Proposed Changes In Florida’s Coastal Homeowners Insurance

Currently, more than 1.5 million Florida policyholders are insured through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, with property value caps of $2 million. The state-backed insurer may be dropping more than 7500 homes that value more than $1 million, since the cap is about to be lowered. The main thinking behind this strategy is losses could be catastrophic, should a hurricane hit.

For the average homebuyer purchasing coastal homes in Florida, this may not mean a lot, but it means rate increases and coverage declines. You may want to speak with your Tampa Realtor, when you are in the process of purchasing a home in Tampa. Since many coastal areas exist in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area, many homeowners could be affected.

Sinkhole policies will increase more than 30%, while standard coverage will increase an average of 6%. When calculating your costs of home ownership, it’s important to be aware of these very recent changes in homeowner policies. A Realtor can find the lowest-priced coverage, since they’re aware of the ever-changing marketplace.

Citizen’s was created for those who couldn’t find coverage, through insurers in the private market, so it’s important to shop insurance, as you search for your new home. For most people, finding their dream home won’t be deterred by higher insurance costs, but qualifying for a mortgage may require higher income levels or lower debt load.

It’s important to factor in this increase for high-risk areas, since coastal areas are most affected. Tampa homes that are further inland won’t be quite as affected and there are those which are outside of high-risk hurricane coverage areas. Your Realtor can show you plenty of great homes, which won’t be as greatly affected. This can save you money and headaches, during the home-buying process.

Sellers Can Enjoy The Benefits Of Home Staging

Whether you engage the services of a professional home stager or you perform your own home staging, statistics show home staging helps their home sell for more money and it will sell quicker. Home staging doesn’t always require additional furniture or accessory purchases, although de-cluttering is a large portion of the home staging process.

If you hire a professional home stager, they may be able to select certain pieces of your existing furniture, but if you are trying to sell a vacant home, it’s possible to rent furnishings for a small amount of money. Your home will appeal to more buyers and it will highlight the best features, while downplaying the worst ones, so it may be worthwhile to spend a little money, to make more on your home sale.

Home staging can make your home look cleaner, larger or brighter and it can allow potential buyers to envision living there. The home staging process includes a few key components, which many home sellers can implement, on their own.

De-cluttering, a fresh coat of paint and fixing minor things, (like leaky faucets and running toilets), can help your home appeal to more buyers. Furniture should fit the rooms and not take up too much room. Convert a home office into a guest bedroom, since more bedrooms are an important selling feature.

Be sure the outside looks good, too. Pull weeds, trim bushes and put a fresh coat of paint on the front door and window trim, if needed. Remove clutter from decks and patios, by getting rid of odds and ends you’ve accumulated over the years. Packing your belongings can start during the home staging process and renting storage may be a cheap investment, which helps sell your home for more money.

Lance Mohr is an expert in Tampa real estate and can answer any questions you may have about Tampa home prices.

Attractions Close To Tampa Florida

If you’ve never been to Tampa before and you’re relocating here, there are plenty of attractions close to Tampa Florida. Besides finding a home and a new job, your family will want to have some fun and beaches, theme parks and natural areas are nearby.

Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay offers chances to visit animals in natural-looking habitats. You can get closer to them, on the Serengeti Safari or Elephant Keeper Experience. It’s always best to visit Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay during cooler morning or evening hours, since the animals are more active.

One of the best things to do in Tampa is visiting the Florida Aquarium. You can watch animal shows and participate in guest dive programs- where you get to be part of the show! Visit the Water Fun Zone, Wild Dolphin Cruise, Dive with the Sharks and Swim with the Fishes. The whole family will love this Tampa attraction.

For adults, The Tampa Greyhound Track features wagering on daily greyhound racing, in the card room at Lucky’s- on the 2nd floor. They hold card tournaments twice a day and for those that like to play cards or bet on horses and dogs, it can be an entertaining afternoon, when it’s hot outside and you don’t want to drive very far.

LEGOLand Florida features more than 50 rides, shows and attractions. Located just 45 minutes away from Tampa, the whole family will enjoy this theme park that’s dedicated to children between the ages of 2 to 12 years old.

When you’re looking for attractions close to Tampa, you don’t need to go very far to visit the Gulf, Ocean or Orlando’s theme parks. There are plenty of things to see and do in Tampa, so you don’t need to drive very far.

If you have any questions on real estate in Tampa please visit our website at

Pricing To Sell Your Tampa Home

Pricing to sell your Tampa home is important, because you need to take your “seller’s hat” off and put on your “buyer’s hat”. It’s recommended you get an experienced agent to give you an honest opinion. Pricing is very important and there are some newer or more-aggressive listing agents that will tell you what you want to hear, when it comes to pricing your home. This doesn’t always offer the best outcome.

Comparable homes in the immediate area should be used, as the first consideration. Homes that have recently sold and offer similar characteristics should be comparable in square footage, condition and age, for comparison. The most interested buyers will be the first people to look at your home, so it is imperative it is priced right!

The comparable home prices of the last three months are being used by most appraisers, in today’s market. It used to be the homes sold in the last six months were used, but the current housing market has made appraisers, more conservative.

It’s important to realize your home buyer will need to qualify for a mortgage and this involves a current appraisal. Your home’s value is a constantly-changing number and it isn’t based on what you paid or what you owe, on the home.

If your home is unique in location and surroundings, you may not get the full value you think it is worth, since there’s a lot of information considered in the appraisal process. If you take all the comparable-priced homes and figure about 10% below that, you will hit a good pricing for home buyers.

This doesn’t mean you should price your home 10% higher, to get the price you want. An honest Tampa Realtor can offer you sound advice, in this regard.

Is Your Pet Deterring Your Home Sale?

You may love your cat or dog, but your pet could be keeping your home from selling. Before you start an emotional rant about how much you love your pet, it’s important to realize some home buyers have allergies or distaste for purchasing a home that houses animals. If you ask any Realtor how many homes have gone unsold because of a pet, you may be astounded by the answer.

There are several ways a Realtor can help you through this important phase of your life, without getting rid of your pet. It may be advised to clean your home to get rid of pet hair and dander, but showing your home is more difficult when an area is un-accessible because the pet is locked in there.

You should arrange to have the pet away during showings, even if it means kenneling it or letting it stay with relatives. Before listing your home, it’s best to make arrangements for your pet to reside someplace else on a temporary basis, but if this isn’t possible, the pet should be removed and taken for a ride, during showings.

Keeping your home hair-free and odor-free is important. Shampooing carpets, freshening up the paint on walls and doors or having your home professionally-cleaned and staged, will help you sell your home quicker.

Removing your pet from the home, during your listing period can be a difficult, emotional decision, but it could cost you thousands of dollars or cause you to “turn off” buyers who may be interested in buying your home, otherwise. Not everybody loves animals or loves living with them, so it’s best to be mindful of this factor, when you hope to sell your home for the most money and sell it, quickly.

Lance Mohr is a Tampa real estate expert. Please visit our website at

Florida Ranks High Among States In Lowering Unemployment

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Dec. 21, 2011 – Florida had the second best year among all the states in terms of reducing unemployment over the last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week.

Florida was behind only New Mexico in lowering its official jobless rate from 11.9 percent in November 2010 to 10 percent last month, the bureau said. New Mexico’s jobless rate dropped 2.1 percentage points from 8.6 to 6.5 percent.

Right behind Florida was Michigan, which lowered its rate 1.6 percentage points to 9.8 percent and West Virginia, which saw a 1.7 percentage point drop to 7.9 percent.

Also, the 98,100 jobs that Florida added over the year put the state third in the nation, behind only California and Texas. Still, Florida is just one of eight remaining states with double digit unemployment, though the situation is better than in Nevada, at 13 percent, and California at 11.3 percent. North Dakota has the lowest jobless rate, 3.4 percent.

Gov. Rick Scott talked about the state’s success in a radio appearance Wednesday morning. “We’ve got to get more jobs in the state, but this has been a great year” the governor said during an interview with WFLA Radio in Tallahassee.

Florida’s Existing Home, Condo Sales Up In November

ORLANDO, Fla. – Dec. 21, 2011 – Florida’s existing home and existing condo sales continued its positive upswing in November, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Existing home sales increased 11 percent last month with a total of 12,993 homes sold statewide compared to 11,664 homes sold in November 2010, according to Florida Realtors.

“It’s really clear that two things are happening in Florida real estate,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “No. 1, sales are moving upward – not by a large increase, but definitely, positively on an upward trend. Second, prices are stabilizing. Now, it doesn’t mean that prices have turned around but they are stabilizing, and that’s vital for the market to gain equilibrium.

“The more important factor is that sales are increasing and in large part, that’s due to lenders becoming more educated on how to deal with distressed properties more effectively and in a more timely manner – and that’s helping the Florida real estate markets recover.”

Seventeen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported higher existing home sales in November; 10 MSAs had higher existing condo sales.

The statewide median sales price for existing homes remained relatively flat last month at $130,100; a year ago, it was $130,600. According to analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in October 2011 was $161,600, down 5.8 percent from the previous year, according to NAR. In California, the October statewide median resales price was $278,060; in Massachusetts, it was $275,000; in Maryland, it was $221,765; and in New York, it was $215,900.

In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 5,590 units sold statewide in November, a 2 percent gain over the 5,464 units sold in November 2010. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $86,700; a year earlier, it was $83,000 for a 4 percent increase. The national median existing condo sales price in October was $160,300, according to NAR.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen encouraging reports of jobs growth and improvements in Florida’s economy,” said 2011 Florida Realtors President Patricia Fitzgerald, manager/broker-associate with Illustrated Properties in Hobe Sound and Mariner Sands Country Club in Stuart. “Mortgage rates have remained at record lows and home prices appear to be stabilizing in many local markets across the state – all positive signs for the housing recovery.”

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.99 percent in November, down from the 4.30 percent average during the same month a year earlier. Florida Realtors’ sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Understanding CDD’s In The Tampa Home-Buying Experience

CDD’s or Community Development District Fees are the result of bonds issued to cover the infrastructure involved with building a subdivision. In upscale subdivisions, these fees seem astronomical, compared to older properties in Tampa, which don’t have them. Understanding CDD fees in Tampa can help you make the right decision.

In new subdivisions, especially larger developments, CDD’s are assessed to repay bond money borrowed by the developer for building streets, sidewalks, utilities and traffic impact necessities, such as stoplights. CDD’s are tied to bonds used to fund these infrastructure items, but they’re INCLUDED in the property tax bill. They may be 20-year or 30-year bonds and once repaid, these fees are dropped from your property tax bill.

If you see CDD fees listed on the MLS in Tampa, look at the property taxes, because these CDD fees are not in addition to the property tax bill. Depending on when the development was built, these fees could last a number of years or they may be about to expire. The important thing to realize is they aren’t an additional fee. HOA dues may be very low, if CDD fees are very high.

The reason a developer may take this route is because it avoids the necessity of borrowing millions of dollars, which would then be expenses passed onto the builder and passed onto the buyer. By applying for bond money, a developer can finance costs directly and CDD’s are paid for by the owners, with their tax bill.

Once bonds are paid for, these expenses drop from your property tax bill. HOA fees may be a separate issue and should be considered separate, for comparison purposes. Understanding the property tax bill on a home can help you understand the CDD’s, as well.

Conditioning To Sell A House In Tampa

When you’re conditioning to sell a house in Tampa, you are taking care of the most over-looked process by most sellers. If homebuyers are turned off by the outside of your home, they will never look at the inside. You can’t expect a Tampa Realtor to overcome this obstacle.

Conditioning to sell a house  isn’t difficult or expensive. If you condition your home, you will make four to five times more money off these minor fixes, so it’s a good investment and it will increase the chances of your home selling, for top dollar. If you look at your home like a buyer would, you’ll find plenty of minor things you can fix, for pennies on the dollar.

Look at your home for negative things a buyer will find, starting from the curb and working towards the inside. Probably the most important thing to do is put some money into the outside and fix it up. Take a notepad, pencil and start from the road, looking at the property the way a potential buyer would. Buyers notice all the little negative things and this can overshadow positive things.

Getting homebuyers in the front door is the first challenge. Cleaning off wasp nests, painting the trim, pulling weeds or planting flowers are cheap outdoor fixes. Keeping the lawn mowed will make your home look well-cared for.

Conditioning to sell a house  involves a clean, fresh inside. Before listing your home with a real estate agent in Tampa, get your home ready and staged to sell. Including pleasant smells, relaxing music and a clean entry, with neutral interior colors are positives, to most homebuyers. Consider new carpet and hiring an expert home stager. Painting your walls is cheap and makes your home look newer.

Hiring A Buyer’s Agent, To Enhance Your Home Buying Experience

For the best service, a homebuyer may want to hire a buyer’s agent. Hiring a buyer’s agent is easy to do and you can get the best values on your dream home, since they will be knowledgeable about the marketplace.

You need to be able to talk with your buyer’s agent, easily and honestly. You shouldn’t feel pressured during the process since they’re going to be representing you, in home-buying negotiations and fulfilling your wishes are what they are hired to do.

Just because you aren’t paying the buyer’s agent any money doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get the best service. While you can look at any homes in the MLS and sellers will be paying the commission, dual agency allows them to represent you and the seller, for the best outcome.

You need to interview agents and find the one whose personality fits you the best. The important thing is to be honest and upfront with them, expressing your needs and desires for what you truly want in a new home.

Check the agent’s website and be sure there are plenty of things to learn from it. The best real estate agents offer plenty of helpful information about themselves, the area and what’s important to you. Ask what kind of experience they have and whether they mainly work with sellers, buyers, or bank-owned and short-sale properties. You want an agent that knows the process.

Don’t always gauge an agent about whether they answer the phone the first time you call because the best agents are the busiest agents. They should still get back to you within an hour or two, but hiring a buyer’s agent isn’t done over the phone. You should meet them and establish a relationship.

Lance Mohr is a Tampa real estate expert. Please visit our website at