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Tampa Bay Real Estate - Not for the Faint of Heart

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Tampa Bay real estate is not for the faint of heart. According to the Pinellas Realtor Organization, September residential sales dropped by 18.5% in September when compared to September 2009.  As of September 30, in Pinellas County, there were 6822 single family homes listed for sale in the Suncoast Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  Of those listings, for September 2010 there were 567 single family residences that sold.  This is an absorption rate of 8.3%, meaning that for every 100 homes for sale in the Suncoast MLS, fewer than 10 will sell in the next month.

Condos in Pinellas County have a very similar picture, with 5511 condos for sale and 387 sold, for an absorption rate of 7.0%.

In both scenarios, there is more than a one year inventory of housing units for sale, so for a seller, the best way to sell a home is to price it intelligently and be sure it is the nicest on in the price range.  Otherwise the marketplace will pass it by and it will become stale, and unsold.

There is a bright spot in all of this based on the Suncoast MLS, as pending contracts went up by 10.6% over September 2009.  As the prices are still dropping, the number of units being sold should continue to increase so that the unsold inventory is gradually shrinking. 

Even though the Tampa Bay real estate market is currently still soft, from the seller's perspective, there are signs of recovery, with the number of units sold increasing in the last three months.  So, don't be faint of heart.  This is definitely a buyer's market.  Prices are at the lowest point in a decade, and interest rates are at historic lows.

Mortgage Rates Are Really Low - For Now

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Here is a very brief, although possibly important, thought.  Today's mortgage rates are between 4.75 and 5.00%.  These are historically low rates, not seen since the 1950s and provide opportunity for great value in real estate purchases.  Think about this, if the rates go up to only 7%, which is where they were all the way back in 2008, that translates into a 30% increase in the mortgage payment.  That means you can get a lot less value for the same amount of money when buying a house at the higher interest rate.

Rates are not going to continue to stay this low.  It is a great time NOW to refinance, or to buy a home, and get much more bang for the buck instead of waiting for the prices to drop just a little more and risk a 30% increase in payments, as well as getting 30% less value on your real estate purchase.

See your local mortgage banker today for the latest mortgage rates.  Or click here and see what impact interest rates have on your monthly payments, and value.

Monday Morning Coffee July 12

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates
Monday Morning Coffee

INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

"Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you.
But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes softly and sits on your shoulder."
~ Anonymous


DRAW YOUR OWN MAP!

Imagine you've planned the trip of your dreams - say from North Carolina to Colorado. You've charted all the roads, have a fist full of maps just in case, and have your priorities straight in your mind. You get started on a beautiful sunny day, and begin enjoying the ride.

Late in the day, as you approach the Mississippi River, you drive straight into a bank of heavy fog. You turn on your lights, but still cannot see 10 feet ahead. Just because the highway is out of sight doesn't mean you've lost your way. Continuing on the path you've set for yourself, you soon break out into the sunshine again - still headed in the direction of your dreams.

In perspective, consider that the trip represents your life's goal - your first priority. Steering your vehicle down the highway hour by hour represents your efforts to reach your goal. The fog bank illustrates the momentary interruptions and obstacles encountered on your journey.

As day #2 begins, you find that you've come to an unexpected intersection - one that's not on your map. Confused, you pull over and examine the map closely. Stay to the right and you'll end up in Colorado. Take a left and you may arrive at an unanticipated, yet equally wonderful destination.

OK, let's cut to the chase! Sometimes your priorities change, don't they? Just as you think your goal is in sight, a new opportunity arises. Remember the saying that "life is a journey - not a destination"? What's exciting is that YOU are in control of the steering wheel, and whatever destination you choose is OK - so long as it's YOU who has made the choice.

Happy motoring!

4th of July weekend FIREWORKS!!

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Looking for a place to see fireworks over the 4th of July weekend?  Below is a list of some of the best places to view them, with family fun at most of them.  Fireworks mostly free, some of the family fun events have nominal admission.  Remember to have a very safe and happy 4th of July weekend.

Have a BLAST!!!!!  Smile

Fireworks for the 4th of July holiday weekend.

July 3

Clearwater.  Catch a minor league baseball game, watch the Threshers win.  Game admission $5-$9.  Fireworks right after the game.  Bright House Networks Field
601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater, 33765

Dunedin.  Catch minor league baseball and watch the Dunedin Blue Jays win.  Game admission $3.  After 6 pm, FREE admission.  Concert after the game followed by FIREWORKS.  Bright House Networks Field
601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater, 33765

July 4

Madeira Beach.  FREE admission.  Madeira Beach Recreation Center and Ball Fields
Fireworks start at 9 p.m.  200 Rex Place, Madeira Beach, 33708

St. Petersburg.  Museum of Fine Arts, Jazz concert starts at 6 pm.  Fireworks follow.  $15 admission. $10 for museum members.   
255 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg, 33707

Dade City, Pasco County.  Price: $3, 10 and younger free. Pasco County Fairgrounds Fun-filled events start at 4 pm.  36722 SR 52, Dade City, 33525

Redington Shores Fireworks at 9 pm.  County Park (Redington Shores)
18120 Park Blvd., Redington Shores, 33776

Largo.  Largo Central Park.  Attempt to set world record for most people doing the Twist at one time.  Dance fee - $3, FIREWORKS FREE.
101 Central Park Drive, Largo, 33771

Safety Harbor.  Safety Harbor City Marina.  Festivities start at 5 pm.  Nominal fees for some activities, FIREWORKS FREE!!
110 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor, 34695

Treasure Island.  Treasure Island Beach Trail Park.  View fireworks from the beach.
10400 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, 33706

Clearwater.  Mostly Pops concert.  ALL FREE.  Spectacular fireworks display. Coachman Park
301 Drew St., Clearwater, 33756

Is Now The Time to Buy Real Estate in Tampa Bay?

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Is now the time to buy real estate in Tampa Bay??  Judging by today's interest rates for regular mortgages and jumbo loans at a local bank, the answer is a resounding yes.

A 30 year mortgage with no points can be had for an APR or 4.7%.  This is for a normal loan, that is less than $417,000.  For a 15 years mortgage, the rate can be as low as 4.38% with no points. 

If someone wants to go to the higher priced homes for a jumbo loan, the rates are still terrific.  A $500,000 mortgage with 20% down could be a low as 6.721 APR for a 30 year note.  For a 15 year jumbo loan with 20% down and no points, the interest rate can be as low as 6.015%.  And with points, the rates can go even lower.

These are historically low rates and can't continue forever.  Yes, this is a great time to buy real estate in the Tampa Bay area.

HAMP or HAFA and Your Mortgage

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

At last, the federal government is taking real action to provide homeowners assistance with their mortgages.  A new initiative, Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program, or HAFA, is now in effect to help homeowners.  The details are complicated, and you, the homeowner, need to clearly understand these new solutions to gain the most benefit.  This is a critical issue, especially for the Tampa Bay real estate market since this market has been so hard hit by the economic downturn.  As a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), Sun Bay Associates is in a position to explain the nuances and benefits of the HAFA process.

In March 2009, the Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP, was introduced to provide homeowners assistance if their mortgage payments exceeded guidelines for income levels (above 31% of income).  Most homeowners, however, are facing such financial hardship that the HAMP can't provide them deep enough discounts on the mortgage and either don't qualify or in the end will default on the modified mortgage anyway.

Enter the HAFA program.  This is specifically designed for homeowners who don't qualify for HAMP aid.  HAFA is supposed to speed up the foreclosure avaoidance options for those homeowners who need this help.  HAFA can help same millions of homeowners from the financial disaster of foreclosure by getting either a short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure accomplished relatively quickly.  A short sale is when the home is sold for less than the outstanding mortgage amount and a deed in lieu is when the property is completely turned over to the lender because the homeowner cannot continue making payments.  Then the bank will sell the house to salvage as much of the loan balance as possible.

A critical item in qualifying for the HAFA program is that the loans are NOT owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and applies only to the first lien mortgage.  HAFA does offer incentives to lenders for those homeowners who have second, third or more mortgages on their homes.  Also, HAFA prevents lending participants from pursuing deficiency judgments against the homeowner after the short sale or deed in lieu has been completed.  If you are in the Tampa Bay area and need to avail yourself of the HAFA program, or are seeking financial help with your mortgage and don't know where to turn, contact us.  We will send you a report that clearly outlines the HAFA process.

With the detailed training and ongoing education as CDPE, we will be able to explain your options.  We can walk you through the various programs available to assist you, whether it is to keep your home by loan modification or going through the short sale or even deed in lieu process as quickly as possible so life can return to normal without the financial stress of a crushing mortgage payment.

Making an Offer on Real Estate

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Is an offer to buy a house an insult even if it is very low??  Of course not.  An offer indicates that the buyer at least has more interest than everyone else who has looked at a house and kept on shopping.  Owners shouldn't get insulted about low offers, they should look at a low offer as the beginning of a negotiation.  All business deals start somewhere and often the two sides are very far apart, in the beginning.  This happens very often in the Tampa Bay real estate market, as well as everywhere else where real estate transactions happen.

The art of negotiating a real estate transaction is the heart of the deal.  The realtor has to present the offers to the seller, and then present the counter-offer, if there is one, to the buyer's agent.  Seller's who get insulted at a low offer, make the deal personal and refuse to negotiate cause one unavoidable result.  They are left holding on to a house that is not going to sell to that buyer - ever.  The seller who may not like the first low offer, and makes a counter-offer, is the seller who will in time sell the house to that buyer, for more than the original offer.  This is a win-win situation and is the goal of all business deals.

When a seller refuses to negotiate when they get a low offer they are simply making a higher offer than that buyer did and "buy" the house, in a manner of speaking.  Since the potential buyer couldn't buy that house, they moved on.  The owner has in essence, outbid that buyer, and ends up continuing to own the house. 

It is important to remember that many times the first, "low" offer came from a serious buyer who took a shot that the seller would be desperate and accept a known low offer.  The buyer in this case fully expected the seller to come back with a counter offer and start a negotiation.  No counter offer equals no deal.

The long and short of it, no matter how "low" an offer is, it is well worthwhile to come back with a counter offer.  This will tell the seller if the buyer is serious and willing to negotiate, or not.  If a buyer makes only very low offers, and will not accept a counter offer, nothing is lost by the seller.  In the Tampa Bay real estate market, this happens quite often because of the number of foreclosures and short sales.  If the seller refuses to negotiate, there can never be a successful negotiation that results in a sale.  Most sellers in the Tampa Bay market will respond with a counter offer and this leads to more successful transactions.

Distressed Property HELP!!

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

The current market is in such disarray and so may people are in trouble, we decided to post this on the Sun Bay blog.  In today's real estate market, about 1 in 10 people are in some stage of foreclosure, whether it is a late payment, or 2 or 3, or the bank has served papers on them as a precursor to actual foreclosure and auction of their homes.  Or they know someone who is.  According to the St. Petersburg Times, 51% of the homes in the Tampa Bay area have mortgages that are greater than the current value of the home, today, in 2009.  In September, lenders filed 4,586 new foreclosure lawsuits against Tampa Bay homeowners and the banks auctioned or repossessed another 2,100 homes.  This is a familiar story month after month in the Tampa Bay area and many other parts of the country as well.

Because of this, I have earned the credential of Certified Distressed Property Expert and have the knowledge and expertise to help many people who are having these issues.  If you know anyone who is behind on their mortgage, or anticipates being behind, have them go to my website, www.sunbaystopsforeclosure.com, that specializes in educating people about distressed property with up-to-date and accurate information.  There is no cost or obligation to them to check it out.  And if they do decide they need help, there will be no fees.  We will consult with them to help them find the best possible resolution for their distressed property, from a loan modification to short sale and several other avenues to help avoid going to foreclosure.

I want to help, and in many cases I can help. 

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure and the CDPE

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Several months ago I talked with a for sale by owner who "needed" to get XX dollars from the sale of a house she owned.  Her price, in today's market was not realistic so she rented it out instead of trying a short sale and avoiding foreclosure.  That was before I became a Certified Distressed Property Expert, or CDPE.  Had I known then what I know now, I could have helped her and possibly gotten her through a short sale with a minimum of heartache.

To shorten a long, sad story, the renter never paid his rent, the house in now in foreclosure, the house has lost another $30,000 to $40,000 value in today's market, she has been advised by her attorney to go into bankruptcy and it may be too late to even try a short sale.  With the knowledge gained from the CDPE training, it is very possible that we could have found a resolution to her issues and sold the house before it got to this point.  I will be following up with her in a couple days to see if we can still help, but she has been pretty well discouraged by the turn of events and the distressed market of today.  In today's market the house is worth about half of what she paid just a few years ago.

If you know anyone who is falling behind on their mortgage, or even before they fall behind and are just upside down or underwater with the mortgage, have them contact a Certified Distressed Property Expert.  I work in the greater Tampa Bay area and can help here.  I also can recommend a CDPE to help someone in any area.  There is no need to suffer the stress of a foreclosure.  A CDPE can provide expert guidance, from loan modification to short sale.  Sometimes a foreclosure is the best option, but a short sale is far better for many reason.  In almost all situations, a short sale is the correct answer when the question is "should I just go into foreclosure or abandon the house?"

Unemployment Rises - Real Estate Market Stabilized??

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Figures from the US Department of Labor are out on unemployment, and they could be worse. 

In a story on the BBC, Nigel Gault, chief US economist at IHS Global Insight, said that the rise in the jobless rate was not too discouraging.

"The decline last month was too good to be true, really. It's too early for the unemployment rate to be coming down, of course we're still losing jobs," he said.

"What I would take encouragement from is the fact is the trend in the rate of decline in jobs is still improving, that private sector jobs were down 198,000, that's 50,000 better than the previous month and it's almost 200,000 better than the month before that."

The construction industry took the biggest it, losing 65,000 jobs.  Construction and housing sales seem to be linked as new homes can't be built while workers still are getting laid off.

Here in the Tampa Bay area, in Pinellas County, Florida, home sales have not recovered.  The number of homes sold year to date is down about 23% and the average price per home is off almost 8% from last year.  The good news is that the number of homes sold in July 2009 vs July 2008 is up.  The counterbalance to the good news is the sales price for the same period is down by about $10,000.  The numbers below reflect year to date home sales in Pinellas County, FL.  And the silver lining in this dark cloud is that there are lots of bargains for home buyers in the Tampa Bay area.

2009 YTD 5,865 $155,000 
2008 7,622 $167,000 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 24

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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