It’s About to Be Much Easier for You to Buy a Condo

If you’re interested in becoming a condo homeowner, but haven’t had much luck, this news will be a reason to renew your efforts. 

Today we’d like to make you aware of an upcoming change to FHA condo financing that just might benefit you—especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. It could also be that you’ve previously tried to purchase a condo with a low down payment and had no such luck. 

Historically, very few condo buyers have qualified to purchase with less money down, so a lot of would-be millennial buyers have opted for apartments instead and the condo homeownership rate among millennials has suffered as a result. Those who are buying are sticking to single-family homes. 



Once this change goes into effect, you’ll likely see condo prices return to healthy levels and more first-time and millennials buyers qualifying to purchase them.


So what changes will soon take effect? 

Starting October 1, the FHA is allowing individual condo units to qualify for mortgage insurance. Until now, individual condo units have been treated as part of the whole, meaning they’ve been subject to rigid guidelines imposed upon the association that governs them. 

Thanks to this change, if one building is entangled in litigation, none of the other buildings within that particular association are affected. That clears the way for millennials to take advantage of lower down payments on condo mortgages. 

Once this change goes into effect, you’ll likely see condo prices return to healthy levels and more first-time and millennials buyers qualifying to purchase them. Mind you, you’ll want to pay attention to the specific guidelines regarding the number of units covered per building, but there will no longer be a long, complex process to get each building passed.    

Whether you’re a first-time, millennial, or condo homebuyer, keep an eye out for this exciting change coming October 1. If you have any questions or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!

Which Is the Better Move: Refinancing or Selling?



Given today’s low rates, should you refinance or sell? Let’s discuss.

Interest rates have hit record lows, which has many homeowners wondering whether they should sell their home outright or refinance it, instead. 

Truth be told, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and either option will allow you to cash in on your hard-earned equity. Those more interested in selling their current home and buying a new one will be happy to know that current low rates translate to greater purchasing power, while those with their sights set on refinancing will rejoice in the fact that lower rates mean lower monthly interest payments.




There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether you should sell or refinance right now, but either option will allow you to cash in on your hard-earned equity.


However, refinancing does carry certain fees. So if you plan on buying another property within the next year (or even the next six months), it makes more sense to make that move now rather than refinancing your current home. Conversely, those who are content to remain in their current property for the next few years are likely to see greater benefits from refinancing, rather than plunging into an unplanned move.

Whatever your circumstances may be, we’d be happy to discuss your options with you. If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Why You Should Work With a Local Lender Instead of a National Lender



Why should you work with a local lender instead of a national lender? Today we’ll explain.

Lots of online lenders that have a nationwide reach can be misleading when it comes to getting information about quotes, interest rates, and the fees and services they offer. This is especially problematic for first-time homebuyers in the market who are trying to figure out what their monthly payment would be if they bought a home.

In places like Florida and the Bay Area, things like homeowners insurance rates, property taxes, and closing costs tend to be much higher. A local lender will be more familiar with the specific nuances of your area’s market than a national lender would be, so they’ll be able to use that information to give you a more accurate picture of what your monthly payment would be. They’ll also be able to tell you, for example, whether or not the home you’re purchasing is in a flood zone, which would mean you’d need to get a flood insurance policy with the home—this could also greatly affect your monthly payment.



A local lender will be more familiar with the specific nuances of your area’s market than a national lender would be.

Additionally, national lenders sometimes send you an online calculator that allows you to punch in some information and then shoots out an estimate of your monthly payment. You might think that that’s a great service, but often that estimate is lower than everyone else’s because they use a standardized, fake number for taxes and insurance. They can’t know the taxes and insurance on the house until they actually have a house to assess. So, when it comes to using online calculators, be sure to only pay attention to the principal and interest.

Another thing to consider is that a national lender may offer you a great interest rate, causing you to think you’ve struck gold, but once you look at the loan origination fees, closing costs, and the points that you pay in order to get that rate, you’ll learn that the overall costs may be substantially higher. Make sure that when you’re comparing different lenders, you’re comparing apples to apples.

All in all, working with local lenders will help prevent you from making certain, potentially costly mistakes when it comes to purchasing a house, on top of saving you time and money.

If you have any questions or would like recommendations regarding local lenders we know and trust, reach out to us. We’d love to speak with you.


Steps Homebuyers Should Take Before Looking for a House



Many people like to begin the home buying process by window-shopping for homes. But if you’re truly serious about purchasing, there are a few steps you need to take first. Robert Johnson, president of the Duncan Duo Team, is here to help mewith the preliminary steps to take before going out to view homes.

1. Speak to a lender and get pre-approved first. Yes, this is a scary part of the process to many, but it’s also very important to do this before becoming attached to one home or another. If you get pre-approved before going to view homes, you’ll have an idea of how much you’ll be approved for, which will narrow down your choices. It will also give you an idea of what sort of monthly payment you’ll be looking at once you close on the home. Additionally, the home you’ve chosen may get taken before you even complete the approval process.

Further still, many agents won’t work with buyers who haven’t been pre-approved. If you’re concerned about your credit getting in the way of your approval, at least you’ll know where you are, and most lenders can help you form a gameplan to get your credit to where it needs to be in order to qualify for a home loan. Imagine finding out that you don’t qualify for a loan after you’ve set your sights on a home!



Imagine finding out that you don’t qualify for loan after you’ve set your sights on a home!


2. Instead of just looking for homes online, try driving around to see what’s out there. You might see homes you love online, but you may find that when you get there, they’re not what you thought they’d be. By driving around, you can see what the home looks like in person.

When you find a home you like, it’s also a good idea to measure your commute times. You don’t want to move to a place that will add unnecessary amounts of time to your daily commute to work! Additionally, observe the surrounding neighborhood after dark; this will help you get a well-rounded perspective on the neighborhood so that you can be sure it’s a right fit for you.

If you have any questions about buying a home or about real estate in general, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Duncan Duo. We’d love to help you navigate the process so you can find the home of your dreams.


How to Determine the Best Offer for Your Home


To really know if an offer suits your needs as a home seller, there are three factors you need to look at: time, money, and terms.


Once you start getting offers, how do you know which one is best for you?

To determine the quality of an offer, there are three factors to consider: time, money, and terms. One offer might have the highest price, but its terms might require a longer closing. It’s like we always tell our clients—you can have two offers that are both worth $250,000, but each offer can vary in terms of risk once you analyze their terms.

Typically, there are two types of sellers: those who prioritize time and those who prioritize money. Some sellers prioritize each equally, but you need to know who you are as a seller. Do you need your sale to happen in a timely manner because of outside circumstances (e.g., a job relocation) or do you just want to get the most money possible out of your sale? Once you figure that out, you’ll know what kind of offers to look for.



Always communicate with your agent what factors are most important to you so they can advise you on which offer best suits your needs.


If time and convenience are more important to you, you should consider going with an instant offer program. These types of programs guarantee quick, convenient, all-cash purchases. However, you usually have to sacrifice something for that convenience. Companies that buy homes do so in order to resell them and make a profit, so you typically won’t sell yours to them for maximum value.

Of course, if you prioritize making the most money possible from your home sale, you’re better off listing it the traditional way. You’re not required to accept an offer just because it’s the highest price, though. Highest doesn’t always mean best. It’s not unusual for a seller to accept a lower-priced offer from another buyer because they’re further along in the pre-qualification process and they’re working with a lender you and your agent trust.

On that note, always communicate with your agent what factors are most important to you so they can advise you on which offer best suits your needs.

If you have any questions about this or any other real estate topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to speak with you.


What Our Shifting Market Really Means for Buyers and Sellers


 Though our market is shifting, there’s no need to worry about a downturn happening anytime soon.

What’s the latest news from our Tampa Bay/Sarasota market?

The statistics from the beginning of the year showed that home sales decreased year over year. However, the most recent numbers from the month of February saw year-over-year increases in both the average price and home sales. Along with these gains, inventory increased and interest rates remained low, which kept our market nice and balanced.

Though supply is catching up with demand, it’s still a seller’s market in Tampa Bay, while Sarasota’s market is becoming more of a buyer’s market.

We are seeing a shift in the market, but not in the way you might think. We’re shifting into more of a stabilizing, balanced market, and what consumers want is shifting as well. That being said, any fear that we’re about to roll into some kind of downturn is unfounded.




Any fear that we’re about to roll into some kind of downturn is unfounded.

If you’re a seller and your home is priced well and looks good, it’s going to sell. If you’re a buyer, you might still have to compete against other offers, but not nearly as many as you previously would have. In general, the higher the price range you look in, the less competition you’ll have to deal with.

In short, all things point to a solid 2019 for Tampa Bay and Sarasota.

If you’d like to know more about what’s happening in our market or you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you.

Join Us on March 10 at Amalie Arena


The Tampa Bay Lightning are in the midst of a historic season. Help us celebrate them, and you, at our upcoming client appreciation event.

RSVP to attend our Annual Client Appreciation Party at Amalie Arena on 3/10

As we head into the final quarter of the season, our Tampa Bay Lightning are in a familiar position: Atop the Atlantic Division. What’s not so familiar is the record-breaking season that we’ve been having. With a 17-point lead over the next closest Eastern Conference foe, we’re all but assured home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

We’re so proud to be the Official Real Estate Agents of this team. The excellence they bring to the rink every night inspires us to bring our best for our clients, and it’s inspired us to throw our annual client appreciation party at Amalie Arena.



The excellence they bring to the rink inspires us to bring excellence to our clients.

On Sunday, March 10, we would love for you to join us for an afternoon of fun for the whole family at the home of the Lightning. We’ll have visits from team personnel, giveaways, skating, kid-friendly games, and so much more. RSVP for the event here.

If you have any questions for us about the event or about anything else related to real estate, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email today. We look forward to hearing from you and we can’t wait to see you on March 10!

Partnerships With Tampa Bay Lightning and USF


 Our partnerships don’t just benefit us; they benefit you, as well.


If you haven’t heard the great news, we’re happy to announce our continued partnership as the official agents of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team. In addition, we’re now partners with the University of South Florida.

USF is a huge employment center throughout the entirety of Tampa Bay, and the Lightning team is a winning organization that’s helping to revitalize the downtown area.


We can point faculty, staff, and players toward your listings, giving you an advantage over the competition.


So, what does this mean for you? If you’re employed by USF or the Tampa Bay Lightning, you’ll receive a $500 credit to go toward your closing costs.

Even if you’re not employed by either of these organizations, our partnerships give your property more exposure when you sell with us. We can point faculty, staff, and players toward your listing, giving you an advantage over the competition. 



If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, have any questions, or need more information, feel free to reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

The Right Way to Buy a House When Out of State

 Today I’m joined by Robert Johnson, president of The Duncan Duo Team and co-host of our 970 WFLA radio show, to talk to about what it’s like to buy a house out of state.



If you’re looking to buy a home in a different state and you visit an area you’re interested in during a holiday, you might get a different impression of what that area is like than what it is normally. For example, there may be more or less traffic, so you need to rely on an area expert’s advice beyond just your initial impressions.

Further still, people who buy homes out of state tend to operate on their preconceived notions about how real estate works in their area, but real estate is very local; what might work in Michigan or New York isn’t necessarily going to work in Tampa Bay. Rules, laws, and procedures can vary by state, and you’ll need a local expert to help you navigate the differences between your home state and the state you’re buying in. For example, Florida is a title state, not an attorney state, meaning that title companies oversee the closing process instead of an attorney.

It’s also important to keep in mind the importance of flood insurance. You might be operating on your current understanding of insurance costs when thinking of purchasing in Florida, but some locations like Tampa Bay require you to be aware of factors like flooding and flood insurance.


Rules, laws, and procedures can vary by state, and you’ll need a local expert to help you navigate the differences between your home state and the state you’re buying in.


If you plan to do anything with the home other than occupy it yourself, make sure you look into local laws regarding renting it out. Airbnb and VRBO are great resources for you to rent out a property or do short-term leasing, but some municipalities and homeowners associations are against them.

Florida’s homestead exemption laws are something to keep an eye on, too. The tax applications that come from renting out the property full-time and occupying the home are different, so be sure to speak with an expert about those options, depending on your plans.

Finally, it’s important for out-of-state buyers to understand that other areas may have different expectations regarding property condition. You might be from an area that doesn’t need gutters, that doesn’t have a lot of water retention, that doesn’t have the same pest issues as your new area, or that doesn’t have the same issues with mold growth due to climate. Understand how certain items on an inspection report may not be as big of a deal here (or may be even bigger) as they are where you’re from.

If you have any questions about buying property out of state, especially if you’re considering buying in Florida, reach out to us. We’d love to help you.