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This is a short & sweet infograph explaining some of the many things that professional Realtors do for buyers and seller. There are approximately 180 different items that we do in each transaction, depending on the situation. Below is from Keeping Current Matters.

5 Reasons to Love Using A RE Pro [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters


  • Hiring a real estate professional to guide you through the process of buying a home or selling your house can be one of the best decisions you make!
  • They are there for you to help with paperwork, understanding the process, negotiations, and helping you with pricing (both when making an offer or setting the right price for your home).
  • One of the top reasons to hire a real estate professional is their understanding of your local market and how the conditions in your neighborhood will impact your experience.




Homeownership: “The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”

The famous quote by Mark Twain in the title of this article can be used to describe homeownership in America today. Last week, the Census revealed that the percentage of homeowners in the country increased for the first time in thirteen years

Homeownership: "The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated" | Keeping Current Matters

story in the Wall Street Journal gave these new homeownership numbers some context:

“The annual increase marks a crucial turning point because it comes after the federal government reined in bubble-era policies that encouraged banks to ease lending standards to boost homeownership. This time, what’s driving the market is a shift in favor of owning rather than renting.

‘This is market, market and market…There’s no government incentive program in sight that is having this effect,’ said Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate and finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, ‘This is back to basics.’”

In a separate report comparing the rental population in America to the homeowner population, RentCaféalso concluded that the gap is now shrinking.

“Undoubtedly, the recession had a great impact on homeownership…However, it looks like it takes more to discourage Americans from buying a house than that.

As the years go by, it seems more and more certain that the fact that renting has seen a sudden gain in popularity is more a reaction to the economic crisis than a paradigm shift in the Americans’ attitude toward housing.”

America’s belief in homeownership was also evidenced in a recent survey by Pew Research. They asked consumers “How important is homeownership to achieving the American Dream?”

The results:

  • 43% said homeownership was essential to the American Dream
  • 48% said homeownership was important to the American Dream
  • Only 9% said it was not important

Bottom Line

Homeownership has been, is and will always be a crucial element of the American Dream.

*Pictured Above – Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, Connecticut.
from Keeping Current Matters

Urban Institute recently released a report entitled, “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership,” which revealed that eighty percent of consumers either are unaware of how much lenders require for a down payment or believe all lenders require a down payment above 5 percent.”

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers often overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the same report:

Consumers are often unaware of the option to take out low-down-payment mortgages. Only 19% of consumers believe lenders would make loans with a down payment of 5% or less… While 15% believe lenders require a 20% down payment, and 30% believe lenders expect a 20% down payment.”

These numbers do not differ much between non-owners and homeowners; 39% of non-owners believe they need more than 20% for a down payment and 30% of homeowners believe they need more than 20% for a down payment.

While many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, they do not realize that programs are available that allow them to put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy”

Similar to the down payment, many either don’t know or are misinformed about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.

Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.

2 Major Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | Keeping Current Matters

As you can see in the chart above, 53.5% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.


PROFarm_3Qstats_postcard 2017 WEB (1)


PROFARM Neighborhood Advocates
Q3 2017 Stats (Nov. 2017)

Florida Realtors® recently released the 2017 quarter 3 real estate market statistics for the state. I wanted to be sure you had an overview of how our area is performing.

The Single Family Home and Townhome/Condo real estate markets in Pinellas County continue to thrive in the third quarter of 2017. Median Sale Price continued to rise in both segments. Closed Sales were down for Single Family for the first time in months. It’s highly possible that the hurricanes in September are the cause for this.

Median Sale Price for the third quarter was up for both Single Family and Townhome/Condo in Pinellas County. Median Days to Contract was down year-over-year for Q3 in both segments, meaning that properties are going to contract faster now than this time last year.

As your local REALTOR® and Neighborhood Advocate, I am your resource for data that affects our communities and your property value. Homeownership affordability and accessibility is a cornerstone of the REALTOR® advocacy efforts at every level – local, state and national.

Here are some highlights from the Florida Realtors® Quarter 3 2017 Statistics Release for Pinellas County for the Single Family Homes & Townhome/Condo Market Segments:


Closed Sales: Down for Pinellas County Single Family Homes and just slightly up for Townhome/Condo for Quarter 3 2017 from Quarter 3 2016. This statistic is a good indicator of the overall health of the market, and successful closed sales mean a win-win for both buyers and sellers.

  • Single Family Homes: 3,340 Closed Sales in Q3 2017 vs. 3,694 Closed Sales in Q3 2016, a 9.6% decrease
  • Townhome/Condo: 2,138 Closed Sales in Q3 2017 vs. 2,131 Closed Sales in Q3 2016, a 0.3% increase


Median Sale Price: Up for Pinellas County in both Single Family Homes and Townhome/Condo for Quarter 3 2017 from Quarter 3 2016. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half the homes sold for less.

  • Single Family Homes: $240,000 Median Sale Price in Q3 2017 vs. $220,000 Median Sale Price in Q3 2016, a 9.1% increase
  • Townhome/Condo: $152,750 Median Sale Price in Q3 2017 vs. $132,500 Median Sale Price in Q3 2016, an 15.3% increase


Inventory (Active Listings): Down for Pinellas County in both Single Family Homes and Townhome/Condo for Quarter 3 2017 from Quarter 3 2016. When inventory is low, there are fewer houses on the market and buyers are often competing for homes or have a tougher time finding a home that suits their exact needs. Flexibility, planning and preparation are key to being able to make an offer on a home when you do find what you’re looking for.

  • Single Family Homes: 3,027 Active Listings in Q3 2017 vs. 3,275 Active Listings in Q3 2016, a 7.6% decrease
  • Townhome/Condo: 2,097 Active Listings in Q3 2017 vs. 2,410 Active Listings in Q3 2016, a 13% decrease


Median Days to Contract: Down for Pinellas County for Single Family and Townhome/Condo for Quarter 3 2017 from Quarter 3 2016. The midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to receive a sales contract during that time. The faster a home goes to contract, the less time it is on the market for sale. This statistic is another good indicator for sellers and a tool for buyers to understand how to reach their goals in a hot market.

  • Single Family Homes: 22 Median Days to Contract in Q3 2017 vs. 27 Median Days to Contract in Q3 2016, an 18.5% decrease
  • Townhome/Condo: 34 Median Days to Contract in Q3 2017 vs. 41 Median Days to Contract in Q3 2016, a 17.1% decrease


If you would like to discuss the market statistics further, or would like me to keep you informed, I would welcome the opportunity to provide monthly stats for you. Please don’t hesitate to email me at or call me at 727-804-6566 if I can be of service. Thank you so much!
© 2017 Pinellas Realtor Organization

This is a great little chart to help both when buying or selling a Smart Home to ensure that everyone reaps the benefits. Sometimes information regarding the manuals or which items you have in the home can be lost in the complicated process of purchasing or selling a home. Easy to print or save to your computer. Thank you Florida Realtors for putting this together. Very much appreciated!


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ORLANDO, Fla. – Oct. 2017 – Higher home prices and a tight supply of homes for sale may be the mantra nationwide – but certain markets are still offering lucrative options for investors, including two in Florida.

Real estate sales and auction company TenX released its top picks for investors. Texas had the most markets on the list, scoring three out of the top five, as it continues to post strong growth in employment and home construction. San Antonio topped TenX’s list for best places for investors, posting strong population growth for six years and having incomes hit all-time highs. San Antonio is followed on the list by two other Texas hot spots: Fort Worth and Dallas.

Home prices are rising quickly in Texas, but they remain low compared to some other hot markets, like in California, TenX notes.

“If you look at our report, probably eight or nine of the top 20 markets in terms of housing performance are in either Texas or Florida,” says Rick Sharga, executive vice president at TenX.

“The Florida markets will be more directly impacted because Irma hit everything, but even in Texas, a lot of the construction and labor and materials and so forth that’s been going to build new properties in Dallas and Fort Worth and San Antonio might get diverted to rebuild Houston, and that could have a noticeable impact on home sales and home starts over the next six to nine months.”

Investors have had to shift course in many cities as the number of low-priced or foreclosed homes dries up.

“What they’re really looking to do now is make money on the month-to-month rent, so in a lot of cases they’re buying properties at full value,” Sharga told CNBC. “In some cases, they may even be slightly overpaying for properties, but they’re making it up in the rental income over the period of time.”

The following are the top 10 markets for investors, according to TenX:

  1. San Antonio
  2. Fort Worth, Texas
  3. Dallas
  4. Columbus, Ohio
  5. Tampa, Fla.
  6. Orlando, Fla.
  7. Indianapolis
  8. Austin, Texas
  9. Nashville, Tenn.
  10. Raleigh, N.C.

Source: “Want to be a Landlord? These Are the Top Markets This Fall for Investing in Rental Homes,” CNBC (Oct. 13, 2017)


Buying a Home? Do You Know the Lingo? | Keeping Current Matters

Buying a home can be intimidating if you are not familiar with the terms used during the process. To start you on your path with confidence, we have compiled a list of some of the most common terms used when buying a home.

Freddie Mac has compiled a more exhaustive glossary of terms in their “My Home” section of their website.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) – This is a broader measure of your cost for borrowing money. The APR includes the interest rate, points, broker fees and certain other credit charges a borrower is required to pay. Because these costs are rolled in, the APR is usually higher than your interest rate.

Appraisal – A professional analysis used to estimate the value of the property. This includes examples of sales of similar properties. This is a necessary step in getting your financing secured as it validates the home’s worth to you and your lender.

Closing Costs – The costs to complete the real estate transaction. These costs are in addition to the price of the home and are paid at closing. They include points, taxes, title insurance, financing costs, items that must be prepaid or escrowed and other costs. Ask your lender for a complete list of closing cost items.

Credit Score – A number ranging from 300-850, that is based on an analysis of your credit history. Your credit score plays a significant role when securing a mortgage as it helps lenders determine the likelihood that you’ll repay future debts. The higher your score, the better, but many buyers believe they need at least a 780 score to qualify when, in actuality, over 55% of approved loans had a score below 750.

Discount Points – A point equals 1% of your loan (1 point on a $200,000 loan = $2,000). You can pay points to buy down your mortgage interest rate. It’s essentially an upfront interest payment to lock in a lower rate for your mortgage.

Down Payment – This is a portion of the cost of your home that you pay upfront to secure the purchase of the property. Down payments are typically 3 to 20% of the purchase price of the home. There are zero-down programs available through VA loans for Veterans, as well as USDA loans for rural areas of the country. Eighty percent of first-time buyers put less than 20% down last month.

Escrow – The holding of money or documents by a neutral third party before closing. It can also be an account held by the lender (or servicer) into which a homeowner pays money for taxes and insurance.

Fixed-Rate Mortgages – A mortgage with an interest rate that does not change for the entire term of the loan. Fixed-rate mortgages are typically 15 or 30 years.

Home Inspection – A professional inspection of a home to determine the condition of the property. The inspection should include an evaluation of the plumbing, heating and cooling systems, roof, wiring, foundation and pest infestation.

Mortgage Rate – The interest rate you pay to borrow money to buy your house. The lower the rate, the better. Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have hovered between 4 and 4.25% for most of 2017.

Pre-Approval Letter – A letter from a mortgage lender indicating that you qualify for a mortgage of a specific amount. It also shows a home seller that you’re a serious buyer. Having a pre-approval letter in hand while shopping for homes can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.

Primary Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – If you make a down payment lower than 20% on your conventional loan, your lender will require PMI, typically at a rate of .51%. PMI serves as an added insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage and can be cancelled from your payment once you reach 20% equity in your home.

Real Estate Professional – An individual who provides services in buying and selling homes. Real estate professionals are there to help you through the confusing paperwork, to help you find your dream home, to negotiate any of the details that come up, and to help make sure that you know exactly what’s going on in the housing market. Real estate professionals can refer you to local lenders or mortgage brokers along with other specialists that you will need throughout the home-buying process.

The best way to ensure that your home-buying process is a confident one is to find a real estate professional who will guide you through every aspect of the transaction with ‘the heart of a teacher,’ and who puts your family’s needs first.

re-posted from:

Only ethnic demographic to increase homeownership rate

house key background

The homeownership rate for Hispanics increased in 2016, contrary to other ethnic groups, who all saw a decrease in homeownership.


The homeownership rate among Hispanics increased to 46% in 2016, up from 45.6% the year before, according to a report from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the overall homeownership rate dropped from 63.7% in 2015 to 63.4% in 2016. At the same time, the African-American rate also dipped from 43% to 42.2% and the Asian-American rate dropped from 56.5% to 55.5%.

Hispanics were the only ethnic demographic with an increase in their homeownership rate. Hispanics also led the nation in household formations with a net increase of 330,000 households in 2016.

The overall homeownership rate in the U.S. is currently hovering at the lowest level in 50 years. Hispanics broke the trend due to their high workforce participation rate, according to NAHREP’s report.

Also helping advance the growth is the increase of Hispanic entrepreneurs in mortgage banking and the real estate brokerage business.

“With credit remaining tight and limited housing inventory in several markets, these numbers are extremely encouraging and a testament to the economic resilience of the Hispanic community,” 2016 NAHREP President Joseph Nery said. “As the mortgage industry continues to recognize the exceptional opportunities in serving the Hispanic market and adjusts accordingly, we expect these numbers to only improve.”  Kelsey Ramírez

This post below has some great information on how to choose an inspector when purchasing your next home. I would also add to schedule your home inspections as soon as possible after your offer is accepted. You want to allow enough time for repairs to be completed before closing. If there is too much wrong with the house, you will want to move on quickly to find the right house for you.

So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. More often than not, your agent may have made your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. suggests that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection & if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report, the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients that you can call to ask about their experience.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that there is continued training and education provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s ok for you to tag along during the inspection, that way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof, crawling around in the attic, and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace & chimney, the foundation and so much more!

Bottom Line

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money in a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

Is This the Year to Move Up to Your Dream Home? If So, Do it Early | Keeping Current Matters

It appears that Americans are regaining faith in the U.S. economy. The following indexes have each shown a dramatic jump in consumer confidence in their latest surveys:

  1. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index
  2. National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Small Business Optimism Index
  3. CNBC All-America Economic Survey
  4. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey

It usually means good news for the housing market when the country sees an optimistic future. People begin to dream again about the home their family has always wanted, and some make plans to finally make that dream come true.

If you are considering moving up to your dream home, it may be better to do it earlier in the year than later. The two components of your monthly mortgage payment (home prices and interest rates) are both projected to increase as the year moves forward, and interest rates may increase rather dramatically. Here are some predictions on where rates will be by the end of the year:

“We think that conforming 30-year fixed rates probably make it into the4.625 percent to 4.75 percent range at some point during 2017 as a peak.”

Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s Chief Economist:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the 30-year fixed mortgage rate hits 4.75 percent.”

Mark Fleming, the Chief Economist at First American:

“[I see] mortgage rates getting much closer to 5 percent at the end of next year.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist:

“By this time next year, expect the 30-year fixed rate to likely be in the 4.5 percent to 5 percent range.”

Bottom Line

If you are feeling good about your family’s economic future and are considering making a move to your dream home, doing it sooner rather than later makes the most sense.

Agents, did you know you can share a personalized version of this post? Learn more!

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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