Prices are Up, Inventory is Down and Mortgage Rates are Up. What does that Mean?

The crazy real estate ride continues.
So what does it all mean?

 

Stats-Graphic---March-2018

Here in Pinellas County, Prices are up as a direct result of inventory being down. It’s a simple issue of supply and demand. Where it gets interesting is how the increase in mortgage rates figures into the equation.

What the market is showing us is that the availability of homes is continuing to decrease at double digit rates and as a result the prices are going up at a similar rate. When interest rates go up, the purchase price people can get approved for goes down.

There’s no shortage of speculation and the truth is that no one knows for sure what the future holds. The best we can do is take a look at past patterns and known cause and effect. In my opinion everything is cyclical and if we look at the numbers this is a perfect time to sell.

If I’m a Seller, I’m set. Right?

If you’re a seller and your house is in a good location, in good condition and priced right it will sell in a short amount of time. Our average days to contract is 13 days right now! That always leaves the question “could I have gotten more?” Because the market is so hot, many people skip the advertising and marketing and rely solely on the MLS and signs to save money. If that’s the case, yes, you could have gotten more. We use the same advertising and marketing strategies in a seller’s market as we do in a buyer’s market so we can get the largest pool of possible buyers as quickly as possible. That way, the best price can be obtained and still sell quickly. The way we see it, if we’re not doing everything possible to sell the property at the maximum price and as quickly as possible, we’re not serving our client fully.

One thing that won’t happen is to get way more than the property is worth. The stories you hear about people getting way more than their property is worth are very few and far between. There are two reasons, banks won’t loan on overpriced property and people with cash almost always know better than to overpay.

So, what if I’m a buyer?

If you’re looking for your next home, you’ll need two things to be successful; speed and information. By the time the listings get to the consumer real estate web sites it’s too late. Pat and I have access to information before it becomes public and in many cases, because of our vast network, before it becomes available to other Agents. We also have a number of ethical and clever ways of getting your offer accepted even if it isn’t the highest offer or the one with the best terms. It’s all a matter of research and expert negotiation. In fact, Pat and I are among the few Realtors who have earned the certification of Certified Real Estate Negotiation Expert.

Let’s chat about it! Call, text or email any time. Pat and I love to help and make new friends. I can be reached at 727.743.1740 or Chuck@VosburghandVosburgh.com, Pat can be reached at 813.220.4898 or Pat@VosburghandVosburgh.com.

The best virtual tours ever

We go the extra mile and have 3D Virtual Tours done. These are not like the ones you’ve seen before, these are very easy to use and really give the experience of being there. Take a look at this one we just did for our listing at 9010 Baywood Park Drive in Seminole:

For more information or a private tour, contact us!

Here’s how it’s done

It starts with a special camera made by Matterport. The camera has multiple lenses and infrared sensors that measure distances in all directions from the camera. The camera turns around scanning the room and making three dimensional measurements at the same time. The home above took over 50 scans in all. Once all the scans are done, special software is used to map the 3D space and assemble the images. The photographer then makes any corrections and refinements necessary and it’s saved to a special web server with software to serve the images to the web. The entire process takes several hours and we think it’s well worth the investment.
It’s amazing technology and we’ve seen homes sold sight-unseen because of it!

matterport camera

A Matterport camera

Vosburgh Sells Home with a DC-7 Attached

Author: WTSP Staff

ST. PETERSBURG — Chuck Vosburgh knows all about planes. As the son of a pilot, he was given a front row seat to the world of aviation as a boy.

It didn’t hurt that he lived in a house with a plane attached to it, either.

“They brought me home from the hospital to this house,” he said, standing in his parents’ living room. “This is home.”

At just about 2,000 square feet, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, the house represents a lot of things to Vosburgh. And as a realtor, he had the responsibility of selling his parents’ home and showing off its unique feature.

More than three decades after helping his dad put the distinctive side room into their home, Chuck got to show it off to potential buyers.

“We had an open house and this place was packed,” said Pat. “Everybody wanted to see it.”

It took all of two days to get an offer on the house, which Chuck accepted.

The house, cockpit and all, leaves an impression of everyone who visits.

“He slid open the door and I went, ‘Oh my goodness, this is really something’,” said Chucks’ wife, Pat. “There is a DC-7 here!”

Watch the Video

Which Way Should Your Ceiling Fan Turn in Summer?

Lisa Kaplan Gordon

The wrong direction could make you even hotter.

Most fans are reversible: One direction pushes air down, creating a nice summer breeze; the other direction sucks air up, helping you distribute heat in winter. There’s normally a switch on the motor to change the fan’s direction.

Is your fan turning in the right direction for summer?

Stand beneath the running fan, and if you feel a cooling breeze, it’s turning correctly.
If not, change directions, usually by flicking a switch on the fan’s base.
Typically, it’s counterclockwise or left for summer and clockwise for winter, but the best method is to follow the steps above.

Funny note: We read on Yahoo! that one clever person used bubbles to see which direction his fan was blowing.

5 Things That REALLY Will Put a Serious Dent in Your Energy Bills

Christina Hoffmann

Stop sending so much money to your utility company with these simple strategies.

Your Mexican beach vacation was great, but, man, those margaritas sure can put on the pounds. It’s been two months, and you’re still carrying around an extra tenner — despite a new running routine and a lot of #&*&@$ kale. So why isn’t your weight dropping?

It’s like that with energy bills, too. Eighty-nine percent of us believe we’re doing the right things to lower energy costs, and almost half of us think our homes already are energy efficient. Yet, 59% of us say our bills are going up, not down, despite our efforts to economize.

Suzanne Shelton, CEO of the Shelton Group, a marketing agency that specializes in energy efficiency and that did this research, says we’re rationalizing: “I bought these [LEDs] so now I can leave the lights on and not pay more. I ate the salad, so I can have the chocolate cake.” Denial much?

Her research also shows consumers, on average, made fewer than three energy-efficient improvements in 2012 compared with almost five in 2010. It looks like we’re giving in to higher utility bills. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You just need to know what improvements really will make the biggest difference to lower your bills. There are five, and the good news is that they’re really (seriously) cheap. You can go straight to them here, but there’s also another thing you can do that doesn’t cost a dime — and will drop your costs:

Be Mindful About Your Relationship With Energy

Think about it. Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it costs until a month later, says Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation, a research and policy-making nonprofit focused on improving buildings’ energy efficiency.

With other services you get a choice of whether to buy based on price. With energy you don’t get that choice — unless you intentionally decide not to buy. You can take control by making yourself aware that you’re spending money on something you don’t need each time you leave home with the AC on high, lights and ceiling fans on, and your computer wide awake.

Related: Did You Know You Should Never Leave a Ceiling Fan on When You Leave a Room?

That mindfulness is important because your relationship with energy is getting more intense. You (and practically every other person on the planet) are plugging in more and more. Used to be that heating and cooling were the biggest energy hogs, but now appliances, electronics, water heating, and lighting together have that dubious honor, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, based on data from U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the research arm of the Department of Energy (DOE).

Being mindful means it’s also time to banish four assumptions that are sabotaging your energy-efficiency efforts:

1. Newer homes (less than 30 years old) are already energy efficient because they were built to code. Don’t bank on it. Building codes change pretty regularly, so even newer homes benefit from improvements, says Lee Ann Head, vice president of research and insights with the Shelton Group.

2. Utilities are out to get us: They’ll jack up prices no matter what we do. It might feel cathartic to blame them (Shelton’s research shows consumers blame utilities above oil companies and the government), but to get any rate changes, utilities must make a formal case to public utility commissions.

3. Energy improvements should pay for themselves. Nice wish, but it doesn’t work that way. When the Shelton Group asked consumers what they would expect to recoup if they invested $4,000 in energy-efficient home improvements, they said about 75% to 80%.

Unless you invest in some kind of renewable energy source like geothermal and solar, you won’t see that kind of savings. (Sorry.) Even if you do all the right things, the most you should expect is a 20% to 30% reduction annually, says Head, which is still significant over the long term.

What does 30% translate into? $618 in savings per year or $52 per month, based on the average household energy spend of $2,060 per year, according to Lawrence Berkeley and EIA.

4. Expensive improvements will have the biggest impact. That’s why homeowners often choose pricey projects like replacing windows, which should probably be fifth or sixth on the list of energy-efficient improvements, Shelton says.

There’s nothing wrong with investing in new windows. They feel sturdier; look pretty; can increase the value of your home; feel safer than old, crooked windows; and, yes, offer energy savings you can feel (no more draft).

But new windows are the wrong choice if your only reason for the project was reducing energy costs. You could replace double-pane windows with new efficient ones for about $9,000 to $12,000 and save $27 to $111 a year on your energy bill, according to EnergyStar. (The savings are higher if you replace single-pane windows.) Or you could spend around $1,000 for new insulation, caulking, and sealing, and save 11% on your energy bill, or $227.

The 5 Things That Really Work to Cut Energy Costs

1. Caulk and seal air leaks. Buy a few cans of Great Stuff and knock yourself out over a weekend to seal around:

Plumbing lines
Electric wires
Recessed lighting
Windows
Crawlspaces
Attics
Savings: Up to $227 a year — even more if you add or upgrade your insulation.

2. Hire a pro to seal ductwork and give your HVAC a tune-up. Leaky ducts are a common energy-waster.

Savings: Up to $412 a year.

3. Program your thermostat. Shelton says 40% of consumers in her survey admit they don’t program their thermostat for energy savings. She thinks it’s even higher.

Savings: Up to $180 a year.

4. Replace all your light bulbs with LEDs. They’re coming down in price, making them even more cost effective.

Savings: $75 a year or more by replacing your five most frequently used bulbs with Energy Star-rated models.

5. Reduce the temperature on your water heater. Set your tank heater to 120 degrees — not the 140 degrees most are set to out of the box. Also wrap an older water heater and the hot water pipes in insulating material to save on heat loss.

Savings: $12 to $30 a year for each 10-degree reduction in temp.

NOTE: Resist the urge to total these five numbers for annual savings. The estimated savings for each product or activity can’t be summed because of “interactive effects,” says DOE. If you first replace your central AC with a more efficient one, saving, say, 15% on energy consumption, and then seal ducts, you wouldn’t save as much total energy on duct sealing as you would have if you had first sealed them. There’s just less energy to save at that point.

Bonus Tip for More Savings

Your utility may have funds available to help pay for energy improvement. Contact them directly, or visit DSIRE, a database of federal, state, local, and utility rebates searchable by state. Energy Star has a discount and rebate finder, too.

How to Keep Your House Cool

Want summer comfort but hate the AC? Follow these tips on how to keep your house cool without frosty air conditioning.

You don’t have to switch on the air conditioner to get a big chill this summer.

These tips will help you keep your house cool without AC, which will save energy (and avoid AC wars with your family.

Block That Sun!

When sunlight enters your house, it turns into heat. You’ll keep your house cooler if you reduce solar heat gain by keeping sunlight out.

Close the drapes: Line them with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun, and close them during the hottest part of the day. Let them pillow onto the floor to block air movement.

Add awnings: Install them on south- and west-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77%, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make your own by tacking up sheets outside your windows and draping the ends over a railing or lawn chair.

Install shutters: Interior and exterior shutters not only reduce heat gain and loss, but they also add security and protect against bad weather. Interior shutters with adjustable slats let you control how much sun you let in.

Apply high-reflectivity window film: Install energy-saving window films on east- and west-facing windows, which will keep you cool in summer, but let in warming sun in the winter. Mirror-like films are more effective than colored transparent films.

Open Those Windows

Be sure to open windows when the outside temperature is lower than the inside. Cool air helps lower the temps of everything — walls, floors, furniture — that will absorb heat as temps rise, helping inside air say cooler longer.

To create cross-ventilation, open windows on opposite sides of the house. Good ventilation helps reduce VOCs and prevents mold.

Related:

Fix Energy-Sucking Windows for Good
Repair or Replace Your Old Windows?
Fire Up Fans

Portable fans: At night, place fans in open windows to move cool air. In the day, put fans where you feel their cooling breezes (moving air evaporates perspiration and lowers your body temperature). To get extra cool, place glasses or bowls of ice water in front of fans, which will chill the moving air.

Ceiling fans: For maximum cooling effect, make sure ceiling fans spin in the direction that pushes air down, rather than sucks it up. Be sure to turn off fans when you’re not in the room, because fan motors give off heat, too.

Whole house fans: A whole-house fan ($1,000 to $1,600, including install) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents. Make sure your windows are open when you run a whole-house fan.

Power Down Appliances

You’ll save money and reduce heat output by turning off appliances you’re not using, particularly your computer and television. Powering down multiple appliances is easier if you connect them to the same power strip.

Don’t use heat- and steam-generating appliances — ranges, ovens, washers, dryers — during the hottest part of the day. In fact, take advantage of the heat by drying clothes outside on a line.

Plant Trees and Vines

These green house-coolers shade your home’s exterior and keep sunlight out of windows. Plant them by west-facing walls, where the sun is strongest.

Deciduous trees, which leaf out in spring and drop leaves in fall, are best because they provide shade in summer, then let in sun when temperatures drop in autumn. Select trees that are native to your area, which have a better chance of surviving. When planting, determine the height, canopy width, and root spread of the mature tree and plant accordingly.

Climbing vines, such as ivy and Virginia creeper, also are good outside insulators. To prevent vine rootlets or tendrils from compromising your siding, grow them on trellises or wires about 6 inches away from the house.

Speaking of shade, here are smart, inexpensive ideas for shading your patio.

Want more tips for staying cool this summer? Substitute CFL and LED bulbs for hotter incandescent lights.

Also, try insulating your garage door to prevent heat buildup.

Chuck Vosburgh Earns Designation in Global Real Estate Network

Chuck Vosburgh Earns Designation in Global Real Estate Network

Chuck Vosburgh of NextHome Gulf to Bay has earned the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation, placing him among 3,500 elite real estate professionals in over 45 countries. The designation was awarded to him by the National Association of REALTORS® for completing rigorous coursework devoted to learning international real estate practices and demonstrating proficiency in international business.

The CIPS designation is synonymous with advanced expertise, a global perspective, and distinct understanding of a global buyer. As a designee, Vosburgh has the knowledge and resources to efficiently work with international buyers, including U.S. residents looking to invest overseas, foreign buyers purchasing in the United States, as well as recent immigrants who might be unfamiliar with real estate transaction practices in the United States.

For more information contact Chuck Vosburgh, email chuck@VosburghandVosburgh.com, phone 727.743.17640 or visit VosburghandVosburgh.com.

For more information on the CIPS designation, visit www.nar.realtor/whycips.

Chuck and Pat Vosburgh Earn NAR Pricing Strategy Advisor Certification

Saint Petersburg, May 16, 2016 — Charles and Patricia Vosburgh with NextHome Gulf to Bay have earned the nationally recognized Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) certification. The National Association of REALTORS® offers the PSA certification to REALTORS® as determining property values depends more than ever on professional expertise and competence, the best use of technology, and a commitment to approach the pricing assignment from various perspectives.
“The market demands accurate property value assessments, so NAR is excited to provide Realtors® with enhanced tools, education and expertise to determine the most accurate value for a home and give their clients a leg up when buying or selling,” said NAR President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida.

Chuck and Pat have the knowledge and skills to select appropriate comparables and make accurate adjustments, guide sellers and buyers through the details of comparative market analyses and the underlying pricing principles that inform them, and interact effectively with appraisers.

There’s something missing in the recovery

By Chuck Vosburgh, Realtor, NextHome Gulf to Bay

Home sales are up substantially but there’s something missing – first time home buyers. Normally, first time home buyers represent about 40% of primary home purchases. This year they represent 32%, the lowest number since 1987 when first time home buyers represented 30% of the market.

Low interest rates and a healthy job market would mean more first time home buyers, but there are a number of obstacles facing today’s first time buyer. According to the Nationals Association of Realtors, 25% of would-be first time home buyers reported saving up for a down payment was the biggest obstacle. Increasing rents and debt conspire to keep many out of their first home. 58% reported that student loans are delaying their ability to save so they are waiting until their debt is at a more manageable level. With a median student debt of $25,000 combined with high consumer debt, for many it will take years.

So who’s buying?

Most buyers are people taking advantage of high values on their homes and using the equity for down payments to trade up or down. Married couple represent 67% of buyers with their higher purchasing power. Married repeat buyers have the highest income among buyers with an average of $108,600.

What’s next?

Home values are expected to continue to rise and interest rates are predicted to remain low keeping existing home owners in a good position to purchase their next home. For first time buyers, the best course of action is to reduce debt as quickly as possible and begin saving.

Want to know what your purchasing power is? Have questions? Just ask. It’s free and no strings attached. Call 727.743.1740 or email Chuck@VosburghandVosburgh.com

Is your home value being attacked by zombies?

By Chuck Vosburgh, Realtor
NextHome Gulf to Bay

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Zombies are a problem in every town. They are unsightly, unkept and sometimes they’re dangerous and smelly. You may even have them on your street. Zombie properties are the houses that just sit there vacant, ugly and running down the values of all the nice homes like yours. More than one in every 150 homes in the Tampa Bay area is in foreclosure and Florida is second in the nation in foreclosures.

What can you do?
Most of the time there will be a sign on the front of the house, either on the door or in the front window with a number to call. If calling the property manager doesn’t help, call your local code enforcement official to make the owners maintain the property.

The good news
The good news is that these houses are slowly getting bought and fixed up. Realty Trac reported foreclosures in Florida are down 17% compared to last year and lenders are making it easier for people to buy. According to mortgagestats.com, Florida is 4th in lending volume in the US. The real estate market continues to be strong and a seller’s market is expected to continue which will accelerate the sale of distressed properties. No matter what, be patient. The zombies will eventually go away.

What’s your property worth right now?
If you’d like to know what your home is worth, give us a call or send us an email. We’ll be happy to do a market analysis for you. It’s free and no strings attached. Call 727.743.1740 or email Chuck@VosburghandVosburgh.com