Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

What Does “Under Contract” Mean Exactly?

When you drive down your street and see your neighbor’s house for sale with a sign that says “Under Contract” does that mean you are definitely getting new neighbors soon? The answer is, well sort of. In most cases what this means is that a buyer has submitted an offer and the sellers have agreed to it. While this is a big step, it is really just the first step. Here is some more information on how things play out.

What “Under Contract” Means

When a listing is under contract it means there is an accepted offer but there are still contingencies that need to be met before the transaction is cleared to close. These stipulations will most likely include a home inspection, a home appraisal, buyer financing and in some cases the sale of a buyer’s current home. 

Because there are a few things that could potentially not come together it is not uncommon to take backup offers. In other words, if you were personally interested in this home for yourself, there could still be a possibility for you. The majority of the time a deal will go through, but there is a small percentage of deals that do fall apart for any of these reasons. Most deals that are solid will complete within 30 to 45 days from when the offer was accepted to the closing.

Under Contract versus Sale Pending

These two terms are often used interchangeably but there are some differences. In both cases there has been a meeting of the minds with an accepted offer. Under contract most often means there are still contingencies to be met, while sale pending typically means that all of the contingencies have been met and the property is ready to close. While anything can happen, at this point one can usually assume that the home is essentially ready to close so submitting an offer is a moot point. 

 

Misunderstanding The Advantages of Buying A Home Can Cost You

The current state of the real estate market has some ongoing trends of low inventory, low interest rates and rising home prices. With these elements out there some people feel that it may be expensive to buy a home these days and think that it is better or more affordable to keep renting. However, it is important to dive deeper into the subject and examine a few angles to really see if it is more affordable to buy or rent. Here are some compelling facts. 

Income To Monthly Payment Ratio

Recent studies from the Urban Institute show that renters pay a larger percentage of their incomes on rent than owners on their mortgages. The report explains: “When we look at the median housing expense ratio of all households, the typical homeowner household spends 16 percent of its income on housing while the typical renter household spends 26 percent. This is true, you might say, because people who own their own home must make more money than people who rent. But if we control for income, it is still more affordable to own a home than to rent housing, on average.”

Renters Don’t Have As Many Options

Everyone has a living expense whether it is a mortgage or rent. With renting you will never get any of that money back, where with a mortgage it can act similar to a forced savings account as you build equity over time which will put you in a better position in the future. You can almost look at buying a home as a similar investment to say a stock or similar. 

Mortgage Payments Don’t Rise Like Rents
When you are renting there is no telling how much your rent may increase year after year or for that matter if your landlord will even offer a renewal option. It is quite customary for landlords to increase rents either every year with a small bump or every few years with a larger one. However with owning a home with a fixed rate mortgage this is not the case. While your property taxes and insurance can increase, your principal and interest will not change.

Waiting To Buy Could Cost You
Owning a home is one of the biggest keys to financial success for most as it is often one’s largest asset. As building equity takes time, waiting to jump in the game can cost you money. Get started today using property to facilitate your financial success. If you have any questions about what is happening in the local market these days, please feel free to reach out. I am happy to discuss!

Are You Ready To Downsize Now?

Depending on what stage you are in life you may be asking yourself if moving to a smaller home may make sense. This could be to save money, cash out of your home for retirement, switching to condo living or perhaps less people are living at home these days. Whatever your reasoning may be you will want to ask yourself some very important questions before you embark on any plans. Here is some help on what to decide.

Is it a good move financially?

Just because you want to move to a smaller home doesn’t mean costs are going to change. Consider the price of the new home in mind versus what you will net from the sale of your current home. Will taxes be lower? Will there be an HOA fee? Find out about these costs to be sure you will save money.

What pleases you most about moving?

Make a list of the reasons why you wish to move and weigh them against where you will move to. For example, you may be excited to no longer clean such a large home, but will you miss spending your free time in the larger yard you may have? Make sure the move will truly enhance your lifestyle and not leave you missing what you have now.

Where will my stuff go?

This is a very important question. If you move to a smaller home, you will have less room for everything you have today. Be sure you are ready to part with anything that won’t make the cut for the new home. After all, it won’t make sense to move if you have to pay for a larger storage unit if you aren’t ready to get rid of a lot. 

Do I choose a condo or smaller home?

There are pros and cons for each but it comes down to your preferred lifestyle. A smaller home will still offer you more privacy but the regular maintenance is on you to manage. While a condo is a more intimate setting yet your regular dues take care of all the regular and necessary upkeep items. 

What type of floor plan do I need?

You cannot always base your needs on square footage. Number of levels of a home along with how it is laid out are nearly as important. A home may be on the small side but if it has an open concept and enough room in all the right spaces it could work just fine. Touring everything in person will help identify this.

Am I ready to move?

In the end, once you start viewing homes that are smaller and begin doing the math of what you will save in each property’s scenario, then the value proposition should become clear. Comparing what you have now to what you will have then will help you decide if you are ready for this next chapter in your life. 

 

Top Pool Design Ideas For An Amazing Backyard

When searching for homes in Fort Lauderdale it is extremely common for most everyone’s wish list to have a pool on it. It is one of those amenities that certainly sweetens the deal when you locate the perfect home. Nowadays with everyone appreciating all that home has to offer even more so, having a pool will create even more value. Here are some helpful tips for adding a pool to your home and creating the yard of your dreams.

Size

Yards come in all shapes and sizes and the good news is so do pools! Whether your yard is big and square or small and narrow a pool can be designed to fit. A popular trend these days for smaller pools is to do a pool/spa combination. Basically a pool that you can also use just like a spa. With them being smaller you can also heat them for much less than a more standard larger pool. Whatever size you decide a good rule of thumb is to have your pool no larger than 1/3rd of your yard size.

Shape

Your yard may dictate what shape is best, but for many years oval or kidney shaped pools were most common with rectangle or L-shaped trending more as of late. The more angular shapes often complement the more modern home designs that are often seen in South Florida. Ultimately it is your choice of preference for what fits best with your yard shape and home style.

Depth

Depth can be answered by what the function of the pool will be. Will you have a pool for just lounging? Will there be smaller children? Do you wish to dive in? Water sports and play pools should be about 4 feet deep. If you have smaller children then having a shallow end of 2 or 3.5 feet will give you a wading and lounge zone. For your diving pleasure it is recommended you have a minimum of 8 feet for safety.

Features

Once you have the basics down, the features can be the fun part. Waterfalls and deck jets have been around for a while and were common adds for years. More recently sun decks have become more popular with a shelf area that is flat and roughly a foot or less under water. These are great options for sitting in a chair to enjoy the sun and a drink or for young children. Pets love these too if they are allowed!

Surroundings

Of course all of these items mentioned above are for the actual pool itself, but you do have to consider the surrounding area. Pavers or a travertine type tile material are very nice and common and can have a nicer look than concrete styles. Having something that is not slippery and stays cool in the sun is most important. Next you will want to pick your furniture. A combination of lounge chairs and a nearby table with chairs for your pool party afternoons is a great combo. If you are short on shade then large umbrellas are a great solution as they can be mobile too!

Reasons Why Square Footages Differ Between Listing and Appraisal

When you are doing your searches for homes to buy the number or bedrooms and bathrooms are always of most interest. After considering the home’s amenities it is most common to look at the square footage to get a sense of just how large and accommodating it is. However, if you proceed to get an accepted offer and it comes time to appraise it, you may be shocked to find out that there is a discrepancy in square footage totals. Here are some details on why this is.

Why square footage differs

More often than not the difference in totals comes down to “living space” versus the total space of the home. Oftentimes a homeowner will calculate square footage based on all of the rooms in the home that are regularly used and are heated/cooled. The appraiser may evaluate the total square footage including any non heated/cooled areas such as a storage area. Typically the overall total number is what is recorded with the town or city and is used for tax purposes.

How additions are calculated

In most cases the square footage numbers that are used when a home is listed are pulled from tax records. However, it can be that homes have converted carports or patios into living areas and permitting was skipped. This is why appraisers will always do their own measurements to ensure accuracy of the home today. 

What you should do it there are discrepancies

If you come across differences, don’t be afraid to raise questions. If you are a buyer, this could affect the sale price. You may have the opportunity to open up a negotiation especially if numbers are way off. If you are a seller and there is some square footage that hasn’t been appraised you may wish to contact the city or town to update their records. Just note that if the added area was due to any additions that didn’t pull a permit, you may be on the hook for some additional expenses. In the end if the additional square footage is substantial then it may just be worth it!

 

Tips For Selling A Vacant Property

Most buyers that tour homes for sale don’t have the true vision to see a home’s potential. This is why selling a home that is vacant can be more challenging. For some, they may have difficulty figuring out just how to set up rooms while most may have trouble figuring out just how much furniture would fit in each room. This is why staging a home correctly right at the beginning of the marketing process is best. There have been many studies that show a staged home sells faster and in many cases for more money. Here are some helpful tips if you are selling a vacant property.

Curb Appeal

Whether you live in the home or not, curb appeal is key. As the first and last thing every buyer will see you will want to make a good and lasting impression. Especially in the warmer months grass will grow quick so make sure you have regular care in place to keep things looking well maintained. Also make sure beds are lined with new mulch, hedges are trimmed and complete everything with a front door that is clean or freshly painted.

Stage Key Rooms 

While it is most ideal to stage the entire property, that is not always feasible. Start with your key common rooms like the living, dining and kitchen as most important. Next if possible, start down this list in order of priority: master bedroom, office/bonus room, other bedrooms. When you are arranging the furniture pay special attention to beds and couches as they are the key items that buyers will be looking to see how they fit. Choose items that are suitable for the size of the room. For smaller bedrooms go with a full size bed instead of that king for example. 

Remove Single Items

There is nothing worse than partially staging a room or leaving a stray item behind. While you may not be able to stage every room, don’t leave an item or two in any of the rooms. This will make the home look disheveled or almost like you were moving out during the middle of the night. Remove any single items like a lamp or personal belonging from any of the rooms.

Clean Regularly

Most homes these days are not staying on the market that long, but if your property remains on the market past a month then you will want to make sure it gets cleaned regularly. Keep buyer traffic dirt under control along with dust etc. so all will have a good clean impression of the home.

Temperature Control

Keep the home the right temperature so buyers are comfortable when touring the home. You can either control it remotely with a smart thermostat or at the least make sure the temperature is appropriate for when most showings are conducted during the days. Let buyers know your systems are working properly.

Lighting

Same concept applies to lighting as it does to temperature. Other than the right ambient temperature you will want ambient lighting. Make sure no rooms are left super dark by either installing a smartbulb or using an old fashioned timer.