Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

June 25, 2021

THE BEST INDOOR TREES FOR YOUR HOME

 

THE BEST INDOOR TREES FOR YOUR HOME

Artificial plants may never die, but having live plants in your home will make your home look and feel better. Nothing brings life into a home better than well-maintained greenery.  Most indoor trees are easy to take care of and only need adequate water and a spot where they'll get enough light. You can fill your home with trees or just add enough to a room to beautify empty space. Here are the best indoor plants to add life and coziness to your home. 

1. Fiddle Leaf Fig

You probably have a friend who has a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree in their home right now, and for good reason. They only need regular watering and indirect light, and are the perfect size to add a touch of greenery to a room. Be sure not to overwater this tree, as it will drop leaves quickly.

2. Weeping Fig

This tree is one of the most popular indoor trees. It has slightly arching branches and can fill out quite well if taken care of. Like the Fiddle Leaf, it prefers indirect light but it doesn't like cold drafts or hot, dry air. This tree is best kept away from doors and A/C vents. The Weeping Fig is known to shed less than a quarter of its leaves in the fall and sprout them again in the spring, so keep that in mind when buying one.

3. Areca Palm

If you want to add a beachy vibe to your home, this feathery palm will do just that. It thrives in bright spaces and can grow up to 10 inches in a year, reaching 6-7 feet indoors. In the spring and summer, the Areca Palm likes light, constant moisture. During the winter months, it works best to let it dry out a bit between waterings. 

4. Rubber Tree

The Rubber Tree is one of the easiest to grow indoors. If you want a darker-colored plant, consider this tree that only requires moderate light. Occasional pruning will help the tree look its best, but be sure to wear gardening gloves to keep the sap off of your fingers. 

5. Ponytail Palm

If remembering to water plants isn't your forte, this is the plant for you. The Ponytail Palm stores moisture in its base so it will be just fine if you forget a week or two of watering. The plant has long, strappy leaves that add the perfect touch to a contemporary room. It prefers indirect, bright light and is slow-growing.

6. Lacy Leaf Philodendron

If you're looking for an easy plant that will live long, this is the one for you. With massive glossy leaves, this philodendron can grow up to 6 feet wide, so keep this one in mind if you have a large space to fill. This plant only needs watered when the soil becomes dry and requires moderate light. 

June 25, 2021

Choosing The Perfect Area Rug

 

Choosing The Perfect Area Rug

If you’ve ever seen a perfectly styled room, you probably noticed that the area rug was used to tie the room together. Because they come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and designs, it can be overwhelming to decide what area rug is perfect for the room you are trying to decorate. Here is a short guide to help you find the perfect fit.

1. Determine your price range.

In order to shrink your option pool, the best first step is deciding how much you want to spend. Area rugs can get expensive, and they tend to grow in price as they grow in size. Other factors, such as material type and pile (the height of your rug fibers) will impact the price too. If you set a range before you go shopping, you can save yourself the heartbreak over a rug that is way out of your budget.

2. Decide on a size.

Ultimately, the size of the rug is up to you. There are recommendations depending on the room type, but it is YOUR home so the final call is yours. For living rooms, it is recommended that you center the rug and make sure it is large enough to cover all furniture space. Low-pile rugs will last longer if you have a heavily trafficked living room. For your dining room, consider a rug that will hide stains from accidental spills and will have about 2 feet of empty rug space outside of your table - that way, dining chairs won’t scratch your floor. For bedrooms, choose a carpet that has 3 or more feet on each side of your bed. Usually high-pile rugs are best for bedrooms to add a cozy vibe. 

3. Choose a style & color.

You’ve made it to the best part! Now that you’ve slimmed down your choices with price and size, you have options based on your color and style preference. When choosing your color, keep in mind that the rug can either be the dominant color in the room or it can accent colors you already have. Designs are all about personal preference. If you want the rug to have a bright pattern, it can be the center point of your room. Otherwise, you can pick a calming rug that balances out the room if it is otherwise busy. Keep in mind that patterns will hide stains and traffic.

May 20, 2021

Things to do In Orlando

Things to do In Orlando Fl.

 

Posted in Insurance
May 14, 2021

Preparing for Listing Photos

 

Preparing For Listing Photos

Listing photos are the first chance many potential buyers get to be exposed to your home. This is why being prepared for listing photos and ensuring your home looks ready to sell is a key part in the home listing process. Here are some tips to prepare your home for listing photos!

Clear Off Kitchen Counters & Sink

When the kitchen counters are completely cleared off, buyers can imagine how they might use the space for themselves. Kitchen items and decor only distract buyers can often make the kitchen feel cluttered. You will want to remove everything except a handful of decorative items from the countertops and thoroughly clean all surfaces.

Clear & Clean Bathroom Sinks, Tubs, and Showers

Take all of your bath/shower items and place them into a bin that can go underneath the sink. This can help your bathroom look bigger. Clear off the counters so that bathrooms look unused, but it is okay to leave clean hand towels and hand soap.

Replace Burned Out Light Bulbs

Make sure you check all of the ceiling lights, lamps, and exterior lights to make sure that they all work and can correctly illuminate your space. If there are dark areas in your home, feel free to add a few extra lamps to brighten them up. Additional light can make an area look more spacious so the more light, the better!

Turn On All Lights Throughout The Entire House

You want your home to be captured in the best light, and so it is essential to have as much light as possible. Before your photographer comes, turn on all of the lights in the house!

Open All Windows

Natural light from windows brings life to photos. Opening all of the window treatments in your home to let in as much light as possible. If it's too bright, your photographer can adjust as needed. Make sure you clean the windows if they will be photographed!

Remove Unnecessary Furniture & Decorations

This is probably the hardest part, but it's one of the most important. Removing and storing furniture that doesn’t bring value to your photos can be hard, but it opens up the floor space and helps to not distract potential buyers. Buyers want to be able to visualize their items in your home and that can be hard to do if the room is cluttered with furniture.

Turn All Ceiling Fans, TVs, and Computer Screens Off

Any moving items like ceiling fans or active TV/Computer screens can look very strange in photos. You should turn off anything that moves or can cause a motion blur.

Clear Off Appliance Surfaces

Be sure to remove photos, magnets, notes, reminders, and other personal information from the refrigerator or any other appliance you have decorated. It will not only make your home appear cleaner, but it also keeps your personal info safe.

Make All of the Beds

Be sure to make and decorate all the beds in your home with matching sheets, blankets, and pillows. Use bedding fits correctly and covers the mattress.

Posted in Listing Photos
May 3, 2021

Make Moving With Pets Stress-Free

Make Moving With Pets Stress-Free

You’ve just bought a new home, and Fluffy and Fido are starting to worry about all the moving boxes going into the truck outside. Pets can easily become stressed during a move, which might cause them to lose their fur, become aggressive, or even run away. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to reduce your pet’s anxiety before, during, and after your move.

Plan Ahead and In Detail

Many people consider their pets as part of the family, so it’s only natural to be concerned for their comfort and safety during a move. Meticulous planning well in advance of moving day is the best way to ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible with moving to a new home.

Make a Checklist of Moving Tasks

We recommend making a checklist of things to do — call the vet, have your pet microchipped, research veterinarians, buy calming medicine, etc. If you’re planning to transport your pet in a crate or carrier, take time to introduce them to it, especially if your dog or cat hasn’t been in their carrier in a while. Put their food or a few treats in it in the weeks before the move; that way, they’ll be more accustomed to the space and will feel less stressed.

Gather Important Documents

Your new state, county, or community might have different rules for owning a pet, so research what records you will need and what fees you must pay in order to register them. It might be best to put the following in one organized file just in case:

  • Vaccination records and health certificate

  • Rabies tags (if they’re not already on your pet’s collar)

  • Emergency contact info for your current veterinarian

  • Contact info for a recommended veterinarian

Keep Medication, Food, and Toys Handy

You won’t want to pack your pet’s medications, treats, toys, or food until moving day, so you may want to set aside a box just for your pet. Be sure to pack this box either in the car with you or within easy reach, just in case of an emergency.

Update Your Pet’s ID

Engrave a new ID tag with your new home address and phone number in case your pet gets lost. Hopefully, this will never happen, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure that your dog or cat is microchipped or at least is wearing a collar, especially in the weeks leading up to moving day.

Keep Them Comfy on Moving Day

In the chaos of loading boxes into the moving van, the last thing you want to happen is your beloved furry friend escaping. Keep your dog or cat in a separate room with their toys, food, and carrier until the time comes to load them into the car. Alternatively, you could let a friend or family member pet sit until it’s time to go.

Book a Pet-Friendly Hotel in Advance

If you’re driving a long way or need to stay at a hotel overnight, reserve a pet-friendly hotel room well in advance so you’ll have one less thing to worry about on moving day.

Take Plenty of Stops on Long Car Rides

While on extended car trips, take frequent stops along the way to give your pet fresh water and food, let your pet go to the bathroom, and take your dog for a refreshing walk around the rest area.

Give Them Time to Adjust to New Surroundings

Pets can become agitated when exposed to new surroundings, so it’s important to keep their collars on and keep an eye on them for the first few days after moving. Surround them with their favorite toys and comfort items, like a blanket or pet bed from the old house, to give them a familiar scent to latch on to.

Be sure to stick to a routine, too! Take your dog on a walk at the same time and stick to your regular feeding schedule.

April 26, 2021

Shopping For Homeowners Insurance? Here Are 6 Questions To Ask An Agent

 

Shopping For Homeowners Insurance? Here Are 6 Questions

To Ask An Agent

 

If you are on the market for homeowners insurance, you are probably wondering what questions you need to be asking - especially if this is your first time buying a home. You may not know what constitutes the right type or amount of coverage you need for your home - and that’s okay. Experts in the field are there to help you, and these are some of the basic questions you should ask them.

1.     How much would it cost to rebuild my home in its current location in the event of a total loss?

Your homeowners insurance policy should cover the cost of building a new home completely from scratch. Your agent will have knowledge to accurately calculate this cost. Generally, homeowners policies cover partial or total damages caused by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or any other disaster listed in your policy. Keep in mind that flood and earthquake-related losses must be insured separately, since both are excluded in standard homeowners insurance policies. 

2.     How much is the personal property in my home worth in the event of a total loss?

Your homeowners insurance policy should also cover the cost of replacing all personal property should it be stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or another disaster covered by your insurance. Typically, personal property coverage is equal to about 50-70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your dwelling. So if you have $100,000 worth of dwelling protection, most insurers would recommend $50,000 to $70,000 worth of personal property coverage. The best way to determine if this recommendation is appropriate for your specific situation is to conduct a home inventory. To make creating your inventory as easy as possible The software includes secure online storage so you can access your inventory anywhere, anytime. If you have an iPhone, you can also download the new Know 

3.     How much liability protection do I need?

Liability covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you, or your family members, cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by your pets. The liability portion of your policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards—up to the limit of your policy. You are also covered not just in your home, but anywhere in the world. Liability limits generally start at about $100,000. Most insurance agents and company representatives recommend that you purchase at least $300,000 worth of liability protection. If you have significant assets and need more liability protection than is offered under the standard homeowners policy limits, ask your agent about umbrella liability.

4.     What level of additional living expense coverage do I need?

The Additional Living Expenses (ALE) provision is found in standard homeowners insurance policies. It pays for the costs of living away from home if you cannot reside there due to damage from an insured disaster. ALE covers hotel bills, meals and other expenses over and above your customary living expenses. ALE coverage differs from company to company. Many policies provide coverage equal to about 20 percent of your dwelling protection. For example, if the structure of your home is insured for $100,000, you would have $20,000 of ALE coverage. Some companies impose a time limitation, such as 12 to 24 months.

5.     Should I buy a separate flood and/or earthquake insurance policy?

There were numerous flooding events and earthquakes in the U.S. in 2011 but relatively few Americans had coverage for either type of natural disaster because these perils are excluded from standard homeowners insurance policies. Check with your insurance agent or insurance company representative to see whether you might need specialized coverage beyond your standard homeowners insurance policy. Flood coverage for homeowners is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurers. Earthquake coverage is usually available in the form of a supplemental policy from your insurance company, or, in California, from the California Earthquake Authority. Fire and water damage due to burst gas and water pipes following an earthquake is covered under standard homeowners policies in most states.

 6.     Do I qualify for any discounts?

If you have smoke detectors, burglar alarms and/or dead-bolt locks in your home, you can often get a premium rate discount. Sophisticated sprinkler systems and alarms that ring at monitoring stations often reduce your homeowners insurance premium, too. Ask your agent or company representative about discounts available to you. If you are at least 55 years old and retired, for instance, you may qualify for a discount of up to 10 percent at some companies. If you have completely modernized your plumbing or electrical system recently, a few companies may provide a price break.

Posted in Insurance
April 23, 2021

Still Saving Your Tax Refund Or Stimulus Checks? Here's How To Use Them!

 

If you’ve started researching the home buying process, or you’ve already purchased a home in the past, you probably know one of the first things you need to consider is the size of the downpayment you are going to need to cover on the home you discover. While that down payment can vary depending on what type of financing you qualify for, it is never a bad idea to start saving as much possible, as soon as possible.

If you qualified for any of the stimulus payments and have been keeping that money, or tax refund money, tucked away into savings - this would be the perfect opportunity to use that cash. With the average refund for this year around $3000, there is a good chance your tax refund, potentially paired with a stimulus, can put a major dent in your down payment.

With a competitive market that doesn’t seem to be cooling off anytime soon, now is the time to buy. Ensuring you have the proper funds to cover that downpayment once you find ‘the one’ can save you heartache in the future. Give me a call today and we can get you set up with a lender so you can get pre-approved and find out just how much you need to have saved!

April 15, 2021

Questions To Ask When Buying New Construction

Questions To Ask When Buying New Construction

 

Buying new construction is a different process than buying your typical pre-built home. What’s included, what’s not, and what’s hidden in that massive contract depends on the builder that you use. As with any situation where you’re moving or about to spend a lot of hard earned money, it’s important to go in prepared – and that means asking the right questions.

The first interaction you’ll have with the builder – and in fact, the first several, at least – will be with the builder’s sales representative. These early meetings are your chance to ask all of the questions you might have regarding costs, labor, and other essentials that you need to know about before jumping in. Write your questions down before you go in so that you can be sure not to forget anything important, and don’t be shy about getting the answers that you need. This is a major purchase, and you don’t want any surprises later.

Not sure exactly what you need to be asking about? These 10 questions to ask when buying a new construction home will help get you started.

Is the lot cost included?
When you’re exploring new construction options, you’ll see that each plan comes with a base cost. This is the cost of the structure itself, as well as base interior and exterior features (we’ll get into those in a little bit). What may not be included is the cost of the land, so be sure to ask if the lot cost is figured into the base.
If the lot cost is included, ask if there are premium costs for certain lots. It’s possible that the base cost does include the lot, but the remaining lots in the development all have added costs for certain features that you can’t opt out of, such as look-out windows in the basement or wider yards. If the lot cost is not included, ask what it is (and whether there are additional premium costs) and factor those into the base price for the house.

How long will building take?
It’s important to know what you’re getting into timing-wise with a new construction build, particularly if you have a house to sell first or you’re going to be renting. While the building process is prone to delays and you won’t be able to get a finite schedule for how long the build will take, you’ll be able to get a general idea of what you can expect. Be sure to also ask if the build time includes the time it takes to get the permits, since those will typically take about 30-45 days to obtain.

What warranties are provided with the house?
Just because a home is brand new doesn’t mean that no problems will arise. Fortunately, most new construction homes come with one or more warranties that protect you in the event of a mishap early on, including a short term whole-house warranty and a longer structural warranty. Ask what the warranties include and how long they last. While you can always buy your own home warranty, you should expect that the builder will cover you in some way for at least the first several years.

What are the standard finishes?
Does a base cost look too good to be true? That might be because the builder is expecting you to spend big when it comes to finishes like flooring and countertops. Ask what types of finishes are included, and better yet, go through the model unit with the sales representative and have them point out what’s standard and what is an upgrade. You likely won’t meet with the design center until after you’ve gone under contract, so it’s important to figure out early what sorts of finishes and appliances you can expect to be included in the home’s base price.

Are you allowed to purchase your own appliances or materials?
Had your heart set on butcher block countertops but the builder doesn’t offer them? It’s possible that you may be able to purchase them yourself and then have the builder install them. Alternately, some builders won’t let you purchase your own materials, but they will let you bring in your own appliances, even on items that are included in the sale, like sinks and toilets. Keep in mind that, in terms of appliances, you probably will have to make some purchases on your own, such as washers, dryers, and refrigerators.

If you can bring in your own materials or appliances, will you get credits?
Let’s say the base price of your new construction home includes a kitchen sink worth $200, but you’d like to upgrade and purchase a sink on your own that costs $400. Will you get $200 off the purchase price for not using the sink that’s included in the base? Some builders offer credits for any upgrades or self-purchased materials or appliances, while with others you’ll just have to eat the cost of the originally included item. Credits are a nice touch, but they’re not usually standard, so it’s best not to go in expecting that you’ll get money off the base cost for purchases like these. In general, builders don’t like to lower the base cost, but if they do offer credits, that’s a win for you.

Is landscaping included?
Depending on the size of your yard, landscaping, including sodding and putting in trees and plants, can set you back several thousand dollars or more. Is that a cost you’ll have to factor in on top of the home purchase? Some builders include your basic yard work, while others leave you with unfinished land that becomes your responsibility to landscape (and generally must be completed in a set amount of time, per the contract). Ask whether landscaping is included, and if so, what that entails and if there is any sort of warranty on the materials so that if your newly sodded grass dies right away or some other mishap occurs you’re not responsible for fixing it.

Does the contract include a cost escalation clause?
New builds are notorious for last minute surprises, but you don’t want to be on the hook financially if it happens. A cost escalation clause allows the builder to charge you for any unanticipated costs that arise as a result of necessary labor or materials. So if lumber prices go up before the builder has purchased the materials for your flooring, or an unexpected delay adds a few weeks onto the build, you’re on the line for those costs. If you’d rather not deal with the stress of unanticipated costs, find a builder that doesn’t include a cost escalation clause in the contract.

Are there any homeowners rules or regulations?
Even if there is no homeowners association for the development, the builder may still set some guidelines as far as what’s allowed and what’s not on your property. For example, you may not be able to use a particular type of fencing or install a shed in your backyard. It’s better to ask this question early and know what to expect than to move in and find out that you can’t bring into fruition certain plans you had for the space.

Are there any financial incentives for using the builder’s preferred lender?
Some builders offer discounts on closing costs if you obtain your mortgage through a company that they have a relationship with. Ask if these sorts of financial incentives are offered, but don’t make your final decision about where to get your mortgage based on the discounts alone – you may still be able to find a better deal through other lenders. It’s still good to know however if there are benefits to working with the builder’s preferred mortgage company.

If it’s your dream to build a new construction house, go in to the process with an open mind and a clear idea of what you can expect. The more questions you can ask in the beginning, the less surprises you’ll potentially face in the future.

And as with any home purchase, be sure to have an attorney read over your contract so that you can be sure everything is fair and equitable. Some buyers of new construction prefer to go in to sales meetings with a real estate agent as well, though in my own experience, I didn’t find that to be necessary. Be smart, ask the right questions, and at the end of the day (or fine, year) you’ll end up with a beautiful home built just for you.

 

July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates