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Check back frequently to read my blog about real estate related topics and my perspectives on all things Central Florida!

Don’t Throw Money Away On Rent

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Burning MoneySeriously, why are you renting? If you think you can’t buy because of serious hits to your credit like a short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy, TALK TO ME! Been turned down for a mortgage? GREAT! Let me tell you about a lease with right to purchase program that can get you into a home of your choosing.

The process is really very simple. There is a flat $75 application fee per household (not per person). If you can meet some minimum requirements — at least a 525 credit score, a household income of $50,000+, no serious criminal history, no evictions and stable employment — then you’ll be given an approval amount to go HOUSE SHOPPING.

Only properties in the top 50% school districts will be approved and they must be in good condition. So, you’ll know you’re getting a nice place to live in and perhaps an excellent investment. Through the program, the approved property you select is bought and then leased to you. You can choose to lease for up to five years or buy the house at any time, when you’re ready. Take time to repair credit, save up for a down payment, or simply get to know the area better before committing.

Click to check out a current listing I have that may be eligible for this program. Rent it for $1990/month or buy it for $265,000.

Call me for more info at 407-236-6559 or email me at msellgren@watsonrealtycorp.com.

June Sales Overview

Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

This year’s busy season has not disappointed. Notoriously, this time heading into summer is the busiest of the year. I had three closings this month alone!

KeysFirst, I had the pleasure of helping a fellow artist find her “forever home.” She was the easiest client ever! She had been scouring the online listings for months, even prior to hiring me. So, when she saw a listing that really captured her interest, she was ready to look at it. She said that if it looked as good in person as in the pictures, she was all in. The property really had the things she craved: a pool and lots of nature to watch in the heavily wooded back yard. It was the first and only listing I showed her! The property is unique in that it’s a large plot of land, but only about a quarter of it is occupied by the house. The rest is nature!

KeysSecond, I sold a listing in Orlando that came to my via an office lead. The property is a small house that was totally renovated by the sellers. It was initially going to be for their daughter, but it didn’t work out that way. We were pleased to get an offer $1500 over asking price after being on the market for only four days. What was unique about this sale was that the seller (husband), the buyer and the buyer’s agent were all veterans. We had a few extra hurdles dealing with a VA loan, but it made for some engaging conversation at the closing table!

Happy sellersThird, I sold the investment home in Oviedo of some dear friends of mine. They were tired of playing landlord and having to fix things on the weekends. We had a flurry of activity as soon as we listed the home, with multiple offers and competing escalatory addendums. We took an offer well over asking price and were thrilled. The lesson here was that even though we could drive up the price with such high demand, ultimately it has to appraise. The buyer and seller had to agree to a lesser sale price because of where the appraisal came in. In the end, the sale price was the list price, confirming that my valuation was pretty dead on!

As always, if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell, your referrals are much appreciated! Right now I’m looking for sellers with properties in the $100-150K range. I have six buyers with pre approval letters ready to buy!

Fannie Mae Now Owns The House We Rent

Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

If you recall, last month I talked about the situation my husband and I are going through in that the house we rent (that we really want to buy) was going to auction after foreclosure. We had no idea what would happen to us and we are still being guinea pigs in order to learn by experience what happens in these sorts of situations.

New developments! I went to the auction and nobody bid on the house so it went back to the bank, or in this case, FHA. I spoke with the representative afterwards and asked him what will happen to us. He didn’t have any solid answers but said to expect to be contacted by Fannie Mae. So, I went home and emailed the property management company (who we pay rent to) and requested our deposit and last month’s rent back since the property is no longer in their control. She informed me that the owner’s attorney is “objecting to the sale,” which essentially drags things out an additional 60 to 90 days. (Which of course translates to the law office getting two or three more rent payments out of us.) It would be a delay tactic based on scheduling another hearing in front of a judge where the objection would simply be dismissed.

Buying a houseSoon thereafter there was a notice taped on our front door. It informed us that Fannie Mae now owns our home and we have three options. Option 1: continue to rent the property until the lease ends. Option 2: relocate with financial assistance from Fannie Mae. Option 3: purchase the property. I was thrilled to be given the contact information of the real estate agent handling the property. When I called him I said, “I’m so excited to talk to a human! We’re very interested in buying this property!” He answered all my questions and put my mind at ease that we would most certainly have an opportunity to put in an offer on the property.

I also met with another real estate agent who would be handling the property management aspect of this transition. We signed a new month to month lease (at about about $150 more) and she took an inventory of repairs the house needs. This is good news since we haven’t used the master shower for over a year because of a leaking drain pan causing mold to grow in the adjoining walk-in closet. (Our prior property management company would not fix that.)

So, we are not GUARANTEED to get this house, but we will be able to put our offer in just like anyone else once it’s put on the market. The only negative thing is that we have to comply and allow potential buyers to view the house. Grrrrr…. Not looking forward to having strangers in the house and making sure our animals are safe. I sympathize with tenants and sellers on a whole new level now!

The next steps are for the listing agent to come by and view the property to give his price opinion and also have an appraiser valuate the property.

Stay tuned for next month’s update! As always, if you have any real estate related questions or if I may be of service in any way, please call me at 407-236-6559.

What Happens to Renters in a Foreclosed House?

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

I’m playing the role of guinea pig to find out the answer to that question. For over two years, my husband and I have been renting a home we knew was heading towards foreclosure. From the beginning, we told the property management company that we would like to buy the house once the foreclosure plays out.

Currently, the property is in a trust set up by the law office who controls the house. The prior owners gave up their rights to it when they filed bankruptcy. We have tried to communicate with the attorneys on both sides, even sending an official purchase offer, to no avail. The “bank” in this instance is FHA, which makes it even harder to find a real human to talk to.

Foreclosure courtI’ve talked to every professional I could find to see what our rights are and what will happen to us when the house is sold at auction next week. Several scenarios have been suggested.

On June 2nd, 2015, Governor Rick Scott signed into a law some protection for tenants, requiring a 30-day notice to vacate with written notice. OK, that’s better than the almost immediate eviction that could have been possible, but that’s still not enough time to close on another house if we can’t buy this one. Closings usually take about 45 days these days.

Another scenario is called “cash for keys.” This is a situation where the bank has taken back the property and provides an incentive for the renters to get out and leave the place in good condition. I’ve heard mention of around $3000. So, I guess if we have to leave in a hurry and are not given first rights to buy this home we’ve lovingly maintained, then a financial incentive would ease the burden of moving.

At the foreclosure auction, properties can only be bought with cash. You have to have 5% to put down right then and there (in cash or cashier’s checks) and then the balance is due by 2PM that same day. I’ll be at the live auction in Seminole county next week to see what happens and talk to the person representing FHA. FHA sells all its bank owned (REO) properties on its website homepath.com, but I understand a house can sit empty literally for years before it hits the market.

Wish me luck! Meanwhile, we do have a backup property in mind that we’ll put an offer on if this doesn’t work in our favor. To find out what happens, call me at 407-236-6559.

Win a Bidding War with an Escalatory Addendum

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Gardening at homeIf you’re looking to buy some real estate in today’s marketplace, you know it’s very competitive. It seems everyone is in a mad rush to buy their next home before school starts up again in early August. Currently there is much more demand than there is inventory, which means prices are being forced upward and every property will likely have multiple offers.

So, how can you win in a multiple-offer situation? Well, first of all, give your Realtor permission to tell a little bit of your personal story so that you seem more human than just a paper contract. Then be prepared to put your best offer on the table. From the seller’s perspective, most often a cash deal will trump any offer with financing simply because they can close faster. But, often cash offers are well below asking price.

So, then when the seller is comparing offers beyond cash offers, what else do they look at? The seller cares about his bottom line, how much money he’ll walk away with. So, if your offer includes asking the seller to pay some closing costs, your offer won’t be as attractive as another that has all their closing costs covered.

The last thing that is usually considered is preferred closing date. That, and any other aspect of a contract, is negotiable.

When a hot property hits the market in a hot neighborhood it can really cause a feeding frenzy. One tip to cut to the chase that many Realtors seem to forget about is the Escalatory Addendum. Some bank-owned (REO) sales won’t allow them but in most other cases you can use them. Essentially what they are is an additional piece of paper to add to the sales contract. It simply states that if a competitive offer comes in, you are hereby increasing your sales price by x amount up to x amount maximum. That quickly eliminates offers and counter-offers going back and forth.

For more info about buying real estate in the Central Florida market, please call me at 407-236-6559.

Tips For Buyers In A Competitive Market

Posted by on Apr 29, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

It’s a fact that having the highest price offer doesn’t always guarantee that the seller will choose your offer.

Recently I went to visit clients I sold a home to a year ago and gave them a CMA reflecting the value of their home now. It came up in conversation that they’d heard from the listing agent who sold their property that a year later she is STILL getting grief from an agent whose high-price offer was not the winning bid.

As a REALTOR, our job is to do our best to get these real estate transactions to close. When working with buyers, we use our tools to get an idea of the property’s value and present a range to the buyers. Ultimately the buyer decides the price to offer. A rather high price can be offered to win the bid, but then the hurdle is whether or not the property will appraise for that high amount.

BuyersUltimately, it’s the seller’s option which contract he or she chooses. In this competitive market, there are likely multiple offers on every property. The seller will take into account many things besides price. They will look at the requested closing date and compare it to their preferred timeline. They will look at the type of financing the buyer is pursuing (if you don’t have a pre-qualification letter, don’t even bother to submit an offer). Most sellers will prefer cash over any financing because cash can close faster. Several specialized programs like FHA, VA or USDA may concern a seller because their rules and inspections can be very particular. Then, if the buyer is asking for concessions like closing cost assistance, that will be weighed against the sale price. And, then ultimately there is that “sixth sense” factor as I like to call it. The seller may simply LIKE a particular buyer better than the others.

That’s where I like to make my clients shine. Buyers, give your agent the permission to share your personal story, tug at their heart strings and make it personal. In the scenario mentioned above, I won the seller over by telling them how my client grew up water skiing the nearby lake and how he is looking forward to jet-skiing with his grandchildren there. The sellers had a deep love of the neighborhood, water sports and the lake too. They chose us.

You could even write a personalized letter telling the sellers why you would love to own their home. Better yet, have a child write it.

Good luck in your home shopping endeavors!

Central Florida Changes

Posted by on Feb 11, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

There is so much exciting activity going on in Central Florida right now, I can’t wait to see the end results. There is major road construction, a downtown being created and new attractions being built at local theme parks.

If you’ve lived in Central Florida any amount of time at all, you’ve probably fallen victim to I-4’s rush hour traffic. I remember living here in the late 80s and some clever marketer sold bumper stickers that read “I-4 Hostage.” The tongue-in-cheek sticker helped ease the pain of those stuck in the inevitable parking lot that was I-4. The biggest trouble spots are heading through the downtown exchanges and the famously dangerous Fairbanks curves. Those curves have been the site of many, many accidents and the I-4 Construction Videobane of DOT’s existence. And, whoever designed the fiasco of the on ramp merging into the same lane that’s exits towards the 408 should be fired. I can’t wait to see how they redesign those two areas! Meanwhile, the construction work is evident and will be going on for quite a while. It is estimated that the whole project will take over six years to complete. It will all be worth it in the end, for residents as well as tourists. For complete info, visit the I-4 Ultimate website.

Since I live in Maitland, I have a personal interest in what’s going on there. Maitland doesn’t really have a “downtown”  to speak of. We’d love to have a place for people to congregate, with shops and restaurants and outdoor spaces to attract the locals, special events and tourists. It would be great to create a reason for folks to walk the “Cultural Corridor” off Maitland Avenue. Discover hidden gems like the Waterhouse Residence Museum, the Maitland Historical Museum, the Telephone Museum and the Maitland Art Center.

Maitland City CentreWhen developers pitched plans for the Maitland City Centre, some residents opposed it, wanting less “density” and buildings with fewer stories, to keep a small town feel much like Park Avenue in neighboring Winter Park. The plans have since been approved and Maitland City Centre is underway. The new buildings will be somewhat similar to the relatively new development up the street at the corner of 17-92 and Lake Avenue. Village at Lake Lily offers luxury apartments, a great Japanese restaurant named Rangetsu with views of the lake from the patio, hair and nail salons, and a fabulous cake baker that created my wedding cake —shout out to Sarah at Sweeter Than The Rest! I can’t wait to see what Maitland City Centre will be like when it’s done. Click to see some renderings and learn more about the project.

Universal Studios UpdateThis weekend, for Valentine’s Day, my husband and I are planning to go to Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. These two neighboring parks have LOTS of construction going on. New projects include experiencing a high speed chase on Fast and Furious, replacing the old Twister set with Race Though New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, major revisions to the Incredible Hulk Coaster and the new Skull Island: Reign of Kong. Click to watch a video overview by Mako Madness of current construction progress.

I’m bummed I won’t be able to ride one of my favorites, The Hulk. Don’t tell my chiropractor I’m riding rollercoasters this weekend! I’m sure I’ll be in to see him on Monday to straighten out my spine…

Happy Valentine’s Day! Make it a memorable one!

On Reinventing Myself

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Jason and MichelleIt’s a rather unique experience when a woman gets married and takes on her husband’s last name. I’ve spent the last few months changing over every form of ID, every credit card, every sort of account I have everywhere to reflect my new name.

When I was first starting, beginning with my social security card and my driver’s license, I felt like some sort of Mission Impossible music should be playing in the background, as if I was doing something rather covert or illegal. It just seems really strange to assume a whole new persona.

So, I’ve decided to make the best of it.

As you know, I started back in the real estate field about a year and a half ago, taking many years off after the market crashed. (My hat’s off to the die hard Realtors who stayed in the game, largely working foreclosures and short sales.) So, for the past year or so I’ve been focusing on laying the groundwork, getting up to speed on the changes and new technology available to real estate agents. But, I didn’t want to do too much marketing and establishing my brand since I knew my name would change when I got married last September.

So, now that it’s a new year, it’s time for goal setting and business planning and the opportunities are wide open. A business planning tool I was given has prompted me to think like it’s the end of 2016 and I’m looking back on all I’ve accomplished in 2016. That will help me focus on the priorities I need to focus on to make my goals reality.

So, I’m looking forward to a great 2016. I can’t help feeling that it will be very successful. Heck, my new last name has SELL in it and my new initials are MLS. How can I go wrong?

Have a GREAT 2016, everyone. And, please think of Michelle Sellgren when it’s time to buy or sell property. I’ll be blogging more frequently now so check back at www.MichellesCFL.com every once in a while to see what’s new.

1st Thursdays at Orlando Museum of Art (OMA)

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

OMA EntranceAttending 1st Thursdays at Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) is one of my favorite things to do. It’s always a special event for my fiancé and me because it’s always an anniversary of our first date. So, if you’re looking for something memorable to do with a special date, this is a great idea if you’re both into art, music and/or food.

Lotus Nocturne

Kim Minichiello’s  “Lotus Nocturne”

Every month the front gallery is hung with fantastic art fitting the monthly theme, created by local Central Florida artists. This month the theme was “What in the world?” and featured artists’ interpretation on what that means to them. Some of my favorites included Kim Minichiello’s “Lotus Nocturne,” MPilar Vargas’ “Preservation of a Culture” and Gladiola Sotomayor’s beautiful “Flamenco Dancer.” Many of the artists featured their own cultural heritage and others celebrated their world travels.

Flamenco Dancer

Gladiola Sotomayor’s “Flamenco Dancer”

As always, they had a local vendor selling some great appetizers. We were pleased they had a vegetarian option. And, the IPA beer is always fun to taste. I went with a nice IPA but there was also a chocolate dark beer that tasted quite nice too. Often there is live music but I believe we arrived too late to hear the live music. There was some nice jazz playing though!

MPilar Vargas

MPilar Vargas’ “Preservation of a Culture”

Orlando has so much to offer in the realm of cultural activities; this is just one option that, as you guessed, occurs the first Thursday of every month. To learn more about OMA, please visit their newly redesigned website by clicking here. If I can introduce you to the finer parts of living in Central Florida, please give me a call at 407-236-6559 and let’s go house shopping!

The Beauty of Baldwin Park

Posted by on Apr 9, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Baldwin Park, OrlandoYesterday I had the pleasure of catching up with a good friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while. We got got up-to-speed on each other’s lives by taking Colibri at Baldwin Parka leisurely stroll around Lake Baldwin in Baldwin Park, Orlando, FL. It’s a 2.5-mile trek around the lake and hands-down one of the prettiest places in Central Florida.

As you make your way around Harbor Park, you pass Fleet Peeples Park, which ironically isn’t necessarily for people but for dogs. They get to run around off-leash and even jump into the water if they want!

By the end of our walk we felt we deserved a reward, a drink and an appetizer to be exact. It was a tough decision when we got back to the Baldwin Park Village Center. One of my favorites style="padding:10px;"is Colibri Mexican Cuisine, right on the water with a fabulous view, extensive outdoor seating and they’re always playing some great music, providing an excellent casual vibe. But, we opted for another favorite, Seito Sushi. Although they didn’t have any vegetarian rolls listed on their menu, they were more than happy to make whatever I wanted. Wash it Yellow House at Baldwin Parkdown with a Sapporro or some hot sake and we were feeling the bliss! It was the perfect happy hour time in Florida, the sun coming down for the evening’s long shadows and cooling breezes, as we sat outdoors in the sidewalk cafe.

Baldwin Park is a great place to live. You’ll find single family homes with architecture reminiscent of times gone by, yet with modern floor plans and amenities. Garages are accessed by alleys behind the homes making for the pretty curb appeal. There are also condos, townhouses and more. The community is pedestrian-friendly, with wide sidewalks that lead to the stores, offices, and restaurants at The Baldwin Park Village Center.

Waterfront Houses at Baldwin Park

If you’d like to see some property here, give me a call at 407-236-6559 or email me!