Friday, March 18, 2016

House Hunting Tips to Find the Perfect Home

People have bought homes and only realized they have made a big mistake after closing the deal with the seller. There are so many beautiful homes out there that it’s easy to get lured into the most prominent features of the home when it hardly meets your needs. You need to be focused on the most important things and approach each home with this in mind.

List down your priorities
What is a must have and what is a want to have in your new home? You should not go looking at houses to know what you need; you need to see if the house meets your needs. This is why the first step of any house hunting process is listing down your priorities. How many bedrooms do you need, do you want ensuite rooms, what size of kitchen do you want, do you need a large back yard? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself when listing your home buying priorities. This should help you come up with about 5-must-haves for your new home and you should not compromise until you find at least three or four of these qualities in one house.

Call your real estate agent
Once you are ready with the quality you want in a house, you can call up your real estate agent and find out when you can see some houses. Make sure you bring your list with you. Also carry a note pad and a pen to take down notes. View at least five houses that are in the area you want and fit the general specifications that you discussed with your agent. Take down notes that you will use to create a comparison chart. The comparison chart should contain notes on beds and baths, landscaping, roofing, natural lighting, storage space and cost per square foot of the homes you view. It is a great decision making tool.

Touring a home
No matter how beautiful the house is, remember to stay focused. This is going to be a huge financial decision that you will have to live with for a couple of years to come. Walk around the house and envision yourself, along with all your furniture in it. Is it a good fit? Does it meet your list of requirements? Is there anything new you have noticed that could be a useful feature? These are just some of the questions that should be running through your mind. Do a double take of the entire house just to make sure you get everything.

You can bring furniture measurements
You can bring furniture measurements to a house viewing, especially if you have a strong feeling about the house. Why not find out if it is spacious enough for your furniture. You can also take pictures and videos to help your memory later on when deliberating on which house to pick. You have to get the realtors permission before you can do this, remember not to post then on the internet, not until the house is yours.

Thoroughly inspect the house for any warning signs
During viewings, most houses are often spruced up to make them look very attractive while there is a lot more hidden to the obvious eye. Open cupboards and closets to check if there is enough storage in there. Lift up the rugs, if the open house is not too busy, to see if the flooring is damaged or in good condition. Check out the ceilings, windows, roofs, under the sinks and so on.

Posted By: Ochlockonee Bay Realty

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Beginners Guide to Booking Great Vacation Rentals

Did you know that you can book a rental vacation home to stay at instead of staying at hotels? Hotels are usually restrictive in quite a number of ways, not to mention the small room sizes that may make it expensive for a large family to stay in the hotel. If you are travelling as a family or a group of friends, vacation rental homes are the best option. There are plenty of them all over the country, luxurious and extremely affordable. When it comes to booking vacation rentals, you should keep the following in mind:

Start booking early
You should start looking for your vacation rental home at least six months before your vacation. If you are planning to travel during the peak vacation season like summer, you should expect a lot of competition for these rentals. When there is a lot of competition, prices normally go up. Booking in advance is the best way to get a great deal, and also to have a wide variety of options when choosing a home.

Your vacation destination should determine where you stay
You have so many options so do not limit yourself by choosing the accommodation first. Find the vacation destination that you have always wanted to explore then seek out the vacation rentals in the area. If it is a popular vacation spot, you will be sure to find quite a number of rental properties up for grabs. Shop around just like you would before picking one deodorant over the other in the drug store. Check out the prices, proximity to popular attractions, amenities available and look at comparable properties to determine which is more affordable before you make a choice.

Try off-peak vacations
If you want to avoid the busy seasons when most of these destinations get crowded, you should consider taking an off-peak vacation. Off-peak vacations are the most affordable because prices are at an all time low. The most popular vacation period is between July and August; you can get some amazing deals any other time of the year.

Read reviews from guests
Vacation rental companies always put their best foot forward when advertising their properties. You will find the most breathtaking pictures from dream destinations. However, it is only through reading the reviews of guests that have stayed there previously that you can tell whether the beach rental is worth a try. Property experiences range from how the food was, the quality of the accommodation and access to various resources.

Get a contract

You should not send any kind of payment to the vacation rental property owner before you secure a contract. This contract is your protection against any unscrupulous dealings by property owners since it is a legal document. The contract should contain all the specified terms agreed on by the property owner. Read through the rental agreement, especially through the fine print and make sure you understand every element inside it before signing. You need to stay as informed as possible to avoid any surprises. 

Posted By: Ochlockonee Bay Realty

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your New Home

If you are a first time home buyer about to take a plunge, we will highlight some common mistakes you should avoid. Avoiding these blunders could be the difference between spending thousands of dollars on repairs and enjoying financial security a few years down the line. So pay attention to the information given below because it could save you from a mountain of debt.

Failing to review your credit report
If you are planning on taking a mortgage, obtain your credit report from any of the major agencies before you even begin shopping for a house. Your credit rating will play a huge role in determining your interest rate. If there are mistakes in your report, you risk being denied a mortgage or getting one at a high interest rate. So ensure you get your credit report to ensure the lender is working with an accurate figure.

Buying a home for rent in a ‘weak rental market’
We’ve seen this time and time again- home buyers buy property, live for a short while and then move out expecting get someone to rent it. Make sure you are buying a home in a strong rental market if you don’t plan to stay there for a long time. If you move often, stick to renting a home and only buy when you are ready to settle.

Buying a home you simply cannot afford
Some home buyers assume that the mortgage payment is just a replacement of their rental payment. Buying a home comes with many other costs which need to be taken into account. Other than the mortgage payment, you will need to cater for maintenance, property taxes and insurance. When thinking about the kind of home you can afford, factor in all these costs.

Putting very little down payment
Some lenders allow first time home buyers to put up as low as 3% down payment in order to qualify for a mortgage. It may seem attractive but it can place you at a dangerous position as a buyer. When you start with such a low down payment it means you have very little equity in the home. In case you fail to make your mortgage payments because something has come up, you risk putting yourself in a serious financial situation. It’s best to buy a home when you know you have saved enough money to afford at least 20% as down payment.

Failing to ensure everything is in writing
It happens more often than you think- homeowners who agree to a purchase after promises are made orally. We’ve heard of buyers who wanted to withdraw the contract because the seller took all the appliances and they expected them to be left. It just doesn’t work like that. You have to ensure that everything that you’re told is in writing. How things like hot tubs, light fixtures, appliances and even drapes will be handled after the purchase should be listed on the contract. Don’t take their word for it, confirm on your own.

Posted By: Ochlockonee Bay Realty

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

5 Characteristics of a Valuable Beachfront Property

Most property that is built close to the water is turned into vacation homes. There’s something exciting and relaxing about living in a beachfront property that makes you feel like you are always on a vacation. But before you get too excited and start viewing some potential property, we will get you started on some important things you need to look for if you want the home you buy to be the perfect vacation spot and also do well in the rental market.

It must be accessible
You need to consider the mode of transport available to access your beachfront home. Will you be able to drive from the city to the vacation home without any difficulties? Are there airports or seaports that allow guests to travel from far and wide to come enjoy their stay at your vacation home? Chances are that you will not be spending the whole time at the beachfront property so you will need to ensure it is accessible for renters.

Low maintenance demands
It is possible for a beachfront property to have low maintenance costs. Find out after how long you will have to replace the roof. Are there any damages to the septic system that need repairs? Also find out if you will be required to connect the property to access certain utilities because such projects may be very costly.

An amazing view
The view of the property you are going to buy is very important. Don’t assume that you will be allowed to cut down the trees that are blocking the view. There are local laws that may prevent you from tampering with the outdoors for one reason or the other. So ensure that you observe the area very well and ask about any changes that you may wish to make to get a better view.  

Consider the rate of erosion
One of the major concerns when it comes to beachfront property is the shifting shorelines. It is wise to ensure that the property you are about to purchase has been constructed to withstand extreme weather conditions like typhoons. If the property is situated in an area that is prone to such extreme weather it should be constructed bearing in mind the national and local building codes. If the rate of erosion in the area is a major concern, you may want to consider buying a property that is a few rows further. Trees can really help to slow down soil erosion in the area and the local authorities may require you to plant some within the compound.

The cost of insurance
Beach front homes are known to attract hefty insurance costs. But they don’t have to. There are so many ways for you to make changes to the property and reduce the cost of insurance. Calculate the average cost of insuring the home before buying it and factor in the different types of discounts you may qualify for. At the end of the day, you should be able to maintain the home for years to come.

Posted By: Ochlockonee Bay Realty

Friday, October 16, 2015

Top Florida Vacation Ideas for Romantic Couples

From idyllic sandy beaches to the spectacular water parks, from incredible sunshine all through the year to fantastic range of outdoor adrenaline - there's no way one would deny a vacation in Florida, the Sunshine State. From a wide gamut of places for great eating and staying to astounding air balloon rides, relaxing massages and golfing, the state certainly makes an excellent spot for couples who are romantically associated.
Hot Air Balloon:
Imagine you and your partner are high up in the sky, confined in a tiny space, hanging. This certainly boosts your adrenaline. If your partner loves adventure, hot air balloon is simply incredible. Hot air ballooning is probably a must-to-do outdoor activity in this part of the world. There are several renowned companies that make special arrangements for lovers, couples and families. When you embark upon such exciting activities ensure that the weather is great.
Hollis Garden:
If you happen to be in Central Florida, don't forget to walk around the impressive Hollis Garden. It is a star attraction in the area. Take a lazy stroll along with your wife hand-in-hand and delight in the beauty of nature. Hollis Garden is situated in downtown Lakeland and covers an area of 1.2 acre where visitors would be lost in the aroma of thousands of plants and flowers. Besides the colorful flower display, your eyes will probably be stuck in the splendor of cascading waterfalls, fountains, koi pond, a lily pond and a grotto. All these attractions will help you make the atmosphere ever more romantic. Do not forget to visit the butterfly garden.
Bok Tower Gardens:
There is another spectacular attraction to visit in Central Florida. It is called Bok Tower Gardens. This place has been home to numerous events. Every now and then art exhibitions and concerts take place to amuse visitors. Marvel the stunning sunset view atop Iron Mountain is the most amazing thing to do here.
Are you tired? Are you bored? If so, why not indulge in a relaxing session by seeking a spa treatment for couples. This is something most couples would want to do in Florida. The state has, in fact, earned an undisputed name in offering excellent spa services. If you believe in relaxing and unwinding in a different way, suggesting you a round of golf is not a bad idea either. Popular golf clubs are within easy walk from luxurious hotels and vacation rentals.
Posted By: Ochlockonee Bay Realty

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tips for Buying Property like a Pro

Buying property is much more than just falling in love with a cozy little house and making an offer on it. The real estate business has its own secrets that most people do not know about. There are clauses, surveys, mortgages, foreclosures and many other industry factors that you do not know about which could greatly affect your purchase. People have been known to fall for terrible deals before. The following are some crucial tips you can use when buying a house that will make the real estate agents think you are a pro!

The golden rules of house hunting
Location is the most important thing about buying a house. You need to keep in mind what matters to you as well as the surrounding environment. Before going house hunting, list down all facilities and amenities you would like to have access to in order of importance such as security, schools, hospital, and access to major roads, shopping centers and entertainment hubs. This will keep you objective throughout your house-hunting venture. Every time you see a property, the following questions should come to mind:

·       How good is the security of the area?
·       How is the infrastructure around the area?
·       Are you within comfortable walking or commuting distance to work? And how much time will you spend on the road if you commute?
·       Is the property within a good school district? (even without kids this is a good value point in case you decide to re-sell)
·       Are there any facilities that can create disturbances or noise in the area?

If the property tests well against these questions, then it is a great investment.

Do your homework research online
If you have never bought property before then you have no idea how much property actually go for. For such an individual, it is very easy to accept any price that the seller puts forward when you can get a much better deal for the same property. With the digital era, you can find most property listings online from different agents within the same area. Take time to look through the various types of property written, the location and the prices they are going for. This gives you a better understanding on the kind of prices to expect in that area when you land on the ground.

Property inspection
Most people view property inspection as an unnecessary extra cost, but if you have not bought property before, a property inspection can be a great revelation. You should get a property inspected when you have your heart and mind set to buying it to avoid the cost of inspecting many properties. This inspection gives you a better shot at negotiating a good deal for the house. The inspector will examine the structure, design and fixtures that give vital signs to the property condition. They will give you a detailed report on the house including area of attention that could be of concern. Many sellers have been known to slap on a fresh coat of paint to give the house a new look while the plumbing pipes are literally rotting.

Posted By: OB Realty

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Things to Avoid When Looking for Vacation Homes

Renters beware. Fraudulent vacation home listings have become increasingly popular. Scammers have grown highly skilled in hacking into legitimate real estate databases and even drafting real lease agreements. Unfortunately, websites like Craigslist simply aren't aggressive enough in challenging the tricks and techniques today's sophisticated scammers use. Here are some typical traps and tricks scammers use to defraud vacation home victims:
Too Good to Be True. If the vacation home rental appears too good to be true, you could be its next victim. If the price is far lower than other listings or the amenities seem too palatial for the price, you can expect a scam. Legitimate vacation homes are usually market priced competitively with other similar properties.
Bait and Switch. Scammers love to post glamorous photos of vacation homes and their surroundings. The photos show large expansive rooms, ultra modern kitchens, lavish pools and spas, and manicured landscaping with beautiful tree-lined streets. These properties will always somehow be unavailable, and the vacationer will then be diverted to another, less desirable property. So always ask for the specific address and house number, then use tools like Google Maps to find actual photos of the property and neighborhood. Better still, ask the agent to use web tools like FaceTime or Skype to show you the property live.
Double Book Scam. Scammers will double-book a property, then send the vacationer who arrives last to a second-rate backup, along with sincere apologies.
Wire Money Now and Save Scam. Scammers will often ask for money up front, often in the form of a "security deposit." And they'll want you to use money transfer systems like MoneyGram, or ask you to wire money to a specific bank account. If you must send in money to "save the property," use a credit card or PayPal-both allow you to dispute any fraudulent charges.
No References or Phony References. Scammers won't have legitimate references to give you. They'll either offer you the "privacy excuse," saying their previous renters want to maintain their privacy, or they'll simply give you the phone numbers of their buddies who are in on the scam. So before you decide to book, give the owner or property manager a call and ask for references. You can also check out reviews linked to Facebook.
Fake Positive Reviews. Fake or disingenuous reviews are a problem in some vacation home listings. "Non-disparagement" clauses are beginning to appear in vacation rental contracts, which means renters are not allowed to post negative reviews of a property. So read these reviews with a grain of salt. Use Google Maps and Street View to weed out any false claims of "stunning property," or great location just steps from the beach, resort or convention center. Call the owner or property manager and use tools like FaceTIme to reveal actual home interiors.
Inaccurate Online Calendar. The online calendars for many vacation homes can be poorly maintained. Most are an afterthought for some property owners. Even if the listing shows the calendar has recently been updated, call or email the owner/manager and make sure the property is available on the date you need it.
No Professional Property Manager. According to Trip Advisor, 37% of consumers are concerned they won't have an emergency contact if something goes wrong in a vacation home. Property managers ensure that a vacation home is kept up to date and in good condition. They have relationships with reputable sub-contractors that can handle any property problem that arises. A property manager can ensure the property will be as advertised and that a deposit for a property will be securely handled.
Hidden Fees. Most vacation rentals require a non-negotiable "cleaning fee," and some even require renters to pay for utilities, cable and/or Internet. So make sure you know all the actual and potential fees before you finalize your booking.
Unprofessional Listing. Beware of listings or emails that are poorly written with bad grammar. These can be red flags. The same holds true for foreign phone numbers, or if the owner/property manager fails to promptly respond to emails.

Avoid Craigslist. Don't use sites like Craigslist. Check out and book properties direct from reputable vacation home rental sites.
Posted By: Ochlockonee Bay Realty