Sunday, December 1, 2013

Homes Always Cost More

This is the season for giving thanks, and I think I can speak for all Realtors—nation-wide, this has been a year that we are thankful for. Home sales started up again, and the foreclosures and short sales are fewer and fewer. That’s really good for our communities, as even vacant homes get back on the tax roles and new owners take pride in their new house.

On my street there are an even half dozen homes that have new owners, and everyday there are contractors trucks in their driveways. New roofs, new pools, new kitchens and baths seem to be the main expenses, but these “additions” to the cost of the home brings employment to the contractors and their staffs, brings furniture sales, brings new appliance sales and—helps everyone.

The new homeowners are like the Freshman Class, in they come and they don’t know anybody—so they have a need to meet the neighbors, to take their place in the society, and to establish themselves. They will stick together because they all moved in the same year, and they will reach out to the rest of us for the names of contractors, doctors and dentists and where the best restaurants are.

The data is a little sketchy, but it seems like the first year expenses of owning a new (or different) home run around 15% of the selling price. Meaning that the buyer of a $200K home will be spending something on the order of $30,000 in general fix-up and re-dos, just the first year. And next year should be as good or better, just look at the headlines: Air Canada will be serving Sarasota with non-stop flights. Which is all the better for us Realtors, since Canadians love our climate and come here with cash (no US mortgages for non-citizens).

It’s time for a creative real estate agency to install a kiosk at the airport and capture the buyers as they arrive in town. Maybe the best idea would be for agents to offer free orange juice and a printout of the newest listings for sale in the area of your dreams. Another headline indicates home selling prices are climbing a bit. I can never tell which side the writer is taking until I get into that story. On the one hand, increases in price are good for the seller, and for the taxman. Of course there is the concern that with increases in cost, houses will no longer be affordable, and so perfectly nice people will be priced out of the market--but in truth if a seller wants to sell, he’ll drop the price until a buyer is found.

Meaning that affordability is a function of what the buyer will pay. And so it is that most of us remember to say thanks—remember to give thanks at Thanksgiving, only once a year. But in fact, buyers and sellers (and Realtors) have much to give thanks for. Both Sarasota and Charlotte Counties have wonderful infrastructure, including not just good roads but schools, libraries, hospitals, shopping, sporting arenas and entertainment venues. All of this costs us tax money—but it makes the quality of life, and therefore the appeal to live here all the better.

Dane Hahn is a real estate professional affiliated with Sarasota Associates in Venice, serving Sarasota and Charlotte Counties. You can contact him at 941-681-0312, or by email at See him on the web at

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