Port Richey Real Estate

January 30, 2009

0304-0607-0904-2553_tnAre you looking for a Realtor to help you buy or sell real estate in Port Richey, Florida?

Consider calling Chris O’Connor with Charles Rutenberg Realty for all of your home buying and selling needs in the Tampa Bay area. With close to 30 years of calling Tampa Bay my home I can comfortably say that I know this market inside and out.

And Port Richey, FL is one of my preferred markets!

Whether you’re looking for a luxury waterfront condo or a small 2-bedroom starter home…I’d love to help you find your next home or investment property.

Are you thinking about selling your home? You’re going to need a Realtor with experience, knowledge, ethics, discipline and a track record of successfully listing and selling real estate in both traditional sales and short sales. Please consider calling Chris today at 727-804-5319 to discuss your Port Richey real estate needs.

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Have you seen this cat?

January 27, 2009


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FHA Home Loans to the Rescue – Help for Homeowners

January 25, 2009

by Brandon Cornett

You can’t turn on the TV these days without seeing a news story about the U.S. economy in general and the housing market in particular. Starting in 2007, we began to see record numbers of home foreclosures, a trend that continued into 2008 (and one that shows no sign of slowing).

But for many homeowners, help is on the horizon. And it comes in the form of FHA refinance loans. Let’s take a closer look at this new program and what it promises to do.

Housing and Economic Recovery Act

The recently passed Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 will help “at least 400,000 families” who are struggling with their mortgage payments and facing foreclosure. It will do this by providing FHA-insured refinance loans to switch the homeowners from high-rate ARM loans to lower fixed-rate mortgages. For those accepted into the program, the end result will be a lower monthly payment and more desirable fixed rate that will no longer adjust / increase.

History of the FHA

The Federal Housing Administration was created in 1934, during the Great Depression, to make home financing available to a greater number of Americans. The FHA does not actually make home loans to consumers. Instead, they insure certain loans made by private lending institutions.

You’ve probably heard the term “government-backed financing” before. The FHA program is an example of this. By having government insurance in their favor, private lenders are more willing to offer mortgages to borrowers they normally wouldn’t qualify (due to credit problems or other qualification issues). The lender is assured of getting their money back on the loan, even if the homeowner defaults and stops making payments. That’s what the FHA insurance does.

The Refinancing Angle

Traditionally, the FHA program was focused on helping buyers in the purchase of a home. But as a result of the aforementioned Housing and Economic Recovery Act, the program is being opened up to homeowners who want to refinance. According to the HUD website, “an estimated 400,000 borrowers in danger of losing their homes will be able to refinance into more affordable government-insured mortgages.” The program is slated to begin in October of 2008. To find out if you are eligible, visit the HUD website or refer to the Home Buying Institute resources mentioned at the end of this article.

Getting Away from ARM Loans

The goal of this new program is two-fold. It is designed to help struggling homeowners who have adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) convert to fixed rates. It’s also designed to lower their mortgage rates in the process. Lower rates and less uncertainty — a double win.

About the Author: Brandon Cornett is the publisher of Home Buying Institute, a website that offers advice for home buyers and mortgage shoppers. To learn more about FHA loan program or related topics, visit the Institute at

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Redneck Carnival ride

January 24, 2009

You ain’t gonna believe this one! The first time I saw this video I thought it must have been a fake, but after some research I discovered that this is the real deal. Would you ever allow yourself to be strapped into this slingshot? I am seriously amazed that this girl is still alive. Imagine all that could have gone wrong. On a positive note it sure looks like a lot of fun.

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Thinking you can kill a bear with a hand gun

January 23, 2009

bearGuy goes into a gun store. He tells the salesman he’s going moose hunting in Alaska. He needs to know what kind of handgun he should carry in case he runs into a bear.

The salesman says, “Carry any handgun you want. But if you’re going to shoot a bear with it, be sure to grind off the front sight.”

The customer looks perplexed. “Why should I grind off the front sight?”

“That way it won’t hurt so bad when the bear takes it away and shoves it up your $@#.”

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Credit and Home Buying – Like Peas and Carrots

January 22, 2009

by Brandon Cornett

In the classic film Forrest Gump, Tom Hank’s character said that “Jenny and me was like peas and carrots,” referring to how inseparable they were when growing up in Greenbow, Alabama.

Borrowing that analogy from Forrest, home buying and credit scores are like peas and carrots too. The two concepts are inseparable, so anyone planning to buy a home in the near future must understand the importance of credit.

The Credit and Mortgage Connection

For most people, purchasing a home means taking out a mortgage loan to pay for it. Unless, of course, you’ve just inherited a fortune from Uncle Ernie, won the lottery, or invested in Apple Computers stock back in the 1980’s. If you fall into one of those categories, count yourself lucky.

But for the rest of us “average folks,” buying a new home is only possible through the use of a mortgage loan. And this is where credit comes into the picture.

To obtain a home loan, you must have a credit history behind you (and ideally a good one). Lenders will review your financial background to “weigh” you in terms of risk:

– If you have a history of being financially responsible, then you’ll have a higher credit score and will be more likely to get a good interest rate on your home loan. You are a low-risk borrower for the lender.

– On the other hand, if you have a history of missing bill payments, carrying too much debt, or similar examples of bad financial management, you will have a lower credit score. In this scenario, it will be harder to obtain a loan for home buying purposes, and even if you do you’ll pay a higher interest rate on the loan.

The two points outlined above have always been true. But good credit is even more important for home buyers today, due to tighter regulations on the lending industry. So let’s talk about the things you can do to maintain a higher score:

Credit Score Needed to Buy a Home

What kind of score do you need for home buying in today’s economy? Well, this will partly depend on the lender you choose. But suffice to say that a better score will certainly make your home buying process a lot easier. Not only will you have an easier time qualifying for a loan, but you’ll also qualify for a better interest rate on that loan. This translates into money saved each month!

The average credit score in the United States currently falls between 650 and 700, depending on whom you ask. Higher is always better. According to experts, a score of 720 or above is ideal for home buying purposes because it will ensure that (A) you get qualified for a mortgage loan in the first place and (B) you get a good interest rate on the loan.

Carrots and Peas … Like Never Before

Good credit is more important for home buyers today than it was in the past. That’s because in the past, there were plenty of subprime lenders willing to offer home loans to borrowers with bad credit scores. Of course, they would charge them astronomically high interest rates on the loans, which is partly what led to the mortgage crisis of 2007 – 2008.

As a direct result of that crisis, there are very few subprime lenders around anymore. That particular business model is simply not viable anymore. So while there were plenty of subprime (bad credit) mortgages in the past, they simply aren’t around anymore.

About the Author: Brandon Cornett publishes the Home Buying Institute, a website full of advice on mortgages loans, house hunting, credit scores and more. Learn more or contact the author by visiting

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Tips for Getting the Best Mortgage Rate

January 20, 2009

by Brandon Cornett

As a home buyer, it only makes sense to try and obtain the lowest interest rate when applying for a mortgage. After all, that rate is a primary component of the mortgage payment, so it has a direct bearing on the amount of money you’ll pay each month.

But how do you get a low rate when applying for a home loan? This is the question many home buyers want to know. So in this article, I’ll explain three important concepts you should keep in mind when seeking the best rates from mortgage lenders.

Concept #1 – Your Credit Score Plays a Role

The first thing to realize is that the interest rate you are offered will be partly determined by your credit score and financial history. In other words, the best mortgage terms are usually reserved for those home buyers with the best credit scores.

What does this mean to you when buying a home and applying for a loan? It means that your credit score will often dictate the type of interest rates you are offered. So if you have a bad credit history, and your score illustrates this to the lender, then there’s little chance you’ll be getting the best interest rate. If this is the case, you should focus on improving your credit score before you go shopping for a mortgage online.

Concept #2 – The Mortgage Type Makes a Difference

The type of home loan you select also plays a role in determining the interest rate you receive. So it’s important for home buyers to understand this concept as well. For example, an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) loan will generally come with a lower interest rate than a fixed-rate loan — but that is only for the first few years. Of course, the rate on an ARM loan will also adjust at some predetermined point in the future, and typically this adjustment means a higher interest rate! That’s another thing to keep in mind when mortgage shopping.

Concept #3 – You Must Compare Lenders on Key Factors

There is one last thing I want to touch on, and that is the need to shop around in order to get the most favorable rates from a lender. Shopping for a loan is just like shopping for anything else — you have to compare multiple lenders in order to find one that offers the best rates and terms on the loan.

Many buyers don’t realize that ten different lenders may offer you ten slightly different mortgages. The interest rate will vary, the terms will vary, the closings costs will vary … you get the idea. And these make a big difference in the amount of money you pay over the long haul. That is why it’s so important to compare lenders and to carefully review the information they present to you, ideally with a financial advisor of some kind (or at least someone who is mortgage-savvy).

About the Author: Brandon Cornett publishes the Home Buying Institute, a website full of advice on mortgages loans, house hunting, credit scores and more. Learn more or contact the author by visiting

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Would you refer a buyer or seller to me?

January 18, 2009

thank-youAccording to studies 43% of home buyers and 41% of home sellers say they found their Realtor through a referral. And only about 11% of buyers and 22% of sellers used their previous Realtor. With these stats I must be doing something right, because my past buyers and sellers not only keep in contact with me, but they also use me over and over again. And at a much higher rate than 11 – 22%.

So I’m asking you for your help. As everyone that watches the news or reads newspapers or can simply see or hear knows….this real estate market is in dire condition. Prices are way down and homes sit on the market for 300+ days before selling. In fact most listings will never sell. Yes, it’s that bad.

Maybe with this upcoming and pending government bailout the tides will change, but as of now we’re all in the same boat. Only sellers that price in the lower 25% of comparable listings will get showings or have a chance of selling.

With that said I sure would appreciate any referrals you might be able to offer. Perhaps someone you work with is considering buying their first home. Or maybe your sister is tossing around the idea of moving to Florida and she needs a Realtor to help her find the perfect condo. Is your best friend behind on mortgage payments and needing to sell and downsize? Whatever your story is I’d like to help. And nothing could be more flattering than receiving a referral from a past buyer or seller.

Please shoot me an email or call me at 727-804-5319 if you know someone that needs help buying or selling real estate in the Tampa Bay area. I promise you that I’ll take good care of them and exceed your expectations in assisting them find and purchase their next home.

(The above referenced statistics were taken from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® 2007 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers.)

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Hillsborough County Elementary Schools

January 18, 2009

school1The following is a list of Hillsborough County Elementary Schools:

  • Alafia Elementary School
  • Forest Hills Elementary School
  • Ippolito Elementary School
  • John B. Gorrie Elementary School
  • Joseph Richard Brooker Elementary School
  • Lake Magdalene Elementary School
  • Lillian Symmes Elementary School
  • MacFarlane Park International Baccalaureate
  • Nelson Elementary School
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar Magnet Elementary
  • Richard Cimino Elementary School
  • Seminole Heights Elementary School
  • Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School
  • Westchase Elementary School
  • Yvonne T. McKitrick Elementary School

If you notice an error in this list of Hillsborough County Elementary Schools please let me know! Thank you.

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Do Open Houses Work?

January 17, 2009

open-house-signThe answer to this question isn’t so simple. In a normal or healthy real estate market Open Houses are one of the least effective marketing tools a listing agent can employ. And it only gets worse. In a declining or paralyzed real estate market, such as we’re currently experiencing in the Tampa Bay area, Open Houses are a complete waste of time.

So why do Realtors do Open Houses?

We do them because sellers insist we do them. Home sellers are under the impression that Open Houses actually work, and the Realtor that refuses to waste his or her time doing Open Houses will soon have a disgruntled seller on his or her hands. Realtors do Open Houses to appease sellers.

You’ve heard of someone who sold their house at an Open House?

Yeah, me too. And I’ve also heard of someone who tried to remove their own spleen with a spatula. Ok, I made that part up, but you get my point….I hope. Actually selling a home at an Open House is a rare event. So rare that it borders on a freak incident.

The REAL reasons why Realtors do Open Houses

1. Realtors have to appease sellers.
2. Realtors use Open Houses to find buyers.
3. Realtors use Open Houses to find sellers.

What do you think happens when a visitor comes to an Open House and discovers the home doesn’t fit their criteria? Do you think the agent holding the house open simply thanks them for coming and says bye? No chance. Realtors do their best to then capture the contact information of these potential buyers and then flip them to other properties. Your house has essentially served as bait to catch buyers.

And then there are the nosy neighbors. While the home seller is away (allowing the listing agent to hold the Open House) several extremely bored and overly nosy neighbors will wander over to investigate. They’re there to critique the decor, floor plan and furnishings. Oh, they’ll pretend to be interested in buying the home, but a good Realtor knows the right questions to weed out the nosy neighbors from the qualified genuine buyers.

The moral of the story is that Open Houses are a tool for agents to find new clients. In the miraculous situation where a qualified buyer actually walks through the door and wants to purchase the home then the Open House turns out to be a win-win-win for all. But the odds are the entire process of holding a house open will be fruitless and a waste of time for the home seller.

Personally, I love to do Open Houses when the market is active. As long as there are buyers out and about I’m content with doing Open Houses just about every single weekend. But my personal ethics force me to be honest with home sellers. I let them know up front that there is very little chance of attracting a buyer and selling their home through the Open House process. If they still want me to hold their home open I do so with a clear conscious that I have not led them on and given them false hope. And I also let them know that if their home doesn’t match the criteria of the Open House visitors I will sell them a different home.

Have I met buyers at Open Houses?

Over the years I have sold at least a dozen homes to Open House visitors, but never have I sold them the actual house where we met while I was holding an Open House. And I’ve met maybe a dozen sellers at my Open Houses and listed and sold their homes soon thereafter. I also don’t know a single Realtor that has held an Open House and sold that property due to holding it open.

(Naturally, the above information pertains to Open Houses in the Tampa Bay market under current 2008 market conditions)

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