Florida Real Estate & News

Get to know Pinellas County real estate and communities on our Florida Real Estate & News blog!

Sept. 3, 2020

What You Should Know About Home Staging

Although it is definitely a seller’s market right now, that doesn’t mean it's unimportant for your home to show well. Your listing agent will provide you with some guidance regarding removing clutter and personal effects prior to listing your home, but you may still want to consider staging it as well.

Benefits of Home Staging

Home staging provides many benefits. The biggest is that staged homes sell faster, 73% faster on average according to the Real Estate Staging Association. Another benefit is related to the way your home shows online. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reports that 95% of buyers start their home search online, so presenting a great first impression is essential. Finally, staged homes often sell for more than their non-staged comparable homes according to a 2017 NAR survey.

When You Might Want to Hire a Staging Company

There are many reasons to consider staging your home. Sometimes your home will greatly benefit from staging. For instance, let’s assume you need to move quickly and need to pack up your belongings and leave an empty home. Although empty homes may seem ideal because it’s a blank canvas, this often creates a disconnect for buyers who have a hard time gauging the size of a room when there’s not a bed or couch in it.

If you're planning on staying in the home while it is on the market, a stager can remove the items that contribute to a cluttered feel in order to make your space feel bigger. They can also arrange your furnishings or bring in some of their own so the flow of the home feels more comfortable and universal. As they are experts in their field, they are usually able to identify and address aesthetic challenges, especially as they are able to view the home with a fresh perspective.

If your home has already been on the market for more than 30 days, it may be even more important to call a staging company. They can de-clutter and provide the right size furniture that will help your home look better to a prospective buyer.

Is it Worth the Investment?

Home staging costs range from $500 up to thousands of dollars. It depends on how much of their furnishings and décor the staging professional needs to bring in and the size of the home. For most, home staging is a small investment of about $1,000. And, if your home sells faster, that’s less interest you’re paying, especially if you’ve already moved. If the home sells for more than other comparable-listed homes, then you’ll likely easily make up that small investment.

If you need a Realtor® to sell your home in Tampa Bay, call Jason Duraj at (813) 992-7771. His team at Future Home Realty can help you sell your home and find the perfect new one. Although we can make recommendations about décor and decluttering, we can also refer you to one of the staging companies with whom we regularly work.

Posted in Home Selling Tips
Aug. 25, 2020

What it May Mean if You Have Water in Your Home

Water damage or leaks of any kind are often costly. However, sometimes the source of the leak is easy to spot and it's easy to know who to call for repairs. Other times, it’s not so obvious. If you find water in your home, the first step is to do everything you can to dry it up or take steps to prevent it from causing further damage. Next, you’ll want to determine the reason for the leak. That can be tricky.

Rule Out the Obvious

Water in the bathroom is often a leak from a hose or pipe. If that’s the issue, turn off the valves on the toilet and sink and see if that stops the leak. Most bathroom leaks require a plumber. Many kitchen leaks also require a plumber unless the water is leaking from the dishwasher or refrigerator. In these cases, you’ll need a repair person who is knowledgeable about appliances.

Another easy-to-diagnose issue is a roof leak. When water is coming into your attic and then leaking into your home, it is good to seek assistance from a roofer. If it’s safe to go outside, look at your roof in the general area where the water is coming in to see if there are missing shingles or another reason for the leak. Make note of any damaged areas, take photos if possible, and call your roofer.

Under Floors, Around Windows, and Under Molding

Warped floorboards or water coming in around the windows or underneath your molding is trickier to diagnose. Water follows the path of least resistance. This means that even if the leak presents around your window, the issue may not actually be a window leak. Sometimes you can clearly see cracked caulk or damage to the window frame, but if not, you may actually have an issue with roofing or siding.

If your floors are damp, warping, buckling, or even coming unglued, there are several possible causes for these issues. Figuring out where the water came from that can cause these problems isn’t always easy. If the flooring is installed on the slab, it may not have been properly installed. Flooring on slabs, especially in Tampa Bay, should have a water barrier between them and the flooring material. There could also be a crack in your foundation that has damaged your water barrier which could be allowing ground moisture to collect under your flooring. Other reasons could be water coming in through your siding or even a roof leak that’s come down through the walls and is leaking out under molding, resulting in wet floors and water damage.

Call a Professional

Once you come to a conclusion regarding the origin of your leak, you’ll want a professional assessment if the fix isn't easy. When the professional finds the source of the issue be sure to ask them if they believe that it should be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. If so, call your agent right away and report the claim. Be sure to take pictures before any work is done, even work to stop the leak. Your agent will let you know what work can be done before the adjustor arrives.

Jason Duraj has been a real estate professional in the Tampa Bay area for nearly 20 years and is familiar with the causes of water damage. He and the team at Future Home Realty always recommend a home inspection as a contingency clause in any offer to check for water damage and other issues. If you are considering buying or selling a home, call us at (813) 992-7771.

Posted in Home Maintenance
Aug. 11, 2020

5 Things to Think About as a First-Time Homebuyer

As Realtors® we want you to find the home you love; however, we also want it to be a home you can afford. If you’re a first-time home buyer, you may be considering a mortgage that equals the same amount as you pay in rent. But there are other factors beyond mortgage to remember that come along with homeownership and must be considered. Here are five things to think about and discuss before determining how much home you can afford as you transition from renting to owning.

1. Homes Need Maintenance

If you look at your rent and think, “I’m wasting so much money. I could have a home for the same amount that I pay in rent,” remember homes also require maintenance which is paid by the homeowner. If your budget after paying your mortgage, taxes and insurance wouldn’t leave money for upkeep of landscaping, lawn care, pest control, appliance repair, and savings for replacements as appliances break, you may want to consider a lower-priced home to better fit within your budget.

2. Insurance

In Florida especially, homeowner’s insurance may be a substantial portion of your monthly budget based on where you live. Companies insuring homes in Florida factor in hurricanes, wind damage, and sink holes in addition to the other risk factors the rest of the country has. Depending on where you choose to buy a home, you may also need separate flood insurance. For many, homeowners insurance payments are made as part of their mortgage payment, but this is not always something buyers factor in when looking at homes and evaluating the estimated payment.

3. Homeowners Association

If you live in a planned community, you will likely have homeowner association (HOA) dues. Although these are mostly a fixed amount per year, they can fluctuate. You’ll also need to know if you may be subject to a special assessment from time to time. These can include hundreds or even thousands of dollars to fix roads or the pool in the event of a need for repairs.

4. Time

As a first-time home buyer, it's important to consider the time homeownership can require. While your landlord or apartment complex may handle maintenance like changing air filters, weeding, and trimming landscaping now, these things become your responsibility upon homeownership. If you’re already pressed for time, you may need to allocate additional funds to pay someone to take care of routine maintenance for you.

5. Consider a Condo, Villa or Townhome

Sometimes the best option for a first-time homebuyer is a community where some things are handled for you, like exterior maintenance and groundskeeping. Condos, villas and townhomes include maintenance and some elements of insurance in the HOA dues which takes some of the workload off you. You’ll still need to remain vigilant regarding maintenance inside your property, but this may be a good first step into homeownership.

If you’re ready to buy a home, villa, townhome or condo, the Realtors® at Future Home Realty can help. Even if you are not ready at this exact moment but want to take the steps toward being ready in the months ahead, we can help you. 

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or looking to sell a home and buy a new one, Jason Duraj and his team will help you find the perfect property that fits your budget and lifestyle. Call us today at (813) 992-7771 for your confidential consultation.

Posted in Home buying tips
July 14, 2020

Lawn Care in Tampa

Lawn care techniques in the Tampa Bay area are often unique to our region. The grass is different, the bugs are too numerous to name, and watering can be a tricky puzzle to figure out especially this time of year when we have frequent afternoon thunderstorms. Here are some tips we’ve gathered from the experts that can help you with lawn care for your new home.

Water the Right Way

Too many homeowners see that they can water Monday, Wednesday and Saturday based on their house number, so they do at every opportunity. This sometimes leads to either over watering or watering the wrong way. Your grass needs about one inch of water per week. To do this, you can choose one of those days and water for as long as it takes for each zone to receive that much water. You can measure the water by using an empty tuna can. Put the empty can in each zone as you water and see how long it take each zone to get about an inch of water, then set each zone for the determined amount of time. Also, try to water in the morning rather than mid-day or late in the evening. On a rainy week, turn your sprinklers off completely.

Cutting to the Right Height is Important

Many homes in our area have St. Augustine grass. To help prevent disease and insect infestation, keep this type of grass cut to about four inches. Don’t bag the clippings; allow them to nourish your lawn. If you have another type of grass, look up its ideal height. Also, make sure to use a sharp blade for a clean cut to keep the grass looking its best. If you’re using a lawn care company, talk to them about grass height if you notice they cut it too short. And, if you see that the tips appear shredded rather than cut, your (or the lawn care company’s) blade needs sharpening.

Proper Pest Control & Fertilization is Essential

The experts we’ve spoken with recommend a slow-release fertilizer two times a year, once in early spring and once in mid-fall. Some areas have regulations that prohibit fertilization in the summer, so make sure to fertilize your lawn at the right time.

Pest control requires a case by case solution. One of the most common pests in Tampa yards is the chinch bug. There are many insecticides that are effective in treating these lawn-destroying pests. Mole crickets are another common invader. If you’re not familiar with identifying either the pest or their damage, you may want to consider calling a lawn care service company and use their services. Many offer both fertilization and pest control.

If you’re looking for a new home in the Tampa Bay area, call Jason Duraj at Future Home Realty. He and his team would love to help you find your new home or sell your existing one. Reach us by calling (813) 992-7771 today for your free consultation.

Posted in Home Maintenance
June 30, 2020

Factors that Influence Resale Value

Although it may seem unnecessary to consider resale value when looking for a new home, resale value is actually important to remember because, even if you’re buying your forever home, it will need to be sold again one day. Although every home buyer has their own “must have” and “never again” lists, there are elements from each that can impact the home’s resale value. Here are a few you should consider, especially if you’re torn between two properties you love.


We’ve all heard a Realtor® say the biggest factors in a home’s sale potential are location, location, location. That’s because there are so many elements that go into location. Here are three things to consider when it comes to the location of a home.

Location in the neighborhood: For many buyers, a through street is not ideal because they often have more traffic. Many buyers with small children prefer a cul de sac. Others want the often-larger corner lot and some never want to live on a corner again.

Convenience of the neighborhood: Is the neighborhood near the highway for easy access to downtown? Is there shopping, childcare and recreation nearby.

The neighborhood itself: Depending on the type of home, the neighborhood may be geared toward families, couples or seniors. Does the neighborhood have the right amenities for the target demographic? Families often want sidewalks for their children’s safety. Seniors sometimes want quiet so you’ll want to consider noise, like frequent flights over the home. Constant emergency vehicle sirens and traffic noises can detract from resale. Also, look beyond the neighborhood. Do you see signs of future development that could make your home choice less than ideal in the coming years?

The Home Itself

If you know you’ll be selling the home within the next five years and don’t plan to do any remodeling, consider the condition of the home today and imagine it after five years of wear and tear. Things like granite and quartz countertops, wood or tile flooring, energy efficient windows and appliances, and a good floor plan can influence the resale value. If you’re seeing things in the home that you want to change should your budget or time allow, consider those in your offer, especially if you plan on selling the home in the near future. 

Because of our military bases in the area, we know some buyers want to own their homes but are only able to be residents for a few years. Resale value is even more important when you know your time in the area may be just a few years.

If you’re buying or selling a home in Tampa Bay, trust Jason Duraj and his team at Future Home Realty. As a full-service real estate brokerage office, we can help you with all aspects of buying and selling. Call us to schedule a consultation at (813) 992-7771 today.

June 15, 2020

Humidity and Your Home

If you’re new to Florida, you soon will encounter its humidity. You probably experience this in many different ways. Did you know that the same humidity that affects the way you feel also affects your home? The more humidity in your home, the higher the chance for mold and mildew growth which may lead to issues with your floors to your roof and everything in between.

Types of Humidity Damage

Let’s start with your floors. Wood-based floors can cup or warp with too much moisture. Rarely, however, is this from humidity. It’s more likely a result of ground moisture coming up from your slab which can contribute to increased humidity in your home. You may find that tile floors appear to have dark grout. This can be due to excess humidity allowing dust to stick to the grout and grow mold.

Window sills are another prime location where you can see damage from humidity. Mold or mildew can grow on older, poorly sealed windows as well. This can lead to the need to replace your window sills or even to replace the entire window. If there is too much humidity in your attic and near the roof, this can lead to wood rot and wet insulation resulting in roof damage or decay of your roofing system.

How to Prevent Damage

When you’re cooking, always use your stove’s fan. This helps remove the moisture created during the cooking process. Also, when you shower it's a good idea to utilize the fan during and even after you turn off the shower until the humidity falls. If you notice mildew around just one or two windows that have plants near them, you should spread the plants throughout your home. Having them all at one or two windows can contribute to moisture in one area which leads to window damage.

Make Changes to Your Home

Although new windows are no small investment, if your windows are older, they may be the main culprits allowing moisture into your home. Replacing them can not only lower the humidity levels in your home, but also help your air conditioner work less, resulting in lower electric bills.

Check your attic for proper insulation as well. Insulation works both ways; it can keep air out and in. When you don’t have the right amount of attic insulation, the moisture from your shower and cooking can go into your attic and damage your roof. Likewise, humidity can get into your home through your attic floors. While your roofing company inspects insulation levels, also have them check the ventilation to ensure that the moisture has a way to escape.

Ideally you want the humidity level to be under 50% in your home. If it is consistently above that in the summer months, call your HVAC company for some guidance as to why. You may need a tune-up or repair.

If you’re moving to the Tampa Bay or surrounding area, Jason Duraj and his team at Future Home Realty would be happy to assist you with your needs. Our Realtors® will help you find your dream home and ensure that your potential home is checked for signs of humidity damage during your inspection prior to your closing. Call us today at (813) 992-7771.

Posted in Home Maintenance
June 2, 2020

Home Buying Tips — Things You Should Know

With interest rates low, more people are looking at buying a home for the first time. Because buying a home is unlike any other process you may go through, the first time may feel a bit daunting. If you are planning on becoming a homeowner sooner rather than later, here are some tips you should consider before you find a home and plan on making an offer.

Know Your Limits

Most of us go into the search process knowing our financial limits, however, this is only one thing to consider. How do you feel about yard maintenance? If that doesn’t seem like something you have time for or want to do, you may want to consider a community that does the maintenance for you unless you have the budget to pay someone. You’re not limited to just a condo if you want community maintenance either. Many villas also offer complete yard maintenance. Pool maintenance is another big consideration. A pool not only takes work, but it’s also an additional expense. You’ll want to make sure your budget allows for this additional expense if you’re considering a pool.

Know the Area

This is easier for someone moving locally, but it’s also true for everyone. Here are a few specifics you may want to consider when buying a home:

  • Commute to work, if applicable
  • Walkability of the community
  • Local schools, parks and recreation facilities
  • Proximity to health care, stores, and houses of worship

Once you narrow down an area, you’ll want to look closely at the neighborhood you want. Some neighborhoods have homeowners’ associations. Those associations have different rules. If you find a neighborhood you love, you may want to look at the association to see if there is anything you can’t abide by such as not allowing vehicles with logos or boats in the driveway overnight.

Know What You Must Have

Sometimes the list is simple, like requiring a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Other times, things like a home office or a three car garage are non-negotiable. You and your Realtor® should discuss what things are non-negotiable so you don't spend time viewing homes that don’t meet your minimum requirements.

If you don’t have a Realtor® and are considering buying a home, call Jason Duraj at (813) 992-7771. He and his team at Future Home Realty are here to help you find your new home in the ideal neighborhood that meets your needs.

Posted in Home buying tips
May 19, 2020

Is Your Home Hurricane Ready?

The local news has already started talking about making sure you and your family have a hurricane readiness plan as the first named storm has already formed. Although Arthur isn’t going to impact Tampa Bay in any way, we still need to be prepared for the season. Mostly we hear about having a good supply of necessary medication, bottled water, and canned goods in the event of an extended power outage. But what about your home? Is your home hurricane ready? Here are some things you should do now so that in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane impacting our area, you’re ready.

Trim Trees

One of the biggest dangers in any storm is the wind. Strong winds can bring down trees and branches. If you have trees with limbs that hang over your home, brush against it, or have the potential to hit your home during a strong gust, consider contacting a tree trimming company about inspecting your property. Remember to have them look at trees with branches that overhang into your neighbor’s property. If those fall and damage their property, you’re still liable.

Get a Roofing Inspection

A roofing company can inspect your roof and make sure that the shingles are all well-affixed and that you don’t have a problem which could lead to roof leaks in high winds. They can also make sure the roof straps are properly placed. If they find any issues requiring repair or maintenance, they can handle those so your roof is hurricane ready.

Clean Your Gutters

Even if a storm hits north or south of us, we can end up with a tremendous amount of rain. When you have clogged gutters, you end up with issues from your roof to your foundation. Take the time now to clean your gutters to prevent water damage.

Have a Plan for Your Outdoor Items

Many people take their patio furniture and put it in the pool so it doesn't blow away during a storm. That might work, but it may also cause damage to the furniture. If you don’t have anywhere indoors to put your patio furniture, use bungee cords or rope to strap it all together to lessen the chance of it becoming a projectile in the wind. Be sure to move your outdoor planters inside or close to your home as well.

Have a Copy of Important Documents

Many people keep their Living Will, Power of Attorney and Heath Care Surrogate paperwork in their safe deposit box. However, in the event of a widespread evacuation or power outage, you may not be able to get one of those documents if you need it. Be sure to have a copy to take with you if you evacuate in case there is a need.

Also, print out your homeowner’s insurance policy so you have the proper information in the event you need to file a claim and don’t have internet access. Although you may be able to access it on your phone, it’s a lot easier to have it in hand while you’re talking than not. And another tip about those documents: don’t put them in your dishwasher or other appliances for safekeeping. Appliances aren’t entirely waterproof and, in the event of a flood, those documents could be destroyed.

If you’re looking at relocating to the Tampa Bay area and need an experienced Realtor®, Jason Duraj and his Future Home Realty team can help. Our teams know and understand the flood and evacuation zones and can help you understand the potential risks associated with the areas. Call us at (813) 992-7771 to schedule your confidential consultation today.

Posted in Home Maintenance
May 5, 2020

Virtual Home Tours

Just because travel is limited, it doesn’t mean you have to put your home search on hold. In fact, with today’s technology there are many ways you can tour a home without actually being there. Even if you’re local, but prefer not to attend open houses or take your entire family through someone else’s home, you can feel like you’re inside with one of these options.

3D Virtual Home Tours

When it comes to pre-recorded video tours of homes, you will get an excellent idea of the home, flow and layout. You view virtual home tours on your smartphone or tablet and move around to “look” around the room. Look up at the ceiling fan and down at the flooring. Turn to gain an idea where the closet is in relation to the room’s entry. These advanced video tours are not only a great way to look at a home but also one way to sell yours faster in today’s changing world.

Walk Through Tour

This type of video tour has been around for years. In some, the agent walks through the home, filming it room by room. Then, they edit it with comments on the screen to let you know the room’s dimensions, kitchen features, and other things you’ll find in the listing as well. This type of video is a great way to preview a home and gather a feel for its flow. You may gain a better impression than you would with pictures and a floor plan alone.

Real-Time Video Tour

One service many agents offer is a real-time video tour. This isn’t completely new. Often an agent did these with one partner if the other was unavailable to attend in person but needed to be included. Today, with the many options for video chatting, it’s easy for you and your Realtor® to "walk" through a home together. One of the benefits of this sort of video viewing is that you can ask the agent specific questions about certain elements in the home in real time, and they can show you things that may not have been shown or highlighted in a pre-recorded video tour.

No matter where you are, if you’re looking for a home in the Tampa Bay area, Jason Duraj and his team at Future Home Realty can help you find it. Call us today at (727) 992-7771 for an initial consultation and we’ll start sharing virtual home tours of properties that meet your requirements.

Posted in Home buying tips
April 15, 2020

Choosing the Best Paint Color in Your New Home

During your home search have you ever wondered what a homeowner was thinking with their paint color choice? The good news is that updating paint in a home is one of the least expensive changes you can make. Not only is it an affordable upgrade, but it can make a big difference in how the room looks and feels.

Impact of Color

Color makes a big impact on mood, digestion, emotions and behavior. The paint color influences how a room feels. It can make the room feel bigger and brighter or more cozy and comfortable. Some studies suggest that oranges and yellows are good for kitchens because yellow aids in digestion and orange is associated with cheerfulness. If you have a home office, homeschool or craft room, you may want to consider a shade of blue to increase productivity. Blues are also great for living areas and bedrooms as they can inspire a sense of calm. Here is a helpful article about the psychology of color.

Color Trends

Right now, one of the biggest paint color trends is griege, a combination of grey and beige. Depending on the other elements in the room, you may want to steer more toward a grey undertone or toward a tan undertone. If you’re looking for some color, you could go with a very bright and bold color like teal, blue or green. Warm-toned pastels tend to work well if you are looking for a more subdued color trend.

How to Choose the Right Paint Color

There are many ways to determine your preferred color pallet. Some paint manufacturers have apps that allow you to snap a picture of the room and “paint” it digitally with one of their colors. If you’d like a low-tech approach, you could visit a local paint store where you can choose samples for free, or if you really don’t know what color you’re interested in, rent or borrow one of their color books with all of their options.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few colors you think you like, purchase a quart (not the sample size) and a few pieces of white poster board. Sample sizes don’t always have enough pigment to give you a good representation of what the color will look like. Then, paint at least half of the poster board. Once it’s dry, you’ll not only see how the color looks against white (the color of most baseboards) but also how much color is in the paint. Move the poster board around the rooms you’re considering painting. You’ll be able to see it against different walls and in different types of light better than if you were to paint one swatch on the wall.

If you’re still looking for the perfect home, Jason Duraj and his team at Future Home Realty can help. Once you find it, we can connect you with local painters or help you decide how to move forward so you can make sure your new home matches the feel you have in mind. Call us today at (813) 992-7771 to start your home search.

Posted in Home Maintenance