Guide to Mortgage Loan Options

There are so many options out there, so how do you {easily} decide which mortgage loan is the right one for you?!

Use this quick guide {video} to help navigate your way through the most popular mortgage loans!



Relocating: Updating Your Address

Are you moving somewhere new? Maybe to a new city, a new state, or even a new country?


There are many things that have to be done before moving and after moving to make a relocation successful. This post focuses on updating your address. There are lots of companies that need to know your new address. Use this checklist to help you stay on top of this!


Contact companies you currently have bills with so they are aware of your move. Letting them know ahead of time will allow them to transfer your account, or to cancel it if you’re moving to a completely new area with different companies available. These companies include, but aren’t limited to:
1. Electric/Gas
2. Water
3. Sewage
4. Trash/Waste
5. Cable/Internet/Phone
6. Pest Control
7. Home Security


You’ll need to change your permanent address with certain government agencies to ensure a smooth transition. Some of the agencies are:
1. The Department of Motor Vehicles
2. Social Security Administration
3. The IRS
4. Voter Registration Office

Your financial organizations also need to be made aware of your new address, especially for billing purposes. Usually, these can be easily and quickly done online. Be sure to change your address for:
1. Credit Card Companies
2. Banks/Credit Unions
3. Lenders (car, home, personal)

You’ll also want to update your address with the following (if applicable):
1.  Licensing/Certification Boards
2. Magazine/Newspaper Subscriptions
3. Medical (dentist, doctor, pharmacy, etc.)
4. Professional Associations
5. Friends and Family

Relocating can be made less stressful by having a checklist like this handy so that you don’t miss a beat!

If you are relocating to a completely new area and you need help finding a home to buy, let me help you! My company can connect you with a top real estate agent in the area you’re looking to move to. Let us take care of one more thing on your long list of things to worry about for your relocation. 🙂


Want help with your relocation? Call, text, or email me today!
Samantha Kavounis
Century 21 Beggins Realtor

First Time Home Buyer Helpful Hints

Being a first time home buyer is an amazing, yet scary feeling! Where do you even begin on this journey, and what should you expect? Take a look at this video for some helpful hints. Then, read below for even more details on how to prepare yourself!

 1. Figuring out if buying is a good idea: Buying is a great idea for a lot of people who don’t even realize it. I have a whole video on why buying is better than renting, which can be found here. However, I can admit that buying isn’t for some people. Buying a home most likely isn’t for you if you plan to move again in a few years. With high closing costs, it just wouldn’t be a smart investment. Also, if you aren’t willing to maintain or  aren’t able to pay for someone else to maintain the home (including repairs), then you probably aren’t ready to buy. Owning a home is wonderful, but there’s definitely some work that goes into it!

2. Checking/fixing your credit: Unfortunately, identify theft and mistakes with credit can happen that can cause your credit score to decrease. It’s important for you to get a couple credit reports before applying for a loan so there are no surprises. Once this is done, go about fixing any errors, or start working on improving your credit score. You can improve your score by paying down credit card debt and always paying your bills on time. A little bit can go a long way!

3. Find a lender: You want to interview until you find a lender you can really trust. Have them pre-qualify you, and then once you find a home, you can always shop around for the best interest rate. Most agents will not take you to see homes until you have a letter stating you’ve been pre-qualified. Don’t be offended by this; they’re being smart and it’s really in the best interest for you, as a buyer, to have a realistic number in terms of what you can afford.

4. Set your budget for home buying: Your lender can offer some insight into your budget, but you can’t just take his/her word for it. You must remember that you’ll need cash upfront, not only for a down payment, but also for all the closing costs involved in purchasing. Take a look at how much you already spend per month. Consider how much your mortgage, taxes, insurance, and utilities would cost. Once you have this number for all the current and future expenses, see if that’s less than 50% of what you take home as pay each month. If it isn’t, then maybe you need to have a lower budget for the price of a home you can afford. You don’t want to be house rich and cash poor; that’s no fun!

5. Make a list of needs and wants: If you are buying a home with someone else, you both should make your own list of about 5 or so things that you are looking for in a home. Then, compare lists, and together, prioritize your needs over your wants, and make compromises. It is unlikely you’ll find THE “perfect” home, so you need to know what you are willing to give up, as well as what is a non-negotiable. Having realistic expectations will allow for the process to go more smoothly!

6. Find a real estate agent: Hi, I’m an agent right here! I’m only kidding (except not fully). It is super important for you to interview agents in order to find a good fit for YOU. Not everyone has the same shoe size, right? This is the same with agents; not every agent will be your perfect fit. Look at their reviews, but even more importantly, TALK WITH THEM! This will give you so much insight into how he/she is as an agent. Also, as a buyer, YOU DON’T PAY FOR THE AGENT, so make sure you use one! It costs you NOTHING but helps you A TON!

7. Prepare for a roller coaster ride: There will be many ups and downs throughout the home buying process. It may take you awhile to find the home you want to make an offer on. You may fall in love with a home, only to find out a different offer was accepted. An inspection may not be good. Your lender may fall a bit behind, causing the date of closing to change. There are SO MANY pieces that go into purchasing a home which means that there are more chances for something to not go as planned. It’s part of the process! If you go into buying with this in mind, you’ll enjoy the ride rather than scream and run from it!

8. ENJOY!: There’s not much that feels better than finally owning your very own home, especially when it’s your first one. Take time to enjoy the process, but really make the most of soaking in the fact that you now OWN A HOME!


Wonderful Winter Activities

We live in Florida, which is amazing on so many levels; my favorite being that when it’s a “cold” winter day, it’s in the 60’s still. With that being said, sometimes it can be hard to get into the holiday spirit. But, never fear…the Tampa Bay area has a plethora of winter activities to help! 

Here’s just a few that you should definitely check out, or keep on your list for next year!

  1. Lights of Lake Park: It’s called park, but it is actually a FULL neighborhood all decked out in holiday lights! Last year when we went, many homes even had lights that coordinated to music playing. It was seriously amazing, and made me feel like a giddy kid seeing Santa again! Not only is it fun to walk or drive through, but the neighborhood takes donations that all go towards Suncoast Hospice. Enjoy the scenery and creative decorations while feeling good that you’re contributing to a cause! It’s a win-win in my book. Check out the FB event page here.
  2. Boat Parades: Yes, you saw that “s” correctly. There are many lighted boat parades this time of year. My favorite (which I missed this year, but am keeping it on my list for next), is the Madeira Beach “Festival of Lights” Boat Parade. Lit up, decorated boats head down the intracoastal and go through John’s Pass. It is a true sight to see! I love still getting the feeling I live at the beach while enjoying a fun holiday event. There’s a similar boat parade called the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. It’s super similar to the one at Madeira Beach, but if you don’t have your own boat and want to be part of the parade, you can pay to ride on a Catamaran provided by The Florida Aquarium in Tampa. 
  3. Winter Fest: Hosted by the City of Seminole Recreation Department, this kid-centered event features Santa, snow hills, and trains! There’s a tree lighting ceremony, food, crafts, entertainment, and even vendors if you need to get some shopping done. I’ve never been to Winter Fest, as I don’t have kids of my own, but it seems like the perfect family-fun evening! Pictures with Santa from your own camera are allowed and FREE! 
  4. Holiday PJs, Pizza, and Movie Night: John’s Pass has the greatest events, and this is no exception! Wear your holiday PJs while you sit in the Bell Tower area enjoying a movie, or TWO! This year, they’re playing Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. DeLoosa’s Pizzeria will be selling slices of their delicious pizza, as well! So bring a blanket and a chair to enjoy Christmas movies right next to the water. Get more information here.
  5. BalloonaPalooza Winter Spectacular:  Most of these events listed above are free. This event in Tampa costs a little bit of money ($15/adult, $10/kid), but you really get a lot from attending. There’s food, arts & crafts, tethered hot air balloon rides, a carnival, musical entertainment, Santa, hot air balloon night glow show and other surprises. It takes place at the FL State Fairgrounds, so it’s sure to be HUGE! This Palooza truly has so much to offer. 
  6. Ugly Sweater Food Truck Crawl: If you love food and wearing holiday attire like I do, then you’ll really enjoy this event in downtown St. Petersburg. The name is exactly what it is… wear an ugly sweater and enjoy crawling from food truck to food truck. It is free admission, you just need to pay for whatever food you want. They’ll also be playing the movie Elf as part of this event. The first 300 people even get a free elf hat! See for yourself how great this will be here.
  7. Ugly Sweater Bar Crawls: If you’re looking for an adult-only holiday event, just go on FB and search events. You’ll see MANY bar crawls featuring ugly sweaters. There’s one in St. Pete, Tampa, Clearwater, and more! Wear a sweater, and be jolly! 


As always, there’s SO  many more events that can get you into the holiday spirit here in the Tampa Bay area. Facebook events is a great thing to browse through. Also, most cities have their own event sites that are good for any time of the year, not just the holiday season. Have fun with whatever you choose to do! 

OfferPad: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Ever heard one of those commercials talking about the company, OfferPad, offering to buy your home FAST with “no hassle”? I’ve heard them, and as a real estate agent, my eyes automatically roll before I change the station. But, I really can’t knock them completely. There are a couple good things about the company.

Let’s take a look at OfferPad more closely…


It’s always nice to start with the positives, right? OfferPad is good for those owners who need quick cash, FAST!

  1. They give you an offer within 24 hours of you reaching out to them for a free, no obligation offer.
  2. OfferPad pays for properties in cash which means less risk for sellers, as there won’t be a financing contingency.
  3. You get to choose when you want to close anywhere from 5-90 days after you’ve accepted the Offerpad offer.
  4. It’s a guaranteed sale! There’s really no time when you have to stress out about your home selling or not.


Let’s  move on to some of the bad pieces of OfferPad. These may or may not be bad for everyone, but they definitely seem like negatives to me!

  1. Usually the offer is BELOW market value. With an agent, you’ll know the true market value of your home. OfferPad is looking for a deal, so they don’t offer as much as you really should be getting based on market conditions.
  2. There are pretty strict restrictions in terms of the value, location, and condition of the home that they make offers on.
  3. They charge a bunch of extra, random fees. (This leads us into the ugly…)


Now, for the plain UGLY part of OfferPad. Their big “selling point” is that they don’t charge a commission fee like real estate agents do. It’s true, there isn’t a “commission fee”.

However, the number and cost of all the other fees they do charge end up being MUCH MORE than you would have paid to sell your home with a real estate professional. Usually, they charge a 6% selling fee, on top of a risk fee that could also be up to 6%.  They charge thousands of dollars for a “service fee” AND also expect you to pay 3% of the “buyer’s” closing costs. So their already low (in most cases) offer, is now even lower.


The bottom line: If you’re in a pickle and need to get out fast, go ahead and utilize OfferPad. Otherwise, stick with a real estate professional and you’ll put more money in your pockets!

Sandy Woods-Ideal Neighborhood

I may be biased because I live in the wonderful neighborhood of Sandy Woods, but even if I didn’t live here I would still consider it an idea neighborhood within Pinellas County.

Sandy Woods is a neighborhood off of Bryan Dairy, located in Seminole. There are so many perks of this neighborhood, but let’s just go over the main ones.

  1. LOCATION: Everyone always says, “Location, location, location!” It’s truly what matters most. If you’re a beach lover, the closest beach is less than 15 minutes away! If your job may require you to move between locations, this neighborhood is perfect for you, as it is more central within Pinellas County. You can drive to downtown St. Pete, Dunedin, Clearwater, and Tampa all in about 30 (ish) minutes! the neighborhood of Sandy Woods is also right down the road from Walsingham Park which features walking trails, pavilions, playgrounds, and dog parks. Within a 10 minute drive, you can get to Largo Mall, as well as the brand new Seminole City Center. You just can’t beat that convenience!
  2. SCHOOLS: Sandy Woods is zoned for Oakhurst Elementary School. In the past 5 years, this school has received a FL grade of an A or B every year. Of course it’d be better if the school ALWAYS got an A, but if you are at all familiar with the grades that most schools are given in this county, then you’ll be proud of this stat! It’s a great school for your child (or children) to get their academic careers started in.
  3. FRIENDLY: This neighborhood has an amazing community feel. There is a neighborhood FB page where neighbors post about doing community yard sales, lost/found dogs, block parties, etc. It’s a great way to stay connected! Furthermore, neighbors really tend to lend helping hands. After Hurricane Irma, you could see so many neighbors helping neighbors with the cleanup. You really don’t get that in every neighborhood in today’s super busy world! This neighborhood truly looks after one another, the children, and the pets.
  4. BEAUTIFUL: The neighborhood is named Sandy Woods for a reason. It’s more “wooded” than most neighborhoods in the county. There are many, old, solid oak trees welcoming you in right away. Not only are the trees aesthetically pleasing, but they provide lots of shade for your home! Tall palm trees also line the streets. Homes are well taken care of here and it really shows through in the landscaping and overall curb appeal of houses. The streets and sidewalks are kept clean too!
  5. SAFE: As a young woman, I have never felt worried while walking my dogs or going on a run by myself. This says a lot…I’m a bit of a worrier when it comes to my safety! If anything suspicious does pop up, neighbors inform each other on our FB page, and they contact the police. Children are always outside playing or riding bikes. Women and men of all ages take walks or go running at any time of the day. Safety of neighborhoods is always a big concern for homeowners; Sandy Woods puts these worries at ease.

As an added bonus… {{drum roll, please}}… THERE’S NO HOA FEE, but you get the feeling of an HOA neighborhood!!