Archive for October 2016

What You Need to Know About Home Inspection Day








Inspection day is a stressful day for first time and seasoned homebuyers alike, so we sat down with local inspector, Kris Skirrow, owner of Dreamhome Inspections to talk about what you should know going into inspection day to help make it a little less stressful.

On inspection day, Kris and his team send two inspectors out to every job where they will work along side a termite inspector.

“We have two crews that go out. We always have two inspectors on a job, plus a termite inspector, to catch something that someone else might not see. That gives us two sets of eyes on everything, and the termite guy who works with us extensively,” said Kris.

After thoroughly inspecting the home or building, Kris and his team compile a list of repairs, which is the part that scares homebuyers the most. Every homebuyer dreads getting a long list of repairs and can often lead to the homebuyer being too nervous to buy the home. Kris and his team try to help ease homebuyers fears by separating their repairs into three separate categories- immediate repairs, repairs, and general maintenance. By doing this, homebuyers get a better picture of what really is a potential deal breaker versus what is just regular home maintenance.

As intimidating as it might be to get a long list of repairs, Kris encourages homebuyers to take it with a grain of salt and focus on the issues that are immediate repairs that could be deal breakers and try not to let the general maintenance issues seem bigger than they are. No home is going to be completely free of issues or repairs, Kris reminds.

“How many houses are you going to go through before you find one with nothing wrong? You’re not going to. We do a lot of new construction and they still have problems,” said Kris.


A common misconception is that inspection reports can be used as a bargaining tool in the negotiation for a home. However, most homes are sold as-is so inspections are simply meant to make the buyer aware of the issues, and the buyer can decide from there if it’s a deal breaker or not.

Kris suggests that homebuyers do their research and make sure they are getting a knowledgeable Realtor to make sure they don’t find themselves owning a home they can’t fully insure.

“There are several items now that might not be code violations, but they may be uninsurable. Especially with electrical or how long the roof will last. There are several electrical panels that are no longer insurable, but the code hasn’t caught up with that yet,” said Kris.

Working with a knowledgeable and reputable Realtor and home inspector can help ensure issues like this are caught and brought to your attention before you decided to purchase the home. After all, a home is likely the largest purchase you will ever make. Take the time to research your Realtor, home inspector and pay for a quality home inspection that will catch any lingering issues.

“Price should be the last thing they look at,” said Kris. “Price should not be everything when you are spending so much money on a house.”

Sarah & Tim

Florida Life Real Estate Group

Local Business Spotlight: Little Drug Co.


With an old-fashioned soda fountain and restaurant, locals catching up over milkshakes and banana splits, it’s easy to fell like you’ve been transported back to the 1950’s the second you step foot in Little Drug Co.


Since it opened in 1922, Little Drug Co. and has played a part in New Smyrna’s small-town charm and history. Located on Canal Street, it is the oldest independent pharmacy in town and has enjoyed a long history of growing up with New Smyrna residents.


“Most people have been coming here since they were in high school when they would come after school to have a milkshake,” said Cathy, the assistant manager. “Now they come and bring their kids or their grandkids.”


David Sikes, the owner of Little Drug Co. is one of them. David grew up in New Smyrna and started working at the pharmacy in 1972 after pharmacy school. He now owns Little Drug Co. with his son. In 1965 Little Drug Co. moved down the street the building it is in now, which used to be an old movie theater.


“A lot of customers remember coming to movies in this building,” said Cathy.


With a full service pharmacy, gift department, greeting cards and a soda fountain, Little Drug Co. strives to fit the needs of the community while maintaining its old-fashioned charm.


“We have new technology for the pharmacy but we have tried to keep the old-fashioned feeling,” said Cathy.


Little Drug Co. is in a perfect location for locals and tourists alike, as every first Saturday is an Art Walk on Canal Street and every second Saturday is the Canal Street Cruise, said Cathy.


“We just had the 20th anniversary of the Canal Street Cruise and there were at least 400 cars down here,” said Cathy.


Cathy also encourages people to come shopping on Canal Street to get the true New Smyrna experience.


“Its just a great place to come to and slow down. The people are all great, all the storeowners are very personable and have a happy-to-see you attitude,” said Cathy.


Next time you are on Canal Street, make sure to stop by Little Drug Co. and get an old fashioned milk shake at the soda fountain and take a few moments to slow down and enjoy the New Smyrna experience.

Third Wave Cafe


In many ways, New Smyrna is destined to be a town for food lovers. With only locally owned restaurants on the beachside, there is never a shortage of delectable and unique dishes to try that represent each resident who owns the restaurant.

One of these restaurants is Third Wave Café on Flagler Ave. Third Wave Café opened its doors in 2014 and has since grown quite the name for itself amongst locals and residents alike for their crepes, gourmet pizzas and savory dinners.

“We originally thought we would be a small coffee shop and creperie with a wine garden with pizza and salad, but then people just demanded more,” said Kathy, one of the owners of the Café.

Kathy and her family have seen New Smyrna Beach grown tremendously in their two years on Flagler Ave, something they weren’t expecting but are enjoying.

“I think we were on the cusp on the New Smyrna’s renaissance, or whatever you want to call it, because it’s just blossomed,” said Kathy.

This growth has helped Third Wave Café create a name for themselves, but also expand.

“We just kept growing and growing. We’ve already had to add on twice,” said Kathy.

Upon entering Third Wave Café, its easy to see why. The front of Third Wave Café is a quaint coffee shop, specializing in crepes among other breakfast items where you can grab a cup of coffee and crepe, sit out on the deck and watch the bustling activity of Flagler Ave while soaking up the warm Florida sun. Behind the café is the restaurant portion, which transports guests into a magical jungle wonderland, with an abundance of greenery, lights and rustic décor.

The food served in the restaurant makes Third Wave Café a must when in New Smyrna, as the pizza is rumored to be the best pizza in town. But don’t just order pizza when coming to Third Wave Café. Their Mediterranean menu, sprinkled with local favorites, such as chicken, steak, pasta and seafood specials, are sure to please.

“90% of what we make is in the pizza oven. We don’t have a deep fryer here, we have a small convection oven in the back, but most everything we do we try to do really creative,” said Kathy.

One visit to Third Wave Café and you will be hooked. Next time you are on Flagler Ave, stop by Third Wave for a delicious brunch or stay a bit longer for the experience- you’ll be glad you did.

Sarah & Tim

Florida Life Real Estate Group

Where Should You Build Your New Home?


There’s nothing like deciding to build your dream home from the ground up. Everything from picking out the lighting to the perfect wall color is an adventure. Building your home from the ground up puts you in the drivers seat and you alone are responsible from choosing everything from the view out of the dining room to the piece of land the home sits on. But before you can jump to the fun of wall colors and cabinet finishes, you need to decide and purchase the land for your dream home. Picking the right parcel of land can make or break your future home, so here are a few tips to keep in mind while searching for that perfect piece of land.

  • Zoning Laws

Zoning laws are critical to take into consideration before you seriously consider any lot. Go to your local zoning office or city hall and find out exactly what the zoning and land regulations are for the parcel yourself. If you skip this step, you could end up with a piece of land that is zoned for your type of construction. Paying a visit to your local zoning office will also help you discover more minor issues, such as easements on the parcel. While you are there, find out what the setbacks for the property are. The setbacks will tell you exactly how close to the border of the property you are allowed to build, which could impact your building plans and make the lot more or less desirable.

  • Location

Where the parcel is located is very important. Even if you plan to build the nicest house in town, if your house is next to a manure plant you wont be seeing a return on your investment. Take other things like walkability, school districts, access to grocery stores, shopping and medical facilities into consideration as well- these are all things that will help with the future resale value of your home. Also, take note of exterior factors such as chemical plants, railroad tracks or jail located near your home- these will all have a negative impact on your home value as well.

  • Pick a lot

Once you’ve found the subdivision or the area which you want to purchase a parcel, choosing a lot can be tough. Each lot will have its pros and cons, so before you go into the elimination process, really sit down and decide what is at the top of your priority list. For example, lots closer to the entrance will obviously have easier and quicker access, but that also comes with more traffic and visibility. Better Homes and Gardens points out that corner lots have traffic on two sides, which can be a negative feature to many. Take the sun into consideration as well, as each lot will feature a different exposure point to the sun. If you’ve always dreamt of watching the sunset from your back porch, take that into consideration when picking a lot.

Sarah & Tim

Florida Life Real Estate Group

Local Spotlight: New Smyrna Visitor’s Center


New Smyrna Beach

There is no doubt that New Smyrna Beach has one of the best beaches in the world, with miles upon miles of sand and some of the best waves around. But what’s often overlooked, by locals and tourists alike, are the excursions, adventures and activities that make New Smyrna Beach a place for couples, families and adventure-enthusiasts alike.

“Its just a beautiful, lush, quaint seaside community that not many visitors experience, and if want just a beautiful vacation with many activities that you can enjoy, the New Smyrna Beach area has so much to offer,” said Megan DeBello, public relations/social media coordinator for the New Smyrna Visitor’s Center.

Megan has a point. While New Smyrna Beach has an impressive selection of local restaurants that would suit even the pickiest of foodies, it is the activities that keep people coming back for more than just the beach.
New Smyrna Beach Visitor Center

“Whether it be world class fishing, surfing, museums, parks, recreation, we have so much that we can offer visitors and even future residents,” said Megan, adding that there is something for everyone, from couples to families.

When it comes to family excursions, look no further than a river cruise where you can see everything from manatees to dolphins and the other marine life that New Smyrna is home to.

Dine and Cruise offers guests a full dinner before hopping on the boat for a one and a half hour cruise down the intercostal river. The Marine Discovery Center offers a two hour cruise with a Florida Coastal Naturalists sharing about the over 4,000 species of plants and animals in the Indian River Lagoon. The Marine Discovery Center also offers a Dolphin Discovery tour of the Indian River Lagoon dolphins and the Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins where children and adults can learn about and see dolphins in their natural habitat.

As for unique activities that are a must, Megan recommends any visitor or resident to New Smyrna experience Flagler Ave, which is home to dozens of great restaurants and one-of-a-kind shops but also goes straight to the beach where you can drive.

Those looking for a more-hands on activity can enjoy a cruise down the beach on a scooter or beach cruiser. New Smyrna Beach offers the unique thrill of driving on the beach, one of the only beaches in the country with this attraction.

“Not many destinations in America offer that,” said Megan.

And really, is there any better way to see the entire beach than cruising up and down it? Plus, when you need a break, simply park your scooter or cruiser on the sand and cool off in the ocean. Not a bad deal!

Next time you are in New Smyrna Beach, just remember the beach is only half of the fun- there are dozens of activities, excursions and adventures waiting for you!

As always, if you are looking to make New Smyrna home please contact me.

Sarah & Tim

Florida Life Real Estate Group

3 Things to do BEFORE House Hunting


Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you will make, but also one of the most exciting purchases you will ever make. Who hasn’t spent hours scrolling through houses for sale online? Below are three steps you can take to help make sure you are prepared and ready to embark on your house-hunting journey.


  • Figure out your budget

Go over your budget and really be honest with yourself about what you want to pay each month for a mortgage payment. According to Investopedia, homeowners can afford a mortgage between 2 and 2.5 times their gross income. This is a good guideline to follow, but it really comes down to your overall monthly expenses and your income. Take the time to sit down to crunch the numbers and come up with a figure you are comfortable with. Once you have your budget, be firm about it and don’t even look at homes out of your price range. Buying a home and spending all your money on your mortgage payment will eventually make you resent your dream home. Instead, strive for a home you can afford in addition to the normal fun stuff you would do.


  • Get pre-approved

Getting pre-approved is a critical step to take before house hunting. In a competitive market, you need to be ready to make an offer as soon as you find your dream home. If you are not yet approved, waiting to get pre-approved could give someone else the chance to slide in and make an offer. To get ready to get pre-approved, make sure to gather up all of your important financial information before applying. Once you have all of your financial information together, you can head on over to our website and apply with one of our trusted lenders or do your own research and find a credible lender.


  • Research Realtors

After you are pre-approved, its time to start looking for a Realtor. Don’t skip the research and call the first Realtor whose sign you see. Spend some time online reading review from former clients. Pay special attention to details such as how easy the Realtor was to get a hold of and how quickly they returned calls. The last thing you want is a Realtor who is difficult to reach or takes awhile getting back to you. Also, don’t be afraid to call a Realtor you are interested in working with and talking to them about their process and get to know their personality.

Taking these three steps before you embark on your house-hunting journey should set you up for success, and ultimately help you land the home of your dreams.


Please feel free to reach out to us if we can help you with your home search.


Neighborhood Spotlight: Venetian Bay

Located just 8 miles from the heart of New Smyrna, you will find a majestic fountain paired with grand arches marking the entrance to Venetian Bay, one of the premier neighborhood communities of New Smyrna Beach. Venetian Bay offers miles of charming homes and townhouses, a quaint town center and amenities that make Florida life so attractive. This week we are taking a closer look at Venetian Bay, and why it could be a good fit for you and your family.


1) What does home look like to you?

When you think about your ideal neighborhood, what comes to mind? Do miles of biking trails, lush landscaping, charming homes, golf courses and pools sound about right? Venetian Bay offers all of these amenities and more, making it an inviting place to call home.

Town center1

Venetian Bay Town Center

The town center of Venetian Bay provides a fitness center, Venetian Bay Methodist Church and local restaurants for residents to enjoy without leaving the neighborhood. When residents do feel like venturing out, one of the best beaches in Florida is waiting just a couple of miles away, complete with dolphin sightings and some of the best waves and wide sandy beaches around.

If school zones are a big factor in your decision, Venetian Bay is zoned for Chisholm Elementary, Samsula Academy, Sacred Heart School, New Smyrna Middle School, New Smyrna High School and St. Barnabas Episcopal Private School. In addition, Volusia County has plans to build a new elementary school in Venetian Bay on 20 acres recently purchased.


2) Dust off those golf clubs

Venetian Bay’s golf course is the stuff legends are made of. The 18-hole Championship  course was designed by Clifton, Ezell and Clifton and is specifically designed to accommodate the newest of golfers to the pro golfers looking for a challenge. Venetian Bay Golf Club also offers golf lessons for those looking to develop their talents or golfers looking to refine their technique. After a long day of golf, be sure to stop by Champions Grill and enjoy one of their classic burgers followed by a slice of traditional key lime pie.


3) Completed communities

Venetian Bay offers 6 completed communities, all slightly different enough to satisfy an array of preferences. Parkside Townhomes offer the luxury of maintence-free living with exterior, landscape and irrigation maintenance provided and its own community pool and recreation area.

Parkside pool.jpg

Parkside pool

Marisol and Maribella feature 3 and 4 bedroom estate style homes, perfect for growing families. Tuscany Reserve homes give residents extra peace of mind as every home, built by The Johnson Group, has a safe room included designed to meet, or exceed, FEMA requirements.

Tuscany Reserve homes feature lakefront and preserve locations, while offering the security of a gated entrance. St. Regis offers French country design with slate tile roofs while Venetian Villas feature one and two-story floor plans. Tuscany Square condominiums are located in the town center of Venetian Bay and exude a Mediterranean atmosphere, complete with fountains and barrel tile roofs.


4) New homes

Venetian Bay is home to 8 new communities, so if a brand new home is on your wish list, look no further. Portofino Club Homes range from 1,800 to 2,400 sq ft and feature amenities such as solid wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances and granites counter tops. Portofino Reserve homes offer stunning golf course views and top of the line amenities, such as paver driveways, to match.

Portofino Reserve

Portofino Reserve model home

Portofino Estates homes boast above code construction with a 10-year structural warranty in a gated community complete with water and golf course views. Lakes and preserves surround Arbor Lakes, making it a tranquil escape but still within walking distance to the town center. Savannah Pointe offers one and two-story homes from 1,500 to 3,000 sq ft located with preserve and waterfront views.

Savannah Pointe includes the luxury of maintenance-free living and walking distance to the town center. Lakes of Verano homes include 2-3 bedroom floor plans, with many energy smart features, gourmet kitchens and a two-year warranty of Holiday Builders Coverage. The Estates at Verano is a 191 lot community featuring quaint cottage homes and coach homes with 7 models to choose from. Savona North and South is a community of KB homes close enough to walk to the town center and in the mid 200’s.


Please visit my website,, to view homes currently available in Venetian Bay. If I can answer any question you have about Venetian Bay or other neighborhoods don’t hesitate to contact me at


4 Things to Know Before Hiring a Contractor


With Hurricane Matthew behind us, residents of New Smyrna Beach and Florida are beginning to clean up and assess damage. While we are fortunate that no lives were lost in New Smyrna Beach during Hurricane Matthew, several homes sustained significant damage. Before you call the first contractor you find on Google, here are four things you should know to save you further stress.

1) Check out their credentials

We know- your home was damaged and you want it repaired as soon as possible, so it is tempting to call up the first contractor you find on Google and get the process started. Take a moment to slow down and remember that the damage has already been done, and hiring the right contractor will save you future stress and money. According to, you can check a contractor’s credentials on to make sure that they are licensed and registered in your state. After verifying their license, stop by the Better Business Bureau’s website and make sure that they do not have any complaints against them.


2) Who are the subcontractors?

It’s not uncommon for general contractors to use subcontractors to complete a large job or for a specialty, such as electrical work. When you are talking to a potential contractor, make sure to ask if they plan to use subcontractors to complete your job and if so, get a list of the subcontractor’s names. Check out the list of subcontractors just like you would the contractor- make sure they are licensed and bonded, and look them up on websites such asAngie’s List, where you can read real reviews from people who have worked with them before.


3) Request an Itemized Bid

While it might be nice to meet with a contractor, get a price and move forward with the work, don’t rush past the important details. After your contractor gives you a price, ask them for an itemized bid. An itemized bid will break down the cost for each element of the job so that you can see exactly what you are paying for and exactly how much each element will cost. According, requesting itemized bids is not an uncommon practice and if your contractor balks at providing one, consider it a major red flag.


4) Don’t always choose the lowest bid

It is tempting to save money and hire the contractor that gives the lowest bid, but home repair is not the place to cut corners. When repairing your home, you want to make sure the repair is up to standard and will last for the remainder of your home’s life. If you hire the contractor with the lowball bid, be aware that you may end up repairing the same issue in a few years when the work doesn’t hold up. Invest in your home and hire a quality contractor who will use quality materials and do the repair to standard.

What to Do Before, During and After a Hurricane


With endless beaches, turquoise water, sunny skies and endless outdoor activities, there is no denying that life in Florida is a little slice of paradise. But even paradise occasionally has bad weather, and for Florida that means hurricane season. With Hurricane Matthew quickly approaching, here’s a quick refresher of what to do before, during and after a hurricane:


Unlike tornados, hurricanes give plenty of time to prepare. Take this head start seriously and begin preparing as soon as a hurricane threat arises.

  • Walk around the perimeter of your home and bring in any patio furniture, barbeques and anything else that can become airborne in high winds. gov points out that while you may be tempted to store your propane tank in your garage. Instead, anchor it outside – never store propane tanks indoors.
  • Stock up on batteries, locate your flashlights, get cash out of the ATM, restock your emergency supply kit, purchase at least one gallon of water per family member, fill your car up with gas, stock your car with emergency supplies and make sure you have plenty of non-perishable food.
  • If you have a saw, make sure to pack it in your car. If you are evacuating or coming back after an evacuation, a saw will help to navigate tree-blocked roads.
  • Keep your cell phone charged and have a back-up charger ready
  • Cover all windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood or custom fit hurricane shutters.


  • If you are in an area that is being told to evacuate, evacuate sooner than later.
  • If you are not in an evacuation zone, make sure to close the storm shutters and stay far away from any windows and skylights and ride out the storm in your most interior room with no windows, such as a walk in closet or bathroom.
  • Keep your battery operated radio nearby and frequently turn it on to check for updates.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting possbible and keep the doors shut to maintain the cold in case power is lost.
  • If you think your home may flood, Florida Travel Expert Dawn Henthorn suggests turning off the electricity at the main breaker as a precaution.
  • Above all, do not go outside until all clear has been given.


  • Only return home after the all clear has been given.
  • Be vigilant about downed power lines and trees and do not walk or drive through water as it may be electrically charged from downed power lines, according to gov.
  • Take pictures of your property for your insurance company. Many insurance companies won’t cover damage that occurs after the hurricane, so make sure you have photos to prove what damage was caused by the storm.
  • Only call 911 for life threatening emergencies and call the utility company to report downed power lines.
  • Take steps to immediately prevent further damage, such as sealing broken windows or preventing more water from getting in through a damaged roof.


Stay safe!

3 Fall Homeowner Tips for Floridians


Living in Florida we are fortunate to have long, drawn out summers followed by slightly cooler falls and very mild winters. Even though our winters are mild, there are still a few important steps you should take this fall to ensure your Florida home is ready for the change in temperature.

1) Gutter time

Between summer showers and Hurricane season, it’s safe to say that Florida gets its fair share of rain over the summer and early fall. Rain can cause havoc on gutters, so do yourself a favor and break out the ladder to see how those gutters survived the downpours. Blocked gutters can result in a headache if they are too clogged for water to properly drain and may drain in to your windows or through your roof, resulting in some unpleasant and completely avoidable water damage. Additionally, gutters loaded with wet leaves and other debris can pull the gutters down, leaving your siding vulnerable to rot. Take the easy steps to prevent this and do a quick and easy gutter check. If your gutters are in need of some TLC, Bob Vila recommends using gloves, a mask, safety goggles and a ladder to scoop the leaves into a garbage bag then rinse with a high-pressure nozzle.


2. Fire Prevention

With winter and fall comes extra time in the kitchen cooking for Thanksgiving and baking Christmas sweets with loved ones. Take a moment now and ensure that your smoke detectors are up to the job. Test and replace the batteries so that you have the peace of mind knowing that if a kitchen mishap does happen, you and your guests will be alerted right away. Also, be sure to keep your fire extinguisher in the same place and regularly check its expiration date- a fire is not the time to realize you don’t know where the extinguisher is.

3. Check for Drafts

During the summer months, caulking is more likely to dry out due to the heat, especially here in Florida with the abundance of sun. Take some time this fall to check your windows and doors for air drafts caused by dried up or morphed caulking. According, a good way to check the caulking of a door is to shut the door on a dollar bill. If you can pull it out with ease, you are losing energy. If you do need to replace your caulking, remember that not all caulk is the same. Use this chart from to determine what type of caulk will get the job done. Re-caulking your doors and windows won’t take you much time, but you are sure to see the benefits on your energy bill.


Happy Fall!