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Buyer Beware, Make Sure a Realtor Is There!!

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Many home buyers, especially first time buyers, think they can save a little money if they don't work with a real estate agent.  This could be a very expensive mistake.  On of the best reasons for a buyer to work with a Realtor is that it is FREE!  It does not add any cost to the purchase of the house and sellers generally expect that a buyer will be working with a Realtor, since the seller probably is.  A Realtor will guide the homebuyer through the many issues of the contract negotiation process.  The real estate agent will perform an evaluation of the house so the buyers gets the best possible value for their money.

Working with a Realtor is also very important when looking for new construction.  The builder's agent is working for the builder, not the buyer.  A buyers' agent will work diligently to protect the buyers' interests, and will help secure independent home inspections before closing to make sure the contractor has in fact completed the house and that there are not lots of little unfinished details or worse, shoddy craftsmanship.  The buyers' agent's job is to protect you.

Definitely work with a realtor if you are considering purchasing a home that is For Sale By Owner, or FSBO.  According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 95% of FSBO homes sold have a Realtor involved in the deal.  Often, FSBOs don't have the experience or knowledge to price their home properly or to get the home selling transaction to a successful conclusion.  By not knowing complex real estate laws, FSBOs simply may not follow the laws written to protect the consumer.  This can result in lawsuits that, if a Realtor had been involved, most likely would have been avoided.  Make sure you have someone to represent your best interests.  Your Realtor may be the only professional  with the experience to get you through the entire transaction.

Good Realtors have extensive experience working with lenders and can help buyers find the right mortgage professional with the right loan products for the buyers.  They know how to get the loan closed.  Realtors also are great resources for finding home inspection companies, home repair tradesmen like electricians, plumbers, lawn maintenance, carpenters and contractors, surveyors, and many, many other professionals. 

Of course, the whole relationship is built on trust.  You, the buyer, must believe that the Realtor is truly working for you.  If you, as the home buyer, do not feel comfortable that your real estate agent truly is working in your best interests, the solution is simple.  Find the right Realtor.  Since this is one of the largest and most complex financial transactions you will ever make, it is vitally important that you feel comfortable with and have trust in your Realtor. 

A good Realtor will help make the purchase of your new home a great experience!!  Enjoy it.

Limited Time $8,000 Tax Credit for First Time Home Buyers

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

For a limited time home buyers can claim a special tax credit worth up to $8,000. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act offers qualifying homebuyers a tax credit equal to 10 percent of a home's purchase price, up to a maximum of $8,000. The tax credit is offered to first time homebuyers, and those who have not owned a principle residence in the past three years. To be eligible for the tax credit, the home purchase must be recorded between January 1 through December 1, 2009.

The full tax credit is offered to buyers with reported income up to $75,000, or $150,000 for married couples filing a joint return. Partial tax credits are available to for those with income levels up to $95,000, or $170,000 for those filing jointly. Contact us today for more details on this exciting program!

Rent, hold or sell in the current Tampa Bay real estate market??

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

In the current market lots of homeowners are upside down in their homes.  They have to ask themselves do we want to sell our house at the current market value and lose our equity, or even have to do a short sale just to get out of the situation, can they rent the house for a while until the market comes back, or should they just sit tight and hold on to their home until the market improves. 

The answer to these questions is "It depends on the situation."  For the homeowner who is farily comfortable financially and has no real pressing need to move, it may be the best course of action to do nothing and continue living in the house for a few more years.  For the homeowner who needs to sell, for whatever reason, whether it is a growing family, job change, health, and they do not want to sell at the current market value, renting could be an option. 

Experts are speculating about the recovery of the real estate market.  Some say we are near the bottom, others, such as PMI, the company that insures mortgages, estimates two more years of price decline, at least in the Tampa Bay area.  PMI did not just throw a dart at their estimate, but analyzed Florida foreclosures, unemployment and other data from the last quarter of 2008.  Other experts are predicting that Tampa foreclosures will increase in 2009 especially as unemployment continues to go up in the Tampa Bay area.

At a recent conference in Orlando, Florida, David Gergen, former presidential advisor and currently a professor of public service at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, predicted that the housing recovery would look like a saucer or soup bowl. that is an eventual leveling at the bottom, but staying there for a while and then there will be a very gradual recovery.  These predictions indicate that if someone decides to rent their home now, it may take another two years of decline, then with the gradual real estate recovery, two or three more years for prices to get back to today's level.  So the homeowner who opts to rent until the market recovers may have to rent their house, act as a landlord, for 3-5 years to just break even, if inflation is not taken into account.

If there is little to no equity in the house and the owner has a negative cash flow, holding or renting might be risky strategies.  A loan modification could work, selling at a loss if the owner can sustain a financial loss, a short sale - if the bank is willing, or going to foreclosure are other options.  In every case, serious consideration of the consequences, including the unintended consequences, must be carefully evaluated.

For specific legal advice, or financial advice, you should contact your attorney or accountant.

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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
30522 US Hwy 19N, Suite 107 S
Palm Harbor FL 34684
Doug's Cell 727-741-4189
Gwen's Cell 727-741-7260
Fax: 888-447-7908