It’s Getting Way Too Expensive To Rent

131 Longview Avenue Celebration, FL 34747
131 Longview Avenue Celebration, FL 34747

The rental market here is Celebration has always been steady and rather competitive. Properties do not stay on the rental market long before being snatched up and prices are not flexible. Plus the application approval requirements are pretty stringent.

In the last 18 months, I have seen the rental rates trending upward. It used to be that $1.00 per square foot per month was pretty much the norm. That is not the case any more. I am seeing more and more homes renting for $1.20 to $1.30 per square foot per month. Renters are chasing the market. Before renting, they need to stop and consider the alternative – BUYING.

I know buying seems scarier, but here is just one case of how it is more cost effective than renting.

131 Longview Avenue is currently available to rent in Celebration for $1775 per month. That does not include utilities as 99% of rentals here do not. This home is 1463 square feet and has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. While it is in good shape, that is A LOT to spend per month without getting anything long term out of it. Let’s compare how much it would cost to buy this house. If the home were listed on the MLS (open market) it would probably sell for around $290,000. The average mortgage rate right now is 4.3% (of course with stellar credit, you could do even better). If you were to put down as little as 10% ($29,000), your monthly mortgage payment would be $1291.31. Of course you would have to take into account taxes and insurance which would likely put the monthly expense up to around $1600.00 per month with those. That is still less than the rental rate of $1775 per month and now you have a tangible investment. If you were able to put down 20% or managed to get a better rate, then you would save even more.  With multiple experts saying the real estate market will continue its upward trend and Central Florida prices projected to increase as much as 9% this year, now is the perfect time to weigh the pros and cons of buying before you sign a lease.

You can start by contacting a good mortgage broker, and I can help you with that.  Contact me anytime and I will send you his information.

It’s Manatee Time!

Manatees swimming in to the spring.
Manatees swimming in to the spring.


Manatee eating some plants in the shallow water.
Manatee eating some plants in the shallow water.


Two manatees in the spring.
Two manatees in the spring.

On Monday, we decided to take a drive to Blue Spring State Park in Orange City. It’s a little over an hour away, so its a great day trip from Celebration.  Plus with sunny 70 degree weather, who didn’t want to be outside!

The park is over 2600 acres and boasts the largest spring on the St. Johns River. They have lots of things to do year round at Blue Spring. You can kayak, canoe, camp, hike, fish, swim, dive or just plain enjoy nature at the park. We went to enjoy a seasonal attraction though – The MANATEES.

Blue Spring is a designated manatee refuge. From mid-Noverber to March 15, the spring and spring run are closed to swimmers and divers, because the manatees come in to enjoy the warm water temperatures. The water in the spring stays a constant 72 degrees making it the perfect winter playground for the West Indian manatees.

They truly are neat creatures to see and you can get pretty close on the wooden walkways built near the Spring. The cost of admission to the park is a meager $6 per car load, so its certainly an inexpensive way to see something unique to Florida. You can make a day of it by bringing a picnic or having lunch at the cafe which has deli sandwiches, hot dogs, ice cream, and cold drinks.  There is also a playground so the kids can run off some energy before driving home.

There is less than 2 months left of manatee season, so hurry up and plan that day trip!

What Is A Reverse Mortgage?

With so many of the US baby boomers retiring or getting close to retirement age, the topic of reverse mortgages has come up a lot in the media lately. Just the other day a client of mine was weighing the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage.  But most people have no idea what a reverse mortgage is or if it would fit their lifestyle.

A reverse mortgage is a loan equal to a portion of a home’s equity, and you have to be at least 62 years old to qualify. The way it works is that a bank either pays the homeowner a set amount each month or provides a lump sum or access to a line of credit. The loan is then repaid when the borrower/homeowner sells the property or passes away. Interest rates for any type of loan vary from bank to bank, but this type of mortgage typically carries a higher interest rate.

There is one HUGE bonus to the reverse mortgage: If the homeowner sells the home for less than the amount of the reverse mortgage, the bank will assume the loss. Of course there are strings attached to anything that seems to good to be true. If the borrowers fall behind on the paying their home insurance or property taxes, the bank can foreclose. Also closing fees (origination and processing fees) can be up to $6,000 on a reverse mortgage. There is also a one-time mortgage insurance premium that can be as high at 2% of the appraised value.

You have to weigh the pros and cons.  This is a great way to access the equity in your home if you have no other way to get to that money.  Retired homeowners often can not get traditional home equity loans due to their reduced income.  These types of loans can also help borrowers with medical expenses.

For more information on reverse mortgages and whether or not they fit your lifestyle, check out: consumer

Take a Stroll on Celebration’s Walking/Bike Trails

IMG_4808IMG_4837IMG_4827IMG_4859IMG_4861celebration fl real estate bike trailsOne of Celebration’s greatest amenities is the large circuit walking/bike trails. There are miles and miles of them. We love using them to walk downtown or to bike to the many parks and pools.

The trails wind their way through every village as you can see from the Trail Map below, and they offer glimpses of wildlife as well as a charming way to get from point A to B.
























Here are some shots of my walk to the Post Office in downtown Celebration this past Saturday.


Fun Family Night – Burgers & Stories

burger2Sometimes its hard to find things to do on weeknights. Since we obviously work in real estate, weekends are not ideal for family time. I know that’s true for many other families as well since the kids often have birthday parties or sporting events on the weekends.  We tend to look for things to do during the week.

Here’s a fun Tuesday night to try out. First stop is at the West Osceola Library located right here in Celebration on Campus Street. They have a new offering on Tuesdays at 4pm, Family Story Time. You can bring kids of all ages to hear stories and do activities. It lasts for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Once you’ve enjoyed the library, you can head over to a new restaurant just a few miles away called Shula Burger. This is a great place to get gourmet food quickly. The burgers are SO good! They have so many different kinds or you can select which ever toppings you want. It is counter service, so it is fast and kid-friendly. They have Craft, Seasonal, and Regional beers on tap as well as a Sommelier’s selection of premium wines. With Signature Burgers starting at $6.49, you can’t beat the price for a family outing. They also have a veggie burger, salads, and too many great sides to name (including fried pickles). Plus you can finish it all off with a Haagen-Dazs milkshake!

Resolve to Take Control of Your Finances This Year – Part 2

Well I have given you about a week to analyze how you spend your money and get a budget started. Now let’s see if we can’t scale some of those regular expenses back. Let’s do a quick AUDIT!

How often do we sign up for something that we don’t use? Seeing as how I have lots of unread magazines sitting in a sorter next to my desk, I would say pretty often. I am sure that when you went through your bank and credit cards statements you found recurring expenses for things you don’t even use.

Well just like when you declutter your home, you need to get rid of things you don’t use. If you have a cell phone plan that gives you 1000 minutes and you only use 200 per month, call and change your plan. If you have a subscription service to something like Netflix and you can’t remember the last time you used it, then cancel it.  Initially these things don’t seem like a big deal. I mean Netflix is only $8.99 per month, but over a year that’s almost $100 wasted. The same things goes for the cell phone plan. You don’t have to make huge sacrifices to save money. You can start as simply as just canceling the things you don’t use.

The next step in your annual audit should be to compare the cost of some of your necessary expenses. Of course, you can’t cancel your car insurance to save money, but you can shop around for new quotes to make sure you have the best and most affordable plan for your lifestyle. A few years back, I started doing this annually, and I was able to save over $600 per year by changing my home insurance and auto insurance carriers, and I have exactly the same coverage as before.

I know this step sound tedious, but you can complete most of this in one afternoon. One afternoon could save you thousands of dollars per year! It’s important to do this step every year to make sure you are not wasting money on unused expenditures.

So Much Construction at Downtown Disney

For any of you who have been over to Downtown Disney in the last 6 weeks or so, you can surely see the massive amount of construction that is taking place. You also know that due to this construction, the parking situation is not ideal to say the least. A few of the parking lots are actually closed altogether and some have limited space.  If you are taking in a movie or have dinner reservations, plan some extra time to get a parking spot.

The good news is that all this frustration will lead to a new and better use of the Downtown Disney area. They are changing the theming and look to offer a offer a more contemporary and eclectic mix of restaurants and stores for guest and local residents to enjoy, and of course, it will all be family friendly. Many big name retailers and restauranteurs will join with Disney as part of this new project named Disney Springs.

Upon completion, Disney Springs will go from having 75 offerings to 150 retail and restaurant venues. The Disney Company used its natural setting of Florida to draw inspiration for the different area themes. You will see the waterfront town and Florida nature influence in the 4 outdoor neighborhoods.  Construction will be completed and opened in phases with the first offerings opened this Spring and full completion some time in 2016.

Disney has not released a full list of all of the new shops and eateries yet, but I did see a sign for one that is sure to please.  I know that I am certainly looking forward to trying out all of the new restaurants.  Strictly for blog purposes, of course:)

Even the Mouse needs his daily boost!
Even the Mouse needs his daily boost!

David Weekley Gives You 10,000 Reasons to Build

Spring Lake at Celebration is underway.
Spring Lake at Celebration is underway.

If you have been on the fence about building a new home, here are over 10,000 reasons to get started now. 2014 marks the 20th anniversary that renowned builder David Weekley Homes has been in Orlando, and they are celebrating by offering a fantastic incentive.

David Weekley Homes announced today that if you purchase one of their Showcase homes in the Orlando area, they are offering up to $10,020 for buyers to use towards Decorator Selections, Closing Costs, or as a Home Discount.  This can really keep your out of pocket expenses down or allow you to get some high end upgrades.

Building a new home allows you to get exactly what you want without having work to do once you move in. Plus you get all of the warranties that come with a new home including new appliance coverage. You don’t have to immediately start planning for when the roof will need to be replaced or the AC will go.  It offers peace of mind for primary residents as well as second home owners and helps keep the cost of ownership down over time.

Currently I am assisting several buyers building new homes both in David Weekley communities, and I can help you too. I can guide you through the whole process as well as be your representation if you are an out-of-town buyer. This incentive applies to homes in Baldwin Park City Homes, Randal Park, Laureate Park at Lake Nona, Spring Lake at Celebration, Casa del Lago, John’s Lake Landing, Westyn Bay and Oakland Park.

If building a new home is something you have been considering, please feel free to contact me any time to talk.  I can also provide you an availability for each community.

Let’s break ground in 2014!

Why Wait for Spring To Clean Out

Every year, “Be More Organized” or “Declutter” tops many people’s list of New Year’s Resolutions. Like any resolution we start off with great intentions but tend to lose momentum in light of the magnitude of the task. The good news is that once finished you have a wonderful sense of accomplishment and a more streamlined living space.

Before you get started, remember that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. You didn’t accumulate all of this stuff in one day, so it will likely take you more than one to declutter it. I recommend breaking it down room by room and doing one room per day. You don’t want this task to take over you life.

As you begin to remove things from you home, separate it into 3 piles : Trash, To Sell, and To Donate. You may be able to sell many of your still usable items on Ebay or Craigslist. You can also see if your town or neighborhood has a forum for selling things.  Celebrationthings-organized-neatly-clipboard has one, and it is great for selling extra items.  Why not make a few extra bucks while cleaning up? The kids can help by selecting unused toys to donate. As you go, think about when the last time you used an item was or how many of them you have. If you received a fondu pot as wedding gift in 1990 and it’s still in the box, I think it’s safe to say you don’t need it.

One of the biggest areas of disorganization involves all of the paper that comes in to our homes. For many things like receipts, go paperless. Scan them and keep them in denoted files on your computer. Then shred the originals. Request e-bills from utility and credit companies. You can save on stamps and space! For school calendars, newsletters, meal plans, grocery lists, etc, I keep a small three ring binder on my desk that I use for reference and clean out regularly.

The important thing is to stay on top of what comes in to your home. Don’t bring something new in without getting rid of something. Don’t let stacks of mail pile up when you know right away what is junk. Make sure everything has a place and keep it there!

If you are considering selling your home during the Spring Sales Season, then don’t wait to start this project. You only have about 8 weeks before it begins!

Resolve to Take Control of Your Finances This Year – Part 1

At the beginning of every year, we all make resolutions that typically fall by the wayside come Valentine’s Day. How many of us have said that this year we’re going to lose 10 pounds, or this year we will volunteer more? The problem with goals is that we often do not lay out a plan for achieving them.  We merely set them, pat ourselves on the back, and inevitably fail.   They become overwhelming in light of our lack of planning.

Well the first step in taking control your finances is pretty basic and sounds obvious, but tons of people don’t do it. You need to SET and FOLLOW a budget. I know this task seems daunting (not to mention boring), but it is so worth it.  Instead of wondering where your money goes each month, track it.

You can get started by perusing your past three months of credit card and bank statements. I know that we don’t want to admit how much we spend at Starbucks or how many times we use the drive-thru window, but you need to know where you spend your money. You need to make sure that you not overextending your self. Once you have tracked your habits, you can begin to set limits and parameters for your spending. Make sure to give yourself some discretionary money to use as you please. You don’t want to make your budget so restrictive that you can’t possibly follow it.  All of this work will pay off in that you will be able to start working towards long-term goals like saving for a home or new car, or maybe taking a long awaited vacation.

Think of your budget as more a lifestyle shift than a diet. You are being conscientious and responsible, but you’re certainly allowed to splurge sometimes.

We work so hard that we owe it ourselves to make our goals realities.  We just have to break those goals dow2014-Numbers-Happy-2014-Wallpaper-New-Year-Image1n into manageable steps.

Check back for Step 2!