How to Get the Best Price for Your Home in a Hot Market

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on June 28, 2017

best priceEven in a hot market, you can’t just stick a Home Depot “For Sale” sign in your yard and expect top dollar for your property. Hot real estate markets can mislead sellers into thinking that selling their home will be a fast and easy way to make money—all the have to do is name a price. But if you’re uninformed, you can walk away from a sale and leave money on the table.

Here’s how to get the most value out of a sale and make sure it goes through:

  • Get the price right. Pricing is the most important aspect of a successful sale, even in a hot market. Pricing too high means people don’t even look at your home or it’s not even a consideration, which shrinks your market considerably. Pricing too low and hoping to cause a bidding war makes people walk away. Even in a hot market, accurate pricing is key to a sale.
  • Hit the whole market. Some real estate agents may want to hold your home off the market until after an open house. This strategy is usually to said to “gauge interest” but really the real estate agent is hoping they can find the buyer themselves and keep the entire commission. The success of your sale depends on your home reaching as wide a market as possible; so don’t handicap yourself with these tactics.
  • Make a great first impression. Photography is more important than ever. So much of real estate searching is done online, it’s like buyers have already been in your home a time or two by the time they see it in person. You need to make sure a professional photographer is hired to make your home look it’s absolute best, and that the photos are up when the listing goes live.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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How to Compete in the 2017 Buying Season

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on June 27, 2017

2017 buying seasonThe only thing that can compete with the blistering Miami sun? The blistering pace of this real estate market. Inventory is down to well under a healthy 6-month supply, and new homes are even shorter than that.

So how can homebuyers compete in a multiple-offer setting?

  • Keep it simple. Sellers are looking for offers with the fewest hurdles to sale. So take out as many contingencies as you feel comfortable with removing. Seasoned buyers may be able to waive the inspection, or at least shorten the time frame for a faster sale. If you have extra cash on hand, you can also waive the appraisal contingency, which means you pledge to make up the difference with cash if the property falls short of the sale price.
  • Don’t underestimate earnest money. A strong earnest money deposit shows the seller you’re serious.
  • If you are approved for more than asking, say so. Your preapproval letter should state the max you are approved for, especially if the home you are offering on is well below that price. That shows the buyer that your offer is a strong one and has a greater likelihood of going through than one that is teetering on the edge.
  • Make the call. Make sure your buyer’s agent doesn’t just send over the offer, but calls the listing agent and goes over everything with them over the phone or in person. It’s an extra step, but the presentation can go a long way in communicating things that may get lost in the paperwork.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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Should you Search Zillow and Trulia for Real Estate?

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on June 26, 2017

zillow or truliaOnline real estate sites like Zillow and Trulia give you lots of real estate information that you couldn’t get before online real estate listings. Even with the MLS, you generally have to be connected with a real estate professional, like a Realtor, real estate agent or real estate attorney, to get access to search the listings. With all the information you get from Zillow and Trulia listings, from price history to school ratings, who even needs a real estate agent?

You do.

Why? Real estate marketing company RedFin commissioned a study to determine the accuracy of data on online real estate aggregate sites, and if that’s all you’re using, you’re missing out. RedFin’s study found that 36 percent of the listings found on the sites weren’t even available for sale. That’s right—36 percent of the homes weren’t active in the market, yet were still listed and showing up for sale! In addition, these sites only capture about 80 percent of the listings that actually are for sale. So if you’re only using these real estate aggregate sites, one-third of the listings you are viewing are not actually for sale and you’re only seeing four-fifths of the listings that are active. That’s a huge disadvantage in a fast-paced market like Miami.

Another factor working against these sites is how long it takes to get listings to market. Listings hit your local MLS about 15 minutes after they go active. On aggregate sites like Zillow, it can take as along as nine days. So by the time you see the listing, it may already be under contract.

Third, since Zillow and Trulia sell ad space to real estate professionals on the listings, you may also lose time contacting the wrong agent for a viewing or to get information. These ads are lead generators, not a way to contact the listing agent.

Lastly, several lawsuits are moving forward all over the country over Zillow’s Zestimate feature. The Zestimate is an automatically generated pricing tool that estimates what a home might be worth. But it can prejudice buyers and has found to be off by as much as 30 percent in some markets.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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Rent or Buy in South Florida?

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on June 23, 2017

rent or buy“You’re throwing away money.”

“A home is your biggest investment.”

“You’ll never save money if you don’t buy a home.”

Parents and grandparents seem to have an endless supply of guilt trips aimed at their adult children. But if you’re looking for a place to live in South Florida, and you’d also like to build up some sort of wealth for the future, is home buying really the best way to do it?

Some professors at top Florida universities have created a tool to help you put that question to rest in this rapidly changing housing market. The Buy vs. Rent index helps potential homeowners see whether buying a home or investing money that would be spent on home ownership is the way to go.

Right now, says Ken Johnson, an economist and professor at Florida Atlantic University, South Florida is Rent territory.

That doesn’t mean buying is a bad decision, he says. But rent growth is slower than the growth in home prices and mortgage rates right now. “Just bargain aggressively,” says Johnson. “I’m not nervous about the housing market right now. There are too many jobs and too much good credit out there.”

He also says the key to building wealth is saving, which can be tempting to forego if renting leaves you with a lot of extra cash. One of the reasons home ownership is such a popular way to build wealth is because it’s forced savings.

Right now, the index tracks 23 markets. Half of those showed buying to be a better deal, eight markets were ties, and in three markets—Dallas, Houston, and Denver–renting won by far .

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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How Developers Game the EB-5 Visa Program

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on June 22, 2017

EB-5 visaThe EB-5 visa program has long been criticized as poorly managed and lacking oversight. Now, specific examples of those problems are coming to light due to closer examinations of the business practices of the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The EB-5 program allows wealthy foreigners to fast-track their visa by investing $500,000 or more in high-unemployment areas and creating permanent jobs. The terms of the investment are more favorable to developers than a bank loan.

To take advantage of this financing, Kushner Companies made it appear that their luxury condo project at 65 Bay Street on the Hudson River was in an area with high unemployment that would qualify it for $50 million EB-5 financing. They worked with New Jersey officials to design a map of the area that included the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden areas but excluded wealthy areas just blocks down the street.

Lawmakers have considered closing the EB-5 loopholes that allow developers to gerrymander their projects in such a way. Leaders of both political parties contend that the program is regularly abused, but since lending standards tightened after the recession, EB-5 has become a relied-upon source of funding for Miami developers.

Recently, changes to the program were debated, but then instead of being made the program was extended. Kushner says he will excuse himself from further debate on the program in Washington, but in the meantime is rushing to get EB-5 approval for another New Jersey development that is seeking more than $150 million in funding.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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