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Serving South Florida

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For over 35 years

First Time Homebuyers

Shop for a Mortgage as Rates Rise

It is always advisable to shop for a mortgage, but as rates rise the savings can be significant. Each lender offers different loan programs and sets different borrower requirements. It’s important that you get quotes from several types of financial institutions, mortgage lenders, and brokers to find one that offers the best loan program for you.
Banks
Banks are for-profit financial institutions that typically offer several different products such as mortgages, credit cards, checking and savings accounts, and more. Many large banks have branches nationwide or throughout a specific region where you can get in-person support, and they also might offer a wider selection of mortgage products.
One downside to banks is that they tend to charge slightly higher interest rates on home loans compared to credit unions, according to a side-by-side comparison by the National Credit Union Administration.
Credit Unions
Credit unions are nonprofit organizations that offer banking services to their members. In addition to offering lower interest rates on mortgages and other financial products, credit unions have historically earned the highest customer satisfaction ratings.
However, you’ll need to join a credit union to get a mortgage. Some credit unions are open to anyone, but others may require you to work in a certain industry or live in a certain area.
Mortgage Lenders
You might also find a home loan with another type of lender. For instance, online lenders, such as Rocket Mortgage, offer an end-to-end digital process. You may be able to get pre-approved, upload loan documents, and close on the loan all online. By saving money on overhead costs, online lenders may also be able to offer lower rates or special discounts.
Mortgage Brokers
Mortgage brokers are licensed to act as a go-between with you and your lender. When working with a mortgage broker, you’ll have access to a variety of residential loan programs from different lenders. The broker doesn’t make a loan. Instead, the broker has a variety of lenders they work with.
In general, a mortgage broker will have a lot of knowledge of different home loan programs, and a good idea of what you might qualify for, including what interest rate you’re eligible for.
Shop For Best Rates
Getting rate quotes from multiple lenders and comparing offers is one of the easiest ways to save money on your mortgage. That’s because the interest rate is one of the key components of the mortgage’s total cost, and rates can vary considerably with each lender. Despite this, about half of homebuyers skip shopping for the best rate.
To find the best loan for you, research all costs of the loan. Knowing just the amount of the monthly payment or the interest rate isn’t enough. Even more important than knowing the interest rate is knowing the APR — the total cost you pay for credit, as a yearly interest rate. The interest rate is a very big factor in calculating the APR, but the APR also includes costs like points and other credit costs, like mortgage insurance. Knowing the APR makes it easier to compare “apples to apples” when considering mortgage offers.
When you’re shopping around, you may see ads or get offers claiming to have rates that are very low or fixed. But they may not tell you the true terms of the deal as the law requires. The ad may feature buzz words that are signs that you’ll want to dig a little deeper.
  • Low or fixed rate. A loan’s interest rate might be fixed or low only for a short introductory period — sometimes as short as 30 days. Then your rate and payment could increase dramatically. Look for the APR: under federal law if the interest rate is in the ad, the APR also should be there. Although it should be clearly stated, you may instead need to look for it buried in the fine print or deep within a website.
  • Very low payment. This might seem like a good deal, but it could mean you would pay only the interest on the money you borrowed (called the principal). Eventually, though, you would have to pay the principal. That means you would have higher monthly payments or a “balloon” payment — a one-time payment that is usually much larger than your usual payment.
You also may find lenders that offer to let you make monthly payments where you pay only a portion of the interest you owe each month. The unpaid interest is added to the principal that you owe. That means your loan balance will increase over time. Instead of paying off your loan, you end up borrowing more. This is known as negative amortization. It can be risky because you can end up owing more on your home than what you could get if you sold it.
Find out your total payment. While the interest rate determines how much interest you owe each month, you also want to know what you must pay for your total mortgage payment each month. The calculation of your total monthly mortgage payment considers these factors, sometimes called PITI:
  • principal (money you borrowed)
  • interest (what you pay the lender to borrow the money)
  • taxes and
  • homeowners’ insurance
“Mortgage rates rose again as markets continue to manage the prospect of more aggressive monetary policy due to elevated inflation,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Not only are mortgage rates rising but the dispersion of rates has increased, suggesting that borrowers can meaningfully benefit from shopping around for a better rate.”

2022 Hurricane Preparedness Guide

2022 Hurricane Season
2022 Hurricane Preparedness Guide
Look carefully at the safety actions associated with each type of hurricane hazard and prepare your family disaster plan accordingly. But remember this is only a guide. The first and most important thing anyone should do when facing a hurricane threat is to use common sense.

Know Hurricane Terms:

Hurricane Watch – A hurricane is possible within thirty-six hours. Stay tuned for additional information.
Hurricane Warning – A hurricane is expected within twenty-four hours. You may be advised to evacuate. If so, evacuate immediately.
Storm Surge – Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level 15 feet or more.
Ask your local emergency preparedness office about evacuation plans. Learn evacuation routes.
  • Plan a place to meet your family in case you are separated from one another in the hurricane.
  • Assemble a disaster supplies kit ( See information below)
  • Board up windows. Permanent storm shutters and impact glass offer the best protection. Also, you can use 5/8″ marine plywood. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Know how to shut off utilities.
  • Make a record of your personal property (take digital photos or video tape the contents of your home and/or business and keep in a waterproof container with you along with your homeowners insurance policy or better yet, upload everything to the Cloud)
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Reduce the water level in your pool by about 1 foot. DO NOT drain your pool.
  • Charge cell phones and back up batteries
  • Get extra cash since ATMs will be inoperative if power is lost.
  • Consider flood insurance and purchase it well in advance.

Have a Place To Go:

Develop a family hurricane preparedness plan before an actual storm threatens your area. If your family hurricane preparedness plan includes evacuation to a safer location for any of the reasons specified with in this web site, then it is important to consider the following points:
If ordered to evacuate, do not wait or delay your departure.
If possible, leave before local officials issue an evacuation order for your area. Even a slight delay in starting your evacuation will result in significantly longer travel times as traffic congestion and weather deteriorates worsens.
Select an evacuation destination that is nearest to your home, preferably in the same county, or at least minimize the distance over which you must travel in order to reach your intended shelter location. In choosing your destination, keep in mind that the hotels and other sheltering options in most inland metropolitan areas are likely to be filled very quickly in a large, multi-county hurricane evacuation event.
If you decide to evacuate to another county or region, be prepared to wait in traffic.
The large number of people in this state who must evacuate during a hurricane will probably cause massive delays and major congestion along most designated evacuation routes; the larger the storm, the greater the probability of traffic jams and extended travel times.
If possible, make arrangements to stay with the friend or relative who resides closest to your home and who will not have to evacuate. Discuss with your intended host the details of your family evacuation plan well before the beginning of the hurricane season.
If a hotel or motel is your final intended destination during an evacuation, make reservations before you leave. Most hotel and motels will fill quickly once evacuations begin. The longer you wait to make reservations, even if an official evacuation order has not been issued for your area or county, the less likely you are to find hotel/motel room vacancies, especially along interstate highways and in major metropolitan areas.
If you are unable to stay with friends or family and no hotels/motels rooms are available, then as a last resort go to a shelter. Remember, shelters are not designed for comfort and do not usually accept pets. Bring your disaster supply kit with you to the shelter. Find Pet-Friendly hotels and motels.
Make sure that you fill up your car with gas, before you leave.

Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies Makes Sense.

Get Ready Now.

If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or hurricane depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what’s best for you is typically what’s best for your animals.
If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if possible. However, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets.
Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.

Disaster Supply Kit

I personally prepare a hurricane closet in May with all the needed supplies and materials so that there is never a last minute rush to the store when the shelves have been cleaned out.
Water :
  • Plan on one gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days, for drinking, washing, cooking, and sanitation. Extra water for pets
  • Store as much as possible in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles.
  • Avoid using breakable containers, such as glass bottles or mason jars.
  • Fill bathtubs with water for bathing and washing dishes
Food :
  • Store at least a three day supply of non perishable food.
  • Choose foods that do not require refrigeration or cooking.
  • Choose foods that are healthy and high nutrition type.  (Canned meats, fruits and vegetables, protein or fruit bars, dry cereal or granola, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, crackers, canned juices, non-perishable pasteurized milk, high enery foods, vitamins, food for infants and pets, comfort/stress foods)
Supplies and Equipment:
  • A battery operated radio with extra batteries
  • NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • Blankets or sleeping bags ( store in trash bags to keep dry)
  • Paper plates and utensils, including a non electric can opener
  • Candles and matches in a waterproof container
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, moist towelettes, and other personal grooming items
  • Paper towels and toilet paper
  • First aid kit and medicines ( ask your pharmacist or drug supply company for a one month hurricane supply and store in water proof container)
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Cell phone and plug in battery operated charger
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Books, games and toys to keep kids occupied ( remember those batteries)
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records, COVID Vaccine Passport, in a waterproof, portable container
  • Complete change of clothing including long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes
  • Insect repellent and sun-screen
  • Paper and pencil
  • Local Maps
  • Make sure to keep all of your medications filled.
Business Preparedness
* Have an emergency communication plan in place before the storm hits. How will co-workers stay in contact if the physical location of a business is damaged?
* Turn off all non-critical work devices before the storm hits.
* Alert a third party about business evacuation plans in case a storm makes it impossible to get to your place of business.
* Protect important business documents that you may need quickly, such as property insurance policies.
* Have cash on hand to pay employees or contractors after the storm.
* Know which employees are certified in CPR, EMT, etc.
* If possible, disconnect a building’s main electrical feeds.
* Have a plan to notify all employees, post-storm, about damage and how you’ll move forward.
* Review contracts that are date sensitive and have a backup plan in place to handle potential problems.
* Assess all functions that could be impacted by a lapse in business – cash flow, bills, budgets and any upcoming events.

Contract Contingencies Are Returning for Home Buyers

Spiraling mortgage rates on top of record-high and still-rising home prices are leading many experts to predict the real estate market is on the verge of a correction—if it isn’t already in one. They anticipate home prices will flatten, or even go down a bit, in certain markets.
The result is that new buyers would be paying about 50% more for the same home compared with a year ago in their monthly mortgage bills. And that’s greatly diminishing the buying power of many Americans—especially during a time when inflation has hit a 40-year high, gas prices have spiked, and even rent levels are nationally hitting new highs.
However, experts don’t believe the market is in a bubble or a crash is in the cards, like during the Great Recession. The nation is still suffering from a housing shortage that has reached crisis proportions at a time when many millennials are reaching the age when they start to consider homeownership. That’s likely to keep prices high.
In addition, lenders are giving mortgages only to the most qualified borrowers. These buyers are less likely to wind up in foreclosure. And prices aren’t expected to plummet unless another wave of foreclosures and short sales sweeps through the nation.
The real estate market nationwide is slowly shifting back to a more normal market and may be a Buyers’ market in some areas. In the past couple of years buyers have removed contingencies to woo sellers and win bidding wars.
Price is becoming more negotiable and the need to waive contingencies is hopefully becoming a thing of the past.
As the market has started to shift toward a more neutral market, buyers are regaining some power again and able to use contingencies to better protect themselves. As the market shifts, even in red hot markets, more contingencies are likely to appear as part of the process.
Mortgage and inspection contingencies are likely to become more negotiable in included in contracts for the Buyer’s protection, but contracts contingent on the sale of your current home is still not in the cards for most buyers.

Pit Falls of Post-Closing Occupancy Agreements

More sellers want to stay in their home after closing, sometimes for weeks or months. In many cases, they want to do it for a fraction of the fair market rent or even for free. Agreeing to their request gives some buyers an edge over the competition in a bidding war, but it comes with risks.

The Post-Closing Occupancy Agreement allows the Seller to remain in the property for a designated period after the Buyer takes ownership of the property. As easy as a post- occupancy agreement sounds, there are serious implications arising out of a Seller requesting to remain in occupancy of residential property after the Seller conveys title to the Buyer.

When the seller continues to live in the home after closing, all the risks lie with the buyer. What could go wrong?  Plenty…. How long will the seller stay? How much will they pay, or will they pay at all? Who is responsible for utilities, HOA fees, property taxes, insurance, pool and yard maintenance, et. al.?  If they want to extend the lease, is that possible?  What if they decide not to move out?  What if the property is damaged after the closing?  What if they do not pay the bills?

Despite all these potential and very serious problems, there are some things you can do as a buyer to protect yourself if you decide to agree to this arrangement. Of paramount importance is to retain an attorney to review the Purchase Contract before signing and to prepare the lease or post-occupancy terms prior to Closing. Considerations that need to be negotiated with the Seller include but are not limited to….

  1. Enter a formal lease?
  2. Security deposit?
  3. Escrow proceeds from the sale to cover damages, unpaid bills, et. al.?
  4. Seller secure renters’ insurance.
  5. Capture the entire rent payment from Sellers proceeds at closing and hold in escrow?
  6. Require a walk-through of the property in advance of returning the Seller’s proceeds held in escrow?
  7. Hold back fund in escrow if they fail to vacate the property on the agreed to date?
  8. Can the lease be extended or terminated early?
  9. Who will be occupying the property?

Transactional agents will be very casual about post-occupancy agreements and assume that everything will go as planned.  Buyers need to assume that things will go wrong and make sure that they are protected once they close on the property.  Always us an Exclusive Buyer Agent to ensure that you are represented by a fiduciary.

How To Save On Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner's Insurance
Homeowner’s insurance costs are increasing nationwide and is becoming a larger expenditure in the homeowner’s budget.
Florida homeowners insurance costs vary depending on where you live, the age of your home, your home’s characteristics, and other factors. In addition to the cost of the home, the on-going expense of insuring a property should be a consideration when selecting the home you want to purchase. It may prove beneficial to purchase, for a little more money, a new home with impact glass, a new roof, updated plumbing and electrical and one that is not frame construction.
Several factors affect how much homeowner insurance costs and you can make informed decisions in advance of purchasing a home to minimize the cost of insurance.
Location:  
The closer you are to the ocean or Intracoastal waterway or if you are in a flood zone will certainly increase the risk of water damage and insuring a home.
The amount of coverage and replacement cost:
What you paid for your home has no impact on what you need to insure your home for. The sales price of your home includes land and land cannot be insured for fire, wind, theft, etc.
Furthermore, the market value can be based upon location, age and how strong or weak the market is. That is why it is very important that you insure your home for the replacement cost value of your home or what it would cost to rebuild your home brand-new with current building codes and materials.
Your home’s age and condition:
Your insurance premium may be higher if you have a home that was built before 2000 and the advent of stricter building codes. One reason is that older homes often have features or construction materials that not as weather resistant as newer construction. Another reason is that older homes may have outdated plumbing or electrical systems that insurers view as higher risk. The home’s condition is also important, even if it’s newer. Insurers often pay special attention to the roof, roof configuration, roof systems, etc. because leaks due to a worn-out roof can cause expensive damage inside your home.
Home Design and Upgrades:
Features of the home you are buying, such as impact glass or storm shutters, reinforced roofing and updated utilities can decrease insurance costs. If you already own a home, these types of improvements can help decrease the risk for fire and water damage.
In addition, given that Florida is a hurricane prone state, Florida requires companies to offer discounts through wind-mitigation improvements.
Discounts are available for the following safety features:
  • Roof Shape
  • Roof Bracing of Gable End Roof Deck Attachment
  • Roof Covering
  • Roof-to-Wall Connections
  • Secondary Water Resistance
  • Doors
  • Protection of Openings (windows and other openings)
The initial costs for adding a few of these features can be high, but the long-term financial investment can decrease your Florida homeowner’s insurance coverage costs and make your home safer.
If your house presently has any of these features, you may want to have a home wind-mitigation examination completed to submit to your insurance agent or company to add the additional discounts.
Home security and safety features:
Some companies will offer discounts for having a smoke alarm, alarm system or dead-bolt locks, however a number of companies provide additional discounts if you install a home home generator and/ or a fire and burglar alarm that rings at a monitoring station. These systems can be costly and not every system qualifies for a discount rate. Before you decide to buy such a system, discover what kind your insurer suggests, how much the device will cost and how much you will save on your premiums.
Your credit history:
Establishing a solid credit history can cut your insurance coverage costs. Many customers do not recognize that credit is a factor in how insurance providers evaluate you. Many people do not understand the impact credit plays in insurance coverage and well as mortgage costs, but Insurers have found that policyholders with poor credit tend to make more claims and spend less to maintain their properties.
Due to this finding, most insurance companies reward a favorable credit history with extra discounts, once again lowering your homeowner’s insurance premium.
Your deductible:
Increasing your deductibles will help lower your premium.    Insurance is to cover you for large catastrophic events; by increasing your deductible you will be saving every year. Just make sure you’ve set aside enough money to cover a larger deductible if you need to file a claim—and to cover more minor repairs on your own.
Additional Discounts:
Insurance Companies might offer additional internal discounts. Not every company offers the exact same discounts, and these types of discounts will vary by company if available.
These discounts might include:
·      Discounts for seniors or retirees
·      Gated Community Discounts
·      Accredited Builder Discounts
·      Newer Roof Discounts
·      Companion Policy Discounts
·      Electronic Policy Distribution Discounts
·      Bundling with auto insurance
Your local agent will usually review these with you, but it is also a good idea to evaluate your quote and ask if any extra discounts might be available.
Shop around:
If you’re buying homeowners insurance for the first time, comparing options among several providers is essential. However, don’t focus exclusively on price. It’s also vital to research claims satisfaction among policyholders and exactly what the limits for your coverages are (mold, sinkhole, sewage back-up, et. al.)
Also, when you inquire about a homeowner’s policy, consider your customer experience. Is the agent willing to answer all your questions, discuss your options, and help you decide on a policy that suits your needs?

Using Home Equity To Buy  Another Property

Interest rates are rising and so it the equity in your current real estate holdings. There are alternatives to financing a second home or investment property other than a traditional mortgage. If you have a large amount of equity in your first home, you could obtain enough money through a Home Equity Loan to pay for most—if not all—of the cost of a second home.
Using a home equity loan (also called a second mortgage) to purchase another home can eliminate or reduce a homeowner’s out-of-pocket expenses. However, taking equity out of your home to buy another house comes with risks.
If you’re interested in using home equity to purchase a new home, the value of your house will need to be high enough to support the loan, and you’ll have to meet your lender’s requirements. Here’s how to get a second mortgage to buy another house.
1. Determine the amount you want to borrow. Before taking equity out of your home to buy another house, decide how much you want and need. Home equity loans limit how much you can borrow. In most cases, you can only access up to 85% of the equity in your home.
2. Prepare for the application process. Your approval for a home equity loan will depend on multiple factors. The value in your home will determine the maximum amount of equity available, and your financial information will determine how much of that equity you can borrow. In addition, your lender will look at your credit score, income, other outstanding debts and additional information.
3. Shop around for a home equity loan. When taking out a home equity loan for a second home, you can use any lender. The loan does not have to be with your current bank or mortgage company. So the best way to get a competitive interest rate is to shop around and get quotes from multiple lenders. As you compare, look at the interest rate, loan terms, fees and estimated closing costs. You can also negotiate with the lender on the rate or a particular term.
4. Apply to the loan with the best terms. Once you’ve determined the loan with the best terms, you’re ready to apply. You’ll submit the application and provide the requested information. Your lender will order an appraisal of the home or determine the value using another method.
5. Close on the loan. After you go through the underwriting process, your loan will be ready to close. Before finalizing the loan, make sure you understand the terms carefully. Also, know that the Three-Day Cancellation Rule allows you to cancel a home equity loan without penalty within three days of signing the loan documents.
Before you use a home equity loan for a second home, consider the pros and cons of taking equity out of your home to buy another house.
Pros:
·      You’ll reserve your cash flow. Using home equity to buy a second home keeps cash in your pocket that you would otherwise use for the home purchase. This increased cash flow can result in a healthier emergency fund or go towards other investments.
·      You’ll increase your borrowing power. Buying a house with equity will allow you to make a larger down payment or even cover the entire cost — making you the equivalent of a cash buyer.
·      You’ll borrow at a lower interest rate than with other forms of borrowing. Home equity products typically have lower interest rates than unsecured loans, such as personal loans. Using home equity to purchase a new home will be less expensive than borrowing without putting up collateral.
·      You’ll have better approval chances than with an additional mortgage. Home equity loans are less risky for lenders than mortgages on second homes because a borrower’s priority is typically with their primary residence. This may make it easier to get a home equity loan to buy another house than a new separate mortgage.
Cons:
·      You’ll put your primary residence at risk. Using a home equity loan to buy a new house can jeopardize your primary home if you’re unable to handle the payments.
·      You’ll have multiple loan payments. Taking equity out of your home to buy another house means you’ll potentially have three loans if you have a mortgage on both your primary residence and the second home in addition to the home equity loan.
·      You’ll pay higher interest rates than on a mortgage. Home equity products have higher interest rates than mortgages, so you’ll be borrowing at a higher total cost.
·      You’ll pay closing costs. When using equity to buy a new home, you’ll have to pay closing costs, which can range from 2% to 5% of the loan amount.
Other options for buying a house with equity
Using a home equity loan to buy another house is just one path borrowers can take. Here are a few additional options for using equity to buy a new home.
Cash-out refinance
A cash-out refinance is one way to buy another property using equity. A cash-out refinance accomplishes two goals. First, it refinances your existing mortgage at market rates, potentially lowering your interest rate. Secondly, it rewrites the loan balance for more than you currently owe, allowing you to walk away with a lump sum to use for the new home purchase. Taking equity out of a home to buy another with a cash-out refinance can be more advantageous than other options because you’ll have a single mortgage instead of two. However, interest rates on cash-out refinances are typically higher than standard refinances, so the actual interest rate will determine if this is a good move.
Home equity line of credit
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is another option for using home equity to purchase a new home. HELOCs are similar to home equity loans, but instead of receiving the loan proceeds upfront, you have a line of credit that you access during the loan’s “draw period” and repay during the repayment period. This method of using equity to buy investment property can be helpful if you’re “house flipping” because it allows you to purchase the property, pay for renovations and repay the line of credit when the property sells. However, interest rates on HELOCs are typically variable, so there is some instability with this option.
Reverse mortgage
Homeowners 62 or older have an additional option of using equity to buy a second home — a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). Commonly known as a reverse mortgage, a HECM allows borrowers to access home equity without making payments. Instead, the loan is repaid when you leave the home. Reverse mortgages provide a flexible way of using equity to buy another home, as borrowers can choose between receiving a lump sum or a line of credit. However, keep in mind that while you won’t make payments with a reverse mortgage, interest will accrue. This causes the loan balance to grow and can result in eating up all the home’s equity.
 Alternate forms of financing for purchasing a second home include:
  • Private money lenders
  • Seller financing
  • Peer-to-peer lending
  • Hard Money Loans
  • Personal Loans

Apps To Facilitate Your Move

Buying a home and moving is stressful on many levels.  Here are some Apps to make the moving an easier endeavor. Like other productivity apps that can be downloaded on your smartphone, move-planning apps will help you keep everything organized.

Dolly: So you’ve arrived at your new home and realized you don’t have the person-power to haul that bedroom furniture upstairs? No problem! Dolly (free, iOS, Android) connects you with helpful delivery people looking to make a few bucks. These strong-backed guys and gals have no qualms about carrying your furniture to its new resting place in your new home and there’s never any haggling over price.

Flying Ruler:  Flying Ruler will help you measure anything in your home. Not sure if that sofa will fit in your new living room? Is it too large to come through the front door? Flying Ruler can help you be sure. This app is a tape measure, ruler, protractor, and a goniometer.

Google Keep: Google Keep (free, iOS, Android) is the ultimate sharable note application. When you’re planning a move you will quickly find yourself making lists … and then making lists of those lists. That’s where Google Keep’s shareable, synced lists and notes come in so incredibly handy. When things get really hectic you can even record voice memos and Google Keep will actually transcribe them into readable text for you to browse later.

Handy: With Handy you can schedule a move-out or move-in cleaning by a vetted and background-checked professional. You can also book handyman services like furniture assembly, TV mounting or picture hanging to help you settle into your new home. Moving assistance is available, too! You’ll leave with your home in better condition than you found it in, and your new place feeling like home right away.

Magicplan:  Floor plans are a crucial tool for envisioning your new living space and deciding where to place furniture and home goods. Use Magicplan on your phone or tablet to scan and measure rooms, then compile them using their drag-and-drop interface to create a complete floor plan.

MakeSpace: If you’re downsizing or moving to a home short on storage space, MakeSpace will come in handy. Just book an appointment, and its team of professional movers will come to pick up your stuff and haul it off to storage. When you want your items back, schedule a delivery, and the team will return your goods. MakeSpace will bring complimentary supplies, like bubble wrap and free MakeSpace bins.

Meta ( Facebook) Marketplace:  If you’ve ever moved you already know that you eventually get to a point where you’ve packed up all the important stuff and would rather just throw everything else in the garbage than wrap it, box it and haul it. That’s no longer necessary because there are people all over your town who will buy your old stuff and they’re on Facebook Marketplace (free, iOS, Android).

MoveAdvisor: MoveAdvisor is another comprehensive moving app allowing you to take inventory, find movers and establish a moving timeline all in one place. The app itself is free of charge to download and use, but you’ll have to pay for any services you book.

Moved:  Designed to be your personal moving concierge, Moved manages the entire moving process for you. The app is a one-stop shop for your move. It will organize your move every step of the way, from finding movers, hiring packers and selling unwanted items, to updating your address and even hiring cleaners and painters. The service also helps you find moving professionals, affordable packing materials, and storage facilities

OfferUp:  OfferUp is the largest mobile marketplace in the United States to buy and sell goods locally, and you can do so straight from your phone! Just take photos of the items you’re selling, describe the items and set a price. Buyers can message you through the app and make an offer, then arrange to meet you and retrieve the item.

RideShipper: You’ve got a car, bike, boat, or something else you need shipped?  With RideShipper you fill in the free vehicle shipping quote and you get almost instantly up to 4 estimates from reputable shipping companies.

Sortly:  Sortly is an inventory app built with small businesses in mind, but also great at cataloging all your beloved items and ensuring that they make it to your new home in one piece. Use your smartphone camera to snap images of items and Sortly automatically catalogs them for you. You can add barcode info for additional details and check off items as you’re unpacking.

TaskRabbit:  Need someone to help you move, pack, unpack or help with almost any moving-related task you may need? With Taskrabbit you’re able to state the task you need done and get matched with a freelancer (referred to as “Taskers” on the platform) who can do it for you.

TurboScan:  One thing you don’t need to haul along to your new home is piles and piles of papers you’ve let stack up over years of home office neglect. You could scan them with your printer, but that would take forever, so download the TurboScan app (free, iOS, Android) and capture perfect scans of every document in mere seconds.

Unpakt:  Moving companies are everywhere, but which one will give you the best rate? Get rid of the stress of searching for the best deal and let Unpakt find it for you. Compare prices between a variety of local and reputable moving companies and even contact the mover of your choice right from the app. Unpakt offers a price guarantee that only changes if you add or remove an item or service.

Florida Closing Cost Primer for Buyers

Florida Closing Costs

Closing costs are inevitable when you’re buying or selling a property. While they vary from state to state, the amount you’ll pay in Florida depends on both the property and the county it sits in. As a buyer, you’ll have to cover most of the fees and taxes.  In Florida, you’ll also have to post a fee for documentary stamps (or doc stamps), which is a percentage of the sales price. Then there are the taxes. You’ll likely be subject to property and transfer taxes.

Neither party is responsible for 100% of the closing costs in Florida, which includes fees, taxes, insurance costs and more. The buyer typically pays between 3% to 4% of the home loan’s value and is responsible for the bulk of the fees and taxes. The seller usually pays between 5% to 10% of the home’s sale price. Closing costs also vary among counties.

Condos are regulated by the Florida Condominium Act. The legislation lays out your rights to the property and gives you an “undivided interest” in all the common areas of the building. You’ll have to pay a monthly maintenance fee or a yearly homeowners association fee to cover the servicing of those areas that fall under the “undivided interest.” The fee isn’t tax-deductible.

If you are getting a mortgage The fees shown on the Good Faith Estimate can be difficult to understand but can be broken down into five sections.

One-time fees

  • Appraisal fee
  • Reinspection fee
  • Credit application, credit report and credit supplement fees
  • Mortgage origination fee
  • Lender’s title insurance policy (optional owner’s title insurance)
  • Escrow fee
  • Home inspection fee (optional)
  • Closing attorney fee
  • Courier fee
  • Bank processing fee
  • Recording fee
  • Notary fee
  • Loan discount points

Recurring fees

  • Homeowners insurance
  • Property taxes and tax servicing fees
  • Mortgage insurance premiums
  • Flood certification fee (in some areas)

Appraisal fees

Lenders typically require an appraisal as part of the underwriting process, before financing a home purchase. Appraisals will vary in price depending on the location and size of the property. The lender hires an appraiser to provide the fair market value of the home, and the buyer pays the lender.

Mortgage origination fee

Every lender will charge a mortgage origination fee, which covers their service and administrative costs. The average loan origination fee is 1% of the total loan amount. Buyers should shop for lenders with both experience and low origination fees.

Title insurance policy fees

Lenders typically require borrowers to purchase insurance to protect the financial institution from future title claims. This policy is called lender’s title insurance and the cost depends on the location and size of the property.

Owners title insurance protects the Buyer from future claims against the title.  The customary party that pays for the Owners Title Policy varies by County in Florida.  In Sarasota,Collier, Miami-Dade and Broward County, the Buyer pays for title insurance and chooses the title company.  In all other counties, it is the Seller’s responsibility.

Escrow fees

During the purchase and sale transaction, your funds will enter a holding account managed by a third party — an escrow company. When the transaction is complete, the escrow representative will disperse your down payment, fees, and loan proceeds to the appropriate individuals.

Home inspection fee

A home inspection is a common contingency for a home purchase. As the buyer, you can hire an inspector to evaluate the condition of the home and its systems prior to purchase. Home inspection costs vary depending on the size and age of the property. You will pay the inspector for their service out-of-pocket, and this amount is separate from the purchase and sale transaction.

Attorney Fees

Florida is a Title Theory state and does not require that an attorney be used to close a real estate transaction.  Private real estate attorneys, or borrower’s attorneys, are an additional and optional cost for buyers who want a specialist to assist them with contract-related issues or professional advice beyond the scope of their agent’s abilities. Private real estate attorneys charge by the hour or charged a fixed rate for the transaction and rates vary based on their level of expertise and services provided.

Documentation fees

During a financed home purchase, several institutions need to process information and create official records.

  • The courier fee allows lenders to send your documents to necessary parties
  • The bank processing fee pays the bank for handling the necessary loan documentation.
  • The lender uses the recording fee to pay the county to file a public record of the transaction.

Loan discount point fees

When locking your interest rate with your lender, you’re allowed to buy down the rate. To do this, you pay “points” — essentially, paying interest in advance. One point is equal to 1% of the loan; but that does not translate to a 1% drop in interest rate. Not all buyers choose to buy down their interest rate, but when they do, the rates vary by lender.

Homeowners’ insurance

As a stipulation of your financing, you will be required to purchase homeowners’ insurance. You will continue to pay the insurance premium on a yearly or twice-yearly basis directly to your insurer, or monthly via an escrow payment that is part of your monthly mortgage payment to your loan servicer. Homeowners insurance policy fees range based on the amount of coverage and the size of the property.

Property taxes

Your property taxes will be prorated based on your closing date. Some buyers pay their taxes in lump sums annually or biannually. If you don’t pay this way, you might escrow the taxes, which means they would be included as an escrow line item in your monthly mortgage payment to your loan servicer. Property taxes are paid in arrears in Florida.

 

Mortgage insurance premiums

If your loan amount is more than 20% of the value of the home, you are typically required to pay insurance to protect your lender’s investment. Mortgage insurance is generally escrowed but may vary from lender to lender. Some lenders will also charge a one-time application fee for mortgage insurance.

Flood insurance

Depending on the location of your property, you may also be obligated to purchase flood insurance to help protect your lender’s investment. Flood insurance policies range by risk level, based on location and are a Federal Program and the pricing cannot be competitively shopped for.

What are the closing costs for cash buyers?

Cash buyers are still required to pay for things like notary fees, property taxes, recording fees, and other local, county and state fees. Unlike a buyer who is using financing, cash buyers won’t have to pay any mortgage-related fees. But most cash buyers still opt to pay for things like appraisals, inspections, and owner’s title insurance.

Closing costs can vary depending on where you live in Florida, the type of property you buy and how much it sells for. While the seller forks over some money, the buyer pays for the bulk of the fees and taxes, which typically add up to 2.5% of the average sale price depending on the time of year you close ( proration sensitive).

2022 South Florida Real Estate Projections

Nationally, expect slower housing price appreciation, easing inflation and rising interest rates in 2022, according to a survey of more than 20 top U.S. economic and housing experts by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). “Overall, survey participants believe we’ll see the housing market and broader economy normalize next year,” Yun said. “Though forecasted to rise 4%, inflation will decelerate after hefty gains in 2021, while home price increases are also expected to ease with an annual appreciation of less than 6%. Slowing price growth will partly be the consequence of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.”

Fed boosts to interest rates do tend to move rates higher on longer-term loans, such as 30-year mortgages. Yun expects the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to increase to 3.5% as the Fed raises interest rates to control inflation but noted this is lower than the pre-pandemic rate of 4%.

In South Florida Home prices are projected to continue to grow, but slower than the past year. “We don’t expect to see the same price appreciation we had last year, though we don’t expect to see a decline in pricing,” said Eli Beracha, director of the Hollo School of Real Estate at Florida International University. A Realtor.com forecast predicts that South Florida housing prices may rise almost 6% over the next year, while a Zillow forecast predicts that home price appreciation could shoot up by 15%.

A few factors are going to cause slower price growth: more inventory as sellers try to capitalize on the hot market, new developments hitting the market and an increase in mortgage interest rates. Demand from foreign and out-of-state buyers will continue to drive South Florida’s housing market, but experts also expect new inventory to alleviate some of the pressure that has been fueling the pandemic-era housing boom.

Experts say the market will still favor sellers, as demand and limited inventory will keep the balance in their favor. Bidding wars and multiple offers on homes will probably still be a common.

The supply chain issues, and lack of labor will continue to lead to increased construction costs and thus higher prices for buyers.

Home Design Trends for 2022

Home design trends that are expected to loom large in 2022 are an evolution of what started during the pandemic when life was disrupted, and more homeowners started reevaluating their surroundings.
In 2021, the pandemic slowly dissipated and then, almost overnight, a variant came charging back. Our homes and how we use them has massively evolved in the past 2 years as we embrace multifunctional spaces and a sense of retreat. With wellbeing, mindfulness, and sustainability as catalysts for change, home decor trends for 2022 focus on maximalism and nurturing natural connections.

Waning Design Trends:

Whether it’s having multi-purpose rooms or furniture with innovative storage solutions, modern room-dividing tactics are here to stay.
Open shelving will likely be replaced. Over the past couple of years, people have spent more time at home and really used their kitchens. It is clear that open-shelving does not work for the way people are living today because it lacks the storage capacity of cabinets.
Gray is nearing the end of its decade of popularity. Neutrals like white, beige, and gray have all been popular colors throughout the home. But gray seems to be phasing out the quickest. Expect to see more bold and dramatic colors for cabinets and backsplashes next year. The use of wallpaper to add interest, texture and color is also a big trend along with florals.

2022 Design Trends:

Sustainability: Homes that are constructed with sustainability in mind have proven to incur lower maintenance costs, reduce expenditure on utilities and provide their owners with a higher return on their investment.  In the coming year, this will accelerate and translate to use of eco-friendly, natural construction materials such as brick and stone for exterior walls. On the exterior of homes, we can expect to see a rise in drought-resistant landscaping including turf, and inside, natural elements such as repurposed natural finished wood and low maintenance flooring are going to be in high demand.
High-Speed Internet and Broadband: Home offices will still be a priority in 2022 as many people are continuing to work from home. Smart consumer devices in 2022 will be featured in homes to provide personalized solutions to the unique challenges we face in our day-to-day lives, whether it’s the angle that the sun shines on our TV screen, home robots, or monitoring our activity to provide fitness advice. The trend for all things domestic to become increasingly “smart” and capable of communicating and connecting with each other in more useful ways will continue throughout the next year.
Multi-functionality: Single-use spaces seem to be a thing of the past. In the light of architectural strides and design, interior design trends in 2022 will feature creative ideas on multifunctional rooms and furniture.
Home Theaters, Yoga Studios, Home Gyms: After losing appeal because they took up too much space, home theaters are popular again as homeowners seek more at-home entertainment. A newcomer to the trends list is a yoga studio or home gym as homeowners look for ways to unwind and stay fit at home.
Purple is the New Gray (or Black): Once considered the color of royalty, purple has become one of the “reigning” requests in the increasingly colorful world of home design.  It’s a jewel tone that is both rich and neutral as a base for bright or more earthy hues and is the complementary color for green which is also high on the list of trendy colors for 2022.
Outdoor Space: Having a yard or balcony gained ground during the pandemic and remains a big draw for buyers. As homeowners spent more time outdoors, their wish list for that space evolved. More and more people added a pet to their household in the past year making yard space a high priority. A fire pit is also still high on wish lists, but an elaborate outdoor kitchen with a pizza oven and beer tap has waned in popularity—many found they rarely use these bells and whistles. What is universally popular and a good built in-grill, cabinetry and a covered space for dining and watching TV outdoors.
Maximalism: The minimalism of the last few years is fading, while maximalism is soaring. What that means is rooms are being filled with comfortable furnishings, rugs, art, and collections with character.
Kitchen Design: One of the hottest design trends in the kitchen are two islands; one is for food preparation and the other is for gathering and entertaining. As demand for hyper-flexible spaces rises, double islands have become a place for stay-at-home work, schooling, cooking and eating.

What Design Experts are Saying:

‘As people continue how to navigate connections during this new normal, they are looking to create comfort that works as effortlessly indoors as it does outdoors. Adding dimension to the living spaces is important – incorporating warm colors, rich textures, and softness is crucial for that sense of comfort and normalcy, especially as we enter a new year with the pandemic still with us,’ says Alex Gibson, founder of home decor and textile design brand Sien + Co.
Texture is going to have a moment in 2022 in every aspect of the home, from walls to furniture to décor. As people look to add dimension in new ways, we’re going to see a resurgence of plaster and venetian walls and a stray away from the velvet trend as people look towards more dynamic fabrics like boucle and corduroy. This will also be a popular trend due to the surge in neutrals. With less colors to work with, interesting textures can add flair to a space in an unexpected way,’ says Channa Alvarez, interior designer at Living Spaces.
Ben White, design and trade expert at Swyft says that sustainability and natural design will be key in 2022: ‘Sustainability and use of organic materials have become prominent in recent years. With the public’s increased exposure to climate change, the idea of sustainability has fed into the interior industry and our homes. This will translate into how we buy furniture; a move towards furniture items with reclaimed woods and accessories with recycled glass and metal. We are looking for upcycled, antique or used furniture which has a story to tell; not only does its origin create great conversations, but it’s a greener approach to furnishing the home. Investing in meaningless furniture and accessories is a thing of the past.”
Elliott and Kagner think we’ll see “more vestibules, hallways, libraries, console desks, pantries, and dressing spaces with a focus on displaying object collections” in 2022. “For furnishings, think: throne-like chairs, consoles, and sideboards. For accessories, look for generously scaled table lamps, large candlesticks, quilts and rustic linen, patterning, and heavily textured ceramics,” add the duo.