Monday, April 28, 2008

I'd like to sell your condo, but ...

Wonder why your condo hasn't sold? Here is my list of top five reasons you're not getting more showings.

Reason Number 5: Poor MLS photos. If a condo has a good view, there had better be a photo of the actual view in the MLS listing. Absence of a photo of the view suggests that there isn't one. Many condo buildings have units with views and units without a view. Unless the buyer's agent knows the layout of the building, she may skip over your listing because your listing agent didn't include a photo of your view. Also, low-res cell phone photos can make your condo look just bad enough to not make the cut.

Reason Number 4: "Appointment required." With many properties vacant and easy to show, having to pin down a time that is convenient for the tenant or owner to show the property is just enough of an impediment to kill some showings especially if there are similar properties that are vacant.

Reason Number 3: Buyer's agent can't get showing instructions. Try calling your listing office next Sunday morning or even next Saturday morning. These are the two busiest showing days and also, remarkably, the days that many real estate offices choose to open late or not at all. I often have last minute additions on showing days and find myself calling Saturday and Sunday mornings for showing instructions from the listing offices. If the office is closed and your listing agent didn't include his cell phone number in the listing, 'Voila', no showing.

Reason Number 2: Keys in listing office. If your listing office chooses to keep the keys in the listing office rather than spending the money on a lockbox, the time required to pick up and drop off keys may be just enough of a hindrance to push your neighbor's property with a lockbox into your slot on the showing list. I know that sometimes it is impossible to place a lockbox but some offices never provide one.


Reason Number 1 your condo is not getting any showings: Your price is too high. None of the juicy rationalizations that you keep repeating to yourself matter to the buyers. Our market is in decline and buyers demand (rightfully) a price at least at the last comparable sale or lower. If you're not priced close to that number, you're not in consideration.

On a side note; if you're priced above $500,000, don't expect many showings no matter what you do. Only eight units above $500,000 have closed since January 1. You had better be priced aggressively and do everything right if you're competing in that market segment.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
__________________Rudyard Kipling

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Great Expectations

A few notable recent deals from the MLS;

The view over the islands above is from a top floor (4th), direct river, 1308 sq.ft. 2/2 Harbor Isles with private garage that was stolen for $210,000.

How about a new 3rd floor northeast corner at Michelina in north Cocoa Beach, 3/3 with 2184 sq.ft. This particular unit has been on and off the MLS for over 900 days and was re-listed most recently in February 2007 with an asking price of $1.25 million. Closed a few weeks ago for $598,500, less than half the asking price of just one year ago.

A 2/1 furnished Diplomat unit that had been on the market for 647 days starting at $229,500 asking price finally sold for $112,000, another 50% plus haircut.

A furnished 2/2 Cape Shores sold in just 24 days for $115,000 after being listed for $121,900. Price it right and it will sell quickly.

A 902 sq.ft., upgraded, 1/1 ground floor, direct ocean, fully furnished unit at Windward East sold for $155,000. Folks, that was a deal. Came with a garage.

MLS inventory April 23, 2008 Cocoa Beach & Cape Canaveral

Condominiums_______823 - 106 sold since New Year's Day
over $500,000________116 - 8 sold since New Year's Day
Single family homes____135
over $500,000________50

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
_________________Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Your Money or Your Life

An uncrowded recent morning in Cocoa Beach.

[ I'd like to thank Doug Heddings of the True Gotham real estate blog for the kind words and for selecting this post for this week's carnival of real estate. ]

One afternoon this weekend, I selected a Gurkha Legend Aniversario Perfecto from the humidor and sat down on my front deck to unwind and enjoy the show of the approaching thunderstorm. My mind, as it often does, wandered to considerations of the dynamics of our current market. I had to pull my rocking chair back from the edge of the upper deck overhang as the rain moved in. The clouds, as they moved overhead, defined the edge of the front like overlapping watercolors. As the thunder boomed, the echoes rolled from south Cocoa Beach off into the distance to the northwest. The osprey across the street continued to hunt for fish, seemingly oblivious to the rain as it swept in across the Banana River from the west. At that moment, I realized how much the nature of my life in Cocoa Beach is directly related to the exact spot where I live. My experience of the storm would have been completely different in another place or might not have happened at all. I chose the location of my home very carefully. I knew before I bought, exactly where I wanted to live and why. For buyers of property in Cocoa Beach, location may be more important than they think. Thinking more about this I realized that buyers' motivations fall into two main groups; investment and lifestyle, or, more simply, their money or their life.

For buyers who plan to live in their property, location is of maximum importance. For those who plan occasional personal use, location is still important. Those who are buying strictly for investment have the luxury of pursuing the absolute best deal they can find across all areas. If you're looking to buy it would be a rewarding exercise to decide where you fit in the gradient between exclusive personal use and pure investment and then to target your areas accordingly. Your income in an oceanfront condo will be higher in a weekly rental building but your personal time in a weekly rental building may be less of a reflective beach experience than you were hoping for. If you want action when you're in town, you probably don't want to own in my part of the beach. Likewise, if you want serenity, the view over a beach crowded with people may be less attractive to you. Talk to your agent about the differences in the areas where you are looking and do your best to define the things that will be important to you when you own your place in this special part of Florida. You can probably find a deal in the area or building that fits you best but it may cost you a little more for the perfect spot. Make your choices carefully. It's your money or your life or an acceptable compromise of the two.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined."
Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The 70% Coincidence

The human body is about 70% water. 70% of the earth's surface is covered by water and, remarkably, Cocoa Beach, according to Wikipedia, is about 70% water with over 10 square miles of water. For a waterman like myself, this makes for a very big playground. The aerial shot below demonstrates the land/water makeup of this special little town by the sea. As I write this on April 2nd, the temp is 72 degrees with a light east wind and sparse cotton ball clouds with a decent head-high ground swell that has been hanging around for going on two weeks now. The locals are very content these days.

"Coincidence is logical."
Johan Cruijff

One last piece of useless 70% info; Exactly 70% of the 82 condos sold so far in 2008 in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral sold for less than $256,000. There has been a lot of activity in the last couple of weeks. I'll report on notable closed sales and deals in my next post. Welcome to the new readers in Sweden, South Korea, Japan, Java, Belize, U.A.E., Panama and Columbia. I'd love to hear from you and why you're reading this blog about Cocoa Beach.

"Surfing, alone among sports, generates laughter at it's very suggestion, and this is because it turns not a skill into an art, but an inexplicable and useless urge into a vital way of life."
Matt Warshaw