Monday, November 29, 2010

"Pent Up Housing Demand"

"Thou shalt not covet... Thou shalt not covet... Thou shalt not covet."  There, I feel a little bit better now... but not a lot.  "What's my problem," you ask?  Well, it seems that the real estate market is showing signs of recovery in the Northern Virginia - Metro Washington, DC area.  You know - the market I moved from - to come back to Florida in 2001.

All my buddies in my old Remax and Century 21 offices are struttin' a little bit recently.  "The market is brisk again," they say.  To be fair, it's not "1995-2005 brisk" to be sure, but brisk, nonetheless.  I'm pretty wired up... you know - Facebook, Twitter and an endless stream of websites and blogs, etc.  "Three closings this week!" they say.  "Thirty buyers through my open house!" they boast.  "Our office phones are ringing off the hook and we got two walk-in buyers yesterday!" etc., etc.  It's enough to make a grown man cry (especially if said grown man is a Real Estate Broker / Sales Agent... in Florida).  However (and it's a BIG however), our time is coming! 

Florida, you see, is a "destination State."  People really want to come here to Palm Coast and Flagler Beach.  We are surrounded by the Beaches of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, drenched in Sunshine, and blessed with year around Warmth.  You can ride your motorcycle or bike, go fishing, surfing, hiking, walking on the beach, or play golf - in February!  And the machine is oiled by the guy "up North" being able to sell his house first, so he can move here. 
Simple math: "No sales in NJ/PA/MI = No sales in FL"

Please don't interpret this as me saying, "The recession is over," because it's not.  We have a lot of messes to clean up first and we have to put a lot of people in Florida, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Michigan, etc. back to work.  Banks have huge "shadow inventories" of foreclosures and short sales to push through the system.  We've got to look in the mirror and promise ourselves that we won't be defeated any longer... and that's not "foo foo" talk.  Recovery really does start with attitude shifts!

And as the tide starts to turn, hang on to your hat, because we too will then get our share of "brisk" sales, in response to pent up demand. What Does "Pent Up Demand" Mean?

When the demand for a service or product is unusually strong. Pent up demand is used by economists to describe the general public's strong return to consumerism following a period of decreased spending.
Pent up demand is often seen immediately following a recession or depression, where consumers have built their savings or held off on purchases, due to the prevailing uncertain economic climate. Quite often, pent up demand accelerates the economic recovery period immediately following an economic downturn, thanks to a sudden increase in consumer confidence and spending.  If you live in Florida, especially Palm Coast or Flagler Beach, make sure you cover all the bases, by crossing your fingers and saying your prayers!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Goal Setting for Realtors, Buyers, and Sellers"

My wife and step daughter and I went to a church service Wednesday night.  The pastor there is a gifted speaker and always brings biblical truth into modern day relevance.  But make no mistake about it - I'm no preacher.  So I'll skip the religious and spiritual lessons, epitomized by Paul's words in the gospel, whereby he states that he is "Pressing on toward the GOAL..." and "Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead!"

Now that was written over 2000 years ago... and it sounds like Paul of the gospels graduated from the Dale Carnegie course!  As a Real Estate professional, the past few years have been rough... really rough.  And yet the lessons learned from a thousand classes - both as a student and as an instructor - stay in front of my eyes.  It's stuff like this that keeps me going and "spitting in the eye of this recession."  Not just "surviving," but in the pursuit of "thriving!"

Here is a summary of the life lessons the pastor taught last week:
  1. Winners are Goal Setters!
  2. Without goals, our efforts lack a sense of purpose and urgency!
  3. Goals are the objects of our ambition!
  4. If we keep making progress and chipping away at our goals, we get to say, "I may not be where I ought to be, but I'm sure as heck not where I used to be!"
  5. If you can get the goal on your own, it's likely too easy!  Most big, bad, bodacious goals require teamwork and synergy!
  6. Goal setters study worthy role models and emulate them!
  7. Accomplishing a goal requires hard work and focus... if you try to focus on everything, you end up focusing on nothing!
  8. Look forward to the goal... Don't dwell on the past... Learn from it and move on!
  9. Goal accomplishment requires excitement!  And you can't be excited with slumped shoulders and pessimistic self talk!
  10. The prize tastes better, when there is pressure to be overcome!
  11. Goal accomplishment requires that we set priorities and schedule our time accordingly!
  12. It helps to write them down and review them often... to see what progress is being made!  As sometimes changes are needed.  Be flexible!
  13. Goals require a leap of faith.  Without this element of risk, it's not much of a goal!  (Now, to be fair to the source, the pastor would surely say that faith provides assurance - not risk)
  14. To be a worthy goal, it must be congruent with your moral and ethical standards!
  15. Winners are goal setters, trend setters, and pace setters 
  16. Winners create their future, before it creates them!
  • Fellow Realtors, this recession will be over when we decide it's over. We have to walk that line, where we understand the challenges of this market, yet we don't allow the negative aspects to dominate our actions!
  • Sellers, if you really want to sell, you absolutely must get your head out of the sand.  Today's market is a Price War and  Beauty Contest.  Spruce your place up before you list it with me... and let me help you price it to sell... not be in the overpriced 70% that never sell!  Get in front of the market, so you don't end up chasing the market down from behind!
  • Buyers, be specific with your price ceiling, wants, needs, location, etc.  If you tell me "Let's see 100 homes and we'll know it when we see it," I'm no good to you.  If you don't know the differences among short sales, foreclosures, REOs, etc., Ask!  It could take 6-8 months to close a short sale (or get a counter offer... or a flat out "no"), so if you don't have the stomach or patience for it, don't do it.  By the way, there are plenty of "normal" sales from motivated sellers, from which to choose!  Palm Coast, FL and Flagler Beach, FL are "For Sale" and it's a great time to buy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Flagler Beach, FL - Clandestine Paradise!"

Flagler Beach, Florida, is a Clandestine Paradise!  Drive up and down the Atlantic Ocean Coastline and you will know what I mean.  St. Augustine is nice, but prices in the beach towns are "ouch!"  Go south to Daytona Beach and it's nice too... but mingled with the sights and sounds of wild and wooly biker events twice a year, various Spring Break themes, and Speedway events, etc., it can be a bit  "honky tonk" for some tastes.  Mind you, however, that some go there specifically for that buzz... For me, I like being near it, yet not in it... I'm just sayin.'

Go farther north and it starts to get "Georgia chilly" and farther south gets "tropical hot & humid," as well as very crowded.  Most of the US East Coast shoreline is "stupid developed" with monster condos and hotels blocking views and public access to the ocean.  Not so in Flagler Beach!  It's a throwback to Old Florida and it's a slower, more sane pace of life.  There's plenty to do, with clubs and activities galore... just not in your face.  Flagler Beach's proximity to the "city" of Palm Coast and the venues of Flagler County are a big plus, also.  Plenty of shopping nearby, yet when you cross over the Intracoastal Waterway bridge and see the little town of Flagler Beach and the sun glistening off the ocean water... you just know it's a special place!

The beaches are clean and not crowded.  Even on 4th of July weekend, you can find a spot to park along the beach road (A1A) and go plant your feet in the sand.  And talk about "Old Florida," people come to the beach from miles around on Friday and Saturday mornings for the bountiful Farmer's Market.  At the market, you have the opportunity to step back in time to simpler days when vendors come from farms and cottage kitchens to sell their wares. The Farmer's Market has become a Flagler Beach institution as folks shop for fresh locally grown produce and homemade delicacies, plus handmade goods such as pottery, baskets and jewelry.

And right now, in November of 2010, Flagler Beach is "FOR SALE."
Prices are crazy low and are down by AT LEAST 50% from what they were in 2005.  You can buy a HOUSE... ON or NEAR the OCEAN for what a LOT cost in 2005!  Here's a little breakdown: 
  • Detached Houses:  There are 113 for sale, between $72K and $998K.  6 sell a month (in an average of 192 days).  That's a 20 month supply!
  • Condos & Townhouses:  There are 63 for sale, between $67K and $495K.  2.5 sell per month (in an average time of 250 days).  That's a 26 month supply!
  • Building Lots:  There are 108 for sale, between $20K and $949K.  1 sells per month!  That's a 108 month supply!
Here's the rub... There are really two MLS's!!!  There is the part that is in fantasy land - deep in denial - priced way too high for the market.  And there is the part that knows what's going on and wants to sell!  Evidence is that 70% of listings never sell.  Hint:  Priced too high!
Soooo.... Call an experienced LOCAL Realtor (like me) and let me help you figure this out.  If you are a Seller, I can help you price it right (provided you are motivated).  If you are a Buyer, I can help you sort through the mess an find the motivated Sellers!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"David Letterman Likes Palm Coast, Florida!"

This is good stuff! 

12 years ago, I'd never heard of Palm Coast, Florida, even though I'd lived in Tampa and visited family and friends all over the state for years.  Then I came to a wedding in Saint Augustine and stayed at The Topaz in this cool little beach town, called Flagler Beach!

Two years later, I moved to Palm Coast... and I'm still here!  Making my living as a Real Estate Broker was amazing, as we (Flagler County) became the "Fastetst Growing County in the US" for a couple of rocket ride years!  Things have certainly slowed down, yet it remains a cool place to live.

Click this link below and it will take you to the Palm Coast city website.  Under "Announcements," you'll see "David Letterman Likes Palm Coast."  Watch the short imbedded video all the way to the end.  If you are a Palm Coast, Florida fan - you will love this!

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Moving is Hard in Post-Retirement Years"

 If you are in your "post-retirement" years... or your parents are, please read and internalize this post.  Understanding this may save you untold discomfort in the years to come.

I am a real estate broker in America's primary retirement mecca - Florida!  And believe me, I get all the jokes about blue haired drivers, early bird specials, and viagra at the seniors center, etc.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha!  Those old people sure are funny!  And to be sure there is humor there.  In addition, however, there is also cultural confusion.  This is not an unusual or atypical scenario:
  • Mom and Pop work all their lives in New Jersey or Ohio or Michigan or some other place on the frozen tundra and dream of coming to Florida.  Ahhhhh, Florida... where the kids and the grand kids can come and visit all the time!  We'll swim and bike and hike and walk on the beach and life will be grand!
  • The first year or two the kids come and visit.  But then two or three years has gone by and no kids!  Where are they?  Don't they love us any more?  Well, they are busy living THEIR lives... in their peak earning years... kids in school and sports... wanting to take vacations to some place other than Disney World and Gramma and Grampa's house... again.
  • Then hips and knees get replaced and arthritis kicks in.  Triple by-passes and menopausal issues and prostate problems happen.  Taking care of the house is no longer easy.  The grass needs mowing and cleaning the pool is a chore no longer considered fun.
  •  Mom and Pop miss the kids more than ever and want to be nearer to them.  Physical abilities diminish and memory fails more often than it used to.  Mom and Pop are becoming less capable... and they are feeling more and more alone as the years drift by. 
  • Cell phones and computers and email and texting... Facebook and Skype, etc., should make it easier, but they become daunting tasks.
  • Then, God forbid, Pop passes away and Mom is left alone, 2,000 miles away from the family.
Having just been through the sale of a home, as the "listing agent." here in Palm Coast, FL, for an 85 year old couple, has really brought this into focus for me.  It caught up to them in spades.  Going back to Michigan to an assisted living facility was a massive undertaking.  At 85 and quite frail, they could do almost nothing for themselves.  Going through 20 years worth of "stuff" proved overwhelming.  Only with the help of an also aging brother, a kind and caring neighbor, the arrival of a son a day before closing - and the grace of God - did we make it... (They called me today to tell me they made it to Michigan... and to say "Thank you" for helping them get there!)

If these things resonate with you, address some issues - now, rather than later:
  • Talk about it.  Talk about the above scenario, as a family, and get people's input.
  • Make sure you have both living and familial wills.
  • Discuss health and death and burial issues.
  • Get properties in Trust.
    • Hire an attorney for this and get the best legal advice possible.
    • Florida living trusts are all about taking smart and legal planning steps to minimize complexity, cost and grief following death... and peace of mind in the present! Remarkably, thousands of people fail to prepare their estate for legal transfer. Age, ill health or an accident leaves them incapable, incompetent or worse! Result? Their entire estate, along with the unraveling of taxes, creditor obligations and more "defers" to the probate court.
    • Think of your living trust as a documentary form of "You" ... what you've worked for your entire life, the assets you've created, and your preferences for inheritance are entirely captured by your Florida living trust. You "fund" the trust with your financial and real property assets. You can amend it or determine the trust's day-to-day business ... it's revocable ... up until the time of your death. Thereafter, no change is permitted. Your Florida living trust reverts to an "irrevocable trust", managed by your successor trustee under strict rules until all assets have been legally transferred, taxes paid, and creditors paid.
    • If you're looking for privacy, and potentially significant cost and time savings to your heirs, without the imposition of court-ordered probate, then examine further the Florida living trust.
      • (from EZine article on this topic, by Robin J. Derry)
  • Categorize and organize all the insurance, financial, and other "important papers."
  • Make sure both spouses have access to and understand all bank accounts, IRA's, investments, property deeds, payment books, bill paying info, passwords, PIN numbers, etc.
  • Start methodically purging "stuff" from the attic, garage, closets, etc.  If it's not needed, sell it or give it it away.  Lighten the load!
  • Talk about retirement homes, assisted living, and "going with the kids" issues.
  • Establish a relationship with an experienced local real estate broker (Here's where I volunteer), so when the time comes, you're not scrambling to find a good one.  Talk to them about their experience and understanding of the nuances required to work with you or your parents.  Believe me when I say that we often become like members of the family during these times.
  • And finally, decide if Florida is your final place of residence.  (Like I've been told many times before, "This is where I'm staying until they plant me in the ground!")...
  • If it is not, then make arrangements for that final move, while you are still young enough to do it - and also to enjoy it!

Why read "Palm Coast Unplugged?"

"Palm Coast Unplugged" gives a "backstage pass" to locally focused Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, and Ormond Beach, Florida... Real Estate and other useful information:
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