Data provided by Northeast Florida Association of Realtors.

The first month of 2020 included 1,796 home sales, up slightly from 1,723 sales the prior January. The number of days on market between the two Januarys also varied little: 74 days on market this year versus 70 days on market in January 2019.

Sales prices between the two years reflect a more marked change. This year, $229,932 was the median sales price, up 11.1% from a median of $207,000 a year ago. There was a similar situation with average sales prices: $272,497 this January, for a 12.1% increase over $242,978 last year.

In a long-running refrain, extremely low inventory is a key indicator of Northeast Florida’s real estate market. Months’ supply of homes for sale dipped to 2.9 in January, down 21.6% from a year ago.

The 7,980 homes in inventory at January month end was 15.2% less than 9,412 available homes a year prior. Competition for the reduced supply resulted in 10.7% of properties being sold for more than the original list price.

2020 NEFAR President Ron Harris said, “January’s 7,980 and December’s 7,869 inventory levels are the only two months within the past 24-month period where inventory has dipped below the 8,000 mark. Sellers are in a highly advantageous situation.”

A wealth of charts, graphs and facts are available by visiting the Market Stats area, where you will find the full January 2020 report, as well as monthly reports from 2009 to present, and annual reports from 2011 to present. Except where otherwise indicated, statistics reflect combined results for single-family residential (which includes townhouses) and condominium properties.

According to the National Association of Realtors, February 27, 2020

Real estate pros are having a busy winter, and with buyer demand high, it could be even busier if it wasn’t for a lack of inventory continuing to plague many markets. Pending home sales rebounded in January, rising 5.2% month over month, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Thursday. Contract signings are up 5.7% over year-ago levels.

“This month’s solid activity—the second-highest monthly figure in over two years—is due to the good economic backdrop and exceptionally low mortgage rates,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “We are still lacking in inventory. Inventory availability will be the key to consistent future gains.”

The higher sales numbers are emerging despite combined inventory levels in December and January falling to the lowest levels since 1999, NAR reports.

NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index is a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings. Contract signings in January were up month over month in every region of the U.S., except the West, which saw a minor drop in activity. Sales, however, posted annual gains in every region of the U.S.

Lack of housing inventory continues to weigh on the housing market. But that hasn’t chipped away at buyer demand, even in the colder months when business typically slows.

The Northeast Florida resale inventory is much lower in the 55 and older communities as the sellers are waiting for the spring surge in buyers from the North. A cold tough winter has deflated travel from northerners wishing to retire in an extremely lower tax base and warmer weather!

“With housing starts hovering at 1.6 million in December and January, along with the favorable mortgage rates, among other factors, 2020 has so far presented a very positive sales climate,” Yun says. “Moreover, the latest stock market correction could provide exceptional, even lower mortgage rates for a few weeks, and that would help bring about a noticeable upturn in the coming months.”

NAR Pending home sales Jan 2020. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

National Association of Realtors, Aource LendingTree

February 26, 2020

Homeowners are sitting on a record amount of equity, so what has them so worried about housing? A new study by LendingTree surveyed more than 1,500 Americans to gauge their expectations of homeownership.

They worry most about upcoming repairs needed on their home. Nearly one-third of respondents cited major home repairs as their top housing-related worry.

More than half of respondents surveyed say that homes are becoming less affordable in their neighborhoods. With higher prices, they plan to stay put longer. As such, renovations are bigger on their minds.

Nearly three out of four respondents said they are considering renovations this year. Fifty-three percent said they were motivated to do so to increase their home’s value. Other reasons were to give the home an updated look (24%), make the home easier to sell (22%), and add more space to their home (9%).

While rising home prices have some homeowners concerned, they are still upbeat about the housing market overall. And they’re upbeat about their equity: 55% of respondents said they believe their home’s value will improve this year. Also, 68% said they believe that homeownership is a good investment.

But rising home prices do spur concerns for them about affordability. Fifty-three percent of respondents predict housing will be less affordable over the next decade. Gen Xers and baby boomers–at 53% and 57%, respectively—are the most pessimistic about housing affordability.

What Does “Active Contingent” Mean In Real Estate?

One question that BUYERS & SELLERS ask me, especially in the Nocatee, Ponte Vedra Florida area is, “what does active contingent mean?” This means the seller of the home has received an offer from a potential buyer. However, there are certain contingencies that need to be met before the sale can be finalized. A purchase contract may include contingencies — such as a buyer’s contingency for a property inspection and negotiating any necessary repairs with the seller before closing. An appraisal of the property will also need to be completed to ensure that the home is not priced higher than it is worth. Another common contingency is that the buyer needs to be approved for a mortgage loan within a certain time period after the contract is signed. If any of these contingencies are not met, the contract will be null and void, and there may or may not be penalties assessed. Most of the time, the contingencies within a contract can be worked through without any issues. But there are times when a buyer will back out of a deal because an agreement cannot be reached. The length of the active contingent period can differ, but it is usually one to three weeks long. Don’t be surprised if it takes longer. This is always a possibility. Once all of the contingencies have been removed and the active contingent stage is completed, the property will show a “PENDING” status.

Pending means the closing is not far away. At this point in time, the chances of this property going back on the market are slim — “BUT Oh that word!” “But not completely impossible!” If you are a buyer interested in an “active contingent” home, continue to check back often to see if the status has changed. If you see that the “active contingent” status falls off and the home is not pending sale, this will open the door for you to place an offer.

Less than 10 percent of for sale by owner sellers actually succeed, with a high-end net, but what is it, actually, that prevents FSBO sellers from being able to close their property sale?

Selling your home without the help of a real estate agent can seem like a good idea. In an ideal world, homeowners would save a lot of money — not having to pay a commission is a strong motivational factor. But is the “for sale by owner” option as good a choice as it may seem?

Selling a home without a real estate agent isn’t easy. And statistics seem to show that less than 10 percent of for sale by owner sellers succeed. But what is it, actually, that prevents FSBO  sellers from being able to close their property sales?

Here are some of the mistakes that FSBO sellers make; they illustrate why local real estate agents’ expertise is invaluable.

1. Failure to prepare a property

If a home isn’t appealing to buyers, home sellers are wasting everyone’s time. This doesn’t just mean making sure everything is tidy; the condition of the house needs to be perfect. This will involve:

  • Doing certain repairs.
  • Removing unnecessary furniture and clutter.
  • Painting and decorating neglected rooms in a way to make them look as appealing as possible.
  • Having a professional cleaning.

Houses that don’t have excellent curb appeal or have obvious thins wrong, are going to be challenging to sell. And they’re not likely to command top dollar.

2. Lack of marketing experience

If the FSBO “FOR SALE BY OWNER” property listing isn’t put in front of the right people, it will never be sold. The real estate agent will have the knowledge and experience to get this right; the owner usually won’t. There are also quite a few powerful online marketing channels that won’t let FSBO homes be listed. An agent will be able to market the property far better than a novice seller could ever hope to.

Many for-sale-by-owners don’t realize the power of the Multiple listing Service (MLS) and the wide net it casts. “Yes,” you say you understand this and have sources that will post it on the MLS. Can you target the buyers that engage realtors from all over the world that will only work with their realtor! These buyers may not even use the MLS networks.

3. Dealing with potential buyers

A big part of the real estate agent’s job is handling inquiries. Many people who try FSBO aren’t ready or able to deal with queries. You must be able to stay on top of calls and emails and be prepared to show the property when it is convenient for the interested potential purchasers.

Another problem is spending time on inquiries from people who can’t buy. If you don’t understand how to screen genuine buyers, you are going to end up wasting a whole lot of time. Even the best seasoned agents can miss this at times and it’s their time wasted not you!

FSBO sellers often don’t understand that they should find out if the interested person has been pre-approved or approved for a loan or needs to sell their house first. If they haven’t or they are only pre-qualified, they may not be able to buy the house even if they fall in love with it. I have the ability to make these deals happen with my network and resources.

Even if the seller can find a pre-approved buyer, there can still be problems when showing the home. It’s all too easy for a homeowner to put pressure on the potential buyer when all they want to do is be left alone to view the property: The buyer won’t feel that they can discuss the property honestly, they will want to avoid saying the wrong thing to the owner. This situation isn’t going to increase the chances of a sale.

One of the critical roles of a seller’s agent is to screen potential buyers.

4. Unwanted inspection results

A home inspection may turn up some problems with the house that the owner doesn’t agree with. Most buyers will want a home inspection, and very often, they will highlight some problems with the house. This can upset the owner and can lead to the FSBO falling through when the owner is unwilling to correct the problems found.

Real estate agents can be a great sounding board when it comes to inspections. They have been through the process many times and can offer their expertise in “NEGOTIATING” a successful outcome. Getting through a home inspection is often about give and take.

5. Negotiating with buyers

Pricing a home correctly can be difficult to get right if you don’t have the experience. The number one mistake FSBOs make is pricing their property incorrectly. Negotiations over this price can also be problematic if the owner has unreasonable expectations.

The purchase contract also needs to be negotiated. Is the buyer putting down the right amount of earnest money? “Hmmm what is earnest money?”  Is the time the buyer is asking to procure a mortgage reasonable?

Someone who isn’t familiar with real estate contracts can find them confusing. The homeowner may not fully understand what the contract holds them to, and when they need to negotiate with the buyer.

Contingencies  and clauses may need to be changed so that the seller gets the situation they want. It isn’t just about negotiating on the price; the contract needs to be paid careful attention to as well if the sale is going to close successfully.

6. You might net less

The big attraction for most homeowners selling without a real estate agent is commission savings. But what if you net less even without paying an agent’s commission? “The possibility is very real!” It happened to me before I became a realtor.  You can forget about having a bidding war when selling as a FSBO.

Given how strongly the market has favored sellers over the last few years, having a bidding war is not uncommon at all. Homes selling significantly over asking price has been relatively routine in many parts of the country.

You’re almost certain to give up that chance when selling without a real estate agent.

7. Closing the deal

If the FSBO seller is lucky enough to get an offer, things can still go very wrong. The homeowner can very easily make mistakes in the process after an offer is accepted, which can lead to failure.

A specific order of events needs to take place for the sale to close. This will involve many different parties, and if they aren’t contacted at the right times, the sale can be delayed or even canceled.


 If you, or someone you know, still decides to go ahead with the FSBO route despite reading about the many pitfalls, it can be a gamble with less than a “1 in 10 chance of success!”

With all this said, hopefully, highlighting some of the common mistakes will allow you to succeed where so many others fail.  “Personally, selling more than $100,000,000 in property for my clients, I continually ask my sellers to rethink their approach, and 98% do!”

Selling a home For Sale By Owner, is risky. Make sure you have a backup plan in place that entails interviewing multiple top local real estate agents.

Each year in the fall, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, collects data on the national median home value and compares that number to October of the previous year. If there is an increase, the conforming loan limit will increase by the same amount.

With data collected in October 2019, the year-over-year median home value increase was 5.38%. Therefore, the conforming loan limit for a single-family home is predicted to rise in 2020 with an estimated value $510,400, up from $484,350. The loan limits on multi-unit properties are estimated to rise to $653,550, $789,950 and $981,700 for a duplex, triplex and fourplex, respectively.

Should you apply for a jumbo loan? *NOTE, Some VA loans allow you to take out a Jumbo loan as well!

Loan Differences
Loans amounts at or under these limits qualify as conforming loans. They “conform” to guidelines set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Conforming loans make up many residential loans funded. Loan amounts that are above these limits are referred to as “jumbo loans.” With a conforming loan, lenders can sell the mortgage in the secondary market, replenishing their credit lines in order to make more loans. “Jumbo loans have no such robust secondary market!” When a lender approves a jumbo loan, it assumes the risk should the loan ever go into default.

Naturally, this makes it more difficult to qualify for a jumbo loan. The minimum credit score for most conforming loans ranges from 580 to 620. Jumbo minimums range from 720 to 740. Some jumbo loans can require a lower score, but the rates and terms are much more stringent.

Down payment requirements for jumbo loans are also much higher. A buyer can secure a conforming loan with a down payment of just 5% (or even 3% for special first-time programs) with the help of private mortgage insurance. *NOTE….Jumbo loans have no such insurance policies available and require a minimum down payment of 20% of the sale price of the home. Providing a down payment of 25% or more will make it easier to qualify.

Wondering if a jumbo loan is the right move? Reach out! I can help you find the right loan for your next move or investment.

Downsizing can be a big chore after a lifetime of accumulating memorabilia and artifacts. Fortunately, in retirement you have the time to do this methodically over a couple of weeks or months. Begin by separating out the easier to part with items. You probably already have a list in your head of items in the garage and kitchen that you’re willing to let go of. You likely also have at least a partial list of items you want your children, grandchildren, and others to have. These are good lists to start pulling things together.

Move on to rooms with less emotional attachment and rooms that you won’t have in your new home. Most people aren’t too emotionally attached to the laundry room and you may soon have to do without a 4th or 3rd bedroom and basement. A good rule of thumb is only separating things into “keep” or “let go” piles. A “maybe” pile will drag out the process by making you think it through more than once. The exception for having a third pile could be a pile of what you will sell or donate.

But take the time to give each item a moment of your attention. You’ll quickly find you develop a logic to making the decision. Go through each room one at a time. You may find you have a different decision process for each room. You’ll also avoid regrets by giving everything at least a moment of thought.

Items that are easier to get rid of include duplicates and things you haven’t used in a few years or rarely use. That oversized roasting pan that you only use at Christmas might go to a grandchild who can bring it over once a year.

People have collections they find difficult to let go of. Photo albums can be digitized. You can select a few favorite Hummel figurines to keep and sell the rest for a nice roll of dollars. Family members might be interested in at least part of your collection or maybe you can divide it among several relatives.

Be sure your family knows that a big part of your downsizing means letting go of your treasures. Ask them to tell you what they want. Giving away some difficult to part with treasures can still bring you happiness. Giving your son the grandfather clock means you can see him enjoy it now and you can still enjoy it when you visit. You may also learn you have things you didn’t think anyone would want but your granddaughter actually does want your old sewing basket. Pick a weekend to invite the family over for a day to show them what you are letting go and tell a few stories behind your fondest possessions.

One reason to start downsizing early is to give yourself time to reminisce. There’s a reason you’ve saved this stuff all of these years, even if you haven’t looked at it for a long time. Now you have the time and reason to enjoy it again.

Investment properties can be a huge profitable venture. Many options to consider, and with an experienced Realtor, will increase your final investment dollars.

Want to buy an investment property? Refinance or renovate an existing home? Found a property you love but the renovations could be a nightmare?

I’ve been helping buyers and sellers for 20 years, and many of my clients are lifetime customers that have grown their future equity “portfolio” with my creative ideas and assistance one property at a time.

Myth #1: There is a lot of paperwork for the 203k loan.

Let’s be honest with each other, there is a lot of paperwork involved when getting a mortgage… period. No matter what type of loan you will be asked to provide required paperwork and additional information the lender asks for. There is additional paperwork needed for the 203k loan but is it mounds and mounds more? No, not at all.

Myth #2: Sellers won’t accept that kind of financing.

Many sellers and realtors believe that they will not be paid until the renovation project has been completed. However, this is untrue. All the renovation/upgrade work is done after closing when both the seller and realtor are paid.

In fact, it can benefit a stubborn seller or help sell a bank owned property because the home is sold “as-is” meaning, repairs don’t need to be made prior to the closing of the sale. Not even a conventional loan can offer that, with a conventional loan any health or safety violation of any kind must be fixed prior to closing.

Myth #3 Only FHA approved contractors can be used.

FHA approved contractors are not a real thing. The FHA does not have a list of contractors you must use or a list of those who you can’t. It’s true, you may come across contractors that advertise their experience with 203k but that does not make them a preferred or approved FHA or similar lender contractor. Hiring a contractor who has gone through the process of a 203k is a good idea because he or she is familiar and can help talk through things. But most 203K qualified Mortgage lenders may have their own network of choice of contractors.

Myth #4: FHA 203k loans are only for homes needing major repairs.

Almost all homes qualify for 203k financing except for homes built within the last 12 months. Homes in need of major work and homes with minor changes- like new cabinets or interior paint can qualify. In fact, the 203k Loan is a great solution as a refinance for properties which don’t have a lot of equity in them.

Myth #5: It takes several months to close a 203k Loan.

The process to close a 203k Loan should not take any longer than 45-60 days. If you are working with an inexperienced lender, the FHA 203k or any other kind of a home loan can be a long, drawn out process. However, if you are working with an experienced 203k team and both the homebuyer and realtor do what is required the 203k will run smoothly. If you are considering a 203k Loan, be sure to have a consultation with your mortgage banker at the start to ensure everyone is on the same page!

One of my partners, “AnnieMac Home Mortgage” will give you the widest range of options and the best customer service available in the home lending industry.

Before you put your house on the market, ask me for guidance on improving your home’s presentation. I can tell you what buyers expect in your particular market and at your home’s price point. The following 10 steps are a way to get a good head start on preparing to sell your home.

1. Welcome buyers. Make your front door visible and accessible to buyers. Paint the door, clear debris and clutter from the walkway and yard, mow the lawn and prune hedges. Pot or plant colorful annuals and perennials to attract attention from the street. Fix broken screens, doorbells, roof tiles, shingles and outdoor lighting, and replace your doormat. Exterior defects can make a poor first impression on buyers.

2. Make it sparkle. Cleanliness implies a home has been well taken care of, so deep cleaning can win points with buyers. Buyers scrutinize homes, especially kitchens and bathrooms. Recaulk and repaint to give these grime-prone rooms a fresh and clean look. Clean rugs and carpets to eliminate unsightly stains or dinginess and eliminate odors. Tidy each room, including cabinets, closets and the garage, before showing. And if it seems daunting to do all that cleaning yourself, consider hiring a professional cleaning company to take care of all of it for you.

3. Start packing. Cramped and cluttered rooms turn buyers off and make your house look smaller. A home packed with your personal belongings also makes it difficult for others to envision living there. Start by storing away excess furniture, toys and personal decorations, such as family photos. Pack up things you don’t use on a daily basis, and put them in storage or ask a friend to hold onto them. Decluttering your house also gives you a head start on your move.

4. Paint wisely. A well-done, no-frills paint job is all you need. Put a fresh coat of paint on white or beige walls, and repaint walls that have eccentric or unconventional colors. Nature- and spa-inspired neutral colors, such as taupe and subtle gray, are the best choices. Definitely don’t forget the trim and molding either. And a fresh paint job on outdated or worn cabinetry goes a long way, too.

5. Fix the small stuff. Repair or replace broken or outdated hardware throughout your home. You can install new door handles, faucets, towel bars and curtain rods – fixtures that are readily visible to homebuyers – rather inexpensively. New hardware in the bathroom, kitchen and on windows and doors also improves the functionality and safety of these components.

6. Update lighting. Replace decorative light fixtures that no longer fit your home’s cleaner, fresher look. Install new bulbs with the appropriate lighting for specific areas of your home. For example, ambient, low-key lighting fills a room, whereas directional or task lighting works better in areas like a reading nook. Use accent lighting to highlight focal points in a room, such as the artwork above a mantle, to draw buyers’ attention to certain selling points.

7. Frame windows. Ensure you have the right window treatments, which enhance natural brightness and boost the appearance of a home. Window treatments also can impact a room’s temperature because they reduce or increase the amount of light entering the space. Adjust window treatments appropriately when showing your home in the mornings, afternoon and evenings.

8. Set the table. Fresh, decorative flowers in the kitchen or on the dining room table are always a nice touch. Also, keep place settings handy for your tables so you can quickly set them out right before showings or an open house. Pull out all the formal stops for a dining room, and keep the table casual in the kitchen.

9. Hide unsightly everyday items. Don’t leave children’s toys and pet belongings out in the open during showings and open houses. Move litter boxes, pet dishes, toys, animal crates and kids’ entertainment to less conspicuous areas of the home, such as an outdoor storage unit or garage before each showing or open house. Also think about where you can store things like dirty laundry and dirty kitchen sponges.

10. Don’t forget the back. Keep your backyard looking spacious and functional. Plant or pot colorful flowers and keep the landscaping trimmed and neat. Consistently pick up after your pets so buyers feel comfortable touring the yard.