Q: Is It a Good Idea to Buy or Sell During the Holidays?

Here’s why buying and selling during the holidays is still a great idea.

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Obviously, 2020 is different from previous years, but excluding the week around Christmas and New Year’s, we are always very busy. In fact, December is one of our busiest months for closings. There are a myriad of factors that drive this trend. For example, people are looking for tax breaks or they’re looking to make a change before school resumes. Since our market doesn’t have a dead season, homes for sale are always going to look their best.

If you were in the market to buy a home now, you’d probably be looking at a December closing as it is. Since our market is low on inventory, many people who didn’t find the home they wanted during the summer are now taking a step back and assessing how they could potentially move during their time off around the holidays.

      It’s pretty much always a good time to buy or sell in our market.

Aside from a busy, year-round market, we also have historically low interest rates, an appreciating real estate market, and many other good, local economic indicators. Furthermore, if you buy or sell during the holidays, there’s also the convenience of moving when the weather is cooler.

The bottom line is that it’s pretty much always a good time to buy or sell in our market. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Q: Why Are So Many Retail and Hospitality Workers Flocking to Real Estate?

If you’ve been displaced in the retail, service, or hospitality industry, real estate may be the perfect new career for you.

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One interesting side effect of the ongoing pandemic is that many people are making the switch to careers in real estate. We’ve seen workers in hospitality especially, such as bartenders, waiters, and hotel employees, begin new paths in real estate as a way to escape unemployment caused by a struggling industry. Coincidentally, many of these people unknowingly receive their first experiences in sales by working in these environments, and they tend to have a smooth transition into helping clients buy and sell homes.

At their cores, people who work in retail or hospitality are forward-facing individuals who deal with customers each day. That’s pretty close to what Realtors do as a career—it’s just a different kind of customer and a different kind of sale. Moreso, you’re creating a relationship with a person. Bartenders and waiters often have customers who come in specifically to see them, and those interactions and gradual connections are very similar to ones with homebuyers and sellers. It’s why the transition is so easy.

These industries also teach you how to fix problems that—to put it bluntly—may not have been your fault. That’s a big part of what real estate professionals have to do each day, and we work to keep customers satisfied and fix issues that arise. It’s all about keeping the client happy.

      We have so many success stories from people who transitioned to real estate from hospitality and retail jobs.

It’s sad to see how so many people within these industries are being displaced, but as we progress through the pandemic, we’ll see more and more of these workers move into real estate careers. With this career, however, there is no income ceiling. People are rewarded for going above and beyond, which isn’t always true in other fields. They can really accomplish more working within the business model and working hours that real estate affords.

If you’ve been struggling in the hospitality industry or are seeking a way to jumpstart your income in a new field, go to jointheduo.com to see open positions and join monthly career nights via Zoom. Our career nights go into detail about what it takes to become licensed, what it’s like to work in real estate, and what working with us is like. 

We have so many success stories from people who transitioned to real estate from hospitality and retail jobs. One of our best agents was selling fish tackle before she got into real estate, and it’s a testament to how much these skills truly overlap. 

The real estate industry is booming, and if you’ve ever thought about a career helping people buy or sell homes, now may be the perfect time to jump in. We invite you to reach out to us, join our career nights, and simply ask us more about what it’s like as a real estate professional. Until then, we look forward to meeting you soon.

Q: What Do You Know About VA Loans?

If your new detail is home buying, here’s the only debriefing you need.

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Soldiers can sometimes overlook their VA loan options because they’re unsure of their eligibility or perhaps just unaware of the specific terms involved and assume there’s some sort of catch. Whatever the case may be, the VA loan remains one of the best loan products out there; America’s soldiers can enjoy financing without having to supply any down payment at all. If you’re a veteran, it’s in your best interest to learn all you can about this loan. You also owe it to yourself to work with an agent who’s familiar with all the products available on the market and can get you in front of a knowledgeable local lender for a deeper dive. 

One of the biggest differences between the VA product of yesteryear and the VA loan available today is that there’s no longer a loan limit. Yes, you read that right—you can go out and get financing for whatever amount you want, depending on your income, of course. However, be aware that if you do go really high on the loan, there will be a 25% down payment requirement. For most folks, however, working within that zero-down range still opens up a world of possibilities.

      A soldier has earned themselves a smooth loan product that gives them a bit of an advantage in the market.

What’s also nice is the fact that there’s no private mortgage insurance requirement, and the funding fee can be wrapped into the loan itself. In a competitive market like ours, listing agents and home sellers appreciate the fact that VA loans tend to be less problematic than conventional loans regarding inspections, appraisal, and underwriting. After all, a soldier has earned themselves a smooth loan product that gives them a bit of an advantage in the market. 

A common misconception is that VA loans are somehow more complicated than conventional loans, but that’s not the case at all so long as you work with a professional who’s familiar with the product. Believe it or not, obtaining one is an easy process, and it’s worth the great seller response we’ve seen it trigger time and time again. 

When a bidding war erupts, not every seller is looking at price alone; there are plenty of patriotic sellers who have either served the country themselves or deeply appreciate the men and women who keep it safe, and they would be overjoyed to work with a buyer who’s also a fellow vet. A VA loan, especially when accompanied by a letter explaining who you are and your record of service, can speak volumes. 

If you’re a veteran who’s ready to buy a home in our busy market or someone who has real estate-related questions, feel free to give us a call or send an email our way. We’re always here to help!

Q: What’s the Best Way to Buy Sight Unseen?

Need to buy sight unseen? Thank goodness we’re in the digital age!

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In Tampa Bay, we almost always see a surge of people coming down in the summer, but this summer we’ll likely see even more people who want to move here to enjoy the affordability, low taxes, and the absence of a state income tax—not to mention to get out of their crowded city apartments after months of lockdown. So, if you’re moving out of state in today’s market, how do you buy a home sight unseen? In recent months, more people than ever have been doing this out of an abundance of caution amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Buying sight unseen isn’t new, especially here in Florida where there are a lot of investors and folks buying vacation homes. Doing it effectively, however, requires some extra awareness.

Cited below for your convenience are timestamps that will direct you to various points in the video. Feel free to watch the full message, or use these timestamps to skip to topics that interest you most:

1:16 — The importance of working with an agent that truly understands your needs

2:10 — You don’t have to be physically present at the closing table

3:26 — Do as much digital research on the area (and the agent who will help you move there) as possible

4:34 — Don’t give up a property that’s poorly listed; ask your agent to fill in the gaps

5:20 — Wrapping things up

As always, if you have questions about anything that was discussed in this video or real estate in general, you know who to call or email! We’re available to address your concerns and listen to your unique home buying or selling situation. Don’t forget to follow us on social media as well! Have an awesome day.

How to Prep Your Home Amid COVID-19

Today I want to share a few tips on how to prep your home for sale in the era of social distancing.

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If you’re thinking of selling your home this year, here are a few tips to help you prepare during COVID-19:

1. Cleanliness. Statistics show that the longer a buyer stays in the home, the more likely they are to buy it. If you want them to spend enough time to form an attachment to your listing, make sure it’s clean so they feel comfortable lingering. That includes giving it a nice, inviting scent, too. In addition, it’ll be a good idea to have hand sanitizer placed strategically around the house for buyers who come through, and to also provide masks for anyone who forgets or neglects to bring one.

      We have a plan for sellers who request special accommodations during this time.

2. Unique features. If your home has any extra-special features that would stand out given the times we’re living in, like a particular kind of air-filtration system, be sure to highlight it. Explain the feature to your agent and have them help you accentuate it.

3. Find an agent with a plan in place. We definitely have a plan for sellers who request special accommodations during this time. Make sure the agent you hire has a plan in place to require certain things, like buyers wearing a mask in your home and possibly even gloves and those booties that go over shoes.

If you’re a seller who doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of listing due to COVID-19, we can help you with our Instant Cash Offer program, where we’ll give you a cash offer for your home and buy it immediately.

You can learn more about how we help our sellers on our website. In the meantime, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Are Homes Still Selling Fast?

Home sellers in our market will be very pleased with this update. 

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A lot of people don’t realize that we’re in such a strong seller’s market here in Tampa Bay. Bidding wars are back, homes are selling above asking price, and even the luxury market is moving quickly.

Although this sentiment sounds sales-y, it’s the truth. If you would have talked to me a few months ago I wouldn’t have believed it. However, the limited inventory we have right now when combined with the high demand we’re seeing from buyers is making our market very strong.

The No. 1 way to make sure your home sells fast in this market is to price it right.

Although sales were down for the last few months, inventory has decreased as well. The No. 1 way to make sure your home sells fast in this market is to price it right. Don't give the consumer any reason to believe that something is wrong with your property. If the home’s overpriced, the consumer will go down that road, whether it’s valid or not.

We can help you sell your home for top dollar in the traditional way, but we can also buy it from you directly with our cash offer program.

If you have questions for us or any real estate needs that we can assist with, don’t hesitate to reach out via phone or email. We look forward to hearing from you.

Tampa Bay Summer Real Estate Predictions

Here’s what we expect to see this summer in the Tampa Bay housing market. 

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Everyone thought that the Tampa market was only going to get worse due to everything happening with COVID-19. Granted, there hasn’t been as much inventory for buyers to choose from, but there have been plenty of buyers out looking because interest rates have dropped so low.

In short, the pandemic helped generate pent-up demand, and now it seems like all those sellers who previously withdrew from the market are coming back in droves to put their homes up for sale.

On top of that, as the country starts to reopen, there’s the fact that many people who have spent way more time at home than they ever planned to have decided that they want to move to the suburbs and other, less-crowded areas. People were already flocking from New York to Florida before the pandemic, but that’s a trend that we expect to continue as we move through the summer.

All in all, ours is still a robust market, and we anticipate it to remain that way for quite some time.

If you’re a homeowner who plans to sell this year, know that you’re in a great position to fetch a premium price for your property simply because there isn’t a lot of inventory from which to choose. Even if more sellers started putting their homes on the market, it would still take a while for the inventory to catch up to the demand.

All in all, ours is still a robust market, and we anticipate it to remain that way for quite some time. Homes are selling quickly (many with multiple offers), interest rates are low, and demand is high.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. In the meantime, be sure to catch “The Duncan Duo Real Estate Show” every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. on 970 AM WFLA. Hope to hear from you soon!

We Can Help You Move Anywhere in the World

We can help you move whether it’s down the street, ‘down under,’ or Downing Street in London. 

Around this time of year, many people begin contemplating their real estate goals, and that often involves moving somewhere else. Understandably, people usually only see us as Tampa Bay real estate agents, but the fact is, we can actually help you buy anywhere in the world.

We have an extensive real estate network thanks to years of partnerships. We’re not just talking about being well-connected with only RE/MAX agents, either—we’ve worked with all sorts of top producers who invest in extensive advertising campaigns, have great training programs, and phenomenal reviews.

This applies if you live here in Tampa and are thinking about buying a home in New York… or Ohio… or even Japan! RE/MAX has a presence in most of the industrialized nations of the world, and we actually have strong relationships in those countries.

The more detail you can give us regarding your real estate goal, the better we’ll be at helping you find that perfect agent.

Here’s what that means for you: We do the vetting and the scrubbing to find the agent best equipped to service your particular real estate needs. Using our databases, we can look at their career statistics and pour over their reviews to gauge what kind of relationship they maintain with clients.

You’re able to lean on our expert opinion to select the right fit, no matter where your next home purchase will be. For example, if you look up an agent in Pleasanton, California, you’ll see some reviews and get a little bit of information. We, on the other hand, are in the real estate trenches day in and day out, so we have access to more information and can ask those critical questions that may not be obvious to the average person.

It’s no different than any other profession; if you’re a doctor, you’d know a lot more about how to find the right doctor for a family or friend than someone who’s far removed from the profession. Keep in mind, there’s no additional cost for reaching out to us for this purpose. 

If you’re thinking about buying or selling anywhere in the world, simply reply to this message or give us a call. In some instances, depending on the area, we’ll even be able to provide you with several high-caliber agents to choose between.

The more detail you can give us regarding your real estate goals, the better we’ll be at helping you find that perfect agent. There are many different facets to this industry, and some agents may excel in one area and lag in another. Price point and type of real estate (e.g., single-family, residential, or commercial) affect this process greatly.

As always, reach out if you have questions about this or any other real estate-related topic. We’d love to hear from you.

Tricks to Be Aware of When Looking at iBuyer Programs

Here is our professional advice on how to sort out the hustlers from the real deals when it comes to instant cash offers for your home.

There are two different kinds of sellers: the kind that values their net profits and the kind that values their time. Many of our sellers are looking to sell quickly with as little hassle as possible, and they understand that they might not get as much money if they sell through one of these iBuyer programs, but the convenience is worth it to them.

However, a lot of recognizable iBuyer companies aren’t very forthright about all the options you have available to you.  Due to that, many investors are trying to capitalize on the trend by paying homeowners less than market value for their house without the homeowners understanding the difference.

Here are a few tips to help you determine whether the iBuyer who submits an offer to you is really interested in buying it or if they simply want to take the contract they wrote for you and give it to someone else to get paid by that person and move on:

To separate the real buyers from the fake buyers, do your due diligence to find out more about them.

First, look up the agent or company’s tax roll to see if they own property in that entity. If they don’t, that’s a red flag for you. This may be easier for certain national companies, but for others, you can always look on the county’s website. If they don’t own property in that entity, that’s a sign that they’re looking to take your property and sell it to someone else for a higher price. This is called an assignable contract—it lets an agent collect their fee from you and give the contract to someone else to close on.

To prevent yourself from giving away a portion of your equity to someone else, check the contract’s assignability clause for wording that would allow the agent to assign the contract to someone else.

Another step to take is to ask for legitimate proof of funds. That information will be available for a lot of bigger companies, but if the buyer is an individual who doesn’t have a big reputation or a lot of reviews, you’ll want to make sure they really have the funds available to purchase a property. Ask for the number of their bank and an account statement just to be sure.

Finally, pay attention to the closing date. The longer it takes for the buyer to close, the less likely they are to be legitimate. No investor wants a 90-day closing period.

To separate the real buyers from the fake ones, do your due diligence to find out more about them. Are there any complaints about them? Are they a legitimate company with proof of funds? Do they have many good reviews?

If we make an offer on your house, we intend to close on it. We don’t flip paper and we don’t assign contracts. If you’re interested in selling your home quickly without the hassle of the market or you’d like us to look over an offer from an iBuyer to see if it’s valid, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d be glad to help you.

Our 2020 Housing Market Predictions

We’re sharing our predictions for where our real estate market is heading in 2020.

You'll likely see a lot of national media talking about forecasts for the nationwide real estate market in the near future, but today we’re going to focus on the Tampa Bay market, specifically.

First, we expect to see home prices and appreciation continue to increase, though maybe not as drastically as it has been. Inventory has decreased, but appreciation will increase. Interest rates will continue to remain at record lows, helping to control affordability. The Fed recently chose not to raise or lower interest rates again. As prices have risen, interest rates stayed low or even decreased further. 

Another wonderful thing about our Tampa Bay real estate market is that we expect it to outperform most other markets due to our increase in population. We foresee our population continuing to rise this year. We have many excellent businesses moving here and a lot of development proceeding, including some new condo towers being built and sold. New construction builders currently have record-high confidence in our market. Our market continues to thrive.

We expect to see home prices and appreciation continue to increase.

One thing that isn’t spoken about often is the condo market improving as mortgage lenders raise their limits and loosen requirements. In our market alone, condo sales have never recovered from the last dip the way they have in other markets, so this year we’re expecting to see them improve. Millennials specifically have had a difficult time getting financing for condos, which they’re interested in, so we should see that shift for the better. We predict a great 2020 housing market for Tampa Bay.

Our 2020 market will have many similarities to 2019, but with a few great exceptions. If you’re reading this from up north, Tampa Bay’s climate makes it an appealing place to move to—it’s 80 degrees today! Some other markets in Florida are expecting a slowdown, but we aren’t because we’re more affordable than similar options such as Miami.

For more real estate information, videos, and market happenings, follow us on social media. If you have any further questions about our market or real estate in general, please feel free to reach out to us by phone or email. We would love to help you.

New Year, New Home

We’re sharing four tips on how to make a new home in 2020 a reality for you. 

Buying a new home is a very common New Year’s Resolution, especially among prospective first-time buyers. There are a lot of things you can do right now at the start of the new year to prepare yourself for this life-changing purchase.

One of the things we always tell people is to make sure you don’t overspend during or right after the holidays; the more debt you bring with you into the home buying process, the harder it will be for you to qualify for a loan.

If you bought a lot of holiday gifts out there, hopefully you didn’t throw them all onto credit cards. All the “no interest financing” rhetoric from furniture and car salespeople around the holidays is great, but those big purchases will still count against your debt-to-income ratio. 

Start looking at what the market has to offer now instead of waiting until later. 

If buying a home this year is truly a priority for you, avoid other big-ticket items like cars and expensive furniture sets until after you buy a home. Even if you don’t have payments on those items for six months, they’ll still be factored against you by mortgage lenders.

Here’s another tip: Get your financials and taxes in order so you can take advantage of deductibles and ensure you’ll still qualify for loans.

Start talking to a real estate agent now; they’ll be able to help you find a great home in a location you like—all in a timely manner. If you and an agent create a plan early, you’ll be able to jump on the new inventory that’s coming in spring.

To all those who are already qualified for a home loan: Start looking at what the market has to offer now instead of waiting until later. Don’t wait just for waiting’s sake; maybe you’ll find something great and get that resolution taken care of early in 2020.

 If you have any questions about this or any other real estate topic, or you’re thinking of buying or selling a home soon, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to help you.