Snowman holiday greeting on Clearwater real estate siteBefore I start looking back on the year in Tampa Bay and Clearwater real estate in the local market, some secrets for how to approach an upcoming purchase you want to make, and a new free service that helps sell houses faster and for more money…

I want to make sure to wish you a very happy holiday season and a better year in 2012 than you had in 2011.  For some people the holidays are a happy time they spend with family and friends and for others it is a lonely time.  This year, whether celebrating with loved ones or by yourself, find ways to do something you enjoy and that makes you happy no matter how small it is and look at all the positive things in your life – even if it is only a few things.  It is better to focus on the good things in your life than to worry over the bad so take this time to acknowledge those good things.

This has definitely been an interesting year when looking at the Tampa Bay and Clearwater real estate market and though many of the really good deals were bought up this year there are still going to be opportunities over the next several months for those buyers who are prepared to take action.

Statistics for Clearwater real estate and Pinellas County in 2011

Sales in 2011 in Pinellas County were up – in fact every month so far this year except for one saw sales for Clearwater real estate and all other areas in the county that were higher than the same month in the last 4 years.  (You can click on the chart below if you want to see if full-sized.)

Pinellas County Residential Real Estate Sales Jan 07 thru Nov 11
Information for this chart was taken from PRO/Suncoast MLS from Jan 2007 thru May 2011 and from the MFRMLS for May 2011 thru Nov 2011.

At the same time, the inventory (properties available to purchase) decreased from 11087 as of Jan 1st to 7891 on Dec 1st.    That’s an almost 30% drop.

Prices have still gone down, more this year with condos than with houses, but the overall pricing looks like it may be stabilizing.

There have been significantly less foreclosures on the market and coming on the market this year which, I think, has a lot to do with the big drop in inventory and I think that sometime in the next year we will start to see more coming on the market but most likely at a gradual pace rather than all of a sudden.

This spring there was a very big demand for condos, especially beach condos, and the months of March and April saw dramatic increases in sales for both due to the fact that prices were lower than they had been in 7-8 years.

Short sales are taking longer to get through now in many cases and, despite regulations that were supposed to speed them up, lenders are dragging their feet more than I have seen in the previous 2-3 years.  This is not true in all cases but seems to be very common in the very low-end short sales properties.

How to be prepared for your 2012 Tampa Bay area or Clearwater real estate purchase – including a few secrets:

1.  Start your search early.

Spring is the strong buying season and those buyers who act in December and January have a much better chance of finding what they want without having as much competition and at the same time a better chance of getting sellers to negotiate.

2.  Work out what you want to buy.

Get as specific as possible so that you don’t wander around too much without making any progress.  View it like you would taking a trip – if you know where you’re going on your trip then you can tell if you start to get to far off the route you’ve set but if you don’t have a set destination you may just wander around not really getting anywhere.

3.  Know your price range and have your financing lined up.

This applies both in a general and a specific way.  You should know what the maximum price is that you can and/or are willing to pay for your purchase and have worked out how you are going to pay for it.  If you will be getting financing, this means you should have already contacted your bank or at least one lender to make sure you will qualify for the financing you will need.  When you find a property you are interested in, we will need to look at information I have access to that you wouldn’t normally be able to get so we can tell what the property really is worth so as to determine what the maximum price would be that you could pay for that specific property.

4. Act quickly and decisively.

I will help you with this since this can sometimes make the difference between getting what you want and losing it to another buyer. This requires having enough information to make a decision without rushing into one that could be a bad one.

5. Find the best leverage.

I have found that you need to utilize the correct leverage in negotiations, whether there is another competing buyer or not. In many cases the seller’s agent will either give hints or say directly certain things that let me know what will make an offer one that is more likely to be accepted, or to do better if there is another competing buyer. I pay close attention to what is said to me and how it is said to find out how to best approach the offer and negotiations. I also make sure that the seller’s agent knows that working with me will make the job easier for them and their client and have had this make the difference for my buyers being able to get what they want. Without a buyer’s agent representing you, you lose the ability to get certain points of leverage as the seller’s agent will not be as direct with a buyer as they will with another agent.

So there are some tips that can help you with your future purchase – please make sure you follow them because you should try to get every advantage you can.

Finally, I wanted to let you know about a new service that helps in selling houses faster and for a better price.

New Service to sell your house faster and for more

If you have a house to sell in this area that is $200,000 or more and is vacant, I can now arrange to get a ‘house manager’ who will furnish and stage the house with good quality furniture (so it is now empty and thus shows better), will take care of the house and your utilities and lawn care (and even pool maintenance if you have a pool) will be taken care of and paid for you. An occupied property that is staged generally sells faster and for a better price than one which is empty and not being kept up. If you are interested in this, just send me an email.

Well that went longer than I had originally thought it would but there was just too much info that I felt you should have to skimp. Again, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and I look forward to seeing you in the next few months when you come to make your Tampa Bay area or Clearwater real estate purchase.