The first page of today’s (8/28) New York Times sports section read: “Red Sox at Center of Stimulus Plan.”  The article was very positive and indicates that Sarasota has the best chance of getting the Red Sox spring training program.  Orlando has shown some interest but already has the Atlanta Braves.  Ft. Myers (current spring training home) is waiting for Sarasota to make their bid before they counter.  The Bosox COO, Mike Dee, is quoted as saying that Sarasota’s interest has been “tremendous – comprehensive – aggressive and supportive.”  Looks good! For more information go to

People who bought when home prices were high may find themselves “upside down” in the current real estate market – they owe more than they can get for their home. Because of this, short sales have been on the rise. 

The term “short sale” means the lender will accept less than the balance owed on the mortgage. For example, if the unpaid balance is $200,000 and the property sells for $180,000, the lender will accept $180,000 as payment in full. 

For a seller who has fallen on hard times and can no longer keep up with mortgage payments, a short sale may be a good alternative to bankruptcy or foreclosure. For the buyer, a short sale may be an opportunity to get a good deal on a home. For the lender, a short sale may save many of the costs associated with a foreclosure, plus the lender doesn’t have to take ownership of the property. 

Sellers need not be in default of their loans to be considered for a short sale. If your unpaid mortgage balance is less than the market value of the home, and you meet other criteria including hardship, the lender may consider a short sale request. 

Short sales are difficult and there are many considerations. Anyone contemplating buying or selling property under these conditions should consult with an attorney and accountant about the ramifications and tax consequences. Sellers should be aware that a short sale may affect their credit rating. They can ask the lender not to report adverse credit to the credit reporting agencies, but the lender is under no obligation to do so. 

Furthermore, many factors can derail the process along the way. And there’s nothing short about short sales; a backlog of requests means it could take months to get an answer from a lender. 

This is one area where you definitely need an experienced Realtor. The Jim Soda Group has been very successful in assisting buyers and sellers through the short sale process. We can refer you to attorneys and accountants and help you determine whether a short sale is right for you. We will walk you through the process, make sure you complete all the required paperwork, and protect your interests. We will follow up in a timely manner to help expedite the process.

With a little patience on everyone’s part, a short sale could be a successful experience and viable solution.

Prudential Real Estate Ranked Highest for Seller Satisfaction in J.D. Power and Associates’ 2008 Home Buyer/Seller StudySM, Prudential (DBA) Announces


Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial, Inc. [NYSE: PRU] company, and Prudential (DBA) announced that Prudential Real Estate ranks “Highest Satisfaction for Home Sellers Among National Full Service Real Estate Firms” in J.D. Power and Associates’ 2008 Home Buyer/Seller StudySM.

The inaugural study measures customer satisfaction of home buyers and sellers with major national real estate companies. Overall satisfaction is determined by examining four factors for the home selling experience: agent (43%); marketing (38%); office (12%); and services (7%).

Among home sellers, Prudential Real Estate achieved a score of 793 on a 1,000-point scale – and Prudential Real Estate received particularly high ratings from customers in the marketing and office factors.

“We are very proud of this distinction, as it underscores the quality of our affiliates and their hard-working sales professionals, said Laurie Keenan, president of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc. “Our sales professionals are local experts, and sellers appreciate their ability to market and price homes right — along with providing exceptional, attentive service.”

The team at Prudential (DBA) works hard to not only meet, but exceed the expectations of its clients – sellers and buyers, explained (Name), broker/owner, Prudential (DBA). “In the current challenging market, our clients want all the expertise and market knowledge we can offer – and by leveraging Prudential’s brand strength, its wide array of product and service offerings and its strong Internet marketing programs, we can provide sellers with the increased exposure they need.”

 The J.D. Power and Associates study finds that despite the popularity of home buying and selling resources on the Internet, the real estate sales professional remains key to customer satisfaction with real estate companies. A large proportion of both home buyers and sellers rely on the Internet to facilitate the buying or selling process, with 68 percent of buyers saying that they used Internet tools to help them in the purchase process and 61 percent of sellers reporting that they used a website listing to market their home. In addition, among sellers, online methods are the most important aspect of marketing.

However, the sales professional carries the greatest importance among the factors that comprise overall satisfaction among both home buyers and sellers.

According to J.D. Power and Associates, although the Internet provides home buyers and sellers with the ability to perform some essential tasks – such as listing a home for sale or researching a neighborhood in which to purchase a home – it still does not replace the importance of a good sales professional. Particularly in an uncertain real estate market, professional advice from sales professionals can be especially valuable to buyers and sellers. The knowledge and expertise provided by experienced sales professionals is an important benefit of using a full-service real estate company.

The study also finds that the average time a respondent’s home remained on the market was slightly more than six months, although home sellers represented by the top-ranking real estate companies report that their homes were on the market for slightly less time – approximately five and a half months, on average.

Satisfaction averages 794 among those customers whose homes sold within five months or less, but declines considerably to an average of 730 among customers whose homes took seven months or longer to sell, the study showed. A real estate company that provides sales professionals who are skilled at determining the appropriate market value and listing price for homes, and who can effectively market properties, can help minimize the time that clients’ homes remain on the market – which can save the seller money, inconvenience and anxiety.

Nearly one-half of respondents in the study (46%) reported using recommendations from family or friends to find their real estate sales professional. Approximately 28 percent used the Internet, 23 percent used a sales professional they had used previously and 11 percent used a printed real estate guide.

 The study also reports that home buyers were shown an average of 13 homes before they made a purchase. Home sellers reported that, on average, their home was shown 11 times, and about five open houses were conducted before a sale occurred.

The 2008 Home Buyer/Seller Study includes 3,670 evaluations from 3,205 respondents who bought or sold a home between April 2007 and June 2008.

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction. The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on cell phone ratings, car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance and more, visit J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, Inc. is Prudential’s integrated real estate brokerage franchise and relocation services business. Prudential Real Estate franchises are independently owned and operated. Companies are selected based upon outstanding performance

records, high levels of customer service and shared business values with those of Prudential. Prudential Real Estate provides franchises with business strategies using Operation Reviews as well as numerous benefits, including access to Prudential Real Estate’s Online Seller AdvantageSM program designed to provide real-time information to sellers with the touch of a keystroke. Prudential Real Estate is one of the largest real estate brokerage franchise networks in North America, with nearly 2,100 franchise offices and approximately 64,000 sales professionals in the franchise Network as of June 30, 2008.

Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader with approximately $638 billion of assets under management as of June 30, 2008, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Leveraging its heritage of life insurance and asset management expertise, Prudential is focused on helping approximately 50 million individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth. The company’s well-known Rockâ symbol is an icon of strength, stability, expertise and innovation that has stood the test of time. Prudential’s businesses offer a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds, investment management, and real estate services. For more information, please visit

Fantastic 4 bedroom 4 bath home with office on private preserve lot. Disappearing corner leads to inviting pool with disappearing edge spa and view of majestic oaks, lake and private preserve view. Tile throughout, gorgeous cabinets, granite, center isla nd and pass thru-bar to formal dining room.  Upstairs includes theatre with built-ins, two bedrooms and bath.  Downstairs offers full bedroom suite. Luxorious master and master bath, lots of closet space. Virtual Tour: Price $1,075,000. Call me at 941-809-7759 to schedule a showing or for more information.

Understand first of all that there IS a difference between price and value. Price is the amount you are asking for the property. Value is buyer perceived, and this perception of value is influenced by many factors such as location, features, condition, comparison to other purchase option, etc. By attending to details that can have a positive impact on the value, sellers can significantly increase their chance of attracting qualified buyers willing to pay the asking price.



  • Perceived size impacts value, even more so than actual square footage. Open floor plans make a room feel bigger than larger spaces with smaller rooms. Showing property that is furniture free, or at reduced clutter, helps to make the space feel bigger.
  • Vacancy increases sale-ability. Property is easier to show and easier to sell, and quicker to take possession of when it is vacant at the time it is offered for sale. Evidence of problems to take possession of the property — such as encroachments, or tenants who wont allow buyer tours — negatively impact value. Vacancy also helps the buyer walk through the property imagining ownership. Sellers should remove personal trinkets and family pictures as well as being conveniently absent during a buyer tour.
  • Cosmetics are important.
    • Fresh paint will always add more value than it costs.
    • Clean or new carpet/flooring adds more value than it costs.
    • Landscaping adds more value than it costs. At the very minimum, make the entrance area neat.
    • If you can, add some colorful flowers and new sod.
  • Take care of the obvious! The spot on the ceiling from the roof leak takes thousands of dollars from the perceived value and the offer price.
  • Condition affects value. Do a seller’s home inspection to identify and fix the problem BEFORE closing. No point holding up your check a few extra days; plus a failed buyer’s inspection could cost you the sale. Buyers will often bargain down your asking price to accomodate for property condition and repairs.
  • If you can, remodel/update the kitchen and master bathroom. These two areas have a big impact on home buying decisions.
  • Renovations can impact value and your bottom line. Don’t spend more money to renovate the place than you can recapture in value on the sales price.


Lakewood Ranch’s new post office is nearing completion, with an opening set for late October or early September.

Residents have asked for a post office for many years, and it’s been in the works for a long time.

The Lakewood Ranch post office will cut the driving distance for residents whose closest postal facility is either at Creekwood Crossing or the Braden River Post Office on State Road 70.

The 20,000-square-foot post office, on the northeast corner of SR 70 and Lorraine Road, is at the geographic center of entire planned Lakewood Ranch.

Closing the Deal

August 14, 2008

Closing consists of all the necessary final steps involved in sealing the deal on a home purchase. It includes:

The offer to purchase

There’s no foolproof way to make an offer that’s guaranteed to be accepted by the seller. But once you find your perfect house, it’s wise to move fast. A good rule of thumb is to make an offer that’s 10 to 20 percent below the asking price, though that might not work in some areas based on trends in the market. This gives you some room to negotiate, but don’t top what you’ve predetermined to be the highest price you can afford.

The deposit

Also known as earnest money, this is a demonstration of good faith and commitment by the buyer to the seller. It is usually 1 percent of the home’s purchase price and is included in an offer to purchase. Either the real estate agent or the seller’s lawyer holds the deposit in trust until the deal closes. If you decide not to close on a deal once your offer has been accepted, you may lose your deposit and be sued for damages. If the seller does not accept your offer, your deposit will be returned. If the sale proceeds, your deposit is usually applied to your down payment.


These are certain requirements specified in a contract that need to be met before the buyer is required to close. Typical among them: the buyer’s securing of financing and an acceptable house inspection. Generally speaking, an inspection contingency covers a 10-to-14-day period from the acceptance of the contract, and financing contingencies run for 30 days. But in a seller’s market, buyers may be asked to fulfill their contingency requirements in shorter time frames.

Home inspection

In a home inspection, a professional conducts a thorough examination of a property to assess its structural and mechanical condition. The idea here is that a trained home inspector will be able to catch potential problems that a buyer might not detect.

The contract

This follows the acceptance of an offer by the seller, and it is a legal and binding obligation, on the part of the buyer, to purchase the property if any contingencies are met. It outlines the details of the transaction, including: a description of the property, the selling price, the date of closing, the possession date and any applicable contingencies.

Settlement sheet

Also called a “HUD 1”, “closing statement” or a “settlement statement,” this is a document that the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires to account for all financial aspects surrounding the sale and purchase of a home. It provides an enumerated list of the funds that were paid at closing. Items on the statement include real estate commissions and initial escrow amounts (money or securities deposited with a neutral third party – the escrow agent – to be delivered upon fulfillment of certain conditions). The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act requires that a copy of the settlement sheet be distributed to both parties at least one day prior to settlement.

Closing documentation

Before you can close on a house, some paperwork must be completed. This includes a title search to make sure the title is clear, title insurance to protect the buyer and the lender from an oversight regarding a claim on some aspect of the property and an application for homeowner’s insurance (necessary for securing a mortgage).

Closing costs

The total amount of closing costs varies, but may include: a loan origination fee, an appraisal fee, the cost of a credit report, a lender’s inspection fee, the cost of title insurance, a mortgage broker fee, taxes and a fee for document preparation. Your lender is required to give you prior notice of fees associated with your loan.

Final arrangements

Before the deal is closed and you take possession, you must make some practical arrangements regarding turning on the utility service and do a final walk-thru.


Settlement describes the payment of the balance of the purchase price the buyer owes on the property, and the transfer of the title. It takes place on the possession date specified in the agreement.