Saturday, July 27, 2013

Change Has Come

That loud whining sound in the air this last week was the sound of hundreds of distraught Realtors in Brevard County moaning and complaining about our powerful new MLS system. The majority, however, have embraced the new system and are working through the transition despite having to learn new software on the fly while conducting normal business. It has been challenging. Consumers going to will now be directed into the new system. Don't despair on the first visit. It's fairly intuitive but if anyone has questions I'll do my best to assist. One powerful new feature is a custom portal into the MLS where favorite listings and searches can be saved. If anyone would like one, send me an email and I'll set it up for you.

Our stats aren't quite as reliable this first week as many listing agents are still trying to figure out how to add and close listings so I'll report on what is showing this morning. According to FlexMLS we have had a total of 47 closed condos and townhomes in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral so far in July 2013. Six sold for less than $100,000 and seven closed for more than $300,000. The two highest sales so far were both at the Meridian oceanfront in Cocoa Beach. These 2072 square foot 3/3 units closed for $650,000 and $575,000.

Two of the 47 were short sales. One was a 3/2 villa with 1507 square feet and 2 car garage at Bayport Cape Canaveral that sold for $205,000. The other was a lakefront Harbor Isles 2/2 in south Cocoa Beach that sold for $130,000.

Seven of the sales were bank-owned. They included;
A 2nd floor 3/2 direct ocean Coral Sands w/garage in south Cocoa Beach for $270,000.
A 2nd floor Pier Resort 3/3 with 1900 square feet and garage for $175,000.
An Ocean Woods Cape Canaveral 2/2 with open parking for $115,000.
A 2nd floor north bldg. Twin Towers 2 bed 1.5 bath w/carport for $104,900.
A 4th floor 900 sf Fountain Cove 1/1 w/garage for $92,000.
A 2nd floor Cape Shores 2/2 with 1091 sf and open parking for $79,900.
A Ridgeview 2/1 w/carport and 756 sf on south Brevard Ave. Cocoa Beach for $53,900.

Our inventory is at an all-time low with a total of 250 active for sale condos in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral showing right now, 24 of those distressed. There may be a few new listings that haven't shown up yet as listing agents are struggling trying to figure out the new system but the trend before the change-over was shrinking numbers so I suspect that the real number is no more than 260. Compare this to almost 1200 listings in late 2006 and early 2007. Construction activity of single family homes is active right now in Cocoa Beach with several new homes slated to start shortly in addition to those currently being built.

Lobster mini-season this past week was successful with some of the biggest shallow water bugs caught in recent years. Those pictured were caught from a beach dive in Indian River County. Tarpon and other big predators are thick around the huge pogie schools off Cocoa Beach right now. They are easily reached by small boats from the Port or by kayakers from the beach in our calm summer ocean conditions. Remember the sunscreen and stay hydrated. Tropical Storm Dorian is approaching from the east but not expected to bring much impact to us. That could change.

"Why would I lay up now that I'm rich? I didn't do that when I was poor." __Angel Cabrera

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Better Best and Highest

The seemingly missing comma in the title is not an error. Read the last part of this post and it will become clearer.

Halfway through July and property sales in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral are ticking along at a heated rate. Of the 26 reported closed condos and townhomes so far in the month two went for more than a half million, both at Michelina, $600,000 and $575,000. Another high sale was a 2nd floor northeast corner at Villa Verde in the same stack as the collapsed 4th floor balcony in April. It has 3 bedrooms 3.5 baths, 2512 square feet, 2 car garage and closed for $395,000.

Shorewood in Cape Canaveral has been active with three closed sales of non-direct units at prices between $202,000 and $245,000.

One of the last bank-owned Pier Resort units closed for $170,000. Side peek of the ocean with three bedrooms, three baths and 1900 square feet.

A 2nd floor Diplomat 2/1, 750 sf with mild updating sold furnished for $116,000.

Two Bayport villas in Cape Canaveral closed for $205,000 and $240,000, 1507 and 1686 square feet.

A 2nd floor Royale Towers south facing C building 2/2 closed for $202,000.

The highest closing price since 2005 at Beachwalk on the grand canal on Banana River Drive in Cocoa Beach happened this month. A 2nd floor 2/2 closed for $190,000. It had a boat slip with lift and a garage. Several direct water units similar to this have sold for under $150,000 in the last three years. A ground floor direct with boat lift closed in January this year for $128,500. This same story is being repeated at most complexes as prices are ratcheting up with the evaporation of distressed inventory.

Let's revisit multiple offers. I had an interesting encounter with a buyer last week who thought multiple offers should include multiple chances to do "best and highest". It doesn't work that way. Typically in our market, if more than one offer is received at the same time, the listing agent will go back to all buyers' agents and give them the opportunity to bring their best and highest offer to be presented to the seller at the same time. This is risky for the seller as the pervasive distrust of real estate agents means that they run the risk of losing one or all of the buyers. I was involved in one situation where both buyers withdrew their offer when asked to bring their best and highest. The condo ultimately sold to an entirely different person for less than at least one of the first buyers was willing to pay. If your buyer's agent tells you that the listing agent has called for "best and highest" because there are multiple offers, you have three choices.
  1. keep your offer exactly the same in hopes of being the winning offer
  2. increase your price and/or better your terms in hopes of being the winning offer
  3. withdraw your offer because you "don't play games' or believe the agent/s are lying to you
The seller also has choices of how they want to handle the multiple offers once received.
  1. They can accept the offer they like best and proceed to closing. Note that the best offer may not necessarily be the highest. Closing date and terms may win out over price.
  2. They can choose not to respond to any of the offers if none are good enough.
  3. They can counter one or several of the offers. If none of the prices are acceptable to them they can offer the same counter-price to all and accept the first one (if any) to respond. Or, if one is clearly better than the others, they may choose to counter that one alone with a change of price and/or terms.
How a buyer responds when asked for his best and highest offer is entirely his decision. How a seller responds to the offers she receives is entirely her decision. The buyer I mentioned who was upset with the process was bothered that he didn't get a second chance to better his "best and highest" when someone else made a more attractive offer. The seller chose to negotiate with the offer that she preferred. That offer was apparently good enough that she saw no upside to re-approaching the lesser offer. It was her decision to make. Also note that in the event of multiple offers, a seller doesn't have to call for best and highest. She has the right to choose the offer she likes best without giving anyone a chance to do best and highest.

At this stage of our market, multiple offers are the name of the game for any priced-right listing so be prepared for this if you're offering and don't let it deter you from participation. You decide what price and terms you're comfortable with and then hope for the best. You might win just by staying in the game without changing the offer at all. If you don't trust your agent enough to be honest with him, find another one.

"All journalism is advocacy journalism. No matter how it's presented,
every report by every reporter advances someone's point of view."
_______Matt Taibbi

Larry Walker -  - 321.917.5786

Friday, July 05, 2013

How Not to Sell a Condo

Those who've read this blog for any length of time know from my dozens of tales of misbehavior that a good listing agent is more than a Glamor Shot and a snazzy blazer. As a buyer's agent I find myself across the table from plenty of very competent and able listing agents, some of them many times every year. I appreciate them making my job enjoyable and as snag-free as the system will allow. Unfortunately, I am sometimes forced to deal with listing agents who occupy a much lower position on the competency scale.

A listing agent is employed by property owners to sell property. Once hired, if the listing agent is not doing her job well, there is not a good way for the seller to know that. If there's a sign in the yard and the listing is on the internet she's doing her job. Right? Maybe not. No offers? Maybe the market is just not interested in your property OR, maybe, the agent doesn't answer her phone or respond to messages or emails. No showings? Same answer. How's a seller to know? Here's a timeline of a recent encounter with a slacker of a listing agent whose listing my client tried to purchase. Note that often sellers may be hard to reach and responses can take days. Good listing agents will relay the reason for the delay and try to keep the prospective buyer's agent informed along the way in hopes of eventually putting a deal together. That didn't happen this time. This is how NOT to handle an offer.

June 15 - mid-morning - I call the listing agent of a half-million dollar oceanfront condo to ask some questions about her listing. My clients who I've shown the unit to twice are interested in making an offer. The recently sold comparable units don't support the asking price so I'm making the call to discuss the unit and find out if there are non-public comps or details about the unit that would justify the higher asking price. She doesn't answer and I leave a message. There is still no call-back by late afternoon so we go ahead and prepare an offer based on our research of the nearby, recently sold units of similar size and condition. The comps suggest a price of about 90% of the asking and we offer accordingly. I email the offer to her and ask for confirmation of receipt.

June 16 - early morning - I have received no call-back or email so I email again asking if she has received the offer. Living here in the home of manned space flight, the practice of redundancy is firmly ingrained in most of us so I fax another copy to her office, just in case. No response so I call again at 9:30 and leave a message that I had emailed and faxed the offer. She calls late afternoon to confirm her receipt and said she'd present our offer to the seller that night and get back to me.

June 17 - no communication from agent

June 18 - she calls and apologizes for the delay and says she will get the offer to the seller "today". I don't mention that she told me two days ago that she was presenting then.

June 19 - I call and ask if the seller had a response to our offer. She says she is getting with him at 9:30 AM "today" (not the other "today" as promised) and will have a response for us shortly after. Nothing from her after that.

June 20 - Still no word from the agent but I have heard about another unit not yet listed on the MLS that seems perfect for these clients. I make arrangements to see the other unit.

June 21 - I email our MIA listing agent again asking if any word. No response.

June 22 - We look at the unlisted unit, love it, make an offer and reach agreement that afternoon. No contact from the first agent about our now seven day old offer all day.

June 23 - Still no word from the listing agent.

June 24 - 11AM email from the listing agent saying the seller has countered our offer from nine days ago and encourages me to have my clients respond to his counter. I let her know that we have another unit under contract and thank her for her tireless efforts.

Think this is uncommon? Think again. Choose your listing agent carefully. For the record, so no innocent Cocoa Beach listing agents are suspected, this was an agent from further south who has no listings in our two cities, thankfully. Oh, and for the sellers of the three Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral condos this morning that are listed by Orlando brokers and appear only in the Orlando MLS and not on the local MLS, good luck finding a buyer. Most of the local buyer's agents aren't even aware that your units are for sale.

Well I guess it ain't easy doing nothing at all oh yeah
But hey man free rides just don't come along every day
____The Offspring