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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!

The Perks of Downsizing

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Have you recently become an empty nester with a home spacious enough for a large family?  Maybe it’s time to consider downsizing.  There are numerous perks to downsizing to a smaller home:

  • Saving Money. You will not only save on your monthly mortgage payment in a smaller home, you will also save money on frivolous living.  One of the advantages of downsizing your home is that you can stop wasting money on furniture, and home décor that are used to fill space rather than to fulfill a function.  Filling a smaller space will allow you to prioritize what items are important and necessary for you.
  • Less Stress.  After working hard all week to pay the bills, it’s no fun to have to spend your weekend doing chores.  A smaller home equals fewer chores and less upkeep. This will free up time for leisure activities for enjoyment and relaxation.
  • Save energy. If you live in a large home, you know that energy costs can be expensive.  Smaller homes will not only save you money on heating, cooling and water costs, it will also allow you to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Free time for travel.  With additional disposable income and less upkeep needed, a smaller home will afford you the time and cash for travel and adventure.  Weekend getaways or even long trips are less of a hassle now that you don’t have to worry about being house-poor.
  • A new beginning. Downsizing can be the beginning of a new chapter in your life.  If being an empty nester has you feeling down, a lifestyle change might be just what you need to start focusing on how you want to spend your time, money and energy. 

If you are thinking about downsizing, the professionals at Tampa Realty Now can help you get your current home on the market and sold.  We can also help you find your new home.  Now is a great time for new beginnings, so call today! (813) 413-4343

Modern or Contemporary? How to Tell the Difference

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

So, you think you like modern décor, or is it contemporary?  You may think the two styles are synonymous, but they are quite different.  If you are decorating your home, or if you’ve hired a decorator to do it for you, terminology matters!  It’s important to know the correct words to describe the look you are going for!  Here is how to tell the difference between modern and contemporary home décor styles.

Modern design was developed in the early to mid-twentieth century.  Highly influenced by Scandinavian and German Bauhaus design, it created a distinct style focused on simple form and function.  Then mid-century modern was developed in the 50s and 60s, but for most interior designers, the word “modern” covers both styles.  Modern spaces tend to follow specific style formats that emphasize balance and lean toward natural and warm neutral colors for decorating.

Contemporary design doesn’t refer to any specific time period. It is dynamic, changing to reflect current popular trends.  It borrows from other styles including modernism, minimalism and art deco. There are many variations in contemporary interior design and color palettes of brown, taupe, cream and white are featured, with splashes of color sometimes found on a single wall, rug or piece of art.

While the main differences between modern and contemporary are significant, there are similarities as well, which is why people often confuse them.  They both embrace simple, clutter free spaces with smooth, clean lines.  Furniture in both styles feature exposed legs, and reflective surfaces such as exposed metals and glass are popular in both. Neither utilizes ornate designs or dramatic elements.

Hopefully this has cleared up some confusion, but if you like elements of both styles, don’t despair.  Mix it up and have fun with it, because at the end of the day, the only style that matters is YOUR style!

Tips for Hosting Guests During the Holidays

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  A time for friends and family to come together to celebrate the holidays.  Many will be hosting guests in their homes over the next two months and while they are surely delighted to spend time with their loved ones, it can be a stressful time as well.  If you are opening your doors to family members or friends this holiday season, here are some ideas for prepping your home so that you’ll be ready to welcome them with open arms.

Tidy up the house.  Use this as motivation to thoroughly clean your house.  Get rid of clutter, make small house repairs and complete that decorating project you’ve been putting off.

Stock up on food and drinks. Make sure you have different types of beverages and snacks that your guests enjoy. It’s nice for them to be able to easily grab a quick snack whenever they want.

Have activities planned for your guests. Depending on how long they are staying, you may want to plan some special events or activities for your guests.  Whether it’s a shopping excursion, a day at a museum, a holiday concert or just a nice dinner out, your visitors will appreciate your thoughtfulness in keeping them entertained. Click here for a list of fun events happening in the Tampa area this holiday season: Holiday Events

Be mindful of the little ones. If your guests include children, be sure to plan for them as well.  If you don’t have children, you may want to pick up a game or some arts and crafts to have around for them.  Find out their food preferences prior to their arrival so that you are prepared to accommodate them at meals. 

Provide comfortable sleeping spaces. Be sure to have nice, clean sheets, pillows and extra blankets.  If you have a guest bedroom that has not been used in a while, strip the bed and wash the bed linens so that they are fresh for your guests.  Check out this link for how to create a peaceful retreat for your guests.


Provide toiletries.  The guest bathroom should have soap/body wash, shampoo, conditioner and lotion available for guests.  Guest Bathroom Toiletries 

Give instructions for electronics. If the guest room has a television, leave written instructions for how to use the remote.


By following these tips and prepping your home ahead of time, you will be able to offer a warm welcome to your guests and enjoy the time you have with them!

Advantages of being in a Homeowners Associations

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

There are many positive aspects of living in a neighborhood that is governed by a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). Finding the right one for you and your family may take some research, but if you’re looking for a managed area, it could save some headache in the end.

            What is an HOA?

●     And HOA is an organization that creates and enforces rules in a subdivision or condominium. When you purchase a home in an HOA community, you are, by default, a member of that HOA, and must pay fees and follow their bylaws.

●     Most HOA’s now have their information, some complete with neighborhood photo galleries, available online, making it easy to start your research.

●     Fees and their due dates vary by neighborhood, depending on amenities.

●     Research the amenities that a neighborhood's HOA focuses on.  Whether it’s community beautification, a neighborhood gathering place, or a neighborhood walking path and gym, there are many options available.

●     After you look at the qualities of an HOA and narrow down which ones you like best, find out what the fees are and how they’re paid.  HOA fees can be high, but in comparison with what amenities they offer, it could save you money in the end.

●     Most HOA’s have rules and regulations that go beyond your local municipality.  These bylaws are in place to protect your property value, and maintain a certain quality of life for the homeowners.


            HOA Benefits

●     The amenities that some HOA communities offer can save a member money in the end.  A community center means a gathering place for members, saving rental fees for party venues. A walking track or swimming pool can save residents from joining private gyms and health clubs.

●     HOA neighborhoods in general are more appealing aesthetically, because member fees go towards keeping the common areas clean and landscaped.

●     Some HOA organizations provide security, trash pick-up, pest control, as well as street sweeping and snow removal. Your property is your responsibility, but the shared areas are taken care of.

●     If you choose to live in a condominium community, the organization usually handles all landscape maintenance, as well as exterior home maintenance: for instance, if a shutter blows off the building, it’s taken care of.  All the homeowner needs to do is notify someone on the property management board, and they handle the rest.

●     The community organization board members live in the neighborhood, so they are aware of needs specific to the area, and can better handle solutions to any problems.

●     Homes in HOA neighborhoods protect your investment in a fluctuating market because of their home-maintenance regulations.


Don’t let bad press shy you away from considering a home in an HOA.  If a house you absolutely love is in an organized community, do careful research, talk to residents in the community, then make your decision.  There are many different aspects to different organizations, and finding the right one for you and your family just takes a little research and thought.

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The 50-20-30 Rule - Creating a Budget You Can Live With

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

If you are new to budgeting, managing your money may seem complicated and overwhelming.  You not only have to be organized, but you must make challenging decisions about how to spend your money.  Don’t despair! There is good news for you.  You don’t need fancy financial apps on your phone or extensive spreadsheets with dozens of categories to see how your money is being spent.  You simply need to follow the 50-20-30 rule!

The 50-20-30 rule assists you in building a budget by using three spending categories. 

  1. 50% of your income should go to living expenses and essentials including rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries and transportation.
  2. 20% should go to savings, investments and debt-reduction payments.
  3. 30% of your income should be used for flexible spending. This includes everything you buy that you want, but don’t necessarily need such as travel, going out to movies etc.

Remember that the percentages for essentials and flexible spending are the maximum amounts you should spend.  If you use less income in these categories, you will have more to put toward other financial goals.

Here is how to start the 50-20-30 budget. First, determine exactly how much money you bring home each month.  This will be the amount you will base your 50-20-30 split on.  Then track your spending. Every penny of it, from your rent/mortgage payment down to the coffee you stop for on the way to work in the morning.  As you are analyzing your spending, split it into the 50-20-30 categories.  Once you see what you are spending where, you can make the needed adjustments to ensure you are falling into the 50-20-30 parameters.  If you find you are spending too much on things that you want but don’t need, that’s when it is time to cut back.

The 50-20-30 rule works because it provides a simple way to track your spending so that you can pay your bills, add to your savings and have money left over for fun stuff.  It keeps you on the straight and narrow so that you can begin to meet your financial goals.  If you stay the course, you will eventually achieve financial stability.

What to Look for During a Post-Hurricane Home Inspection

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in our neck of the woods, and hopefully your home survived with no apparent damage. But it’s still important that you take the time to carefully look at your house and examine it for damage such as missing shingles or vents plugged by wind-blown debris.  Here is a list of things you should do to complete a post-hurricane home inspection:

-          Check your roof for visible damage. Look carefully at valleys where the roof planes intersect and check anything that comes up through the roof, such as vent stacks.

-          View your dryer vent outlet. Use a flashlight to see if it is clogged with debris from the storm.  Remove any debris that you find.

-          Check gutters and downspouts. They can come loose if a strong wind catches them.  This can result in them eventually swinging loose and doing some real damage. Clean them out if they are clogged.

-          Examine your exterior air handler unit for storm damage.  Be sure to keep all shrubs and landscape trimmed from around the unit for proper air flow.

-          Look at your home’s electrical service entrance.  If it is sagging or leaning, contact an electrician immediately.

-          Make sure your fence is still standing.  Take a walk around the perimeter of your fence and push it to check for storm-weakened sections. 

-          Observe any large trees you have on your property. You may want to consider having them removed if they are a possible threat to your home in future storms.

When examining your home after a hurricane or storm, document and take photos of any damage that you find.  This will make the insurance claims process much easier.

Protecting Your Home From Flooding

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Weather is unpredictable and it can be treacherous.  While there is nothing you can do to prevent bad weather from happening, there ARE things you can do to prepare your house for it.  There are no guarantees that your home won’t sustain any damage, but these steps will help protect your home from flooding:

  1. Know the flood level of your home.  You will need an official measure of how high floodwaters could rise where you live.  There are flood maps available on line at FEMA.  Your home insurance agent should have this information as well.
  2. Determine how water flows around your property. The grading or slope of your yard can determine whether water will flow to or away from your house.  Observe how water flows during a typical rainstorm.
  3. Make sure electrical and climate systems are safe. Once you know the possible flood levels, you can move switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring at least a foot above where flooding may reach them.  If possible, adapt your furnace, water heater and any other anchored indoor equipment to sit higher than the property flood level.
  4. Raise and secure outdoor equipment.  Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units and generators should be secured and raised above flood level.  Generators won’t help you if they engulfed by water. They should never sit on the ground.
  5. Adjust water valves to prevent sewage backups into your home.  Install an interior or exterior backflow valve.  The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) recommends gate valves because they create a stronger seal than flap or check valves.  They are more complicated because you operate them by hand, but reduce the risk of water getting in.  These valves should be installed in all the pipes in the house.
  6. Extreme cases might require a complete retrofit.  One option is to raise your home so that the lowest floor is above flood level.  It’s an expensive option, but if you live in an area that experiences frequent flooding, it may be necessary.  Another option is to “wet-proof” your home by putting in foundation vents that allow water to flow through the structure rather than rising inside and causing more damage.  The third option is to “dry-proof” by using coatings and other sealing materials to walls to keep water out.
  7. When you know bad weather is on the way, take these last minute steps to help prevent flooding damage:

-          Clear gutters, drains and downspouts.

-          Move furniture, rugs, electronic and treasured items to upper floors.  If you have a one-story home, raise them above flood level if possible.

-          Shut off electricity at the breaker panel.

The expense of preparing for flooding may seem overwhelming, but the catastrophic damage it can cause could possibly cost far more, both financially and emotionally.  Do what you can to protect yourself today!

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Contact Information

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: 813-961-6016

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