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Florida Keys Real Estate Articles

Investment Advantages of Owning a Luxury Home in the Keys

The investment advantages of owning a luxury home in the Keys come in many different forms. These benefits include both financial and lifestyle, making it a worthwhile investment. When you own a luxury property in the Florida Keys, you own a place that will greatly appreciate over time. Plus, one that will also provide you with an oasis. (But, these aren’t all, so read on to learn more about the advantages of owning a luxury property in the Florida Keys.)

The investment advantages of owning a luxury home in the Keys include financial benefits, as well as a positive change to your lifestyle. In fact, when you know just a couple of these enormous benefits, you’ll wonder why you haven’t made the move sooner. Here are some of the top reasons to own a luxury house in the Florida Keys:

  1. It substantially adds to your net worth. When you own real estate in the Keys, you own property that has inherent value. And, the value that increases more and more every year, which adds up to a huge amount of appreciation.
  2. It gives you leverage for other properties. If you want to buy another property in the future somewhere else, this one can help you obtain it with fewer commitments and upfront costs.
  3. It provides you with a variety of tax advantages. Of course, if you homestead here in the Keys, you won’t pay any income tax because there’s no state income tax in Florida. And, you’ll be able to write off a number of expenses, including property taxes, insurance, maintenance, improvements, and more.
  4. It’s something you can monetize as a passive income. Also, if you ever decide to relocate to another island, you can always rent this place out for a premium rental rate, generating a passive income with little to no effort.
  5. It is a property you can pass down to your heirs if desired. What’s more, it’s a property that you can give to your family. (Whether it’s your siblings, children, nieces or nephews, or anyone else, for that matter.)

Finally, a luxury property in the Florida Keys offers you a piece of heaven right here on earth. After all, the Keys are one of the most traveled locations in the world. And, are a destination location that helps to bolster property values. That means real value going in and if you ever decide to sell.

Upper Keys Arts and Culture

Upper Keys arts and culture are a big part of life here. In fact, one could argue that it's the arts and culture of the Upper Keys that makes them so attractive. Sure, the wonderful weather, with its super mild winters, and warm balmy summers, that’s the real lure. But, the arts and culture in the Upper Keys is a huge part of the reason people choose to visit or call the area their home. Read on to learn more about the Upper Keys Arts and Culture.

About the Upper Florida Keys

Sure, the terrific scenery and laidback lifestyle are most definitely two of the best aspects of being here. But, the arts and culture make it all more worthwhile. What some people don’t realize is that the Florida Keys are actually broken up into three locations: the Upper Key, the Middle Keys, and the Lower Keys. The Upper Keys consist of Key Largo, Tavernier, Plantation Key, Windley Key, Islamorada, Upper Matecumbe Key, Lignumvitae Key, and Lower Matecumbe Key. That’s more than eight communities, with many more islands between them.

The Upper Keys arts and culture are something that surprises everyone in the sense there’s more than people imagine. Okay, so just about everyone loves fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding, sunsets and sunrises, hiking, sailing, deep water boating, sightseeing, and more. But, the arts and culture remain one of the best parts of the Upper Florida Keys. For instance, there’s the Gallery at Kona Kai in Key Largo and the Gallery at Morada Bay.

However, this isn’t all by a long shot. There’s also Redbone Art Gallery in Islamorada and the Stacie Krupa Studio Gallery of Art and Village. Plus, there are many natural treasures to enjoy, which are a big part of the culture in the Upper Keys. For example, some of the most popular destinations are the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park.

Then, there’s also more in the way of art, such as the Key Largo Art Gallery, Rain Barrel Village, Old Road Gallery, and the Morada Way Arts and Cultural District.

As you can plainly see, there are many choices and destinations to choose from and enjoy the diverse arts and culture in the Upper Florida Keys. Don’t wait any longer. Come and experience the beauty of the arts and culture the Upper Keys have to offer.

Buying a Home? Why You Need a Seasoned Agent

Buying a home? Here’s why you need a seasoned agent. No, it’s not a sales pitch. It’s literally the difference between saving thousands of dollars and avoiding some of the biggest mistakes. When you buy a home, there’s more involved than just finding suitable properties. (Just about anyone can do that.) But, finding the right house and paying a fair price is a lot more difficult. So, if you’re buying a home, read on to learn why you need an experienced real estate agent.

The home buying process is a lot more complicated and lengthy that you probably think (or remember, if you’ve been through it before). Even if you are confident that you can navigate the process alone, once reality hits, you’ll realize it’s not DIY work. In fact, there are several reasons to team up with a seasoned real estate agent when buying a home:

  1. You simply don’t have the time. Sure, you’ve downloaded the apps and have the right websites bookmarked. But, you’ll soon feel like you’re searching for a needle in a haystack. Plus, you’ll eventually become overwhelmed because you just can’t remember what you have and haven’t seen. An experienced agent will look for you.
  2. Finding the right property is very difficult. Keeping with the same task, you’ll discover that every property seems to have at least one big negative. That’s because it’s virtually impossible to find the perfect house but a seasoned agent will help you find one that meets most of your must-haves and wish list items.
  3. The negotiation process isn’t for everyone to try. A huge component of the home buying process is negotiation. It’s not easy to know when to say when and when to push a little more. However, an experienced negotiator will know how to handle such situations.
  4. You probably don’t know the local market well enough. While you might believe you know the local real estate market, that’s probably not the case. To have the most accurate information, team up with someone whose job depends on being in-the-know.
  5. There are too many players to keep track of on your own. The seller’s agent, the home inspector, the pest inspector, the appraiser, the list goes on and on. And, you’ll need to keep up-to-date with the latest information.

All of this, not to mention the fact that there’s no fee charged to homebuyers. The seller will pay the sales commission of their listing agent and your buyer’s agent.

Tips for Refinancing Your Home

Tips for refinancing your home can really come in handy, particularly when interest rates are on the decline. (Or, when they’re about to go up substantially.) Either way, refinancing your house can benefit you financially in a very significant way, if it's done right and, at the right time. In other words, it's not always a good idea to refinance a mortgage because there are some circumstances you must consider first. Read on to learn some very helpful tips for refinancing your property.

Tips for refinancing your home start with picking the right time. This not only means when there are more favorable interest rates, but also the length of time you plan to stay put.

Also, it is very important to understand the fundamental fact about home refinancing. Contrary to popular belief, refinancing is not modifying your existing mortgage, rather, it is the process of obtaining an entirely new home loan. So, it's quite a bit similar to buying a home, without having to move. Closing costs, appraisal, and other elements of buying a house share the same traits as refinancing.

Now, let's take a quick look to add some helpful tips for refinancing your house and what you need to know:

  1. Check interest rates. The very first step you need to take is to find out what's going on with interest rates. If you're not going to save a half a point or more, in the majority of instances, refinancing will not generally benefit you financially.
  2. Determine how long you'll stay in the home. Generally speaking, if you will stay in the house for at least three to five years, that's often enough to recoup the cost of refinancing the property. Keep in mind this is not a hard and fast rule, rather, just a general guideline.
  3.  Learn your property's true market value. Most lenders will require an appraisal to ensure the property is worth the amount you're borrowing. After all, refinancing is really qualifying for a new mortgage. So, enlist the help of a local real estate professional to obtain a CMA or comparative market analysis. This will give you a really good idea of what the house is actually worth.
  4. Inquire about closing costs to know the amounts. Since financing is really taking out a new home loan, there will be closing costs involved. That means you need to know how much money you'll need in order to refinance.
  5. Be sure to take the time to shop around. Of course, it's smart to know what various lenders offer in order to find the best fit for you. The big-name banks might not be the best choice, you could probably do better with a regional bank or even a credit union.

Importance of Pricing Your Home Correctly To Sell

The importance of pricing your home correctly to sell can’t be stated strongly enough. As any seasoned real estate professional knows, pricing a property from the outset will ultimately determine how quickly or slowly it sells and how much or little it sells for.

Basically, the initial asking or listing price will set the parameters for the next several weeks or even months. Read on to learn more about the importance of pricing your house correctly to sell.

Pricing your property right from the get-go will help you avoid unwanted and very unhelpful scenarios. (Both of which will cause you a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration, as well as undermining your ability to sell the home fast and for its true market value.) Here are two unfortunate yet fairly common situations that arise when a listing isn't priced correctly:

  1. Pricing the home too high. Some sellers make the enormous mistake of trying to set up a negotiation strategy well in advance of receiving any offers. They think by pricing the home a bit over market value, they'll have room to negotiate down to its true value. However, this typically backfires because it puts the house out of the search parameters for people at the top and bottom of their house-hunting budgets. Plus, experience real estate professionals we'll skip over these properties because they know the seller is unrealistic in their expectations. Consequently, sellers who price their home for too much initially will be forced to lower the amount, and that will further verify the assumptions people already have about the seller.
  2.  Pricing a home to low. Believe it or not, some sellers employ this so-called strategy because they are trying to lure as many people as possible. After all, it looks like a great deal. But, this starts off a chain of events that do not benefit the home seller. While this is meant to create a bidding war among buyers, it can seriously backfire. This is because buyers will wonder what's wrong with the property since it is being offered so cheaply. Having to raise the price in order to bring it up to its market value is a no-go reversal and the seller will usually have to take the property off the market for a period of time, only to relist it later at its correct price. Then, the seller risks buyers remembering it from before.

As you can see, it’s very important to price your property correctly from the start.

Upper Keys Cost of Living  2020

The Upper Keys cost of living in 2020 will not differ much from the year prior. While most employers pass raises of 3 to 4 percent as a COLA or cost of living to match inflation, there’s unlikely to be a substantial change from 2019 through the next year. However, being a set of islands, goods and services generally cost a bit more than they do on the mainland peninsula. So, let’s take a quick look at the cost of living in the Upper Florida Keys in 2020.

The Upper Keys cost of living in 2020 covers six key areas: food, housing, healthcare, utilities, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. In order to put the following figures in context, we’ll use a national baseline average score of 100. That means any score above is more expensive than the national average. Meanwhile, any score below is less expensive than the national average. Here’s a breakdown of the cost of living in the Upper Keys in 2020:

  1. Transportation. To get around, it’s very common to bike, since the weather is so wonderful. But, many people rely on their own vehicles as their primary means of transportation. In the Upper Keys, the cost of transportation comes in at a score of 91, which is below the national average.
  2. Utilities. For costs such as electricity and other utilities for the home, the Upper Keys is also less expensive than the national number, scoring 97, making them more affordable.
  3. Miscellaneous. The cost of odds and ends in the Upper Florida Keys is only slightly above the national average, coming in with a score of 107. Meaning it’s only a tad more costly in the Upper Florida Keys.
  4. Groceries. The cost of food in the Upper Keys is also above the national figure, scoring 114, making it just a bit more expensive. But, it’s definitely not prohibitively expensive.
  5. Healthcare. The cost of healthcare in the Upper Keys scores 145, so it is also above the national average. Although, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, considering the mainland peninsula is so close.


Lastly, housing is the most expensive cost of living in the Upper Florida Keys. It scores 278, with the median home cost of $644,200 in the Upper Keys. That’s above the state-wide number of $237,100 and also above the national median cost of $231,200.

As you can see, the cost of living in the Upper Keys isn’t too expensive.

Advantages of Owning a Rental in the Upper Keys

The advantages of owning a rental in the Upper Keys range from convenience to monetary and a lot in between. In fact, once you see the list of benefits of owning a rental property in the Florida Keys, you'll probably begin to wonder why you've ever hesitated to make such a great investment. That's what it is, by the way, a long-term, wealth-building investment, that has several other wonderful perks. Read on to learn more about the advantages of owning a rental in the Upper Keys

There are a number of big benefits of owning a rental house in the Upper Keys. While most people would like to have a vacation home, they don't often think about location. That is to say, they usually think about only using it for themselves and not as a passive income-generating property. But, that's precisely what you can have by owning a rental property in the Florida Keys.

Located just about an hour south of the city of Miami, the Upper Keys consists of several islands, most notably Key Largo, a high-volume tourist destination. Situated between the Gulf of Mexico to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Upper Keys are nestled in a subtropical paradise. And, location is everything when it comes to real estate. So, here are the biggest advantages of owning a rental home in the Upper Keys:

  1. Location. As you've undoubtedly heard many times before, location is the single biggest factor when it comes to real estate of any kind. This makes the Upper Florida Keys one of the most ideal places to own real property, because of its strong appreciation and intrinsic value.
  2. Premium rental rates. Since the property is located in the Upper Keys, a highly visited destination vacation spot, you can charge premium vacation rental rates and reap the financial rewards.
  3. Tax advantages and wealth benefits. Because this is an income-generating property, it is totally possible to take advantage of numerous tax benefits. Also, owning said property in such a location means you'll quickly build equity and enjoy a strong rate of appreciation, as well.
  4. Personal enjoyment. Not only will the property generate a passive income, but it can also serve as a dedicated place for you to stay, whenever you want to get away. There's no need to hunt for accommodations because you have a place of your own, a home away from home.

Things to Do in The Upper Keys

Things to do in the Upper Keys range from relaxing to thrilling and everything in between. In fact, there’s so much to see and do in the Upper Florida Keys, it would take a whole lot of time to list it all. So, we’ll focus on the most popular things to see and do in the Upper Keys.

Things to do in the Upper Keys aren’t just for adults (or exclusively for kids, either). What’s largely misunderstood about the Florida Keys at large is it’s only a destination for adults. While it certainly does live up to that reputation in some respects, there are plenty of things to see and do in the Upper Keys which the whole family can enjoy.

Located just to the south of the mainland peninsula about an hour away from Miami, the Upper Keys' most famous island is probably Key Largo and for good reason. But, there’s also North Key Largo, Old Rhodes Key, Elliot Key, and more.

Situated between the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Upper Keys have plenty of things to see and do, including:

  1. Fishing. Of course, one of the most enjoyable activities in the Upper Keys is terrific fishing. There are sport fish and many other kinds of species for anglers to test their skills.
  2. Snorkeling and scuba diving. Being a collection of islands, the Upper Florida Keys serve as a prime location to snorkel and scuba.
  3. Live entertainment. The Florida Keys are usually associated with a party lifestyle and atmosphere and that’s not at all without merit. There are some great opportunities to enjoy live entertainment here.
  4. Anne’s Beach. One little known fact about the Keys is there’s really not that much beach. But Anne’s Beach is one of its gems for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.
  5. Florida Keys History of Diving Museum. For those who love history and families looking for something to do for an afternoon, the Florida Keys History of Diving Museum certainly fits the bill.
  6. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This is one destination that simply must be experienced first hand to believe. It’s a massive 48,000 acres of natural beauty or approximately 75 square miles in size.

As you can plainly see, there’s a lot to see and do in the Upper Florida Keys. So, come and experience it for yourself!

Upper Keys Real Estate Forecast 2019-2020

The Upper Keys real estate forecast for 2019 through 2020 is one that looks bright. In fact, the Upper Keys at-large, currently have mostly a balanced market between buyers and sellers. Since Key Largo is among the leading and best-known communities, we’ll place the focus there for determining the Upper Florida Keys real estate outlook for 2019-2020.

The Upper Keys real estate market is unlike those in other destination locations. This is due to a number of factors, including climate, weather, infrastructure, economics, and other elements.

The Upper Florida Keys residential real estate market is one that’s highly desired by buyers from all around the state, the southeastern region, and the country, overall.

Located between the aqua-blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean, the Upper Keys are nearest the mainland peninsula, with Miami just a short drive away.

The Upper Keys include Key Largo, Tavernier, Plantation Key, Windley Key, Islamorada, Upper, and Lower Matecumbe Key, and Lignumvitae Key. For the purposes of looking at the Upper Keys real estate forecast for 2019 through 2020, we’ll use Key Largo as the bellwether.

Currently, the median home value in the Key Largo community stands at $658,800. Home values in the area have risen by about 6 percent over the last year, with experts predicting an increase of around 3.7 percent.

The median list price in and around Key Largo per square foot is $556, which is a bit higher than that of the Key West metro area of $525. At this time, the median price of residential properties in the area stands at $869,000. Meanwhile, the median sales prices come in at $558,200.

As previously mentioned, the ratio between buyers and sellers is near parity, with the Upper Keys real estate market slightly favoring sellers.

Right now, the mortgage delinquency rate in the Upper Keys is very small. Meaning, it’s under the national average of 1.1 percent. Also, the number of homeowners underwater on their mortgages is just a tad over 6 percent.

All of this means the Upper Florida Keys residential real estate market is in very good shape and should continue along with this pace for the next twelve months or more. With such numbers, it definitely makes the market more competitive, which is great news for buyers wanting to relocate to the Upper Keys.

Key Largo Cost of Living

The Key Largo cost of living is more affordable than one might guess. In fact, it is just not as wildly expensive as people imagine. Sure, it’s a little bit more in some areas. But, for the most part, the Key Largo cost of living is not out of line with other resort and destination type locations. Read on to learn more about the cost of living in Key Largo.

The Key Largo cost of living has its pros and cons but there are far more upsides than down. Actually, the cost of living in Key Largo really isn’t all that much more than many other spots about the country.

Located in the Upper Florida Keys about an hour away from Miami, Key Largo is a huge destination location. It’s also one of the most sought after places to live in the nation because of its ideal location and of course, it’s terrific weather, not to mention the many things to see and do.

When people think about Key Largo and its lifestyle, they might mistakenly believe it is too expensive to relocate. But, that’s just not the case. Here’s what you need to know about the cost of living in Key Largo:

Using a baseline of 100 as a nationwide average, anything above is more expensive, while anything below is less expensive:

  1. Transportation. The cost of getting around in Key Largo scores 96, meaning it’s less expensive than the countrywide average. (To reduce this cost, even more, many residents bike and walk for short commutes and enjoy the weather, as well.)
  2. Utilities. The cost of monthly utilities runs about 97, which also makes it less expensive than the national average.
  3. Miscellaneous costs. Incidentals and other expenses in Key Largo score 107 on the scale, which is just above the nationwide figure.
  4. Groceries. The cost of food in Key Largo is a tad bit more expensive but right in line with some other areas of the country. Residents’ cost of groceries in Key Largo comes in at 113.
  5. Healthcare. The cost of healthcare-related expenses in Key Largo are also somewhat higher, coming in at 152 compared to the national average of 100.
  6. Housing. Of course, this comes as no surprise since this is a destination location, scoring 321 on the scale. Housing is obviously the single biggest cost in living in Key Largo, as well as most of the islands of the Florida Keys.

Relocating to the Keys from the UK

Relocating to the Keys from the UK is a dream for many but it’s also much more realistic than most would suppose. In fact, relocating to the Keys from the UK isn’t all that different from moving from any place in Europe to just about any state in the US. If you stop to think about it for a moment, it’s no more than just a series of logistical moves. So, let’s take a look at relocating to the Keys from the United Kingdom and what that actually entails.

Relocating to the Keys from the UK means having a simple but workable plan. When you make the big move, you’ll enjoy lower taxes, better weather, and improved quality of life. All of this, not to mention the fact you’ll live in one of the most desirable places on the planet.

Let’s begin with making the transition from British subject to US citizen. Obviously, there is quite a bit of difference between being a subject of the Crown and a citizen of the United States. Although the process itself is somewhat long, it’s not terribly difficult.

Now, we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of relocating to the Keys from the UK and what you need to know to make it happen:

  1. Passports, green cards, and citizenship. For those who want to work in the Florida Keys, it’s possible with a valid employment opportunity. You can use your passport to travel, obtain a green card, and then if desired, go onto acquiring US citizenship. (The naturalization process takes about five years of residency in the States.)
  2. Credit and money. Of course, you’ll need to acclimate to the economy of the US, be it in the Keys or elsewhere. When you make the move, any credit history won’t follow you across the pond. So, you’ll need to establish and build your credit from scratch in the US.
  3. Transportation. Unless you have your auto transported from the UK to the US, you’ll need a car to get around. The vast majority of Florida Keys residents rely on cars for their daily commutes, errands, and more. Meaning, you’ll probably find it beneficial to buy a car.


Last but certainly not least is housing. It’s perfectly fine to move into a rental for a short period of time. But, you’ll need to consult an experienced, local real estate professional to buy a home in the Florida Keys.

About the Upper Florida Keys

There are numerous advantages of living in the Upper Florida Keys. Obviously one of the most famous destination locations in the country -- and the world over -- the Upper Keys offer several attractive features. Sure, the weather is definitely one of the best reasons to live in the Upper Keys and fresh seafood is another. But, there are many more benefits of living in the Upper Florida Keys.

The Upper Keys are comprised of several islands, including Key Largo, Tavernier, Plantation Key, Windley Key, Islamorada (which is made of up a number of islands), Upper and Lower Matecumbe Key, Lignumvitae Key, and Indian Key. These are the most northern-eastern islands in the Florida Keys archipelago.

Advantages of Living in the Upper Keys

For anyone considering relocating to the Florida Keys, the Upper Keys are a great choice. Of course, there’s plenty of sunshine to soak in and no end of sunrises or sunsets but that isn’t all. Here are some more advantages to living in the Upper Keys:

  1.  Proximity to Miami. The urban life isn’t far away. In fact, Miami is only about an hour away from Key Largo and not much further from the other islands in the Upper Keys. Shopping, dining, nightlife, entertainment, metropolitan charm, arts and culture, and more. Plus, it’s easy to fly in and out, thanks to the airport. What’s more, the port of Miami is one of the largest in the country, meaning cruises aren’t far away, either.
  2. Wonderful weather. Of course, the weather is one of the biggest draws for the Upper Keys. Here, summers are warm and balmy, winters are very mild, and the fall and spring seasons are beyond delightful. And, since it’s sunny here for the vast majority of days of the year, the weather is definitely a giant plus.
  3. Big-time health benefits. With all that great weather means there’s ample time to get out and get active. That translates into a more healthy, active lifestyle and better overall health for residents.
  4. Recreational opportunities. Another advantage of having such terrific weather is there are so many recreational opportunities. Sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, hiking, running, powerboating, golf, tennis, fishing, and more are all right here.
  5. Relatively low cost of living. Yet another benefit of living in the Upper Keys is the fact the cost of living -- aside from housing -- is relatively low. Which means transportation, food, utilities, and other monthly costs are quite affordable.

Upper Florida Keys Lifestyle

The Upper Florida Keys lifestyle is one that can only be described as something wonderful. The Upper Florida Keys lifestyle comes from a blend of many different factors. These include, but are not limited to: the island pace of living, the subtropical climate, the spectacular weather, the many things to see and do, and the overall mood and attitude.

For those unfamiliar or exploring the Upper Florida Keys lifestyle, it’s a totally different vibe than one might suspect. Sure, it’s got that island paradise component. But, there are more reasons the Upper Florida Keys lifestyle simply must be experienced first hand.

The Upper Florida Keys lifestyle comes down to a few essential elements. Of course, setting the scene is the location. Connected to the continental United States by a series of over forty bridges, the Florida Keys stretch from Key Largo on down to Key West.

The Upper Florida Keys, which mainly comprise Key Largo, North Key Largo, Elliot Key, and a few other islands, are just a short drive away from Miami. This means it’s easy to jump right into the metropolitan world of big-city excitement at any time.

But, it’s far enough away to be its own getaway from the hustle and bustle in the big city. In fact, this is probably the largest draw of the Upper Florida Keys lifestyle. It’s a real small-town feel with an island archipelago winding between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west.

Now, we’ll get into just what makes the Upper Florida Keys lifestyle and why people choose to call this home:

  1. Location. Let’s begin with the most obvious benefit. Upper Florida Keys lifestyle does revolve around the fact it’s true island living. And, because of its location, people are drawn to it.
  2. Weather. Here, there’s an endless summer. It’s nothing less than spectacular all year. The winters are super mild. Spring and fall are delightful seasons to experience. And, summers are warm and balmy.
  3. Recreation. As one might accurately guess, there’s no shortage of things to see and do here. Because of the weather, outdoor recreation is available all through the year. Kayak, bike, hike, sightsee, boat, swim, snorkel, scuba, fish, sunbathe, and much more.
  4. Cost of living. Here’s something which often comes at a pleasant surprise to many folks. The cost of living here isn’t all that different. Property taxes are relatively low, there’s no state income tax, and it’s also business-friendly.


As you can plainly see, there’s much to love about living in the Upper Florida Keys.

Tips on Improving Your Home's Worth

Improving your home’s worth is a great move for home sellers. (It’s also a nice way to increase equity for a more powerful ROI.) Improving your home’s value should be at the top of your to-do list if you’re going to list it for sale. Or, if you plan to apply for a home equity loan or line of credit. Read on to learn more about how to improve your home’s worth.

Improving your home’s value isn’t necessarily simple or inexpensive. Now, this doesn’t mean it will empty your wallet. But it does mean you’ll have to spend money to make money in return.

When you make strategic changes, it will increase the value of your house. And, in some cases, substantially. Other changes will add to the lifestyle quality and to its overall appeal. Here are some helpful suggestions for improving your home’s worth you can use:

  1. Paint it. That’s right -- paint it. While this might not seem like it’s a big deal, you’ll be amazed at the before and after difference. Neutral colors work best, especially for the exterior. Follow the same principle inside and don’t shy away from a few pops of color here and there.
  2. Improve its curb appeal. Plants, flowers, mulch, a freshly manicured lawn, and plenty of lighting will go a long, long way in upping its curb appeal. While this won’t necessarily add a whole lot of value, it will make it more showable and salable.
  3. Replace old appliances. If this makes you cringe, it’s probably because you’ve been avoiding it for as long as possible. Replacing old appliances will not only improve aesthetics, but it will also improve energy efficiency and make it a lot more attractive to potential buyers.
  4. Make it more energy efficient. Speaking of energy efficiency, you’ll be surprised by just how much you’ll get in return for upgrading insulation, windows, doors, and the like. It will not only save on regular monthly costs but give it a significant advantage over the competition.
  5. Update the right spaces. Okay, this is where we get into bigger updates. Yes, redoing the kitchen and bathrooms alike will do more than just about anything else. But, do it right. If you remodel one bath, you’ve got to remodel the others.

Another way to improve your house’s value is to reclaim lost space. Now, it won’t magically add thousands of dollars to the list price. But, this will impress buyers who see a whole lot more space.

Upper Florida Keys Parks and Recreation

Upper Florida Keys parks and recreation range from scenic, slow-paced to exciting, one of a kind adventures. No matter your preference, it’s right here and waiting in the Upper Florida Keys.

Upper Florida Keys parks and recreation have it all and plenty more to offer. For instance, there are six state parks in the Upper Keys alone. And, that doesn’t even include all the outdoor recreation around.

When people travel to the Upper Florida Keys, they come to experience the tropical island lifestyle so closely associated with the area. And, while that’s true, there’s far more to the extent of what’s available in Upper Florida Keys parks and recreation.

Upper Florida Keys Parks

Let’s begin with the biggest parks in the Upper Keys. These have so much to offer, it’s difficult to pick just one or two.

  1. Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. At nearly 3,000 acres, this is one of the largest and is home to over eighty protected species.
  2. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This is the original undersea park in the entire country and covers approximately seventy nautical square miles. Here, guests can kayak, canoe, and even fish.
  3. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park. This is a three hundred acre park, home to a number of relaxing activities, such as picnicking, hiking, and sightseeing.
  4. Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park. Covering 287 acres, this park transports visitors back to life in the Keys in the 1930s. There are historical structures and a whole lot of history here to enjoy.
  5.  Indian Key Historic State Park. Although, just eight acres in size, this park is only accessible by boat. Here, visitors can take a day of leisure and swim, hike, and soak up the rays of the sun.
  6. San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park. This centers around a shipwreck. It’s accessible to snorkelers and scuba divers alike.

Upper Florida Key Recreation

Now, we’ll quickly list a few of the many recreational opportunities in the Upper Florida Keys. Fishing is obviously at the top of the list and there’s plenty of ways to enjoy angling, from amateurs to experts. Parasail, paddleboard, kayak, and canoe. If you like to enjoy a day on the water at a slow pace, these are for you.

Of course, there’s plenty of sightseeing to do here in the Upper Florida Keys. Then, there are the marvelous sunsets and sunrises to enjoy, as well. Come and experience all the Upper Florida Keys has to offer.

Home Staging Tips for 2019

These home staging tips for 2019 can really help you sell your house faster and for more money. Let’s begin with the most important, which is to resolve to actually sell your home. What? That’s right.

Too many homeowners rush into the process and then get hit by reality. Cold feet syndrome sets in and this is a scenario that spells emotional and financial problems. So, let’s get into the top home staging tips of 2019 to sell a house quicker and for a better price.

Home staging is all about making a property look inviting to buyers. Okay, so that seems all-too-obvious but it does get lost on way too many would-be sellers. In other words, buyers aren’t interested in buying your house, they are interested in buying their home. That’s a huge difference and this must be understood.

With that, let’s list out the best home staging tips for 2019:

  1. Start with the exterior and put effort into it. Did you know approximately 90 percent of all house hunts begin online? That should come as no surprise. And, it means the exterior is the first thing people will see. So, make it count by cleaning up the outside. Power/pressure wash. (If necessary, paint the exterior.)
  2. Purge, purge and purge some more. This goes for the entire property -- inside and out. Get rid of as much stuff as possible. You don’t have to throw all of it into the trash; store what’s important. Your goal is to declutter, far and wide.
  3. Depersonalize each and every room. This can’t be understated. Again, keep in mind, no one is interested in buying your life. They are interested in starting the next chapter in their life. To that end, depersonalize every room from top to bottom.
  4. Strategically freshen up spaces with paint. A fresh coat of paint goes a long, long way. And, it works best on the front door, the garage door, in the kitchen, and even in the bedrooms. Use neutral colors for the walls and save the color pop for accents and the front door, as well as the garage door.
  5. Be clever and go smart, where it’s smartest. There are a plethora of smart devices on the market. So many, in fact, it’s overwhelming. Add a few smart devices to the house to make it a bit more functional and interesting.

Lastly, be sure to harness the power of the sun. Open the blinds and let the light shine in and work its magic.

Key Largo Homes For Sale

Key Largo homes for sale. That’s a phrase you’ll see time and time again. If you’re looking for an investment opportunity, you might be thinking about real estate. And, that’s a good strategy because the real property has a truly magnificent historical track record. Yes, there have been some brief periods. But overall, it’s either stayed up with or surpassed the stock market. Key Largo Homes for Sale Waterfront

So, why real estate and why Key Largo? Well, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase “real estate is all about three things -- location, location, location.” It’s not just a cliche, it’s the truth. Take an average three-bedroom, two-bath home from an average suburban neighborhood and put it in Key Largo. The value skyrockets and everyone knows it. Of course, if it’s waterfront, it’s value goes up even more.

Key Largo Real Estate Advantages

For those seeking a solid investment with a small risk, real estate is the way to go. Its performance is even better when it’s in a location like Key Largo. Here are several reasons Key Largo real estate is so advantageous as a long term investment:

  1. Proximity to Miami. Not only is Key Largo in a subtropical climate, but it’s also just a short distance to Miami. That means there’s a major metropolitan center only a short drive away. It also means getting in and out of the area is a cinch since Miami international airport serves the region.
  2. Great rental potential. Being in beautiful Key Largo, which has a heavy tourism draw, real estate here holds fantastic rental potential. Rent it out for part of most of the year. And, take advantage of some great tax benefits while enjoying a passive income stream.
  3. Strong equity gains. Because of the location, Key Largo waterfront real estate boosts strong equity gains. That’s good news for any owner-investor because it substantially improves ROI over the long term.
  4. Dedicated accommodations. Of course, you can always take time for yourself and have a dedicated place to stay when it’s time to vacation. This way, you don’t have to hunt down accommodations and it’s a home away from home.
  5. It helps build portfolio wealth. Key Largo waterfront real estate is a powerful wealth-building vehicle -- make no mistake about it. It will easily outperform other types of residential properties that aren’t in such a terrific location.

These are just some of the biggest reasons it’s advantageous to invest in Key Largo waterfront real estate.

The Benefits Of Purchasing Waterfront Property In The Florida Keys  

When it comes to land, there is a finite amount available " particularly in popular areas such as the Florida Keys. That is one of the reasons why purchasing waterfront property in this part of the country makes so much sense. Investing in real estate in the Keys offers many advantages, including the following.

Located at the southern tip of Florida, the Florida Keys are unlike any other area of the country. A visit to this region is a bit like visiting a tropical wonderland. Even though the area itself is relatively small, it leaves a huge impression on anyone who spends time there.

Along with beautiful weather year-round, the area also offers many fun and interesting activities. From going for a walk on the beach to taking a swim or spending time fishing, you can always find something fun to do in the Florida Keys.

The laid-back lifestyle of this region is one of the reasons why so many people move to the area. Whether you want to go out on the town or relax in the beauty of nature, you can find it all in this part of Florida.

The limited supply of waterfront properties in the area coupled with the high demand for these properties makes them a great investment. Even after periods of economic decline, property values in this area tend to bounce back quickly. When you take a long-term view of your investment, there is an extremely high likelihood that you will come out ahead.

From a tourism standpoint, the popularity of this area is comparable to other well-known tourist hubs like Telluride or Aspen. Unlike these locations, however, you don't have to worry about strapping on skis in freezing cold temperatures. Instead, you can spend time on water skis enjoying all of the beautiful sunshine and scenery that Florida has to offer. The popularity of the area combined with the limited number of waterfront properties available makes this a smart investment. Over time, property values are likely to continue to rise.

Before investing in property, you should meet with a realtor who is familiar with the area. Not only can they point you in the direction of the best properties but they can also help you evaluate whether or not a particular house or piece of land is a good deal based on the value of comparable properties in the area. From an investment standpoint, this can help keep you from making costly mistakes.

The Florida Keys is made up of a lot of individual areas. By working with a local realtor, you can learn more about each specific area so that you can decide where you want to invest. When weighing your options, consider not only where your interests lie but also your lifestyle preferences and the historic property value trends in the area.

Don't jump in and buy the first property that you find. Instead, thoroughly evaluate all of your options so that you can make an informed decision before investing your money. By doing so, you stand a much better chance of earning a good return on your investment over time.

While you own the property, you can also spend time there, enjoying the beautiful weather and incredible activities that are available in this part of the country. Think of it this way " living in the Florida Keys is like being on vacation every day

Best Places to Buy a Vacation Rental

The best places to buy a vacation rental property are located in some of the most highly traveled and desirable areas in the country. We’re talking about none other than the gorgeous Upper Florida Keys. Destinations like, Key Largo and Islamorada, and others, near Miami.

But why here? Well, there are a few reasons why. So, let’s take a quick look at the best place to buy a vacation rental home.

Best Places to Buy a Vacation Rental

Okay, it makes sense to purchase a vacation rental house in an area where tourists often flock. So, why pick the Upper Keys. The answer is simple -- location, location, location. Here, it’s just a short drive to the urban lure of Miami. But, it’s also a tropical climate. It’s the best of both worlds, wrapped-up into one.

Think about it, the Upper Keys, including Key Largo and Islamorada are an ideal vacation destination. Visitors and residents alike enjoy nearly year-round outdoor recreation and plenty to see and do. Museums, water sports, water recreation, hiking, sightseeing, nightlife, entertainment, and much more.

Benefits of Owning a Vacation Rental

Now, what are the advantages of owning a vacation rental property? That’s simple. Take a look at the biggest benefits of owning a vacation rental house:

  1. Create more income. When you own an Upper Keys vacation rental, you’re creating another income stream without having to do much at all. Simply get a property management service and leave the work to them. You earn more income with practically no effort.
  2. Build more home equity. When you own a house, you gain equity over time. We all know this is a simple fact. Now, if you own more than one home, you’re boosting that by double.
  3. Take more tax write-offs. Another advantage is to take more tax deductions and other breaks with a vacation rental.
  4. Tap into bigger appreciation. Of course, a home in the Upper Keys will most definitely gain appreciation year after year. So, it serves as another wealth-building asset.
  5. Enjoy a home away from home. When it’s time to get away, you don’t have to worry about playing the accommodation search and pricing game. Just head on down to your home away from home. Another benefit is that you can more effectively transition into retirement. Imagine living in the Florida Keys. It’s paradise, with super mild winters, wonderful spring and fall seasons, and warm summers. Plus there’s no state income tax, so you keep more of what you earn!

Florida Keys Real Estate Market

The Florida Keys real estate market isn’t exactly unique. But, it does share some commonalities with resort destination property. It’s known for its strong appreciation and high desirability. Those two factors alone make it worthwhile in the eyes of many people. Unfortunately, too many people see it as unattainable or out of reach. That’s not true. You can own Florida Keys real estate and enjoy the many pleasures of island living.

Florida Keys Real Estate Market

The Florida Keys real estate market is one that’s in constant demand. (Which is why property values stay strong, year after year.) Like most of the country, the Florida Keys took a hit during the housing crisis experienced a decade ago. Since that time, the Florida Keys real estate market has greatly rebounded.

The advantages of owning Florida Keys real estate is that it’s got a very strong track record of growth through appreciation. And, because values continually rise, it’s possible to build a lot of equity. Then, there’s the fact that it’s in a high demand area. So, it makes a great location for a primary residence or for a vacation home, or as a rental property.

Biggest Florida Keys Living Benefits

Of course, the Florida Keys living is something practically everyone envies. So, let’s take a look at some of the top benefits of living in the Florida Keys:

  1. Wonderful weather. The weather here is simply too good to ignore. While it’s balmy in the summer, there’s a constant breeze flowing from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic and back. The spring and fall months are gorgeous, while the winters a super mild.
  2. Recreation is galore. Because of the outstanding weather, it’s possible to get outside and get active. Run, fish, bike, hike, snorkel, paddleboard, yoga, walk, golf, volleyball, tennis, and so much more. Since you can stay active, you’ll enjoy a more healthy lifestyle.
  3. Laid-back lifestyle. Speaking of lifestyle, here, life is lived on island time. Things move slower back here. So, there’s less stress to deal with. And, such tranquility means more peace of mind. It’s something that simply must be experienced.
  4. Less expensive. There are plenty of places around the country which cost a lot to live in. Not only due to day-to-day living expenses, like high-cost utilities and insurance, but also things like income taxes. In the state of Florida, there is no state income tax. And, the cost of living is less expensive relative to other highly desirable locations.

Islamorada Cost Of Living

Islamorada, known as the Village of Islands, and the sport-fishing capital of the world, is one great place to call home. Islamorada is actually made up of five different islands in the Florida Keys: Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key, and Plantation Key. Here, you’ll find a number of outdoor recreation options and plenty of sightseeing attractions.

If you’re thinking about relocating to Islamorada, you probably want to know what to expect. Or, the Islamorada cost of living situation. Here’s a brief overview of the current Islamorada cost of living trends.

Islamorada Cost Of Living

The Islamorada cost of a living table isn’t at all surprising. Because of its tropical climate, super mild winters, incredible spring and fall months, and balmy summers, people are extremely enchanted by its location. Of course, there are several destinations here in Islamorada. These include, but are not limited to: the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park, Indian Key Historic State Park, the Diving Museum, and the Theater of the Sea.

Here, it’s common to adopt an island-time lifestyle. One that’s nearly stress-free and laidback. General everyday attire includes a tee-shirt, shorts, and sandals. Of course, with such a wonderful climate, weather, scenery, and so much to see and do, Islamorada is a little bit more pricey. However, it’s still more affordable than lie in the big city, plus there’s little to no noise pollution, traffic, and other inconveniences.

So, let’s take a quick look at the cost of living in Islamorada and how it compares to the rest of the Sunshine State and national averages. For reference, the national cost of living index stands at 100. Here’s how the Islamorada cost of living compares:

  1. Health care. The state of Florida ranks at 98, while Islamorada comes in just below at 97.
  2. Utilities. For utility costs, the state ranks at 103, while Islamorada is less expensive, at 99.
  3. Goods and services. In this category, Islamorada hits just above the state -- 101 to 99.
  4. Groceries. Food costs are nearly equal across the board, at 105, for Islamorada, the state of Florida, and the nation at 100.
  5. Transportation. In the transportation category, Islamorada comes in at 112, with the state and nation just below at 100 each.

Now, for the last category, housing. Not surprisingly, this is the only factor which is well above the state and nation at 251 (compared to 96 and 100, respectively). This is due to the fact that land is at a premium and it’s a highly desirable area.

The Upper Keys real estate market

The Upper Keys real estate market is a great place to make an investment. Whether it’s for your own personal residence, a vacation house, or a combination of investment and getaway, it’s all right here. The Upper Keys, particularly Key Largo and Islamorada, offer a number of benefits. Generally enjoying solid, positive numbers, the Upper Florida Keys real estate market is one of the best in the Sunshine State and even in the country.

Upper Keys Real Estate Market

Now, what’s going on in the Upper Florida Keys real estate market? How is it performing in the many months since Hurricane Irma? And, what should potential property owners know about it? Well, there’s no mistaking the fact that the Upper Keys real estate market is a heavily active one (practically no matter the season). Here’s what you need to know about the Upper Keys residential real estate market:

● Strong property appreciation. There’s a stark reality about the Florida Keys and it remains true to this day and well into the foreseeable future. There’s no new land and without additional, available land, there is no room to build new housing. While that certainly presents a challenge is also makes appreciation especially strong.
● Ever-increasing property values. Of course, since there is only so much space and it’s in a highly desirable area, property values go up consistently. Month after month, quarter after quarter, and year after year, property values increase in the Upper Florida Keys. (This is even more applicable to Key Largo because of its close proximity to Miami.)
● Mortgage interest rates on the rise. This particular factor is one buyer should definitely pay close attention to since it’s such a huge deal. Interest rates fell to near historic lows a couple/a few years ago. Now, those super-low home loan interest rates are incrementally increasing. And, that trend will likely only continue for some time.
● Inventory diversity issues are present. Another phenomenon that is present in all of the Florida Keys is available inventory. It pertains to two different things. One, when a house goes on the market, it doesn’t remain there for long. And, too, there’s a disparity between entry-level or starter homes and large properties. Builders want to bring more affordable housing to the area but the lack of available land makes that a challenge.

Another issue is the matter of overnight rentals. If enacted, new legislation will give property owners more freedom to monetize their assets.

Benefits of Owning a Waterfront Vacation Rental

The benefits of owning a waterfront vacation rental can’t be understated. In fact, owning a waterfront vacation rental, particularly in the upper Florida Keys, offers several distinct advantages.

Benefits of Owning a Waterfront Vacation Rental

Many people dream of owning an investment property. But, are unsure about the size and location. After all, rental properties are a dime a dozen, so to speak. However, that certainly doesn’t mean there is no value in a rental house. In fact, there are some really big benefits in owning a waterfront vacation rental, especially in the upper Florida Keys:

  1. There’s strong appreciation. The upper Florida Keys are a beautiful place. In fact, about one thousand people move to the peninsula every single day. And, the land is quite finite, particularly in the Keys. While this presents a slight challenge to developers, it’s a great opportunity for you. That’s because since there’s only such much land, property appreciation rates in the Sunshine State are strong. And, that’s even truer in the upper Florida Keys.
  2. It’s a highly desirable location. Warm, breezy summers, cool, crisp fall seasons, gorgeous spring months, and super mild winters. The weather is simply delightful. Plus, there are all the outdoor recreational opportunities. So, it’s a highly desirable place to live, work, and play. You can tap into that market by owning a waterfront vacation rental.
  3. You own a hard asset for leverage. When you own real property, you own something of real value. Now, factor in the location and you’ll quickly understand that such an asset is very valuable. That means you can use it to your advantage to acquire more properties to add to your portfolio.
  4. It has some nice tax benefits. One of the best financial benefits of owning a vacation rental property is that you can write off a whole lot of things. As the property grows in value, you can still deduct things like carrying costs such as insurance, mortgage interest, maintenance costs, and so on.
  5. You have a dedicated place to stay. Perhaps the single biggest advantage of owning a waterfront vacation rental is the fact you have a dedicated getaway, whenever you like. You don’t have to worry about finding lodging. Simply pack and enjoy.
  6. Plenty of things to do. Speaking of having a dedicated place to stay, you can also enjoy several outdoor recreational opportunities. What’s more, there are all kinds of things to see and do in the upper Florida Keys, right outside your door.

Fishing and Diving in the Upper Keys

The Upper Florida Keys extend just off the southern tip of Miami, from Key Largo down through Islamorada. Key Largo, of course, is the closest island to the mainland peninsula of the Sunshine State, while Islamorada is actually a combination of five different islands. Between them, they all make up the Upper Keys. And, it’s here you’ll find some of the best fishing and diving in the entire world.

Fishing and Diving in the Upper Keys

Fishing and diving in the Upper Keys is a dream come true for many. After all, this is where you’ll find Islamorada, the Sports Fishing Capital of the World. It’s also where you’ll discover a number of the most visited shipwrecks on the globe. And, there’s also a lot more to see and do in the Upper Florida Keys.

Take Key Largo, for instance. After a day out on the water fishing and diving, you can take a short drive to Miami to experience some of the most vibrant nightlife in the country. Or, try a day out sports fishing, where your endurance will surely be tested.

When it comes to fishing and diving in the Upper Keys, you won’t find a lack of choices. For example, there are several shipwrecks to explore under the waves. Additionally, there are all kinds of fish in the sea, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

Diving in the Upper Keys

If you want to see some of the best, take time to dive The Eagle. That’s a freighter that hails from the Netherlands, which rests in 110 feet of water. Another popular and extremely beautiful option is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef, State Park. Here, you’ll find two sunken Coast Guard cutters, as well as the Spiegel Grove, all 510 feet of it. There’s also The Thunderbolt and the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg. Plus, a whole lot more.

Fishing in the Upper Keys

If fishing is your thing or you want to kill two birds with one stone, you can bet there’s a lot waiting for you under the waves. Since Islamorada is the Sports Fishing Capital of the World, you’ll have the time of your life. You name it, the species is here. Blue marlin, swordfish, sailfish, tarpon, tuna, bonefish, and much, much more.

What’s great about fishing in the Upper Keys, is you’ll find plenty of options. Charters are everywhere and these captains know where and when to take their guests. Be it up in Key Largo, or down into the Village of Islands, you’ll certainly love it.

What to Do in Key Largo and Islamorada with Family

What makes Key Largo and Islamorada go wonderfully is both are ideal family vacation spots. (Or, make a remarkable place to call home for the more adventurous.) But, too many people think of the Florida Keys as an adult excursion, not a kid-friendly destination. The truth is, there’s a lot to do in Key Largo and Islamorada with family:

  1. Everglades National Park. Come here to explore the beauty of pristine Florida and come across some of the most fascinating creatures. Here in Everglades National Park, you can hike the many trails, look out from the observation decks, and encounter nature unfiltered. Birds, alligators, fish, crocodiles, and more all call this marvelous location home.
  2. Jacob’s Aquatic Center Water Park. Toddlers will love the splash park here and older kids can take to the larger swimming pool. The pirate ship provides a visual backdrop and it’s quite inexpensive.
  3. Fishing and snorkeling. Here again, these are ideal family activities, perfectly suitable for young children. Toddlers can learn the art of fishing while older kids can explore the water, snorkeling to discover all types of marine life. In fact, Islamorada is known as the sports fishing capital of the world.
  4. Boating. Whether you’re partial to power or sail boating, there are ample opportunities in Key Largo and Islamorada. For those who want a tame experience sailing is great. And, for those who like to speed across the waves, powerboating is the best choice.
  5. Watersports. Of course, the Florida Keys have no shortage of water recreation. So, you can do things like parasailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, skimboarding, kite surfing, and so much more.
  6. Harry Harris Park and Beach. The Keys sure offer a lot of beachfront locations. And, this is one with a toddler playground. It’s also equipped with a nice picnic area and that’s another great family experience. Cookout and enjoy some tasty hamburgers, hot dogs, and more while soaking up the warm weather.
  7. Key Largo Community Park. For elementary and older kids, you’ll discover that Key Largo Community Park has it all. Here, the kids can enjoy a playground, play tennis, baseball, volleyball, and more.

Five Basic Tips for Investing in Real Estate

For those new to real estate investing, the process can easily become daunting. An all-too-common lament of many first-time investors is paying too much. Or, buying low only to put too much into rehab and come out with little to nothing to show for it. Of course, the worst scenario is one in which creates a loss. But, with some basic ground rules, you can make it real estate a great investment.

Five Basic Tips for Investing in Real Estate

The single best piece of advice is to pay cash for any property. But, that’s not often an option. So, minimizing risk is becomes the first goal. The second goal is to actually turn a profit. And, this will highly depend on the holding position. Whether it’s long term or short term is vital. But also, knowing some basic tips for real estate investing will go a long way:

● Location, location, location. If you’ve heard this before, it’s not just a cliche. (Although it’s become one it’s still true.) When you purchase a property, you are NOT just buying a house or building. You are buying a piece of the neighborhood. So, if the neighborhood is on a decline or isn’t in a good area, it’s best to keep looking elsewhere.
● Seek out deals for steals. In real estate, your profit is made at the buy. Meaning, what you pay for it will typically determine how much you can expect to earn. You should not only hunt high and low for deals. You should also seek out steals. Simply put, the lower the entry cost, the better.
● Meet with local investors. There’s much to be gained from connecting with others in the area. Those investing in local real estate are a tremendous resource. And, you can not only learn but also form limited partnerships to go in on deals together.
● Become more educated. If there’s anything you need to do before and during the real estate investing process, it’s to learn. Read as much as possible. Get acquainted with different points of view and various strategies. You’ll find which work best and which are best to avoid altogether.
● Work with a professional. There is simply no good reason to try and navigate the process on your own. After all, you don’t know what you don't’ know. And, it’s precisely what you don’t know that will bite you when you least expect it. Pair up with a real estate pro in your area to protect your interests.

The 10 Most Common Home Buyer Questions added 10-4-2017

Buying a home is a big process. And, it’s a scary one, especially for first-timers. There are so many things to consider. Plus, it’s often fraught with uncertainty. But, working with an experienced professional greatly helps.

The 10 Most Common Home Buyer Questions

If you are about to enter the real estate market for the first time, you’ll no doubt have many questions about the process. That’s okay, you need answers to be as informed as possible. So, here are the ten most common homebuyer questions asked and answered:

1. What’s the first step to take to buy a home? The first step might be a pre-qualification but it’s actually getting pre-approved. The former is a cursory look at your finances, while the latter is more involved. You need a pre-approval to buy a home, a pre-qualification won’t help.
2. How long does it take to purchase a house? Usually, it’s between 30 and 45 days. Once a purchase offer is accepted by the seller, it typically takes about four to six weeks.
3. What do Realtors do for buyers? The answer is just about everything. It’s actually shorter to list what the Realtor doesn’t do, which is to decide which home to buy. They facilitate the sale and help protect your best interests.
4. How much does it cost to hire a buyer’s agent? It doesn’t cost you, the buyer, anything. That’s because their commission is part of the seller’s costs. So, you get his or her services for free.
5. What’s the best advice to serve first-time buyers? The best advice is to work with an experienced professional. Work with a local, experienced pro and you’ll get the best advice.
6. What’s the lowest credit score needed to get a mortgage? The average lowest credit score is 620 or more. But, there are home lenders and loans which cater to buyers without such credit scores.
7. Are there any special homebuyer programs I can use? Yes. There are all kinds of first-time homebuyer programs. These include VA loans and FHA loans, among others. Ask your real estate professional about these and more.
8. How big of a down payment will I need? This is a bit tricky, but down payments start at only 3 to 5 percent. It depends on many factors.
9. What other fees are involved with a mortgage? The down payment is it, aside from origination and settlement costs or closing costs.
When will I get the keys to the house? Typically, the buyer gets the keys to the home right at the closing table.

Top Tips for Non-USA Residents Looking to Buy a Vacation Home in the Upper Florida Keys

Reconsidering buying a vacation home in Florida, you might look to the Upper Keys. There’s more than a few reasons to purchase a vacation house in the Upper Florida Keys, chief among is the location.

Top Tips for Non-USA Residents Looking to Buy a Vacation Home in the Upper Florida Keys

The Upper Florida Keys are the islands that are nearest the southernmost tip of the mainland peninsula. The Upper Florida Keys run from Key Largo, down through Plantation Key and Islamorada (the fishing capital of the world), through Upper Matecumbe Key and Lignumvitae Key, down to Lower Matecumbe Key.

For those who aren’t residents of the United States but like to visit regularly, the Upper Keys are a wonderful spot to buy a vacation home. First and foremost, the Upper Keys are among the most developed, yet, there’s a lot of nature to enjoy. For instance, Biscayne National Park is home to beautiful coral reefs, mangrove forests, and plenty of wildlife. So, you’re never far away from getting away or if you so choose, the city life is just a short drive.

Here are some more reasons why it’s best to buy a vacation home in the Upper Florida Keys:

● Proximity to Miami. Since Miami is right around the corner from the Upper Keys, traveling in and out of the area is a cinch. Miami International makes flying into the area easy and it’s also a place to cut loose. South Beach is internationally known as the place to be, particularly during the summer months. And, there’s also great fare, plenty of entertainment choices and much to see and do.
● Big tourism. Miami is only a short distance away from Key Largo. And, because of its close proximity, this is where many locals (as well as tourists) choose to vacation. That means there’s always plenty of opportunity for short term rentals, which means you can create a passive revenue stream without much effort. Rent whenever you like and your vacation home will help pay for itself.
● Strong appreciation. Vacation home in the Upper Keys enjoys solid appreciation simply because of its location. After all, the land is at a premium and that means homes not only retain their value but appreciate better here than on the mainland.
● Proximity to Marathon. Marathon is known locally as the heart of the Keys. And, it offers a whole lot, including outdoor recreation, along with so much more.
● Dedicated accommodations. When you buy an Upper Keys vacation home, you’ll have a dedicated place to stay when you visit. That means skipping the hassle of trying to find a suitable hotel.

What to Do in the Florida Keys

What’s there to do in the Florida Keys? The better question is that there isn’t to do in the Florida Keys. And, it’s quite a shortlist. Most people associate the Keys with watersports and beach recreation; and, there’s certainly plenty of those opportunities. But the Florida Keys offer a whole lot more.

What to Do in the Florida Keys

When you visit the Florida Keys, you’ll no doubt look forward to many outdoor recreational activities. So, let’s jump right into what there is to do in the Florida Keys:

● Boating. Sail the beautiful azure waters and enjoy the tropical atmosphere. Cruze over the waves on a powerboat for an exciting experience. Or, take it up a notch and have fun on a personal watercraft. If that’s not your thing, then glide around on a paddleboard or kayak or canoe for a more relaxing experience.
● Surfing. We’re not just talking about those well-known longboards, there are more options. Windsurfing and kitesurfing are two of the most popular. Or, take to the air a parasail, seeing the water from a bird’s eye view.
● Fishing. Go ahead and throw a line in the water, then relax and watch the waves roll right from the beach. If you want more excitement, then hitch a ride on a fishing charter and go for the big fish. Reel in a super-size catch to cook fresh that night.
● Sunbathing. Visiting the Florida Keys means soaking up the sun and no trip is complete without a little sunbathing. Get your feet in the sand and absorb the warm rays while enjoying the cool breeze.
● Hiking. You don’t have to go to the mountains to find the peaceful pleasure of hiking. Here in the Keys, there are plenty of hiking trails to really connect with nature and discover the true beauty of this tropical environment.
● Biking. If you’d like a little more exercise but still want to explore, hop on a bike and ride until your heart’s content. (It’s one of the best ways to see the Keys.)
● Sightseeing. Take a guided tour and learn about the ecosystem or go out and spot dolphins. You can even go on a self-guided tour and find some wonderful surprises. It’s really all up to you and you’ll never know what awaits.
● Entertainment. The Florida Keys are where you’ll find all sorts of entertainment. Art, live performances, and so much more are right here to enjoy to the fullest.

As you can see, when you come to the Florida Keys, you’re entering into a tropical paradise.

5 Basic Tips for Investing in Real Estate

Real estate investing is a dream of many. After all, it has a long, proven track record, appreciates over time, and it’s a real asset. But, making real estate investing work isn’t simple (although the principles are quite straightforward). To make it worthwhile, you need to follow five basic tips for investing in real estate.

5 Basic Tips for Investing in Real Estate

If you’re seriously considering a foray into income rental property investing, you’re certainly not alone. But you must proceed with caution and a significant amount of forethought. While no one has a crystal ball, it’s very important to make smart calculations going into the venture. To achieve the right results, you need to follow
five basic tips for investing in real estate:

1. Pick the right property. Those who’ve been successful in this pursuit know one indisputable fact: money is made at the buy. In other words, what you pay ultimately determines if you’ll fetch a strong ROI or take a loss. There’s not much in between those two outcomes, but it does occasionally happen. If you aren’t purchasing it for a substantial steal, you’re on the precarious ground to start.
2. Understand the local market. Another fact is the local market dictates what is and what isn’t a smart choice. Local markets are malleable, to say the least. Look into the history of the neighborhood and learn what trajectory it’s currently on, so you don’t wind up in a community that’s experiencing a decline.
3. Plan for the carry costs. Make no mistake about it, the amount of rent you can charge will be dictated by the condition of both the house and the neighborhood. And, many first time investors get into trouble by not factoring in carrying costs. These include your mortgage, insurance, taxes, normal maintenance, repairs, vacancy periods, and replacement costs. After all, the water heater will break and the house won’t always have a tenant.
4. Get your finances prepared. While it’s obvious, it’s worth mentioning lenders treat rental properties quite different. These present a lot more risk in a number of ways. So, be prepared to put up a sizeable down payment and have money set aside for closing costs, as well as any improvements.
5. Create a solid tenant screening process. Unless you hire a reputable and reliable property management service, you’ll need to screen potential tenants. Learn about this process and take those lessons to heart.

Real estate investing can be very rewarding financially and emotionally. But, if not done right, can easily turn into a nightmare scenario. For help buying or selling Florida Keys Real Estate please contact me.

How to Profit from Rental Properties 

If you want to know how to profit from rental properties, you’re probably seriously considering becoming a landlord. Or, at least, an investment property owner. Some people think the process is simple. All that’s needed is to find a house, purchase it, get it in shape, rent it out, and watch the money roll in, month after month. If only it were that simple. But, it doesn’t have to be a non-starter. You can profit from rental properties if you know how to do it right.

How to Profit from Rental Properties

Okay, so let’s get the downsides out of the way. Being a landlord means it is you who is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance. You should fully expect to replace major appliances and to pay for big expenses, like a roof replacement. Also, you need to build a vacancy savings fund of about three to six months.

Of course, you’ll have to pay the mortgage, insurance, property taxes, and more. But, this won’t be a problem if you know the following about how to profit from rental properties:

● Go big on the down payment. In ideal circumstances, you’d pay cash outright for a rental property. And, in normal circumstances, you’d put down 20 percent for a down payment. But, this isn’t your primary residence. So, if you need a mortgage, you’re essentially putting your own home at risk. Minimize this risk by going big on the down payment. This will have several benefits, including a smaller monthly obligation and quicker equity build.
● Only buy when the price is right. One of the single biggest mistakes new property investors make is to pay too much. In real estate, the money is made at the buy -- not thereafter. So, only look at steals and not just ordinary deals. This will be a huge help because it won’t strain you financially.
● Know what you’ll put into the home. Before you commit to buying a rental property, know full well what it will cost to get it in good condition. Get at least three estimates from experienced, licensed contractors. Then, add 20 percent as a contingency (because you’ll probably need it).
● Hire a property management service. There’s nothing like turning an actual profit from a rental property. And, this is much easier done with a property management service. The percentage you pay will be more than worthwhile.

Another tip is to incrementally increase the rent every year. It doesn’t have to be much, but it’s a very good practice. For any help with Florida Keys Real Estate please contact me

Things to Do in Key Largo

There are many things to do in Key Largo. Just a short drive from Miami and located in the Upper Keys, right off the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, Key Largo is a great place to vacation. But, it’s also a wonderful place to call home, to live, work, and play, day in and day out. Known for its island lifestyle and come as you are casual attitude, there’s much to see and do in Key Largo.

Things to Do in Key Largo
When you first visit Key Largo, you’ll certainly notice its natural beauty and soak in the sun. With its warm, balmy summers and super mild winters, Key Largo boasts a terrific climate and it’s here you’ll find quite a lot to experience. Here are just a few of the many things to do in Key Largo:

  1. Visit the John Pennekamp Coral Reef, State Park. If you’ve never been to an underwater park, this is an enjoyable opportunity to do so because it’s actually the first in the United States. Ride on a glass-bottom boat, go snorkeling or scuba diving, or camp overnight, if you wish. This is where you’ll discover the world-famous Key Largo coral reef, teeming with beauty and life. Sprawling more than 70 nautical square miles, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a terrific place to visit in Key Largo.
  2. Enjoy some great saltwater fishing. When it comes to saltwater fishing, there’s little to rival Key Largo. There are several species in the area and you can battle big fish, such as marlin and shark. But, there’s also plenty of other species about to wrangle, like mahi-mahi and sailfish. What’s more, you’ll find catching grouper and snapper are plentiful and there is tarpon which is known to put up big fights.
  3. See dolphins and birds. The Florida Keys are synonymous with these animals. So, go to the Dolphin Cove Research Center to swim with these marvelous and highly intelligent creatures. Or go on an ecology tour to see undisturbed nature at its best in the Everglades National Park. It’s also worthwhile to visit the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center to see different species, like pelicans.
  4. Do something exciting. If you’re looking for a bit of a thrill, a jet boat ride or airboat tour will certainly give you what you want. You’ll experience speed at its most exhilarating and see the beauty of the water.

Of course, you can always hike along a trail, go bike riding, enjoy a stroll on the beach, or take in some local entertainment. Key Largo has it all and more.

Steps to Staging an Open House

Thinking about selling your home? Is it time to find something larger or perhaps, time to downsize? Whatever the reason, if you want to sell your home in as little time as possible and for the best price, you’ll have to do a lot of prep work. The keys to selling a home fast and for a solid return-on-investment are pricing it right from the get-go, marketing it aggressively, and staging for an open house.

Steps to Staging an Open House

Even though about 90 percent of all house hunts begin online, there’s still a huge value in personal experience. While you might think that staging isn’t really necessary, you’ll be surprised to learn it is now more important than ever. Because buyers will search online first, seeing scores of homes, you need to stand out from the competition. So, here are the most effective steps to staging an open house:

1.Declutter. You’ll hear and see this bit of advice time and time again. And, there’s a good reason it’s so ubiquitous -- it works. Buyers treasure space deeply and by decluttering, you’ll do yourself a huge favor. Reduce the items you store in the closets, pantry, and cabinets to about 30 percent full. This really opens up storage spaces visually and gives the impression of more storage.

2. Depersonalize. This is something you simply can’t ignore. You need to place all personal effects out-of-sight. Any pictures, awards, personal possessions, all must be stored away. Think of it this way, buyers are interested in purchasing a home, not in buying your life.

3.Deep clean and disinfect. Once you’ve decluttered and depersonalized the house, it’s time to put some serious elbow grease into a deep cleaning of every room, nook, and corner. Additionally, disinfect every surface in the house.

4. Float the furniture. Most homeowners arrange furniture to provide the best view of the television. But this makes it appear crowded. Float the furniture, instead, arranging it as you would see in a furniture store. This gives it a more open look and feel
.
5. Open window treatments. Be sure to let the sunlight work its magic. There’s nothing more unappealing than walking into a dark room. Let the light in and it will make the house feel more bright, cheerful, and open.
6.Spruce-up the curb appeal. Did you know it only takes people between 7 and 10 seconds to form an impression of a property? So, spruce-up the curb appeal. Power wash the exterior, add some mulch, and colorful flowers to make it really pop.

Why Deep Boating Properties Appreciate Better

If you’re looking for a property to accommodate your powerboat or sailboat, it’s definitely in your best interest to seriously consider residences with deep boating. So, what exactly are deep boating properties? It’s simply homes equipped with enough water depth to accommodate large crafts with deep drafts. In other words, a water depth sufficient to allow big vessels to come right up to the property without running aground.

Deep boating properties are ideal for homeowners with large watercraft. Even for homeowners with medium-sized sailboats, deep boating properties are often a necessity.

If the water isn’t deep enough, serious damage is a real concern. Running too shallow means risking not only grounding the vessel, but causing a lot of harm to the hull, keel, rudder, propellers, and more. This is especially true if there’s a possibility of running aground when the tide is at its highest.

That’s a lot to risk, not to mention the cost of having the craft towed off, expensive repairs to make, and more. So, these expenses demonstrate why deep boating properties appreciate better. But, it’s certainly not the only reason deep boating properties are a more financially savvy investment. Here are a few more reasons why deep boating properties appreciate better:

1. More convenient. Convenience doesn’t seem like a big deal. That is until you experience having to retrieve your craft from a marina. Sure, the crew will ready it for you. But you must still go to it and it’s quite expensive to store your craft at a marina. No marina equals a huge amount of savings. And, it’s just more convenient to pull right up to your own property.
2. Accommodates larger boats. Owning a deep boating property not only means it will accommodate your own vessel but others, as well. So, crafts that are larger than your own can also pull right up on-demand. You won’t have to worry about making arrangements to get back and forth from large vessels to your home.
3. Ability to dock sailboats. Powerboats might have a fairly deep draft but sailboats, nearly regardless of the size, can also dock on-site. Sailboats simply have a need for deeper water because of their design and build.
4. High demand from affluent buyers. When it comes time for resale, deep boating properties get far more attention from affluent buyers than their non-deep boating property competition.
5. Tide is less of a factor. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. Deep boating properties aren’t plagued with the problems of water levels changing as the tide goes in and out.

Getting Help For Successful Relocation From Reliable Movers

No one likes to move. It’s a difficult, arduous process entailing a lot of work, angst, and it’s just time-consuming. This is why so many people hire moving companies. It’s a great way to relocate because professional movers have the manpower, tools, and equipment at their disposal. However, it’s your personal possessions in their hands, so it’s best to find reliable, reputable, and responsible movers.

Getting Help For Successful Relocation From Reliable Movers

We use the internet every day for a variety of things. And, it’s part of finding reliable movers. But just because a company has an online presence, no matter how professional, doesn’t guarantee a good experience.

A good place to start is to speak to a real estate agent or broker you know and trust. Or, someone in the property management business. If you don’t know anyone in these fields, that’s okay, get recommendations from family, friends, and coworkers. Then, do the following to get help for a successful relocation with reliable movers:

● Look at their online presence. Once you’ve compiled a list, check each company out online. Visit their websites and see if they’re active on social media. Companies with satisfied customers will probably be regularly active on social media and keep their websites up-to-date.
● Verify their license and insurance. This isn’t difficult and is totally worthwhile. Check the state’s licensing bureau to see if they are current with their license. Also, verify their insurance with the company underwriting their business.
● Check their backgrounds. Go to the local clerk of court’s website and search for each company, along with their owners’ names. You’re looking for lawsuits naming them as defendants. In addition, check out the local Better Business Bureau’s rating and a number of complaints.
● Get moving quote estimates. You need to obtain at least three estimates from companies that come out to your property. Over the phone quotes and online estimates are red flags to heed. The companies should be willing to meet you on-site.
● Ask about subcontracting. When the mover comes out to work up a cost estimate, ask if subcontractors will be used. While most moving services do the work themselves, there are companies that bring in subcontractors and that’s potential trouble you don’t need.
● Review each estimate carefully. Movers are notorious for taking on all kinds of surprise charges. You need to know the specifics and don’t be afraid to ask. Understand what’s being charged and how.

Although this is quite a bit of work, it will all be worthwhile in the end.

How to Deal With a Low Home Appraisal

A low home appraisal is something that every buyer and seller fear. It’s essentially a deal killer because a low appraisal means it does not support the agreed selling price. This presents both the buyer and seller with a big problem. But fortunately, there are ways to deal with a low home appraisal.

How to Deal With a Low Home Appraisal

When you put your house on the market to sell or you apply and receive a mortgage pre-approval, this begins a long process. If you are a seller, you smartly order a pre-listing inspection so there aren’t any surprises. Then, you make all the necessary repairs. Next, you have the house professionally staged and then place it on the local multiple listing services. Suddenly, you have an interested party who submits a purchase offer and you accept it.

If you are a buyer, you’ve taken the time to clean up your credit files, save money for a down payment, inspections, moving, and closing costs. You searched far and wide for the right house. After weeks of looking, you find a home you really like and submit a purchase offer. The seller accepts your offer and now comes the inspection phase.

For both the buyer and seller, the inspections are anxious experiences because each party doesn’t want unpleasant surprises. When the inspections give the house a thumbs up, next is the home appraisal. And, this is when you might have to know how to deal with a low home appraisal:

● Submit a “rebuttal of value.” A low home appraisal can be appealed with what’s known as a “rebuttal of value.” Although odds are against the valuation being adjusted, it’s certainly worth the effort to attempt to save the transaction.
● Have a second appraisal conducted? The buyer can also order a second appraisal. This does come with a cost, but it can be a shared expense, between the buyer and seller to save the deal.
● Negotiate the agreed selling price down. If you are the buyer, you can negotiate with the seller to lower the purchase price. If you are the seller and believe the appraisal valuation, you can simply lower the selling price.
● Make up the difference with cash. Another way of dealing with a low home appraisal is for the buyer to make up the difference with cash. While this places more burden on the buyer, it keeps the deal intact.

If none of these are feasible or work, then it’s time to walk away. While this isn’t a preferable solution, it’s a smart move to move on.

Top 4 Reasons that Attract Buyers to Waterfront Properties

What is it about living by the water that people find so desirable? Is it the modern amenities of oceanfront condos or the grandeur of luxury waterfront homes for sale? Certainly, there are plenty of benefits that make oceanfront condominiums or any luxurious waterfront property a must-buy for any property hunter. Below are just some of the benefits of a waterfront property that makes people want to browse classified ads for luxury waterfront homes.

Gorgeous Scenery

The main advantage of residing in oceanfront condominiums or Single Family Residences is that you usually have a breathtaking view of the ocean from the comforts of your bedroom or living room. It is this prospect of waking up to such beautiful scenery each morning that makes people interested in buying a waterfront home in the first place. Buyers on the hunt for the perfect waterfront haven are browsing ads for luxury waterfront homes in idyllic coastal towns and riverside residential communities.

Health Benefit

One of the biggest attractions to buying a place near the sea, river, or lake is the concept of living in a healthy environment. Apparently, it is not always about the view for everyone. Some buyers are health-conscious and are convinced that the fresh air and cool breeze have some positive effects on their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. The clean and peaceful environment of a waterfront home can definitely speed up recovery and thus, make waterfront properties, especially affordable waterfront real estate, all the more desirable.

Fitness Maintenance

It is not just the tranquil atmosphere of a waterfront property that makes its residents healthy in body, mind, and soul. Accessibility to water activities like sailing, fishing, and swimming means that you can stay physically fit by leading a very active or sporty lifestyle. If you are lucky enough to buy a unit in one of those modern oceanfront condominiums overlooking a rocky beach or an ocean with big strong waves, you don't have to travel far to go snorkeling or surfing. There are plenty of watersports you can actually get into. Keep that in mind when looking up luxury homes for sale or any affordable waterfront real estate in the market. There are some waterfront communities that organize fun activities centered around water.

Privacy

The beauty of owning waterfront property is that it guarantees privacy. Not that it means you won't have neighbors. Instead of another house overlooking your property, you actually have a beautiful lake, river, pond, or ocean as your backyard. Somehow these glistening stretches of water separate you from the rest of the world and you get to enjoy private parties without any curious neighbors peering from their bedroom windows into your backyard activities. More often than not, luxury waterfront homes for sale would offer privacy as one of their main benefits.

The Financial Rewards

Now that you're aware of these reasons, maybe it's about time that you invest in something that you definitely won't regret – your very own waterfront property.

Whether you're aware of it or not, investing in a waterfront property, especially if it's affordable waterfront real estate, does have its advantages. A good house with beautiful scenery in an environment that's beneficial to your health is enough for you to get all your money's worth. However, if you turn your investment into something that's income-generating, not only do you reap what you have worked hard to attain, but you can actually profit from it, too. If you own a lakeside cottage or oceanfront condos, have them rented out to tourists for extra income. The result is financially rewarding.

Living in Tavernier Florida

Tavernier, Florida is located in Monroe County and is a community on Key Largo, the largest island in all of the Upper Keys. With a population of about 2,500 residents, this small community is known for its laidback lifestyle and come as you are a casual attitude. Tavernier is just a short drive to Miami, offering a great way to enjoy the metropolitan sites and feel while still remaining on an island oasis.

Living in Tavernier Florida

Like most cities and communities in the Florida Keys, Tavernier is a great place to call home. Winters here are especially mild and the sun shines nearly every day of the year. Feel the breeze blowing in off the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean or the aqua blue waves of the Gulf of Mexico.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Tavernier is relatively inexpensive, particularly when compared to the northeast and midwest. There is no need to purchase expensive, heavy winter clothing because you won’t need it. In addition, heating costs are practically non-existent, and automobiles enjoy a much longer lifespan. In addition, the warm balmy breeze which regularly sweeps across the island is there to enjoy for months, making air conditioning unnecessary.

Other living costs, such as food, utilities, taxes, insurance, are also affordable and even less expensive. Plus, take advantage of the homestead exemption and pay less in taxes. Also, there is no state income tax in Florida.

Weather

Of all the things Tavernier has to offer, the weather is at the top of the list. This is where people routinely come to escape the bitter cold of the northeast and midwest. During the spring and fall, the weather is nothing less than splendid. Summers are warm but quite pleasant and tempered by the island breeze.

Economy

Tavernier enjoys a low unemployment rate, precisely because it’s on a premier destination location. Tourism helps to fuel the local economy and since land is at a premium, homeownership payoffs in more ways than one. Median home prices stay healthy and this boosts home equity positions -- good news for those considering relocating to the Upper Florida Keys.

Recreation

Key Largo is known as the diving capital of the world and it certainly lives up to its reputation. Swim, snorkel or dive among the coral reefs or explore deeper depths which are home to a number of shipwrecks and other fascinating experiences.

Fishing, biking, sailing, boating, water skiing, paddle boarding, parasailing, beach volleyball, hiking, and more are all part of the Tavernier outdoor recreation options.

Reduce Homeowners Insurance -- Get a New Roof

If your homeowner's insurance rates are through the roof, perhaps you should consider raising it to a new standard. With tropical storms, hurricanes, downpours, and other inclement weather conditions being so prevalent, insurance companies are at big risks for big payouts. A new roof, along with other significant home improvements, is a great way to reduce long-term costs.

Reduce Homeowners Insurance -- Get a New Roof

It's well known for installing new smoke detectors, security systems, updating locks, and other measures that will bring small insurance rate breaks. But, if you really want to save on your homeowner's insurance premiums, you’ve got to think about its systems and components.

A home’s components (roof, foundation, doors, windows, et cetera) are very important to insurers because these generally represent sizable risks. For instance, your house’s roof is one of the largest because of its proprietary function -- to provide shelter from the elements to your family and your possessions.

If you think about it for a moment, it’s crystal clear why insurance companies put a lot of emphasis on roofs. After all, these keep rain, wind, hail, ice, and more at-bay. Old roofs are more likely to leak and to suffer damage during strong storms. That poses a direct threat to your home and everything inside.

Just a strong wind is enough to loosen tiles, singles, and other components. That’s an open invitation to water damage. And in the event of a major storm, a compromised roof puts your ceiling, interior walls, flooring, furniture, decor, electronics, and much more at serious risk. That is unless your house is equipped with serious protection.

Not surprisingly, insurers rate or classify construction materials. The better your roof, the better protection it provides, hence, the less you pay for insurance. Insurance issuers and underwriters rate residential roofs on a scale from 1 to 4 -- with Class 4 being the highest.

Contact your insurer and have your roof inspected to learn its class. If you learn it’s classified a 1, 2, or 3, there is room for improvement. Installing a Class 4 will not only provide you with a resale return on investment and improved aesthetics, but it will also save you money on homeowners insurance.

So, how much will you save by installing a new roof on your home? Well, it depends on a number of factors. Generally, savings will range between 5 percent to 10 percent. However, deeper savings is available through some insurers -- 20 percent or more. Of course, it depends on your location, the class of roof installed, its age, and other factors.

How Should You Price Your Home?: 5 Keys

If you’re wondering how you should price your home, you’re probably asking the same questions every seller wants to be answered. Well, there are five super important keys to pricing your property to sell and provide a good return on investment.

How Should You Price Your Home?: 5 Keys

Selling a home is not just about price but it is one of the biggest factors in a buyer’s decision. The key is to set it at the right price to making the right impression. Here are the five keys on how to price a home for sale:

1. Understand the neighborhood. Good real estate professionals tell their buyers to buy into a neighborhood, not purchase a home in a vacuum. Before you set your price, understand the state of your neighborhood and what direction it’s taking, if any. Speak with your listing and selling agent about what’s unfolding locally to be more informed.
2. Set the listing price based on true comparables. You should never base your listing or asking price on similar, comparable homes in your area currently for sale on the market. The fact these properties have not yet sold disqualifies them from being reliable, true comparables. Recently sold homes, with similar square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, similar in age and amenities are reliable, true comparables.
3. Do not price above market value. Pricing a bit over market value to have room to negotiate is a bad idea. A really bad idea. Doing so will cause the home to linger longer than it should on the multiple listing service and you’ll have to drop the price (people will wonder why and how low you’ll eventually go).
4. Do not price under market value. If you do price the property just under market value, you’ll definitely attract attention but it will certainly be tempered with skepticism. Some buyers will wonder what your true motivations are and will be leary. Others will try to take advantage and come in with super low, lowball offers.
5. Pricing a home without a strategy. There are few transactions that close with the listing and selling price being at parity. It’s an anomaly when it does occur, that’s why there’s a price to sale ratio in every monthly real estate market statistics report. So, consult your listing and selling agent about a price negotiation strategy when a good purchase offer is submitted.

In addition to these five keys, leave the negotiation and deal details to your listing and selling agent. There’s a big upside to having an experienced professional working in your best interest and allowing him or her to do his or her job will be a huge benefit.

Advantages of Living in the Upper Keys

There are several advantages of living in the Upper Keys, the first islands in the archipelago right off the southern tip of the Florida peninsula. First and foremost is the wonderfully welcoming weather, which boasts a warm, balmy summer, spectacular fall and spring, and a surprisingly mild winter. It’s possible to feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on almost every day of the year. But this is only one of many of the benefits of living in the Upper Keys.

Advantages of Living in the Upper Keys

If you’re considering relocating to the Florida Keys, don’t let assumptions get in the way of the facts. No, it’s not “too expensive,” and there are other advantages of living in the Upper Keys:

Closeness to Miami

What type of benefit is it to be close to Miami? Well, more is offered than most people would suppose. The Middle Keys and Lower Keys are beautiful and tropical but the logistics of getting everything needed conveniently can present a real challenge. Because the Upper Keys are just a short drive away from Miami, all you could possibly need isn’t far away. What’s more, it helps drive tourism to the Upper Keys, a dynamic that benefits the local economy.

Health Benefits

If you think the physical and psychological stress of living in cold weather climates such as the northeast, midwest, and northwest, you’re not imaging things and you’re certainly not alone. Simply put, all the labor and stress your body endures in cold weather climates takes its toll in more than one way. Here, there is no traffic congestion, noisy streets, and big-city stress; it’s a laidback lifestyle. That translates into some wonderful health benefits, physically and emotionally.

Recreational Opportunities

Because of the superb weather, the sun shines a lot in the Upper Keys and with warm temperatures, recreational opportunities abound. Kayak, hike, dive, swim, surf, boat, sail, yoga, golf, fish, and many more activities await. On any given day, a plethora of indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities to take advantage of and enjoy.

Low Living Costs

Say goodbye to all those extra winter costs and super high utility expenses so ubiquitous in cold weather climates. You’ll pay less to live in the Upper Keys in so many spending categories, it’s simply amazing and must be experienced to be appreciated. Low property taxes, no state income tax, and homestead exemption are all great incentives of living in the Upper Keys. Not to mention the fact you won’t be spending more money on heavy clothing and other associated winter costs you incur in the northeast, midwest, and northwest.

How to Furnish a Vacation Rental Home in the Keys

When it comes to how to furnish a vacation rental home in the Keys, the process doesn’t have to be difficult or challenging. The biggest obstacle is often not being able to “see” the finished results. It’s a well-known fact in the real estate industry and the home staging industry, just one out of every ten people can imagine a space other than the way they see it. To make a vacation rental home generate a passive income, it’s got to be furnished right, equipped with appealing features, and stocked with the right items.

How to Furnish a Vacation Rental Home in the Keys

Buying a vacation rental is typically a great idea because it provides so much convenience. First and foremost, you don’t have to search far and wide for the best hotel accommodations at a reasonable price. Owning a vacation rental property means having a dedicated place to stay. It serves as a true home away from home. It’s also a wonderful gift for family and friends to use periodically. Best of all, when a vacation rental home is located in the Florida Keys, there are so many opportunities to rent it for long and short terms. But to make it presentable and therefore rentable, you’ve got to know how to furnish a vacation rental home in the Keys:

● Stay with the Keys’ theme. There’s an unmistakable theme in the Florida Keys: laid back, take life slowly, enjoy the beach, casual are all very accurate descriptions. When choosing furniture, go with comfortable and casual. Elegant and sophisticated will look out of place if the home isn’t a luxury residence.
● Think about the traffic flow. It’s common for homeowners to arrange furniture to give every person the best view of the television. That’s a mistake when it comes to a vacation rental. The furniture should be arranged to maximize traffic flow. It appears more spacious and helps to enhance marketing photos.
● Use the less is more approach. Another big mistake is to put too much furniture in the vacation rental. Since guests are going to spend more time outside sightseeing and doing activities, there’s no need for a lot of furniture.
● Supply the kitchen. Be sure to supply the kitchen with dinnerware, utensils, and pots and pans.
● Stock the bathroom. Stock the bathroom with towels, soap, toilet paper, a hairdryer, and the usual toiletries so guests can use them without having to make additional purchases.

Another helpful tip is to leave kid-friendly items in the rental, such as board games and crafts. You don’t have to purchase expensive gaming technology, just some of the basics will do nicely and definitely leave a positive impression on parents who will return time and again.

Advantages of Owning a Vacation Home in Key Largo

Just a short one-hour drive from Miami lies the island of Key Largo. It’s a premier tourist destination and a wonderful place to own a second home or a vacation home. About as far from the Jersey Shore to New York City, Key Largo is in the perfect location, offering all that is the quintessential Florida Keys with the convenience of a major metropolitan city a quick drive away. It’s a great place to own real estate because it has a number of advantages.

Advantages of Owning a Vacation Home in Key Largo

Everyone has heard the saying, “Real estate is about three things: location, location, location.” Though it’s been repeated repeatedly and become a cliche, it’s nevertheless true; because the best house in the worst place will always be just that. If you are considering buying a property and want it to be in a highly desirable market, Key Largo should most definitely be on your shortlist. There are many reasons why, but here are just some of the biggest advantages of owning a vacation home in Key Largo:

● Dedicated space to stay. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about traveling is finding a place to stay while on vacation. Your favorite hotel is booked-full, there are few choices nearby, prices skyrocket during peak times, the list goes on and on. With a Key Largo vacation home, you have a dedicated place to stay. It also makes for a great treat for family and friends or for clients.
● Income potential. There’s no doubt the Florida Keys are a premier tourist destination and because of this, you have the ability to rent out your vacation property as much or as little as you like. Take advantage of the tax benefits, while earning a passive income.
● Increased net worth. Because real estate steadily appreciates, it adds to your portfolio and since it’s in a highly sought after location, it will be worth more and more as time goes by.
● Leverage for addition real estate. Another advantage of owning a Key Largo vacation home is it can be used for leverage to purchase additional real estate. When you are ready to buy another property in the future, you can use it to bargain a better deal for a low rate mortgage. Plus, the additional purchase can be anywhere else.
● Impressive equity growth. The very fact your vacation home is in Key Largo gives it the ability to appreciate robustly and achieve substantial equity. Once amortized, all of that worth is yours alone.

The Pros And Cons Of Private Lending For Real Estate Projects

Private lending companies offer hard money loans, often referred to as private money loans. Homeowners can usually qualify for one of these loans if they want to purchase an asset. The most common way to find one of these lenders is to through a local real estate investment club. Home investors can usually secure these loans. However, not all homeowners are able to obtain funds with these methods. These are the pros and cons of private mortgage loans you need to know about.

A hard money loan is an option you should consider if you cannot qualify for a regular mortgage because of a poor credit score. Being self-employed, in debt or not being able to prove that you have a stable income can also make it difficult to get a traditional mortgage. If there is potential for profit in your real estate project, you should be able to get a hard money loan even if you have a poor credit score.

A personal loan will not be paid back over the next 30 years like a traditional mortgage. In most cases, private lenders will expect you to pay the loan back within six months to a year. These lenders usually cannot offer long-term loans like a mortgage provider does and need to generate a profit on their loans very quickly. If you are looking at a home that is going to need some renovations, you might not be able to qualify for a traditional mortgage, even if you can prove that you have a good income and also have a good credit score. Private money is an option you should consider if you are in this situation. You can go to a non-traditional lender to finance your project, do some renovations and sell the house for a profit.

Interest rates are one of the main drawbacks of personal mortgages. The rates offered by private lenders are a lot higher than traditional loans. Mortgage rates can double and reach 12 to 20% per year. Private lenders do not require you to have a good credit score, which means the rates offered will be higher. The property you invest in will be used to secure the loan and private lenders will not take your credit score into consideration.

You can usually get approved for a private loan in a few weeks if you own a home. It could take you more than a month to get approved for a traditional mortgage. In some cases, getting access to funding quickly is more important than saving on interest rates. Applying for a conventional mortgage means you will have to go through a lengthy application process and wait for the funds to become available.

If you are a homeowner and need to make some renovations to boost the value of your property, think about applying for a personal loan. You will be able to improve the value of your home, sell it and pay the loan back quickly. You will be able to finance your real estate project even if you do not qualify for a conventional loan as long as you fully understand the pros and cons of private loans and make the best decision possible in the function of your situation.

Buying Investment Property: Rules to Follow

When you buy an investment property, you purchase real estate, well, as an investment. That means you are planning to get a positive return, a big return, on your investment. However, there are several mistakes which new and novice property investors make, but, don’t realize it until it is too late. If you are considering buying an investment property, there are rules to follow which can be a great help.

Buying Investment Property: Rules to Follow

You’ve seen the cable television shows and are probably aware there’s a lot that’s left on the editing room floor. While these sagas include dramatic plot points, the real world of property investing doesn’t resolve issues in a single episode. Therefore, when buying an investment property, there are rules to follow:

● Your investment return is made at the buy. In real estate, the general rule of thumb is that the money is made at the buy. Another way of putting it is: if you don’t get a good deal upfront, it’s more difficult to get a worthwhile return on the money you invest in the purchase and over the course of time you own the property.
● Always include a realistic contingency fund. Getting back to the drama that is reality realty, there’s always something that pops up unexpectedly. It’s just how these endeavors go and you should always include a contingency fund between 10 percent and 20 percent. This can be used as a stop-gap measure when not if, problems appear.
● Understand the full implications of being a landlord. Even if you plan on hiring a property management company, you’ll still be the owner, which means it will always be a concern. If you are planning to be the landlord, be prepared for all the responsibilities which come with it. Learn what to expect so you aren’t caught off guard.
● The cheaper the home, the more “hassle factor.” Another rule of thumb in buying investment real estate is the less expensive a home is, the more “hassle factor,” it will deliver. Simply put, the cheaper the home, the more you’re likely to have to deal with regularly.
● Do not buy just a home, buy into a neighborhood. Piggybacking off the above point, you should buy into a neighborhood, not just a home. If you find a great home in a mediocre or stagnating neighborhood, that’s what you’ll get if you buy it.

Another rule to follow for investment property is: always be fully prepared to walk away. Even if you’ve stumbled onto a great deal, there are more to be found without the problems you’re rationalizing and willing to ignore.

10 Sellers Tips for a successful open house 

When you decide to put your property up for sale on the local MLS, you’ll need to do a lot before it’s ready to photograph and to show. Because about 9 out of 10 of all real estate buyer searches begin online, it’s paramount to make a good impression with good images and an enticing listing description. These marketing tools are to get potential buyers motivated to see your house firsthand. In addition, you’ll need to take the time to host an open house. Here are ten seller tips for a successful open house:

1. Declutter. If there’s one thing that will be a big negative for potential buyers, it’s the perception the home is short on space. So declutter, reducing closets to about 30 percent full, organize the garage, pantry, and cabinets.
2. Depersonalize. When buyers tour the property, they are not interested in buying your life but their home. Put away all signs of personal effects and possessions, including photos, awards, toiletries, and so on.
3. Clean and disinfect. Sure, you clean regularly, but you probably don’t deep clean as often and an open house demands a solid deep cleaning, as well as disinfecting all surfaces.
4. Stage furniture for traffic flow. The furniture in your house is probably arranged to provide the best views of the television. That might be convenient for your day-to-day life but it might create an awkward traffic flow, which is an open house no-no.
5. Get children and pets out of the home. They’re cute and everyone knows how much you love your children and pets. However, an open house isn’t an occasion where the presence of kids and pets is conducive to selling your home.
6. Don’t follow buyers around when they’re looking. You probably don’t like salespeople following you around when you’re shopping for something and potential buyers feel the same way. Stay clear but make yourself available to answer questions, when necessary.
7. Keep your pre-listing home inspection report handy. A pre-listing inspection is one of the smartest home selling steps you can take. If you do have a pre-listing inspection, keep the report out for touring buyers to see at your open house.
8. Promote your open house in-advance and far and wide. Social media, flyers, signs, online ads -- you get the idea. Spread the word early and do so as ubiquitously as you can.
9. Highlight the best features of the home for buyers to see. Open the window treatments and be sure to call attention to the best features so buyers know about them.

Last but not least, be sure to put some effort into upping the home’s curb appeal to make a good impression

What You Should Know About Vacation Home Rental Ownership 

Not too many people consider becoming an owner of a vacation rental. However, when they do think about it, they often wonder how the process works. The largest objection that investors tend to have is maintenance costs. However, if you are smart about it, you will earn more than enough to pay for routine maintenance and still make a nice profit.

Buying into a tourist market that is hot is the key to investing in a vacation rental. Orlando, the Florida Keys and many places along the west and east coast of the peninsula all are ideal. Location, location, the location might be a really old real estate cliche. However, it definitely holds true here as well. Your vacation rental needs to be in an area with plenty of attractions and destinations in order for it to work well for you.

Vacation Rentals- What They Are And Are Not

Although the location is definitely the most important factor, you also need to understand what a vacation rental is exactly and what it isn't as well. Typically multifamily properties, cottages, condos, and villas all make great vacation rentals since they are fairly easy to care for and maintain. Single-family houses can also be vacation rentals. However, there are a few drawbacks to this. For one thing, they require more maintenance.

In general, vacation rentals tend to come furnished and have restaurants and a grocery store that is nearby. That is once again all about location. There are of course also vacation rentals located out in the woods, however, they are catering to a specific niche and clientele.

Purchasing A Vacation Rental

In order to purchase the best rental property for you, there are a couple of things that you need to be aware of. The following are some of the most important things that you need to know in order to make a wise decision:

- Location is critical. In order to purchase the right property, location is crucial. The National Association of Realtors reports that beach and mountain properties are often the best choices.

- Assess the true rental potential of the property. Try to see things through the eyes of a family looking for a rental for their upcoming vacation. What things would they most likely be searching for? They probably will want certain amenities for one thing. So if you have a beach property for rent, then a cooler, picnic basket, umbrella, beach chairs, and volleyball kit would all be nice things for you to offer.

- Purchasing far away or nearby. It will depend on the level of involvement you want to have with your property. Of course, you will need to live nearby if you are wanting to do your own upkeep and maintenance. However, if you would prefer to hire a property management company to do these things for you, then it really doesn't matter where you live.

- Be very familiar with your financial situation. Buying a vacation rental will probably involve getting a mortgage. Then there are the expenses for furnishings, maintenance and insurance, which can all add up rather quickly. You need to make sure you can handle all of those expenses. You should also plan on your vacation rental being vacant for around three months out of the year.

- Choose a property that has potential. One thing that is very important is the number of bathrooms and bedrooms that has. If you buy one bath, two-bedroom vacation rental, then you aren't really going to stand out from hotels that are nearby. The smallest floor plan that you will probably want to get is a two bath, two-bedroom unit. In general, the more bathrooms and bedrooms there are, the better off you will be since you can cater to larger audiences that way. Some people have large families, and others like to vacation with a group of friends.

Finally, when you are ready to start searching for a vacation rental to invest in, contact a local real estate professional for assistance. That will help to prevent you from inadvertently making mistakes. It will also ensure that you have an experienced and skilled negotiator working on your behalf.

The Importance of Home Warranties 

One aspect of marketing a home for sale or looking for a property to buy is uncertainty. For sellers, this is why a pre-listing inspection is important, and, for buyers, it’s why a home inspection is important. While home inspections, either paid for by the seller or buyer, usually uncover any significant defects or potential problems, there’s no such thing as a crystal ball. In other words, what will happen after closing when the central air and heat unit suddenly stop working a couple of weeks after settlement day.

The Importance of Home Warranties

This is where a home warranty comes in handy. It provides coverage for just this sort of unpredictable scenario. So, why purchase a home warranty if you’re selling or buying a home? Wouldn’t the homeowner's insurance policy provide coverage? The answer, sadly, is “no.” In fact, that’s precisely what a home warranty is for -- to provide coverages for items not covered by homeowners insurance.

Whether you are selling your home or in the market to buy a house, there’s one thing that’s certain -- you don’t want to incur the cost of an unplanned, inconvenient expense. There are reasons why home warranties are important and here are the benefits to sellers and buyers alike:

Seller Home Warranty Benefits

● Coverage during an active real estate listing. One of the most attractive aspects of a home warrant for sellers is the protection is in place through the duration of their listing but is only charged at closing. That means no upfront cost.
● The ability to stand out from your closest competition. When buyers are house hunting, they are definitely rating the pros and cons of each property. Residences with a home warranty will stand out from the competition and be far more attractive.
● It helps to avoid post-closing problems. The last thing you want to hear is that there’s some sort of problem with the home you just sold. A home warranty can help protect you from post-closing problems.

Buyer Home Warranty Benefits

● The convenience of professional, no- or low-cost repair. For a buyer, it’s easy to schedule a repair simply by making a phone call and knowing a professional will shortly be there to fix the problem.
● It provides long term protection. Another perk for buyers is the fact that home warranties can be renewed. Because these come at such a low cost, that makes for a better deal.
● Peace of mind. Buyers have peace of mind when seeing a property with a home warranty, knowing they won’t have to worry about unexpected repairs.

Stock markets vs Real Estate

Investing can be quite tricky, and, becomes very complicated when deciding which to invest in real estate or stocks. With the latter, you’ll generally receive a higher rate of return, have a liquidity advantage, have access to a wide variety, and, acquire at a lower transaction rate.

However, stocks, as most consumers know, are volatile and can quickly lose value. There have been many times bad news has triggered a sudden selloff on the market, which causes values of shares to fall markedly. There is inherent risk in stocks because of the very nature of the free market.

Investment Types

When trying to decide between investing in real estate or stocks, it’s very helpful to know what each is and what each offers:

● Real Estate: Real estate is an investment in physical land, be it a vacant parcel, or, land with an improvement, such as a residential home or commercial building. The value of the property is dictated by the local market conditions, which generally, rise over the years.
● Stocks: Stocks are purchasing a share or percentage of a publicly-traded company. The value of stocks rises based on the overall economy, but also, the microeconomy for the industry. For instance, shares of a retailer might fall due to contractions in the economy when consumers have less purchasing power.

As you can see, there are real differences between the two in their fundamentals.

Real Estate Investment Benefits

Real estate as an investment provides you with certain benefits, which include, but are not limited to the following:

● You maintain control. Unlike stock values, which are based on the performance of a company, you have more control because you can make improvements to increase property value. You also decide where to buy and what type of property to buy.
● Tax advantages. You are able to take advantage of certain tax benefits with real estate. When stocks increase in value and you cash-out, you pay capital gains taxes.
● Less volatility. There’s much less volatility in real estate than in stocks because it’s based on market conditions, not corporate performance.
● Lower risk of fraud. Consumers are quite familiar with corporate malfeasance, but, the same risk is practically nonexistent in real estate.

Another benefit is that real estate can be used as leverage for more purchasing power. For instance, if you buy a rental income property as an investment and amortize the mortgage over many years, equity is an asset that can be used to purchase another rental property. It can also be used to make improvements to the rental you already own in order to charge higher monthly rates.

Choosing the Right International Service Provider

Moving is a difficult task to tackle and it’s only made harder when it’s relocating internationally. You’ll learn quite a bit during the process, but, it’s best to be in the know to help make it a smoother transition. International relocation is quite a bit different than moving to another neighborhood, or, even across state lines. There will be a whole host of responsibilities and tasks to take care of before it’s all done.

International relocation is a big step and it can start you off on the wrong foot if it isn’t done right. You should be educated about the process as much as possible to avoid surprises and to make good decisions. Here are some of the most common mistakes made when choosing an international relocation service provider:

● Not having an in-house assessment. An in-house assessment is critical to calculating the cost of your relocation. With a local move, it’s usually enough to describe each room, what’s being moved, and, the distance. However, this isn’t the case with international relocation. Companies will need all the details in order to provide an accurate quote.
● Not getting a binding quote. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advises you to get a flat-rate, binding quote from providers. These are typically based on volume or weight and are specific to your relocation.
● Failing to tell the service about special situations. If there are any special requests or circumstances, you should be open and upfront with the relocation service to avoid sticker shock later-on. So, if you have an antique China cabinet complete with flatware, tell the service about it.
● Delaying telling the company about any change of plans. If you encounter a change of plans, tell the relocation service about it as soon as possible. If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up for a whole lot of heartbreak and extra costs.
● Not checking licensing and insurance. When getting quotes, be sure to check out each service’s license and insurance. These ought to be current and sufficient to protect you.
● Choosing a low-ball estimate. If you receive a quote that’s substantially less than the others, that’s a red flag you’re probably going to be hit with all kinds of hidden fees.

Another mistake people make when choosing an international relocation service provider is doing so without sufficient time. You should be starting the processes months in advance of your relocation to make it a smooth transition. Not only does this help to reduce stress, but it also will help to reduce costs.

Questions to ask your Builder 

Building your dream home is an exciting time, but, one that can turn out to be a nightmare if you don’t hire the right property builder. Of course, you want your home to deliver all the functions and creature comfort it can and to be a viable investment.

One big advantage of new construction is being able to customize the home and having the latest building and safety standards in place. This also means getting the latest in energy efficiency with new fixtures and appliances. Though aesthetics are important, the finished product will ultimately determine if it’s truly a worthwhile investment. Here’s a checklist of questions you must ask your property builder to get the best results:

● How long have you been in business? Of course, you’ll want to hire an experienced professional that specializes in residential properties. Be sure to ask how long they’ve been in the industry and how long they’ve run their own building company.
● Can you provide me with the addresses of past projects? You should not only ask for previous homes built but also, drive-by these properties. In addition, you ought to contact the owners and ask about their experience with the builder.
● Do you hire subcontractors and/or allow sub-subcontractors? It’s common for builders to hire subcontractors for specialized trades such as electricians, plumbers, and landscape artists. Some builders also allow sub-subcontractors to work on projects. Of course, you only want experienced professionals working on your new home.
● Who will I speak with about my home construction during the building? You might speak directly with the builder, or, a project manager. Whoever it is, you should speak with the individual about their experience and their approach to project management.
● What are the included standard fixtures and what upgrades are available? Typically, builders will have standard fixture inclusions with their homes, and, upgrades are usually available. These generally include things such as premium flooring, cabinetry, countertops, as well as other features.
● How long will it take to complete the build? The answer will likely be more of an estimate than a hard and fast deadline because of the nature of the business. This is important because builders are generally paid on a schedule tied to phases of completion.

You should also ask about inspections at key points or phases are completed. In general, contractors will conduct inspections as certain phases reach completion. These are intended to ensure that quality control is maintained throughout the process and to reveal any unknown defects.

Importance of Buyer Home Warranties

Home sellers, especially in seller dominated markets, will find that it’s not too easy to stand out from the competition. Even in buyers’ markets, sellers face challenges, though a different set. The point being, there’s rarely a market in balance and the synergy of parity.

With homes continuing to gain value, interest rates still at near historic lows, a slew of home loan products available, new credit modeling, and loosened lending requirements, buyers are out in force. That dynamic will of course change as the months tick off the calendar, so, you need to market your home so that it piques interest.

 Importance of Buyer Home Warranties

There are many things you can do to attract buyer attention, from small upgrades such as changing out cabinet, closet, and interior door hardware, to update with a fresh, neutral coat of interior paint, to clearing out the clutter and deep cleaning, along with improving curb appeal, other sellers will likely do the same things.

What you need is to get creative and do something that will really stand out. Back at the housing boom began to crest in 2005 through 2006, sellers were actually doing some outrageous things, like give-away cars, country club memberships, boats, and more. While this is extreme examples, they highlight one key fact: buyers are motivated by FREE. A home warranty can help you sell your home more quickly, and, here are the reasons why:

  1. A home gives potential buyers peace of mind. Okay, so this is obvious, but nonetheless true. It’s not at all unusual for a buyer to purchase a property and begin making it into their home. The dream becomes a nightmare when major appliances break down. Even more so when their money was just spent on inspections, earnest money, down payment, closing costs, and so on.
  2. It says that you are confident in the property. Buyers will think about how you’re thinking about them, and not leaving them with an unexpected mess to clean up once you are long gone. Again, it’s a peace of mind, but, from another perspective.
  3. Offering a home warranty makes your home more attractive. When homebuyers enter the real estate market, they are generally overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. The dozens and dozens of properties they see begin to blend together. What they’ll remember about your home is that it has something for nothing.

Lastly, when you consider the cost versus the gain, a home warranty is well worth it. You’ll pay between $300 to $600 to get thousands in return on the deal.

 

Importance of Professional Home Staging to Sell

Every homeowner that decides it’s time to sell knows the absolute importance of making a good impression on everyone who sees their property. With 90 percent of all home searches beginning online, it’s imperative to impress in just moments, before views swipe or click away.

That’s certainly a daunting task, and, one that many home sellers mistakenly believe can be accomplished simply by a good deep cleaning and a little organization. If that were only the case. Even though there are more daylight hours, which of course, means more time to see properties, the majority of buyers are making thoughtful decisions. In fact, 46 percent of all homes on the market sell in less than a month right now. While that sounds like good news, the fact remains that 54 percent linger on the market longer.

Importance of Professional Home Staging to Sell

The reason for the disparity likely has to do with something other than pricing. Let’s face it, if you’re trying to sell your property and it doesn’t generate much interest, you’re probably going to look at recently sold comparable homes and adjust your asking price accordingly. What the problem most probably is, doesn’t have to do with price, it has to do with presentation.

If you don’t think that staging is important, that by simply cleaning-up and organizing you’ll do enough to pique buyers’ interest, you’re not considering all the facts. So, let’s take a look at the importance of how professional home staging gets results:

● About 80 to 90 percent of buyers can’t imagine a home other than they see it. You read that right and might wonder why. It has to do with first impressions. When buyers see a home, they look at it “as-is,” not as it could be. So, you’ve got to present your home in a certain way.
● Staging brings a hefty return on investment for sellers. The average cost to the professional stage a home ranges between 1 and 3 percent of the selling price. However, it increases the selling price by 8 to 10 percent.
● Staged homes sell faster than non-staged properties. The facts bear this statistic out--between 93 and 95 percent of staged homes go under contract in less than a month, averaging about 28 days on the market.
● Buyers willingly overlook flaws in staged homes. You read that right, nearly a third, or, 28 percent of buyers are willing to overlook problems with a home if it’s been professionally staged.

In addition to these facts, 46 percent of buyers are more willingly to see a home in person if it’s been staged. What’s more, 45 percent believe that staged homes positively aligned with their tastes. It’s clear that home staging does much to sell homes.

Why Keys Waterfront Luxury Homes are a Good Investment 

Purchasing a luxury home has many benefits from locking-in the cost of housing, to tax deductions, to building equity. With luxury homes, or, those which sell for more than $1 million, all of these are especially important. Such homes are typically equipped with several creature comforts, functional amenities, and, have quite a bit of aesthetic attributes. What’s more, are built on high and exacting standards.

The more you bring to the table, the less you’ll payout in the form of interest, which means being able to amortize the note at a quicker pace. That allows you to still take a mortgage interest tax deduction while being able to drop private mortgage insurance sooner. All of these contribute to building a stronger equity position.

Why Keys Waterfront Luxury Homes are a Good Investment

When it comes time to buy a home, you want to make the best possible decision to gain a substantial return on your investment. While you may not sell it in your lifetime, you will be able to pass on to your heirs something of real value. So, choosing wisely is a must, and, there are a number of reasons why luxury real estate, especially in a location like the Florida Keys are among the best choices:

● You are buying into a more secure neighborhood. Luxury homes are typically surrounded by other luxury properties, which generally means there’s more security. Such a preventative presence increases property values and provides you with a sense of comfort.
● You are buying into a neighborhood that equity stable. Because these neighborhoods are comprised of luxury homes, their values increase consistently and appreciate at a higher rate than non-luxury homes. In other words, they build more equity and an increase in property value compared to their non-luxury counterparts.
● You are purchasing a home that’s in a premium location. The Florida Keys are an island archipelago that won’t increase in landmass. Therefore, the land is at a premium, ensuring its value to increase over time, making them nearly impervious to the overall economy.
● You will be able to enjoy many types of outdoor recreation. Owing luxury waterfront real estate in the Keys means having easy access to all kinds of outdoor recreational opportunities. Among them are biking, snorkeling, kayaking, boating, sightseeing, fishing, and much more.

What’s more, when you live on the waterfront in a luxury home, it’s like being on vacation every single day. You’ll enjoy experiencing spectacular sunrises and sunsets, walks on the beach, and an incredible view all year long. It just makes for a wonderful place to live and play.

Top Reasons to Buy a Home in Islamorada

Islamorada is located in the beautiful Florida Keys and is one of the biggest vacation destinations in the island archipelago. Its name comes from Spanish explorers, who named it the “Purple Island,” and it’s referred to as the “Village of Islands” because it is comprised of more than one location.

It’s known, like the rest of the Florida Keys, for its tropical setting, warm weather, super mild winters, and, for its many outdoor recreational activities, which can be enjoyed almost every day of the year. These factors and more make Islamorada a wonderful place to buy real estate.

Top Reasons to Buy a Home in Islamorada

While you might think that owning property in the Upper Keys is out of reach, it’s not as expensive as you believe. When you factor in other considerations, it makes far more sense to buy here than practically anywhere else in the Sunshine State. Here are the top reasons to buy a home in Islamorada:

● You’ll be close to Miami. There’s no denying that Miami is one of the top metropolitan areas in the country, and, it’s port is a massive contributor to all the nearby communities and cities. When you buy a home in Islamorada, you’ll be close to Miami, meaning some of the best nightlife, entertainment, sports, retail, and much more.
● There are more appreciation aspects. Speaking of Miami and the Florida Keys, the closeness and location are two very important factors which drive up appreciation. Since Islamorada is at a premium for land, it’s in a destination location, and, is home to some of the best weather in the country, the appreciation is faster and holds more value.
● You can take advantage of many recreational opportunities. There are so many recreational activities in the area, like world-class fishing and diving, kayaking, hiking, biking, running, water sports, and much more.
● There’s a lot less stress in a tropical setting. Being that Islamorada is in a tropical climate, and, not a metropolitan area, there’s a lot less stress. You won’t have to endure long commutes, heavy traffic, and big city noise, but live in a laidback environment.

In addition to these, you’ll be purchasing a property in a destination location, which means it will increase in value at a quicker pace, plus, you’ll be able to earn a passive income by renting it out. What’s more, you can charge top dollar, simply because of the wonderful location. In addition to these, there are tax advantages which include homestead exemption for full-time residents, and, income tax benefits for seasonal or part-time residents.

Home Values Are Rising at a Quick Pace, but It's not Creating a Bubble

In many parts of the nation, home values are increasing and home buying is rising as well. This, of course, means that the housing market is recovering at-large. While that’s great news and certainly an improvement from the lows of several years ago, it might create an unease that the country is entering yet another bubble. Black Monday, the Tech Bubble, and then the housing crash resulted in heavy negative impacts but things turn around and the housing market is experiencing just that.

If you’ve looked into the “whys” of the housing crash that in turn, took a heavy toll on the national economy, you’ll no doubt come to the conclusion that the good times were based on very unrealistic grounds. Mortgages were given to practically anyone who wanted to buy, and now, home lending standards are again loosening.

Home Values Are Rising at a Quick Pace, but It's not Creating a Bubble

Though home prices are on the rise and the first quarter of this year, along with the first months of spring, closed transactions are impressive, this doesn’t necessarily mean a housing bubble is being created. There are many reasons for this seeming paradox but the most convincing include the following:

● Demand is higher than supply. Year over year in March, home sales increased by 9 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors. There are many reasons for this trend, which include, but aren’t limited to cautious homeowners not ready to sell, the loosening of lending standards, new credit file modeling, and rising home values existing homeowners want to avoid through new purchases. Simply put, there’s more demand to buy and fewer reasons to sell.
● Value appreciation is unlike the bubble. During 2005 and for a few years after, home prices soared by as much as 30 percent. That’s not sustainable, and now, home values are rising in more traditional increments, between 9 and 12 percent.
● Median home prices are in-line with historical averages. The price-to-rent ratio and the price-to-income ratio are at normal averages. Here again, in the mid-1990s and in the early 2000s, these were normal and skyrocketed as the housing boom occurred.
● Home sales and mortgage originations aren’t setting records. The very level of home loan products and loose qualifiers made values artificially, and dangerously, high in 2005 through 2007. That’s not happening now and isn’t very likely to materialize.

Lastly, distressed properties and vacancies are down and/or dwindling. Foreclosures and short sales account for less and less as a percentage of active listings. Because there are less “deals” to be had, the market is improving healthily but not artificially.

Why Finding a Good Property Management Company for Your Vacation Rental is Important

You’ve worked hard and have finally reached the point that you are able to purchase a vacation rental property to enjoy a few times of the year. When you’re not enjoying the space yourself and unwinding, you plan on renting it. After all, the home is in a great location and there are always people traveling there who need a place to stay. It’s a perfect fit for families because it’s like a home away from home, complete with all the conveniences and creature comforts.

There’s just one problem, you’re far away most of the year and how do you keep the property maintained and what if something breaks? You certainly don’t like the idea and inconvenience of long-distance land lording, but you do have to take care of your vacation rental. So, you can either move nearby or hire a property maintenance company for your vacation rental home.

Why Finding a Good Property Management Company for Your Vacation Rental is Important

When you’re not there, your vacation rental will still need upkeep. From the landscaping to the appliances, and the structure itself. Things will inevitably break, and you certainly don’t want to travel back and forth every time something goes wrong. Here’s why it’s important to find a good property management company for your vacation rental home:

● Your vacation rental is under a watchful eye. Property management companies typically keep a close tab on the homes they are paid to manage. This is not only to retain business but is also a preventative measure to help avoid problems that might arise.
● You’ll have a go-to person to take care of things. The water heater will break, the roof will leak, the refrigerator will go on the fritz. Appliances do break down and if you have people renting it while the stove stop working, the property management team will be there to take care of such situations.
● Your vacation rental will be properly maintained. To keep your vacation rental in good, presentable condition, it will have to look its best, especially if there’s one party leaving and another about to arrive. This not only includes keeping it clean and neat inside but also the exterior, such as landscaping.
● You won’t have to worry about collecting money. Coordinating money transactions for rentals can be a very tricky thing to pull off. What’s more, you can’t easily get people out that are causing damage when you're many miles away.

When hiring a property management service, ask for references, inquire about pricing and types and levels of services, and check them out online. Look each service upon the local Better Business Bureau and carefully read any agreement before signing on the dotted line.

Important Elements of a Lease Option to Buy

There are many types of real estate acquisition agreements. The most common is what’s widely called a purchase offer, which is a binding legal agreement buyer with qualified financing make to sellers. However, there are other ways to form a real estate transaction. One of these is what’s known as a “lease option to buy,” or, in the vernacular, “rent-to-own.”

Though the common phrase isn’t entirely accurate, it does convey the basic meaning, that is, a renting tenant can exercise an option to become the owner of a property. Typically, the existing owner must have the home free and clear as mortgages routinely contain a clause that specifically states the home loan balance must be paid upon sale.

Important Elements of a Lease Option to Buy

To facilitate a rent-to-own or lease option to buy, the agreement contract must be created in-line with state law. Because real estate laws differ from state to state, there’s no real one-size-fits-all model. However, there are general structures that carry-over from state to state.

There are three key elements to a lease option to buy agreement, which are the lease agreement, to option agreement, and the sales contract. Each is so named according to its specific function and are actually three separate agreements tied together by one legal document. Here are the general structures of these three agreements:

  1. Lease agreement. This spells out the length of time of renting, the monthly rental amount, the security deposit, and any fees, such as late fees and NSF fees. It also contains what happens to the security deposit if the purchase offer is exercised.
  2. Option agreement. This agreement establishes what happens when the option to purchase a clause is exercised. It typically charges a fee to the renter/buyer of 1 to 3 percent of the purchase price. It also stipulates which credits, if any, are applied from the monthly rental payments, at what time and how the option fee will be paid, and when the purchase option expires.
  3. Sales contract. This sets forth the purchase price, a list of any items which are sold along with the home, such as appliances, any inspections, which party is responsible in whole or in part for closing costs, and details about buyer financing and title insurance.

In addition to these elements, buyers and sellers must agree to a title search, as well as full disclosure of the property’s history. Lease option to buy agreements can be complicated and it’s a good idea to consult with a professional before entering into such a situation.

Tips for Finding the Right Property Management Company 

Owning investment property is a great way to build wealth and to leave substantial assets to spouses and children. Many new investors take the initiative to maintain their rental property own their own only to discover that it’s a lot of work and worry. This is especially true when more real estate is accumulated and their portfolios grow in size.

The biggest challenge of having investment properties is maintaining each one and staying within the boundaries of the law. It’s quite easy to things now and again, particularly for investors who have full-time professional positions. This is why real estate investors often turn to professional companies who manage their properties and do so actively.

Tips for Finding the Right Property Management Company

Like most ventures in life, you want to be sure you’re putting your investment properties into capable hands. You want and need a company that will act responsibly, take on the role of a landlord, and always be looking out for your best interest. Here are some ways to find the best property management company:

  1. Get recommendations. If you have friends who also own investment real estate, that’s a good place to find recommendations. Should you not know other property investors, your real estate professional is another great source to find reliable property management companies.
  2. Check-out each company. Before you sit down and speak with anyone, do a bit of research to shorten your list of recommendations. Consult the local Better Business Bureau, as well as the state’s licensing and enforcement agency. You should also run the company and its officers’ names through the local clerk of court’s office.
  3. Ask pointed questions. Once you’ve pared down your list of property management companies, meet with the team face-to-face. Ask for a list of client references and follow-up with those other investors. Ask about how various scenarios are handled and what services are offered.
  4. Compare pricing with services. Though cost is going to be a big factor in your final decision, it should not be the defining one. You might well find that a lower price comes with a lot less customer service. Compare the pros and cons honestly to hone-in on the best choice.

Finally, do not be afraid to put the company you go with on a probationary notice. Tell the company upfront that you will hire them for three to six months and make a commitment thereafter if you are pleased with the quality of their services. Have a backup plan in case you find that a great first impression doesn’t live up to promises made.

Benefits of Solar Energy Power for Residential Use

Many homeowners would like to reduce their utility bills, cutting down on their monthly expenses. However, the rising costs associated with producing power, inflation, and the disparity of wages and income between said inflation, make these monthly obligations all the more expensive.

There are a number of ways to cut down on utility costs, from installing smart appliances to upgrading insulation, doors, and windows, to installing smart thermostats, which regulate temperature swings and cut down on consumption. With such improvements in place, homeowners not only save money every month, but they also increase the value of their home. It also greatly improves comfort for more enjoyment when indoors.

Benefits of Solar Energy Power for Residential Use

All of these changes make a small but noticeable difference in reducing utility expenses. In addition, each of these come with an initial investment outlay, which is recovered over time. However, one way to make a large difference and begin to enjoy and return on investment in a shorter period is by going solar.

First and foremost, your home must be in a location that gets a lot of useable sunlight, like the Florida Keys. Noted for its abundance of sunny days, the Keys are an ideal place to have solar energy. Because of the many days without rain, which are few, those solar panels will do much to reduce electricity costs.

Cutting down on the amount of electricity generated by the local utility is just one key advantage. There are more than a few benefits of solar power which include the following:

● The ability to generate enough power to sell to be a local utility. If your panels are sufficient and all the calculations correct, you’ll likely generate a bit more power than you’ll need. There’s no reason to let it go to waste, so, sell it to the local provider.
● A smaller impact on the environment. We all know it takes source energy to generate useable energy and that’s why there’s such a large interest and investment into renewables. These are not one-time uses, and, they don’t have a negative impact on the environment.
● Subsidy incentives. When you go solar, you won’t be alone in footing the investment bill. There are different subsidies available to help defray the costs. These are generally thousands of dollars worth of incentives.
● Increase your home’s value. Residential real estate studies show an average increase in the value of a property to be nearly 12 percent. What's more, homes equipped with solar panels generating enough power to handle most or all electrical needs to sell faster than houses without solar energy.

If you want the advantages, but not necessarily the ownership costs, you can also lease systems.

Kim will be happy to put an end to your search for Florida Keys real estate, upper keys real estate, Key Largo real estate and Islamorada real estate! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kim.
Feel free to email me with any questions you may have.

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