Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 107

Homeowners Associations - Pros and Cons

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

You’ve found your dream home!  The neighborhood is lovely, with well-kept lawns and freshly painted exteriors. There is a resort-like pool and a playground for the kids.  Awesome. Oh, and there is a Homeowners Association that will cost you $500 a month.  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  It’s important to be informed about the pros and cons of living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association (HOA).

Pro - The neighborhood will look nice.  Most HOAs establish rules for residents that ensure keeping up the appearance of the neighborhood.  The guidelines might include keeping lawns manicured, whether you can have a fence (and the type and color of the fence), and what exterior paint colors you can use.  You may even have to get permission to remove or add trees and shrubs.

Con - HOA dues.  They can be expensive, sometimes as much as $1,000 per month depending on what amenities are offered.  These fees need to be taken into consideration when deciding if you can afford a house in the neighborhood.  They will be included in your mortgage lender’s assessment of your Monthly Mortgage Payment,  so you will have to qualify for a loan amount that includes them.

Pro - Awesome amenities.  You will enjoy the amenities that come with your HOA fees.  Most HOAs offer luxuries such as a pool, a fitness center, play areas, parks and security gates.  That’s in addition to covering the expenses of landscaping and maintenance of the common areas.

Con - Needing permission to make changes to your property.  If you want to add a room to your home or modify it in some way, you will have to make a request that will go before the HOA board for approval.  If they don’t approve it, you will not be able to make the changes you want.

Pro - Maintenance costs are shared.  You won’t have to worry about the upkeep of the pool, fitness center or common areas.

Con - HOA financial problems could become your problem.  If your HOA is struggling financially, it could damage your ability to obtain a loan for a home and it could be detrimental to home sale prices in the community.

Pro - An HOA will handle disputes between neighbors.  If someone has a dog barking at all hours or loud parties, you can contact the HOA and they will contact the neighbor; especially if HOA rules are being broken.

Con - Keeping up with the dues.  If you fall behind on your HOA dues, it can do great harm to you financially.  You may even end up facing foreclosure. That’s why it is crucial that you include the fees when determining if you can afford a house or not.  You may also be subject to late fees if you don’t pay on time.  In addition, HOAs can fine you for not following guidelines and rules, so it’s imperative that you can afford the upkeep required for living in the neighborhood.

It’s vital that you make sure to consider all these pros and cons before deciding to purchase a home in a neighborhood with an HOA.

Are you ready to SELL your home?  Call the TAMPA BAY real estate professionals, Linda & Craig Nowicke, at Tampa Realty Now and let them assist you in getting your home STAGED and SOLD for the highest possible price!  CALL THEM TODAY at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030.

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Luxurious Laundry Rooms

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

The laundry room is probably not the first space you think of when you hear the word luxurious.  But face it, it IS a room you spend a lot of time in.  Doing laundry is a necessary part of life, so why not make it more appealing by creating a comfortable, practical and pretty environment that will make it feel less like a chore and more like a pleasant task. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your laundry room a calm and soothing work space.  There are opulent touches you can add that will improve your disposition while performing the essential duties of washing, drying, folding and ironing.

  • Paint the room in a soft, neutral color - choose from greens, blues or yellows.
  • Hang some art on the walls.  Pick pieces that you love or are meaningful to you. You don’t have to spend a lot of money…just choose paintings or pictures that bring you joy. You can find inexpensive art at ART.COM.
  • If you lack storage in your laundry room, add some simple shelves with clean lines.  Get some clear containers for your detergent, fabric softener sheets, clothes pins etc. so you can dispose of the unsightly bags and boxes they come in.
  • Use baskets or bins to pre-sort clothes into whites, colors, sheets, towels etc.
  • If your laundry room is spacious, create a Folding Area .  You can have a table, or if you are using front loading machines, design a counter to go on top of them.  Add a small, wall-mounted television and a comfy chair, and folding clothes won’t seem so boring anymore.
  • Add a small vase with fresh flowers.  Being amidst the beauty of nature will make you feel better about being stuck indoors doing laundry!
  • Remember, guests are not likely to see your laundry room, so make it all about YOU.  Be funky and unique with your décor and have fun with it!  Before you know it, you will look forward to doing all that washing, drying and folding.  Ok…maybe you won’t look forward to it, but at least you won’t dread it!

Are you ready to SELL your home?  Call the TAMPA BAY real estate professionals, Linda & Craig Nowicke, at Tampa Realty Now and let them assist you in getting your home STAGED and SOLD for the highest possible price!  CALL THEM TODAY at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030.

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Sell or Rent - Which Option is Best for You?

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Whether moving for a job or just relocating for personal reasons, you still must decide what to do with your current home.  Should you rent it out?  Or sell it?  There are many circumstances to consider before making that decision.  How long do you have before you move?  What is the housing market doing in your area?  And do you have someone you can trust to manage your property?

Of course, the biggest motivator in your decision is which option will be most financially profitable.   If you have a lot of equity in your house and can sell it, you’ll walk away with some cash to put toward your new home.  If the house is paid off, you’ll walk away with A LOT of cash.  However, if your equity is built up and you have low mortgage payments (or no mortgage payment), you could bring in a substantial monthly income by renting the house for more than your monthly payments.  You do have to consider the costs involved with renting the house out.  If you’re relocating to another town, you will likely have to hire a Property Manager to collect rent and take care of issues that come up.  You might also have to pay to advertise the home.

There are going to be risks involved either way.  If you put the house up for sale, you run the risk of not selling it quickly and possibly ending up with two mortgage payments or a house payment and rent payment on a new place.  But there are also Risks of Renting Out Your Home. There’s a chance you will rent it to people who you think will be good tenants, but wind up paying the rent late or not at all.  There is also the risk that renters will not take care of the house and lower its value.

Another issue to consider is that housing markets can greatly fluctuate from year to year. You must question whether your neighborhood is in the kind of shape to support a quick sale.  If other homes haven’t been selling, for example, you might not get as much for your house as you might if you could wait a year or two and rent it out in the meantime.  On the other hand, if the housing market is hot in your neighborhood, it might just be the best time to take advantage of it and sell to get the best price possible.

Finally, you must think about whether you can afford a new mortgage while you still own the first house.  Per Kiplinger, lenders count about 75 percent of the income you receive from renters when figuring out if they’ll give you a new loan, but that’s only if you have a signed lease and your salary is sufficient to cover the rest of the mortgage requirement.  Selling your house will make it much easier for you to qualify for a new loan.

The bottom line is that, after doing your research, you can decide whether selling or renting is the best and most financially sound choice for you.

If you decide you are ready to sell your home, contact the real estate professionals, Linda & Craig Nowicke,  at Tampa Realty Now and let them assist you in getting your house on the market and sold for the best possible price!  Call them today at 813-675-5030 or 813-728-3880.

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Don’t Let Insects “Bug” You this Summer!

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

This time of year, many of us enjoy spending time outside in our yards. Whether we are playing, dining, doing yardwork or simply relaxing, our time outdoors can be ruined by pesky insects.  There are many remedies for getting rid of the annoying little pests, but if you are looking for natural way to do the job, here are several plants you can put in your yard that will repel unwanted insects.  While they will not guarantee an insect free environment, they will help!

BASIL - Basil repels house flies and mosquitoes.  Use containers for planting basil by your house doors or in any outdoor areas where you like to relax and entertain.  It will serve more than one purpose because you can also use the fresh basil in your cooking!

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LAVENDER - This pretty plant repels moths, fleas, mosquitoes and flies.  Its pleasing, sweet fragrance appeals to humans, but the bugs hate it! You can place bouquets inside your home to keep flies away.  Outdoors, plant it in sunny areas or near the entryways of your house to keep those areas pest free.  Check out the Everything Lavender website to find out how you can use lavender oil to make your own mosquito repellent.

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LEMONGRASS - Lemongrass contains the natural oil, citronella, which is commonly found in candles that are used to keep mosquitoes away.  Ornamental lemongrass can grow up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide in one season.  It is an annual that does well in a pot or in the ground in sunny, well-drained locations.  Its aromatic, narrow leaves can be used in chicken and pork dishes and to flavor soups and salad dressings.  Many Asian recipes call for lemongrass.

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MINT - Another plant that mosquitoes don’t like.  It’s best grown in pots rather than in the ground because it spreads aggressively.  Once established in a garden, it can be difficult to remove.  The leaves can be used to flavor minty iced tea. Containers of mint strategically placed in the garden or on the patio will assist in keeping nearby plants insect free.

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ALLIUMS - If you have a vegetable garden, beautiful, tall alliums will help keep insects out of it.  Considered a broad-spectrum natural insecticide, plants in the Allium family repel several insects that plague vegetable gardens, including slugs, aphids, carrot flies and cabbage worms.

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CHRYSANTHEMUMS - The ingredient in chrysanthemums that makes the so effective as an insect repellent is pyrethrum.  Roaches, ants, Japanese beetles, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, spider mites, harlequin bugs and root-knot nematodes all will avoid chrysanthemums.  Pyrethrum is used in America’s most commonly available home and garden insecticide sprays. You can make your own bug spray using chrysanthemum oil, but make sure you know the risks of using it first. How to Make a Homegrown Chrysanthemum Pest Repellent

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PETUNIAS - These whimsical beauties repel aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers and squash bugs.  Some people think of them as “nature’s pesticide”.  Popular because of their availability in a variety of bright colors, they require minimal maintenance and can be grown in numerous locations including beds, containers and hanging baskets.

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If you are thinking about selling your home this summer, contact the professional Realtors at Tampa Realty Now at 813-675-5030/813-728-3880 and let them assist you today!

The Pros and Cons of Solar Panels

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

If going green is important to you, you have probably considered installing a solar panel system to your home.  While solar is certainly a smart long-term investment that can reduce your solar footprint, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of solar power so you can make the right decision for your home. Making your home more energy efficient is always a good thing, but there are a lot of Solar Power Myths that are communicated via the media. Take time to do your research and educate yourself before purchasing a solar panel system!


-          Lowers electric bills -  This is the top benefit of using solar panels.  With solar power, you are generating your own electricity, thus becoming less reliant on your electric utility company.  This, in turn, reduces your electric bill.  Because solar panel systems generally last 25-30 years, you can save money on your electric bill for decades!

-          Improves the value of your home - Studies have shown that property values often increase after solar is installed.  So, even if you don’t plan on staying in your current home long term, you can still reap the financial benefits of your solar panel investment when you sell.

-          You can actually earn money using solar - Due to many Solar Incentives in the United States, solar panels not only generate bill savings, but also pay off in other ways.  Utilizing these incentives will allow you to be compensated for the electricity that your solar panels generate.

-          It will give you some control over rising energy costs - The cost of electricity has risen by about 5% over the past decade and that trend of rising electric costs is expected to continue.  However, the cost of solar has decreased more than 70% over the same ten years.  By installing solar panels now, you will avoid rising energy costs!

-          It reduces your carbon footprint and moves our country toward energy independence - This is what it’s all about, right?  Saving money is a wonderful thing, but saving our planet…that’s priceless. Using solar power benefits our environment and at the same time, moves our country toward transitioning away from fossil fuels and being heavily reliant on fossil fuel producers abroad.


-          Solar panels don’t work on every type of roof -  Because of the way solar panels are installed, not every type of roof will support them.  If you have an older or historic home that has a roof made from slate or cedar tiles, it can be challenging for solar to be installed.  Skylights and rooftop decks can also make solar installation difficult and costly.  There are other options, such as ground mounted solar panels or buying a share in a Community Solar Garden.  So, even if you can’t have panels installed on your roof, you can still take advantage of solar energy.

-          You may not get a return on your investment if you’re about to move - While solar is a great financial investment, it does take a while to break even on it.  If you’re planning to move within a few years, you may feel like they are an unworthy investment.  However, as stated in the pros above, solar does increase the value of your home.  So, if you buy your system with cash or a loan, you can still earn your money back when you sell your home.

-          If you already have low electric costs, your solar savings will be low as well -  Some people live in areas that low electric costs to begin with and in those cases a solar panel system won’t be nearly as attractive as it is to someone who pays a high electric rate.

-          Upfront costs can be intimidating -  The total out-of-pocket price for a solar panel system depends on many things, including tax credits, rebates, and the financing you use.  But the upfront cost can seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t qualify for a Zero-Down Solar Loan.  Many people will not even consider solar panels because they feel they just can’t afford the cost.  That’s why it’s important to do research and find out about solar financing options.

While rooftop solar panels aren’t the right choice for everyone, they clearly do provide many benefits to homeowners.  Going green and decreasing your carbon footprint can be done in many ways.  With our country moving toward clean energy, solar is one of the most consumer- friendly options.

If you’re thinking about selling your home now or in the future, the professionals at Tampa Realty Now can help you determine the value of installing solar panels.  Give them a call at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030 and let them answer your questions today!

Get Organized Before Listing Your Home for Sale!

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

If you are planning to put your house on the market, there is no time like the present to start getting organized for the process of staging, showing and moving out of your home.

Begin now by following the tips listed below and you won’t feel so overwhelmed when it’s time for that first open house!

-          Eliminate Piles before you sell.  Some of us suffer from Flat Surface Syndrome.  If there is a flat surface, it’s covered with “stuff”.  Now is the time to eliminate any of the “stuff” cluttering the horizontal surfaces in your home. Things such as mail, magazines and other odds and ends that are piled on the tops of tables, desks and shelves should be removed. 

-          Clear out storage areas.  If your closets, bookcases, pantry, and other storage areas are overstuffed, this is a red flag for potential buyers that screams, “not enough storage!”.  Keeping a minimum number of items in your house will leave the impression that there is a generous amount of storage in your home.

-          Get rid of excess. Eliminate or pack up items that you won’t need before you move.  For example, only keep enough dishes, towels, sheets, toys etc. that you will use during the time your house is for sale. Why have ten sets of sheets in your linen closet when you will only need one or two?

-          Remove seasonal items.  Pack away things that are only used during other seasons.  If you are selling in the fall/winter, pack away your spring/summer clothes.  You can also pack away off-season holiday items. 

-          Throw things away. If it’s worn out, broken, rusty, stained, torn or incomplete, it is time to let it go.  If your belongings look shabby and old, your house will look that way too.  Don’t hesitate to throw such items away.

-          Donate items you no longer want or need.  When you are cleaning and sorting items, if you come across things that you don’t use now and won’t use in a new home, donate them.  There is no point in packing and moving something you will never use.  But if it’s in good shape, someone else will get use out of it.

-          Sell before you sell. If you find that you have many items to eliminate from your home, think about selling what you don’t store, throw away or donate.  You can sell at a yard sale, bring items to a consignment shop, or list items online.  But have reasonable expectations regarding how much money you can make; don’t overprice.  Remember the goal is to dispose of as many things as possible.

-          Rent a storage unit.  Move large items/equipment that you don’t use often to a storage unit.  It can also provide space for packed boxes to give you a head start in preparing for your move. Check out SpareFoot to find self-storage unit options in the Tampa area.

-          Improve curb appeal.  Remove any clutter (toys, lawn ornaments, garbage bins) from your yard.  The outdoor spaces provide the first and last impression for potential buyers and as such, it is important that they look neat and tidy.

Moving can be stressful, so don’t wait to start preparing.  Get a head start before putting your house on the market!  When you’re ready, call the professionals at Tampa Realty Now at 813-728-3880 or 831-675-5030 to take care of all your real estate needs!

Save Money by Making Your Home More Energy Efficient in Tampa, FL

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Making your home more energy efficient is a cost-effective way to not only save money but to also improve the performance of your home.  The most effective strategy for improving your home’s energy efficiency is to focus on the “shell” of the house…the walls, attic, windows and doors.  Next, improve the energy efficiency of systems such as heating, cooling, lighting and appliances.  Last, but not least, consider clean energy generation such as solar or geothermal.

The first step toward energy efficiency is to make sure that your walls and attic are well insulated. High quality insulation slows the rate that heat flows out of the house in the winter or into the house in the summer.  That means it takes less energy to heat or cool your house.  If your walls have no insulation, it will certainly pay off to have blown-in insulation and it will also improve the comfort of your home.  If you have an unfinished attic, it is worthwhile to upgrade its insulation.  It is a good idea to use an Energy Auditor to make sure that the insulation is installed properly.

The next step is to upgrade or replace windows. If your windows are old or leaky, it is time to replace them with energy efficient models or to increase their efficiency by using weather stripping and storm windows.  While it’s not usually cost-effective to replace windows just to save energy, if you are going to replace them anyway, the additional cost of Energy Star-rated replacement windows is very modest and is a comfort improving upgrade that is worth the cost. 

Another way to save some energy in your home is to plant shade trees and shrubs around your house.  If you have an older home with poor insulation and windows, good landscaping can help, especially if planted on the house’s west side. Deciduous trees are the best way to go for this purpose.  During the summer, the foliage will block the infrared radiation that would warm the house, while in the winter the bare branches will let the radiation through.

Replacing an older HVAC system with a new high-efficiency system may seem like a huge expense, but in the long run it will save energy and money. 

You can improve the efficiency of your hot water system by turning down the temperature of your water heater to the “warm” setting (120 degrees F).  You can also insulate your hot water lines so that they don’t cool off as quickly between uses. And using low-flow fixtures in your showers and baths will help as well.

You can use ¾ of the energy used with incandescent light bulbs by replacing them with LEDs.  You may not realize that the cost of the electricity used to run a light bulb is more than the cost of the bulb itself.  A LED may be a little more expensive than the traditional light bulb, but it will save money & last 1000s of hours.

You can save money with an energy efficient home in many ways, including the tax benefits that are available to you.  Federal tax incentives are out there for energy efficiency upgrades to existing homes. 

Our Fit To Sell Series will help sellers identify and address key issues that could turn off potential buyers. Find out what could make the difference in getting top dollar for your home while selling it faster.

Check out our OFF THE GRID listing with a whole house Vivant Mosaic Solar System!


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Make Your Home More Desirable to Buyers in 2018!

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

With new trends endlessly popping up, it can be challenging to decide what home design projects are worth your time and money.  It will serve you well to research what trends are timeless and what trends have gone by the wayside before investing in updating your home, especially if you are getting ready to put it on the market.  To simplify that process for you, here is a list of five of the hottest home design projects for 2018!

 - Vibrant Color Schemes: While neutral colors such as beige and gray are still trendy, bright colors are making a comeback!  Consider creating an accent wall or using colorful accessories to give your room a splash of brightness.

 - Minimalist Furniture: Keeping it simple and elegant is the way to go in 2018. Less is more and furniture with clean lines and easy to care for finishes will please the minimalist in everyone.

 - Quartz.  It looks like quartz is a trend that is here to stay, and for good reasons. Quartz stands the test of time, looks fabulous and is easy to maintain. Quartz countertops  show well and will impress potential buyers. 

 - Metallic Accents: These shiny accents are a hot décor trend that will continue in 2018. But be careful not to overdo it!  Give rooms a luxurious look by  adding a few metallic accents here and there.

These are just a few of many home design trends that can make your home more desirable to homebuyers this year!

THIS HOME IS OFF THE GRID!! NO ELECTRIC BILLS THANKS TO NEW, WHOLE HOUSE VIVANT MOSAIC SOLAR SYSTEM (a $30K value)!! Charming 1-story, 3 bedroom, 2 Bath, PLUS BONUS ROOM, 2-car garage home has a completely fenced backyard! NEW EXTERIOR PAINT in 2017 offers loads of curb appeal in a cul-de-sac! The GREAT ROOM plan with built-ins, cathedral ceilings & easy-care tile blends seamlessly with the kitchen with acres of counter space, oodles of 42" cabinets, full appliance package, ISLAND & closet pantry! A separate dining space adjacent to the foyer features double FRENCH DOORS. A BONUS ROOM makes a perfect home office or playroom! The master bedroom offers wood floors, cathedral ceilings & ceiling fan. The master bath features a space-saving pocket door, new dual sinks & faucets, maple cabinets, a walk-in closet, garden tub & separate walk-in shower! Bedrooms 2 & 3 share a sparkling full bath. The extended, screened lanai overlooks the spacious backyard & is the perfect spot to Barbeque & entertain! Extras include a NEW 15.5 SEER A/C, hot water heater, garbage disposal & all sinks, fabric storm shield for all windows & doors, pull-down stairs in the garage, gutters & downspouts & a sprinkler system! Plantation Palms offers 18 HOLES OF CHAMPIONSHIP GOLF, the on-site, full-service Mulligan’s Restaurant, LIGHTED DRIVING RANGE & MINIATURE GOLF! Just minutes to the LAND O LAKES SPORTS COMPLEX with POOL, public library, PUBLIX, & Tampa Premium Outlet Mall! Easy access to the Vet's X-Way & Tampa International Airport!

For more information, please call Linda Nowicke at 813-413-4343; email; or visit our web site at

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Tax Changes for Homeowners

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

This time of year, many people start thinking about doing their taxes.  It’s a dreaded task for some, but a necessary one that we all must do.  One of the perks of being a homeowner is that it provides the benefit of some tax deductions.  All homeowners should be aware of these tax perks to take advantage of them and maximize their financial savings.  Recently, a government overhaul of U.S. tax laws included changes that affect homeowners.  While these changes will not be in place for the 2017 tax year, it is wise to be prepared for how they will affect your 2018 taxes.

 - Mortgage Interest Deductions

The mortgage interest tax deduction is considered a way to make homeownership more affordable.  Qualifying homeowners can reduce their taxable income by the amount of mortgage interest they pay.  Currently, you may deduct the interest you pay on mortgage debt up to $1 million ($500,000 if married and filing separately) on your primary home and a second home.  Beginning in 2018, for homes purchased December 15, 2017 and after, the numbers change to $750,000 ($375,000 if married and filing separately).  There is an exception in the new tax law that allows for a refinanced mortgage loan to be given the old loan’s origination date. This means if the old loan originated prior to December 15, 2017, the old limit of $1 million would apply.

 - Property Tax Deduction

The tax law through 2017 allowed homeowners to reduce their taxable income by the total amount of property taxes they paid.  Starting next year, the deduction will be limited to a total of $10,000 for the combination of the cost of property taxes, state and local income taxes or sales taxes.

 - Home Equity Deduction

Up through your 2017 tax return, the tax law allowed for an added deduction for interest paid on home equity debt “for reasons other than to buy, build, or substantially improve your home.”  In other words, if you took out a home equity line of credit to do something like pay tuition, the interest you paid on that line of credit was tax-deductible.  Starting next year, this deduction will be eliminated.

 - Mortgage Interest Deduction for Second Homes

As stated above, you may deduct interest on mortgage debt on both your primary home and a second home.  The new law changes this a bit for 2018.  It reduces the amount of eligible mortgage debt from $1 million to $750,000.

 - Moving Expenses

While it was a complicated process that involved criteria such as distance and timing of a move, up through this year the tax law allowed you to deduct some moving expenses if you moved for a new job.  Starting in 2018, only active-duty members of the armed forces will be allowed to deduct moving expenses.

If you find the tax laws confusing, you are not alone. It is smart to ask a reputable accountant any questions you may have so that you can maximize the tax perks of being a homeowner!

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Photo of Linda and Craig Nowicke Real Estate
Linda and Craig Nowicke
RE/MAX ACR Elite Group
14823 N. Dale Mabry
Tampa FL 33618
Linda: 813-728-3880
Craig: 813-675-5030
Fax: 813-413-4343

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