The Open House – A Buyer’s Guide

Open houses are always an easy way to check out multiple homes in a community that you’re interested in or to get an idea of what you like and dislike in the beginning stages of your search. If you do find a home that you are interested in by visiting an open house, there are some red flags to keep an eye out for. Some of these are worth putting some serious thought into as they can be costly updates down the road should that open house gem become your home.

We understand that no home is likely to be perfect – even new construction – but some “fixes” can be more of a headache (and more costly) than others. For example, hard to swallow paint colors may be hard to look past, but are a quick and low budget change. It’s the underlying issues to keep an eye out for and here’s a quick guide to help you out:

Check out the condition of the roof.

Looking beyond the features of the home that may make it dreamy like a chef’s kitchen or oversize walk in closets is hugely important. While taking your tour, be sure to visually inspect the roof to see if it appears to be sagging or is in disrepair. The typical life span of a roof is up to about 20 years, but the average cost to replace one can run as high as $25,000 or more. The roof is traditionally included in the home inspection you would have done in your due process, but if there is immediate evidence of damage, it may not be worth the trouble to even get to the point of a home inspection.

Are there issues with the home’s foundation?

It’s not hard to understand why the foundation of a home is so important. It is quite literally what the home is resting and built on. While walking through the home, be sure to pay attention to any sloping in the floors as you tour and look for any wide cracks on the exterior.

Be on the lookout for noticeable water damage.

While water damage may not always be evident, there are some warning signs to be aware of and keep your eyes open for while at an open house. Patched or discolored areas in the ceiling are an obvious sign of water damage, but you can also use your sense of smell. A musty odor can sometimes also be a sign of a previous leak.

Is the wiring outdated?

Depending on the age of the home you are visiting, you may want to pay attention to things like the lighting switches and knobs. An older wiring system may still be functional, but could cause problems for you down the road that is somewhat intrusive to fix. If you’re seeing lighting features that seem a little antiquated to you, it can’t hurt to ask the seller or the person overseeing the open house about the age of the wiring in the home and if it has ever been upgraded.

The windows tell a story.

While original windows in an older home can have a charming look, they can also mean higher heating and cooling costs. There is a benefit to the energy savings of new windows and something to consider is the cost of having to replace all of the windows in a home.

Some additional questions you house be asking if you’re seriously considering taking next steps are things like: whether insurance claims have been made on the house and why, what’s the state of the sewer system, what is the state of the seawall/dock if applicable. With so many factors to keep in mind, it is always a smart decision to work with a Realtor who can help you navigate these important steps. TEAM BUKY has a combined 80 years of experience in the Sarasota and Bradenton real estate market and is ready to help you find the home of your dreams. Give us a call today to streamline the process and get the exceptional service you deserve!

 

 

 

Twilight Photo Shoot Tips

The importance of a first impression doesn’t only hold true in face-to-face meetings. The first impression that a potential buyer has of your home can, more often than not, determine whether they make the time to take the next step and see it in person. One of the most impressive ways to show off the features of your luxury home can be through a dusk or twilight photo shoot. These specialty images can evoke emotion and help a potential buyer picture what life could be like while enjoying a sunset drink on the deck with the sound of the waves in the background.

TEAM BUKY works with only the best local photographers to bring out the glamour and unique qualities of your home. In their years of experience, they’ve also pulled together some great tips to help you get prepared to show your home in the best possible light. Remember that timing is everything with twilight or dusk photo shoots, so the property should be ready for photos in advance of the appointment. If you’re ready to list your home for sale and want the experience of TEAM BUKY behind you to make it happen, give them a call today!

Lighting is Key

It’s always best for homeowners to be present during a photo shoot (regardless of the time of the shoot) because they are most familiar with the lighting system of the home. For twilight or dusk shots, it’s always ideal to take advantage of up lighting on the exterior and landscaping, lighting in pool features, and interior lighting as well. All lights should be turned on prior to the photography appointment, as these specialty shoots are time sensitive.

Show off Water Features

Be sure to have the pool cleaned before your photography appointment and also turn on any pool lighting and water features available. This will add to the ambiance and show the potential buyers what they could be enjoying if this were their home.

Exterior Staging

Just as you would stage the inside of your home to present it at its best, you’ll want to be sure that the outdoor area look immaculate too. Some things to look for or do to add to the atmosphere:

  • Light fires if you’ve got outdoor fireplaces
  • Remove grill covers
  • Open umbrellas as long as they don’t block the view
  • Arrange lounge chairs as needed
  • Roll towels and place them on lounge chairs
  • Remove pool toys from view

Landscaping is Crucial

Especially in this gorgeous area of Sarasota/Bradenton, landscaping is hugely important. So much time is spent outside enjoying the lifestyle, that a poorly maintained exterior can be a deal breaker for potential buyers. Be sure to have landscape maintenance done before your photography appointment. Color also always livens up an outdoor (or indoor!) space and it’s easy to incorporate by adding flowering or green plants to the area you are shooting. You should not have sprinklers on during a photo shoot or within the few hours prior, as wet surfaces may not present well in photos.

Tips for Photography ANY Time of Day

  • Vehicles (no matter the make/model!) should always be out of sight, either n the garage or on the street away from the home.
  • No maintenance should be taking place during the appointment (i.e. landscaping, cleaning services, etc.)
  • General tidying up should be done in advance of your appointment (sweeping, cleaning, picking up children’s toys, etc.)
  • Always talk to your REALTOR® and your photographer about the property’s features and get additional helpful tips from them as you plan for the appointment.

Pricing – The MOST Crucial Step in Selling

As it goes with anything you sell, when selling your home, you’ll obviously be aiming towards getting the highest possible price and in the shortest time possible. Actually making both of those things go hand in hand is much more difficult than it seems, which is why hiring an experienced REALTOR is so crucial. TEAM BUKY can help you navigate the rocky real estate waters to price your home appropriately for the current state of the market – to ensure a timely sale, for a price that you are happy with. There are several factors to consider when pricing your home and we wanted to share some pricing myths with you today to shed some light on this very sensitive subject.

Being aware of the true determining factors of price and the realities of the current real estate market can help to make the home selling process a more smooth and enjoyable experience.

BUSTED MYTH #1: It’s best to WAIT for better offers to be presented

Depending on the state of the market, you may not always ant to jump on the first offer you receive, but be careful – waiting LONGER does not always equate to BETTER offers. Research shows that the longer your home sits on the market, the smaller your potential buyer pool gets, which is why correctly pricing your home right from the start is so crucial. And, another thing to take into account is that as your home stays listed, YOU are responsible for the mortgage, taxes, utilities, HOA fees and any other expense that comes along with owning your home.

BUSTED MYTH #2: A fast offer means you underpriced your home

Your home will receive the highest traffic of potential buyers online, in person and through other REALTORS when it first hits the market. Getting a fast offer does not necessarily mean you have priced your home too low, especially depending on the demand in your local market. If you have priced your home RIGHT, you should see immediate interest and in a sellers market, you could even potentially get multiple offers in a very short period.

BUSTED MYTH #3: We need to price it to allow room for negotiating

FALSE! Pricing your home around this theory puts you in danger of over-pricing and like we said above, missing the mark out of the gate will lose buyers’ interest. Your REALTOR should be prepared to negotiate the best terms for you even without allowing wiggle room in your list price. Often, they will list for slightly higher than your desired sales price, as long as it is on par with market values.

BUSTED MYTH #4: Unique Marketing will sell the home for a higher price

While properly marketing your home is a hugely important component to getting it sold, pricing it properly is even bigger than that. Yes – marketing is about the visibility of your home and reaching the correct pool of buyers, but if your home is not priced properly, even reaching the correct prospects can mean missing the mark.

BUSTED MYTH #5: You’ve got to find that ONE “right” buyer to get the highest price

This is like the saying “finding a needle in a haystack”. There will always be that one in a million chance that the individual your home didn’t reach would have paid higher for our home. What you have to remember is that statistics don’t lie. Your REALTOR will be able to look at the current supply and demand in the local market, along with recent comparables to tell what a fair price is for your home and its unique features. For a buyer to go far beyond that value is unlikely because, chances are, they are ALSO working with a REALTOR who will advise them of what the value of your home is and what is a smart financial move.

BUSTED MYTH #6: Zillow and Trulia say my home is worth more

Asking any REALTOR in town will tell you that Zillow and Trulia have values all over the board. While these sites might be great tools for looking at homes and checking out the facts of the neighborhood, what they lack is accuracy when it comes to the true market value of your home. There is a certain art to pricing a home based on the features, location, recent comparable sales, competing listings and even homes that are no longer active in the community to come up with a fair listing price that a computer algorithm just can’t compete with.

If you take nothing else from this write-up, we do hope that you understand how the right pricing attracts the right buyers. It takes experience and market knowledge to come to the right number and TEAM BUKY can help you do just that. If you’re considering putting your home on the market, please call us for a confidential consultation – we’ve got 80 years of combined real estate experience to share with you!

Get Gardening!

It has been plain gorgeous outside – perfect weather to jump into a new hobby – urban gardening. There’s more to gardening than just burying some seeds in the ground, but the work that you do put into it can be well worth the results. If you’ve been thinking about the advantages of growing your own herbs, fruits and vegetables, but feeling a little overwhelmed at the work that goes into, check out these tips we’ve pulled together to help you make your first garden a growing success.

It’s important to plan ahead for how much (or how little) space you’ll need for what you are planting. Typically, seed packets will break down this information for you as well as ideal months to plant and whether seeds need to be started inside before being planted outside. Once you do have a plan in place as to how much space you need, and your seeds (and/or seedlings) are ready to go, here are some next steps to follow:

Place your new garden borders down. Walk around and make sure you’ve chosen a good spot in your yard. Some things to consider are: how much sunlight the spot gets, whether or not you can reach it with a hose and drainage. Every type of flower/herb/fruit/veggie has it’s own needs in terms of direct sunlight, and amount of water. Grouping those together that have similar needs will keep things easier on you.

Get your garden beds prepped. If “creating” a new soil layer, a good method is to add two to three inches of leaves or grass clippings, newspaper, dirt and composted mulch. The mixture offers a rich environment for your growing garden.

Next, add your organic fertilizers. Some gardeners might recommend apple cider vinegar, black strap molasses, Epsom salts. There are also companies like Azomite that offer organic blends to make it easier on you. Then you’ll add compost – your can contact your local county municipal department to see if they might be compost and if it is for sale.

Add mulch. Mulch is visually appealing, will break down into more great soil and initially serves to protect the layers you have put down to get started.

NOW – time to plant your garden. Move the mulch aside and dig a little spot to fit your seeds or seedlings, keeping in mind the amount of space they’ll need to grow.

Feed that garden! Water your new plants once a day for the first 2 weeks, then twice a week until they are established.

Bonus Tip – a nice flower to plant along with your edible garden is a marigold. These flowers are pretty, but more importantly; they help keep pests away, which makes them a great compliment to your garden.

Good luck and happy gardening!

Why BUY??

Real estate has long been known as a  way to diversify a portfolio and it can also act to bridge the gap between equities and a fixed income, which is more important as you begin to consider retirement. Of course, one of obvious factors to consider when looking at the real estate market is that return on investment is not guaranteed. Even so, whether you are looking for a home to live in full-time or a second home for vacation purposes in our beautiful gulf front area, here are a few things to think about when doing the internal “rent versus buy” debate before making a leap.

The immediate benefits of renting that come to mind are the flexibility and the low maintenance requirements. If you aren’t considering this move as a full-time home, then having the flexibility of a termed lease and the comfort or a property manager to handle issues can be very appealing. The fact is though – in our little piece of paradise, oftentimes you can find a condominium that suits your needs and also covers quite a bit of the maintenance. Also, because it is such a vacation destination with year-round favorable weather, if you are considering this to be a part-time home you may find that renting it out during your “off season” could cover much of your personal cost.

Let’s take a look at some other benefits to purchasing your own place in paradise versus renting it…

  • Equity. We did already cover this one briefly, but let’s go one step further and point out that unlike renting, where your monthly payments pay your LANDLORD’s mortgage, by owning the property yourself, you increase your PERSONAL OWNERSHIP in the property with each payment.
  • Tax deductions. Tax deductions will, of course, vary depending on whether you are staying in the residence full-time as well as other deductions that may apply to you, but you can be sure that as a RENTER, you don’t see any sort of tax incentive from Uncle Sam.
  • Make it Personal. As an owner, you can have the liberty to take a home and truly make it your own. Build it out to suit your needs and decorate it so it’s your own little oasis. Who doesn’t want to feel at home in their house?
  • You’re in Charge. If you own a property – it is up to you how maintenance is handled. In vacation areas like ours – if this is not your primary residence, there are ample property management companies you can choose from to make sure your home is in good hands while you’re away. If you live in a condo or a community with a Homeowner’s Association, often, some of the maintenance burden is put on them as well.
  • Monthly Costs. Over the past couple of years we have seen rental costs increase dramatically in the Sarasota-Bradenton area – even pushing it to the top of the list for high rent in Southwest Florida. You may find in doing your research that you will actually SAVE money in purchasing versus renting, especially if you are considering renting our your home seasonally while you are not occupying it.

Team Buky is a group of Real Estate experts in the Sarasota-Bradenton area and we LIVE here because we LOVE it here. We know that you will too. Contact us today to start searching for your dream home in paradise!

WHY USE A REALTOR®?

While roughly 90% of buyers use the Internet during their home search, 87% of all buyers still purchased their home through a real estate agent. This figure has gradually increased from the 69% who opted to work with REALTORS® in 2001. * So, why is it that we are seeing this? What exactly is the value (and, there is HUGE value) of working with a REALTOR® to purchase your home? We’ve compiled a few reasons for you here and of course, we’re happy to set up a private consultation to discuss your needs and how we can help you to find the perfect home in the Sarasota/Bradenton area. Read on and contact us today to take the first step!

SERVING YOUR BEST INTERESTS

REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and must adhere to its strict code of ethics. They are obligated to be professional and protect their clients’ interests.

 LOCAL MARKET EXPERTISE

REALTORS® are local experts in their market, which is especially important is you are moving from another area. They are able to provide you with important information about the community you may be searching in, possible Homeowner’s Association requirements, utilities, school districts and more. They may also be able to steer you away from a home or community that you thought would be a good fit and into something even more ideal that you didn’t even know to look for in the first place.

THE INSIDE SCOOP

Oftentimes, REALTORS® also have the “inside scoop” on what is happening in the local area Not only might they be able to tell you about upcoming construction or rezoning, for example, but they typically have additional resources outside form the local MLS. They may be able to tell you about listings not yet on the market, or opportunities that aren’t searchable online yet.

NEGOTIATIONS

Let’s face it – not many of us out there look forward to the stickiness of negotiating the price of an item especially one so involved as a real estate transaction. Having a REALTOR® to represent your interests and do the negotiation on your behalf is a HUGE weight lifted off of your shoulders in this process. Buying a home can be one of the most stressful times in your life simply because it is such a life change and building block. Why not make it simpler on yourself and work with someone who can do the “dirty work” for you

THE LEGAL JARGON

While finding a home that looks like it meets your needs in an online search might be easy, the steps that follow are certainly not. There is of course the negotiation process to work through, but beyond that, there are the countless steps involved including home inspections, disclosure reports, closing costs and other technical/legal procedures. Working with a licensed REALTOR® ensures that you have experience on your side and someone to guide you through the jargon that is sure to come your way.

SUPPORT!

Having someone in your corner to serve as support can be invaluable in any situation. Buying a home is more than just the walls and land roof that come with it. You are purchasing a place that you will be making memories and a life in. A REALTOR® can serve as your sounding board for ideas, your support during the process, and a neutral third party that can keep you looking at all options along the way.

*2015 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Go GREEN at Home for St. Paddy’s Day!

In honor of St. Paddy’s Day, we thought we would share some easy tips on going “GREEN” in your home. This great guide is courtesy of RealSimple.com and written by Alexandra Zissu of practicallygreen.com. Enjoy!

Swap Household Cleaners

Switching to green cleaners reduces air pollution both indoors and out, minimizing exposure to both asthma and allergy triggers as well as chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Look for plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels.

Go Meatless on Mondays

Having pasta or a vegetarian soup on Mondays might not seem like a big deal, but adding one meat-free meal per week (for a family of four) has the same impact as driving a hybrid car. Raising livestock produces a large amount of greenhouse gases, so cutting back, even one night per week, makes a big difference.

Shop for Sustainably-Raised Meat

While sustainable isn’t a term certified by the USDA like organic is, it generally means that the animal was given ample room to roam, and wasn’t treated with hormones or antibiotics. Look for labels like free-range and organic as well as no-hormone and no-antibiotic.

Upgrade Your Insulation

Adding insulation to prevent leaky ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your home’s energy draw by 20 to 30 percent. If totally redoing your insulation isn’t in your budget, try thermal shades, which block the sun in the summer and retain heat in the winter, or even something as low tech as a draft guard on your outside doors.

Leave Your Shoes at the Door

Think of removing your shoes when you enter a home as the equivalent of washing your hands. First, it couldn’t be easier. And second, it prevents the outside gunk like car exhaust, chemicals and pesticides from being tracked all over your home.

Microwave Glass, Never Plastic

Heating plastics can cause leaching into food and many contain hormone-disrupting compounds (not just the much maligned versions made with bisphenol-A or BPA). Plastics that are labeled “microwave-safe” can simply withstand a higher temperature before losing their shape. So when popping anything in the microwave, opt for glass or microwave-safe ceramics.

Don’t Dump, Donate

By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you don’t another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill. Take items to a thrift store, a charity that accepts donations.

Choose Safe Pots and Pans

The materials you cook with do have an impact on your food. The three safest options are cast iron, enamel coated cast iron, and stainless steel. Non-stick pans, while convenient, can be problematic if you scrape the coating and it gets into your food.

Select Fragrance-Free Products

Conventional fragrances often contain chemicals believed to disrupt hormones, and they can be harmful to the ecosystem when washed down the drain. If you like perfumed soaps, cleaning products, or cosmetics, read labels to find those made with essential oils.

Reduce Use of Bug Sprays and Pesticides

To control pests, prevention is your best bet. Keeping your kitchen crumb-free and sealing any holes in the walls or cracks in the foundation means you won’t have to use harmful chemicals in your home. If you do require pest-control, reach for greener alternatives or home remedies first.