Studies show fall to early winter can be the best time to buy. It also means autumn can be the right time to sell & buy the home you may be dreaming of. With mortgage rates still attractively under 4%, this might be a good time to consider a move.
Pinellas County: Year-over-year single family home median prices increased 6.7% in August to $237,000 (July y-o-y 11.6%). The y-o-y average price increased by 5.8% to $298,701 (July y-o-y 8.5%). Total county yearly dollar volume increased to $368.3 Million, (3.3%).
*Strongest Sales Price Range*: In August 49% of Pinellas county SFHs sold in the $200,000 – $400,000 range.
National Predictions: Existing-home median price for 2017 is projected to increase in the 5% range, sales to rise 2.6%.
Summary in a sentence: A slight softening, continued low inventory, but still a stellar seller’s market!
*Sources: NAR (National Assoc. Realtors), Mid-Florida MLS, PRO (Pinellas Realtors Organization), Realtor Magazine, Bloomberg + Langrock expertise – locally grown….

For your enjoyment…REAL ESTATE ART

Castles in the air: Innovative designs for communal living

(CNN)As cities around the world try to cope with housing and land shortages, the need for apartment buildings has never been greater.

It’s a reality architects are keenly aware of, with many having proposed radical, beautiful new models for apartment living, including towers that change shapeabsorb carbon, and break up when you do.
However, while the rise in designer apartments has been a boon for top-earners in search of inventive new living quarters, affordable options with the same quality and creativity remain scarce.
“It is convenient as well as financially necessary to live in an apartment. That has raised the recognition of apartments as a pattern of living. But unfortunately in Britain and America, the provision of really high quality, affordable apartments has lagged, and has in fact fallen short of the need,” Michael Webb, author of “Building Community: New Apartment Architecture,”told CNN over the phone, blaming “the lack of support (for creative architects) from private developers, who only want to make a quick profit, or from cities, who’ve dropped out of the housing market.”
“The tragedy is that the best architects worked for public housing authorities or nonprofit housing associations for a number of years, and now through privatization, they no longer can,” he added.

Real Estate Updates:

Pinellas County: Year-over-year single family home (SFH) median prices increased 11.6% in June to $240,000. The average price increased by 8.5% to $312,210. Total number of y-o-y closed sales for the month decreased from 1,228 to 1,208 or -1.6%. Total county yearly dollar volume increased from $353.4 Million to $377.1 Million, a 6.7% increase.
Strongest Sales Price Range: $200,000 – $400,000. In July 44.6% of Pinellas single family homes sold in this range.
Nationally: The national median existing-home price for 2017 is projected to increase in the 5 percent range with sales rising 2.6%.
Summary in a sentence: A slight softening, still low inventory, and still a stellar seller’s market!
*Sources: NAR (National Assoc. Realtors), Mid-Florida MLS, PRO (Pinellas Realtors Organization), Realtor Magazine, Bloomberg + Locally grown Langrock expertise.

Simple Home Fixes to Attract Buyers

Looking for easy ways to increase a home’s value and get buyers’ attention? Here are three quick fixes for kitchens and bathrooms from Matt Karlin, president and CEO of Nemo Tile + Stone

1. Refresh with color. As a 20-year industry veteran, Karlin has seen a lot of color trends come and go. When it comes to selecting a palette that looks fresh and has broad appeal, it’s best to go with whites and neutrals, Karlin says. Plus, if your seller is working with a small bathroom or kitchen, he recommends favoring a pale palette because it will also make the space look bigger. Sellers could also add a border of metallic tile as an accent to the room to give it a more modern look, he says.

2. Update the floors and walls. These areas receive serious wear and tear, Karlin says, so a smart move is to upgrade to a durable porcelain tile. Current design trends are replicating classic terrazzo and even wood textures. Porcelain tiles are great alternatives to traditional flooring materials, he adds.

3. Choose larger tiles. Oversized tiles not only are cost -effective (bigger tiles cover a larger area) but also help make a small room seem larger, Karlin says. He also recommends selecting simple patterns: Avoid anything too busy to ensure a clean yet modern look.

Source: Matt Karlin, Nemo Tile + Stone

Bathtub in bathroom

Real Estate Market Update by Paul Langrock


Pinellas County: Single family home median price increased 16.5% April 2016-17 to $169,000 ($133/sqft).
*Latest Local News – Palm Harbor
*: Over 12 months, April 2016-17, our Palm Harbor median SFH values were up 16.3% to $317,500 ($155/sqft). The average sold price rose to $365,475 ($160/sqft). 
Housing demand for previously lived-in residences hit its highest point in four years increasing 6.5 percent to 5.45 million sales in January – the highest since 2006. New homes were up 12.2% in 2016 – also the best in a decade. AND, an important FYI to consider: “The Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index scored 4/25/2017 increased 5.8% in February, the most in 32 months. Such strong price gains and slightly higher mortgage rates may eventually cool off demand.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgages(FRM) averaged 4.05 percent, with an average 0.5 point, up from the last week’s average 4.03 percent. At this time a year ago 30-year rates averaged 3.57 percent.*
15-year FRM
Averaged 3.29 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week’s average of 3.27%. Last year at this time the 15-year rate averaged 2.81 percent.

National News – Home Prices Rise Above July 2006 Peak

Estate Agent - "I did have a house at that price but I sold it back in 1978."

By Paul Langrock: U.S. Home prices rose 5.5 %, according to Case-Shiller home price index, eclipsing the housing bubble’s July 2006 peak.
We remember that time vividly. It was October and for the first time in years our listing’s contract did not appraise. The appraiser’s August-September comparable sold properties could not support the contract price. We soon realized we may be on the other side of a peak although we had no idea what was to follow.
This time around we clearly do not see a “bubble”. Unqualified buyers no longer are able to obtain 100% loans (coined Eighty-Twentys: 80% first mortgage with a 20% second). Today, low inventory not high demand is what’s driving prices upward. This is in spite of lending institution’s now high qualifying bar. Yes, mortgage rates are also beginning to rise, however, experience has shown this actually becomes a catalyst pulling people off the sidelines. Potential buyers suddenly rush to purchase before rates go higher. They don’t want to miss these still historically low rates and it is wise to lock them in for a long term investments such as real estate.
Additionally, we envision a sleeping demand source by reason of homeownership being currently at its lowest level in nearly five decades.
Home prices are back and they are continuing to move forward. To paraphrase, “You’ll all need homes.”  And, as our Florida license plate reads, it’s TYM2BUY.

Paul Langrock




Custom cabinetry: 41% (the price premium: the difference between homes with the feature and homes without in the same ZIP code)

• Kitchen island: 30%
• Creative lighting: 21%
• Granite counters: 18%
• Large pantry: 14%
• Stainless-steel appliances: 12%
• Tile backsplash: 7%
• Breakfast bar: 6%
*Source: Realtor.com Daily Real Estate News

5 Fixes That Can Raise a Home’s Value

Mortgage concept by money house from coins

Mortgage concept by money house from coins


For home owners looking to spruce up their home before listing it, there’s plenty they can do to attract more buyers and potentially boost the value of their home too.

Veteran real estate professionals recently weighed in at This Old House on some of the best home improvement projects they believe can help a home show better. Here are a few of their ideas:

1. Open up the space.

Create more space, whether that’s even removing a kitchen island or knocking out a non-structural wall. “Right now buyers want a wide open floor plan, the living room right off the kitchen. They are into big spaces,” Kristin Wellins, senior manager of program development at ERA Real Estate, told This Old House.

2. Light it up.

Keep the home bright: Have windows open to let the natural light flow in, consider lights that use motion detectors to turn themselves off, or install sun tubes, a reflective material that funnels natural light from a hole cut in a rooftop down through a ceiling fixture in a room. “High wattage bulbs make small spaces feel larger, and soft lighting brings warmth to empty spaces,” This Old House notes.

3. Enhance the front door.

“Don’t underestimate the power of a front door,” Willens says. “People make up their minds in the first seven seconds of entering a house.” Have an overhang on the front porch, such as an awning or portico above the front door, suggests Roger Voisinet, a real estate professional in Charlottesville, Va.

4. Pay attention to the floors.

Spend some money on the floors, suggests the real estate professionals surveyed by This Old House. Even a $600 to $900 investment could help boost the home’s value by possibly $2,000, they say. Get a carpenter or handyman to eliminate distracting squeaks from floors, repair any broken tiles, patch damaged floor boards, and remove wall-to-wall carpeting, they suggest.

5. Tackle easy bathroom upgrades.

Bathroom upgrades can quickly get pricey but a few upgrades can still make a big difference. For example, swap frosted glass for clear glass, remove any rust stains, apply fresh caulk, update doorknobs and cabinet pulls, replace faucets, buy a new toilet seat, or install a low-flush toilet.

Source: “Brokers Tell All: 10 Ways to Boost House Value,” This Old House (September 2016) and DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS, SEPTEMBER 01, 2016

It’s a Good Time to Sell, Americans Say

Money house on the white background
Fifty-two percent of home owners say now is a good time to sell in their neighborhood. This is up from 34 percent who said so last year, according to a survey conducted by the real estate brokerage Redfin.

What’s more, 58 percent of home owners believe sellers have more power than buyers in the market right now. Redfin researchers note this is nearly the highest level of seller confidence they’ve recorded.

The top reasons sellers say they want to sell now:

  • I want a larger or nicer home: 40%
  • I am relocating to a new city: 24%
  • I want to pull out my profit: 21%
  • I want a smaller or less expensive home: 20%
  • I have had a change in family status: 19%
  • I want to move to a better school district: 15%

“Many move-up buyers have told me they are buying now to take advantage of low mortgage rates,” says William Porterfield, a real estate professional with Redfin in Little Rock, Ark. “Buyers are trying to get as much home as possible before rates rise.”

Still, some Americans expressed concerns about selling, mainly about finding a new home to buy when they sell their own.

The following were Americans’ top concerns about selling:

  • I might not find another home I want: 30%
  • Prices might fall before I sell: 26%
  • I might not find another home I can afford: 25%
  • General economic conditions might discourage buyers: 23%
  • The appraisal might come in low: 19%

Pricing Matters

When it comes to setting the price for their home, 55 percent of home owners say they will price in the middle range based on comparable sales. However, 19 percent of home owners said they would price high, citing that negotiation is inevitable. Also, 12 percent of home owners said they would price high because if the market didn’t value their home, they would wait until it did.

“While we’re noticing a shift among sellers in terms of their confidence in getting their homes sold quickly and for good prices, it’s up to the agent as their advocate to keep their expectations grounded and recommend a pricing strategy that is most likely to get the best value for their home,” says Sascha Gummersbach, a Redfin real estate agent in Atlanta. “A seller’s market doesn’t grant home owners a license to skip things like valuable upgrades, home staging or setting a price based on comparable homes in their neighborhood.”

Source: RealtorMag & Redfin Research Center

Banks Rush to Offer 3% Down Payment Loans

As some banks veer from Federal Housing Administration loans, they’re offering their own low down payment mortgages to appeal to home shoppers struggling to save enough to buy a home. Wells Fargo made headlines this week when it debuted its 3 percent down payment loan.

Read more: 5 Surprising Ways to Save for a Down Payment

JPMorgan Chase also announced its offering called the “Standard Agency 97%” program, a 3 percent down payment loan geared for first-time home buyers and requires a FICO score of 680. Chase also has a loan program called “DreaMaker Mortgage,” which offers a 5 percent down payment – 3 percent of which can come from the borrower as well as flexible funding options for closing costs and reduced mortgage insurance requirements.

Other banks have recently announced their low down payment offerings. Earlier this year, Bank of America began offering a 3 percent down payment loan that did not involve the Federal Housing Administration and does not require mortgage insurance. The bank requires a minimum FICO score of 660.

Wells Fargo’s newly launching lending program, “yourFirstMortgage,” requires a 620 FICO minimum score and minimum down payment of 3 percent for a fixed-rate conventional mortgage of up to $417,000. Down payment assistance also can come from gifts and community assistance programs. Customers who complete a homebuyer education course can earn a 1/8 percent interest rate reduction, although the course is not required.

Brad Blackwell, executive vice president and portfolio business manager at Wells Fargo, says the monthly payment for the loan will be less than a government-insured FHA loan.

“We’ve taken all the complexity of the home mortgage lending process, removed it from the front-line consumer, so that it’s easy for them to understand and Wells Fargo is taking care of all the capital markets and other types of complexities behind the scenes,” says Blackwell.

Bank giants have been leery of FHA loans lately, with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s calling FHA lending “too costly and too risky” to pursue extensively.

“We have dramatically reduced FHA originations,” Dimon wrote in his yearly letter to shareholders. “Currently, it simply is too costly and too risky to originate these kinds of mortgages. Part of the risk comes from the penalties that the government charges if you make a mistake – and part of the risk is because these types of mortgages default frequently.”

Dimon acknowledges Chase’s new low down payment lending program also carries some of those risks, but he believes it responds to customers’ needs.

“Mortgages are important to our customers,” Dimon wrote in the letter. “For most of our customers, their home is the single largest purchase they will make in their lifetime. More than that, it is an emotional purchase – it is where they are getting their start, raising a family, or maybe spending their retirement years. As a bank that wants to build lifelong relationships with its customers, we want to be there for them at life’s most critical junctures.”

Source: “Wells Fargo Launches 3% Down Payment Mortgage,” CNBC (May 26, 2016) and “Chase Quietly Launches Its Own 3% Down Mortgage Lending Program,” HousingWire (May 26, 2016) DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2016