News, Market & Selling Florida Updates

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.

Oct. 7, 2019

Does the Outside of Your Home Draw Potential Buyers Inside?

Does the Outside of Your Home Draw Potential Buyers Inside?

The first impression of a home is the biggest — and usually happens before prospective buyers even park their car at the curb. If you’re preparing to sell your home, be sure to spruce up the exterior. And now’s a good time to do it, because spring and summer are the busiest selling seasons.

The main goal is to add instant curb appeal without breaking the bank (or your back). Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Front door:  The quickest way to make your home stand out is by painting your front door a fun, bright color. Choose an inviting shade that complements the exterior – and for some added style, install decorative house numbers or a vintage mail slot.
  • Front porch:  Create a relaxing spot on the front porch; not only does it make use of vacant space, but instantly adds charm. Two rocking chairs and a bistro table will do just the trick, or if you’re up for another project, refurbish an old glider and side table.
  • Landscaping:  This can be as easy, or as hard, as you’d like it to be. Landscaping has endless options, which ultimately depends on the size of your home. For a quaint home, adding a few flower boxes to the main windows will quickly add some color and instant charm. For larger homes, planting a few trees and shrubs will enhance the ambiance of your home. Whichever design you choose, be sure to include some perennial plants that will come back year after year. Prospective buyers always appreciate that.
  • Accents: Small, detailed accents can make a big impact and provide a great return on curb appeal. Accentuate the architectural design of your home by adding lights along the front path, decorative flowerpots on the steps, or an ornate doorbell to the freshly painted door.
  • Remove clutter: Arriving at a home with odds and ends strewn across the yard raises an instant red flag to prospective buyers, and implies that the interior of the home is at least as bad. By keeping the exterior of your home tidy, you’ll easily draw buyers who are eager to see more great features inside.
Posted in Buying, Customer, Selling
Oct. 7, 2019

7 People You’ll Meet On Your Real Estate Journey

7 People You’ll Meet On Your Real Estate Journey

Just as Dorothy needed her posse to make it to the Emerald City, you’ll encounter a wide range of folks on your way to buying a home. Of course, buying a house is more complicated than clicking your heels together three times and chanting “there’s no place like home,” no matter how dazzling your shoes are. Fortunately, the following pros will help you along the way.

1. Realtor
As the “good witch” (or wizard) and the primary guide on your journey, your buyer’s agent has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests. He or she will take you from the early days of narrowing down neighborhoods to the final signature on the sale contract. Be sure to interview several Realtors to find the one with the best experience, area knowledge and references before you decide who to work with.

2. Loan Officer
Unless you’re able to make a cash offer, you’ll likely be working with a loan officer to procure a loan from a bank. Don’t forget that you have options – you can choose to work with an independent mortgage broker who works with several institutions or an in-house loan officer at a specific bank. Whichever route you choose, be sure to shop around for the most competitive rate.

3. Loan Processor
Once you begin working with a loan officer, a loan processor will likely be the person helping you assemble the nuts and bolts for your loan application (and there can be a lot of nuts and bolts).

4. Inspector
The licensed inspector examines the property you’re looking to buy, identifying all potential structural problems. An appliance that seems to be in good working order to you may actually be full of mechanical issues that are more trouble than a flock of flying monkeys. The inspector will file a written report that usually includes photos, but it’s best to join him or her during the inspection so you can ask questions.

5. Appraiser
Usually, your lender will select the appraiser who will do a room-by-room walk-through of the property and use those findings along with current market knowledge to determine their professional estimate of the property’s present value.

6. Transaction Coordinator
Some real estate offices have a transaction coordinator to act as a liaison between all of the people mentioned above. This helps ensure an efficient process and prevents you from having to juggle numerous emails and voicemails.

7. Sommelier
This expert will help you make the critical decision of which vintage to use when you toast the purchase of your new home!

Posted in Buying, Customer, Selling
Oct. 7, 2019

6 Things to Know Before You Purchase an Income Property

6 Things to Know Before You Purchase an Income Property

Purchasing an income property is a big decision. In some cases it can be a great investment, but there are risks involved. Here are some things to be aware of:

1. You won’t get rich quick.
Or maybe not at all. The real estate market can be unpredictable, so make sure you have realistic expectations about the potential return on your investment.

2. Income properties cost money.
As a landlord, you will likely need to pay for maintenance, taxes, cleaning between tenants and vacancy time. Set money aside for emergencies.

3. There are rules as to what can and cannot be rented.
Make sure you check that local zoning regulations allow renting before buying a property you plan to use as a rental.

4. Insurance can be expensive.
Insuring rental properties can cost much more than insuring an owner-occupied home. Get a quote first, so you know what you’re getting into.

5. Maintenance workers will save your life.
A reliable and talented repair woman or man is vital. When the need arises, it’s important to repair items as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Plus he or she will be the one who runs over when the fire alarm starts beeping at 3 a.m.

6. Income properties should operate like a business.
Start a separate bank account for the property and keep paperwork for things like maintenance separate from records for the property you live in.

Is buying an income property the right decision for you? Contact a RE/MAX agent to weigh your options. Find one here: https://www.remax.com/officeagentsearch/.

Posted in Buying
Oct. 7, 2019

Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund at Home

Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund at Home

Wondering what to do with your tax refund? Consider putting the money to good use by investing it in your home.

Here are a few relatively inexpensive home improvement ideas most people don’t think of right away — yet ones that may quickly boost the look and value of your house.

1. Update kitchen fixtures. You don’t have to redo your whole kitchen to give it a new look. A new faucet, cabinet handles and knobs go a long way toward giving your kitchen an updated feel.

2. Freshen up the bathroom. â€‹Reglazing and re-caulking your bathtub can make it look like new. Replacing old, mildewy shower doors can make a huge difference, too. And if the toilet’s seen better days, it might be worth picking up a new one.

3. Put in garage shelving. The new storage space will help you keep your garage tidy, and it’s always a good selling point.

4. Replace the garage door. Speaking of garages, replacing the garage door is an excellent investment that recoups more than 80 percent of the costs in a cost vs. value analysis.

5. Upgrade your front door. You’ll see an even bigger gain when you replace the front door; the same analysis shows that with a new entry door you could recoup more than 90 percent of the cost. As long as you’re working on the front door, update your doorbell and lighting. They’re among the first things guests (and future potential buyers) notice as they enter your home.

6. Plant a tree. Adding foliage will enhance your property — plus, it’s good for the environment. If you live in a drought-prone zone, you might want to consider investing in low-water xeriscaping instead.

If you’re not necessarily looking to make home improvements, there’s another great way to put your tax refund to use for your home: Make an extra mortgage payment. One additional payment a year can trim years from your loan.

Looking for more tips and information? Read these previous blogs for homeowners and sellers. You’ll probably find great value in the RE/MAX Home Selling Guide, too.

When you’re ready to sell, let a RE/MAX agent guide you. Find a local RE/MAX Realtor or office near you.

Posted in Customer
Oct. 7, 2019

Location matters: 5 factors to consider in your home search

Location matters: 5 factors to consider in your home search

You’ve probably heard the real estate mantra: “Location, location, location.” It’s the key deciding factor in your new home search — and for good reason.

The location of your home dictates a lot of things: quality of life, school choices, commute times and social interactions. Even if you find the home of your dreams, never sacrifice on location. If you can’t seem to find the right home in the right location, you might need to adjust your price range or wish list as a compromise to get into the neighborhood you love.

If you’re thinking of buying a house, consider these five location factors:

Schools
If you have children, this is probably at the top of your consideration list. Make sure you thoroughly research schools that serve the neighborhoods you’re most interested in to ensure you get the exact quality of education you want for your kids. GreatSchools.org is a fantastic website to help you do your homework; it provides school reviews, test scores, demographic snapshots and much more.

Commute times
Pick your neighborhood wisely so you don’t wind up spending more time in traffic than actually enjoying your new home. When you embark on your home search, pay attention to how far your desired neighborhoods are from public transit (buses, commuter rails, subways, etc.), as well as major highways. Decide how much traffic you’re willing to deal with going to and from work every day and whether the tradeoff of living in your dream neighborhood is worth the extra commute time.

Lifestyle
Do you want to live in a historic urban neighborhood? Looking for a quiet, family-friendly suburb? The quality of life you desire is dependent upon your lifestyle needs, and you want to live in a place that will, above all else, make you and your family happy. Drive through the neighborhoods you’re interested in, walk around, and visit small businesses to get a better sense of what living in those places might be like. In other words, don’t just rely on online searches and reviews to make your decision; you have to see it all for yourself.

Local amenities
Do you want to live near amenities like restaurants, shopping and family attractions? Or are you seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle? Keep these items in mind as you embark on your home search.

Resale value
It seems odd to think about selling down the road when you’re thinking about buying, but property values are an important consideration for buyers who might want to move again in five or 10 years. Your RE/MAX agent can help you determine average prices for your target neighborhoods. Also, look at property taxes over the years to get a sense of how much (or how little) those payments could fluctuate in the future

Posted in Buying
Oct. 7, 2019

10 Things to Do Before You Sell Your House

 

10 Things to Do Before You Sell Your House

Before you put your house on the market, ask your real estate agent for guidance on improving your home’s presentation. Your agent can tell you what buyers expect in your particular market and at your home’s price point. The following 10 steps are a way to get a good head start on preparing to sell your home.

1. Welcome buyers. Make your front door visible and accessible to buyers. Paint the door, clear debris and clutter from the walkway and yard, mow the lawn and prune hedges. Pot or plant colorful annuals and perennials to attract attention from the street. Fix broken screens, doorbells, roof tiles, shingles and outdoor lighting, and replace your doormat. Exterior defects can make a poor first impression on buyers.

2. Make it sparkle. Cleanliness implies a home has been well taken care of, so deep cleaning can win points with buyers. Buyers scrutinize homes, especially kitchens and bathrooms. Recaulk and repaint to give these grime-prone rooms a fresh and clean look. Clean rugs and carpets to eliminate unsightly stains or dinginess and eliminate odors. Tidy each room, including cabinets, closets and the garage, before showing. And if it seems daunting to do all that cleaning yourself, consider hiring a professional cleaning company to take care of all of it for you.

3. Start packing. Cramped and cluttered rooms turn buyers off and make your house look smaller. A home packed with your personal belongings also makes it difficult for others to envision living there. Start by storing away excess furniture, toys and personal decorations, such as family photos. Pack up things you don’t use on a daily basis, and put them in storage or ask a friend to hold onto them. Decluttering your house also gives you a head start on your move.

4. Paint wisely. A well-done, no-frills paint job is all you need. Put a fresh coat of paint on white or beige walls, and repaint walls that have eccentric or unconventional colors. Nature- and spa-inspired neutral colors, such as taupe and subtle gray, are the best choices. Definitely don’t forget the trim and molding either. And a fresh paint job on outdated or worn cabinetry goes a long way, too.

5. Fix the small stuff. Repair or replace broken or outdated hardware throughout your home. You can install new door handles, faucets, towel bars and curtain rods – fixtures that are readily visible to homebuyers – rather inexpensively. New hardware in the bathroom, kitchen and on windows and doors also improves the functionality and safety of these components.

6. Update lighting. Replace decorative light fixtures that no longer fit your home’s cleaner, fresher look. Install new bulbs with the appropriate lighting for specific areas of your home. For example, ambient, low-key lighting fills a room, whereas directional or task lighting works better in areas like a reading nook. Use accent lighting to highlight focal points in a room, such as the artwork above a mantle, to draw buyers’ attention to certain selling points.

7. Frame windows. Ensure you have the right window treatments, which enhance natural brightness and boost the appearance of a home. Window treatments also can impact a room’s temperature because they reduce or increase the amount of light entering the space. Adjust window treatments appropriately when showing your home in the mornings, afternoon and evenings.

8. Set the table. Fresh, decorative flowers in the kitchen or on the dining room table are always a nice touch. Also, keep place settings handy for your tables so you can quickly set them out right before showings or an open house. Pull out all the formal stops for a dining room, and keep the table casual in the kitchen.

9. Hide unsightly everyday items. Don’t leave children’s toys and pet belongings out in the open during showings and open houses. Move litter boxes, pet dishes, toys, animal crates and kids’ entertainment to less conspicuous areas of the home, such as an outdoor storage unit or garage before each showing or open house. Also think about where you can store things like dirty laundry and dirty kitchen sponges.

10. Don’t forget the back. Keep your backyard looking spacious and functional. Plant or pot colorful flowers and keep the landscaping trimmed and neat. Consistently pick up after your pets so buyers feel comfortable touring the yard.

 

Posted in Customer, Selling
Oct. 7, 2019

3 Ways to Separate Wants from Needs in a New Home

3 Ways to Separate Wants from Needs in a New Home

Rolling Stones fans and savvy homebuyers both know you can’t always get what you want. At least not everything you want. You should, however, have some sense of what you want and what you need when you start your search for a new home. Distinguishing between the wants and needs can be tricky because so much emotion can swirl around visions of your “dream home.”

But making two separate lists of wants and needs will save you hours and energy in the long run. Here are three things to do to help you decide how to assign home features to your lists:

1. Ask yourself if you can truly live without it.

“Wants” are features that would be nice to have. “Needs” are things that you really must have to function. Be honest, can you truly live without shiny new stainless steel appliances? If yes, put them in the “Wants” column. On the other hand, an additional bedroom may belong in the “Needs” column if you’re expecting twins. Creaky knees? A ranch layout is a “need.” Occasional desire for a nap by the hearth? That fireplace is a “want.”

2. Determine if a feature could be changed or added later.

No matter how ambitious you are, some things may remain beyond your control to change, like proximity to public transportation, or quality of the local school district. If these features are critical to you, they go on the “Needs” list. On the other hand, things like patios and hardwood floors can be added later. List them as “Wants.” Your agent can probably help you talk through potential future costs of renovations and additions to accommodate your wants. Changing the bus routes, on the other hand, is probably beyond the capabilities of even the most experienced Realtor.

3. Talk it through with your agent.

A trusted Realtor can bring a much-needed dose of objectivity to your decision-making. He or she can help you visualize the day-to-day reality of living with (or without) a certain feature, as well as guide you through the math that may help you separate wants from needs.

A Realtor you can trust always goes on the “Needs” list. Find a local RE/MAX agent who can guide you through the homebuying process.

Posted in Buying
Oct. 7, 2019

4 Ways to Get Involved in Your New Neighborhood

4 Ways to Get Involved in Your New Neighborhood

The boxes are unpacked, the house is set up and everybody’s settled into their new routine after the big move. Life is beginning to feel a bit more normal. But now that you’re here and the immediate tasks have been taken care of, you want to get involved in your new neighborhood. What do you do?

Here are four ways you can get involved and get acquainted with your new neighbors. If you have more ideas, let us know below!

1. Join a group. Most neighborhoods have public forums, such as city or town council and citizen advisory group meetings, that address specific community issues. Groups like these allow you to get involved in the issues directly affecting your neighborhood. They’re also an excellent way to meet like-minded people. An online search should give you some ideas of where to begin. If your neighborhood has a homeowners association, talk with the officers about the kind of support they need.

2. Volunteer. Identify a cause you feel passionate about, and think about donating your time and skills to a local organization. They’ll appreciate any amount of time you can give. Volunteering offers an opportunity to make meaningful friendships with people who also live and volunteer in the community. Start by visiting neighborhood hospitals, animal shelters and community arts groups or schools, to inquire about volunteering opportunities. Youth sports teams are also an excellent way to get involved. If you’re having trouble locating a volunteer organization that fits you, visit the local public library and ask for suggestions.

3. Organize an Event. Donation drives, block parties and other group activities can be efficient and fun ways to meet neighbors and establish yourself as someone who’s invested in the community. Share your idea by dropping off fliers. Include an email address and ask neighbors to contact you if they’re interested. You can schedule a meeting for everyone who replies to generate more ideas and make plans for an event.

4. Fill a Need. If you feel your neighborhood is underserved in any regard, get the ball rolling yourself. For example, start a neighborhood association if your community doesn’t have one, or institute an adopt-a-block program to keep your neighborhood clean. Similarly, your neighborhood might benefit from a volunteer Neighborhood Watch group.

Posted in Buying, Customer
Oct. 7, 2019

Paint Pointers: Change Things Up With Color

Paint Pointers: Change Things Up With Color

Updating a room? Want to bring some new energy into your home? A brush, a roller and a strategically chosen color can accomplish a lot.

There’s no scientific consensus on the psychological effects of different shades of paint, but plenty of interior designers — and Feng Shui practitioners — play by a few basic rules when decorating.

  • Green — It’s associated with relaxation and growth, and green can be used to create an atmosphere that promotes a calm state of mind. Cool shades of blue achieve a similar effect, especially when combined with design elements related to water.
  • Red — Want a call to action? Paint the room red! Symbolizing fire, energy — and some say hunger — red can be effectively toned up or down to achieve specific goals. For example, the darker shade of burgundy expresses richness and sophistication; a bright, apple red is associated with passion.
  • Yellow — It’s an open invitation. Yellow is considered disarming and joyous when it’s bright — and even when it’s muted it evokes an energetic response. Use this color in a reading room or office where your mind is stimulated.
  • Orange — Increase your creativity and action with orange. In its bright shades, orange can be a great mood-setter for a room where you expect company to gather and fun-loving times.
  • White — If you’re looking for a light, airy place to promote order and clear thinking, choose white. If it’s too stark, consider adding an accent wall of a muted earth tone to warm the room.
  • Black — Used well, black can be dramatic. It represents introspection and the mysterious, but for most people, it’s a challenging color. Unless you’re sure it’s what you want (or are willing to repaint if necessary) it’s best to stick to black for accent colors, especially in a white room, where it helps create a timeless, grounded feel.


Experimenting with color can be fun, but bold paint choices aren’t usually recommended if you’re selling your home.

That’s when you can turn to your local RE/MAX agent for guidance. He or she can advise you on what buyers in your area want and what they don’t want. In many cases, the safest color for a home for sale is a neutral shade with the broadest mass appeal.

If you’re selling your home, you probably should save the experiments for your new place.

Posted in Brand, Customer, Selling
Oct. 7, 2019

5 Tips to Narrow Your Online Home Search

5 Tips to Narrow Your Online Home Search

You’ve decided to make the leap and move. Excitement. Anticipation. A little anxiety. You’re probably feeling a mix of all these emotions, especially as you navigate various online home search sites out there.

But with so many factors at play it can seem overwhelming. So where do you start? Here are five tips:

Talk to an agent – If you’re serious about buying in the next few months, your first step is to enlist the help of a local RE/MAX agent to assist you in your search. A good agent can help you identify exactly what you want in a property and identify neighborhoods that would fit your lifestyle – and budget – best. Also, your agent can set you up to receive property alerts via email or text when a home matching your criteria comes on the market, meaning you don’t have to stay glued to a computer to find the latest property matches!

Do your homework – Before searching for a home, familiarize yourself with the buying process. On remax.com, you’ll find an in-depth homebuying guide that will walk you through the process, from getting pre-approved for a loan and selecting an agent, to making an offer and getting to closing. In other words, research the process so you know what to expect, then dive into your online home search. Remax.com is a great place to start.

Use the “Advanced Search” – The best way to narrow search results down is using the “Advanced Search” feature on remax.com. Select a specific price range, zip code(s), amenities, property types, and other criteria that will weed out homes you’re not interested in. If you don’t see as many listings as you had hoped to find, your parameters might be too restrictive; you might need to remove a few to find more properties. You can be as specific – or as general – as you want to be using this functionality. Also, don’t forget the “Hide” feature on remax.com, which is a great tool that allows you to hide listings that come up in your search results that you’re not interested in; this reduces some of site clutter so you can focus only on the front-runners.

Look for homes with photos and/or virtual tours – Photos can help you narrow down your choices, particularly if you realize the layout of a home doesn’t work for you, or the exterior needs a lot of work. Like the saying goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words,” so take time and care to look at all photos and virtual tours. If a property doesn’t have a single photo, that could be a red flag that it’s not in show-ready condition.

Research the surrounding area – Once you’ve found some homes that interest you enough to look at in person, learn more about the neighborhoods and surrounding areas so there are no surprises.  For example, if walkability is really important to you, visit WalkScore.com, which rates an address between 0 and 100 based on walkability. GreatSchools.org allows you to research nearby schools based on test scores and parent/student ratings. If you find homes online that look amazing and the price is right, but the schools won’t cut it for your little ones, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Posted in Buying, Customer