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    Orlando Real Estate Blog

February 4, 2014

5 Ways You Can Improve Your Home’s Value in 2014

5 Ways You Can Improve Your Home's Value in 2014Anyone out there make a New Year’s resolution for 2014? How about improving the value of your home? We have a few creative suggestions that you can use to significantly boost the value and appeal of your property.

You might be surprised by how detail-oriented some buyers can be. Just because the property looks nice overall, doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty that can be improved. Higher value properties can look great from top to bottom without losing that comfortable feel of a home.

Here are 5 tips for improving your home’s value:

1) Deep Clean and Stage

Removing some of the excess clutter and doing some real cleaning can really boost the appeal of a home. Be sure to get rid of any of the following:

  • Worn down garden ornaments
  • Dilapidated furniture
  • Stained rugs and upholstery
  • Dented or rusty kitchen utensils

Potential sellers should also consider hiring a professional to stage their home. Studies have shown that this can drastically reduce the amount of time a property stays listed on the market. In other words, buyers really love a well-staged home!

2) Modern Lighting

We actually covered the benefits of adding better lighting to the home in a previous post, but it’s worth mentioning again. You’ll want to take the time to ensure that the lighting for each room is right and you may also want to consider getting a professional to install new switches and outlet covers. Great lighting can really help make a lasting first impression.

3) Wood Trim and Cornicing

Installing some wood trimming or cornicing in rooms that have high ceilings should give them some extra pop. One tactic that’s worth mentioning is painting the walls a neutral color and painting the cornicing a high gloss white. This ensures that potential buyers will not miss this feature of the room and the contrast can be quite appealing.

5 Ways You Can Improve Your Home's Value in 2014

4) Fresh Coat of Paint

This makes a bigger impact on home value than most people even realize. A new paint job can give the property a lighter, cleaner look. Just be sure to exercise caution when picking the paintflashy colors will be a turn off for many buyers. Sometimes a home may not even need a whole new coat of paint. Getting the grime scrubbed off the outside can elicit an impressive transformation.

5) New Kitchen Cupboards

Anyone in real estate will tell you that the kitchen is one of the most important aspects of any home. A grungy or even outdated kitchen could be the difference between a sale and a “we’ll get back to you…”. If a full remodel isn’t exactly feasible, consider replacing the cupboard or unit doors. This shouldn’t be too expensive and it can make a big difference in the overall appeal for buyers.

The bottom line is that even relatively simple changes can result in significant boosts for home value and appeal. 2014 is shaping up to be a competitive year for the housing market here in Orlando, and you’ll want to take steps to separate your property from the rest of the pack.

January 24, 2014

Top 5 Commercial Real Estate Sales in 2013

2013 was a record breaking year in many regards for the real estate market of Orlando. The average home value jumped up by 28 percent during the year thanks in large to many once-distressed neighborhoods in the Orlando Metro area. There were also several headlining commercial properties sold in 2013.

Foreign Buyers Show Interest in Orlando Condo Conversions

Some of the trophy properties that were up for grabs last year included:

  • One of the region’s biggest convention-specialty hotels
  • One of Orlando’s most popular water parks
  • The west side’s largest retail center
  • Several premier apartment complexes

Commercial sales of this caliber are certainly a positive sign that powerful private investment firms want a serious stake in the Orlando real estate market. This in turn only generates more interest from other investors. These new owners also help improve neighborhood property values by refurbishing and expanding these existing properties.

Let’s have a look at five of the most notable commercial sales completed during 2013 in Orlando:

1) Hyatt Hotels Acquires the Peabody Orlando

Hyatt Hotels Corporation purchased the Peabody Orlando from UST Hotel Joint Venture Ltd. for $591.7 million in October. The 1,641-room hotel is well known for it’s famous Peabody ducks. It’s now been renamed the Hyatt Regency Orlando Convention Center.

2) Winter Garden Village Changes Hands

A real estate investment group based in Ohio purchased the 1.1 million-square-foot Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves lifestyle center for $196 million. It was the largest retail transaction at the time but it only foreshadowed bigger things to come.

3) Pollack Shores Sells SteelHouse Orlando Apartments

Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc., a private equity firm based out of Chicago, purchased this trendy 326-unit apartment complex over the summer for $59 million. SteelHouse Orlando was located in a popular part of downtown Orlando and had been owned by Atlanta-based developer Pollack Shores.

4) Large Apartment Complex Near Disney Sold

The Atlanta real estate firm Post Properties Inc. acquired the Crosswater at Lakeside Village from Boyd Development Corporation and South Norwalk last spring. The apartment complex contains 300 units and is located close to Walt Disney World. The name of the complex is now Post Lakeside.

Top 5 Commercial Real Estate Sales in 2013

5) Bell Partners Purchase the Landmark at Universal

Epoch Properties Inc., a firm based in Winter Park, sold the 310-unit Landmark at Universal to Bell Partners Inc. for $48.3 million last spring. The North Carolina investment firm has since renamed the complex Bell at Universal.

These trophy sales have surely whet the appetites of numerous real estate investors around the country. As we continue to see property values improve during 2014, don’t be surprised if there are even bigger deals struck in the next 11 months.

January 11, 2014

Orlando Reigns Supreme in All-Cash Home Sales

Florida Housing Market Regains National ProminenceOrlando’s housing market certainly had an interesting year during 2013. Home values jumped up significantly (none better than what was recorded in several of these distressed Orlando area neighborhoods) but what does this mean for all cash sales this year? A new report suggests that cash buyers are still hot for the Orlando housing market despite steeper prices.

The cities of Orlando and Tampa ranked in the country’s top metro areas for all-cash acquisitions at the end of 2013. RealtyTrac’s annual report showed that more than 50 percent of the home sales in these areas were done entirely in cash.

Florida Leads Nation in All-Cash Sales for 2013

On a state level, Florida beat out all other competitors in all-cash home sales with 63 percent of deals finalized in cash at the end of 2013. Nevada came in second place with 51 percent.

The vice president of RealtyTrac, Daren Blomquist, weighed in with his thoughts on the report. “We would have been expecting that pool of buyers to diminish,” remarked Blomquist. “But I think there’s just a very high appetite for these properties, even at the higher prices.”

Average home values were closing in on $175,000 (28 percent higher than last year) in the Orlando area. Home prices across the country increased by about 7 percent during 2013.

Cash Buyers Unfazed by Increased Home Prices

Levinrad's Golden Rules for Flipping Homes in FLThe relatively steep jump in home values seems to have not discouraged the institutional buyers in the area. In fact, they only upped their investment in Central Florida’s housing markets. The report shows that:

  • Institutional investors comprised 12 percent of Orlando real estate buyers at the start of 2013.
  • Institutional investors now account for 17 percent and growing.

So what’s the draw for these real estate investors? The pricier stock in Central Florida is still much more affordable than other competing markets that are hampered by a large concentration of distressed properties. The report showed a comparison of home prices in Las Vegas and Phoenix to Orlando:

  • Average selling price in Las Vegas was $20,000 higher
  • Average selling price in Phoenix was $40,000 higher

What Keeps Them Coming Back?

Blomquist also listed one other key reason that investors favor Orlando: future rental properties. They’ll continue buying property in Central Florida because they plan on renting many of them out. This way, they aren’t going to rely solely on the profits from re-sales.

Orlando Investors also pay a premium for foreclosed properties. Home buyers in other parts of the country paid 40 percent less on average for a foreclosed residence compared to traditionally listed properties. Home buyers in Florida were paying 31 percent less on average for these distressed listings.

That number was even smaller in the Orlando housing market– only a reported 19 percent discount on asking price. As Blomquist accurately points out, this is strong evidence that investors are actively competing for distressed listings.

January 8, 2014

Orlando Home Prices Expected to See Slower Growth in 2014

Florida Housing Market Expected to be No. 1Real estate experts have predicted that home values will continue to increase this year– at a significantly slower pace compared to 2013. The 28 percent jump in home prices last year looks like it is going to be a tough act to follow. Economists forecast a 4 to 6 percent increase for 2014.

The Chief Economist for Freddie Mac, Frank Nothaft, was one of the influential attendees that spoke at the annual Florida Realtors summit. He told the audience that he expects home values to grow at a more subdued pace compared to 2013.

This isn’t necessarily a bad real estate signal. The Florida housing market has a very positive outlook by all accounts for this year. Here are just some of the important specs for this year:

  • Increased mortgage rates
  • Stable home sales
  • Higher average sales prices

(A few experts predict that the rate of homeownership will drop to a 20-year low in 2014)

The prices for single family households in metropolitan Orlando outperformed the Florida market average last year. In particular, several distressed Orlando markets made a big comeback. The median home price for Central Florida peaked out near 175,000 (28 percent higher than last year).

John Tuccillo – Florida Realtors Chief Economist – believes that Orlando home values will return to their historic level this year. They only need to increase by another 5 percent this year.

(Fun Fact: Orlando home prices dipped by half in 2007 following housing bubble burst.)

Reasons for Reduced Growth

Five Advantages to Buying Over RentingUniversity of Central Florida economics professor Sean Snaith suggested that uncertainty around unemployment and the Affordable Health Care Act could scare potential buyers away from taking on a mortgage. However, he does predict that Florida housing construction projects will be successful over the next few years.

Slim employment opportunity will have a significant impact on the performance of the real estate market this year. “People who want full-time jobs but can’t find them and have to work part time add to the underemployment rate of 13.5 percent. That’s a large share of the market that doesn’t have the resources to buy.” explains Nothaft.

Nationwide Housing Predictions for 2014

Florida is not the only market with reduced growth projected for this year. Average home values across the country have a deflated projected growth rate compared to last year. Zillow’s Chief Economist, Stan Humphries, predicts a 3 percent hike in average prices compared to 5 percent last year.

This economist also agrees with the prediction that homeownership will dip below 65 percent. Unrealistic home appreciation expectations combined with less strenuous lending standards has produced a level of homeownership that isn’t maintainable for the long run.

Homebuyers could find that getting a mortgage will be easier– except the rate will be higher. 30 year mortgage rates are expected to surpass 5 percent during 2014. Those rates ranged between 3 and 4 percent (half of the historic level) for most of last year.

As mortgage-refinance market continues to lose value this year, lenders will most likely get more aggressive when it comes to locking down first-time buyers in the home loan market. Rates are expected to continue their climb back to historic averages.