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Old 01-12-2019, 11:18 AM   #21
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This is probably a lie, what is really happening is the builder is too lazy which is too bad as your property taxes will possibly be higher than they should be. In general a 3 bedroom house is taxed higher than 2 bedroom all things being considered, and able to be sold for more to most people.
The builder especially a national does not want to customize any home. It disrupts work flow and can delay delivery time. They start 2 a week and with a full schedule 2 have to drop off the back end. If that doesn't happen the Superintendent can lose out on his bonus. Trades get confused. And the wall may even be a bearing wall. Requiring additional support.

I would never trust a RE agent/sales person with a construction question. Ever. Way way too many instances of RE not knowing and feeding the buyer a line to close the sale
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Old 01-12-2019, 11:30 AM   #22
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It sounds like you don't want to be a land lord, and I don't blame you. Plus, unless you do the short term leasing deal (or "off the record Air BnB") then any long term tenant will probably be an issue when they figure out that they are now in a "glorified" hotel w/ pimps, prostitutes and God only knows what else. It could really make your life a living hell dealing with your tenant.

My DW is a regional manager for a very large rental management company and every single day has some crazy story about what a land lord has to deal with. Granted, she oversees 1000's of homes, so the relative % is fairly low...but is still a great example of why we aren't interested in being landlords (anymore...we were, but are out of it now).

SIL owns a couple of rentals and she has had issues that weren't fun to deal with. MIL/FIL own two smaller apartment complexes and have had all sorts of issues to deal with. The worst was probably the dead tenant they had to deal with on CHRISTMAS MORNING!

So being a land lord is not for the faint of heart. Sure, you could go YEARS without having any real significant issues, but do you think it's worth the risk?

And mortgage free? I am most definitely in that camp. We haven't had a mortgage since 2012 and it's an absolutely fantastic feeling of freedom. I personally wouldn't want a mortgage if I could avoid it.
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Old 01-12-2019, 11:34 AM   #23
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In your shoes, I would start looking at used houses in your price range and desired location. Figure out what amenities are critical, how much yard you want, and whether or not you want an HOA. Go to open homes in areas that appeal to you. Note prices and what you like and dislike about the properties.

Shop around for an agent that is knowledgeable but not pushy and explain that you are looking at both new and used houses. It may take some time to find what you want and you will buy when you find what you want. That person should be able to select properties for you to see based on your criteria.

Meanwhile, start doing any fixes to your condo that you think will help it sell faster and for a higher price. That means lower cost things like updating fixtures and maybe a fresh coat of neutral paint. Not a complete remodel.

Get a couple of recommendations for lenders and get prequalified for a mortgage by a couple. You may not go that route, but you will know how much you qualify for and what the costs would be. Any good agent will want to know you are financially capable of buying before they invest a lot of time with you.

Once you have done all that, you will feel comfortable making the best decision for you, given your desires, your finances, and what your existing home will bring in the market in a reasonable selling time.
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:56 PM   #24
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I would add on new construction, you WILL be dealing with construction defects. You really don't know what you're getting except that it will be new. Viewing already existing properties gives you some idea of whether you would like living in the home and what you would want to do to it to make it ready for you for move-in.

A good relationship with a real estate agent is critical for two reasons: (1) showing you properties you would really be interested in, and (2) providing advice about pricing and selling your condo. Not sure what all the common practices are in Florida, but, you do have selling issues you need to understand and a real estate agent can help explain that.

Finally, in some states a potential buyer will condition the sale on an inspection (and they pay the fee for this), then it subjects you to additional negotiations and actions in order to close the sale. With your real estate agents' help, hire an inspector and get an assessment of defects that you can either fix now, or have in mind for pricing your condo.

Just some thoughts,

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Old 01-12-2019, 02:31 PM   #25
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......
Finally, in some states a potential buyer will condition the sale on an inspection (and they pay the fee for this), then it subjects you to additional negotiations and actions in order to close the sale. With your real estate agents' help, hire an inspector and get an assessment of defects that you can either fix now, or have in mind for pricing your condo.

...
I don't think OP has to worry about this since his condo is an apt type condo, so it's only what's inside the unit that OP has control over and they are generally fairly standard, so there won't be anything to fix or it will be really minor from home inspection.

However, OP looking at existing houses should consider it a MUST to get a home inspection, to uncover everything including termites.
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Old 01-12-2019, 06:10 PM   #26
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In your shoes, I would start looking at used houses in your price range and desired location. Figure out what amenities are critical, how much yard you want, and whether or not you want an HOA. Go to open homes in areas that appeal to you. Note prices and what you like and dislike about the properties.

Shop around for an agent that is knowledgeable but not pushy and explain that you are looking at both new and used houses. It may take some time to find what you want and you will buy when you find what you want. That person should be able to select properties for you to see based on your criteria.

Meanwhile, start doing any fixes to your condo that you think will help it sell faster and for a higher price. That means lower cost things like updating fixtures and maybe a fresh coat of neutral paint. Not a complete remodel.

Get a couple of recommendations for lenders and get prequalified for a mortgage by a couple. You may not go that route, but you will know how much you qualify for and what the costs would be. Any good agent will want to know you are financially capable of buying before they invest a lot of time with you.

Once you have done all that, you will feel comfortable making the best decision for you, given your desires, your finances, and what your existing home will bring in the market in a reasonable selling time.
+1 This even includes looking at relatively new "used" homes in the neighborhood you like.
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:17 PM   #27
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This is probably a lie, what is really happening is the builder is too lazy which is too bad as your property taxes will possibly be higher than they should be. In general a 3 bedroom house is taxed higher than 2 bedroom all things being considered, and able to be sold for more to most people.
Actually, the house would remain a 3/2.5 even if I were able to implement my idea. If you count the "flex room" that would serve as my office downstairs, you could even call this property a 4/2.5. My idea basically involves bringing down two walls, removing closet space, and making the second bedroom a really large room, even bigger than the master bedroom, which is perfect for what I intend to do with it (2 Home Theater, audiophile's dream type of room). The third bedroom would remain identical in size. All we would loose is closet space, but the house has plenty of that. Taxes would be about the same to what we currently pay, but the house would be much bigger.

I will ask again about this and see if I can discuss it with the project manager or even use it as a negotiating tool. It really makes no sense to build an extra two walls that we would end up bringing down anyway.
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:37 PM   #28
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+1 This even includes looking at relatively new "used" homes in the neighborhood you like.
We did look at existing homes. In short, I found nothing that was even remotely like what we had in mind and needed.

A few important notes to keep in mind:

- The South FL area makes no sense when it comes to prices. Everything is overpriced to begin with, and most existing homes we looked at were actually about $30 to $50K HIGHER in price. And none of them were appealing to us. My wife liked a couple, but I hated them. Just plain old FL "shoe-box" type properties. Precisely what I do *not* want. The new construction is a little bit on the "cookie cutter" side, but they are elegant and modern and tasteful. I also do like the 2-story lay-out. In the extreme case of flooding (a possibility in Florida), I can see us moving the important stuff upstairs, if needed.

- In addition to being higher in price, additional work would be required in the case of most existing homes. For example, removing/covering pools we do not need and will never use, new appliances, new impact windows, etc.

- Even those existing homes with brand new impact windows that we looked at will always, in the end, be retro-fits. Impact windows installed from the ground-up are always better. I can not stress the importance of a hurricane-proof home in our area. New homes are supposed to be built up to the latest hurricane code and all come with impact glass throughout. They are also much more energy efficient because of this fact.

- Insurance is about half the cost in a new property, due to the above. About $3K/year for the new construction vs. $7K/year for older homes that are not as hurricane-ready. Huge difference in yearly cost right there. Electric will also be about 30% as much, more than likely.

- The new construction gives me the option to make the home a "smart" home, and comes pre-wired with CAT 6 ethernet throughout the entire property. For the type of job I do and the type of connectivity I need in my home, this is a big plus.

- The garage comes pre-wired for an electric car charger.

- There is a warranty for most items. From 10 years for structural items to 1-year for materials, etc.

- The community is gated. HOA's are $220/month (vs. $650 now for the condo), but this includes a beautiful gym (which is a must for my wife and would cost $60 to $75/month by itself elsewhere), lawn service, a resort type pool (ok, this I could not care less about), and other amenities we can actually benefit from (unlike the beach in our existing condo, which we honestly never use). I am not the type of person who enjoys mowing the lawn (does anybody?), so having somebody do this for us once a week is a plus.

Yes, many folks we asked did mention that defects were found, but in all cases the developer took care of them. I am sure the headaches will be there one way or the other, but I feel that a new construction has more pros than cons in our particular case.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:13 PM   #29
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Actually, the house would remain a 3/2.5 even if I were able to implement my idea. If you count the "flex room" that would serve as my office downstairs, you could even call this property a 4/2.5. My idea basically involves bringing down two walls, removing closet space, and making the second bedroom a really large room, even bigger than the master bedroom, which is perfect for what I intend to do with it (2 Home Theater, audiophile's dream type of room). The third bedroom would remain identical in size. All we would loose is closet space, but the house has plenty of that. Taxes would be about the same to what we currently pay, but the house would be much bigger.

I will ask again about this and see if I can discuss it with the project manager or even use it as a negotiating tool. It really makes no sense to build an extra two walls that we would end up bringing down anyway.
Especially when you realize it means fixing or replacing the floor where the walls used to be, and fixing the ceiling for the same reason.
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Old 01-13-2019, 06:33 AM   #30
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Karloff, would you mind sharing the new development? It is probably on the Pulte homes site anyway. Is it: Parkview at Hillcrest? Pulte used to build a great home here in North Easy Florida, but they do a cheaper stick option up here now. Make sure the homes are concrete block.
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Old 01-13-2019, 06:48 AM   #31
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It really makes no sense to build an extra two walls that we would end up bringing down anyway.
Any changes would mean adding months to your finish date. For one, they'd have to re-permit for your property, as walls drive the blueprint for electric and other things. A change to the walls means a change to a lot.

I wanted an enclosed patio on a home that was only just started, was told nope. The home still took 6 months longer than expected lol (s fla). As far as liability from storm damage, you have none until you close - ie, get insured and move in. Of course, if there are delays then the builder has no liability either.

But like everyone here, sell, don't even think about renting - this condo does not sound like a good property to try with given you have no experience. Sell to preserve value, put a deposit on the new place, and then bridge whatever gap there is between selling the condo and moving to the new place with a short term rental when the time comes.
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:56 AM   #32
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Karloff, would you mind sharing the new development? It is probably on the Pulte homes site anyway. Is it: Parkview at Hillcrest? Pulte used to build a great home here in North Easy Florida, but they do a cheaper stick option up here now. Make sure the homes are concrete block.
No problem. It is indeed the Parkview at Hillcrest. Homes are all concrete block. I do not think they have a choice in that sense, due to hurricane code. If you have more info on this, I would love to hear your thoughts.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:18 AM   #33
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This is what I would do... or perhaps put it on the market a month before your move-in dateand hope that it doesn't sell too quick.

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wait, put $100K down, then mortgage about $400K, then move from one property to the other at our own pace, THEN, once we are finally moved in, we sell the condo and pay the mortgage off
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:29 AM   #34
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Karloff,

Several decades ago, I was seriously looking at buying a new construction home being built by Pulte in Michigan. Like you, I had thoughts of improving on their design to tailor it to my wants. Back then, I wanted to install better quality windows, and change something in the bath and kitchen (nothing major, but I don't recall the details).

FWIW, Pulte would not deviate one iota from their plan.

I deplore 'waste' (it's a personal value). Seeing something being built while knowing that I would just turn around and rip it out (although brand new and perfectly functional) and replace with something different just rubs me the wrong way to my core.

So I bought a 'used home' instead.

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Old 01-13-2019, 09:29 AM   #35
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No problem. It is indeed the Parkview at Hillcrest. Homes are all concrete block. I do not think they have a choice in that sense, due to hurricane code. If you have more info on this, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Not really more info. Pulte builds for Dell Webb in Pointe Vedre, FL. (55+). When they first started the development ~2008 they were all concrete block. But as time went on, I presume to reduce the price they changed to stick. We went looking to see what it is like, the older homes are now coming up for sale and a selling point is they are CB construction. In fact the resales are lower than the new ones and better built. That is just our particular experience in this particular situation.

You can find the development on the Dell Webb web site. They are still building.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:29 AM   #36
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If you are not happy with the condo why would you think that renters would be?

You might be letting yourself in for a string of renters.

I would keep the condo until your home is ready. Take your time moving, then sell it. You have 10 year old condo. Who knows, assessments may kick for repairs over the next few years. If you have issues with the condo board what makes you think these issues/concerns will disappear after you move out?

Renting your condo will no doubt reduce it's subsequent sale price. My guess is that now, or when you move, will be the ideal time to dump it and move on.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:44 AM   #37
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This is what I would do... or perhaps put it on the market a month before your move-in dateand hope that it doesn't sell too quick.
What about market risk on the condo or not knowing exactly how much you will clear from the sale to defray the cost of the new home? I know it's a pain, but I vote for putting it on the market as soon as they sign paper on the new home..from the OP's description of his condo there's more downside then upside in holding for a year or longer.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:52 AM   #38
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Thank you all for the feedback. A friend of mine who is a contractor and can essentially do pretty much anything from electrical to construction to carpentry to roofs, etc., is going with me for another look at the property today. I trust him, and will essentially ask him "is this worth it?". His expertise and opinion will play a role as well.

In regards to the condo, the building is actually 40+ years old. It is rock-solid. During the 2017 hurricane we never lost power, never lost internet and the damage (to the outside only) was minimal at worst. I was impressed with this and to this day still think "would a house... ANY house... be safer than this huge concrete block where I do not have to worry about a roof?" (then again... hearing the upstairs neighbors noise is unbearable sometimes). I do know what a hurricane "feels" like in the condo, but I do not know what it will be like in any new house, concrete block or not. So I am inclined to go with one that comes pre-built up to the latest code and with impact glass everywhere. (we spent about $25K to retro-fit our condo with impact windows back in the day, and I do not wish to go through that hassle again).

One important detail: Both the new development and the condo have underground electrical wiring. So chances of loosing power during a hurricane are significantly reduced. Most old FL homes will *not* enjoy this huge advantage.

The condo used to be a great place. Nice community, polite owners and renters that were mostly harmless. At one point I felt like we were the only "young" folks here (we moved in in our very early 30's and the average age at the board meetings was probably 65). But, things changed for the worst in the last 2-3 years. At the risk of being misinterpreted, the building went from hosting mainly a fun, old-school Cuban and Latin and American community (mostly the owners), something that is very typical of South FL, with (mostly) polite and easy-going Canadians visiting in the winter... to, to be blunt, becoming Little Russia and a magnet for anchor babies overnight. All I see today are pregnant Russian 20-year-olds who also already have 3 other babies. And lots and lots of short term rentals where there are not supposed to be any. Please do not read anything remotely political nor cultural in this remark. It is simply the facts and what we have been seeing every day for the past 3 years or so. It is no different in the rest of the buildings in the area, from the ultra-luxury high-risers to the older, less fancy buildings like ours.

It is still a very desirable area, but my fear is that we will not be able to sell at a decent price.

Very stressed at the moment. We really do not wish to get an "interim" rental, and I also do not wish to get a mortgage, regardless of how quickly we can pay it off. Of course, we need to either do one or the other, unless we get crazy lucky and can put the property on the market at a very competitive price as soon as our new home is ready, then move in and pay cash. I suppose this will be next to impossible...

All your comments are very helpful, so please do keep them coming.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:57 AM   #39
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Very stressed at the moment. We really do not wish to get an "interim" rental, and I also do not wish to get a mortgage, regardless of how quickly we can pay it off. Of course, we need to either do one or the other, unless we get crazy lucky and can put the property on the market at a very competitive price as soon as our new home is ready, then move in and pay cash. I suppose this will be next to impossible...
I was just wondering which of the two was more palatable. Seems to me the advantage of selling early is that you can hold out a little more for your price. Once you move out, you'll probably want to sell pretty quickly.

I'd probably get out as quickly as I could. What are the chances that the place will go back to being more pleasant and livable, vs. getting a worse reputation and being tougher to sell?
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Old 01-13-2019, 10:09 AM   #40
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It sounds like your current condo is going downhill fast. Get it on the market and sold now. Once an area gets that downhill momentum, it tends to snowball before it bottoms out and takes many years to recover. Your downhill trend is not due to the whole local area market being down, it is due to your building is being taken over by bad owners and tenants. If the new place is what you decide, then get a mortgage for that, it will start as a construction loan and then transition to std mortgage once completed. If your current place sells, deal with moving to a temp housing until your new place is ready to move into. I would not rent out the current condo, just sell it and avoid the landlord hassles and riding the downhill slide in values that seems to be occurring.
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