Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bradenton's New Hangout

Some friends and I attended the long awaited Riverwalk Grand Opening in downtown Bradenton last week and it definitely did not disappoint!  The 1.5 mile long park includes a skate park, beach volleyball courts, an interactive splash zone, playground, tidal discovery zone, a fishing pier, kayak launch, plenty of shaded lounge areas, a 20 slip day dock all while serving as an outdoor art gallery. 

The Riverwalk truly has something for everyone and that was clear by the thousands of people that attended the grand opening celebration. 

The project is just what Bradenton's gorgeous riverfront deserved and will offer residents as well as tourists some great activities from yoga classes to concerts. 

For more info on upcoming events: Riverwalk Events

Thursday, February 18, 2010

4 Great Reasons to Buy FL Real Estate NOW!

Buyers, this is YOUR market! Take advantage of it by considering some of the reasons why it is a great time to by real estate
1. Property Values are VERY Reasonable!
In Manatee and Sarasota Counties, home prices are more than 20% lower than 12 months ago! There are no guarantees when values will rise again so act now to find an amazing deal.
2. YOU have Bargaining Power.
With so much inventory on the market, many sellers are making additional concessions in order to close the deal, like paying closing costs, sometimes offering owner financing or lowering the price for updates or repairs.
3. Mortgage Rates are LOW!
Historically low rates, Need I say more?
4. TAX Credit
You may be eligible for a tax credit whether you are a first time home-buyer or a repeat buyer, but you must act fast! Eligibility ends April 30th, 2010

To search listings, please visit

Friday, January 15, 2010

10 Tips on Selling Your Home

After hiring a real estate agent and deciding to put your home on the market, here is how to turn your house into an irresistible and marketable home. With so many properties on the market today, you want yours to stand out! Preparation is the key to selling your home fast and for top dollar.

1. Disassociate yourself with your home.
  • Make the mental decision to "let go" of your emotions and focus on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours.
  • Don't look backwards -- look toward the future!
2. Depersonalize
  • Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. You don't want buyers to be distracted. You don't want to make any buyer ask, "I wonder what kind of people live in this home?" You want buyers to say, "I can see myself living here.
3. Get Rid of the Clutter!
  • People collect an amazing quantity of junk. General Rule: if you haven't used it in over a year, you most likely do not need it. If you don't need it, why not donate it or throw it away?
  • Pack up knickknacks.
  • Clean off everything on kitchen counters.
  • Put essential items used daily in a small box that can be stored in a closet when not in use.
  • Think of this process as a head-start on the packing you will eventually need to do anyway.
4. Organize Closets and Cabinets
  • Buyers will open closet and cabinet doors. Imagine what a buyer believes about you if she sees everything organized. It says you probably take good care of the rest of the house as well.
5. Rent a Storage Unit
  • Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in storage. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room's purpose and plenty of room to move around.
6. Remove and/or Replace Favorite Items that you Intend to Keep
  • If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, she won't want it. Once you tell a buyer she can't have an item, she will covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them, if necessary.
7. Make Minor Repairs
  • Replace cracked floor or counter tiles.
  • Patch holes in walls. Fix leaky faucets.
  • Fix doors that don't close properly and kitchen drawers that jam.
  • Consider painting your walls neutral colors, especially if you have grown accustomed to bright colored walls.
  • Replace burned-out light bulbs.
8. Clean!
  • Wash windows inside and out.
  • Rent a pressure washer and spray down sidewalks and exterior.
  • Clean out cobwebs.
  • Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
  • Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
  • Clean out the refrigerator.
  • Vacuum daily.
  • Wax floors.
  • Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures.
  • Bleach dingy grout.
  • Replace worn rugs.
  • Hang up fresh towels. Bathroom towels look great fastened with ribbon and bows!
  • Clean and air out any musty smelling areas. Odors are a no-no.
9. Scrutinize your Home as if you were a Buyer
  • Go outside and open your front door. Stand there. Do you want to go inside? Does the house welcome you?
  • Linger in the doorway of every single room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer.
  • Examine carefully how furniture is arranged and move pieces around until it makes sense.
  • Make sure window coverings hang level.
  • Tune in to the room's statement and its emotional pull. Does it have impact?
  • If it looks like nobody lives in the house, you are almost finished.
10. Look at your Curb Appeal
  • Keep the sidewalks clear.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Paint faded window trim.
  • Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive.
  • Trim your bushes.
  • Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.
To search listings, visit

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tips on Buying a Foreclosed Property

Buying a foreclosed home could be a good idea for someone looking for a bargain, here are a few things to think about before making the decision.

Hire an Agent

Consider hiring a real estate agent with experience in foreclosed properties so that they will be able to better assist you in the process. If you work with an agent, make sure they know your priorities. Make sure to ask any potential agents if they have experience with foreclosure sales.


Make a checklist of what is important to you in a home and then prioritize them so that you are able to stay focused while searching for your new home or investment.

Keep Focused

Once you begin looking at properties, make detailed notes and compare them to your checklist to determine if each home is the right fit for you. This will help you to make your final decision by weeding out properties that do not have the qualities that you are looking for.

Do Your Research

Once you have made a decision and found the property that you would like to buy, you need to find out as much as you can about it and the circumstances that contributed to its' foreclosed status. The primary sources for this information are county assessors and recorders offices, title companies, your real estate agent and the owner.

To determine whether a foreclosed house is a good buy or investment, your agent should research sales comparables, property history, and title status that may affect the value of the property. Before you close the deal on any property, it is recommended that you do a complete title search through a title company.

Factor in the Cost of Repair

Depending how long a property has been vacant and whether the last owner maintained it well or not, a foreclosed home may have a lot of fixing up to be done. In addition to inspecting the property yourself, it is important to have the property professionally inspected. Banks generally require a home inspection when lending money for a mortgage anyway. Estimate the cost of repair to determine whether the property is still the right one for you.

To search foreclosed properties in any area, please visit

Friday, December 11, 2009

December Events in Bradenton and Sarasota, FL 2009

With the holidays fast approaching and the temperature dropping below beach weather, many of you may be wondering what there is to do in the Bradenton / Sarasota area in December. The area has a number of events for you and your family to enjoy together and this is a short list of some ideas to keep you busy and entertained during the holiday season.

Holiday Lights Tours

"Tooties SRQ Trolley offers it annual Holiday of Light Tour - Starting December 5th, through December 27th. See Sarasota's most spectacular holiday lights in Sarasota's, most comfortable trolley. Padded seats and air conditioning, along with holiday music will make this a must for your holiday traditions." The cost is $15 per seat and it is sure to be worth it!

Meadowland Worship Center invites the community to a FREE 20-minute continuous drive-thru Christmas route.
Enjoy drama, a live Nativity, hot chocolate & cookies – and you never have to leave your car! Get a free family picture taken, with or without Santa. Friday, Saturday & Sunday, December 11, 12 & 13, 6:30 – 9:00 pm.


Holiday Galleria 2009 - A "Unique Holiday Shopping experience featuring gifts handcrafted by over 30 Florida Artisans. Come in and see this exclusive selection of gifts to purchase including baskets, small quilts, jewelry, purses, fiber art, pillows, blown glass, lamp work beads, ornaments and more." This event is located at Beads, FOB 2312 Gulf Gate Dr., Sarasota, FL, 34231 and is happening now through Dec. 24th 2009 from 10am - 5pm on select days.

Atomic Holiday Bazaar -This is Sarasota's first and only indie holiday craft show which will be celebrating it's forth year by introducing an additional Saturday night (December 12th from 5pm to 11:30pm) at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium. Saturday night's event will be 18 and over with a charge of $7 per person. There will be libations and snacks for sale as well as the creations of 40 designers and crafters. The night will also include burlesque shows and live bands. On Sunday, Dec. 13th the event will be open to all ages from noon to 6pm and the entry charge will be $5, children get in free. Sunday's show will offer double the vendors as well.

Historic Burns Square Artists' Market - Local artists display and sell one of a kind works of art including but not limited to jewelry, photography, greeting cards, quilts, seashell gifts, metal sculpture, magnets, tee shirts, black-white sketches, oil paintings, and pottery. Saturday December 12th from 10am to 5pm

Mainly Art - The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority hosts a monthly art, craft and antiques bazaar called MAINLY ART. This community event runs 9a.m.-2 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month on Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton. MAINLY ART is looking for arts, crafts and antiques, including consignment pieces and recyclables. (December 19th 2009)

Food and Dining

Wine Cellar Open House at Michael's Wine Cellar -For admission bring a new, unwrapped toy for the Salvation Army holiday toy drive. Join the festivities at our holiday open house wine tasting for one of our largest wine tasting events of the year, with 70 wines to sample! Carol "The Chocolate Lady" will be here with Sirard's Chocolates, truffles, chocolate-covered pretzels and chocolate-almond bark.

Jazz on Broadway with Katt Hefner Every Tuesday Night 8-11PM. Jazz at it's finest in a Lounge Setting with a lite and full menu. Upstairs ... above The Broadway! Fine wine, Martini's and full bar. 1001 Cocoanut Ave., Sarasota, FL, 34236

Dinner with Santa Claus - On December 13th from 6pm to 8pm, bring your family to Cosimo’s Too! for a special dinner with jolly ol’ St. Nick. Babbo Natale, will come visit with you, at your table, while you are dining. Enjoy our special family style dinners, featuring pastas, pizzas, and salads, for a family of four, for as little as $7.99 per person. 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Located at Westfield Sarasota Square, Sarasota, FL, 34238

All You Can Eat Fish Fry - December 18th 4:30 p.m. Knights of Columbus Council Hall, 4880 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. 371-8326. $8.50, Adults and $4 Children. All are welcome.

Performing Arts

Moscow Ballet: Great Russian Nutcracker
- Tuesday December 29th at 7:30 pm at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall "Featuring spectacular sets and beautifully costumed Russian dancers, Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker is an annual treat for the whole family. Whimsical and imaginative storytelling blends with the richness of Russian classical dance to make the Great Russian Nutcracker a unique performance not to be missed!"

The Sounds of Christmas
- Ringling Museum of Art, Asolo Theater December 18th through the 20th

Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus: Illuscination
- Robarts Sports Arena beginning on December 31st at 4:30pm

The Golden Dragon Acrobats - Experience the ancient tradition of Chinese acrobatics in this spell-binding, family-oriented performance of daring acrobatics, jaw-dropping feats, traditional dance, spectacular costumes, and traditional and contemporary music. Tuesday December 29th at 2pm at The Players Theatre in Sarasota

Reels at Rossi Park
- FREE movie in the Park. Reels at Rossi Park are shown on an over sized screen in a relaxing environment right on the Manatee River. Food and beverage vendors available or bring your own picnic basket to this downtown family event. Movies are the 3rd Friday of each month throughout the year. Residents are invited to bring blankets or lawn chairs and enjoy the movie, or park your boat on the Manatee River and watch it from there. On December 18th at 7pm The movie will be Elf.

These are just some of the exciting events happening in the Sarasota / Bradenton area this December, I truly hope that you and your loved ones get the time to enjoy some of them and soak up the Florida lifestyle!

As always, please visit to search real estate listings and feel free to contact me for any of your real estate needs!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure

There are many reasons why a short sale is more beneficial to a homeowner than a foreclosure, this is why many homeowners are now choosing to short sale their properties instead of letting the banks foreclose on them. Here is some general information to help you to make the best decision.

You must be able to prove financial hardship in order to qualify for a short sale. Acceptable forms of hardship include: Loss of Job, Business Failure, Damage to Property, Death of a Spouse or family members, Severe Illness, Divorce. Mandatory Job Relocation, Medical Bills, Military Service, Payment increase or Mortgage Adjustment, Reduced Income, Separation, Too much Debt and Incarceration.

If you can establish that one of these is a reason that you can no longer afford to pay your mortgage, you may qualify for a short sale. Another factor in qualifying is that you may not be able to pay down the mortgage, so you cannot have enough liquid assets to do so.


A Homeowner who loses their home to Foreclosure:

  • May not be able to get another Fannie Mae backed mortgage for 5 years (for investors, this is 7 years)
  • Will have to answer YES to the question "Have you had a property foreclosed upon or given title or deed in lieu thereof in the last 7 years?" when applying for future loans, this will affect future rates
  • Credit score may be lowered anywhere from 250 to over 300 points for over 3 years
  • Will be on public record permanently as having been foreclosed upon, and their credit history will show the foreclosure for 10 years or more
  • For those that have security clearance, it will most likely be revoked and their position terminated
  • Could lose their job or be reassigned, as many employers are actively checking the credit of all employees who are in sensitive positions
  • May be challenged when seeking future employment, due to their credit rating
  • In 100% of foreclosures (except in certain states), the bank has the right to pursue a deficiency judgement and the amount of deficiency would most likely be larger than if it were a short sale because the property could be sold at a lower price through auction or just because of the time the property spent on the market.

A Homeowner that successfully negotiates a Short Sale:

  • Will be elible for a Fannie Mae backed mortgage after only 2 years (For investors as well)
  • There is no declaration on future loan applications that ask whether you have previously negotiated a short sale
  • Your credit score would only show late mortgage payments and then that the mortgage was "settled", "paid as negotiated", or "paid as agreed". This can lower the score by as little as 50 points for as brief as 12 to 18 months
  • A short sale is currently not reported on credit history
  • A short sale does not currently challenge most security clearances
  • A short sale does not challenge current or future employment
  • In some successful short sales, it is possible to convince the lender to give up the right to pursue a deficiency judgement against the homeowner
  • In a properly managed short sale, the home should be sold close to market value and will most likely be higher than an REO sale which results in a lower deficiency
If you would like any additional information, den't hesitate to contact me! To search listings of short sales and foreclosures please visit

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Changes to the Homebuyer Tax Credit

President Obama has signed the extension of the Homebuyer Tax Credit which extends the credit of $8,000 to qualified first-time home buyers purchasing a primary residence on or before April 30th, 2010. Another exciting change is that the new bill expands the tax credit by offering a $6,500 tax credit to existing homeowners that purchase a primary residence between November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010 (or purchased by June 30, 2010 with a binding sales contract signed by April 30, 2010).

Definition of a First-Time Home Buyer:

The law defines “first-time home buyer” as a buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the law tests the home ownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse.

Definition of an Existing Home Owner or Repeat Buyer:

The law defines a tax credit qualified move-up home buyer (“long-time resident”) as a person who has owned and resided in the same home for at least five consecutive years of the eight years prior to the purchase date. For married taxpayers, the law tests the home ownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse. Repeat home buyers do not have to purchase a home that is more expensive than their previous home to qualify for the tax credit.

How the Tax Credit amount is determined:

The tax credit for a first-time home owner is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000

The tax credit for a repeat home buyer is also equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price, but the maximum is $6,500. Purchases of homes priced above $800,000 are not eligible for the tax credit.

Income Limits:

For first-timers and repeat buyers closing on a home after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30th, 2010, the income limit for single taxpayers is $125,000 and the limit is $225,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return.

How to Claim the Tax Credit:

You claim the tax credit on your federal income tax return. Specifically, home buyers should complete IRS Form 5405 to determine their tax credit amount, and then claim this amount on line 67 of the 1040 income tax form for 2009 returns (line 69 of the 1040 income tax form for 2008 returns). No other applications are required, and no pre-approval is necessary. However, you will want to be sure that you qualify for the credit under the income limits and first-time home buyer tests. Note that you cannot claim the credit on Form 5405 for an intended purchase for some future date; it must be a completed purchase. Home buyers must attach a copy of their HUD-1 settlement form (closing statement) to Form 5405 as proof of the completed home purchase.

Some Points to Keep in Mind:

Expanded tax credit benefits apply to members of the military, the foreign service and intelligence community. Go to for additional information.

Home purchases in 2010 may be claimed on an amended 2009 income tax return.

Persons who are claimed as dependents by a taxpayer or who are under age 18 do not qualify for a tax credit.

Home purchases from relatives of the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse do not qualify for the tax credit. The IRS defines relatives as ancestors (parent, grandparent, etc.), lineal descendants (child, grandchildren, etc.) and spouses.

Married couples are not eligible to claim the first-time home buyer tax credit if either spouse has previously owned a home. Though, they may qualify for the repeat home buyer tax credit.

Neither the first-time home buyer tax credit nor the repeat home buyer tax credit have to be repaid unless the home is sold or is no longer used as the buyer’s principal residence within three years after the initial purchase.

Taxpayers must submit a copy of the HUD-1 settlement statement and IRS Form 5405 to claim the first-time home buyer tax credit or the repeat home buyer tax credit.

For free real estate advise or to search ALL active listings, please visit