Pending Home Sales Move Forward

Pending Home Sales Move Forward

Pending home sales rose solidly in February to their highest level in seven months and remain higher than a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Led by a sizeable increase in the Midwest, all major regions except for the Northeast saw an increase in contract activity in February.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 3.5 percent to 109.1 in February from a downwardly revised 105.4 in January and is now 0.7 percent above February 2015 (108.3). Although the index has now increased year-over-year for 18 consecutive months, last month’s annual gain was the smallest.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says pending sales made promising strides in February, rising to the highest index reading since last July (109.8). “After some volatility this winter, the latest data is encouraging in that a decent number of buyers signed contracts last month, lured by mortgage rates dipping to their lowest levels in nearly a year1 and a modest, seasonal uptick in inventory2,” he said. “Looking ahead, the key for sustained momentum and more sales than last spring is a continuous stream of new listings quickly replacing what’s being scooped up by a growing pool of buyers. Without adequate supply, sales will likely plateau.”

According to Yun, the one silver lining from last month’s noticeable slump in existing-home sales was that price appreciation lessened to 4.4 percent, which is still above wage growth but certainly more favorable than the 8.1 percent annual increase in January.

“Any further moderation in prices would be a welcome development this spring,” adds Yun. “Particularly in the West, where it appears a segment of would-be buyers are becoming wary of high asking prices and stiff competition.”

Existing-homes sales this year are forecast to be around 5.38 million, an increase of 2.4 percent from 2015. The national median existing-home price for all of this year is expected to increase between 4 and 5 percent. In 2015, existing-home sales increased 6.3 percent and prices rose 6.8 percent.

The PHSI in the Northeast declined 0.2 percent to 94.0 in February, but is still 12.6 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index shot up 11.4 percent to 112.6 in February, and is now 2.5 percent above February 2015.

Pending home sales in the South increased 2.1 percent to an index of 122.4 in February but are 0.4 percent lower than last February. The index in the West climbed 0.7 percent in February to 96.4, but is now 6.2 percent below a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Check Out This Featured Kissimmee Listing

Check Out This Featured Kissimmee Listing

This is an outstanding time to purchase a home in Kissimmee Florida. With interest rates still at historical lows and prices in a very affordable range, the time is perfect to consider this 5 bedroom, 4 bath home in Kissimmee.

This 3,662 square foot spacious home comes with a pool, gourmet kitchen, downstairs master bedroom and has a gold course view that you simply must see.

Call Carolee Goodwin-Blackmore at 407.908.6042 or email her at Don’t wait, as we expect this to not be available for long!

First Time Home Sellers Need To Know!

First Time Home Sellers Need To Know!

There is a glut of helpful resources and content available for first time home buyers.  The same cannot be said about learning resources and tips for first time home sellers. Just like buying a home for the first time, selling a home for the first time often comes with lots of confusion and questions.  Many first time home sellers have no idea where to start and what they should focus on during the sale of their first home.

A first time home seller who doesn’t know what tips and advice to follow can sometimes end up costing themselves a lot of money.  We’ve included some of the most important tips for first time home sellers should be aware of!

Preparation Is The Deal!
One of the biggest errors that first time home sellers make is not knowing how to prepare their home and themselves for the market.  Not properly preparing a home for sale is a guaranteed way to make the home selling experience a challenge from the start.

Spring is coming in Osceola County, and it’s typically a very busy time in the real estate market. If you’re going to be selling your home, it’s time to get prepared now.

Here are five important suggestions to consider before the selling surge begins again:
• Deep clean carpets and floors
• Paint any rooms that need it
• Consider having the HVAC systems cleaned prior to listing
• Declutter, declutter, declutter
• Clean windows

Hiring An Experienced Real Estate Agent Is Imperative!

Whether selling a home for the first time or you’ve done this all before, hiring an experienced and established real estate agent is important. Many first time home sellers find hiring the right real estate agent to be their very first big challenge to overcome.  First time home sellers need to know  how to properly interview prospective real estate agents.  That’s sounds easy, but there are a lot of agents out there, and they are NOT all the same. As an example, Goodwin Realty is very versed on the central Osceola County real estate market. We know Kissimmee. We know St. Cloud. We know the Harmony Florida community. It’s what we do everyday, so selling a home in Central Florida for us is much different than for someone who just started selling homes in 2015.

To properly interview prospective real estate agents, a first time home seller needs to know what the  most important interview questions for Osceola County real estate agents are.  Some of the most important questions include;

Are you a full-time or part-time agent?

  • What percentage of homes yearly do you represent the seller?
  • How do you plan on marketing my home?
  • Are you prepared to show me what social media tools  you use right now?
  • Do you use video in your marketing?
  • What methods do you utilize to determine a homes value?

There are literally dozens of questions that first time home sellers should consider asking prospective real estate agents.  The above questions are just some of the most important!

Pricing It Right Is Vital!

The important of pricing in real estate cannot be stressed enough.  First time home sellers need to understand that it’s vital to price a home right from the beginning, otherwise, it will not sell.

The main takeaway for first time home sellers when discussing the importance of pricing a home right is to understand that todays home buyers are well educated.  Since buyers are able to shop online for homes, they are savvy and often have a strong understanding whether a home is overpriced or not. There are lots of buyers who will choose not to look at a home they believe is overpriced!

Know What Is Next!

Another mistake that first time home sellers make is they do not know think about what their next move is enough.  Selling a home takes lots of preparation and sometimes can be stressful.  The last thing a first time home seller needs is to increase their stress levels because they don’t know what their next move is.

Are they relocating to a new area?
Are they going to be renting?

Are they going to be buying and selling a home at the same time?
Are they able to buy a home without selling their current home?

These are just a handful of the most important questions a first time home seller needs to ask themselves before listing their home.  Having a well thought out game plan before listing a home for sale can decrease the stress level for a first time home seller significantly.

Understand What Closing Expenses!
One of the biggest misunderstandings that first time home sellers frequently have it regarding the closing expenses.  A first time home seller needs to have a strong understanding of the closing expenses they will be responsible for, again, prior to selling their home.

It can be quite a shock for a seller who doesn’t know that generally in most cases, they are responsible for paying any brokerage fees.  Some of the most common closing expenses that are incurred by a seller include;

  • Instrument survey
  • State transfer taxes
  • Abstract re-date
  • Seller concessions, if applicable
  • Owner warranty, if applicable

An experienced real estate agent will make sure they educate their sellers on the potential closing expenses they will be responsible for, before listing their home.

Final Thoughts

Selling a home can be stressful and a bit tricky without the correct guidance of an experienced realtor at your side… even for a home seller who has sold a number of homes.  First time home sellers who understand what tips and advice to follow when selling their first home greatly increase the odds they have an enjoyable experience… and sell their home at a higher price.

At Goodwin Realty we believe experience, integrity and work ethic plays a large role in the success of the seller. Our strength is in communication, professionalism, experience and willingness. We hope you’ll consider contacting us at one of our two locations. Call our Kissimmee Real Estate office at (407)846-2787  or call our St. Cloud Real Estate office at 407-556-3909 . We’d love to make your Osceola County home selling experience a positive one.


Let’s Look Back At The 2015 Florida Real Estate Market

Let’s Look Back At The 2015 Florida Real Estate Market

In 2015, Florida’s real estate market faced changes big and small, good and not so good. Here are the most influential Florida real estate stories of 2015:

The market? It’s back
As a state famous for investment homes and international sales, Florida tends to be hit hard by recessions and blessed by economic booms. In 2015, it was the latter. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Multi-Indicator Market Index ­– a measurement of state and local markets’ strength – Florida’s real estate rebound led the nation, with Orlando the top U.S. rebound city. In the October 2015 housing report released by Florida Realtors, single-family home prices rose 12.4% year-to-year.

Time to buy – but what?
Homebuyer demand continues to rise from millennials to baby boomers, but there’s a problem: Buyers can’t find enough homes for sale. Overall, Florida’s tight inventory of for-sale homes last year (5.4-month supply in Oct. 2014) was below the six-month supply economists generally consider a balanced market – and it grew even tighter this year (4.4-month supply in Oct. 2015). Why? Some underwater owners still can’t sell; some boomers are staying put; and some investors scooped homes in the lower-price categories, leaving today’s first-time buyers struggling.

Mortgage process scrambled
Realtors knew the mortgage process inside and out until Oct. 3. On that day, almost everything changed as U.S. regulators rolled out a new set of borrower disclosures and rules. While the onus of the change fell on title companies and lenders that had to gut and redo software systems, Realtors had to understand the new disclosures and wrestle with locked-in-stone timelines that threatened closing dates. When the dust settled, however, the industry had adapted with only a little collateral damage.

Easy money. Well, easier anyway
Lenders’ purse strings loosened a bit in 2015 and more homebuyers discovered that they qualify. Mortgage-backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac introduced a number of buyer-friendly changes, such as mortgage downpayments as low as 3%. In addition, FHA lowered its mortgage insurance fees. To top it off, a number of banks eased their credit score requirements a bit, allowing more marginal borrowers to consider making the move to homeownership.

No trouble here
In the shadow of the recent real estate recession, a few local observers think that today’s rising home prices and limited inventory suggest that another real estate bubble could be forming. But experts shoot down the bubble theory, saying homes in only a few selected cities might be overvalued, and there’s no reason to panic. This time around, most loans are fixed rate, first-time buyer programs have increased the quality of purchasers, the economy is strengthening, and much of the recent rise in prices can be attributed to the construction industry’s inability to keep up with demand.

Condo can-do
For most of 2015, there was a disconnect between the home preferred by many first-time buyers – a condominium – and their ability to qualify for the most popular first-time buyers’ mortgage product: a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan. Since FHA first looks at the operation of a condo complex and its board, a rejection at that level means an automatic mortgage rejection for any unit in the complex. In November, however, FHA said it would relax its board rules, which should give buyers a new assortment of affordable options. Florida – with its range and diversity of condo projects – has the most to gain.

Let the 2016 games begin
In early 2015, Zillow completed its merger with Trulia, creating an online real estate advertising behemoth – and mega-provider News Corp took over Move Inc., the oversight company for But the story doesn’t end there. Consolidation is the watchword, and the battle heading into 2016 is “Who can offer the most real estate services in a one-stop shop?” The big players are rolling out transaction management programs, commercial real estate options, marketing programs and new technology that everyone needs – even if they don’t know it yet.

Make it simple
NAR and its wholly owned subsidiary, Realtors Property Resource (RPR), announced a new system for brokers’ data entry that could potentially simplify the business of selling real estate in 2016. Project Upstream/AMP (Advanced Multi-list Platform) is a behind-the-scenes tool to simplify listing data entry and distribution. Currently, a single listing may be keyed in several times for different purposes – for entry in the local MLS, other MLSs, the broker’s own website and one or more advertising websites, for example. Under Upstream/AMP, brokers will enter data only once. After that, MLSs and vendors that use the data will download the information from Upstream. NAR’s 2015 president calls it “an initiative that truly can be thought of as ‘game changing.'”

Drones on and on and on
For most of this year, only Realtors with a pilot’s license and FAA approval could legally fly a drone. However, that changed in December when the FAA issued a rule that opened up drone use to everyone – with limitations. Some existing rules still apply, such as no flights higher than 400 feet or within five miles of an airport, but a new one requires every drone operator to register with the FAA – name, address, email, etc. – and every drone to be marked with that operator’s unique registration number. Experts believe up to 700,000 drones will be given as gifts this year, leading the FAA to make its long-awaited announcement right before the holidays.

Mortgage rates on the rise
As 2014 came to a close, most experts predicted that mortgage rates would rise in 2015. And they did the same thing a year earlier in 2014. And they’re doing so again this year. But one thing changed that increases the chances of higher mortgage rates next year: On Dec. 16, 2015, the Federal Reserve boosted its key rate 0.25 basis points for the first time in seven years. That increase has an indirect impact on long-term mortgage rates and a more direct, albeit small, impact on adjustable mortgage rates. Few experts predict a series of further rate increases in 2016, however. Some say the next one won’t come until June, while others expect a small boost every other time the Fed meets.


2016 real estate forecast
Florida’s 2015 real estate rebound “outperformed the nation as a whole,” according to Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. While the state ended the year “catching its breath after a very hectic late summer and early fall,” Tuccillo predicts that 2016 will continue to “settle down” as sales and home values rise – but at a less hectic pace.

“Against the backdrop of an expanding state economy with growing employment, home sales should increase by 8-10 percent over 2015 (numbers) and home prices (measured as actual value) should rise by about 5 percent,” Tuccillo says.

© 2015 Florida Realtors®

Is Buying a Much Better Idea Than Renting In Central Florida?

Is Buying a Much Better Idea Than Renting In Central Florida?

Is your rent in Central Florida too high? You may be better off buying a house next year, according to a new report!

Greater Orlando joins 58 percent of U.S. housing markets where buying is more affordable than renting, even though home sale prices are rising faster than rental rates in 55 percent of those markets.

Homeowners in the Greater Orlando area spent an average of 35.4 percent of their wages on housing, while renters coughed up an average of 43.4 percent. The rule of thumb for years has been that monthly housing costs shouldn’t exceed 28 percent of gross monthly income.

Here’s a closer look by county at what percentage of Central Floridians’ wages went toward their home mortgage or rental costs in 2015:
Osceola County: Home 35.5 percent, rent 47.3 percent
Orange County: Home 32.8 percent, rent 38.2 percent
Seminole County: Home 34.6 percent, rent 39.2 percent
Lake County: Home 38.5 percent, rent 48.8 percent

“Renters in 2016 will be caught between a bit of a rock and a hard place, with rents becoming less affordable as they rise faster than wages, but home prices rising even faster than rents,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “In markets where home prices are still relatively affordable, 2016 may be a good time for some renters to take the plunge into homeownership before rising prices and possibly rising interest rates make it increasingly tougher to afford to buy a home.”

At Goodwin Realty, with offices in both St. Cloud and Kissimmee, we’ve always been able to help home buyers and sellers find the best solution for their real estate needs. We understand the real estate market so the solutions we provide are designed to be a perfect fit for the lives and financial needs of our clients. Trust an Osceola County realtor who does the “next right thing” to help the client find the perfect realty solution… call  Goodwin Realty!

Surge In New Home Construction Sales

Surge In New Home Construction Sales

homesurgeNew home construction sales are surging upward, and many people looking to buy a new home or actually build a new home don’t realize securing a real estate agent to assist them is extremely beneficial and will cost them nothing!

If you walk into the sales office of a new subdivision and work with the agent sitting at the desk you are talking to the agent who works for the builder… it’s as simple as that. They may be very cordial and knowledgeable, but they aren’t working on your behalf, they’re working for the builder. They legally represent the builder so if you want an advocate who can assist you during the process, you need a realtor. Any commissions paid are NOT paid by you… they are paid by the builder.

If you do walk into the sales office, be sure NOT to sign anything until your realtor is with you. If you sign an agency agreement you are going to find it very difficult to bring an agent into the transaction later, so call us prior to signing… we’re on your side

The builder knows how much profit they want to make on each home they build and sell and they have already accounted for realtor costs and most likely also the closing costs. If you end up working with the builder’s agent, any monies left over after these costs will likely be more profit to the builder. However, if you have an agent working for you, they will be able to negotiate with the builder and have that extra money put back into your pocket in the form of upgrades, bonuses or possibly down payment assistance. I’m sure that we now have your attention. Yes, I said by using a real estate agent we can work on getting free upgrades and possibly more. So… at no cost to you… call us first!

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