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Moving with Kids - How Important is the School District?

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

When choosing a new home, there are usually several items on the buyer’s list of priorities, but when kids are involved, school systems often top that list.  People are generally willing to pay more and sacrifice other desires to make sure they are in the best school district for their children.  Private schools may be a feasible alternative for some, but that is not the case for many. Even if buyers don’t have children (or plan to have them), they may want to buy where the schools have the best reputation because it will have a positive effect on resale value down the road. However, it’s important to remember that a poorly ranked school district does not automatically mean that the overall quality of local education in an area is poor.  You must do your research. The website Niche is an excellent resource for information on schools in the Tampa area.  Consider the age of the schools, their physical condition, the student-to-teacher ratios and standardized test scores. Understanding how the school system works in Florida will be helpful in your search as well.  According to Florida School Choice, there are many options available to residents including Charter Schools, Magnet Schools, Career Academies, Virtual Schools, Controlled Open Enrollment, Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Programs, Dual Enrollment and ABC School Programs.  In addition, there are scholarship programs for private schools and resources for people who choose home education.

Finding a home in the Best School Districts  is something the real estate professionals at Tampa Realty Now can help you do.  Contact Craig & Linda Nowicke at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030 and begin your search today!

Tampa Luxury Home Housing Report - March 2018

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

The charts below show the 7-day and 90-day rolling averages for list pricedays on market, and inventory for the metro area's luxury market (e.g. top 10 zips with median prices above $500k)

ILHM-TAMPA VS NATIONAL

The charts below compare the ilhm-tampa luxury market with the ILHM National Luxury Market Index and show 90-day rolling averages for Median List Price and Days on Market.

The chart below shows the Altos Market Action Index for the metro area's luxury market and the National Index.

Statistics provided by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.

Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.

Now is a Great Time to Move Up!

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

We hear a lot about people downsizing and simplifying, but if you are looking for a larger home, now is a great time to sell your smaller home and move up to something that better suits your wants and needs.  Perhaps you have a growing family and need more space, or an additional income-earner has joined your household or maybe you have enough equity in your current home that you can now afford your dream home. Whatever the reason, movin’ on up is an exciting prospect!

Ok, now let’s contain that excitement a bit and think about what it means to purchase a more expensive house.  First, just because you can afford something on paper, doesn’t mean you should commit all your resources to the most expensive property on your radar.  It would behoove you to take a thorough look at your current budget and then play with the numbers a bit to determine how much more you’re willing to spend each month on a higher mortgage payment.  A dream house is wonderful, but being house-poor is not.  Think about your lifestyle and don’t make the mistake of getting into a financial bind that doesn’t allow you to do the activities you enjoy.

When financing your new home, you have a couple of options.  If you haven’t sold your current home yet, you can choose a Home Equity Loan to make the down payment on the new home.  A home equity loan allows you to borrow against your current home’s equity and is usually less expensive than other loans. 

Before you put your house on the market and commit to purchasing a new one, educate yourself about the prices of houses in the areas where you will be selling and buying. Whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, an experienced professional Realtor will be able to assist you in navigating the process. The goal is to sell high and buy low, and in today’s market that is an achievable dream!  Call Craig & Linda Nowicke of Tampa Realty Now at 813-675-5030 or 813-728-3880 and let them help you find your dream home today!

Bidding War Prep 101

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

It is a Seller's Market in real estate, and now that spring has arrived, the competition for homes is likely to get even more fierce.  If you are looking to purchase a home right now, chances are you may find yourself in a bidding war.  Be prepared! 

Here are six ways to come out on top in a bidding war:

  1. Get your finances in order and get as much cash as you can.  It is never too soon to get pre-approved for a loan. In fact, the sooner the better.  Sellers will have lots of options and will be leery of those who do not have loans set in stone.  If possible, bring cash to the table.  Sellers will fear appraisals coming in low and loans falling through, so be prepared to cover the difference with cash.
  2. Don’t hesitate!  Be the first to make an offer, and make it a good one.  An insulting offer will put you at the bottom of the seller’s list, so it is not a good time to low ball.  Come in at or slightly below asking price so that they know you are serious about purchasing their home.
  3. Offer an Escalation Clause. This is the amount of money the buyer agrees to increase the offer if there are other bids. If you offer the asking price of $400,000 on a house, but it might sell for $450,000, put in an escalation clause stating that you are willing to go as high as $460,000.  But know your limit.  Don’t offer more than you can handle.  Also, make sure the clause states that the seller can only take the winning bid up to a level just above the competing offers.  For example, if an offer comes in for $430,000, your bid would be upped to $431,000.
  4. Get a pre-inspection.  It will cost you a few hundred dollars, but it can help you in a super-tight market.  If you can make a bid that is not contingent upon inspection, sellers will look favorably on your offer versus the same offer from someone who has a contingency in their contract.
  5. Show the love!  If you have found the perfect house and really love it, don’t be afraid to let the sellers know, either directly or through your Realtor.  You can write a letter, send pictures of your family or even make a video describing why you love the house so much.  Be specific in your praise.  Sellers may appreciation the connection you feel with the house and choose you over other bidders.
  6. Think with your head, not your heart. Be smart! Purchasing a home is an emotional thing for sure, but emotions can get in the way of making wise decisions.   Make sure you have done thorough research of the market: look at the most recent comparable sales, compare prices from a year ago, visit local school, have coffee at the closest café and speak to potential neighbors.  Look at listings nearby.  Whatever you do, don’t overpay because you get caught up in the heat of the competition.  While the house may seem perfect for you, it is not the only house that will be perfect for you. So, keep a level head and make intelligent decisions.

You don’t have to face a bidding war alone. The experienced professionals at Tampa Realty Now can help you through the process of finding and purchasing the house of your dreams!  Call them today at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030.

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!

Tampa Luxury Home Housing Report - February 2018

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

The charts below show the 7-day and 90-day rolling averages for list pricedays on market, and inventory for the metro area's luxury market (e.g. top 10 zips with median prices above $500k)

ILHM-TAMPA VS NATIONAL

The charts below compare the ilhm-tampa luxury market with the ILHM National Luxury Market Index and show 90-day rolling averages for Median List Price and Days on Market.

The chart below shows the Altos Market Action Index for the metro area's luxury market and the National Index.

Statistics provided by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.

Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.

House Hunting? These Are the Top Ten Things You Should Look For

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

House hunting can be overwhelming sometimes, especially when beginning the search for your first home.  Chances are you might get caught up in the process and important details might slip by you. While the number of rooms, condition of the kitchen, and size of the yard are important, there are other things to consider before you make an offer.  This list of things to look for can help you get your search off to the right start.

 1.          Location, Location, Location!

They say that the 3 most important things to look for when buying a home are location, location and location.  While a home might not be perfect, loving your neighborhood and neighbors can make all the difference in living with imperfection.  And face it…you can change almost anything about your house, but you can’t change its location or the people living nearby.  When you go house hunting, make sure to consider the home’s proximity to your work, the appeal of the neighborhood, where in the neighborhood the home is situated, ease of access, noise from neighbors, traffic, pets and access to parks, shopping, School Districts and public transportation.

 2.          Home Placement

Beyond location, look at how the home is situated. Do neighbors' windows look directly into the home? Is the yard suitable for kids, pets, gardening, or other uses? Is there safe access to the home? These are all important questions to ask yourself when determining if it is the right property for you.

 3.          Check Out the Neighborhood

While it’s important for your house to meet your expectations, it’s equally important that the neighborhood meets them too. Take a drive around the development you are interested in on week days and weekends, during the day and in the evening.  Are the homes in good repair? Are yards kept clean and tidy?  Is the neighborhood safe enough for people to walk, run or bike?  Are there children playing outdoors?

 4.           Consider a Home’s Curb Appeal

You want a home that is going to reflect your lifestyle. Do you live a    casual, laid-back life? Then you probably won’t want a formal home.  A simple, contemporary home might better suit you.  Pay close attention to exterior features.  Think about maintenance. Do you like working in the yard?  If not, you might not want a house with extensive landscaping.  Is the roof in good condition?  Attention to detail will help you choose the home with the best curb appeal for you.

 5.           Size and Floor Plan

You may be thinking about buying your dream home. But is your dream home practical?  Do you need 4 bedrooms and 4 baths when you live alone? A spacious home may provide the extra room you've always wanted for a home office or a theater room, but you'll pay higher heating bills and have higher taxes. Additionally, it will take more furniture to furnish and money to decorate. Think about how the new home space will be used and whether it will fit your lifestyle now and in the future.

 6.            Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you will need and only    look at homes that meet that criteria.  You don’t want to fall in love with what is otherwise a perfect house if it doesn’t provide the space needed for your family.  It’s smart to consider counting an extra bedroom in that number so that you have extra space for a home office or guest room. If you think you might add on to the home later, make sure you consult an architect who can advise you on space planning and Hillsborough County.

 7.             The Kitchen

For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Don’t settle for a home with a kitchen that doesn’t work for you.  Yes, you can remodel later, but at great expense.  If it’s an easy fix like replacing cabinets or countertops, get a price quote before committing the house so that you will know if it is within your budget to take that on.

 8.              Closets and Storage

Older homes often have small closets and lack storage space.  As you’re looking at a home ask yourself where you will store your belongings.  Tiny closets don’t have to be a deal breaker.  There are ways to maximize storage without renovations. Newer homes tend to have lots of storage and you may sacrifice living space while having more closet space than you need.

 9.              Windows and Lighting

While looking at a home keep in mind your preferences regarding light and privacy.  Do you want a lot of windows to provider bright, sunny rooms?  Pay attention to the locations of electrical outlets and fixtures to make sure they will meet your lighting needs.

 10.           Finishing Touches

Even a simple home can look spectacular with the right moldings, hardware, and a fireplace.  If elements like these are important to you, look for them while house hunting. 

You may not find everything you want in one house, but keep this list handy and you are more likely to find the home that best suits your needs and desires.  The professionals at Tampa Realty Now are ready and waiting to show you the house of your dreams! Contact them today at 813-413-4343. Happy House Hunting!      

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!

YOUR HOME SEARCH STARTS HERE                   FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH  

Photo Credit: ways2gogreenblog.com

Signs That it’s Time to Sell Your Home

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Selling your home is a huge decision and one that should not be made impulsively. If you are thinking about selling, but you’re not sure if you should, here are some signs to look for that will indicate that now is a good time to sell:
1. Space is an issue. Has your family grown since you bought your current home? Do you have multiple people sharing bedrooms and bathrooms? If your house is bursting at the seams, it might be time to let it go and find something a little bigger. Alternatively, perhaps you have too much space. If you bought the home when your family was large and now you are an empty nester, you may be ready to downsize.
2. Neighbors are selling homes successfully. If houses are selling like hotcakes in your neighborhood and your neighbors are making tidy profits on their sales, then that’s a cue that you should contact a realtor to find out what your home is worth on the current market.
3. Interest rates are increasing—perhaps up to 4 times in 2018. Current inventory of homes for sale is low, and you have a seller’s market that will make your home even more desirable to prospective buyers.
4. Remodeling won’t be worth it. Maybe you want to stay in your current home and you think that remodeling is the answer. But will the expense of remodeling to fulfill your wants and needs be worth it in the long run? Will it add value to your home? While you might have to do some updates to prepare your home for sale, if the market favors sellers, you might be better off selling and finding a new home to suit your needs.
5. You’re confident the market is strong. It’s important to educate yourself about what’s going on in the real estate market before you decide to put your house on the market.
An experienced Realtor can help you understand the market and determine if now is the
time to sell your house.
All signs are currently pointing at this being a great time to sell. Contact the professionals at
Tampa Realty Now for a complimentary Fair Market Analysis, staging ideas and they can also
help you get your house on the market fast!
YOUR HOME SEARCH STARTS HERE FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH

Selling your home is a huge decision and one that should not be made impulsively. If you are thinking about selling, but you’re not sure if you should, here are some signs to look for that will indicate that now is a good time to sell:

1. Space is an issue. Has your family grown since you bought your current home? Do you have multiple people sharing bedrooms and bathrooms? If your house is bursting at the seams, it might be time to let it go and find something a little bigger. Alternatively, perhaps you have too much space. If you bought the home when your family was large and now you are an empty nester, you may be ready to downsize.

2. Neighbors are selling homes successfully. If houses are selling like hotcakes in your neighborhood and your neighbors are making tidy profits on their sales, then that’s a cue that you should contact a realtor to find out what your home is worth on the current market.

3. Interest rates are increasing—perhaps up to 4 times in 2018. Current inventory of homes for sale is low, and you have a seller’s market that will make your home even more desirable to prospective buyers.

4. Remodeling won’t be worth it. Maybe you want to stay in your current home and you think that remodeling is the answer. But will the expense of remodeling to fulfill your wants and needs be worth it in the long run? Will it add value to your home? While you might have to do some updates to prepare your home for sale, if the market favors sellers, you might be better off selling and finding a new home to suit your needs.

5. You’re confident the market is strong. It’s important to educate yourself about what’s going on in the real estate market before you decide to put your house on the market. An experienced Realtor can help you understand the market and determine if now is thetime to sell your house.

All signs are currently pointing at this being a great time to sell. Contact the professionals at Tampa Realty Now for a complimentary Fair Market Analysis, staging ideas and they can also help you get your house on the market fast!

YOUR HOME SEARCH STARTS HERE                     FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH

Tampa Luxury Home Housing Report - January 2018

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

The charts below show the 7-day and 90-day rolling averages for list pricedays on market, and inventory for the metro area's luxury market (e.g. top 10 zips with median prices above $500k)

ILHM-TAMPA VS NATIONAL

The charts below compare the ilhm-tampa luxury market with the ILHM National Luxury Market Index and show 90-day rolling averages for Median List Price and Days on Market.

The chart below shows the Altos Market Action Index for the metro area's luxury market and the National Index.

Statistics provided by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.

Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.

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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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