Foreclosed homes in Ocala FL. How to find and buy a foreclosure home in Ocala. Examples of actual sold foreclosures in Ocala. Advise & commentary

Is Ocala headed for a sellers market ?

When the real estate market crashed in 2007 Ocala was hard hit. Resales went so low new home builders couldn’t compete. No one has started a major new community in almost 10 years. Subdivisions that already existed continued to build sporadically during those years but there were no new major investments. Only in the last year have we seen new investment. Shea homes started a Trilogy community. DR Horton is building in the area including JB Ranch. On Top of the World is building in new areas of Candler Hills and Indigo East. But those are established or revived subdivisions that already existed in some form.

In other parts of the country you buy a home in a town because you got a job there, you grew up there or you have relatives there. Here in Ocala people come here to escape the winters, retire on a budget or to escape the taxes and home owner insurance of southern Florida or some other state. Ocala needs it’s home inventory to constantly increase to keep up with newcomers. To some extent the flow of newcomers slowed when they couldn’t sell an existing home but it never stopped. People retire when it’s time to retire. Based on this I feel Ocala will have a housing shortage and a sellers market in the near future.

Houses you can’t buy cheap enough

I work almost exclusively as a buyers agent so I look at a lot of homes. There are times I just walk away shaking my head thinking you can’t buy this house cheap enough. No house is perfect and certainly not the less expensive ones but I sometimes see houses that need a roof, AC, new flooring and the kitchen and baths are outdated as well. One or two updates are to be expected but not all of them ! You often see these homes in 55+ communities where someone buys a home and lives in it for 20 years without ever doing a thing to it. I don’t think much of foreclosures either. Foreclosures come with a Special Warranty Deed which is a limited warranty. I’ve asked people who work at title offices if they would buy a house with a special warranty deed and every single one has said no so far. The moral of this story is that houses are usually cheap for a reason and some you can’t buy cheap enough..

No one has been building since 2007

Buyers often come to me looking for a newer home here in Ocala. I often tell them that no one has been building homes here since the market crash in 2007. Of course it isn’t true that no one has built anything since 07 but there has been very little building. Builders simply can’t compete with the prices of resales.

Here are permits for single family homes by the year to illustrate my point.

2004  4,611

2005  5,601

2006  6,026

2007  2,139

2008    933

2009    316

2010    399

2011    325

2012    359


How to make a low offer on an Ocala area home

If you want to make a low offer on a home here in Ocala you have to give the seller a good reason to accept your offer. Here are a few things that make for a “strong offer”.

1. Cash. Cash means no finance contingency. The seller can be confident that their sale won’t blow up at the last minute because the loan gets rejected by the banks under writing department. Happens more often than you might think. Not all loan pre approvals are created equal.

2. AS IS. A contract that gives the buyer the right to inspect the home and walk away if the inspection is not satisfactory. The seller makes no repairs and knows exactly what they will net from the sale. Attractive to out of area sellers who would have a hard time getting repairs accomplished.

3. Fast Closing. A cash offer can close very fast, 7-14 days. The seller may not like the offer but is tempted by the fact that the deal will close fast and they can move on saving money in taxes, utilities, insurance, mortgage ect.

If you think that making an offer using a loan with little or no down payment, asking for closing costs or expecting the seller to throw in their furniture or a golf cart is the way to get a deal on a house then you’ve been watching way to many real estate shows on cable TV.

How to establish fair market value

I spend about 95% of my time as a buyers agent here in Ocala. One question that comes up is “what should I offer?”. I suggest that a buyer look at comparable sales to come up with an offer. A good comparable would meet the following criteria.

same sub division

sold in the last 90 days

within 1 mile of subject property

+/- 10% of the sq ft of living area

same # of beds, baths and size garage

+/- 5 years in age, 10 years if home is over 10 years old

same construction type

All this above can be used by a buyer to come up with an offer on a home or it can be used by a seller to find a proper list price. In the end it doesn’t matter what a buyer or seller thinks a house is worth. What matters is the price that similar homes have sold for in the past 90 days. Sellers should keep in mind that in order for a buyer to get a loan a bank will send out an appraiser who will use very similar criteria for an appraisal.

Ocala median home price plummets 20%

I’m writing this blog post in response to a recent article in the Ocala Star Banner about how the Ocala area has the dubious distinction of having the largest decline in homes values in the entire country in the 3rd quarter of 2010 as compared with the same period in 2009.

I thought the Star Banner article was too negative, just like most of their articles about local real estate. Low home values are bad if you’re a seller or a Realtor (my average commission is down 50% since 2006) but not if you are a buyer. Low home prices are great if you are a first time buyer or looking to retire here in sunny Florida. The Ocala area has a low wage structure and local people who couldn’t afford a home in 2006 can afford a home today. Homes in The Shores or Marion Oaks, built in the last 5 years, that originally sold for over $200,000.00, are now available as foreclosures for under $100,000.00.

The current median home price in the Ocala area is $82,000.00. I think this needs some explanation. The median home price is being brought down by really cheap sales. For example there were 77 sales in October under $50,000.00. Of this total there were 19 mobile homes, 27 were homes with fewer than 2 full bathrooms and 18 homes were smaller than 1,000 sq ft of living area. There were also 10 55+ homes in the under $50K category most of which were villas in On Top of the World.  Now there’s nothing wrong with homes like these. Every area needs extremely affordable housing. I’m just pointing out that homes in the under $50K range require compromises that not everyone might want to make and it’s these under $50K sales that are bringing down our median home prices.

Lastly I want to make a few comments about foreclosures. As you know I like foreclosures but I haven’t sold one his year. I showed plenty of them but my buyers elected to spend more money on traditional sales. Why was that? When my buyers looked at what it would cost to get the foreclosed home up to the same condition as the traditional sale they decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. If you’re interested in foreclosures you should prepare in advance. You need to know what it costs to replace carpet, install tile or laminate flooring, the cost of appliances or even an AC unit or roof. To a lesser extent this would apply to some 55+ estate sales too.

Ocala real estate a once in a life time opportunity

Right now is the opportunity of a lifetime to buy an Ocala home. Here are 12 reasons to invest in Ocala real estate right now.

1. Interest rates are at historical low with no where to go but up.
2. Many Ocala area home sellers will pay part or all of a buyers closing costs.
3. Fannie Mae Homepath Financing doesn’t require an appraisal and also offers renovation loans for their Ocala and Marion County foreclosed properties.
4. USDA offers 100% financing with no Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) on many Marion County homes. Mostly homes that are not in the Ocala city limits.
5. FHA loans allow the seller to pay many of the buyers closing costs.
6. Conventional loans rates are at all time lows. Local banks want to loan money to buyers with good credit. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
7. Foreclosures are selling at a 50% discount from 2005-08 highs.
8. Most Ocala foreclosures are in good condition and easily pass a professional home inspection.
9. Many “traditional sellers” have dropped their prices to better compete with distress sales.
10. In the 55+ communities there are always great deals on estate sales.
11. Estate sales also exist outside the 55+ communities and are a hidden secret often over shadowed by Ocala area foreclosures and short sales.
12. Principle, interest, taxes and insurance are often not much more than renting.

If you are a first time buyer, a renter, a retiree or investor now is the time to buy.

It’s termite swarm season here in Ocala

Its termite swarm season again here in Ocala. As the weather warms up termites go out and look for a new home. You do not want that new home to be yours.

Termites cause $700,000,000.00 in damage each year here in Florida. Despite this scary statistic about half the homes in Florida have no form of protection.

There are 2 types of termites, subterranean and dry wood. The subterranean variety is considered the worst because they have much larger colonies and thus eat more wood. Obvious from the name they live in the ground and prefer moist conditions and wood. The subterranean termites enter your house through a sort of tube that connects their colony to the food source. Dry wood termites like dry wood, like the rafters in your attic. They have much smaller colonies and are harder to detect.

The University of Florida has a great web site dedicated to termites with loads of information and great color images. Take a good look at the pictures and so you can identify the little buggers if you see one.


There are several warning signs of a termite problem.

1. Little black winged insects about 1/4″ long that are attracted to lights at night.

2. Wings on your window sills and in spider webs.

3. Wood pellets, smaller than a grain of rice that is 6 sided when viewed under a magnifying glass. Yes, these are termite droppings.

4. Mud tubes look like mud caked to the side of a house and are actually engineered by industrious termites to create access to your house and their food supply.

There are several things you can easily do to avoid termite problems.

1. Have a termite inspection.

2. Keep fire wood piles well away from the house.

3. Water is your enemy and a termite’s friend. Check that gutters and down spouts drain away from the house. The same goes for air conditioners.

Termite control is not a do it yourself project. Homeowners should get an annual inspection by a professional. It is essential to have a termite inspection before buying any house in Florida. Although a concrete block house may be preferred, it is no guarantee that you won’t get termites.

Foreclosures in Ocala 55 plus communities

Buyers seem to be looking for foreclosures in Ocala 55 plus communities. Just before starting this blog post I logged into the MLS and searched on foreclosures. I got 348 hits. When I added 55+ to the search that number went down to 12. As you can see most Ocala area foreclosures are not in the 55+ communities.

Buyers looking for a deal in a 55+ community should also consider estate sales. The unfortunate thing is that there are a lot of vacant homes in the 55+ communities simply because people get old and either pass away or need to go to an assisted living arrangement.  These vacant homes often need to be sold by out of state relatives and can be very good buys and an easier transaction than a foreclosure.

For a list of 55+ foreclosures or 55+ estate sales give me a call, send me an email or use my Dream Home Finder and I’ll set you up a Listing Cart for 55+ estate sales or foreclosures or both. All can be found in the green column to the right of this post.

What to look for in an Ocala area home.

I work with a lot of first time buyers and out of state buyers and as we look at homes I try and point out things that make one house better than others. Here are some things that I think make for a quality home here in Ocala.

CBS or concrete block and stucco construction. Everything else is considered inferior do to the termites. CBS homes can get termites because there is wood framing in the walls and roof but CBS is considered the best material and commands a higher price than frame house. Read more