Thursday, December 28, 2006

Selling Your Home With Pets

Let me begin by saying that I am a pet lover having had many over my lifetime & enjoying those of friends & family. Unfortunately, there are many people out there that are not pet lovers or at least not of many breeds.

Most of us would not think that this is a problem. But, there are many people that will not go into a home with pets that are 'on the loose.' Additionally, there are many people that will spend less time in a home that has pets that are not of their liking. Too many of us this is surprising and may even sound bizarre, but when you put it into perspective it is quite understandable.

So, therefore, we need to take many things into consideration when selling a home with a pet(s). Now, again as I've said, I love most pets. I will usually play with the pet & keep him/her occupied while my clients are viewing the home. This usually works for the pet as well as the prospective buyers. A lot of times, you will find buyers that have no issue with the pets. And, yes, we all know about those loveable, cute pets that just pull at your heartstrings just by looking at you. They can almost sell the home themselves.

But here are some things to possibly remember & some tips for all of us.

1. If it smells... That in itself is probably enough to be said. Sorry, but I've had cats & very rarely did my litter box smell. Guess what? I don't want to smell yours. Neither does anyone else. Clean that litter box & keep it clean or put it out of the way. But those are not the only smells. Most odors come from dander. You need to deodorize your home often & keep your pet bathed and groomed.

2. Stains. Clean them, there are many good products on the market for 'pet stains.' Clean that carpet before listing your home, or if it is that bad, then consider replacing them. Sorry, but smells, stains, etc. are not going to get you top dollar for your home, nevermind, the length of time on the market needed to sell a home in that condition especially when there are so many other available homes to purchase.

3. Keep Pets from Showings. If it is at all possible, take the pet for a walk while your home is being shown. It will make it a much more pleasant experience for the prospective buyer. Loud barking dogs are not always a pleasing sound & may actually scare potential buyers. This only limits your potential pool of buyers. As your realtor, we are constantly trying to increase this pool for you.

4. First Impressions. The old adage is so very true - First Impressions are Lasting Impressions. This not only includes smells & carpet stains, but also possible gnawed moldings, scratches doors & door jambs, holes in the backyard, poop in the backyard, etc. You obviously get the picture & so will the potential buyer that viewed a home like this. I don't care how pretty the home may be otherwise, it is the total picture that has to be taken into consideration. And, yes, first impressions do last & will most likely have the prospective buyer out of your house quickly if care is not taken to these details.

5. It's all about perception! If someone enters a home & it smells & there are stains on the flooring & scratched door jambs, etc. They should also wonder what else this home holds for them. I'm sorry if this seems harsh, but if I enter a home and see this, I do have to wonder what else hasn't been taken care of & kept up. This is only being realistic & I'm not being mean.

We love our pets & there is no reason that they should hinder a sale. Nor do they have to be responsible for lowering a realistic price on a home. It is our responsibility & this can be taken care of without a great deal of inconvenience to all.

Best Wishes & until next time... Marc It Sold!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Little of This - A Little of That!

Housing costs have risen substantially within the last couple of years. Have wages increased as much? We know the answer there. Now, I'm not going to get on my soapbox. But, we continually each day lock more and more people out of the housing market. Condos are costing in the 100K's; a nice relatively reasonable 3/2 single-family home will run approximately the mid 200's. Enough of that, but it is something that we do have to keep in mind. We should never forget, because that only leads to possibly losing the lesson.

Real Estate has returned to what it was normally. The market is very healthy. We are very lucky in the Greater Orlando area, because we are a destination city. We are also the #2 city in the nation for Conventions, even knocking Chicago out of that position. But, there is a lot of competition out there. There are over 21,000 MLS listings available.

This is going to be a difficult time for For Sale By Owners, unless they are willing to wait, what I would think would be, quite a while. I've even noticed what seems to be more homes going into pre-foreclosure. The summer of '05 is no longer. I'm not saying this for doom & gloom. But this is reality.

In regard to pre-foreclosures, people should speak to their lenders before it is way too late. And by too late, I mean, when they are already starting the papers. It takes several months before a homeowner is served with a pre-foreclosure notice. If you are late, there are some lenders that will allow you to tack on those payments to the end of your loan period. Granted, this will definitely cost you, but what will losing your home cost you? There are also other ways, but you must speak with your lender. You have to understand that the lender does not really wish to own your property. They are not making money on it. They make money from the payments that you send in each month.

Anyway, enough for now. Call me & I'll be more than happy to discuss this and any other topics with you.

Until next time....Marc It Sold!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Tax measure goes easy on the rich

In 1992 in Florida, a property tax break measure entitled, "Save Our Homes," was passed. What this does is take the Tax Assessed Value of your home at the time of purchase and limit this from being increased more than 3% per year for the current owner until the home is sold. The intention of this was to be of assistance mainly to the elderly from being taxed out of their homes. Unfortunately, the wealthy have received a proportionately greater property tax benefits than those intended. Read the complete article at,0,6678504.story

Until Next Time - MARC IT SOLD!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Deducting Interest When You Are Not on Title

The following is an interesting article entitled, "Housing Counsel: Deducting Interest When You Are Not on Title," written by Benny L. Kass & published on Realty Times. I did not know that it was possible to deduct the interest on your taxes if you were not on the title. But read the follow case in point to understand the parameters of which this may occur.

Question: I want to buy a condominium unit for my son. Although he makes a decent living, his credit is not good. Accordingly, the lender has advised that title must be in my name only. My son will live in the property and make all of the mortgage payments.

Can he deduct the mortgage interest on his tax returns?

Answer: The answer is a qualified yes. There are certain rules which you must follow since if the IRS ever challenges the deduction, the burden will be on your son to prove that he is eligible to take the deductions.

We must first look to the regulations which have been promulgated by the IRS.

Regulation 1.163-1(b) reads as follows:

Interest paid by the taxpayer on a mortgage upon real estate of which he is the legal or equitable owner, even though the taxpayer is not directly liable upon the bond or note secured by such mortgage, may be deducted as interest on his indebtedness.

In August of 2003, the United States Tax Court addressed this situation and denied the interest deduction. The petitioner bought a house for his mother and although the mortgage loan was not in his name, he made the monthly loan payments. He argued to the Tax Court that he was obligated to repay his mother and “that his failure to repay would result, upon his mother’s death, in a corresponding reduction in his testamentary share of his mother’s estate.”

But the tax court rejected this argument. Based on the facts which were presented in evidence, the Court determined that the petitioner was neither “directly liable on the note securing the mortgage on his mother’s house, nor (was) he a legal or equitable owner of the property.” (Montoya v IRS, decided August 5, 2003.)

What exactly is required to be an “equitable owner”? Our legal dictionaries define this as ownership by one who does not have legal title.

Let’s look at this example. I own property A; I am the legal title holder to the property. I enter into a contract to sell the property to you. Based on that contract, even though you have not yet taken title, you have certain rights. These rights are based on the legal principles called “equity” -- namely that the courts will do what is fair under the circumstances, rather than strictly interpreting the letter of the law.

Obviously, each case has to be decided on the specific facts presented to the Court. In the Montoya case, the Tax Court determined that the son just did not have enough evidence to prove that he had some kind of ownership in his mother’s property.

Several years earlier, this same Tax Court did allow a couple to deduct the mortgage interest even though they were not on title to the property. In Uslu v IRS, the following facts were presented to the Court.

Uslu had filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy relief and was not eligible to obtain a mortgage loan. His brother bought the house, in which the only occupants were Uslu and his wife. The loan was in the brother’s name only, but Uslu made all of the mortgage payments. He also made all of the repairs and improvements to the property. The brother signed a Quit Claim Deed conveying the property to Uslu, although this Deed was never recorded on the land records.

The Tax Court found that Uslu’s mortgage payments “constituted payments on an indebtedness” and thus could be deducted for income tax purposes.

According to the Court:

The Court is satisfied, from all of the evidence presented, that petitioners (Uslu) have continuously treated the ... property as if they were the owners, and that they exclusively, held the benefits and burdens of ownership thereof. On this record, the Court holds that petitioners established equitable and beneficial ownership of the (property), and they were liable to (the brother) in respect of the mortgage indebtedness.

How do you meet the burden? Here are some suggestions:

1. Your son must continuously live in the property. To prove this, his driver’s license, voter registration and utility bills should be in his name at the property address;

2. You and your son should enter into a written agreement, spelling out that he is fully obligated to make the mortgage payments on a timely basis, and that you reserve the right to evict him should be go into default; the agreement should specifically state that you recognize that your son has an equitable interest in the property;

3. Your son must be responsible for all maintenance and upkeep of the property, and

4. You should prepare and sign a Quit Claim Deed, in recordable form, conveying the property to your son. This will not be recorded, but will be further evidence of your decision that this property is, in reality if not legally, owned by your son.

There obviously are no guarantees, but if you follow the guidelines spelled out in the Uslu case, you have a good chance of prevailing should the IRS challenge your son’s deductions.

Until next time - MARC IT SOLD!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Supply of homes on market takes dip?!?

That was one of the font page headlines in today’s, 10/21/6, Orlando Sentinel (,0,349657.story?coll=orl-home-headlines). While this may be so, as reported by ORRA (the Orlando Regional Realtor® Association), I find that it is at the same time somewhat incorrect in that there is a better defining picture of this situation.

Statistics are great. They are the numbers – the so to speak ‘black & white’ of the situation. But at the same time they can be manipulated. That is one basic reason that I do not believe in the CMA (Comparative Market Analysis), because I can take those numbers and manipulate them to my needs. At one time, & I apologize for the digression here, an appraisal was as good as the bible when it came to real estate valuation. But this has drastically changed over the years. Lately, I’ve seen appraisals that were so wholly undervalued & then another appraiser might come in with a greatly different value. The reason that I mention this here is that as good as numbers are, then can be greatly manipulated.

Back to the article in question. While a good article, it states in the second paragraph that the supply of homes in the Greater Orlando market has dipped. And this is true. But in the fourth paragraph, the article mentions the sales drop "in the Realtors' core Orlando market (mainly Orange and Seminole counties)."

Why I say that this is conflicting is because for the past 10 months I have weekly gathered the data on inventory of single-family homes, condos & townhomes that are listed available for sale in the MLS in just Orange & Seminole counties. While I’ve seen a couple of weeks here & there where there has been a drop in inventory, the overall data suggests differently.

Proof in point:As of 10/17 the total inventory, as specified above, is 16,045. On 9/20, this figure was 15,828; and, on 8/22, 15,479. I utilized these dates because they are approximately 1 month apart. This shows you that even though there was a week 9/28-10/4 where there was a drop in available home of 93 units, that we have had a consistent rise in inventory in the core Orlando market.

I am not saying your story is erroneous, but I think that this shows a better picture of what is really going on in the Greater Orlando Real Estate Market, especially in the counties of Orange & Seminole.

Until next time – MARC IT SOLD!

Friday, October 20, 2006

FSBO’s – Where are They Now?

Last year, 13% of all homes sold went the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route, according to the National Association of Realtor’s 2005 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers ($FILE/2005HBSonlineHighlights.pdf) That figure will show a drastic decline when the 2006 figures are published. FSBO’s work great when we are in a seller’s market – but that was so last year.

Most FSBO’s go that route because they wish to save on the commission (nowadays I require a 7% commission). But I must admit that my marketing, as a realtor®, has also had to be altered. I have to offer a lot more to my clients. But that is for another story.

Studies have shown that you can get more in less time utilizing a Realtor®. A recent NAR Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers study showed that a realtor® can get 16% more for a typical For Sale By Owner home. Everything else being equal & you just do the math, why would anyone want to go the FSBO route, if you figure that they will average at least 9% (16 – 7) more utilizing a realtor®? I just don’t understand the logic; but then again, I think that too many people do not look at the whole picture & just one little aspect of it. So, who’s kidding whom?

Last year, you could put a sign in your yard & your home would sell within a reasonable amount of time. Nowadays, you need a proven marketing plan. And, utilizing a discount realtor®, who will typically just charge you a fee for putting your home in the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is not considered a ‘proven marketing plan’, nor should you expect your home to sell too quickly.

Presently in the Greater Orlando area, there are over 16K homes for sale and that’s just in two counties – Orange & Seminole. How can someone think that by just putting a sign in their yard that they are going to garner the attention necessary to sell their home with that much competition? And that does not even include a lot of the homes offered by new home builders that are not listed in the MLS.

A good marketing plan has many different aspects to it & includes advertising in different media. Even a realtor® who just puts a sign in the yard & places the listing in the MLS is not doing enough. You need to show Price & Value to sell a home these days. It’s not difficult, but you have to prove it & not just once. Because for a home to sell, it must first be sold to the selling realtor® before it can be sold to the buyer.

Leaving this all aside, there are still many reasons not to go the FSBO route.

Pricing your property to sell involves more than just comparing it with other houses that have recently sold. The uniqueness of each property and its own values are based on location, condition, financing, amenities and other market factors.¨

Advertising can be very expensive, especially if you continue for a sustained period of time. Additionally, your Realtor can market your home utilizing avenues that are not available to you; including, but not limited to, the Multiple Listing Service.

When prospects inquire about your property and you are tempted to enter into a purchase agreement, how can you protect yourself from non-productive involvement? A Realtor should pre-qualify prospects bringing you Qualified Buyers.

Are you willing to admit Strangers to your home? Accepting unescorted strangers can play havoc with your family life. A Realtor using an Electronic Lockbox can identify the realtor who brought prospects into your home and when.

Selling your home can be a time-consuming assignment. You are literally married to the property and the inconvenience can be overwhelming. You have stay close to the property or you may miss the one buyer you’re seeking.

Financing is very frequently the key to a successful housing transaction. Buyers without the right advice and information may not see their way clear to buy your home. Your Realtor is able to help your buyer structure the right financing to meet his objective and yours.

How do you solve prospect problems? Your best buyer may well be someone who already owns a home, and whose decision to buy another property is premised on selling their present one. Your Realtor can sometimes arrange interim financing or a guaranteed sales agreement executed on the existing property.

It is difficult to Negotiate your own position. A Realtor should be prepared to counsel both yourself and the potential buyer, so the differences can be bridged and a transaction successfully consummated.

Once you’ve agreed to sell, there’s the matter of clearing title, obtaining financing, arranging insurance, working with lawyers and other agencies. You can avoid costly mistakes by relying on professionals who control and safeguard your housing investment. Use a Realtor®.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Prices are going to drop $50K!

I don’t think so, but a dear friend of mine who is also a realtor heard this from her client. I, myself, also heard someone say that they will not buy in this market because they expect prices to drop $25-35K. This is absolutely ridiculous!! But, unfortunately, people believe this because of what they’ve read in the media.

There was a great article in this Sunday’s Orlando Sentinel (10/15/6), “Signs point to a healthier-than-expected real estate market,” (pg H-51). I’ve been professing this since the beginning of this year.

We are basically in a normal market & that we’ve been going through a market correction. I just didn’t expect mortgage rates to remain this low. I really thought that they would inch up to the 7% range by years end. It looked like we were going there, but they have retreated to the approximately 6% level. That is absolutely fantastic! What that really translates to is market affordability for many that might have been locked out with higher interest rates.

What we are seeing now is a “correction” to a previously overheated market leading us toward “normal” market conditions. I do not foresee a “crash” that so many have been professing and many fear. Prices need to adjust. It comes down to the basics, that we learn in Economics 101, of supply & demand. With an oversupply (10 months at present for the Greater Orlando area) you need to market your home accordingly. Too many home sellers think that this is the summer of 2005 & won’t adjust to this reality, at least in their mindset.

I still see homes being placed on the market that are wholly overpriced. This is just ridiculous. This home will just sit & then the realtor needs to ask the home seller for a price reduction. Many in the industry are calling this a “price improvement,” but let’s get realistic, we all know what it is. I, as a realtor, cannot see why some people wish to take overpriced listings. OK, so you will have your name on a sign rider in front of this home, but that will stay there for quite a while. As a consumer, people have to wonder when they see a home sit on the market for such a long time. The homeowner may wish to price it high, but the realtor at the same time needs to take the blame as well. This is just poor marketing.

According to the article author, Kenneth Harney of the Washington Post Writers Group & Doug Duncan, chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association, “Not only to the doom reports ignore the positives in the marketplace – mortgage rates in particular – but the rhetoric is just way overwrought.”

Until next time – MARC IT SOLD!

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Off the Wall

OK, So this post has nothing whatsoever to do with Real Estate. I just don't understand where the heck people are coming from. In this case, I'm referring to that little lever on the left side of our steering column - you know the blinker, the turn signal. There are more vehicles on the road every day and the total disregard of some people to others is just so unfathomable. Is it just too much effort to notify someone that you are changing lanes or making a turn? When the hell did we become a society with a total disregard to others. The horray for me - the hell with you club. YEAH!!

I was driving on I-4 a couple of days ago & there was this person (I think it was a man. Yeah, I know here it comes.) who made at least 5 lane changes in traffic (I stopped counting at that point) and did not once use his turn signal. I mean the hell with him if he wants to put his life in danger, but to add someone else's to that equation - BS!! I can hear some already saying, 'Well they were far enough away that I could do that safely.' Excuse my potty mouth, but BFS!!

Yes, I know that our society has changed drastically with the advent of our technology. Yes, we want these quicker - we can find them quicker. It still amazes me that in the matter of nanoseconds I can have several, probably thousand, answers to a search on the internet. That just boggles the mind. But, the absence of common courtesy & decency is just not acceptable. I know that things are cyclical, but then what are we heading towards - to be barbarians again? What is wrong with saying 'Thank You' & 'You're Welcome'? What is wrong with holding the door for someone? What is wrong with slowing down in a parking lot for a pedestrian (because it is against the law to do otherwise)?

Is it me? I do not feel that I have a problem with change. I've always considered myself very adaptable. Please let me know what you think.

Thanks again for your indulgence. Until next time - MARC IT SOLD! That is if I don't get run down in a parking lot & off the road by someone not using there turn signal.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Housing Market, Clients & an Update

For quite a while I’ve been professing that to properly market someone’s home, we need to show Price & Value. With so much available inventory, you need to be able to stand out in the crowd, otherwise you can be easily overlooked. I still see listings that are wholly overpriced. These people are obviously being unrealistic in regard to the current market conditions - the summer of 2005 is long past!

An article released yesterday by NAR (the National Association of Realtorsâ) reiterates such:

“NAR President Thomas M. Stevens from Vienna, Va., said sellers need to price to current market conditions if they want to sell within a reasonable amount of time. ‘In some areas home sellers are not making sufficient adjustments in their listing price, so their homes are staying on the market and contributing to the build up in inventory.’”

(you can read this article in it’s entirety at

We have just experienced five years of outstanding growth and the housing market now is going through a period of adjustment and heading towards a more balanced market. Rising mortgage rates, speculative investors pulling back and many first-time buyers being priced out of some markets during those years have contributed to the normalizing of the housing sector. They also note that 2006 is expected to be the third strongest sales year on record.

On another note, I listen to my clients. In this instance, a client asked me if it would be beneficial to place an info tube on the sign riders in front of her home. I had stopped doing this for many reasons and my first inclination is that it would not help procure a sale. Yet, after careful consideration, I do wish to add this because it might help with more interest since this home is the lowest priced home in the subdivision & that is explicitly advertised on the flyer.

I try to look at all issues from all angles. Sometimes you have to remove yourself & try to view the issue from the ‘outside looking in’ as a third-party to the situation so to speak.

Additionally, some people have asked me what happened to the home in the previous blog entry. Well, the deal has fallen apart. My client could have possibly lost over $23K from the builder that they were planning on purchasing from. We did nothing wrong in this situation; whereas the buyer did not disclose that they had a home to sell prior to purchasing this home. Nevertheless, we are hoping that the buyer will honor the contract & release the escrow to the seller. In the meantime, I am personally purchasing their home. I do not see any reason that they should be injured more than they presently are. This is a terrible situation, but thank goodness I am very lucky in that I have the ability to do this. Most realtors probably could not do this & it would be a very sticky situation in which there might be lawsuits, etc. involved.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions & comments. Until next time - Marc It Sold!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's all about - ME!?!

I have a friend that always says that, supposedly somewhat jokingly, but we all know the truth. I have never been like that. Generally, have pretty much always tried to consider the other person & their feelings. Won’t deny, but sometimes to a fault.

Haven’t written much lately. I guess some might call this writer’s block. Also haven’t written much about myself, but I think that my persona has come through in my writing. I tend to be straight-forward & just thought that some of you would like more of an insight into me.

I am a very lucky man in that I love what I do. Being a Realtor® is a blast!! Yes, there are some difficult times in which I’ve wondered ‘what the hell am I doing here?’ But this usually only comes about in dealing with unprofessional people. All in all it is such a blast, such a rush, when you are able to help people achieve a goal – whether selling or buying. My Vision & Mission statements say it all. You can view those on my website at

Many of you who know me, know that I consider myself a very lucky man. I am not a very religious person. I am observant, usually in my own way & not through any structured organization per se. The reason I say this is because I find myself continually thanking G-d. Yes, there are people to be thanked also, especially my parents, because no matter what, they must have instilled some things in me. We are what we are taught.

My ramblings here may seem somewhat convoluted, but hopefully you will see where they all come together. My outlook on life & work is not that I wish to become rich, monetarily. I already consider myself very rich – emotionally & spiritually. My goal is to live comfortably & thank goodness I have achieved that. I have a nice home – modest by many people’s standards; I drive a couple of nice cars; have a great dog, Nicci; I’m healthy & I live well.

Yes, I do make a good living in real estate – I am good at what I do. In fact, very good, even to the point of being proficient. But, I will not profit on some else’s poor fortune. I can not intentionally hurt someone. I believe in being fair. Actually, I believe that in any transaction in which I am involved, that all of the parties need to come out that feeling like winners. A buyer feels that they have gotten a good deal; a seller feels that they have received a great price for their property.

In all my year’s in real estate, I have never had a deal fall apart. Unfortunately, I am experiencing that for the first time. The reason that this has never happened before is because I am a stickler for details. In the years that I’ve been in this business, I consistently hear realtors® talk about a deal that has fallen apart at the last minute. It’s always behooved me to understand how this can happen. But the reason being is that they were not on top of things. They either weren’t in contact with the mortgage broker, title company, etc. I always call them. I hate surprises. Or let me qualify that, I hate surprises like that when it comes to business. There is no reason for it. In the instance that I am presently dealing with, the buyer did not have a contingency clause that the sale was predicated on the sale of their home. Of course, being the sleuth that I am, I found this information out several weeks ago. At that time, I quizzed their mortgage broker at that time if this was the case & he assured me that it was not. Well ‘lo & behold, their deal is falling apart. But, thank goodness to the many professionals in this business, we may be able to salvage this deal for everyone, because otherwise so many people will be adversely affected. I have a major problem with that. I especially have a major problem with my seller being injured. I will go to great lengths to not allow that to occur.

As you can see, I get personally involved with my clients. I can’t just say to my client ‘Sorry, you’ll have to change your plans, life threw you a curve – too bad, deal with it.’ It is not just a deal to me. This is not just like buying a piece of clothing. This is a major investment, probably one of the biggest that most of us deal with & needs to be handled as such. I take it personally & it upsets me when something of this nature comes up. I have to try to look at every different avenue to get us to the final outcome that we were looking for in the first place.

OK, enough about real estate. As I’ve written I consider myself a very luck man. I am 52 years old & it seems each decade of my life has been better than the previous one. It amazes me how much I’ve learned and grown. It really amazes me on the things that I’ve realized about life & myself since turning 50. Believe me, I’ve done some very stupid things in my life. I’ve created strife for myself. I’ve also learned from my mistakes. I believe that life is a learning experience & you have to treat it as such. If you don’t learn from it, you will lose the lesson. There are too many people out there that just keep on going, but are not willing to learn or change. We know enough people in our lives that keep on making the same mistake, for lack of a better word, over & over again & are constantly complaining about it. We all have patterns – some good & some not so good. It is a matter or realizing this & changing those destructive patterns. Yes, it may be more easily said than done, but surely not impossible.

I am somewhat simplistic, in that everything can be broken down to it’s bare basic roots. We are the most intelligent being on this planet – that works both ways, for & against us. We tend to over think things. But to get to the root of the matter, I think try to simplify things. By taking away all of the extraneous matter, you can then delve into what the root of the problem at hand may be.

I am extremely blessed man in that I have a great support group of friends & family. Their care, concern & love for me, as well as me for them, is extraordinary. But I, as well in my business, tend to treat people the way I wish to be treated. I guess that this comes through. I am not one to be able to hide my feelings – I wear them on my sleeve.

We see so much negativity around us. I’ve learned that this can easily bring you down. There is no way to keep negativity totally out of your life, but it is how you tend to handle it & deal with it that makes a difference. I can easily allow negativity to bring me down & then allow such to progress into a depression. Been there – done that. That is not what I want out of life. It is very self-defeating. I must say at this point that I do not take any anti-depressants. Again, been there, done that in the past. The only medication that I take daily is a vitamin. I try to keep a positive attitude. Sometimes that is somewhat difficult, but it is a matter of how you look at things. What I learned is that your mental attitude and outlook on life is a matter of a healthy body, mind & soul. If you let one go, let’s say not taking care of your body, then the others will follow suit. They interact with each other. It all comes down to a matter of how you feel about yourself & what you want out of life. Life is so freakin’ Grand. Go for it! Take care of yourself, because you can not take care of someone else without taking care of yourself first. So, I guess it is all about ME!! Not really, but I think you get the point.

Thank you for indulging me here. Until next time – Marc It Sold!

Saturday, September 2, 2006

The Bottom Line

This is quite different from my previous blog entries. I don't know who the author is, but was relayed to me in an office meeting by my broker. Hope you enjoy!
The Bottom Line

Face it. Nobody owes you a living.
What you achieve or fail to achieve in your lifetime is directly related to what you do or fail to do.
No one chooses his parents or childhood, but you can choose your own direction.
Everyone has problems and obstacles to overcome, but that too is relative to each individual.
Nothing is carved in stone, you can change anything in your life, if you want to badly enough.
Excuses are for losers:
Those who take responsibility for their actions are the real winners in life.
Winners meet life's challenges head on, knowing there are no guarantees, and never think it's too late or too early to begin.
Time plays no favorites and will pass whether you act or not.
Take control of your life.
Dare to dream and take risks ... compete.
If you aren't willing to work for your goals don't expect others to.
Believe in yourself.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006


As I alluded to in the previous post, I wanted to discuss the topic of Insurance and specifically Condo Association Insurance. Again, as I've stated while writing the Market Trends post, this also has been a topic in the news that is of great concern to many of us.

Insurance in itself has gotten out of control in the State of Florida. I won't deny that I am not sure as to the rest of the nation, but in Florida we are probably pushing toward an epidemic of sorts.

If you are not aware of what is occurring, than let me recap for a moment. Firstly, the cost of most housing insurance has skyrocketed in the State of Florida. I started becoming more aware of this situation while helping a client who was relocating to the western side of the State much earlier this year. Now, granted, we expected the insurance to be higher because there was a pool involved, but when quoted that the least expensive would cost $2300/year, we were totally astonished. Couldn't believe that we were getting rates upwards of $2800.

Anyway, we've most likely heard about people being dropped by their insurer, therefore, not being renewed and having to search out other options. In Florida, we have a state insurance fund of last resort, Citizens Insurance. Unfortunately, we've heard the debacle that they are in. Oh by the way, we are all paying for that with surcharges on our policies, whether you are with Citizens or another carrier.

Citizens actually has to have higher rates so that they are not in direct competition with the other insurers that wish to do business in Florida and write policies. Citizen has also become the largest insurer in the State of Florida due to others pulling out. This has put all of us in a precarious position.

OK, enough of that doom & gloom. Now to another aspect of the insurance industry that is also quite scary and will affect so many lives & unfortunately be devasting to quite a few. When you purchase a condo, you should get homeowners insurance. Now the condo association also has a master policy covering the association, buildings, common grounds, etc.

Here's the first part of the sad part. There are fewer & fewer insurers that are wishing to provide this for these associations. Many are just dropping these assocations, while many others are in some instances quadrupling the association rates. I know of one community where I've been told that because of the rate increase they are going to have to raise the monthly maintenance fees that the condo owners pay at least $100. In the Orlando Sentinel, it was mentioned last week, that Lake Villas in Altamonte Springs off of Maitland Ave. has their rates increasing from approximately $33K/year to $197K. This in turn is requiring them to increase the monthly maintenance fee by $200/month.

Can you believe that? Do you understand how this will effect the owners there, many probably on fixed incomes. This will force people from their homes into uncertainty. This for many is like an additional mortgage payment.

Unbelievable, but what really gets me are the insurance companies. All of a sudden we are hearing of their supposed wows. Bunk!! How dare they! Do they give us breaks when they are making lots of money? I don't think so! But, we surely do hear them complain when they have to pay out large sums for the natural catastrophes that we've experienced in the last couple of years.

But & this is what really gets me, they have actuaries. An actuary's job is that of a statistician to compute risks & therefore premiums. So, they had a few years where they had to pay out. How about all of those years in which they didn't have to pay out so much? Again, did they give us a refund? Anyway, we all know that the weather is cyclical. We've gone through periods of this before. This is not something new. But the insurers are asking for increases & getting them, royally.

Where does this put us all? Unfortunately, like I stated at the outset, insurance in the State of the Florida is heading toward epidemic proportions. The state needs to do something and quickly. That means NOW!! Do you think they are listening?

Until next time...Marc It Sold!

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Market Trends

My original intention with this blog, was to include more tips on caring for your home & to tell you more about me. But it seems that the slant has been more towards market trends. To some this may be boring & I apologize for that. But it is very important to us. Real Estate has become a much published topic. We read about it in the newspapers & on the net. We hear about it on the evening news. We've seen it & it's effect in our daily lives.

Granted, a lot of what I've written is my educated opinion, obviously derived from my experience; sources that I've read; and, speaking with other real estate professionals. I've mentioned before that I really like numbers. They don't tell the whole picture, but do give us a great insight into what is happening. This is why I've tried to back up my opinions with facts & numbers, so it doesn't seem as if I'm just spouting off at the mouth. Goodness, knows I can do that also.

But the reason that I've written more about the market trends, is that this effects us all and is very important. With all that we've seen & heard in the real estate market, I think that it is something that needs to be addressed. We've all seen the doom & gloom articles & editorials and a lot of what I've read is pure bunk. My intentions are to try to give you a balanced account of the state of real estate. Yes, I do have my prejudices & biases, but I do try to keep those to a minimum when writing an opinion.

Sometimes, it is difficult for me to decide what to write about. There has been so much in the news that is of great concern. So, today, I am going to discuss the annual housing report released by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies - "The State of the Nation's Housing 2006."

The report overall is positive on the housing market - that "the housing sector continues to benefit from solid job & household growth, recovering rental markets, & strong home price appreciation," and as long as these remain in place, "the current slowdown should be moderate."

Households are expected to accelerate from about 12.6 million over the past years, to 14.6 million over the next ten which combined with projected income gains and a "rising tide of wealth" should "lift housing production and investment to new highs."

However, affordability will also intensify, as the economy is generating many low-wage jobs and land use restrictions are driving up housing costs. Incomes are rising much faster in the top ranges than in the bottom ranges for homebuyers. The number of households paying more than half of their income for housing has shot up & will continue to increase.

We've seen & heard about affordable rental housing disappearing. Just look at all of the condo conversions that we've seen around.

The report also goes into financing in that we've seen a shift from fixed-rate mortgages to adjustable-rate mortgages & other products. In just 2 years, the interest-only loan shot from relative obscurity to 20% of the dollar value of all loans & 37% of all adjustable rate loans in 2005. Payment option loans accounted for nearly 10% in 2005.

As bad as that sounds, the report says that only 3% of owners had equity less than 5% in their homes & 87% had a 20% or higher equity in 2004.

Housing gains are continuing even while home sales are softening. Driving housing will be the baby boomers who will boost markets for senior housing & second home.

Until next time when I plan to discuss the rising insurance rates & condo associations - Marc It Sold!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Is the Market Insane?

Wanted to Blog, but wasn't sure what to write & then I spoke with a friend & she was under the impression that the "Market is Insane!" I won't deny that I was taken aback by this. But from what we talked about, it seems that quite a few people think this.

Now, I know from talking with quite a few realtors that the impression is that buyers are waiting for prices to come down. I won't deny that I still see homes that are priced for the type of market that we saw last year. But, in general, it seems that people realize that they have to price their homes well to sell. With an inventory of over 15K available homes for sale in just Orange & Seminole county, sellers better price their homes well & possibly offer incentives if they wish their homes to sell.

But, now let's look at the other side of the coin. We are still selling near the same level of homes as was being sold last year. Many do not realize this, but that was a phenomenal year. We sold more homes than in previous recorded history. In fact, in March of this year, ORRA (Orlando Regional Realtor Association) noted that 2878 homes were sold & this compares to 2529 homes in March 2005.

This reverts back to what I've been saying in that we have a very healthy market in the Greater Orlando area. In fact, we've sold more homes in the first five months of 2006 than we did in 2005.

So, homes are selling. Even with the increase in interest rates. Homes that show well & are priced well - will sell, as long as they are marketed properly. I've said this before & even have read it recently, but we are in what most of us consider a 'normal' housing market. Granted, the median price has risen to its highest level at $252,990 (May 2006) with an average sales price of $311,119.

Homes are presently taking 74 days on the market & this will lengthen with time. Historically, we've seen worse & not all that long ago.

It just proves to me that people need to be educated to the facts. As with anything else, this does put things into their proper perspective.

I, myself, have always believed in education. That is why I've gone on and received my GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute) & still continue to read & try to improve myself. I also believe at the same time, that it is my job to educate you, the consumer. I believe that if I did not do so, I would be doing you a disservice. I am the Real Estate Professional. This is why you ask me for advice & hire me for my services. And, I wish to thank everyone for that!

Until next time - Marc It Sold!

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Orlando Rankings

What a coincidence! After writing the previous post, I came across an article in the Orlando Sentinel by Lynn Thomasson, entitled, "Where Orlando Ranks."

Orlando is ranked #2 behind Las Vegas as a summer destination according to Expedia. But, it seems that we are 1st, according to the American Society of Travel Agents, as a domestic travel destination.

According the Milken Institute, Orlando is 6th in job creation & sustainability.

This all bodes well for the Greater Orlando area and proves out some of the things that I have written in regard to Orlando & real estate.

So, until next time, let's just Marc It Sold!

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Rates, FSBO's, Pre-foreclosure

It's been a while. There are several things that I wish to mention today. Firstly, I wish to apologize because we are still working on the links on our website. That problem will be remedied in the near future.

The Fed made another increase, as was expected. Of course, there are the concerns for inflation. Mortgage interests have been climbing. Presently, they are hovering around 7%. Yes, this is higher than we've been experiencing in the past several years. But, when you reflect upon it, you realize that this is not so bad. Eight years ago we were at this level and even 1% higher the previous year. And, who can forget the 80's. My Goodness!! So, when you put it into perspective, it's really a different story.

Now, granted, housing costs have risen substantially in that same period of time. Have wages increased as much? We know the answer there. Now, I'm not going to get on my soapbox. But, we continually each day lock more and more people out of the housing market. Condos are costing in the 100K's; a nice relatively reasonable 3/2 single-family home will run approximately the mid 200's.

Enough of that, but it is something that we do have to keep in mind. We should never forget, because that only leads to possibly losing the lesson.

Real Estate has returned to what it was normally. The market is very healthy. We are very lucky in the Greater Orlando area, because we are a destination city. We are also the #2 city in the nation for Conventions, even knocking Chicago out of that position.

But, there is a lot of competition out there. There are over 19,000 MLS listings available. This is going to be a difficult time for For Sale By Owners, unless they are willing to wait, what I would think would be, quite a while.

I’ve even noticed what seems to be more homes going into pre-foreclosure. The summer of ’05 is no longer. I’m not saying this for doom & gloom. But this is reality. In regard to pre-foreclosures, people should speak to their lenders before it is way too late. And by too late, I mean, when they are already starting the papers. It takes several months before a homeowner is served with a pre-foreclosure notice. If you are late with your payments, there are some lenders that will allow you to tack those onto the end of your loan period. Granted, this will definitely cost you, but what will losing your home cost you?

There are also other ways, but you must speak with your lender. You have to understand that the lender does not really wish to own your property. They are not making money on it. They make money from the payments that you send in each month. Anyway, enough for now.

Call me & I’ll be more than happy to discuss this and any other topics with you.

Until next time….Marc It Sold!

Friday, June 16, 2006

#'s of Homes on the Market

In answer to Vicki's comments - There are many more factors that come into play, but you are most suredly correct with your assumption.

Today (6/16), 20% of the available homes in Orange & Seminole counties have a build date of 2005 or later. I need to clarify this a little further. In several instances, I have come across the condo conversion that has the year built listed as 2005, which is quite erroneous. One of the other factors that has fueled what we are currently seeing in the market, is that early last year we had people seeing others making good profits in buying some new construction for resale.

These people saw this and decided, "Well if they can do it, why can't I?" Well unfortunately, a lot of people placed contracts on homes to be built, but most were not taking possession until at least 10 months later. The Market Changed!!

There is a large subdivision near where I live. Currently, there are 72 homes listed for sale, 30 of which were built in the last year and a half. WOW!! Not only are some of these people that bought homes for investments facing other investors for competition, but also owner occupied homes & the builders themselves. And this does not even take into account that only some of the builder's lots are listed for sale, they have many more in addition to this. We will touch more on this in a future blog.

Till next time - Marc It Sold!

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

What A Difference A Year Makes!

OK, I really like numbers & stats. Granted, they are not everything, but they do portend the current situation. So, I was just checking some stats for a project that I'm working on. Presently, there are 12,971 available single-family homes, condos, townhomes & villas in Orange & Seminole Counties. Last year at this time, there were 3710 available properties listed in the MLS in the Greater Orlando area, not just the two counties. Right now we have almost a 7 months supply of inventory compared to 1.19 months last June. Additionally, at that time it took approximately 27 - 30 days on the market. Today, the average is over 50 days on the market. This is just some information. Make your own conclusions, but take into consideration that we are still in a healthy housing market. The supply just greatly outranks the demand. But, the sales volume of sold homes is at pace or ahead of the previous couple of years. Thus making, at this point, 2006 a very strong year.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Boost Your Home's Value Reasonably

Really wanted to discuss the previous post a little more, but felt that the tone of this blog might be taken the wrong way. There is so much information that I wish to impart upon you. Yet, at the same time, wish to make this a not only useful, but some lighthearted blog in nature. So, with that known, I am changing the direction a little today to tell you about several cheap ways in which you can update your home & also increase it's curb appeal.

Whether you’re getting ready to sell your home or want to spiff it up, inexpensively, for your own enjoyment, here are 10 things for you to consider.

1. Make your kitchen really cook! - The kitchen is still considered the heart of the home. Many buyers make a beeline to the kitchen when they view a home. For a few hundred dollars, you can replace the kitchen faucet, add new cabinet door handles & update old lighting fixtures.

2. Give appliances a facelift. If your appliances don’t match, order new doors or panels for them. Hint: many dishwasher panels are white on one side and black on the other.

3. Buff up the bath. Even simple things like a new toilet seat and a pedestal sink are pretty easy for someone to install & they make a big difference in the look of the bathroom. Consider replacing old, discolored bathroom flooring. If the tub or shower are looking dingy, consider re-grouting the tile.

4. Step up your storage. If you have cramped storage areas, adding do-it-yourself wire and laminate closet systems to bedrooms, pantries and entry closets. Your closets will be more functional while you’re living there & it will make your home look more customized to potential buyers.

5. Add a room. Yes, this can be expensive, but consider this, you have a 3 bedroom house with a den. If you add a closet to that room, you’ve now got a 4 bedroom home and that adds a lot of value. You can possibly add a custom closet system and drywall it in for less than 1500.

6. Check the 'innards.' It is well worth it to spend a few dollars & have a plumber & electrician look over your services to make sure that they are in good repair and running properly. When a home inspection is performed, these details will show the potential buyer that the home has been well cared for & can also influence the sales/purchase price.

7. Look Underfoot. Flooring is another detail that can quickly update a home and make it look cleaner. A professional carpet cleaning is an inexpensive investment, especially if your carpets are in good shape. Don't replace them unless they are really hideous.

8. Look Up. Consider replacing the lighting and/or ceiling fans. These can be done fairly reasonably with a wide array of inexpensive lighting fixtures and ceiling fans that are found at the local do-it-yourself stores.

9. Curb Appeal. What buyers see when they first drive by your home is very important. A nicely mowed lawn, fresh much, some nice (& possibly flowering plants) & a clean walkway make a great first impression.

10. The Front Door. A clean front door & possibly freshly painted makes a great impression as does new hardware. This is the first thing that potential buyers will see before entering your home.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Greater Orlando Real Estate Market - Original Post Date on May 28, 2006

It's amazing! You go on vacation and even though you may prepare for such work wise - you inevitably come back to more work than you thought. Do not get me wrong, I am not complaining. It's just almost laughable to me and unfortunately because of such I have not been able to post here.

So, let's talk about the Real Estate Market as it is today. And that right there is the point - today! The market has changed and is always evolving, sometimes more quickly than others. Yet, we have to be prepared for this, especially myself as a realtor. But so do you, so that you can understand the market and how it affects you - the consumer.

To say the least, we are in a buyers market and anyone who thinks differently is just deluding themselves. There are more listings available in Orange & Seminole counties (which makes up probably the majority of the Greater Orlando area) than has been in a very long time. As of right now, there are 9527 single family homes listed on the local MLS for sale as well as 3223 condominiums, townhomes & villas for sale. That is a lot of homes and approximately 6 months worth of inventory. I've been tracking the available homes for sale for many months and have found that except for one week, there has been an additional 250+ more homes available for sale than the previous week. This takes into consideration homes that have gone under contract and so forth. A little over a month ago, there was just 10K homes for sale, now we are at over 12K. So what is happening and how does this affect you?

Because there is so much involved, I will not be able to answer this question in just one post, but let's get started. Firstly, I must mention that I am not a doomsayer, and many of you who know me, know that I consider myself a Realistic Optimist. So with that said...

The market is in what some call a correction right now. We've been very lucky for the past couple of years with the increases that we have seen in what for some of us is our most valuable asset. That’s been great for most of us. The reality of it is that through most years we will only see about a 6% or so increase in the value of our homes. This year I expect us to be basically flat. That is not a problem, but there are many factors that lead to this. Right now we are seeing interest rates creep up. The fed is, or at least should be, concerned about inflation. And it will be interesting in how they handle their next meeting. Will the rates go up? They have increased them for the past 16 consecutive meetings. They have to be concerned about increasing it again and possibly fueling inflation. Even with this occurring, it has only been recently that the mortgage rates have been consistently creeping up themselves.

Lenders, of course, have become more conservative & rightly so. The creative financing that has been going on has been incredible and personally somewhat ridiculous. Interest only loans with a balloon payment – oh lordy? Here you are hedging a bet in that the value of your home will go up to create equity, because you are surely not creating any by only paying the interest and still have the full principal left to pay. Unfortunately for many, as the interest rates increase so do their payments & they may not be able to afford this additional expense. And more unfortunately, what we are going to see in the future (& not too distant at that) are foreclosures on a lot of these loans.

Then we also have investors, or I should really say and forgive me for saying this, but wannabe investors. These people saw the increases that were happening in the market and decided that if others can do it so can they. Unfortunately, many got into the market too late and now are finding themselves with a house payment for a home that is most likely vacant & they can’t move it because they are not only competing against the builder/developer but also other investors & homeowners. I read an article recently that mentioned already starting to see these loans going into foreclosure.

I could keep on writing forever about this & will expound on this topic more so in the near future. As always, please don’t forget that your comments and questions are quite welcome.

Till next time – Marc It Sold!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Flood Insurance - You don't think you need it - Do You?!?" Original Post on May 18, 2006

A recent article that I read, states that flooding is the #1 natural disaster in the United States. And more importantly, you don't have to live near water to be affected. "Regional weather systems, hurricanes and tropical storms, runoff changes from new construction and damage caused by wildfires can precipitate flooding in every region of the country." Accordingly, 20-25% of all claims come from areas with a low to moderate risk of flooding. You can only gather that the majority of these victims don't have flood insurance.

There is a really good site to check out by FEMA -

Flood insurance is relatively cheap and in low to moderate risk areas, homeowners can protect their property with lower-cost PRP's (Preferred Risk Policies).

This is not just something for homeowners, but also business owners & renters. Who of us can really afford to become the victim of a flood?

Until next time - Marc It Sold!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Miscellaneous Meanderings

It's funny how things work out.

Guess that we should start out with who and what this blog will be about. It's an avenue for us to relate information and sites that may be of interest to you in regard to real estate. There will be miscellaneous meanders about us & our opinions and feelings in regard to real estate and the Central Florida mraket in particular.

We are in a very unique market in the Greater Orlando area. One main reason being that we are in a destination city - whether it be for tourism, etc. This has allowed Orlando to basically buck the trend that we see overall nationally.

As I mentioned, and you that know me will understand only to well - I can ramble - changing from topic to topic. There so many things that I wish to write & express here & of course, all in due time - HUH!!

Anyway, as I started, recently I was putting together our newsletter & was writing an item related to our new website, which is in the later process of completion and awaiting to be able to start this blog. The item that I mentioned was about that this site will be coming soon & low and behold, I got an email from our web designers ( that am able to blog. So back to the drawing board in regard to the newsletter. But...

Just read a blurb about a new website for Florida condo owners - The site was created by Florida Condo Ombudsman Virgil Rizzo's office. Here condo owners here in Florida can go to learn their rights & responsibilities, file a complaint against their condo board or ask questions. They have many forums set up.

That leads us to another aspect of this blog. We hope that it is not only helpful for you, but that you will pose some of your real estate related questions to us. We look forward to hearing from you & hopefully being able to clearly answer your questions. But you should also know, that if we do not have the adequate answer, that we will send you in the direction that will be most helpful to you.

If you read over our bio in our parent website,, that we strongly believe in education - ours & that of helping you become a more educated consumer.

Till our next post! We will try to be here quite regularly for you. Right now, we are on vacation in Fort Lauderdale & don't ask us what could be better than relaxing oceanfront and writing our first blog. Excitement Abounds!!!