Sunday, August 21, 2011

Some Real Deals Out There

Says a realtor in Florida - and the rest of the country.

Thinking Sweetie wants to return to Florida & live on a boat, I started researching online. Thinking I may as well expand the search to land, I looked at real estate. He said, "well, we can dream, so look for a place on a canal with access to the Gulf."

I told him anyone can dream but let's not lose sight of the fact that we live within a budget, yadda, yadda, yadda.

"You never know what you might find," was his response.

What I found is a calamity showing nationwide.

I've learned prices are cheaper, the lots larger and conspicuous consumption is less evident the further north you go.

Despite all the financial plight, there are still people who think their piece of the Florida lifestyle is worth top dollar. Being surrounded by empty, foreclosed homes or occupied homes underwater hasn't fazed them or they're praying some sucker with deep pockets saves them.

I've learned that realtors have left the profession in droves and some, like a woman I talked to, have invested in foreclosures for rental property. No surprise there.

And then, one day I emailed a realtor with a few questions. An "associate" in the realtor's office responded. She answered my questions and asked: "When will you be here to look...?"

"Not anytime soon," I said. "Just looking now because we'd like to live on a boat but my partner suggested checking out small homes on land."

She seemed a bit deflated but responded cordially: "Anything I can help you with when you're REALLY ready to make a move here, please contact me."

Here's where the conversation gets interesting. I said within the last three years we'd moved twice: from Lower Michigan to the U.P. and back downstate to yet another location.

"Where in the U.P?" was her response.

Told her where & a short time later realized I was talking to a cousin's daughter! Guess that would be a second or third cousin. She gave me her private mail and since then the "reality" of the market is all I've heard.

Among her remarks:

"If you don't have your heart set on a specific house, you can really pick up bargains. Just closed on a place listed for $800,500 that sold for $423,600."

Told her those numbers needed to knock off a couple zeros to be realistic for us. She wrote back: "Oh, that's no problem. Another month of so and there will be huge price reductions again. My advice is find something you're interested in, better yet 4-5 places and write offers that state, 'this is my only offer'."

She claims to have seen it work time and time again.

I asked how she was weathering her profession just now & she said: "I'm still one of the fortunate ones. My husband is a retired military & we've always lived within our means. I only work to get out of the house once in awhile."

So I suggested she send listings that she knew full well we could pick up for pennies on the dollar. "Now I must be dreaming," I said. "But time will tell."

Haven't heard back yet but that's okay. I'm trying to live one day at a time anyway.


Anonymous said...

Miss Treesong,

Speaking from one who has lived here "forever" be careful and give great thought to coming to Florida, Yes there are great deals to be had BUT,,,, always at least one! The availability of homeowners insurance is getting to be almost non existant and what there is is incredibly expensive. We have lived in the same spot for over 26 years and have never had a claim our insurance the last two years has almost gotten undoable! We live inland and are not flood prone. They have also now seperated flood insurance and sinkhole insurance. Flood prone areas (coastal and on waterways) has become unreachable for most folks. Our insurance agent told us MANY are leaving the state due to inaffordability of housing, unemployment is awful and getting worse by the day,,, two son in laws just laid off. So yes winters are awesome here but the rest of life and living is not. Dont want to burst your hopes but PLEASE think long and very hard!!

Florida Mom

treesong said...

Thanks Anonymous for your comments. I read them to Sweetie. He said if we moved he wouldn't concern himself with insurance because he doesn't care if he loses everything. We would NOT be selling the place here which is some comfort, I guess, but then the question of liability comes up (aside from covering replacement of a home). Food for thought, for sure. When he last lived in Florida in the 90s, he had flood insurance immediately because the previous owners had the insurance & it was transferred. Otherwise, he had heard that now one must wait a year for flood insurance to be active. Don't know for certain but would definitly check this all out before signing on dotted line.

Sixbears said...

Last winter I visited a friend of mine who bought a place in Port Charlotte. It listed for over $110,000. He picked it up a couple years ago for $57,000. He said he could not get anywhere near that price for it today. while he's not on the canal, the place right across the street is.

About 1/3 of the houses in that neighborhood looked empty. Another 1/3 looked like the people were struggling -uncut lawns, boats and motorcycles for sale, house in need of paint -that sort of thing. The other 1/3 looked like nothing had happened.

About 1/2 the businesses in the area looked closed.

My dad dropped insurance on his trailer back in 2005, as the price had gotten silly. He claims he saved enough money since then to buy a replacement.

Good luck!