Prepping and Staging Your Home


Preparing to list your home? Here are a few tip we compiled from HGTV of how you can stage and prep your home to give you a competitive edge when you put your house on the market.

Time to De-Clutter

The most important thing you can do to prepare your home for sale is to get rid of clutter. One of the major contributors to a cluttered look is having too much furniture. When professional stagers prep a home for market, they often remove as much as half the owner’s furnishings, and the house looks much bigger for it. Take a hard look at what you have and ask yourself what you can live without.

Furniture Groupings


There’s a common belief that rooms will feel larger and be easier to use if all the furniture is pushed against the walls, but that isn’t the case. Instead, furnish your space by floating furniture away from walls. Reposition sofas and chairs into cozy conversational groups, and place pieces so that the traffic flow in a room is obvious. Not only will this make the space more user-friendly, but it will open up the room and make it seem larger.

Room Transformations

If you have a room that serves only to gather junk, repurpose it into something that will add to the value of your home. The simple addition of a comfortable armchair, a small table and a lamp in a stairwell nook will transform it into a cozy reading spot.


Home Lighting

One of the things that make staged homes look so warm and welcoming is great lighting. As it turns out, many of our homes are improperly lighted. To remedy the problem, increase the wattage in your lamps and fixtures. Aim for a total of 100 watts for each 50 square feet. Don’t depend on just one or two fixtures per room, either. Make sure you have three types of lighting: ambient (general or overhead), task (pendant, under-cabinet or reading) and accent (table and wall).

Make It Bigger

To make a room appear to be bigger than it is, paint it the same color as the adjacent room. If you have a small kitchen and dining room, a seamless look will make both rooms feel like one big space. And make a sunporch look bigger and more inviting by painting it green to reflect the color of nature. Another design trick: If you want to create the illusion of more space, paint the walls the same color as your drapery. It will give you a seamless and sophisticated look.

Neutral and Appealing

Painting a living room a fresh neutral color helps tone down any dated finishes in the space. Even if you were weaned on off-white walls, take a chance and test a quart of paint in a warm, neutral hue. These days, the definition of neutral extends way beyond beige, from warm tans and honeys to soft blue-greens. As for bold wall colors, they have a way of reducing offers, so go with neutrals in large spaces.


Three’s Company

Mixing the right accessories can make a room more inviting. When it comes to eye-pleasing accessorizing, odd numbers are preferable, especially three. Rather than lining up a trio of accessories in a row, imagine a triangle and place one object at each point. Scale is important, too, so in your group of three be sure to vary height and width, with the largest item at the back and the smallest in front. For maximum effect, group accessories by color, shape, texture or some other unifying element, stagers suggest.

Raid Your Yard

Staged homes are almost always graced with fresh flowers and pricey orchid arrangements, but you can get a similar effect simply by raiding your yard. Budding magnolia clippings or unfurling fern fronds herald the arrival of spring, summer blooms add splashes of cheerful color, blazing fall foliage warms up your decor on chilly autumn days and holly branches heavy with berries look smashing in winter.

New Faces

If you can’t afford new cabinets, just get new doors and drawer fronts. Then paint everything to match and add new hardware. And instead of replacing the entire dishwasher, you may be able to get a new front panel. Check with the manufacturer to see if replacements are available for your model. If not, laminate paper, which goes on like contact paper, can be used to re-cover the existing panel.

Don’t Overcrowd Rooms

Don’t overcrowd a room with furniture that is too large for the space; it will only make the room appear small and cramped. However, don’t leave a room too barren either.


Buying A Short-Sale…not so simple

imagesBuyers pursue short sales to get a good deal and believe buying a short sale will present that opportunity. So when you see a price listed for a home that you think is too low for the neighborhood, before you jump on that price ask your agent to call the listing agent to find out if the home is a short sale.

Because you might want to think twice about making an offer on a pre-foreclosure, short sale home.

It’s not as simple as you may believe and very few can close in 30 days or less. Many wait 2 to 6 months to close on a short sale, sometimes longer.

What is a Short Sale?

A short sale means the seller’s lender is accepting a discounted payoff to release an existing mortgage. Just because a property is listed with short sale terms does not mean the lender will accept your offer, even if the seller accepts it.

Be aware that the seller need not be in default — to have stopped making mortgage payments — before a lender will consider a short sale. A lender may consider a short sale if the seller is current but the value has fallen. The seller may have over-encumbered, owe more than the home is worth, so a discounted price might bring the price in line with market value, not below it.

Check the Public Records

Do your research before making an offer to purchase. Your agent can find out who is in title, whether a foreclosure notice has been filed and how much is owed to the lender(s). This is important because it will help you to determine how much to offer. If there are two loans, you could have a problem.

The first mortgage lender’s position is protected by the second lender, unless the second lender does not want to foreclose. If a seller owes $160,000 on the first and $40,000 on the second, offering $160,000 leaves nothing for the second. The first will need to give something to the second to gain its cooperation.

Hire an Agent with Short Sale Experience

It’s one strike against you if the listing agent has never handled a short sale, but it’s even worse if your own agent has no experience in that arena. You need an experienced short sale agent who can anticipate surprises and stop problems from happening.

An agent with experience in short sales will help to expedite your transaction and protect your interests. You don’t want to miss any important detail due to inexperience or find out your transaction is not going to close on time because no one has followed up in a timely manner.

Qualifying the Property and Seller for a Short Sale

A lender is unlikely to agree to a short sale unless the seller has no equity and is unable to repay the difference between your sales price and the existing loans.

Sellers need to provide a hardship letter to the lender. Sellers may also owe taxes on the amount of debt that is forgiven.

Submit Documentation and Purchase Offer to Lender

Once the seller has accepted your offer, the listing agent will it to the lender for approval. You do not have a deal until the lender accepts. Also, the lender will want a copy of your earnest money deposit and proof of funds.

Do not be surprised if the lender asks you to increase your sales price.

pre-approval-imageIn addition, the lender will want to see that you have your own loan available and you are preapproved. Send a pre-approval letter for the lender. It will help if your agent sends a list of comparable sales that support the price you are offering to pay for the home.

Give the Short Sale Lender Time to Respond

Make your offer contingent upon the lender’s acceptance. Give the lender a time frame in which to respond, after which, you will be free to cancel.

Some lenders submit short sales to committee, but most can make a decision within two to three months. The listing agent should have the appropriate contact information for the lender. As a buyer, you cannot contact the lender, so be patient.

Reserve the Right to Conduct Inspections

home-inspection-870x400-768x400Generally, the lender will not allow a seller to pay customary items that a traditional seller would pay. These include home protection plans for the buyer, roof / pest / termite inspections and pest completions. A buyer will be asked to purchase the property “as is,” which means no repairs.

8 Reasons why For Sale By Owner is a Bad Idea

14325968663981. Scams are real.

FSBO scams affect both buyers and sellers. They usually have no recourse other than hiring an attorney to recapture a part of their financial loss. Ask them then how much money they saved by not enlisting the professional help of a Realtor.

Frequent scams include fraudulent papers (loan documents and appraisals) foreign buyer deposits, third party purchases, and asking for certain personal information.

2. Sellers take on all liability.

Making mistakes is human. A seller or buyer that does not obtain the guidance of a licensed real estate agent (or better yet a Realtor) pays for those mistakes. Lawyers can bring a real estate transaction to a close, but they usually do not carry errors and omissions (E&O) insurance.

So if a homeowner lists “hardwood floors” as a feature, and the buyer subsequently uncovers that it is a wood veneer, then the homeowner is going to pay for that mistake most likely.

A Realtor should have caught that mistake before it could have any negative consequence, or it would have been covered with E&O insurance. As our culture increasingly becomes litigious, this additional exposure paints an even larger target on you.

3. Intimidating paperwork.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers stated that understanding paperwork was one of the most challenging tasks for FSBO’s.

In Florida, there are a number of legal forms that are required along the way to a successful closing.  These include a sales contract, property disclosures, occupancy agreements, and lead paint records.

Of course in this internet age, generic contracts can be purchased easily enough.  However, an untrained seller probably won’t understand what all of the language means to them in their specific situation.

4. Sellers can get bogged down in a bad deal. 

FSBO’s who commit to a deal only to subsequently realize a mistake are stuck.  They are obligated to pay the buyer (if the buyer is willing) to get out of the contract, or they will have to stick with the bad deal.

5. FSBO’s sell for less.

According to a NAR study, in 2015 the median FSBO sold for approximately 16% less than the median home listed with a Realtor.

The fact is that homeowners trying to sell by themselves simply do not have the proper time to devote to the sales process, nor do they have the valuation data and marketing strategy.

6. FSBO’s get stagnant.

FSBO’s have the privilege of spending more time on the market than homes listed with a Realtor.  In general that leads to a lower eventual selling price.  On average, 18% of FSBO’s were unable to sell within their chosen time frame in 2015.

7. Limited marketing.

By definition, FSBO’s have limited resources to market their home.  The 2015 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers states that 42% relied on a yard sign, 32% relied on friends and family, and 15% used social mediaHidden costs pile up.

Saving money is the motivation for most FSBO’s.  It may take some time for them to realize it, but chances are that these sellers are being nickel and dimed along the way to a sizeable amount of money.

If they want to be proactive, they are going to be paying for signage, flyers, photography, listing on the local MLS, lawyers, optional home warranties, home inspections, credit reports on potential buyers possibly, contracts, etc.

8. Time is money. 

If they are lucky, the biggest cost to the FSBO is their own time.



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.



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,, Trualia, Yahoo! Real Estate,, 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.