Saturday, June 11, 2016

2000 Sq.Ft...More or Less

There was an interesting comment from an anonymous reader directed at my  last post. It concerned the condo that I mentioned selling for $318 per square foot. The buyer actually paid $343 per square foot  because of an incorrect MLS listing but may not know that. This particular unit has been listed and relisted many times over the years. Looking back at the previous expired listings I can find the advertised living square footage as 2011, 2170 or 2400 square feet, all from the same listing broker. The living square footage according to the tax appraiser is 2011 with  total square footage at 2400 including balconies. I have no idea where the 2170 size came from. Considering all the errors in previous listings I think it's probably innocent despite the suspicious fact that the errors have always been in the seller's favor.

There are Cocoa Beach condo listings on Zillow right now with inflated sizes that I suspect are outright attempts at deception by the owners. I would advise all buyers and agents to begin checking the advertised size against the tax records. A 159 square foot error doesn't sound like much but at $318 per square foot we're talking over $50,000.

Another relatively common error on the MLS is condo fees. Often an agent or her assistant entering a new listing will look at previous listings for the monthly condo fee amount if they don't already know it. If wrong, the error may go unnoticed. Same thing happens with long-listed units. The monthly fees may have changed since the original listing without getting updated. As always, it is up to a buyer and her agent to verify the data being presented to them. The MLS is only as good as the data being input. How about a FSBO? Same deal except probably even more important to question everything. Ultimately, it's a buyer's responsibility to verify everything.

There were 72 condo units closed in the month of May in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral. A third of those sold in two weeks or less. Slightly more than half sold for cash. Inventory this morning is at 277 units with 25 of those in buildings yet to break ground. Those looking for a good, fairly-priced property don't have a lot to choose from. We are not seeing the same flow of new listings coming on the market that we were seeing earlier this year which is typical. For those hoping to purchase, this means, as always, know what you're looking for, know what a fair price range is and be prepared to offer quickly when you find it.

I witnessed another crazy closing yesterday. The buyer's lender botched the closing disclosure multiple times with inaccurate numbers and finally got it right just as everyone involved was ready to walk away from the deal. Buyers choose your lender carefully. Experience with the local market and property type is worth far more than the lowest promised rate. The guy in the call center in Texas who promises you a rate three basis points less than the local guy may have no idea what his underwriter is going to require for a Florida condo loan and may find out too late to close on time or at all. Rate means nothing if he can't close the deal.

After a week of daily rain, you can almost watch the grass and plants growing. The annoying sound of Florida's favorite tools, the leaf blower and weed eater, are rarely absent during daylight hours this time of year.

"To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater."  ___Bono


  1. I agree with your statement on Zillow listing sq. feet, often not matching actual listings. I have found through comparing the county tax records on line that often (at least for a house) the total sq. footage listed on Zillow will include the garage so a higher number shows than actual livable space. With condos I wonder if they include the balcony in their sq. footage? Frustrating non the less.

  2. What's your take on the ocean front Cocoa Beach condos which have been on the market for 3+ months?

  3. There are 97 existing units for sale right now in oceanfront buildings. Over half of them have been for sale for more than 3 months. Considering we've been selling about 70 units a month for several months now, the evidence suggests that these 51 units (plus some of the newer listings) are overpriced. With our depleted inventory it has become common to initially go for the moonshot with an obviously overpriced first stab. Problem is many of these sellers forget that it was a moonshot and become married to their optimistic number. Reality usually wins eventually with the exception of the sellers in Michelina.