Archive for December 2016

5 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Condo


Owning a condominium is a dream for many, and with benefits such as unparalleled views or the location of your dream, it’s easy to see why condo ownership is sought-after. However, when shopping for a condo its important to remember that condos are slightly different than single family homes or townhomes. Here are five guidelines to keep in mind when looking to purchase a condo.

  • Know the rules

Each condo association has their own set of rules and regulations. Some rules are obvious, such as assigned parking spaces, but some rules are going to be more specific to the particular condo. Before you fall head over heels for a condo and are ready to commit, make sure your Realtor gets you a copy of the condo docs for you and spend the time to read through them to make sure none of the rules and regulations are deal breakers for you. If you have a pet, make sure you have the pet policy in writing and that your pet doesn’t violate any size restrictions.

  • Hire the right Realtor

Hiring a Realtor who has experience with condos is critical. Condos are not like single family homes, and they aren’t like apartments either. Condos are a unique hybrid and in many ways they offer the best of both worlds, but with that comes a unique set of issues to address before anything is finalized. The right Realtor will guide you through the process and know what questions to ask so that six months in you aren’t blindsided with a huge assessment.

  • Privacy

Usually condos feature unmatched views or the best location in town, but with those luxuries you might have to sacrifice some privacy. If you are seeking complete privacy, a single family home is the way to go. With a condo, you are going to be sharing the common outdoor space, but you likely also be close enough to hear your neighbors music or conversation when they are on their balcony just a few feet from you. On the flip side, having your neighbors so close creates a strong community bond and can even act as a built-in social network. Some condos do offer more privacy than others, so make sure to look at several condos to get a good feel of what level of privacy you can live with.

  • Condo Dues

Condos are located in a shared building, so in order to properly maintain the building and the outdoor space each owner needs to chip in. While paying an extra monthly fee on top of your mortgage might make you grimace, remember at the end of the day that making sure the building is well maintained is in your best interest as a condo owner- if your condo is located in a building that’s falling apart, you can bet your condo value plummets. Also, think about expenses that come with owning a single family home- utilities, heat, water… these are often the expenses that are rolled up into condo fees, in addition to things like building maintenance and insurance.

  • Condo Assessments

Condo assessments are a large fee that can be placed upon owners when there is a significant repair for the building is needed and the reserves are underfunded. Condo assessments are always planned, so when buying a condo make sure talk to the homeowners association and find out if there is an assessment coming up. Just remember that like homeownership, unexpected expenses are bound to happen. That could mean everything from paying an unexpected assessment to repair hurricane damage to the building or a planned assessment to replace the building roof – at the end of the day, do yourself a favor and set aside a couple thousand in the event the unexpected happens. If that’s just not practical, The Wall Street Journal recommends looking into a loss-assessment rider in your insurance policy to cover a small portion of the increase in premiums.

Sarah & Tim

Florida Life Real Estate Group

Do I need a Realtor when building a new construction home?

new construction







Purchasing a new construction home is a big decision and an exciting one. Picking out paint colors, cabinets and flooring to fit your taste is an exciting benefit to choosing to purchase a new-construction home. So, you’ve found a lot and a builder and you are getting ready to build the home of your dreams. The hard work is over, right? Unfortunately, many people assume that by finding a lot and a builder they can forgo working with a Realtor. Here are some important reasons why you should always hire a Realtor to represent you when building a new home.

  • Someone to represent your best interests

When you are working with a builder to design and build your new home, you will be working with the builder representative the design and work through all of the details. While builder reps are good at their jobs, its important to remember that they are being paid to represent the builder and have the builders best interest at heart, not yours. When you choose to work with a Realtor, you are hiring someone who has your best interest at heart, not the homebuilders.

  • It doesn’t cost a thing

You know that you don’t actually pay anything for a Realtor to represent you, right? The Realtor’s commission comes out of the sellers share, not the buyers. So, when you are making a major life decision with a significant amount of money, why would you forgo professional representation? Not only that, but a Realtor will work to negotiate the best deal possible for you. A well-known secret is that homebuilders do not like to negotiate because it sets a precedent for future home sales. So, if you go about negotiating with a homebuilder on your own, chances are slim that you actually be able to get yourself a good deal. Instead, hire a Realtor who has experience negotiating hundreds of deals and knows exactly how to approach it, saving you money and stress.

  • Inspection Protection

A good Realtor is well-versed in the inspection process and can guide you through each and every inspection. Inspections are a big deal anytime you buy a new home, but especially when you are building it from the ground up. Each construction milestone constitutes a new inspection, and if the worst case-scenario happened and one of the inspections revealed a severe defect, would you still be stuck with the house? If you hired a good Realtor to represent you, they would make sure that you are covered with the proper inspection contingencies in case something does go awry.

Sarah & Tim

Florida Life Real Estate Group

What to Look for in a Neighborhood


Choosing your neighborhood is almost as big of a deal as choosing your home. A neighborhood has a big affect on the home’s value and the potential to sell the home in the future. Here are some things to consider when choosing a neighborhood.

  • Safety

Feeling safe in your neighborhood is a top priority, and while there is no guarantee with any neighborhood, do your homework and be diligent about looking up the crime rates on each neighborhood you are interested in. With Neighborhood Scout you can find the lowest crime neighborhoods in a city and even compare crime rate to neighborhood crime rates nationwide. Most of the information available on Neighborhood Scout is free, but the extra data reports are available with purchase. When you are making an investment as large as a house, don’t skimp – pay extra for the comprehensive report on your neighborhood.

  • Schools

Living in a neighborhood zoned for a highly rated school is important if you have kids, but it is also means that your property value will be higher due to the high demand of families looking to live in that neighborhood. When researching neighborhoods, use a resource such as to find ratings and parent reviews. While there are many benefits to living near a school, don’t forget to drive by the neighborhood at the beginning of school and when school releases for the day so that you can see what the traffic would be like if you lived there and how it would affect your commute.

  • Shopping and restaurants

Being able to walk to your favorite coffee shop or restaurant is not only a nice amenity, its one that people will pay for. According to the Business Insider, homes that are close to a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods grew more rapidly in value. Take a stroll around your prospective neighborhood and take note of any Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods you see, but don’t discredit other grocery stores either- having any grocery store near you when you are missing that last critical ingredient will never backfire on you.

  • Parks

Not just recreational parks- dog parks also play a factor in a great neighborhood. Parks not only attract families to the area, they also provide that much-needed patch of nature in the middle of a concrete jungle. Just be aware that not all parks add instant value. Visit the park in person and check it out- does no one in the neighborhood use the park? Is the playground equipment old and rusted? Visiting the park in person also gives you a good opportunity to talk to any neighbors at the park. Don’t hesitate to get their opinion on the neighborhood and the park itself.

Sarah & Tim

Florida Life Real Estate Group

Local Business Spotlight: Southern Trends

Southern Trends

It’s not everyday you find a small town that has maintained its charm despite experiencing considerable growth. For New Smyrna Beach, these two have gone hand and hand, largely thanks to the many local businesses that call New Smyrna home. This week we are featuring a local business that has been integral in keeping New Smyrna charming and is equally charming itself Southern Trends Home Furnishings.

On the outside, the Southern Trends building looks like just a home furnishing store, but any local will be quick to tell you its much more than that. Locals and tourists alike stop by Southern Trends for recommendations on lawyers, doctors, places to eat, and of course, furniture.

“We are a destination,” said Glenn Jones, Sr., the founder of Southern Trends. “People come in here for information.”

“We are sort of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, when they are closed. We’ve referred people to doctors, lawyers…” explained Cindy, Glenn’s wife.

This dedication to intimately knowing their community is part of what has set Southern Trends apart from their corporate competition for the 32 years they have been in business.

Glenn Sr.’s parents owned the Southern Trends building, which housed their appliance store. After college, Glenn Sr. took over the building and opened a home furnishings store in place of the appliance store. This year marks their 32nd year in business, making Southern Trends a bit of a landmark here in New Smyrna. Of course, this also means that Southern Trends has seen lot during their 32 years on Canal Street.

During the recession, the Jones family realized Canal Street businesses needed more community support to survive, so Cindy took action and volunteered as the President of Canal Street.

“We recognized that there had to be something different, so we created the Christmas on Canal event and gave hope to the businesses that were still here,” said Cindy.

During that time, vacancy on Canal Street was 60%, the worst in this decade, said Glenn Jr. “She and a couple of others really turned Canal Street around,” he said.

In addition to bringing new life to Canal Street, the Jones family made the bold decision to renovate their building in the middle of the recession.

“People were asking why are you doing that? And we said we aren’t going anywhere,” said Glenn Jr., showing the family’s confidence and commitment to staying in New Smyrna and seeing New Smyrna thrive again.

Their commitment paid off, and these days Southern Trends is enjoying a new chapter of Canal Street.

“I’ve been here for 32 years doing this and we’ve had some great years and some bad years but they are good right now,” said Glenn Sr.

In fact, Southern Trends has earned such a golden reputation that they rarely advertise and instead rely on referrals from satisfied customers.

“We do a lots of little special things that really make people feel special and honored and that we really do appreciate their business,” said Cindy.

If you are in the market for some new furniture, be sure to check out Southern Trends. As a family run business, you won’t find commissioned sales associates but instead a local family who helps make this community what it is.

As always, if you are looking to make New Smyrna your home, please contact us and we will help you make your Florida life a reality!

Happy shopping!

Sarah & Tim

Florida Life Real Estate Group