Florida Real Estate & News

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

Jan. 14, 2020

Understanding Evacuation Zones in Florida

In our last blog we explained flood zones and how they may impact your decision to purchase a particular piece of property. Today we’re going to discuss evacuation zones and what you should do once you move into your home so you’re prepared should a tropical storm or hurricane approach the coast triggering an evacuation of your area.

Where Are Evacuation Zones?

Generally, if your county has waterfront land, an evacuation zone map has been established. This includes Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Sarasota and Manatee Counties. The zones are letters from A to E, but not all parts of every county are labeled. Areas along the coast and intercoastal water have higher evacuation levels than inland locations with some having no mandatory evacuation expectation.

Why You Should Evacuate When Your Zone is in Danger

The leading cause of property damage is flooding and when you combine rainfall from a tropical storm or hurricane with storm surge, streets can become impassible and homes may be damaged. Although we haven’t had a significant storm make landfall in our area in recent memory, most of us can recall the images on TV from recent storms in Texas. Many people had to be rescued by boat and helicopter and, sadly, many were not able to be saved. If you evacuate when instructed, you are keeping yourself as well as rescue personnel out of harm’s way.

Where to Go When You Evacuate

Each county has evacuation shelters as well as evacuation routes. Knowing what roads are open and safe before you begin driving is key. Knowing which shelters are close to you and which ones have handicap facilities or accept pets is important if you need either of those services. Also, make sure your family knows your evacuation plan so in the event you’re separated and cell service is down, you know where to find one another.

Knowing your evacuation zone and routes is essential for your safety.  Our team of experienced and knowledgeable real estate agents are prepared to answer your questions about evacuation zones, routes, and anything else to help you find the perfect home in the Tampa Bay area. Just give us a call us at (813) 992-7771.

Posted in Home buying tips
Jan. 8, 2020

Flood Zones in Florida

Many who come to Florida to retire or because they prefer a warmer climate used to live in places that rarely flood. Even though flooding is one of the top natural disasters in the U.S., flood zones and flood insurance may be new information to you if you have relocated from a city where flooding is not common. If you have settled in Tampa Bay, or anywhere else in Florida, take a moment to learn more about flood zones and how they will affect your home and your insurance. Whether you’re working with a Realtor® or searching on your own, knowing what each flood zone means and how it may impact you is important.

All of Florida is in a Flood Zone

The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) draws flood maps for the entire nation. Because much of Florida is at or below sea level and because the state is surrounded by water, all of Florida is considered in a flood zone. Much of the inland areas are classified as low- to moderate-risk while coastal areas are often high-risk zones. If your property is considered to be in a high-risk zone, flood insurance is mandatory.

Classifications

If you're interested in a home but the flood zone isn't noted in the listing, you can look it up on the FEMA website. Here's a quick overview of the different flood zones and what they mean:

·         Zones with a less than 1% chance of flooding each year – B, C and X

·         Zones with a 26% chance of flooding every 30 years but less than 1% annually – A, AE, A1-A30, AH, and AO

·         Zones with greater than 1% chance of flooding annually and a 26% chance of flooding every 30 years – V, VE, V1-V30 (these areas are along the coast and flood insurance is mandatory)

·         Zone D has possible flooding but undetermined risk

There are also a few special classifications. One of these classifications is Zone AR which is when the flood risk is increased due to the reconstruction of a dam or levee. Another is Zone A99 which speaks to the fact that a levee will be constructed once the area reaches a designated population density.

Do I Need Flood Insurance?

Depending on which zone your home is in, you may be required by the bank to have it. If you are not in a flood zone which requires flood insurance, you still have the option to purchase it and may choose to do so as a precaution. Keep in mind that your homeowner’s insurance does not cover water that rises up, only water that comes down. So, if a hurricane tears off the roof of your home, it would be covered for water damage even if you did not have flood insurance. However, if the sewers become so over burdened by water that your street floods and allows water to come in through doors and windows, your homeowner’s insurance won’t help you.

Flood insurance is relatively affordable in the low-risk flood zones and is a good idea in Florida. As you look at different properties, talk to your Realtor® about flood risk and recent flooding history in the area. If you don’t have a Realtor® you’re working with and want to work with one knowledgeable in flood zones, call us at (813) 992-7771. Our team has vast knowledge about the many communities throughout Tampa Bay.

Posted in Home buying tips
Jan. 2, 2020

Tips on Choosing Your Next Neighborhood

Buying a home requires many decisions. The first thing many buyers consider is their budget. Then they list their must-haves such as number of bedrooms and bathrooms and whether or not they want a pool. Although you may know you'd like to move to Palm Harbor, Apollo Beach, Trinity, or another town in the Tampa Bay area, you may not have seriously considered which specific type of neighborhood you prefer. Here are some things to think about so your Realtor® can help you find a neighborhood that you love.

HOA or No HOA

Newer communities often have a homeowner’s association. First, this means you’ll have monthly or quarterly dues, and second, you'll have some neighborhood amenities. With an HOA also comes regulations. Some regulations are there to keep your community looking great and others are there to prevent in-home businesses, short-term rentals, and other things the board (and residents) decided they don’t want in the neighborhood. If you’re not willing to abide by the community regulations and pay the dues, choose a neighborhood without an HOA.

Walkability

If you enjoy being active outdoors and around your neighborhood, you may want to specify walkability as a feature in the neighborhoods you and your Realtor® view. Sidewalks are important for safety, especially if you plan on walking or running in your future neighborhood. Walkability also speaks to being able to walk to conveniences like a grocery store, restaurants, parks and public transportation. If being able to walk to a local ice cream shop or restaurant is important, be sure to make that known. Although walkable neighborhoods aren’t as prevalent as they once were, there are plenty within the Tampa Bay area.

Demographics

Many people choose to move to a new neighborhood with young families once they begin to have children. Others decide to downsize or move to a new community once their children grow up and leave home. As you look at buying a home, would you prefer to move to an area with a mix of young families, couples, and empty nesters or do you want to be in a community where the residents are in a similar life stage as you? Although your Realtor® won’t know exactly the type of families in every community, you can get a good idea based on the types of cars in the driveway (minivans and SUVs often mean families) and by driving through neighborhoods you’re considering on both weekdays and weekends.

I’d love to help you find the perfect home in your ideal neighborhood. With nearly two decades of experience in real estate in the greater Tampa Bay area, I know the subdivisions and communities that would be perfect for you, no matter what your definition of perfect is. Call me today at (813) 992-7771. We can help you buy or sell a home today.

Posted in Home buying tips
Dec. 27, 2019

Fall & Winter Exterior Home Maintenance

exterior home maintenanceIt's no fun doing home maintenance, and even less so when it's 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity. That's why fall and winter in the Tampa Bay area are ideal times to perform your exterior home maintenance. Here are a few maintenance tasks you should do every year to keep your home in good condition.

Window Caulk

The Florida sun can take a toll on your window caulk. Walk around your home and look at the caulk around your windows. If it’s cracked, broken or missing, you need to replace it. Window caulk aids in the energy efficiency of your windows and keeps driving rain out of your home. All you need is the right kind of caulk and a caulking gun, both of which can be found at your local home improvement store. Don’t neglect the caulk on the inside of your windows as that’s just as important although not as quick to deteriorate as it’s not exposed to the elements like the exterior caulk.

Weather Stripping

Each of your exterior doors has weather stripping. Typically, it’s made of plastic, and it will wear out over time. Sometimes you can tell if it needs replacing just by looking at it. Another test you can perform is to shut the door and see if you can feel exterior air coming through or see light. If your neighbor has ever slipped a letter through the side of your door, chances are good your weather stripping has seen better days. It’s easy to replace as you only need to buy the right size and color and then remove the old and reaffix the new.

Clean Your Gutters

Your gutters serve an important purpose. They funnel the rainwater away from your home’s foundation. If they’re clogged and water runs over them, you could end up with damage to your roof, fascia, landscaping, or even to your foundation. Although this may be the most dreaded of exterior home maintenance tasks, cleaning them in the dry season is a much easier and less messy task than cleaning them after rain.

Mulch

The proper amount of mulch conserves water and helps prevent weed growth. Three inches is the recommended amount unless you have small plants, then use slightly less. Also, remove old mildewed mulch before applying new.

Proper maintenance helps improve your home’s value and curb appeal, and it also keeps your home as energy-efficient as possible so utility costs stay lower. If you are new to the area and would like to purchase a home which has been well-maintained, give me a call. As a full-service real estate office, we are happy to help you search for the best home to meet your needs. Reach out to us at (813) 992-7771.

Posted in Home Maintenance
Feb. 24, 2016

Visit the Stingrays That Live in Tarpon Springs at the Aquarium

Live in Tarpon Springs and go to the aquarium.One way to learn about the ocean life that is so close when you live in Tarpon Springs is to take a trip to the Tarpon Springs Aquarium. It’s currently located at 850 Dodecanese Boulevard, but they have recently purchased a larger Pinellas County property, just a mile away, and are raising money to build a much larger facility. The current location may be a bit small, but it gets rave reviews from out of town visitors and those who live in Tarpon Springs. The aquarium staff are friendly and knowledgeable and are happy to chat with curious kids and adults and answer questions.

Pinellas County Property Home of Tarpon Springs Aquarium

The aquarium strives to give its visitors a really up close and personal experience with the creatures that live there. There is a touch pool, and visitor can feed the stingrays. Demonstrations are held throughout the day, as well. Watch a scuba diver feed the sharks, see alligators have a meal, or watch a true feeding frenzy when the eels are fed. There’s also a snake demonstration, when visitors can make the acquaintance of a 14-foot long python.

The aquarium is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission for adults is $7.75 and $5.75 for kids. Be sure to visit Tarpon Springs Aquarium online to find a printable coupon and get information about group visits and birthday parties.

Posted in News
Feb. 22, 2016

Meet Lucy the Panther Near Florida Homes

Meet Lucy the panther near Florida homes.Learn about creatures great and small at the Lowry Park Zoo located near Florida homes. Open daily from 9:30 a.m to 5 p.m. visitors can explore this expansive piece of Tampa real estate and the many animals calling it home. Monkey around with chimpanzees and orangutans. Marvel at several species of tortoise and flip for the frogs. Many of the animals here come from lands far away from Florida homes including the Queensland Koala and African Penguins. Some however hold local origins such as the manatee and the endangered Florida Panther. The Lowry Park Zoo’s Florida Panther, Lucy was rescued as an injured cub and would not survive on her own as an adult in the wild. See differences in wildlife habitats mimicking specific geographical areas like Asian Gardens and Wallaroo Station.

Visit Exotic Animals Living on Tampa Real Estate

Visitors will love the Lowry Park Zoo’s special tours including the Behind the Scenes Tour or Elephant Specialty Tour. The Twilight Tour takes a guided hike at night through an animal area and features an exotic animal encounter. Locals should consider purchasing a “ZooperPass”. The pass presents the opportunity to explore the park and enjoy year long admission to the park with minimal blackout days. Take a look online and plan your day at the Lowry Park Zoo.

Posted in News
Feb. 17, 2016

Go Catamaran Cruising if You Live in Clearwater Beach with Kai Lani

Live in Clearwater Beach and cruise on a catamaran.Set sail on the Kai Lani Catamaran and cruise the ocean near your Pinellas County property. With catamarans extending to 50 ft, there is plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy the day. For sunbathers who live in Clearwater Beach, there is plenty of room on deck to catch some rays. Shade seekers will definitely appreciate the covered area with lots of seating. Party cruises are a great way to meet and mingle with neighbors and friends who live in Clearwater Beach. A dolphin sighting cruise is fun for the whole family. You can be assured that the captain knows exactly where these playful sea creatures like to frolic and play. Sit back and enjoy the day while the crew sees to your every need.

With a safety first motto and focus on fun it is no wonder Kai Lani Catamaran has been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and is rated in the top 5 of Boat Tours and Watersports in Clearwater. The company also offers private sails perfect for weddings. What could be more romantic than saying your vows as the sun sets casting soft color upon the ripples of the sea. For availability and to book a sail visit Kai Lani Catamaran.

Posted in News
Feb. 15, 2016

Create Near Florida Homes at A8 Gallery

Create near Florida homes.A8 Studio and Galleries ensures that all Florida homes are adorned with fine art. This business gives the public a chance to come take classes and create art themselves, or purchase it from their gallery. There are also opportunities for children to learn art techniques and create masterpieces with their own hands. After school programs are available for as little as $20.00. This is a great enrichment activity for kids, especially for parents who cannot get back to their Florida homes right after school.

Adults can choose from a variety of classes as well as use the facility for a private party or team building exercise. Come on in for Abstract 101, where guests create a totally unique piece of art with the help of professional instruction in the use of multiple tools and techniques. Another option is to come for a theme night where the music, color configuration, and atmosphere is chosen by the staff. Lastly, Lutz real estate owners who are celebrating a birthday, engagement, or just want to get a group of friends or family together to have fun and create art can get in touch with the staff to get something scheduled. Visit A8 Studio to learn more about this business, and view a calendar of available classes and theme nights.

Posted in News
Feb. 10, 2016

Live in Redington Beach and Eat at the Conch Republic Grill

Live in Redington Beach and eat lobster.If you live in Redington Beach and are looking for a place to hang out with friends or go on a special date, check out the Conch Republic Grill. This is a local favorite for amazing seafood and a fun atmosphere. Come in between 2 and 5 p.m. to order off the Sunset Menu. All entrees are just $10.95 and come with a side salad. Try sweet and spicy salmon over coconut rice or “floribbean” jerk mahi mahi. Happy hour goes every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with discounts on draft beers and two for one glasses of house wine and signature cocktails.

The full menu is also quite reasonably priced and has a range of entrees to suit anyone’s taste. Try lobster, crab legs, or shrimp. Choose your favorite fish and have it prepared grilled, fried, or island style. There’s also baby back ribs, Jamaican jerk pork chop, or creole chicken. Coming to Conch Republic is a way folks who live in Redington Beach can get a taste of the Caribbean close to home. Kids are more than welcome and can choose from their own menu. Don’t forget dessert! Have a slice of key lime pie, homemade cheesecake, or upside down apple pie.

This Pinellas County property is bright and fun, close to the beach for a perfect sea breeze. Visit Conch Republic Grill to see the full menu and find out about catering.

Posted in News
Feb. 8, 2016

Golfers in Florida Homes Play Fox Hollow

Play golf near Florida homes.Golf enthusiasts living in Florida homes can play a quality game at Fox Hollow Golf Club. Located on prime Trinity real estate, the beauty of this course with contrasting lush greens and white sand bunkers will take your breath away. Whether you’re just beginning the course or putting on the back nine, Fox Hollow provides a challenge for golfers of every skill level. With over twenty hitting stations, a state of the art practice facility has been designed with plenty of space to work on enhancing skills in putting, driving and overall swings. For those who want to improve on their total game, professional instructors are available to assist. From group to private lessons as well as periodic clinics there is plenty of opportunity for progress. Fox Hollow Golf Club offers a variety of membership options to choose from for frequent golfers.

A good round of golf can create a hearty appetite and The Grill is the perfect place to ease hunger pains. Offering daily lunch specials locals from Florida homes love to indulge while enjoying views of the greens and scenic lake. Generous Happy Hour deals occur every day from 2 to 7 p.m. Tee times can be conveniently booked online at Fox Hollow Golf Club. Come play this 72 par course today.

Posted in News