Fantastic Fall Activities!

I’m like most people in that I LOVE the season of fall! The cooler air, the nice breeze, the leaves changing (except not so much in FL), the pumpkins, Halloween, and of course, all of the fun activities there are to do. I figured I’d take a break from real estate-related posts and do something fun, so here’s a list of some of my favorite fantastic fall activities!

  1. Haunted Houses/Forests/Theme Parks: I am a chicken when it comes to haunted attractions, but I LOVE them still! They get me more ready for Halloween, provide lots of laughs, and make me feel like a kid again. Whether it’s a house, a forest, or theme park haunted attractions, you can’t go wrong! In the Tampa Bay area, you can find all three. One of my favorites is Hallowscream because there’s several different-themed haunted houses, and you can also still ride the coasters and other rides! It’s a two-for-one and so much fun!
  2. Pumpkin Patches and Carvings: I have so many good memories from visiting pumpkin patches. You can go on hayrides, find your pumpkin, and even pet lots of animals. Many pumpkin patches around here also feature good food, art/craft booths, and other fall-related activities like apple picking. Of course, my favorite part is probably actually getting to carve a pumpkin. I enjoy deciding on how I want my pumpkin to look, emptying its guts, and carving it to be set out front. Nothing says I’m ready for Halloween like a Jack-o-Lantern!
  3. Decorating the Home: I am obsessed with decorating for holidays. When it hit October 1st, you better believe that my fall and Halloween decorations were put out! There’s just so many cute and cozy things you can decorate with for fall, as well as so many variations. I’ve seen a lot of the fake white pumpkins being used this year, in addition to the orange ones, and it looks AMAZING! I enjoy my leaf-shaped holders that I put potpourri in. For whatever reason, no matter what pieces are used to decorate, it always seems to make me feel more at peace.
  4. Halloween Gatherings: I’m an adult, but still get as excited as I did when I was a kid (maybe even more) to dress up as something for Halloween. Parties and get-togethers allow me to still come up with a creative and/or funny costume to wear to celebrate. I also love getting together to celebrate Halloween because there are so many ways you can make food Halloween-themed. For instance, last year I made mummified jalapeno poppers. Not only did they look adorable, but they were a huge hit for their taste! That’s a win-win in my book. 
  5. Hiking: With the nice fall breeze and warm sun still shining through, fall gives the perfect weather for hikes/walks. You can enjoy a walk without being bundled up, and also without  sweating like crazy. Even my dogs seem to enjoy walks more this time of year! Hiking also gives you more access to the changing leaves, which is probably the one thing I miss about Maryland. If you’ve never ventured out of FL to see the fall leaves, DO IT…DO IT NOW! It is a sight to see! 

There’s so many other fall activities I enjoy, but these are definitely my favorites! What do you love to do during the season of fall??

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Video- Why Use a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home?

In case you don’t really like reading as much as watching… here’s a video to explain why you should use a real estate agent to sell your home! 🙂

Why Use a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home?

There are many people who attempt to sell their homes on their own, without a real estate agent. There are very few people who actually end up selling their home on their own. Those who do end up selling on their own typically lose more money in the deal than if they had gone with an agent and paid a commission. Is the headache really worth it? Eh, it depends on your lifestyle, I guess.

Real estate agents offer so much to the home selling process. So, without any more jibber jabbering, here are 8 reasons why you should use a real estate agent to sell your home!

  1. PRICING: Many realtors provide sellers with a comparative market analysis to find “the right price” to sell a home at. My company provides potential sellers with a SPA. No, not a relaxing day at the spa, but rather a Strategic Pricing Analysis. We look at more than just what similar homes are currently listed at, then give a range with a basic timeline. Most owners go wrong with their pricing; they list it too high or too low and typically don’t have as much data to back it up. Having it priced right attracts more potential buyers, and I hate to break it to ya, but Zestimates are rarely accurate!
  2. MORE EXPOSURE: Did you know that approximately 97% of buyers are ONLINE?! Real estate agents have an online presence. My company puts our listings on 800+ websites to give sellers maximum exposure. A yard sign that says “For Sale By Owner” and a Zillow listing just aren’t enough in today’s technological world. Besides online presence, most buyers work with an agent and agents are rarely going to take a buyer to a home that’s not listed by another agent.
  3. BETTER HOME PRESENTATION: Presentation is EVERYTHING! Real estate agents give advice on staging and presentation to make showings go smoothly. Beyond that, most owners who sell on their own, also take their own pictures which are typically sub-par at best. We hire professional photographers to get the job done right! Great pictures truly does mean more interest in the home since most buyers find homes online. When my husband and I bought our home, we almost didn’t even visit it because there were awful pictures online!
  4. HIGHER OFFERS: People trust working with real estate agents. They usually don’t trust a random stranger whom they don’t know anything about. Agents help make sure the property is seen by lots of people. This, in turn, can create more competition, and thus higher offers.
  5. NEGOTIATION: Agents are used to negotiating deals in a professional way. Not only do agents assist in negotiations related to offers/contracts, but they also can negotiate when it comes to inspections. If an appraisal doesn’t seem quite right, agents can “fight” them. HUGE PERK!
  6. FASTER CLOSING TIME: There’s a ton of paperwork involved throughout the closing process. At my company, we have a team who handles the paperwork multiple times a day, so the process is sped up. Paperwork is all completed, checked over, and submitted quickly. Agents also keep the closing process on track, coordinating between the buyer, seller, title company, inspectors, appraisers, loan companies, etc.
  7. SELLS AT TOP DOLLAR: When it comes down to it, most people end up selling their own homes for much less than they could have gotten through an agent, even with commissions being included. Many times owners spend more money trying to get their home ready to sell than they needed to. An agent knows how to spend the least amount of money, while still getting the best presentation of the home as possible.
  8. LESS HEADACHE FOR THE SELLER: It takes a lot to set up showings, to schedule with buyers, to deal with people who have no intention of buying, etc. The paperwork can be very tricky, as there can be 20+ pages of paperwork and addendums needed. Save yourself time and liability by using an agent who can handle ALL of this and the other 100+ tasks!

    Just as this meme says, USE A PROFESSIONAL!

Tampa Bay is Here to Stay!

Phew! Finally things around Tampa Bay are getting back to normal after 2+ weeks of craziness from Hurricane Irma. The hurricane impacted us in this area greatly, but not catastrophically, thank goodness. So, I’m happy to say that Tampa Bay is Here to Stay! 

If you’re already living in this region, you know that it has an endless amount of things to do. Sometimes even though you’ve lived in an area for awhile, you forget just how much there is, though. If you’re thinking of moving to the Tampa Bay area, stop thinking about it and (to quote Nike) “JUST DO IT!” So, whether you already live here or you’re planning on moving here, I give you…. The TOP 10 Things I Love about Tampa Bay! (in no particular order)

  1. SUNSHINE: If you don’t like blue skies and sunshine, then Tampa Bay is not for you! This area has sunshine just about every day. Sunshine makes people happy, and happy people are usually more nice…that’s my theory and I’m sticking with it! This sunshine (along with the lack of cold and snow) allows you to enjoy the outdoors year round. No winter slump in this area, that’s for sure!
  2. BEACHES: There are SO MANY beaches within the region. Not just ordinary beaches either; Tampa Bay is home to some of the best beaches in the U.S. Enjoy the white, soft sand of Siesta Key, the serene beach of Indian Rocks, or the fun atmosphere of Clearwater. There’s a beach for everyone and for whatever mood you’re in! The warmer water makes the beaches around here even more enjoyable. The beautiful beach sunsets, boating, and fishing don’t hurt either!
  3. RESTAURANTS: My husband and I are HUGE foodies. We love trying new restaurants and new foods. He even had (and by had, I mean tricked) me into eating beef tongue in Costa Rica! Since moving here over 3 years ago, we’ve had maybe one bad meal. That’s saying a lot about the area! There are so, so, so many non-chain restaurants that are unique and delicious. One of our favorite parts of the restaurants we eat at is that everything is so fresh, between the vegetables, fruits, and fish especially.
  4. MARKETS/FOOD TRUCKS: With the sunshine that’s year-round, comes markets that can also be year round. Many of the cities and town around Tampa Bay hold Saturday markets to get fresh produce and whatnot. Markets are just fun to go to, as are food trucks. This area has tons of different food trucks. Outside of bars and breweries you’ll typically see at least one food truck offering you a tasty, inexpensive treat.
  5. BREWERIES: I was in awe when I moved down here (and sometimes still am) with the amount of breweries and tap houses there are in Tampa Bay. They are seriously everywhere! The breweries provide a relaxed atmosphere, and of course, lots of unique, delicious brews! A lot of them also have games such as cornhole, giant Jenga, shuffleboard, etc., plus live music! You can’t beat the environment in the breweries!
  6. SPECIAL EVENTS: When is there not something going on in this area? Pretty much the only time there isn’t a special event is when a Cat 5 hurricane is headed our way. There is ALWAYS something going on. There are concerts in parks, movies on beaches, Friday live band events, beer festivals, parades, races, food festivals, outdoor yoga events, bar crawls, etc. etc. etc. I could go on and on! You’ll never be bored here!
  7. AFFORDABILITY: Coming from up North in Maryland, this area is so much more affordable. Rent, homes, gas, groceries, beer, you name it…it’s cheaper here. When I think of affordability here, I also think of all you get that’s free.. Obviously somewhere like Oklahoma (sorry Chris and Annie..I have to pick on you!) has a much lower cost of living than the Tampa Bay area. But, let’s be honest, is there as much to do there as here? NO WAY! So, while yes, OK is cheaper to live in, this area has so many FREE events and things to do that it cancels out the cost difference.
  8. NICE, RELAXED PEOPLE: It could just be from all that sunshine, or maybe it’s from all the fun activities in the area, but people are just so friendly here! When you check out at a store, the cashier typically tries to have a conversation with you, as do people in line. I see so many smiles, people lending helping hands to each other, and more. Maybe this is just my experience after growing up in the DMV, but people are way more chill here and I absolutely believe it has contributed to me becoming more relaxed and happy.
  9. SPORTS: We have the Tampa Bay Rays, the Bucs, the Lightning. There’s 3+ college teams within a reasonable drive (Gators, Bulls, Noles). On top of the professional teams, St. Pete holds the Grand Prix each year, as well as volleyball tournaments. Furthermore, there are many rec sports team for you to participate in.. again, YEAR ROUND!
  10. PROXIMITY:  Location, location, location! Tampa Bay is close to TONS of awesome places! There is an international airport within Tampa to get you to other states fast. However, within driving distance you have Busch Gardens, beaches (obviously), the Everglades, Disney World, Key West, several cruise ports, Lego Land, Miami, St. Augustine, and the list goes on and on. Can you say weekend trips?!The Tampa Bay area is PARADISE and I absolutely LOVE living here!

Hurricane Irma

Well, after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, and now Hurricane Irma is on its way to Florida, I don’t think a post related to real estate makes any sense right now. So, with that being said, all I want to put out there is:

BE SAFE. BE SMART. BE PREPARED. 

My family isn’t evacuating, but we are keeping an eye on things. I am constantly checking my phone for updates on the projected path. If it does end up taking a turn towards the west, we will probably end up heading north depending on how bad it is supposed to be. Unfortunately though, my husband is a manager at Target and will still have to work. They only close when there’s a mandatory evacuation.

We’ve gotten a bunch of water, have lots of non-perishable food, and are putting valuables and documents in water-safe containers. Things will be put in closets, up on shelves in case we flood. It doesn’t seem like we will be getting flood-like rain here, but it’s better to be prepared! We will be boarding up windows because of the strength of winds we are expecting. I’ve already taken pictures of our home and everything in it, including serial numbers of higher-priced items. These are stored on my drive that way if something does happen, it will be easier to deal with insurance.

Our neighborhood has a lot of huge, old oaks. My husband will trim what he can around our home, but there really isn’t much we can do to prevent parts of trees from falling on the roof. In that case, we can just be prepared inside and have an escape plan.

Now onto my pride and joy… my two pups! We’ve thought of how to keep them safe and sound during this if it does get bad or we lose power too. We have enough dog food, bought pee pads in case it’s too bad outside, and bought more treats just in case. We’ve also filled Tupperware containers with water and have them in our freezer to ensure they get enough water as well.

I’m not a hurricane prep expert, but I have been doing a lot of reading on my own to make sure we do everything we can to be safe, be smart, and be prepared.