Oct. 22, 2015

Would Your Home Pass a Job Interview?

What Does Your Home Say About You?

So it's time to move and you're going to list your home for sale. You want it to sell quickly and maximize your selling price. Well let me ask you this, if your home was applying for a job, what would be the first impression it gave off? Would it be a torn t-shirt, dirty jeans and smelly shoes or would your house be dressed in a crisp business suit looking sharp and dapper?  

Not only are first impressions critical in your professional life, they are just as vital when selling your home. In fact, the first 5 minutes can make or break the sale of your home. A buyer's sight and smell are the first senses used to determine if your home is right for them. Unattractive landscaping, clutter, pet smell, poor ventilation and lighting can doom your home in the first 5-10 minutes that a potential buyer views your home. Here are some simple staging tips when listing your home:


1. Less is more when it comes to decorations.

It's important to keep decor simple and only accentuating the home's best features to create an inviting setting. Try displaying fall foliage or festive bouquets throughout the home.


2. Warm up the walls. 

A fresh coat of paint will always help revive the home's interiors. It's a great idea to keep the walls neutral yet warm and inviting. For the autumn season, pops of color with accessories in oranges, deep reds and yellows add a festive touch. 


3. Keep rooms well lit.

Open blinds and plenty of tasteful lamps through the home add additional illumination and highlights the home's best features.


4. Make it cozy.

As the weather cools down, encourage home buyers to stick around during showings by providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Accentuate the sofas and chairs with plush throw pillows and cuddly throws.  

5. Play up the seasonal scents.

Add to the welcoming atmosphere by burning seasonal scented candles throughout the home. Or, even better, simmer hot apple cider on the stove and offer it to potential home buyers.


6. Accentuate gathering areas.

Especially fireplaces if the home has one. A cozy fireplace is a fantastic feature to highlight during the crisp fall months. Arrange the furniture to make a focal point and set the scene for home buyers to imagine gathering with their own friends and family for the holidays and cold seasons.


7. Add a touch of luxury.

Layering the bedding with sumptuous fabrics and adding dimension with throw pillows will enhance the bedroom's comfort appeal. You can also display plush towels in the bathroom or drape a silky table cloth over the dining room table to give the home a more luxurious feel.


8. Curb appeal, curb appeal, curb appeal.

No matter how beautiful and inviting a home's interior, buyers won't make it inside if the exterior isn't welcoming as well.Especially during the fall season when the weather is turning colder and home buyers will want to move in and stay indoors. Sprucing up the lawn by raking up leaves and patching up brown spots in the grass will give home buyers the sense of a more turn-key purchase. They'll be able to imagine themselves hosting holiday parties and dinners instead of making a mental to-do list to rush through before the seasonal events begin.


For more information like this or questions about how we can effectively and successfully list your home, please e-mail Rob Sassos at Rob@SimplicityRE.com

Sept. 24, 2014

Central Florida: Home Sales Down; Home Values Up & why YOU NEED ME

ORRA ( the Orlando Regional Realtors Association) released the August #RealEstate marketing numbers for #CentralFlorida. Though I don't find the data particularly alarming or surprising, I do find them enlightening or at least what they mean for those listing or potentially listing their #HomesForSale in #Orlando and for buyers looking for a little leverage in a rising market as well.
According to ORRA, the median price for in the #Orlando market for all homes was $165,000.  Conventional sale homes (excluding short sales and bank owned) median price was $190,000. This was a 6.45% and 5.56% increase respectively from August 2013. Bank Owned inventory increased 86.39% from last year. Possibly due to somewhat recent legislature speeding up the foreclosure process in #Florida and banks releasing more inventory due to increased market values.
Even with the increased bank owned inventory, #ShortSales and #BankOwned properties continue to have their 'bargain' factor diminished as short sale values rose 25.98% and bank owned properties increased 9% from the same time last year.
These numbers by themselves seem promising for sellers and for market stabilization but there are some not so exciting numbers as well. Available conventional sale inventory increased 56.81% and #OrlandoHomeSales as a whole are down 15.55% from the same time last year. Short Sales lead the way with a 64.93% drop, Conventional Sales fell 14.25% but bank owned property sales increased 30.10%! The good news for conventional sales is that they still made up 67.09% of all #OrlandoHomeSales. However, not all down ticks were bad. The average timeframe for homes on the market was 68 days; down from 73 days in July.
If you follow simple supply and demand methodology for a recovering market over time and year over year real estate market patterns for the Greater Orlando market, these numbers are not out of the norm. OK, Rob Sassos,if that's the case, what's the big deal about needing you? I'm so glad you asked! First, these numbers are great but the key is reading between the numbers. 
Rising property values and an increased inventory of #OrlandoHomesForSale means buyers have more conventional options than they've had for a long time. This in turn means there is stiffer competition for those of you wanting to sell your home. A yard sign  with flyers and a Zestimate from Zillow as a listing price isn't going to cut it. You need someone who understands your local market and current buyer trends. Someone who knows how to properly value your home and effectively combine Point of Sale, Social Media and Internet marketing with what your goals and objectives are for the property. But that's not all! You also need someone who understands the paperwork involved, someone who can effectively and seamlessly provide and communicate with any additional vendors you need such as; a staging company, title company, handyman, etc. (That goes for those buying real estate as well.) Finally, and in my opinion most importantly, you need someone who understands the real estate business and knows how to effectively negotiate a contract with you and for you.  So what I'm saying in a nutshell is: YOU NEED ME! You need a Realtor who understands your market and can effectively value your home. A Realtor who can create and execute a marketing strategy that places your home in front of the largest number of potential buyers qualified and interested in buying a property like yours at an agreeable price. A Realtor who puts your interests first and communicates and educates you every step of the way. Trust me, the easier your Realtor makes it look and feel, the harder they are working for you!
So in conclusion, Orlando property values are up and so are the number of properties listed. Now more than ever, whether listing or buying a home, you need the assistance of a trained and seasoned professional who is educated and skilled in the fields marketing, sales and communication and has a firm understanding of the #OrlandoRealEstate market. You need a Realtor....like me. :)


Thanks for reading! Stop by my website: www.SimplicityRE.com and say hi or hit me up on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Active Rain, Word Press, Swarm, Google Plus, Instagram or LinkedIn. Wow! I need to get out more. :)
Aug. 21, 2014

OMG! The End is Nigh?! Are July Real Estate Numbers the beginning of the End???

The Florida Association of Realtors posted July's performance numbers last week. Here are my thoughts,opinions and observations about them.


Now before I freak you out with my headline, here is what Daren Blomquist, VP with RealtyTrac, said about the Orlando real estate market in a recent article:

"There's not bad news there for Orlando," Blomquist said. "The affordability levels are still below their historical average, and that indicates there's still room for price growth, even if interest rates go up a point."-Daren Blomquist, VP of RealtyTrac


That's right! The Orlando area is still one of the most affordable areas in the country to purchase a home (yeah!) BUT one of the LEAST affordable areas for renters (boo!).


Now not everyone seems to be paying attention: (Name is withheld to protect the guilty) in a local news article in June: "I think in the next 12 months, we're going to be pretty much flat," said real-estate agent. "With some good things happening in the Orlando area, we could see prices increase 3 percent, but we will likely see the median price soften at the end of the summer."


Now July posted numbers tied for the highest median price ($171,000) for the year, almost a 13% increase from this past January and the highest average price ($214,000) for the year which is an 8% increase from January. Interest rates were at 4.17%. Twelve months earlier they were 4.51%.


Another article I read said that sales are sliding too. Hmmm, if my math is right, which a teller at my bank is smirking right now, 1,889 sales in January to 2,431 in July is a 22% increase. Now did sales slide from this time last year? Yes, of course. It's called market recovery.  The big boy cash buyers like Blackstone, Colony Capital and Waypoint are slowing their (cash)roll due to pricing themselves out of their ROI and meeting their saturation levels. Did they shut out mom and pop investors and first time home buyers during this spend? Yes...BUT...they also helped increase market value. Sellers, you're welcome!


So to answer my article title, no, the end is not nigh or tomorrow nigh or next month. Will the big investors be missed? Sort of. Are lending restrictions too tight right now? Please, I'm a real estate broker! That's like asking Willy Wonka if the world needs more candy? Seriously though, maybe they could lighten up a little, but programs are there for first time home buyers and qualified home buyers. And another thing, don't think doom and gloom if you did a short sale on your last home or had a bankruptcy discharged. There are recovery programs and lending options that you will be qualified for quicker than you think AND you may even qualify for them now. E-mail me if you'd like to discuss this more.


So what's my predictions for Orlando real estate? Continued recovery through the "slow and steady wins the race" method. Hiccups here and there but Orlando, in my humble but biased opinion, is the place to be. Just look around at all the new and future building plans and community projects. 


Buyers just need to understand that the $50,000 almost new homes have gone the way of the Yugo (remember those?). Communities are stabilizing, new construction can be seen in once abandoned shell communities. Home values are rising but the quality of life and community is improving as well. More conventional sellers with well cared for homes are listing their homes for sale now. Which, in turn, creates a larger pool of qualified buyers. So getting a 'deal' is more of a change in paradigm than it is a thing of the past me thinks! Now finding a deal, making a deal and closing a deal...well...those are the things that require trained,proven and experienced professional on your side. They're called Realtors and I happen to be one. Just sayin'.


But enough about my opinion. What do you think?


Thanks for reading! Stop by my website: www.SimplicityRE.com and say hi or hit me up on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Active Rain, Word Press, Swarm, Google Plus, Instagram or LinkedIn. Wow! I need to get out more. :)




Aug. 13, 2014

Orange County Tops Most Expensive Homes List But Will Anyone Sell?


Kudos to Orange County for having the largest percentage of residential properties valued at $500,000 and above. 14 of the top 20 zip codes reside in Orange County. CLICK HERE for the list of zip code rankings. The report also has Seminole County and Osceola County with three and two zip codes in the top twenty respectively.


The report, done by Esri and reported by the Orlando Business Journal, also breaks down the zip codes by demographics. Here is the chart of demographic definitions as used and defined by Esri: CLICK HERE


Now this report is all fine and dandy but recently I was chatting with another broker over coffee and the question was posed about the inventory of #HomesForSaleInOrlando now and in the immediate future: If a seller has an attractive mortgage rate on their current home (say, obtained in the Great Recession), why would they want to sell and finance the purchase of another home at a higher interest rate? A fair question for sure and one that got me to do some thinking and research.


Recent studies by NAR (National Association of Realtors) suggests that only a small fraction of people who sell their home (approx. 10%) factor in the gain or loss of financing rates in the process of selling their home and buying another. I also found out that a third of all home owners do not have a mortgage at all!


The primary reasons why people move have everything to do with family, job and quality of life. Upsizing or downsizing because of family, a change of job location or status or just looking for a change in community and/or neighborhood, climate, etc. are the primary factors for buying a new home.


However, a new phenomena that is having somewhat of a factor on homeowners retaining their current homes is the dramatic increase in rental income. Homeowners are finding that it may be more financially beneficial to retain their old home and rent it out than it would be to sell the property out right.  It should be noted that if this is an option for you, that you have an understanding of landlord/tenant responsibilities and obligations in the state of Florida or have a qualified property management company assist you. CLICK HERE for more information.


So it's a sunny day in #OrlandoRealEstate in terms of overall home values, renting properties and buying homes. Especially if you're buying new construction! Yes, we specialize in that!


If you have questions about  buying or selling a home in Orlando or require property management solutions for your rental properties please CLICK HERE or call us at 866-642-2052.


Simplicity: A Real Estate Brokerage Company is a full service residential and property management company servicing the Greater Orlando Real Estate market.


Professionalism, Integrity: Simplicity


Rob Sassos



July 29, 2014

What if the car salesman was on your side?


Remember your last car purchase? For most of us the response to that question is “Remember?! How can I forget?!  Many times it seems like your playing poker against the house with the cards stacked against you! But what if you had to opportunity to bring into the negotiations your own auto-sales professional who knows what you want and what you can afford and protects your best interests? How much easier and less stressful would that be?! Having an advocate in your corner is a great feeling. More people might actually like to go car shopping if that was the case. Now unfortunately, as far as I know, this is not available in auto-sales but these buyer advocates are available in #RealEstate where, on average, the deals are more complicated and expensive. Yet some people still choose not to use them! Why you ask?  Because for some buyers, they feel they can get a better deal if they don’t have an experienced representative protecting their interests. I know, right?  


Now “ A fox in the hen house” may be too drastic an analogy but keep in mind the first word in listing agent; “listing”. That is what the agent represents as well as the seller behind the listing. Even in a transactional agent situation, where the agent has limited representation to both sides as it pertains to the transaction,  the agent still has a primary familiarity with the seller that may cause some challenging relationship dynamics during the negotiations no matter how professional the agent or broker may be.


Here are some reasons why should have your own agent representing you when buying a home in #Orlando or anywhere for that matter.


  1. When you have your own agent representing you, it eliminates this potentially awkward dynamic of "who is the agent more familiar with?” or the assumption that they may be taking sides even when they are not.
  2. You have a licensed professional real estate agent and/or broker in your corner to educate, direct and advise you. Having your own experienced professional in your corner is priceless when you’re buying a home, townhome or condo.
  3. You have someone who understands your story. A great buyer’s agent doesn’t just show you homes. They first want to hear and understand your story.
    1. Why are you looking for a home?
    2. What is important to you and your family in terms of a home, location, community, timing, etc?
    3. What is your spending power? A great #RealEstateAgent will make sure you are pre-approved first and that you understand what your buying power is before you go look at potential homes. This may save you much frustration and aggravation in the future. 
  4. #Purchasing a home can become a very emotional decision and that may put a chink in your negotiating armor. A great real estate agent, in other words a Realtor, will make sure you’re focused and your feet are firmly planted on the ground in terms of making sure you stick to your financial plan while still finding the home that is best for you.
  5. When dealing with Real Estate contracts and jargon, you should always have a polished and effective communicator and negotiator. You need someone who is organized and understands the state and local requirements, regulations and paperwork. For this reason alone, having a Realtor represent you as the buyer and your interests seems like a no-brainer to me.
This also should be the rule when dealing with new construction homes as well. Yes, I said new construction too! The person speaking with you represents the builder not you. Yes, there are many perks available with new construction and the process can seem very easy but did you know that the same benefits and in some cases better benefits and terms are available when you have buyer representation? Remember, even with new construction, you want someone who has your interests in mind first. Especially when you are inspecting the home (yes, again, even with new construction) and negotiating price and seller concessions.
So in conclusion, maybe the analogy here is: “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.” You should really have professional representation available to you ensure your best interests are represented in one of (if not the) largest purchase of your life. Use it!Take the time to interview some agents, look up their credentials, see if your personalities are a good match and choose a quality Realtor to represent you the next time you purchase a home.


If you would like more information on buying a home in the Orlando area, please visit us at www.SimplicityRE.com or call us at 866.642.2052.
Rob Sassos
July 17, 2014

Orlando Real Estate: Something has got to give; right?

CNN just named Orlando the fourth most desirable city in America to reside. With our beautiful weather,  professional sports, booming hospitality, health and technology industries, world recognized colleges and universities and of course our domination of the theme park universe, it’s hard to argue with them. You then add the new SunRail systems, Arts and Entertainment facility and continued growth of downtown residential projects and things are looking good for the Orlando area.
The Orlando Regional Realtors Association (ORRA) just came out with their numbers for June and though the numbers are still positive, there are some areas that should be watched in my opinion. 
Year to Year comparisons from June of 2013 shows us that conventional sales are up 11.31%, Short Sales are down 57.20% and Foreclosures are up 54.66%. The overall median sales price for #OrlandoRealEstate is $165,100 and the median sales price for conventional sales only is $194,003 for just under a 10% increase. The total active listings are up 51.23% however, new contracts are down 15.36%.
A county by county breakdown of sales in June vs. May shows the following:
Lake:  sales up 4.14%
Orange: sales down 5.06%
Osceola: sales up 14.16%
Seminole: sales up 6.47%
Active listings are still at a three year high though down 5.59% from May. However, withdrawn and expired listings have risen and new contracts for sale and purchase have continued to decline. These are the numbers that are worth watching for a couple of reasons. 
Institutional Investors are winding down their purchase cycle. These large cash investors were major players in Central Florida’s #bankowned and #shortsale markets. Their cash purchases, sometimes sight-unseen, at market value and sometimes higher, did somewhat stabilize an unstable market but also caused, in my opinion, slightly inflated home prices. You add their exit from the market with strict lender qualifications and sellers with a false sense of home value and you may create a buyers vacuum where many potential buyers are simply forced to watch from the sidelines. Thus, you have the potential for the continued pattern of more expired and withdrawn listings and less executed contracts for sale and purchase.
A separate phenomena but related and still very important to the health and continued recovery of the Orlando real estate market is the lost art of negotiation. Is it due to the “take it or leave it” pricing of bank owned properties or the “wait and pray” process of many short sales through our last seven years of recovery? Maybe it is just simply the lack of training and/or experience for many real estate agents? Regardless, there seems to be a large void of real estate professionals who truly know that buying and selling a home is not just a simple “yes” or “no”. You have to understand your client, the market, the neighborhood, the home, the personalities and circumstances involved to bring two parties to an agreement. So make sure you properly interview candidates before selecting the right professional for you.
Before I get off on a tangent, my point is, buying and selling real estate is no longer: “give me your highest and best”. It is becoming more and more dynamic and requires a professional who understand the information that I provided above and understands how to educate you and use the information and their experience to your advantage.
Central Florida is an amazing place to live and a great place to buy and sell real estate. Especially when you have someone who knows how to put the numbers in your favor.
June 5, 2014

WOW! New Residential Community: Baldwin Cove

Baldwin Park feel without the Baldwin Park Price tag!

Looking for a beautiful Lake Baldwin area residential community? Look no further. Baldwin Cove is offering beautiful, new construction Bungalow and Estate style homes starting at $236,00! Yes, I said $236,000!!! Enjoy luxurious master suites, 10' high 1st floor ceilings, granite countertops and spacious kitchens. Just minutes from downtown Baldwin Park and located in the much desired Winter Park school zone, this community has it all. If you're looking for that Baldwin Park feel but not the price, this community has what you're looking for. What's the catch, there's only 42 total lots and they won't last long! Contact us for details! Pictures coming soon!


May 20, 2014

SunRail still has some bugs! Here's the Flyswatter!

SunRail Still Has A Lot of Bugs; Here's the Flyswatter!

OK, I'm pro-SunRail (there, I said it). I think it will keep more cars off the road and it also moves us one step closer to new jobs and new growth and opportunities, especially in the Orlando Real Estate market, but I'm a little biased. :) There are some annoyances with the system but that should be expected. How quickly SunRail corrects these issues will ultimately determine public opinion and public use. Until then, the Bungalower offers some workarounds to make your SunRail use (and eventually mine) more enjoyable.

Click Here for workaround: SunRail Workaround

May 15, 2014

Orlando Home Sales Numbers Strong for April


The Orlando Regional Realtors Association (ORRA) has released the April performance numbers for Central Florida and the numbers are promising.

Total inventory of homes for sale increased slightly from March totaling out at 10,647. 4,401 new properties hit the Orlando area real estate market for April. 

The average mortgage rate dropped from 4.43% in March to 4.39% in April. The median and average sold home prices stayed about that same at $163,000 and $204,000 respectively.

The average days on market also remained steady at 77 days.  

The most impressive number for me was the days to close average which was 46 days. This is the average time it takes a property to close once it goes under contract. Why do I feel this is so important? Because it is an indicator of a shifting market from a pre-foreclosure market (aka: short sales) to a more conventional market. Cash buyers are still major players in the market but even cash deals are subject to long delays when dealing with short sales. This shortened time frame, almost 20 days shorter than the same time last year and the lowest in the last three years, shows signs of a recovering market in my opinion. This with the addition to the increasing inventory of new homes for sale in the Orlando market also shows me that sellers are finding the market more palatable in terms of what fair market value is for their homes.

A recovering market means recovering communities, conventional sales bring back the days of well kept, move in ready homes, home warranties and negotiations no longer on “As Is” contracts. Its a win for the seller, the buyer and the community at large. The next big hurdle, as I see it, is having the banks relax their credit restrictions a bit so that financed buyers can get back in the game. Cash buyers won’t last forever and if we want to continue our positive strides back to a healthy Orlando real estate market, financed buyers must be allowed back in to the game.

-Rob Sassos


*for more information on the orlando real estate market or assistance with financing, please e-mail Rob: Rob@SimplicityRE.com


May 12, 2014

WTF?! Where's TheFinancing?!


(Where's The Financing?!): Is the Current Real Estate Market Recovery Sustainable?

Many industry experts believe it is. Initially thought to be an anomaly, the current housing market recovery seems to be sustainable. In a recent article in DSNews, analysts for Capital Economics feel the current uptick in the housing market will remain sustainable for the foreseeable future. Though this rapid recovery took many analysts by surprise,there are several major indicators that suggest the current recovery is more than a flash in the pan.
Sustained rises in demand, home prices and homebuilding activity along with new and existing home sales demonstrate lasting recovery. These same analysts are also predicting a price growth of 5% for 2014. According to CoreLogic, the Orlando residential real estate market saw a residential median price increase of 10% in the last twelve months. The biggest threats to this continued growth, according to analysts, is the country falling in to another recession or the release of the current shadow inventory (currently estimated at 3.8 million properties, 1.5 times larger than the current number of active properties for sale) both of which seem unlikely. Concerning the shadow inventory, it would not be beneficial to the banks owning them. A flood of properties on the market and a dramatic drop in property values would not benefit anyone.
Though these major threats do not seem likely, there are larger issues to consider. The current real estate market is being sustained primarily by investors and cash buyers. According to the Florida Association of Realtors, more than half the homes purchased in Florida were cash deals. The concern here, especially with the large investors, is when property values increase, so do the deep discount opportunities that investors look for. ROI is the name of the game and when those deep gains evaporate, so does investor interest. Florida does benefit in being the most popular state for foreign investors which almost always pay cash. Financed buyers, on the other hand,have been a very small player in the national market and in the Orlando real estate market as well. Increased financed transactions and loosened credit restrictions go hand in hand. To allow the financed buyer back in the market, relaxed credit restrictions must inevitably occur.
My own personal experience for the last four years, both the Orlando and Tampa Bay markets, leads me to believe that property values and market recovery will be slow but positive. I initially was in agreement that this was just an positive hiccup in the market and when the large investors began to slow their buying pace, the market will slow as well. However, I have not seen this. What I have seen is increased buyer activity, receiving multiple offers at asking price or higher on many of my listings and an increased interest in new construction. Don’t get me wrong, there are still deals to be had out there, especially for cash buyers but they are significantly more scarce than they were two years ago.
All in all, I agree with the analysts that the market is recovering and will continue to recover. I don’t see any dramatic rise in property values in the near future but rather a more slow and steady rise to recovery.
What are your thoughts on the analysts forecast?

-Rob Sassos is the Broker/President of Simplicity: A Real Estate Brokerage Company. Simplicity specializes in residential real estate and property management in the Orlando and Tampa Bay markets.

Florida Association of Realtors