A sellers market here in Ocala

The real estate market here in Ocala has changed dramatically since the fall. For example in the 55+ community I live in, Del Webb Stone Creek, last October there were at least 40 listings and today there are just 7.

I had a couple of buyers over the last couple of weeks. The first buyers had their house in another state under contract. They found 3 homes to see. When I went to make appointments 2 had contract but weren’t put as Pending into the MLS yet. They did like the one we saw and made an offer that was accepted. The 2nd buyer from South Florida found 4 homes. Once again when I went to make appointments 2 had just got under contract. A third stated in the Realtor remarks that they had multiple offers. My buyer decided to postpone her trip.

Inventory is limited. The lower your price range the harder it’s getting to find listings and when you go they go fast.


Sellers Market vs Buyers Market

My real estate career has come full circle. I got my license in 2006 during a crazy real estate boom. In 2008 the bubble burst. I survived the next few years selling cheap homes for low commissions. Finally things picked up and prices went up and things were good. Now here in Ocala we are in a serious sellers market. By that I mean low inventory and homes selling in a few days in some cases.

I wrote this in May of 2009 and it holds true today. Sell high and buy high or Sell low and buy low

Is now the time to buy a house in Ocala FL ?

Think of it this way.

In a sellers market you sell high and generally in a short time. BUT then what do you do? Unless you’re headed to the nursing home or planning a backpacking trip to Tibet you’ll probably have to buy another house. You go out into a sellers market with few choices and pay top dollar for your next house.

Now in a buyers market you may sell lower than you’d like and maybe a lot lower. But you can go out into a buyers market full of inventory and pay an equally low price. That’s why I think a buyers market is actually better than a sellers market………….

The real estate crash in 2008 was not at all the same as today. In 08 a lot of people were buying homes with no down payment and poor credit. In Ocala people were actually speculating by putting money down on a new house and planning to flip it in 6 months after it was completed. There is none of that now.

Today is more supply and demand. A lot of people are leaving northern states and even South Florida because Ocala still has reasonable home prices when compared to other areas. Actually compared to my home town in Massachusetts prices in Ocala are cheap.


Homestead Portability in Florida

Homestead Portability applies to people selling a home that has a homestead exemption in Florida and buying a new home in Florida. You can bring your homestead exemption along with you to your next house. It’s not that simple though as I realized when I recently bought my new home. It was a short time after I closed on my new Stone Creek home that I got an email from a local title company with a link to a video talking about a service that checks your Portability. I was shocked that I lost out on almost $500- in tax breaks ! I called my broker and a few real estate friends some whom have been in the business for over 20 years. No one had heard of this.

When you have owned a house for a long time like me 15 years the value of your house goes up. The property appraiser has different values for your house. Assessed value which is what you pay taxes on and Market or Just Value. If your Market or Just Value is way off from the amount you are going to sell your house for you will lose a large amount of Homestead Portability. If you don’t dispute the Market or Just Value before you close on your existing home it’s too late. Period.

This is complicated so here is a link to the service where I saw the video. I am not endorsing them. I’m not affiliated in any way. This is just great info that can save you hundreds on your taxes every year.

Not all banks are the same

This is an updated post that I originally wrote back in 2014. I just had another instance where a large national bank dropped the ball created endless stress and expense for my buyers.

My buyers told me they were getting financing from a large bank where they had all their accounts in the mid west. I warned them that their bank may have trouble closing on time. They said they knew the loan officer for years and he assured them he could do loans in Florida.

First the bank said they didn’t need a survey. Technically maybe they didn’t but if you don’t get a survey in Florida there is an exclusion on the title insurance noting there was no survey provided and the bank’s underwriters won’t approve a mortgage with an exclusion like that on the title insurance. Someone sat the bank should have known that. I had to tell the buyers who in turn had to almost fight the bank over something they should have known.

Secondly the bank at first said they didn’t need an appraisal. I told my buyers that was really odd and they should double check with their loan officer. Then the bank decided they did need an appraisal and it was not ordered on time. The appraisal didn’t come back until almost 2 weeks after our closing date. In Florida we set a firm closing date and need to get an extension signed by all parties to extend that date. The seller was frustrated but agreed to 2 extensions.

My buyers were rightfully frustrated. They had to live in a hotel for 2 weeks and their furniture had to be put in storage. They suffered over $3000- in expenses all because this large national bank was incompetent.

Below from a July 23 2014 post.

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Is it a good time to buy a home in Ocala ?

Prices have gone up a lot since the great real estate crash of 2008 but there is no bubble like back then. There is not an over supply of homes. In fact there is an under supply and we are in a sellers market. There are not enough new homes being built. We need more builders to step up and start new major projects. Right now builders outside of 55+ are just buying lots in established subdivisions instead of breaking ground on new communities. On Top of the World is planning a huge new community that will be both 55+ and Not 55+ later this year. Another reason there is no bubble is that we don’t have the crazy types of loans that are almost guaranteed to fail like we did back in the great recession. Even though prices have gone up Ocala is still lower priced than most of Florida and a lot less than the rest of the country. A bonus is that it never snows here !

Zillow accuracy in the Ocala area

I was taking a Realtor class, getting credits for my next license renewal. The subject was about tech for Realtors. To be honest I didn’t expect much and I went because I had nothing else to do that day. Much to my surprise I picked up several good tips. One of the most interesting things was that Zillow rates it’s own accuracy. And I mean they rate themselves right down to the county level.

Zillow is a site that buyers and sellers seem to love and Realtors see as inaccurate. Who is right ? The following is accuracy results that Zillow publishes about it’s own Zestimates.

In Ocala and Marion County as of July 25 2018 for a 3 month period ending July 30

Zillow gives itself 2 out of 4 stars

50% of it’s Zestimates were within 5% of the sold price

70.5% of  Zestimates were within 10% of the sold price

83.5% of Zestimates were within 20% of the sold price

Median error is 5% of the sold price

Those are pretty big numbers to be off. 5% is a $10,000 error on a $200K home. I will give Zillow credit. If you read about Zestimates they say that they are only a starting point and are not the same as a Comparable Market Analysis or an Appraisal. Websites are no substitute for a local expert.

Factors that influence a homes price in Ocala

These are factors that account for a homes price in our Ocala real estate market.

Age Homes prior to the mid 90’s do not have today’s open floor plans. Older homes are broken up more into rooms. The kitchen is a separate room from the living room as opposed to new homes where the kitchen and living room are actually a single room divided by a large kitchen island. Older homes are also more expensive to insure because they do not meet the newest building codes.

Size Kind of obvious. Less expensive homes are also smaller.

Garage Most homes here have a 2 car attached garage but smaller older homes have a 1 car garage and sometimes even a carport.

Construction Method Concrete block with a stucco finish is considered superior in this area. In most cases frame homes with stucco or some sort of siding like vinyl or aluminum  sell for less money.

Location Similar homes will be priced differently due to the desirability of the community.

Homeowners Insurance and Roof Age

In Florida our very hot summers along with strong thunderstorms limit the useful life of a roof. Most insurance companies have a 20 year cut off point with some going as low as 15 years where they will not insure a home. This is true for even architectural shingle roofs with a 30 year warranty. My home is a 1998 with a 30 year architectural shingle roof and when I decided to look for a different company that my present one I discovered that many Florida insurance companies were not interested in my business. I did find a new company but my choices were more limited than I expected.

Roof age is a consideration in buying a resale home. The seller is not expected to replace a roof just because it is old. The age of a home is already factored into the list price. If a home inspector says the roof is at the end of it’s life but does not leak then that is not a defect under the florida real estate contract. Many homes between 1995 and 1999 are either due for a new roof or getting close. When showing homes I always point out the age of the home as shown on the MLS printout to make my buyers aware of the home’s age.

A few things to know about making an offer on an Ocala Home

I recently read an article on making an offer on a home so I’m making my own version specifically for Ocala Florida. A few of these items are in regard to multiple offers which I have seen a couple of times recently.

1. Sellers do not have to accept the first offer. The seller can also reject or not respond to an offer they think is too low or has too many contingencies.

2. A seller and their listing agent do not have to disclose that they have multiple offers.

3. A seller does not have to accept a full price offer. However if a seller does turn down a full price offer the seller owes the listing broker a full commission seeing that the broker fulfilled their obligation under the listing contract with the seller.

4. Verbal, text and emailed counter offers are not considered a contract until both parties sign the actual contract form. Until both parties sign either can change their minds.

5. A buyer that has a signed fully executed contract cannot just change their mind. If you do you will be in breach of that contract. There is no so called cooling off period in Florida for residential homes.

6. If a buyer makes an offer and the seller accepts that offer you have a fully executed contract. That is why you can only make one offer at a time or you could find yourself in contract for multiple homes.

The above statements are based on my experience as a Florida Realtor and should not be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice call a lawyer.

Buying a Home in Ocala contingent on Selling an Existing Home

Sellers here in the Ocala area will often accept an offer contingent on the successful closing of a buyer’s existing home. The buyers home must be under contract with a reasonable closing time of say 30-60 days.

Florida real estate contracts have firm performance dead lines. When negotiating a contract the buyer and seller agree on a closing date. In general we expect to close on the agreed on date.

A problem can result if the buyer is from a state without a firm closing date such as New York. In NY for example they close on or about a given date. I have no idea how people can plan their next move or schedule movers or anything that way. On 3 separate occasions I have had buyers from NY who were not able to close on time here in Florida due to some delay with their existing home sale.