Fort Lauderdale Homes for Sale Listing: What is a Sale Pending?

If you’re shopping a Fort Lauderdale homes for sale listing, you’ve no doubt seen the designation “pending” or “contingent” next to the listing online, attached to a yard sign, or in the newspaper. If you’re like many prospective home buyers, you may not fully understand exactly what those terms mean. Some buyers mistakenly assume that a “pending” message means the home is no longer on the market. However, as we’ll discuss here, that’s not always the situation. Should you come across a home you like and see it listed as “pending,” don't automatically give up. Let’s look at what the terms “pending” and “contingent” mean in today’s real estate market.

What does it really mean when you see a pending sign attached to a Fort Lauderdale homes for sale listing?

What does “subject to” and “contingent upon” really mean? Before discussing what a “sale pending” means, let’s talk about how a normal real estate sales transaction really works. Typically speaking, a prospective home buyer makes an offer to purchase a home “subject to” a real estate appraisal, a property inspection report, or a final mortgage loan approval. In addition, many times a buyer may make the purchase of the home “contingent upon” the sale of their existing home – meaning they intend to buy the new home, but only if their current home sells. Naturally, that’s where most people will obtain the necessary funds for the down payment and closing costs for their new purchase. In the event the home doesn’t appraise for at least the sales price, if there’s an issue revealed in the home inspection report, if the purchaser can’t obtain financing, or if they can’t sell their current home, the buyer can usually get out of the contract. Each of those items allow the buyer the opportunity to exit the contractual agreement as a contingency.

A home under contract may still be available. Depending on the market in which you’re shopping, real estate agents often characterize a home with a contingency as being “active with conditions” or “active continue to show.” What this really means to other prospective buyers and agents is the property is still potentially available and the sellers are open to other offers to purchase. So, if you come across a Fort Lauderdale homes for sale listing, remember that while the seller isn’t able to enter into a contract with another purchaser, the sale is far from completed. In such a circumstance, there may be an opportunity for a “back-up” offer – meaning if the original deal doesn't close, the seller will have an additional offer to fall back on. In the absence of a back-up offer, the property would have to go back on the market and essentially return to where it began in the sales process.

In some real estate markets in certain states, prospective buyers don't execute a contract until they’ve thoroughly inspected the property. Basically, there’s a verbal agreement between the buyer and the seller to purchase the property – and the home isn’t “sold” until the contract is executed (or closed) by all parties involved.

“Sale pending” means there are no more contingencies. A property marketed as a Fort Lauderdale homes for sale listing is truly pending if all contingencies have been satisfied. In that case, the prospective purchaser is “locked into” buying the property. The only step remaining is for the closing of the sale to take place – a process that can range in time from a few days (in the case of a cash sale) or up to several weeks if there is mortgage financing involved.

To avoid confusion, most real estate agents won’t characterize a home as “pending” until the sale is fairly close to being consummated – meaning the sale of the property is pending the final closing. The buyer can still exit the contract, but it’s highly unlikely by that time such an event will occur. However, if the buyer needs to walk away from the deal, in most cases he will forfeit the earnest money deposit paid when the contract was executed.

Determine the status of the property in question. To remove all doubt about where the home you're interested in stands, ask questions of the real estate agent or of the seller. Did the buyer have the proper inspections performed? Did everything check out satisfactorily? Ask your real estate professional to talk to the listing agent to find out the home's current status. You can then fully understand if there’s an opportunity to move forward.

As mentioned, don't be discouraged if the home you’re interested in is labeled “sale pending.” Just keep the home in the back of your mind and actively follow the progress of the sale. Many times in busy markets, buyers may find something they like better or a mortgage lender may change policies creating problems in closing the sale. A good, experienced agent will work closely with the listing agent so if a sale doesn’t come to fruition, a new buyer – their client – can step in and become the new purchaser. If not, just continue your search for another Fort Lauderdale homes for sale listing.

See more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale homes for sale in the section of articles just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Home Improvement Issues and Solutions

As a homeowner, no doubt you’re familiar with Fort Lauderdale home improvement issues. Every home has those nagging problems that arise from time to time. Many times they are too minor to call in a professional, but they still require attention – and repair. The good news is you can easily tackle these and other issues all by yourself. Let’s take a look at how you can solve three well-known problems that can occur around the house.

Jammed or stuck garbage disposal

The first of the Fort Lauderdale home improvement issues we should address is the jammed garbage disposal. You know the drill. You flip the switch and it makes a humming noise, but doesn’t turn on and do its job. That usually means it’s stuck, clogged or jammed with food (or something that’s not supposed to be in there, like a spoon for example.) Don’t force the situation and don’t reach down into the disposal with your hand! Follow these easy suggestions to remedy the problem:

  • Turn off the disposal or flip the electrical circuit that serves the appliance.
  • Using a flashlight, look into the disposal and “fish around” with a pair of pliers to pull out the item(s) that may be clogging it. Again, even with the power turned off or disconnected, never put your hand in the disposal. Hopefully, you’ll locate whatever’s jamming the disposal and can remove it easily. If that’s not the case, continue as follows.
  • If your disposal is equipped with a reversal feature, run cold tap water into it and put it in reverse. Usually, that dislodges whatever is causing the clog and it can be removed. If you don’t have a reversal feature, do the following instead:

Turn off the electrical power at the circuit breaker 

Fort Lauderdale home improvement issues often include repairs, and this may mean a stuck or jammed garbage disposal.

Look beneath the sink and find the hole in the bottom of the disposal. Using an Allen wrench, insert it in the hole and twist it back and forth a few times in an effort to free the impeller blade, which could be stuck. If you can turn the wrench in a complete circle, the object will probably be freed… see step two above.

  • Try the reset button and run cold tap water into the disposal for a minute or so.
  • Turn the power back on to the disposal ad turn it back on.

Loose toilet seat Probably because it gets a fair amount of wear and tear, it’s not unusual for the toilet seat in your main bathroom or kid’s bathroom to become loose. It’s common among Fort Lauderdale home improvement issues. Do this for a tighter toilet seat:

  • Take off the hinge bolt covers on the seat
  • Remove the nut holding the hinge bolt in place. Be sure to leave the hinge bolts in.
  • You’ll need a toilet seat tightening kit, available in Lowe’s or Home Depot. Using the tool in the kit, slide the washer from the kit onto the hinge bolt on the underside of the toilet. Then, slide the bolt up so that it’s secured tightly into the underside of the hinge bolt opening.
  • Replace the hinge bolt nut, then tighten.
  • Do the same thing on the other side of the toilet seat.

Misaligned or sticking door Another one of the Fort Lauderdale home improvement issues facing homeowners is the nagging, recurring problem of an interior door that won’t close as it should. Remedies can range from inserting a piece of cardboard used as a shim to aid in realigning the door, to using a long screw in the door jamb to pull it in, to removing the door and planing the edge so it swings properly. Before you try any of those options, make sure to check the hinge screws to see if they’re loose. If they are, try this:

  • Take out the screws from the hinge and remove the hinge from the door or door jamb (depending on which side is loose.)
  • Place a drop or two of wood glue into each of the hinge screw holes.
  • Using wooden toothpicks or wooden matches, put one or more in each of the screw holes. Allow them to set for ten minutes, then break off the excess wood.
  • Re-install the door hinge with the screws. If everything goes well, the fit should be tight again.

These Fort Lauderdale home improvement issues are just three of a number of common problems that every homeowner faces at one time or another. With a little patience and a few simple tools, these and other issues can be repaired with minimal expense. If you hit a snag or need additional information, Google it! In today’s information-rich age, many do-it-yourself solutions to Fort Lauderdale home improvement issues are available on the internet – some complete with YouTube videos that show the step by step instructions.

Fixing these and other problems yourself will give you a greater degree of satisfaction and will save you time and money!

You can find more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale home improvement issues and projects in the Fort Lauderdale Home Improvements section of our site below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Real Estate News Outlook: Housing to Cost More?

Making the Fort Lauderdale real estate news outlook is the recent policy from the Trump administration that it had reversed one of the eleventh hour decisions made by the outgoing Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The reversal involved the reinstatement of a cut in the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) annual insurance premium. The new administration stated the need to take a closer look at the premium reduction, saying the cut will increase the risk that U.S. taxpayers take on should there be a housing crisis like the one we saw nearly a decade ago. Detractors against the administration’s move say the FHA’s insurance fund is substantial and is positioned to provided mortgage borrowers a benefit by way of the premium reduction.

FHA borrowers usually are those who are the least flush with cash. As a result, the FHA program is tailor-made for homebuyers who are unable to afford more than a modest down payment – requiring the FHA’s mortgage insurance. With a qualifying FHA loan, a borrower can put down as little as 3.5%. Conventional lenders also offer low down payment lending programs requiring private mortgage insurance (PMI) and generally higher FICO credit scores than their FHA counterparts.

The Fort Lauderdale real estate news outlook for 2017 is that it will cost you more this year than in the past.

The reversal of the premium reduction is expected to impact borrowers who already may be on the borderline of being able to qualify. The higher monthly payments created by not having the insurance premium cut will equate to approximately a .375% rate increase for prospective borrowers seeking FHA loans. That, coupled with the recent rise in interest rates after the presidential election will mean that the cost of buying a house – for many people – will increase slightly during the early spring of 2017.

In the Fort Lauderdale real estate news outlook, while interest rates spiked as a result of the stock market’s rise post-election, they seem to have settled somewhat during the holidays – only to slightly rise again in recent weeks. While economists are split on whether rates will continue to rise throughout 2017 and by how much, most seem to agree that mortgage interest rates will not exceed 4.25% during the year. If that happens, although it will signal rates of slightly more than 1.25% higher than the all-time record lows experienced in much of the previous 12-18 months, the rate will still represent a relatively low interest rate for which to pay to purchase a home.

Of more concern than interest rates is the cost of the price of a newly-constructed home. In December, the Fort Lauderdale real estate news outlook showed that the average price of a new home increased by over 7% compared to the same month last year. The prices reflect – for the most part – increased costs builders face in two key areas: the cost of land and the availability of labor. The cost of labor and the availability of labor are items which are less likely to improve during the new administration, as much of the homebuilder workforce is comprised of immigrants. In a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) 78% of builders cited labor as their most pressing problem – and 82% felt it would be worse in 2017.

In addition, the other factors affecting the housing market as mentioned in the Fort Lauderdale real estate news outlook recently has been the real estate market’s continued lack of sufficient inventory. The number of homes on the market for sale will likely mean the supply won't meet the demand again this year, making for another seller’s market in many of the more popular real estate markets throughout the U.S.

Lastly, as home values continue to appreciate – possibly not as rapidly as they did during 2016 – that means the number of homes on the market for sale will be priced at a premium. Real estate experts say the average appreciation rate of homes in the nation is expected to be in the 5% range, with some markets being higher and some lower. That’s slightly lower than what occurred in the 2015-2016 real estate markets, when housing values are at rates nearing 6% in some hotbeds, while averaging nearly 5.5% nationwide.

While the jury may still be out on factors such as interest rates, it does appear that the prevalent Fort Lauderdale real estate news outlook for 2017 is that if you’re in the market to purchase a home, it’ll cost you more this year than in the past. However, the market appears to be poised and ready for what will probably be a good year for the real estate industry. The spring selling season will soon be here, giving buyers and sellers a much better idea of what to expect for the remainder of the year.

See more articles pertaining to the most current Fort Lauderdale real estate news outlook in the section of articles on Fort Lauderdale Real Estate News just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. And remember, we also post tips daily on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out there as well.  

The Fort Lauderdale Home Inspection: What to do Next?

During a Fort Lauderdale home inspection, it’s not unusual for issues to arise which need repair or replacing. Many times, it can mean a return to the negotiating table so the buyer and seller can hammer out the details of who’s going to fix what – or how much of a credit the seller is planning to give the buyer. When a home inspection discovers items needing to be addressed, consider these three tips to negotiate repairs.

Ask the seller to give you a credit for the cost of the work to be performed. There are several reasons for asking for a credit rather than having the seller have the required work done. First and foremost, the seller has likely lost interest in performing work on the home, regardless of the findings of your Fort Lauderdale home inspection. After all, the contract is signed and even though there are issues pending that need to be negotiated, most sellers are too focused on buying and moving into their next home. Secondly, if you can get the seller to give you a credit against the sales price you can use that additional savings to have the work done yourself – with you being the new homeowner and with the work being done to your satisfaction. Thirdly, with a credit at closing the issue of repairing or replacing certain items falls squarely on your shoulders, keeping it simple and not involving the seller to ensure the work was being done.

Keep these items in mind as you prepare to negotiate after your Fort Lauderdale home inspection report.

Consider long-range planning. Keep future repairs or renovations in mind when negotiating with the seller. For example, if there are water stains on the ceiling that occurred as a result of a leak, ask the seller for a credit to repair both the leak and repainting or repairing the ceiling. You may elect to repair the leak, but put off fixing the stain until later – especially if you know you’re going to replace the existing stippled ceilings with a smoother treatment. Keep those and other items in mind as you prepare to negotiate on the heels of your Fort Lauderdale home inspection report.

Don’t let others “see your hand.” In a card game, it’s important not to let others see your cards because it will give them an unfair advantage and change the way they play the game. Use the same strategy during your Fort Lauderdale home inspection. If you say too much to the listing agent about your likes and dislikes or about your plans for decorating certain rooms and how excited you are, you could lose your negotiating power. The listing agent may tell the seller, and it could affect the outcome of the credit they were thinking about giving you. For example, if you tell the listing agent you plan to completely re-do the entire kitchen, the seller may find out about it and be less inclined to give you a credit for repairing the kitchen cabinets or replacing a dishwasher. Don’t reveal your plans. Keep a “poker face.”

It’s probably good to mention here that you should always insist the sales contract be contingent on the home “passing inspection” by way of a Fort Lauderdale home inspection report showing no discernible repairs that should be made. If you don't include that in the contract and make the assumption you can always come back and revisit or negotiate certain issues after the inspection, you may be unpleasantly surprised.

In the event the property inspection is completed without any mention of needed repairs or other shortcomings, that's good. There’s no reason for further negotiating. However, if there are items that need to be addressed and the contract doesn’t mention what to do in such a case, you’ve lost your negotiating power and may force the seller to consider other offers or back-up contracts if you elect not to move forward.

With that in mind, enter into the closing with a full awareness of what can happen. In the sports world the old saying, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” means anything can happen while the game is still going on. It’s the same in the real estate world – a deal isn’t completed until the money goes from the buyer to the seller and the deed to the property is transferred properly. The lesson here is: “Be alert, stay on your toes and keep your eyes wide open.” Anything less than that and you run the risk of losing your negotiating advantage and making your home buying experience less than what it could be.

Don’t give “buyer’s remorse” any opportunity to enter the picture. Be happy and satisfied with your purchase. You’ll enjoy it that much more!

You can find more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale home inspections in the Fort Lauderdale Home Inspections section of our site below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Checklist: The Top 8 Tips

We’ve assembled a Fort Lauderdale home buying checklist for people thinking of entering the real estate market, looking to buy a house. Let’s take a look at these seven important tips.

1 – Home buying should be for the long haul. Not too long ago, buying houses and turning around and selling them (or “flipping” them) was a popular way to make money. Today, we recommend considering planning to live in the home you buy for at least 7-10 years. Of course, there’s no hard and fast rule. People move where their jobs take them – whether it’s across town or across the country – but give consideration to whether you’ll likely move within the next few years before you decide to buy. For some people, it may be better to rent for a few years.

2 – Do some soul-searching before you decide to buy. Your Fort Lauderdale home buying checklist should include asking yourself a series of tough questions to make sure your heart is in what you’re about to undertake. Buying a home is the single largest purchase most people will make in their lifetime – make sure you recognize that, and treat it importantly.

Fort Lauderdale home buying checklist for prospective purchasers thinking about buying a house.

3 – Ask yourself these questions: Will you choose to start a family soon? Do your needs require a home with a large yard for a growing family or your pet(s)? How do you feel about yard work? Do you like the city better than the suburbs?

4 – Take your time before you buy. Most people tend to jump right into to the home buying pool without testing the water first. Take your time. There’s no hurry. While interest rates are fairly low, the temptation may be to act quickly, but experts say the rates are expected to remain fairly affordable throughout 2017. Use the extra time you allot to make sure your credit score is in the best shape possible and that the other items you’ll need for loan qualification are in order (tax returns if you’re self-employed, source and verification of your down payment, etc.)

5 – Buy within your budget. One of the most important items on your Fort Lauderdale home buying checklist should be to focus on what you can comfortably afford. Remember, mortgage lenders will use your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) to determine whether you qualify for home loan financing. Before you start the home shopping journey, take a look at your DTI. Take the total of all your recurring debt including your proposed monthly mortgage payment (PITI) along with other monthly debt like credit cards and car payments. Divide that total by your gross monthly income. Most mortgage lending experts say your DTI should be 36% or lower. The most important thing to remember is this: Take out the loan and the monthly payment you can comfortably afford, not necessarily the one you qualify for. Making a higher monthly mortgage payment is no fun if you can’t afford to buy steaks for the new backyard grill occasionally. Some experts recommend buying a home you can afford based on one income. That way, should you or your spouse lose their job or get laid off – or elects to become a full-time parent – you can still comfortably pay for your home.

6 – Consider the tax advantages. The tax benefits are a big part of any Fort Lauderdale home buying checklist. Currently, the mortgage interest you pay on a primary residence is tax deductible. So, the tax savings are of huge consequence since you can deduct your home loan interest and your real estate taxes from your gross income. For example, if you earned $75,000 in gross income in 2016 and you paid $10,000 in mortgage interest and your property taxes were $2,000, you could lower your taxable income to $63,000 – saving you a bundle on income tax.

7 – Create a moving account. Another important item on your Fort Lauderdale home buying checklist is to start a move-in fund. Of course, you’ll have to have a down payment, but don’t forget other things like closing costs, moving expenses and other necessities for your new home. If you’ve been renting, for example, you may need to purchase a lawnmower and other lawn care equipment – along with that backyard grill!

8 – You may choose to rent, if you’re not ready to buy. Let’s face it…sometimes it’s not a good idea to buy. Maybe after you review your Fort Lauderdale home buying checklist you’ll realize it’s not the right time. If you’re not ready, don't force it. Rent instead. You’ll be happier, healthier and financially wiser to put it off a year or two until you feel more comfortable. Save your money. Find a better job. Get your finances in order. Do your homework. Then when you’re ready to buy you’ll be that much more prepared.

Read more about home buying advice in the section of articles on Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Tips just below our Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Tax Update: Changes This Year

This Fort Lauderdale tax update involves a number of changes to take into consideration before filing your 2016 income tax returns. And despite the changes, overall there aren't too many variations in the preparation of your 2016 income tax returns compared to 2015. However, there are a few important considerations for you to take note of to make sure you're filing as accurately and efficiently as possible this year – especially if you're planning to get a tax refund.

One important Fort Lauderdale tax update of which to be aware is that taxpayers will have three extra days to file their returns this year. April 15th falls on a Saturday, and when that occurs the tax deadline is extended to the next business day, ordinarily Monday, April 17th. However, April 17th is the day the District of Columbia recognizes Emancipation Day. So the tax deadline will be Tuesday, April 18th.

The various tax deductions and filing rules are essentially the same as last year. The difference will be in the tax brackets, which were adjusted for inflation. So, as one CPA put it, don't necessarily assume that what you did last year can be relied on this year. Consult the tax tables carefully.

This Fort Lauderdale tax update addresses several changes to be aware of.

This Fort Lauderdale tax update addresses several changes to be aware of.

The mileage rate is lower. Tax regulations allow for tax advantages for using your personal vehicle for business, charitable, moving or medical purposes. You are able to deduct the actual costs involved, or use the mileage rate as prescribed by the IRS, whichever is greater. For 2016, the rate for business mileage is 54 cents per mile, 3.5 cents lower than it was in 2015. For medical or moving expenses, the rate is 19 cents per mile, down from 23 cents in 2015. The mileage rate for charitable purposes remains the same at 14 cents per mile.

There could be a delay in receiving your refund. If you are claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, expect your refund to be delayed in order to give the IRS more time to investigate errors and fraud in claiming these credits. Blame the delay on a new law, Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes, passed in 2015.

If you need help from the IRS, you will need an appointment. The IRS taxpayer assistance centers no longer accept walk-ins. Simply call in advance to make an appointment and help will be available.

Your income tax bracket may have changed. Income levels for all tax rates have been adjusted slightly to reflect the results of inflation. Consult the new tax tables.

Your personal exemption has been raised. In 2016, the personal exemption has been increased from $4,000 to $4,050. For taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $259,400 for single filers and $311,300 for a married couple filing jointly, the exemption is less. The exemption is not available for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $381,900 filing as a single taxpayer and $433,800 for couples filing jointly.

You may get a larger Earned Income Tax Credit. Another Fort Lauderdale tax update is for taxpayers who have three or more children. The maximum credit for their 2016 income tax returns is $6,269, compared to $6,242 in 2015. The formula for the tax credit includes several factors, including income and the number of dependents.

You'll pay a larger penalty if you weren't covered by health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance, you’re going to be penalized – again – to the tune of $695 per adult and $347.50 for each minor child. Good news, though… the maximum household penalty is $2,085. Still, according to IRS officials, most families won’t actually owe the IRS any money, thanks to over 30 existing exemptions already in place.

If you won money in the Olympics or Paralympics, you may not have to pay taxes on the winnings. Normally, if you win money or prizes in a contest or a lottery, you have to pay taxes on those winnings. If your adjusted gross income is less than $1 million ($500,000 if married filing separately) you won’t have to pay taxes on your winnings from the Olympics or Paralympics. Thank Congress for a new law that was passed last year.

If you owe enough back taxes, you may lose your passport. The U.S. State Department now has the right to revoke your passport if you owe more than $50,000 in unpaid taxes. This is due to a 2015 transportation regulation called the FAST Act. Insiders say the IRS so far hasn’t provided back taxes information to the State Department, but expects to do so later this year. So, if you plan to travel abroad in the future, you better make sure you’ve paid your taxes.

You can find more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale taxes in the Taxes section of our site below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Mortgage Rates: Still a Good Time to Buy a Home

Fort Lauderdale mortgage rates continue to be in the news. With the recent rise in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, and the likelihood of additional increases on the horizon, the obvious question remains, “Is it still a good time to purchase a home?”

Let’s look at what’s transpired in recent months since the presidential election in November. The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased from 3.68% to 4.2%, based on Freddie Mac's mortgage rate survey report. However, despite the increase, even a 4% rate is very low compared to historical averages. To put that into perspective, for roughly 30 years from 1971 to 2001 mortgage interest rates were above 7% most of the time. In October 1981, they peaked at 18.16%. It wasn’t until 2008, just over eight short years ago, that interest rates began to drop consistently below 6%.

Fort Lauderdale mortgage rates have risen slightly since the presidential election.

While Fort Lauderdale mortgage rates are expected to continue to rise slightly this year, most agree that aggregate increases will be less than 1% – meaning rates should remain below the 5% level. With that in mind, relatively speaking, mortgages will still be affordable for most home purchasers. And, as mentioned above, compared to where interest rates were just a decade ago, a 4% to 5% interest rate will seem like a bargain!

Since 2009, the Federal Reserve has purchased significant amounts of mortgage-backed securities. The recent strength of the stock market – as a result of the presidential election results – has meant those purchases have temporarily been suspended. In addition, the Fed has indicated they may raise the federal funds rate at different intervals this year. The fed funds rate is the rate at which banks loan money to each other. However, there is a loose relationship between the fed funds rate and the longer-term mortgage interest rates.

A small increase in the Fed’s actions may translate to a slight increase in mortgage rates and their monthly payments. As an example, on a $200,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4% the payment would be roughly $955 per month. At 4.5% the payment would be approximately $1,013. A 5% mortgage rate would equate to payments of roughly $1,074 per month.

As you can see, the impact of slightly higher rates isn’t really a significantly higher monthly payment. It likely would only impact those homebuyers who were watching their budgets carefully, or those that would be on the borderline of loan qualification.

A greater concern than Fort Lauderdale mortgage rates seems to be the rising home prices continuing to occur throughout the U.S. The median sales price of a home in 2016 rose 5.5% from the previous year. Experts expect a 5.3% increase this year. And therein lies the real issue. The “double-whammy” of higher interest rates combined with higher sales prices may be the deterrent to may home buyers – especially first-timers.

Let’s take a look at six factors that may have more impact than interest rates on your monthly mortgage payment.

Your Credit Score
Higher credit scores translate to lower interest rates for applicants with good credit. A score of at least 740 will likely get the best rate from most mortgage lenders.

Your Down Payment
A popular misconception is that you have to have a down payment of at least 20% in order to buy a home. However, if you do have 20% to put down you can avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), a type of insurance that protects the lender against the borrower defaulting on their mortgage payments. According to Freddie Mac, the PMI premium can run anywhere from $30-$70 per $100,000 of your mortgage amount. Naturally, with a larger down payment, the monthly payment amount is less since you’re financing a lower loan amount. That's always true, regardless of what Fort Lauderdale mortgage rates do or don't do in the future.

Points
"Points" are actually percentage points of the loan amount – 1 point equals 1% of the loan amount – so, if you’re borrowing, say, $200,000, a point would be $2,000. You can pay points to lower your interest rate. Since points are prepaid, be sure you “do the math” and determine whether buying down the interest rate is the best financial decision for you at the time – and to make sure it’s saving you interest in the long run.

The Term of the Loan
While a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan is the most popular selection, if you can afford the increased payment it may be worth looking at a shorter term. A 15-year term will not only be issued at a lower interest rate, but you’ll save more than 50% in total interest repayments over the life of the loan. Even borrowers who opt for a 20-year or 25-year term are pleasantly surprised at the interest savings they can enjoy by paying slightly more money each month. Ask your mortgage lender for an amortization schedule with different terms for comparison and see which term fits your financial capabilities best.

Closing Costs
Closing costs and fees vary from one lender to the next. It’s worth shopping around to find the best deal on closing costs. In addition, some fees are negotiable, so ask questions and make the best deal you can. Lastly, remember who pays the closing costs is strictly between you and the seller of your home. So, be prepared to negotiate with the seller for him to pay part – or all – of the closing costs as part of the contract.

Home Sales Price
Naturally, a higher price tag for a more expensive home translates to higher monthly mortgage payments. Make sure you are looking for homes in your affordable price range. What’s the joy in buying a home if you have to struggle to make the monthly payments – even if you qualify for a higher amount? Consider selecting and buying a less expensive home, even if you have to do without certain features or extras. You’ll sleep better at night.

You can find more articles pertaining to the Fort Lauderdale mortgage rates in the "Fort Lauderdale Mortgage Info" section of articles just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Home Selling Recommendations: What to Avoid

If you’re planning to sell your home during 2017, there are several Fort Lauderdale home selling recommendations you should be aware of. The following are common mistakes to avoid once you decide to put your home on the market.

NOTE: Although we never work for sellers or list homes for sale, as exclusive buyer's agents, we can help you by referring you to the most qualified listing agents in the marketplace, due to our experience in working with these agents over the years. Even though we always only work for buyers and never for sellers, we offer these tips on Fort Lauderdale home selling recommendations to potential home sellers who may be in the process of or starting to think about selling their home.

Leaving out the required preparation. The excitement to get your home on the market as soon as possible is certainly understandable. The sooner you get it out there, the sooner you have a chance to sell. However, it’s important to take the necessary time to prepare your home for sale. So, the first of our Fort Lauderdale home selling recommendations is to take the time and effort to plan what you'll need to do to get your home ready to put on the market.

There are several Fort Lauderdale home selling recommendations to consider before putting your home on the market. 

The old adage, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression” is appropriate considering your house will be competing with a number of others on the market. As such, it's the time to put your home’s “best foot” forward. Performing repairs, repainting, decluttering, making landscaping improvements and staging the home are all potential moves you can make to position your home to show better – and sell faster. An experienced real estate professional can assist you by making recommendations in the following areas:

Cleaning up and decluttering your home.
A prospective buyer needs to envision himself and his family in your home. Make it easier for him by removing personal items and mementos, and decluttering various rooms, allowing him to better visualize his family’s belongings in the home, not yours.

Perform repairs and upgrades.
Take a critical look at your home. If there are painting needs, cracks or other unsightly areas needing attention, perform that work. It will make potential buyers notice how well the home has been maintained – likely implying that everything has been well cared for and in good shape.

Staging your home.
Home staging can be a vital tool in helping it sell. See an expert and discuss the cost versus the return on investment. Your real estate professional can assist here.

Have professional photos taken.
These days, more buyers than ever are doing their initial research online. It’s important you have professional photos to present in their online search. Again, the first impression is the one prospects will remember. Give them the best representation of your home by showing them great photos – and they’ll likely include it on their list to view in person.

Overpricing the home for the current market.
Among the list of Fort Lauderdale home selling recommendations, this one of the most important. Pricing your home correctly is one of the biggest factors in whether it sells, and how fast. Conversely, overpricing your home for the market is one of the biggest and most deadly mistakes a seller can make. An overpriced home generally stays on the market considerably longer than necessary. The longer a home sits on the market, the less interest it'll receive from other buyers or agents. That usually results in low-ball offers.

We suggest two considerations to price your home correctly. First, review comparable sales in your market area. Look at what’s sold and where. Secondly, discuss your pricing ideas with a professional real estate agent to get their input and suggestions. Be objective – forget the emotional attachment to your home – you’ll rarely find a buyer willing to pay what your memories are worth, so don’t include their value in the sales price. Remember, your agent is the expert and they know what the market will bear – and what it won’t.

Being present for open houses and home-showings.
Again, as excited as you may be to show your home and be present when potential buyers visit, avoid the temptation. When the seller is in the same room with a prospect, it can actually be a deterrent for most purchasers. They may not ask the questions they really want to ask. It’s the same feeling many shoppers have when an overzealous sales clerk – who just wants to be helpful – follows you around in the store and actually is less help than he or she intends. Don’t be the anxious sales clerk. Let your agent handle the showings, the open houses and the walk throughs. If they need you, they can always call.

Failing to work with an experienced real estate professional.
As mentioned, working with a professional who knows the market and what sells your home quickest and best is a tremendous advantage. What’s more, working with an agent who knows the pitfalls of selling can save you time and money. An experienced real estate professional can help you every step of the way – from home preparation to pricing and marketing – it’s what they get paid for, and what they do best.

Interview prospective agents carefully. Ask questions about the homes they’ve sold and the total volume of sales. Be specific in asking questions about your particular home in your neighborhood to determine how familiar the agent is with what potential sellers are looking for. In addition, find a personal connection on which you can build. Make sure you and your agent can communicate, so you’ll be on the same page with one common goal in mind – to sell your home as quickly as possible and for as much money.

These are but a few Fort Lauderdale home selling recommendations to consider, but if you take these into account we think it will make the sale of your home easier and more enjoyable.

See more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale home selling recommendations in the two sections of articles on Fort Lauderdale Home Selling Tips and Fort Lauderdale Homes for Sale just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Outlook: Millennials on the Move

The Fort Lauderdale real estate outlook includes an update on what millennials have been doing lately. In recent years, millennials have been largely thought of as a generation of renters. They’ve unfairly received this moniker because of a number of factors, none the least of which is that home prices throughout the U.S. have consistently grown faster than wages. However, an improved and lowered cost of living combined with better job growth and rising incomes has led and will lead to many millennials beginning to buy houses.

Four areas in the Fort Lauderdale real estate outlook designed to attract millennials.

According to real estate market research findings, last year nearly half of the total number of homebuyers were first-timers – and the majority of those were younger Americans aged 18 to 35 – millennials, by definition. All indications are for 2017 the percentage of millennials entering the housing market will continue to increase.

During the third quarter of 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that home ownership was at 63.5%, slightly higher than the second quarter in which the 62.9% home participation rate was the lowest in 51 years.

Let’s examine four areas in the Fort Lauderdale real estate outlook designed to attract millennials as they enter the home-buying market.

More and better amenities.
Millennials have come to expect and appreciate added extras in the apartment complexes in which they were living. It’s natural for them to want to have some of the same perks in the home or neighborhood in which they are thinking of moving. Examples are having larger bandwidth capabilities for social media and streaming music and videos and equipping homes with programmable thermostats and built-in USB outlets.

More search technology.
Millennials have also relied heavily on available resources in this information age. Today’s prospective homeowner almost always begins his search online. As such, they will continue to expect to be able to perform a variety of services remotely – either via an app or some other process – allowing them to negotiate and sign documents without leaving their homes or jobs.

Greater full-service offerings.
Given the number of millennials entering the housing market, the traditional role of a real estate agent is starting to change. The information age has provided consumers with a wealth of information about homes for sale. The missing piece seems to be how to aggregate or compile that information. Many real estate firms have chosen to provide better full-service offerings by not only assisting in finding or selling a home, but in addition, putting the client in contact with contractors or others to make the moving process smooth and easy for all involved.

Say goodbye to the “hard sell.”
With the focus more on full-service, as mentioned above, one of the changes in the Fort Lauderdale real estate outlook will likely be that real estate agents will be able to concentrate less on the actual sales process and more on building relationships with their clients. Some real estate firms actually have prospective clients – both buyers and sellers – meet with a customer service manager first before they’re assigned to an agent. The firms report that this first point of customer interaction enables the prospective buyer or seller to do their fact-finding from a completely impartial source – without feeling like they were being “sold” anything. It’s more of an information exchange designed to make their prospective clients feel at ease in the early stages of the process.

As the Fort Lauderdale real estate outlook continues to evolve and more millennials and other prospective purchasers enter the home buying arena, more changes are likely to occur. New homes currently under construction will probably have more open areas where families can be together in the same room enjoying the same activity, but yet be able to stay connected to their friends and others via their smartphones or tablets. In addition, homes will likely be built with smart-car garages equipped with electrical outlets for hybrid automobiles. Energy-efficient homes will become the norm as builders will attempt to woo millennials interested in being more environmentally conscious and more focused on sustainable, clean energy solutions.

The challenges in the Fort Lauderdale real estate outlook continue to be basic housing shortcomings we’ve heard and read much about in the last 18-24 months. The number of available affordable housing units for sale still continues to lag behind normal levels. With this low inventory comes the added pressures of existing homeowners who would have normally been ready to sell and move up into a bigger, better or newer home, who have decided not to sell – simply because there are fewer homes available for them to choose from, too. Added to that dilemma is the continued rise in home prices. Most experts expect home prices across the U.S. to increase between 4.50% to 5.5% during 2017. So, the homes that are available for purchase will likely be more expensive than ever – the limited supply will probably continue to fuel what will be a seller’s market.

In addition, interest rates – mortgage rates in particular – are expected to rise during 2017. We’ve seen a slight uptick in rates since the presidential election, as a result of the growth of the stock market. Analysts say interest rates will continue to rise throughout 2017, but longer-term mortgage rates will probably not exceed 4.5%. While those rates are higher than the near-record rates of the previous 12-18 months, comparatively speaking an interest rate of even 4.5% to 5% is still a very good, affordable way to borrow money for the purchase of a home.

Despite the challenges on the horizon of the Fort Lauderdale real estate outlook, 2017 looks like it has the potential to be a good year. The coming spring selling season will be the first test. If that’s successful, it could set the stage for a continued optimistic feeling on which the rest of the year will be based.

See more articles pertaining to the Fort Lauderdale real estate outlook in the section of articles on Fort Lauderdale Real Estate just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Economic Outlook: Stocks, Housing and Oil

Now that a new President sits in the oval office, the Fort Lauderdale economic outlook is on the minds of people in the real estate industry as we enter 2017. Let’s look at three component parts of the economy and how they relate to each other – and what to expect in the real estate market for 2017.

The Stock Market

 The Fort Lauderdale economic outlook is for gradual improvement in all areas of stocks, housing and oil.

Most of the “experts,” if there is such a thing, say they expect modest growth in the market with at least a chance of a correction occurring sometime during the year. Recently, more than a dozen Wall Street firms predicted the S&P 500 index of U.S. large-cap stocks will hit a record level of 2,363 – a growth rate of 5.5%. Analysts say President Donald Trump’s platform of lower corporate taxes, fewer business regulations and increased infrastructure spending has given investors reason to be more optimistic than in recent years.

The S&P 500 started 2016 at slightly over 2,000 and ended 2016 at 2,239 – a return of 9.84%. Actually, including dividends in the mix, the true return was approximately 12.25% – despite a dip in prices right before the end of 2016. The market’s positive attitude is largely the result of the new administration’s promises to be “pro-growth.”

Detractors point to the concern that stocks are overvalued and the bull market will be short-lived. In addition, a strong U.S. dollar could potentially be responsible for fewer jobs if American products are priced too high for global buyers. Nevertheless, just a few days into the Trump presidency, the feeling of optimism on Wall Street continues

Oil Prices
The Fort Lauderdale economic outlook for oil prices in 2017 is for slightly more of the same experienced two years ago in 2015. It’s expected the average price of a barrel of oil will be $52 this year, as forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s nearly $10 more per barrel than the 2016 average price of $43. Crude oil averaged $52 a barrel in 2015.

At over $100 a barrel, oil prices reached an all-time high between 2011 and 2015. The advent of cheap fracking technology throughout the central U.S. was largely responsible for bringing the prices back down in 2015. The additional deposits enabled the U.S. to become an oil exporter – a first in more than nearly 40 years.

Gas Prices
During the first few weeks of 2017, Americans were paying an average of $2.34 per gallon of regular gas – the highest price since 2014 – according to the Automobile Association of America (AAA.) This time last year, the average pump price as $1.99 per gallon. While there is no direct connection between crude oil prices and gas prices, they certainly are related. AAA says that pump prices are affected roughly 2.4 cents per gallon for every $1 movement in the cost of a barrel of crude oil. The Fort Lauderdale economic outlook for gas prices is for pump prices to average $2.10 per gallon in February and as high as $2.30 throughout the rest of 2017. The relatively cheap price of crude oil in 2016 enabled U.S. drivers to pay an average price of $2.14 per gallon of regular gas.

The Housing Market
So, what does all this mean for the housing economy in 2017? More of the same, according to the experts. And that’s a good thing – relatively speaking. CoreLogic, a real estate industry research firm, predicts home values will continue to rise throughout 2017 – at a rate of around 4.7%. Redfin, another online brokerage research firm, forecasts the growth in home prices slightly higher at 5.3%, citing homebuyer demand as being higher today than this time last year.

CoreLogic says home prices increased 7.1% between November 2015 and November 2016. Despite that impressive growth, the increase still ranks approximately 4% less than it was during its peak in 2006. The percentages are averages and area adjusted for inflation.

The Fort Lauderdale economic outlook calls for continued tight inventory challenges. Fewer homes for sale in the marketplace leads to higher prices for those homes on the market – a classic example of supply and demand. When supply is scarce, demand is high and prices are, too. The tight inventory is expected to be especially impactful on first-time home buyers. In addition, as interest rates have increased slightly since the presidential election – and are expected to increase again, leveling off at between 4.2% and 4.7% in 2017 – the cost of mortgage financing will increase, too. However, relatively speaking, interest rates will still remain affordable – just not as affordable as they were 12-18 months ago.

In addition, contributing to the lack of housing inventory, recent research shows that U.S. homeowners with mortgages at lower fixed rates of 4.25% or less are likely to remain in their homes. These homeowners are less apt to sell their homes than their counterparts with higher interest rate mortgages. Although new construction is brisk, it appears to lack the firepower to produce a sufficient number of affordably-priced homes quickly enough to make an impact during 2017.

As usual, the combined effect of these components of the economy will be the determining factor in the Fort Lauderdale economic outlook. If crude oil prices dropped, for example, creating lower gasoline prices, the resulting optimism could be encouraging for the housing industry. Builder confidence would rise, giving them greater opportunity to build more homes at volumes that would make them more affordable. Likewise, a leveling off of the stock market during 2017 would likely mean that U.S. Treasury bond yields would become a popular investment once again, giving the American consumer confidence interest rates would stabilize – making borrowing money more affordable – regardless of what home prices do or don't do.

The bottom line is this: The Fort Lauderdale economic outlook is for gradual improvement in all areas mentioned. There seems to be an optimism in the new administration – although the jury is still out on what campaign promises will and won’t be delivered. As always, time will tell. In the meantime, there’s every reason to think that housing will be at least as good as it was in 2016 – despite the inventory challenges, higher prices and slightly more expensive credit.

You can find more articles pertaining to the Fort Lauderdale economic outlook in the "Economy" section of articles just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.