10 Real Estate Tips for Sellers and Buyers

High demand in the Emerald Coast real estate market and low interest rates have continued to drive sales in 2018. This puts sellers in a great position to sell their property in an active market and earn equity from their investment. Buyers still have the opportunity to purchase at fair prices and receive the benefits of lower interest rates.

Here are 10 tips to help both sellers and buyers in our current market.

1. First-time buyers: Get that starter home now

And we mean now! More than half of home sales nationwide in 2017 were expected to be to first-time buyers, and mostly to the millennials (19 to 34 years old). That means competition — and bidding wars — could become fierce for starter homes. There are many ‘starter’ homes in the Destin area that are coming on the market and can be purchased at great prices and with a little sweat equity, become amazing beach homes. Santa Rosa Beach and South Walton have seen a boom in new communities offering great homes and amenities. These communities are selling out fast and building equity quickly. Grabbing a home in one of these neighborhoods could turn out to be a great investment.

Paradise Cove Pineview

Check out Paradise Cove – South Walton’s newest residential community sitting on 20 acres of picturesque property and located less than one quarter mile from the Emerald Coast Middle School, and one quarter mile from Highway 395 which leads to Publix and the beautiful Seagrove Beach.

Contact the Nathan Abbott Team, Paradise Cove’s real estate sales team, to learn more about this wonderful neighborhood – Phone: 850-724-2975  /  Email: Info@ParadiseCoveSales.com

2. Sellers: Hire the right agent

Many times, the best investment a seller can make is time spent researching agents. A bad hire can cost sellers tens of thousands of dollars and months of worried waiting.

First, look at an agent’s online marketing material and listings. Is there good photography or video? Does it “pop”? Are descriptions accurate and complimentary without seeming exaggerated? Then, look at profiles of the agents on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media; and be sure to read web reviews. What kind of vibe is an agent sending out?

Narrow your search to three agents and interview each, ideally in person. Ask for sales-activity reports, existing listings and time-on-the-market averages, plus the requisite local comps.

Here are a list of questions you can ask potential agents to better understand how they work and if they are a good fit for you and your property – Buyer Questions to Ask Any Agent.

3. Buyers: There’s more loan money out there

Those who couldn’t get mortgages during the downturn because they didn’t have 20 percent to put down can find affordable financing again. Borrowers with lower FICO scores are now getting conforming mortgage loans.

Our connections with great local mortgage companies means you’ll have a loan officer who truly understands our market and the nuances of Northwest Florida real estate. In addition, they offer great loan packages and can negotiate the best rate for your situation, including FHA, VA and rural loans.

4. Sellers: It may be a seller’s market but…

Sellers can do several simple things to enhance appearance, increase buyer interest and boost their property’s profile:

• Selective renovations: Instead of wholesale renovations from which sellers recoup maybe 60 percent on investment, do light makeovers everywhere, with an eye on the kitchen and bathrooms. They’re far more cost-effective.
• Clean, clean and clean some more: It’s hard for buyers to picture themselves living in a dirty house. Scrub floors, baths, kitchens, windows and walls, and be sure to clean, vacuum and deodorize rugs. This is simple but effective.
• Depersonalize, declutter: Show the space, not the contents. Box up family photos, kids’ school papers and excess art, and store bulky and worn furniture. Organize your closets to make them look half empty.
• Illuminate: Think bright and cheery. Open curtains and blinds and add brighter light bulbs in dark areas. Repaint where needed but use neutral colors.

5. Renters: It might be time to buy

In many cases, rents are rising faster than home values, yet mortgage rates remain low. That, and the fact that renters now account for 37 percent of households (the highest level in 50 years), seem to indicate an imminent coming-out party for renters-turned-buyers, especially if they plan to stay put for five to 10 years after buying.

Palms of Freeport Townhomes

Palms of Freeport, located just 15 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, is a perfect example where owning your home is better than renting. This is a great investment opportunity for full-time living or as a rental unit, and there are approximately 20 units left. Just across the street from Freeport Elementary and close to the new Publix and Hwy 331, Palms of Freeport offers a great, central location.

These desirable townhomes have been renting for $1,100 per month with 100% occupancy and a waiting list! Monthly mortgage payments, including HOA fees, taxes, and insurance are only approx. $990 a month.* Own for less than what you can rent for. The last unit sold for $135,500 and prices are scheduled to increase.

Sample mortgage rates provided by:
Sue Botelho, Waterstone Mortgage
Sales Manager, NMLS# 262520
Office 850.362.6901 / Mobile 850.797.7946
SBotelho@WaterstoneMortgage.com
www.Sue-Botelho.com

*Rates effective 06/13/18. State of Florida Licensee Exempt. Please contact us for a personalized rate quote. Waterstone Mortgage Corporation (NMLS #186434) is a wholly owned subsidiary of WaterStone Bank SSB (NASDAQ: WSBF). All loan requests are subject to credit approval as well as specific program requirements and guidelines. For some programs, income and property restrictions may apply. Information is subject to change without notice. This is not an offer for an extension of credit or a commitment to lend. Cash reserves may be required. If an escrow (impound) account is established for the payment of real estate taxes and/or homeowners insurance, your payment may be higher.

Take advantage of this prime rental opportunity and secure your unit before prices increase. Contact Nathan Abbott or Annie Belter for your private tour and more information about Palms of Freeport – 850-378-2112 / Info@NathanAbbottTeam.com

6. Buyers: If you’re a buyer, don’t believe the house is yours

Don’t bank on a done deal or other verbal promises from listing agents until you sign a contract. Remember, a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Get it in writing or it doesn’t count!

In heated markets across the country, sales agents are giving buyers false hope and using their offers to bid up the price for preferred buyers who they think can pay more and close faster. Have other homes in mind.

Strategies such as preapproval (versus prequalification), proof of funding, closing flexibility and the always-risky practice of waiving inspection and repair contingencies can help sway buyers.

7. Sellers: The grass is always greener…

… in yards with a “sold” sign. Major interior or exterior upgrades typically aren’t needed, but a little attention outdoors is a must.

Surveys show that strong curb appeal can increase prices by 10 percent or more. Greener grass, whether derived from new sod or fertilizer and water, is a must. New shrubs, plantings and flowers also project a welcoming feel. Sellers typically enjoy a 100 percent return on the money they put into curb appeal.

Another form of green, sustainable landscaping has become a value-add for buyers. Native plants, native grasses and perennials that require less water and attention fill that bill. Especially with Florida weather, native plants than can withstand drought and months of downpours are enticing to buyers, and will help make the yard easier for you to maintain until you property sales.

Other outdoor cleaning like pressure washing, repainting doors and shutters and sprucing up lanai’s give buyers a great first impression for your property. For condo owners, make sure to clean your balcony and outdoor furniture. You can even ‘stage’ the balcony to make it more inviting.

8. Sellers and buyers: Know the state of your market

A balanced housing market is defined as one with an average inventory of 6.5 months, according to Texas A&M University Real Estate Center research. When inventory remains below equilibrium, sellers enjoy more control over prices and terms, and the area becomes a seller’s market.
When inventory lingers well above stasis, you have a buyer’s market where sellers must get more serious about price reductions, credits and throw-ins. Contact the Nathan Abbott Team to receive an updated market inventory for our local service areas, including Okaloosa Island, Destin, Miramar Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Freeport and Panama City Beach.

9. Sellers: House going up for sale later in the year?

Do some prep work now. Grab your camera or smartphone and do an exterior photo shoot in the summer on a nice bright day with the landscaping freshly updated. Do the same thing in the fall as the plants in your landscape start to change.

This way, if your house goes on the market in the winter or early spring, you have photos showing how great it looks with all your landscaping blooming and grass green. It’s a much better way to showcase your home than to wait until late winter when everything is still dead and brown and mucky.

Take a preliminary inventory, too. Look through your attic, closets, basement and garage to see what stored items you’ll want to keep, give away or sell before listing your property. This will help you determine whether you’ll need a storage unit when your home is on the market and if there are any problem areas that need repairs or attention.

It’s also a good time to start discussing financing options with a local lender and interview prospective listing agents who also might provide additional preparation tips.

10. Buyers: Relocating near the Gulf of Bay?

If you’re wanting to buy a house or condo on the Gulf of Mexico or Choctawhatchee Bay, an important thing to consider is weather and insurance realities. Many homes in our local bay areas are required to have flood insurance. Gulf-front homes and condos also need special insurance that you may not be aware of.

Parts of Florida saw 20 percent increases in 2016 for insurance rates and could possibly see more as time goes on. Insurers also are imposing coverage caps so there’s no guarantee you’ll be made whole post-catastrophe.

Some home sellers and their agents are conveniently not disclosing these realities, so buyers will have to ask pointed questions and do their own research. We are here to help make sure all cost of ownership for a property is provided before you’re at the closing table. Contact Nathan Abbott with any questions about local properties and insurance requirements.

What else do I need to know?

There are many tips that can help you navigate the Emerald Coast real estate market. We are here to be your trusted real estate advisor. Contact us with any questions about buying or selling a property from Destin to Panama City Beach.

Search all properties for sale along the Emerald Coast.

nathan-abbott-realtor
Nathan Abbott
ResortQuest Real Estate | Broker Associate, Realtor®
Nathan Abbott Team | CEO
850.812.3261
Info@NathanAbbottTeam.com

Projects Increase Value

Top Remodeling Projects That Add Value to Your Home

Spring is officially here and many homeowners are thinking of projects that will not only clean and enhance the beauty of their property, but add value too. From exterior updates and additions to bathroom and kitchen remodels, there are several projects that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Whether you’re making improvements to a recently purchased property or preparing to sell, it’s all about increasing your property’s value and these tips will help you in achieving that.

Interior Projects That Can Increase Property Value

Minor Bathroom Renovation
Out dated bathrooms can stop a sale in its tracks. Even if you’re not looking to sell, it’s nice to feel like you’re living in the current decade. As you renovate, keep in mind the trends of today and if those trends will have lasting value in the future. By replacing outdated faucets, adding aerators, adding on-demand water heater, and installing water efficient toilets that save water can benefit you with energy savings immediately. A minor bathroom renovation typically includes new vanity doors, drawers and hardware; new lighting, new plumbing fixtures and new paint. Additional updates like new countertops, flooring and tub/shower tile can further increase the desirability of your property. The average cost to completely remodel a master bathroom is about $16,000. This price can be cut down to almost $8,000 for smaller bathrooms and is much less for a minor renovation.

Minor Kitchen Renovation
A minor kitchen remodel typically consists of replacing cabinet fronts with raised-panel wood doors and drawers, along with new hardware; replacing wall oven and cooktop with energy-efficient models; replacing laminate countertops; installing a mid-priced sink and faucet and repainting. Minor kitchen remodels can help an older property sell quicker and for more money. Most buyers are not interested in remodeling and are looking for updated kitchens and appliances. A major kitchen remodel can cost $55,00 or more and would be best if you plan to stay in the home and are remodeling for your use.

Attic Conversion
If your property has unused attic space, consider turning into an additional bedroom or flex space. You’ll recoup even more of your investment if you can add a bathroom as well. With an additional bedroom and bathroom, your home moves up into the next level of comparable properties, usually meaning you can expect sell your home for quite a bit more.

Exterior Projects That Can Increase Property Value

Steel Entry Door
A new steel door may not sound like the best addition to your house, but it’s one of the financially savviest. Steel entry doors are constructed with thermal adhesives to increase structural integrity along with energy efficiency. Since steel doors will never warp or rot, they can keep the elements out of your home better than wood doors. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost V. Value report, homeowners who install a steel door can expect to recoup nearly 97% of the cost when the home sells.

Garage Door Replacement
Replacing your garage door is another way to improve the exterior of your home. But while it’s typically inexpensive, an upgrade isn’t necessary unless your garage door is old, beat-up or a particularly visible part of your home. Many times, a new coat of paint and new decorative handles looks just as nice as a new door. Keep in mind curb appeal is very important in attracting buyers to your property.

Replace Windows
New windows look sharper, insulate a home better, save on energy and, for buyers, avoid the cost and hassle of doing upgrades. Wood is the preferred trim finish, but other replacement window projects also pay off. New windows keep extreme weather outside. Energy-efficient windows can reduce the demand on your heating and cooling system. “Low-e” (low thermal emissivity) windows have a very thin coating applied to the glass that reflects various solar waves. Combined with double- or triple-pane glass and argon or krypton gas, low-e coatings can significantly improve the thermal efficiency of your windows.

Cement Siding
Cement siding, also called Hardie board siding, is a low-maintenance, long-lasting material that holds up much better than wood siding in Florida’s heat and humidity. If your house has wood siding, cement siding offers a unparalleled quality being completely rot and insect resistant and it can even handle salt spray from the ocean. While cement siding is more expensive than wood or vinyl siding, it really holds up along our coastline and can sway a buyer when comparing two properties.

Deck, Patio or Outdoor Living Space
Homebuilders, residential architects and landscape construction specialists are seeing more and more homeowners looking to include outdoor space in their home design. The American Institute of Architects’ second quarter 2017 Home Trends Design Survey reported requests for outdoor living increased for the sixth consecutive year. 70% percent of the 500 architecture firms surveyed reported an increase in requests for outdoor living from clients. While the cost of your specific project will be the main factor to determine how much value is added to your property’s market value, many buyers choose properties based on their outdoor living spaces – especially in Florida where our weather is great year-round!

Curious of what you may be able to sell your property for in today’s market or what buyers are looking for along the Emerald Coast? Contact The Nathan Abbott Team to connect with some of the Emerald Coast’s best agents to discuss your property’s potential value.

nathan-abbott-realtorNathan Abbott
ResortQuest Real Estate | Broker Associate, Realtor®
Nathan Abbott Team | CEO
850.812.3261

Spring Along the Emerald Coast – 4th Annual Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K Run

race logoWe are so excited to welcome Spring to the Emerald Coast. The weather is warming up and just in time for our Spring Break visitors. The beautiful thing about living in Northwest Florida is that we have the ability to comfortably spend time outdoors all year around. In fact, many of our charitable fundraisers such as walk-a-thons and marathons are held during our winter months. Just last month, our Listing Specialist, Amanda Abbott, entered into the 4th Annual Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K Run the weekend of February 26th-28th. The purpose of this event, hosted by Vera Bradley (who gave amazing gifts to each runner), was to raise money for the Seaside Neighborhood School and the Seacoast Collegiate High School. Just like any other school around, these Seaside Charter Schools experience funding cuts year after year. Fundraising events, as in the case of the Seaside Half Marathon, allow these schools to provide elective classes in gardening, music, art, technology, dance, yearbook, smaller math classes, and award winning robotics programs – to name a few.

tasteSponsored by many of our local businesses, this event was honored to welcome Chef Emeril Lagasse, along with Chef Jim Shirley, and Chef Jim Richard for a VIP reception, Taste of the Race, the Friday before the run.  Two of Emeril’s restaurants provided cuisine along with some of the Gulf Coast’s top chefs and restaurants. Live music was abundant along with wine and spirits. Saturday kept the momentum building with race preparations, more food, live music and a silent auction. The big event, the Half Marathon (13.1 miles!) started bright and early at 7 a.m. Sunday morning with the 5K run following at 7:25 a.m. A post-run party and another silent auction finished up the weekend. Congratulations, Amanda for supporting this great cause and good job finishing in just under 2 hours!

Living a healthier lifestyle is what we’re all about here in Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast. Just imagine waking up every morning to a walk on the beach, a quick surf ride, yoga facing the Gulf or Bay waters, or maybe a bit of paddle boarding before heading to work or wherever your day might take you. This lifestyle could be yours! Smart investors are realizing the value of buying real estate here as they see visitors flock to our beaches to take advantage of all we have to offer. Amazing properties in every price range are available all along the coast, click here to search. If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in the area, give the Nathan Abbott Team a call for up-to-date real estate information.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Emerald Coast!

Do you know where the name “Emerald Coast” came from? In 1983, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News, the term “Emerald Coast” was submitted by a junior high school student who won $50 in a contest to come up with a new slogan for the area. Since then, the term has been used in reference to the coastline from Pensacola Beach to Panama City Beach. The “Emerald” color of our Gulf waters are due to the lack of sediment run off, usually found around rivers and lakes which causes more of a brownish look, along with the algae (not harmful) we do have that the sun reflects off of. Spend a day at the beach enjoying our Emerald waters and you’ll feel like you just found that pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow! Click here to search for your Emerald Coast dream home today!

2016 New Construction & Development Along the Emerald Coast

Have you noticed the change in our Emerald Coast footprint over the last decade? We are growing in leaps and bounds, keeping the real estate market hot for 2016. Some may be concerned over the increased development forever changing the area; however, this change comes as a great boost to property values as well as providing much needed jobs to boost our local economy.

From East to West we’re seeing many changes. Panama City Beach is thrilled to be partnering with St. Joe Company in bringing not only a new K-8 school to the area, but also a world-class sports village. The outcome is to attract more sports visitors to Panama City Beach to enjoy tournaments for soccer, lacrosse, rugby and football. New schools and the economic impact of the sports complex will surely increase property values and raise home sale prices and rental income for investment properties with the added guests visiting the area, especially in the off-season.

Nathan Abbott, with the Nathan Abbott Team, recently sold a parcel of land for a new resort condominium project in Panama City Beach, Tradewinds for $6,450,000. This prime beachfront property covers ~3.65 acres and ~450 feet of Gulf front footage. Nathan Abbott is your sales specialist for Gulf front development parcels in Panama City Beach with a proven track record. This is the 5th development parcel that he sold, in addition to being the listing agent for all the developer sales at the Palazzo condominium located on the Gulf along Front Beach Road.

The Georgetown

Going into Walton County, on the East end of Scenic Highway 30A, Rosemary Beach is excited about a new condominium, The Georgetown, set to begin construction this spring. This classic-contemporary structure will offer luxury living at a desirable location with deeded covered parking. Seagrove welcomes a new 31-unit condominium called Thirty-One on 30A.

Thirty OneA

FullSizeRender-4This exceptional and desirable destination offers the pinnacle in architecture, design, comfort and foremost beachfront living. Moving to the West, ResortQuest Real Estate is proud to be the exclusive listing office offering RidgeWalk in Santa Rosa Beach. RidgeWalk is a French-inspired coastal gated community situated on the Eastern boundary of County Highway 393. This Randy Wise development is a nature-rich planned community of 74 homes sites nestled throughout ~19.5 acres.

Okaloosa County is full of upcoming residential and resort developments this year as well. Destin is proud to announce a new condominium project, 1900-98, underway along the coast.

1900 98

This ultra-luxury condo will be built on ~150 feet of beachfront. As well as The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort in Crystal Beach that is scheduled to open this spring. This 170-room resort will provide a plethora of services and activities.

 

The HendersonIn addition, commercial opportunities are also growing in Destin with the Destin Commons expanding with the soon grand opening of Whole Foods next to the Bass Pro Shop. Locals and visitors can enjoy natural and organic foods, fresh veggies and fruits, and other goodies for healthier lifestyle options. Also neighboring Destin Commons, Turnberry Associates has plans in motion to build a 150-room hotel beginning this spring.

Fort Walton Beach boasts their new development now approved for construction and in planning, The Landmark Center. This center consists of two main buildings that will feature a mix of residential, retail and dining including a 112-room Hilton hotel, pool, executive offices, 24-loft condo apartments and a rooftop bar and restaurant.

Landmark Center

Please let us know if you are interested in any of these and other developments along the Panhandle! We are actively involved in Emerald Coast construction projects and opportunities, please contact us for a market review of your property or click here to search available listings along the panhandle!

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