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!


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.

The Listing Portal is a Custom Ocala MLS Search

A Listing Portal is a custom search on the Ocala/Marion County MLS that creates an account with an ID and password. A buyer will use my Dream Home Finder to provide the information that I need to set up a search. I sometimes use the Dream Home Finder AS IS and I sometimes need to email the buyer to clarify some issue or to make a recommendation. Once the search is set buyers will get an automatic email when ever a new home, that conforms to their search criteria, gets listed. After setting up the Listing Cart I don’t contact my buyers unless they contact me for more info, want to change their search or are ready to see a home. I once had a Listing Cart set up for a buyer from Chicago and it took him 3 years to close down his business and sell his house. I’m very patient.

I can’t help buyers who don’t give me enough information. Too many people will use my Dream Home Finder and just fill in Single Family and a price range. A search like that will get 1,000 hits, no kidding. I need to your your price range. The sq ft of living area, not including the garage or Lanai. The type of home, single family, 55+, pool home ect. There is also a comment section. This is where you tell me that you want to only want a 55+ community with lower HOA fees. Don’t say low fees give me a number.

Below is a screen shot showing what the Listing Portal looks like. On the top there are 5 Tabs. The first is the List View. Next is the Detail View which shows the home size, age, current taxes, HOA fees everything about the home. Photos are next and there can be as many as 50. Drone shots are becoming popular. The Map tab not only shows the location but there is also a Satellite view that zooms in and out. You can email your listing to someone and you can add other email accounts by contacting me. You can rate a listing and make a comment or a note. You can print a listing. There will be some homes that you just don’t like so there is a delete button. The Portal is a direct link to the Ocala MLS. Everything is up to date. All listing on Realtor.com Zillow or where ever originate here.

Listing Portal

Buying an Ocala retirement home for cash

Most of my buyers are looking for a retirement home and quite a few use money from the sale of an existing home in a more expensive part of the country to buy a home for cash here in Ocala. A lot of people don’t like the idea of not having a mortgage hanging over their heads in their retirement years. What some buyers don’t realize is that there are very few closing costs associated with a cash sale.

All of the big money for closing costs come from getting a loan. It is up to the bank to estimate closing costs associated with their loans. From what I have seen closing costs run between $5-$7K on most loans. The funny thing is closing costs can be crazy high on small loans. I saw a buyer get a $50K loan to suppliment cash he had and the closing costs were 5,000 ! I said that’s 10% !

Title and closing. The seller here pays for title insurance and doc stamps (tax on sale). A title company researches the title and delivers a full warranty deed. The title company handles everything to do with the closing.

HOA fees are pro rated to the day of closing. Some HOA’s have a set up fee and a couple have an HOA contribution fee. Some HOA’s want a month or 2 in advance to get started.

Inspections. Everyone needs a professional home inspection which includes a termite inspection. Many get a wind mitigation certificate for their insurance company which lowers the rate a little. An inspection will run in the $350 +/- range depending on what you inspect.

Survey. Being cash there is no bank that requires a survey. 55+ communities are planned communities. However is you don’t get a survey there will be an exclusion on your title insurance saying that you didn’t provide a survey. Most buyers get a survey but not all do. A survey even on a small lot like in 55+ will be $300 +/-.


Multiple offers on Ocala area homes

I was just involved in a multiple offer situation. I don’t see them all the time but this was the 2nd one this year. Both were on 55+ homes which are my specialty. Both also had borderline over the top renovations.

A few things to know about multiple offers. The seller does not have to accept the first offer they get. The sellers can do what ever is in their best interests. Sellers don’t have to disclose that they have other offers. Sellers sometimes will ask for a buyers “highest and best” offer but do not have to. A seller doesn’t have to accept the highest offer. They may for example take a cash offer with no contingency other than an inspection over a higher offer with financing.

In order to win in a multiple offer situation it helps to pay cash and make as AS IS offer asking for no repairs. Offers with financing or even cash contingent on the sale of your existing home with lose out most every time to the cash AS IS offer.

Spruce Creek Preserve Dunnellon FL

Spruce Creek Preserve entry sign

Spruce Creek Preserve

Spruce Creek Preserve is just off SR 200 in Dunnellon Fl. This is a great location because it is just a short drive to restaurants, shopping and health care in the SW 200 corridor area. Spruce Creek Preserve is a gated, 55+, golf course community.  Houses in Spruce Creek Preserve are frame with stucco or frame with vinyl siding. Homes here can range from 1,000 sq ft of living area to over 2,000 with most being in the middle. HOA fees of around $120- per month which includes the guard at the gate, clubhouse, common area maintenance, curbside trash pickup and basic cable TV. Golf is not included in the HOA fees. Spruce Creek Preserve is a very nice community that shows pride of ownership

Update 3/16 HOA fees are $121- month. Fees are very stable here and it seems like a well run association

Update 1/20/18 HOA fees are $124 month. A great deal.

Update 1/23/19 HOA fees went up to $127- month. A great value still.

Update 3/2/2020 HOA fees went up to $127- month. A great value still.

If you would like a list of homes for sale in Spruce Creek Preserve fill out my Ocala Dream Home Finder, call me or send me an email. I can set you up a Listing Cart on the Ocala Marion County MLS for Spruce Creek Preserve.

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Reasonable Expectations in Home Buying

I had a buyer recently who thought a home that was built in 2004 needed a new air conditioner even though it was in working condition. My buyer thought that she should deduct from the list price the cost of a new AC along with a laundry list of renovations that she needed to make the house more to her liking in determining her offer. Not only did she want a new AC but the most expensive Trane model made. I thought the home was in pretty pristine condition and it is normal for a home that age to have an original AC unit. I showed her sold comps from the past 3 months to determine fair market value. Homes in that community consistently sold for $5K to $10K off list price. The home we were looking at was priced right. Her offer based on her needed upgrades was $20K off list price. Needless to say the seller thought she was crazy and we were unable to make a deal. I’m telling this story for a couple of reasons. If the list price of a house is correct it already takes into account the age of the home and the community where it is located. You can’t just ignore sold comparables and make up an offer based on nothing other than your personal opinion.

Online Home Values

Sometimes buyers talk about a home’s value based on some sort of online tool like Zillow. Realtors do not look at online sites for home values. That is just a data base compiled from public records without any sort of interpretation. Think of it like this. There are 2 homes in the same community. They are the same size, same number of bedrooms ect. even the same age let’s say 1997. One has never had a single thing done to it. Original everything. The other has a new roof, AC and flooring. Online valuations have no way of knowing that.

When doing a CMA, a comparative market analysis, a Realtor looks at past sales on the MLS for condition. Out MLS retains sold listings complete with all pictures going back several years. We look at homes within certain parameters for size and age and we look at only recent sales. I like to only go back 90 days if at all possible. The price a home sold for last year is not a good comp especially in a constantly changing market. Buying a home is a huge purchase and you need the latest and best data you can get.


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.

Why you should always do your own inspection

My buyer found a house they liked and it seemed odd that the seller had only lived there a month or so. Apparently she regretted her purchase and wanted to go back home. After accepting my buyers offer the seller’s agent offered my buyers the inspection that the seller had just had done several weeks ago. I cautioned about using an existing inspection. Sure enough one of the inspectors I like found several problems that the first inspector missed. Pretty obvious things like leaky faucets, a frozen valve on the hot water heater. Nothing serious but the seller was required to make those repairs under the Florida real estate contract that we used. All things the previous seller should have repaired.

Another time my buyer walked away from a deal because the AC was shot. We knew it was old and had an AC tech do an inspection in addition to the home inspection. Someone had rigged the AC so it wouldn’t blow out freon ! The listing agent gave my buyers inspection to the next buyer never knowing the results of the independent AC inspection.

So there you go. Never trust an inspection that you didn’t order and pay for.