The 6 Steps to Purchasing the Perfect Florida Keys Vacation Home

It’s very common for northerners who fall in love with the Florida Keys to buy a second home here where they eventually plan to retire. Many put their homes on the market as vacation rentals; others keep them exclusively for their own vacation use. Regardless of your plan there are some basic things that you should know as you go through the process of purchasing your vacation home.

Price Range

Goes without saying that the first step is know what you can afford. If you budget is $500,000 then you can narrow down your search to areas or communities that are in your price range. Since this is not the first house you have ever purchased then you realize that you only want to invest your time looking at locations that are in your budget. It is important to let your Real Estate agent know this so they can present homes that are best suited for you.


Go on Vacation and Come Back with a Second Home?

When you visit a someplace like the Florida Keys and fall in love with a destination, it’s easy to be start thinking about buying a property for retirement or as a vacation home. Of course, you don’t want to be impulsive and buy without doing more research, but your vacation is a great time to start the process of looking at homes and getting familiar with the real estate market.

You will want to decide whether you will keep the home for your own vacations, for example, or whether you want to rent the home to other vacationers when you’re not using it. If you decide you want to rent your home out before retirement or when you’re not on vacation yourself, that will influence the home you purchase, since you will want to make sure you maximize the rental potential of your purchase.

Consulting with a real estate firm that also rents and manages properties can give you some inside information you might not get from a agency that only sells property.   A rental management company can tell you how many beds/bedrooms you need, for example, says Lisa Joseph of Key Colony Beach Rentals. Your ideal retirement home may sleep only 4, but the most popular rentals sleep 6-8, on average.

Location may also play a major factor. In the Florida Keys, for example, rentals that have Ocean access for deep sea fishing are more popular than those with only Gulf access.


Don’t Get Engaged on the First Date

This goes along with buying on impulse, but there is a little more to this. You visit a location for a week or two, maybe even multiple years in a row, so you are ready to buy, right? Not necessarily, many locations have a completely different feel off-season. It would be a good idea to visit off season, get to know some locals and really get to know the local culture of the area not just the tourist view of the area. A couple conversations with some of the locals and you can get a good feel for the area.


Find a Local Real Estate Agent

Although your friend Bob back home in Massachusetts just picked up his Florida license to sell Real Estate to all of his buddies that are buying retirement homes, you may want to pass on having Bob help you. Although Bob has been your friend forever and he even sold you the home you have lived in for the last 30 years, but Bob doesn’t know the local Real Estate market like an agent that works and lives in the location you want to buy. Find a local agent in the Keys here



The best advice is shop around, check local banks in the area where you are buying, large mortgage companies and maybe even an online lender. Weigh the options with your financial advisor as to the best options for your personal financial situation. Depending on your portfolio it may make more sense to use your investments to purchase the home than to finance.


Tax Benefits and Consequences

According to TurboTax there are several important tax implications involved with purchasing a second home.

  • Tax breaks to encourage buying a second home
  • Mortgage interest deduction on a second home
  • Deductible property taxes on a second home
  • Tax free income for renting your second home out for less than 15 days a year
  • Possible tax free profits, by changing your principal residence

Learn more about these benefits and possible tax consequences at

Scrambling to Refi Before Rates Go Up? Your Appraisal May Be a Key Factor.

Mortgage rates are threatening to rise above historic lows – especially
with the Fed’s announcement Wednesday that it may no longer be “patient”
with a rate hike – so many homeowners will be scrambling to refinance
this spring. If you’re one of those folks, it is important to realize
that whether or not it will work to your advantage depends, in part, on whether
your home will appraise. In many areas of the US real estate prices are not
back up to pre-2008 levels, and that can make that your chances of a refinance
hinges on the appraisal of your property.

Although an appraiser is, theoretically, a disinterested third party, he or
she will protect the bank or the lender by ensuring that the loan amount you
get is not worth more than the value of your property. In the event of a foreclosure,
the lender must be able to resell your home and get the money back.

There are alternatives – if you don’t think your home will appraise
, you may be able to arrange refinancing that doesn’t require a
formal appraisal. These are the Federal Housing Administration’s streamline
finance, Home Affordable Refinance Program, and the Veterans Administration’s
Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan.

I Don’t Qualify: I’ll Need a Home Appraisal!

If you don’t qualify for any of these, the good news is there are ways to make
the most of home appraisal. It is just a matter of knowing what to expect throughout
the process.

Inside and outside inspection

An appraiser usually just takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to come up with a home
valuation, but it can take longer if your house is very large. Within this period,
he or she will check the exterior of your home, take measurements and pictures,
and walk through each room in your home. Here are some ideas from 7
Sure-Fire Tips for Getting the Most out of your Home Appraisal

Check on home features

Certain features of your home can have an impact on your property’s appraisal
value, these include the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the type of flooring
used, heating and cooling, and the existence of other amenities such as a swimming
pool or fireplace. Find out which elements can increase property value and use
them to your advantage, which usually include renovating the kitchen and bathroom,
landscaping, using wood flooring, and adding an enclosed garage.

A look into your home’s condition and quality

If there are distressed properties in your neighborhood, make sure your home
stands out above them. Iif you want to raise the financial value your home,
you should carry out updates and improvements that add the most value. Make
sure to make sure the appraiser is aware of every improvement you made to the
property. The smart home owner will document all changes and upgrades made to
the home with before and after photos and make the photos available to the appraiser.

In addition, be prepared to answer certain questions about when you bought
your home, the improvements you’ve carried out since you purchased the property,
any appliances or features that work and don’t work, and other questions that
are related to the appraisal.

You should also research about other properties that make a good comparison
with yours. Avoid choosing dissimilar homes, as an appraiser will understand
which are comparable homes and which are not. Sometimes, finding similar homes
can be a challenge. Strong research on average per square foot values can help
with such an appraisal, and you may need the help of a good Realtor to help
you find out what’s going on in your neighborhood. Real estate agents are usually
happy to help, since you may list with them in the future if they help you now.

Sell Your Home Fast: Nail the Price and Get Sufficient Exposure

The nuts and bolts of selling a home are actually quite simple. You may be stressed to the limit at the thought of putting your home on the market but success is just around the corner if you focus on two straightforward steps.

  1. Set the Right Price
  2. Get your home shown to Qualified Buyers

The correct price and adequate exposure. That’s it. That’s all you need to sell a house.

Let’s put it this way: if your Realtor is getting qualified buyers through the door, but you aren’t getting any offers, there is something wrong with your price. It’s that simple, says luxury real estate broker Scott Forman of Royal Palms Realty in Key West, Florida.

Finding the Sweet Spot: What’s my perfect price?

Balancing your wish to attract an offer as soon as possible while maximizing overall profit is a whole lot easier than you might think.

Professional appraisers and realtors aren’t rocket scientists; they simply apply a time-tested methodology for determining market value: “comparables.”

A “comparable” is any other home in the general area of your property that is similar in age, size, condition and amenities. No two homes are exactly alike, of course, but comparables are meant to provide a ball park figure and not the end all be all final price.

Your Realtor will advise you on a course of action but it’s always best to ask for a personal copy of the listings used for their analysis.

You will want to look over “Sold Listings” to find out what homes like yours have sold for recently in your area and to see how long on average properties sit on the market prior to closing.

“Active Listings” illuminate a picture of your current competition. It’s worth your time to take a drive and visit some of the houses on the market at this time to see how your property stacks up mano a mano.

“Expired Listings” are homes that didn’t sell. Period. Use these numbers as a guide for avoiding the dreaded overpricing of your property.

Remember that your final price will also include an “instinctual” element. Ask your realtor about current trends in your neighborhood to determine whether a bump up or a dip down in price is warranted.

Beware: Overpriced Homes Sell for Less

Sellers who fall into the web of an ambitious new agent often wind up listing their property well above the going rate.

How does this happen?

It’s simple. In an effort to win your business a realtor will quote you a very favorable price they’re sure to fetch for your property.

But it never works out – and here’s why:

Buyers and buyer agents are inclined to ignore hot new listings that are clearly reaching with their listing price. This means that overpriced home tend to sit on the market until their listing goes stale.

A stale listing begins to pick up negative energy as buyers start to wonder “What’s wrong with the house that just won’t sell?”

By the time the price is adjusted back down to reality it’s too late. Often home sellers must pull the property off the market to list again in the future or they are forced to actually sell the house for less than they would have brought in had they listed a reasonable price from the get go.

Getting Proper Exposure is as Easy as Hiring the Right Agent

There are a million and one resources out there for maximizing the exposure of your listing. The reality, though, is that even with internet sites, social media and all sorts of other FSBO outlets you’re almost always better off hiring a realtor to sell your home.

A qualified agent with professional contacts and experience marketing your type of property in your specific location is worth his or her weight in gold.

Interview any prospective realtor to find out what their marketing approach would be should they list your home. Does it entail both online and offline strategies? Can they provide evidence of previous listings having sold with similar techniques?

The bottom line is this. Selling your home is as simple as setting the right price and getting qualified buyers to visit your property. More on this topic:

Investing in Italy Luxury Real Estate

Italy is known for its lush countryside, green fields and gently sloping hills, blue skies, and beautiful inlets. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. With its rich cultural and artistic heritage and a pleasant climate, Italy has been a preferred location for construction of luxury real estate.


For those looking to invest in luxury real estate, Italy is thus the best choice. The options are plenty when it comes to location. From Florence, Rome, Venice, to Tuscany or one of the smaller villages on the sea- there is something for suit every taste. The final choice would depend on whether you prefer the hustle of the big city, or the tranquility of the countryside. You’ll have to decide if you wish to be near the sea, or inland.


Investing in Italy Luxury Real Estate gives you access to some of the world’s best wines. Enjoying real Italian food, not from a box or jar is also another great reason. Italy has a sensual old-world charm and you will have plenty of museums and sightseeing to keep you busy.


Most popular regions in Italy where you can buy luxury real estate include the northern lakes, or the Amalfi coast beyond Naples. The Renaissance towns of Tuscany, Umbria, and Le Marché are popular places to settle down. Rome, Milan, and Florence are some of the more expensive cities where you can buy luxury real estate.


Italian real estate is available at a range of prices; meant to suit every budget. You should take an informed decision based on your requirements and budget. If you’re seeking a vast estate with a winery, or a small villa where your servants can also reside, you’re sure to find plenty of property options. A beautiful mansion overlooking a piazza or the sea might also be right for you. Statistics reveal that most people tend to flock around the coastal areas, rather than in farmhouses or apartments in cities.


Italy is filled with picturesque locales and so you can easily find a great property with a fantastic view. Imagine sipping your Italian wine on the terrace with a beautiful expanse of orchards and green rolling hills surrounding you. Some might prefer a classic castle with plenty of rooms for family, servants, and guests.


Luxury real estate isn’t just mansions, villas, or estates either. Rather the choice would depend on a person’s need and purpose. It can be an apartment in the city or one on the Adriatic coast, or on the Mediterranean. For those in love with nature a chalet in the mountains would just be perfect. You’ll be closer to nature, and able to head out for hiking at a moment’s notice. For those with families, a luxury vacation home at the beach might be the best choice.


While looking for properties, carefully consider your requirements first. It will help you to narrow down the choices. Once you start living the high life in your villa, castle, or luxury town home, you’ll wonder why you didn’t move in sooner.

Real Estate Landscape is Slowly Shifting Due to Baby Boomers, According to The Counselors of Real Estate.

Demographic shifts are under way as baby boomers downsize to smaller homes, senior communities and assisted living facilities, according to The Counselors of Real Estate which is a group of 1,000 handpicked individuals, who are considered experts in Real Estate.

Low interest rates are playing a part in this shift, as seniors view this as a great time to downsize, taking advantage of low rates. These lower interest rates are helping the baby boomers sell as well as finance the home they are downsizing to.

Investors, such as “We Buy Homes Philadelphia” are preparing for interest rates to rise, when rate increases occur, “it will devalue future cash flows, thereby devaluing assets,” according The Counselors of Real Estate.


California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing Files Lawsuit Due to Allegations of Prospective Tenant Being Discriminated Against For The Possession of Two Emotional Support Animals

“An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating or mitigating some symptoms of the disability, to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability.” According to Wikipedia.

According to the lawsuit that was filed on July 14th in Orange County Superior Court, a woman and her boyfriend were told they could move in with their dogs without paying a pet deposit. This changed when the apartment manager requested documentation on the tasks that the “service dogs” were able to perform. The manager then informed the prospective tenants that if the dogs did not perform tasks then they would not be allowed to move in.

When asked to respond, a spokesperson for the Real Estate company said that the organization does not comment on active litigation.


Commercial Real Estate Sales and Prices Are Surging, Prompting Concerns About Possible Bubble, According to The WSJ

The Green Street Commercial Property Price Index hit 118 in July, this leading indicator of commercial real estate prices, has been on a steady increase since its low in 2009.

“The value of U.S. commercial real-estate transactions in the first half of 2015 jumped 36% from a year earlier to $225.1 billion, ahead of the pace set in 2006, according to Real Capital.” As published in the Wall Street Journal.

Private equity real estate fundraising has already exceeded $73 billion and is on pace to surpass the highs in 2008.  Many are comparing this to the boom of the mid-2000s, which ended in a bust that affected developers around the world.



21,000 Lung Cancer Deaths Each Year in The U.S., Due to Radon Gas

Radon is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. It is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally as a decay product of radium, according to Wikipedia.

The recommended safe level for radon gas indoors is 4.0 picocuries per liter. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims that those that have extended exposure to a 4.0 pCi/L level of radon has a 7 in 1,000 chance of death, due to lung cancer.

“Wilson, the owner of the home inspection company that tests for radon, said the test for radon takes about 48 hours. The test is installed in a lower living space of the house on a wall that is not close to a window. It usually costs $125 to $150.” As reported by


USA Home Sellers Are in Line for Big Profits This Spring

Home prices in the USA went up by 7 percent in March of 2018, according to the website. This price increase represents the largest monthly gain since May of 2014. People are fighting for available homes, and this is driving up prices. According to a Trulia report, the February supply of existing properties was 3.4 months. This is the lowest level of supply ever for February. The median average cost of a home in February 2018 is over five percent more than last February’s median average price of $241,700.

Home Buyers Need to Spend More

Of course, what’s great for home sellers isn’t such good news for home buyers. Those looking to purchase in the USA are battling one another for properties and many end up paying a lot more than they wished to in order to get on the real estate ladder, upgrade to larger homes or downsize after retirement. Those who want to purchase their first homes are behind the eight ball in spring 2018, as interest rates are rising as home prices also escalate.

Will Interest Rates Continue Rising?

According to the CNN Money website, at the start of this year, a 30-year mortgage of the fixed rate type came with an interest rate of 3.95%. When April commenced, the interest rate for the same form of mortgage was 4.44 percent. This equates to a monthly payment increase of 57 American dollars, for a home valued at a quarter of a million dollars, which was purchased with a 20 percent down payment.

Will Home Prices in the USA Keep Rising?

Yes, they probably will. Most forecasts point in the direction of increasing real estate prices over the long term. According to a report, American home prices are predicted to go up by a cumulative ten percent during 2018 and 2019. This is because new homes will be scarce and demand for new homes is anticipated to increase steadily.

Don’t Forget to Buy Home Insurance

When you consider all of the costs associated with home ownership, which include the mortgage, maintenance costs and power costs, it’s easy to see why increasing interest rates are putting a strain on American home buyers. Home insurance is also important and home buyers shouldn’t skip purchasing it in order to save money. If your home is damaged and you can’t stay there while it’s being repaired, this form of insurance will cover temporary increases in living costs. The team at CNN Money recommend “deep coverage” which covers the cost of replacing your home 100 %.

Knowing the facts is the key to making smart decisions about when to buy properties and when to sell. Commercial real estate prices are also rising, so these real estate price increases are happening across the board in the USA. Home sellers in America are likely to reap big rewards from their real estate investments this year, when they do make the decision to list their properties.


Augmented Reality Set To Overhaul The Real Estate Industry

Findings released fromInternational Data Corp (IDC) have revealed that $27 billion is set to be spent on virtual reality and augmented reality during 2018. With more than 1 million iOS devices active around the world, Sotheby’s have just launched the first ever real estate augmented app which look sets to boost America’s real estate sales. The IDC study projects that the compound annual growth rate of AR and VR products will reach 72% over the next four years as more individuals utilize the technology to envisage the inside of their dream home.

Why augmented reality works in real estate

There are so many ways that AR works in the real estate industry. It is most commonly used to provide clients with an interactive tour of a property, however, the latest technology is making it even better. Now, when you view a home in America, you have the option of placing pieces of furniture, moving walls and decorating your potential home via your iOS device. Statistics from estimate that fewer than 5% of the population are capable of envisaging spacial change. Therefore, more than 95% of individuals will benefit from using AR technology when purchasing a home, making the whole process easier for sellers, buyers, and realtors.

How the real estate market will benefit

Technology giant, Apple, has invested heavily in their AR infrastructure. Their newest update allows two people to see identical virtual objects at the same time. Apple describes the technology as “transformational” as it will allow agents to comment and discuss the property with their client from a different location as they are actively viewing it. This can only benefit the real estate industry as it means sellers are free to look around property at their own leisure without feeling rushed by an agent who needs to get to their next appointment. It also allows them ample time to create and change the design and layout they want via AR.

Relief for sellers

During April, house sales in America dropped 2.5%, according to The National Association of Realtors. April also saw the median house price grow for the 74th month in a row and the average selling price is now a staggering $257,900. With house prices sky high, many experts predict that growth will stagnate sometime soon. Obviously, sellers won’t want to see their house price fall, but augmented reality will help to encourage buyers to buy sooner rather than later which will be a monetary relief to property owners. As buyers will be able to visualize their belongings, the layout and color design they desire via AR, they’ll be more likely to put an offer in there and then rather than mull it over, which often results in seller having to lower their asking price to tempt buyers back.

Augmented reality is the technology of the future which will overhaul the real estate industry for the better. The majority of the population will benefit from being able to visualize their own design when looking at property, while realtors will be able to discuss the property with their client from any location. Sellers can breathe a huge sigh of relief, too, as sales should be swifter and quicker.