The only opinion that really matters is how much will a Buyer pay

I had a customer that wanted to sell their home.  Before I go to any listing appointment or even speak to someone about selling their home, I do my homework.  I want a nCaptureon-biased opinion on what I think their home is worth.  I do my numbers according to what has “recently” sold and what is going on in the market.  Let me show you what I mean…

This is from today, November 9, 2015 and goes back 7 days.  As you can see we have 746 NEW listings in 7 days.  Out of that, only 419 SOLD.  There were more price DECREASES than there were SOLD properties and very few price INCREASES.  The good news is there are 436 PENDING properties and 249 ACTIVE WITH CONTRACT.  The difference in pending means all of the contingencies have been met and we are waiting to close.  Active with a contract means we have a contract, however, we still have to do all of the inspections and get to bank approval on financing to meet all of the contingencies.  The bad news is 165 homes went back on the market this week.  That means they did not meet their contingencies or that they buyer simply changed their mind.  And this week 113 properties were WITHDRAWN and 41 are TEMPORARILY OF THE MARKET.  Usually temporarily of market properties are because of home improvements, rentals or you have company in town.  Withdrawn means it has been taken of the market.

My suggestion, when you are thinking about selling your home, look for homes in your neighborhood that have recently sold.  Every neighborhood has that one house that sold for too much money so don’t bank on that.  Figure out the average and then talk to a Realtor.

As a listing agent, I always ask my sellers if they would like to preview a few houses in their neighappraisal-cartoonborhood.  This would be very wise to do because you need to know about your competition and everyone always thinks they have the prettiest baby.    I think this picture is pretty accurate when it comes to yourself.  You lender has the most realistic picture of your home but so does your agent.  Remember, we don’t get paid until your house gets sold and in most cases, we put money out of our pocket to get is sold for you.

So, if you want to get your home sold, talk to your Realtor and then schedule a preview of your neighbors.  It really pays in the long run.

My Favorite Luxury Properties

I was showing properties to a customer last week and they asked me, “what is my favorite property for sale right now in the millions and what is the most expensive property for sale right now?”

I did a little report for them and I thought it would be a nice Blog.  NONE of these are MY listings… just MY favorite luxury properties.


#1  List Price – $14,985,000 5 Bedrooms/6 Full & 2 Half Bath/9 Car Garage Total Sq Ft 22,853  The MOST EXPENSIVE is located on Casey Key which is home to many celebrities from Stephen King, Rosie O’Donnell, and the list goes on. The home has billiard room, two story covered terrace with walk-in stone fireplace, infinity pool, and outdoor living rooms! Master suite has His and Hers baths each with their own large closet, elevator access for all levels.  I don’t think the pictures do this house justice and that is just my opinion or maybe the house is just too grand for pictures.  The Realtor who brings a buyer will make approximately $500K so if you are interested, please, by all means… give me a call.   I work very hard for less that 1% of that $500K.  Imagine how hard I will work for you!  Just kidding, this blog is for fun but seriously… call me!

#2 List Price $8,995,000 4 Bedroom/5 Full & 1 Half Bath/2 Car Garage Total Sq Ft 8,717

Exterior Front

Exterior Front

is not the most expensive but is the most authentic Florida home.  It is obvious the whole house has been updated, however, it still has that old Florida Charm.  This hideaway is connected to the mainland by a land bridge and located near downtown Sarasota. The property has a heated in-ground saltwater swimming pool, decorative pond, tennis court, boat dock, detached 2-car garage with a top floor guest apartment. 

Exterior Front

Exterior Front

The Colonial Revival Style home, built in 1941 and sited on the National Register of Historic Places.  Great care has been taken to preserve its historic integrity while incorporating the finest modern luxuries. This is exactly where I would want to live, close to everything and secluded at the same time.   

#3 List Price $9,700,000 6 Bedroom/7 Full & 2 Half Bath/ 4 Car Garage Total sq ft 20,065 is on the mainland in the Ringling Museum area.  This is how you do Real Estate pictures for your seller! getmediaH6SG2TGI

Undergoing a meticulous three-year renovation under the guidance of award winning architect, Peter Bohlin this estate could easily grace the cover of any architectural magazine. His beliefs are brilliantly expressed in this project resulting in the creation of a true design masterpiece; modern clean lines embrace the original Moroccan influences, working in unison with warm materials and finishes, exceptional getmediaY3RYDL00lighting design and a vast amount of glass capturing the mesmerizing bayfront vistas. This exceptional estate comes complete with a self-watering Har-Tru tennis court and four-car garage with two-bedroom guest apartment above.  This part of Sarasota bay is so large it feels like the Gulf itself.  Truly a remarkable home.


#4 List Price $9,800,000 8 Bedrooms/13 Full & 4 Half Baths/5 Car Garage Total Sq Ft 40,074.  Everything about this house is stunning!  The kitchen is state-of-the-art, I could spend my life there…  Nothing is left unfinished.  The floors are stunning, the walls and doors are stunning.  It is a really special home.  Maybe this should have been my number 1.  A must see!

Expansive view of the central great room, taken from the mezzani
Expansive view of the central great room, taken from the mezzani

This uniquely private 102-acre equestrian estate east of Venice, FL is a short hop to the beaches, downtown and yet set apart from the hustle and bustle of the Gulf Coast.  Behind the gorgeous gated entry, the treed quarter-mile drive leads to the 24,000 sq. ft. palazzo bursting with Old World charm.  Centering the home is a massive great room with soaring ceilings. The surrounding mezzanine leads to the five bedrooms, each with a distinct character.

Another view of this fabulous kitchen. Note the TV installed to

Another view of this fabulous kitchen. Note the TV installed to

                                                                           The celebrity chef’s kitchen is outfitted beyond belief! A library, billiard room, theatre/cinebar, gym and much more round out this “most beautiful home in Sarasota.” Also an 8-car A/C garage, covered patio & a dining gazebo between the stunning pool and the tennis court. A fully-equipped guest home features a large 1st floor party area with three bedrooms and two baths upstairs. All that the discriminating buyer might desire!  Even the driveway is stunning.

#5  List Price $11,122,000 6 Bedroom/5 Full & 1 Half Bath/2 Car Garage Total Sq Ft 8,261  The reason I like this house is location.  It is on Sarasota Bay and walking distance to St. Armands, Lido Beach, and Ringling Causeway.  It features rich dagetmediastark wood, Infinity edge pool, Wine room, Elevator, and Private dock/lift.  It is a boaters paradise with a short distance to the gulf.

I am disappointed in the presentation of the listing.  The pictures are amateur at best, there is no virtual tour, the description does this house no justice.  I don’t normally point out faults of other listings but this house is listed at $11,122,000…  Lets make it shine.  Help us help you to sell it!  They are offering a substantial commission on the property which that alone will probably bring a buyer.

What you need to know as an out-of-town buyer in Florida

Buying property in Florida is different from buying in other states.  Especially for the Midwest or I-75 corridor.  I am going to talk about 4 key differences you need to be prepared for.

Who is representing you?  palm-tree-hi

In many states it is assumed that if you are working with a Real Estate Agent, they are looking out for your best interest.  In Florida, that may not be true…

We have 2 types of representation or what we call Agency.  All Agents have certain responsibilities to a customer.  The assumed Agency in Florida is called a Transaction Broker.  Simply put, this agent is representing the transaction and not the buyer or seller.  The other type of agency is a Single Agent and they represent the Buyer or Seller but a Single Agent can not represent both in a transaction.

Here are the key items that a Transaction Broker is responsible for in the relationship with their customer: Deal honestly and fairly, Account for all funds, Use skill, care, and diligence in the transaction, Disclose all known facts that materially affect the value and are not readily observable, present all offers and counters in a timely manner and exercise limited confidentiality unless waived in writing.

Here are the key differences in Single Agent Broker.  A Single Agent must abide by all the same things as a Transaction Agent but additionally they must have loyalty, Confidentiality, Obedience and Full Disclosure to their client.  Simply put, you are working solely for your client and looking out for only their best interest.  A Single Agent can work with either a buyer or a seller but it must be disclosed to all parties because again, in Florida it is assumed you are a Transaction broker.

So discuss what kind of relationship you have with your Agent before you tell them things that may affect the sale such as a divorce, loss of job, price you are willing to take, amount you can finance or anything that you do not want them to repeat to another person.  And if you are working with an Single Agent for goodness sakes… don’t call the other agent listed on a For Sale sign!

Escrow Amounts

When you make an offer on a property, you must put money down as a token of intent that is kept in escrow by Broker or Third Party.  In many states a small deposit is token of intent to buy but be prepared in Florida.  Depending on the price of the home, many buyers will not accept an offer without a substantial deposit.  If you are paying cash, they could request half down.  If you are financing, they could request the full amount of your down payment from 3.5% or 20%.  Sellers in Florida want to know you are serious about their home or they will move on to the next buyer.  Again, it depends on the area and demand for the home you are purchasing but many times buyers are shocked by the demand for down payment in escrow.

Day of Closing

On the day of closing, the seller must be out of the home and home must be swept clean and provide keys to buyer.  If the seller needs to stay longer, then they must discuss that with the buyer.  This is a big surprise for many out-of-town buyers because many states give the seller several months to get out.  Not in Florida… day of closing you must be out and most Florida contracts state that home must be clean.


ok… this really could be a blog in itself.  I did a recent blog on Flood Insurance but Homeowners insurance in Florida is very different than most states.  Your insurance will be between $700 and Thousands… usually the average insurance in Florida is about $1500 per year plus Flood if you need it.  There are many factors that affect your rate and you need to discuss this with your insurance agent.  Your Real Estate Agent should be able to guide you in the right direction but most agents have relationships with insurance agents and work closely together.

I hope this blog is helpful.  If you are relocating, work with an agent that is specializes in relocation.  They should be able to guide you through the changes.

To use a Realtor or Not to use a Realtor

appraisal-cartoonFirst off…  If you are going to use a Real Estate Agent, make sure they are a Realtor.  That means they abide by a certain “Code of Ethics” and are held accountable.

DISCLAIMER!!!  – This blog is not a one-side… use an agent or else… kind of blog.  I will not try to convince you that you are wrong, stupid, dumb, likely-to-mess-it-up and or foolish.  As a Realtor, I find those blogs insulting as it ignores the fact that, in some specific cases, a For Sale By Owner could be the right way to go.

Now, if you are a seller and you are convinced that by not using a Realtor you are going to save 6% on your house and pocket that money, you can stop reading now.  The idea that you actually save the entire commission is not accurate.  Statistics show it is 1 to 1.5% that you might save but we will talk about that later.

The goal of this blog is to identify the real cost of using a Realtor and how to decide if an agent is right for you.

FSBO, What is it?

The FSBO (aka, For Sale By Owner), is a home that is For Sale directly from the owner without the use of a listing agent.  Some FSBO’s will offer a 3% commission to any agent who brings a buyer while others demand that the buyer pays the commission to their agent (this is a far more common practice in the commercial realm and drives the residential agents nuts every time it happens.)

In 99.99999% of the cases, the argument to use or not to use an agent hinges on commission.  If a By Owner can find the buyer, they can save roughly 6% of the gross sales price.  On a $300,000 home, quick math tells us this is $18,000.  If the By Owner pays a cooperating Buyer’s Agent a 3% commission, then they save $9,000.  Neither of these figures are small numbers and when equity in homes has been reduced as much as it has from the heights of 2007/8, it becomes a significant part of the cash generated by the sale (if not all, in many cases.)  The want (or need) to save is powerful and therefore the decision to employ an agent is not to be taken lightly.

A Nod to Historical Trends

First, an important statistic…

Did you know that traditionally, somewhere between 90 and 95% of the homes that are sold involve at least one Realtor?  This percentage may fluctuate somewhat (depending on the market) but has more or less remained within a few percentage points of 90% for a considerable amount of time.  After you remove family sales, inside sales and other non-arms length transactions, that number actually increases.  In 2014, only 4% homes sold in the US were sold directly from seller to buyer without the use of an agent.  That figure is one of the most important facts for the selling public to understand.  Statistically speaking, there is 90% or greater chance that the home you sell will involve the payment of at least 3% of the gross sales price to an agent as compensation.

If there is a 90% (or greater) chance that an owner will be paying at least 3% to a buyer’s agent to sell their home, what about the remaining 3% that would normally be paid to the listing agent?

Agents Inflate Expenses to Justify Commissions

Most times, the articles written by the agent community try to justify their existence to FSBO’s by over-inflating the costs to promote a home…which is not fair.  The web has created a far different landscape for the promotion of anything for sale (homes, cars, boats, furniture, clothes, food, used pinball machine parts, etc…) and Realtors have figure out how to find the places where property can be promoted free (or very inexpensively).  While there are fees in brochure creation, photography, MLS, web portals and other promotional sources, in total, they are relatively cheap and should not be used by the agent community as the reason to list.  Any agent who brags about spending money on their listings is one who won’t be in business very long.

To adequately promote a listing for sale and to reach the necessary people who would likely be interested in purchasing your property, you will need to spend (at least in Sarasota Fl. dollars) anywhere from $300 to maybe $3,000.

  • $300 buys you the cheapest of everything and no real promotion
  • $1,000 buys you decent signage, decent photos, professional brochures, an ad in the paper or two and maybe a little ‘Featured Listing’ status on one of the portals.
  • $3,000 buys you all of the above and a broker open house with food, drone flyover, virtual tour, direct mail and about everything else you can do to promote a home.

In reality, the majority of the expense for any agents is the fixed costs of being in business and the time it takes to do things well…not so much in the expense of carrying listings.

As agents, we have amazing tools (and even more on the way) which will allow us to promote your listing more broadly, more quickly and far less expensively than ever before.  If an agent has spent more than $3000 on  promotional materials and advertising, they have spent too much.  Likewise, if an agent justifies their existence based on spending, call someone else.

The Advice is the Key to Value

Instead of looking at expenses, look at knowledge and the issues at the forefront of our industry.

If you are an owner who is considering ‘FSBO’ as the method of sale, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Do you understand how to combat the effects of Zillow and Trulia on buyer behavior?
  • Do you understand how listings are pushed and syndicated?
  • Do you understand how to interpret feedback?
  • Do you understand the effect of Dodd-Frank, the new disclosure laws as well as RESPA?
  • Can you combat a flawed appraisal?
  • Do you understand the numerous laws which preclude the many actions considered to be discriminatory?

An perhaps most importantly, do you REALLY and TRULY understand what your home is worth?  The irony is, many agents can’t/don’t either…but that is a different article on another day.

The real cost of a Realtor is closer to 1.5-2.5% of the gross sales price.   Knowing this, the accurate question to whether or not to use a Realtor is:  Do you feel that guidance required to navigate the questions listed above, related to both process and market values, should be considered an expense off your bottom line or an investment in both your top and bottom lines?

To me, it is a no-brainer…provided the correct agent is employed to do the job…and that is the key point.  Identifying the population of agents and brokers in your marketplace that impact the net proceeds positively should be your goal (and there are more than 1 in almost every market, so interview several.)

If you do your homework and hire the right agent for the job, the effect on your bottom line will be far positive than if you tried to do it yourself.

* The 6% commission rate is an estimate of commission expenses and is in no way meant to imply that 6% is a mandated policy.

 A special nod to One South Realty Group of Richmond VA for info in this blog.

My Mother, Sallie Mae Barnett Sloan 06/10/1935 – 10/17/2014

Hi Everyone,

So sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  I have been very busy with Real Estate however, sometimes life slows us down no matter what!  I am still here working very hard but I lost my mom right before the holidays and that is something that just takes the wind out of your sails.

age57She was my best friend and someone one showed me how to be independent and always compassionate.  She cared deeply for those she called friends and loved unconditionally all of her family.

She was beautiful, talented, smart, witty, resourceful, and loved to care for people.  But don’t play a game of cards with her unless you are prepared to lose…lol.

She always said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”   I had to cure a lot of things I could have prevented if I would have listen to my mom.  I am listening now mom… all the time.

I love and miss you so very much.

What is a REO vs Short Sale?

As promised, I am going to give you my experiences with Short Sale, REO and owner sales.  Disclosure; every sale is different.  I can only give you my experiences.


Honestly, I think these should be called long sales because they take longer than any other deal to close.  A Short Sale means the owner is short of funds in the sales.  Example:  Seller Sam bought a home and paid $200,000 for his home.  His financial situation has changed and he is no longer able to pay his mortgage.  His home is now only worth $150,000.  If he sells his home, he will be $50,000 short on the money he can give the bank.  Simply put… that is a Short Sale.

Now what does this mean for Buyer Bob?  Make sure your Realtor is familiar with the Short Sale process.  It has been my experience that the process takes a minimum of 3 months to 2 years.  If you find a home you like and it is a Short Sale, be prepared to be patient.  Your Realtor will write up a contract and submit.  It may take weeks or months to get a response on your offer.  If you have the time, this is a great way to go.


This is Real Estate Owned by the bank.  The bank or lender has already gone through the trustee sale and now owns the property.

In most cases, a lender will put a property on the market and allow Residential buyers to place bids for the first 10 days or so.  After the initial period, if they do not have a potential buyer, they will allow investors to make offers on the property.

The seller will hold all offers for a few days and submit at all of them one time to the lender.  There may only be one bid but they will contact you again and ask for your highest and best offer.   Many times a buyer wants the house so much that they will bid higher than list price.  The offer process can take a few weeks but once your offer is accepted, it can go quickly.

Short Sales and REO properties can be a great way to buy a home but you should understand that the down side is they have no knowledge on the history of the home.  Even though most buyers think the best deal is a Short Sale or REO, I find the Owner properties will negotiate with you.  An Owner property will also give you the history of the home your buying.

No matter which way you go you always have to put your I before you E, intelligence before your emotions and you should be ok.  And you should be working with a great Realtor… like me!

Buying a home in Florida and FLOOD insurance…


If you are looking to buy a home in Florida, this is now playing a larger roll in your home buying experience than ever before.

I am currently working with a FHA first time home buyer.  They are qualified to purchase a home for $100,000.  We are looking for a minimum of 2bed/1bth and a decent size yard.  Believe it or not, there are about 150 possibilities with that criteria between Bradenton and Venice.  They both work in Sarasota and don’t mind a small commute.  North Port and Parrish/Palmetto areas have many homes with this criteria, however, they feel the commute with the gas prices would be more than they can afford.

Here are your flood zone codes:  AE is very high risk.  A and V are high risk.  B, C and X are good.  However, you can be in a high risk area as long as your BFE (Base Flood Elevation) is above 12 feet.   You can find your BFE on your survey, if you have one.

You need to know what amount your lender is planning on for home insurance.  If it is low, have them rework the numbers to make sure you still qualify for the $100,000.00 or whatever your number is.

Now that we know what codes to look for, our available homes have dropped substantially.   We were left with about 15 financeable options.  Remember, we are financing and a bank WILL NOT finance a dilapidated home.  If there is a tarp on the roof… move on!  If you are paying cash… great!  you can get a great deal.

Back to my First Time Home Buyers…  We have placed a bid on two homes now.  First home wanted more and my buyers did not want to go higher due to location.  Now we are into the second bid on a Homepath home.  The first home has called back three times and his higher offer did not pan out apparently.  So we wait for an answer from the seller which could take a week or more.  (I will do my next blog on the difference between short sales, foreclosures, homepath, homesteps, hubzu and so on)

We are well prepared and these buyer understand the process.  I always spend the first hour with the buyers explaining to them what to expect.   After we talk about the process and they have a clear understanding, then we talk about their needs.

Here is my home buying tip for today;

Always put your I before your E when purchasing a home…  Intelligence before Emotions…  That will keep you from making poor decisions.

Happy Home Buying!!!