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Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

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What Is My House Worth?

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

How often have you wondered "What is my house worth?"  This is a common question for every homeowner.  Whether your house is a real Victorian mansion or a little cottage, everyone wants to know "What is my house worth?"

There are a few things you can control to enhance the value of your house. 

  1. The curb appeal, does it look good from the street?
  2. Is the lawn neat and trimmed, the paint fresh?
  3. Inside, is the house clean and uncluttered?  Clutter costs you cash.
  4. Are the windows clean?
  5. Are there pet odors, or smoker odors?  These odors will eliminate lots of buyers.
  6. Are the carpets clean.
  7. Is the roof in good condition?
  8. Does the air conditioner perform efficiently and quietly?
  9. Staging.  This is all about presenting your house in the best possible light for the buyer.  Remember, once the seller has made the decision to sell the house, it is now a commodity and must be presented in the best light for sale at the best possible price.

A couple of things you and your Realtor cannot control when wondering what is my house worth.

  1. Location - you really can't say the house would be worth more or less in a different location, it is where it is.
  2. Price.  Some Realtors will tell you they can set the price.  Quite simply, they can't.  The marketplace will set the price.  Some sellers, and some Realtors, won't like it, however, the market will give you the answer to your question, what is my house worth.

So, when pricing your hose, be sure to keep it real, don't ask for more than the market value, don't try to sell memories - buyers want to make their own memories and won't pay a premium for yours.

And most important of all, do everything you can to enjoy the entire experience.

 

Selling Your Home.

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Are you selling your home by yourself, or do you have a professional Realtor working for you?

A common question from many home sellers is "Why is my home not selling?"  If you are selling your home, either as a For Sale by Owner, or with the professional help of a Realtor, here are a few possible reasons the house is not selling.  These are all a part of the home staging process.

1.  It is priced too high.  Regardless of what you "want" to get for your house, the market is only going to pay what it is worth, in the marketplace.  You can see what the marketplace is doing by checking out our Market Insider feature.  The fantasy of finding that "one cash buyer who will pay my price" is just that, a fantasy.  Cash buyers have cash because they are smart with their money.

2.  People may not know it is for sale.  A For Sale by Owner is not really helping himself and as a rule makes about 12-16% less money than using a professional Realtor, who has access to many, many more sales and marketing outlets than a For Sale by Owner.

3.  Is there one little nagging issue that keeps popping up when buyers go through the house.  If you get a common thread from buyers that seems to indicate something wrong with the house, do not take the comments as personal insults, act on it.  Not everyone likes pink carpets, or avocado appliances, or that purple flowery wallpaper in the guest room.  If it is a regular comment, it could be stopping buyers from making an offer, even if unconscious.

4.  The house does not show well.  Are the lights one, the curtains open so there is plenty of light?  Is there the back of a couch blocking the way as soon as people enter the house?  The placement may be great for watching the TV, but it could give the appearance of a tiny living room.  Sometimes subtle items can kill enthusiasm for a house that otherwise would be perfect.  Simple home staging can make a huge difference in the presentation of your home.

5.  The buyer can never see themselves in this house.  Is the house cluttered?  Do you have too many personal photos on every inch of wall space?  Can people see the beautiful stainless refrigerator, or is every piece of art your child ever drew stuck on it?  Remove the clutter, it is costing money.

6.  How is the curb appeal?  Does the lawn need to be mowed?  Are the flower beds or shrubs overgrown, dead, or just plain neglected?  Does the front door need a fresh coat of paint?  Trim the grass and shrubs, it might make a difference that sells the house.

If you want to get an idea of what the market value of a particular home is, take a look at our free and automated market value estimator of any property you want to consider.

Try taking to heart these little home staging tips for selling your home.  It just might mean more money in your pocket quicker than if you do nothing.  And you probably should consider hiring a professional Realtor, in almost every case this will net you more money faster.

Looking for a Retirement Home

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

If you are looking for a retirement home, the Clearwater/Palm Harbor area has what you need.  There are lots of 55+ communities with the active Florida lifestyle you are looking for.  You can search for exactly what you are looking for, in the price range you want, in the location you want to be, and do it for free.  Do you want your Florida lifestyle by living in a condo, a single family home, a villa, or a townhouse?  Senior living in the Clearwater and Palm Harbor area does not mean living a sedentary life.

The Florida lifestyle options are bountiful.  The Pinellas Bicycle Trail offers lots of opportunity to get exercise, see beautiful scenery, and not have to share the road with car traffic.  The Pinellas Bicycle Trail runs from Tarpon Springs in north Pinellas County, all the way to St. Petersburg, in south Pinellas County.  There are off-shoots along the way: ride along the Anclote River, stop for a picnic, go fishing; or take a pleasant detour to Honeymoon Island, Florida's most visited state park, with it's wonderful white sand beach, lots of opportunity for fishing, and just plain relaxation.  Or ride across to Clearwater Beach, do all the beach things you want to do, head back to the Pinellas Trail, and maybe stop an any of the many restaurants along the way.

Several retirement communities are pet friendly, some prefer no pets so you can choose which you prefer.  The prices in these 55+ communities range from as low as $25,000 to over $250,000.  Some offer community pools, travel clubs, golf, various alumni associations, movie nights and so much more.

Of course, you can save a lot of time and call us.  We'll do most of the work for you.

 

 

 

Dunedin Retirement Communities

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Are you looking for Dunedin retirement communities, or your winter home away from home? Dunedin is the place.  It has the lifestyle, the location, affordability, and almost every amenity you could ask for.  Do you want an active adult community?  You can use our Market Insider to follow the real estate trends in Dunedin.

There is the Pinellas Bike Trail, for those who like to get exercise and go somewhere.  You can ride the Pinellas Bike Trail the length of Dunedin, take a side trip over to Honeymoon Island state park, or just stop on the Dunedin Causeway to watch the boaters, or the windsurfers, or other people simply enjoying the view. There is the Dunedin Golf Club, which is the former home of the PGA, with a wonderful clubhouse and restaurant.  Downtown Dunedin has lots of shops, restaurants and plenty of festivals and events during the season.  Coming in November is the Arts Harvest, a major event with juried artworks available for purchase, lots of good food to eat, and many people just enjoying the fall weather.

So, you ask, what about the Dunedin retirement communities in the area with property for sale?  The Douglas Arms is a 55+ community that is very affordable, with prices typically under $75,000.  Douglas Arms is a no pets community.  There is also the Heather Hill Apartments.  Heather Hill Apartments are villas, have a no pets policy and also are generally priced in the under $75,000 range.  Heather Lake condos, Patrician Oaks and Pinehurst Village are also 55+ communities typically priced under $100,000. You can use our automated price estimator for the estimated value of your home, or any other home you might be interested in purchasing.

Edgewater Arms condo is on Edgewater Drive in Dunedin, with prices in the general range of $150,000 to $225,000.  Edgewater Arms is right on the Gulf coast with spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico and the nightly sunset show, which is free.  Edgewater Arms is also a no pets community.

Another outstanding Dunedin retirement community is Royal Stewart Arms.  Royal Stewart Arms is located on the Dunedin Causeway, just before the entrance to Honeymoon Island state park.  The Pinellas Bike Trail goes right by the community, so residents can walk along the Dunedin Causeway to Honeymoon Island, or head east on the causeway to the beach, or over to the mainland for a meal at Frenchy's Island Outpost, and dine on the open air patio.  The listing prices for condos in Royal Stewart Arms are generally from about $175,000 to $250,000.  Some of the condos in this waterfront community have simply incredible views of the Gulf and the intra-coastal waterway.  There is even a community fishing pier where people gather for fishing and conversation, or to watch the dolphins swimming around.

The lifestyle is there, you simply choose the value.

 

A Moving Checklist for When You Sell Your House

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

When you sell your house, the entire experience can be stressful, to say the least.  There are a few things you can do to ease the pain and have as "calm" an experience as possible.  The following moving checklist for when you sell your house may come in handy.

Of course, there is the part about selling your house.  When you sell your house as a "For Sale by Owner"it  is not often a good idea.  In the end, statistically, according to the National Association of Realtors, a For Sale by Owner ends up losing money because the house sells for less than it could have.  Hire a professional Realtor, get the right price, and worry about your move instead of showing the house.

Now the house is sold, here are a few things to consider.  Get in touch with the Utilities, including electric, phone, water, internet/cable, gas, etc.  Be sure to leave the utilities on at least until the day of closing.

Then make sure you let various professionals know about your move and new address, including your broker, accountant, doctor, dentist and lawyer.

Next, check to make sure the appropriate government offices are aware of your new address.  These include: the IRS, the Post Office, school (if applicable), motor vehicles, voter registration, Veterans Administration, etc.

Do you belong to any clubs, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, health and fitness, country club?  Check in with your insurance companies: auto, health, home, life, etc.  Don't let coverage lapse because the insurance company can't get the bill to you.

What about your business accounts, like the banks, cell phone, internet provider, department stores, credit cards and finance companies.  Protect your credit and give them notice of your move and forwarding address.

Then move on to newspaper and magazine subscriptions.  Be sure to give plenty of notice so you get continuous coverage, or don't get billed for a newspaper that you no longer receive.

And of course, there is the "miscellaneous" category.  This might include your pharmacy, house of worship, dry cleaner, hair stylist, and your business associates or golf buddies.

The more you can do to prepare for moving when you sell your house, the easier the entire experience is going to be.  So relax, be organized, and as much as possible, enjoy the experience when you sell your house.

Dunedin Condos for Sale

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Dunedin condos for sale.  Is this an exciting sentence or not?  It is if you are looking for a condo in Dunedin, FL.  If you are interested in the Florida lifestyle, Dunedin is the city for you.  Dunedin is a small city or just under 50,000 people, it is located on the Gulf of Mexico, just north of Clearwater Beach and just south of Tarpon Springs and Palm Harbor.  Actually, if you go to the west edge of Dunedin, on the Gulf, and look across the water, there is Clearwater Beach and Caladesi Island.

Caladesi Island is accessible by boat only.  No cars, no roads.  There are nature paths for walking, and you can observe bald eagles, various sea birds, tortoises, dolphins just off the beach, osprey, and other forms of wildlife.  Caladesi Island has been named by Dr. Beach as the best beach in the country.  If you are a sportsman, the fishing off Caladesi Island is excellent, and includes redfish, snook, and for excitement the occasional shark.

Of course, Clearwater Beach is a world famous beach destination, with a wide sandy beach with lots of things to do, including watch stunning sunsets, Pier 60 and its attractions, various restaurants and attractions such as dolphin cruises, dinner cruises and parasailing.  Clearwater Beach is a very short drive from Dunedin and provides a good bit of extra entertainment for those who are looking for Dunedin condos for sale.

Oh yeah, we were talking about Dunedin condos for sale, weren't we.  The prices range from the very affordable to the luxury market.  Look at the listings below to see what is happening with Dunedin condos for sale.

And did we mention the lifestyle?  Dunedin's Main Street has great restaurants, interesting and unique shops, hand-made ice cream, lots of parks with outdoor concerts, green markets and an endless schedule of arts and crafts fairs, special events festivals - Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras, Wines the Blues, juried arts fair, and lots more.

Check it out.  Dunedin is a great place to live.  And there are Dunedin condos for sale.

Leaks in the Slab, Wet Floors, Oh My!

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Some weeks are  more interesting than others, and this week I learned a whole lot about leaks in the slab, wet floors, oh my!!  According to the plumber and the leak detection specialist we worked with this week, Florida and floors can be interesting.

The old saw about "don't put a wood floor in a house in Florida" is just that.  Lots of houses in our area, the greater Clearwater area, are 75 - 100 years old and have beautiful wood floors.  They are built with a crawl space under the house so air gets to circulate under the house and moisture doesn't get trapped and build up.  Projects done right will add value to a home.

Newer construction is built on a concrete slab.  Nothing wrong with that.  People decide to install nice, expensive wooden floors.  Nothing wrong with that either.  According to our leak detection expert, and the plumber, what can go wrong is the slab may not get a sealant, or the sealant could be improperly applied, and the floor will be installed with only a moisture barrier on the concrete, then the wood floor is set on top of the moisture barrier.  Again, our expert says that the moisture barrier slows the moisture from getting to the wood, but doesn't stop it.  He says he is getting a significant increase in calls for "leaks" or ruined wood flooring, mostly because of the increased number of wood floors being installed, but also because so many of them are improperly installed, as far as moisture is concerned.

What should happen, is the installer should seal the concrete and let the sealant dry for a couple of days.  Then it is OK to install the wood flooring.  In his opinion, using a combination sealer/adhesive does not work as well and will result in damage to the floors, because the combination does not protect from moisture penetration as well as sealing the floor first and then doing the installation.

He showed me a concrete floor, that appeared dry, even to the touch.  When he took a reading with his moisture meter, it maxed out on the meter.  It was only a matter of time before there would be damage to the flooring installed on that slab.

Another issue the plumber pointed out, in one of our listings, is that when the house was built, the copper pipe did not have a sleeve around it where it went through the slab.  This caused the pipe to rub against the concrete when the water was turned on or off, or if there was vibration.  Eventually, the concrete wore through the copper pipe and voila!!, there was a leak in the slab.  Good news, the homeowner purchased a home warranty.  Unfortunately, the home warranty, while covering a lot of the damage, did not cover all of it and the homeowner is still on the hook for a major part of the cost of repair.

The moral of the story, is buy a home warranty.  Seriously, if you are going to install a wood floor, just be sure it is done right.  Don't go for cheap, pay for a little extra time, get the floors done right and they just might last a lifetime.  And if they don't, a home warranty will defray the costs for repair.

For Sale by Owner Negotiations

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

For sale by owner negotiations can be interesting.  Almost everybody who tries to be a for sale by owner, or FSBO, thinks that because they sold a house ten years ago, or have sold a dozen homes over their lifetime, that all that is involved is putting up a for sale sign and the buyer will make an offer, get accepted, and close.  Not so fast, my friend.

Almost anybody can get a contract.  It is after the contract that the sale actually happens.  First the for sale by owner negotiates with the buyer.  Buyers invariably think that because a house is a for sale by owner, or FSBO, that this is a garage sale opportunity and the seller will give the house away.  Of course, the seller feels he needs to get top dollar for the house and is asking for what he feels the house is worth, often not considering what the real market value may be.  So, the initial negotiations are between the seller - thinking he will get top dollar, and the buyer - looking for the proverbial "deal" offering a garage sale price.  And if the buyer has a Realtor, which the vast majority of buyers do, that Realtor represents the best interests of her buyer, so she is not going to let the seller get anymore than absolutely necessary.  If the FSBO is unrealistic in the price of the house, a professional Realtor will simply have her buyer find another house that is priced properly and not overpay.  After all, the Realtor is trained in negotiations, and has her finger on the pulse of the market, so she knows just about exactly what the house is really worth.  So, when the for sale by owner negotiations eventually work out, a price is agreed upon and everything is just peachy, right?

Not really.  Now, the Realtor who represents the buyer is going to have inspections done.  The seller now has to negotiate with whatever the home inspector found, and they will always find something.  Not to mention what the pest inspection turns up, whether it is simple wood rot, or a major termite infestation.  These things now need the for sale by owner negotiations to work out.

And the buyer's lender might need the seller to get involved in the mortgage, depending on the loan structure.

The title company just might find an issue with title, so the for sale by owner now needs to address the title issue, which could kill the deal if not handled properly.

If you feel really good about your knowledge of the local real estate market, are confident that your house is completely maintained and has no hidden issues (roof leaking, plumbing, electrical, termites, etc.) then you can be comfortable about managing your own for sale by owner negotiations. 

For sale by owner negotiations can be good for all parties, or they can cause incredible frustration for the seller, because he can't sell the house, or the buyers will be frustrated because the seller appears to be unreasonable during the negotiations.  By the way, we didn't even talk about disclosures.  That is a topic for another time.

In the end, according to the National Association of Realtors, over 80% of real estate transactions have a professional Realtor involved.

Reasons to Use a Professional Realtor

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Many people feel that they can sell a house by themselves.  Of course they can!  There are some considerations that really need to come into play before someone thinks they don't need a professional Realtor.

1. Paperwork.  There is, or should be, a contract, and disclosures for all sorts of things - condition of the property, home owner associations, lead based paint, etc..  A professional Realtor understands what disclosures and documents are required and which are very good to have.  We are living in a highly regulated environment, not to mention that if something goes wrong after the sale, someone may get sued and if the right paperwork was not done, such as a disclosure, whoever did not provide that disclosure could be in a lot of trouble.

2. Negotiation.  Most people believe that once there is a contract, the deal is just about done.  Not so much.  Realtors understand the entire negotiation process, from presenting an offer and getting the parties to agree on a price and terms, to arranging inspections, keeping the loan process on track.  By acting as an intermediary, a Realtor can skillfully avoid hard feelings between a buyer and seller over matters that could be misunderstood if not presented properly.

3.  Realtors understand the entire sales process.  They know how to get a deal done.  No one gets paid, seller or the involved agents, and the buyer does not get the house unless the sale process is completed.

4.  Realtors actually do know the market.  They help guide a seller in setting a realistic, market based price so the house will actually sell.  They also help buyers to understand what is a fair offer, based on the market and protect a buyer from over-bidding on a property.  At the same time, a Realtor will advise a buyer on not making such a low offer that a seller could get insulted and break off negotiations.  And a Realtor can save buyers hours of time and expense in searching for a house.

Consider all the factors that go into making such a large business decision, usually involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Get a professional who is trained, licensed and experienced.

 

How to Be a Successful For Sale by Owner (FSBO)

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Are you looking to sell your home?  Torn between using a Realtor or going For Sale by Owner, or FSBO?  Read on and you can be a successful For Sale by Owner or FSBO.

Price your house right.  Do a comparative market analysis, visit homes that are comparable to yours, go to the public records and review recent sales (within the last 90 days, as a rule), and do research on the internet for pricing guidance.  Do this and you should be able to set the price correctly.  Remember, do not price the house at what you want to get, price it where the market will buy it.

Once you have decided on the price, market the property.  Remember, when you have decided to sell, your home has now become a house, a commodity to be sold.  That may sound cold, however, buyers are seldom interested in paying a premium for your family history.  Pin your house on Pinterest, promote it on Facebook, advertise on Craigslist, use Twitter, Instagram and any other social media you would like to.  You can even advertise to a specific audience on Facebook, just be sure you know how so it does not cost a fortune.

Use a good camera to take high quality photos of your house.  Remember, the first look a buyer gets of your house over 90% of the time is on the internet.  Bad photos will greatly reduce the pool of potential buyers.  It may be wise to hire a professional photographer who is experienced shooting for real estate marketing.  Depending on your market, you can find a photographer who will do the work between $125 to $500, depending on the specific needs of the situation.

Then be sure to take advantage of internet sites such as Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, Realtor.com and perhaps even build your own specific website for the house.  All you need to do for that is buy the web domain, build the site, and put the house on the site.  You may be able to hire a high schooler to do this for you for $500 - $1,000.  Be sure to use relevant keywords so buyers can find your house in an online search.  There are tools available on the internet, such as Google, that teach you how to pick the best keywords.

Now you've got this far, make a video so people can actually see your house.  Upload it to YouTube and buyers will be able to find it online, as long as they use the right keywords.  Be sure to put yourself in the video so you can talk about the best parts of the house, improvements you have made, what attracted you to the house in the first place, and cover important issues a buyer might ask, such as taxes, nearby schools, insurance costs, utility costs, convenience items like shopping or airports, etc.  Even explain why you are a FSBO. 

Come up with a catchy name for your video or website, then link to all your social media outlets.

Put a professional sign in the yard so people driving by will know the house is for sale.  A generic sign with Sharpie lettering on it will get potential buyers to think "Yard Sale" prices.

Make sure that all buyers who want to come into your home are actually who they claim to be and are in fact, qualified to purchase your home.

Being a successful For Sale by Owner, or FSBO, can be challenging and may not be for everyone.  If you do everything right, your may sell your house quickly and for a fair price. Who knows, being a FSBO might even be fun!

Or, you can hire a Realtor who does this already.

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Photo of Gwen and  Doug Campbell - Sun Bay Realty Group Real Estate
Gwen and Doug Campbell - Sun Bay Realty Group
at Keller Williams Realty
35095 US Hwy 19N, Suite 100
Palm Harbor FL 34684
Gwen's Cell 727-741-4744
Doug's Cell 727-741-4189
Fax: 888-447-7908