Getting Your Bathroom In Shape

bathroom imageAs you contemplate putting your home onto the market for sale, it is important that you make sure that you take all steps necessary to get your residence into the best possible position to ensure you get your home sold in a reasonable amount of time for the price you are seeking.  One of the rooms that you need to pay attention to when it comes to getting your home ready to go onto the market is the bathroom.  In this regard, there are a number of steps that you need to take in order to really get your bathroom in the best possible shape for a sales presentation.

First of all, one of the easiest and quickest steps that you can take when it comes to getting your bathroom in order is a nice paint job.  The bottom line is that a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a bathroom (or any part of the home, for that matter).  Because of the steam buildup and other factors, paint in the bathroom tends to wear quicker than in other parts of the house.  Therefore, even if other rooms seem to have a decent coat of paint, you will want to pay close attention to the bathroom.

Second, as part of your efforts to get the bathroom into tip top shape, you will also want to make sure that any tile present in the room is secure and appropriately grouted.  There is nothing more unseemly than loose tiles and bad grouting.  Such a situation can and will “turn off” a potential buyer in no time at all.  It sends the message that you’ve not cared for your home.

Third, you absolutely must make certain that any discoloration in the sink, tub, shower or toilet is corrected and dealt with.  Discoloration can occur in these fixtures even when a homeowner is fastidious in their cleaning efforts over time.  However, if discoloration has occurred, you need to take steps to rectify it before you end up putting the house onto the market.

Forth, while this is not a remodeling tip as such, you will want to make sure that you have a new shower curtain, towels and other accessories in place in your bathroom before you take your home onto the market.

Finally, you will also want to pay attention to the window treatments that you include in your bathroom.  You may want to consider replacing any window treatments that are hanging in your bathroom.  As with the paint in the room, bathroom window treatments do end up being subjected to more wear and tear than do window treatments in some other rooms in your home.

By following these suggestions, you will add value to your bathroom and make your home even more appealing to potential buyers in the very competitive Tampa real estate market.

If you have any questions about what you need to do to get your home ready to sell please visit our website and my resource center.


Understanding Seller Financing

financing pictureAs you go about looking to purchase a home, you may have encountered situations in which an option for seller financing presents itself.  You may not really understand everything that is involved in seller financing.  Because you really do not necessarily understand the ins and outs of seller financing, you may not be able to ascertain whether or not seller financing is the right choice for you.

Generally speaking there are two types of seller financing that are utilized in the real estate marketplace today.  Again, in some instances, seller financing may prove to be a good option for you when it comes to the purchase of real estate today.

However, with that said, you will need to closely examine the details of any agreement that you enter into when it comes to a seller financing situation.  You need to examine up close the liabilities you are assuming in a seller financing scheme.  You need to pay particular attention to what will happen if you default under the terms of the seller financing agreement that you might enter into.

The first type of seller financing that is available in some instances involves instances in which the seller effectively functions as a “bank.”  Rather than the seller being paid in full at the time of closing through the application of proceeds from a home mortgage loan that you otherwise would have to obtain, the seller effectively loans the balance due and owing on the real estate to you.

You will agree with the seller to make monthly payments directly to the seller until the balance due and owing on the real estate is paid off in full.  The seller carries the “loan.”

You need to keep in mind that in many of these situations there can be serious and immediate consequences if you ever default on these payments to the seller.  You can end up facing a nearly immediate loss of possession of the real estate and you can forfeit any money that you may have paid towards the real estate.

The second type of seller related financing is a situation in which the buyer assumes the obligation on the home mortgage loan that the seller already has in place.  Once again, you need to pay attention to the details of any agreement that you have with a seller in a loan assumption situation.  You need to keep in mind the dire consequences that can result if you do not make payments under the agreement in a timely manner.  Because you are not the holder of the mortgage loan itself, you likely will not have any of the protections afforded to an individual who defaults on a home mortgage loan.  In other words, if you default, it is likely that the seller will be able to repossess the real estate in short speed.  You would lose any payments that you had made in such a set of circumstances.

It is always advisable to consult with a real estate attorney before entering into any such agreements.  If you need the name of a good attorney or have any questions about the Tampa Florida real estate market please don’t hesitate to give me a call.


Negotiating with Your Lender on a Home Mortgage

If you’ve made the decision to purchase a home in the Tampa Bay area, high on your list of important considerations is finding a home mortgage loan with the best possible terms.  One of the reasons that some people are able to get a good deal on a mortgage loan is that they have learned how to be effective in negotiating some of the terms and conditions associated with the loan.

Of course, there are some aspects of a loan that will not necessarily be open to negotiation with the lender.  However, there are some elements that can be negotiated and that can result in you have a better chance of obtaining a home mortgage loan for a lesser cost.

What you need to remember upfront is that the competition amongst home mortgage lenders remains intense at this point in time – even after the record number of foreclosures being filed over the course of the past year.  (In fact, competition between lenders for qualified borrowers actually has increased as a result of the fact there have been a significant amount of foreclosures having been filed in the past year.)

With this in mind, you may be able to make some headway in negotiating interest rates with mortgage lenders.  Of course, there are definite limitations when it comes to what a lender can do when it comes to interest rates.  However, if you do have good credit, you will be able to take advantage of getting some better interest rates when it comes to a home mortgage loan.  And, over time, even a slight decrease in the interest rate can amount to a significant savings to you.

In addition, beyond the interest rate attached to a loan, you can also negotiate costs and other fees associated with a new loan.  Therefore, you need to be prepared and positioned to negotiate these types of costs, fees and charges.  Keep in mind that many borrowers have saved a great deal of money by negotiating with lenders over these charges.

Of course, before you even find a home mortgage loan lender to negotiate financing with, you will want to do your homework.  You need to understand that there can be some noticeable differences between what different lenders will charge when it comes to interest, costs and fees associated with a home mortgage loan.  By doing your homework, by researching the marketplace, you will be able to identify those lenders that will offer you the best terms when it comes to a home loan.

If you have any questions about home mortgage loans please don’t hesitate to go to our website at

Reseeding Your Lawn Can Bring You Thousands of Dollars

If you are interested in making sure that your lawn is in the best possible condition, you may want to consider reseeding problem patches in your yard.  This particularly is the case when it comes to preparing your house for sale.  The fact is that by making sure your lawn is in the best possible shape, you will add a significant amount of curb appeal to your home.  You will make your home more attractive to a potential buyer.

The reality is that in advance of reseeding your lawn, there are some steps that you do need to take to prepare your lawn for the reseeding process itself.  By following these steps in preparation of law reseeding, you will be in the best possible position to ensure that your lawn reseeding is of the greatest effect.

The first step that you need to take in advance of lawn reseeding is remove all debris, weeds and dead grass from the area or areas that you will be reseeding.  It is very important that you do thoroughly remove all of this “trash” from the areas in which you will be doing reseeding.

The second step that you will want to take when it comes to reseeding patches in your lawn is to aerate the soil in those spots at which you will be doing the reseeding.  You want to make sure that water and nutrients easily are accessible to the grass seed and the roots as the seed begins to germinate.

The third step involved in the reseeding preparation process is adding compost to the soil if the soil itself is not in particularly good condition.  It is very important that the soil be in the best possible condition to support the growth of the new grass that will result from your reseeding efforts.

The fourth step that you necessarily must take when it comes to reseeding your lawn is to make certain that you undertake the reseeding process itself at an appropriate time.  For example, you do not want to reseed when the sun is at its harshest.  In addition, if you do live in an area in which a freeze will occur, you will want to reseed the lawn at least a month before the first freeze is expected in your area.  The timing of your reseeding efforts really is important and cannot be underestimated.

By making certain that you closely follow these recommendations, you will be in the best possible position to enjoy great success when it comes to reseeding your lawn.  You will be able to improve the look and health of your lawn.  And, by doing so, you actually will be improving the value of your house.  (Again, this is a crucial step if you do intend to put the house on the market for sale any time soon).


Family Fun in the Tampa Bay Area

Tampa is a community that offers to its residents (and visitors alike) a great many entertainment and recreational activities.  This includes a wide range of family friendly activities.

If you are a resident of Tampa Bay, or if you are considering moving into the Tampa area, you may be wondering what types of recreational and entertainment options are available to you and your loved ones.  As an aside, many of the activities that are available to families in the Tampa area are also not costly.  Families can enjoy these activities without breaking the family budget in the process.

The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is one destination that families can go to and enjoy time together in Tampa.  The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in all the world.  On any given day, families visiting the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary can see upwards to 600 different bird species today.  There is no cost to visit the sanctuary.  The goal of the sanctuary is to restore to health and eventually free birds that are indigenous to Florida, birds that come to the sanctuary sick or injured.

The Dunedin Historical Society and Museum is one of the most positively family friendly.  The museum focuses its attention on local history and provides many interesting exhibits and programs for people of all ages.

The University of South Florida Botanical Gardens is also an enjoyable, family friendly venue in Temple Terrace.  Admission to the gardens is free and offers visitors a chance to see some interesting and beautiful plants.

The Manatee Viewing Center gives people of all ages and from all walks of live the chance to see manatees up close.  Hundreds of manatees can be seen at the Center at different times of the year.  Once again, this is a very family friendly and enjoyable destination in the Tampa area.

Another stopping point for the family in the Tampa area (Temple Terrace) is Lettuce Lake Park.  The Park includes a 3,500 foot boardwalk and a wonderful observation tower that allows visitors the chance to view the marvelous assortment of wildlife in the area.  Admission to the Park is free and it is a perfect location for families to spend a day together.

Clearwater Beach is an extremely popular ocean front destination.  There are many restaurants and shops at this beach, making it one of the busiest in the Tampa Bay area.  In addition, Clearwater Beach truly is a family friendly recreational and entertainment destination in the Tampa Bay area.

Of course, when it comes to family friendly recreational and entertainment activities in the Tampa Bay area, we’ve only now just scratched the surface.  The important point to keep in mind is that there is a great deal for families to do in the Tampa Bay area.

If you have any questions about the Tampa Bay real estate market or things to do in Tampa Bay please don’t hesitate to give me a call.


The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Realtor

Understanding the reality that the real estate market in the 21st century is complicated, if you have made the decision to sell your home, you must understand the benefits that you can realize through engaging the services of one or another of the Tampa FL Realtors that are in business today.  Indeed, there are a number of significant benefits that can be realized through engaging a Realtor in the sale of your home.

A Comprehensive Approach to Marketing

The first benefit that you can realize through the use of Tampa Realtors is the fact that these professionals can bring to you a comprehensive approach to the marketing of your home.  They will have available a wide range of tools and techniques that can work to ensure the most effective marketing of your home in the competitive Tampa real estate market of the 21st century.

Faster Sale of Your Home

Industry analysts universally agree that a person who elects to sell his or her home on his or her own faces a serious problem.  Time after time after time, a home being sold by its owner ends up languishing on the market.

By hiring a Tampa Realtor, you have a far better chance that your home will sell in a timely manner.  In nearly instance, a similarly situated piece of real estate will sell far faster when a real estate agent is involved in the process as opposed to the home being sold by the owner alone.

Getting the Sales Price You Want

Along these same lines, one of the effects of selling a home by owner rests in the fact that the owner normally needs to significantly reduce the sales price in order to sell in the home in the end.  This is not normally the case when a professional Realtor is involved in the process.  Statistically, Realtors are able to obtain for a seller the best possible sales price on a home.

Obviously, in the end, it is vitally important for you to get the very best price on the sale of your home.  Even with the costs associated with an agent’s fee, in the end by engaging the services of an experienced Realtor, a person selling a home ends up making more money than he or she would make selling that same property on his or her own.

Covering All of the Bases

Finally, by engaging a professional Tampa Realtor, you can also rest easier in knowing that all of the legal and technical aspects of the home sale completely are covered.  In other words, a Realtor will work closely with you to make sure all of the legal requirements and aspects of the sale are completed.  In addition, they will assist you with inspections, appraisals and all of the other technical aspects associated with marketing and selling a home.  Far, far fewer mistakes are made with a professional Realtor sitting at your side during a home sale.

Florida Real Estate and Property Tax Cuts

One of the reasons that the Florida real estate market has been sluggish over the past couple of years has been the result of property taxes in the state.  Over the course of the past decade, Florida in fact had one of the higher property tax rates in all of the United States.  Efforts are now underway to reign in the costs associated with property tax in Florida at this point in time.  By dealing with property tax issues, the goal is to reinvigorate the Florida real estate marketplace.

Many real estate experts have maintained that residential real estate has languished on the market in part due to the fact that real estate tax rates have been considered to be high.  Some individuals simply balked at making the purchase of a residence because they did not feel that they could effectively and comfortably manage the property tax assessments that they would be hit with when making the purchase of a home.

Historically, the new owner of a residence was saddled with the purchase price as the basis for the property tax computation.  Therefore, this provided a buyer with an added motivation to really bargain for a purchase price that might even end up being below the appropriate market rate.

In Tampa recently the promotion of a new constitutional amendment proposal involving property valuation, property taxes and home purchases took place in the home of Tampa resident who has had a property on the market for an extended period of time.  This resident had come to learn that one of the reasons her property was slow in selling rested in the fact that many potential buyers simply did not feel that they could effectively or appropriately manage the property tax that would be assessed against the property based on the asking sales price for the home.

If the new proposed amendment becomes a part of the Florida constitution, the valuation for tax purposes of residential real estate would “reset” at the actual, lower market value immediately after the sale.  Therefore, the new property owner would not be “stuck” with the higher property valuation assessment that otherwise does occur in the absence of this amendment.

Beyond this amendment proposal there is also a proposal that would allow for a super-exemption on homestead property.  This super-exemption actually would work to exclude a higher percentage of the home’s overall value or worth from property tax liability.  This mechanism will work to significantly lower a homeowner’s tax liability in many instances.

A homeowner would have the ability to select one or another of these two tax liability reduction plans, but not both.  A homeowner will be able to determine which scheme makes sense under his or her particular set of circumstances.

The bottom line is that Florida governmental leaders are attempting to take useful and meaningful steps to bring down the costs associated with property ownership in the state.  The goal is to stabilize the Florida real estate market sooner rather than later.

Experts Say the Florida Real Estate Market Will Turn Around in 2008

cartoon home imageThroughout the course of 2007, there have been innumerable news reports detailing problems involving the Florida real estate market.  For example, the number of home mortgage foreclosures reached an alarming record high.  The home mortgage market itself tightened significantly now leaving many people in a difficult position when it comes to home mortgage financing.

Some of the “bad news” associated with the Florida real estate market comes after an extended period of growth and prosperity.  For example, before the recent slump in the Florida real estate market – including the Tampa market – property values across the state (including in the Tampa area) actually increased a remarkable 65% over the past five years.  The reality is that there were nearly no other locales in the United States (or anywhere else in world for that matter) that enjoyed such a tremendous increase in property values than what was experienced in the Tampa area and Florida during the past half decade.

Because of the importance of the Florida real estate market, hundreds of experts have spent a great deal of time analyzing the dynamics of the marketplace in the Sunshine State.  These experts have reached some common agreement on what trends we can expert in regard to Florida real estate during 2008.

First of all, while the gyrations we have seen in the Florida real estate market (and in the real estate market elsewhere in the United States) go beyond what might be called a simple “market adjustment,” the reality is the net result of the volatility of the real estate market in Florida and elsewhere will not be as severely negative as many imagined would be the case earlier in 2007.

There likely will be some price adjustments in the early months of 2008.  In reality, it probably can be argued that the accelerated rate in which property valuations bounded over the course of the past five years may have resulted in some artificially inflated properties.  While this may have some adverse consequences to some sellers during the coming year, it obviously can be helpful to people looking to buy a residence in Florida.

With all of this noted, it is likely that the drop in real estate prices or valuations likely will not be tremendously deep.  Indeed, prices are likely to stabilize early in 2008 and then begin a more moderately paced rebound.  Therefore, if a person is not pressed to sell real estate immediately, it might behoove them to hold off putting their home on the market until 2008.

The bottom line is that while there have been and will continue to be some challenges associated with the Florida real estate market (including the Tampa real estate market). Those complications and difficulties certainly will not be as dire as some originally predicted early in 2007.

As Donald Trump said in my blog yesterday – you want to buy property within the next six months. You buy when people are selling and you sell when people are buying.

Lowering Your Utility Costs

The overall costs of owning and maintaining a home in Tampa has increased.  Homeowners insurance and property taxes continue to increase all of the time.  Finally, even utility costs associated with a residence in Tampa, across the State of Florida and around the country have also increased.

Fortunately, in Tampa and in most of Florida, the wintertime is famous for its great temperatures.  However, there are some steps that you nonetheless need to take to work to decrease the costs associated with utilities for your home during the coming winter months – indeed, steps that you can take the year around to lower the utility costs associated with your home.

The bottom line is that summer or winter, the biggest energy wasters are air leaks associated with your residence.  In fact, industry analysts maintain that leaks account for upwards to forty percent of the energy loss associated with residential property.  These leaks can occur whether you are trying to cool a home on hot days or trying to warm a home on cooler days.

Here are some steps that you can (and should) take in order to reduce the air leaks in your home and lower your energy costs.

  •  Caulk around windows, doors and other cracks to eliminate air escape.
  •  Secure weather stripping (available at home stores) at the foot of your door to stop drafts.
  •  Use plastic window sheeting on the interior of windows for extra insulation.
  •  Hire a professional to inspect and clean your chimney (if you have one) to avoid poor ventilation.
  •  Your house should have adequate insulation in your ceiling. An attic with at least 6″ of insulation is efficient or at least 2″ over the top of the ceiling joists.
  •  Make sure that you have your air conditioning and furnace units regularly inspected to make certain that they are in  top operating condition.
  •  Clean or replace your air filters to help avoid clogging.
  •  Remove dust and lint from the burner compartment in your furnace.
  •  A high-efficiency furnace can cost more to install, but could save you around 15% of the heating bill. If your furnace  was made prior to 1990, you should consider a newer model for long-term savings.  Make sure your furnace is sized properly. Larger than necessary furnaces lose efficiency and cost more to run.  Do not block registers with furniture.

By following these tips, you will be in the best possible position to lower the costs associated with maintaining your home the entire year around.

If you need any referrals to HV/AC companies or handyman please get me a call. As your Tampa real estate expert I would like to help you.

Tampa Realtors & Seven Rules for a Short Sale

If you have found yourself saddled with a home mortgage loan that you can no longer financially maintain, you may be wondering what options are available to you today.  One step that you can take is to try to negotiate and undertake a so-called short sale of the real estate in question.

You may have heard the term short sale but not really understand what it’s all about.  In simple terms, a short sale occurs when you sell the subject property for a price below the amount that is due and owing on the mortgage loan.  The home mortgage lender agrees to take this amount as satisfaction of the loan in full.

A home mortgage lender sometimes will agree to a short sale in lieu of having to file bankruptcy because the lender will end up actually losing less money than they would otherwise lose by filing a mortgage foreclosure case in court.

With all of this noted, there are some specific rules that you need to keep in mind when it comes to effecting a short sale as a means of dealing with a problematic home mortgage loan.

1. The borrower must be experiencing an actual, genuine financial problem or hardship.  You must communicate this specific financial hardship to the home mortgage lender so that the lender is on notice of financial hardship that you have found yourself facing at this point in time.

2. You will need to fully document the financial hardship.

3. In addition, you will need to fully disclose all of your assets to your home mortgage lender.

4. You need to keep in mind that the home mortgage lender will not make a commitment to a short sale based solely on your hardship.   You are going to have to actually put your home on the market for sale. In this regard, you may be obliged to put it on the market for a price above and beyond the amount due and owing on the home mortgage loan to see what the market actually will bear.  Hiring a professional Tampa Realtor is a must. When interviewing Realtors in Tampa Bay you will need to find out their experience with short sales.  Dealing with a short sale (bank) is much different then dealing with an individual home owner.

5. When you do sell the property in question, you must then supply to the home mortgage lender additional documentation.  This documentation will include a market analysis that your real estate agent will have developed when the property went onto the market.

6. In some instances, you actually may want your Tampa Realtor or some other professional (attorney) to negotiate the details of a short sale with your lender.  This is becoming more commonplace all of the time.

7. There is one, important factor that you need to keep in mind when it comes to a short sale.  The IRS likely will consider the amount of the home mortgage loan that you end up not having to pay as taxable income.  Therefore, you need to consider the impact this fact will have on your overall financial situation.

If you have any questions about short sales in Tampa or interviewing Tampa Realtors please don’t hesitate to give me a call.