An interview with Lorraine Valdes on her becoming a Realtor and her take on success in regards to ethics in life and in real estate. Also, bonus question at the end!
Independence, self employment, I like working with people. I spent 25 years in healthcare: finance management and nursing. Always believed in home ownership and have always been a real estate investor. Therefore I just developed a love for it and continued on with it as a career. Central Florida is where my husband and relocated to, expecting to live here for retirement. However, immediately after we built our home my husband developed cancer. He was unable to work so we escalated our move and came down to live in our retirement home. We chose Central Florida because of the very low ability of a down swing in the economy because it is 100% driven by tourism. To me it was a no-brainer, a perfect investment location.
Buying a home is always a stressful period, even if you are doing it locally. It definitely can be an exciting time, but there are so many variables and therefore so many things that you have to think about almost constantly that it can become overwhelming very quickly. However, if you think buying a home when you can go and look at it in person and speak face to face with a real estate agent is stressful, think about buying a home online. Online home buying is becoming more and more prevalent.
“Meeting new people,” Lorraine says in response to the question of her favorite thing about being a Realtor, “I am constantly meeting new people. Being able to see the joy in someone starting a new life. Moving a family into a new home. It’s very exciting and very rewarding.”
There is no such thing as a typical work day for Lorraine. Success comes from serving people and meeting their needs. In the real estate business each day brings different people with individual needs. She stays busy and often schedules out in advance. But she leaves room to serve impromptu clients because she believes that if she can serve their needs then she will. She credits the drive of serving people and doing what is right as the secret to her success. This interview with Lorraine Valdes covers her suggestions of what a buyer should do before calling her to buy a home, the impact of summer on the Central Florida Market, and gaining momentum of the Florida Housing Market.
What are some things a prospect buyer should know, or do, before they call you about owning a home?
Know the market, be familiar with the location you’re interested in! Just asking to be relocated to Central Florida is too broad, that covers 6 or 8 counties. Target in on the area that you are interested in. If you have children, check out the school systems, do a little bit of pre-planning before you decide on a location. What you pretty much need to know is: focus on an area, know your budget and stay within it. Also, you have to be pre-qualified, you can’t buy a house without having pre-qualification for finance or proof of funds. Take time to understand real estate taxes and how mortgages are amortized. Buying a home is a commitment. If you have plans of selling it in the future then you’ll need to maintain the property in order to hold it’s value.
Summer is here! How does that affect the Central Florida Housing Market?
Summer is a slow season in Solivita. People in over 55 communities are people who are retired or semi-retired and come down to Florida for the winter months to escape the cold. Our high season is September through March when snowbirds flood the housing market. While they are here, just on vacation or month long rental or something like that, they fall in love with the weather and want to relocate. High season drives prices up, there are more people searching so there is more demand to purchase homes. Most people will list their home to sell it in high season, so yes, you have more homes to choose from but you have much more competition in purchase power. Summer time is slower, less inventory but more serious buyers. People that come down in June or July want to buy a house. They have already sold their home, they need to get in a new one soon. Now on the other hand, I do work outside 55 community, and what drives the market is school season, people start shopping in June and want to be in by August because school starts in August. So there are two very distinctly different markets I work in. People with children are busy shoppers in June/July because they need to be in by August.
The housing market is supposedly gaining momentum in Florida. As a Realtor do you notice the difference from this year as opposed to previous years?
Yes, absolutely. It has been a very busy year in the housing market. I attribute much of it to the weather conditions that have been going on in the North and Midwest. The colder the winters are the more people want out and immediately start to consider relocation to Florida. The market has been consistently high because banks are loaning again. Mortgages are quick and easy to achieve. After the bust in 2005-2007, people did a lot of short sales and foreclosures. Now they are coming upon year seven, their credit is good, and they can buy again. Central Florida is also driven by tourism. So if you have a lot of people that get laid off, or want to relocate, Central Florida is the perfect place to go because no matter if you are in management, banking, or a waitress there is always, always work here. Being in close proximity to Disney World creates a very major draw for anyone that needs to work. There is constant employment here due to tourism.
So, there are still a lot of foreclosure homes on the market?
Yes. We are still seeing a tremendous amount of foreclosures on the market. People don’t realize that process is a very lengthy one. Just because someone falters on their mortgage does not mean that the property immediately goes back to the banks. You might have seen someone get evicted from a property you want last month. Well, that property will be on the market in about four or five years. The process for the bank to acquire the deed of a foreclosure is a long one that goes through the court system. Right now they are working on foreclosures that banks took back in 2009. But there are plenty out there right now on the market that people can buy.
The real estate market is slowly recovering, but people entering it now will still be competing in a down market. Fortunately, the outcome of a housing sale isn’t completely outside of a seller’s control. In a down economy, sellers will simply have to pay more attention to the factors that will improve their chances.
A sought-after location is essential in real estate, and sellers in Florida will already have an advantage over sellers in many other states. Florida is a relatively popular U.S. state, and many people famously move here for retirement. Florida is also a popular location for a second home. While fewer and fewer people have the money to retire today, many Florida cities show a positive job outlook compared to the job outlook in other areas. Of course, Florida’s beautiful weather is as good as ever.
Succeeding in real estate often requires very specific timing. The weekday on which a home is listed can affect the results of the sale. The season in which a home is sold can make all the difference. In a down market, sellers really should take advantage of every technique that could work in their favor.
Sellers should get their homes on the market by springtime. Potential buyers will have already completed their taxes in the early spring, meaning they will have already cleared away one set of expenses and potentially received some new funds in the form of tax refund money. Buyers also typically want to move during the summer, so they will want to do their housing searches earlier. Sellers that get their houses listed during the springtime will be tilting the odds in their favor.
Sellers that put up the listings for their homes on a Thursday may have an advantage over competitors that post their listings on different days. Listing a house on Thursday gives sellers the opportunity to make their homes visible to potential customers by the weekend, which is when most people want to start or complete transactions related to real estate. The less time homes spend on the housing market, the easier they will be to sell. Getting a home sold and off the market quickly is key, and homeowners should be aware of the fact that the longer their homes spend on the housing market, the more their odds of making a successful sale decrease.
Homeowners that have neglected any home improvement projects need to get them done before they place their homes on the market. Being able to tell potential buyers, for instance, that a new addition was added to a house or the plumbing is in perfect shape is advantageous.
Some homeowners may even be able to benefit from getting a home inspection in advance. They can include the home inspector’s positive report in the open house, giving buyers even more assurance that they’re choosing a good home. Attitudes towards real estate are changing, but many people still view homes as investments. Many buyers are wary of purchasing a home that requires costly repairs, and being able to reassure them otherwise will help all sellers.
Making a good impression on people coming to see the house during a showing can make or break a sale. Buyers can be influenced by very tiny details. Buyers will have an abundance of choice in the current market, and homeowners must present their homes at their best.
As buyers are approaching a given home, they should already be intrigued. Homeowners that are good at gardening could spruce up their yards and plant some flowers. They also may want to touch up the exterior of their homes. It’s a good idea to repaint a home before selling it, especially if the paint has noticeably degraded.
Not all buyers will have enough time for home improvement projects. Plenty of people have to sell homes quickly, particularly during a time of shaky finances where people change jobs quickly. However, those people will still be able to clean their homes and clean their yards. Presenting buyers with a tidy and uncluttered home still counts for a lot. There are also things that homeowners can do in only one day that will improve the presentation of their homes.
Doing something as simple as letting in the natural light by drawing open the curtains can make a home look more picturesque to a lot of people. Florida is famous for its sunshine, and homeowners should take advantage of this absolutely free asset. The home should be well-lit in general, so using all artificial light can help. Having beautiful lamps and attractive lighting fixtures is another asset.
Homeowners should capitalize on all the senses when they are trying to sell a home. People that enjoy baking can bake just before an open house, thus filling the home with the smell of baked goods and creating the impression of hearth and home.
Oddly enough, homeowners may want to put away family photographs and drawings that their children did, or other emblems of their specific personal lives. Buyers need to be able to imagine themselves as the future owners, and the illusion is shattered when they see other people’s memories before them. Still, professional artwork and tasteful decorations can brighten any home, as long as they are not ostentatious.
The housing market can fluctuate quickly. Improving the look of a home is useful regardless of the housing market, which is why homeowners should feel motivated to do so regardless of the state of modern real estate.