Marie McLaughlin - Century 21 Alliance realty
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Real Estate Tips

Home buying trends in Hernando County (Summer 2017)

So, you are ready to buy a home and have decided that Hernando County is where you want to live?


Great choice!

Before you get started on what is an exciting yet daunting task there are some important trends to know. Let’s take a look at how the real estate market has performed over the last 12 months in Hernando County.


The most important thing to know is that there is a lack of inventory in Hernando County.

The homes aren’t there.

Let’s look at some comparisons from 2016 compared to today, as tracked by Florida Realtors®. When comparing the numbers from May 2016 to May of 2017,  the drop has been around 4.5%. This translates to about 45 homes that were available last year in May but are not this year. The decline has been steady and unrelenting. In March and April alone that number was about 12.5% lower than the previous year.


The lack of availability means it’s a sellers market in Hernando County.


According to Florida Realtors®, the monthly supply of homes is down over 11% and the prices of these homes have increased over 13%. That increase means that the house that sold for $137,000 last year is now selling for $155,000. That is a big, big difference!

It’s not a bargain market anymore.

The bottom line here is less choice, higher cost for the buyer, and sellers stay in a much stronger position. Sellers are receiving over 96% of the original listing price.

Most  homes are under contract in 31 days. That is super fast whether you are a buyer or a seller so both sides need to be ready. In May of 2017, homes in Hernando County that sold in the $100,000 to $149,000 took only 16 days to get to contract! That’s lightning fast. Of course, the sale price does have a little bit to do with it. More expensive homes take longer.

Something else to consider once you know what you have to spend is how many homes are in your price range? Here’s a bit of info to consider:

Of the 440 homes that went under contract in May of 2017, 185 of them were between $100,000-$199,000. That is a whopping 42% of the total!

As you do your house hunting keep all these bits of info in mind. It will give you some perspective on what’s happening with Hernando County real estate.


What the current climate means for sellers


Getting top dollar is every seller’s goal.

So what types of things can you do to make that happen?

Well, the pricing of a home is one of the most important things to determine. Condition, location, timing and schools are a few considerations you don’t have much control over. There are other bigger ticket items like a new roof, fresh paint or air conditioning system that you do. Of course, if you are doing a remodel the kitchen is where to spend the money. You’re going to get that money back or at least most of it and kitchens are what sells many homes. But what if you can’t afford those big-cost upgrades?

There are other things you can do to help yourself with the process. Such as:

  • Curb appeal. A manicured lawn sure looks better. Things like mowing, landscaping, and trimming will make a difference. Years ago I had a chef tell me that if you can make food look appetizing more often than not people will try it. Same holds true with the property, if it looks good when you are driving up to it potential buyers may want to see more.

  • Taking care of minor repairs like light fixtures and baseboards before listing will give the potential buyer peace-of-mind.

Just because it’s a seller’s market, doesn’t mean you should skimp on the details when selling a home in Spring Hill. You can add thousands to your sale price by taking care of updates and small details up front. Don’t skimp too much in this area or you’re leaving money on the table.


What the current Spring Hill market means for buyers


If you are looking to buy in Hernando County, you are at a bit of a disadvantage right now. It’s going to be difficult to negotiate because of the lack of homes.

If you are financing your home get yourself pre-approved before you go house hunting. This is NOT optional right now. Make sure you have your money set aside! Between appraisals and inspections and other up front costs you need to have extra cash on-hand. Some things to research:

  • School system: If you have children or are planning to start a family this is important.

  • Crime rate: While the neighborhood may look nice you should still look at a few facts.

    • Public transportation: Research before making final decision.

    • Sex offender list: A must. There are plenty of websites to help.

  • Property taxes: Many people lose homes because they can’t afford to pay taxes

  • Get help from a Realtor®: Self explanatory.


Good news for Spring Hill downsizers


No real secret here. Now is the time to sell.

If you are in a bigger home and all the kids have grown it's time. You have been contemplating getting into a smaller home. There  is no time like the present. Strike while the iron is hot.  

Take advantage of opportunities when the time is right.

That is what you should to do anyway, right? Reduce your expenses as you ease into retirement years. What do you need a three bedroom house for anyway? You don’t. Sell it while the market is hot and reap the financial rewards it gives you. Save money, energy, and less upkeep. The list can go on and on. Best of all, you’re calling all the shots.


First time buyers need patience and perseverance in this market.


Get prepared!

Buying your first home can be a very rewarding experience. It can also be very aggravating if you haven’t done your due diligence. In Florida, there are many programs to assist you. Whether it's help with a down payment, low or zero interest loans, or special county programs, there is something for everyone who qualifies. There are many other programs too. You may want to  explore are  FHA, USDA, VA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac etc.

Ask yourself the following questions before you start your home search:

  • How much can I afford? A mortgage adviser can help you with this.

  • Can I get pre approved, not pre qualified? This is a must for today’s market.

  • What is my credit score? First-time buyers generally need a credit score of at least 620 to have a realistic shot at securing financing.

  • What documents do you need? Talk to your mortgage professional about this one. She can help guide you through the process of gathering everything you need.

Help for first-time buyers with the Hernando County SHIP program

In Hernando County, the SHIP program offers help for homeowners and buyers. It's funded through the state of Florida. It's designed to increase affordable housing construction and home ownership in Hernando County. This helps with down payment and closing cost requirements. There is also extra money for construction upgrades.

Here are the four main eligibility requirements:

1. You must meet income limits for family size without going over.

2. You must be able to qualify with a financial institution.

3. You must not have owned a home anywhere within the three previous years.

4. You must take part in a first time home buyers education class.


Here's how SHIP works

You must be pre-approved from a reputable mortgage lender or bank. This step is mandatory. You must then schedule the first time buyers class. This is imperative. It prepares you for the mortgage process. The information and guidance you receive will ensure you do not get taken advantage of. You will learn tips on what to watch out for when signing real estate documents. Then you need to make the appointment to apply for the funds. Finally, contact a realtor or builder but do not sign any contracts.

How much money can you get?

That number is $10,000 and can cover down payment and/or closing costs. When you qualify there is an extra $10,000 for code related repairs or construction upgrades.

How do I pay the money back?

You don't if you stay in the house for 30 years. The loan null. The likelihood of this happening is rare. You would pay it back in full if you sell the home, if you paid off the first mortgage or if you refinanced the home. The other way would be if the homeowner dies and wills the home to someone else.

How long does it take to find out if I qualify?

From the date of the original SHIP appointment it could take as little as 2 weeks. In some cases it could take as long as 6-8 weeks depending on how fast the verification process takes.


In closing, you should be ready with as much information about the process as you can learn before you begin. You should understand your current real estate market and the current mortgage market.


The more you know, the better!