How long does it take to build a house?

The article below is true for Tallahassee only if you have plans and all your color selections done in advance. Its not common but you can find home in construction that may still be customized. Many builders order cabinets early inthe process so usually all you can change is paint, appliances and carpet.  new


Buyers want to build a home? It’ll take 7 months
CHICAGO – Aug. 17, 2016 – The average time it takes to complete a new single-family home is seven months in Florida and nationally, according to recent Census Bureau data. That completion time includes nearly a month for getting the permit to start the project – 27 days in Florida – and then another 6 months to complete the construction.

200K or 199K

An interesting article from Florida Realtors. An FAU study answers a longstanding pricing debate. But the real answer is listing for more than you think the homes true value is. Over the last several years I have found listing 5k – 10K over the value indicated by comps has netted my sellers much more at closing.

Here is the entire article.

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Aug. 10, 2016 – For real estate agents, it’s an age-old question: Is it more effective to list a home for a round number, such as $200,000, or is it more effective to make the first digit smaller and list a home for $199,000?

According to a study done by Florida Atlantic University (FAU), the $199,000 list price tends to be better for a seller. The results were published in the Journal of Housing Research – an official publication of the American Real Estate Society (ARES).

“These findings will help real estate brokers and sellers of homes develop more informed listing and marketing strategies to better suit sellers’ needs,” says Ken Johnson, Ph.D., ARES publication director, real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business and co-developer of the Beracha, Hardin and Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index.

The study looked at 1,000 buyers in Virginia and a pool of more than 370,000 listings. The researchers were able to determine the impact of “rounded pricing” listing strategies versus “just below pricing” listing strategies by looking at the results following a sale.

“Our study suggests that by using the just-below pricing strategy sellers can price their home slightly higher without driving away potential buyers,” says Eli Beracha, Ph.D., of Florida International University, who conducted the study with Michael J. Seiler, Ph.D., of The College of William & Mary.

Part of the key rests on how sellers price the home in the first place. They study found that just-below sellers tend to look at actual value and raise the asking price higher, but only to a point below a round number. Sellers who chose a round number in the first place tend to price their home closer to actual value.

“On average, buyers are more attracted to a house priced at $199,000 than to a house priced at $200,000, and it appears that just-below pricing works out favorably for sellers in terms of their bottom line,” Beracha says. “Based on our research, the just-below pricing strategy yields a selling price that is, on average, roughly 2.5 to 3 percent higher – $5,000 to $6,000 on a $200,000 house – compared with a rounded pricing listing strategy.”

While residential real estate agents widely disagree on the appropriate pricing strategy to use when listing residential real estate for sale, the researchers found that homebuyers more often prefer homes priced using a “just below” pricing strategy. This preference allows sellers to list their home for a higher initial listing price.

On the other hand, rounded priced homes typically spend less time on the market and their selling price is closer to the listing price that just-under priced homes. Overall, however, the just-below pricing strategy outweighs the lower discount and shorter time on the market associated with similar rounded-priced strategy homes, according to FAU.

“We tested the age-old debate concerning the best technique to price a home when listing it for sale,” Seiler said. “We find that using a price just below a round number works best, particularly in connection to the left-most digit in the price. So, $199,000 works better than $200,000.”

© 2016 Florida Realtors®

Another Scam…


Scammers are always working on new ways to separate you from your money.

Rule #1 – Never wire money without verbally confirming with your Realtor, Loan Officer and Title company.

Here is what happens… Just before closing the buyer gets this email –

“Good morning, Your final figure for closing is $40,941.70, I just received word from the title company and they want the closing funds wired to their trading account as soon as possible to avoid closing delays. This is due to technical issues with their trust account. I will send you the new wiring instructions once you acknowledge the receipt of this email by replying to it. You can send me an email if you need anything else as I will be in a meeting all day and won’t be able to take calls.  Due to the new cash policy, the title company cannot accept cashier’s checks for any amount over $10,000.00. Any amount in excess of $10,000.00 must be sent via wire transfer or funding may be delayed. Let me know if you need anything else..
[signature here was identical to her lender’s email signature]”

The buyer is trying to do everything they can to close on time. It looks real and they initiate a wire transfer… It goes to the scammers account and is quickly transferred out to a foreign bank.

Yes this is real and yes this happened in Tallahassee.

Call your agent, your loan officer or your title company before you send money to anyone!!

How is it out there?


Nationally sales are up from 2014 so most people will tell you the market is great.

Locally August’s stats looked almost the same as last year and Septembers preliminary numbers tell the same tale.

Auguat sales

The North East is one of the most popular areas on Tallahassee and things are more interesting there.

In the NE there are 627 single family homes for sale and 1731 homes sold in the last 12 months

That tells us we have 4.3 months of inventory active on the market. That is a little misleading because many seller take their homes off the market in the fall. But they plan to relist them in the spring. Still there are fewer homes on the market than usual.

We are experiencing the typical fall slow down. But, If you have your home on the market now you have an advantage. There may be fewer active buyers in the market but there are many less homes available.

As a Seller – Be patient through the fall and you may capture that perfect buyer!

As a Buyer – Be ready to move quickly when a great property is listed. There may be competition.



Is your listing really where it’s located?


If your selling make sure map links place your property  in the correct location.

I recently found two listings that were placed on maps miles from their actual location.  One map  put the listing in a much less desirable location. I am sure that has cost the seller showings. In the other instance it was showing up as a downtown property  when the listing was miles from the center of Tallahassee. The clients that were searching for a suburban location may never have found the listing!

If you have ever used google or apple maps for directions you know mapping by address is not perfect. As agents we have the ability to geocode every listing connecting the address to GPS coordinates. Map based real estate searches are becoming more and that makes the geocoding even more important. . Most apps allow you to draw a search area. If your property shows up in the wrong spot a buyer may never never know it is on the market.

This is especially important for undeveloped land or new construction where a physical address has not been assigned.

Barry Bevis, Broker/Realtor


Excellent article about home values from the LATimes…

Zillow is simply off on its home values. At its best its 7% off. Commonly it 12% off. At its worst 40%

Why?  Home are  Un-Zillowable.

Zillow has no idea if your house is Updated, needs a new roof, has termites, backs up to the interstate or a golf course. Those are all Un-Zillowable factors that can dramatically effect value.

One more reason to stay away from Zillow and Trulia!

They are merging!

Zillow is acquiring Trulia and says it will continue running both sites.

Why is this bad? Two words– BAD DATA.


If you have started your home search with either site you have found listings that are under contract, sold months ago,  or don’t even exist on both sites.  Trulia and Zillow accept listings and data from anyone… I can fake a listing on my website and they will post it on their portal. Some agents even copy other agents listings and upload them to Trulia and Zillow. I know they both try to scrub the bad data but they are so concerned with having more listings than their competitors that they are not willing to really verify and clean up what they receive.

Now they are joining forces. I think it will create an even bigger mess!


I encourage my clients to use the only two sites that rely on Direct Data feeds from the Tallahassee MLS. and

Neither allow outside data sources and update their info multiple times a day.

They both have excellent mobile apps as well!


Hail Damage

If you live in the Buck Lake area you have seen a lot of your neighbors getting new roofs. You may even have had a roofer knock on your door asking if you want your roof inspected.

I’ve had several clients with real hail damage get new roofs and only had to pay their insurance deductible.  Florida law requires that if 25% or more of the roof is damaged, then the insurance company must pay to replace the entire roof.

The photo below was from a recent home inspection.


But with an increase of claims in the area the insurance companies are looking harder at reports. And a lot of out of town roofers have tried to cash in on the damage. Some have even filed false claims. In the case of the roof above there was no real damage found by the roofer or insurance adjuster. Small hail had dented the soft metal on a roof vent but had not damaged the shingles.

If you think you have hail damage call a local licensed and insured roofer and contact your Insurance company.

And don’t sign any contracts until your sure you have damage your insurance company will cover the re-roof!

How to survive the lending process…


Mark Greene, wrote the following article about the home loan process for Forbes magazine.

He makes the point that getting a home loan is not about credit, the appraised value of the home or how much your putting down. It’s really about navigating the loan approval process and getting the right documents in the correct form to the lender in a timely manner.

I’ve forwarded it to many clients and want to make sure the story is always available.

The Perfect Loan File

The media has it all wrong – securing mortgage approval and satisfying credit underwriting guidelines are not the difficulties plaguing mortgage consumers. It’s in meeting the rigorous documentation requirements that most people fall flat. The good news is, the fix is simple. Just scan, photocopy, fax, and deliver every aspect of your financial life. Then, shortly before closing, check everything again.


Mortgage consumers who enter the mortgage approval process ready to battle their chosen mortgage lender will come out with a nightmare story to tell. As the process, requirements, and guidelines are the same for everybody, your mindset is the game-changer. Accepting the redundant documentation necessary for lender approval will make everyone’s life easier.


When I was a kid, my father occasionally issued directives that I naturally thought were superfluous, and when asked why I needed to do whatever it was he wanted me to do, his answer was often: “Because I said so.” This never seemed to address my query but always left me without a retort, and I would usually comply. This is exactly what consumers should do during the mortgage approval process. When your lender requests what seems to be over-documentation and you wonder why you need it, accept the simple edict – “because I said so.” You will find the mortgage approval process much less frustrating.


So, what’s the perfect loan? Well, it’s one that (a) pays back the lender and (b) pays back the lender on time. Underwriting the perfect loan is not the goal that mortgage lenders aspire to today.


The real goal is the perfect loan file.


Mortgage lenders have suffered staggering losses and gone out of business because of the dreaded loan repurchase. As mortgage delinquencies increased, FannieMae and FreddieMac began to audit mortgage loans they had purchased and discovered substandard and fraudulent underwriting practices that violated representations and warranties made, stating these were high quality loans. Fannie and Freddie began forcing the originating lenders of these “bad” loans to buy them back. So a small correspondent mortgage lender is forced to buy back a single mortgage loan in the amount of $250,000. This becomes a $250,000 loss to a small mortgage business for a single loan, because it will never be repaid.


It doesn’t take many of these bad loan buybacks to close the doors on many small mortgage operations. The lending houses suffered billions of dollars of losses repurchasing loans from Fannie and Freddie, and began to do the same thing for loans they had purchased from smaller originators.


The small and medium sized mortgage originators that survived created underwriting guidelines and procedures to eliminate the threat of future loan repurchase losses. The answer? The perfect loan file.



Every nook and cranny of your financial life has to be corroborated, double- and triple-checked, and reviewed again before closing. This way, if the originating lender has created a loan file that is exactly consistent with published underwriting guidelines and has documented while adhering to those guidelines, the chances are that your loan will not be subject to repurchase.


Borrowers also need to prepare for processing and underwriting. Processors and underwriters are the people trained and charged with gathering (processors), all of your required-for-approval financial documents, and then approving (underwriters), your loan. You can assume these people are well trained and very experienced, as they are tasked with assembling and approving a high-quality-these-people-will-pay-us-back loan file. But just how do they go about that?


The process begins with the filter – the loan originator (a.k.a loan officer, mortgage consultant, mortgage adviser, etc.) – tasked to match the qualifications of a particular mortgage deal to the appropriate underwriting guidelines. It is the filter’s job to determine if a loan scenario is approvable and to gather the documentation to support that determination. It is here, at the beginning of the approval process, where the deal is made or broken. The rest of the approval process is just papering the file.


The filter determines whether the information provided by the borrower can be validated and documented. This is simple, since most mortgages are approved by automated underwriting engines such as Desktop Underwriter, and the automated approval generates a list of the documents needed to paper the loan file. An underwriter can, at this stage, request additional supporting documentation evidence at their discretion, as not all circumstances neatly fit into the prescribed underwriting box. If the filter creates a loan file with accurate information, then secures the documentation resulting from the automated underwriting findings, the loan will close uneventfully.



So, let’s begin with the pre-approval call. Mortgage pre-approval is typically accomplished with a telephone interview. A prospective borrower calls a mortgage rep (filter), and the questions begin. There will be lots of questions as this critical phase of the process is akin to the discovery period in a trial – you’ll need to disclose everything. Expect to answer queries on what you do for a living, how long you’ve been employed in your current field, and what your salary is. If there is a co-borrower, they will have to answer the same questions.


Every dollar in checking, savings, investments and retirement accounts, also known as assets to close, as well as gifts from relatives and non-profit grants, has to be accounted for. Essentially everything appearing on a borrower’s asset-radar-screen has to be documented and explained.


If you were previously a homeowner and sold your home in a short sale, or if you own a home now and plan to keep it as an investment or rental property, there are new and specific underwriting guidelines created just for you. In these cases, full disclosure of your credit and homeownership past can potentially eliminate unforeseen mortgage approval woes. For instance, FannieMae has a new underwriting guideline called “Buy-and-Bail,” for current homeowners’ planning on keeping their existing home as an investment/rental property. Properties not meeting the 30% equity test for “Buy-and-Bail” result in additional asset requirements to purchase a new home. Buyers with a short sale history may have to wait two to three years before they are eligible for mortgage financing again. Full vetting of your previous mortgage life will save you the dreaded we-have-a-problem call from your mortgage lender.


It all comes down to your proof. If the lender asks for a specific document, give them exactly what they are asking for, not what “should be OK,” – because it won’t be.  This is where the approval process tends to go off the rails, when the lender asks for specific documentation and the borrower supplies something else. Here, too, is where both sides get frustrated. So if the lender asks for a bank statement and there are 5 pages for that bank statement, send them all 5 pages, and not just the summary. If you send them the summary page and they ask again, don’t complain that the lender keeps asking for the same thing when you never sent it in the first place. This may sound elementary, but the vast majority of mortgage approval process woes stem from scenarios just like this.


The reason the mortgage approval process is now so rigorous is simple. Avoiding defaults and loan buybacks has become the primary goal of mortgage lenders.   Higher standards are reducing loan defaults,  which should mean fewer foreclosures in the future. Government data shows that  less than 2% of loans originated in 2009, that were resold to Freddie Mac and Fannie Maewent into default after 18 months, down from more than 22% default rates for 2007 loans.


So when your lender requests specific documents from you, give it to them just “because they said so.”


You can thank my dad for that.


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