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Archive for September, 2016

SW Florida Moving Day with Small Kids? Make it Fun! Naples, Bonita Springs, Estero

SW Florida Moving Day with Small Kids? Make it Fun! Naples, Bonita Springs, Estero. Moving Day: for SW Florida residents who relish order in their lives, this is one day when no amount of preparation is likely to totally quell the feeling that the world is on the verge of chaos. The day (or days, if the move is one that begins or ends outside SW SW Florida Moving Day with Small Kids? Make it Fun! Naples, Bonita Springs, EsteroFlorida) will predictably end with all worldly goods beginning to rearrange themselves in their new settings—but although the outcome is assured, as moving day approaches, rattled nerves require taking a deep breath. Several deep breaths…

When you add small children to the mix, strategic preparation is even clearer as the order of the day. Some of the tried-and-true ideas are ones that all parents naturally figure out—such as having kids help put things away at the new house so they feel part of the process (as well as seeing where familiar things are now located). Other strategies may be obvious, but in the throes of unpacking, can require discipline to carry out—like sticking to the kids’ familiar morning and evening rituals.

One idea is especially useful because it can be completed before the movers arrive. Create a special box or duffel bag with all the child’s “gotta-haves”—toys, blankies, pjs,SW Florida Moving Day with Small Kids? Make it Fun! Naples, Bonita Springs, Estero toothbrushes, a favorite book or two, and the like. Then add some Ziploc bags with the very best special favorite treats (ones that don’t need to be refrigerated)—these will definitely come in handy. Be sure to keep an eye on the special bag throughout the day, and let the child know where it is. Especially as long as there are untapped treats in there, its safety and well-being will be a healthy diversionary focus.

See if you can arrange for the children’s room to be the last the movers pack into the truck. That way, they’ll be first out—which will allow you to set up the children’s room ahead of everything else. It may be necessary to fight powerful contrary urges—like getting the kitchen SW Florida Moving Day with Small Kids? Make it Fun! Naples, Bonita Springs, Esterointo some semblance of order—but it will be worth it.  See if some of the child’s own ideas about where to arrange their things are doable. If so, all the better: the feeling of ownership will help make their new room no longer such a strange place (and possibly exactly the perfect place to dig one last treat out of the duffel bag).

Making moving fun for kids is a noble goal. It’s doable for some, but since all kids are different, perhaps creating a moving day where the kids feel they’ve been valued contributors to a family adventure is a significant enough outcome.

SW Florida Moving Day with Small Kids? Make it Fun! Naples, Bonita Springs, Estero. Moving day is, after all, the culmination of the team effort that stretches all the way back to when you made that first call to the one who turned out to be your SW Florida Realtor®. If you’re just at the starting point, I hope that call is to me!      

Future of SW Florida Mortgage Interest Rates—the Brexit Effect

Future of SW Florida Mortgage Interest Rates—the Brexit Effect. By the end of last week, homeowners who keep an eye on SW Florida mortgage rates had a remarkably clear view of what the future is likely to bring. “Brexit” had all but sealed the deal.

Future of SW Florida Mortgage Interest Rates—the Brexit EffectPart of the reason for the resurgence in the local real estate market has been the phenomenon of SW Florida’s historically low mortgage interest rates. Following 2015’s first rate hike in nine years (and the promise that two or three more were in store for 2016), across the nation, financial commentators foresaw the expected gradual rise in mortgage interest rates to act as a moderating influence on home sales activity. In other words, a market that would slowly grow a bit tighter.

As recently as April, that had been the common wisdom. That changed. Those who factor mortgage interest rates into their own decision about buying and selling SW Florida property were doubtless pleased when, last month, some bad news about employment rates triggered good news about the all-but-certain Federal Reserve interest rate hike: it was going to be delayed.

The delay was expected to last for months, but probably not much longer. Then came last week—and Brexit.

For anyone whose vacations allowed them to remain blissfully unaware of world affairs, “Brexit” was the name given to an election Great Britain held to determine whether or not to remain in the European Union. When the votes came in,Future of SW Florida Mortgage Interest Rates—the Brexit Effect the decision was to leave. Exit. This was so completely unexpected that the bottom dropped out of world stock exchanges. Convinced that Brexit would fail, traders had bolstered markets in the days leading up to the vote. Japan’s stock market tumbled 7.9%. Theirs was the most dramatic, but here in the U.S., the Dow fell 3.4%. The British pound dropped; the dollar rose.

The reason SW Florida mortgage interest rates could be affected by a distant overseas political event is due to the currency ramifications. When the dollar is seen as more stable than others, it rises in value. That causes U.S. products sold overseas to become more expensive, producing a drag on the economy. Since growth might falter if the Fed were to add the additional burden of higher interest rates, it seems all but certain that Future of SW Florida Mortgage Interest Rates—the Brexit Effectmortgage interest rates will remain where they are for longer than had been assumed. Possibly, for far longer.

The Wall Street Journal pointed out that “central banks will bolster growth by easing policies and, in the case of the Federal Reserve, delaying potential rate increases.” Forbes headlined “Brexit Makes That Federal Reserve Rate Rise Recede into The Future;” they predicted a future of “near zero interest rates…far longer than expected.” London’s Financial Times went even further, suggesting “the possibility of the Fed reversing last December’s quarter-point rise.” On Friday, The Washington Post noted that U.S. mortgage interest rates “already hit rock bottom this year…nearly a three-year low.” They quoted one analyst’s post-Brexit observation: “If you’re a borrower, don’t wait to lock your rate as this opportunity may not last long.”

Future of SW Florida Mortgage Interest Rates—the Brexit Effect. The Brexit phenomenon is certainly not reason enough for anyone to buy or sell a home—but when the decision is already in the works, current SW Florida mortgage interest rates can’t help but make the prospects more attractive. Call me if you are interested in further investigating just how rewarding today’s market can be!

For SW Florida Homeowners, Open-Plan Kitchens Remain a Plus, Naples, Ft. Myers

For SW Florida Homeowners, Open-Plan Kitchens Remain a Plus, Naples, Ft. Myers. Any idea that’s worth a darn can stand up to scrutiny, so when the real estate industry’s leading periodical, Realtor.com, first posted the “I Hate the Open-Plan Kitchen” article, it wouldn’t have been a dereliction of duty for home design aficionados to go ahead and read it. That’s true even if (like me­­­ and the majority of SW Florida home buyers) you appreciate open-plan kitchens for all the For SW Florida Homeowners, Open-Plan Kitchens Remain a Plus, Naples, Ft. Myersentertaining and family gathering features they foster.

You may not be head-over-heels in love with open-plan kitchens­­­–but hating them? It made the article definitely worth a read…

 The author, Audrey Brashich, explained the origin of her enmity. It all bubbled up as she contemplated the remodel of a hopelessly out-of-style (“think yellow oak cabinets paired with linoleum countertops”) kitchen. Her architect, she writes darkly, “hatched a plan” for an open-plan kitchen that would have involved knocking down a wall or two. She rejected this at once, explaining that she loved “the old-fashioned swinging door” it would have demolished. Worse, it also would have removed “the opportunity to leave the kitchen a mess during dinner parties.”

While any SW Florida party-giver may empathize with that reasoning or with the author’s appeal to history (Julia Child’s “if you drop something, you can always pick it up if you’re alone in the kitchen”); agreeing that you actively hate open-plan kitchens means being willing to ignore the facts of 21st century reality. Even the author has to admit that “open For SW Florida Homeowners, Open-Plan Kitchens Remain a Plus, Naples, Ft. Myerskitchens maximize space and minimize cost” in an era when “house prices are rising as never before.”

Even so, Ms. Brashich remains unconvinced. Her primary reason is that, for her, turning out culinary masterpieces with guests chattering around her in the kitchen is “beyond challenging.” She also admits that she is happier when her whole world doesn’t smell like bacon grease.

Ultimately, it boils down to something that might be called the author’s Fear of Frying. Since she’s writing for Realtor, even after the full rant about open-plan For SW Florida Homeowners, Open-Plan Kitchens Remain a Plus, Naples, Ft. Myerskitchens’ drawbacks, she has to admit to “another bitter pill” for fellow haters: “Open-concept kitchens might boost a home’s resale value.

 In other words,  SW Florida homeowners whose own kitchens are more open-plan than not can breathe a sigh of relief. For this decade at least, their willingness to go ahead and cook in plain sight makes them members of a fearless majority. The fact is underlined by a Newport Beach agent who quotes the question would-be buyers ask most often: “Can we knock [a wall] down to open things up?” And even Ms. Brashich is ultimately forced to grumble, “There’s more daylight in an open kitchen, too.”

For SW Florida Homeowners, Open-Plan Kitchens Remain a Plus, Naples, Ft. Myers. Open or closed, “cozy” or “expansive,” the kitchen is a focal point in any SW Florida home being offered for sale. I’m here to offer an experienced helping hand when you’re ready to explore the many possibilities in today’s market!

SW Florida’s Fall Has Started with a Pause to Reflect, Naples, Marco Island

SW Florida’s Fall has Started with a Pause to Reflect, Naples, Marco Island. Monday’s Memorial Day in SW Florida capped a weekend that definitely felt like summer was close at hand. Actual summer may not arrive in SW Florida until the summer solstice on June 20, but especially in years like this one, when Monday’s holiday is also just two days SW Florida’s Fall Has Started with a Pause to Reflect, Naples, Marco Islandremoved from the start of hurricane season, it’s clearly time to check whether there are any charcoal briquettes left over from last year.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts on June 1 because, logically, that’s about when the storms out there in the mid-Atlantic begin to get serious. Technically, between June 1 and November 30, 97% of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity occurs, so June 1 has every reason to lay claim to honor of being the starting block. Besides, as one meteorologist admitted, June 1 is easy to remember. At any rate, this Wednesday is it.

Of course, Memorial Day Weekend means a lot more than being the point on our SW Florida’s Fall Has Started with a Pause to Reflect, Naples, Marco Islandcalendar that marks the start of summertime activities. The meaning of the holiday is in its name, with its root “memory.” SW Florida families with members currently serving in the armed forces don’t need to be reminded of the sacrifices that have kept Americans free since the founding of the Republic. That’s a part of everyday life for them. An often difficult (but always proud) part.

For the rest of us, there is usually at least one moment sometime during the holiday when some incidental occurrence gives pause for the real meaning behind SW Florida’s Fall Has Started with a Pause to Reflect, Naples, Marco Islandthe day.

It might be a fleeting glimpse on a TV of a reporter standing on a faraway battlefield, now covered in wildflowers; or it might be an encounter outside the grocery store with an old vet seated at a folding table, seeking contributions for a warrior’s fund. That’s when we experience something that’s not part of our everyday. It might feel like a somber moment that’s somehow strangely uplifting at the same time. It might be no more than an inkling; or it may be a flood of emotion—but that’s the moment when we realize once again how much each and every one of us truly owes to those who gave everything for our freedom.

SW Florida’s Fall has Started with a Pause to Reflect, Naples, Marco Island. It’s a valuable thing, Memorial Day.


Latest U.S. Developments Don’t Rock SW Florida Real Estate, Naples, Ft. Myers Estero

Latest U.S. Developments Don’t Rock SW Florida Real Estate, Naples, Ft. Myers Estero. It wasn’t exactly huge news, but last week, the revised economic numbers showed improvement! When does that ever happen—when the final revisions come in, don’t they always seem to be in a downward direction? Yet Friday’s release from the Associated Press told a Latest U.S. Developments Don’t Rock SW Florida Real Estate, Naples, Ft. Myers Esterodifferent story. Earlier reports of a slowing U.S. economy had been revised to show a year whose beginning “wasn’t quite as bad as first thought.” The reason was housing—which “got a bigger boost” than first reported.

This is all to suggest that the wider economic climate for SW Florida real estate—that is, for sellers and buyers midway through this year’s spring/summer selling season—is one that shows improvement (“slight improvement,” according to many—but we’ll take it). Fears of an economic stall seem to have vanished for the moment. Lacking was anything in the economic tidings that would suggest SW Florida’s real estate picture includes any storm clouds on (or even over) the horizon.

ITEM: Per the ABCNEWS site, economists are forecasting a rebound in the current quarter—to growth of around 2%. Latest U.S. Developments Don’t Rock SW Florida Real Estate, Naples, Ft. Myers EsteroThat was expected to improve as well: “In the second half of the year, economists are forecasting that growth will strengthen further to around 2.5%.

ITEM: In what is now the seventh anniversary of economic expansion, Reuters reported that U.S. new homes sales had notched an 8-year high. “New U.S. single-family home sales recorded their biggest gain in 24 years in April…as purchases increased broadly.”    

ITEM: Last Thursday, Mortgage News Daily reported mortgage rates the lowest in “more than a week.” For sharp-eyed SW Florida real estate watchers, this might have been puzzling, given that Freddie Mac had just announced that rate “rose rather sharply.” MND clarified the contradiction by explaining, “that’s to be expected given [Freddie Mac’s] report’s methodology…”

ITEM: U.S. News & World Report disagreed, siding with Freddie. But in a sunny sort of way: Mortgage rates “rose this week but remained at low levels that could entice purchasers amid the current home buying season.”

Latest U.S. Developments Don’t Rock SW Florida Real Estate, Naples, Ft. Myers EsteroITEM: Even if Freddie and U.S. News had been right, and home loan rates were on the rise, another respected real estate voice spoke up to suggest that even that could become good news for real estate. How so was elaborated in Yahoo! Finance’s interview with Toll Brothers Chairman Robert Toll, who turned most commonly held assumptions on their head:

                             “If the Fed goes up and the mortgage rates go up…it probably means price increases are coming soon, which spurs demand and spurs action.”

Latest U.S. Developments Don’t Rock SW Florida Real Estate, Naples, Ft. Myers Estero. Summing up, it was, on balance, a quietly upbeat picture—one pointing to a future for SW Florida real estate clear of any rough patches in the immediate future. Given that there continue to be exceptional offerings in our market—and with home loan rates still being locked at terrific levels, for sure it’s an opportune time to give me a call!

For SW Florida House Sitters: Preparations Avert Emergencies

For SW Florida House Sitters: Preparations Avert Emergencies. Midway through SW Florida real estate’s busy selling season also finds us at the beginning of many a homeowner’s personal vacation season. For those whose homes are on the market, one of the benefits of having a close working relationship with their SW Florida  real estate agent means that they can take off for their out-of-town holiday without having to worry about losing prospective buyers. If my clients For SW Florida House Sitters: Preparations Avert Emergenciesinstruct me to continue showings in their absence, it’s no problem; likewise, if they’d prefer to hold off until their return, the showing schedule is juggled accordingly.

When a house sitter is part of the picture, it’s a low-stress showing situation, as well. Good house sitters keep their client’s property in order on a day-to-day basis anyway, so with the agreed-upon advance scheduling, showings can proceed as usual. It’s especially nice when the SW Florida homeowner returns to find good news on the real estate front!

 There are two truisms about leaving your most valuable asset—your home—in the care of any house sitter.

The first is to select the sitter wisely. It’s usually best to go with a neighborhood favorite: someone who is local to SW Florida, who comes highly recommended by neighbors, and who views house sitting as a professional calling. That doesn’t mean he or she should necessarily be a full-time house sitter (many great sitters have other jobs). It does mean that, since it is at least a part-time occupation, he or she has a reputation to preserve. Cousin Mark or Aunt Mildred For SW Florida House Sitters: Preparations Avert Emergenciesmight be more than competent enough to do the job, but if it seems to them more like an imposition rather than a calling, the results can be less than top-notch.

The second necessity for getting a satisfactory (and safe) house sitting result after a first-rate house sitter has been recruited is to provide the raw materials that allow them to do their best job. In the house-sitting realm those raw materials consist of good information: the vital information that you usually take for granted, but which is necessary to oversee the proper functioning of the property. For SW Florida House Sitters: Preparations Avert EmergenciesThe information should be made available in a carefully assembled and written list. Some (not all) of the items you gather could include your on-the-go contact information at each destination; alternative contact persons; names and phone numbers of any service persons scheduled to be working on the property; emergency numbers for the SW Florida maintenance professionals you rely on for things like plumbing emergencies; and—at the top of the page, right after “911”—the SW Florida emergency numbers for police and fire departments. Elsewhere, near the TV and other electronics, it’s also considerate to write out in explicit detail how to turn them on. As we all know, in today’s world, that can require a page or two…

For SW Florida House Sitters: Preparations Avert Emergencies. When your property’s operations/emergency list is complete, be sure to reserve some time to go over the items with your house sitter—before Getaway Day, when the schedule can easily grow too hectic to do the briefing properly. And if your house really is currently on the market, include your real estate agent’s contact information— which I hope is mine!

Reader’s Digest Has Lists for SW Florida Homeowners, Naples, Ft. Myers Estero

Reader’s Digest Has Lists for SW Florida Homeowners, Naples, Ft. Myers Estero. Some of  SW Florida’s senior residents will verify that The Reader’s Digest was once flat-out the most popular magazine in the country. I don’t know how far back that began, but at one point at least, it was the time-saving way Americans kept up with what was being published in Reader’s Digest Has Lists for SW Florida Homeowners, Naples, Ft. Myers Esterothe other magazines (there were lots of them). RD boiled lengthy articles down to a couple of pages.

TV is probably what spelled its decline. The internet almost finished the job—but the Digest is still going in various forms. When you come across it online, it never fails to show a whole lineup of almost irresistible Click Me sidebars. Last week, for instance, SW Florida homeowners might have been snared by “20 Secret Hiding Places for Valuables in Your Home” (if your home will host an open house anytime soon, that one would be fortuitous); “Prepare to Be Amazed By the Gorgeous Way This Woman Transformed Her Simple Camper Trailer” (although the flashy red-white-and-blue stripes on the camper shell might have been overkill); “13 Neat Ways Milk Can Help You Look Gorgeous And Clean Your House Too!”(sour milk can renew tarnished silver; powdered milk can erase fine cracks in china).

But the most relevant attention-grabber of all (for SW Florida homeowners, at least) would have been “10 Ways to Increase Home Value with Exterior Paint.” We all know that a fresh paint job will give any home a value boost—but what Reader’s Digest Has Lists for SW Florida Homeowners, Naples, Ft. Myers Esteroare the other 9 ways? Here’s a selection from the answer:

  1. Color Correct for Value—which means “use eye-catching color schemes.” This was RD’s #1 way to increase value…but I’d have to caution that if a color scheme is a bit too eye-catching, it could accomplish the reverse…
  2. Perception of Color is Very Relative—When choosing color schemes, remember that the colors need to viewed right next to each other to judge how they will actually appear to the eye.
  3. Begin with the Value—The word “value” here means how dark or light the main color will be. Decide on it first, before trim colors.
  4. Don’t Be Top-Heavy (SW Florida homeowners note: this was really the only one I thought could actually increase Reader’s Digest Has Lists for SW Florida Homeowners, Naples, Ft. Myers Esterovalue)—Place darker colors below lighter shades to prevent a top-heavy look.
  5. Choose Colors in the Right Light—view swatches in the same kind of light they’ll be seen in).
  6. Play Up the Size (use light colors to enlarge a small house and dark colors to make a large house on a small lot look smaller).

I can’t really agree with #6; most SW Florida homeowners whose houses are set on small lots would still do well to have the home look as roomy as possible.

Reader’s Digest Has Lists for SW Florida Homeowners, Naples, Ft. Myers Estero. Following the original Readers Digest concept, this boils the 10 Ways down to 6. You really could shrink it all the way down to just #4—but since it would no longer be a list, that would be overdoing it. In fact, SW Florida homeowners who clicked on the sidebar for “13 Tips for Selling Your Home” might actually benefit most from #9—which was “Get Real About Pricing.” No matter how many of the Selling Tips you wound up taking seriously, though, I would have to add one more truly practical one: Call Me!