Central Florida Real Estate and Community News

May 12, 2018

American Liberty Mortgage

 

Get Pre-Approved Today With American Liberty Mortgage

There are many Mortgage Brokers, Lenders, Banks, Credit Unions chasing your Business for a Home loan but who do you trust with such an important decision? As Real Estate Agents, we always advise shopping round for the best deal and suggest you approach three different Lenders that come highly recommended.

One of our Favorites is American Liberty Mortgage based just south of Orlando Florida. They offer a highly professional service hard to beat. Known locally for 'saving deals', American Liberty is our preferred Lender who many agents turn to when other Lenders drop the ball and cannot provide an approval for a mortgage  2-3 weeks into their loan application.

In many cases, they have managed to start a loan application and provide a full loan approval in two weeks to ensure the Buyers are able to close on time. The office is headed by Manager Lew Ann Strickland who has an impressive background with many years of Banking and Lending experience. Her dedicated team of Loan Processors achieve Closings in excess of many Millions of dollars thru various Loan Programs to Buyers in the surrounding Orlando areas.

Working from newly renovated offices in Winter Haven, they strive to attend their Loan Closings in person and offer the borrowers a white glove service at no extra cost. They are recommended by all Leading Real Estate Offices in the surrounding areas and our office is no exception!

It costs nothing but a phone call and a few minutes of your time to get pre-approved for a home mortgage with American Liberty Mortgage. You are then armed with a powerful shopping tool to view and make offers on homes.

American Liberty Mortgage offer Loans as low as $100k and speciaize in Jumbo Loans in the Millions. If you are starting your Home Search or about to make an offer on a property, do yourself a favor and get Pre Approved first - when a seller sees an offer with a pre-approval Letter from American Liberty Mortgage, it gives the Sellers great confidence you will be able to Close - and on time! Your offer stands a much better chance of being accepted.

Call American Liberty Mortgage and have a Nationally Recognized Leading Lender back you up to buy your dream home - call Christine Melendez today on 407-288-9426 and get your pre appoval started! American Liberty Mortgage and all their Loan Programs can be seen online here at https://www.almpolk.com/loan-information/

You can apply online, visit their office in person or my preferred recommendation is call their office directly and have them pre approve you easily over the phone.

Myself and Heather J Blair in Reception Before a Loan Closing May 9th 2018

April 5, 2018

Spring Buyers Are Searching - Are You Ready?

It’s a well-known fact that Spring is the best season for sellers to put their homes on the market.  This Spring is no exception as the market in Central Florida is hot, hot, hot!  If you’re thinking of selling your home, here are some great tips for preparing your home for sale. 

Curb appeal speaks volumes!

Make a lasting first impression. The National Association of Realtors states that 63 percent of homebuyers will drive by after viewing a home they like online.  Make your curb appeal count and let it serve as a preview of how much they will love the inside.

Take off your homeowner’s hat, go outside and walk around your entire home to see what buyers will see.  This includes looking up at your roof.  Are your shingles in good shape?  Do you need to clean, repair, or replace the roof?

Next take a good look at the paint. At roughly $25 per gallon, you’ll find that paint may be your new best friend.   Spruce up your front door and shutters.  Repaint your mailbox. If needed, consider having the house and trim repainted entirely.

Most people underestimate the impact of power-washing.  Brighten up your sidewalks, decks, driveway’s and garage floor with a good power wash.  This is an extremely cost-effective way to boost your curb appeal!

Last, but not least, add some touches to make your exterior pop.  Make sure your landscape is neat and tidy.  Add colorful flowers both in your landscape beds and in pots.  Hang a wreath on your front door. Replace your porch fixtures and add a new door mat to welcome potential buyer’s home.

How important are bathrooms?

Much like the kitchen, bathrooms are a high priority for buyers.  Depending on the price point of your home, your investment in the bathroom may vary.  For high end homes, sellers can safely invest in trendy new amenities like free standing garden tubs and floating sinks.  Standard wins for all sellers include solid surface countertops, new faucets, updated light fixtures, attractive bathroom mirrors, clean grout, and gleaming sinks, tubs and shower stalls. Bathroom upgrades tend to bring in 90 – 100% return.  But again, be mindful of your home’s price point and plan your upgrades based on your anticipated sale value.

How can you get the most bang for your buck?

One of the least expensive and easiest updates sellers can invest in is a fresh coat of interior paint to set the tone for a clean and well-maintained home.  Walls, ceilings, doors, and trim.  Choose light, neutral colors for the walls for a soft relaxing atmosphere that will appeal to the majority of home buyers.  Use a satin or semi-gloss paint on the doors and trim.  Buyers will appreciate the easy maintenance in the future.

Another easy project with big impact is flooring.  Most buyers today look for homes with little to no carpet.  If you do have carpet, make sure it’s in great shape and free of stains and odors.  Pet owners should pay particular attention to carpeted areas.  If the carpet needs replacement, consider installing wood or tile in it’s place. At a minimum, if installing new carpet, be sure to choose a light, neutral color.

Combining fresh interior paint with updated flooring will get your home under contract more quickly, and provide a great return on investment!

Furnished or unfurnished?

It’s important not only to have your home furnished but staged well too. Make your home as neutral as possible allowing potential buyers to envision their belongings in the space. Keep the size of each room in mind when staging. Oversized furniture can make rooms appear smaller than they are.  Scale down the furniture to make your home look spacious and inviting. Donate or store furniture and personal items rather than clutter your garage and closets.

Clean, organize, and declutter your closets, pantry and cabinets. Just because a closet or cupboard has a door, doesn't mean it's off limits. Buyers can, and will, explore these areas so make sure to add them to your staging.

Clean your windows and open the blinds and curtains for showings to flood your rooms with sunshine! If natural lighting is not one of your homes best features, add floor and table lamps to areas not well served by natural or ceiling lights. Brighter is better so light it up!

If you're thinking of listing your home in Central Florida but aren't sure where to start, give me a call! It's always my pleasure to guide you through the process of preparing your home and listing for a quick sale.

Tony@TonyDavidsHomes.com |Direct: 407-922-9011| www.TonyDavidsHomes.com

Posted in Selling Your Home
March 17, 2018

Central Florida - Beyond the Theme Parks

 

It’s no secret that when Orlando comes to mind, most people conjure up images of our world class theme parks like Walt Disney World, Sea World or Universal Studios. If your heart is set on princesses and parades, flying wizards, or jumping dolphins we’ve certainly got that covered. 

But if your hectic life leaves you craving activities of a more peaceful nature, Central Florida has some treasures to share. Whether you’re planning a move, a vacation, or a day trip you’ll find plenty to do in Central Florida to help you relax and enjoy the simple beauty and history our magnificent state has to offer.

A Blast From The Past

History buffs will find many adventures in and near Central Florida.  Here are just a few examples of the rich history that can be explored.

Bok Tower Gardens located north of Lake Wales is a contemplative garden and bird sanctuary, and unarguably one of Central Florida’s prettiest landmarks. It consists of a 250-acre garden, the 205-foot Singing Tower which holds some of the world's finest carillon bells, Pine Ridge Nature Preserve and Trail, Pinewood Estate (a 1930’s Mediterranean Revival Mansion), and a visitor center. Click here to learn more.

St. Augustine is nestled along the sandy shores on the Atlantic coast of Northeastern Florida.  Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it’s the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental US. And oh, is it ever rich in history!  Guided tours are available to ensure you take in all the details.  If you’re feeling adventurous, ghost tours are an option too!  For dog lovers, there are tours available that allow Fido to tag along.  This dog friendly, historic town also has gorgeous parks and beaches where you can relax and unwind. View all of your options here.

Ponce de Leon Light Station, located in Ponce Inlet, was built in 1887 and is the tallest in Florida and the second tallest in the country. Visitors can climb the tower and tour the light keeper’s dwellings along with several other structures. An adjacent coastal hammock offers a beautiful hiking trail with abundant wildlife. If you’re interested in touring the lighthouse, check here for tour times and additional information.

All Creatures Great and Small

Meet a manatee, or swim with them if you like! Manatees seek warm water shelter when the temperatures drop during the Florida winter.  There are several locations in Central Florida that are home to magnificent springs that maintain a constant temperature of 72 to 74 degrees and are favorite hang-outs for manatees.  Depending on your level of interest, you can hike trails on the water’s edge to view the manatees, paddleboat or kayak next to them, or even (my favorite) don a snorkel and swim alongside these gentle giants. Two preferred locations for manatee viewing are Blue Springs State Park and Crystal River.

Wildlife is, unfortunately not always left to the wild.  When exotic animals are taken up as pets and soon become too much to handle, where do they go?  There are several wild life protective reserves in the area where you can visit these animals and learn about how to help protect them. The Wildlife Survival Sanctuary in Spring Hill offers rescue and care to unwanted and abused exotic wildlife.  The tour will both amaze you and touch your heart as you come close to these beautiful animals and learn their stories. A similar organization can be found at the St. Augustine Wild Reserve in Saint Augustine.  The Exotic Animal Experience in Orlando offers a slightly different and more interactive environment.  The animals at this facility are not rescue animals.  They were raised in captivity and are generally accustomed to people.  The experience is amazing if you are looking for an opportunity to cuddle a lemur or snuggle a baby kangaroo.

Fruit of the Vine

Wine anyone?  Several opportunities are available to tour local wineries.  A family favorite is the Lakeridge Winery in Clermont.  Tours are available seven days a week and they host a variety of events during the year including a grape stomp in June open to participants of all ages!  Strong Tower Vineyard in Spring Hill has an annual calendar of events worth checking in to.  Perhaps you could pair an event at the vineyard with a visit to the Wildlife Survival Sanctuary and make a day of it in Spring Hill! For the true wine aficionado there is the Tarpon Springs Castle Winery.  This fine establishment is known for being the only European winery in the south.  Tours are available, and you can enjoy wine tasting in the Italian style walled in courtyard.  If you’re thinking of visiting, you can check for a Groupon as they are usually available.

The only problem about what to do in Central Florida is that the list is too long!  I could be here forever tempting you further with white sandy beaches, sunset cruises, glass bottom boat tours, air boat rides, hot air ballooning, sports events, skydiving and more. 

Oh, and there is just one more problem.  Once you see how wonderful it is to be here, you won’t want to leave.  Don’t worry, I can help!  Visit my website to see all the amazing homes available and waiting for you. Give me a call or email me today to start planning your relocation to this wonderfully diverse and exciting place that I love to call home!

Tony@TonyDavidsHomes.com | 407-922-9011 | www.tonydavidshomes.com

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Dec. 30, 2017

Tax Reform and Home Ownership

If you’re a homeowner (or thinking of becoming one), you may be left wondering how the tax reform legislation will affect you.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  I hope the synopsis below will help you understand the new tax bill (which is the most significant overhaul to the tax code since 1986), as it pertains to home ownership).

The plan is expected to lower income tax bills next year for many households. Several provisions that have a direct impact on the housing market were added, taken away or altered during the legislative process, leaving confusion about what remains in the bill.

Below is a look at what the final version contains and what it means to homeowners, buyers and sellers.

Standard deduction: The new law increases the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for joint filers. For many homeowners it no longer makes sense to itemize deductions (by taking the mortgage interest deduction and property tax deduction), but rather take the standard deduction.

 

Mortgage interest deductions: The new law caps the limit on deductible mortgage debt at $750,000 for loans taken out after Dec. 14. (Loans made before that date can continue to deduct interest on mortgage debt up to $1 million.)

Homeowners can refinance mortgage debts that existed before Dec. 14 up to $1 million and still deduct the interest as long as the new loan does not exceed the amount refinanced. The interest on a home-equity loan can be deducted as long as the proceeds are used to substantially improve the home. Mortgage interest on second homes can be deducted but is subject to the $750,000 limit.

State and local property taxes: The new law limits the property tax deduction to $10,000, a cap that will affect a large number of home owners in high property tax areas.

Capital gains exclusion: Home sellers can exclude up to $500,000 for joint filers or $250,000 for single filers for capital gains when selling a primary home as long as the homeowner has lived in the residence for two of the past five years. An earlier proposal would have increased that requirement to five out of the last eight years but it was struck down.

Deduction for casualty losses: The law restricts the deduction to only losses attributable to a presidentially declared disaster.

Moving expenses: The law eliminates this deduction except for members of the military.

Estate tax: The law doubles the estate tax exemption to $11.2 million.

Historic Tax Credit: The HTC has been used to fund renovations in more than 40,000 historic structures since 1981. The law continues to provide a 20 percent credit when the certified historic property is placed into service, but the new law spreads the deduction over five years.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: The bill retains the 4 percent LIHTC, which funds about a third of all affordable housing construction.

Information contained within this article was gathered from various online real estate sources. We advise all homeowners and buyers to seek professional accounting/tax advice from a qualified accountant.

 If you’d like to have a conversation about homeownership in Central Florida, contact me today!  Visit my website to see available properties.

 

Tony@TonyDavidsHomes.com | 407-922-9011

Posted in Real Estate News
Dec. 29, 2017

Why Invest In the Orlando Area

Some might say that because I live here I am biased about this area.  But truth be told, I live here because I’m biased! 

We’ve got everything you can possibly want, unless you’re looking for snow and frigid temperatures.  I’m afraid we fall short if that’s what you want.  The Orlando area is known for its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and even more so for its world-famous amusement parks, entertainment, and attractions.

Our real estate market is fueled by job seekers, retirees, and students who want to live in a “cheap and cheerful” area that offers a high quality of living at a reasonable cost. For investors looking to invest in real estate, these are good signs.

Whether you’re thinking of a new home or a real estate investment property, we’ve got what you’re looking for.

This area has produced some impressive results for real estate investors and all indicators point to this trend continuing into 2018. Property prices are up, appreciation rates are increasing steadily, and the cost of living remains below the national average.

Here are some interesting facts recently published in an article on the Real Wealth Network:

  • Forbes reports that 60 million people visited the Orlando area in 2015, making it the most visited tourist destination in the country.
  • The population in Orlando has grown 41% since the year 2000. To date, Metro Orlando houses over 2.3 million residents.
  • Rents grew by 3.4% in the last 12 months, which is higher than the national and state levels.
  • Foreclosure laws have helped keep home prices significantly below their last peak but rates are rising.
  • Employment growth is among the best in the U.S. with over 174,000 jobs created since the recession and a growth rate of 4% per year.
  • Population has grown over 41% since the year 2000 and is expected to continue to grow. The demand for housing continues to increase
  • Orlando Medical City boasts a $7.6 billion economic impact and will create 30,000 jobs.
  • Amazon Fulfillment recently opened, bringing 4,000 jobs to Central Florida, the current leader in job and population growth in the state.
  • Orlando was recently named the “hottest” single-family real estate market among the 50 largest US metro areas (Ten-X Research’s quarterly report). According to the report, Orlando has been elevated to the nation’s top market position due to limited supply, rising home values, ample jobs and income growth, especially in the leisure/hospitality sector.

Orlando offers great opportunities for buy and hold real estate investments today. This is especially true for investors looking to invest in one of the most quickly growing economies in the nation while prices are still below pre-recession peaks. Home values in this area are appreciating more quickly than other markets across the nation today. 

Have I piqued your interest?  Visit my website to view available properties and give me a call or email me today to get started on your next great investment!

 

Tony@TonyDavidsHomes.com | 407-922-9011

Posted in Real Estate News
Dec. 29, 2017

Five Quick Seller Tips

 

Are you thinking of selling your home within the next six to twelve months?  Let me give you some expert advice on how to prepare.

1.   Your Closets Should Be Mostly Empty

Every buyer is looking for storage, and you’ve likely outgrown yours.  Appeal to potential buyers by decluttering your closets, or even putting some of your storage into an off-site storage unit while your home is on the market.  Make sure that what you do leave behind is neat and organized.

2.   Web Appeal Is the New Curb Appeal

By the time a buyer shows up to look at your home, they will have likely toured it via online photos. What does this mean?  First, that your home needs to look its absolute best when the listing photos are taken. Second, it’s important to include all the home’s best features in the online listing photos. Whether it be a large backyard or a great finished basement, your buyers should know what to expect when they arrive for a showing or open house.

3.   The First Two Weeks Are the Most Important for Sellers

If you’re thinking you’ll price your property high and bring down your price gradually if needed, think again. Homes receive four times the traffic in the first two weeks after listing, so a property lagging on the market can be a red flag to today’s buyers.

Think about the eager buyers who will see your home in “Just Listed” ads across the web and in email alerts, and offer them a fair price right away.  The feeling of getting early showings or a quick offer will far outweigh the feeling of an offer that comes after you’ve lowered the price a month later.

You Need to Be Ready to Show at Any Time

Today’s buyers are excited and competitive. They may be willing to drop everything in order to see your home the minute it comes across their screen. As a result, you must be vigilant to clean your home after every meal and between laundry days. Don’t leave for work, or even a quick trip to the store, without making sure your home could be toured before you return. 

5.   Be Ready to Sweeten the Deal

If your home isn’t quite modern enough, or isn’t as nice as the one down the road, you may have to sweeten the pot by paying closing costs, buying a home warranty for the buyer, or even just getting a pre-sale home inspection so the buyers are confident in your home’s ability to sell as-is.

Remember to always be realistic about how your home will be received, and it will result in a quicker sale when you see through the eyes of a buyer. 

I would love to talk with you more about prepping your home to sell. Reach out any time for more information.  I have a large inventory of buyers and it would be my pleasure to bring a buyer to meet you at the closing table.

 

Tony@TonyDavidsHomes.com  | 407-922-9011 | www.TonyDavidsHomes.com

Posted in Selling Your Home
Dec. 11, 2017

How a Credit Freeze Can Impact Home Buyers

No one will argue that cyber criminals have been working overtime to get our personal information.  With Equifax and other companies reporting massive data breaches this year, more consumers are putting a freeze on their credit reports. And while a credit freeze won’t affect a borrower’s ability to qualify for a mortgage, it does require the borrower to take additional steps during the application process.

A credit freeze blocks anyone—including lenders—from accessing your credit report. Requests for a credit freeze must be submitted by mail, online or over the phone to the three major credit bureaus individually (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian). 

Once placed, a credit freeze stays on your credit report until you lift or remove it. But remember in order to lift a credit freeze, you need to contact all three credit bureaus individually, just as you did to establish the freeze. 

For borrowers applying for a mortgage, a freeze will need to be lifted once when making initial mortgage application, and once again at the end of the underwriting process, as most lenders pull credit again just before closing. If you are concerned about timelines, be sure to work closely with your lender on when credit will be pulled to ensure that you contact the bureaus in plenty of time for the freeze to be lifted.  

It’s possible for borrowers to run into problems in a competitive situation where they need to close quickly. In those instances, it might be tricky to unfreeze the credit in time for the lender to pull credit reports and complete the underwriting and pre-closing process.

Here are a few considerations if you’re applying for a mortgage with frozen credit.

While freezing your credit protects you from the time the freeze becomes effective, it does nothing to correct existing credit issues. Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting agencies, check them carefully and correct any errors before you apply for a mortgage.

While a credit freeze “locks down” your credit, a fraud alert still allows creditors to pull your credit report as long as they verify your identity first, according to the Federal Trade Commission. For example, a business may call you to verify that you are the person requesting new credit. However, while fraud alerts may make it more difficult for others to open new credit accounts in your name, they may not prevent misuse of your existing accounts. Placing a fraud alert is easier than with a freeze. You need only to contact one of the reporting agencies, which in turn is required to notify the others. A fraud alert is free.

Understand the logistics of lifting the freeze—and make sure you allow enough time for the lender to pull credit reports. Consumers who deal directly with the three credit-reporting agencies are given a personal identification number to provide, either by phone, online or mail, every time they want to lift or remove the freeze. Alternatively, consumers can lock or unlock their credit using a third-party service like TransUnion’s TrueIdentity, which is available online or in an app.

For addition information and details about freezing your credit, fraud, and identity theft issues contact the three credit bureaus.

Equifax: 888-349-9960, www.equifax.com

Experian: 888-397-3742, www.experian.com

TransUnion: 888-909-8872 www.transunion.com

When you are ready to look for a new home, give me a call or drop me an email.  I'd love to put my years of professional experience to work for you, and introduce you to some of the industries top service providers in lending, home inspections, insurance providers and more.  

Tony@TonyDavidsHomes.com | 407-922-9011

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Dec. 8, 2017

All Things Merry and Bright

 

The holiday season is here! No matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or all three, we’re excited to share in the holiday spirit. It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities, and while you’re busy decorating the house, safety may be one of the last things on your mind.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you spread holiday cheer throughout your home.

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Live or fake?  Either way…safety first!

Before buying a live Christmas tree, make sure you’re choosing a fresh one. A fresh tree has needles that resist being pulled off and won’t snap when bent, a trunk bottom that's sticky with resin, and strong limbs that will drop just a few needles if shaken.

A dry tree poses more of a safety hazard than a fresh one that has been watered.  Check your water level daily and make sure your tree is in a vessel that can hold an adequate amount of water.  Test your tree periodically to make sure you are keeping it sufficiently hydrated.  Do this by bending needles to see if they are soft and supple or have become brittle. If you’ve already purchased and decorated your live tree, when was the last time you watered it?  Set reminders on your phone to ensure you don’t forget.

Placement of your tree is important.  Keep it away from fireplaces and heaters, and make sure a fire extinguisher is nearby in a handy location.

If you own an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled “fire resistant” as they are less susceptible to catching fire.

Whether your tree is live or artificial, hang ornaments with extra care to keep children and pets safe.  Place unbreakable and non-toxic ornaments on the lowest areas of the Christmas tree.  Save the upper areas for your more delicate holiday treasures. It’s also been suggested that replacing metal hooks with ribbon or string can prevent choking injury with curious pets and toddlers.

Deck the Halls!

Interior holiday decorating safety goes beyond your Christmas tree.  Several other hazards can be lurking around your home, so take note.

When it comes to candles, placement is everything.  Keep them away from curtains, bedding, paper, walls or any other areas with the potential to combust, as candle flames can heat up to 1000 degrees!  That’s hot stuff!  Make sure to blow out candles if you are leaving a room and warn children to keep away from candles when lit.  While a natural flickering flame is truly beautiful, you may want to consider battery-powered LED candles as a safer alternative.

Some things can be left to common sense, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. Paper can catch fire very quickly and can cause flash fires. Instead, recycle that beautiful paper.

To prevent electrical cord damage avoid using nails or tacks when positioning cords. Use hooks or insulated staples instead.

Who among us doesn’t love a colorful poinsettia?  While festive, these plants are poisonous when eaten, so keep them out of reach of children and pets.

Additionally, if you have little ones in your home, use safety caps on all electrical outlets that are not in use to prevent shock. Keep sharp objects out of reach, as well as small decorative items that could be swallowed.

All Decked Out(side)

Outside decorating has been reported to be more hazardous than inside.

When decorating outside, keep ladders and decorations away from overhead power lines. When deploying a ladder extend it a minimum of three feet over the roofline or working area on level, firm ground, with leg levelers added if you're on an incline. A ladder also should be able to carry both your weight and any objects you're hauling. When stringing lights and decorations above your normal reach, think teamwork and have someone supporting the base.

Double check lights for frayed wires or cracks, and be sure there is a bulb in each socket. Discard and replace damaged strands. Lights should be approved by Underwriters Laboratory. "UL" will be clearly displayed on the tag, signifying the product has been inspected for potential safety hazards. Red UL marks indicate the lights are safe for indoor/outdoor use, and green UL marks indicate the lights are only safe for indoor use. Use ONLY red marked UL lights outdoors.

Do not hammer tacks or nails into the electrical cord when hanging lights. Instead, use clips to safely attach lights to the house.

Use heavy-duty extension cords, and only use cords outdoors if they are designated for outdoor use. Avoid overloading extension cords by using no more than three sets of standard lights per cord.

You want your lights to shine, not sparks to fly! Your source of power should come from a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. This type of outlet will shut the circuit down if there is overcurrent. If you don't have a GFCI outlet, a qualified electrician can permanently install one outdoors for holiday seasons to come. You can also opt to buy a portable outdoor unit from your local home store for less than $20.

Use a timer or turn off lights before going to bed, or if you will be away from home.

Prevent tripping by placing cords and decorations in low-traffic areas where they won’t be walked on. Avoid twisting, kinking or crushing cords.

That cute inflatable snowman greeting neighbors from the front lawn can easily become a dangerous projectile if you don't follow the manufacturer's instructions for securing it. It's best to shut off the fan blowers when it's windy, when you're not going to be home for long periods, or at bedtime.

Post-Holiday Blues

All good things must come to an end.  Post-holiday clean-up, while not nearly as fun as the decorating, is a necessity.  Pay particular attention inside when cleaning up. After you take down the tree, give the area a thorough sweep to protect children and animals from harm. Lingering broken glass, metal hooks, electrical cords and pine needles can all cause injury.

I hope you enjoy your home for the holidays!  If you find yourself looking for some new halls to deck out in the next year, please give me a call or email me anytime.  We can hunt down just the right home with GFCI outlets in all the right locations to make your holiday decorating a breeze next year!

Tony@TonyDavidsHomes.com | 407-922-9011

 

 

 

Posted in Real Estate News
Dec. 4, 2017

How Does a Thief See Your Home

Have you ever wondered what your home looks like through the eyes of a thief? What makes your household more or less inviting to sticky fingered stealers? Taking a look at past burglaries and statistics can be a simple solution to making sure your home doesn’t become an easy target, especially during the holiday season! Today is the day to learn what you can do to better protect your family from uninvited guests.

What do criminals look for?

In an interview conducted by 9 News, Charlotte, NC, previous criminals were asked what they look for in a potential mark; the following responses were the most common.

Unattended Targets – “When I see a lot of mail in the box, I know that you’re gone” Burglars are motivated by desire for material goods, not conflict. They are looking for signs of an empty house and don’t want you home when they are there.

No Security – Intruders are looking for easy money. Homes with no sign of a security system can stand out.

Easy Access – Open windows and unlocked doors can make your house easy to enter without a struggle.  

Goods – Much like any ordinary person, burglars want to maximize their money for their time. If you leave expensive and luxurious goods in plain sight through your windows, you are letting intruders know exactly how much they can get for the work.

What’s in your trash – If you purchased expensive electronics over the holidays, your trash may tell an inviting story to a thief.  Even if you protect the viewing into your windows, you trash can reveal what’s inside your home.

How can you help?

Detective Kevin Coffey, the proclaimed, “Scholar of Thievery” has some great tips on how you can protect your home and your family.

Consider a video doorbell – There are a few great products on the market right now that allow you to receive video feed directly to your smartphone when someone approaches your home.  For a few extra dollars a month, you can have the video feed saved online as well, allowing you to go back and review the footage in the event you need to.

Look Alive – If you need to go out of town for an extended period, consider hiring a house sitter or asking a friend to check in for you. Preventing your home from becoming a likely target can be as simple as taking in the mail or changing the lights that are on/off in your home to make it looks occupied. Installing motion lights is also a simple way to deter strangers from getting too close to your home. Always tell a neighbor you trust if you are going to be away for an extended period of time so that they can report any suspicious activity.

Be Secure – Consider a home security system. If that isn’t in your budget, remember that there are other options too. Make sure all of your doors (including your side doors) are well equipped with a deadbolt lock system. Keep particularly important information in a locked safe box. Having your jewelry stolen is devastating; having your identity stolen is life changing.  

Furry Friends- Many offenders mentioned that a single bark was enough for them to turn away. Criminals can predict door locks and security systems, but a dog is something they have no control over. A word to the wise however, dogs can be great security systems, life time companions and keep you warm at night, but they are also living breathing creatures that need love, exercise and attention. If you aren’t interested in the commitments of a dog (or your just a cat person) then know that there are many other ways to protect your home…and maybe consider investing in a nice sign declaring, “I love my Pitbull.”

Take Precautions – Make sure all of your windows have locks and that you use them. Especially consider the windows you can often forget such as second story and basement windows. Burglars know you forget about these and use that information to their advantage.

Out of sight, out of mind – Keep expensive items out of the view of your windows. Keep laptops, phones and other expensive electronics tucked away in drawers at the end of the evening. If keeping the clutter away is tough for you, consider investing in heavy blinds or drapes to keep your items out of sight and out of mind. While you are at it, keep your yard clear of tools that could assist in a break in as well. Leaving a ladder out in your yard is going to make it convenient for a burglar to get to your second story window.

Conceal your trash – Break down your boxes and conceal them inside your recycling bin.  If possible, bring those items to a local dump or recycling station instead of disposing of them with your trash.

Why Do Burglar’s Steal?

Maybe you have been robbed before, maybe you haven’t.  Either way, to keep your peace of mind it is important to understand why intruders enter your home. A survey conducted amongst 400 offenders at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, by researcher Joseph Kuhns, has provided some insight into why this happens to us. When asked about motive, 88% of lawbreakers interviewed indicated that their primary reason for entering a home was to acquire drugs or money to support their drug habits. In addition to this information, only 12% of those interviewed said they planned their activities in advance, showing that many break-ins are spur of the moment. What is most important to take away from this information is that when someone comes into your home and goes through your belongings you can feel violated, and rightfully so.  But it most likely was not about you, personally. The intruders are not after you; they are after your belongings.

Sleep Tight

 

Keeping your home safe from the prying hands of a criminal only takes a little time and dedication. Take the right steps to protect yourself so that you and your family can sleep soundly through the night whether you are home or away. 

If you're looking for that perfect place to call home and secure all of your great new holiday gifts, give me a call or send me an email!  It would be my privilege to serve you!

Tony@TonyDavidsHomes.com | 407-922-9011

Posted in Real Estate News
Nov. 22, 2017

The Low Down on Closing Costs

When you get a mortgage, you will need to pay closing costs, which are fees – charged by lenders and third parties -- related to the purchase of the home. So, in addition to owing the lender the down payment on the home and the principal and interest related to the mortgage, you will also owe the lender and third parties closing costs, which you usually pay at the time that you close on your mortgage. Most of the time, it is the home buyer who pays the closing costs, rather than the seller, though on some loans such as VA loans, the seller pays a portion of these costs.

What charges go into your total closing costs?

Closing costs vary widely based on where you live and the property you buy. Closing costs often include things such as:

§  A fee for running your credit report.

§  A loan origination fee, which lenders charge for processing the loan paperwork for you.

§  Attorney or Title Company fees

§  Discount points, which are fees you pay in exchange for a lower interest rate.

§  Appraisal fee.

§  Survey fee, which covers the cost of verifying property lines.

§  Title insurance, which protects the lender in case the title isn’t clean.

§  Title search fees, which pay for a background check on the title to make sure there aren't things such as unpaid mortgages or tax liens on the property.

§  Recording fee, which is paid to a city or county in exchange for recording the new land records.

§  Underwriting fee, which covers the cost of evaluating a mortgage loan application.

How much will you pay in closing costs?

Typically, home buyers will pay between 2 and 5 percent of the purchase price of their home in closing costs. So, if your home cost $150,000, you might pay between $3,000 and $7,500 in closing costs. On average, buyers would pay roughly $3,700 in closing costs, according to a recent survey.

Lenders are required by law to give you a loan estimate (LE) of what the closing costs on your home will be within three days of when you apply for a loan. But these are just an estimate, and the fees listed on the LE can change some before your closing. Within three days of your closing, your lender will provide you with a Closing Disclosure (CD), to provide you with the actual closing costs. Compare this to your LE and ask the lender to explain any significant differences between the two documents.

How can home buyers avoid closing costs?

Well, technically, you can’t. But it is possible to avoid paying closing costs upfront by getting a no-closing cost mortgage, in which you don’t pay any of the closing costs when you close on the mortgage. Typically, when a lender offers a deal like this, it does end up costing you in the long run: The lender may charge you a higher interest rate on the loan for not paying closing costs, or the lender may wrap the closing costs into the total mortgage owed, in which case you end up paying interest on the closing costs.

Finally, home buyers can negotiate with sellers and ask for them to contribute to their closing costs.  Sometimes the seller will agree to assume buyer's closing costs.

Confused?

That’s okay!  Transacting real estate can be complicated with many details to consider. If you’re looking for a real estate professional to take the stress and confusion out of your next real estate transaction, give me a call!  I’m here to make your real estate experiences stress free and seamless! 

Tony@TonyDavidsHomes.com | 407-922-9011

 

Posted in Buying a Home