

Bidding War Prep 101

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

It is a Seller's Market in real estate, and now that spring has arrived, the competition for homes is likely to get even more fierce.  If you are looking to purchase a home right now, chances are you may find yourself in a bidding war.  Be prepared! 

Here are six ways to come out on top in a bidding war:

  1. Get your finances in order and get as much cash as you can.  It is never too soon to get pre-approved for a loan. In fact, the sooner the better.  Sellers will have lots of options and will be leery of those who do not have loans set in stone.  If possible, bring cash to the table.  Sellers will fear appraisals coming in low and loans falling through, so be prepared to cover the difference with cash.
  2. Don’t hesitate!  Be the first to make an offer, and make it a good one.  An insulting offer will put you at the bottom of the seller’s list, so it is not a good time to low ball.  Come in at or slightly below asking price so that they know you are serious about purchasing their home.
  3. Offer an Escalation Clause. This is the amount of money the buyer agrees to increase the offer if there are other bids. If you offer the asking price of $400,000 on a house, but it might sell for $450,000, put in an escalation clause stating that you are willing to go as high as $460,000.  But know your limit.  Don’t offer more than you can handle.  Also, make sure the clause states that the seller can only take the winning bid up to a level just above the competing offers.  For example, if an offer comes in for $430,000, your bid would be upped to $431,000.
  4. Get a pre-inspection.  It will cost you a few hundred dollars, but it can help you in a super-tight market.  If you can make a bid that is not contingent upon inspection, sellers will look favorably on your offer versus the same offer from someone who has a contingency in their contract.
  5. Show the love!  If you have found the perfect house and really love it, don’t be afraid to let the sellers know, either directly or through your Realtor.  You can write a letter, send pictures of your family or even make a video describing why you love the house so much.  Be specific in your praise.  Sellers may appreciation the connection you feel with the house and choose you over other bidders.
  6. Think with your head, not your heart. Be smart! Purchasing a home is an emotional thing for sure, but emotions can get in the way of making wise decisions.   Make sure you have done thorough research of the market: look at the most recent comparable sales, compare prices from a year ago, visit local school, have coffee at the closest café and speak to potential neighbors.  Look at listings nearby.  Whatever you do, don’t overpay because you get caught up in the heat of the competition.  While the house may seem perfect for you, it is not the only house that will be perfect for you. So, keep a level head and make intelligent decisions.

You don’t have to face a bidding war alone. The experienced professionals at Tampa Realty Now can help you through the process of finding and purchasing the house of your dreams!  Call them today at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030.

Tampa Luxury Home Housing Report - February 2018

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

The charts below show the 7-day and 90-day rolling averages for list pricedays on market, and inventory for the metro area's luxury market (e.g. top 10 zips with median prices above $500k)

ILHM-TAMPA VS NATIONAL

The charts below compare the ilhm-tampa luxury market with the ILHM National Luxury Market Index and show 90-day rolling averages for Median List Price and Days on Market.

The chart below shows the Altos Market Action Index for the metro area's luxury market and the National Index.

Statistics provided by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.

Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.

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Photo of Linda and Craig Nowicke Real Estate
Linda and Craig Nowicke
RE/MAX ACR Elite Group
14823 N. Dale Mabry
Tampa FL 33618
Linda: 813-728-3880
Craig: 813-675-5030
Fax: 813-413-4343

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