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Serving South Florida

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For over 35 years

Home Maintenance

Summer Home Safety Tips

home safety

Have big plans for this summer? Many families across Florida and the nation will spend time away from home during the summer months.

To fully enjoy those activities and other summertime pursuits spent away from home, homeowners should take precautions to protect their residences when they’re not around. Crime rates across the country often start to peak as temperatures rise during the warm weather months – the same time that many families leave their homes unoccupied and unprotected.

Homeowners can take these simple precautions to make their homes less of a target for criminals:

No “Home Alone”: Before leaving your home during the day, make it look as if someone is still at home by using timers on lights in various rooms. Even though daylight hours are longer during the summer, it may still get dark faster than you expect or you may return home later than anticipated, and taking this step ensures that your home appears occupied at all times.

No Sharing on Social Media: Sharing your vacation plans on social media sites isn’t wise. That’s the same as announcing to the world you’ll be gone and the house will be empty – a perfect target for burglars or vandals. The same goes for phone messages.

No Open-Door Policy: Ensure that all doors leading to the home and garage are locked, even when leaving for short periods of time. The typical burglary takes less than five minutes and unlocked doors, combined with an empty home, put out the “welcome mat” for crime. Make sure windows are locked, too.

Someone to Watch Over Me: Be landscape smart. Shrubbery and other plants can grow very rapidly during the warm, wet summer months. Keep them trimmed so neighbors can easily see your home. Also, a burglar could see an unkempt yard as a sign of an empty home.

A Key Reminder: When leaving home, take your house keys along or leave a spare set with a trusted neighbor. Never leave a key under a welcome mat, in a mailbox or other hiding spots – most burglars know where to look.

Crime Doesn’t Take a Vacation: If you’re planning to be away from home for more than a day or two, ask a neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers – or arrange to cancel the paper and hold the mail. Disable your garage door opener and manually lock it from the inside, and don’t forget to check that the door leading from the garage to the home is locked, too.

Termite Awareness Week- March 10-16, 2024

Florida is home to over twenty different species of termites with the most damaging and common species are subterranean and drywood termites. These termites cause billions of dollars of damage annually in the United States and correct termite identification is pivotal to successful prevention, control, and protection of your home.

Subterranean termites live and invade from underground, and a single colony can cover one acre underneath
homes. They typically live in dark, moist, hidden environments underground but will create and live in carton
nests aboveground. These can be found in walls and attics of structures and in nearby trees. To move above the
ground, these termites build mud tubes on foundations, walls, and nearby trees. These mud tubes are a sign
of termite activity and used for detection.

Drywood termites live and forage in dry wood. There are many different species of drywood termites in Florida,
and these are located throughout the state. They enter structures through swarming from infested trees, stored
wood, or other structures near your home. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termite colonies grow
slowly and thus do not cause as much damage as subterranean termites. A tell-tale sign of drywood termites are
sawdust-like piles near the infestation, these piles are hexagonal shaped pellets or waste of the termite.

Actions you can take to keep air home termite free are:

  • Eliminate sources of standing water in or near the home.
  • Be wary of areas in the home where wood is in contact with soil.
  • Keep piles of lumber or firewood away from your home.
  • Regularly inspect your deck, patio, or outdoor furniture for signs of damage.
  • Remove decaying trees and branches from areas surrounding your yard.
  • Use pine needles, pea gravel, rubber, or other non-organic material as mulch.

Part of your Inspections before purchasing a home should include Wood Destroying Organisms ( WDO) Inspection. Unlike most states, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) requires the licensed WDO Inspector to report on Wood Destroying Organisms.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recommends that you hire a licensed pest control company for correct termite identification and protection for your home. You can find out if a company is licensed in Florida at: https://www.fdacs.gov/Business-Services/Pest-Control. For more info and tips: https://www.fdacs.gov/Consumer-Resources/Health-and-Safety/Protect-Your-Home-from-Pests/Termites.

Tips to Reduce Home Insurance Costs in South Florida?

Homeowner's Insurance
Are you a home buyer in Florida looking to save money on your insurance costs? Here are some expert tips to help you reduce your home and wind insurance expenses.
Shop Around: Don’t settle for the first insurance quote you receive. Take the time to compare prices from multiple insurers. By doing so, you can find the best coverage at the most competitive rates.
Increase Deductibles: Consider raising your deductibles to lower your premium. While this means you’ll pay more out of pocket in the event of a claim, it can significantly reduce your monthly insurance costs. Make sure you take on a deductible that won’t leave you financially overwhelmed when you need to make a major claim.
Improve Home Security: Installing security measures such as alarms, deadbolts, and smoke detectors can make your home safer and lower your insurance premiums. Insurers often offer discounts for homes with enhanced security features.
Bundle Policies: If you have multiple insurance needs, consider bundling your auto, umbrella, home and wind insurance with the same provider. This can lead to substantial savings on your premiums.
Maintain a Good Credit Score: Believe it or not, your credit score can affect your insurance rates. Pay your bills on time, keep your credit utilization low, and regularly check your credit report for errors to maintain a good credit score and potentially lower your insurance costs.
Consider Wind Mitigation Measures: Living in Florida means being prepared for hurricanes. By fortifying your home against wind damage with measures like impact-resistant windows and reinforced roof trusses, you can qualify for wind mitigation discounts.
Avoid Making Small Claims: While insurance is designed to protect you from significant financial losses, making multiple small claims can lead to higher premiums. Consider handling minor repairs out of pocket to avoid impacting your insurance rates.
Look for Discounts: t’s easy to miss a discount you’re eligible for. Homeowners often have the stress of the home-buying process in the background when they get coverage, meaning insurance could be one thing hurriedly checked off the list. You can qualify for discounts if you:
  • Have a residence with no smokers
  • Pay your premium upfront
  • Pick paperless billing
  • Sign up for automatic payments
Remember, every insurance policy is unique, so it’s essential to speak with a qualified insurance agent to find the best ways to lower your home and wind insurance costs in Florida. Don’t let high premiums take away from the joy of homeownership – take action today and start saving!

Why Use an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent for New Home Construction?

New Home construction

Because the builder’s agent’s job is to convince you to buy only their homes at the highest price. Your Exclusive Buyer Agent’s job is to even the odds and negotiate for the lowest price and best terms for YOU!

If you’re building what you buy, you might think, “Why would I need an agent?” However, new construction is a complicated and expensive process. The advantages are many; aside from the obvious ones. The fact that having buyer agent representation is often FREE cannot be repeated often enough. So too, should the misconception that not using a buyer’s agent will save money be constantly repeated – that simply doesn’t happen.

A seasoned agent with experience in new home construction can give you invaluable insight during the process. Whether they’ve done business with those particular builders, or are aware of other comparable communities in the area, they can provide a wider context to your transaction. They might have an existing relationship with your builder, easing any tensions that might arise.

Remember that that site agent represents the builder/developer. Most real estate agents are sub-agents of the Seller or Transactional agent. In neither case do they have a fiduciary responsibility to the Buyer.

The site agent is an employee of the builder and is obligated  to represent the best interests of the builder, not the homebuyer. They are expected to work to secure the builder the best deal.

The further you get into the home shopping process, the more challenging it becomes to bring in an agent. In fact, if you’ve already registered with a community, it might be too late.

Benefits of Using an Exclusive Buyer Agent for New Home Construction:

  • Compare and evaluate builders’ reputations and history of their construction quality and service.
  • Help you compare and evaluate advantages and disadvantages of new construction homes vs. resale homes.
  • Provide information about the community.
  • Help buyer with evaluation and selection of a building lot and options. Lot location and certain options have a very real bearing on resale value.
  • Help buyer evaluate which options should be done by the developer during construction and which are more affordable to be done by an outside vendor post closing.
  • Truly negotiate on behalf of the buyer. Many builders are offering “free” options and upgrades, but some are also making additional price concessions.
  • Review the Agreement of Sale (PA) prior to buyer signing. This is not a legal review (only an attorney can do that), but an experienced agent will be able to spot terms and conditions that are atypical and of potential concern to the buyer. The agent may then be able to negotiate terms and conditions that are more favorable to the buyer but still acceptable to the builder. Keep in mind most new construction contracts are written by attorneys that represent the builder and these contracts are therefore heavily weighted in favor of the builder.
  • Recommend a real estate attorney for final contract, title commitment and to hold your escrow funds.
  • A buyer’s agent serves as an extra set of ears as a witness at court or arbitration– When the builders sales representative is familiar with all rules, features and prices and it’s all new to buyer – it is good to have experienced person on buyer’s side listening with buyer and taking notes, a lot of information is verbalized in short period of time.
  • Attend the signing of the Agreement of Sale
  • Assist with the buyer’s financing and review financing paperwork. This is especially important if the builder is tying “free” options and upgrades to the use of a builder-affiliated lender.
  • Check on the property during construction and keep a photo record at different stages.
  • Assist in options selections to optimize budget and maximize resale.
  • Be your leverage with the builder as problems arise during construction.
  • Keep everything in writing– Sometimes even the very nicest builder makes verbal promises that later become a point of contention. An experienced buyer’s agent is conditioned and trained to “put it in writing” even though at the time it doesn’t seem necessary.
  • Arrange for a final inspection with a license building inspector and generate a “punch list” to be completed before final closing.
  • Document and help resolve any issues with construction, financing, title, etc. throughout the process.
  • Attend a pre-settlement walkthrough with the buyer to make sure that all items are satisfactorily completed or that a proper punch list is established to assure completion after settlement.
  • Obtain and review a preliminary HUD-1 settlement statement to be sure it is accurate and advise the buyer of the amount needed for settlement.
  • Assist buyer with utilities, security and HOA requirements, decorators, service professionals, schools, et. al.
  • Attend settlement with the buyer.
  • A buyer’s agent will be there even after the home closes. It is routine for issues to arise during the first year of a new home. Site agents tend to forget a buyer’s name after the contract is signed.
  • NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU!

Read My Reviews from New Home Construction Clients!

Hurricane Preparedness Before Your Vacation

As a Floridian, you already know the drill: hurricane season runs June 1 through November 30 each year, and certain hurricane preparations are needed to protect your home when storms appear to be heading your way. But what happens if you are some distance away, or even out of state, when this occurs? You can still prepare ahead of time – and a few extra steps is all it takes to secure your home while you’re away.

Performing the following hurricane preparation before vacation will allow you to relax and enjoy family time, or the scenery wherever you’re vacationing.

Insurance Coverage. Every year, you should review your homeowners, flood, and wind insurance policies to make sure you will have the coverage you need should your home be in the path of the next major hurricane or storm surge. Ideally, this is done before hurricane season begins, but should absolutely be done before you leave on vacation.

Home Safety Measures. Whatever hurricane preparedness you might normally do if you were home when a storm was approaching, do before you leave on vacation. This includes closing/installing your hurricane shutters, trimming trees, and bringing in any outdoor furniture or other items subject to becoming projectiles during a hurricane. Doing all of this before a storm is even on the horizon might seem like overkill – but the peace of mind it provides should bad weather threaten while you’re away will be priceless. Especially since you won’t be able to do much from a distance.

Electronics, Water & Gas. Consider unplugging valuable electronics and appliances to avoid potential power surges as the result of a hurricane or tropical storm. Alternatively, you could opt to turn the power off at the breaker. To avoid potential leaks, you may also want to consider turning off the main water and gas valves to your home.

Inform a Trusted Neighbor or Friend. Let someone you trust know about your vacation plans, including when you’ll be away, how you might be contacted, and any relevant details about your home security or other systems. They may be able to keep an eye on your home in your absence should a hurricane develop.

Ready the Emergency Kit. Stock up on supplies you would rely on if you were home during a hurricane, such as flashlights, batteries, first-aid kits, nonperishable food, and an ample supply of bottled water. This hurricane preparedness will be helpful if you return home without power or access to supplies are limited. Store a small version of this kit in your car, and top off the tank.

Have a Backup Plan. Should you be unable to get to your home upon your return from vacation, or if your home is damaged by a hurricane or tropical storm, have a contingency plan of possible friends or nearby locations you may be able to shelter in until your home is safe to return to.

Stay Informed. Even with all the right hurricane preparedness before you leave on vacation, you’ll want to monitor weather conditions from afar, especially once a hurricane or tropical storm has been identified. You’ll be able to make the best decisions when they are informed by as much information – and preparation – as possible.

Benefits of Home Automation

Home automation is increasingly popular as technology improves and devices become more affordable. Smart home automation works by connecting various devices in your home to a central hub or directly to a network. These devices can then be controlled remotely through a smartphone app, voice assistant or web interface.
Smart home components like security or climate control can be integrated with other smart devices, like your home entertainment system. This allows you to create a comprehensive and integrated smart home system that can automate many different tasks.
There are tons of reasons you may want to invest in home automation, but they generally fall into four categories.
  • Convenience. This is one of the primary reasons people start down the smart-home path. It just makes life a little easier when your home automates all the mundane tasks you used to have to do on a day-to-day basis.
  • Safety. A lot of smart-home technology is centered around your home’s security system, and there’s a good reason for that. No one piece of security equipment will protect your home comprehensively, but a network of pieces of equipment all working and thinking together can.
  • Sustainability. A lot of energy is wasted when you leave the lights on or keep your AC running when you’re gone for the weekend. A truly smart home will adjust itself to your habits and make sure your environmental impact is a little lighter.
  • Savings. You waste a lot of money when you leave things running unnecessarily. Your smart home will improve your economic efficiency by helping you remember to turn things off or down when they’re not needed
Here’s some of what the marketplace currently has to offer:
  • Detectors – Smart detectors provide peace of mind, so you aren’t left worrying that you forgot something. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are vital additions to any home. Gas and water leak detectors are good additions as well.
  • Heating and Cooling – With the initial success of 2011’s Nest Learning Thermostat, this product category is most associated with home automation.
  • Lighting – With the ability to control lights through your tablet or phone, intelligent lighting has become the initial step many take in setting up smart home technology.
  • Security Systems – This area has taken home automation to the next level. A lot of the newer, more advanced smart home tech is in this category, with keyless entry, camera equipment, and more. D
  • Hubs – Hubs, for the most part, are what tie your systems together. .
  • Appliances – Get a text message from your washer when a load finishes. Have your fridge create your grocery list for you. Shut the coffee pot off from work. Smoke a brisket for a few hours while remotely controlling its temperature. All possibilities with smart appliances.
  • Energy Management – Track your energy use and make changes in real time, from any location.
  • Lawn and Landscape Care – Control your pool cleaner, mow your lawn or set the irrigation system, all via smartphone app.
  • Window Coverings – Automatic shades and blinds timed to open or close with your bedtime or wake up call.
Technology experts say that tomorrow’s smart homes will have more seamless smart home device integration, more intelligent home appliances and gadgets, movement into the virtual world, and increased customization, efficiency, and control.

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.

“Buyer Beware” of Newly Renovated Homes

Fix and Flip
‘Renovate’, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary means “ renew, restore, refresh, and rejuvenate all mean to make like new.”  When the phrase “completely remodeled or renovated” is used in the description of a listing, many homebuyers expect the entire house to be completely updated. But in residential real estate, a house advertised as “completely remodeled” may have several big-ticket items, such as the roof, HVAC system, appliances, pool, and windows that are either original or close end of their useful life.
This is particularly true with investor “Fix and Flips”. Buyers may find a newly flipped home more appealing because much of it feels new – but not all flips are the same. In any given price range, every property you’re going to look at will have its pros and cons. You certainly don’t need to avoid properties that are being flipped, but there are some things to watch out for if you’re looking at one.
You can easily tell if the home is a flip by looking at the property records. If the home is back on the market just a few months after being purchased by a new owner, odds are it’s a flip. Flipped houses may seem up-to-date on the surface, but shiny new finishes can sometimes mask shoddy work. If you’re looking at a property that is being flipped, you’ll want to be sure to get it thoroughly inspected before you close and set aside money for any problems that may crop up because of renovations that were done on a tight budget and by an unlicensed contractor.
“Let the buyer beware” or “Caveat Emptor” exists for a reason. Home inspections do not necessary note the useful life left on roof, appliances and ACs since they are only checking to ensure that they are in “working order and free of defects”.  With that in mind, here’s what to look for when a home is described as “completely remodeled” or represented as “new”.
Electrical:
The standard for household power used to be 60 amps. Today modern homes need as much as 200 amps to run all the electrical needs. High-definition televisions, computers, air conditioners, generators, and home automation devices require lots of power to run. Have a home inspector check the entry cable coming into the house and the electrical panel. If the house has original or outdated wiring, consider upgrading for safety and function purposes.
Electrical outlets all under the electrical upgrade category but it’s important to pay close attention to the electrical outlets in a home. We still see the old-fashioned 2 prong outlets in older homes. These older outlets do not have the ground wires to protect people and electrical devices in case of a fault. Today’s modern houses should have the 3 prong outlets for safety and function purposes. In kitchen, bathrooms, and exterior locations, look for GFCI outlets. These outlets protect against electrical shock. They have a test and reset button. GFCI’s are now code in all new construction.
Roof:
Depending on the size of a house and the style of shingles, a new roof can cost between $50-$100 per square foot of roof or more. The age of a roof is a very important consideration when buying a house.  Your Exclusive Buyer Agent will find out from the Seller the age of the roof or will run a permit search in advance of writing an offer. If you move ahead with the purchase of the home, make sure your home inspector gives you an estimate on the remaining life of the roof not just how old it is.
. GFCI’s are now code in all new construction.
Water Heater & HVAC:
Most water heaters and AC units have an 8- to 12-year lifespan. If the heater is a high-quality water heater, it may last longer. Take a picture of the HVAC label and Google it to determine the age. If the unit has been well maintained, there will be a label from an HVAC company with service dates. Again, this can be done when you are touring a home. If you decide to purchase a house and schedule a home inspection, the inspector will confirm the age and condition of the HVAC unit and water heater.
Plumbing:
Plumbing problems can be very expensive. When you are touring a house that you like, turn on the faucets to check pressure. Look under sinks for signs of water issues. Look up at the ceiling to see if there are any stains. You can’t always see a plumbing problem but it’s a good idea to ask the seller if they have a record of plumbing maintenance, past leaks or insurance claims.
Foundation:
Look at the house exterior for signs of moisture or cracks. Examine the landscaping to see how well the yard is graded. Water should be moving away from the house, not toward the foundation. Again, this advice is for homebuyers as they tour a property of interest. Does the home have gutters directing the water way from the property?
General Warning Signs:
  • Seller has a spotty memory ….
  • Or says things like, “I haven’t lived here long.”
  • Offers no real estate disclosure form
  • New paint, tile, or flooring here and there
Landlords, flippers, and rehabbers often claim they don’t know a property well because they haven’t lived there — but all of them know a building’s ins and outs better than the buyer, especially if they have done work to the property.
Almost all states have a disclosure form where sellers address a property’s age and condition; its water source; the nature of its sanitary sewer system; and any structural defects, as well as matters such as lead paint or termites.
Florida, has a “Caveat Emptor” or “Buyer Beware” rule, which still requires the seller or seller’s agent to disclose anything that impacts the buyer’s health or safety but only if asked.  In the case of a transactional agent, only if they have asked the Seller to tell them. There is no legal obligation to fill out a Sellers Disclosure Form and many Transactional Brokerages have a policy to NOT provide one.
What To Do:
  • Read the home inspector’s report carefully, including between the lines when the inspector uses phrases like, “a lot of issues” or “a major issue.” Ask your exclusive buyer agent to prod the sellers for more details. If the inspector couldn’t access certain places, ask why.
  • Ask for a disclosure form. Push for more answers to your questions. When a listing agent refuses to provide the standard disclosure form, I put all the questions in the form on an email and make it an Exhibit to the contract. The Seller has a legal obligation to answer questions asked directly.
Warning Sign #1: Cosmetic Cover-ups:
Fresh paint is a wonderful way to mask deficiencies. Paint can cover cracks in the walls or ceilings, mold, and water stains. New bathroom and kitchen tile hides cracks and structural damage. New carpeting is a recommended fix to cover floor tiles containing asbestos, poor sub-floors or previous leaks, but buyers likely still want to know what’s underneath.
         What To Do:
         Ask for receipts, permits, warranties  and other documentation, such as photos taken during the renovations to authenticate that the work        was done properly.
Warning Sign #2: Downplaying Problems:
Some sellers opt to move once a house reaches a certain age and requires major investment in maintenance and replacements.
  • Phrases like, “It’s always been that way,” “That’s not a big deal,” or “Show me a house that doesn’t have a problem.” ” It was that way when we bought it”
While these statements might be true, they can be indicators of large problems.
        What To Do:
  • Look for signs of irregular maintenance, such as dusty air vents, old filters in the AC system, clogged gutters, and dying grass, just to name a few. Politely but firmly ask for more details, receipts, and documentation about anything the homeowner waves away.
Warning Sign #3: Camouflaging Decor
Some buyers will try to disguise things they can’t fix with whatever’s at hand. Large area rugs hide defects in flooring. Artwork hangs over wall cracks and holes, and strategically placed landscaping hides exterior foundation cracks. Acid washing a pool will delay determining the age and condition of the finish. Candles and air-fresheners can mask odors of nicotine, mold, pets, and other musty smells that a homebuyer might not detect until they move into the home. Having the music playing inside or outside the home can mask road or airport noise.
These items may be discovered at walk-through but by that time you have a loan in place and have lost weeks and waived your contingencies. It will then be a fight to secure credits at closing or close in escrow.
       What To Do:
  • Ask to turn off the music or remove the scents and return at a later date during the inspection period.
  • Request that items be cleared from walls and garage to accommodate the inspector.
  • Don’t be rushed though the final walk-through. Is there anything that has deteriorated since the inspection? Anything that was hidden or unobservable?
Fix It, or Forget It?
It if the inspection uncovers things the seller didn’t originally disclose or explain in detail, you legally have the right to cancel the contract during the Contractual Inspection Period…..never waive this contingency. You and your agent also can negotiate for the seller to do the repairs or reduce the price so you can handle them yourself.

Summer Energy Saving Tips!

Summer
Summer
With higher temperatures often comes…higher energy bills, as we attempt to combat the heat outside with cool, air-conditioned interiors. To help you shave a few dollars off your energy bills all summer long, here are some tips and tricks for reducing your energy consumption and saving some money. From little fixes to some more major projects, these changes will help you stay calm, cool, and collected this summer.
Install a Smart Thermostat. Smart thermostats can automatically adjust your home’s temperature when you’re asleep or away to whatever your preferences are. While these high-tech gadgets require an initial investment, they have the potential to reduce your cooling bill by about 10 percent!
Use Your Ceiling Fan(s). Have ceiling fans in your home? Use them! Ceiling fans utilize about 10 percent of the energy that an A/C unit does. Make sure your fans are set to a counterclockwise direction to push the cooler air down.
Shade Your Windows. Sunlight entering through windows can significantly heat up your house, causing your A/C unit to work overtime. Keep your blinds shut or install heavier shutters or curtains to keep the heat out this summer!
Set the Temperature Higher — and Leave It. Set your thermostat to the highest temperature you can comfortably live in. And keep it there! The less you change the temperature, the less your unit must work to adjust. Remember that each degree you raise your thermostat equals more savings… up to 5% on your monthly cooling costs.
Add Insulation.Adding insulation to your home can reduce heating and cooling costs. Homes built prior to 1982 were not required to have insulation. If your home was constructed before 1982, you may benefit from adding the proper insulation.
Regularly Replace Your Filter. Dusty and dirty filters can block airflow and make your system work harder. Replacing your filter once a month can reduce your energy consumption by 5–15 percent!
Turn Off the A/C When You Leave. When you leave for summer vacation, make sure you turn off your A/C — or set it to 80 degrees. While you may return to a warm house, you’ll be thankful you saved all that money on your monthly bill.
Properly Maintain Your A/C System. The better you take care of your system, the better it will run — and the more money you will save. Schedule a routine maintenance checkup at the start of both the hotter and colder months to make sure everything is running smoothly!
Seal it up. Make sure your refrigerator has a tight seal. If you don’t have one all the way around the door, it’s almost the same as leaving the door open.
Get Outside and Grill: Cooking on the grill helps you save energy. It doesn’t heat up your home and make your air conditioning system work harder than necessary.
Upgrade to LED light bulbs. Lighting used to be a common source of unwanted summertime heat, but in this age of affordable LED lighting, there’s no need to sit in the dark. LED light bulbs stay cool to the touch, all while drawing a fraction of the power used by incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Make a plan to upgrade all the bulbs in your home, even if you just buy a few bulbs per month.
Enjoy your Summer!

2021 Hurricane Preparedness Guide

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be more active than usual.
A total of 18 named storms, eight hurricanes and three major hurricanes are expected this season.This is above the 30-year average of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
In order to ensure you are properly prepared this hurricane season, you should consider how you are going to supply your homes given that hurricane season begins June 1st. Don’t be caught unaware, protect yourself.
Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, high winds, tornadoes, and flooding. History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.
May 9, 2021 is the first day of National Hurricane Preparedness Week; hope you find this information informative and useful as we approach the beginning of the Hurricane Season.
2021 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.