Archive for May, 2012

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended Makes Every Day Sunny in Florida

May 31st, 2012

I grew up in Chicago and kids had to choose between the White Sox or the Cubs as their favorite team. Since there has only been one World Series winner between both teams since 1917, choices are not the best. Anyway, my team was the White Sox because of their colorful announcers, Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall. I remember Piersall once remarked that it was a cold night at the ballpark. Bill Veeck, the owner, scolded Piersall and said, “It’s never cold at the ballpark.” Same goes for real estate. It never rains when taking the photo of a home you are listing.

Realtors don’t often have the luxury of scheduling photos for a home in perfect weather, with a perfect sky, especially in south Florida where the conditions are so variable. That’s when a skilled photofinisher comes in very handy.

Here is a perfect example of less than ideal conditions: sun behind the house, behind the clouds. Therefore there is no light on the front of the house and the sky isn’t exactly screaming picnic today! The camera lens that took the photo also distorted the house, squeezing the top inwards and stretching the bottom out. It’s a very dull and uninviting photo.

Photo direct from the camera

My software of choice is Photoshop. I am now using CS6 Extended and it is just amazing what the programming geniuses have come up with. This was an update that was well worth the cost, which is always considerable with Adobe products.

The first thing I do when I get a photo is correct any lens distortion and general crookedness so that I’m working with a properly laid out photo. I then balance the colors so that true colors are shown as opposed to the biased colors that all cameras create that don’t shoot in a RAW format. If you don’t know what that is, your camera isn’t shooting RAW, most likely JPEG. I then adjust the exposure value, if necessary, and bump the vibrancy of the photo generally to brighten things. I also used exposure values and brightness to put a light on the front of the house and bring it out.

In the above photo, the biggest problem is the sky. There is no way to ‘fix’ a sky such as this and have it look at all real, so I cheated. I used a photo that I took at Jupiter Inlet beach one afternoon when I had perfect conditions. I made sure to make the top 2/3 of the photo the sky. It was one of those perfect days, gorgeous blue with just enough white, puffy clouds drifting by to give everything some perspective and contrast.

I took the sky portion of my photo and put it in place of the sky that the photo originally had. The whole thing took me less than 5 minutes. You tell me, which sky do you like the best and can you tell that it’s not the ‘real deal’?

After Photoshopping

Staging & Selling a Home with Dog & Cat Pets

May 23rd, 2012


Staging & Selling a Home with Dog & Cat Pets

Today we have a new addition to the family. Chloé (my wife thankfully won naming rights, as my son wanted to name the dog “Chuck Norris”) is a Cavachon. A Cavachon is a mix of King Charles & Bijon. She will join our Persian rescue cats, Knuckles & Daisy, along with 2 kids and a fish tank. Why we have all these creatures I’ll save for another blog. This article is on how to stage a house with pets if you are selling. Thankfully, our Egret Landing Jupiter home is not for sale!

Pets can destroy a sale. Turn-offs include litter boxes, urine stains on carpeting, odor, lawn droppings, chewed furniture, paw & lick marks on windows, pet food, noise, and even presence. If you have pets, and are thinking of selling, here are my recommendations….

Presence

As much as you love your furry friend, there is a chance the new buyers won’t. Some people have phobias, allergies, and some just don’t like animals or have long-standing fears. They get turned off from jumping and licking. Best to keep them out of sight.  A car ride is the first choice followed by a walk or perhaps in the garage if cool.  The laundry room is the last resort.

Noise

See above. Barking and whimpering are a huge distraction.

Pet Food

Model homes that builders are trying to market don’t have pet food, dishes and toys on the floor. Buyers trip on it, smell it, see it. Just remove it or hide in the panty.

Fur

Constantly vacuum if you have a shedder. It’s a turn-off and looks like you don’t take care of and clean your home. People with allergies or perceived allergies will almost rule your house out on first sight.

Odor

Odor is one of the top reasons people do not purchase. If they don’t like the smell, it is almost impossible to overcome because people do not believe it will come out. Carpeting with lots of stains needs to be replaced.  More on that below. Air scrubbers and HEPA filtration are last-ditch efforts.

Carpeting

Carpeting with lots of stains needs to be replaced, not cleaned, including the pad. For one, the stains usually do not come out; secondly, the odor won’t come out because it’s in the padding as well.  Think Jerry Seinfeld’s car…”It still Smells!!!”

Lawn

Do not leave droppings outside. Nothing will kill a sale faster than the Buyer avoiding land mines. The Buyer is there to look at your house. Stepping in you-know-what doesn’t give them that “meant to be” feeling.

Furniture

Dispose of any chewed or stained furniture. Buyers assume if the sofa is scratched, then other parts of the house are neglected. (I guess we will need to replace ours at some point)

Windows

Dogs love to scratch and put their nose to the window. Replace windows or tint with those scratch marks. Constantly wash the areas with nose marks.

Litter Box

Keep it out of sight! First choice would be to throw it in the car trunk so it can’t be seen. Second choice is the garage or covered in the laundry room. You can also purchase litter boxes with covers on them. Seeing litter or sniffing foul odors can be a deal killer turn-off.

 

60 Monterey Pointe Drive | Monterey Pointe at PGA National

May 21st, 2012

Charming home at 60 Monterey Pointe Drive in Monterey Pointe at PGA National at an incredible price per square foot. The spacious floorplan includes voluminous ceilings, a formal dining area, den, open living area, and a master suite on the 1st floor. The spacious screened-in patio is private and perfect for relaxing after a long day or entertaining guests. Two guest bedrooms with lots of space, a full bathroom, and large loft area make the 2nd floor a perfect place for company to relax. Includes a 2-car garage. Great community pool. Available furnished.

60 Monterey Pointe Drive

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I066VBD7VwU

http://www.echofineproperties.com/blog/2012/05/60-monterey-pointe-drive-monterey-pointe-at-pga-national/

 

 

 

80 E Dunbar Road | Marlwood Estates at PGA National

May 20th, 2012

Beautiful & relaxing double lake views with Florida’s most desirable southern exposure give an abundance of light and openness to 80 E Dunbar Road in Marlwood Estates at PGA National. The floorplan is spacious and the high ceilings, size of rooms, and strategic use of skylights lend a bright and comfortable feeling to this warm home. A remodeled open kitchen has fabulous views along with updated Corian countertops, stylish mosaic backsplash, and all newer appliances. The master suite is spacious and split from the rest of the home. The southern 2nd bedroom has sensational lake views and is the perfect VIP suite for your guests. The dining room was converted into a den for the owner’s use but can easily be turned back into a formal dining room. The Roof a/c’s and water heater have all been replaced. Hurricane fabric was also installed. Outdoor living is wonderful with a spacious screened pool/lanai and cabana bath. The HOA for Marlwood Estates is only $800 year!

80 E Dunbar Road

80 E Dunbar Road - Swimming Pool & View

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kplS6WCiM9w

http://www.echofineproperties.com/blog/2012/05/80-e-dunbar-road-marlwood-estates-at-pga-national/

Palm Beach County, Florida, 2nd Quarter 2012 Real Estate Summary

May 18th, 2012


Palm Beach County, Florida, 2nd Quarter 2012 Real Estate Summary

1. What’s Happening?

I’m seeing continued improvement in the real estate market. Still nothing to get over-excited about. Kind of like an F student getting a D+. It’s better but not a cause for celebration.

2. Prices

Home prices are going up. The average price per square foot was $156 in March versus $147 in February.

3. Sales

Sales were up in March (1,071) compared to February (1,002). However, they were down compared to last year at this time (1,223).

4. Buyers: Who’s buying? First-timers, mover-uppers, downsizers, foreign buyers, or other?

Inventory is moving fast in the $200,000 to $400,000 category (8.7 months worth of inventory), and slowest in the $1,000,000 market (34.8 months of inventory). However, both categories are going down regardless.

5. Distressed Properties

Short sale inventory is stable but foreclosure inventory is rising. I’m also seeing the first beginnings of the end of the short sale. I lost a deal with a purchasing client on a deal because the court and bank would not stop a short sale and the property went to auction. Have 2 other properties where the auction process has started. Part of the reason banks have wanted to short sell is they have been waiting for 3 years on average in Florida to foreclose! Homeowners have been basically living rent-free for 3 or 4 years! The party is over as banks are now foreclosing faster. While it’s still advantageous for banks to work out a short sale and avoid the foreclosure costly process, we will see much less of this as that 3-year time table goes down significantly. One investor who purchases lots of short sales told me that he thought there was a 12-month window left for short sales. In 2006, I had no idea what a short sale was, so the rarity of the short sale might be what we are going back to.

6. Financing

My clients are not having that many issues getting loans. It’s just a lot more red tape with more verification (a good thing) and scrutinized appraisals. The short sales are the most difficult because you need to do a double appraisal; one that appraises low (for the 3rd party institution) and the other high for the new lending institution. More on those goofy dynamics below.

Comcast Must Be in the Short-Sale Business

 

New federal rules that could speed up the short-sale process to within 30 days if the loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac should be taking place by June. To that I say there is a better chance of my cable company getting their customer service act together. It’s just not going to happen. Cable missed 4 appointments with us last week. They have this automated system that confirms appointments. Twice the automated system never called. Once it did, but I picked it up in a middle of a message, and another time I missed the call by a minute. Only after a call to my HOA and the threat of losing 640 homes, did the account representative make it happen. Short-sales are like our cable company only far worse.

The loan company won’t verify the price until an offer is received, paperwork goes from one department to another and instead of using licensed appraisers, and the lien holder gets a broker’s opinion. While this saves them hundreds of dollars, the broker has to do huge volume and cover a vast territory. I had one house recently that the broker told me he does 60+ “broker opinions a day” and goes from Miami to Orlando. That’s crazy, as you can’t be an expert for the whole state. He also thought there were 3 baths where the house only had 2½ baths. Further to complicate things, the house has to appraise in order to get the price low enough so the lien holder knows they aren’t giving it away. On the flip side, you hope it appraises high when the buyer’s mortgage company appraises it for sale. Furthermore, with some institutions, if a buyer walks, they start the whole process all over again. The lien holder has to be incurring a ridiculous amount of costs holding the note and analyzing each short sale. What really should be done on short sales is that prices should be set before they go on the market like a foreclosure. Those prices should be good for 3 months. If they really analyzed it, they probably would be better off foreclosing on the house because the time and energy to handle the short sale has to be enormous. Fortunately, the red tape in the court system is speeding up and short sales may be passé in a year or two. Until then, maybe the lien holders should do like me and order Direct-TV.