Buying a home in 2019 looks good on you. Seriously, this year is a great time to stop the renting cycle and get into home ownership. Let’s look at a few advantages to buying a home this year:
*As the title says, rates are still great. Interest rates for mortgages range from 3.72% to 4.35%. Historically, these rates are super low, as rates didn’t stay less than 6% till 2008. Lower interest rates mean more of your payment goes toward principal.
*More money toward principal means more equity in your home. When you buy a home, you are instantly investing in yourself. It is a nest egg that grows with each monthly payment. What’s a better investment than paying yourself?
*Payment history accounts for about 35% of your credit score. If you own a home and begin making timely monthly payments, you begin to increase your credit score. Renting does not offer that same advantage.
*Median rent is comparable to the average monthly mortgage payment. According to Zillow, it’s currently cheaper to buy than to rent in many zips codes.
*Tax savings, who doesn’t love that? Interest on your mortgage can be a tax write-off and save you money every year.
*More stability comes with home ownership, as you’re no longer at the whim of landlords and increasing rent hikes.
*Go green! Buy a home and opt for a recycling service, which many counties offer for free. If buying new appliances, choose the energy efficient options. Plant a garden.
*Build a sense of community. This is your home now, meet neighbors, join local clubs, watch little league games, and make home your happy place.
Let Cowen Property Group find your home this year.
Shopping is one of my favorite activities, so this time of year brings me so much joy! Especially here in South Tampa, where there are so many unique finds and treasures. Not surprising to those who know me, my favorite gift to give (and receive), is food, more specifically the amazing toffee at Toffee to Go. I sent a boxed variety of flavors to friends and neighbors last year and they loved it! The toffee is hand-made, preservative free, and is delivered anywhere in the United States beautifully wrapped.
Another locale with delectable treats is Cheese Please. They have an amazing assortment of cheeses and complimentary condiments. While you shop, venture to the bar in the back for a glass of wine, a melt-in-your-mouth grilled cheese sandwich, and fun conversation with the owners. They will deliver gift baskets locally in South Tampa for those on your list that have been especially nice.
My favorite stop for non-edible delights is DKM Accessories. It is a non-assuming store front just off MacDill with the trendy baubles and handbags that even your mother-in-law will love receiving. It’s small, cozy, and difficult not to run into a neighbor or friend there shopping too.
I can’t talk shopping without The Gifted Fig off W Bay to Bay. Here, you’re sure to find something uniquely “Tampa”. They have everything from baby gifts to Gasparilla gifts, pillows with South Tampa zip codes, and Ybor City drinking glasses. You’re sure to walk away with a game day shirt for the next season of tailgating and upcoming bowl games.
Just as much as gift shopping, I love home shopping! If you’re looking to buy in South Tampa, give us a call to show you around, and maybe stop at one of my favorite places for a treat!
I was recently invited to a local real estate investors’ meeting to get updates on the market and new avenues of making money in real estate development. While I learned a lot, there was still a pitch at the end. For the low price only offered at this meeting …
The room was packed, full of smart entrepreneurs, fixer uppers, money lending professionals, and title agents. Everyone with one goal, to make money in real estate.
The opportunities are there.. with a little expert advice.
Here are some new things I learned:
Wholesaling homes? A way to make money with no money of your own. Yes, it’s true, and the meeting room was full of wholesalers. Basically, they match sellers who need to sell fast and get cash quick, in as little as 3 days, to a buyer. Sometimes a fix and flip buyer, sometimes someone just looking for a good deal. The wholesaler gets a fee for the match, and has to knock on a lot of doors.
Fixer uppers still around? It’s a competitive market for those looking to fix and flip. Homes in transitional neighborhoods can be good investments to fix and sell or to rent. Remember that what you see on tv is for entertainment value. Investors in fix and flip endeavors will tell you there are always unexpected costs so keep ample cash reserves, sign lien waivers with subs, and have several subs in each trade that you can call on as needed.
Money to invest? You don’t have to be a fix and flipper expert to make money, you can fund one. Let the experts find the investment property, come up with rehab numbers, and then do the repairs while you write the checks. You can see a large return on your investment, within a relatively short amount of time. But remember, it all comes down to the numbers. Make sure the experts have experience, and can prove it with past HUD statements, and before/after photos. And put your joint venture in writing.
Interested in learning more? Give us a call to talk about more ways to invest in real estate, and specifically, what can work for you. www.cowenpropertygroup.com
Many home buyers come to me ready to start house hunting. They’re excited; I’m excited. The problem is, they haven’t done the necessary work on their credit. And for better or worse, having credit, GOOD credit, can make all the difference in getting the best loan for your new home.
Here are 5 tips to get you credit-ready:
A great source for credit related questions and topics is the Federal Trade Commission, visit their website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0058-credit-repair-how-help-yourself
As they say, there is no quick-fix. Credit repair takes time, effort, and a plan. Call us and we can help direct you to local lenders who can get you started on the right track for home buying.
Guest Blogger: Bret Engle with DiyGuys.net
Are you in the market for a new home and thinking of buying a fixer-upper? Do you want to make some real estate investments for your future? Florida is the perfect place to find reasonably priced homes that are in need of repair. But before you start your flipping adventure, keep these essential tips in mind.
Find Fixer-Uppers in Your Area
If you’re looking for a fixer-upper, your best bet is to work with a realtor. A realtor can point you in the direction of foreclosures and good deals in your area and provide you with valuable information regarding the neighborhood. When you’re looking for a fixer-upper, you’ll want to make sure it is in a good neighborhood where you won’t have issues selling later on down the road. Keep in mind that the median listing price for homes in Tampa, FL is $291,000, but you may be able to find something lower if it is in need of repairs. Set a budget before you begin looking and set aside a portion of the price for repairs.
Get a Home Inspection
Once you’ve found a property that speaks to you, make sure it’s worth salvaging. Schedule a home inspection as soon as possible to check for red flags. Issues with the foundation, frame or roof could make the purchase not worth the investment you’ll need to make in repairs. You’ll also want your inspector to look for signs of mold and major pest infestations. One or two mice may not be a problem, but a house full of termites should be a dealbreaker.
Start with Essential Repairs First
If you’ve found your perfect fixer-upper, it helps to know where you should focus your efforts first. You need to take care of repairs that impact your safety and the structural integrity of the home before you start on aesthetic projects. Take care of work that pertains to the roof, electrical system, and cracks in the foundation of your new property. Also, take care to get rid of tripping and slipping hazards in your floor.
Save Money with DIY Repairs
One of the best parts about buying a fixer upper is being able to put a little bit of yourself into the work. You can take care of DIY projects around your new property to cut out expenses and feel a sense of accomplishment. Minor tile work and flooring are two projects that are pretty easy to take care of with the right tools and know-how. Make a supply and tool list for your project, and make sure you have everything you need to get the job done. Power tools can be especially helpful, so look into buying or renting equipment such as drills, sanders, and saws.
Know What to Leave to the Pros
While most people are capable of completing some DIY repairs around the house, there are some projects that absolutely require a contractor. If you purchase a home that needs major electrical work, big plumbing repairs, or upgrades to gas lines, you need to contact a licensed professional to complete any work. In fact, some repairs are illegal for homeowners to take on by themselves, so keep this in mind when you are budgeting for improvements.
Decide Whether You Should Flip It or Keep It
When you’ve finished with all your repairs and upgrades, it’s time to figure out what you want to do next. You could move into the home yourself if that is your ultimate goal. But many investors like to pick up fixer-uppers and figure out a way to make a profit from them. The rental market is experiencing a surge in some areas, so that is one option to bring in extra income but be aware of the rules and costs of becoming a landlord.
Buying a fixer-upper can be an adventure, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into. Always have a solid budget and price point in mind, and be mindful of messes you won’t be able to clean up. Best wishes for success in this new real estate adventure!
Whether you were at the Reggae festival in Vinoy Park or drinking beer by the green Curtis Hixon River, Tampa Bay was the place to be for St. Patrick’s Day festivities. There is something for everyone here, and it’s no wonder Florida’s job market is booming. People visit and don’t want to leave. I know that’s how it started for me, and we are still exploring all Tampa has to offer.
Over our spring break, we visited the Withlacoochee State Forest where there are springs and cave entrances to explore. It was a dream come true for my two boys, who are 9 and 11. Not far from that spot, we camped at the Chassahowitzka River. I’m not one for camping, but the water in the river was crystal clear and full of mangrove snapper, underwater caves and springs, and trees full of ripe oranges. Visiting the River and Forest was like stepping back in time to old world Florida.
From there, we drove a couple of hours to Anna Maria Island. It’s a beach paradise also like something from years past, no high rises or condos in site with approximately seven miles of pristine clear blue beaches. Just bring a beach chair and a good book. That was my trade-off for camping!
Our neighbors visited nearby Orlando with their kids but not just for the theme parks. They went to the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Golf Club, watching McIlroy, DeChambeau, Rose, Stenson, and Woods place in the top 5. Then came home and took their little league friends to a New York Yankees spring training game at Steinbrenner Field.
Tampa Real Estate Solutions
Exploration, relaxation, sports, Tampa Bay has it all. We welcome all international buyers looking for a piece of paradise or locals just wanting a change. Give us a call to find out more.
Scrolling through my Facebook page I see a lot of people looking to make the next year better. Friends aren’t the only ones -- news outlets from Forbes to Vogue are offering tips for how to improve your life in the coming year. This practice isn’t new. The start of another year brings pens to paper for resolutions on everything from dieting and exercise to spending less time on social media.
Whether it’s on Facebook or flipping through the pages of a magazine, I must admit I do look forward to the upcoming year and the inspiration of all things new. However, this year, I’m also looking back. A great way to appreciate the future is to learn from the past -- and I did a lot of learning last year!
What lessons did I learn about real estate in 2017? I’ll share my top 3:
What I Learned in 2017
1. Optimism matters. No matter what your industry, be optimistic -- this is great advice in life and business! While the housing inventory in the Tampa Bay areas remain low, mortgages are less of an issue. We are 10 years past the mortgage crisis from 2007, and, by the end of 2017, mortgages were offered with 3% down or no money down to more buyers. Mortgage rates are predicted to rise in 2018, which is still historically low and likely to stay less than 5%.
Sellers should be especially optimistic; Florida is seeing an influx of homebuyers from high tax states like New York due to tax reform and from areas like Puerto Rico, which was hit by hurricanes this past year.
2. The early bird really does get the worm. Want to start house hunting but are not sure where to start? Talk to a mortgage or loan officer; many offer free advice and can put you on a plan to establish your credit or make it better. Jonathan Huff at Riverview Mortgage and Lee Pierson at AFI both helped me personally and professionally last year. Call them! Because housing inventory is low, you want to be ready to jump on the house you love when you find it, so it’s crucial to have a team ready. Just like writing your goals and keeping them visible helps you focus, so does having a home buying or selling team ready to go when you are.
3. My Time Is an Investment, and So Is Yours. Don’t get lost in keeping up with everyone else, you’ll never get ahead by “keeping up with the Jones’”. Keep the focus on you and your family. Home ownership can potentially be your best and largest investment, so learn all you can. Cowen Property Group agents can help you with your investment.
We are looking forward to being optimistic, setting business goals, and investing in you this 2018! Call or email us today if you have any Tampa/St. Pete real estate questions.
I love getting something for free. Though in the back of my head, I realize it’s a bit of a trick. Usually, when I’m given something “free,” I’m likely getting charged on the other side for something else. It is a frequent occurrence in real estate transactions -- hidden fees by brokers that show up at the closing table. Sure, it was in the contract you signed months ago, but, if it wasn’t pointed out, you probably didn’t even know it was there. These “hidden fees” are known as administration, transaction, or document fees, and they’ve frustrated buyers and sellers alike, depending on who gets surprised with the charge.
As a seller, you are responsible for paying your agent and the buyer’s agent. Commission rates are not standard, but most agree to pay their agent 3% of the sales price and the buyer’s agent 3% of the sales price. That’s 6% off the top- right away. If you’re a buyer, there really is no reason not to use the expertise of an experienced real estate agent.
Sellers, however, are understandably trying to get the most equity from their home as possible. The flat fee brokerage proposal sounds great, and many jump on that bandwagon only to see homes on the market sit with very little activity. Paying a few hundred dollars to list the home on the MLS saves the cost of a seller’s agent, but it may end up costing more in the long run if the house sits unsold and unmarketed. Worse? It could be sold for less than the market demands.
There is a middle ground between full commission brokerages with hidden fees and flat fee brokerages with little or no marketing plan. And that’s Cowen Property Group.
There are no hidden fees at our brokerage firm. We don’t market ourselves with commercials and brick and mortar storefronts, only to pass the cost on to the customers. We are a full service brokerage with flexible commission rates standard to the market. We do more than facilitate the transaction. Cowen Property Group has the market research, listing price advice, personal service, and expert negotiating tactics to list homes in the Tampa and St. Petersburg market.
Get more for your money -- without surprising hidden fees at the closing table.
This hurricane season was slated to be one of the worst on record, and it definitely has met the expectation. Luckily for us in the Tampa Bay area, we were spared the terrible effects, and we are able to help our neighbors in the Keys, BVI, and Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Irma was my first experience with hurricane storms while living in South Tampa, and I was surprised to see that watching the local weather channel over the nationwide weather channel was much less alarming and much more full of practical information. I wanted to share some of the actions I learned to prepare for future storms now.
While there is no way to ‘hurricane proof’ your home, you can make preparations to safeguard it in the future.
The most important takeaway -- have a plan. Discuss options and contingencies with your family now so no one feels panicked when the storm approaches. Our neighborhood in Beach Park was under a mandatory evacuation, so having a plan and good friends to stay with outside the evacuation zone made riding out the storm much less chaotic. Stay safe and call us for information on buying or listing with Cowen Property Group.