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3 Tips to Staging the Outside of Your Home Like a Pro

Are you considering putting your house up for sale, but not sure where to start? Afraid it will take too long to sell, or that you won’t get the price you want? Think about “staging” your home, or in other words, setting the scene for immediate buyer interest in your property.

To be really effective, you need to look at both the outside and the inside of your home. Here are 3 tips to get you started with the outside of your home:

1. Go stand on the street to see what clients see when driving up to the house. Be aware that any negative impressions they get outside the house (landscaping not maintained or non-existent, peeling paint, etc.) is just going to make them think that the house itself has not been well taken care of. So even if you have spent the time and money to fix up the interior, it would all be wasted if the clients get a bad first impression as they drive up to the house.

2. Next, step outside your front door and close the door; then stand on the stoop and look around for 5 minutes. While the realtor fumbles for keys and tries to figure out how to open the door, the clients are standing behind and looking around. So what are they seeing? Dead plants, old Halloween decorations in the middle of January, cobwebs?  Again, not a good first impression!

It’s definitely worth it to take some time and clean it up. Want to go a step further? Try a new coat of paint or some new furniture or accessories.

3. Don’t forget the backyard. While that might not be part of the potential buyers’ first impression experience, you still should make sure it’s in the best condition possible. Pull up weeds, water plants, do some sweeping (if that’s applicable in your case) and maybe even purchase new furniture or accessories (plant pots, bird houses, etc.)

And the biggest tip of all? Imagine yourself as a potential buyer looking at your property for the very first time. What impressions are you getting? Would YOU buy your house? What would you like to see changed before you put an offer on your house?

And don’t worry about spending several thousand dollars to get your house ready to sell   you’ll get it all back when your house sells. Proper staging helps you sell your house in a shorter time and at the price you want.

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Theft Proofing Your Mailbox

Although most people only think about their home and property when dealing with home security, the mailbox is equally as important.  On a daily basis, there is a lot of personal information that goes through your mailbox.  Even though burglary is a concern, identity theft is just as big of a concern as well.  Most people don’t even think about theft proofing their mailboxes, which easily explains the increase in identity theft over the years.  Almost all mailboxes can be easily broken into, giving thieves instant access to personal information.

Even though there are many mailbox designs in the United States, most of them are outdated in terms of security.  They may perform their duties of receiving mail quite well, although they normally don’t offer the security needed to protect people from identity theft.  These days, identity theft is a common thing – simply because people don’t do a better job with protecting their mailbox.

Each and every day we all get personal information delivered to us by mail.  In some cases, we get credit card offers or bills that contain our personal information.  Although we don’t think anything about it, most of us head out to our mailbox, collect the mail, and then go back in our houses.  All it takes is a thief to beat you to the mailbox, just a couple of minutes.  Once the thief has collected a few pieces of your mail, he can easily use your personal information to charge credit cards and other bad things using your identity.

To protect yourself against identity theft you should always include your mailbox in your plans for home security.  The mailbox is very important, and should always be protected.  If you have a traditional mailbox now, you should get rid of it immediately.  As a replacement, you should look into a safe and secure mailbox.  The ideal types are those made of solid steel.  The top of the box should be accessible to the mailman, allowing him to put the mail in without a problem.  The bottom side of the mailbox however, should only be accessed via key.  Mailboxes that require a key to get into will protect you from identity theft – as the thief simply won’t have access to your mail.

You can find secure mailboxes at a local hardware or department store, even online.  There are very affordable these days and will go a long way in protecting you for identity theft.  Mailboxes that are constructed from solid steel are nearly impossible to break into, yet they will open easily for you to check your mail with the lock and key system.  The next time you go out to the mailbox to check your mail – you should think twice about your safety and theft proof your mailbox to protect yourself and your loved ones from identity theft.

Choosing Your Real Estate Appraiser

If you have been thinking about purchasing a real estate property for personal use or as an investment, you’ll need to hire the services of a real estate investor.  If you play to finance your home through a bank or other lender, you’ll more than likely need to get the property appraised first.  Banks and most lenders want to know the value of the home for your protection, as well as make sure that the home they are financing is worth the total amount that you take on the loan.

In most cases, the appraisal indicates that the home does indeed meet or exceed the asking price.  In some cases however, the appraisal will come back saying that the home is worth less than the selling price.  If this is the case, the buyer normally has to either drop the deal or try to negotiate with the seller to get a price that meets the appraisal.

For those very reasons, a real estate appraiser is very important.  When you are dealing with a home, one appraisal can make a deal or break it. Even though you may not be financing your purchase through a lender or the bank, you should still make an effort to get the home appraised and find out the true value.  You should also make a point to find the best appraiser that you can afford.  If you hire an appraiser who isn’t that experienced, you’ll pay for it later when you discover that the property isn’t worth what you paid for it.

A real estate appraiser will go through the home performing an evaluation, and then provide you with a written evaluation after he has gathered all necessary information.  Appraisers will also taken into consideration the replacement costs as well.  Also, they will have to very land descriptions as well.  There is a lot of work involved with appraisals, which is why it’s so very important that each step of the process is performed correctly by a qualified real estate appraiser.

If you have a real estate agent, he or she will more than likely be able to make a recommendation.  Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean the recommendation is the best; it’s just someone who your agent works with.  To ensure that you get the right appraisal on your home you’ll need to find yourself an appraiser who is capable of completing the job.

When you look for your real estate appraiser, you should look for someone who comes highly recommended.  You can ask family and friends for their opinions, or search local papers, even the Internet.  If you take your time and search for the best real estate appraiser that you can find – you’ll normally get an appraisal that is right on target.

Fine Tune Your Commercial Real Estate Crystal Ball

Don’t you wish you had a crystal ball that showed you what is to come in the future? A simple wave over the crystal ball, the mutter of a magic word, and your entire future is there, revealed in front of you. Now that you know what is to come, you can prepare and move accordingly so you can be ready for what the now identified future holds.

Unfortunately, this crystal ball does not literally exist, but in commercial real estate there are many tools that you can use that act like a crystal ball. They can show you the future in an indirect way so you, too, may plan and move accordingly in order to take advantage of the market place.

Fining tuning your commercial real estate crystal ball is really a matter of paying attention, doing some basic research, and being on top and aware of all elements in your comfort zone, or concentrated area of focus and influence. It does take vision and an element of creativity to really fine tune your crystal ball, and, for some, it is the best aspect of commercial real estate! Being able to predict, envision, and then create something that at one time did not even exist, not even in an idea, and then search out the resources to create and put the plan in motion is a commercial real estate insider’s dream.  When done effectively, it can be very satisfying and lucrative!

You should already be doing many things that assist you in predicting and planning for the future, which is extremely important in commercial real estate. If you can see an opportunity coming before it actually presents itself, then you are able to prepare for that opportunity before anyone else, and reap the benefits. These things may include driving the streets of your community to see what land and buildings are for sale, what centers are vacant for leasing, attending planning and zoning meetings, reading the local newspaper for economic and real estate changes or trends, as well as researching other cities and how their market may affect yours in any way, shape or form.

As a real estate insider, it is pertinent that you are up to par, and even an expert in your comfort zone. These things listed above are how you are constantly informed and a step ahead of other real estate people, as well as your own market.

Besides doing these things religiously, and always analyzing the data that you collect, their area a few other specific tools that will allow you to see into your commercial real estate future and identify opportunities that others will miss.

The first is a city’s future land use master plan or map that shows the future zoning and use for all the land within a city’s limits. Some cities may not have one if they are too small and not looking for growth. However, most cities do have master use plans that are used to dictate the entire future of a city’s economic make-up.

This map is used to plan for growth so that all elements of a city are controlled. Zoning and use may change for operating properties; others may remain the same. There is the possibility of raw land to be annexed into the city, having a specific use, offering huge opportunities to the commercial real estate investor. There may be a need to tear down or renovate old properties, and develop them for a different use.

The possibilities of what a future land use map holds is gold in the eyes of an investor, and extremely important to all those working in commercial real estate. Refer to this map, and actually visit the locations of where there is change to identify opportunities. As every area is different, you will be amazed as to what opportunities will unveil themselves when you bring to it a little vision, creativity, and insider information regarding the zoning and use of a property.

Another tool to see into the future is the economic forecast for your area. By looking at both the past and future per capita income, population growth rates, housing costs and other such data that can be found through the census and local Chamber of Commerce, you can see the overall economic environment of your city and how it is performing.

Perhaps a continuing decrease in population means people are moving out of the city, telling you not to invest in new home or apartment development in that area. Or, the growth has been so extreme that the city is in desperate need of commercial property in order to support the influx of people. You can definitely plan on how you are going to move in the market with this information by your side.

The final tool I urge you to utilize when predicting your commercial real estate future is already approved infrastructural changes within your city. This will require you to attend city meetings regarding zoning, planning, development, etc. There could be discussion of a new development a year or more before it actually occurs, and once you hear about it, you can start putting your own ideas into place.

As I am sure you already know, large, influential, infrastructural changes can greatly increase the land values of properties that surround them. For example, a large strip mall being developed will increase the value of all the land surrounding it, as well as possibly call for a greater demand of residential units, and an increase in the lot and rental prices that can be charged according to the new market.

Let’s say that you hear two years in advance about a strip mall that will begin development after it is approved. You are then going to get a jump on all competition, look at the site, the land surrounding it, and the opportunities it may offer. Can you purchase the now extremely cheap land adjacent to this site, or perhaps the poor performing apartment complex in anticipation of this new development so that you may benefit from the price increase this major infrastructural change is going to cause?

Absolutely!

These things happen all the time, and I urge you to be a visionary and look to the future. After all, this is where a majority of commercial real estate profits is made by creating something that either wasn’t there, or improving upon what is there.

As you can see, you may not have a crystal ball that does all the work for you, but I promise that if you use these tools and follow these guidelines, you will be preparing yourself for great opportunities that others, quite simply, will overlook. It will take some effort and constant dedication. However, the results that you yield will be way worth it. Actually, it is much easier to be the first mover, rather than suffering the increased land prices and changes after a development is already in place or even underway.

Realize your power to predict the future and plan your goals accordingly! You will be successful with these tools, so implement them today.