Home Maintenance Checklist


If you’ve ever owned a home in Florida before, you know that just like your vehicle needs regular maintenance to run well—so does your home. It can be easy to ignore or put these things off, but a well-maintained home will save you money from costly repairs in the long run, and make your home easier to sell when the time comes.

Start giving your home some TLC with some of these must-do maintenance tips:

On a monthly basis:

  1. Clean or replace air conditioning filters. If you have an energy recovery system (air exchange system), remember that these filters also need to be cleaned or replaced.
  2. Inspect, clean or replace kitchen vent hood filters (non-charcoal filters).
  3. Flush all toilets and run water through all sinks, especially in bathrooms that are not used on a regular basis.

On a quarterly basis:

  1. Check the exterior drainage conditions to ensure that nothing is causing water to stand in puddles for more than 24 hours and that water from any source is not draining toward your foundation.
  2. Check your GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) for proper operations by tripping the circuit interrupter buttons and then resetting them. If they will not trip and reset, contact your Customer Care Department for service or information on what to do.
  3. Inspect, lubricate and clean all of your exterior vents. Make sure that air flows freely and that each has an operable damper to prevent back flow of outside air and to keep small animals from entering your home.
  4. Lubricate all overhead garage door hinges with white lithium spray.
  5. Inspect and clean all weep holes for water drainage (windows).

On a seasonal basis:

  1. Every six months, inspect and service either your heating or air conditioning system, depending on the season.
  2. Twice a year, you should inspect and repair the following caulked areas, as necessary.
  • Kitchen and bath wet areas.
  • Flushing areas.
  • Window and door seals.
  • Around all penetrations (hose, faucets, duct work from vents, fireplace and chimney vents).
  • Vinyl, aluminum or wood siding.
  • Stucco or mortar cracks.
  • Interior settling or shrinkage sheetrock cracks.
  1. Clean and repair gutters. Make sure gutters are free of material that could prevent free flow of water. Make sure you have splash deflectors at the base of the downspout to deflect water away from the home.
  2. Inspect and adjust sprinkler systems. Set your timers for the proper season to ensure enough, but not too much water per station.

On an annual basis:

  1. Drain and refill your hot water heater(s). This may be necessary on a more frequent basis if you live in an area with extremely hard water.
  2. Inspect and test your hot water heater safety valve.
  3. Inspect your garage door(s), rails and lock system; adjust and lubricate, as necessary. Consider changing your garage door opener code as a security precaution.
  4. Service your lawn mower and yard equipment (blowers, edgers and trimmers).
  5. Clean your faucet aerators and inspect your plumbing for leaks.
  6. Clean and sharpen your garbage disposal by running a tray of ice cubes and depositing a cleaning (foaming) product into the disposal.
  7. Inspect or have tested your home fire extinguishers.
  8. Replace smoke alarm batteries.

Renovations: Cost vs. Value

If you’re updating your home with the aim of adding to its value, tread carefully. Some improvements boost value more than others, and in most cases, a project costs more than it adds in value.

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value report, the average portion of cost recouped is 66.1 percent. Of course, what buyers will think of—and might pay for—an upgrade is less of a hurdle if you plan to enjoy your fancy new kitchen or master bath for years to come.

How much you can expect to spend varies not just by project, but also where you live. Location will have an impact on materials, labor costs and trends.

Here are just a few renovation projects and their rate of return:

           Job Cost                      Resale Value                       Cost Recouped

Entry door replacement (steel) $1,365 $1,152 84.40%
Minor kitchen remodel $19,693 $15,303 77.70%
Window replacement (vinyl) $14,875 $11,578 77.80%
Major kitchen remodel $58,865 $40,523 68.80%
Bathroom remodel $17,020 $11,256 66.10%
Roofing replacement $20,644 $14,214 68.80%
Backup power generator $12,860 $6,940 54.00%
Garage Door Replacement $1,749 $1,345 76.90%

First Time Homebuyers – Understanding the Process

 1. Get Pre approved

  • Discuss loan options and budgeting with the lender.
  • The lender will check on their credit and alert the would-be buyers to any problems.
  • The buyers learn the maximum they can borrow and therefore have an idea of their price range. However, all buyers should be careful to estimate their own comfort level with a housing payment rather than immediately aiming for the top of their spending ability
  • Home sellers expect all buyers to have a pre-approval letter and are more willing to negotiate with people who have proof that they can obtain financing.

2. Find a home

Talk with your agent to find out which neighborhood and communities are the best fit for you and get out there and look at them in person.

3. Make an offerReal Estate agents provides market statistics and data to see how much similar homes have sold in the area. Discuss financial situation/how much to offer and negotiate any closing costs for the buyer if needed. Present offer to the seller’s agent and either accepts or issues a counter offer. Deposit escrow/good faith deposit

4. Schedule Home Inspection– There is no substitution for having a licensed and trained professional inspection the property for safety, overall condition and quality. If anything comes up on the inspection you’ll be able to back out and get your escrow deposit back. Or we can also negotiate to have the sellers discount the price or negotiate repairs. If everything looks good, then an Appraisal is ordered and title search is conducted to make sure we have a clean title.

5. Closing– You made it! A few hours or the day before closing, we conduct the final walk through. Wire any remaining balance and go to the title company to sign all of the paperwork. Finally, you get your keys/owners manuals and you move in!

Your first home is something that you will never forget!

Tips for the Final Walk Through

You’ve found your dream home, made an offer, and the seller has accepted. You’ve gotten your inspections done, your loan is finalized and the closing date is set.

What now?

Your next step is a final walk-through, arranged through your real estate agent, at least a day prior to the closing date. The goal is to insure the property’s condition hasn’t changed since your last visit, that any agreed-upon repairs have been made and that the terms of your contract will be met..

Here’s what you need to know for your final walk-through:

  1. Take your contract with you. You might need to refer to it while on site.
  2. In many markets, the buyers and sellers never actually meet in person. But if everyone is agreeable to the idea, perform the final walk-through in the seller’s presence. He or she knows the home better than anyone else and should be able to answer your questions and provide some color on the history of the home.
  3. If the home is vacant, it’s even more important to do a final walk-through. Since your last visit, for instance, someone might have left a faucet dripping, inadvertently causing water damage.
  4. Take along a checklist of things to do during the final walk-through, including:
  • Check the exterior of the home, especially if there have been strong wind or rain storms since your last visit.
  • Turn all light fixtures on and off.
  • Make sure the seller hasn’t removed any fixtures, such as chandeliers, that he or she agreed to leave behind.
  • Check all major appliances.
  • Turn heat and/or air conditioning on and off.
  • Turn on water faucets; check for leaks under sinks.
  • Test the garage door openers.
  • Flush all toilets.
  • Open and close all windows and doors.
  • Do a visual spot-check of ceilings, walls and floors.
  • Turn on the garbage disposal and exhaust fans.
  • Check the status of any agreed-upon repairs.
  • Check screens and storm windows. If they’ve been stored, make sure you know where they are and that they’re in good shape.
  • Look in storage areas to make sure no trash or unwanted items remain. Old paint cans or hazardous materials are often left behind by the seller.
  • Do a quick check of the grounds. Some sellers have dug up and taken plants (even small trees or bushes) with them.

Taking an hour for one last inspection is a good investment in your time. After all, you don’t want to spend the first weeks in your new home cleaning up or making unexpected repairs.

Should you buy a model home?

DSC_2383As construction winds down and developers pull up stakes, they’re often eager to sell off those prototype domiciles. Some buyers lie in wait until this time comes, ready to pounce at this upscale abode—and maybe score a deal at the same time. Others might be turned off by the thought of living in a slightly used home that has been trampled through by hundreds, maybe thousands of prospective buyers.

So what are the Pros and Cons of purchasing a model home? Lets take a look at both sides.


Convenience: You’re getting a move-in ready, never-occupied home with loads of upgrades—and you don’t even have to wait for it to be built. Plus models are already decorated and fully furnished. And because they usually offer the furnishings at a discount, you might not have to haul yours across town and into your new house.

Extra features– For a model home, the builder usually wants to go all out and make it look spectacular. They want to show off their building ability and they want to excite potential customers. However, the other houses in the subdivision might not be as good as the model home. Therefore, you can sometimes get a few little extra touches thrown in.

DSC_2368Larger floor plan– In addition to having nicer features, the builder will usually construct the house on a somewhat larger floor plan. They know that they are going to have many people walk through the house and they want the house to seem big. Therefore, a model home might actually be a little bigger than the other similar houses that they are building.

Bargaining power– When you buy a model home from the builder, you will usually have a little bargaining power. You can use the argument that the house should not be at full price because the builder has gotten a lot of use out of it. Hundreds of people could have walked through that house which contributes to wear. Therefore, you can offer the builder lower than they would take for one of the other new houses. If the builder is getting down to the end of their subdivision, they might be ready to get out and move on to another project.

No ‘settling’ repairs: A bit of settling is to be expected when buying new construction. Along with those creaks and cracks, there may be some minor repairs needed within the first year, too. But guess what? That’s not your problem!


The warranty clock has already started: New homes come with a standard 10-year warranty from the builder. But since a model home has been around for a few months or even years, that time is subtracted from your warranty coverage. Also, most appliances have a one-year warranty that may have already expired by the time the model is put up for sale.

Rushed construction– Many times with the model home, the builder might not have taken their time on the construction. They needed to get something up quick so that they could start selling units. If they rushed through the construction process, it could potentially lead to some flaws in the house. They might be testing out a floor plan for the first time and run into problems. While they might not be apparent to the naked eye, you might have some problems somewhere in the house. Make sure that you have a building inspector come through and look at the house first.

Slightly used– Even though the house looks good, it has still be used by the builder. Sometimes a model home can be open for several years every day of the week. Therefore, the heating and cooling has been going for that long every day. The carpet has been walked on and worn out. All of these concerns should be addressed before you buy.

There’s a lot of traffic: Models are usually located at the front of the subdivision—that’s the whole idea—and if it’s a corner model, that exposure to an exterior street often has significantly more traffic. A neighborhood pool or tennis courts are often near the entry, too, meaning extra noise and traffic in the area.

There will always be pros and cons when buying any home, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to buying a model home.

So it all comes down to the basics. When considering a model home, ask yourself these questions: Does this floor plan really work? Will I save considerable money by not having to upgrade?

Stafford Place at Tampa Palms

77043b86594820b1b18669751405e6d7c-f3xd-w640_h480_q80CalAtlantic’s Stafford Place is the newest village to join the highly desired master-planned community of Tampa Palms. The location is close to all the major conveniences including I-75, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, golf and multiple county parks. Flatwoods Wilderness Park is just two miles away and Lettuce Lake Park is approximately 8 miles away. It is also just a short drive to all that the Tampa Bay area has to offer including; professional sports venues, the performing arts center, museums, and the gulf beaches.

CalAtlantic is offering a great selection of both one and two story floor plans. There are three single story floor plans that start at 1,866 sq. ft. and go up to 2,824 sq. ft. Two of the plans also offer an optional second story bonus room. There are 5 two story floor plans to chose from ranging in size from 2,571 sq. ft. to 3,852 sq. ft of living space. There are two fully furnished and decorated models on site to view. New home prices start at $337,990 up to $425,990.

The 2017 Home Owners Association fees are $62 per month and a yearly CDD of $487.26 per year.

The model homes are open to view Monday 11-6, Tues-Sat 10-6 and Sunday 12-6.

Click here if you would like more information about Stafford Place or if you would like to schedule a time to tour the community.

If you are not familiar with buying new construction and would like more information, please be sure to check out our blog post where we cover the basics of what you need to know.



Florida Hospital Center Ice – Cool off this summer

center_iceFlorida Hospital Center Ice has opened the doors to its new facility in Pasco County. A “puck dropping” ceremony was held prior to the official opening, where community leaders gathered to celebrate this new community treasure.

The new Florida Hospital Center Ice Complex, with its five rinks, is the largest ice complex south of New York State. It boasts 150,000 square feet of ice over three NHL rinks, an Olympic rink, a mini-rink and a batch of training rooms. The hope is to attract national hockey and figure skating competitions, while still keeping the rink open for public skating.

Rink officials said they’ve already lined up hockey tournaments, including a national adult tournament in April and the high school state championship in February.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will sponsor a recreational league that operates from Center Ice, as well as some camps and clinics. It won’t practice at Center Ice, though, as they have an arrangement to practice at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, which has two pro-sized rinks.

Fun for the whole family:

Public skating session days and times are subject to change. The cost to skate is $9.75 for adults, not including tax. Seniors, veterans and active duty military with valid ID pay $7.75 plus tax. Rental skates are $4.25 a pair plus tax. Family four-packs will be available for $40, which includes skate rental. Additional family members cost $10.
Mondays – 5 to 7 p.m.

Wednesdays – 8 to 10 p.m., adults only

Thursdays – 7 to 9 p.m.

Fridays – 8 to 10 p.m.

Saturdays – noon to 2 p.m.; 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.; 8 to 10 p.m.

Sundays – 1 to 3 p.m.; 6 to 8 p.m.

5 Steps to getting the most money for your home

1. Market Analysis and Consultationoriginal

Utilize strategies such as the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to ensure accurate market pricing, analyzing overall inventory, availability of financing and interest rates, and a wide range of analysis on comparable markets.

DSC_23722. Set Yourself Apart

Standing out from the competition helps differentiate your home from the competition. We do that by only working with other proven professionals that meet our level of expectation and service. Professional photographers and expert stagers who are the best in the field.

3. Massive Exposure

Exposing your home to a massive international audience who represent qualified buyers in your market area. Your home will be shown on over 1014 websites such as Zillow, realtor.com, Trualia, Yahoo! Real Estate, homes.com, Hotpads, etc.

More then 90% of buyers start looking for a home on the internet. Tap into the top real estate websites to get the most amount of visitors to find your home.

icon-set-social-media-icons-colours-mouse-over-and4. Social Media and Networking Strategies

The importance of social media in our marketplace to ehlp increase exposure for your home. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogger, Pinterest, Craigslist, YouTube, Instagram and the MLS are just a few of places that should be targeted to increase the exposure for your home.

We also know that 70% of homes are sold with the help of co-op agents. For this reason we have developed a strategy to target buyers who are looking for homes similar to yours now.

5. Leveraging the Team and Resources

The team you chose should consists of fully trained full time professionals. They should consist of a whole team of transaction managers, photographers, inspectors, stagers, “ShowingTime” who are specialist in their field. This means instant responses to any questions or inquiries buyers or clients may have. Ever process has been optimize to bring you the highest price for your home in the shortest amount of time.

Ford’s Garage Opens in Wesley Chapel

fords-garage--now-open-visit-wesley-chapel-news.jpg-2Ford’s Garage has a menu full of over-the-top pub food. The restaurant is styled like a 1920s service station, paying tribute to a bygone era and industrialist Henry Ford, who spent his winters in Fort Myers, the hometown of Ford’s Garage.

Ford’s Garage debuted in the Tampa Bay region a year ago, with a location in Brandon. That restaurant has been so successful that the partners are planning three more restaurants in the Bay Area in addition to the newly opened Wesley Chapel location.

Ford’s Garage’s menu includes a variety of fresh, never frozen, prime burgers such as Ford’s Signature Model “A” and the Distinguished Gentleman. You can also custom build your own burger from the basic burger to the not so traditional burger with toppings like; deep fried pickles, fried shrimp, fried egg, or chipotle ketchup to name a few.

All burgers are served to perfection on a Brioche or European pretzel bun. Other menu items include comfort foods such as Chicken Henry, Pulled Pork Mac N’ Cheese and Mama Ford’s Homemade Meatloaf.

A variety of soups, salads, and sides are also available.

Ford’s Garage features an extensive menu of bottled and draft craft beer, including Tampa Bay Brewing, Cigar City, and Coppertail.

Ford’s Garage is located at 25526 Sierra Center Blvd. off of S.R. 56 across from the Tampa Premium Outlets. The hours are M-TH 11am-11pm, Fri & Sat 11am-12am, and Sunday 10:30am-11pm.

Esplanade – Resort Style Living in Starkey Ranch

This beautiEsplanade-signful gated maintenance free community is situated on 225 acres located within the masterplanned community of Starkey Ranch.  This exceptional neighborhood offers home owners the best of both worlds. Nestled adjacent to the J.B. Starkey Wilderness Preserve Esplanade offers beautiful well built home by Taylor Morrison with resort-style amenities all in a desirable location that is close to shopping, parks, golf courses and beaches.

A resort amenity campus is dedicated to Esplanade residents with approximately 6,000 sq. ft. planned to feature a fitness center, resort style pool and spa, fire pit, events lawn and more. A full-time on site Lifestyle Manager will be on hand to interact with residents and coordinate special activities, parties and events. Also planned is an adventure park playground where kids are sure to have a blast. Sports courts will also be available to Esplanade residents that include tennis, bocce ball and pickle ball courts. You can take your best friend to the community pet park; a great place for dogs and their owners to exercise and socialize.

Taylor Morrison has 3 collections is their series of homes to choose from; Corte Villa, Novelli, and La Palma. The Esplanade monthly HOA varies from $234-$249 with a $12.50 month HOA to Starkey Ranch. The HOA fee include all mowing, edging, fertilizing, trimming and mulching for truly maintenance free living.

  • Corte Villa offers 2 and 3 bedroom homes ranging in size from 1689-1926 sq. ft. base price starting at $275,900-$288,900.
  • Novelli offers 4 floor plans ranging in size from 1856-2740 sq. ft. all plans are available with an option for a 3 car tandem garage. The base price ranges from $305,900-$379,900
  • La Palma offers 3 floor plans ranging in size for 2407-3006 sq. ft. all plans are include a 2 car garage but are available with an option of a 3 car tandem garage. The base price for this collection ranges from $368,900-$416,900.

Click here if you would like more information about Esplanade or if you would like to schedule a time to tour the community.

If you are not familiar with buying new construction and would like more information, please be sure to check out our blog post where we cover the basics of what you need to know.