It’s time for me to retire

I started selling real estate here in Ocala in 2006. I immediately developed my website and went live in January 2007. In 2009 I started this blog It’s now time for me to retire. I’ve been slowing down for the past 2 years and giving buyers to another agent from our office, Valerie Ostrom. She did a very good job and all the buyers I sent her seem happy. I am now selling Valerie my website and blog and she will continue to help people with homes here in Ocala. Like me Valerie specializes in 55+ homes. Valerie lives in On Top of the World and is an expert on Ocala retirement communities.


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.

There is no selling season in Ocala

Unlike other parts of the country Ocala has no selling season. Up north home sales are slow in the winter. We don’t have a winter in Ocala. People don’t buy homes with the idea that they have to close before September so their kids can get into their school. Sales are a little slow during the holidays. For me personally most of my sales are between January and June. Sellers don’t list their homes during any one season.

How fast can home prices rise? Some cities breaking records

NEW YORK – Feb. 6, 2018 – Strong demand and low inventories fueled home prices to record highs in 2017. The median home price in the U.S. reached $235,000, up 8.3 percent from 2016, according to real estate data firm ATTOM Data Solutions.

Still, annual price appreciation showed signs of slowing; in 2016, the national median home price jumped 8.5 percent year over year, according to ATTOM’s latest housing report.

Sixty-four of 112 metros (57 percent) set a new record for metro-level home prices in 2017, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and San Francisco. Among 112 metros, each with populations of 200,000 or more, the cities with the biggest year-over-year price increases were Ocala, Fla. (up 14.3 percent); Kansas City, Mo. (13.4 percent); San Jose, Calif. (13.3 percent); Salem, Ore. (12.9 percent); and Nashville, Tenn. (12.5 percent).

Among major metro areas with populations of at least 1 million, the cities that posted double-digit gains included Las Vegas (up 12.3 percent); Salt Lake City (10.9 percent); Seattle (10.8 percent); Orlando, Fla. (10.7 percent); Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. (10.7 percent); Portland, Ore. (10.5 percent); and Jacksonville, Fla. (10.1 percent).

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach also ranked in the 1-million-plus category, with the area’s 2017 price rise at 8.9 percent.

© Copyright 2018 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Interest rates

I’ve been thinking about interest rates for a long time. I keep reading in real estate newsletters I get and in articles I read in the newspaper that interest rates will go up soon. Now I’m not an economist or even a decent investor but I wonder what would happen if rates went up to a more normal level like 6%. Wouldn’t the interest on the national debt explode and devour taxes leaving nothing for anything else ? Doesn’t the Fed have to artificially suppress interest rates ? Haven’t they backed themselves into a corner ? Interesting informed commentary is welcome.

Ocala deed restrictions

junk car and over grown lawn in front of home's garage

I get asked a lot about Ocala area deed restrictions. Let me start by saying that no one dislikes authority figures or being told what to do more than me. However, as you can see from the picture above there are good reasons for deed restrictions. Try selling your house if you live next door to that guy. I took this picture while walking my dog in the neighborhood next to where I live.

If there is a mandatory HOA you should be given a copy of the deed restrictions to read before making an offer. Most are pretty much common sense like no mobile homes or that you can’t park your RV or boat on the front lawn. Others might bother some people.  For example, you can only put up a certain kind of fence or you can’t have a shed in your back yard. Adult communities with 55+ restrictions are another example.

If you can’t imagine living with deed restrictions you do have options in the Ocala area. There are a number of sub divisions with either no or very few deed restrictions. There are older communities that have let them expire. There is also agricultural zoning but if the house is in a sub division the zoning can be over ridden by the deed restrictions.


Why I moved to Ocala

swimming pool under a screen cage

My pool

When I’m driving around with buyers the conversation always turns to why I moved to Ocala. The defining moment occurred in the winter of 2004. I lived in the western mountains of Maine at the time in a log cabin in the middle of no where. I had a 600 foot driveway and I owned a 30 hp Kubota tractor with a front end loader and a 6′ snowblower on the rear. I was snow blowing the driveway and my wife was shoveling the walk. We had a metal roof on our house and all the snow let go at once burying her. Between crying and swearing like a sailor she said this was our last winter in Maine. I was all for moving. We decided we wanted to go some place it never snowed and there was no ice. That actually eliminates a lot of America. We then decided we’d rather have a lush tropical humid climate as opposed to the desert of the South West. Even in 2004 we were able to do a lot of research online. We liked Ocala because of the low home prices and we thought it was the least likely city in Florida to get hit by a hurricane. We grew up in Mass and lived in Maine for 11 years. Both states have no natural disasters unless you count ice storms. We came to Ocala thinking about a small farm but then we saw pool homes with a pool under a screen cage just off the lanai. That was totally new to us and we loved the lifestyle. We weren’t old enough for a 55+ at the time and I don’t think we would fit in even now. My dog you see on my website would get us thrown out ! Any way that’s my story.

Ocala Real Estate Market Report for July 2015

Well it was another good month for sales here in Ocala. I feel like every month I write the same thing but it’s true, we are finally out of a buyers market and sales are way up. Not only are sales up the the average price of homes that I’m selling are up. That’s great news for someone like me who is on commission. There are still good deals out there. Just this Monday I closed on a home in Del Webb Stone Creek. I think my buyers got that home for below market value because we found a motivated seller that had to previous offers fall thru.

Florida home owners insurance companies rated by size

Is bigger better when securing property insurance?

 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Jan. 9, 2014 – Florida-owned Citizens Property Insurance retained its lead as the state’s largest residential property insurer in the latest “top 20” numbers released by the Florida Department of Insurance Regulation.

Top 20 personal residential writers in Florida as of Dec. 31, 2012

1. Citizens Property: 1,268,071 policies
2. Universal Property & Casualty: 542,882 policies
3. State Farm Florida: 387,970 policies
4. Security First: 177,589 policies
5. St. Johns Insurance: 175,535 policies
6. Homeowners Choice: 152,446 policies
7. American Integrity: 150,189 policies
8. Florida Peninsula: 139,721 policies
9. USAA: 135,964 policies
10. United Property & Casualty: 117,233 policies
11. Tower Hill Prime: 113,624 policies
12. Castle Key Indemnity (Allstate): 113,344 policies
13. Castle Key Insurance (Allstate): 109,156 policies
14. American Bankers: 104,489 policies
15. ASI Assurance: 101,480 policies
16. Florida Family: 96,190 policies
17. ASI Preferred: 90,340 policies
18. Tower Hill Signature: 77,533 policies
19. Southern Fidelity: 75,124 policies
20. Ark Royal: 74,276 policies

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

Why can’t I sell my house here in Ocala Florida ?

I’m out showing houses all the time. I work almost exclusively as a buyers agent here in Ocala but these thoughts apply to homes any where.

Why can’t I sell my house ? It takes time. You need patience. There is a buyer for every house. The average days on the market here in Ocala is currently 120. If you want a fast sale you have to price your home to sell fast.

Maybe the buyer for your house won’t start looking for another 2 months.

Maybe someone who would have bought your house bought another one a month ago.

Maybe someone who likes your home thinks it is over priced compared to others they see on the internet

Maybe someone who would buy your home thinks it needs too much updating for the price.

Although the market is improving it is still a buyers market. Sellers are competing for the buyers attention. The house in the best condition at the best price always wins.