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Debra McAlister-Brown's Blog

Selling the Lifestyle of Southwest Florida

By Debra McAlister-Brown, P.A. | Agent in Estero, FL
  • Selling your home without a real estate agent can be tricky

    Posted Under: Home Selling, Foreclosure, Investment Properties  |  December 19, 2013 6:26 AM  |  1,045 views  |  No comments

    Selling your home without a real estate agent can be tricky

    In today’s complex housing market, successfully peddling your house often involves a lot more than putting up a sign in your yard and posting information online.



    Knowledge and expertise

    Although you can teach yourself how to do any number of things, like build a website or fix your car, it takes time to learn any complicated task well. That’s why you hire a professional when you need great results, right?

    To help take your house from “selling” to “sold” without headaches, delays and costly mishaps, you might want to consider entrusting this big transaction to a qualified real estate professional.


    Here’s what a professional agent can do for you:

    ·       Recommend a competitive listing price

    ·       Explain the current market’s condition

    ·       Interpret comparable selling values

    ·       Understand purchase offers and contracts

    ·       Help navigate the intricacies of the process

    ·       Help stage the home for top buyer appeal

    ·       Market your home with a variety of sophisticated tools

    and methods

    ·       Network your listing with other professionals

    ·       Show the home during a range of times

    ·       Skillfully articulate the home’s advantages during open


    ·       Handle high volumes of paperwork

    ·       Negotiate an optimal selling price for you



  • Pocket Listings - Caution

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Estero, Foreclosure in Estero, Investment Properties in Estero  |  December 19, 2013 5:00 AM  |  734 views  |  1 comment

    The term “pocket listings” has been cropping up here and there in real estate publications and conversations. If you are buying or selling in today’s market, you need to know what a pocket listing is—and your agent needs to know too. 

    Most of the time when a property comes on the market, the listing agent registers it with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This is the primary marketing tool for properties, where online sites such as Trulia and Zillow get their information and where agents get property information as well. 

    Occasionally, however, a property will not be posted on the MLS. These properties are known as pocket listings. These are not to be confused with properties that have not yet come on the market that agents may be aware of. 

    The general consensus among agents is that pocket listings aren’t a great idea. Sellers could miss out on getting their property bid up, while buyers who are well qualified and ready to purchase may not be made aware of a home that fits all their requirements. However, according to industry experts, pocket listings are on the rise. So how do you ensure you approach them the right way? 

    If you’re a seller, you’re more likely to get a competitive price for your home if it’s listed on the local MLS. Every real estate agent who subscribes to the MLS will be able to access it and show it to every buyer they have. But some sellers don’t want dozens of people traipsing through their homes, or have special attachments to their property and are looking for a certain type of buyer. They may want their trusted agent to handpick a few potential homebuyers for whom the property is ideally matched and simply show it to them. 

    Buyers will need to express to their agents that they know pocket listings exist. If you and your agent go over the specifics and parameters of the home you’re looking to buy, from size to price to location to amenities, and you are certain your agent is very clear about what you want and where you’re willing to compromise, you should feel confident asking them to keep you apprised of any pocket listings they have that match your needs. Ultimately, it’s up to their discretion—and possibly the seller’s—whether you are shown a home that is a pocket listing. 

    Pocket listings are generally not an ideal way to market a home and may mean that buyers miss out on potential gems. Sellers are strongly urged to list their homes on the MLS and to use all marketing channels possible to properly showcase their homes and ensure they get fair market value for the property. That said, buyers should be aware that these pocket inventories exist and should have a conversation with their agents as they enter the homeshopping process. By doing so, each side has a better chance of getting what they want. 
    December 2013
  • Florida Supreme Court issues HOA ruling

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Estero, Home Selling in Estero, Foreclosure in Estero  |  December 16, 2013 2:34 PM  |  870 views  |  No comments

    Florida Supreme Court issues HOA ruling

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Dec. 16, 2013 – A Florida Supreme Court ruling applies to developers of home communities. The core issue focused on the responsibility a developer has down the road if problems arise in “essential services,” such as roads or sewer systems.

    The Lakeview Homeowners Association in Central Florida alleged construction defects in the development’s subdivision against Maronda Homes after the homeowners association (HOA) assumed control. It alleged a “breach of the implied warranties of fitness and merchantability in the residential construction context.” The specific complaint: bad stormwater drainage that flooded driveways along with other problems.

    The HOA filed a lawsuit claiming the problems were latent and could not easily be discovered by homebuyers.

    Maronda argued that “common law implied warranties of fitness and merchantability” don’t include a community’s infrastructure – items beyond the home itself. If so, the builder said, it wasn’t responsible for things like retention ponds, private roads, underground pipes, etc.

    A trial court agreed with Maronda; an appeal court did not. That took the case to the Florida Supreme Court.

    The key issue before the Supreme Court was whether it should extend buyer protections beyond a home itself via an implied warranty. In the end, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the appeal court decision that Maronda did have some responsibility for community infrastructure.

    For homebuyers, this means an “implied warranty of fitness and merchantability” now extends beyond their new home in some cases to the surrounding roads, sewer systems, and other infrastructure built by the community developer.

    Source: The Destin Log, Dec. 13, 2013; William L. Martin III-- 


    Posted Under: Home Buying in Estero, Foreclosure in Estero, Investment Properties in Estero  |  December 12, 2013 5:59 AM  |  747 views  |  No comments

    Foreclosures may have dropped but we have other properties available...


    Foreclosure filings in November fell in two Southwest Florida counties, but increased in one, according to a report released today by RealtyTrac. In Lee County, 549 actions were filed, a 14.49 percent decrease over last month and 39.14 percent down from November 2012. Collier County filings totaled 256, down 39.19 percent from October and 49 percent from November 2012. In Charlotte County, 263 properties received foreclosure actions, jumping 48.59 percent from last month and 6.48 percent over November 2012. Lee County foreclosures ranked 41st in the state, Collier came in 48th and Charlotte finished 14th.


    Information provided by Gulfshore Business Daily to To subscribe, visit our Web site at www.gulfshorebusiness.com

  • Looking To Purchase A Condominium?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Naples, Foreclosure in Naples, Investment Properties in Naples  |  December 10, 2013 1:42 PM  |  740 views  |  No comments

    e aware of what you own - Ownership of condominiums involves title to the space defined by the condo unit and a share in the common element that includes amenities and the land. Owners are responsible for their unit's monthly costs and a pro-rated share of maintenance costs for every other part of the condominium complex.

    Condo buyers should "seek out other owners (preferably long-time owners), board members, or the manager and ask the tough questions" so they can learn the potential weaknesses and future expenses. Carefully review financial statements, upcoming assessments, and recent Board Meeting minutes to discover significant details like pending fee increases.

    Learn what percentages of the units are owner-occupied. Mortgage lenders may not approve or give favorable financing to an association that has more than a certain percentage of investor-owned units. The buyer's loan could either be denied, or the interest rate or LTV ration could be much higher.


    Check insurance documents for flood and windstorm coverage, and whether or not the premiums are financed or paid in full. Inadequate insurance could be costly, and not having enough reserves to pay the insurance premiums can also be very costly.


    "In this market, the buyer needs to make fast decisions and make an offer, often at full asking price or over "If they wait, they miss the opportunity and next month the same property is at a higher price."

    "A buyer sees a pre-construction property and is thinking about it. Price today is $1.5 M for the 15th floor. Next month, the 15th floor is sold and the 10th floor is for sale for $1.5M. Our market is increasing so rapidly, that if a buyer can hold a unit for 15 days with the rescission period, it is a better decision to do so (supply & demand).

    The most repeated mistake buyers make: "Not buying waterfront and water view when they can afford it. Waterfront and water view units are always easier to sell and always appreciate better in the long run. Buy what is rare and unique such as waterfront or water view."

  • "What can I afford to spend on housing each month?"

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Estero, Foreclosure in Estero, Investment Properties in Estero  |  December 10, 2013 1:18 PM  |  524 views  |  No comments

    Housing payments are relentless. Month-after-month, monies are due -- no matter what. When you make your housing budget, therefore, think in terms of monthly obligations.

    "What can I afford to spend on housing each month?"

    Looking for a Mortgage Preapproval?

    Apply online at: www.mtgpro.biz

    As a homebuyer, it’s the most important question you can ask yourself. And ranges won’t do, either. Find your specific number.

    Once you know your monthly budget, determining whether a home is “affordable” for you is a matter of working some basic mortgage math. You’ll need a mortgage calculator for this step.

    First, sum the following three figures:

    1. The home’s annual real estate tax bill, divided by 12.

    2. The home’s estimated annual cost to insure, divided by 12.

      Your insurance agent can help determine this number.

    3. The home’s monthly dues, if an association is present.

    Next, subtract this sum from your monthly budget amount and you’re left with your maximum monthly mortgage payment.

    Example: If your budget is $1,500 and the above sum is $400, you have $1,100 left monthly to spend on your mortgage.

    This next step is tricky.

    Using your mortgage calculator, enter your maximum payment amount (e.g., $1,100), your loan’s expected term (e.g., 30 years), and your expected interest rate (e.g., 4.750%).

    Then, have the calculator solve for “loan size”, add to that figure your expected downpayment amount, and -- voila -- you’ve

    found the maximum price you can pay for a given home while still remaining within your budget. 

    Debra McAlister-Brown, P.A.

    Florida Home Realty

    Broker / Associate

    Luxury Homes Consultant

    Multi-Million Dollar Real Estate Producer



    1-888-943-4452 - Fax

    Looking for a Mortgage Preapproval?

    Apply online at: www.mtgpro.biz

  • What can you buy with a dollar today? Not much.

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Estero, Foreclosure in Estero, Investment Properties in Estero  |  December 9, 2013 8:02 AM  |  472 views  |  No comments

    What can you buy with a dollar today? Not much. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, $1 in 1980 had the same purchasing power as $2.84 has in 2013. One dollar could buy you a cup of coffee in 1980, but in 2013 you need $2.84 to get that same cup; hence, your purchasing power has decreased. Many of us remember when gas cost less than two dollars a gallon or heard our parents talk about buying a home for $20,000. Inflation makes items cost more and lessens purchasing power.

    To relate this to real estate, consider this scenario: When interest rates are at 5 percent, a homebuyer can pay around $1,600 per month on a $300,000 loan; but at 6 percent, $1,600 per month gets him a loan of $270,000. 

    Remember the couple who sat on the fence too long ended up shopping in the $270,000 price range rather than the $300,000 range and had to settle for two bedrooms rather than three. Using real-life experiences, you’ll connect to your clients and help them understand better how changes in purchasing power directly affect them. 

    There’s no way to predict precisely how prices and inflation will change over the next six months, or year, or five years. What we do know is that mortgage interest rates are still at historic lows; that home prices are still incredibly affordable, but slowly rising; and that inventories have increased in most parts of the country, all factors which make now the right time to buy a new home.
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