Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sanibel and Captiva Fare much better than expected during Hurricane Irma

Call me crazy, but I stayed on Sanibel for Irma!
That being said, the building codes here on the island are extremely high, over and above those for Lee County and the house I was in was built to withstand winds of 250 mph. The first level of the home is 16.5 ft above ground and there was another level to escape to if needed. I felt extremely safe and had a front row seat to watch as Irma rolled in over the Gulf of Mexico.
We had radio, and were warned that the eye wall was about to pass us when the winds dropped as the storm took a jog to the east. Things slowly returned to normal, and there was NO storm surge!
All in all the islands suffered minor damage, mostly downed trees and a few power lines. Driving around checking the homes of friends and customers I was very happy to report all OK in all cases!!
My home on Sanibel got power yesterday afternoon, and water and sewer have been restored Island wide. Many homes are still without power and LCEC  can be seen everywhere working diligently.
Our sympathies go out to our neighbors in Collier County who were less fortunate.
As I write this article, many island businesses are opening up, including Baileys General Store who opened their doors at 3pm one day post storm! The Lazy Flamingo 1, and the Sanibel Grill are also open for business as is the Pecking Order. 711 at the corner of Periwinkle Way and Tarpon Bay road has gas, but the lines are VERY long and are being monitored by SPD.
Royal Shell Real Estate will be open for business in the next coming days; I wonder what direction the market will take? After Charley it went up, up, up!
Sally Davies
Royal Shell Real Estate Inc.
Sanibel & Captiva Islands.

Friday, August 11, 2017

10 Tips for First Time Buyer Success

10 Tips for First Time Buyer Success: Buying a House can be overwhelming, but incorporatingthese tips can help with you being successful. Choosing a Realtor that that takes both your goals an

Why the tight inventory? Blame the boomers

Why the tight inventory? Blame the boomers

Friday, May 19, 2017

Making an Offer: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

Making an Offer: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

In competitive housing markets across the country, making an offer that sticks has become increasingly difficult. Ensure your client doesn’t make the process even tougher by succumbing to one of these common mistakes.
Delaying
“Time kills deals,” says Andrew Sandholm of BOND New York Properties in New York. “Dragging your feet means you could wind up paying more in a bidding war situation or missing out on the property altogether.” Buyers need to be ready with their paperwork, such as bank statements, a preapproval letter, and documents supporting proof of funds, from the day they begin house-hunting mode. That way they can pounce quickly with an offer when they do find a home they like.
Making an offer for their preapproved amount
Smart buyers are getting preapproved to show a seller they’re financially able to purchase a home. However, Chuck Silverston, principal at Unlimited Sotheby’s International Realty in Brookline, Mass., warns buyers against using that document to come up with an offer amount.
“Many buyers come in with a preapproval for the exact offer price, but when you’re competing against other offers, including cash offers, you want to show financial strength,” Silverston says. “An exact preapproval could make a listing agent nervous because not only does the buyer not have any wiggle room to negotiate, but they might no longer qualify if interest rates rise.”
Submitting a lowball offer
Lowballing a seller often backfires, particularly in a seller’s market. “A lowball offer that isn't backed up with math or comparable sales data is disrespectful and could turn off the seller and possibly mean you will miss out on the property completely,” Sandholm says.
Waiving inspection contingencies
“I don't care whether it’s new construction or even your mom’s house you’re buying from her – get it inspected,” urges Joshua Jarvis of Jarvis Team Realty in Duluth, Ga. Further, if you waive the inspection contingency in your offer, you may lose the earnest money if you later back out of the deal.
Not presenting yourself well enough
In a seller’s market, buyers need to take steps to make sure they look good in the eyes of the seller. “In today’s highly competitive environment, the listing agent is trying to determine which buyer will be the easiest to deal with,” Silverston says. Buyers may want to avoid pointing out every defect, making nitpicky queries, or questioning the seller’s tastes.
“Basically buyers who act less than enthusiastic will see themselves at a competitive disadvantage when sellers are comparing multiple offers,” he says.

Study: Most renters should be buyers

Study: Most renters should be buyers

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

If Buyers Want to Save Money: Tell Them to Shop

If Buyers Want to Save Money: Tell Them to Shop

Home buyers who don’t gather more than one quote when shopping for a mortgage may be losing out on some savings to their monthly payments.
Lenders can offer a wide dispersion of rates, up to 50 basis points or 0.5 percent, after controlling for factors like the borrower’s down payment and credit score. That could be the difference between a 3.5 percent versus a 4 percent mortgage rate, according to a recent study by two economists at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who culled mortgage data from 2014.
The authors offer up a scenario of what would happen if consumers had done an additional search for rate offers. Just one extra search could potentially reduce a borrower’s monthly payment by $8.63, on average. Adding five more searches could help them reduce their payments by $17.03 per month (that’s about $204 over just one year in savings). That said, the borrower’s initial offer may end up being the strongest in some cases, despite additional searches, the authors also note.
But in general, the researchers say that borrowers’ shopping around forces lenders to compete and likely will reduce the costs the borrower will end up paying.
“Tell your clients, especially first-time buyers, to shop more,” notes the National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook blog, interpreting the study’s results. “It may save them money. They should use websites that quote multiple lenders and get multiple offers on their own from large retail lenders, smaller banks or credit unions, and mortgage banks. But always consider the total cost, which includes the lenders’ fees and other services.”
Source: “Sometimes, Shopping Will Save Your Clients Money!” National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook blog (April 25, 2017)

How much is a great view worth?

How much is a great view worth?

Bad credit scores can triple home insurance costs

Bad credit scores can triple home insurance costs

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Important FIRPTA Update for non-US citizens planning to sell real estate

Important FIRPTA Update

The IRS has revised the rules for the interview process when applying for an ITIN!

When a Non-U.S. resident sells U.S. real estate, they are required to have an Individual Tax ID Number (ITIN). This is done by completing form W-7, and having your passports and identity verified by a Certified Acceptance Agent (CAA).

Typically, the CAA verifies the applicant’s passport in person with a face-to-face interview. However, sometimes applicants cannot travel to the U.S. because they are elderly, sick, have problems with VISAs, etc.  In these situations, the IRS has allowed a Skype interview with the CAA if the applicant sends their original passport or a certified copy of their passport to their CAA for review. While it does take some extra time and cost, this method has still helped many applicants successfully obtain their ITIN when selling their U.S. property.
IRS updates have now changed this!
On April 17, 2017, the IRS sent out notification to all CAAs stating that “U.S. based CAAs can only assist applicants who reside abroad through face-to-face interviews when they are temporarily in the country.” We immediately responded, asking for clarification on conducting Skype interviews as we have in the past. The IRS responded confirming that U.S. based CAAs will no longer be able to conduct interviews with foreign clients via video-conferencing. It is clear that the interview must be held with the U.S. based CAA in a face to face interview in our office while the foreign applicant is visiting here in the states.

As if the IRS doesn’t make our foreign friends jump through enough hoops already when selling U.S. real estate, this throws another hurdle in it! If the non-U.S. resident is applying for an ITIN and cannot be in the U.S. to interview with a CAA, they will now need to either find a CAA in their home country to conduct the interview, visit a Taxpayer Assistance Center in their country, or mail a completed W-7 form with their required identification directly to the IRS.
How can I help my foreign sellers prepare so their transaction is successful?
Preparation is key. As soon as you start working with a foreign seller, find out if they have an ITIN. If they don’t, you’ll want to set them up with someone who can help them apply for one. Even if they don’t have a contract on their sale, they can still have their passport verified by a CAA if they are in town. This way any issues are avoided when applying for the ITIN if they should go back to their home country later.

If they will not be in the U.S. any time during the listing or contract period, they will need to find a CAA in their home country. The sooner the foreign seller is aware, the more time they will have to locate a CAA in their country and make an appointment with them.

One of things you do not want to do is trying to switch, or quit claim, the deed from one foreign person to another or to a corporation, LLC or trust prior to the sale, as this will trigger the FIRPTA tax on the flip, and potentially putting the foreigner in a real bind with the IRS.

As a Realtor, one of the best things you can do for your customers is educate them. Make them aware of this process, and let them know you work with a great firm that can help them with all the steps required to apply for their ITIN!

Survey: Flood insurance reforms have bipartisan support

Survey: Flood insurance reforms have bipartisan support

Forget millennials: Gen X driving today’s market

Forget millennials: Gen X driving today’s market

Thursday, March 2, 2017

7 Easy Ways to Sabotage the Sale of Your Home

7 Easy Ways to Sabotage the Sale of Your Home: Here are 7 Easy Ways to Sabotage the Sale of Your Home, like wrong pricing, smells, pets and limited access. Don't be a saboteur

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

MLS 2170003

MLS 2170003

When does an investment become a second home?

When does an investment become a second home?

 
Feb. 20, 2017 – Question: My primary residence is in Florida. I have owned and rented a condo in Hawaii since 2004. If I stopped renting the condo and lived in it for half the year, would my condo be considered a second home? Would there be tax consequences? – Name not provided
Answer: If you lived in the condo half the year and no longer rented it, it would be a second home. You could deduct any mortgage interest and real estate taxes paid on the condo as part of your itemized deductions. You should maintain the depreciation schedule for your records because when you sell the property, depreciation factors can reduce your cost basis.
When you sell a rental property at a loss, you can deduct the loss. When you sell a second home, the loss is considered personal and is not deductible. In both cases, a gain on the sale would be taxable. – Paula Taylor
© 2017 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.); Paula Taylor, CFP, contributes to the Orlando Sentinel's Ask an Expert series. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.