New Year’s Eve 2014 West Palm Beach, Florida

In just days, we’ll be celebrating a new year-2015! There’s no better way to send out the old year and bring in the new than in the tropical setting of West Palm Beach, Florida.

From fun places to dine along Clematis Street to the water front, West Palm Beach is a great place to spend New Year’s Eve.

While you’re there, check out the 600 ton Sand Tree, Sandy! This one of a kind tree, made entirely of sand, is truly spectacular and your last chance to see it is on New Year’s Eve.

You can also enjoy falling snow on the plaza at City Place, a festival marketplace in West Palm that’s worth the visit.

For more about special activities for celebrating in West Palm Beach, click here 

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2014 Holiday Parades And Events In West Palm Beach

holiday parade wellingtonThere’s no place like South Florida for the holidays! Let’s face it, most of the time our weather is exceptional during the holidays allowing us to be outside enjoying light displays, parades and other holiday events.

Maybe it’s because the weather is so good here during November and December, more people can get outside to decorate their homes and lawns to create some of the most dazzling light displays in the country. Unlike other parts of the country, we don’t have to think about taking lights and decorations down in  freezing termperatures, ice or snow storms. Most years we get to put up and take down our decorations in our shorts while wearing sunscreen!

There are neighborhoods that do an incredible job of decorating for each holiday season. Perhaps you’ve seen the lights in neighborhoods like The Heights in Jupiter (right off I-95 and Donald Ross Rd.) or the absolutely mind-blowing displays individual home owners construct during the holidays in neighborhoods all over our area.

It’s Holiday Time and here are some links to great events you, your family and friends can enjoy this year!

In West Palm Beach:  http://wpb.org/events/ 

In Wellington:              http://www.cpbchamber.com/event/wellington-holiday-parade/

In Jupiter:                     http://www.jupiter.fl.us/index.aspx?NID=231

In Royal Palm Beach: http://www.pottcevents.com/rpb-festival-of-lights.html

And, if you’re never seen this home all decked out in holidays lights that cover almost every square inch, this one is a must see in Lake Worth!  http://jackselectric.com/

Happy Holidays to you and yours! We hope it’s a special season for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Actually Adds Value To Your Home?

florida homeWhen it comes to home improvement projects, it’s important to know which ones actually add value to your home and which don’t increase your home’s value. Many of us think projects and renovations add value because WE appreciate those changes or additions to our property–don’t fall victim to that mindset.

Here are some renovations or upgrades that may not pay the dividends in the real estate market you think they should.

1) Swimming Pools: Even though South Florida would seem to be the perfect place to own or add a pool, that’s not always the case when it comes to increasing your home’s value. Many homebuyers, especially those with small children, tend to shy away from a home with a pool for various reasons including safety and yearly maintenance costs. If you’re buying a home that already has a pool that’s one thing but many homeowners who invest in a pool are often surprised those building costs don’t increase a home’s value as much as they thought it would.

2) Expensive Landscaping: So, you love all the plants, shrubs, palm trees and vegetation you’ve added to your property and you’re just sure all that work and invested money will increase your home’s value. The fact is, landscaping often does nothing more than add curb appeal to your home.  There are those who don’t want the hassle of dealing with the constant growth, trimming, pruning, etc. of your precious landscaping.  Bottom line; don’t expect eye-catching landscaping to increase your property’s value.

3) Overbuilding in Your Neighborhood:  Many people don’t consider the homes that surround them when they decide to further develop their own home. The fact is, if your home has been upgraded to point that goes significantly beyond the norm for your neighborhood, it’s likely you’ll never get most of the money you’ve spent back when you decide to sell. If you have a $300,000 home (in upgrades and renovations) in a neighborhood of homes that sell for an average price of $200,000, you’ve overbuilt for your neighborhood. Most home buyers are most likely going to want to live in a home surrounded by other homes of similar value.

4)  Upgrades That Are High-End: To add expensive counter tops, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, etc. will probably NOT increase your home’s value if there are other areas of the home that haven’t been upgraded. Granite counter tops are great in a home with consistent upgrades throughout the home but they’ll do nothing to increase your home’s value if the flooring or other areas of the home are “dated”. High-end homes with upgrades are far more likely to realize added value as opposed to mid-range homes with some expensive upgrades. If the upgrades are inconsistent with the rest of the house, don’t expect to get that money back at the time of sale.

5) Wall-To-Wall Carpeting: There are a lot of home buyers who just don’t want to deal with the expense of having to replace carpeting or the cost of cleaning it on a regular basis. There are even concerns these days about carpeting’s negative effects on health due to chemicals in its processing or even allergens. Bottom line, don’t expect the carpeting you love to be something potential home buyers love. You may even consider removing carpeting and restoring the flooring underneath if that’s a possibility.

Do your research before spending a lot of money on renovations, additions or upgrades to your home. Consult with a qualified real estate professional BEFORE you part with the money you think is going to improve your property’s value.

By spending a little time researching those “improvements”, you’ll minimize any surprises about the value of YOUR home when it comes time to consider selling.

 

Source: Investopdia.com

Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal On A Budget

It doesn’t have to be costly to improve your home’s curb appeal. Now that we’re nearing the end of our wet season, it’s a good time to make plans to improve your home’s appeal from the street.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Buy Mulch

In some areas of florida, free mulch may be available from city and county agencies. Mulch not only minimizes weed growth but it helps to give your lawn that “freshly landscaped” look.

Check The Door

A fresh coat of paint and even updated handles will give your entranceway more appeal. Brush off cobwebs and check light fixtures to make sure all bulbs are in working order.

Use Some Old Fashioned Elbow Grease

Wash dirty mailboxes, dirty doors, patios and fences. Borrow or rent a pressure washer to clean sidewalks and spots on your driveway. Finishing the project with diluted bleach (pool bleach) will give your finished job even more of a “cleaned look”.

Buy Some Paint

Paint is a very easy and affordable way to add a new look to your home. Maybe your front door and window frames could use an updated look-paint will do the trick.

Make Sure Your Lawn Is Cared For

Use a good lawn fertilizer with weed control to give you lawn a healthy appearance.  Use a weed control agent such as Roundup to kill and control weeds.  Make sure shrubs are trimmed and “cared for”.  If you have bare spots in your lawn, purchase individual pieces of sod to cover those spots or use grass seed on certain types of lawns.

It really doesn’t take a whole lot of work to give your home the curb appeal you want. Make it a project for the family!

Have fun and enjoy your updated, cleaner look!

Source: MSN.com

 

 

 

Hiring A Contractor? Protect Yourself

computer researchHow many times have we watched television reports about homeowners who got subpar work from a contractor or, even worse, paid for work that was never completed.

It’s important to know how to hire the right contractor for repairs, renovations or home additions.

Here are some important key points to review BEFORE you hire a contractor to perform work on your home.

Do Your Research

Before beginning your search for a general contractor, designer or specialty contractor, do some research. Ask friends, neighbors or even co-workers about contractors they’ve used.  Check web sites that post reviews and ratings about contractors. If there are lots of red flags about certain contractors, you may want to look elsewhere-don’t take the risk of hiring someone who has that kind of negative feedback.

Make Sure They’re Licensed

In the state of Florida, most work performed to your home must be performed by a licensed contractor. Here’s a handy link to help you to determine which kinds of repairs, etc. require a licensed contractor. http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/pro/division/Servicesthatrequirealicense_Construction.html

Get Estimates Before You Hire A Contractor

It’s tempting to choose the lowest bidder for your repairs or home improvements but that isn’t always the best idea. Make sure you get several written estimates from contractors and if there’s a significant difference in pricing, ask why.

Ask About Permits And References

For most building projects, permits are required. Actually, permits are required for other projects like the installation of an air conditioning unit, water heater or garage door.  Good, competent contractors know they need to obtain the necessary permit before beginning a job. Make sure the contractor you hire obtains the appropriate permit or permits for the work they are performing for you.

Also, ask for references. Good contractors won’t have a problem providing you with names of recent clients they’ve worked for. It’s always a good idea to ask for refererences.

Understand Payment Options

If a project is small, you can usually pay by check or credit card. For larger projects, you may want to arrange financing.   Check with your local consumer agency to find out how much of a down payment a contractor can require for work to be performed. Here’s a link to agencies in Florida http://www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/florida.shtml

Make payments during the project that are contingent upon defined amounts of work. If a project is taking longer than expected, your contractor won’t have your money before the project is completed.

Make Sure You Get A Written Contract

There’s a saying, and it’s worth remembering, that “if it isn’t in writing…it isn’t”!

Make sure you get a written contract that clearly outlines the scope of work including the who, what, where, when, and cost of your project. Review pertinent information about the contractor you’re hiring and review everything from payment schedules to permits and warranties on work performed or materials that are installed.  MAKE SURE you keep records of  the contract and payments you’ve made to a contractor. It’s a good idea to have a file on each project to make sure paperwork is in one place.

Also, don’t release the final payment until you are completely satisfied with the work that has been performed.

One other note, some contractors hire “sub-contractors” for jobs. It’s important to make sure sub-contractors meet the same licensing guidelines as main contractors who are working for you.

By doing some homework beforehand and knowing how to proceed with repairs and improvements you want to make to your home or property, you can minimize problems.

Source: Federal Trade Commission

USA.gov

Myfloridalicense.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Prepare Your Home For Florida’s Rainy Season

rainIt’s amazing, isn’t it?  The rainy season in south Florida generally arrives each year anytime from the third week of May to the first week of June. This year, our rains arrived closer to the earlier start time, late May.

This is the time of year that, as a homeowner, it’s prudent to prepare your home for the torrential rains that are sure to come during the summer months and into early fall.

We’ve compiled a quick check-list you can use to make sure your home is ready for our wettest months of the year.

1) Know if your property is above or below the flood level and if your specific area has a history of flooding. During the past few years, homeowners in our area were caught off guard by unusually heavy rains that caused major flooding in neighborhoods that had never experienced significant flooding. Call your local planning or zoning office to find out if you’re in a flood zone.

2) Check caulk around windows and doors to prevent water from making its way inside your home.

3) Trim or have someone trim dead branches from trees that could fall during a storm which could fall on your home and cause damage.

4) Make sure sewer drains near your property are free from leaves and debris. Don’t count on your municipality to check these drains-it may not happen. You want to make sure drains around your property have the best chance of draining water away from property.

5) Lower the water level of your pool. With the heavy rains we experience in Florida, it’s not unusual to have to drain your pool on an almost daily basis when we receive multiple days of heavy rain. Keep an eye on your pool’s water level to make sure it doesn’t overflow. Water from your pool, because it’s often chlorinated, can kill grass when overflow makes its way onto your lawn.

6) Make a visual inspection inside your home by looking up at ceilings in each room to detect possible roof leaks. If you see a wet spot or a  leak, don’t panic but call a qualified and trustworthy roofing contractor to fix it. Get multiple quotes and ask friends to refer (licensed) contractors they’ve used to fix leaks.  Often, homeowners receive quotes that vary greatly for repair jobs so it’s important to get a few bids from roofers before hiring one to work on your home.

7) Be prepared!  In August of 2012, areas of  south Florida received over 15 inches of rain within a day and many neighborhoods and streets became impassable. Make sure you have a flashlight, batteries, etc. and keep important documents stored in an easily accessible waterproof storage box.

8) If water is making its way into your home, turn off the electricity. Make sure it’s not turned back on until everything has dried out. Know where your electrical panel is located in your home.

9) One final tip about or rainy season-Don’t drive into high water in your vehicle, ever. It’s impossible to know just how deep water is that’s covering the roadway and driving into high water can be extremely dangerous to you and your vehicle.

By giving the thought to these tips, you can make it a safer rainy season for you and your family.

Home Prices Up In March, But Pacing Has Slowed

Palm Beach County Home Sales Numbers April 2014

Palm Beach County Home Sales Numbers April 2014

Palm Beach County real estate numbers are in and for the first time in a year, prices failed to reach a double-digit annual gain. Prices rose 6 percent in March (March 2013-14) indicating real estate rates in the county may be leveling-off a bit.

Year-to year, inventory is just under a six-months’ supply, up 4 percent from the same time last year.

Sales volume in the county continued to increase with 1,369 closed transactions countywide which is a 34 percent increase from February and an 8 percent rise from March 2013.

There were 266 homes listed in Palm Beach County  between $150,000 and $199,000 9 43 percent increase from last year) Approximately 250 new listings were priced between $200,000 and $249,000-a 22 percent jump.

According to experts, an increase in new listings under $250,000 may alleviate some of the buying competition that the market has recently seen between investors and traditional buyers.  In March, almost 50 percent of Palm Beach County home sales were cash transactions, a strong indicator there’s still significant investor activity in the market.

John Tuccillo, chief economist of the Florida Realtors which released the statewide sales information says “What we’re seeing is a market we can live with”.  Florida home sales have outpaced the national trend which showed a 0.2 percent decrease from February and over a 7 percent drop from March 2013 in closed deals.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors says “there really should be a stronger levels of home sales given our population growth. In contrast, price growth is rising faster than historical norms because of inventory shortages”.

With a harsh winter in the northern part of the country, real estate agents say they’re seeing more interest from buyers who want second homes-good for our local market! And with interest rates still historically low (4.34 percent in March of this year) it’s still a great time to buy your dream home in South Florida!

Source: Palm Beach Post http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/business/real-estate/county-home-prices-jump-16-percent-as-sales-slow/nfHdC/