Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

How Landscaping can Increase a Home’s Value

If you are considering an investment into landscaping your yard, how do you know that you will be able to recapture the financial investment on a sale? Landscaping is often times not considered as being a significant home improvement project unlike redoing a kitchen. However, a landscaping project can have a return on investment much higher than you may have imagined.

A recent report from Virginia Tech states that landscaping is valued at approximately 15% of the home’s total value. An in-depth breakdown of landscaping including how much certain elements are valued is as follows:

Design: 42%
Plant size: 36%
Plant selection: 22%

The report indicates that a home valued at $150,000 could potentially go from $8,300 in worth to nearly $19,000 with the addition of landscaping. Here are further details about these elements and how you can increase the value of your home.

Landscape Design
The way you lay out your yard plays a very important role. For example, if you plant shrubs, trees and flowers without a strategy for design then you may have potential maintenance issues down the road. Hiring a professional landscaper is a wise idea as they have the knowledge of plants that mix well together, which will be best for different locations and which will be less troublesome.

Plant Size
Selecting different plant sizes will add an appealing look to your yard visually. A variety of shapes, sizes and colors can certainly enhance the look. Different plants will also help reduce the clutter in your yard. For example, too many busy plants will cause for more maintenance in the way of trimming and potential root and branch problems.

Diverse Plants
A variety of plants will add color and offer a more interesting appearance. Fruit trees, shrubs with flowers as well as annual and perennial flowers will have your yard looking great. Annuals will often need to be replaced every year, however this provides you with the opportunity to swap out the color and look. Perennials can last several years and can typically endure a cooler winter.

If you hire a professional or do the work yourself, consider adding in these elements. They will provide you with a solid return with a better resale value while providing great curb appeal to prospective buyers.

Ten Real Estate Trends for 2017

Despite a sense of security the real estate market has been performing well this year. From recent Brexit aftermath to the United States presidential election, predictions have been difficult to forecast. Despite all of this, the nation has proved to be opportune for investing based on activity that we have seen. The Urban Land Institute’s annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate Report which was recently released shows a more favorable outlook compared to other global locations.

Below is a list of the subjects that analysts from PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute claim will help shape the real estate market in the upcoming years.

A gentler real estate market
Having recovered from a time of economic downturn with foreclosures we have entered into somewhat of a calm from the storm. This cycle has reached a mature phase and shows to remain level. GDP is at a low but steady 2% per year so the Federal Reserve will not want to consider raising interest rates on a drastic level. Financing is still difficult for construction which has led to signs of potential slowdown for developments. This stage can be a time of uncertainty in the economic cycle for developers where anticipation for a bigger slowdown increases.

Developers are looking to gear their projects to be more of multi-use and flexible. As one investor puts it is “Jobs are no longer careers, and millennials are not yet looking for the commitment of owning a home. They are footloose in the job market, and footloose as to roots in the community.”

Transformation of location
Namely in urban locations, the “live/work/play” theme has been a common trend that gives back to the community. Developments that are situated in downtown areas are helping fuel the economy by providing growth opportunities in underdeveloped neighborhoods.

The entrepreneur developer
ULI researchers suggest that now is a great time for experimentation and potential growth for these entrepreneur developers. Without the higher profit expectations of large firms, smaller companies might afford an opportunity to penetrate underdeveloped areas as they can sometimes be more flexible in their approach.

Labor limitations
Retirement, clampdown on immigration and a lack of project managers have all played a role in the shortage of skilled laborers. With strong demand and shortage of supply costs have risen which has forced many developers to build high end product to recapture their expenses.

Housing markets across the United States for middle-income households are becoming “housing stressed.” Home prices are escalating at a faster pace than incomes while homebuilders are not adding any mid-priced options. Population growth, land and building expenses as well as wages not increasing as quickly suggests this problem will not be solved very soon. Some cities are contemplating zoning policies as well as rent control options to help address these issues.

Barriers of entry
Urban development and walkability has created some income inequality in cities. The report suggests “exclusionary forces are equally alive in suburbs and cities.” This cycle that stems from cities has carried out to the suburbs. Demands are on the rise particularly among millennials for things like walkability, transit as well as density. Inclusivity rather than exclusivity is outweighing as a desirable selling point.

Tech savvy cities
Technology is playing an important role in the popularity of cities. Items like increasing energy efficiency, building operations and offering things like networked transportation and online parking availability all are hot subjects. The result can influence cities to be more attractive to investors while offering more jobs at the same time.

Enhanced reality
Virtual reality is becoming a popular part of the marketing process when selling real estate. It provides an element of reality prior before a product is delivered. This technology could potentially become a part of the construction industry as well. Analysts feel that there could be $2.6 billion in real estate applications by the year 2025.

Transaction management
Blockchain, which is an encrypted digital data technology behind Bitcoin, the virtual currency, may be a potential solution for banks. This technology offers a high level of security and encryption. Depending on how it develops and how mainstream it may become, it could potentially become a part of real estate transactions.

Housing Market Hasn’t Run out of Steam Despite Low Inventory

There has been just a slight bit of movement in the mortgage rate arena as of last month. The 30 year fixed-rate mortgage rate has had a slight increase to a 3.47% average. Regardless of this increase, rates are still at historic all time lows.

“This week, the 10-year Treasury yield continued its climb as an increasing number of financial market participants foresee a December rate hike after a series of positive economic data releases,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage moved up 5 basis points to 3.47 percent in this week’s survey, the first increase in one month. Even though we’ve seen economic activity pick up, consumer price inflation and implied inflation expectations remain below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target.”

As of the middle of October, Freddie Mac reported the following national averages:

  • 30-year fixed rate mortgage: averaged 3.47% up from 3.42%. Last year at this time the average was 3.82%
  • 15-year fixed rate mortgage: averaged 2.76% up from 2.72%. Last year at this time the average was 3.03%.
  • 5- year hybrid adjustable rate mortgage: averaged 2.8% up from 2.80%. Last year at this time the average was 2.88%.

While rates have been remaining at all time lows in 2016, mortgage applications have seen some ups and downs in their activity. The light inventory of housing has called for stalls as some consumers haven’t felt that it was necessary to apply until the inventory conditions change.

A recent report from Goldman Sachs has provided some positive information about the situation. This report includes positive states of the economy including:

  • Soft residential investment in Q2 likely reflected payback from an unusually warm winter across the country that pulled activity forward.
  • Growth in private residential investment still stands at 5.7% year-over-year in Q2, substantially above potential GDP growth.

What was most interesting was that the report shared that the National Association of Home Builders’ index had climbed to 65 in September where it had reached its highest level during this economic recovery. It had also shared that new single-family home sales have expanded 21% over last year and are almost back to the 4th quarter of 2007 levels.

Considering household balance sheets remaining healthy and the labor market continuing to grow and make progress, Goldman Sachs says it believes the “fundamentals of the housing recovery remain solid.”

7 Things About Purchasing A Home in Fall

The spring typically marks a busy time for many with some receiving tax returns that they use for larger purchases. Some will purchase cars or get married and others will start their search for a new home. However, lately the fall has become just as popular for many of these activities. Similar to how October has become more popular than June for weddings, it can be just as an ideal time to purchase a new home.

Here are some reasons as to why the fall can be a perfect time to purchase real estate.

Tax breaks
Even though paying income tax is unavoidable, you can lower your taxes by becoming a homeowner. “Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can take for your whole year’s worth of income, even if you closed on your home in December,” says David Hryck, a New York, NY tax adviser, lawyer, and personal finance expert. “Any payments that are made prior to the closing of the loan are tax-deductible. This can make a serious difference in the amount you owe the government at the end of the year.”

Less Competition
With demand being so high as many buyers are active these days, it has been challenging to find enough housing stock to accommodate the demand. However, once the fall has arrived, school has started and many buyers with children typically drop out of the search as they don’t like to make a move during the school year. Also, the fall can potentially include homes that were previously listed in spring and didn’t sell for one reason or another. These homes can sometimes be repositioned for the fall market now with sellers who are more motivated to sell before the holidays.

Sellers are worn-out
Some sellers who have listed their home in spring and haven’t sold are often more motivated to sell come fall. Perhaps they were too aggressive with their pricing and now they are eager to sell in fall market so they are not stuck with carrying the home through the end of the year as they wait for the next spring.

Sellers are serious
Properties that are listed in the fall are typically available then as the homeowner needs to sell. It may be time for them to sell due to a job relocation or similar. “The sellers with houses on the market in the fall tend to be serious,” says Sam Heskel, president of Nadlan Valuation, an appraisal management company in Brooklyn, NY. “That means sellers could be more open to negotiating and accepting a lower offer.”

Fall is a safer season
Robberies also have peak seasons says Sarah Brown, a home safety expert for “July and August are prime months for burglaries to take place,” she says. “Waiting until the fall [to buy] gives you an advantage when learning about a home and the neighborhood.” You’ll be settled in your home and can take precautions — like setting up that new alarm system, installing motion sensor lights, etc. before the next burglary season approaches.

You get more attention from service companies
Spring and summer markets are typically busier seasons so you will also have more competition in the way of service providers. From your mortgage agent to your home inspector you will have less competing buyers in the fall which will allow you to rank higher up on the list for attention and service.

Take advantage of year end sales
Even if your new home is move-in ready, there are still going to be things that you will want to purchase as you settle in. Perhaps you want fresh window treatments or living room furnishings to fit better with the style of the home. Many times at the end of the year retailers are offering great deals and sales as they try to make their numbers by year’s end. Forecasts Hottest Fall Market in 10 Years

As we come off of a summer that was replete with immense demand and increasing prices, the real estate market is forming to be the hottest in 10 years according to recent monthly data on inventory and demand on Homes that were for sale in the month of September were selling 4% faster than last year regardless of prices continuing to be on the rise.

According to data on, the median age of listings, which indicates the inventory on the market, was projected to be 77 days for September – three days less than what we saw in 2015. Total inventory levels are lower than last year with less than 450,000 new listings being brought on to the market in the month of September.

The median home price has increased by 9% over 2015 as it continues this year’s record setting trend by marking a new high for September.

“House hunters who were shut out this summer because of fierce competition could fare better this fall, with more opportunities to buy and mortgage rates still near all-time lows,” says Jonathan Smoke,® chief economist. “But don’t expect bargains—prices haven’t come down from this summer’s record highs. Overall, the fundamental trends we have been seeing all year remain solidly in place as we enter the traditionally slower sales season, and pent-up demand remains substantial as buyers seek to get a home under contract while rates remain so low.”

Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR, has shared that the limited supply levels have taken the momentum out of the housing market that we had experienced earlier this year. “Contract activity slackened throughout the country in August except for in the Northeast, where higher inventory totals are giving home shoppers greater options and better success signing a contract,” he said.

Yun expects existing-home sales in 2016 to be around 5.36 million, a 2.1 percent increase from 2015 and the highest annual pace since 2006 (6.48 million). The national median existing-home price growth is anticipated this year to increase around 4 percent.

As mortgage rates are remaining at all time lows coupled with strong buyer demand, the real estate market this fall is a great time to buy and sell.

Home Sales Up in South Florida

Home sales have increased as prices continue to rise in South Florida according to local Realtor boards. Broward County had seen 1,658 sales of single families in August which was a 9% increase over last year according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors. This improvement comes after a slight decline earlier in the summer in July.

Meanwhile, Palm Beach County had an increase of 12% over last year and Miami-Dade County sales were up by 9% which was in fact the county’s best August on record.

“Homes that are presented well and fixed up are still selling very quickly,” said Howard Elfman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors. “If you don’t jump on it, somebody else will.”

Along with sales volume, median prices also increased in the tri-county region. Broward County saw a median price escalate by 6% while Palm Beach County’s rose by 7%. Miami-Dade followed with a 15% increase.

Despite a small increase in listings, the market remains competitive, said Judy Ramella, president of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches. She said some buyers are losing two or three homes to higher offers before they realize how the game is played.

“There are still so many more buyers out there than inventory,” she said.

Palm Beach County had 6,808 listings in August which was up 6% from last year. The county had a 4.6 month supply of inventory, meaning it would take that long to sell all the homes if no additional properties were listed for sale. A balanced market has six months of inventory, most real estate agents say.

By comparison, Broward listings are more scarce. Inventory had dropped 11% in August yielding a 3.7 month supply of housing stock at 5,395 homes. Listings south of $500,000 are especially harder to come by. Properties in the higher end segment of the market provide more of a selection for buyers.

Condominium sales had inched up 7% in August in Broward County coupled with a 9% increase in median price as the summer market had come to an end.