The vacation-home market has boomed over the past year and is not likely to slow any time soon, even as the rest of the housing market starts to cool, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, told The Escape Home, a newsletter for second-home owners.

Even as companies bring employees back to the office, vacation homes will remain in demand, Yun said. Part of vacation homes’ rise in popularity has been attributed to the growth in remote work.

Overall, home sales are showing some signs of cooling. Many first-time home buyers are getting priced out of the market, Yun said. The median existing-home price for all housing types was $359,900 in July, nearly an 18% increase from a year ago. Mortgage rates are likely to increase, which could make buying even more expensive, he added. NAR predicts mortgage rates will rise to 3.5% by mid-2022, as the Federal Reserve likely will begin to reduce its bond purchases before the end of the year.

But vacation homes will remain a hot commodity. Rental prices for vacation homes will likely continue to rise too, Yun said.

“One near-certain aspect of the post-pandemic economy, when it comes, is the flexible work schedule,” Yun told The Escape Home. “It is very hard to envision five days a week in the office. Therefore, vacation-home sales will continue to move higher, this year, next year, and for the foreseeable future.”

Lawrence Yun

Lawrence Yun is Chief Economist and oversees the Research group at the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He supervises and is responsible for a wide range of research activity for the association including NAR’s Existing Home Sales statistics, Affordability Index, and Home Buyers and Sellers Profile Report. He regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1.4 million REALTORS®.

It’s been some time since I posted a blog, I’ve been asked so many questions about the market, it’s time I share my data and thoughts.

Mortgage rates for the seventh week in a row were 2.9% or lower.
Nadia Evangelou, a senior economist and director of forecasting for the National Association of REALTORS, suggests that home buying will have returned to a more regular seasonal trend of cooling off.

She noted that both buyers and sellers dislike moving their families while school is in session, they prefer to wait until the end of the year when they have more free time for the relocation.
Between August and September, she predicted that sales would fall by 15 percent.
It’s usual to see the market cooling off in the coming months, even at record low rates.
According to NAR, total house sales are expected to decrease by 10% in the last quarter of this year.

Mortgage demand has dropped to the two-month low.

According to Freddie Mac’s chief economist, “Even as the economy expands, it has lost speed since the recent wave of new COVID cases has resulted to worse employment, fewer spending, and a drop in consumer confidence.”
In addition, because of increasing supply and demand imbalances, mortgage rates have remained stable despite increases in inflation.
These low and consistent mortgage rates provide consumers more time to search for homes.

The following nationwide averages for mortgage rates were reported by Freddie Mac during the week ending September 9:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages had an average interest rate of 2.88%, with an average one-tenth of a point (0.7%). This significantly increased from the previous week’s average of 2.87%.
Just one year ago, 30-year interest rates averaged 2.86%.

A 15-year fixed-rate mortgage had an average interest rate of 2.19%, with an average 0.6 point.
A year ago, fifteen-year interest rates averaged two and one-half percent.

2.42% average 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: down from last week’s 2.43% by 0.3 points.
Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 3.11% one year ago.

Freddie Mac reports average commitment rates along with average points to better reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage.

Source: Freddie Mac and “Instant Reaction: Mortgage Rates, September 9, 2021,” National Association of REALTORS® (Sept. 9, 2021

Builder confidence fell by 5 points to 75 in August, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released on Tuesday August 17th.

I have been asked why I haven’t posted recently. With Covid, the Multiple offer market, lots of properties accepting offers before it goes on the market, I just didn’t feel confident I would be able to represent my sellers and buyers fairly. The challenges for builders have been unprecedented and so many buyers walk away with disappointment or in my opinion paying much more than is warranted. So here are some tidbits.

That number is the lowest it’s been in 13 months, falling from 80 in July. While anything above 50 is considered to be a good market, the drop indicates that high material costs and labor shortages are tampering confidence even as demand for building is at an all-time high amid an inventory shortage. In April, near the beginning of the pandemic, builder confidence clocked in at 30.

“Buyer traffic has fallen to its lowest reading since July 2020 as some prospective buyers are experiencing sticker shock due to higher construction costs,” NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke said in a statement. “Policymakers need to find long-term solutions to supply-chain issues.”

The index is based on a scale from zero to 100 and gauges builder perceptions of single-family homes sales and sale expectations for the next six months. “While the demographics and interest for home buying remain solid, higher costs and material access issues have resulted in lower levels of home building and even put a hold on some new home sales,” NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said in a statement. “While these supply-side limitations are holding back the market, our expectation is that production bottlenecks should ease over the coming months and the market should return to more normal conditions.”

Current sales conditions dropped 5 points to 81 while buyer traffic also dropped 5 points to 60. Sales expectations in the next six months remained the same at 81 points. All regions in the U.S. saw minor drops in builder confidence but the number are still quite high historically. At 85, builder confidence is highest in the Western region of U.S. and, at 68, lowest in the Midwest.

National Association of Realtors came out with this news clip Monday the 19th, and I added my two cents in!

It’s extremely important that the public understand the differences in today’s housing market and mortgage climate and the 2008 Housing and mortgage crash. It’s also important not to read into this too deeply. Some housing analysts have grown concerned about what will happen to the real estate market when temporary foreclosure moratoriums are lifted. Will it spark a wave of new foreclosures and lead to a crisis?

Already, foreclosure activity is on the rise, even though the moratoriums are still in place and the government has relaxed requirements for mortgage forbearance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Foreclosure filings in March rose 5% compared to the previous month, according to ATTOM Data Solution, a real estate analytics firm.

But that slight uptick could be a good thing, analysts note. “The foreclosure moratorium on government-backed loans has virtually stopped foreclosure activity over the past year,” says Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, an ATTOM Data Solutions company. “But mortgage services have been able to begin foreclosure action on vacant and abandoned properties, which benefits neighborhoods and communities. It’s likely that these foreclosures are causing the slight uptick we’ve seen over the past few months.”

I personally agree with this analysis, as long as mortgage interest rates continue to stay low, and there are some predictions it may dip even lower in 2022, I don’t see a surge in Foreclosures and Short Sales like we experienced in the 2008 crash. The 2008 crash, was an accumulative actions that was predicted. Unqualified buyers receiving mortgages on stated income, foreign investors purchasing investment properties on stated income. Mortgage fraud, unethical appraisers, all were formulas for a crash. In today’s market none of this is practiced. It’s especially noted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are introducing (forbearance, new deferral repayment option programs for up to 18 months.) Lenders do not what the homes they hold mortgages on come back to them. The cost of foreclosure, short sales or similar means is non productive and extremely expensive for these lenders and home owners need to understand this.

Homeowners with federally backed loans could receive up to 18 months of forbearance, but those who received such assistance at the beginning of the pandemic could see those protections lift after September. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that could put about 1.7 million homeowners at risk of losing their homes. “There is a tidal wave of distressed homeowners who will need help,” CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejo said in a recent statement.

Marina Walsh

But high home prices and growing homeowner equity likely will prevent another foreclosure crisis, housing experts say. Also, a historic housing shortage will keep demand for homes high. For homeowners who are unable to make their house payment, they could sell—potentially for a high profit. “We can’t have indefinite forbearance, and we can’t have an infinite foreclosure moratorium,” Marina Walsh, vice president of industry analysis at the Mortgage Bankers Association, told®. “As things get back to some sense of normal, people have to move on.”

Marina has a great point, for anyone with circumstances that may hinder their future ownership, their opportunities are looking very good. The ability to sell for a high profit, or the opportunity to refinance at a lower interest rate, are likely choices best suited for folks in danger of these events. The threat of media hype, to introduce a panic and promote a potential crisis is very unlikely.

However, the percentage of homeowners who are seriously behind on their mortgage payments or in foreclosure was 245% higher in February than a year earlier, according to data from Black Knight. The states with the highest foreclosure rates are Delaware, Illinois, “Florida, specifically Vero Beach and Sebring.” Indiana, and Ohio, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. On the metro level, the areas with the highest foreclosure rates are Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; Provo, Utah; McAllen, Texas; Shreveport, La.; and Atlantic City, N.J.

I was surprised at first to see any foreclosure crisis in Florida, however knowing Sebring and Vero Beach I personally can believe this is possible.

Real estate is a hard business — I have had many followers ask why haven’t I posted any content lately. This is more difficult than newbies understand, and certainly harder than most of our friends, family and clients understand. The image we portray on social media is often one of success. We post ourselves at closings and posting signs in the ground. Sometimes, we post the harder stuff, but many times, that is meant to be funny more than reality. It keeps us and I clients sane.

When representing our Seller’s, both of us are stressed. This is across the board. Agents are stressed too, how in the world do we (fairly) handle a new listing that generates 40 plus open house visitors, 15 private showings and 16 offers in a 48-hour period? (This is a true example — no exaggerations.)

In this past year of COVID-19, it has gotten harder, not easier. We made it through lock downs only to be hit with frantic buyers chasing a huge shortage of inventory. Buyer’s and we as agents are stressed. We’re searching for the ideal home that’s not on the market and submitting offer after offer that lose out in bidding wars. We are counseling frustrated buyers and trying to find off-market properties. We are working with buyers lenders, our buyers with strategies, and adding Escalatory Addendums to undermine buyers agent not seasoned for this environment.

Now I have 15 unhappy buyers and their agents!  Someone may accuse us of wrongdoing or of favoring someone over their own exceptionally fine offer. How do we even keep track of 55 people walking through an open house during a pandemic?

In short, we are all stressed. While some agents and sellers may be concentrating on virus safety, health, and sanitation issues, few are talking about the mental stress in this business.

In our office, January through March has been extremely stressful. It is strange, but it feels more stressful than a year ago when we first locked down. Back then, there was panic and uncertainty. We shut everything to be cautious and then learned how to deal with it. We learned how to do business in a pandemic. 

Now, the stress feels different. The extreme lack of inventory, has agents in total panic mode. Not “I’m going to catch the virus panic” but “I don’t understand how to find a house for these buyers” panic. This is different. Lack of inventory is leading to stress due to the bidding wars we see. Buyers are giving up inspections (not recommended), bidding thousands of dollars over asking (will it appraise?) and pushing us out of their comfort zone. 

The past three months I’ve had to be a friend, counselor and confidant more times than normal as a Realtor. I see a trend in the calls, though, and here are a few tips on how to cut the stress down a bit. It’s my job to get you, the seller to the finish line. But as a seller you are still responsible for your end of the deal.

For example, I have a seller list their house, and a relative is living there. We dissect all the offers, we define our terms, and now have a closing date set 45 days out. Come 45 days, your relative must be moved out. That’s in the contract. If the relative is not moving out, that’s on you the seller, not the buyer’s agent or listing agent.

If you the seller couldn’t make him or her move, then you shouldn’t have listed the house for sale. We have a problem, but it’s not the Realtors responsibility to find the relative a new place to live. “I have stepped in, in my past life to help out but it’s not our responsibility to find that relative a new place to live. We did our job, and now it’s on you the seller to make it happen.

Yes, this is a real example of our sleepless nights and stress because we stepped in and could not find a place for the relative to move. We did two contract closing extensions before the buyer threw in the towel.

My response and my experience in today’s market is to never list if the a seller isn’t honest with me and couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain. The buyer bought in good faith and the seller failed to remove the occupant and close.

Everyone lost, the buyer, the seller and we the agents. We were all lucky the buyer didn’t sue for specific performance. But as the listing agent, it is not my role to find a new place for the relative. It was to sell the house.  YES as Realtors, we are experiencing and feeling the stress of our customers in this brutal market.

COVID-19 has blurred boundaries. What day is it? What time? We tend to work longer hours, and clients don’t always recognize it’s a weekend or holiday or after hours. We too have coaches, and counselors and urged to set limits early with their clients. We cannot be available 24/7. In my early years as a Realtor, I overachieved to make everyone happy and to make a deal happen. We can’t do this now and keep focused on successful results.

If my staff or I answer a client’s call at 9 or 10 p.m., you will expect it to move forward. If someone texts us at 11 p.m. and we reply, you will think it is acceptable to do this in the future. In our weekly staff and sales meetings, we are urged to set limits early.  That’s why we are RE/MAX and outsell every other brokerage two to one!

Even if we receive a late-night email or text message, it’s not something we must immediately replay to. I had an angry seller call me one Sunday because his agent didn’t reply quickly. He said he knew she was busy, but he wanted guidance right now. The agent had told him she was unavailable that Sunday because it was her child’s birthday and instead of understanding, he called me and her broker to complain about her unavailability.

Please understand we have your best interest in mind, and we want everyone to maximize their results. It maybe my transaction coordinator, or a staff member that wants to go over and above to meet your expectations but this market is brutal and we ALL must keep our calm!  

As a buyer, can you always reach out and connect to your lender, appraiser, inspection team? Rarely will this happen. We will return calls and emails promptly, but we need to set boundaries when we are offline. Please understand we cannot reply to a midnight text as if it’s life or death. It more than likely can wait till morning. Texting while with our family, or decompressing can usually wait until morning. Texting while with family at a restaurant or other venues is not courtesy, “we all see it in restaurants, movies or even under the covers while our partner sleeps cause more stress and is more nonproductive than you, our customers can afford or comprehend at times. Please be courtesy and understanding.

We work for months (or years) finding the perfect place for someone. We get the property under contract. We are moving to closing — and it all falls apart. People point fingers and blame us for the fiasco. We do our best to prepare you, we promised to be diligent, we have been completely honest, and used our best strategies to make this deal happen.

This is a business deal, and it falls apart. No matter what words are thrown around or what you our buyers or sellers accuses us of, please understand, step back for a moment. This is not personal; we too try to analyze the situation clinically. We step away, we share the journey with our staff and fellow agents. Did anyone indeed screwed up, did we fail somehow, we do our best and honestly try to take a more analytical approach.

You the buyer may be angry and stop using us to find a house. The seller may fire us. No matter what happens, we are seasoned, we too learn from the experience! This market has 50 maybe 100 buyers all with the same goal in mind. We are experiencing an incredible amount of offers, highly creative offers, cash offers with no contingencies, present “As Is offers, nothing in this current market is certain.  

For buyers, sellers, even fellow colleagues, we must shut down the “what ifs” blaming someone and move on. There is no positive outcome that will happen from rolling the experience over and over in our brain and laying there at night flogging ourselves for missteps. Let it go. Move on. Yes, this is easier said than done for us to b e productive for our clients, this practice is a must!

Despite claims that buyers are migrating to Florida, evidence from Atlas Van Lines and the Florida 2020 Demographic Estimating Conference indicate that migration trends are minor.

In the shadow of the pandemic, there has been a lot of news about home buyers migrating to Florida: Northeasterners pursuing sunshine and lower taxes, celebrities searching for their next grand estate, and fast-paced city dwellers looking for a more casual way of life in trendy Palm Beach.

In the wake of the Florida buzz, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has taken to Twitter to try to woo Silicon Valley powerhouses like Elon Musk with company proposals. Despite the state’s recent real estate success, many people leave Florida every year, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.

Hurricanes, scorching temperatures, and rapidly increasing home prices move almost as many people out of Florida each year as those who move in.  According to Florida’s November 2020 Demographic Estimating Conference, despite strong narratives of buyers flocking to Florida during the pandemic, the state’s population growth has slowed to its lowest pace since 2014. Between April 2019 and April 2020, the state’s population increased by 1.83 percent, or 387,479 people.

It is projected to rise by just 1.38 percent, or 297,851 people, between April 2020 and April 2021. Is it really greener in Southern pastors?

According to an annual relocation report performed by national moving company Atlas Van Lines, the year 2020 saw the fewest amount of moves to Florida from other states than every other time in the previous nine years. According to Atlas, about half of Florida moves in 2020 will be incoming rather than outgoing, compared to 60% in 2015.

“As many people are moving in as are moving out [of Florida], which kind of shocked me because when you hear some of the news headlines about the number of people moving to Florida, I expected the number [of incoming moves] to be greater,” said Barry Schellenberg, president and COO of Atlas Van Lines, to the Journal.

Demographers, on the other hand, are well-versed in Florida’s history. According to Hamilton Lombard, a demographer at the University of Virginia, the state’s population has been steadily increasing for decades, but many people have left the state in the last 20 years or so, mostly returning to their home state. I support these elements as I have seen this progressing especially in the last 5 years. “A lot of people realize they don’t like hurricanes when they come to Florida” It brings to mind a sale I lost that my buyers chose to forfeited a $20,000 security deposit due to Tropical Storm Irma.

With many high-profile out-of-state buyers making multi-million-dollar purchases, Florida’s luxury market has seen a recent boom. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as well as Sylvester Stallone, are only two of the most recent high-end owners, both of whom closed on estates worth more than $30 million.

Sales at the other end of the market scale, on the other hand, have not done as well.

Contracts on homes under $500,000, on the other hand, fell 56% year over year in January 2021. Contracts in Naples show a similar trend: there were 624 contracts signed on single-family homes over $2 million in January, up 62 percent from the previous year. According to the Naples Area Board of Realtors, contracts on homes under $300,000 fell 20% over the same time span. Northeast Florida MLS indicated 98 homes over $800,000 sold this year a 50% increase and 1,534 homes sold between $200 to $800,000 a 30% increase. We can manipulate the numbers in so many ways, nothing supports more than these numbers.

According to real estate brokers, many of the luxury buyers leading to those higher-priced transactions are snowbirds or full-time residents who already own homes in Florida. Moreover, despite several reports that Northeasterners have been pushing traffic to the state in recent months, the movement has been “very slight,” according to results from the state’s Demographic Estimating Conference.

However, the jury is still out on how long the state’s newcomers will stay in the Sunshine State. According to Peter Zalewski, founder of Miami real estate consultancy company Condo Vultures, “a lot of people don’t last more than five years.”

It is my opinion that three (3) out of five (5) newcomers move back home or another area of the United States. My feed back is the weather is too hot! It took me three (3) years to acclimate to the Florida Climate and still have summers that can be extremely uncomfortable. Another reason is of course the encounter with a Hurricane. I have lived through many, and in 2004 Hurricane George, Francis, and Jeanne came right over our home in a two-month period. No one can imagine the trauma one may experience with so much devastation. We are still here, now living in Northeast Florida and in my opinion is the less likely region to experience the destruction caused by hurricanes. Yes, this area has experienced title surges, flooding, but nothing compared to my experiences with Florida weather. I have even experienced three tornadoes and one waterspout. None of which were a game changer.

Yes, Hurricanes or extreme heat are the two main reasons why their stay could be brief, but for some, the state’s soaring prices are justification enough to sell and benefit handsomely. All the wow stories you hear are not without question. I am seeing homes above $800,000 and higher are generating the most reward in selling now. Under this price point the rewards are minimal in most scenarios.   

So before you sell, reach out to an area professional that understands the market, the driving force for selling and the patterns you actually can support for buyers moving to Florida. Call me, Dan Swing 904-671-9225 I am an award winning Realtor for Luxury, 55 Plus, Military Relocation, and more!

The interior design trends that are molding how we live

For luxury buyers, interior design has long been a top priority, and a NEW Identity is appearing! “Interior architecture,” has recently pushed up the list of buyer priorities. The reason for this is simple: as more people work remotely, shop via digital platforms, and spend significant amounts of time in their homes, it is as important to have templates, features, and flexibility as beauty.

What is the distinction between interior architecture and interior design, exactly? Interior design primarily focuses on the home’s “software,” features such as wall colors or furnishings that are usually added and simple to alter by the homeowner. On the other hand, interior design includes the “components” of the home and the designed environment that defines what each room is for and how different spaces fit together.

Interior architecture is not always permanent. While this appears to be a broader undertaking involving structural, electrical, and plumbing facilities, homeowners transform their living spaces all the time. As such, the interior architecture of a home does not always match the architecture of the exterior. I have interconnected with many luxury agents who have brought up a Mediterranean feeling to the property on the outside with a lot of originality but have been stripped to the bones and made on the inside ultra-modern and unobtrusive.

It’s important to have conversation starters. Experiencing this is the in thing now!

In their ideal homes, what are luxury buyers looking for? “In the last few years, buyers have gotten very savvy. This is partly because a lot of diverse architecture and design elements have been exposed to them. Many of my clients are drawn to fixtures that look like art installations, organic outdoor elements, black steel window and door frames, and durable hardwood floors, such as oak. Each of these elements is indicative of a wider set of changing preferences for the consumer. To see what buyers are prioritizing, I have gathered some details and broken them down for you to perhaps help you visualize the big picture.  

Buyers are attracted to homes with design elements that excite them, with the home being the center of imagination, and because we have basically been staring at the same four walls since early 2020. “Today’s trends are driven by anything that sparks emotion in one’s space, and many of our design-focused trophy homes include dramatic entrances, debate-provoking fixtures, and exotic finishes that are usually found in swanky hotels or trendy restaurants. It is profoundly popular today to have a space that excites you and has a tale behind it. In short, in 2021, a sense of mild eclecticism is making a comeback, with consumers appreciating harmonies that have character, courage, and a touch of eccentricity.

Are buyers appreciating more rooms? Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen X, Gen Z!

This may sound rhetorical; however, the age of the open definition has come to a tentative end after many years of prevalence. Although new buyers do not necessarily want their homes to feel closed off, they have rediscovered the need for privacy and are putting renewed emphasis on being able to differentiate their work, education, and family lives. Barn doors are a trend and allows for flexibility in an open concept at times. Dark colors and materials are coming back with millennials and appears to add personality while helping to firmly define spaces within the home.

We are seeing an eye for lively, sunny spaces to let excitement pour in, but we see the love for cozy, activity-specific rooms with moody decor. The combination makes a sound change possible during the day.

We are finding that generational variations can affect whether a buyer is looking for a closed or open floor plan.” Younger buyers want more open concept living, such as a kitchen that flows into a family room that opens onto the pool; in many ways, baby boomers tend to enjoy the opposite. Millennials perhaps in their first condo, an executive or retirees moving from Northern U.S. and abroad, it is important to consider what drives patterns and disparities for their needs!  

Bringing the outdoors, indoors seems to be the top interests now days!

In the past year, Covid 19 has created a new world of access to outdoor spaces and has become one of the major attractions and focal point for homes, and these variables have been integrated into interior design in various aspects: by integrating fixtures and furniture that look and feel natural, and by expanding the comfort and practicality of interior living to the outside of the home. The consumer has remained focused on the extreme functionality of the outdoor space, and there is a huge demand for homes with multi-purpose outdoor areas, and this has been shared broadly over the internet.

Imagine coffee in the morning on your balcony facing dawn, my bride captures this whenever possible. Hosting dinner in your Lanai an extended living area of your home, or under the stars, and watching your outdoor living room games on Sunday. We have seen this emerging for some time, however it is becoming an attraction we can’t deny. 

Choosing practical over flawless

Ultimately, after a long day at the office, we are hearing buyers are no longer just enjoying their homes in the evening. It is important now, in ways that it was not before, to have floors and surfaces that can weather the wear and tear of daily life and can tolerate imperfection. Functionality has become really a thing of beauty.⠀

I find there is nothing like exploring homes with my buyers and seeing how they react to various finishes and designs; when you walk into a space, you can learn a lot about what they like and dislike immediately. I love to listen to the comments on a home and take notes. Nothing more rewarding than finding my buyers the right fit!

Supply and demand may prohibit negotiating well beyond what a builder offers.

While pure supply and demand may prohibit you from negotiating well beyond what a builder provides, knowing how to handle the process lets you save some cash whenever you can. In the current climate of growing costs and dwindling inventories, saving money on new construction can look difficult, if not almost impossible. The resale stock is poor and is a seller’s market across many regions.

If you purchase a new construction, I want you to understand, you can enter into an agreement and stop paying for certain things on the new build. Here are some suggestions and ways to make it possible for you. To know what communities are being launched before the public gets the word. For example, Ponte Vedra, Nocatee I am a “Certified Nocatee Realtor” and have the privilege to these communities. The floor plans, availability and price choices are important matters that I have availability to. I may even have the site agent’s contact information.⠀

Builders do not list each home for sale in the MLS and certainly will not list what is available and move in ready. It is extremely important to find a realtor you are familiar with and in areas you might be unfamiliar with. I can show you more often than not who the real site agents are in different communities and will direct you to the specialist in the field you are interested in. My staff and I know if you need to contact them directly or whether I can arrange appointments in a more efficient manner. Every construction manager functions a bit differently. Site supervisors are frequently linked to appointments and dealing with current buyers following their homes process. Supervisors cannot respond in a timely manner. In any case, you should have someone like myself that can direct you to key individuals that will run down necessary details quickly. 

2. Buying new construction? Knowing when a new community pulls the trigger.

At the beginning of selling a new neighborhood, a large part of the savings of new development usually occurs, when you are one of the first buyers to write an agreement. The moment the builder starts sales, rates are at their lowest on lots and floor plans, and they only have one direction to go from there, up.

The best offers are the first deals, and indecisiveness can and will cost a buyer cash and probably their lot and floor plan option if there are limits on how many homes can be constructed around each other on a street or unique portion of one model (so that every home is not the same). This also applies to how much heated Square footage is allowable on any specific lot.

After you close, you may find out the home you built, knowing it’s 2500 square feet, is recorded on record as 2100 square feet. A potential nightmare becomes real! Buyers looking for the stunning view of the elusive cul-de-sac lot or the highly desirable lot with no one next door or across from them? They are best equipped to leap out of a parachute or available to come in on Zoom, Skype or other video conferencing software that anyone can use to make this happen.

Waiting a couple of days could change the whole scenario. The response to “we’re not quite ready yet, but we can check it out next time we’re in town in a couple of weeks” may result in a huge price rise on both lots and home base prices. Not to mention, the home you want may not be available at all by that time.

It is important to have a Realtor help you understand the mentality of “should, could have, would have!” Having a coach on board is like the captain of the ship. It’s importance of instantly acting can most likely be a game changer. In a matter of days, prices can adjust, and site agents often do not know when their management may be responsible for a price rise. A few days later, the same lot and home that you were contemplating over the weekend would suddenly cost $20,000 more.

3. Options, benefits, and costs for closing—oh my!

It can be possible to get distracted by hearing numerous deals being bantered around, such as: the builder is currently providing an incentive sum that you can use to minimize the price or options and improvements, and if you use one of “THEIR CHOSEN LENDERS,” a certain amount may go against closing costs. Based on supply and demand, offerings wax and wane, and if the rate of sales is brisk, the builder would possibly step back on incentives and boost prices at the same time.

At the start of a new community, and an attempt to get some signed contracts, builders can give more generous incentives, however this may also offer the opportunity to increase prices rapidly! It is likely that when you visited a week ago, the $25,000 reward the builder was providing could no longer be available now. If you use their chosen lender with respect to closing costs, more often than not will save some cash out of pocket for closing costs that you would otherwise have to come up with.

Bear in mind that by using a builder’s preferred lender, the interest rate will be marginally higher compared to lending through the bank of your choice, and they can save more out-of-pocket expenses in the short term. Compared to saving on closing costs, home buyers must weigh the gap in the mortgage payments between the builder and an outside lender to see how long it will take them to recover the out-of-pocket costs. In my opinion you should take all of the benefits you can to prevent a pause in making a decision while working with a builder. Otherwise, not only may the price rise, but there might not be any incentives to benefit from it.

4. Controlling the unexpected!

This is where you can quickly tip the final purchase price well above where it was supposed to be when it comes to options and improvements. If possible, preview the design center well ahead of time before the actual appointment to get a summary and understanding of the various levels of finishes and features. Believe when a design appointment is normally just a few hours (or can be completed in a few meetings), but in a limited period a buyer more than likely is under a time crunch to determine several important finishes and color schemes for their home. To succumb to the pressure of the moment and select items that are needless extras and may very well “more often than not” drive you over your allocated budget very quick.

My experience and Via the builder, some things are better off being finished, and other items are best completed outside the builder. Often having a seasoned Realtor to prepare you for the journey makes sense to when committing to spending money on cabinetry and countertops at the time of the deal, as well as structural improvements such as expanding a covered lanai under the roof line or adding some additional square footage to the garage.


Going with tile in the kitchen through the builder may make sense depending on the type of flooring you are interested in. However, if you choose to splurge on wood floors, engineered wood flooring, premium vinyl plank or other flooring of choice. Having carpet installed in the living, dining and bedrooms could be a better alternative and you want to be able to shop outside of building options to find a material and installer that fits your budget best. Our last build, the design studio said we had NO OPTIONS but to use this suggestion will win you more happiness and less grief knowing you may not be able to remove the choices the builder offered.

There is usually an important markup with builders on certain types of flooring, particularly when it comes to wood floors, and you can find better prices outside the design core of the builder. That said, after closure, there is generally some difficulty getting this completed instead of just being able to step straight in, so as a buyer, you may need to decide if that’s feasible with your current situation and timetable. Going through vendors of your choice after closing would likely be more cost-effective for products such as tile backsplash, crown molding, built-ins, custom window treatments such as plantation shutters, curtains, gutters, fencing and front door glass inserts. Same for fixtures with illumination. Go with the simple ones if provided, and after closing, do your shopping on your own for preferred models. The same goes for getting a paver patio, fire pit or summer kitchen added by the design center. These assistants work on commissions and may not always be your best option.

Pools through a builder, there is always a bit of a markup. However, for the convenience of doing it during the building process, you may choose this option opposed to getting your yard dug up after closing, permit issues, and attempting to supervise it all yourself, which can often be a massive mess. A thing like too much icing on a cake can be there, and the same applies to putting improvements into a home. This is where you a buyer will be properly directed by an advisor versed in new construction as to how best to invest your money and what to spend it on.

5. Timing is Key!

Though the real estate market hasn’t slowed down a great deal, there are usually busier and slower periods in each market under more natural post-pandemic circumstances. Determine when those are, and if possible, try to schedule the transaction around a slower time. Typically, the end of the year has always been a timelier time to purchase new builds, particularly inventory homes, as builders are more driven to clear current inventory off their plates to free up capital to build new homes.

When a builder is a publicly traded business, as their end of quarter or calendar year comes, they are always more driven as there may be some sales targets they have to reach for each zone. During these times, offers are always sweetened, but the option of available homes and lots can be small.

6.The Leftovers

There are a few remaining lots in every new neighborhood, which are usually some of the last to go. If they have not been sold to a buyer to build a home, they will generally be speculating on them.The house may be magnificent and highly sought-after, but the lot may be a challenge to deal with in some way. It could be in or out of the neighborhood on a busy corner with heavy traffic. It may lack confidentiality, or have no views. With little outdoor space to do something with, like adding a pool, a patio area, a fire pit or a summer kitchen, it could also be small. You will be able to negotiate a better price on anything like this if you can see beyond those things, against a lot that may be more conforming and in the neighborhood in extremely limited supply. In other words, to sweeten the deal, reduce the asking price and provide more options and incentives to get this property off his or her plate, the builder can bend over backwards.

7.Title and closing fees and elements of surprise!

When possible, and the builder allows, buyers who select the closing and/or title insurance agent, it may be possible to bargain if they do not choose the chosen lender of the builder. That said, it can be difficult to do this. Usually, builders connect the benefits they provide with the condition that their own closing and title services are used. While they will encourage buyers to choose their own, it is likely to negate closing costs charged on their behalf, which may potentially cost them more cash.

There may be some closing costs that are usually charged by a vendor on a resale that a buyer needs to pick up on new development, depending on what is customary in the local real estate market, but a contractors closing cost incentives tend to compensate them. A builder can agree to cover some closing costs, even with a cash purchase, that are linked to the use of their closing and title services. As your Realtor it’s possible for me to direct you to closing agencies that perhaps may get you some competitive quotes. We may be able to receive the closing and title vendors of the builder to see if they can fit the fees you present. By doing perhaps we can save on closing costs, title insurance, as well as a survey.

Although pure supply and demand makes it impossible to negotiate well beyond what a builder offers, knowing how to manage the process will help you, “the consumer,” better time your purchase and save some cash wherever possible.  

AN EXCEPTIONAL PLANNED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT; NOCATEE, PONTE VEDRA, FL 32081 I have been asked “WHY Nocatee, Ponte Vedra Florida? This was selected as the top 8th Planned Development Communities in America.


I’m providing you some links for the schools in the St. John’s County Ponte Vedra Florida area. From preschool through high school. You can break down the opportunities in high schools, and a NEW K thru 8 is opening up this August at the South end of Cross water Parkway, in Nocatee. With these amazingly developed preschool facilities it challenges the Middle, and High schools to continue to be rated the highest in the State of Florida and our nation. It would not surprise me to eventually more than a few rated the best in the Nation!

For outstanding Preschools in Nocatee we have St. John Paul II Early Learning Center.

Primrose Schools are another extremely designed educational preschool environment preparing our children for tomorrow!

Valley Ridge Academy K thru 8th an A rated school!
New St John’s County K-8 at the End of Cross Water Parkway Opening August 2021 SEE BELOW graphic and link

Ponte Vedra High School, serves mostly Ponte Vedra Beach A+ Rating
NEASE High is one of the most diverse High Schools in Florida

For an overall review of all the schools in St.John’s County Florida go to;