Florida Real Estate & News

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

March 31, 2020

A Guide to Common Listing Terms

Whether you’re looking at homes online yourself or working with a Realtor® to find listings, there may be terms you see in a listing that aren't familiar to you. Each region of the country refers to various parts of the home using terms which may be completely familiar to locals but not to someone from another area. Here are some terms that are local to the Florida region.

Lanai

Although this isn’t only used in Florida, it’s most commonly used in tropical locations to refer to any covered and screened-in area. Some listings may mention a lanai-enclosed pool which means the pool is also screened in. Some even refer to the screened pool enclosure as a cage. To those moving from northern areas, this could sound quite odd, but it’s the most common way of enclosing a pool in the area.

Split Floor Plan

Because many homes throughout the Tampa Bay area and all of Florida are single level, many are built with a split floor plan. This means the master suite is on one side of the main living area while the rest of the bedrooms are on the other side, splitting the bedroom areas, hence the name.

High Volume Ceiling

In homes with ceilings taller than eight feet, the listing agent may slip in the little-known term high volume ceiling. These ceilings aren’t vaulted and don’t necessarily have any special finishes like a tray or coffered decoration, but they’re simply more than eight feet. Further details may reveal they have crown molding or another feature in addition to the height.

Executive Pool

If you’re looking for a home with a pool, you may wonder what the difference is between a pool and an executive pool. There isn’t a true official definition of this, but you’ll find that most executive pools include an attached hot tub with a spill-over feature. Some may also include a tanning shelf.

Let Your Realtor® Help

Your Realtor® knows the various terms used by their peers in the listings and can help you decode the them even over the phone. If you’re not yet working with a local Realtor®, call Jason Duraj at (813) 992-7771. His Future Home Realty team has vast experience with Tampa Bay area neighborhoods, and they can help you find the perfect home for your family today.

Posted in Home buying tips
March 27, 2020

Infographic: Recessions Are Not Always a Housing Crisis

Posted in Home buying tips
March 24, 2020

Understanding Home Categories

Everyone seems to understand the term single family detached home when it comes to real estate. In our area there are many different types of single-family homes you can buy including one-story, two-story, split-level, and even the McMansion. However, there are other categories that aren’t so well understood. If the photos with the listing you’re looking at don't provide much clarity, the explanations below may help. We want you to know what to expect before you get to the home with your Realtor® or before you visit during an open house.

Villa

Although villa may have a different meaning outside of Florida, for the most part, in the Tampa Bay area, the term villa is used for homes in communities that have a shared wall with at least one other home. They are often single level and frequently include a covered porch or patio. Most villa communities include a pool and lawn care services which benefits its residents.

Bungalow

The Historic Kenwood neighborhood of St. Petersburg has the biggest concentration of bungalows in our area. These small, single-family detached homes often have three bedrooms in about 1,500 square feet. There are bungalows in other areas, and some are new construction too. They’re often craftsman style and almost always have a lovely front porch. Many may have a partial second floor.

Condos

There are four primary categories that can be called condominiums. Here is what you can expect if you find a Realtor®’s listing for one of these types of condos:

·        High-rise condo — A high-rise condo means the building has ten or more stories. Often these condos are in downtown areas and along the beaches. Most offer a wide variety of amenities which means higher monthly dues.

·        Mid-rise condo — Condo buildings with between four and nine stores fall into this classification. Depending on the complex, you may enjoy a fitness center, community pool, clubhouse, or other amenities.

·        Low-rise condo — Some of these are converted apartments and others are newly built. Most have comparable amenities and monthly dues as a mid-rise condo.

·        Townhome — There are many townhome-style condos geared toward families and retirees. Some have garages. You may have fewer amenities with a townhome-style condo than with one of the other types of condominiums.

·        Coach house — This is a combination of a low-rise and townhome style. One unit is upstairs and the other is downstairs. Often, because of the stairs, the upstairs unit has slightly more square feet; however, the benefit of the downstairs unit is that there are no stairs to climb.

Manufactured and Mobile Homes

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, these styles aren’t the same. Both are built and moved to the site. However, a mobile home is a home that was built before 1976 and likely was actually mobile. This is because there was a time when the owners often moved their home and family to follow jobs. These are similar to a modern-day camper which has been moved off the wheel bed and onto a concrete block foundation.

Manufactured homes are built to be permanently located once moved and assembled on a site. These are what many people know of as single-, double-, and triple-wide, which are the terms used to describe the number of trucks required to move the home. They are always placed on a permanent foundation as part of the final assembly. You may tour a manufactured home and not even realize it wasn’t a site built home.

If you’re looking for a Realtor® to help you find your family's new home, a retirement property, or a rental, call Jason Duraj at Future Home Realty. He’ll help you find your new villa, bungalow, condo, manufactured home, or whatever type of home is right for your family. Call (813) 992-7771 today for your free consultation.

Posted in Home buying tips
March 17, 2020

Tips to Help Your Home Sell Faster

Often the first step in buying a new home is selling your current one. Your Realtor® should share the basics with you, like decluttering and removing family photographs from view so buyers can picture themselves in your home. However, if you’re looking to sell your home fast, preparing your home for sale means more than just those two things.

Start at the Front Door

The first impression buyers gain is when they pull up in front of your home. It’s an immediate impression not forgotten. Go out your front door and see what they’ll see while their Realtor® is dealing with the lock box and unlocking your door. Does your front door need a new coat of paint? Could your shrubs be trimmed back? Consider adding an attractive flowering potted plant to cheer up your entryway. Make sure to continue this on the inside too!

Baseboards & Blinds

We tend to overlook our baseboards from day to day. If you haven’t wiped yours down and there’s a layer of dirt on them, potential buyers may look at the home as dirty even if the rest is clean. The same goes for your blinds. Home buyers often look out the windows of homes they’re considering because it’s the view they’ll have as long as they own that home.

Kitchen & Bathroom Details

We’re not talking about a kitchen or bathroom remodel, but look at the smaller elements in the space. Things like the faucet—does it leak or look corroded? If so, either repair it or replace it. If your cabinet knobs are barely hanging on or look bad, you can buy new round-brushed chrome knobs for about a dollar each. Hang nice quality towels that brighten your bathroom. Also, make sure your sink is clean and there’s no odor coming from the disposal.

Organize Your Storage

Kitchen and bathroom cabinets, closets, and storage areas in your home can turn a buyer off. If you haven’t been through yours as part of your clean up and decluttering process, do so. You want it to appear that the home you’re selling has an abundance of storage. You may have two or three sets of sheets for each bed in the home and multiple sets of towels. If so, put some in storage or in an underbed box where a buyer is less likely to look to make your closets and cabinets appear bigger.

Jason Duraj and his professional Realtors® at Future Home Realty can help you find the perfect home for your family. We know the Tampa Bay area and have agents ready to find your new home. Call us today at (813) 992-7771 for your consultation or to schedule an appointment.

Posted in Home Selling Tips
March 9, 2020

Before You Make Your Offer

As you and your Realtor® look at houses, you may find several which catch your interest. Once you decide to make an offer on one home, you may go back and look at it a second (or even third) time. During your final look, before you make your offer, we have some suggestions about specific things to look at so you can make an offer that works for your budget.

HVAC System

One of the most necessary elements of a home in Florida is the air conditioning. As you get close to making an offer, inspect the HVAC system. If it has been well maintained, the HVAC company will likely have left a sticker on the inside unit with their contact information. You may also be able to find a make and model which can tell you its age. This is important because a poorly maintained or older unit may need replacing in the immediate future which could cost you thousands. Your home inspector will make sure the system is in good working order, but knowing a bit more about it may influence your offer on the home.

Water Heater

A water heater can last for up to 15 years. On average, many last between 8-12 years. Knowing the age of the water heater in your potential new home is important. If the unit is older, and if the home is older, it may mean a greater expense when the water heater needs to be replaced in the future. On average the unit itself will cost between $2,000 and $3,000. Installation can vary from just under $1,000 to over $2,000 if the current installation doesn’t meet today’s code. You may also want to note the size of the unit and whether it is gas or electric. Will it meet your family’s needs? If not, you may have to replace it before its end of life.

Gutters

You don’t have to be a roofing expert to know whether the gutters are clean. Admittedly many homeowners will clean the gutters before listing and selling the home. There are a few ways a novice can tell whether they’ve been regularly maintained. Look around the home. Evidence of overflowing gutters include washout of mulch or even a trench beneath the gutters. If the downspouts appear in good condition and there is no evidence of run-off from a clogged gutter or missing downspout, that is a good indication they’ve been cleaned regularly. Poor gutter maintenance can lead to roof leaks and damaged fascia and big repair bills.

Your Realtor® can ask the other agent involved in the sale for any information such as the HVAC maintenance company’s information or the age of the water heater. You can also attend the home inspection and ask the inspector for any insight.

If you are moving to the Tampa Bay area or planning to relocate within the area, Jason Duraj and his team at Future Home Realty can help you with buying a new home. As a team of experienced Realtors®, we’re ready to help you. Just call (813) 992-7771 for your free consultation.

Posted in Home buying tips
March 3, 2020

Four Differences Between VA and Conventional Loans

As there are many military personnel and retirees throughout Tampa Bay, it is important for first-time homebuyers to review and understand the differences between VA and conventional loans. Each accomplishes the same thing; however, depending on your situation, one may be better than the other.

1.      Down Payment Requirements

For many first-time homebuyers, coming up with the down payment is the biggest obstacle to purchasing a home. However, if you’re eligible for a VA loan, you don’t need a down payment due to 100% financing. With a conventional loan, you will need a down payment. It could range between 3% and 20% of the home's purchase price.

2.      Rates

Although your credit score ultimately influences your interest rate, you will likely find that overall rates are lower with VA loans. This is because the government backs the VA loan. One requirement, though, is a credit score of at least 620 to qualify for a VA loan.

3.      Fees

There are many fees associated with any loan. One fee you’ll pay with a VA loan that doesn’t exist with a conventional loan is the VA funding fee. This can be as much as 3.6% of the loan amount. This fee may impact the total you’ll need to bring to closing for the closing costs, or it will influence the amount you finance if you choose to roll some of the fees into the loan itself.

There is one fee you’ll avoid with a VA Loan: Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI is required on all conventional loans unless you have more than 20% equity in the home. PMI costs vary from about half a percent to one percent of the loan’s value. If you don’t have 20% to put down on your purchase, you may find that the VA funding fee will cost less over time than the PMI associated with a conventional loan.

4.      Occupancy

If you’re still active duty and plan on living in your home only while you’re stationed locally and renting it out the next time you’re transferred, you may want to consider a conventional loan. VA loans are only allowed for primary residences.

No matter which type of loan you ultimately decide is best for your situation, Jason Duraj and his team at Future Home Realty can help you find the right home. We truly appreciate your service and offer you a free confidential consultation in person or over the phone at (813) 992-7771.

Posted in Home buying tips
Feb. 25, 2020

What You Should Know About Your Roof

For many home buyers and homeowners, the roof is a bit of a mystery. Unless you’ve replaced a roof or dealt with a roof leak or storm damage, you may not realize all that your roofing system includes and what it does other than keeping the weather out of your home. However, understanding a few basic things about your roofing system will help your roof last and reduce its lifetime cost.

Your roofing system consists of more than just tiles or shingles. The primary elements of your roofing system are: insulation, ventilation, roof deck, underlayment and shingles, fascia, flashing, and your gutters. These parts work together to protect your home. Issues with any one of these items can lead to a roofing issue.

Inspect Your Roof Regularly

You should walk around your home and look at your roof at least twice a year and after every major storm. By doing this, you’ll spot potential issues sooner, which can reduce the cost of potential repairs. Use binoculars if you can’t clearly see to the peak of your roof. Here are things to look for which may indicate a roof leak or other issue and should trigger a call to your roofing company.

  • Misaligned or missing shingles
  • Curling, warped or bubbling shingles
  • Dents in the shingles that may indicate hail damage
  • Broken or missing soffits
  • Rotting fascia

If you have an accessible attic, look inside a few times a year to see if there are any signs of a roof leak like dark streaks on the roof deck or insulation that appears damp or compact, which is a sign of water damage.

Have a Trusted Roofer

Having a contractor you know and trust before there’s an emergency is always a good idea. Your roofer is no different, especially in Florida where strong storms happen year-round. Make sure your roofer performs regular roofing inspections to identify issues before they become problems. Most roofers recommend annual roofing inspections which can help in the event you have an insurance claim as the inspection can serve as proof the roof was in good condition prior to the storm.

Perform Regular Maintenance

If you take care of your roofing system, it will last longer. That means it is important to keep debris off your roof and out of your gutters. You should also trim back tree branches and palm fronds so they don’t rub against your roof. Lastly, don’t let algae grow on your shingles; clean it when it first appears.

We understand that as a new resident you may not have established a network of contractors. If you need a roofing contractor, we can recommend a few we know and trust, just give us a call at (813) 992-7771. If you’re looking at buying or selling in the Tampa Bay area, Jason Duraj and his team at Future Home Realty are here to help.

 

Posted in Home Maintenance
Feb. 13, 2020

Tips to Help You Buy a Home

Homeownership is a dream for many Americans. If you’re considering buying a home and have a down payment, you may want to take next steps to further prepare you for homeownership. We’ve laid out some tips that will help your home buying process go quickly and smoothly.

Get Pre-Approved

One of the most important things you can do to ensure you get the home you want is to get pre-approved for a home mortgage. Lenders look for several things before they issue a pre-approval. First, they want to see that you have a good debt-to-income ratio. Also known as DTI, you take your debt and divide it by your income. Typical guidelines often note that all your monthly debts, including the potential mortgage, should not exceed 43% of your monthly income. The lower the debt-to-income ratio, the more favorably a lender will look on your loan request.

Know What You Want in Your Home

Talking to your Realtor® about your must-haves in a home is important. Although inventory varies, there are always a lot of potential homes on the market. When you can clearly tell your Realtor® what the home must have, what you would like it to have if budget allows, and where you’d like to live, you’ll find your home more quickly than if you just know you want to buy a house. Some things on your list might include:

  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Specific room requirements such as a bonus room, home office or dining room
  • HOA or non-HOA community
  • Type of flooring and countertops
  • Size of property, garage space and pool availability

Hire an Experienced and Knowledgeable Realtor®

The differences in Realtors® can widely vary. Don’t be afraid to talk to several agents before you hire the one you believe to be the best fit for you. You want one who listens to your wants and needs, knows the area you’re looking into, and with whom you feel comfortable. An experienced and knowledgeable Realtor® can help you find the home you want and make a good and fair offer on it.

Jason Duraj personally has over 17 years in the real estate business. He and his team at Future Home Realty have combined decades of real estate experience and will help you find the right home at the right price in the right neighborhood. If you’d like a free confidential consultation, call Jason at (813) 992-7771 today.

Posted in Home buying tips
Feb. 12, 2020

Buying a Home in Need of Renovation

Continuing our two-part blog series about the realities of buying a home in need of renovation, today we’re covering one of the most remodeled areas of the home: the kitchen. If you’re new to the Tampa Bay area and looking at homes, you may notice many neighborhoods were built in the late '90s and early 2000s. Before you decide that the home in your desired neighborhood has the wrong kitchen or bathroom for your taste, consider a home renovation.

As long as you understand the realities of a kitchen remodel or other renovation as far as cost and timeline, you can make an informed decision about whether this is a good option for you. When you work with an experienced Realtor®, they can help you make a fair offer that allows you to purchase the home and make the necessary changes while staying within your budget. Last week we covered bathroom remodeling costs. If you missed it, click here. All the data we’re using is courtesy of the Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com).

Types of Kitchen Remodels

The Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report classifies kitchen remodels into three categories.

  • Midrange Minor Kitchen Remodel – In this type of remodel, you’re not re-arranging the kitchen, but rather replacing appliances, flooring, countertop, and sink, as well as cabinet and drawer fronts.
  • Midrange Major Kitchen Remodel – Here you’ll be changing the layout of the kitchen and installing semi-custom cabinets and new countertops. You’ll also install custom lighting, new appliances, and resilient flooring.
  • Upscale Major Kitchen Remodel – An upscale remodel includes custom cabinets, stone countertops, tile backsplash, commercial-grade cooktop, and new energy-efficient appliances. It also includes under-cabinet lighting and water filtration and new tile or wood flooring.

Kitchen Remodeling Timeline and Cost

It makes sense that the major kitchen remodels take more time to accomplish than minor remodels where you’re not rearranging the space. On average, a minor kitchen remodel should take six to eight weeks whereas a major remodel will take 10-12 weeks. Of course, if you are moving walls or have other structural changes, your timeline could be even longer.

According to the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report 2020, you’ll invest between about $22,000 and $132,000 depending on which level of remodel you decide you need and the size of the kitchen. There are many remodeling companies in Tampa Bay who can help you create your dream kitchen and stay within your budget.

Jason Duraj and his team at Future Home Realty can help you evaluate the pros and cons of a home you’re interested in and discuss the remodeling possibilities to turn a home you like into a home that you love. Call us today at (813) 992-7771 to talk about touring homes in some of the great neighborhoods throughout Tampa Bay.

 

Posted in Home buying tips
Feb. 6, 2020

Remodeling Your Next Home

As you look at homes in your preferred neighborhoods, you may find a home you think is perfect except for a room or two. Sometimes, people walk away when they discover this, but you don't have to let one or two less-than-ideal rooms ruin the whole home for you. With a general understanding of remodeling costs, you may find a home that needs some updating can be more affordable than a new home. Plus, you’ll end up with the style and features you really want after improvements.

In this two-part blog series, we’re going to help you understand the average costs associated with some of the most common remodeling projects, including bathroom and kitchen remodels as compiled in the Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report. We’ll also share a few common exterior changes that can improve the curb appeal of your home. Keep in mind that no remodel will give you 100% return on investment (ROI), but if your goal is to improve the home so you love it, the return isn't as necessary.

Bathroom Remodeling

The costs associated with remodeling a master bathroom can vary greatly, especially if you add onto the space as many homeowners choose to do.

Bathroom Remodeling – High End

In the Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value report, the team based their average remodeling cost on a 35-square-foot room where the homeowners have chosen to expand it to 100 square feet. This means the shower, sink and toilet are rearranged which adds considerably to the budget. This sort of remodel costs the most, but it also includes the most upgrades. The cost for this level of bathroom remodel is almost $63,000 on average but in the report, this included the following:

  • Ceramic tile shower (42” X 42”) with recessed shelf and frameless glass enclosure
  • Separate soaking tub
  • Natural stone countertops with two sinks and two mirrored medicine cabinets
  • Enclosed toilet area
  • Ceramic tile flooring with in-floor heating

Of course, the fixtures in this example are all high-end and custom cabinetry is included. Depending on the features you want and whether or not you need to expand the space, your costs could be significantly less. This is considered a high-end remodel.

Bathroom Remodeling – Mid-Range

On the other end of the bathroom remodeling spectrum is a mid-range remodel. This is typically done in secondary or hall bathrooms. In this remodeling scenario, a drop-in tub is replaced with a porcelain-on-steel tub with ceramic tile surround. The cabinetry may be stock or semi-custom and the countertop is a solid surface with integrated sink. Also included are tile floors and a medicine cabinet. This type of mid-range job requires a budget of about $20,000 for a contractor to handle, but it is something a handy homeowner could do for themselves instead for considerably less.

Jason Duraj and his team at Future Home Realty have helped families find the perfect home, even when it needs a bit of updating. We understand the costs associated with remodeling and will help you with a fair offer so you can budget for changes to make your dream home a perfect fit for you and your family. Call us today at (813) 992-7771 to schedule your appointment.

Posted in Home buying tips