Monday, July 25, 2016

Is Your Home Inspection Totally Independent?

Did you know as a homeowner you have the right to choose whatever home inspector you want? Many first time buyers and even long time buyers don't realize this. They simply agree to whatever home inspector their agent or escrow chooses but this could backfire. You want an independent inspector that has your best interest at heart, not someone in the agent's back pocket who's only goal is getting the deal closed.

When you buy a house you will typically have an inspection contingency to go along with the offer. This means that you want to check out the home with a professional inspector before agreeing to finalize the sale. If for any reason you don't like the inspection or don't agree with something you can cancel the sale altogether. You will typically get your earnest money back and move on to another home. This contingency is known as a general inspection contingency. This contingency is always recommended by your buyers agent but there are several different types of inspections that might be available to you such as a "Specific Inspection Contingency". This is much more limited. If the buyer finds a defect in the house the buyer will give the seller three days in which to agree to make the repairs. Once the seller responds, the buyer has two additional days to decide whether to accept it or to terminate the contract.

Read more: 8 Important Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector

Most contingencies are of the general variety. However, what a lot of buyers don't know is that they have the right to choose their own inspector. Of course your buyers agent will give you options, referrals and references on whom to choose but it is ultimately up to you whether or not you choose that real estate inspector.

The inspector is working for you, the buyer, not necessarily the seller or any agent involved. You want someone that is not going to be an alarmist, meaning they won't scare you out of buying the home, but they will honestly and un-piously talk to you about the home, any issues that might arise and how to repair them or best proceed in the real estate transaction. While they cannot give any legal advice or even real estate transaction advice, they can offer their own expert advice on the property itself and its integrity.

Read more: How Much Does it Really Cost to Own a House?

You should always accompany the inspector when they tour the home. They will look at crawl spaces, foundation integrity, roof, attic, electrical, plumbing and make sure all the appliances work and make notes as to what may not be working and what could potentially be a hazardous issue. It is extremely important to pay attention as this is the ammunition you will need to go back to the seller asking for repairs, replacements, money off or if you choose to cancel the transaction.

The next time you need a home inspection it's perfectly fine to go with the buyers agents recommendations but understand that you have the authority to choose whomever you want.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mirasol Country Club Amenities Expansion Palm Beach Gardens Florida

We're pretty excited around here about Mirasol's first phase of the facilities enhancement plan in its final stages. Several members are already beginning to enjoy the amenities and the new Clubhouse. The membership office has moved back into the clubhouse and the satellite office will remain as the sales center for leasing. Starting in late May, the club will host a series of group tours for the first phase.

Mirasol's facilities enhancement was approved back in 2015 and construction began in June. The enhancement plan includes construction on the golf practice facilities, the clubhouse, the spa, tennis courts, fitness facilities and the pool area. The project was split into two phases that although began at the same time, is designed to reduce disruption in membership. Members are enjoying on-site amenities such as dining, tennis, spa and fitness facilities in the midst of the redesign.

The first phase is the expanded clubhouse which will open in different phases. The upstairs of the clubhouse has been transformed to an expansive welcoming area and lounge overlooking the 19th hole. It will have an extended ballroom area and the upper-level West hallway lead to the new signature restaurant Solstice. There will be a reception area and membership office as well. The lower area will be home to the expanded Ladies Card Room and an expanded Grille Room with outdoor bar and seating area.

The Men's Locker and Card Room will remain intact for now and will open to the new coed card room, also accessible from the ladies locker room. Members will be able to enjoy a quiet space in the new library across from member services.

In the second phase, construction will include two new facilities and an expanded family pool area. Currently the tennis facility is separate from the Esplanade, home to the spa and fitness center. Members will have access to the tennis courts during construction, fitness room and spa on-site.

There is a new Mirasol Club and Association 2016 fee schedule currently available. If you'd like a copy of this please contact my office today and I would be happy to email you the PDF.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mortgage and the Self-Employed

There are a lot of perks to being self-employed. You get to make your own decisions, be your own boss, and determine your hours. However, if you are self-employed and trying to buy a home, you may come across some obstacles.

If you are self-employed, you will need to prove your income with tax returns rather than using a “stated-income” loan. Your loan will be based on your last two years of tax returns, which could consequently show reduced income for some self-employed people.

Related: Great Mortgage Calculator for Understanding All the Details

If your income increases between years one and two, the lender generally averages the two. If the second year’s income is lower, the lender will sometimes use the second year’s number.

People who are self-employed generally try to write off as many expenses as they can for tax purposes. However, this tax strategy could be detrimental when applying for a mortgage loan. Since mortgage eligibility is based on net income, all those business deductions could ultimately count against the borrower. If you foresee a home purchase in your future, you may want to consider what you include in your tax deductions.

In addition to proving income, borrowers have to prove their business exists. For some lenders, two years of income tax returns are sufficient. However, other options for verification may include a statement from an accountant, a business license, or copies of 1099 income statements.

If you run your own business, having a year’s worth of mortgage payments liquid and in reserve in a savings account can boost your prospects for a mortgage loan.

If you don’t have two years of solid tax records or don’t have enough in savings, but you still want to purchase a home and feel you are financially ready, you may want to consider a qualified co-signer to help you secure a loan. Make sure the prospective co-signer also has his or her own finances in order. Borrowers who have less than two years of records will need to have a strong co-applicant on the transaction. Usually, lenders look more favorably on someone who will also occupy the home with you.

John and Susan wanted to buy a new house but had only been self-employed for 2 years. So far, their business was doing great and continuing to increase in profits each year. The bank was able to take this past history and project that if things kept going as such, they would make even more next year, however they only approved them for what they currently made and required a lot of documentation to prove eligibility. 

Being Self-Employed is great but refinancing or getting a mortgage can be a little tricky, however it's not impossible. The best thing to do is find a mortgage broker that you trust and can offer the best service and options for self-employed  applicants. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fair Housing in Real Estate - What to Avoid

Fair Housing Act is a federal act in the US intended to protect the buyer or even renters from discrimination. It makes it unlawful to refuse to sell, rent or negotiate with any person because of that person's inclusion in a protected act.

This means that even if you're not a real estate agent you cannot discriminate based on someone's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or physical or mental disability. This is protected under federal law but state and local protections can also include a variety of extended classes including LGBT, citizenship, someone's age, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, income or political ideology.

Discrimination means that you treat someone differently based on their inclusion in a protected class. You can't deny renting to or selling to someone because they are a single woman, a person of a particular nationality or income other than if they cannot afford it based on term requirements.

Related: How Hard is it to Buy a House if You're Single?

Even suggestions could be perceived as discriminatory regardless of whether they are well intended or not. Real estate agents cannot make certain statements such as, "this would be a great house for a young couple," a person with children or even ask simple questions on whether or not they are married. This can cause a legal headache. However, landlords are able to ask who will be on the application and the rental agreement but may not ask their status. If you're going to ask one renter a question you'll need to ask it as a general rule but again, not discriminate against a particular protected class. You cannot rent a one person because they are white and then deny someone else because they are African-American if they both can afford the property and pass necessary checks.
Disabilities are also an interesting protected class.

In 2014 alone over half of the housing discrimination complaint have something to do with a disability. These are extra protections that landlords need to be aware of to accommodate renters. Disabilities can include a wide range of mental or physical disabilities but landlords and sellers cannot ask whether a person has a disability which could include people with visual, hearing and mobility impairments, mental issues, HIV, AIDS or even a history of disability. You can only ask questions that could be asked of every applicant or tenant. It simply not a good idea to walk the line on this and to avoid any questions that would cause a renter to question your intent on particular questions.

Families is another protected class. There are certain stipulations that can limit children in particular situations such as communities that require only 55 and older residents. Sellers, real estate agents and landlords cannot specifically state that an area is "kid friendly" or recommend someplace that's close to a school however, they can state that the property is within a certain distance from the nearest school and talk about general school ratings. This is not stating whether or not the property would be appropriate for children but if families with children are looking, this might be something of interest.
Advertising a particular property can be discriminatory if it appears to favor or even exclude particular groups. Real estate agents often have a hard time avoiding "steering" certain people to a particular area. They need to stay as unbiased as possible and as general as they can. However, there are certain guidelines that are in place to the general well-being of most people. This includes "maximum Occupancy Guidelines". Certain codes require no more than two people per bedroom. The Building Officials and Code Administrators state that there must be 150 ft.² for the first occupant to 100 ft.² for each additional resident. "Every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant must contain at least 70 ft.² of floor space, or at least 50 ft.² per person occupied by more than one person." [Source]

It's a slippery slope but if agents, sellers and landlords do their homework and really try their best not to get into any awkward situations, most of the time everything's fine, but you just never know. How can homeowners avoid this? Using a great property manager or agent to do the job for them. Homeowners don't have to do the research on what to do and what not to do and their agent can handle it all.

Need an agent for Palm Desert Real Estate? Contact Tina Droessler! Image by Alachua County Flickr 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Great Neighborhoods for Luxury Properties Around Orlando

The Central Florida area is brimming with great luxury neighborhoods! Here we will take a look at just a few that were highlighted by  

Winter Park  

Though Winter Park is its own city originally created for north eastern snow birds, many people think of it as a north Orlando community. Some even refer to Winter Park as Orlando’s “old money neighborhood.” Streets are paved in cobblestones here and lined with towering oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. It is like a page out of a southern story book.  

Upscale boutiques, fine dining, and cultural experiences abound here. Residents of Winter Parkmainly well to do families, have more than just one or two cultural scenes to enjoy with Rollins College in their backyard full of shows and programs to enjoy and the Charles Hosmer Museum of American Art in the center of downtown. Park Avenue is a hub of fine dining and unique high-end shopping boutiques. Foodies can find their fill of ethnic faire at restaurants like Sazon 436 voted Orlando’s Best Puerto Rican Restaurant. The farmer’s market is very popular and draws a number of locals every Saturday to buy fresh local products and homemade goods.  

Home prices range from just under $100,000 to nearly $7 million. Though Winter Park is a small city it offers a diverse range of luxury properties from condos you would expect to see in Upper Manhattan to large sprawling estate mansions.  

 College Park 

College Park is a neighborhood within walking distance of Downtown Orlando. It got its name because of the neighborhood streets named for prestigious colleges such as Princeton, Yale and Harvard. Here you will find a number of long time elderly residents living in harmony with young families and young professionals alike. The homes here are charming, historical, and well kept with a price tag to reflect it.  

College Park is a highly sought after place to live with its proximity to downtown, hip specialty stores, restaurants, and distance to Loch Haven Park which is known as Orlando’s cultural corridor. The walkability adds to this neighborhood’s appeal there is always something to do just steps from your front door. Including taking a stroll past Jack Kerouac’s old home, now a hub for aspiring writers.  

Homes in College Park range from $85,000 to $2,895,000. Including many luxury condo communities full of amenities closer to businesses and large single family estate homes from traditional to Mediterranean to modern architectural styles.  

Lake Nona 

Lake Nona is a newer area of Orlando known as Medical City. This area was built around a hub of medical facilities offering patients the best innovative health care. This is also the home of the famous Lake Nona golf and country club one of the most prestigious golf and country club housing communities in Orlando, home of the Tavistock Cup. 

With a vet hospital near a children's hospital just down the street from a medical research facility and the medical campus of a Florida University, this neighborhood allows local schools to tap into an unparalleled modern learning experience. Classrooms are connected through cutting edge technology to be able to interact in real time with professionals in Medical City facilities.  

Here you will find homes of all kinds from older sprawling  golf estates to brand new state of the art technology and energy efficient homes. Prices range from $250,000 to $4,750,000.  


Though Celebration is technically part of Kissimmee many residents will tell you it is its own city. Many homes sport a Celebration address. This town is famous for its original designers and planners, a crew of Walt Disney imagineers. It was modeled after your classic American 1900’s small town and looks like something straight out of a movie set or even an extended version of the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street.  

Some may pass up the opportunity to buy a property in this area saying it is just too perfect or squeaky clean with its historic charms and upper middle class families. There are many perk’s to Celebrations design especially if you are among the millions of Disney fans in the world. The town is designed to be walkable and encourages residents to leave the car in the drive and take time to enjoy the surroundings. Residents can often be seen walking ,biking, or riding small electric vehicles around town. Town Center is just steps from nearly every front door and offers many restaurants and shops.  

If you are looking for a place that has neighborhood pride where you can get to know people quickly this is it. Celebration hosts many great annual events like an exotic car show, Oktoberfest,holiday events, and the Great American Pie festival.  

Homes in Celebration start at around $189,000 for a condo and top off around $2,950,000 for an stately single family home.  

If you are looking for the perfect Orlando luxury home in a neighborhood that suites your lifestyle we can help you find it!. Please feel free to browse our website or contact us  anytime for more information.  

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Disney's Golden Oak is Attracting Year Round Residents

Inside  the entrance to Walt Disney World, near the Fort Wilderness Campground, is a guard house and gate that marks the entrance to a little known housing community on Disney World property.  

That’s right a community of luxury homes are being built just three miles from the Magic Kingdom theme park. Golden Oak is a community of around 400 homes. Some fully finished and some still under construction. The land was the site of a former Disney golf course.  

Different from the town of Celebration that was developed by Disney engineers in the ‘90’s, this development requires homeowners to drive well onto the Disney World property to access the front gate to this private housing community.  

The community was originally marketed to wealthy world travelers as vacation resort community, but lately it has been catching the eye of those who intend to live in these luxury homes year round. Families that originally intended to purchase a Golden Oak home as a vacation residence are now finding themselves as permanent Disney dwellers.  

Disney opened sales to homes in Golden Oak in 2010 and the first home owners moved in around a year after. Disney has sold over 115 lots in an impressive rate of about two or three homes a month. Over one tenth of the homes in Golden Oak have been completed.   The smallest home in Golden Oak is currently a spacious 3,110 square feet and the largest home in Golden Oak is still under construction. This home is planned to be a palatial 14,642 square feet including seven bedrooms and eleven bathrooms. Sticker prices are just as high as the square footage in these homes ranging from $1.8 million to $5.8 million.  

There are strict guidelines that the seven luxury builders selected by Disney must follow for Golden Oak, but owners have more freedom with the interior design choices for their newly constructed homes, including Disney-Themed d├ęcor. Some home owners are Disney fanatics and it reflects with the entire interior of the home decorated in Disney style while other home owners just love the neighborhood and go for a more subtle interior design. One bedroom in a Golden Oak home is decorated to the nines with a “Frozen” movie theme including glowing ice crystal chandelier and glass encased Elsa dress. Other homes simply sport hidden Mickeys in the architecture.  

Community amenities of course are abundant in this Disney neighborhood. They include a community clubhouse known as Summerhouse offering a party venue with available Disney party planners, restaurant, fitness center, courtyard with fountains and garden, swimming pool, cocktail lounge, concierge service and more. Of course residents have annual membership passes to the Disney World Resort Parks and private shuttle services to the main gates. All of these amenities come with an annual fee of $15,000.  

Though Golden Oak may seem like a playground for the who’s who’s or top tier of bread winners in the world, the residents say of their neighbors it is a group of hard working and down to earth people who realize they are just fortunate to have what they do. It ‘s a good group of people making Golden Oak an even more desirable place to live. There is no comparison of success just a genuine interest in getting to know each other as people.  

The best way to get more information on purchasing a home in Golden Oak is to contact a local buyer’s agent experienced in luxury real estate.