Broker Notes [April 2019]

I wanted to send you the digital edition of my newsletter Broker Notes. This newsletter has been sent to homeowners in the Northwest Tampa area since the early 1990s. It was called Broker Notes because originally it was only sent to real estate agents and brokers, who may not have any idea where a home was located. At that time all the homes had an individual map tied to each property. This is before GPS in cars and google maps existed. The Veterans Expressway was not completed yet and the Citrus Park Mall had just opened and Ehrlich Road and Dale Mabry did not have stoplights. The MLS system at that time was still done in a book form that came out every week, although a listing with barebones information could be seen online.

In the early years, it was done in black and white because color was so expensive. My bid to send the first color edition to the 20,000 families that are on my mail list was about $1.00 per household or just slightly over $20,000. I tried that a couple of times. Luckily the cost of color came down dramatically. Along with many other methods that are available now, the Internet, Facebook, and Instagram, the goal has always been the same; to highlight the homes I am marketing in the best possible way to the largest number of people to obtain the best outcome for my clients. My tagline has always been “No-one works harder to sell your home” and I am a big believer in that.

To get your free digital edition of April’s Broker Notes, please visit:

Looking to list your home for sale? Contact Joe today by visiting:

For more insights visit:

For more information please call (813) 701- 2030 or email


The Common Signs of an Unreliable Real Estate Agent (Plus Bonus Tips to Sell)

There are many people that have a real estate license, but this does not always mean you can rely on them. Many people who are selling their house don’t realize who they are working with until problems arise halfway through the process. When selling, it’s important to keep everything as smooth as possible by working with an agent that you can trust. To find a reliable real estate agent, you might have to do your own research, ask the right questions and be aware of the signs.

Tampa real estate agent, Joe Lewkowicz, confirms in his April livestream that there are many cases of real estate agents who do not know what they’re doing and are not accessible to their clients. He says that many people come into the real estate business because it looks good, and they believe there is good money that can be made from it. Some really study the market and work hard to help their clients, while some do the opposite. Here are some other signs of an unreliable real estate agent.

Bad Communication

An unreliable real estate agent might lack communication skills and may be hard to keep in touch with. Some agents leave their clients in the dark and don’t update them with the sale. A good agent is going to always keep you updated, even on the little things.


When selling your house, a smooth-running process is important to have a successful sale. An agent that cancels or shows up late to appointments is a red flag. At this point, you won’t have any trust due to the agent’s lack of professionalism.

Inexperienced or Undedicated

Some agents treat real estate as their side hustle and might have a second job. Some are inexperienced and do not do their homework on learning about real estate. It’s important to work with someone who treats being a real estate agent as their primary career. This way, when you sell your house, you can have an agent who is accessible as much as possible, knows all about the real estate market and can answer any complex questions you may have.

In general, don’t be afraid to ask your real estate agent questions to get to know them, and do some research on who they work for. If you don’t feel comfortable communicating with your agent, and they seem to be disorganized, then you might want to find someone else to work with or contact someone well-established and reputable like Joe Lewkowicz.

Joe Lewkowicz goes over many other important topics in his livestream including making your home stand out in a competitive market and how to list your house.

To make your home stand out and look more appealing, you can invest in some cheap upgrades. If you have a bright colored room in your house, paint it a neutral tone. Joe says that neutral shades sell very well. You should also make sure your front yard is well-kept. You can even add some mulch for a quick, fresh look.

When listing your house, the best decision you can make is contacting Joe. He is happy to discuss your goals with selling. Joe is always a step ahead of the real estate market and is always aware of the trends. If you want to stay updated, be sure to watch to Joe’s April livestream.

Join North Tampa Realtor Joseph Lewkowicz, who will be hosting a livestream conference call on the second Thursday of every month at 10 AM EST. Users can log in and communicate with Joseph Lewkowicz directly to gain insight into the Tampa market.

To catch all the questions in the Livestream call, click to watch on Joe’s TV Channel:

For more information on the current real estate season, check out Joe’s monthly livestreams at

To watch the full April Market Recap report, visit Joe’s TV Channel:

Video Link:



What kind of credit score do I need to buy a home?

When buying a home, it is important to talk to a mortgage lender. They can help you figure out what kinds of loans you can get so you know which homes you can afford. For instance, if you have a credit score of 680 or above, you should have no problems getting a loan to buy a home. Having a credit score of low 600 or high 500 can still allow you to get some loans but it will be a lot harder. In order to get an FHA loan, you will want a credit score of 580 or higher. If you have a score of 500 or higher it is possible but unlikely that you will get one. USDA Loans require a credit score of around 640 or higher.

FHA loans have the lowest required credit requirements, with the minimum credit score being 500. When a homebuyer gets an FHA mortgage loan, they need to give a 10% down payment. Although it is possible to get a loan with such a low credit scored, it is very difficult. A credit score of 580 or higher is recommended and you will only need a 3.5% down payment.

How do I increase my credit score?

Credit utilization ratio is 30% of your credit score. Credit utilization ratio is the percentage of credit used on a credit card. The higher your balance is on your credit card, the lower your credit score will be. Therefore, the first step to improving your credit score is by making sure your credit card balance is as low as possible, especially before applying for a mortgage.

Pay off your balance

You want to make sure you are paying off your balance for your credit every month. If you have been sent to collections, you will want to take care of that as soon as possible. It is important to find out if the creditor will allow you to pay “For Delete” before paying off collections. Pay “For Delete” is when you, the collector, agrees to remove the account from your credit report if you pay off the balance. If they do not agree to it, don’t pay it, unless your lender tells you to. Paying off collections does not improve your credit score but getting collections off of your credit report can make a significant difference.

Be an authorized user

The more credit cards you have the better your credit score is, as long as you are taking care of the balances. Having multiple credit cards can get tricky so another option is to become an authorized user on a family member or friend’s credit card. By doing this you can have their credit history on that account added to yours. This can give you up to 30 extra points to your FICO score.

Stress is one of the largest concerns when selling a home. Staging, managing finances and documents, and simultaneously juggling the rest of your life can be completely draining. However, one thing is certain about selling your home: it’s a lot easier when you have a solid real estate agent to handle it. Remember, No-One Works Harder to Sell your Home more than Joe! Contact Joe today by calling 813-701-2030 or visit




Important Things to Know When Pricing a House

When selling your house, the entire process is already difficult in itself, but setting the price can also be a challenge. There are many factors to be considered when figuring out a price for your home. If you want to get the maximum value for your home when it gets listed on the market, here are some important things to know when it comes to pricing.

Price it Lower

With the high stakes that come with real estate, buyers don’t want to be the only ones interested in a single home for sale. If you set a price on the cheaper end of the range of values, you might be able to attract the interest of multiple buyers. This is also helpful if you want to sell quickly.

Make it Appear in Real Estate Searches

It is common for a real estate agent to create an automated buyer search in their database of properties. This is because many buyers ask for something specific like a home with four bedrooms in a certain neighborhood that is under $800k.

If you list your home at $820k, a potential buyer might miss this. If the price is too high, you might be missing a chunk of buyers. This, unfortunately, happens quite often.

Set an Appropriate Asking Price

It’s not uncommon for sellers to ask for strange prices. Sometimes, when a home is valued between $450k and $500k, the seller asks for something like $488,552, which is rather odd. This may bring the attention of buyers viewing prices, but nothing good comes out of this. They tend to wonder why a seller selected that price and sometimes even try to find out who it could be.

The seller should be almost invisible because the goal is to showcase the house and appeal to as many people as possible. Don’t try to be quirky with your pricing.

Develop the Pricing Contingency Plan

Before placing your home on the market, try to develop a pricing contingency plan. Many sellers tend to have high expectations toward the physical appearance of their home and ask for the highest price possible. Sometimes, they do not care if their real estate agent says they most likely won’t get it.

Be Aware of Comparables

It’s important to know the average price of homes being sold in your neighborhood to help you set a more realistic price. To do this, you can look for homes that sold in the past three months, which is what appraisers look at.

Note the Square Footage

You should look at the square footage of your home to help you determine the right value. Then, compare it to other homes with a close square footage.

Selling your home can be a challenging and stressful process from beginning to end. If you have any other questions or are interested in selling, contact Joseph Lewkowicz, a leading real estate agent in the North Tampa Bay area. Find out more here

Stress is one of the largest concerns when selling a home. Staging, managing finances and documents, and simultaneously juggling the rest of your life can be completely draining. However, one thing is certain about selling your home: it’s a lot easier when you have a solid real estate agent to handle it. Remember, No-One Works Harder to Sell your Home more than Joe! Contact Joe today by calling 813-701-2030 or visit



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4 Important Things to Know About Homeowner’s Association

Being able to own a home, condominium, or a townhouse with a planned development is great because you have fewer responsibilities on the upkeep and the surroundings of your home. The fact that many of them have amenities like pools, gyms, and clubhouses is another fantastic benefit. However, having these advantages can come with a price to your finances and freedom when owning a home.

Planned development means you are required to be a part of the homeowner’s association (HOA), which means you are going to have to pay fees that involve the upkeep of the area and other shared structures. This membership also means that you must abide by its conditions and restrictions. For example, if you wanted to paint your door red or park an RV in the driveway, you could not do these things depending on the conditions, which are concerned with the appearance of your home.

Here are four more important things that you should know before buying a property that requires you to join the HOA.

1. Wide Range of Fees

There are many things that go into the fees such as the size of the amenities that come with the property and how many are present. For example, if a development is gated and features a golf course, you can expect to have higher fees.

Fees really depend on the location and orientation of a development and how much the upkeep costs.

2. What You Receive Also Varies

Buying a home in a community that is well maintained and managed includes a bundle of other things like legal obligations and entitlements. The services and amenities that the homeowner’s association is responsible for can also vary along with the fees that are charged.

3. Fees and Mortgage Approval

Purchasing a home in a planned development means that you must consider the HOA fees into your finances overall. Potential mortgage lenders are also going to be factoring this in.

Banks examine the monthly HOA fees when figuring out how much of a mortgage you can afford, which they also do with property taxes. In many developments, property taxes are not included in the HOA fees.

With this, you may end up wrestling with annoying tradeoffs when deciding with other properties. You may also be left with an approved, smaller amount to be spent on your home with higher HOA dues.

4. Be Familiar with the HOA’s Rules

All homeowner’s associations have their own set of unique covenants and rules to be followed, and you must be fully aware of all of them. Even if you hear about some second-hand facts, or if you have experience and knowledge of past developments, do not rely on this information to learn about an HOA’s rules. It is also important to discuss this with other people you plan to live with and if you can handle living and following these rules.

If you are interested in selling your home, or if you have any other questions regarding real estate, contact Joseph Lewkowicz. He is the top real estate agent in the North Tampa Bay area and can sell your house efficiently with his hard work and dedication. To find out more, visit

Stress is one of the largest concerns when selling a home. Staging, managing finances and documents, and simultaneously juggling the rest of your life can be completely draining. However, one thing is certain about selling your home: it’s a lot easier when you have a solid real estate agent to handle it. Remember, No-One Works Harder to Sell your Home more than Joe! Contact Joe today by calling 813-701-2030 or visit



Pros and Cons of Paying Cash

When buying a home, buyers often look for anything that can give them a leg up on their competition. One-way people are doing this is by buying their home in all cash. While paying in cash can make it more likely that the seller will accept your offer, it’s not for everyone. Here are some pros and cons to buying a home in all cash, and tips to help you decide what is best for you.


Sellers usually favor it

Sellers often favor an offer that is all cash. This is because they know that whether you get a loan or not you are still planning on buying the home. Sometimes the seller may even sell the house for less if you plan to pay all cash. Another reason sellers tend to favor all-cash buyers is because the selling process goes a lot faster. Without having to deal with the paperwork of getting a loan there isn’t a long wait process.

Saves you money

Not only is paying in all cash easier for the seller but it’s also easier for the buyer. When paying in all cash you save money on closing costs, title insurance, bank appraisals, mortgage applications, and other expenses. Also without a loan, there isn’t any interest, which can add up into being a lot of extra money.

Leads to less stress

The longer your buying process takes the more stress you have to go through. Buying a house with all cash eliminates that stress. One of the main stresses you get to miss out on is home appraisals. If you buy a home using a loan you need to get the lender to come out and determine the home’s worth. With cash, you get to skip that step and avoid the stress of the appraisal being low. Owning your house as soon as you sign the contract gives buyers a sense of security, especially because you no longer have to worry about foreclosures.


You could have invested

If you have enough money to buy a home, you probably have enough money to invest. Investing can take the money you would have used to buy a home and grow it. You can invest in the stock market or mutual funds and make a larger return.

You can end up house poor

House poor is when you bought a house with most of your money and now can’t afford any additional expenses. If you are going to buy a house in all cash, you want to make sure you still have liquidity. You never know what is going to happen and you want to have enough money on hand in case anything arises. It is suggested to have enough money that you could live off of for a couple months in case you lose your income.

If you still don’t know if buying in all cash is right for you, talk to a real estate agent you trust like Joe Lewkowicz. Joe is always here for you and will look out for you and your best interest.



Can You Get A Home With Bad Credit? [February 2019 Market Recap Report]

If you want to sell your home now you should start getting ready. March is the beginning of the summer selling season and also the season of relocating. Families that are relocating are checking out schools and communities now. They stop looking around June or July. Joseph Lewkowicz believes you should act quickly because it will start to slow up around when school begins. Joe states that during this summer season homes should be selling fast, especially if you make sure to keep your home updated. And luckily this year, the FED did not raise interest rates, so studies show it will remain steady.

After the market recap, Joe proceeds to answer questions from viewers. Joe uses his years of experience to help provide viewers with insight into the current market and the various questions you may have when buying or selling your home. Joe shares ways to prepare your home if you plan to sell in it the summer. He also explains to first-time home buyers what the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is and what kind of credit score you need to buy a home.


How should I start preparing my home if I am selling it in the summer?
If you plan to sell your home this summer, you will not have enough time to make renovations like putting in a new bathroom or kitchen. Instead, you should focus on something that will not take too much time. Putting a new layer of paint is the best way to get the most bang for your buck. Joe suggests looking for the latest trends in colors to keep up with the competition. Another suggestion to step up your home is landscaping. Adding mulch is a cheap way to elevate your home. The more money you put into the house the more you will be able to sell it for.

What is a Homeowner’s Association?
They vary from having strict rules to having almost none at all. Most communities are deed restricted, they have certain rules you have to follow. Homeowner’s associations are the ones that enforce the rules. Sometimes there is a required monthly amount to pay for HOA. Most larger communities usually have voluntarily ones that aren’t as enforced. Smaller communities, especially gated ones, usually have stricter regulations. Some of these regulations include rules about maintaining your yard or enforcing rules in their clubhouse.

Join North Tampa Realtor Joseph Lewkowicz, who will be hosting a livestream conference call on the second Thursday of every month at 10 AM EST. Users can log in and communicate with Joseph Lewkowicz directly to gain insight into the Tampa market.

To catch all the questions in the Livestream call, click to watch on Joe’s TV Channel:

For more information on the current real estate season, check out Joe’s monthly livestreams at

To watch the full February Market Recap report, visit Joe’s TV Channel:

Video Link:

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Real Estate Scams You Should Watch Out For

Buying or selling your house is one of the most expensive transactions that you may deal with in your lifetime. With lots of money involved comes great responsibility, meaning you have to be careful. Criminals target the ones who are ignorant and easy to prey on. They come up with the most creative tactics to make money. Scammers aim for anyone whether they are a buyer, seller, or a real estate agent. Here are some scams that happen in real estate that you should be aware of, in order to avoid being caught in a trap.

Hackers Can Steal Your Down Payment

Yes, this is possible, and it happens. Someone can hack into your agent’s e-mail or other personal property and try to contact you into sending them money, which you are not going to get back.

This situation has escalated so much that the FTC released a statement to consumers about real estate agent’s e-mails getting hacked. The best way to prevent this is to make sure there are zero closing costs when you are purchasing a home. You can also request to make a phone call when wiring money.

There Can Be Fake and Duplicated Listings

Sometimes people copy legitimate listings onto other websites, and this you should be careful of, especially if it is a site that is non-related to real estate. It is common that people fall for listings like this and then wire money to the scammer without even knowing it. Once they fall into the trap, there is not much they can do about it after.

To avoid this, make sure to do your research on a specific listing, website, or real estate agent. If the landlord happens to mention that they cannot allow you to see the property or says they are not local, then it is best to avoid the situation.

Strange Contact Information

Scams in real estate can happen right down to the contact information someone provides. Most of the time, an agency’s information is provided. If you see someone’s personal contact information, this could be a sign, but you shouldn’t worry too much about it because it happens sometimes. It only gets weird if there is no number given or if it’s a long-distance connection. Then the listing is probably not legitimate.

The Overly Eager Buyer

If you ever sell your home, watch out for the overly eager buyer who offers way too much detailed financial information. This is common for cash-buyer scammers who give bank statements or some other document that proves their financial situation. These scammers want you to believe that they can be trusted, but this is a way to reel you into a trap.

The Pushy Seller

These people are usually in a rush because they can’t wait to get you to approve the deal, so they can get what they want without getting caught. If you feel a seller is pressuring you in any way, or you feel rushed during the process, it is best to just go find another listing.


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How the Government Shutdown Affects the Real Estate Market

As many people have heard, the U.S. government shutdown occurred from December 22, 2018, to January 25, 2019. There were many factors affected by the government shutdown including the scientific community, the criminal justice system, the internal revenue service (IRS), and even the real estate market. For instance, homebuyers and real estate agents faced delayed closings.

With the already struggle to gain momentum, the government shutdown did not help the real estate market at all and only slowed things down, which could result in some long-term consequences. Here’s how the government shut down affected the real estate market.

The effect on the IRS – This was the largest issue that impacted the real estate market. Most loans require the form 4506-T, which is a document that has tax transcripts on file from the IRS. Due to the government shutdown, these files were delayed in delivery.

The housing market – From the buyer to the real estate agent, all factors in the whole housing market were impacted in some way. Many home sales were paused due to the standstill of new flood insurance policies, which was stopped by the Federal Emergency Management Administration. If the shutdown had continued any longer, there could have been a major decline in home sales, which would have prohibited the real estate market’s journey to improvement.

Economy effects – Everyone knows that selling your home or even buying one is a lengthy, time-consuming transaction that can cause serious anxiety. With the government shutdown in the picture, this did not help the situation. Delays in this process definitely made a negative impact on consumers and even the economy as a whole.

The USDA stopped processing loans – The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) temporarily stopped issuing new USDA Direct Loans and Guaranteed Loans, while scheduled closings of Direct Loans were canceled. Some people who were planning to use the program for making a home purchase had to put their transaction to a halt depending on the lender.

Social Security reports stopped – This mainly affected homebuyers who wanted to process a mortgage application. This enables them to borrow money to buy a home. The application requires the applicant’s social security number, which is verified by the lender through the Social Security Administration. Since delays in this process were expected, government-sponsored agencies went easy on the rules for lenders submitting reports before delivering the loan.

The government shut down caused some negative impacts to the real estate market overall, but despite this event; it is still more stable than it was last year.


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Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Buying a house for the first time is hard and often can become stressful and confusing. That is why it is important to find a realtor you trust and can help you figure out the housing market. Joe is always there to help you out from finding your dream home that is in your budget to help you get in contact with a mortgage broker. Here are answers to some questions first-time home buyers ask to help you be prepared to buy your first home.

How do I decide my budget?

Spend more money on your house if you believe in a few years your income would be enough to cover the mortgage payments. You do not want to settle for a house because of your current income just to get a higher income in a few years and go through the buying process again. Buy a house that you will qualify for so that you are not disappointed in your house in a few years.
While budgeting you should also be aware of the closing costs. They are usually between 2% and 5% of your loan amount but you can look around for the best one that suits your needs. You should also plan for after move-in costs. Once you are done budgeting your down payment and closing cost you should figure out how much you will need to be left for the finishing touches. This includes furniture, any new painting you want to be done, or any other improvements you plan to do in the following months.

How do I know which realtor is right for me?

A realtor is a big part of finding the perfect home. They can affect which homes you see and the deals you get. That is why it is important to find one that is local to the area you want to move to. If you are looking for a home in the Tampa area you would want to find someone with years of experience. Someone with experience in the area will know where to look for the type of home you want, and which ones are in your budget. They also have connections with sellers and mortgage brokers to help make the process easier and less stressful for you.

How to qualify as a first-time homebuyer?

Meet with a mortgage broker. There are multiple programs you could investigate. Often, they have bond programs that are financed by the government. You can also look into FHA financing which may allow you to have 3.5% down payment and the seller may pay your loan closing costs. If you are a veteran, you should see about getting a VA loan. A mortgage broker will help you find the best programs for you and see which ones you qualify for.

Stress is one of the largest concerns when selling a home. Staging, managing finances and documents, and simultaneously juggling the rest of your life can be completely draining. However, one thing is certain about selling your home: it’s a lot easier when you have a solid real estate agent to handle it. Remember, No-One Works Harder to Sell your Home more than Joe! Contact Joe today by calling 813-701-2030 or visit