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

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tips on Buying a Secondo Home on FL's Gulf Coast

Many families dream of owning a second home near the beach, but there are a lot of aspects to consider when shopping for a second home.

First, you have to decide where you want your second home to be and whether you and your family will be able to use it enough to make it worth the expense. The location should be one that you have visited more than once and that your whole family can enjoy together. That is why so many people choose the Gulf coast of Florida as their second home. The tranquil beaches and laid back attitude always make for a relaxing vacation for both young and old. Whether you like to fish, boat, go to the beach, kayak, shop, dine, hike wildlife trails, visit museums, or go to the theater the Sarasota Bradenton area has it all.

Once you have narrowed your location down, you must examine your finances and realize your budget. There are many expenses that are incurred by owning a second home. There are factors such as mortgage payments, insurance, lawn maintenance, repairs, utility bills and taxes which are expected. Although there are many expenses that you must be prepared for as well like flood and wind insurance, boat storage, golf course usage, and association dues and assessments to name a few. Once you have factored in these possible expenses you can make a responsible estimation of what you can afford, and then begin looking at properties.

To Rent or not To Rent:
You may decide that while your second home is not being used by your family, you can generate some extra income by renting out the property. This is another reason why the location is key. Make sure that it is a desirable and convenient location where people want to stay and that you hire a reputable property management company or rental agent to maintain the property and secure rentals while you are away.

Considering all of these factors will certainly help you to make the best decision for you and your family. For ALL local listings go to