Sarasota Real Estate and Community News


Here you will find important information about our Coastal town of Sarasota Florida, it's surrounding Islands of Siesta Key, Longboat Key, Casey Key, Lido Key and Anna Maria Island.

We will include community information about taxes, insurance, home maintenance, communities, local businesses, schools, sarasota's cultural activities and much more.

Visit us often for updates.

Oct. 10, 2016

Sale of Home by Surviving Spouse

Special consideration is made by IRS for the sale of a jointly-owned principal residence in Sarasota FL after the death of a spouse. The surviving spouse may qualify to exclude up to $500,000 of gain instead of the $250,000 exclusion for single people if certain requirements are met.

        • The sale needs to take place no more than two years after the date of death of the spouse.

• Surviving spouse must not have remarried as of the sale date.

• The home must have been used as a principal residence for two of the last five years prior to the death. 

• The home must have been owned for two of the last five years prior to the death.

• The survivor can count any time period when the spouse owned the home as time they owned it and any time the home was the spouse’s residence as time when it was their residence.

• Neither spouse may have excluded gain from the sale of another principal residence during the last two years prior to the death.

If you have been widowed in the last two years and have substantial gain in your principal residence, it would be worth investigating the possibilities. Time is a critical factor in qualification. Contact your tax professional for advice about your specific situation. Contact Nicki Conway to find out what your home is worth in today’s marketSee IRS Publication 523 – surviving spouse.

Posted in Selling Your Home
Sept. 26, 2016

When Mortgage Rates Go UP

It’s not “if” the rate goes up but “when” the rate goes up; it could make a big difference for some buyers. Freddie Mac predicts that mortgage rates will be at 4.5% a year from now.

mortgage rates

Higher mortgage rates means higher payments. Higher payments might mean a buyer won’t have the money to spend on other things like furniture or improvements to the home or an unrelated purchase, like a new car.

When the rate moves 0.50% on a $250,000, the payment goes up by $70.66 a month. If it moves 1.00%, the payment goes up by $143.74 per month, each and every month for the entire term of the mortgage which means paying over $50,000 more for the house.

The question facing every borrower in this situation is “How will you feel about having to pay more to live in the same house because you were not ready to commit?”

Then, there’s the borrower who is absolutely maxed out as to what they can qualify for or sometimes, it is a borrower who just refuses to pay a higher payment. When that’s the case, the buyer has to make a larger down payment. In the same example, a 0.50% increase in rate would require $14,873 more in down payment. That could make the purchase impossible or require the buyer to buy a lesser price home that will not have the same amenities.

Mortgage rates have been low for so long that some people think that is what they should be. There are some economists who believe that the economy will not be strong again until mortgage rates are in the 7% range.

To see how this type of scenario might affect you, go to the If the Rate Goes Up calculator.


Posted in Buying a Home
Aug. 23, 2016

Real Estate Negotiations

Many times, there are two negotiation periods in a home sale.

The primary negotiation takes place when the contract is agreed upon. That includes the price, closing and possession. Buyers and sellers always feel relieved once this first round has resulted in a signed contract. However there may be more negotiations to come if there are contingencies for financing, inspections or other things.

The purpose of an inspection is for the buyer to receive an objective evaluation about the condition of the home and its components and to identify existing defects and potential problems. 

Sometimes, buyers will expect sellers to make all of the repairs listed on the report and this is where the second round of negotiations begins. If the seller refuses, the negotiations can go back and forth until the other party accepts the offer on the table.  At this point, depending on what type of contract you have, the transaction could fall apart.

When purchasing a new home from a builder, it is expected for everything to be in working order; after all, it is new. However, it is reasonable to expect that existing homes, will have some defects. Of course a home buyer will want to be aware about major items that are not in “working order”, but a buyer should expect normal wear and tear of components based on the home's age.

In a highly competitive seller’s market like Sarasota Florida, buyers might do whatever they can to get their contract accepted, realizing that there is another place to negotiate when they’re not competing with other buyers’ offers to purchase.

A real estate transaction will be a WIN-WIN negotiation when both seller and buyer feel good about the price and terms and when neither party feels as if the other party is taking advantage of them.

For fast answers to your real estate questions, call Conway Associates in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice and surrounding Islands of Siesta Key, Longboat Key, Lido Key and Anna Maria.




Posted in Real Estate News
Aug. 15, 2016

Are You Ready for Retirement?

Surprisingly most people spend more time planning their next vacation or cell phone purchase than they do on their own retirement. Let’s look at a hypothetical situation where you have $35,000 to invest for your retirement in 15 years. Have you compared where you might have the best opportunity?

The safest place to put it might be a certificate of deposit because it’s insured but unfortunately, rates would be less than 2%. The value would grow to $47,233.26 at the end of the 15 year holding period.

Investing in a mutual fund has more risk but also a greater opportunity to earn a higher rate of return. An estimated 7% return would project an accumulated value of $99,713.14.

Using the $35,000 for a 20% down payment and closing costs on a $150,000 rental home could realize much higher proceeds. Using a familiar investment analysis spreadsheet, the $35,000 could grow to a future wealth position of $153,302. This analysis considers leverage, 3% appreciation, re-investing cash flows, 7% sales expenses and paying applicable taxes which the previous examples above do not.

The rate of return on these three examples are 2% for the CD, 7% for the mutual fund and a comparable 14.19% return on the rental. As the rate of return increases on investments, additional risk is reasonable.

Most people are much more familiar with homes than they are with mutual funds, bonds and other similar investments. Let Conway Associates help you help you invest in a rental home for your future retirement goals here in Sarasota and surrounding areas.

Aug. 8, 2016

Avoid Wasting Your Valuable Time

“If you waste my time, don’t expect me to hang out with you very long.” This could have been said by a home buyer or seller or a real estate agent. Time is valuable and no one wants to waste their time.

Most people can’t put their lives on-hold while they’re trying to buy or sell a home. Whether you are single, a couple or a family,  life continues and the time constraints of moving can become burdensome.

Your Realtor is committed to helping you save time while making the experience memorable. She knows the process and the potential problem areas and can help you move through them.

To preserve your time and your agent’s, please consider the following:

If your plans to buy or sell change, let your agent know.

Be on time for appointments or if it is necessary, cancel them with as much notice as possible.

Get pre-approved through a trusted mortgage professional.

Cooperate with your loan professional by providing all requested documentation.

Don’t wander into builder or REALTOR® open houses without your agent. If you find yourself in that situation, immediately notify them that you have an agent.

Only talk to the other party through your agent until after closing.

Your Realtor is working hard to help you meet your real estate goals. Things work best when it’s like a partnership where each party mutually respects the other and their resources including their time.

Posted in Real Estate News
July 3, 2016

Will Brexit Affect the U.S. Real Estate Market?

The big news across the pond with Britain leaving the European Union, will definitely have an impact on the U.S. real estate market.  Question is, will it be a good thing for the U.S?

I think so for some segments of the market...and here's why:

1. Mortgage prices have already fallen and now are the lowest they've been in more than three years.  Low rates have been driving a strong real estate market already this year.  Lower rates will produce lower monthly payments and that means greater buying power.  Just think, qualified buyers will be able to afford a home that's 8% more expensive than they could at the beginning of the year!  Great news for buyers and especially first time homebuyers!

2.  Some economists believe that that Brexit could lead to greater demand for U.S. real estate as international investors look to the U.S. as a safe haven for the global rich to park their money. Further to that, the U.S. government made it a little easier for International investors by easing up on the tax burden for foreign buyers.  As of December 2015, a non-U.S. investor can now own up to 10% of a REIT before incurring federal taxes--up from 5%.  Also, certain foreign pension funds are exempt from taxes on their U.S. property holdings.  See  your CPA about that!

3.  The Luxury market may suffer a bit, however as Brexit puts a strain on the stock market.  That remains to be seen as stock market fluctuations are reactions to world events and this could settle out over a period of time.

I've asked my friends and clients across the pond who know Sarasota FL and some who own here, if they feel safer putting their money in U.S. real estate rather than U.K and unanimously, all said "Yes". Brilliant!





June 15, 2016

6 Tips to Help You Find the Right Home

Bird Key HouseSo you’re thinking about hunting for a home. Congratulations! How do you plan on finding the home you want? It’s surprising how few people can answer this question. Most people say: “Well, I guess I’d look online and maybe contact a real estate agent.” Sure, that’s a fine place to start... but if you want to hunt for a home like a pro, here are some simple tactics that will make your experience much more efficient, pleasurable, and likely to land you a home you want to buy.

1. Know what you can afford. How can you begin to look before you know what you can buy? Price range usually narrows the field considerably. Know how much you can afford by getting in touch with your Realtor.  She/he will help you determine the best lender for your needs and will get you pre-approved.

2. Know where you want to live. Seems obvious, right? But within Sarasota, Venice and Bradenton, there are all sorts of neighborhoods with different flavors, amenities, and schools. Understanding things like walk scores, commute times, and the quality of the school district can have a huge impact on your choice. If you find a home you love, but it's  in a neighborhood you can’t stand, you definitely aren’t going to be happy.

3. Know what type of home you want. How much room do you need? What are your future life plans? Do you love gardening, or would you rather never worry about a lawn? Do you work from home? Do you want an historic home? Is new construction your dream? Knowing what you can afford can help with this question, but you’ll still need to look at your desires and priorities to determine what’s right for you.

4. Give yourself plenty of time at showings. You may have an urge to see as many homes as you can in a single day or weekend, but feeling the crunch of the clock can keep you from really inspecting the home and getting a feel for the property. You want time to open drawers, cabinets, and walk around the yard areas as well. If the clock’s ticking, you won’t truly evaluate what you see.  Always go back a 2nd time if you think you've found the right house and spend plenty of time looking through it.

5. Sign up for property alerts. Homes show up on the market all the time. Have your Realtor sign you up for online property alerts in your target neighborhood(s), target price point, along with other specific information you’ve discussed.

6. Tell friends and family what you’re looking for. One of the best times to find your home is before it’s on the market. Friends, family, work associates, and their network of friends may know someone who’s thinking about selling just the sort of house you want. Ask around!

Our top notch Real Estate Team, Conway Associates, is more than happy to help you work through these tactics with you. Let’s talk about your home search together: Contact us here

Posted in Buying a Home
June 6, 2016

12 Strategies for Making Your Best Offer

If you're going to play, GET IN THE GAME!

If competition is a buyer’s biggest concern, for goodness’ sake, get in the game. In a new survey of close to a thousand home buyers conducted by Redfin, affordability is still the number one concern but due to low inventories, competition from other buyers is moving its way up the poll.

26% identified affordability while 19% mentioned competition and 15% mentioned low inventory as their respective top concerns.

To win, athletes study the competition to come up with a plan and buying a home is not different. Inventory  of homes in low in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice and surrounding Islands.  Have a game plan and stick with it!

1. Ask what terms are important to the seller before you write the offer.
2. Once you decide to make an offer, have your Realtor prepare it as fast as you can, hopefully, you'll be the only one the seller is considering.
3. Make a good (or possibly, your best) offer in the beginning; you may never get a chance at improving it. In highly competitive situations, offer above the list price.
4. Attach your pre-approval letter from a respected lender. This means you’ll need to get pre-approved before you even think about writing an offer.
5. Have your lender call the listing agent to reassure them of your ability to qualify.
6. Include a higher than normal amount of earnest money to show you are serious.
7. Eliminate unnecessary contingencies.
8. Write a personal, hand-written letter telling the seller what you like about their home and why you want it. Consider including pictures of your family.
9. Minimize seller expenses paid for the benefit of the buyer.
10. Shorten inspection times.
11. Don’t ask for personal property.
12. Be flexible on closing dates to accommodate the seller’s move.

Once you find your dream home, don’t take a chance on losing it. Write a winning offer that will be good for both the sellers and the buyers.  The Conway Associates are here to help.


Posted in Buying a Home
May 31, 2016

Lifestyle Marketing for Your Home

sarasota fl realtorsMarketing your home in the greater Sarasota FL area is not like marketing a commodity, such as a car or boat. While everyone needs shelter, it would be a serious oversimplification to say that’s all your home offers.

After years of practicing Real Estate, I found it can be a real waste of time and effort convincing people that a home’s qualities are exactly what they’re looking for. It’s far more efficient to market the home’s qualities to the segment of buyers who have a natural lifestyle fit for the home.

Profiling and segmenting buyer lifestyles is an excellent way to optimize the budget for marketing a home. Rather than taking a shotgun approach, I like to tailor the home’s story as much as possible to the types of buyers who best represent the projected buyer for a specific listing.

Analyzing the specific qualities of the home is a natural first place to start. Is it waterfront for boats?  Next to a country club with a legendary golf course? Does it have a garage fit for two-three BMWs? Is it a family home or a home for a retired couple or an executive couple?

I also like to talk with the sellers about what originally drew them to the home. What caught their eye? Why was it the right place at the right time? What is encouraging them to move on now?

All of this adds up to the story of a listing. This story can then inform the marketing plan for the property, staging decisions, open houses, and even the way photos/videos are shot and presented online. 

We’re no longer looking for a convenient cave for shelter from the elements. We live in homes. Our homes should reflect our lifestyle. Keeping this in mind throughout the entire listing and marketing process is what makes me good at matching homes and condos in the Sarasota FL area to buyers for my clients.

What's your home's lifestyle?


Posted in Selling Your Home
May 30, 2016

Mistakes to Avoid as a First Time Homebuyer

If you're a first-time home buyer in the Sarasota area and beginning to hunt for the prize that has to serve both as a satisfactory home base and a solid investment, you might feel a mixture of excitement (a home is a landmark achievement!) and maybe just a touch of apprehension. Like any expense you’ve never encountered before, it’s appropriate to take extra care the first time out — and to pay attention to what experience teaches. Along those lines, here are some mistakes that are easy for a first-time home buyer to make. Fortunately, with a good Realtor by your side, they’re also easy to sidestep:

1. Waiting for a better rate

Conventional rates may well be about as low as they’re going to get right now – and some signs point to an increase in the coming months. For a first-time home buyer who will be taking out a loan, if the property is right, hesitating to make a commitment based on a loan rate gamble is seldom a good idea.

2. Thinking short term

Consider thinking of a home as a lifetime investment. Even for those who are single or just married, it’s possible that being open to a house with extra rooms could end up saving considerably on moving, transaction and agent fees, taxes, etc in the future. It’s equally important to look at neighborhoods and how they are changing and developing. If you do resell your home some day, location can make a big difference. 

3. Underestimating hidden costs

The monthly mortgage payment isn’t the ultimate bottom line. When a first-time home buyer comes across a property in Sarasota or anywhere for that matter, that fills (or exceeds) everything he or she has been looking for, if the mortgage payment looks to be right, it’s easy to overlook other homeowner expenses. Experienced buyers make hardheaded estimates of maintenance fees and property taxes — they will be every bit as consequential as the mortgage bill. 

For a first-time home buyer, when thoughtful perspective goes into your final decision, it’s that much more likely to be a decision that pays off in the long run. If you are preparing to buy soon, Conway Associates will be standing by to help get you started along the right path!

Posted in Buying a Home