Real Estate Information Archive


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First-Time Homebuyer Assistance

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Have you been hesitant to purchase your first home because you are worried about having enough cash for a down payment or that you won’t qualify for a loan?  Don’t despair!  There is help out there for you.  Owning a home is a sound financial investment and there is no reason to keep paying a landlord’s mortgage when you could be paying your own and building equity for your future.

The Florida Homebuyer Loan Program offers 30-year fixed rate FIRST mortgage loans to first-time homebuyers through participating lenders and lending institutions throughout Florida. If you are eligible, you may also qualify for one of Florida Housing’s second mortgage or grant programs to help with your down payment and closing costs.

Florida also offers a Mortgage Credit Certificate Program.  This offers qualifying first time homebuyers a nonrefundable federal income tax credit that can be used with a lender’s first mortgage.  This reduces the borrower’s federal income taxes and as such, creates additional income for the borrower to use in making mortgage payments or other household expenses. The requirements for this program include being a first-time homebuyer, the purchase price of the residence and the total household income.

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation offers First-Time Homebuyer Education (HBE). You can also take a course through the Tampa Housing Authority. Taking one of these classes is a great first step toward understanding all you need to know before you start your home search.  The class teaches things such as:

-          Shopping for a home

-          Understanding credit

-          Money management

-          Obtaining a mortgage

The first-time homebuyer program uses income and purchase price limits to determine eligibility.  Potential buyers must complete a home buyer education course and qualify for a mortgage loan and have a qualifying FICO score,

The real estate professionals at Tampa Realty Now can explain these programs to you and answer any questions that you have.  Contact them and start your home search today!  Call Linda or Craig Nowicke at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030

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!      

Stand Out to Sellers with a Mortgage Loan Pre-Approval

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Across the country right now, the number of buyers seeking homes far outnumbers the number of homes available.  Because of this, the housing market is super competitive and buyers often need to do something to stand out.  One way to show that you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even in a less competitive market, knowing your budget will give you security of knowing if a home is within your reach.

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process.  Once you have chosen a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with vital information regarding your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.

There are 4 Cs that aid in determining the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

-          Capacity: Your current and future ability to make payments.

-          Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash.

-          Collateral: The home or type of home that you want to purchase.

-          Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time.


Getting pre-approved not only shows sellers you are serious, but also speeds up the process of completing the purchase once your offer has been accepted.

Many people overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage.  If you are ready to buy, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at what you can afford!

Preparing to Buy a Home: Your “To Do” List

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

If you are thinking about purchasing a home, there are several things you should do before you even start your home search.  While it’s exciting to look at properties and imagine what your life will be like in a new house, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment and heartbreak if you aren’t prepared for all the steps involved in the home-buying process.  So, do your homework and make sure you are truly ready to find the home of your dreams!


  1. Determine What You Can Afford - You don’t want to find the perfect property and then find out it’s out of reach for you.   Determine what amount you can afford for a mortgage payment and create a maximum budget for what you are willing to pay for a house. Your mortgage payment should take up no more than 28% of your income.  If you are currently paying rent or a mortgage payment that is less than what you anticipate for your future home, start saving the difference each month to make sure you are willing and able to live on that.  You don’t want to be house poor. 
  2. Check Your Credit - You can request free credit reports from Annual Credit Report .com.  Check the reports thoroughly for any errors or negative information.  Take the steps needed to improve your credit score.  A higher credit score will possibly qualify you for lower interest rates, which will make your purchase more affordable.
  3. Meet with a Lender - Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is vital to the home-buying process, especially in a seller’s market where there might be bidding wars.  Sellers are more likely to choose a potential buyer who has already been pre-approved over one who hasn’t.  It will also help you identify the documents you will need for the final loan application. 
  4. Save for a Down Payment - Your meeting with the loan officer will also help you determine how much cash you will need for a down payment.
  5. Get Organized - Gather documents you will need for your final loan application and start a house-hunting binder.  As you start looking at homes, you can add any materials you collect along the way.
  6. Start Considering Where You Want to Live - If you don’t already have a specific neighborhood in mind, start investigating different areas within your price range.  Visit neighborhoods at different times to get a feel for what it might be like to live there.  Consider things like what your work commute will be and what amenities you want.
  7. Take a Home Buyer Education Class - If you are a first-time home buyer, these classes can help you prepare for the responsibilities of being a home owner.
  8. Find a Realtor - Choose an experienced real estate professional to represent your interests.  It’s important to find someone you feel comfortable communicating with.


Taking these steps before you start your home-search will make the whole home-buying process easier!

Millennials Are Not Buying Homes…Here’s Why You Should!

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Yes, I’m talking to YOU millennials!

There are several reasons why you aren’t buying homes right now.  Student debt, low-paying jobs and not having cash for a down payment are just a few of them.  But the truth is, now is a great time for you to be engaged in the housing market.  It’s time for millennials to start seeing the value of home ownership rather than throwing money away each month for rent that will never contribute to building any future equity. 

There are so many benefits that come with owning a home  and many of you may not be aware of them all. When you purchase a home, you are making a sound investment in your future (instead of your landlord’s) and while having the responsibility of a mortgage can seem overwhelming, you are actually doing yourselves a favor by taking out a loan.  Making mortgage payments each month really feels no different than making rent payments. But there is a huge difference!  By making mortgage payments, you are putting money toward owning a larger share of your own home.  With equity, you have an asset you can use in the future, whether by taking out a home equity line of credit to pay for home improvements or education costs or by earning a profit when you sell your house for a higher price.

Another potential benefit of being a homeowner, is becoming a landlord yourself.  By investing in a starter home, you can turn it into a rental property that will provide extra income when you buy your own long-term home in the future. Rent takes on a whole new meaning when you are receiving it instead of paying it!

Tax breaks are another perk of homeownership.  The sooner you purchase a home, the more years you will be able to enjoy tax advantages.

It’s understandable that those of you in the millennial age group (25-34) are hesitant to take the plunge into homeownership, but it’s important that you understand that it is a sound investment in your future and will be well worth it in the long run.

Meet with the professionals at Tampa Realty Now and let them help you understand what you can afford and how buying a home verses renting one can have a positive impact on your future financial situation.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Home Together

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

When you fall in love with someone many times the thought of moving in together comes to mind.   If you have ever thought about moving in with someone you love, you may have even thought about taking it a step further by purchasing a home together.  While there is nothing wrong with buying a home with someone you love, you may want to consider a few things before doing so.   You may think you know someone, but when you decide to take the step of purchasing a home together you will find out all sorts of things about the other person.    A few of the things you might want to consider before purchasing a home together  are listed below. 

  1. How much into neat and tidy is the person you are about to move in with and how important is that to you?  If you are a neat freak and you buy a home together with someone who could care less if the bed is made daily or not, you may find that taking this leap of being together 24/7 is not for you.  Talk about these types of things before buying a home together and you should be fine.
  2. Another thing to consider before buying a home with someone you love is how much they are going to be contributing to the monthly bills that will soon start to come in.  Again, if you talk about these things, perhaps with a counselor you should be able to make most anything work, if you work at it together. 
  3. Yet another thing to consider before purchasing a home with someone   you love is how much personal space you each are going to need.  Personal space is not a problem typically until you live together.  If you are someone that doesn’t like sharing your space every minute of every day, then you are going to need to discuss boundaries in your new home with your loved one before making the leap into home ownership together. 

This is just a short list of a long list of things to consider before purchasing a home together with someone you love.  The list is quite long if you really delve into what all can change once you make a huge purchase such as buying a home with your significant other.  Just do your due diligence by asking all the questions you can think of and working through many of these things before they become a problem.

Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.   

FHA Increase

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

FHA just increased their loan maximum from $271,000 to $275,655! Also PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) rates will be lowered by 25% if the loan closes AFTER January 27th!

This information is HUGE for buyers that are on the fence because of PMI rates. 


Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.   

Millennial Buyers: We’ll Compromise

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Millennial first-time homeowners are showing more willingness than previous generations to complete do-it-yourself projects around the house or wait until they can afford to make the improvements they desire, a new survey by Better Homes & Gardens magazine shows. Fifty percent of those surveyed say that at move-in, their current home’s conditions require some degree of repair or remodeling.

They’re showing some compromise in their first home. Only 50 percent of first-time millennial homeowners say they are willing to spend top dollar to get exactly the features and quality they want in a home, the survey showed.

“These first-time millennial homeowners are focused on building equity, not debt,” says Jill Waage, editorial director of Digital Content and Products at Better Homes & Gardens. “They are strong believers in being able to afford their dreams as they achieve them and not over-stretch themselves.”

Eighty-five percent of first-time millennial homeowners say they view homeownership as a sound investment.

Their housing wish-list is for a mid-sized home (about 2,000 square feet) with a renovated kitchen and bathroom as well as a deck or patio space.

The DIY projects that landed the highest on their to-do lists are installing light fixtures and tile and painting walls, the survey showed.

“Millennials and millennial ‘firsts’ [first-time homeowners] are paving their own paths in homeownership based on their own budgets, timeline and needs,” Waage says. “These ‘firsts’ are replacing big-budget homes and expensive renovations with patience, frugalness and practicality.”

Source: “Millennials Patient, Thrifty When It Comes to Homeownership,” RISMedia (Jan. 11, 2017)

Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.   

New Year Resolutions to Help You Purchase a Home

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

If you are like the rest of us then just a few days ago you made a list of New Year resolutions.   Many of us however do not stick to our plan when it comes to these promises we make ourselves.  If you plan to purchase a home sometime in this New Year you need to make a few related resolutions that will likely help you to attain your goal and dream of home ownership.  Below these resolutions are listed for you. 

  1.  Stop opening credit cards.  It is easy these days especially when you are shopping, to open one credit card after the other.  If buying a home is on your to do list this year however, you need to steer clear of opening new credit cards. 
  2. Start paying your student loans on time every time.  Many times when folks get student loans they tend to think they can pay them as they can but that can mess up your credit in no time.  If someone who has good credit and shows they are good at paying bills on time every time puts a bid in on a house you have your eye on and you put a bid on that house as well, it’s likely due to their history that they will win the bid and not you. 
  3. Start paying your credit cards every month and on time.  Even if you can’t afford to pay more than just the minimum payment you need to make sure you pay your credit card each and every month.   This type of diligence will serve you well when you go to make an offer on a house.  
  4. Make sure you have a little bit of a cash reserve in your bank account at all times.  It won’t look good to a mortgage lender when you ask for a loan if you have a zero balance in your bank account. 
  5. Stick with the same job for as long as you can.  Jumping from one job to another during a year is a sure fire way to lose your chance at the home of your dreams.  Lenders want to see stability and staying with the same job for a few years will show them that. 

These New Year resolutions, if you do your best to keep them, will do their part towards helping you to purchase the home you have always dreamed about.  

Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.   

A Few Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Condo

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

If owning your own home isn’t on your agenda and you would rather purchase a condo or townhome to make things a bit easier on yourself, you are not alone.  There are several things however that you should consider and think about before purchasing a condo and a few of those things are listed below. 

  1. One thing to consider when purchasing a condo   is who the manager is.  If you have a manager that is easy to deal with then you shouldn’t have any issues, but if you have a manager that doesn’t see eye to eye with you on things you may find yourself wishing you never would have purchased a condo. 
  2. There are fees associated with owning a condo.  You should definitely check into the fees associated with your particular condo before purchasing it.  These fees can range anywhere from $200 to $400 per month or year depending on how upscale the condo is you want to purchase. 
  3. Looking at the condo financial statements is a great way to see if you really want to purchase a condo or not.  For example if the condos financial statements do not include paying for repairs on a broken street light, you may end up seeing the repair costs tagged on to your bill.  Taking these types of things into consideration could sway your decision one way or the other regarding purchasing.  If you find that repairs on such things are not included in a particular condos financial statements you may want to search for a condo that does cover them. 
  4. Knowing the rules of condo living can make or break your decision of purchasing as well.  Some condos don’t allow holiday decorations while others just tell you where to park.  It’s up to you to decide what is most important to you and what rules simply do not matter that much, however knowing the rules is imperative. 
  5. Checking out the condos liability insurance to make sure there are no pending lawsuits against it is also a good idea. 

These things to consider before purchasing a condo are just the tip of the ice berg.  Do your due diligence, ask questions and find out all there is to know about condo living  before sinking your money into one you are not happy with. If you do all of this and you are satisfied, you will likely enjoy condo living and all it has to offer.  


Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.   

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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: 813-413-4343

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