Central Florida Real Estate News

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that couldn’t be more true for your home’s curb appeal. The moment your home hits the market for sale, your home will be under scrutiny by more than just potential home buyers. Agents, neighbors and the causal passerby will all have an opinion. Most agents, have gotten more savvy and are taking high quality photos, but what happens when a professional photo is not enough?

The home buyer’s perception is the home buyer’s reality. The curb appeal reflects the home buyer’s impressions of the inside of the home. They may not want to go inside if the front of the house looks unappealing.

Sometimes a few quick and inexpensive upgrades can turn a home from average to eye-catching. Here are five things you can do to improve your homes curb appeal:

1. Paint the front door – The front door is the focal point of the home. As the entrance, it’s an unavoidable feature. A new coat of paint in a bright or contrasting color will enhance the look of the home. You can also add a new knob and hardware for added appeal.

 


2. Update the garage door – The garage door is similar to the front door in that it’s obvious. Garage doors can easily take up as much as 40 percent of the front of a house, so an upgrade can make a big difference. Try a carriage-style door or a door with windows to enhance your property’s appearance.

 

3. Liven up the landscape – Think beyond just pulling the weeds and mowing the lawn. Planting flowers and adding mulch can make a big difference. And don’t forget to green up your lawn or consider replacing it with water-tolerant landscaping. 


 


4. 
Lighten up the exterior – This is more than a simple porch light. Accent lights in planters and along the walkways not only make a home feel more safe but also add extra style and elegance.

5. Put furniture on the porch - A couple of chairs can really help a home look more inviting. Potential buyers will be able to imagine themselves sitting on the front porch drinking iced tea.


Not only will these tips give your home a face lift, it can potentially give your home a big return on the investment!


Posted by Joel Pichardo on June 15th, 2016 11:32 AM

It may be more affordable to make monthly payments on a house than to rent right now, but not everyone is jumping at the opportunity.

One reason is likely that wage increases are not keeping up with housing and rental price increases. Even as companies add back positions they had previous cut, jobs in this region aren't paying what they once did, not since the recession flung so many into the unemployment lines.

The rise in rents is outpacing weekly wage growth in 57 percent of the 504 counties analyzed by RealtyTrac for its 2016 Rental Affordability Analysis.

In Hillsborough County, according to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics, wages went up just 2.6 percent between the second quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2015.

While scientists, lawyers and doctors saw their pay increase over the past 10 years, pay for electricians dropped 20 percent in Hillsborough. Nurses are getting paid almost 3 percent less than they were a decade ago.

Wages increased in Pinellas County just 0.7 percent in the past year, while housing prices went up 5 percent over that same period, according to research compiled by RealtyTrac, a national real estate tracking firm. Rents on three-bedroom properties are expected to increase by 3.5 percent in 2016.

Copyright © 2016 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.), Yvette C. Hammett. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Posted in:General
Posted by Joel Pichardo on January 19th, 2016 11:46 AM

Buying a home is so hard, they should make it an Olympic event. It’s not just the paperwork; it’s the terminology, the fees and the number of people involved. It’s natural to want to agree to whatever, sign everything and just get through the process as fast as you can. But while that may make you a medalist in downhill skiing, it won’t earn you many style points in life’s uphill battle to financial well-being.

Here are some of the most useful home buyer programs that you might overlook if you rush the process. They may score you some big savings.

FHA
This is the go-to program for many Americans, especially first-time home buyers and those who have a credit history that’s … let’s say not to well. The Federal Housing Administration guarantees a portion of home loans, which frees lenders to broaden their acceptance standards. With FHA backing, borrowers can qualify for loans with as little as 3.5% down. You can search a list of FHA lenders near you at HUD.gov.

USDA
This one may surprise you. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a home buyers assistance program. And no, you don’t have to live on a farm. The program targets rural areas and allows 100% financing by offering lenders mortgage guarantees. There are income limitations, which vary by region.

VA
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helps service members, veterans and surviving spouses buy homes. The program is especially generous, often requiring no down payment or mortgage insurance. But like a lot of military operations, the approval track is built for accuracy, not speed.

GOOD NEIGHBOR NEXT DOOR
This initiative was originally called the Teacher Next Door Program but was expanded to include law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, hence the snappy “Good Neighbor” name. A HUD-sponsored program, it allows 50% discounts on the list price of homes located in revitalization areas. Yes, half off. Who knew? You just have to commit to living in the property for at least 36 months. These homes are listed — for just seven days — on the Good Neighbor Next Door sales website.

DOLLAR HOMES
This sounds like one of those late-night television offers, but HUD claims to offer $1 homes that have been acquired by the FHA through foreclosures. Needless to say, this is a tiny pool of houses. At last check, only a handful of listings appeared on the website. Curiously, one home we checked out in the Dollar Home category seemed to be listed for $17,900. We’re not sure what that’s about, but shop carefully.

EVEN MORE HELP
In addition to these national programs, many state and local governments offer assistance to home buyers. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has links to additional information.

Tapping one of these resources may help you buy a home with less of a down payment, lower your interest rate, or even find a bargain in your neighborhood. Then you can have your own opening ceremony in your new home.

For more information call our office at 407-641-4694.


Posted in:General
Posted by Joel Pichardo on January 15th, 2016 12:26 PM


1. Leaks
Leaky faucets, radiators, ceilings, roofs-you name it, real estate agents, brokers, and sellers might try to temporarily plug that drip to attract offers. But sometimes honesty is a better policy and shows you that property is well-maintained.

2. Termites
Termite damage can be very hard to spot. In fact, some homeowners might not even know that termites are eating away at the insides of the walls. Assess the extent of the damage and what it may take to fix it or just eliminate the pests.

3. Disturbing Elements
Sometimes the sellers do not disclose whether a property is rumored to be haunted or seen as one of the most negative places in the area. Such things affect the peace of mind.

4. Foundation Issues
Always look for cracks in the foundation when walking through and around a home. These can costs tens of thousands of dollars to repair. And more importantly, if left alone, foundation issues can lead to a lot of problems in your home.


Posted in:General
Posted by Joel Pichardo on January 14th, 2016 12:36 PM



When thinking about purchasing a new home the thought that brings sweat to anyone’s brows is getting a loan. Applying for a loan can be a very scary step for anybody. However, you don’t need to feel that way! The market has improved because of increased demand which has led to banks easing their standards for borrowers.

            Quoting FloridaRealtors.org “The developments could foreshadow a turnaround in housing”. Banks are still strict on approving loans since the 2008 crisis but have been easing up recently. So if you’ve been thinking about purchasing a home now is definitely the time to buy! Rates for a 30-year-fixed mortgage rose up to 4.46 percent by the end of last year but have come down to 4.12 percent. (cite) Many banks, even several large banks, have eased their credit standards for prime mortgages since the 2007 housing crash.

            So stop thinking about if you’re going to be able to purchase that home and start thinking that you WILL purchase that home. SunStar Realty, LLC have preferred venders that are willingly to assist you and answer all of your questions you have in regards to getting pre-approved! Even if you don’t have perfect credit they will assist you on helping you improve your credit!

Don’t wait, give us a call today at 407.641.4694 or send us an email at sales@sunstarteam.com! We will help you find your home today and even help you get the financing you need! 

"It's Easier to Get a Loan." FloridaRealtorsorg News. Web. 25 ?Aug. 2014.
"NHU - Pertinent Legislation." NHU - Pertinent Legislation. Web. 25 Aug. 2014. 

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Posted by Joel Pichardo on August 25th, 2014 1:42 PM

Have you been looking for a community that has a gated entrance for security? How about a clubhouse and pool? Were you looking for “A” rated schools for your child(ren)? Are you looking for homes that have the upgrades and high end look? Stop your house hunting and welcome to North Pointe! North Pointe is a beautiful community located in Kissimmee, FL with East Lake Toho and Fell’s Cove around that’ll give you beautiful views of the lake! Every home has the opportunity to enjoy this view as well as conversation areas.

            This community has a gate for extra security as well as a clubhouse, pool, gazebo and a tot lot for the children! There’s something for everyone! There are also many different layouts to choose from which range from one story to two stories and range from 1900 sq ft to 4200 sq ft! These homes start around $250K and above!


       


Give SunStar Realty, LLC a call today at 407.641.4694 or send us an email at sales@sunstarteam.com and we’ll find your mini-castle today!  
Posted in:General
Posted by Joel Pichardo on August 18th, 2014 3:40 PM

Need ideas on what to do this weekend? Check out what's going on this weekend in Central Florida!! 

?Go back to Never Never land with Peter Pan and friends in this musical at 
Osceola Center For The Arts starting this Friday August 15th!!
Don't miss this timeless classic and a chance to get in touch with your inner child! 



Don't also forget to stop by Shabach Church Apopka for the 
Back to School Giveaway & Fun Free Event at 
It'll be this Sunday, August 17th, 2014!   


?Photos by: 

"Osceola Center for the Arts." Osceola Center for the Arts. Web. 14 Aug. 2014. <http://www.ocfta.com/>.

"Getting Back to School Routine." Rocket City Mom Connecting Huntsville Parents to Familyfriendly Events Activities and Local Resources. Web. 14 Aug. 2014. <http://www.rocketcitymom.com/tag/getting-back-to-school-routine/>.

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Posted by Joel Pichardo on August 14th, 2014 2:08 PM

July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014

Yesterday around 11AM the world became a darker place as we said goodbye to a truly wonderful person, Robin Williams. 

Robin Williams was born July 21, 1951 in Chicago, IL. His break out appearance on Happy Days as Mork put him on the spotlight as well as in people's hearts. He is generally known for his comedic performances such as Popeye, Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and more. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, and he received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his perfomance in Good Will Hunting, as well as received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Grammy Awards. 

Robin Williams suffered from depression throughout his life and finally succumbed to his illness on August 11, 2014 in Tiburon, CA. He's suffered by his wife, and three children. We pray for them through this tough time as it is never easy to lose someone so dear, especially someone who was loved by millions. 

Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people around the world. If you yourself suffer from depression or know someone who is suffering with depression and need to speak to someone please call the USA hotline 1.800.273.8255. Suicide is never the answer. 

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 12 Aug. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Williams#Illness_and_death>
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Posted by Joel Pichardo on August 12th, 2014 1:41 PM

Voted Best Place to Live!


Established in 1889 Windermere, Florida sits in Western Orange County and is surrounded by the beautiful Butler Chain of Lakes that provide the perfect setting for one of Central Florida’s most elegant and unique communities. It’s no wonder that Windermere is becoming one of the most sought after cities to live in by many and is one of the top ten places to live in Central Florida. 



This city has become known for its luxury living lifestyle and has some of the most expensive homes in Orlando. Windermere is also known for the best shopping and dining, as well as being home to some celebrities such as Johnny Damon, Skip Kendall, Shaquille O'Neal, and more! 


 

Even with its gigantic mansions and luxury lifestyle feel Windermere still holds onto it's small town and historic charm that have won the hearts of many. The Downtown Windermere holds its small shops, boutiques and cafes that make it so completely unique. So if you're looking for that small town feel with big luxury this is the city for you! Call SunStar Realty, LLC today and let us help you find that piece of tranquility you've always desired.

 

"TownOfWindermere.com." TownOfWindermere.com. 1 Jan. 2005. Web. 8 Aug. 2014. <http://www.townofwindermere.com/>.

"Windermere, Florida." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Apr. 2014. Web. 8 Aug. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windermere,_Florida>.

Photos:

"MapSeeing.com." MapSeeingcom RSS. 1 Jan. 2006. Web. 8 Aug. 2014. <http://www.mapseeing.com/2007/04/tiger-woods-house-windermere-florida/>.

"TownOfWindermere.com." TownOfWindermere.com. 1 Jan. 2005. Web. 8 Aug. 2014. <http://www.townofwindermere.com/>.


 

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Posted by Joel Pichardo on August 8th, 2014 3:55 PM
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Posted by Maritza Nieves on May 13th, 2014 9:34 AM



Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on May 12th, 2014 9:23 AM
  • Harry P. Leu Gardens - Free admission for moms on Mother's Day. Open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, visitors can explore the 50-acre botanical park, which includes the largest camellia collection in eastern North America. More info: 407-246-2620.

Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on May 9th, 2014 1:24 PM

Nearly 40% of home buyers are thinking about upgrading to a house on the high end of the market, according to a recent survey.

Even though every luxury home depends on the whims of the owners, builders, and dreamers behind these decadent digs, there are a few features consumers have deemed most important. A chef’s kitchen, vibrant views, and an expansive master bedroom suite were cited in the survey as the most important features by buyers considering a luxury purchase.

With those luxurious attributes in mind, we scouted out a few high-end features in homes currently on the market. These properties are all asking $2 million or (much) more, but if luxury is what you want, these places deliver…


1. Views  385 Golden Oak Dr  Portola Valley, CA – $5.1 million


2. Chef’s Kitchen  11459 Bellagio Rd  Los Angeles, CA – $18,995,000


3. Outdoor Kitchen  5551 E Orchid Ln  Paradise Valley, AZ – $4,295,000




4. Water Slide  7724 E Santa Catalina Dr  Scottsdale, AZ – $2,299,000



5. Full Bar  24127 Long Valley Rd  Hidden Hills, CA – $3,549,000


6. Infinity Pool  2095 Temple Hills Dr  Laguna Beach, CA – $12,888,000



7. Outdoor Living Room  570 Allendale Rd  Pasadena, CA – $5,995,000






Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on May 8th, 2014 9:54 AM



WASHINGTON—At the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, President Barack Obama poked fun at the clumsy rollout of his health-care reform plan, relations with Congress and Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential aspirations.

A few thousand finely-dressed guests packed into the Washington Hilton ballroom for the event, which marked the 100th anniversary of the White House Correspondents’ Association, founded in 1914 with the mission “to advocate for reporters on that historic assignment.”

The crowd of journalists, influential Washington leaders and a smattering of celebrities at the dinner got the chance to see Mr. Obama and comic actor Joel McHale deliver humorous remarks, as is traditional at the event.

Mr. McHale delivered one of his best lines in a prerecorded video prefacing his live act, in which he said he’s very politically minded, “which is why I’m on the E Channel.”

Mr. Obama brought his “A” game to Saturday’s dinner. In his remarks, Mr. Obama joked about the launch of healthcare.gov, saying “it could have gone better“ and saying a theme of his presidency was ”control alt delete.”

He said he was a bit offended when daughter Sasha asked former President Bill Clinton to speak to her class for career day, rather than him. And he jabbed at Congress, saying if you want to get paid for not working, you should have to run for Congress.

Mr. Obama mentioned Hillary Clinton having to dodge a flying shoe, referring to an April incident in Las Vegas where a woman threw a shoe at her during a speech. The remark was illustrated with an image of her potential Democratic presidential rival, Vice President Joe Biden, winding up to throw a sneaker.

The first White House Correspondents Dinner was held in 1920. Today, it’s best known as the once-yearly occasion when the sitting president breaks bread with journalists and thousands of guests. More informally, it’s known as the “nerd prom,” or “Hollywood for ugly people.”

Says the association’s website: “The journalists of today’s WHCA share the spirit of those early forerunners, pushing for access to the president and members of the administration amid the challenges of a modern media landscape.”

Celebrity attendance surged for Mr. Obama’s first dinner, as many of those present funded or stumped for the nation’s first African-American president.

But according to the Hollywood Reporter, only few A-list celebrities were scheduled to attend the dinner this year, six years into Mr. Obama’s tenure as president. Robert DeNiro was among them, along with “House of Cards” actress Robin Wright, whose haircut is much imitated in D.C. Cast from the Duck Dynasty show also attended.

By:ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON



Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on May 6th, 2014 12:56 PM

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Posted by Maritza Nieves on May 6th, 2014 9:32 AM

Cinco De Mayo party snack, 7 layer dip. Perfect single serving side dish for a buffet, pair with a small bag of chips!

HAPPY CINCO!!



Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on May 5th, 2014 9:53 AM




Nearly 122,000 Florida homeowners are missing out on $80 million worth of remediation checks in compensation for moving after a foreclosure or selling their house in a short sale, according to a status report released Wednesday.

The report found that 490,025 Floridians cashed in $369 million in checks as a result of wrongdoing by lenders such as Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Homeowners who don’t realize they’re eligible for the program, however, often confuse checks with spam and toss them in the garbage.

The distribution company responsible for mailing the correspondence is searching for 500,000 homeowners nationwide whose checks were returned undeliverable.
– Kerry Barger

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Posted by Maritza Nieves on May 2nd, 2014 9:45 AM




What is believed to be one of the world’s most haunted islands may become home to a luxury hotel.







Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on May 1st, 2014 11:58 AM

 8 Ways To Make A Small Space Seem Bigger (PHOTOS)

While most of us might not live in a 450-square-foot apartment, chances are our homes don't seem to have enough space. Whether you live in an apartment with a "weird" layout or have a room in your house with petite proportions, here are eight small-space ideas that create the illusion of more square footage.

Take The Doors Off Cabinets

To answer your question right off the bat: Yes, you have to be a bit more organized.


Paint Horizontal Stripes


 
Black and white is always stylish, but the stripe treatment can make a room seem wider.

 

 

Be Selective About What You Bring Into Your Home

 
Less is more -- never underestimate the power of breathing room in a small space.


Paint A Statement Wall


 
Whether you go dark or light, this creates depth which can make a room seem more spacious.

Get (Very) Creative With Wall Space

Got dozens of shoes? Put 'em up.

 

Hang Curtains All The Way To The Ceiling

This creates the illusion of a higher ceiling.


Incorporate Mirrored Finishes

They reflect light (revolutionary, we know) which makes a room seem bigger.


Use A Rug To Define A Space

In an open floor plan, an area rug can turn a seating arrangement into a "room."

 by Brie Dyas

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Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 29th, 2014 2:37 PM

Survey Data found men more likely to develop a new home crush on a weekly basis

 

Today released the results of its Home Crush Survey, which revealed that men and women are notably different when it comes to developing a crush on a home. In this survey, a home crush is defined as a home a consumer likes and is drawn back to looking at more than once online or in person. The survey reported having a home crush.

The survey is to see how searching for 'the one' in real estate correlates to searching for 'the one' in love and it found that they are very similar. Buyers have to evaluate crushes based on turn ons and offs and whether the home is in their league, so they often find themselves spending a good amount of time checking out their crush online.

Majority of all surveyed consumers report having a home crush:

  • 69 percent of those surveyed reported that they have had a house crush
  • 31 percent revealed that they have not had a crush on a house

Another similarity between romance and real estate love is that men and women prioritize differently. Men are more likely to move from one crush to another on a weekly basis and consider a garage as an important home feature. Women tend to find a new home crush on a monthly basis and swoon for updated appliances and fixtures. However, the survey found that women and men share some common ground in that outdoor living spaces topped the list as the attribute most likely to make them fall in real estate love. Whether it's love or real estate, having a short list of deal breakers is critical for finding 'the one' to help buyers weed through the crushes to find the home of their dreams.

 

Of the survey respondents who have had a home crush:

Women are more likely to cultivate crushes on homes that are out of their league financially:

   -- Of the WOMEN included in the survey…

  • 41 percent revealed that their home crush is out of their price range

    -- Of the MEN included in the survey...

  • 30 percent indicated their home crush is out of their price range

    How often men and women establish a new crush on a home:

    -- Of the WOMEN included in the survey...

  • 29 percent indicated they cultivate a new house crush weekly

    -- Of the men included in the survey...

  • 36 percent indicated they find a new house crush weekly

    Top attributes that make consumers fall in real estate love:

    -- Of the WOMEN included in the survey...

  • 54 percent reported that outdoor living spaces make them fall in real estate love
  • 42 percent shared open floor plans
  • 29 percent swoon for curb appeal
  • 29 percent revealed updated appliances and fixtures

   -- Of the MEN included in the survey...

  • 46 percent indicated outdoor living spaces make them fall in real estate love
  • 40 percentage swoon for garages
  • 35 percent reported curb appeal
  • 30 percent revealed open floor plans
Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 29th, 2014 9:52 AM



At 91 years old, real estate agent Claire Abrams has a time-tested strategy for selling homes.

"I take customers out on the golf course," Abrams said, "and if you don't beat them too badly, you might sell them a house."

Woody Gorbach, a year younger than Abrams, also sells real estate full-time, mostly in south Palm Beach. He tried retiring once, in 1998, at age 74. It wasn't for him.

Even in an era when people work well past the traditional retirement age of 65, Abrams and Gorbach remain exceptional. And they work for the same company, though in separate offices.

They insist they don't need the money; they keep working for the thrill of the deal.

"I love the action," Gorbach said.

Married for 60 years, Gorbach is an Army veteran who served in World War II and spent most of his 60-year real estate career in Connecticut, where he primarily was a mortgage broker.

Here, he focuses on condominiums up to $500,000 along South Ocean Boulevard. His son, Donald, a senior broker associate, said his father handles 10 to 12 sales a year.

Gorbach concedes that many buyers and sellers want to work with younger agents who are savvy with social media and electronic transactions. But experience and personality still count for something, he said.

"I can give them everything youth can give them — even more," Gorbach said, sitting in his office wearing a blue-and-white-pinstriped shirt, tan slacks and loafers without socks. "I love people. I don't feel 90."

Gorbach and Abrams had never met until this week. Abrams and her business partner, Suzanne Block, sold about three dozen homes last year. Abrams has sold so many in the 324-home community that some joke the club should be renamed DelClaire.

She grew up in Toronto and moved to Florida in 1988. Her most memorable transactions were in Scarsdale, N.Y., in the 1970s, when she sold homes to several New York Rangers hockey players — and ended up attending hockey games for free.

Her best year ever: 1995, when she earned more than $1 million in commissions

A widow with two children and four granddaughters, Abrams stands only 4 feet 9, but it's best not to underestimate her. She once rattled off a phone number from memory that Block had given her six weeks before.

"Real estate flows through her veins like water," said Block, 53. "If you think she's just this little old lady, watch out." "I think she's the type of agent that other agents should aspire to be," he said.

Dan Lambert is part of an investment group that has worked with Gorbach on about 10 deals over the past decade. Next week, Lambert is scheduled to close on the sale of his mother's condo, and Gorbach is his agent for that, too.

"I didn't even know he was 90," said Lambert, 52. "It's a non-issue."

Neither Abrams nor Gorbach intends to call it a career anytime soon. Abrams might get indignant if you even mention it.

"Are you kidding?" she said. "If I retired, it would be the end of me. I really believe real estate is what's keeping me alive."

Copyright © 2014, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
by: Pawl Owners

Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 28th, 2014 9:52 AM



The National Housing Trend Report for March was just released, and it offers some great news for spring home buyers. The market is much healthier this year, with growth in inventory and days on the market. With modest price increases present, the overall outlook is good.

The stats showed a 9.5 percent growth over March of last year, with 1,841,844 units at a median price of $199,900, which was also 5.3 percent higher. Last year showed an imbalance, with a shorter supply and a heavy increase in home prices.

Bidding wars in many markets last year frequently elevated offer prices beyond the reach of first-time buyers who could scarcely save for the down payment, While inventory is still low, the continuing annual lift in the number of homes on the market that we've seen over the first months of 2014 is an indicator that buying conditions this year may be notably improved from the frenzied pace of last spring.

More homes on the market is always a good sign for first-time buyers and those looking to move up. There is less competition and makes it that much easier to get a home.

Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 25th, 2014 9:24 AM
Photo_Press_Live_CCElena_web2

  • Dates: April 26, 2014 - April 26, 2014
  • Times: 7 p.m.
  • Venue: Bok Tower Gardens
  • Address:1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales, FL 33853

April 26 - Concert Under the Stars at 7 p.m. The Gardens’ premier outdoor live music event! Concert Under the Stars features annually-changing blue-jazz, pop-grass performances for all ages in a unique festival atmosphere. This year’s concert includes progressive American folk rock and “newgrass” band, The Greencards. Advance: $20 adults. $8 children ages 5-12. Children under 5 admitted free. Day of: $25 per person. $10 children ages 5-12. Tickets include all-day admission. www.boktowergardens.org; 863-676-1408.






A Night of Roots-Rock, Newgrass & Homestyle Americana April 26!

The countdown is on for the Gardens’ premier outdoor live music event!

Concert Under the Stars features annually-changing performances in a unique festival atmosphere. This year’s lineup features progressive American folk rock and “newgrass” band, The Greencards, along with the roots-rock and country sounds of Connor Christian & Southern Gothic.

Advance: $20 adults. $8 children ages 5-12. Children under 5 admitted free. Day of: $25 per person. $10 children ages 5-12. Tickets include all-day admission.

A Night of Roots-Rock, Newgrass & Homestyle Americana April 26!

The countdown is on for the Gardens’ premier outdoor live music event!

Concert Under the Stars features annually-changing performances in a unique festival atmosphere. This year’s lineup features progressive American folk rock and “newgrass” band, The Greencards, along with the roots-rock and country sounds of Connor Christian & Southern Gothic.

Advance: $20 adults. $8 children ages 5-12. Children under 5 admitted free. Day of: $25 per person. $10 children ages 5-12. Tickets include all-day admission.

A Night of Roots-Rock, Newgrass & Homestyle Americana April 26!

The countdown is on for the Gardens’ premier outdoor live music event!

Concert Under the Stars features annually-changing performances in a unique festival atmosphere. This year’s lineup features progressive American folk rock and “newgrass” band, The Greencards, along with the roots-rock and country sounds of Connor Christian & Southern Gothic.

Advance: $20 adults. $8 children ages 5-12. Children under 5 admitted free. Day of: $25 per person. $10 children ages 5-12. Tickets include all-day admission.

A Night of Roots-Rock, Newgrass & Homestyle Americana April 26!

The countdown is on for the Gardens’ premier outdoor live music event!

Concert Under the Stars features annually-changing performances in a unique festival atmosphere. This year’s lineup features progressive American folk rock and “newgrass” band, The Greencards, along with the roots-rock and country sounds of Connor Christian & Southern Gothic.

Advance: $20 adults. $8 children ages 5-12. Children under 5 admitted free. Day of: $25 per person. $10 children ages 5-12. Tickets include all-day admission.

A Night of Roots-Rock, Newgrass & Homestyle Americana April 26!

The countdown is on for the Gardens’ premier outdoor live music event!

Concert Under the Stars features annually-changing performances in a unique festival atmosphere. This year’s lineup features progressive American folk rock and “newgrass” band, The Greencards, along with the roots-rock and country sounds of Connor Christian & Southern Gothic.

Advance: $20 adults. $8 children ages 5-12. Children under 5 admitted free. Day of: $25 per person. $10 children ages 5-12. Tickets include all-day admission.

Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 24th, 2014 3:05 PM
Vacation Home Sales Rise in 2013; Investment Purchases Fall

Vacation home sales rose in 2013, while investment purchases fell below the higher levels seen in previous years, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR’s 2014 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey found vacation-home sales jumped 29.7 percent to an estimated 717,000.

Investment-home sales fell 8.5 percent to an estimated 1.1 million in 2013, down from 1.21 million in 2012.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun expected an improvement in the vacation home market. "Growth in the equity markets has greatly benefited high net-worth households, thereby providing the wherewithal and confidence to purchase recreational property," he said. "However, vacation-home sales are still about one-third below the peak activity seen in 2006.”

Vacation-home sales accounted for 13 percent of all transactions last year, their highest share of sales since 2006. Investment sales fell 20 percent in 2013 from 24 percent in 2012.

Yun said the retreat in investment activity is understandable. "Investment buyers slowed their purchasing in 2013 because prices were rising quickly along with a declining availability of discounted foreclosures over the course of the year," he said.

Yun commented that home prices had sharply over corrected in 2011 and 2012, leading many investors to purchase homes cheaply to turn into rental properties. As market conditions return to normal, investors must now evaluate their purchases more carefully—and judiciously.

The report by NAR found, "The median investment-home price was $130,000 in 2013, up 13.0 percent from $115,000 in 2012, while the median vacation-home price was $168,700, up 12.5 percent from $150,000 in 2012."

All-cash purchases remained sizable in the investment- and vacation-home market: 46 percent of investment buyers paid cash in 2013, as well as 38 percent of vacation-home buyers.

Foreclosures also served as a verdant market for investors. 47 percent of investment homes purchased in 2013 were distressed homes. 42 percent of vacation homes were distressed homes.

Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 24th, 2014 2:01 PM

    Dates: April 27, 2014 - April 27, 2014

    Times: From: 12:00 PM to 7:00 PM

    Location: Kissimmee Lakefront Park

    Address: 250 Lakeshore Blvd., Kissimmee, FL 34741

    Admission: Free

    Phone: 407-856-4612 

Free event showcases the best of Caribbean culture through food, music, dance and crafts! Entertainment includes Steelband, Reggae, Soca, Latin & Chutney.




Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 22nd, 2014 1:03 PM
A bathroom remodel is a top way to increase your home’s value and give it a refresh in time for spring. If you are looking to give your master ensuite, guest bathroom, or kids bathroom a new look, you can complete a bathroom remodel for less than $20,000. A midrange bathroom remodel costs on average, $16,128 and you can recoup 72.5% of the remodeling costs during resale. Use the tips below update your space and to add value to your home.


1.) Design plan: The layout and functionality for your new bathroom should be determined by who will be using it the most.
•    Kids bathroom: Consider a double sink to help mornings and bedtime go faster, a stepstool built in to the vanity so little ones can reach the sink, and no-slip tile to avoid any bath time accidents.
•    Guest bath: Help guests feel at home by incorporating extra shelving so they have a place to store their items without feeling intrusive. Consider built-in shower shelves, and a vessel sink to allow for more under vanity storage space.
•    Master ensuite:  incorporate a spa-like quality into your home. Consider adding a heated marble floor (the small space will keep the cost down), a walk-in shower, and plenty of natural light.
2.) Assess your skill set: While you may have the vision, be honest with yourself regarding your skill set and knowledge. Do you have the plumbing, flooring and general contracting experience to successfully complete your remodeling project? If you could use a professional hand find remodeling professionals in your area.
3.) Select appropriate finishes: Bathrooms can become dated in as little as five years. If you go trendy, consider looking into Ikea to keep your investment to a minimum. If you are looking for higher-end finishes, consult a designer to help select neutral, timeless finishes.
4.) Keep plumbing and ventilation in place: Two of the most important functional features of a bathroom are the plumbing and the ventilation. Surprise plumbing incidents can be costly, so base all renovations around the existing plumbing. Avoid blocking the main ventilation source such as a vent fan or window. If your bathroom doesn’t currently have a source of ventilation, this should be at the top of your remodeling to-do list, to be proactive about preventing mold.
5.) Storage capabilities: Does your home have adequate linen or hall closet space, or does your bathroom need to serve as the primary storage hub for towels, linens, toiletries and cleaning supplies? Consider built-in wall shelves, or wall-to-wall ceiling storage with built-in recessed lights.
*A mid-range bathroom update an existing 5-by-7-foot bathroom. Replace all fixtures to include 30-by-60-inch porcelain-on-steel tub with 4-by-4-inch ceramic tile surround; new single-lever temperature and pressure-balanced shower control; standard white toilet; solid-surface vanity counter with integral sink; recessed medicine cabinet with light; ceramic tile floor; vinyl wallpaper.

 by Deanna Lawley

Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 22nd, 2014 9:57 AM

By Neal J. Leitereg,

Alex Rodriguez won't be cashing any paychecks from the New York Yankees this year, but the embattled Major League Baseball superstar is still finding ways to get paid.

The currently suspended slugger has turned a small profit after flipping a luxury unit at the Mei Condominiums building in Miami Beach, Fla. The Wall Street Journal reports the sale of the condo closed last week for $2.575 million, with Rodriguez's sister, Sotheby’s International Realtor Arlene Susy Dunand, representing him in the deal.

Rodriguez paid $2 million for the property last year and spent a considerable amount to update the unit, which included commissioning designer Briggs Edward Solomon to oversee a complete overhaul. A-Rod had asked $3.2 million when he first began shopping the unit in December, but eventually lowered the price to slightly less than $3 million in January.

The 1,725-square-foot floor plan has a modern, whitewashed design that includes hardwood flooring, custom contemporary finishes and a wall of windows overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.


A modernized kitchen features custom cabinetry and top-tier appliances, such as an espresso maker and a wine cooler.


Additionally, the unit was outfitted with a number of smart-home features and flat-screen televisions. Outside, a long patio area faces the water.




Residents of the Mei Condominiums building are also granted access to a number of perks: valet parking, a private fitness facility, a pool and spa.




Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 21st, 2014 10:51 AM
Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 18th, 2014 2:53 PM

DSC_9634

 
DSC_9315Add the butter to a pot or large saucepan and melt it over medium heat.

DSC_9317Throw in a bag of mini-marshmallows.

 
DSC_9320And stir it until the marshmallows are melty and sinful.

DSC_9323Throw in 6 cups of Rice Krispies…

DSC_9325And stir it around gently until it’s all sticky and gooey and combined.

DSC_9327Next, lightly spray the inside of a plastic Easter egg with cooking spray.

You know. Those plastic Easter eggs? The ones you think are taking over your house one minute, then the next minute, when you actually need them to photograph a recipe, you can’t find one to save your life so you drive over to your sister-in-law’s house and borrow hers?

Yes, those plastic Easter eggs.

 
DSC_9342Stuff one half with the Rice Krispie mixture, then press a chocolate egg into the center. (The official Rice Krispie recipe calls for hollowing out a well and placing small candies in the center, but my motto is “Go Big Chocolate Easter Egg or Go Home.”)

DSC_9343Fill the other half of the egg with more cereal mixture, then press the two halves together until they’re totally closed. The egg should be full enough to meet with a little resistance as you close the egg, but not so full that you feel like you’re crushing the life out of the cereal.

DSC_9334A few seconds later, gently pull the egg out of…well, the egg! I found that the longer you let them sit in the plastic eggs, the harder it was to get out.

DSC_9339Sprinkle them with different springy colors of sprinkles, and place them in an egg holder to let them set.

 
DSC_9628Let the kids do this part!

Just have a broom nearby.

DSC_9625

Lovely and adorable.


Krispy Easter Eggs

*Prep Time: 20 Minutes         *Cook Time: 5 Minutes
*Difficulty:Easy                      *Servings:12

Ingredients
    4 Tablespoons Butter
    1 package (10 Ounces) Mini Marshmallows
    6 cups Rice Krispies
    Assorted Sprinkles
    Small Chocolate Easter Eggs
    Plastic Easter Eggs

Preparation Instruction:
In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat, then add rice cereal and stir until well coated.
Lightly spray interior of the plastic eggs with non-stick cooking spray. If mixture is too sticky, you can also spray your hands. Fill both sides of the plastic egg with rice cereal mixture, slightly over-filling one side. Press chocolate egg in the center on one side of the egg, then close the plastic egg to shape it. (It should be full enough to meet with a little resistance as you close it.) Gently release the rice cereal egg from the mold, decorate with your choice of sprinkles and set aside in egg crate until set.


Posted by Ree
Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 17th, 2014 9:11 AM

Mortgage borrowers who want to lock into current low rates are being encouraged to act quickly as recent high rates in the capital markets are likely to drive up mortgage prices.

Help to Buy's second phase begins on Monday

Mortgage borrowers thinking of locking into current ultra-low rates should act immediately, brokers have warned, as rates in the capital markets spiked last week and could drive mortgage rates up sooner than previously thought.

A few lenders increased the cost of their fixed-rate mortgages late last week, possibly as a direct result.

The move is a surprise because it is barely 10 days since Mark Carney, the Bank of England Governor, indicated that rates would stay low until 2016. His speech – in which he spelt out what is coined “forward guidance” – at first prompted mortgage commentators to predict fixed-rate deals could fall. They already stood at their lowest ever levels.

But last week markets acted in defiance of Mr Carney, with banks and other lenders pushing up the “interbank” borrowing rates they charge each other. Traders were in effect ignoring Mr Carney’s guidance and anticipating higher rates ahead of his schedule.

This led to mortgage brokers urging their clients to remortgage now into low, long-term fixed rates, rather than delay. Ray Boulger of John Charcol said rates had “bottomed out” and said: “This reinforces our recent message for borrowers, which is that fixed rates are on the floor and for most people there is little or nothing to be gained by waiting.”

Posted in:General
Posted by Maritza Nieves on April 15th, 2014 2:20 PM

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