Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Market: 5 Considerations

The Fort Lauderdale home buying market is full of experience as a dynamic, ever-changing process. Because it’s a “slice of life,” shopping for a home can often present you with challenges at best and disappointments at worst. To be prepared for the challenges and to minimize the disappointments we’ve identified five ways you can re-position your home search requirements – and make it a more enjoyable and more successful project.

The Neighborhood or Market:  Regroup, rethink or retreat.

If you’re consistently unable to find the “just-right” home you’re looking for in the neighborhood or market you’ve identified as where you’d like to live, do a quick reassessment. Perhaps you’ve set your sights in the Fort Lauderdale home buying market too high and can’t find the size, quality or style home in the price range you hoped. Conversely, maybe you keep looking at homes you can most comfortably afford, but they don’t meet your family’s needs. It may be time to take a closer look at other neighborhoods to see what they have to offer.

After some regrouping and rethinking, you can do a little more research in other neighborhoods. You may discover neighborhoods that were initially ruled out now present new opportunities. For example, you may find that a price tag of, say, $400,000 in one neighborhood or nearby market may provide “more bang for the buck” than that same $400,000 in a trendier neighborhood. If you still can’t find a suitable home, it could be time to retreat – meaning your expectations versus the reality of the housing market are out of line. You’re either expecting too much for where you’re looking, or need to reconsider what you’re willing to pay for what you want.

Consider Cosmetic Attention: No, not for you… for the house!

The Fort Lauderdale home buying market may present some obstacles and challenges

Let’s be honest, the choice between buying a “move-in ready” home that’s new or already been renovated versus one that needs remodeling is a virtual no-brainer. The time, talent, money and desire to undertake a home remodeling is often lacking among most people in the Fort Lauderdale home buying market. As a result, there are homes in the market with attractive, popular locations that are 40 years old or more. Those homes won’t command nearly the attention and interest than the newer one – or remodeled one – a few blocks away. If you’re up for the challenge, however, older homes may be worth a look. You may find the money you can save in the difference in the sales price can be used to update the property. Best of all, most of the homes may require little more than some cosmetic attention – like fresh paint and refinished hardwood floors.

Put Your Heads Together:  Get on the same page.

Many times, couples in the Fort Lauderdale home buying market find themselves at odds over what they want in a home. He wants a bonus room to convert into a man-cave or an in-home office. She wants a larger laundry room or an additional guest bedroom. Being able to understand what each other wants and needs is not only the key to compromise, but it can save time and aggravation during the search for the home that satisfies both parties.

See if You Can Come up With More Money:  Explore your options.

While we certainly don't recommend taking on a higher payment than you can comfortably afford, there are ways to use some creativity with the down payment or financing. Often homebuyers have difficulty with the remaining 5% or so of the down payment. Unfortunately, that 5% can prevent them from reaching their budget goals, and kill the deal.

There are options, however. If possible, look into getting assistance from family members to use as part of the down payment. If that isn’t an option, there are lenders that offer mortgages with low down payments. Remember, just because one lender doesn’t offer a particular program you’re looking for, it doesn’t mean another bank won’t. Shop around – you may find just the solution you’re seeking.

Don’t Force the Timing:  It’s either right or it’s not.

The Fort Lauderdale home buying market isn’t right for everybody, all the time. With interest rates having been near all-time record lows for several months prior to their recent increase, real estate experts were saying it was the best time in decades to buy a home. While interest rates were low, home prices – and rental rates – were on the rise, making it difficult for first-time borrowers to afford down payments. So, many prospective homeowners were relegated to remain on the sidelines. The simple truth is this:  The timing is only “right” when it’s right for you and your particular financial situation. So, don't force the timing. Homes are bought and sold every day and mortgage financing is available. Chances are, that’s not going to change – no matter who wins the presidential election!

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting the brakes on your home search for a little while if that’s what you feel compelled to do. Too often, prospective homeowners are pressured into making a decision based on market conditions. Sometimes they’re pressured because an apartment lease is coming due and they need to renew or move. Again, if you don't feel ready to jump into the Fort Lauderdale home buying pool, don’t. Many people find waiting can help them in the long run. It can give them added time to save money or decrease debt to afford a larger down payment. Other people use that time to work on improving their credit score. In addition, some prospective home purchasers simply may elect not to buy a home because they may be planning to relocate in a relatively short time. No matter what your reason for deciding against buying – it’s your decision. You may even look back and think it was the smartest thing you ever did. When it comes to buying a home or not buying, smart decisions are good decisions.

Read more about home buying tips 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. Remember, we also post tips daily on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out there, too.

5 Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Deal-breakers

Your Fort Lauderdale home buying dream is within reach. You've found a home you really like, but suddenly something's just not right. What do you do? That depends, of course, on what the issue is – and just how badly you want the home. Here are five potential problems worth thinking about before you make a mistake.

Fort Lauderdale Home Buying: When to Walk Away

Your Fort Lauderdale home buying dream is close, but the home appraisal is below the asking price. Now what?

The real estate appraisal is lower than the sales price.
In a seller's market, it's not uncommon for a home's appraisal to come in below the contract price. When that happens you have several options. 1) The buyer has to come up with additional money to make up the difference between what the bank will lend and the sales price. 2) The buyer can attempt to negotiate the sales price down.  3) The buyer can opt to seek a mortgage from another lender in the hopes that another appraisal will be higher. If you can't make any of these options work, and the seller isn't open to negotiate, it may be time to walk away. Why pay more for a house than what it's worth?

The home inspection reveals too many shortcomings.
Most buyers don't have the time, patience or knowledge to complete a laundry list of repairs needed to be made on a house they want to buy. While some people aren't turned off by fixer-uppers, depending on what issues the home inspector uncovers, you could find yourself spending more time and money than you had planned. If you like the idea of moving in with few repairs or replacements, shortcomings found in a home inspection may mean it's time to keep on looking.

You start second-guessing compromises you made.
When you start the Fort Lauderdale home buying search you have a list of features in your head that you're looking for. Ultimately price determines how it all shakes out. Often you find yourself making compromises – electing to do without some things or settle for less on others. Here's an important rule of thumb to consider: If you second-guess yourself and try to justify crossing things off your list that you had your heart set on, it's time to reevaluate. Trust your feelings.

You're at the limit of your original price range.
Let's say you begin your home search at the top end of your intended price range. If it's a seller's market with little available inventory or if you find a house on which there will be multiple offers, you may be tempted to push yourself over the limit. Later, you may have wished you'd left yourself and your family a little more breathing room. You set limits for a reason. If you're concerned about the payments, the additional cash outlay or depleting reserves designed for repairs, new furniture or emergencies, you may regret your decision.

If you purchase a home with another person and you don't see eye to eye.
Nothing strains a relationship – personal or business – like spending money when both parties aren't on the same page. Here's an important Fort Lauderdale home buying tip: Before you start the process, discuss what you both want and expect. Anticipate problems and try come up with solutions before they occur. It will make them seem less imposing when and if the time comes. Make a pact that if either of you are uncomfortable, you'll walk away and keep looking – for a house, not a new partner!

If you can't sleep.
It's normal to be a little anxious about the largest purchase most of us will ever make. But if it constantly nags at you or if you're obsessed with making the wrong decision, it could be time to find peace of mind – and walk away from the deal. Life's too short for regret. Don't enter into any purchase you can't relax and smile about.

See more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale home buying in the Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Tips section of our site below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Home Buying: Pulling Heartstrings?

Fort Lauderdale home buying is competitive. Jockeying for position has some purchasers using a bold new tactic: personal letters sent to the seller of the home they want. Let's look at why this phenomenon exists –- and whether it's right for you.

Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Becomes Personal

Fort Lauderdale home buying is competitive. Jockeying for position has prospective purchasers writing personal letters to the sellers.

Most real estate agents agree it's rare today for buyers and sellers to meet during the home buying process. We live in a society of texting, emailing and shrinking personal engagement. However, when a seller receives a heartfelt, impassionate letter from a buyer it "humanizes" that person in the seller's eyes. Such a letter is often accompanied by the ages of their children – even a family photo. It's all designed to tug at the seller's heartstrings in the hope their offer will be accepted over others vying for the same house.

Agents say while these efforts don't always work, there are some sellers who are swayed. Home sellers form a strong emotional bond to their homes and like the idea of selling to someone that will feel the same way. Sellers who've raised a family in the home have a strong sense of attachment and can be influenced by a buyer who also has a family.

However, some home sellers make decisions purely on financial or economic reasons. They're the ones looking for the highest offer, the greatest likelihood of credit approval and quickest loan closing. Still, agents say, every seller is different. Sellers sometimes make decisions not based on financial issues but emotional reasons. Some sellers actually accept a lower offer and turn down a fast closing date because they identified with their buyer.

In today's Fort Lauderdale home buying market, usually the two most important factors to consider are price and terms. If a home buyer can't make those two items pleasing to the seller, a deal probably won't get made, and an emotional appeal will have little bearing. There are exceptions, though, and some agents cite cases where a seller rejected a higher offer from an investor who planned to rent the property in favor of a family who planned to live there.

Consider the following as to whether the letter-writing tactic may work for you.

Can you offer a price that will get the seller's attention? If so, your family may have an advantage if you can convince the seller that you will be "faithful stewards" of their home.

Will the terms work for the seller? The loan closing date, any contingencies or other parts of the contract may matter to the seller as much as the sales price. Have you met that criteria? If not, then the emotional aspect of the deal may not mean as much as you hope.

Have you done everything you can to convince the seller that you have every intention of closing the deal? Get pre-approved for a mortgage and make sure you have all the necessary down payment and closing costs available.

Are you making a large enough down payment? In the seller's eyes it's an indication of the buyer's financial strength. A small down payment may be worrisome and may lead to other questions about whether to accept your offer.

Are you prepared for any potential surprises a home inspection may reveal? If there are issues important enough to restart negotiations, the seller may want to find out how emotionally interested you are in order to reach a agreeable solution if there's a problem.

Tread lightly if you really want the home. Remember the market is competitive. That's why you considered writing an emotional appeal in the first place. The seller probably has back-up contracts – or at least options to consider – if you hesitate or fail to meet your end of the deal.

For more Fort Lauderdale home buying tips, check out our other articles in the Home Buying section to your right just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories.

A Good Time for Fort Lauderdale Home Buying

Fort Lauderdale home buying markets are always changing — just like the seasons of the year. Many people associate spring with a renewed, popular time to home shop. Fall is usually associated with a slower-paced real estate market for a variety of reasons. However, fall could very well be a great time for Fort Lauderdale home buying. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why.

Fall Brings Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Advantages

Fort Lauderdale home buying markets regularly change — just like the seasons.

Inventory from this past spring could mean great buys.
Many homes are listed on the market in the spring at prices that may be unrealistically high. As a result, price reductions naturally follow during the rest of the year. If a seller hasn’t successfully captured the attention of — or received an offer from — the Fort Lauderdale home buying market by early September, a substantial price cut may occur.

There are less buyers competing for homes.
By early September, of course, due to the start of the new school year many home shoppers have tabled their search. That equates to less competition, more motivated sellers and greater potential opportunities for those in the Fort Lauderdale home buying arena. This “thinning of the herd” gives prospective buyers a little more time to shop around for the best deal on the home they’re looking for.

Some home sellers may want to sell before the end of the year.
Often it’s important for sellers to close by the end of the calendar year to take advantage of any tax gain or loss. As such, Fort Lauderdale home buying candidates may encounter more motivated sellers willing to negotiate if they can close the sale prior to December 31.

Holiday home listings often mean motivated sellers.
For most people, the holidays are a busy time. Homes that are on the market past, say, November 1 may be ripe for the picking. The seller may be motivated to sell as soon as possible to avoid interruptions during the holidays.

Curb appeal diminishes with changes in landscaping.
Much of a home’s appeal depends on how it shows to the Fort Lauderdale home buying public. And that appeal begins to fade a little as the grass goes dormant, the leaves fall off the trees and the flowers stop blooming. However, seeing the home without some of its landscape amenities gives a home buyer the opportunity to view the exterior objectively and perhaps more realistically.

See more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale home buying in the Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Tips section of our site below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Remember, we also post tips daily on Twitter and Facebook. Check us out there too.

5 Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Fears

Whether it's the fear of the unknown or the fear of discovering a problem, some Fort Lauderdale home buying prospects are hesitant to enter the market. Sometimes the fears are justified, and when they are there are steps you can take to alleviate them.

Facing Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Fears Head On

Fort Lauderdale home buying fears include learning you have a cracked foundation in the home you are buying

Fear of a cracked foundation, leaky roof or dry rot problem. Unless you're an avid "do-it-yourselfer" most buyers don’t relish fixing problems. Although most every home needs routine maintenance or minor repairs, much of the Fort Lauderdale home buying public fears home inspection results. It's important to remember, however, a home inspector merely raises awareness on issues with the house. Not everything on the inspector’s checklist is of immediate concern. If you need reassurance, ask the inspector to rank the importance of the issues and estimate the timetable for replacement or repair. If there are repairs that need to be made immediately then — and only then — should it become a “deal-breaker." Even then it could be something you can negotiate with the seller to repair or give you credit for in the sales price.

Fear of losing the earnest money deposit. Most every real estate contract requires a certain amount of earnest money to be deposited when the agreement is signed. By law, the deposit is required to be held in escrow until the sale is consummated. Fort Lauderdale home buying professionals say it’s highly unlikely a buyer would lose his deposit. Make sure your contract with the home seller includes certain requirements like a home inspection, disclosure review and a financing contingency. You may also make your purchase contingent upon the home appraising for at least the sales price, and if your situation warrants, contingent on the sale of your current home.

Fear of losing the house you want. In a seller’s market, it’s important that you act quickly but efficiently. Once you see a listing for a home you’re interested in, contact your real estate agent immediately to view the home. Ask your agent to determine from the seller or their agent how they will entertain forthcoming offers. While motivated sellers often may accept the first good offer, they are more likely to set a date to assess multiple offers to determine which one best meets their needs — including not only the sales price but how quickly the buyers want to close the deal. Either way, it’s important to stay in contact with your agent on at least a daily basis to ensure your interests are being communicated and acted upon.

Fear that your agent isn’t doing everything you expect. Fort Lauderdale home buying clients sometimes forget that their agents are in the business to do one thing — sell real estate. While it may appear from time to time the search for the "perfect home" has lost momentum or stalled, a good agent is constantly working behind the scenes to find the listings which fit their client’s price range, desired location and home style. To ensure you and your prospective agent start off on the right foot, meet with them and discuss your housing needs and desires. In the process, if you feel you and your agent aren’t on the “same page” or don’t “click” keep looking.

Fear of finding a home in a certain time frame. It’s human nature to want to find a home and move in prior to some self-imposed deadline like the start of a school year, Christmas, or spring. Experts caution, however, that your Fort Lauderdale home buying decision shouldn’t be hurried. If a deadline is fast approaching, consider a contingency plan. If you’re renting and your lease is up soon, for example, look into a short-term alternative if you haven’t found a house by then. This will relieve the pressure you face in potentially making a decision you may later regret because you were rushed.

In summary, most fears can be alleviated with good planning. It could mean the difference between a satisfied Fort Lauderdale home buying experience and one you'd just as soon forget.