South Florida 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!

Oct. 31, 2018

Semi-Annual Home Maintenance Checklist

Semi-annual home maintenance is composed of a dozen or so vital maintenance tasks that need to be completed at least twice a year to ensure a safe and efficient home. Many of these tasks focus on home systems and appliances that combine subtle deterioration with a consistent threat of failure. This type of home maintenance checklist is a great candidate to be combined with your spring cleaning list, but don’t forget to complete it again in the fall. Six months is enough time for these systems to develop serious problems that can, at the very least, cause your monthly utility bills to spike or, much worse, to cause serious structural flaws for the interior and exterior of your home.

Semi-Annual Home Maintenance Checklist

  • Foundation – Check for cracks and moisture and discuss with a professional if either problem is severe.
  • Toilet – Check for leaks in water feed and tank bottom.
  • Interior Caulking and Grout – Inspect caulking and grout around tubs, showers, and sinks. If the caulking has pulled away, scrape it out and recaulk or call someone who can.
  • Water Heater – Drain water until clear of sediment; inspect flue assembly (gas heater); check for leaks and corrosion. If this activity is intimidating, plumbers can do this in less than an hour.
  • Clothes Washer – Clean water inlet filters; check hoses and replace if leaking.
  • Clothes Dryer – Vacuum lint from ducts and surrounding areas.
  • Refrigerator – Clean drain hole and pan (more often in warm weather); wash door gasket; vacuum condenser coils.
  • Wiring – Check for frayed cords and wires; check exposed wiring in basements, and call an electrician is if looks shoddy or dangerous.
  • Exhaust Fans – Clean grill and fan blades.
  • Range Hood Fan – Wash fan blades and housing.
  • Sink – Check all faucets, hose bibs, and supply valves for leakage.
  • Bathroom – Check for evidence of leaks around and under sinks, showers, toilets, and tubs.
  • Breaker Box – Trip circuit breakers and ground fault interrupters monthly to insure proper protection.

Professional Home Maintenance and Inspections

You may want some help with this slate of home maintenance tasks or find the semi-annual schedule too arduous to complete year-in and year-out. One viable investment is to pay a home inspector to evaluate your home each year. If you take this home maintenance checklist and combine it with your spring cleaning, you can hire a home inspector in the fall. This is the ideal time for a roof inspection, anyway, to evaluate your roof’s ability to resist ice dams and other wintry stressors. Too many people believe home inspectors are solely for the purpose of selling or buying a home. Place yourself ahead of the home maintenance curve by utilizing these professionals to troubleshoot dozens of potential problems with your home each year.

by HomeAdvisor

Oct. 31, 2018

Can’t Afford to Remodel? Think Again!

The high sticker price of any major home improvement project can make a homeowner think twice about whether it’s going to fit into the budget. Fortunately, there are a number of excellent financing options available to homeowners to help them make projects possible that would otherwise be out of reach.

Why Choose Financing?

There are a number of practical reasons to finance a home improvement project. The first is simply time. With any home improvement project you want to get it done as soon as possible so you can enjoy the benefits in the present, not somewhere far off in the future. Saving up for a major project is a sound financial decision, but it will likely take years to stow away enough for what you’ve got in mind, years that you could have spent enjoying your new kitchen, bath or deck if you’d have chosen to finance instead. And of course, the truth is few individuals are disciplined enough to leave that money untouched. Other unforeseen expenses come up, people dip into the penny jar, and in the end most homeowners find themselves right back where they started.

Where to Start

When you’re ready to finance, the first step is talk to a lender about financing options available to you. Where you choose to go is really a matter of personal preference and your situation. Many contractors offer financing, though it’s often unsecured and will usually run a higher interest rate than other options. Still, it is an attractive, convenient, and reasonable way to go, especially if you’re unsure about qualifying for financing elsewhere.

Besides that, most homeowners choose to patronize more traditional lending institutions. Your bank or credit union is an excellent place to begin. They often offer good interest rates, generous terms, and many will bend over backwards for their members. Mortgage brokers are also good places to inquire. Home financing is their business, so they bring a wealth of experience to the table and a wide array of options for you to choose from.

Which Type of Financing is Best for You?

Again, this is going to vary a lot on a case-by-case basis. Loans are granted based on your credit history, income, present level of debt, and securable assets. Your lender will review all of these things and use what they discover to determine what kinds of financing you qualify for. Depending on your situation, here’s a list of some of the most common financing options for homeowners to use (though keep in mind this list is by no means an exhaustive one):

  • Cash-out refinancing. If you’ve built up a substantial amount of equity in your home, and interest rates have dropped since you acquired your mortgage, this can be a financial windfall. You’ll pay for your project and lower rates on the rest of your mortgage to boot.
  • Home equity lines of credit and home equity loans. These two financing options are very similar and very popular for home improvement. Both offer financing based on the equity you’ve built up in your home. Because of that they usually come with very reasonable interest rates, and the interest you pay is tax deductible.
  • Value Added Loans. These loans are granted based on the value that will be added to your home after the project you hope to undertake is finished. It allows owners of homes that have a lot of potential to borrow more than the home is presently worth.
  • Homeowner Loans. This type of financing is generally based on your income rather your equity. You won’t be able to borrow as much, and your interest rate will be a little bit higher, but you won’t have to jump through all the hoops that equity secured loans require.

Final Thoughts: Variable vs. Fixed Interest Loans

On a parting note, make sure you know the difference between fixed and variable interest loans before you go shopping around. Variable loans are very attractive, usually have lower initial interest rates than fixed varieties, and are a very wise choice if you think you can pay off your loan quickly. Beware, however. Variable means that the interest rate can, and will, change. That super low interest rate can climb quickly (along with your payments), and can wreak havoc on finances if you’re not prepared. Fixed rate loans have a set, or “fixed,” interest rate for the life of the loan. You’ll pay a little higher interest rate initially, but if you’re in it for the long haul, fixed rate loans offer more security and peace-of-mind when it comes to financing any home improvement project.

by HomeAdvisor

Posted in Home Improvements
Oct. 31, 2018

Brush Up on the Basics of Home Improvement Loans

Remodeling or renovating your home can mean putting together a pretty hefty to-do list. You need to pick materials and colors, decide on that new fridge or bathtub, and choose a contractor. There’s one other task you should be sure to put on your list—figuring out the best way to pay for your home improvements.

Most people take out a loan to pay for their remodeling project. So before you start shopping for that loan, make sure you understand the basics of financing. It will help you choose the option that best fits your needs and budget.


6 Questions to Ask Before Signing on the Dotted Line

Before you choose a loan, make sure you get the answers to these key questions.

1. Is this loan secured or unsecured?

With a secured loan, you have to give the lender the title, deed or a security interest to something of value that you own, like your home or car. This is called collateral. If you don’t pay the loan back on time, the lender can sell your home or car and use the money to pay off your debt. If a loan is unsecured, you don’t have to give the lender any collateral, so your property is not at risk

2. What is the interest rate?

Interest rates are a percentage of the amount you borrow. Interest rates are based on a number of factors, including your credit score, the type of loan you choose and the amount you borrow, as well as market conditions like inflation. If you decide to use a home equity loan, line of credit or second mortgage to finance your project, the lender will also take into account your loan to value (LTV) ratio when determining your interest rate. LTV means how much you want to borrow compared to how much your home is worth. Lenders usually calculate your LTV by dividing the amount you currently owe on your home by the home’s appraised value. People with lower LTV ratios usually qualify for lower interest rates.

3. Is the interest rate fixed or adjustable?

A fixed interest rate won’t change over the period you have to pay back your loan. That means your payments will be the same every month. An adjustable rate can change over the repayment period. If your rate goes up, so will your monthly payment.

4. Are there any points associated with this loan?

To decrease the interest rate on a home equity and second mortgage loan, you can pay the lender a fee called points at the loan closing. Each point is equal to 1% of the amount you borrow. Basically, you’re paying some interest upfront so you have a lower interest rate over the life of the loan.

5. What is the annual percentage rate (APR)?

The APR is different from the interest rate. It includes not only the money you borrow, but also origination and other fees. For home equity loans, lines of credit and second mortgages, the APR can also include points and closing costs. When comparing lenders and loan options, look at the APR to get a better idea of the total cost of the loan.

6. What fees other than interest will I have to pay?

For most types of loans, you’ll pay an origination fee. This covers the lender’s costs for processing your loan application, and it’s usually a percentage of the amount you borrow. Some lenders also charge an application fee to cover the cost of credit checks and lawyer’s fees. If you decide to use a home equity loan, line of credit or second mortgage to finance your home improvements, you may also have to pay a fee for an appraiser to determine the current value of your home.

With the answers to these questions in hand, you’ll be able to make an educated decision about what type of home improvement loan makes the most sense for you.

by HomeAdvisor 

Posted in Loan Information
Oct. 31, 2018

Raise the Value of Your Home with These 6 Remodeling Tips

When it comes to home renovations, the money that you put in cannot always be recouped when it comes time to sell. Most people want to get the best value for their dollar when doing home renovations and there are some important things to keep in mind. Before you decide on a remodel, consider the cost versus the value, and decide if the remodel you want to do is a worthy investment. Ultimately, you want to improve your home and then when it comes time to sell, you can command a higher price. The following remodel ideas may help you add some value to your home.

1. Increase Light and Space

Dark, cramped rooms are no good when it comes to real estate. One thing that homeowners can do to increase the appeal of their property is open up the house to create more of a flow and enhance natural light. Consider knocking down some walls to brighten up a space. An open floor plan will also make a home feel much larger and is better for entertaining. Perhaps you’ve wanted to do this for years, but worried about the cost. It’s time to answer the question, how much does it cost to knock down a wall?

Vaulted ceilings are another idea that can help create the illusion of more space. Skylights can help flood your home in natural light. There are several options when it comes to brightening up your home with natural light and these options have a range of prices.

2. Landscape & Curb Appeal

The curb appeal of your home is incredibly important when it comes time to sell. The first impression of a home that someone will have is from the look of the exterior. It is said that a good first impression of a home can add five percent to its value. Make sure your exterior paint and details are up to par. The driveway should be paved properly, and any lawn space should be properly maintained. Consider drought tolerant plants if you are not great at gardening. If you have a deck, add some nice furniture, or create a colorful garden in some extra space.

3. Create a Home Office

With more companies giving employees the option to telecommute, a home office can really add some value to a home. If you have some extra space in your home, consider converting it into a home office. Make sure there is plenty of work space, and remember to have grounded outlets installed as well as data ports and possibly an extra phone line.

4. Consider Adding a Deck

It has been determined that when you spend the money to add a deck onto your home, you will likely be able to recoup more than eighty percent of its cost at sale time. If you choose to install a deck, take some time to plan it out and come up with unique features such as built in benches or a fire pit if your city or town allows them. Use higher grade materials to increase the life of the deck.

5. Update or Add Bathrooms

Bathrooms are an important part of a home. If there are not enough bathrooms or if they are very outdated, it will be a big turn off to potential buyers. Updating bathroom amenities and fixtures or adding an additional bathroom if you have the space can really increase a home’s sale appeal.

6. Update Your Kitchen

Kitchen remodels can really add value to your home but it is also important to be careful. When planning a kitchen remodel it is really important to consider the cost of your materials versus the value. Based on the cost of your home, if you choose to install granite or marble counter tops, will you be able to recoup that money? Take a close look at costs when remodeling kitchens. Things such as updated appliances or a window over the sink can add a lot of appeal.

There are tons of different projects that can be done around the home to increase value in addition to the ones listed above. As long as you take the time to really plan accordingly, and don’t overspend, you can make some really nice upgrades to your home.


by HomeAdvisor 

Oct. 31, 2018

The True Cost of 5 Common Home Improvement Projects

With home improvement season in full swing, homeowners are looking at much-need upgrades and repairs. For most of us, though, there’s no such thing as a bottomless remodeling budget. That’s why it’s essential to get a handle on what things costs and then set your priorities accordingly. 

To help in that process, we surveyed homeowners about the top items on their current to-do lists. Below is a snapshot of the five most popular projects, including average national costs, based on HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide; you can also view local costs in your area, for the most accurate budget planning. 

We’ve also included cost-cutting tips from our pros with each project, for homeowners who want to stretch their remodeling budgets as far as possible. 

1) Paint the Interior

A fresh coat of paint is the fastest, most cost-effective way to transform the look and feel of your home. No wonder it’s tied for the top spot in our survey, with more than a quarter of homeowners planning an interior paint project. 

Average Painting Cost: $1,800

Money-Saving Tip: If it’s a major project covering multiple rooms, painting pros suggest that you buy your paint in 5-gallon containers, not individual gallons. That should lower the cost by 25 percent or more. And be sure to choose a high-quality paint, with the primer mixed in, to avoid having to apply multiple coats. 

2) Install Landscaping

Sprucing up the landscape can quickly expand your home’s entertainment space. The outdoor living trend is particularly popular with Millennials, many of whom have had to settle for starter homes that are a little short on usable square footage. 

Average Landscaping Cost: $3,300

Money-Saving Tip: When it comes to the plants you use in your landscaping; pros recommend planting perennial plants if you’re looking to cut down on costs. Perennials, like bushes, shrubs, vines and trees are hardy and will survive from year to year whereas less hardy annuals will need to be replaced more often, increasing your landscaping bill. 

3) Lay New Flooring

As floor plans continue to open up, flooring itself has become a critical component for unifying a home’s design; hardwood is the most popular, with many homeowners choosing to extend it from the kitchen out into the main living areas.

Average Flooring Cost: $3,000

Money-Saving Tip: If you see opened or damaged boxes of flooring at the home center, ask if you can have them at a discounted price. Our flooring pros also suggest choosing flooring with minor flaws that can be installed where it won’t be seen, like under a bed or living room sofa. 

4) Remodel the Bathroom

The kitchen and bathroom go back and forth as the most commonly remodeled rooms, and with good reason—they’re where we spend the most time. In this latest survey, the bathroom edged out the kitchen, with about a fifth of homeowners planning to tackle the space. 

Average Remodeling Cost: $10,000

Money-Saving Tip: Visit your local stone yard and look for leftover slabs, called remnants, that you can buy for cheap to use on the bathroom vanity. This counter area tends to be small, so you won’t need much material to make it work.

5) Paint or Stain the Home’s Exterior

Curb appeal never gets old. Just as with the interior, a fresh coat of paint or stain is the surest way to transform the outside of your home; for home sellers, this is one of the best ways to add instant value. Nearly a fifth of homeowners told us this project is high on their list for 2018. 

Average Exterior Painting Cost: $2,800

Money-Saving Tip: Exterior paint projects are best left to the pros, especially where ladders are involved. But you may be able to cut costs by doing some of the prep work yourself, including covering landscaping with tarps and scraping/sanding ground-floor siding and windows. 

by HomeAdvisor 

Oct. 21, 2018

Curious About Local Real Estate?

Receive the Latest Local Market Stats

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!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

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