team mullins logoflorida keys cost of living information


facebook twitter Florida Keys Real Estate Articles

logos facebook twitter active rain Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Check

Advantages of Owning a Condo

For some people, owning a home with a yard is not the American Dream. For those who do not dream of spending their Saturdays and Sundays mowing the law or doing home repairs then condo ownership is the ideal solution. Additionally, condos are an ideal housing solution for a buyer who is looking to enter the real estate market but do not have the money or desire to commit to a single family home. Finally, because everyone in the condo community shares the cost of community maintenance, the condo owner's maintenance costs are generally less than homeowners costs. Because of this, condos offer many advantages that single-family homes do not.

In most markets condos are generally less expensive than single-family homes so buyers can usually buy a condo and have mortgage payments that are similar to their previous rent payments. Additionally, many condos have shared amenities that would be difficult for a single buyer to buy and maintain on his or her own such as pools, community centers and gyms. However, keep in mind that the more amenities a condo community has, the higher the assessment fees.

Assessment fees are the monthly payment a condo owner pays to the condo association to cover the common expenses of the condo building or community. Assessment fees may include some utilities but will certainly include the estimated costs of maintenance for common areas of the condo community such as lawn care and exterior building maintenance. Condo owners are encouraged to become involved with their local condo boards whose members oversee the administration of the assessment fees. Also, condo owners should pay close attention to the finances of the condo association and makes sure that the association is setting aside a sufficient reserve fund to minimize the potential of any special assessments resulting from the need for expensive repairs or unexpected maintenance costs.

One final advantage of owning a condo is that it can serve as investment property should the owner decide to relocate or upgrade. Many condo owners will rent out their condos to cover the cost of the mortgage and live in another residence keeping the condo as a separate investment property. However, some condo boards put restrictions on this option, so it is important to understand exactly what the regulations are surrounding renting your condo before you sign the lease to buy it.


About Summerland Key Florida

Summerland Key, Florida is a great place to visit and an even better place to live, work, and play. That’s right. It’s not a crazy idea and you’re not reaching for something that’s not achievable. When people think about Summerland Key, they typically conjure up images of beaches and cool blue waters. But, there’s more to Summerland Key and here’s why.

About Summerland Key Florida

Located in the Lower Keys about 30 minutes away from Key West and about an hour and half away from Key Largo, Summerland Key is largely a bedroom community. It was first developed back in 1948. Today, it remains a small community, located between two other islands, Ramrod Key and Cudjoe Key.

Summerland Key is home to Brinton Environmental Center, as well as a station of the Mote Marine Laboratory, along with a private airstrip.

Things to Do in Summerland Key, Florida

Like many of its neighboring islands, Summerland Key is full of things to see and do. (And, if it’s not here, it certainly isn’t very far away. In fact, right next door is the Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve, which is a 4,600 acre aquatic refuge containing a number of coral reefs. Also, just to the southwest is Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, which simply must be seen and experienced in person.) Residents and visitors alike enjoy fishing, swimming, beach bathing, scuba, paddle boarding, sailing, kayaking, hiking, and much more.

Summerland Key is also nearby Veterans Memorial Park, which is on Little Torch Key and some of the best fishing charters in the islands.

Reasons to Live in Summerland Key, Florida

Summerland Key might be a small community but there are plenty of reasons to live here. First and foremost, is the fact that it’s located in the northern part of the Lower Keys. Meaning, that it’s in a prime location. And, everyone knows real estate is all about location, location, location. However, this isn’t the only benefit of living in Summerland Key. Here are some more advantages of living in Summerland Key:

  1. Terrific weather. Okay, let’s face it, there’s no mentioning the Florida Keys without giving praise to its wonderful weather. Here, summers are warm but breezy. Winters are non-existence. And, both the spring and fall are fabulous.
  2. Ideal location. As mentioned, Summerland Key is just a half hour away from Key West and only about an hour and half away from Key Largo.
  3. Tax advantages. There is no state tax in Florida. So, you keep more of what you work so hard to earn.


How to Furnish a Vacation Rental Home in the Keys added 11-1-2018

"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:

How to Furnish the home.

1. 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.

2. Think about 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.

3. 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.

4. Supply the kitchen. Be sure to supply the kitchen with dinnerware, utensils, and pots and pans.

5. Stock the bathroom. Stock the bathroom with towels, soap, toilet paper, a hair dryer 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.


Renting Out a House with a Mortgage added 10-1-018

Renting a out a house with a mortgage is a very common scenario. It means you have to cover the “carry costs,” which is to say, the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and maintenance. It also means it’s necessary for the rent to produce an actual income. That’s not a simple trick to pull off. In fact, renting out a house with a mortgage can really present a challenge to realize a gain and not a loss.
Renting Out a House with a Mortgage
Renting out a house with a mortgage is a situation some homeowners find themselves. And, most not by elective choice. Instead, it’s usually due to a relocation or similar type circumstance. So, they typically try to sell it because handling two mortgage payments isn’t financially feasible. In a somewhat desperate move, they put the house up for rent to help alleviate the burden.
Others buy a house specifically as a rental property. They take out a mortgage and plan to rent it for a profit. Unfortunately, this is a very difficult goal to reach.
Here’s what you need to know about renting out a house with a mortgage:
1. Know your true carry costs. These include not only monthly expenses, such as the mortgage payment but also, the insurance premium, the property taxes, and the ongoing maintenance. (Hint: this is probably a lot more than you believe.)
2. Be prepared for vacancy periods. Most experienced real estate investors plan for a vacancy period of 3 to 6 months. If this sounds too long, it isn’t. On average, it’s common for a rental to stay vacant for at least 60 to 90 days between tenants.
3. Understand what it means to landlord. If you aren’t planning on hiring a professional property manager, and going the DIY route, sure, you’ll save about 10 percent of the monthly rental payment. But, that comes with a cost of handling everything yourself. This means dealing with emergencies when it’s not convenient. What’s more, paying for said emergencies when needed.
4. Have a solid and realistic exit plan. Eventually, you’ll sell the property. To make it a profitable venture, you’ll need to create an actionable exit plan. In other words, how you’ll serious pay down the mortgage or amortize it completely. And, project its rate of appreciation.
To successfully rent out a house with a mortgage, you’ll need to treat it like a business. Know the numbers and keep on top of the upkeep to earn a good ROI.

Best Places to Scuba Dive in Key West 9-4-2018

There are several excellent places to scuba dive in Key West. Located in the Lower Florida Keys, about 165 miles or approximately 3 hours and 25 to 30 minutes, Key West is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. It’s home to some of the best seafood, tropical scenery, and of course, the absolutely terrific weather. But, there’s more to see and do. So, let’s take a quick look at the best places to scuba dive in Key West.

Best Places to Scuba Dive in Key West

If you’re wondering where the best places to scuba dive in Key West, you’re not alone. The truth is, there are numerous spots to scuba, snorkel, fish, sail, and so much more.

Here in Key West, life moves slower and its laid back lifestyle is part of what it makes it so attractive. But, ultimately, many visitors come to the area to scuba dive. After all, there are many shipwrecks, along with coral reefs. Plus, there are plenty of biking and hiking opportunities, as well. However, the scuba diving is definitely one of the biggest draws, and for good reason. Here are the top places to scuba dive in Key West:

  1. Inner reefs. This is for both scuba divers and snorkelers alike. The inner reefs feature many coral and marine life encounters, ranging from just 3 feet deep to as much as 30 feet. Because of the shallowness, this is an ideal spot for those who aren’t as experienced with scuba or people who like to snorkel in more shallow water.
  2. Outer reefs. The outer reefs are more deep into the water and there’s plenty of coral to explore, not to mention, larger fish swim here. Expect depths to range between 35 to 45 feet in most places.
  3. Joe’s Tug wreck. This wreck lies between hard and soft corals and the depth ranges from 60 to 75 feet.
  4. Vandenberg wreck. This is a well known, world class experience with more than 520 feet in length to explore. Depths range from 95 to 100 feet for this World War II transport.


When you are ready to get in the water, be sure to be up to date on all your necessary documentation. Keep in mind, novice scuba divers might not be good candidates for some of these sites. (It’s best to only bring people who are well acquainted with scuba gear and diving at depths of at least 100 feet


5 Best Things to Do with Family in Key West added 8-13-2018


If you’re looking for the best things to do with family in Key West, you’ve found a treasure trove of the right information. When most people think about the Florida Keys, particular the Lower Keys and most certainly, Key West, they think “party.” While that’s part of the whole lifestyle and overall environment, it’s actually a great place to visit with the kids. That’s right. Key West offers much for families seeking fun under the sun. So, let’s take a look at the top things to do in Key West with kids.

5 Best Things to Do with Family in Key West

The southernmost part of the United States, Key West is largely known for its superb weather, fishing, boating, water sports, live entertainment, and island lifestyle. But, there are some wonderful gems here which are just perfect for families. Here are the best things to do with kids in Key West:

  1. Conch tour train. All aboard! It’s no secret kids love trains. And, this is a great way to get acquainted with the streets of Old Town. Take a tour around the area and learn a little history while scoping out other places to visit along the way.
  2. Key West Shipwreck Museum. Here, kids and adults alike will learn a lot about the many shipwrecks just off the coast of the island and beyond. It’s fascinating and there are plenty of exhibits which tell the many stories of ships being lost at sea.
  3. Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Step into an immersive experience, surrounded by thousands of butterflies. Plus, you’ll see other native wildlife, which include turtles, pink flamingos, colorful birds, and koi fish.
  4. Higgs Beach. A little know fact about the Florida Keys at-large is there is a scarcity of actual beach. However, there are some choice spots where you’ll find plenty of sand. Once such destination is Higgs Beach. Take a dip in the water, play tennis or volleyball, or let the little ones have a blast on the playground. There’s also a dog park here for your four-legged family member.
  5. Key West Aquarium. Here, you’ll find one of the Sunshine State’s oldest aquariums. And, it’s simply delightful, even though it’s not all that large. There are multiple exhibits in the facility, housing starfish, eels, jellyfish, stingrays, and a whole lot more.


As a bonus, don’t skip out on the water experiences. Take the kids out on a fishing charter or take to the waves on a jet ski.


Best Islands to Stay in the Florida Keys

Summerland Key, Florida is a great place to call home. Located in the Lower Florida Keys, in between Marathon and Key West, Summerland Key is largely a bedroom community. But, don’t let that description fool you. It’s Home to the Brinton Environmental Center and also houses a field station of Mote Marine Laboratory. It’s also got its own airstrip. But, there’s more to Summerland Key you should definitely know about.

Summerland Key Florida

Summerland Key is situated among the Lower Keys, first developed by Henry Hudgins in the late 1940s. Hudgins built the island of Summerland Key up, making it more adept at accommodating residential housing. Today, it’s known for its deep boating and luxury neighborhoods.

Things to See and Do in Summerland Key

Being located in the Lower Keys means being nearest a true subtropical climate. It also means with its great weather, there are plenty of things to see and do practically every day of the year.

For instance, because winters are super mild, summers are warm and balmy, and the fall and spring seasons are out of this world delightful, you can get outside just about every single day of the year.

That means you can sail, kayak, canoe, fish, scuba, snorkel, volleyball, cookout, paddle board, windsurf, kitesurf, sunbathe, explore, hike, bike, and so much more. Hop over to the nearby islands to enjoy a night of entertainment. Or, stay right on Summerland Key and delight in the awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets. Dine out or do a little shopping when you really want a low key experience.

Why It’s Smart to Own Summerland Key Real Estate

Many people mistakenly believe that it’s just out of reach to own a home in Summerland Key or in the Lower Florida Keys. Yes, it’s true houses placed on the market go quickly. And yes, it’s also true there are few vacant spots of land. But, it’s not true your dream of owning a home in Summerland Key is only a pipe dream. There are plenty of opportunities and here’s the benefits of owning a Summerland Key home:

  1. Strong property appreciation. Here in Summerland Key, real estate is at a premium because there’s simply only so much land. Which means homes appreciate at a solid rate, year after year.
  2. Wonderful neighborhoods. Another fantastic feature of Summerland Key is the presence of luxury neighborhoods with beautifully kept houses.
  3. Deep boating. For those with large watercraft, they can easily access the area because it’s a deep boating site.


How to Releive Stress fast

Stress affects your health. And, in more ways than one. Make no mistake about it, stress, is a big factor in your day-to-day life and how you perform. But, it doesn’t have to be all bad. In fact, there are ways to manage stress. For instance, you can change scenery or relocate. A good example of stress-free living is right in beautiful Key West. By changing your overall environment, you’ll benefit your health in several ways.

Exactly What is Stress?

Before we get into the effects of stress, let’s first take a moment to delve into what it is. Sure, we all know what it is superficially. But, have you ever stopped to think about it?

There are actually two types of stress: eustress and distress. The first one is “good,” while the second is “bad.” Eustress is the sensations you feel when you’re getting ready to do something exciting. For example, playing a game or performing on stage.

The second type, distress, is what you feel when your body and mind are overwhelmed. So, if you’ve pushed yourself too far.

When you feel the later or distress, you might feel anxious, fearful, moody, depressed, and/or irritable. You’ll probably also experience muscle tightness, cold palms or sweaty hands, headache, tension, labored breathing, stomach upset, and more.

How Stress affects Your Health

Stress does affect your health in some profound ways. While we might not attribute certain things to it, stress does have an enormous impact. Here are a few ways stress affects your health:

  1. Physical impacts. Stress makes your body go through certain changes physically. Like some of the symptoms listed above, but these are just part of the problem. When you experience stress, your body suffers in several ways. It’s exhausted, making it more difficult to recover from ordinary activities. It can also cause you to feel chronically ill.
  2. Psychological impact. Stress does a real number on your mind. It causes you to think negatively more often. Soon, it becomes nearly impossible to get into a good state of mind. It can likewise cause you to avoid certain situations because they are too emotional.
  3. Emotional impact of stress. When you feel stressed, you’re more likely to overreact to certain scenarios. What would normally be a small thing becomes a giant problem.

One effective way to combat stress is to change environments. Simply by changing scenery and the pace of life, you’ll greatly


Steps to Consider when Refinancing Your Home added 5-8-2018

Home refinancing is usually very beneficial. But, in certain circumstances, it’s only marginally advantageous. And, in still others, it’s just a bad idea. When you refinance a home, you are not “redoing” or “restructuring” your existing mortgage. Instead, you’re applying for a completely new home loan. So, it’s important to factor in a few considerations before you decide to proceed.

Steps to Consider when Refinancing Your Home

As mentioned, refinancing is the process for applying for a new mortgage. It does not modify your existing home loan. It’s a way of paying off your current mortgage and replacing it with a new debt instrument. That’s the first thing to consider because it means your credit score and history will certainly come into play.

Then, there’s the matter of associated expenses. You will pay closing costs, just like you would if you bought a house. Also, this is an opportunity to get a new type of loan, like switching from a 30-year FHA to a conventional, fixed 15-year. Or, from a an adjustable rate mortgage to a 20-year conventional.

Furthermore, you need to consider how long you’ll stay put. If you’re going to be in the same house for at least 4 to 5 years, that’s generally enough time to recoup your expenses and build more equity as the value rises. However, if it’s 3 years or less before you plan to move, refinancing probably won’t work out mathematically.

A Brief Home Refinancing Overview

If you determine it’s worthwhile to refinance, you should know what to expect from the process. Here’s a brief overview of refinancing:

  1. Check your credit files. Just like you would do if you were buying a new home, you need to pull your credit reports from all three bureaus. You can do this once per year for free by going to Annual Credit Dispute all inaccuracies and follow up until they’re fixed.
  2. Shop for a mortgage loan. Once you review and clean up your credit files, it’s time to shop for a new home loan. Here again, you’ll go through the process of comparing terms, points, interest rate, and more. Then, apply for the right mortgage.
  3. Order an appraisal. After you’ve been approved for a new home loan, you then need to order an appraisal of your house.
  4. Lock-in the interest rate. Once the home appraisal is finished and accepted, you’ll need to lock-in the interest rate to avoid any hike.


Lastly, you’ll close on the new loan to complete the refinancin


Key West Cost of Living added 4-5-2018

The Key West cost of living statistics might just surprise you. While you’d probably think that it’s one of the most expensive places to live in the entire nation, you would actually miss the mark. That’s because while it does cost more in some areas, in other categories it’s either close or under the Sunshine State average. What’s more, it outperforms the national cost of living in two key areas. So, let’s take a look at the cost of living in Key West.

Key West Cost of Living

Located at the southernmost tip of the United States, situated between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, Key West is an idyllic environment. It boasts super mild winters, warm summers, and delightful spring and fall seasons. Plus, it’s where residents and visitors alike thrive on the island atmosphere. Here, living on island time with a laidback attitude is the norm.

In Key West, there are a number of great recreational opportunities. For instance, this is a great place to dive into the water and scuba. Or, skim along the surface and snorkel. Dive a shipwreck or go out on a fishing charter. Paddle around in a kayak or on a paddle. Picnic on the shore or hike and bike to discover its natural beauty. With all this and more -- like a very healthy nightlife and live entertainment scene -- it’s easy to believe that Key West is simply out of reach.

  1. Health care. As mentioned, Key West outperforms in two critical expense areas. And, health care is the first. Rated 97 (compared to a statewide rating of 98 and a national rate of 100), Key West is less costly when it comes to health care.
  2. Utilities. Another important area where Key West performs well is in utility costs. It ranks 99, with the state at-large ranking at 103 and the nation at 100.
  3. Goods and services. This is the first category to go slightly above state and national ranking, with a 101. So, nothing extravagant or very expensive.
  4. Groceries. Food costs rate 105, the same as the entire state but just above the national rate of 100.
  5. Transportation. Both Florida and the nation come in at 100, but Key West is a little above, at 112.

Now, housing is the last category and it should come as no surprise that this is the one lone expense that does exceed by the state and national scores of 96 and 100, respectively. But, this is simply a small price to pay to have a place in paradise on earth.


The Key West Real Estate Market added 3-1-2018

The Key West real estate market is a resilient one. Home to the southernmost point of the United States, gorgeous sunsets, spectacular sunrises, and wonderful weather, Key West boasts some of the best living in the entire world. But, what’s the Key West real estate market looking like post-Irma? And, where will it head as 2018 unfolds. Let’s look a some data which just might point the way.

The Key West Real Estate Market

First, we’ll begin our journey with the fact that Key West remains one of the most desirable places to live. And, not just in the state of Florida. People from outside the Sunshine State want their own piece of paradise and they often look to the Lower Keys, particularly, to Key West. It’s a place that offers super-mild winters, fabulous spring and fall seasons, along with balmy, breezy summers. It’s definitely the climate which is most attractive but that’s not the only lure. Key West enjoys a laid-back, nearly stress-free lifestyle. It’s a permanent escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

What’s more, Key West is where visitors and residents alike find something truly wonderful. The scenery, the lifestyle, and plenty more.

● Land remains scarce. There is no question Irma had a strong impact on Key West. (As it did on the rest of the Florida Keys and well across the entire peninsula.) But, life goes on and residents make it happen. The area is rebounding. Even though a lot of damage occurred across the island, it didn't’ magically produce more land. Which means property values remain quite strong.
● Property values will rise. Since land is a scarcity, home values will only rise. As the distance between the present and Irma grows longer and longer, that trend will only continue. However, there is a brief respite so-to-speak, which means buyers should act and act fast.
● Interest rates will continue to go up. The crash of a decade ago did have its silver linings. It corrected a hugely incorrect housing bubble. It also gave consumers much-needed pause to reflect. And, it caused interest rates to decrease dramatically. Now, interest rates remain very low but are going up slightly. This will only continue to happen as the months tick off the calendar. Which should tell buyers now is the time to jump into the Key West real estate market.

As 2018 unfolds, the Key West real estate market should become one of the most active in the country.

Benefits of Investing in Real Estate in a Destination Resort Area added 2-1-2018

There are some solid benefits of investing in real estate in a destination resort area, like Key West. When you consider buying property, you do so for several reasons. Most people invest in real estate to gain an asset to use for a variety of reasons. Among the biggest is to build wealth and to enjoy a steady passive income stream. But, location is always king when it comes to real estate. That’s why a destination resort area is the best way to go.

Benefits of Investing in Real Estate in a Destination Resort Area

When you own real property, you own something that’s tangible. And, if you own real estate in a destination resort area, you have a better situation than if you just owned a run of the mill house on a generic block. Here are the biggest advantages of investing in real estate in a destination resort area:

  1. Tax advantages. Let’s start with a big financial benefit and that’s the deductions and other tax opportunities that come with real estate. Write off insurance, property taxes, mortgage interest, maintenance costs, and more. Working with a tax professional can easily turn up more benefits that help your bottom line.
  2. More rental opportunity. Another big benefit of investing in real estate in a destination resort area is its location. It’s obviously more attractive to people and that means more rental opportunities. Because the area is frequented by a lot of guests, you’ll have an enormous pool of potential renters.
  3. Higher appreciation rate. Because the house is located in a destination resort area, the property will enjoy a higher rate of appreciation. So, as you amortize the mortgage, the house’s value will likewise increase. Combine these two dynamics, and you immediately see a huge win-win scenario.
  4. Command bigger rental rates. Yet another advantage of investing in real estate in a destination resort area, is that you can charge higher rental rates, simply because of its location. And, by doing so, you appeal to a more select crowd.
  5. Enjoy the benefits of owning a hard asset. When you own real estate in a destination resort area, you have a real asset. So, when you’re ready to buy another property, you have increased leverage.
  6. You have a dedicated place to vacation yourself. Perhaps the most attractive aspect about investing in real estate in a destination resort area is that you have a dedicated place to stay when you visit. A true home away from home to enjoy.

Tips on Relocating to the Lower Florida Keys added 1-7-2018

Relocating to the Lower Florida Keys is a dream for many people. If you’ve visited the Lower Keys before, you know just how much fun it is and how seductive the climate and weather can be throughout the year.

It’s true that life moves at a slower pace here in the Lower Florida Keys. But, just like with any other location, moving to the Sunshine State and being a part of the island life requires a little careful planning.

Tips on Relocating to the Lower Florida Keys

If you want to relocate to the Lower Keys, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, about one thousand people move to the peninsula and island archipelago each and every day. A solid percentage make the Lower Keys their new home. And, if you want to become a resident, you should be in the know about what to do.

Living in the Lower Florida Keys means adjusting to a few things and embracing a different way of life. So, here are some helpful tips on relocating to the Lower Florida Keys you can use:

  1. Know the lay of the real estate land. Okay, real estate is more expensive but it also offers greater appreciation. And, because it’s limited, you’ll need to line something up before you plan to arrive. In fact, it’s a good idea to spend a couple of weeks here during different seasons to get the actual feel. Plus, you can soak up the wonder weather.
  2. Explore employment options ahead of time. The Lower Florida Keys are prime spots for tourist related gigs. But, if you’re in a specialized field, you should definitely begin exploring career options well in advance.
  3. Thin out your cold weather wardrobe. Of course, you probably know that winters are super mild in the Lower Florida Keys. And, that means you won’t need heavy winter clothing (or very little of it, particularly if you plan to go back to the north, northeast, or midwest).
  4. Be prepared for island living. It’s not just the lure of living at a slower, far less stressful place, but also, the excitement of being on island time. That means you’ll be on a island. Which means making some minor day to day life adjustments.
  5. Get ready to get more regular exercise. Traffic can be quite a challenge, especially during certain times of the year. But, that just means you’ll enjoy the beautiful weather when you make short commutes. Walking and biking are very common here in the Lower Florida Keys.


What to Do in Key West with Family addded 12-1-2017

Key West has a dual reputation. On one hand, it’s a tropical paradise. On the other, it’s an adults-only playground, populated with bars. But, there’s another side to Key West. And, it’s kid-friendly. In fact, if you’re the type of family that treasures getting away from screen time and exploring nature, history, and more, you’re in for a real treat. That’s because there are plenty of things to do in Key West with a family (you just have to know where to look).

What to Do in Key West with Family

Key West is the southernmost destination in the Florida island archipelago. It’s just ninety miles away from Cuba and is situated between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Here, residents enjoy warm, balmy summers and super mild winters. That means there’s always something to see and do. Fortunately, that includes plenty of kid friendly recreational opportunities. Here are some of the best things to do with family in Key West:

  1. Dolphin Safari. If there’s one lovable ocean creature kids of all ages and adults crave to encounter, it’s dolphins. And, Key West is home to a giant population of these amazing creatures. Hop into a boat and take to the waves to spot dolphins right in their natural settings. Plus, you’re likely to encounter other creatures, such as stingrays, sea turtles, manatees, and more.
  2. Key West Shipwreck Museum. Did you know there are approximately 400 shipwreck right alongside the Florida Keys? And, more could be discovered in the future. For those who love maritime folklore and history, there’s no better destination than the Key West Shipwreck Museum. Here, your family will enjoy a live storytelling presentation and encounter all kind of artifacts and more.
  3. Fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, and more. Key West is a great location to get outdoors and get active. Some of the best family activities are fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, canoeing, skim boarding, and sunbathing are all right here to enjoy.
  4. Higgs Beach. There’s also a great wide sand beach to stroll along and it’s full of things to do. The whole family can enjoy tennis, volleyball, dog park, a playground, and plenty more. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and the Key West Museum are also two wonderful, family friendly destinations. The former offers a number of recreational hiking trails and coral reef to explore for snorkelers and divers alike. The latter is a small but

Townhouse or Condo - What Is the Difference? added 11-1-2017

When people think about the difference between a condo and townhouse, they usually conjured contrasting images. A townhome, to many, is a two to three story unit which looks much like a big city brownstone. A condo, on the other hand, typically resembles an apartment. But, these are actually misconceptions.

Townhouse or Condo - What Is the Difference?

A townhome is generally semi-detached or attached to one or more units. For instance, a semi-detached townhouse is a single building with two separate residences connected by a wall. Attached townhomes are multiple units all connected, with two end units. Townhouses also generally are just two to three floors.

A condo, however, is more likely to be attached to several units. And, condo communities might house several buildings with several units per building. High rise condos typically include hundreds of units in a single building. Moreover, single condo units are generally just one story each.

But, this isn’t the only difference between a townhouse and condo. Here are some of the biggest differences between a townhome and a condo:

● Ownership. In general, condos are not fee simple. And, the term “condominium” is actually a legal form of ownership. Condo unit owners generally do not own the ground below, the air above, or even the roof. Instead, condo ownership is usually from the walls in. Townhomes, however, differ in that many are more like single family, fee simple ownership. In a single family, fee simple situation, the resident owns the ground or lot, the air above, and the roof. Townhouse owners might also own the ground below, the roof, and any lawn. Although both types of ownership generally do not include any communal areas.
● Property taxes. Here again, because the type of ownership and what it includes, makes a significant difference between a townhouse and a condo. Since condo owners own only the interior, they only pay taxes for that space. Comparatively, townhome owners, which have rights to the land below and possibly space around the unit, must not only pay taxes for the indoor living space, but the ground or lot. Of course, this can substantially impact the amount of property taxes, depending on location, square footage, and more.
● Homeowners’ association fees. It’s common for both property types to include HOA fees. These fees are used to maintain the common areas, such as the clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, streets, and so on.

As you can see, there are real and distinct differences between owning a townhome and owning a condo. To find Lower Keys Homes for sale please see

Pros and Cons of Buying an Older Home added 10-4-2017

What are the pros and cons of buying an older home, you might ask if you’re ready to enter the real estate market (either for the first time or once again). It’s a good question since new construction just might be a viable option. However, new is always the best choice but you need to know the pros and cons of buying an older home.

Pros and Cons of Buying an Older Home

When you enter the real estate market, you’ll have a number of questions. And, you’ll probably need to choose between a resale and new construction. In most instances, you’ll have several homes on your list. But, if an older home makes your shortlist, you’ll need to know the pros and cons of buying an older home:

Pros of Buying an Older Home

● Older homes are less expensive. This is often the main reason people buy a resale over new construction or newly built.
● More options available. Older homes will be a larger percentage of local listings over any other type of properties.
● Established neighborhoods. You’ve heard the real estate expression a home is all about location, location, location. And, it’s very true because you’re not buying a home on an island. An established neighborhood is a huge plus on many levels.
● More character and charm. Older homes usually boast character and charm that’s simply not available in newer properties.
● Larger lot size. In most instances, an older home will occupy a larger lot size while a newer home will reside on a smaller lot.

Cons of Buying an Older Home

● More maintenance. This goes without saying but it’s worth mentioning. An older home will generally require more maintenance. But, this doesn’t mean it’s a money pit. Typically older homes are kept in good condition by their owners. And, that’s good news because it means someone else absorbed the expense.
● Dated design. Although older homes generally possess character and charm, they might have a dated design. Of course, you’ll immediately recognize when you first see it.
● It’s already been lived in before. Okay, so this can be a mental barrier for some buyers while others won’t have a problem. But, if you think about it, this is an advantage because you can ask the owner about any known issues or quirks.

Understanding Home Closing Costs added 9-3-2017

When you buy a home, you’ll pull your wallet out time and time again. It starts with saving a for down payment, earnest money deposit, inspections, moving, miscellaneous expenses, and closing costs. In most instances, the buyer is the party to pay closing costs, which usually run between 2 and 5 percent of the purchase price.

Understanding Home Closing Costs

So, what exactly are closing costs? Simply put, these are third-party charges the mortgage lender passes onto the borrower. It’s also quite common for the lender to also include their own fees. Closing costs most often include the following:

● Credit report(s)
● Legal fees
● Surveys
● Title insurance
● Title search(es)
● Sale recording
● Mortgage underwriting
● Appraisal(s)
● Origination fee(s)

Additionally, closing costs can include discount points, which is money paid to lower the home loan interest rate. The good news is the lender must provide the borrower with a GFE or Good Faith Estimate, which discloses the costs associated with the mortgage.

What most borrowers don’t really know or fully understand is that closing costs are (at least in-part) negotiable. Now, this doesn’t mean every line item is negotiable but some are and it’s good to know which you can haggle over.

Closing costs are necessary part of the home buying process but they don’t have to be confusing. If you don’t understand one or more of the closing costs, don’t hesitate to ask your real estate agent, mortgage broker, or attorney for an explanation. And, before you apply for a mortgage be sure to plan for these extra expenses.

Advantages of Owning Luxury Waterfront Real Estate in Summerland Key added 8-2-2017

There are some distinct advantages of owning luxury waterfront real estate in Summerland Key. Sure, you can always cite the great weather -- with its warm, balmy summers, ultra mild winters, and superb fall and spring seasons. Or, you might prefer living on island time. And, those are indeed marvelous things. But, there are other benefits of owning luxury waterfront real estate in Summerland Key.

Advantages of Owning Luxury Waterfront Real Estate in Summerland Key

If you know anything about the Florida Keys, you probably know it's a wonderful place to visit and vacation. But, have you ever thought about living here? Too many people mistakenly believe it’s just too expensive. However, compare it to some other highly desirable places around the country and you’ll pleasantly find that isn’t the case at all. Plus, it’s far away from the noise and stress of the big city. Those two reasons alone make it a good deal. But, there are still more advantages of owning luxury waterfront real estate in Summerland Key:

● Solid appreciation. Land is a premium commodity here in the Lower Keys and Summerland Key is no exception. And, because there isn’t much land to develop or very little left, that means homes enjoy solid appreciation for as long as they own. This makes owning luxury waterfront real estate in Summerland Key a smart investment decision because of not only the high appreciation but in a resale scenario, a substantial return on investment.
● Very desirable location. There’s no question the Florida Keys are a worldwide destination location. Tourists flock here from one month to the next, year after year. And, that translates into a great location to own residential real estate -- particularly a luxury house that’s right on the water.
● Easy access to the water. Speaking of water, the Gulf of Mexico is always nearby, as is the Atlantic Ocean. That’s two for the price of one, which gives you quick access to the water -- whichever body of water you choose.
● Tropical lifestyle. Life if just simpler and more enjoyable here in the Lower Keys. When you own a luxury waterfront home on Summerland Key, you’ll enjoy the laidback lifestyle that is so ingrained in the island chain. Things move slowly here, far away from the congestion and chaos so common in big cities.
● Near Key West. What’s more, owning luxury waterfront real estate in Summerland Key means you’ll be right next door to Key West. That’s quintessential Keys, something that simply can’t be found anywhere else.

Getting Financing for the Condo You Want added 7-3-2017

Getting financing for the condo you want is a bit different than obtaining a mortgage for a single family property. Because “different” can mean “difficult,” since the government agency backing the debt instrument has its own requirements. But, this doesn’t mean you’re out of luck getting financing for the condo you want -- it’s just a more involved process.

Getting Financing for the Condo You Want

About 94 percent of the home loan market is claimed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, and VA. And, all have their own requirements. The reason for this is when you purchase a condo (a type of legal ownership that’s more close to a cooperative), you’re not getting a fee simple title.

In other words, you’re buying into the entire community, essentially obtaining a percentage or share. So, lenders place restrictions on which condo communities receive mortgage approval. Here’s what you need to know about getting financing for the condo you want:

● Generally a higher interest rate. In general, mortgage interest rates for condos are slightly higher than single family residences. The reason is quite simple -- there’s more risk to the lender. Because it’s part of a community, lenders charge higher rates but these can be avoiding by paying points. Just understand the lender, condo community, geographic location, and more all play a role.
● Bigger down payment requirement. Usually, buyers who make a down payment of 20 percent or more qualify for more diverse types of loans, as well as escape PMI or private mortgage insurance (which protects the lender in case of a borrower’s default). However, a down payment for a condo typically runs a bit higher, about 25 percent. Now, this doesn’t mean it’s always the case, in some markets, down payments can be the same as single family, or 20 percent. Here again, there are many factors which make a difference.
● The homeowner’s association fees. Not only will you have to qualify for the monthly payment, but don’t forget about the HOA fees. These range from just a few hundred dollars to much more. Now, this helps you because the HOA is responsible for common area maintenance and repairs. But it still represents additional costs. Your monthly mortgage payment and HOA fee combined should not exceed 25 percent of your monthly income.
● Property qualification factors. One factor which really hit a substantial amount of condo buyers during the wake of the housing crisis was property qualification. If there are too many vacant units and/or too many rented out, lenders tend to frown on this.

Just be prepared and careful about which condo community you ultimately decide to live in.

Pros and Cons of Using a Mortgage Broker added 6-2-2017

probably getting ready to buy a home. Even if you’re still quite some time away from a home purchase, it’s worthwhile to know the pros and cons of using a mortgage broker.

Pros and Cons of Using a Mortgage Broker

Your house will likely be the largest investment you ever make in your life. And, while your retirement account will yield a very hefty return, your home will provide even more financial stability. So, when you have a good size down payment, and money set aside for an earnest money deposit, inspections, closing costs, moving, and miscellaneous expenses, you’ll start looking for a home loan.

Whether you have your eye on a condo downtown or on a beach, or want a single family home in a certain neighborhood, you’ll probably need to obtain financing. You can either go from bank to bank and hit every credit union around or use a mortgage broker. But, which one is right for you? And, what are the upsides and downsides of going through a mortgage broker for your home loan. Here are the pros and cons of using a mortgage broker:

● The mortgage broker’s services are free to you. One of the biggest advantages of using a mortgage broker is getting professional real estate financing services for nothing. That’s right, you don’t pay the mortgage broker to find you the right home loan. Instead, the lender you choose pays the mortgage broker a fee. While this is good news, it also reveals a downside. That is, the mortgage broker doesn’t work for you alone. So, this is something to be aware about.
● A mortgage broker isn’t a “captive agent.” In the insurance industry, there are licensed individuals known as “captive agents.” That means they only work for one insurance carrier and can’t offer policies from competitors. Mortgage brokers have like flexibility -- they do not work for one lender and therefore, can shop from a wide variety of lenders for you.
● A mortgage broker can help those with mediocre or less-than-perfect credit. If your credit history isn’t stellar, then a mortgage broker is a good option. A mortgage broker can help to negotiate a better rate for your home loan. But, this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to buy a home right now.

Lastly, a mortgage broker saves you a lot of time. Instead of you trying to shop different lenders and fretting over which to apply, the broker will do the leg work.

For help Buying or Selling Lower Keys Real Estate please contact us

Things to Do in Key West added 5-2-2017

When people think of Key West, they typically conjure images of tropical drinks, long walks on the beach, fabulous sunsets, and the southern most point of the United States. But, there’s a lot more to Key West and when you visit, you should definitely add a few destinations and activities to your travel list. So, get ready to expand your horizons with the many interesting and fun things to do in Key West.

Things to Do in Key West

Located just ninety miles from Cuba, Key West is best known for its tropical climate, great parties, and it’s natural beauty. But, when you get to Key West, you’ll probably be surprised about all it has to offer. Sure, while you’re there, snorkel, fish, stroll along the beach, eat plenty of delicious seafood, and take in a few sunsets. You can also experience so much more.

Here are some wonderful things to do in Key West:

● Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. When you visit Key West, this destination is an absolute must. After all, where else can you walk through living history, picnic, soak up the sun, fish, bike, and hike all in one day, in one location? The Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park boasts all of this and more.
● Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. This is the place for those who love these delightful, colorful creatures. Stroll through the enormous 5,000 square-foot aviary and enjoy all the different butterfly and vegetation species. It’s a quiet place to enjoy some peace of mind while revitalizing on the serene settings.
● Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. Probably the most famous resident ever to call Key West home is legendary author Ernest Hemingway. Some of his best work was created right in this historic location. And, it’s also famous for being the first residence with indoor plumbing. It simply must be experienced in person.
● Harry S. Truman Little White House. Originally serving as a military headquarters in the 1890’s, this presidential retreat became a winter vacation property for the former president. It’s rich with history and it continued to serve as a getaway for other presidents, as well.
● Key West Lighthouse and Keeper's Quarters Museum. What would a trip to Key West be without taking in one of the best nautical destinations? If you aren’t claustrophobic and don’t mind climbing a lot of stairs, you’ll love this site. It’s stood looking out over the area since the late 1880’s and remains to this very day.

How to Choose a Reputable Property Management Company added 4-3-2017

If you want to make an investment rental property profitable, you’ll recognize the value of hiring a reputable property management company. The reason to hire a property management company is to take the burden off of you. Landlording is more difficult than most people suppose and it’s a good practice to have separation between you as the owner and tenants. So, it’s very important to know how to choose a reputable property management company.

How to Choose a Reputable Property Management Company

Many first-time rental property real estate investors don’t see a need to hire a management service. They believe it’s no big deal to handle the job of a landlord. That is, until it begins to become a burden (which is practically inevitable). So, here are some helpful questions to ask to choose a reputable property management company:

●How many properties do they manage? You need to know how many rental homes and what types the service manages. This is important because if it’s a huge number, you’ll want to know why and how they pull this off.

●Do they own rental homes themselves? This might seem like a big benefit because the property manager will understand what it’s like to have a personal stake in the game. But, it can constitute a detriment because which properties do you think will receive the most attention? Yours or theirs? (If it’s just one, two, or a few, this isn’t usually an issue.)

●How often do they check rental properties? You want a property manager who stays in the loop about the condition of their rental homes. While they don’t have to check frequently, it ought to be part of their routine to do so on a regular basis.

●What is their fee for their services? Ask what their fee is and if it’s collected whether or not rent is collected. In other words, some will still charge a fee, even if the tenant stops paying rent. Generally, property managers charge between 7 and 10 percent of the rent.

●What’s the protocol for emergencies? Inquire about how emergencies are handled. Things like when an air conditioner goes out in the summer or when a pipe bursts. You need to know how they will alert you and what steps they will take to deal with emergencies.

●How do they handle routine maintenance? Also, you need to know about their maintenance protocol. What is and isn’t included in their services? After all, you don’t want to incur additional costs if these can be avoided.

Advantages of Owning a Business in Key West added 3-2-2017

If you own a business or dream of being an entrepreneur, you understand the cost of doing business isn’t free. The old saying, “It takes money to make money” hold true in many instances. So, it’s always welcome when you can improve your position to increase profits to reward your employees, give customers more, and explore other opportunities. And, you can do this and more by owning a business in Key West.

Advantages of Owning a Business in Key West

You know what it takes to run a business and the expenses associated with keeping it profitable. When you can save money, you look at those opportunities seriously. If you’ve never thought about opening or relocating a business in Key West, now is the time.

This is because it’s a great business environment. And, with the wonderful weather, all the recreation, and island lifestyle, it’s just a worthwhile exploration. Here are the biggest advantages of owning a business in Key West:

1 It’s a tourist destination. Okay, before you sail past this point because it’s so obvious, take a moment to let this key fact set into your mind. Cruise ships, planes, boats, and automobiles. All bring tourists to this highly traveled destination. And, those people come to spend money. Take advantage of a booming economy. It doesn’t even have to be tourist related. Where there’s a lot of tourism, there’s plenty of jobs. And that in itself, presents many opportunities.
2 No income tax in Florida. Here’s another benefit of owning a business in Key West -- there’s no state income tax in the Sunshine State. You get to keep more of what your business brings in and that’s particularly attractive for any entrepreneur. Keep more of what you work hard to earn.
3 Right-to-work state. Part of doing business is dealing with employees. Fortunately, Florida is right-to-work state and that takes a lot of pressure off of business owners. It gives you more freedom than in other markets.
4 Business-friendly environment. Florida is definitely a business-friendly state. The state offers incentives and provides plenty of support for a number of things. Florida is constantly looking to court businesses to its peninsula and that’s good news for business owners.
5 Might become a gateway to Cuba. With the normalizing of relations with Cuba, Florida will indeed be a gateway to the island nation. And, Key West will become the prime gateway between the two. That’s certainly an opportunity to consider.

When you own a business in Key West, you’re investing in your future, while living in island paradise.

Buying a Property with Tenants added 2-2-2017

Investing in residential or commercial real estate is a wonderful and powerful way to build wealth, but it must be done with due diligence. You wouldn’t buy stock in an unproven company and the same is true for rental property. Unfortunately, too many first-time property investors commit serious mistakes. They underestimate practically every aspect of cost, as well as overestimate their holding expenses. This might be avoided by purchasing a property with tenants. Here’s what you need to know about buying real estate with tenants.

Buying a Property with Tenants

Most property investors prefer to buy distressed homes (foreclosure and short sale real estate). Generally, it allows investors to obtain a good bargain, mitigating their outlays for rehabilitation. However, in these instances, it is still necessary to accuracy forecast improvement costs and holding costs, as well.

To gain a more stable investment, some investors choose to purchase properties with paying tenants. This allows them to gain immediate income and forego marketing the property to renters. However, this does not mean as a purchaser, you are given the right to change what’s already in-place.

If you are considering buying a property with tenants, understand you will be bound by the legal agreement currently between the existing owner and the tenants. You cannot change the terms of the agreement without the consent of the buyer. That works two ways. For instance, you cannot raise the monthly rent or ask for a larger security deposit. But, if you wish to slightly lower the rent in order to retain the tenants longer, you’ll still have to legally amend the lease.

The existing lease is a legally binding contract which does not change when a property title is transferred from one party to another. An exception would be foreclosure, where the lender is suing to obtain the real property collateral.

Another consideration about buying real estate with tenants is it still entails risk. If the current owner is honest and transparent about the tenants paying on-time, it’s generally a good deal. But, there are owners who are not honest and are not transparent. They just want to be free of the obligation.

So, due diligence is always necessary. Request all documentation, including proof of rent payment, as well as income and expense statements, from the current owner. In addition, you should have all parties sign an estoppel certificate. It certifies the in-place lease and all its details.

When you close on the house, meet with the tenants and give them your contact information (or your property manager’s information). Let them know what you expect and tell them about any future plans you have.

Five Renovations that don't Increase Home Appraisal Value added 1-6-2017.

If you want to raise a home appraisal value, there are five improvements which just don’t work. Instead, the five renovations that don’t increase home appraisal value can actually lower a property’s value. Moreover, these can also have the unfortunate impact of making selling a house tougher on the homeowner.

Five Renovations that don't Increase Home Appraisal Value

Before getting to the five renovations that don’t increase home appraisal value, let’s look at the biggest home improvements with substantial return on investment. Coming in at number five is new vinyl siding, snagging an 83 percent return.

Install a new garage door and receive 87 percent back. Put down new hardwood floors for a 91 percent ROI. Upgrade the insulation and enjoy a return of 95 percent. Install a new roof and you’ll love its huge return of 105 percent.

But, there are five renovations that don’t increase home appraisal value and you obviously should avoid them completely. These make it more difficult to sell a house, as well as wasting money. Here are the five renovations that don’t increase home appraisal value:

1. A swimming pool. Sure, a swimming pool is a welcome amenity; or is it? The truth of the matter is, swimming pools introduce a number of factors. For instance, buyers with small children might see it as a safety issue, as well as elderly buyers. Insurance costs will increase, also. At the very least, there are maintenance concerns.
2. Luxurious landscaping. While elaborate landscaping definitely improves a property’s curb appeal, it’s usually just seen as a giant maintenance headache for buyers. Instead of going all out, upgrade with a modest but beautiful landscape. This will help to bolster a property’s value.
3. Over-improving for the neighborhood. If you want more space, you might consider adding on a second story. But, if the majority of other houses in the neighborhood don’t aren’t two story, it’s going to have a negative impact on the home’s value.
4. Upscale home upgrades. Big time, high end upgrades will improve the style and even the function of a home, but these will also lower its value or just not return very much on investment. It’s best not to go all out in practically every home improvement aspect.
5. Unseen home improvements. While a house might need new plumbing or electrical wiring, these are unseen improvements and do not increase home appraisal value.

Another renovation that does not increase home appraisal value is a master bedroom addition or remodel. Although it’s a wonderful creature comfort, don’t expect it to have much impact on your home’s value.

Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Mortgage mullins added 12-5-16

Home buyers commit a number of mistakes when applying for a mortgage. From not checking their credit reports to not saving money for a down payment, inspections, moving, closing costs, and miscellaneous expenses. But there are other mistakes to avoid when applying for a mortgage and getting through closing.

Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Mortgage

The home loan approval process is a nerve racking experience for most applicants because they are unsure what to expect. Even those borrowers who are well prepared and are pre-approved take missteps which can delay or derail a home buying deal.

It’s best to be in the know so you aren’t unexpectedly surprised with bad news. Here are the most common mistakes to avoid when applying for a mortgage and getting through closing with the keys in your hands:

● Opening new credit lines. You should never apply for new lines of credit when you’re applying for a mortgage. Even if you have been pre-approved for a home loan, have passed the inspections, gone through the appraisal process and are scheduled to close. Lenders often run “soft” secondary credit checks just a day or two before settlement to ensure borrowers’ debt to income ratio or future DTI is acceptable.
● Running-up balances. By the same token, you should completely avoid adding to credit line balances. Higher balances will also impact your debt to income ratio negatively and it could very well cost you the final approval to be denied.
● Make one or more large withdrawals. You’ll need a sizable amount of cash in your bank account to pay for down payment, inspections, closing costs, and other expenses. While your lender will expect you to pay for inspections prior to closing, the remaining monies should be there for closing costs and down payment.
● Change employers or careers. Lenders are risk averse, plain and simple. This is why they require so much documentation to approve a home loan. They also don’t relish uncertainty and this is why your work history plays a big role in your mortgage approval. If you change employers or worse, change careers, it could well cause your financing to fall through.

The bottom line is, getting a home loan is difficult enough without any extenuating circumstances. If you aren’t careful, you could inadvertently cause you financing to be delayed or outright denied. Be sure to communicate regularly with your bank or mortgage broker so you aren’t caught off guard with disappointing news about your financing.

When to Hire a Real Estate Attorney added 11-1-2016

Most residential real estate transactions go through. In normal markets, with parity between buyers and sellers, with six months’ of inventory (what’s known as a balanced market), only approximately 10 percent of deals do not go through. That figure does rise in unbalanced markets. But even in seemingly normal situations, you might need to hire a real estate attorney.

When to Hire a Real Estate Attorney

So, when do you hire a real estate attorney? Well, as you might imagine, there are circumstances which make it a smart move. In other instances, having a real estate attorney on your side is without question. Here are some prime examples of when to hire an experienced real estate attorney:

● Where there’s misrepresentation. If the seller misrepresented the property, for instance, inflating the waterfront footage, and you’ve discovered it, that’s a good time to consult a real estate attorney. This is especially true if you’ve already gone through closing.
● When agreed repairs aren’t done. In many real estate transactions, the sellers agree to make certain repairs. For example, fixing termite damage. But after closing, the damage remains, and that’s definitely an instance to speak with a real estate attorney.
● To force the deal to go through. In practically almost real estate contract, there’s a “specific performance” clause. And it’s name is precisely what it does -- forces one party to perform on a specific. For instance, if a buyer tries to back out or a seller refuses to sell, the other party can sue for specific performance. There are actually cases of courts making people go through with a sale or a purchase.
● When dealing with an HOA. One great thing about an HOA is the association takes care of grounds maintenance and other things. But, if an HOA suddenly charges a special assessment out of the blue, the reserves and finances might have been mismanaged. That calls for a real estate attorney.
● There are judgments or liens. If the property has a judgment or a lien against it and you want to sell it, you’ll definitely need a real estate attorney. Both judgements and liens present big challenges.
● If there is an uncooperative party. Whether it’s a spouse, a relative, or a business partner, who is not cooperating with the transaction, you’ll need a real estate attorney. For instance, if you purchased a distressed property, rehabilitated it, and signed a contract to sell it but your partner suddenly changes his or her mind -- a real estate attorney can help to resolve the issues.

Cost of Living in Key West added 10-5-2016

The cost of living in Key West isn’t what you think. In fact, it’s more affordable than you probably suppose. When people think of Key West real estate, they often conjure images of expansive homes right on the beach with plenty of plush, tropical landscaping. But not all Key West homes are the same. And, the cost of living in Key West isn’t out of reach.

Cost of Living in Key West

There’s really no mystery to the cost of living in Key West. In fact, many people move here to enjoy the island lifestyle and vacation like feel every day of the year. Over 1,000 people move to the Sunshine State every day and there’s plenty of reasons why. Of course, the wonderful weather plays a big role, as does the relatively low cost of living. Here’s the real scoop on the cost of living in Key West:

Low tax rates. The state of Florida does not have an income tax, only a small sales tax (which does not apply to necessities, such as food.) In addition, your homestead exemption will do wonders to lower your property taxes. That’s a huge amount of annual savings and even more as the years go by.

Build equity faster. Because land is finite in Key West and it’s such a highly desirable place to live, you will build equity much faster compared to other parts of the country. If you buy under your budget, you’ll be able to amortize your mortgage faster, creating equity sooner.

Utilities are less expensive. There are no harsh winters in Key West. In fact, winters are very mild. This means you won’t be turning on the heat much and there are months where no air conditioning are needed to stay completely comfortable. Say goodbye to servicing your furnace and all that it costs.

Vehicles last much longer. The phrase “garage kept” is something that’s a wonderful sales pitch but in Key West, your vehicle won’t be subjected to salted roads. Vehicles simply last a lot longer here than in the midwest and northeast.

No need to spend money on winter clothing. That heavy winter clothing which goes out of style and needs periodic replacement won’t be necessary in Key West. You won’t have to maintain a mudroom, scrape ice, or shovel snow. Or pay to have the driveway cleared and other winter expenses.

More outdoor recreation means better health. Key West offers a lot to its residents and with so many outdoor recreational opportunities, you’ll be able to stay active, reducing your healthcare costs.

Investing in a Luxury Condo - What to Consider added 9-1-2016

There are a few important considerations to take into account when investing in a luxury condo. Of course, price will play a large role in your ultimate decision about which community you choose but there are other essential aspects. Knowing as much as you can will be a worthwhile benefit when investing a luxury condo.

Investing in a Luxury Condo - What to Consider

If you are going to invest in a luxury condo, understand there are differences between this property type and a single family home. First is type of ownership. A single family residence is fee simple ownership.

What many people don’t know is the term condo is actually a type of homeownership. A condo ownership is typically known in real estate circles as owning “from the walls in” because that’s precisely what it is -- you own and are responsible for the interior. Aside from price and ownership type, here are more considerations when investing in a luxury condo:

● The association reserves. The bigger and more sound the association reserves, the better. This is money set aside to pay for large updates and repairs. Without healthy association reserves, the HOA will place a special assessment on the unit owners. This can easily cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
● How the HOA operates. Learn as much as you can about how the HOA operates and its history. You can speak with current owners and those who have recently sold to gain crucial insight.
● Access to amenities. Just because you buy a luxury condo in an upscale community doesn’t mean you’ll have full, unfettered access to all the amenities. While this might be the case, it’s not always the same circumstances. Some require extra fees to use (it depends on the community).
● Guest policies. Some luxury condo communities have restrictions on the number of guests you can host at the pool, in the clubhouse, and more.
● Rental bylaws. If you plan on renting while you’re away, be sure to learn about the owner rental policies. There could be restrictions or it might be prohibited.
● Location, location, location. This isn’t just about it being right on the beach, the location within the community is equally important. You don’t want a luxury condo that’s situated right next to the property maintenance building or near the community dumpsters.

In addition to these considerations, understand how luxury condos values are impacted in response to economic conditions. These properties skyrocket in value when the economy is humming but their values fall steeply when the economy goes stale or takes downward turn.

Key West Property Values on the Rise ADDED 8-3-2016

Key West property values continue their rise, although a tapering period is expected, according to the Monroe County Property Appraiser's Office. The single family residence median sales price increased approximately 3 percent from 2015 to 2016, with the overall property values rising from about $1.5 billion to just over $22.8 billion. So, what’s behind the Key West property value rise? Let’s take a look.

Key West Property Values on the Rise

Key West property values are on the rise but will level off, which is a good scenario because it prevents artificial forces from impacting real valuations. The Florida Keys, in particular, the Lower Keys, are known as a tropical paradise. Every year, visitors flock to experience the wonderful weather and partake in the abundance of indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities. And this is just one of many reasons Key West property values are on the rise:


Make no mistake about it, warm and sunny climates are greatly preferred to cold weather climates. Sure, people like to take to the slopes now and again but the human body is far more adaptable and comfortable in warm weather climates. It’s one reason why Florida is now the third most populous state. About 1,000 people relocate permanently to the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys to enjoy the exceptional weather. When weather is a factor, it becomes a significant part of property value rise.


There’s just no way around it, land is at a premium in Key West and most of the Lower Keys. Because land is finite, existing homes reap the benefits of high appreciation. Their values increase in-part, because there is little to no land to develop for residential homes and/or commercial properties, which contribute to more healthy property values.

Low Property Taxes

The fact of the matter is, property taxes are relatively low in the state of Florida, and this includes the Florida Keys as well as Key West. What’s more, year round property owners are able to claim homestead exemption, reducing their property tax obligation by a significant amount. Compared to many other states across the country, Florida is a real bargain.

Destination Location

Key West is a popular destination location and is so practically every day of the year. The mild winters and delightful spring, fall, and summer seasons attract visitors, regardless of the time of year. With so much tourism, a real demand is put on the local residential real estate market, which also contributes to rising property values. More visitors means the need for more locals, resulting in rising property values.

How Access to Cuba will Help Real Estate in Key West added 7-6-2016

Access to Cuba will help real estate in Key West in a number of real yet still profound ways. Although Americans are still officially disallowed to visit the island nation for the sole purpose of tourism, there’s plenty of wiggle room to be able to travel freely. That access goes both ways in some instances and this unfolding set of circumstances will have a positive impact on real estate in Key West.

How Access to Cuba will Help Real Estate in Key West

Though new, the lifting of the embargo is already showing positive signs. American businesses are planning ahead for potential market share in Cuba and once this begins to happen, Key West will play a central role. As everyone knows, the tiny island nation is just 90 miles away from Key West, a few hours by boat and a very short flight. With practically no barrier in-place, trade will flourish and that bodes well for Key West real estate. Property values will rise and homeowners will enjoy increased real prices from which to profit. Here are some ways how access to Cuba will help real estate in Key West:

● Attracting more Europeans and other foreign property investors and buyers. For Europeans and other foreign nationals, Cuba isn’t off limits and it’s a vacation destination. It’s also a very short distance from Key West, and as the island nation becomes infused with more trade money, infrastructure improvements will help to modernize Cuba. During the long transition, Key West will be even more of a destination location, increasing tourism and the real estate market will continue to enjoy the positive benefits.
● New cruise ship ports of call going to a from Key West. As relations normalize, cruise ship companies are already planning to include Cuba in their travel itineraries. That also increases trade and puts a positive spotlight on Key West.
● Increased commerce and trade with the island of Cuba. Trade and commerce are remarkable in what can be accomplished. As the two countries trade through goods, services, and tourism, more travel dollars will flow into Key West, bringing more jobs and opportunities, effectively helping the real estate market thrive.
● Few comparable residential real estate properties. Wealthy Europeans already visit Cuba but the residential real estate is quite inadequate and dated, there are no real comparable properties. Since Key West is such a short distance and has a vibrant real estate market, it will become all the more attractive to foreigners wanting a vacation property or even primary residence in the United States.

About Living in Old Town Key West added 6-2-2016

When you hear “Key West,” images of a tropical island, surrounded by blue, rolling water with lapping waves crashing onto the beach emerge in your head. You think about the warm weather and all those beautifully spectacular sunrises and sunsets. The locals and visitors walking around in tee shirts, shorts, and sandals, with cool drinks in their hands. And, of course, terrific water views and outdoor recreational activities abound. Whether you’ve visited Key West before or not, this is what most people imagine. Although these impressions are true, you might wonder about living in Old Town Key West and what you can expect to experience.

About Living in Old Town Key West

Part of the west side of the island of Key West, the southernmost point in the United States and the end of the island chain of the Florida Keys, Old Town is considered a historic district. Here, the central business district is located and there are many visitor destinations about. If you’re considering moving or relocating to the area, you should know a few things about living in Old Town Key West:

● Life is laidback and quite easygoing. As you would probably guess, life here is laidback, with easygoing people everywhere. The pace is slow and the locals and visitors really like it that way. It’s the opposite of the busy big cities, without nerve racking street noise, loud, screeching sirens, and traffic congestion.
● Come as you are causal is typical attire. Another common conception about Old Town Key West is there’s no need to dress up and people go about their day in come as you are causal attire. It’s true because there’s no one to impress and it fits well with the slow pace of life. It’s not just part of a lifestyle, it’s also reflective of the state of mind.
● The weather is warm and wonderful. It’s certainly no secret the Florida Keys enjoy some of the best weather in the nation and even worldwide. Though Old Town Key West is located at the southernmost tip of the Sunshine State, the weather is remarkably consistent. While warm, there’s always a breeze gently gliding through, making it very comfortable.
● There is plenty to see and do here. Fishing, boating, sailing, snorkeling, diving, beach strolling, sunbathing, and so much more are all here, on-demand.

Last but not least, getting around is very simple to do. Most locals ride bikes because the island is small and easy to navigate. It’s just part of the easygoing lifestyle that is Old Town Key West. For help finding Old Town Homes for Sale please contact us.

Relocating to the Keys from Canada added 5-3-2016

Every day, approximately one-thousand people move to the great state of Florida. Known as the Sunshine State, it lives up to its nickname and offers a lot more than wonderful weather. It’s not only the home of dozens of destination locations, it’s also a place where people move to take advantage of many factors. If you’re considering relocating to the Keys from Canada, you should know about the many benefits and have a checklist to follow.

Relocating to the Keys from Canada

One of the greatest economic advantages to relocating to the Florida Keys is the fact property taxes are relatively low. Claiming homestead exemption makes it all the more affordable and there is no state income tax.

In addition, Florida is a business friendly state, offering incentives for companies to operate, keeping more of what they earn. Of course, the wonderful weather is yet another reason people choose to move to the Keys. But, there’s more and here are the most important things you need to know about relocating to the Keys from Canada:

● Long distance moving. It’s best to start planning your move at least three months in advance. Get at least three quotes from reputable, licensed and insured services. Remember when making comparisons, it’s not just about the quote, but the quality of service.
● Finding the right property. There’s no question the Florida Keys have much to offer and you’ll find many choices of residential real estate. It’s a good idea to visit a few times to learn what part of the Keys best fits and explore the various property options.
● United States resident status. When you do move, you’ll have six months before you’ll need to take the next step toward permanent resident status. You’ll have to obtain a green card, which is simple if you’re employed in the States or have an immediate family member who is a permanent resident.
● Registered Retirement Savings Plan. Your RRSP is going to be another thing to consider. Because of its complexity, you should consult an experienced attorney knowledgeable about the plan and whether or not it is feasible to collapse it. Also, you might have to pay departure tax, something else to learn about.
● Driver’s license, insurance, and vehicle registration. In the state of Florida, you have thirty days to register your vehicle, update your insurance information, and transfer your driver’s license.

Also, you have a limited amount of time to register to vote once you’ve relocated to the Keys from Canada.

Benefits of Owning a Rental in Key West added 4-4-2016

If you have ever wanted to own a rental in Key West, but have thought it’s just not realistic, there’s some very good news -- it can be done and you can enjoy your own slice of paradise in this tropical getaway. It’s not only about timing, but also, the many benefits of owning a rental in Key West that make it a worthwhile endeavor.

Benefits of Owning a Rental in Key West

Everyone knows the Federal Reserve is beginning to raise interest rates, but, mortgage interest rates are still near historical lows. Combined with still affordable home prices, and, the fact that buyers are a bit skeptical, means now is a prime opportunity to owning a rental in Key West. Aside from timing, there are several benefits you can enjoy:

● You build more wealth. When you have real property in your investment portfolio, you have a real asset. It’s not about speculation, like commodities such as gold, silver, oil, and others. In other words, real estate is much more steady and its historical trend clearly demonstrates it gains significant value over time.
● Tax deductions are available. When you own a rental property, you are able to take advantage of certain and helpful, federal tax deductions. These include things such as mortgage insurance, business related travel expenses, operating expenses, utilities, insurance, and other write offs.
● Property values will only rise. Because there’s a finite amount of land in Key West, your rental home will only continue to rise in value. Add to it the fact it is in a destination location, and, that valuation phenomenon is more substantial than the average landlocked home.
● You create an income stream. A Key West rental will generate a passive income source for you and your family. As the mortgage amortized, your fixed costs shrink in relation to market dynamic rental rates. That means a larger margin, which means more money in your pocket.
● It provides a dedicated vacation spot. Another benefit of owning a rental in Key West is that you don’t have to rent it out every day of the year. You can personally enjoy a dedicated home away from home, and give the same experience to vacationing family and friends.

Yet another benefit is that you can retire and move into the home full time, continue to rent it with an amortized mortgage, or, sell it for a big return on investment. It’s really up to you what you’d like to do with the property in the future. But, one thing is for certain, owning a rental in Key West is a worthwhile investment. For help with Key West Vacation Rentals, please contact us

Benefits of Living in Key West and the Lower Keys added 3-2-2016

Beautiful blue skies, wonderful aqua colored water, palms trees swaying in the breeze as the sun rises and sets over the horizon is an apt description of Key West and the Lower Keys. It’s a place that many thousands of people visit every year, wishing they could relocated permanently. The truth is, living in the Florida Keys isn’t nearly as out of reach as most people would suppose. When in reality, it’s something you can do and if you’re not convinced, you will be after you know the many benefits of living in Key West and the Lower Keys.

Benefits of Living in Key West and the Lower Keys

Key West and the Lower Keys aren’t just a place to vacation, they are a great place to live, work, and play all year, for many, many years. Here are the biggest benefits of living in Key West and the Lower Keys:

● Health. When you live in the big city, be it in the northeast or even in a rural area in the midwest, you’re essentially shut-in for months on-end because of the cold, snow, and ice. That has a negative impact on your psychological health, which can lead to the winter blues. Conversely, in Key West and the Lower Keys, winters are exceptionally mild; so, you can get outside practically every day of the year. In addition, there’s less stress, and that’s a prime combination for a more healthy life.
● Recreation. Because of their location, this is a great place to get outside and be active: fishing, boating, scuba diving, snorkeling, golf, volleyball, tennis, hiking, and much more are on right there to do.
● Property appreciation. Since land is finite in Key West and the Lower Keys, you’ll enjoy a very nice rate of property appreciation. That’s great because you’ll have a valuable asset.
● Weather. The weather is wonderful and it’s something you’ll never grow tired of enjoying. Say goodbye to the cold for good and soak-up the sunshine every single time you step outside.
● Lifestyle. It’s a casual environment where what you’ll normally wear is a tee shirt, shorts, and sandals. It’s laidback and easy to relax and enjoy life day after day.

Yet another benefit of living in Key West and the Lower Keys are the tax benefits. You can file for homestead exemption, saving a whole lot of money on property taxes, and, there’s no state income tax in Florida, allowing you to keep more of what you work so hard to earn. For help finfing Lower Keys Real Estate please contact us

A User's Guide on Relocating to the Florida Keys from the United Kingdom-added 2-2-


Approximately 840,000 expatriates from the United Kingdom live in the United States. These e/Users/denny/Desktop/New Articles Ledger 12-15/Why It Is So Important To Buy Home Warranty Insurance.txtxpats include English, Welsh, Irish and Scots. Many of these have left their native homes and have traveled to America for their jobs, while others have came to America to enjoy the warmer climate. Trading the cool damp weather of England for the warmer climate of the United States is very tempting, especially when the expat moves to the Florida Keys.

The Florida Keys is an island archipelago that extends from the southernmost tip of Florida. This area splits the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This tropical location allows its residents to enjoy an almost endless summer. However, before moving across the Atlantic, an expat must do some planning.

Important Information about Relocating to the Florida Keys

First, the expat should visit the Keys with a travel visa. Staying a couple of weeks will help the expat learn about the culture and area. For example, most Americans prefer to eat out for lunch rather than pack their lunch. Another thing is that Americans prefer ice tea rather than hot tea.

In order to live and work in the United State, you must have an offer of employment from a company based in the United States. This can be with your current employer or a new employer.Additionally, if you are a skilled worker, such as an engineer, manager or teacher, you can apply for a H1-B visa. If you are not a skilled worker, there is the temporary non-agriculture H-2B visa. Finally, the United States offers an annual green card lottery. This lottery allows 55,000 foreigners into the country.

Your finances will be quite different in the United States. The credit scoring between the two countries are different; therefore, when arriving in America, you will in essence have no credit, and you must build it from scratch. Using lenders that are based in the U.K. with branches in the United States can help you begin building your credit.

While you are in America, your U.K. state pension remains in effect and will earn you a 2.5 percent rate of return, the average earnings or the U.K. consumer price index. This means that the "triple lock" protects stays in force. Your earnings will be taxed at the your income rate, which the IRS calls the substantial presence test.

Relocating from the United Kingdom to the Florida Keys is not impossible. Visit the area ahead of time to learn about the area and the customs. Then, apply for your work visa, using one of the methods listed above. Finally, establish some credit with a United Kingdom lender that has offices in the United States.


The Importance of Understanding Property Easements added 1-4-2016

When you buy a home or vacant land, you might well be under the impression that the entirety of it is yours alone. However, that’s actually not usually the case. In many instances, there’s a certain portion of the property that others have a legal right to, what’s known as an “ownership interest.”

Okay, if that’s confusing, then let’s use this example. An easement, put simply, is a right to access and use the particular portion by another party. Common examples are conservation easements, utilities, and even your neighbor’s property, where your driveway slightly encroaches onto their property lines.

The Importance of Understanding Property Easements

Easements can be quite a nuisance, if they are allowed for certain purposes. For instance, let’s use local infrastructure utilities as an example. You buy a nice parcel of land with a beautiful home or a bustling commercial space. However, an easement exists which gives local utility providers full access to part of the property. Before you know it, your driveway or backyard is ripped up, complete with noisy interruptions, or, your commercial property suddenly can’t be easily accessed by consumers because the whole entryway is under construction.

While these aren’t common occurrences, such scenarios do unfold from time to time. So, it’s important to understand property easements and here are the most common types:

● Right of way easements. You buy a residential, single family home, complete with a spacious backyard, front yard, and a lovely, wide driveway that fit’s all your wants and needs. However, you notice in the preliminary title report that someone else, your new neighbor, has a right of way to the side yard. The very side yard where an old, ugly fence currently stands. It could be the result of a previous agreement with the last homeowner, or, even when the home were first built.
● Right of way grants. Let’s flip the scenario around and say that it is you as the new homeowner who finds that the wide and lovely driveway that runs up to your garage is partly on your neighbor’s land. In most instances, you are required to maintain the driveway, mow the grass, and the like but only have access, not complete ownership, of that driveway.
● HOAs and utilities. If you purchase a home in a homeowners association or have a property with a utility easement, you’re certainly not alone. In an HOA community, whether it’s condos, townhomes, villas, single family properties, or a combination there are likely areas which you have complete access to but do not outright own. Utility companies usually maintain easements, as well, to have unfettered access to infrastructure for maintenance and repair.


Understanding Zoning restriction when buying land added 12-1

Real estate can be quite complex, especially when shopping for land on which to improve. Zoning is the categorization of a property parcels, which generally fall into one or more of the following designations: residential, commercial, industrial, historical, rural, environmental, and aesthetic.

The most common of these are residential, commercial, industrial, and historic. Generally, land will fall into just one of these designations, but can also be classified under two designations. For instance, residential and commercial can be combined for what’s known as “mixed use.” This allows the landowner to build a residential residence on the parcel, as well as a commercial building, which could be for retail, professional office space, or another business application.

Of course, there are designations which aren’t combined together, such as residential and and environmental, or, commercial and environmental. This is because the environmental designation sets aside property for protection.

How to Learn a Property’s Zoning Designation

To learn what zone a property parcel is under, you can simply ask the real estate listing agent or broker. Another way to learn about a property’s zoning is to look at a zone map. These are typically available at municipal real property offices.

Maps outline the zones, with abbreviations, such as “R1”, which might indicate Rural 1, Residential 1, or something else. Unfortunately, there’s no consistency from locality to locality.

Changing a Property Parcel’s Zone

Sometimes, a property’s zone prohibits certain activities. For instance, a rural designation might allow use of the land for farming. However, the same designation could also prohibit retail sales. So, in order to grow fruits and sell yields to the general public, a landowner could petition to have the zoning changed.

In the alternative, if a zoning change isn’t possible, the landowner might apply for an exemption or variance. It’s important to note that generally, it’s difficult, costly, and time consuming to apply for a variance or exemption. In addition, it might not be approved, and/or, could expire and not be renewed.

Municipality Zoning Changes

Another consideration when it comes to real estate zoning is the fact the municipality might change a single or group of property parcel zoning. In some instance, like in the infamous Connecticut property zoning dispute. In this case, which eventually was decided by the United States Supreme Court, in Kelo v. City of New London, the Connecticut town moved to seize private property residential homes, for an economic development by a private business organization for revitalization means. The city ultimately prevailed in the case.For more information about Lower Keys Real Estate please contact us

Why Waterfront Properties appreciate more added 11-4

In residential real estate, there’s no substitute for location. You’ve even heard the cliche that real estate is influenced by three factors: location, location, and location. The reason for this fact is because it’s undeniably true. The more desirable the location, the better investment a property will be for its residents.

Any real estate professional will tell you that location is so important, it ought to be your primary focus when buying property. This is because when you buy a home, you’re actually buying into the neighborhood, and, when it’s waterfront property, it’s going to perform better on its return on investment. So, why is it that waterfront properties typically appreciate more in value than their landlocked counterparts? Well, here are the main reasons waterfront property outperforms others:

● It’s located in a destination spot. By its very nature, waterfront property is in a destination location, regardless if it’s on a lake or on an ocean beach. These are places people go and with good reason -- scenic views, plenty of entertainment choices, and a robust availability of recreation opportunities.
● Land is at a premium because it’s finite. Waterfront land appreciates at a more accelerated rate precisely because it’s finite. Because there is limited space to build new residences, land values are high and enjoy an upward appreciation trajectory.
● Access to the water for recreation. There’s real value to waterfront property because it provide unfettered and immediate access to its greatest amenity -- the water. It’s on the water where you can boat, fish, snorkel, swim, and engage in many other types of recreation and relaxation. Because of this factor, it adds significantly to real estate values.
● Higher rate of real estate appreciation. Here again, location plays a large role because of its substantial desirability. Since land is finite, particularly in resort-like locations, waterfront properties outperform landlocked residences with ease.
● Ability to easily rent out at higher rates. Another reason that waterfront properties appreciate with a high rate of return is because they make better investment vehicles. Even property owners that rent just a couple of weeks a year will be able to collect higher rates than other property types. What’s more, that income can be earned without paying taxes, if done by IRS rules.

Of course, there are intangibles, as well when it comes to waterfront real estate. Among these are scenic views and cachet. There’s definitely something to be said for watching sunrises and sunsets over the water, and, there’s no doubting the prestige that comes with owning a waterfront home.

How to Get Information about a Condo You are Considering Buying Added 10-2

Condos are everywhere, and, for good reason. Many years ago, homebuyers wanting to live in a specific location, typically one in high-demand, only had expensive options. Most were single property residences, offering great location, but, at a steep cost. Condominium communities changed that, offering highly desired locations, but, spreading the cost out over many owners.

Because of the number of units, homebuyers now have access to affordable living in locations that are on or near the beach. However, it’s important to understand that condos are quite different from single family homes. Firstly, the term condominium isn’t a description of the property, but rather, a legal term for a type of ownership. Single family homes are typically “fee simple,” but, condos differ because owners are buying a percentage of the community.

If you’re considering a condo purchase, you should know as much as possible before you commit. Of course, that means having to get information on the community, which you can do through the following sources:

● The homeowner’s association. Contact the HOA directly, or, the property management company. Request a copy of the association Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), and, the bylaws. These two documents will state what is and what isn’t permitted in the community, and, how the board operates. You’ll learn quite a bit about the community through these documents, including owner rules, access to amenities, and more.
● Local court records. Search the local clerk of court’s office online database for any lawsuits involving the community and/or residents (you can find owner names by searching property tax records). You’re looking for any civil actions filed against the HOA, or, property management company filed by residents.
● Local property tax records. Search this database to learn about property tax rates, and, what you can expect to save under homestead exemption. You’ll also learn the age of the community from this source.
● Residents currently living in the community. One of the most helpful sources of information will be current unit owners. Speak with as many as you are able to learn what they most like and dislike, about the community.
● Your real estate professional. Of course, your buyer’s representative will likely know about the community. Be sure to ask for a comparative market analysis to learn the true market value of the unit you’re interested in buying. You’ll also want to know about the listing’s history and any price changes, along with it’s days on the market.

In addition, you can contact the HOA to learn the number of vacant units. This is important because the higher the percentage, the less likely lenders are to approve financing.


How to Deal with Condo HOA's Added 9-1

Condo communities are a wonderful concept, and, in practice, often serve their owners well. The idea behind condominiums is that various owners have a stake in the entire development. With this, homebuyers can find much more affordable residential homes in locations that otherwise would command steep prices.


Another great thing about condo communities is these are usually equipped with amenities residences can enjoy without having to pay the full cost of maintenance. Managed by homeowners’ associations, condominium residents are governed by a set of rules, generally referred to as bylaws.


How to Deal with Condo HOA's


Since everyone in the development lives under the same rules, unit owners can’t devalue neighboring residents by doing something crazy. These are the biggest upsides to HOAs, but unfortunately, there are downsides to living in such a community. If you find yourself running afoul of the association’s bylaws, you certainly aren’t alone, and, you do have options available that can bring real results:


  1. Try to avoid potential problems. Your first step is to be proactive and comply with the bylaws before you take-on a project.

  2. Start by carefully reviewing the bylaw rules. There are instances where the board’s interpretation isn’t quite reasonable, or, when the association members are trying to write-in new provisions. For many of rule violations, there are fixes.

  3. Don’t challenge, but do persuade. Another tack to take is to speak with board members one-on-one in private. Rather than attack, attempt to persuade a few members. Perhaps, you’ll be given an exception or the rule will be interpreted differently.

  4. Get the board on board by lobbing neighbors. If you’re said to be in violation of the bylaws, perhaps other unit owners are as well. Popular sentiment can be very powerful and when a majority lobbies against certain rules, change can be affected.

  5. Run for a spot on the HOA board. Owner seated association boards tend to turn over members periodically. If that’s the case in your community, use it to your advantage and try to get yourself elected to the board.

  6. Challenge the board’s decision through proper channels. Should you not make any headway, it could be worth a try to file a formal challenge to the rule. Understand that this tactic could backfire, causing the board to dig-in deeper.

  7. Seek the advice of experienced legal counsel. It’s possible that you might have other options available to you. For instance, local municipal laws that the association bylaws don’t comply with, or, entering into alternative dispute resolution.

Whatever you do, it’s best to pay your HOA fees and any fines levied against you on time. Otherwise, you in violation and legal action could be taken against you.


How Increased Tourism can Affect Your Vacation Home’s Value added 8-1
There’s a reason every vacation rental in tourist areas go up in price on weekends and over holidays, because of demand. It’s simple economics, when demand rises for something, it’s value es up, and that’s certainly true of vacation rentals in tourist destinations. Because more people want a temporary retreat and available properties are limited, rental rates necessarily rise.It’s also why stay accommodations that are off the beaten track, located away from the most highly trafficked areas, rent at a fraction of the price.

It’s basic supply and demand market economics at work, and, it can work in your favor, if you own a vacation home in a tourist driven area. Unlike some resort locations, places like the Florida Keys are open for business all year-round, precisely because of the wonderful climate.

How Increased Tourism can Affect Your Vacation Home’s Value

With more tourists come more dollars, and, certain factors come into play. Vacation homes in such prime locations enjoy many benefits and distinct advantages over homes that are further away from the action. Here’s how increased tourism can affect your vacation home’s value:

● More business means more need for housing. As businesses expand, so does the need for employees, who, in-turn, need housing. That spurs new residential developments which go to fund local taxes, offsetting rising land values.
● Increased tourism injects money in the local economy. With more money coming into the local economy, destination spots look to capitalize where possible by expanding. Such expansion means more is offered to visitors, who take advantage.
● As a destination becomes more frequented, property values increase. Property values in localities where tourism is an ever larger source of revenue rise steadily. This means that equity can be built at a faster rate, giving you more leverage for other endeavors.
● The land value of your property will simultaneously rise. Even if your vacation rental isn’t among the top tier, your ace in the hole lies in the land on which the residence sits. As developers watch the dollars roll-in, they have more incentive to offer lucrative purchase deals.
● New commercial developments have a positive impact. If you take time to look at some of the most frequented destination locations, you’ll see an inextricable link between commercial development and home values. The more commercial enterprise, the better for nearby property values.

To sum it all up, wherever the tourists are and spending money in the local economy, the higher property values rise. Overall, tourism has not only a positive impact on the local economy, it’s also a very good thing for home values.

Tourism and Key West: Why its Real Estate is a Good Investment added 7-4

When you are ready to buy a home and want it to appreciate at steady pace, you should be looking for a property that’s in a destination location. The reason why is quite straightforward: locations where people flock have more dynamic economies, which means higher property values.

For instance, Key West is an ideal location because of several reasons. First and foremost, it enjoys year-round tourism, bringing vacation dollars into the local economy. Second, its land is at a premium, which increases property values substantially. Third, it’s a great place to have a second home for a dedicated location to stay and rent while at your primary residence.

Tourism and Key West: Why its Real Estate is a Good Investment

Tourism impacts local real estate in a really big way. If you take a look at residential homes in resort areas and compare those to average neighborhoods, you’ll no doubt see a substantial difference. There are several reasons for this, and here are some factors as to why:

● Tourism creates a need for more commercial construction. No matter what it is that drives tourism, be it the beach or something else, destination locations invite commercial enterprise. For instance, in Key West, marinas for sport fishing, diving, and other outdoor recreational opportunities.
● More jobs are created in tourist destinations. Since more enterprise is created, more jobs become necessary. That means there are more dollars staying in the local economy, and, the need for more housing, as well as other living necessities, such as grocery stores and retail establishments.
● Municipalities increase their advertising. As tourism builds, sustains, and expands, municipalities seek to capture more revenue and therefore increase their advertising. This makes more travelers aware of the destination, which increases tourism.
● More tax incentives are created to entice new business. Municipalities, counties, and states always seek to increase tourism because of the dollars it brings. These entities also recognize that businesses are positive contributors to the economy and therefore offer incentives so business will either relocate or open branches.
● Staycations become more and more common. Locals will opt to stay and spend their dollars within the locality during vacation days because of all the area has to offer. This provides a great benefit to the area and generates more revenue in the economy.

Keep in mind, none of this happens in a vacuum. Another sector that is directly impacted in a very positive manner is residential real estate. When an area becomes a destination location, or is one, local property values increase steadily. This dynamic is why tourism is so good for property values.

What You Need to Know about Renting Out Your Condo added 6-2-2015

If you own a condo and it’s not your primary residence or soon won’t be, you might consider renting it out instead of selling. This is an especially good decision if your owe more on the unit than it is worth, or, if you are going to be away for an extended period of time but need a place to return to in the future.

Condos make for good rental properties because tenants won’t have to worry about landscaping, and, will have access to the on-site amenities. What’s more, they will enjoy a more close-knit community and have a bit of extra security.

What You Need to Know about Renting Out Your Condo

When you’ve finished deep cleaning every square inch of your condo, you won’t yet be totally ready to start advertising its availability to rent. There are some things you need to know about renting out your condo before taking tenant applications:

● Know the homeowner’s association rules. In most cases, you’ll be allowed by the HOA to rent out your unit. The reason for this, in general, is that associations understand that its best a property stayed occupied so owners stay current with their HOA fees.
● Learn about local rental rates. There are a few factors which go into rental rates. You’ll need to find similar properties with the same number of bedrooms and baths, nearly the same square footage, and in similar condition.
● Have a professional lease for tenants. You need a professional lease in order to have all the protections you need to limit your exposure. Be sure to give the tenant a copy and strongly suggest they get renter’s insurance to protect their possessions.
● Be ready to make repairs and replacements. Being a landlord means having to address problems, like making repairs and replacing appliances when they stop working. If you don’t do these in a timely manner, you’ll face a slew of problems and probably be in violation of your own lease terms.
● Understand that you’ll have vacancy periods. One thing that many investment property owners underestimate is the amount of vacancies. These can range from a few weeks to many months, and, you need to have some savings for these periods.

Another thing you should do is consult a tax professional. When you rent property, you’ll have certain tax benefits available to you. In addition, you should have an experienced real estate attorney to turn to if you need to evict a tenant. Even non-paying tenants have rights and you don’t want to put yourself in a position of being sued for breaking the law.

Why 2015 is Going to be a Great Year for Commercial Real Estate ADDED 5-5-2015

The housing bust that began in earnest in 2007 and continued through the next few years had a tremendous impact on the national economy. During that time, homeowners were learning the risks associated with having mortgages and banks had to relearn the lessons taught in the 1930’s. What most people don’t realize is that personal finances were not the only thing devastated by the meltdown. Banks and commercial property owners lost quite a bit.

Lenders and commercial property owners suffered substantial losses that dwarf what private individuals, even collectively, lost. Banks experienced record loan defaults in mortgages, private student loans, business loans, personal loans, auto loans, lines of credit, and a slew of other owed debt instruments. The result was new lending restrictions, both self and government imposed. For commercial property owners, tenants that suffered from the lack of disposable income vacated and vacancies became quite common.

Now, those restrictions are being loosened and banks are more open to lending. In addition, while the economy isn’t necessarily on fire, there is a recovery occurring, and, this is just part of the many reasons that 2015 will be a great year for commercial real estate.

Why 2015 is Going to be a Great Year for Commercial Real Estate

Since the housing bubble burst, in most parts of the country, residential real estate is or has recovered past its losses. That’s good news for commercial property owners, but, there are more factors in-play that point to 2015 being a good year and here are just a few:

● Small business loans are again available. Lenders, who are now more technologically advanced and business savvy, are making commercial loans. These loans come in the form of many products and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the accessibility.
● More people have disposable income. Though job growth has been sluggish, it is still occurring and consumers are spending money with a lot less trepidation. That’s really good for small business and wonderful news for commercial property owners.
● Foreign investors are looking for opportunities. This is in both residential and commercial real estate, as well as in business ventures. Simply put, the more money that’s infused into the economy, the better for commercial properties.
● Entrepreneurship is back in many ways. Some people who lost their jobs took the opportunity to form a startup. Others saw a need a met it. Established companies are looking for other revenue streams and that’s helping to fuel new business.

New construction isn’t very robust. Though in parts of the nation new construction is picking up, in many more, commercial property seekers face low supply. That’s not likely to change in a big way for a few years and that’s another reason 2015 will be good for commercial property. For help buying or selling Lower Keys Commercial Real Estate pleasse contact us.


How to Store Antiques and Valuables in Self Storage added 4-1-2015

Antiques and valuables are two things you want to protect the most, especially if you’re storing these items in a self storage facility. You’ll want them to be safe and secure, which is why you ought to choose a facility that has adequate security and climate control. Even self storage companies that provide good security and quality climate control will have variances, so, make sure to get the right insurance, just in case you need to file a claim.

Storing antiques and collectables is quite different than stuffing boxes of childhood memories into a corner. These items are more susceptible to damage from a variety of things, such as temperature, moisture, light, and the like. When putting valuables and antiques in self storage, you ought to take a bit of preventative caution and action to help retain their integrity.

How to Store Antiques and Valuables in Self Storage

Even in your own home, antiques and collectables aren’t necessarily safe, but when it comes to placing these into self storage, you must do so with the utmost care. Here’s how you ought to store antiques and valuables in self storage:

● Wrap artwork carefully. When it comes to paintings and photographs, you should wrap these in glassine to prevent air and moisture from damaging them. Place glassine-wrapped artwork in a wood crate vertically, padded with foam and/or cardboard. Be sure to give these items room, don’t stack them tightly together or on top of one another.
● Protect mirrors and glass items. Any mirrors or glass items should be protected from damage by wrapping them in bubble wrap. In addition, wrap a thick blanket around the bubble wrap, and put these in a special glass-safe crate or case. As with artwork, store these vertically and do not stack items against or on top of mirrors or glass.
● Clean and treat antique furniture. Before you place valuable furniture in storage, you’ll have to clean and treat it as a preventative measure. If you don’t, you’re likely to find it in a deteriorated condition later on and it might well be beyond repair. Dust and clean fabric, treating it with a fabric cleaner and preservative. For metals and leather, clean these and apply oil. Wood furniture ought to be carefully dusted and polished. All should be carefully wrapped and placed with ample walking room to be ready for retrieval when needed.
● Roll-up rugs and cover them. Valuable rugs, like furniture, ought to be neatly cleaned and then tightly rolled-up. Wrap rolled rugs in plastic and lay it flat on the floor. Do not lean these against a wall vertically as this might cause crimping and creases.

For books and documents, you should wrap these in acid-free paper, put into a plastic bag and then into a safe book box. Fill the box with foam peanuts to prevent any shifting. For help Buying or Selling Lower Keys Real Estate please Contact me

Ways to Avoid Capital Gains when Selling Real Estate added 3-3-2015


Real estate can be a very powerful investment vehicle. It possess inherent value simply because land is finite and the improvement, gains more value the longer it’s held. Unlike single stocks, real estate isn’t normally subjected to wild market fluctuations. Though there are times when depreciation does occur, these are quite brief relative to the longevity of overall upward trends.


Investors choose real estate as an investment for these very reasons. It offers much more stability and has the ability to generate passive income that’s payable on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, selling real estate comes with a price. The Internal Revenue Service levies a tax penalty on any profits, which are known as “capital gains.” Put simply, the IRS classifies this type of transaction as a form of income, but that doesn’t mean there’s no way to avoid the capital gains tax penalty.


How to Avoid Capital Gains when Selling Real Estate


If you are clever enough, you can avoid the capital gains tax when selling real estate, you just have to find a solution that best fits your own situation. Should the home be your primary residence, you won’t have to do much of anything. Individuals are allowed under IRS rules to sell their primary residence without paying capital gains on transactions of $250,000 or less. You can double that amount to $500,000 if you’re married and selling your primary residence.


Should this be an investment property, you’ll have to go another route. Here are some other ways of avoiding capital gains taxes on the sale of real estate:


  1. Roll the proceeds into another property. You can use what’s known as a 1031 Exchange to avoid both capital gains and depreciation recapture taxes. It has to be a similar type of investment and must be done within 180 days.
  2. Sell a renovated primary investment residence. That sounds complicated, but it’s not that difficult to understand. If you’ve purchased a residence that’s under market value to move-in and renovate to sell and realize a profit, you’re protected under the primary residence rules. It still has to sell for under $250,000 if you’re an individual and under $500,000 if you’re married.
  3. Use a stock exchange. Much like the 1031 exchange, this cottage industry wouldn’t exist without the heavy hit of capital gains. If you have highly appreciated securities, meaning stocks, you can exchange the sale for other investments. This isn’t cheap, but it’s not as expensive as paying capital gains.
  4. There are more ways to avoid paying capital gains. One of them is to leave the property to heirs who can use the step-up cost basis to shield against paying taxes. You should always consult a professional tax advisor for advice when selling real estate

Choosing the Right Contractor to Rebuild an Older Key West Home added 2-3-2015

 Key West Old Town is a great place to own a home. It offers a wonderful climate, a great business and career environment, and all kinds of outdoor recreational opportunities. On top of these, it’s also a location that has some of the most aggressive appreciation rates because of the scarcity of land and new building codes which are quite strict when it comes to safety and energy efficiency.


If you begin to search for homes for sale in Old Town in Key West, you’ll probably conclude in short order that there are many more older homes on the market. Often, these quaint and historic residences aren’t necessary in move-in condition and require a bit of TLC to get into shape.


Choosing the Right Contractor to Rebuild an Older Home


When you find the right property, you should avail yourself of partnering-up with a local and experienced real estate professional. Once you’ve found some properties and are ready to offer a purchase amount, you should consult with an experienced contractor about the needs of the home. Here’s how to find a quality contractor to rebuild an older home:


  1. Get recommendations. Your real estate buyer’s agent or broker will be your first source, and you can also ask around the neighborhood. Get several names and then begin to check into each one to pare-down your list to just a few names.
  2. Check credentials. You should not only look-up their local Better Business Bureau rating, but also check with the state licensing board and search the local clerk of court’s office to find out if one or more are defendants in lawsuits. You can also check with local code enforcement to see if one or more is working a job that’s in violation of code.
  3. Speak with each contractor over the phone. Once you have a few names to contact, do so, but over the phone. This isn’t to get an estimate but to ask general questions to get an idea and vibe about each one to decide which to meet with face-to-face.
  4. Meet with each one, one-by-one. Have them meet you at the home in Old Town and provide you with a written, detailed estimate that doesn’t have a shelf life. Ask pointed questions and for a list of past and current rehabilitations and then check those out personally. Make a list as you go to be able to compare notes later on.


What you ought to do next is to ask for bids from each contractor and then compare them all. Make a list of pros and cons and work toward the best overall choice. Consider which is looking to your future, and not to their bottom line.


Benefits of Using a Condo as a Vacation Rental- Added 1-6-2015

Many people would like to enjoy an extended weekend or longer in the beautiful Florida Keys. Known for its laidback lifestyle, its gorgeous sunrises and marvelous sunsets, along with plenty of recreational opportunities, it’s a prime location for tourists. It’s also a great place to getaway and even better as a vacation rental property.

If you’re considering purchasing a vacation rental home, think seriously about the type of housing. While single family might be quite tempting, it will prove to have more challenges than a condo. There are several reasons for this, one just being the upkeep. Another will be the purchase price and ability to appreciate faster.

Benefits of Using a Condo as a Vacation Rental

The IRS allows owners of second homes to rent their properties out without having to pay income tax for up to 14 days a year. If you rent 15 days or more, those are pro-rated on your income tax, and, you’ll be able to take advantage of a number of benefits, which include, but are not limited to: writing off maintenance expenses, property taxes, losses, insurance, mortgage interest, travel expenses, and many more.

What’s even better is the benefits don’t stop there. Other advantages are having a passive income stream, and, in a place where tourists want to be most. Let’s take a look at what vacationers will love:

● Location, location, location. Sure, you can buy a single family, perhaps even a duplex, but these will be far more costly on the beach. Condos are plentiful and much less expensive, plus, it puts your renters right they want to be, on the water.
● A home away from home. That means a place to do laundry, the unwanted chore after returning home. It also means a place to cook to cut down on meal expenses, as well as plenty of storage space. Speaking of meals, they’ll be able to plan some of their meals and find a local grocery store.
● A safe, uncrowded place to stay. Unlike a hotel, your renters will love the security many condo communities offer and the private balconies. To them, it’s a win-win having a place to stay that’s more of a community environment.
● Amenities are plentiful. Many condo communities offer use of the pool, the clubhouse, spa, gym, and more.

Another huge benefit is that there will be all kinds of things nearby to do, from dining, to shopping, to entertainment, arts and culture, and of course, the beach. Because of the location, you’ll never have a problem in finding renters, what’s more, you’ll have a dedicated place to stay when you want to get away


Why Key West Rental Income Properties are Great Investments added 12-2 

There are a number of factors, which separate a great investment rental property from one that's mediocre. You've likely heard the cliché about the three most important things in real estate being "location, location, location." Of course, the reason for this repetitive emphasis is because it’s absolutely true. A large, well-appointed home in an undesirable location is just that, a large, well-appointed home in an undesirable location. While it might have many creature comforts and be stylish, it’s location suppresses its value substantially.


Property investors must be smart with their choices, and, this means thinking strategically. What this means is thinking about a rental property purchase as what it actually is, an investment. When people want to get away and have fun, they travel and stay in destination locations. By the same token, those who are employed in these destinations need some place to live.


Why Key West Rental Income Properties are Great Investments


Because Key West relies on tourism for its economy, it means hundreds of thousands of visitors throughout the year. It likewise means that people employed in the area need a full time residence. These are two examples of how a rental property in a resort area can serve as a robust income stream for an investor.


Location is so important, in fact, is that it is distinctly advantageous, having more benefits than a rental property in an ordinary residential neighborhood. First and foremost is the amount of rent an investor can charge, and secondly, the length of time for vacancies. A home in a destination area, like Key West, will rent for a high price, be it for short term vacation stays, or a full time residence for renters living in the area. Not only will it bring higher rent, it will also not suffer from lengthy vacancies. In fact, it’s quite likely the property will have very short, periodic vacancies.


What’s more, a rental home in a destination area will gain more appreciation precisely because of its location. Though the entry price will be higher than a property in an ordinary residential neighborhood, it will have a bigger return. That’s especially true for investors which plan to hold for many years, then sell for a large profit to reinvest in another rental home.


With interest rates near historic lows and a number of affordable mortgage financing options, an investor can take advantage of timing, opting to purchase now, while conditions are so favorable. Doing so will mean having substantial collateral leverage for future income property purchases. If you have any questions about Lower Keys Real Estate please contact us.

Why Pest Inspections for Investment Properties are so important  Added 11-4-2014

 When you decide to buy a rental property to create a passive income stream, you should do so with a real estate professional. In addition, become educated about what it means to become a landlord and then decide whether or not to hire a property management service.


One of biggest mistakes first time property investors make is making too many assumptions about what the home will need to get ready for tenants and how much can be charged per month. This can turn what is intended to be a sound investment into a money pit.


What to Do Before Purchasing a Rental Home


Setting a budget is the very first item on your list. Knowing how much you can spend is key to success. Once you know, do yourself a favor and stay at least 10 to 20 percent under your comfort zone for contingencies, because these are practically inevitable.


Research each home you’re considering, checking with the local clerk of the court’s office and the local building permitting agency. Those are the places you’ll find things like liens and unpermitted work, in addition to any other encumbrances.


The next step of the process entails bringing-in a contractor, a home inspector, and a pest inspector. These are especially important if you’re purchasing a bank-owned property, foreclosure, or short sale. These professionals will alert you to any defects and give you an estimate of the cost to remodel or rehabilitate, whatever might be necessary.


Why Pest Inspections for Investment Properties are so Important


Some property investors do bring-in a home inspector, then a contractor, but stop short of hiring a pest inspector. These investors mistakenly believe that this is enough to detect pest problems, but that, unfortunately, isn’t the case.


Here’s why you need an experience pest inspector:

  1. Structural concerns. Though a contractor might see signs of pest damage, he’s unlikely to know the extent and even what insects and/or rodents have caused said damage. The more information you have, the better and knowing precisely what you’re dealing with will prevent unpleasant surprises from popping-up later on.
  2. Electrical components. Pests can do serious damage to electrical wiring and other components. In some instances, the damage is so slight it might escape the eye of an inexperience individual. What’s more, there are some instances when damage caused by a pest can be mistaken for something else.
  3. Pest infestations. When people think of the term “pest infestation,” they conjure-up images in their minds of creepy crawlies scaling up and down the walls or taking over an attic or crawl space. While that can be the case, infestations have to start somewhere and they can be quite subtle.


The good thing about having a home inspector and pest inspector on your side is to be alerted to any problems. If you find the home is in good condition, that’s great, but, if you learn of problems, you now have a negotiation tool and also know the cost of repairs.

Why the Keys are a Good Real Estate Investment added 10-2

The Florida Keys, known for being a tropical paradise where you can escape the cold, embrace the sunshine and enjoy boating, fishing, biking, hiking, snorkeling, and magnificent sunrises and sunsets. A place where the sun’s rays shine down nearly every day of the year and where summer lasts for twice as long as it does in the Midwest and northeast.

The Keys are also known for their charm and for good times with plenty of fond memories to cherish. What you might not know is that this island archipelago is also a gold mine of sorts, not just from the galleons that wrecked off the coast, but for the precious land.

Tourism Increases Bring More Real Estate Investors to the Keys

With so much to offer and being an international destination, people from all over visit the Keys, especially Key West, the southernmost point in the United States. They come from Canada, from all over America, from Europe, and Asia, every one to soak up the sun, play and relax.

Between 810,000 and 1,00,000 visitors come to the Florida Keys every year. Such a large number means a lot of money generated from tourism, which is great for the local economy. What’s also good for the local economy is that the islands are also attracting property investors.

Those investors are buying real estate in the Keys because they know it won’t depreciate and is practically immune to stagnation precisely because of the location. Even during the economic downturn, the Florida Keys attracted more than 800,000 visitors, people who spend money.

Why the Keys are a Good Real Estate Investment

Though most of the people who purchase a home in the Keys come from somewhere in the continental United States, there is also a sizeable percentage which come from places like Canada, the United Kingdom, Asia, and Europe.

These savvy investors buy real property in the area because it just makes financial sense to do so, with land at a premium and steady upward property appreciation. Even those who don’t pay cash see their investment pay-off because of their equity. In addition, many investors chose to rent their properties when at home. That brings a steady cash flow and of course, offsets the mortgage, covers the home loan cost, or actually makes a nice profit.

There are several reasons investors are attracted to the Keys, one being it’s a place to retire when the time comes. Another reason is the low property taxes and tax deductions they can take advantage of come April. What’s more, they have a dedicated place to stay when on vacation.

With so many reasons to invest in Key West property, it’s little wonder why the most sophisticated investors buy real estate here. For more information about Lower Keys Real Estate and Key West Homes for sale contact us.


Beware of Mortgage Relief Scams added 9-3

 Owning a home has long been part of the American dream. For many hardworking homeowners, their dream is slowly slipping away as foreclosure looms over their lives. If you are among the many who are behind on your home loan payments, you'll do almost anything to keep your house from being taken by the bank.


That fact is why so many homeowners fall for mortgage relief scams, putting their faith and money in the wrong hands to the tune of more than $25 million in illegal upfront fees from shady players who claim to be legitimate businesses. Promising homeowners their services will be a saving grace, they prey upon people who are in a desperate situation.


The Con Game of Mortgage Relief Scams


These fraudsters use very deceptive tactics to get homeowners to believe that by paying them money, their homes won't be lost to foreclosure. That money does nothing more than line the pockets of these swindlers and leave homeowners with a hard lesson; and, a reality they won't be able to stay in their houses.


Some are fronted by lawyers or people who claim to be expert loan modifiers, even con artists that tell consumers they have a special relationship with the banks. With such a facade, they are able to get homeowners to fork over money and leave them worse off than before.


Red Flags of Mortgage Modification Scams


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns homeowners that they should be careful about seeking a mortgage modification from a third party. One program to turn to, if current, is HARP, which does allow you to refinance. Another is the FHA Streamline Refinance program.


However, if you've already fallen behind on your payments or have been notified foreclosure is underway, don't let your emotions cloud your judgment. There are three warning signs you should heed so you don't become the victim of a mortgage relief scam:


  1. Upfront payment is mandatory. In some very particular circumstances, the law does allow firms to charge upfront payment(s). That though, is the exception and not the rule. Should it be a lawyer, that attorney must be licensed to practice in the state in which you live and must comply with disclosure and fiduciary laws.
  2. Guaranteed results. There simply is no guarantee when it comes to a mortgage modification. Even if you meet all the requirements, the entity which holds the note on your home must agree to any modification terms.
  3. Hard sell tactics. Modification firms do not typically market their services through phone and email solicitation. What's more, legitimate firms do not wield the hard sell sword to get you to commit.


Currently, the Federal Trade Commission has filed six lawsuits against these fraudsters, and have joined the fifteen states which have done the same to help protect homeowners


Knowing when It's Time to Walk Away from a Property Flip added 8-1

The glamorizing of property flipping is now a staple of cable television and viewers are tuning-in night after night, week after week to join in the drama. Of course, what's being portrayed isn't necessarily the reality that's purported to be reality programming. There's a lot more to flipping real estate than attending an auction, winning the bidding war, then rehabilitating a home. That's the condensed, thirty-minute version.

Such shows usually conclude with a happy ending, and the obstacles are all overcome in one way or another, with the end result being eking out a profit and then gliding into the next deal. Obviously, that's not the case all the time, and sometimes, you're intended investment can become untenable; walking away might be the only feasible option.

Knowing when It's Time to Walk Away from a Property Flip

Hubris, pride, stubbornness, call it what you want, the result is the same, turning what is a disappointing loss into a mammoth financial hit with long-lasting consequences. You're supposed to find a real deal, put some money into it, then put it on the market and sell it for a profit. Sometimes, however, that isn't the case--here are a few times when it's high time you learn a lesson and don't exercise futility:

When the deal isn't financially feasible. Okay, so you put a lot of time, effort, and money into the property and now you are learning of a huge problem or set of problems that are going to put you way, way over budget. You won't make a dime with any solution and will lose money on the deal regardless of what you do. That's when it's time to cut your losses and not incur an even bigger hit

When the market trends down, down, down. Perhaps you've been working diligently and are several months into the renovation, making real progress. However, every comparable sale is less than it was the month before. Looking at the long term trend, it's not bright. That's when it's probably time to think seriously about putting on your walking shoes

When forces beyond your control weigh-in. Natural disasters do occur and there are always problems with government regulations. In a blink of an eye, forces way beyond your control can make the deal go south and if you don't want to lose more money, then it's time to back away

The fatal problem that many property flippers make is believing they can manipulate any situation to get a favorable outcome. However, the bottom line is, there is no asserting control over reality and sometimes it's better to learn a lesson than inflict harm.

What makes a good Condo Rental added 7-9

If you are a potential condo owner wanting an investment vehicle, or looking to rent a unit to take advantage of the lifestyle, there are some key points you ought to know. This is a great choice, providing investment owners with a passive income and renters with peace of mind because practically everything is taken care of for them.

What many people do not know is the meaning of the term “condominium.” It’s actually a legal property ownership description, differing from what’s known as “fee simple”, most commonly associated with single-family properties. Because of the ownership structure, rather than one family contributing to necessary upkeep and improvements, all unit owners share it.

This is precisely what make condo living so attractive. Because it puts its residents in highly desirable locations, such as downtown, on the beach, or in scenic locations; and, it does so at a much lower cost. Future owners wanting to rent and those wanting to rent a unit have some things in common.

Most Desirable Features in a Condo Community

Regardless of which category you fall into, you’ll want to look for these features, as they are the most important. Should any of these be lacking or nonexistent, that poses a huge problem to be able to market the unit out to rent and a negative connotation in the minds of renters.

● Furniture in the unit. Furniture is just a necessary creature comfort. Without it, property investors will have a tough go of finding renters as said potential renters won’t relish the prospect of having to buy furnishings. What’s more, having to accommodate the delivery service.
● Comprehensive, professional management. Third-party management services are generally preferable to both owners and renters, because they are typically more responsive, compared to owner-managed properties. This is because third-party management services will be on-call all the time and not gone on lengthy vacations or extended weekends.
● Plenty of resident and guest amenities. One thing, which condos have over single-family properties, is the presence of resort style amenities. Typically, there are on-site recreational facilities such as a swimming pool, tennis courts, barbeque grills, lounge chairs, and much more.
● Competent and active security. Condos, which have a security detail and monitor the grounds 24 hours a day, seven days a week are priceless. It provides a safe living environment and helps to keep insurance rates down.

Another thing to consider is public transportation and access to nearby destinations. For instance, a condo community that’s near but not on or next-to the beach will be a bit less desirable.


Six Benefits of Hiring a Smaller Home Builder added 6-3

Having your own home built from the ground up is an exciting prospect, but one that’s not without more than a few hurdles to clear. Building a home requires specialized financing if you’re not paying cash and patience, because in construction, surprises are not uncommon whatsoever. There are often delays, which generally come from things like a hold-up on custom cabinets.

Then, there’s the matter of choosing a builder, which is something not to be taken lightly because it’s key to getting the home you want at a price you can afford. Many people mistakenly think hiring a national or regional operation will be the answer will mean smooth sailing and guaranteed satisfaction; but, that’s not necessarily the case.

Benefits of Hiring a Smaller Home Builder

It seems working with a national or regional home builder will have a lot of key advantages; however, when you look at the whole picture, you’ll see that’s not actually true. Here are some of the best advantages of hiring a smaller home builder for your future residence:

● They will know the area’s climate and geography. A local builder will know when inclimate weather is most probable and work on a schedule that maximizes progress. In addition, they will know what type of soil and the best routes for transporting materials.
● They will know the local bureaucracy and how to navigate it. When you build a home, you’ll need several permits from the local code enforcement agency. A local builder will be very familiar with how this entity operates and the best way to proceed for your project to get done on time and within budget.
● They will be close-by to deal with emergency situations. If you hire a smaller builder, they will pay special attention to your home’s construction and be there if any emergency situations arise during the course of construction.
● They won’t likely offer “in-house” financing. National and regional operations often offer “in-house” financing, to which, they’ll receive a kickback on the financing. This means you won’t be pressured to go with their lender, which is often more costly.
● They will be careful about hiring the right subcontractors. A local builder will take extra care to bring in the best subcontractors with the best skill sets and the right prices.
● They won’t pigeon hole your project. Big builders often ask future homeowners to pick from their models or floorplans and not allow much real customization.

What’s more, they will strive to achieve your vision and listen to your wants and needs instead of trying to convince you of something that benefits their company.



Escape Cold Winters Forever. Locate to the Lower Keys  added 5-2-2014


Another winter has come and gone; well, not really, as it seems the cold, snow, and ice creep year after year further into the spring months. That means a shorter spring, a hot summer, and then, it begins all over again. Living on the east coast, especially in New York City and Boston, is hard on your wallet and taxing to your health. Things aren’t much better in the Midwest, where you’re constantly battling the outdoor elements and having to pay a high price to keep your home warm and in good condition.


Commutes in the city and in the Midwest are long and cost plenty to lug yourself to a from work five days or more every week. This, only to spend weekends shoveling snow, scraping ice, and being resigned to living under a grey sky. Recreation is scarce, even in the warm months because of the expenses associated with outdoor living.


However, when you discover the warmth and many things to see and do in the Upper Keys, that’s when it becomes clear there is life to be enjoyed at its fullest. Visitors to the Upper Keys come here to escape the big city hustle and bustle and experience life at a slower pace.


Life in the Lower Keys


In the Lower Florida Keys, there’s plenty of chances to enjoy the outdoors. Fishing, boating, snorkeling, water skiing, scuba diving, sightseeing, volleyball, softball, sailing, jet skiing, and soaking up the warm sunshine in many other ways are a way of life here.


Winters in the Lower Keys are quite mild, withaverage daytime highs in the sixties and seventies and overnight lows occasionally dipping into the fifties. The spring is absolutely fabulous and fall is just an extension of summer and spring. Speaking of summers, expect balmy, breezy days and nights, with plenty of daylight hours.


Reasons for Relocating to the Lower Keys


There’s more than the weather to consider. For instance, say goodbye to long, boring, stressful commutes and say hello to scenic drives day in and day out. That’s not all, the benefits go on and on:


  1. Lower cost of living. In Florida, property taxes are low and there’s no income tax. What’s more, the cost of utilities is a lot less and there are more business opportunities here.
  2. More time to spend doing what you love. For those who like to stay active, there’s always something to discover and plenty of recreation to experience every single day.
  3. Property appreciation is steady. Unlike most of the country, property values here stay strong and appreciation is a great asset to have.


Relocating to the Upper Keys is like being on vacation every day of the year!


Using Hard Money for Real Estate Investments--ADDED 4-1-2014


If you’ve been considering buying a property to “fix and flip”, whether it’s to sell outright or to rent; or, you want to convert a property into a residential home, you’ll find traditional banks, credit unions, and mortgage brokers won’t be so eager to finance your venture. The reason is because these sources don’t consider future opportunity; they look only at the risk.


This is where hard money financing comes into play. It allows someone to get the money they need to do something like buy a distressed property to rehabilitate it and sell quickly or to rent as an investment. In addition, it’s also a route to financing for someone who wants to convert something like a commercial property into a residential one.


You might be asking, if these debt instruments are out there, why aren’t they more popular and why you’ve not heard much or anything about them. The quick answer is they constitute a very small percentage of all home loans, which is dominated by what is known as the secondary mortgage market, widely known through two entities: Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.


What are Hard Money Loans?


Unlike “traditional” financing, approvals are given on the basis of the property’s value and/or projected value and not the borrowers credit score. The funding is made available generally through a pool of investors, such as an equity group, looking to capitalize on their investments quickly.


Of course, there are some pros and cons to such debt instruments. The downside is the interest rates are typically substantially higher than a regular, 30-year fixed mortgage. Often, points are assessed on the loan, substantial collateral is usually required, and payments must be timely. On the other side, approvals don’t take nearly as long as a regular mortgage application, properties all types can qualify; and, it’s a more straightforward process.


Why us Hard Money Loans to Purchase Residential Real Estate?


There are several reasons hard money loans make sense. Here are a few of the most common reasons people use hard money financing instead of a traditional loan:


  1. The property being purchased does not meet the strict requirements of the Federal Housing Authority or FHA standards.
  2. The borrower wants to convert a non-conventional property, such as a commercial building, into a residential home or multifamily income property.
  3. Traditional lenders deny applications for “fix and flip” properties because they assume too much risk is attached to approve financing.
  4. The borrower already has an existing mortgage on another property or mortgages on more than one property.
  5. Traditional financing takes too long to secure in order to make the deal financially viable.


In short, this is an alternative source for financing a property, particularly a home to flip for profit.


Why International Buyers Prefer Luxury Waterfront Property  added 3-3-2014


One of the most active trends in the luxury real estate market is international buyers purchasing property in the United States. Over the past decade, there has been a significant upswing in the number of international buyers getting into the American real estate market. Some are purchasing for investment only, choosing to rent it out or seasonally. Others are purchasing a second home or a vacation property they can lease out to wealthy people when not in the country.


The luxury market is generally considered to include properties for sale in listing prices of $1 million or more. These properties are typically located in highly sought after locations, such as waterfront land. With private beach access and a wonderful view right outside the windows, luxury waterfront property is quite attractive to international consumers who want a piece of the US real estate market.


International Buyers by the Numbers


Of course, there has been a trend in the past several years of more diverse buyers from outside the U.S., and it’s no surprise that Canadians top the list at 19 percent of all international investors in American real estate. Brits come in second, accounting for 9 percent, with Germans making up 5 percent. Rounding out the list are buyers from India, with 4 percent, Australians making up 3 percent, and buyers from west Africa account for another 3 percent.


Why International Buyers Prefer Luxury Waterfront Property


There are several reasons why foreign buyers find luxury waterfront property so attractive. The biggest reasons among the many are the following:


  1. Prices are affordable. Compared to many parts of the modern, developed world, prices are relatively lower in the United States and that makes luxury real estate a bit more affordable.
  2. Location, location, location. Of course, one can’t dismiss or even discount the fact that homes on the water are in the highest demand precisely because they are waterfront.
  3. Modern conveniences. Western styled homes with western styled amenities are a growing in popularity in several countries in Europe and Asia, but not many are available and building can be expensive, the alternative is to purchase in the U.S.
  4. More home for the money. Luxury properties in the States are larger, combined with affordability, it’s makes for more house for the money.
  5. Easy to travel to and from. Most luxury waterfront properties are conveniently located to international airports.
  6. Strong income potential. Renting seasonally is another big factor in purchasing American real estate.
  7. A great investment. Appreciation is strong in the luxury market, making it all that more attractive.


Buying a Vacation Rental - added feb2-2014

Owning a vacation rental is something few people think about doing, but when they do, wonder how it all works. The biggest objection most investors have is the cost of maintenance, but if you’re smart, you’ll earn enough to cover the cost of routine maintenance and put a bit of money in your pocket.

The key to purchasing a vacation rental is to buy in a hot tourist market. The Florida Keys, Orlando, and a lot of places along the east and west coast of the peninsula are all ideal. The old real estate cliche, location, location, location is more true here than in any other instance, it has to be in a place with a lot of destinations and attractions to make it work for you.

What a Vacation Rental Is and Isn’t

While location is the most important, there’s also the matter of what a vacation rental is and isn’t. Typically, villas, condos, cottages, and multifamily properties make excellent vacation rentals because they are a bit easier to care for. Single family homes can be vacation rentals too, but there are some drawbacks. For instance, there’s more maintenance involved.

Generally vacation rentals are furnished, and nearby a grocery store and restaurants. That again, is all about location. Of course, there are vacation rentals in the middle of the woods, but that’s for a more specific niche.

Buying a Vacation Rental

To purchase the right rental property, you should be aware of a few things, here’s what you need to know to make a good decision:

● Location is crucial. It bears repeating, that location is absolutely critical to purchasing the right property, mountains and beaches make the best choices, according to the National Association of Realtors.
● Assess the property’s true rental potential. Think about this for the perspective of a family seeking a rental for an upcoming vacation. What is it they would most likely look for? They probably want some amenities; so, if the property is near a beach, then a volleyball kit, beach chairs and umbrellas, a picnic basket, and cooler will be great things to offer.
● Buying nearby or far away. This depends on how involved you want to be with the property. If you want to do the upkeep yourself, the choice is obvious. On the other hand, if you’d rather hire a management company, then it doesn’t matter if it around the block or in another state.
● Know your finances. A vacation rental might involve taking out a mortgage. Combine that with insurance, maintenance, and furnishings, it can add up quickly. Make certain you can swing those costs and plan on it being vacant for about three months per year.
● Select a home with potential. The number of bedrooms and bathrooms will be very important. If you purchase a two bedroom, one bath vacation rental, you’re not really standing out from nearby hotels. A two bed, two bath is probably the smallest floor plan you’ll want to go with. Essentially, the more bedrooms and bathrooms, the better because you’ll be able to cater to a bigger “audience”. Some families are large, others like to bring friends along.

Lastly, when you’re ready to look for a vacation rental, get in touch with a local real estate professional to help. This will keep you from making a mistake you don’t know you’re about to commit. You’ll also have an experienced negotiator working for you





fred mullinsdonna mullinserin biby

Fred Mullins, PA,
Donna Mullins,
Erin Biby
Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate Company
1201 White Street, Suite 101
Key West, FL, 33040



elite circle