• First Time Homeowner Common Mistakes

    Finally, you’ve found your  first dream home and you’re about to start the buying process. You are excited to own your FIRST HOME.  Hols off a moment….. The property may seem to be perfect now, but you need to make sure there are no surprises once you own it.  The common mistakes first time owners miss are many.  But important questions that needs to be addressed before placing an offer:




    How old is the roof? Depending on the type of roof that’s installed, if done right it can last anywhere from 20 years to 50 years. But at some point, it will need to be replaced, and it’s important to know about how long you have left, so you can be prepared.

    Any problems with termites? If there’s ever been an infestation, it’s the previous owner’s responsibility to tell you, and provide proof that it’s been taken care of. But you also should know what caused the infestation. If the conditions are still there (e.g. soft rotting wood), you might expect another one before long if the situation isn’t dealt with. Check if the home is under termite warranty/protection

    How much are utilities? How much can you expect to pay in an average month? What are the peak months? Knowing this will help you budget your own electricity and gas usage, and even figure out ways of keeping costs down.

    How old are the appliances? Home appliances like HVAC systems and garage door openers that come with the house should all work properly. Find out if there are any warranties still active on them and how much trouble you can expect them to give.

    How much insulation is there? Most houses are insulated, but few are insulated enough, and that can cost you a lot in the energy department. Check the attic and see if you need more insulation, how much, and what kind. Also check to see if there are any air leaks or ductwork leaks that need to be sealed, as they can waste serious energy as well.

    How big is the water heater? Will there be enough hot water to meet your family’s daily needs?

    For more insight on home ownership and how to avoid common mistakes of the first time home owner, contact us at ZRI Realty to learn all of the right questions to ask before buying a home.

  • Existing Homes Sales Spring Ahead in March

    Sold Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and Beautiful New House.Existing-home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, were at an adjusted annual rate of 5.55 million in March – a jump of 5.1% compared with 5.07 million in February, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

    The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $222,700, up 5.7% from March 2015. March’s price increase marks the 47th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

    Total housing inventory at the end of March increased 5.9% to 1.98 million existing homes but is still 1.5% lower than one year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace – up from 4.4 months in February.

    Buyer demand remains sturdy in most areas this spring and the mid-priced market is doing quite well. However, sales are softer both at the very low and very high ends of the market because of supply limitations and affordability pressures

    The share of first-time buyers represented 30% of sales in March – unchanged both from February and a year ago. First-time buyers in all of 2015 also represented an average of 30%.

    “With rents steadily rising and average fixed rates well below four percent, qualified first-time buyers should be more active participants than what they are right now. However, affordability and the low availability of starter homes is still a major barrier for them in most markets.”

    About 25% of all transactions in March were all-cash sales – unchanged from February but up from 24% a year ago.

  • Jobless Claims in US Decline Lowest in Four Decades

    The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits/jobless claims unexpectedly declined last week to match a more than 42-year low, indicating employers are upbeat about the economy.

    As per the rcent report  released   by  the Labor Department , jobless claims dropped by 13,000 to 253,000 in the week ended April 9, equaling the level in March that was the lowest since November 1973.

    Scant dismissals along with persistent additions to headcounts indicate companies are looking beyond the recent softness in the economy. A jobless rate near an eight-year low and the healthy outlook for employment are among reasons some economists project consumer spending and growth to pick up this quarter.

     No states or U.S. territories estimated jobless claims and there was nothing unusual in the figures, according to the Labor Department.

     Continuing Claims

    The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits fell by 18,000 to 2.17 million in the week ended April 2, the lowest since the period ended Oct. 17. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.6 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

    The four-week average of continuing claims dropped to 2.18 million, the lowest since November 2000.

    For 58 consecutive weeks claims have been below the 300,000 level that economists say is typically consistent with an improving job market. That’s the longest stretch since 1973.

    Job Openings

    Data from the Labor Department on April 5 showed that in February, job listings were still abundant more Americans voluntarily left their positions, signaling growing confidence in being able to land a new job.

    The March jobs report, also released earlier this month, showed employers added 215,000 workers to payrolls after a 245,000 February advance, while the jobless rate edged up to 5 percent as more people entered the labor force.

    Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings, and a sustained low level of applications has typically coincided with faster job gains. Layoffs may also reflect company- or industry-specific causes, such as cost-cutting or business restructuring, rather than underlying labor market trends.


    Courtesy:Bloomberg Terminal

  • Florida Rent Raises over the National Average, Orlando and Tampa Lead the way

    Business concept. Isolated on white
    Rents in the Sunshine State are increasing at a higher rate than nationwide averages, with one-bedroom rents averaging $1,100, while two-bedroom rents cost $1,400. Florida rents increased by 0.3 percent from February to March, and are up 3.9 percent over last year. That rate beats out the national rent growth over the past year by 1.2 percent

    Orlando has the highest year-over-year rent growth at 8.9 percent. A two-bedroom here averages $1,110, while a one-bedroom goes for $980. In addition to showing the highest increase in rents, Orlando was also Florida’s eighth-most-expensive city for two-bedroom figures

    Tampa placed seventh for most expensive cities, with an average two-bedroom price of $1,170. Rents in Tampa have risen 8.6 percent over the past year, the second most of any Florida city for the month of March.

    Is this time to Buy a home?

  • EDC: Orlando population growth No. 1 among large regions


    Orlando is the fastest-growing of the country’s 30 largest regions, according to new population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The region added more than 60,000 net new residents in the twelve months ending July 1, 2015 (166 per day), growing total population by 2.6 percent to 2,387,138. The numbers come just a week after revised labor market data confirmed Orlando’s status as America’s No. 1 employment center for job growth in 2015.change-in-population-3-24-16-1.jpg

    Formerly the 26th most populous region in the United States, Orlando now places 24th. The Villages in neighboring Sumter County is again the nation’s fast-growing region of all 381 regions in the country but has a much smaller population base of just 120,000.

    All four counties within the Orlando region – Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole – recorded above-average growth in 2015. Osceola and Lake both placed on the list of the nation’s 50 fastest-growing counties, at 18th and 40th respectively.

    Osceola saw the greatest population increase in the region in percentage terms. Almost four times as large, Orange County accounted for the greatest absolute gain at 31,631, or 52 percent of all net new residents in the region. Orange County added more residents than any other county in Florida.

    Since 2010, when the region resumed significant population growth, Orlando has added a net gain of 252,733 residents. More than 40 percent of that growth can be attributed to domesitc migration, with another 34 percent due to international migration, and 24 percent from natural increase. Net migration may broadly be considered an indicator of economic health as people move to where the jobs are.

  • Orlando Number One in U.S. for Job Growth

    Orlando led the nation in job growth with 52,200 jobs created in the 12 months ending in December 2015, according to revised data released by the U.S. Department of Labor. Employment growth in 2015 came in at a revised 4.6 percent, making Orlando the fastest-growing of the 30 regions in the country with an employment base of at least one million jobs.

    The revised 2015 total is Orlando’s highest annual gain since 2004, extending a run of recent growth that now brings total net gains since early 2010 to almost 215,000 jobs, far surpassing the 120,000 lost during the recession. The revised count means the region added an average of close to 150 jobs per day in 2015, with almost all major industries participating. Business services was the dominant contributor at more than 44 new jobs daily, followed by the region’s headline tourism industry at 27 jobs per day.
    Orlando number one in job growth for 2015

    “This revised official data confirms Orlando’s position as the country’s leading job growth center,” said Orlando EDC Chair David Fuller, President of the SunTrust Foundation. “These numbers show our efforts to showcase Orlando as not just a great place to visit, but a great place to do business through our branding campaign, “Orlando, You don’t know the half of it.®” are paying off.”

    US MSA percentage change in payroll

    Orlando was also at the top of a recent Gallup study.  Among large cities, Oralndo was no.1 in the nation for job creation in 2015, ranking higher than Salt Lake City, Austin, Louisville and Kentucky.

    The study scored employees reports on hiring activity and used a job index score based on the percentage of workers in each metro area who say their employer is hiring workers and expanding the size of its workforce minus the percentage who say their employer is reducing the size of its workforce




  • Job Openings in U.S. Increased in January to 5.54 Million

    According to the report released on Thursday from the Labor Department, the number of jobs  increased by 260,000 to 5.54 million from 5.28 million in the prior month that was less than previously estimated. The January level was the third-highest since records began in 2000.

    Job openings were broad-based in January, including increases in manufacturing, construction, business services, transportation and leisure and hospitality.

    There were about 1.4 unemployed people vying for every opening, compared with about 1.8 when the 18-month recession began. Which is a positive sign on the economy.

    In the 12 months through January, the economy created a net 2.7 million jobs, representing 61.7 million hires and 59 million separations.

  • FIRPTA Changes, will boost investments of REIT and the withholding tax increases from 10% to 15% for properties 1 million and plus

    What is FIRPTA?

    Congress created FIRPTA “Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act” based on reports that foreign investors were purchasing U.S. real estate and then selling it at a profit without paying any U.S. taxes. Consequently, FIRPTA created a requirement forcing buyers to withhold 10 percent of the purchase price and remit it to the Internal Revenue Service at the time of closing, subject to a few exceptions.

    Usually, the settlement agent is the party that withholds and remits the funds to the IRS, but the buyer is legally responsible, in certain circumstances, the buyer’s agent can also be held liable.”

    Current Changes:

    Congress recently made changes to the U.S. Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA). While two changes should benefit the real estate community, a third will impact foreign sellers of certain properties

    On the positive side, new FIRPTA rules will make U.S. commercial property more attractive to foreign investors. The law doubles the maximum amount of stock ownership a foreign investor may have in a U.S. publicly-traded real estate investment trust (REIT), bumping it up from the current 5 percent to 10 percent. It also permits certain foreign pension funds to invest in real estate investment trusts (REITs) without having FIRPTA treatment apply. This change to FIRPTA provision is conservatively estimated to boost foreign investment in U.S. commercial real estate by $20-$30 billion per year

    On the other hand, the new FIRPTA rules increase the withholding tax paid by foreign sellers of certain properties effective Feb. 17, 2016 from 10 percent to 15 percent on properties valued one million dollars plus.

    How new withholding works

    The law considers three levels of property purchases: A personal residence of $300,000 or less; a personal residence worth more than $300,000 but less than $1 million; and properties valued at $1 million or more:

    • $300,000: Foreign sellers currently pay no FIRPTA tax, and this doesn’t change under the new rule, providing the property will be used as a residence
    • $300,000-$1 million: The current 10 percent FIRPTA tax does not change under the new rule, providing the property will be used as a residence
    • $1 million-plus: The FIRPTA tax goes up from the current 10 percent to 15 percent after Feb. 16. In this $1 million-plus category, it doesn’t matter whether the property will be used as a residence or not
  • Millennials, Here’s What Your First Home Might Look Like


  • Misconceptions about Real Estate.

    Popular misconceptions about real estate make many people hesitant to get into the home-buying or -selling process.

    When it comes to buying and selling homes, conventional wisdom has its flaws. If you’re considering buying or selling a home, don’t let the following conventional wisdom stop you.

    You need 20 percent or more down to buy a home

    This is the biggest misconception for millennials, who are often burdened with huge student loans but still want to be homeowners.

    After the credit and housing crisis, it became very difficult to get a mortgage. Lenders were strict, and financing killed deal after deal.

    Today, however, it is possible to get a low with as little as three percent down.

    But while lending standards have loosened you still must have great credit, verifiable income and assets to back you up. But not necessarily need a 20-percent or more down payment.

    Home value is whatever the appraiser says it is

    The market value of a home is determined by what willing and able buyers and sellers agree on in an open market and arm’s length transaction.

    Other than that, a homeowner or would-be seller can only rely on a recent appraisal for a bank refinance.

    It’s helpful to understand that a home’s appraised value typically comes in below the market value. Factors such as views, finishes, fixtures or neighborhood specifications can affect your home’s appraisal.

     Spring is the best time to sell a home

    Traditionally, many buyers come to the market in the spring to secure a new home before the start of the following school year in September. This decades-long trend has made people think spring is the best time to list a home for sale.

    But not all buyers today are families with kids. Buyers are single , people who are downsizing, baby boomers and people who don’t need — nor care — about the school calendar.

    The best time to sell your home is when inventory is low, and that’s the dead of winter. Later in the year is better because buyers are still home shopping through the holiday season.

     Real estate agent have been replaced by online portals

    Today it’s more important than ever to have a great  real estate agent  on your team. And there’s no cost to you, so why not get an experienced pro on your side?

    It’s no longer about agents having access to the proprietary data — it’s all out there. But since buying a home is such an infrequent transaction in your life, you need someone through the process who knows the market, understands the process and can act as an adviser to help you interpret the data.

    And buying a home is not just a financial transaction. It involves emotions and sentiments, and you’ll want a professional to help diffuse the feelings, navigate the ups and downs, and steer you in the right direction.

    Adaption from zillow.com

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