We've all seen the news lately (non-stop, every day) and we realize our entire world is faced with a lot of uncertainty over the Coronavirus pandemic.
With so much going on, real estate decisions may be pushed to the back burner for you, and that it totally understandable.
However, sometimes making a move is critical for a job, family, happiness, etc., and cannot be put on hold.
Some of you may be in the middle of a home search or trying to sell your house and probably wondering if it is safe to continue, for many reasons.
In short, yes, but there are definitely precautions to take.
The beauty of technology in today's world is that it allows us to conduct pretty much every part of a real estate transaction virtually. This means you can stay safe, and healthy, while continuing to move forward with your real estate (and life) plans.
From start to finish, this process can be done through the use of the internet and some pretty cool apps.
We can do a virtual listing appointment with you in order to explain the services we provide our customers and decide on a price for your home.
From there, we can do virtual showings, video walk-throughs, and other means of getting your house seen, without having strangers constantly walk through it.
If there is a need for someone to be there in person, we take every precaution to use hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and hand washing to make sure every surface stays clean and germ-free.
If someone wants to submit an offer, that paperwork can be done and signed electronically. Attorneys and Title Companies have limited staff or employees working from home that can continue to help with your transaction, all from a safe distance.
Even the closing can be done virtually or through the mail if you would prefer to not be there in person.
An economic crisis does not always mean a housing crisis, and as of now, the mortgage rates are still low.
This might be a great time to make that move if you are able, or if you need to.
We understand if now is not the right time, too, but wanted to reassure you that there are ways to continue to make real estate transactions move forward, safely.
We are here to help every step of the way and we hope you and your families continue to stay safe and healthy.
This, too, shall pass.
You decide you want to buy or build a new construction home, which is a very common scenario in Southwest Florida.
The listed price on the home is a little higher than you’d like it to be, so you wonder if you can negotiate and get that price lowered.
The short answer? Everything is negotiable.
However, you may need someone to help you navigate this process in order to make it beneficial for you, the buyer.
How do we know this?
We helped clients buy a new construction house for $80,000 LESS THAN THE LISTED ASKING PRICE...
... No lie.
When it comes to New Construction pricing, there are three common scenarios: a house that is starting from scratch, a house being built or built with no buyer (inventory), and a new construction resale home.
At all three stages of this process, there are ways to negotiate the price. (And it definitely helps to have a good real estate agent who can help!)
1- From the Ground Up When you decide to build from scratch, there are tons of choices you have to make as the buyer: flooring, cabinets, counters, paint colors, elevation, pool construction, etc.
Depending on the builder, the number and scope of these choices varies.
Some are completely custom, while some give you limited choices. All of that determines how much wiggle room you have to negotiate the price.
Normally, builders and salespeople are willing to give some type of “incentive” in order to help keep the price where you want it.
This could be a Design credit to make certain upgraded choices, or it might mean they include an outdoor kitchen at no “additional cost”.
They might be willing to lower the lot premium for your homesite, or maybe give an incentive tied to using their lender/title agency/etc.
All of these credits and incentives help to keep your bottom line where you want it, and a good real estate agent can help you negotiate to get the most bang for your buck in these situations.
The builders have less motivation in this situation, so you have less negotiating power.
2- Inventory or Move In Ready
If a house is being built and all design choices have already been made, but there is no buyer for the home, this is a second scenario where you can try to negotiate a better price for the home.
The builder will determine a price based on the choices made for design and construction. However, that price is never set in stone because they want to sell the house and therefore might be willing to work out some incentives or discounts on that price to move the house, rather than let it be built and sit there for a long time.
If the home is built as an inventory home and just sitting there waiting for a buyer, that is a GREAT opportunity to negotiate.
This is the scenario we helped our clients get a home in Lakewood Ranch, FL for almost $80,000 less than what the home was listed as.
3- New Construction Resale
This is a less common scenario, but with so many houses being built recently, there may be a situation where a new construction home built in the last year or so is already being sold.
Maybe the owners got relocated or are moving for personal reasons – whatever the situation is, that home is practically untouched.
Therefore, you have a great opportunity to get something NEW and DONE!
You may not have much negotiating power on the price, but that all depends on how quickly those sellers need to sell.
We just had clients purchase a brand new home in Mallory Park at Lakewood Ranch, built last year, for far less than it would have cost to build the same home because the seller was relocated for work and needed to move, ASAP.
So it was a win-win for both parties!
Overall, your chances of negotiating the price on any new construction home are pretty good, and using a real estate agent that knows the process and the market well can help you even more.
If you need someone in the Lakewood Ranch or Sarasota area, feel free to contact us!
If you are looking elsewhere, we are happy to refer you to a great agent.
M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E! (Are you singing it in your head, yet?)
One of the many perks of living in Florida is access to Walt Disney World. Whether you go as a family, a single rider, or just with friends, Walt Disney World has something to offer everyone. And, as a Florida resident, you get additional perks! Here, we discuss some of the benefits of becoming a Florida Resident Disney Annual Passholder!
Florida residents are offered 7 options for Annual Passes, which is 5 more than non-Florida residents have. Disney also allows you to make monthly payments for your Annual Pass, which is another exclusive benefit for Florida residents. So, rather than pay $500 for the year up front, you can make monthly payments of $26. Sounds a lot better, right?!
Each Annual Pass offers a different level of benefits that are included with the price. The majority of them include:
There are also free goodies for Annual Passholders at certain festivals and events throughout the year, as an added bonus.
You can find a list of all participating retailers and additional Annual Passholder benefit informationhere.
What are the Annual Pass options?
These are the most recent Annual Pass options offered on Walt Disney World’s website for Florida residents, as shown in the video:
*Once you have an Annual Pass, there is no down payment each time you renew as long as you do so before it expires. So, the amount listed as the down payment is usually a one-time fee.
How do I Prove I am a Florida Resident?
When you buy an Annual Pass online, you are required to include your Florida address in the application. Once you enter the park to get your pass in person, or visit for the first time, you will need to show a Florida Driver’s License with that same address, or proof of mortgage, bills, registration, or mail within the last 2 months.
How do I know if it makes sense to get an Annual Pass?
That all depends on how often you plan to visit the parks. For us, it is a 90 minute drive, so we go pretty frequently.
Here’s a very basic comparison:
A 1 day Florida Resident Park Hopper Ticket (so you can visit multiple parks in one day) is $141.50 (plus parking)
A Disney Silver Annual Pass for Florida residents is $539.00 for the entire year and that is visiting as many times as you want, all 4 parks each time, includes parking, and can be paid monthly. So if you plan to take more than 4 one-day trips to the parks, your Annual Pass already paid for itself!
Obviously, those numbers change when it involves multiple family members and multiple passes, but you can do a comparison on their website or call a Cast Member for help understanding the pricing and if it makes sense for you.
If I don’t want an Annual Pass, what are my other options?
Walt Disney World offers perks to Florida residents for regular resort stays, multi-day tickets, and other special events, as well. If you won’t visit enough to make the Annual Pass worth it, but you still want to take a short drive to the parks and have some fun, be sure to check their website frequently for updated Resident offers. Right now, Disney is offering:
If you are moving to Florida and think you want to visit Disney World, we highly recommend looking into the Annual Passholder options. If you need help finding your dream home in Florida so you CAN visit Disney more often – we would love to help! Contact us today!
If you are considering moving to a new place, the school system might be an important factor in your decision. When we work with buyers, they often ask about the schools in Florida; how to know which ones are rated higher, how to know which houses are zoned to which schools, etc.
As realtors, we are not really qualified to comment on schools in regards to comparing them and giving our opinions on them.
So I rely heavily on the resources provided by the Florida Department of Education to share information with clients about the schools in the area.
Lakewood Ranch, FL is known for its A-rated school district, as is Sarasota county as a whole. On the Gulf coast, those are some of the highest rated schools. On the East coast, St. John’s County is also very highly rated on a consistent basis.
In the video above, I share some Florida public schools resources with you and walk you through the Florida Department of Education School Accountability Report to show how they grade the schools throughout the state.
This spreadsheet is a great tool to explore. It lists each county on the left, then each school within the county and the grades associated with them. There are number grades for each subject, as well as a letter grade for the overall school rating.The letter grade is given based on the following criteria: “The four achievement components are English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. These components include student performance on statewide standardized assessments, including the comprehensive assessments and end-of-course (EOC) assessments. The component measures the percentage of full-year enrolled students who achieved a passing score.”
The number of points earned for each component is added together and divided by the total number of available points to determine the percentage of points earned.
It then follows this School Grading Scale: A = 62% of points or greater, B = 54% to 61% of points, C = 41% to 53% of points, D = 32% to 40% of points, F = 31% of points or less
All Florida Public Schools must test 95% of their students.
You can learn more about this criteria on the Florida Department of Education website.
Utilizing that spreadsheet is a start, but how do you know which schools your future home is zoned to? The next step is to use a School Locator Tool to determine which elementary, middle, and high school is in the attendance zone of your future home.
We have a tool on our website under the “Lakewood Ranch Villages” tab with links to the Manatee and Sarasota County school locator websites. You simply enter the address of the home you are considering buying and it shows the schools that would be attended. You can find this for just about every school district in Florida.
This information is also sometimes included in the listing for the home, but you always want to double check that to make sure it is accurate.
Another website with school ratings to consider looking at is Niche. They share their top-ranked Florida school districts here.
For more information on the Lakewood Ranch area, or questions on other parts of Florida, please reach out! We are happy to share what we know and refer you to an agent in another part of the state if that would be the best move for you.
Send us an email: Contact@chenkus.com