It’s A Changing Market

What are we projecting?  I had the privilege of sitting down with Debbie Cowan, Branch Manager with Prime Lending here in Ocala. So what Debbie is telling me about where we will be next year is that all projections so far show we may see lower rates again faster than what was projected last quarter.

We could be in the mid 5’s again by the end of first quarter 2023. The Feds are still talking about raising rates in December, but instead of the original thought of 75 basis points, we are hearing just 50 basis points, which is a win for everyone…  It is apparent the economy may be peaking. The great news is, we are seeing a good amount of inventory which is amazing from where we were 6 months ago, and she has a plethora of products available to assist all buyers with financing options, and she also offers a rate redo so when rates come down, which they most likely will, you can refinance with no lender fees.

Buyers, for the time in 2 years, YOU are in the driver’s seat so take advantage, and remember, marry the house not the rate.

I look forward to hearing from you and if you would like to have a conversation with Debbie Cowan, call her at 352 433-7846.  You won’t be disappointed and please tell her I sent you!

Valerie Ostrom, REALTOR®, SRES

Fontana Realty – West

7668 SW 60th Avenue, Suite 200

Ocala, FL  34476

352-875-8818  Call Or Text

Punxsutawney Phil 2022


I always found it fascinating and fun to see my favorite little ground hog on the television.  The whole affair of predicting the weather without radar, Doppler and satellites is amusing.  Seeing Punxsutawney’s handlers all dressed up with their suits and top hats has always brought a smile to my face.  I mean, who wants another 6 weeks of winter, right?  All that cold, windy, snowy stuff to deal with is not fun.  Well, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning so there is 6 more weeks of winter for folks in other parts of the country.  The good news (and don’t ruin it for the little ones) is he is only 40% accurate.  I heard he took the first flight to Florida he could today to get out of the cold!

We don’t really worry about 6 more weeks of winter in Central Florida.  We had a freeze for a couple of nights last week and they tell us one of those nights was the coldest in 4 years. It was pretty cold!  However, as it always happens in Florida it warms back up again.  Tomorrow we are going to experience 80 degrees and sunshine!  I have a lunch date with a colleague tomorrow.  I am going to head over in my golf cart because I can.  Talk to you soon!


Christmas Is Over!

Christmas in Florida

Christmas is Over!

I have a confession to make.  I knew when we booked our cruise for the end of November 2021 that it was going to cut into the Christmas season and therefore, I made an agreement with my husband that there would be no need to decorate our home – much to his relief!  However, when we got on our cruise on the day after Thanksgiving, the ship was not decorated for the holidays – not until the cruise after ours (what the what?).  We had a great time in our suite and on ship for 7 days.  What was not to like about having lots of room, a double balcony and even a bathtub in our cabin? We arrived home and I felt a little sad about not having decorations to enjoy.

I have been busy with Real Estate, my husband has been busy with being an over the road truck driver – but I ached for Christmas in our home!  So, as wonderful husbands do, George got all the stuff out of storage to decorate our house:  The 9 ft tree, the Thomas Kincade Santa ornaments, the nick knacks, all of it.  Friends told me, “Don’t worry about it!  Decorations can stay up until January 6th!”  I liked this way of thinking, buying more time and all!  Now, fast forward a little and we accepted the opportunity to go to Destin for a long weekend right after the New Year.  No problem, I was able to work from the car, the time share or from anywhere at any time – and I did!  The problem is when we got back it was January 10th and my tree was still up!  Dang it!!  I will have it put away this week, but I really love the holidays here in Florida – when the weather is 80+ degrees and sunny!  There is so much to do like golf carting, walking, biking, pickle balling, golfing, quilting, railroad making, Veteran fellowshipping, swimming, working out, taking classes and/or field trips and so much more – nothing but a smile and a kind heart is required (and maybe a nice pair of shorts).  So here is the picture I wish to remember during this past holiday season.  I had waited so long to get poinsettias that all I could find were these little ones but that is OK because on this January 10th, they still look good after a little water.  I am going to give them to some friends and neighbors starting with my next-door neighbor.  The wonderful thing about living in a great 55+ community is helping others to smile…  Are you ready to enjoy people again?  Give me a call.

Getting you to the closing table on time!

Nowadays, just getting an accepted offer can be a challenge.  There are things you can do once you decide it is time look:

  1.  Have your financing ducks in a row.  I can help you with that, but days are gone where you can find a house first and then figure out your finances later.  During this time, you can secure me as your agent and start having conversations on what you would like to see in a home.  Make sure you are being e realistic – just because it would be nice to find a retirement home for $100,000 doesn’t make it so.  I will say this:  Once in a while you might just find that deal.  7 years ago, when the market tanked, I did buy my current villa in On Top of the World for $38,000.  It needed a lot of work, did not have a dishwasher, had pink walls, yellow appliances, popcorn ceilings and green carpet.  What an eyesore!  In today’s market, my villa is worth around $165 maybe a little more.  I still have lots of work to do on it!
  2. With the financing and realtor in check it is time to house hunt.  I will set you up on the MLS to receive a specific list of homes currently available and any new listings that might pop up with your criteria.  Not seeing enough homes might mean we need to adjust the criteria to be more realistic or to capture more.  It is a process.  Once you are on the MLS with me, you can go in and heart, discard or make notes on properties.  Take notes so we can discuss your questions.  What are your hobbies, what is important to you?
  3.  You see a home you love, great!  It is time to write the offer.  As your agent, I am looking at this home in the background – looking for clues, such as age of roof, HVAC and evidence of any other permits.  We will discuss the bones of the home and you decide what to offer.  Strong “Ernest Money Deposits” are always encouraged.  It shows strength.  In the Ocala area, we deal in a lot of cash sales right now.  We still have value here compared to many other places in the country.  Having cash doesn’t mean you can get a deal – it just means you are more favorable in the eyes of a Seller (being a Seller’s Market).  Having financing isn’t always bad, but I find it is best to use a good local lender who understands our market.
  4.  Once the offer has been submitted, we wait.  It will be agonizing for some Buyer(s) and I wish I could make this part easier.  Just this week, I had one for $10,000 over asking denied, and a full price offer accepted.  It just depends on what ‘the other guy’ has on the table.  Unfortunately, we don’t or won’t know what that is.
  5.  If our offer has been denied, we move on.  If it is accepted, then our timeclock starts.  It is important to get everything to the lender and when they ask for it!  Closings can often take longer than 30 days – so it is important to stay on task.  A conventional loan can often be done in 30 days (barely) and it takes longer on an FHA or VA.  As to a reason, I believe the lenders are overwhelmed.  There are so many people wanting to live in the Sunshine State!
  6. Inspection time!  It is important to get a good inspector and within the allotted time on the contract.  I always recommend doing this.  The report will be back in our hands by same or next day and we will discuss it.  Get your movers secured and utilities ready to move over.  Don’t forget your internet!  We will be in touch a lot during this time.
  7.  Your lender and I will stay in contact.  We work together to make sure everything behind the scenes is being addressed and before you know it, it is time to close and to say CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Ocala Real Estate Market Report – November 2021

Market Report

Inventory is 1.3%, down 40.9% down from last year.  This is a serious Sellers Market.  Even though inventory is down and sales prices are up, Ocala is still an affordable place to live compared to the rest of Florida and the rest of the country.