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!

A Great First Impression Starts with the Foyer

The foyer is the gateway into your home, and if people don’t like what they see upon their first entry, they may not chose to proceed. This first impression will stick with potential buyers should they continue through the property. Sellers want to make sure that those potential buyers are put into the right mood right away. They want them to feel invited in to tour the rest of the property.

This can be achieved by making sure that the foyer and entryway are first and foremost clutter-free. We know that everyone needs a place to store their stuff, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Also that right place is never the FLOOR! The foyer should also be well-lit. Buyers do not want to feel like they are entering a cave.  Here are some fabulous ideas for creating attractive storage space and showcasing a bright entryway.

Great cubbies for every member of the family to store their stuff.
Great cubbies for every member of the family to store their stuff.

foyer foyer3 foyer4 Foyer5

New Construction Without the Long Wait

Who doesn’t want something shiny and brand new? Everyone, of course! Real estate is no different. People love the idea of being the first homeowner in a property, of having a home warranty to fall back on from the builder, and the ease of a move-in ready property. Often times the only drawback to new construction can be the long build times.

One of the best options for people wanting new construction but needing to be in something by a certain time is Inventory Homes. These are homes that the builder already has under construction when you visit the development. Sometimes they are homes that the original buyer has decided not to purchase but more often they are just started by the builder to keep up with demand. What is nice about these is that they are already underway, have been permitted, and will not take the typical 5-6 months to complete. You can almost always still pick the finishes and colors, and sometimes you can negotiate the price a little bit. The builder wants them sold as soon as they are finished, so they have incentive to move them.

Just a few miles from Celebration is an area called Champions Gate. It has some very nice hotels including the Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate and the Reunion Grande, and multiple championship golf courses. It is a great place to live, own a vacation home, or purchase property for investment income. Lennar Homes is currently constructing a neighborhood there called Stoneybrook at Champions Gate, and they have homes ranging in price from $255,000 to $373,000 and 1880 sq feet to 4259 sq feet. They have recently reduced some of their inventory homes, and there are multiple floor plans to chose from with completion dates between August and October 2013.

Here are all of the amazing amenities at Stoneybrook at Champions Gate:

Aerobics Studio

Community Center
Fitness Center
Fully Maintained Lawns
Golf Course
Splash Park
Sport Court
Swimming Pool
Tennis Court
Tot Lot
Volleyball Court

Plaza, Spa, Restaurant, Bar, Fitness Center, Tiki Bar, Cabanas, Tennis Club, Tennis Clubhouse, Stadium Court, (6) Tennis Courts, Golf Club, Golf Clubhouse Grill, Locker Rooms, Golf Shop, The Oasis, Resort-Style Pools, Family Pool, Lazy River, Water Slides, Swim-Up Bar, Water Falls, Beach Entry, Spa, Splash Pad, Grill, Bar, Fitness Area, Theater, Game Room, Tiki Bar, Cabanas, Performance Area, Trolley.  So much to do and you’re only a fewmiles Walt Disney World!

We have assisted so many clients with new construction contracts and been their liaison throughout the process. If this is something you are interested in, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!  Also if you are looking for new construction in another area of Central Florida, email me to get a list of what is available in your area.Champions GateStoneybrook at Champions GateStoneybrook at Champions Gate

How Can a U.S. Property’s Value Be Determined by Someone in India???

Bloomberg News posted an article the other day that really struck a chord with me. First off no one ever likes to here that jobs for potential American workers are being moved to another country, but I also thought about the absurdity of the change referenced in the article.

Th article states that 4 Bank of America insiders have reported that appraisal review will now be completed by a review center in Bangalore, India. Yes, INDIA. We all know that many call centers have been outsourced to India, but this change of venue really floored me. The premise, of course, is to lower Bank of America’s costs throughout the mortgage process.

That is all fine and well if the savings are passed along to borrowers, but will they be? Plus, and here is my #1 problem with this, how can people who are unfamiliar with U.S. homes and the housing market here correctly assess the accuracy of these appraisals? Unless you are familiar with the market in a particular area and understand the appraisal process, you can not be expected to accurately assess the validity of the comparable sales chosen by the appraiser to use or whether or not the property is located in an upward-swinging market. There are so many factors that have to be taken into account, and not they are proposing that the reviewers merely assess these appraisals with a checklist form.  With prices in many areas on the rise and comparable sales sometimes hard to find, I think this policy change could throw a monkey wrench in Bank of America’s plan to rebuild its share of the U.S. mortgage market. For every loan that gets denied due to appraisal review, Bank of America loses thousands of dollars in paid wages for man hours spent working on that file, and of course that also means no revenue from the interest of that loan.

It looks like I will be continuing my practice of referring clients to mortgage brokers instead of large faceless lenders.

Lake Nona Area Continues to See Rapid Growth

The Lake Nona area of Orlando has been experiencing rapid growth across the board over the last 2 years. The job market, real estate market, and economy of this area has changed drastically in this time period, and there is even more potential on the horizon.

With the opening of the multiple facilities that make up Medical City, more and more businesses have come to the area to service these new employees and residents. And even more shops and restaurants are slated to be open early in 2014 at the Town Center. With 2 wonderful golf courses, over 40 miles of walking trails, A rated schools, multiple parks, Valencia Community College, and so many other amenities, it’s no wonder people want to LIVE & WORK here.

Like anything in high demand, prices keep rising, and they will continue to do so as more and more amenities come to the area.  If this is an area you think you would like move to in a few years or that you would like to invest in, I suggest you get moving now.  You could purchase a property now and rent it out until you are ready to make your move.  The rental market is extremely hot in this area as well as medical professionals are moving into the area for new positions.  They often still have a property from their previous area and will rent the first year while they sell that residence.

Here is a an example of what you can get in Eagle Creek, a beautiful guard-gated golf community in Lake Nona.

4/3 3.042 Square Feet Pool Home
13221 Bramhall Run Orlando, FL32732  – 4/3 3.042 Square Feet Pool Home

Pool Rear ViewThis 4 bedroom 3 bathroom has over 3,000 square feet, a pool overlooking a beautiful pond, a large lot, granite counters, new appliances, new carpet and paint, a large master suite with spacious walk-in closet, large secondary bedrooms, a guest suite downstairs, and no rear neighbors.  It is move-in ready and listed for $375,000.  A savvy buyer could purchase this property now and rent it out for approximately $2100-$2300 per month and continue to gain equity while they are earning rental income.  The time to invest in the Lake Nona real estate market is now.

If you have any questions about this or any other Lake Nona property, please feel free to call or email me any time – or 321-697-8230.  I would also be happy to schedule a showing for you.

There is no time like the present!

New School Coming to Celebration

Rapid progress is being made at the construction site on Celebration Place located next to the Fire Station. Creation Kids Village, a Child Care and Developmental Center, is slated to be open August 2013 and will have the capacity to teach and care for 177 kids. Their early childhood education program will be based on Christian values and focused on health. This new school gives area residents yet another wonderful educational opportunity for their children to explore.

For more information on their construction schedule and their mission, click here.

Disney’s Limited Time Magic

You may remember that a few months I posted a blog regarding a new program that Disney would be implementing in 2013. It is called “Limited Time Magic” and word will be spread about the current promotions or events through Facebook and other social media platforms.

Starting on January 21st, they will be having “Long Lost Friends Week” where some old characters will be out for character Meet and Greets. Right now they have announced that Friar Tuck, Robin Hood, Clarabelle Cow, RobinHoodThe Three Little Pigs and Horace Horsecollar will be some of special characters around the 4 theme parks this coming week. As the date gets closer, they will update their Facebook page to tell you who will be where and when. To “like” Limited Time Magic on Facebook, click here.

See you there!

Upcoming Events & New Year’s Resolutions

Well of course, I do not know what everyone’s New Year’s resolutions were, but I would be willing to bet that many of them had to do with fitness and/or taking some time to slow down and smell the roses. Well there are 2 events coming up in the next few weeks that can help you reach both of those goals.

First off on February 2nd, The Town of Harmony (3500 Harmony Square Drive West Harmony, FL) located next to Saint Cloud, FL (about a 30 minute drive from Celebration, FL) is having their Dark Sky Festival. The purpose of this event is to let the public see the wonder of the nighttime sky. Festival goers can wonder at the marvels of astronomy and learn about the importance of dark skies for protecting wildlife. The festival will include speakers from NASA, Seminole State College Planetarium, and the International Dark Sky Association. There will also be 2 mobile planetariums with ongoing presentations, more than 50 telescopes for public use, and a variety of kids’ activities including a Kids Zone area. What a great way to take in some nature and explore a new area at the same time!

Our next upcoming event is the Kiss-im-mee 5K. This event takes place on February 16 at 7:30am. The race will start at Toho Square located at Pleasant Street and Darlington Avenue in downtown Kissimmee. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, the Kiss-im-ee 5K race promotes heart health and a Astronomyportion of the proceeds will go to the America Heart Association. The race starts and finishes at Toho Square and takes runners/walkers through the streets of downtown Kissimmee. The race costs $23-30 depending on when your register. For more information, call 407-846-4643.

So whether you enjoy taking in some nature or breaking a sweat, February has something to offer for everyone!

Make Your Small Space Seem BIG

Whether you are planning to put your property on the market and want to make the most of it or you are just wanting to take betteradanavatof the space you have, here are 8 things you can do to make your small space seem bigger. These tips will help you maximize what you’ve got by making better use of the space you have.

1. Let Furniture Float.

Many people make the common mistake of pushing everything against the wall, but the room will actually have more flow if you move pieces 36 inches away from the walls. It offers greater range of movement as people can then pass comfortably behind or in front of your furniture pieces.

2. Cover the Territory.

Select a large rug instead of a small accent rug.  A good rule of thumb is to have the rug extend to just pats where the furniture is situated.  Anything else will actually make the room appear smaller.

3. Expand Your Horizon.

Using mirrors is an old decorator’s trick, but it works.  They help reflect light back into the room and make the walls appear further away.  One is plenty per room though and it should not be any more than 3/4 the size of the wall.

4. Aim High.

Whether its floor lamps or bookcases, pick tall pieces.  They will draw the eye up and make the ceilings appear higher.

5. Go Big, Not Bulky.

It’s okay to purchase large-scale sofa, but make sure that every inch counts.  You want to have lots of seating space, but don’t buy one that has lots of bulky, unnecessary details like overstuffed rolled arms.  They take up too much space and don’t provide any function.

6. Lighten Up.

Stay away from heavy-looking furniture.  Opt for something light and airy instead.  Having glass pieces also help to make the room feel open due to their transparency.

7. Stack Artwork.

Hanging two pictures vertically forms a column of art that makes the room appear loftier.

8. Fake Being Taller.

If you are not lucky enough to have floor-to-ceiling windows, mount curtain rods high above the window frame.  The long sweep of fabric lends an air of grandness.

With these easy and inexpensive tips, you can make the most of your small room in just one day!DiningRoom

Celebration, Fl Market Update

As we head into 2013, I thought I would give you a glimpse of how we finished up the last 90 days. By all accounts, the real estate market is going to be competitive this year. Low inventory is going to make sellers happy but some buyers frustrated.

In the last 90 days, 66 properties have sold in Celebration, FL. 39 of those were single family homes and the rest were a mix of condos and townhouses. With a median “Days to Contract” of 54 days, properties are moving much quicker than in the previous 2 years, and right now we only have 112 active properties on the market.  This is obviously great news for the overall real estate market, but it does mean that many people will need to adjust their expectations.  The time where you could offer 20% less on a listing and have the seller be negotiable is over in most instances.  Properties are selling within a few percent of their list prices in most cases, and when new properties come on the market, there is almost an instant demand to view them.

Prices are still very favorable as are interest rates, so if you are considering a purchase or move, there is no time like present.  Let’s make that your 2013 real estate goals a reality.  Call a Nectar professional today to get started!IMG_2727