Skip to content
Call Us! 305-394-3161

Lower Keys Real Estate Forecast 2020

The Lower Keys real estate forecast for 2020 looks good, based on previous trends and traditional occurrences that happen every year. That is to say, based on what’s unfolded in the previous year and what’s likely to repeat as the new year unfolds, the Lower Keys residential real estate market will likely experience good things over the course of the next year. Read on to learn more about the Lower Keys residential real estate market forecast for 2020.

The Lower Keys real estate forecast for 2020 will probably benefit both buyers and sellers alike. Being one of the most desirable locations in the country and boasting a fantastic climate, the Lower Keys make for a wonderful place to live, work, and play.

Situated to the southwest of the mainland peninsula of Florida and is the southernmost territory of the US, the Lower Keys is a subtropical paradise. There are a number of islands in the Lower Florida Keys, including Lower Matecumbe Key, Bahia Honda Key, Cudjoe Key, and of course, Key West.

Surrounded by two bodies of water -- the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other side -- the Lower Keys are best known for their laidback lifestyle and fantastic weather. But, it’s also an ideal place to live.

Right now, the Lower Keys real estate forecast is one that heavily favors buyers. In fact, the median home value in Key West alone now stands at $626,400, which represents a decrease of 2 percent over the course of the past year. Industry experts predict home values will dip slightly again, by approximately 1 percent over the next year.

This offers a prime opportunity for buyers, who can find better property deals. Meanwhile, sellers will still enjoy nice property appreciation gains. However, this somewhat represents a correction, bringing property values back into where they rightly belong.

The median list price per square foot in the area, particularly in Key West, stands at $655. This is higher than the Key West Metro average of $526. Also, the median list price in the area is $821,500, while the median selling price is $554,400.

At this time, the mortgage delinquency rate is 1.7 percent, slightly above the national number of 1.1 percent. Additionally, about 7.1 percent of homeowners are underwater in their mortgages.

All of this means that now is the time to buy your own piece of paradise.

The Importance of Home Staging to Help Sell Your Property

The importance of home staging to help sell your property cannot be underrated. It’s imperative to stage your house in order to sell it quickly and for a higher price.

In fact, there’s a whole lot of research out there by reputable organizations that clearly demonstrate the importance of home staging. (These include the National Association of Realtors, along  with several others.) Read on to learn more about the importance of staging your home properly to sell it.

The importance of home staging to help sell your property is something you must understand. Otherwise, you’ll make any number of mistakes and sabotage your own efforts. In other words, if you don’t stage your home the right way, it will act against its ability to attract qualified buyers.

Let’s put it into context in order to make it clear just how important staging is to sell a house with two key statistics.

First, only 1 in 10 people can imagine a space in a way other than it is presented. Meaning, just 10 percent of all people can reimagine a home differently from what they first see.

Second, it takes just 7 to 10 seconds for people to form an impression of a property. The average person forms a positive or negative opinion of a home in less than ten seconds -- that’s not very much time.

Now, what are the reasons home staging is so important? Well, it comes down to just a few key elements. Here’s one that will definitely make you stop and think. People aren’t interested in buying your life. Instead, they are interested in buying their new home.

Staged properties allow buyers to freely and easily see themselves living in the property, leading their lives. It’s really that simple. But, it’s not necessarily all that easy to accomplish.

How to Stage Your House to Sell it Quickly and for More Money

The first thing you need to do is a purge, purge, and purge some more. Your goal is to make it look like a model home by doing the following:

  1. Declutter and depersonalize. Put away all those nicknacks and any and all personal items, including pictures, personal hygiene items, and others.
  2. Disinfect. Clean top to bottom, inside and out, leaving nothing untouched.
  3. Make it inviting. Open the curtains, set the table, and create an overall welcome space.

If you do these things, you’ll have a much better chance of selling your house by staging them correctly.

When to Hire a Real Estate Attorney

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.

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 a 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 contracts, there’s a “specific performance” clause. And its 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 judgments 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.

Things to Do in Key West with Family

Things to do in Key West with family? Yes. There are plenty of options. (Although Duval Street is famous for its adult vibe and experience.) Still, Key West does have some fun stuff to offer both children and parents. And, it’s a great place to vacation with kids of all ages, you just have to know where to find the kid-friendly action. Read on to learn more about the best things to do in Key West with family.

Things to do in Key West with a family range from days in state and national parks to getting up close to dolphins and other nature.

  1. Visit a state or national park. There are a total of 10 state parks throughout the Florida Keys, as well as 4 national parks. Each has its own unique experience and offers something different. For instance, one is home to shipwrecks, another coral, still, another is the first underwater park in the country, and yet another is home to a historic fort.
  2. Go to the beach. Now, here’s a (somewhat dirty) little secret -- there’s not all that much beach in the Florida Keys. Of course, this is entirely counterintuitive. But, it’s true. However, there are some absolute gems to check out. These include Bahia Honda, Long Key State Park, Sombrero Beach, Curry Hammock State Park, Smathers Beach, Anne’s Beach, and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
  3. Snorkel with the family. Here’s a widespread activity you’ll find throughout the Florida Keys, from the Upper Keys and Key Largo, down to the Middle Keys, and into the Lower Keys, including Key West. It’s a great activity and a wonderful way to spend a day (or two or more).
  4. Visit Dolphin Safari. Speaking of snorkeling, if you prefer a more guided experience, take a day to go to Dolphin Safari.
  5. Ride the Conch Tour Train. This attraction is one of the most popular with families in Key West and for good reason. It’s been running since 1958 and hits an astounding one hundred points of interest.
  6. Tour the Key West Shipwreck Museum. There are estimates which peg the number of shipwrecks around the Florida Keys to be in the hundreds. Here, the family can learn all about the doomed maritime vessels around the Florida Keys.
  7. Check out the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. This combines education and fun, all in one place and is a wonderful place for kids.

Florida Keys Real Estate Forecast

The Florida Keys real estate forecast is both optimistic and realistic one. On one hand, previous and current trends point toward a year of good numbers. On the other hand, 2019 is already turning out to comply with historic norms. Meaning, it will perform well but not go into a super or overcharged market condition. This is good news for both sellers and buyers in the Florida Keys.

As 2018 progressed, the overall Florida Keys real estate market returned to a more normal cycle. Partway through Q1 2019, it continued to track in accordance with historic market cycles showing typical levels of listings and sales. This, despite the fact 2019 began the year with fewer pending transactions than it did in both 2017 and 2018. With recent stats now available, it appears 2019 will record a more or less stable year for 2019.

Before going into 2019, let’s take a quick look at the differences between 2017 and 2018. The sales across all Keys increased by 4 percent from 2017 to 2018. The average sale price also rose by 18 percent to hit $672,000. Meanwhile, the average list price stayed the same through both years, at $960,000. However, the DOM or days on the market dropped 19 percent, from 152 to 124. Also, the number of properties for sale went up by 19 percent, at parity with 2016.

So far this year, in 2019, the average sales price Keys-wide is just over $619,000, with a sale to list price ratio of nearly 90 percent. (Meaning homes typically sell for almost 90 percent of their listing price.) For 2019, the average list price stands at nearly $925,000 Keys-wide.

During the first half of 2019, the months’ worth of inventory stands at 10.6. This is the time it would take to sell all available houses currently on the market with no new listings appearing.

Right now, the average DOM or days on the market is about 121 days or four months. Although, Keys-wide sales are up over last year, with 1,535 completed transactions this year, compared to 1,480 in 2018. (This figure also outperforms 2016 and 2017, when there were 1,430 and 1,467 completed transactions, respectively.)

As you can plainly see by the numbers above, 2019 is shaping up to be a good year for residential real estate in the Florida Keys. With such balance, it ought to prove helpful to both sellers and buyers of Florida Keys real estate.

Lower Keys Real Estate Forecast

The Lower Keys real estate forecast outlook at the present time is somewhat tame. This certainly doesn’t mean it’s a slow or slump market; quite contrary. The Lower Keys real estate market is nearly balanced between buyers and sellers and that’s a good thing because it doesn’t favor either. Likewise, with a market near parity, it also means no pressure on the market to keep up its pace. And, that benefits everyone in the community. So, let’s take a look at the Lower Keys real estate forecast, what’s happened and what’s most likely ahead.

The Lower Keys real estate forecast prognosis currently expects the local market to slow over the coming year. This, after a solid increase in home values going back several previous months.

Right now, the median home value in the Lower Keys, particularly in Key West (one of the most desirable markets) stands at just over $637,000. Over the course of the past year, home values in the Lower Keys have risen by about 3 to slightly over 3 percent. Real estate industry experts and economists alike expect home values in the Lower Keys to fall slightly over the course of the year by less than 1 percent.

At this time, the median list price per square foot in the Lower Keys and more particularly in Key West is just over $650. (This is actually more than the Key West Metro area list price per square foot of $520.)

Moreover, the median list price in the Lower Keys and Key West is approximately $844,000. However, the median selling price in the area is just a tad over $639,000.

Although the overall real estate market in the Lower Keys is fairly healthy, there are still some bargains to be had, through foreclosures and short sales. Currently, the mortgage delinquency rate in the Lower Keys comes in between 1.5 and 2 percent. This is above the national average of 1.1 percent.

This means people interested in buying a home in the Lower Keys have a way to find discounted properties. At this time, the number of homes receiving a foreclosure filing is slightly up. However, this number is expected to either level off and perhaps fall over the coming months.

As you can plainly see, the Lower Keys real estate market is one that’s doing fairly well and does offer some opportunity for those wanting to relocate or go from renting to owning.

Key West Lifestyle

The Key West lifestyle can best be described as a piece of heaven on earth. It’s one which many dreams about but too few come to realize. And, that’s a real shame because it’s really not far out of reach. In fact, the Key West lifestyle is well within reach.

The Key West lifestyle is a great experience. Whether you’re visiting for a few days, a couple of weeks, or want to relocate, there are a few things you should know about the Key West lifestyle. So, let’s get to it and look at what awaits in the pleasure of the Key West lifestyle.

Though a seemingly far away dream for many, the Key West lifestyle is everything you think it is and so much more.

Located about 97 miles from the Upper Keys, the island of Key West is the southernmost point in the United States. Flanked by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Key West is a destination location like none other.

Key West has a small population of about 25,000 people and just over 11,000 households. It is only 4.2 square miles in size but there’s still a lot to see and do in Key West.

For instance, Key West is famous for its island lifestyle and its outdoor recreation. Fishing, boating, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, sightseeing, nightlife, and much more all are part of the Key West lifestyle. Here are some more things you need to know about the Key West lifestyle:

  1. Great location. Of course, location plays a very important role in real estate and in quality of life. And, Key West has it all when it comes to location. No matter where you settle in Key West, you’re never far away from the water and always ensconced in the Key West lifestyle.
  2. Terrific weather. Okay, the weather is a big draw simply because it is spectacular just about every day of the year. Super mild winters. Warm, balmy, breezy summers. And fantastic spring and fall seasons. It’s a delight all year round.
  3. Recreation abounds. There’s simply no overstating the fact recreation is one of the most attractive things about the Key West lifestyle. Entertainment, art and culture, natural attractions, and all kinds of outdoor activities have no shortage in Key West and the Florida Keys at large.

As you can plainly see, there’s a lot to love about the Key West lifestyle and even more to enjoy.

 

Summerland Key Real Estate

Summerland Key real estate is some of the best performings in the entire state of Florida and the Keys at large. Located in the Lower Keys, about twenty miles away from Key West toward the west, this is largely a bedroom community.

It’s also one of the most desirable places to live in the Florida Keys. (Partly due to the fact deep boating greatly contributes to its strong appreciation and high property values.)

Home to the Brinton Environmental Center of the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base, Summerland Key is truly a wonderful location to call home. Currently, Summerland Key home values are performing very well. Right now, there are approximately three-hundred plus homes for sale, ranging in price from $22,000 to $11.9 million.

The median listing price in Summerland Key is $499,000, with a median list price per square foot of $4460. Meanwhile, the median selling price in Summerland Key stands at $394,000.

There are a total of seven schools nearby Summerland Key and a few businesses. It’s the seclusion which residents like most, along with the terrific views and wonderful weather. Here are a few more reasons why home values do so well in Summerland Key:

  1. Limited property. Of course, the land is at a premium in the Florida Keys and Summerland Key certain is no exception. This translates into a supply and demand dynamic, which means land retains strong values, particularly when it is improved with good housing.
  2. Relatively low property taxes. Compared to some other areas of the country, the Keys have less expensive property taxes. This helps to make it more affordable, which contributes to its overall appeal.
  3. Location, location, location. Obviously, location plays the most important role in residential real estate. Summerland Key enjoys one of the best locations in the chain of islands and in the entire country.
  4. Weather and climate. Okay, there’s no getting around the fact the weather and climate also play a huge role in how well Summerland Key real estate performs. Summers are warm and balmy. Spring and fall seasons are simply magnificent. And, winters are ultra-mild.
  5. Improved building codes. Given its location, Summerland Key and the rest of its island peers have stringent building standards. Because of these rules, properties retain strong values.

As you can see, Summerland Key has a lot to offer. It’s most definitely worthwhile to see for yourself all it has to enjoy, day in and day out.

Advantages of Listing Your Home with a Real Estate Team

There are several huge advantages of listing your home with a real estate team, rather than just a single agent. First and foremost, it’s well known and understood two or more minds are better than one. And, regardless of market conditions, it’s simply smarter to list your house with a real estate team rather than rely on one individual.

The reasons it’s better to list your property with a real estate team instead of just a single professional, are many.

After all, every real estate transaction involves a plethora of tasks and responsibilities. So, it’s vital to work with a professional or group of professionals. Since it’s often a very large amount of money involved, you definitely want to make the right decisions along the way. Here are the top reasons for listing your home with a real estate team:

  1. More flexibility. When there’s a team to call upon, you have plenty of flexibility with schedules and more. Not to mention the fact certain personalities work with others in a more natural way, when needed.
  2. Combined experience. Of course, when there’s more than one person selling your home, you have a wealth of experience to rely upon throughout the process. It’s a great resource with many advantages, large and small.
  3.  Larger networking prowess. With a real estate team, you have a bigger pool to draw from and to reach out to. That’s a huge benefit when it comes to marketing a house for sale.
  4.  Expanded attention to detail. Another big advantage is having more than one set of eyes on various aspects of the journey. When there’s a group of people, they’ll all catch something different, which can make all the difference in the world.
  5.  Ability to show up when needed. There are many times when selling a house becomes a real challenge as far as time goes. When you work with a real estate team, you have someone there whenever necessary.
  6.  There are no extra selling fees added. Here’s another big advantage and it’s one that makes financial sense. There are no extra fees when working with a real estate team rather than an individual.
  7. It offers a bigger pool of potential buyers. Good real estate professionals are on the lookout for all their clients. That means a team will bring a larger pool of potential buyers to the table. It’s just another way to expand your marketing reach.

What Happens on Closing Day?

What happens on the closing day? If you’re asking this question, don’t worry, it’s not a dumb one. In fact, this is a mystery to most people (even to those who’ve bought a home before usually struggle to come up with an answer).

What happens on closing day is a series of transaction wrap-ups if you will. In other words, it’s the final step in purchasing a home for both parties, the seller(s) and buyer(s). Now, that’s a huge simplification. So, read on to learn more about what happens on the closing day.

Just What is a Closing, Anway?

First, let’s answer the question, what exactly is a closing? Well, it’s actually called a “settlement.” Put a different way, it’s the settling of all the different parts which will make a whole. If that’s confusing, think about it this way. The financing, appraisal, inspection reports, title search, and all those various things which occurred up to this point are put into one package. Hence, “closing” the deal.

What Happens on Closing Day?

What happens in the closing day, in a nutshell, is you are given legal title to the property, and the seller relinquishes the same. The borrower’s lender provides a check to cover the purchase price and the borrower and/or seller provide cashier’s checks to cover the closing costs. Both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent receive their commission checks and the entire transaction is legally recorded.

Of course, that’s a broad overview, so here are a few specifics about what happens on closing day:

  1. Either the buyer or the buyer’s mortgage lender provides funds for the agreed purchase price.
  2. The seller(s) sign over the deed to the property to the buyer(s), which officially transfers legal ownership of the house from the seller(s) to the buyer(s). This is also when the seller(s) hands the keys over to the buyer(s).
  3. A title company or a real estate attorney will then record the newly transferred deed with the appropriate government office (city, county, et cetera).
  4. The seller(s) are given the proceeds from the sale after the buyer’s financing amortizes the balance due on the mortgage and any assigned closing costs are paid. In other words, the mortgage is paid off and the seller receives any money left over, after paying any agreed closing costs.

That’s the gist of what happens on the closing day. Both principle parties will sign a number of documents through the process. Once complete, transfer of ownership occurs and the buyer(s) are then the new legal owners of the house.

Is Buying a Beach Condo a Good Investment?

Is buying a beach condo a good investment? Well, the answer is a bit complicated. Although, ultimately, in the vast majority of circumstances, yes, a beach condo does make a good investment. Particularly when it’s located in a highly desirable, highly trafficked area, like Key West. And, there are plenty of solid reasons why this is the case. So, let’s take a look at why buying a beach condo is indeed a good investment.

Let’s begin with what you need to know about buying a beach condo. And, that starts with expecting a lot of competition. If it’s in a good location and one favored by tourists, such as Key West, a beach condo won’t stay on the market for long. In fact, the unit will quickly sell, simply due to its location mostly. But, there are other reasons beach condos make a good investment.

Buying a beach condo means being right where everyone wants to live. It’s not just the incredible view but the lifestyle itself. If you own a beach condo, you have all sorts of options. Meaning, it doesn’t have to be your full time, primary residence. You can rent it out. Although, that’s just scratching the surface.

Here are some more reasons for buying a beach condo is a good investment:

  1. Resale value. Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to purchase a beach condo is its eventual ROI. As time goes by, equity will increase and rise substantially. Meaning, it will gain value the longer you hold onto it.
  2. Ability to rent out. Renting out a beach condo means real money in your pocket. It will rent for much more than non-beachfront condos, a whole lot more. And, since it’s on the beach, it will outperform its nearest competition due to the beach. Plus, if you rent, you can write off a number of expenses associated with the property. Not to mention the fact you can depreciate it and gain even more of a tax benefit from the property.
  3. A dedicated place to stay. One of the great things about owning a beach condo is having a dedicated place to stay. No hunting down accommodations -- vacation when you like in a familiar, home-type setting.
  4. Wonderful retirement choice. Of course, there’s always the option to retire and live in the beach condo. Many investors do this, being able to downsize with little effort in a wonderful location.

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 lawn 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 does 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 an 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 a 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 the 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 a 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

"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 the traffic flow. It's common for homeowners to arrange furniture to give every person the best view of the television. That's a mistake when it comes to a vacation rental. The furniture should be arranged to maximize traffic flow. It appears more spacious and helps to enhance marketing photos.

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 hairdryer, and the usual toiletries so guests can use them without having to make additional purchases.

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

Renting Out a House with a Mortgage

Renting 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 again 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 relocation or a similar type of 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 a 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 the 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 seriously 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

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, 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 corals 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

If you’re looking for the best things to do with the 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 includes turtles, pink flamingos, colorful birds, and koi fish.
  4. Higgs Beach. A little known 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 a 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, paddleboard, 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 are 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 Relieve 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 the 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. As 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 exhausting, 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. The 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 the scenery and the pace of life, you’ll greatly

Steps to Consider When Refinancing Your Home

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 of 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 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 Report.com. 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 refinancing

Key West Cost of Living

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

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 diving 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 at 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 a 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 month's 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

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 opportunities. 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 of 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

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 makes 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 wonderful 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 an 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

Key West has a dual reputation. On the 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 the family in Key West:

  1. Dolphin Safari. If there are 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 is 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 kinds 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, skimboarding, and sunbathing are all right here to enjoy.
  4. Higgs Beach. There’s also a great wide sandy 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 reefs to explore for snorkelers and divers alike. The latter is a small but

Townhouse or Condo - What Is the Difference?

When people think about the difference between a condo and a townhouse, they usually conjured contrasting images. A townhome, too many, is a two to a three-story unit that 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 a 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. 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 http://www.lowerkeys-homes.com

Pros and Cons of Buying an Older Home

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 property.
● Established neighborhoods. You’ve heard the real estate expression 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

When you buy a home, you’ll pull your wallet out time and time again. It starts with saving a for a 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 runs 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 a 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

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. The 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 the 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 is 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

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 the 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 avoided 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 a single-family or 20 percent. Here again, there are many factors that 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

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 of.
● 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 

When people think of Key West, they typically conjure images of tropical drinks, long walks on the beach, fabulous sunsets, and the southernmost 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 aviaries and enjoy all the different butterflies and vegetation species. It’s a quiet place to enjoy some peace of mind while revitalizing 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 1890s, 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 1880s and remains to this very day.

How to Choose a Reputable Property Management Company

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 a 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

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” holds 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.

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 the 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 an island paradise.

Buying a Property with Tenants

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.

Most property investors prefer to buy distressed homes (foreclosure and short sale real estate). Generally, it allows investors to obtain a good bargain, mitigating they're outlaid 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 in 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 that does not change when a property title is transferred from one party to another. An exception would be foreclosure, where the lender issuing 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

If you want to raise a home appraisal value, there are five improvements that just don’t work. Instead, the five renovations that don’t increase the 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 a 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 a second story. But, if the majority of other houses in the neighborhood don’t aren’t two stories, 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 the home appraisal value.

Another renovation that does not increase the 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.

Summerland Key Real Estate

Summerland Key real estate is some of the best performings in the entire state of Florida and the Keys at large. Located in the Lower Keys, about twenty miles away from Key West toward the west, this is largely a bedroom community.

It’s also one of the most desirable places to live in the Florida Keys. (Partly due to the fact deep boating greatly contributes to its strong appreciation and high property values.)

Home to the Brinton Environmental Center of the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base, Summerland Key is truly a wonderful location to call home. Currently, Summerland Key home values are performing very well. Right now, there are approximately three-hundred plus homes for sale, ranging in price from $22,000 to $11.9 million.

The median listing price in Summerland Key is $499,000, with a median list price per square foot of $4460. Meanwhile, the median selling price in Summerland Key stands at $394,000.

There are a total of seven schools nearby Summerland Key and a few businesses. It’s the seclusion which residents like most, along with the terrific views and wonderful weather. Here are a few more reasons why home values do so well in Summerland Key:

  1. Limited property. Of course, the land is at a premium in the Florida Keys and Summerland Key certain is no exception. This translates into a supply and demand dynamic, which means land retains strong values, particularly when it is improved with good housing.
  2. Relatively low property taxes. Compared to some other areas of the country, the Keys have less expensive property taxes. This helps to make it more affordable, which contributes to its overall appeal.
  3. Location, location, location. Obviously, location plays the most important role in residential real estate. Summerland Key enjoys one of the best locations in the chain of islands and in the entire country.
  4. Weather and climate. Okay, there’s no getting around the fact the weather and climate also play a huge role in how well Summerland Key real estate performs. Summers are warm and balmy. Spring and fall seasons are simply magnificent. And, winters are ultra mild.
  5. Improved building codes. Given its location, Summerland Key and the rest of its island peers have stringent building standards. Because of these rules, properties retain strong values.

As you can see, Summerland Key has a lot to offer. It’s most definitely worthwhile to see for yourself all it has to enjoy, day in and day out.

Advantages of Listing Your Home with a Real Estate Team

There are several huge advantages of listing your home with a real estate team, rather than just a single agent. First and foremost, it’s well known and understood two or minds are better than one. And, regardless of market conditions, it’s simply smarter to list your house with a real estate team rather than rely on one individual.

The reasons it’s better to list your property with a real estate team instead of just a single professional, are many.

After all, every real estate transaction involves a plethora of tasks and responsibilities. So, it’s vital to work with a professional or group of professionals. Since it’s often a very large amount of money involved, you definitely want to make the right decisions along the way. Here are the top reasons for listing your home with a real estate team:

  1. More flexibility. When there’s a team to call upon, you have plenty of flexibility with schedules and more. Not to mention the fact certain personalities work with others in a more natural way, when needed.
  2. Combined experience. Of course, when there’s more than one person selling your home, you have a wealth of experience to rely upon throughout the process. It’s a great resource with many advantages, large and small.
  3.  Larger networking prowess. With a real estate team, you have a bigger pool to draw from and to reach out. That’s a huge benefit when it comes to marketing a house for sale.
  4.  Expanded attention to detail. Another big advantage is having more than one set of eyes on various aspects of the journey. When there’s a group of people, they’ll all catch something different, which can make all the difference in the world.
  5.  Ability to show up in when needed. There are many times when selling a house becomes a real challenge as far as time goes. When you work with a real estate team, you have someone there whenever necessary.
  6.  There are no extra selling fees added. Here’s another big advantage and it’s one that makes financial sense. There are no extra fees when working with a real estate team rather than an individual.
  7. Offers a bigger pool of potential buyers. Good real estate professionals are on the lookout for all their clients. That means a team will bring a larger pool of potential buyers to the table. It’s just another way to expand your marketing reach.

What Happens on Closing Day?

What happens on the closing day? If you’re asking this question, don’t worry, it’s not a dumb one. In fact, this is a mystery to most people (even to those who’ve bought a home before usually struggle to come up with an answer).

What happens on closing day is a series of transaction wrap-ups if you will. In other words, it’s the final step in purchasing a home for both parties, the seller(s) and buyer(s). Now, that’s a huge simplification. So, read on to learn more about what happens on closing day.

Just What is a Closing, Anway?

First, let’s answer the question, what exactly is a closing? Well, it’s actually called a “settlement.” Put a different way, it’s the settling of all the different parts which will make a whole. If that’s confusing, think about it this way. The financing, appraisal, inspection reports, title search, and all those various things which occurred up to this point are put into one package. Hence, “closing” the deal.

What Happens on Closing Day?

What happens on the closing day, in a nutshell, is you are given legal title to the property, and the seller relinquishes same. The borrower’s lender provides a check to cover the purchase price and the borrower and/or seller provide cashier’s checks to cover the closing costs. Both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent receive their commission checks and the entire transaction is legally recorded.

Of course, that’s a broad overview, so here are a few specifics about what happens on closing day:

  1. Either the buyer or the buyer’s mortgage lender provides funds for the agreed purchase price.
  2. The seller(s) sign over the deed to the property to the buyer(s), which officially transfers legal ownership of the house from the seller(s) to the buyer(s). This is also when the seller(s) hands the keys over to the buyer(s).
  3. A title company or a real estate attorney will then record the newly transferred deed with the appropriate government office (city, county, et cetera).
  4. The seller(s) are given the proceeds from the sale after the buyer’s financing amortizes the balance due on the mortgage and any assigned closing costs are paid. In other words, the mortgage is paid off and the seller receives any money left over, after paying any agreed closing costs.

That’s the gist of what happens on closing day. Both principle parties will sign a number of documents through the process. Once complete, transfer of ownership occurs and the buyer(s) are then the new legal owners of the house.

Is Buying a Beach Condo a Good Investment?

Is buying a beach condo a good investment? Well, the answer is a bit complicated. Although, ultimately, in the vast majority of circumstances, yes, a beach condo does make a good investment. Particularly when it’s located in a highly desirable, highly trafficked area, like Key West. And, there are plenty of solid reasons why this is the case. So, let’s take a look at why buying a beach condo is indeed a good investment.

Let’s begin with what you need to know about buying a beach condo. And, that starts with expecting a lot of competition. If it’s in a good location and one favored by tourists, such as Key West, a beach condo won’t stay on the market for long. In fact, the unit will quickly sell, simply due to its location mostly. But, there are other reasons beach condos make a good investment.

Buying a beach condo means being right where everyone wants to live. It’s not just the incredible view but the lifestyle itself. If you own a beach condo, you have all sorts of options. Meaning, it doesn’t have to be your full time, primary residence. You can rent it out. Although, that’s just scratching the surface.

Here are some more reasons for buying a beach condo is a good investment:

  1. Resale value. Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to purchase a beach condo is its eventual ROI. As time goes by, equity will increase and rise substantially. Meaning, it will gain value the longer you hold onto it.
  2. Ability to rent out. Renting out a beach condo means real money in your pocket. It will rent for much more than non-beachfront condos, a whole lot more. And, since it’s on the beach, it will outperform its nearest competition due to the beach. Plus, if you rent, you can write off a number of expenses associated with the property. Not to mention the fact you can depreciate it and gain even more of a tax benefit from the property.
  3. A dedicated place to stay. One of the great things about owning a beach condo is having a dedicated place to stay. No hunting down accommodations -- vacation when you like in a familiar, home-type setting.
  4. Wonderful retirement choice. Of course, there’s always the option to retire and live in the beach condo. Many investors do this, being able to downsize with little effort in a wonderful location.

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 does 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 a 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 the 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 a 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

"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 the traffic flow. It's common for homeowners to arrange furniture to give every person the best view of the television. That's a mistake when it comes to a vacation rental. The furniture should be arranged to maximize traffic flow. It appears more spacious and helps to enhance marketing photos.

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

Renting 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 relocation or similar type of 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 a 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 the 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 seriously 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

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, 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 corals 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

If you’re looking for the best things to do with the 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 includes turtles, pink flamingos, colorful birds, and koi fish.
  4. Higgs Beach. A little known 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 a 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 are 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 Relieve 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 the 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. As 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 exhausting, 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. The 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 the scenery and the pace of life, you’ll greatly

Steps to Consider when Refinancing Your Home

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 of 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 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 Report.com. 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 refinancing

Key West Cost of Living

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

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 at 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 a 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 month's 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

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 of 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

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 wonderful 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 an 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

Key West has a dual reputation. On the 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 the family in Key West:

  1. Dolphin Safari. If there are 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 is 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 sandy 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?

When people think about the difference between a condo and townhouse, they usually conjured contrasting images. A townhome, too 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 a 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 http://www.lowerkeys-homes.com

Pros and Cons of Buying an Older Home

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 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

When you buy a home, you’ll pull your wallet out time and time again. It starts with saving a for a 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 a 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

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. The 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 the 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

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 the 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 avoided 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 a 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

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 of.
● 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 

When people think of Key West, they typically conjure images of tropical drinks, long walks on the beach, fabulous sunsets, and the southernmost 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 aviaries 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 1890s, 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 1880s and remains to this very day.

How to Choose a Reputable Property Management Company

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 a 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

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” holds 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.

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 the 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 an island paradise.

Buying a Property with Tenants

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.

Most property investors prefer to buy distressed homes (foreclosure and short sale real estate). Generally, it allows investors to obtain a good bargain, mitigating they're outlaid 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

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 a 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 stories, 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.