Living in Charlotte County Florida

Find the perfect home in sunny southwest, Florida


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Home buyers can view foreclosure homes by boat or bus

Southwest Florida has one of the most valuable opportunities today when investing in REO/Bank Owned foreclosures, short sales, and real estate.  These properties are priced below market value and are ready for you to sign a contract today. 

Marc Joseph Realty, Inc. in Ft. Myers became one of the first in the nation to offer foreclosure boat tours.  These tours are free. You can hop on a boat or bus by Foreclosure Tours R Us to view Lee County’s foreclosed homes.  The homes include single family, condos and townhouses which are all priced below market value which creates equity upon purchase.  Tours are scheduled in different locations such as Ft. Myers, Lehigh Acres, and Cape Coral.

The boat tour takes about 2-3 hours.  It takes you through the winding saltwater canals into the back yards of waterfront communities.  The bus tour typically includes 6 to 8 homes.  To attend one of these tours you must fill out a registration form and bring photo ID.  You do not have to be pre-qualified to attend.  To learn more information about these tours go to their website and watch a video at http://www.marcjosephrealty.com/.

Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Sandals Realty, Punta Gorda, FL – tammyhayesre@gmail.com


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Florida offers opportunities for fabulous outdoor living spaces

One of the biggest trends in outdoor living spaces is outdoor kitchens.  It is especially appropriate for the year round warmth in southern Florida.  Today’s outdoor kitchens are much more elaborate than the traditional outdoor grill.  They can be as simple or grand as the homeowner desires. 

The basics of an outdoor kitchen include a grill, a sink, cooking area, a refrigerator, and an island or counter.  You can order these from specialty shops, have them custom made and  professionally installed,  or go to your large local home improvement store for a pre-made one.  Some of the added accessories may include sinks, beer taps, wine coolers, pizza ovens, warming trays, and cabinets and storage.  A custom outdoor kitchen can provide unlimited possibilities. 

Another outdoor living space that you will find in the majority of the Southwest Florida homes is a lanai.  When I lived up north, I never heard of a lanai.  Most of the outdoor rooms up there were called a porch, patio, deck, or three season room. A lanai is an outdoor screened enclosed living space usually with a roof.  Lanai’s are great for entertaining, dining, and relaxing.  The warm climate of Florida allows the lanai to be additional living space, however, lanai’s are not included in the square footage of a listing on a home for sale.   Traditionally a lanai will have outdoor patio furniture and possibly an outdoor rug and plants.  Some people use outdoor acoustics such as a television, stereo, and speakers to add to the ambiance. 

A third outdoor living area in Florida is an in-ground swimming pool.  Many of the homes that have swimming pools are called caged pools.  This is a pool with a screen enclosure.  Swimming pools and spas can be extended off of the lanai giving a larger all-in-one outdoor living area.   A swimming pool will make your home more beautiful and valuable.  Pool construction companies offer a variety of designs including a complex of gardens, islands and decking in a variety of stone, brick pavers, coral rock and other natural elements.  Fountains, waterfalls, rock gardens, reflective ponds, foot bridges and colorful lighting create drama and add elegance.  A very dramatic effect is the vanishing edge pool, where the water seems to disappear into the horizon or blend into a body of water or into the landscape. 

Living in a sub-tropical climate allows for endless possibilities in outdoor living.  Come experience the lifestyle.  For more information or recommendations of companies to help you add one of these outdoor living spaces to your home, contact me today at tammyhayesre@gmail.com.


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How to create a Florida-friendly landscape

What does it mean to have a Florida-friendly yard?  Not only does it mean a beautiful landscape, it means that the landscape you choose to put in your yard is an asset to the environment.  It protects the natural resources and preserves Florida’s beauty at the same time. If you maintain your yard properly, you can conserve water and reduce pollution of water resources.  You don’t have to be an expert, just follow the nine principles of Florida-friendly landscaping outlined below. 

What are the principles involved in a Florida-friendly landscape?

  • Right plant, right place – this means the plants will require minimal water, fertilizer and pesticides.
  • Water efficiently – irrigate only when your lawn needs water. 
  • Fertilize appropriately – less is best.
  • Mulch – maintaining a layer of mulch prevents erosion and suppresses weeds.
  • Attract Wildlife – plants that provide food, water and shelter will help conserve wildlife.
  • Manage Yard Pests Responsibly – unwise use of pesticides can harm people, pets, and environment.
  • Recycle – grass clippings and leaves provide nutrients to the soil and reduce waste disposal.
  • Reduce Storm Water Runoff – water running off your landscape can carry pollutants.
  • Protect the Waterfront – protect it to maintain freshwater and marine ecosystems.

 

For complete information on turning your yard into a Florida-friendly landscape go to http://www.floridayards.org/.  Their motto is The Smart Way to Grow.  This web site contains an interactive tutorial, layout of landscaping, Florida-friendly plants, and a professional’s corner.  Make your yard the envy of the neighborhood and they will want a Florida-friendly landscape as well.  Do your part in helping to save our environment for years to come.


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A favorite pastime along Southwest Florida beaches, shell collecting

You can find shells on just about any beach, but southwest Florida beaches have some of the best shelling in the United States.  There are more than 100 barrier islands that contain around 400 species of multi-colored seashells.  Shelling is a favorite pastime for tourists and locals.  Sanibel and Captiva islands rank tops in the world for shelling because of geography.  Did you know that these islands are actually made of shells? 

You should plan to do shelling around low tide.   The best places to look are beneath the surface of the sand where the surf breaks or the shell line where the highest waves stop when they come up on the beach.  Another great time to do shelling is after a Gulf storm.  The shells are usually driven right up on the beaches. 

When I first moved to Florida I would spend my time at the beach hunting for seashells.  As time went on, I discovered that I enjoy hunting for sharks’ teeth.  Venice and Englewood Beach have an abundance.  It is much easier than you think to find these teeth.  Some people use a wire meshed scoop, but others just walk along the shore and you can spot the dark pointed teeth with your eye. 

Tips:  wear sunscreen and a hat, and carry a plastic bag to store your treasures whether they be shells or teeth.  Happy hunting!  If you are visiting the area and would like more information contact me at tammyhayesre@gmail.com.

Tammy Hayes, Realtor

Sandals Realty, Punta Gorda, FL

941-276-6185

E-mail:  tammyhayesre@gmail.com

Web:  tammyhayesre.mfr.mlxchange.com


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Where to shop in Charlotte County FL

Punta Gorda offers unique downtown shops that are locally owned and operated.  You will find gifts, jewelry, kitchen gadgets, home decor, antiques, museums, and art galleries.  Every Saturday you can visit the downtown Farmer’s Market.    Also in Punta Gorda you will find Fishermen’s Village, a unique harbor side waterfront complex offering vacation villas, a waterfront mall and a marina.  It offers a variety of boutiques, shops, dining and an exciting nightlife.

The Port Charlotte Town Center Mall contains anchor stores such as Beall’s, Dillards, JC Penney, Macy’s and Sears where you can find a wide variety of fashions for the whole family and for your home.  It has over 100 specialty stores and a large food court all in an indoor shopping mall.  Throughout the town you will find strip malls offering plenty of shopping experiences such as antiques, appliances, art, books, costumes, gifts, gourmet foods, jewelry, music, office supplies, home improvement, florists, furniture, and many more.  The town has something to offer everyone.  Come visit us today!  While visiting if you would like to look at some homes, contact me. 

Tammy Hayes, Realtor

Sandals Realty, Punta Gorda, FL

941-276-6185

E-mail:  tammyhayesre@gmail.com

Web:  tammyhayesre.mfr.mlxchange.com


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Find a golf lover’s paradise in Southwest Florida

Do you love to golf?  Come on down to Southwest Florida.  Some would call Southwest Florida the golfing capital of the world.  There are almost 150 golf courses in this region and many more are in the planning stages.  There are more golf holes per capita than anywhere else in the United States.  With our sub-tropical climate it allows for golfing year-round.  You can find public, private, and semi-private golf courses in a variety of layouts and costs catering to every level of player.  The courses are available to travelers and residents alike.  From championship quality private courses with membership waiting lists to short part 3’s for the weekend duffer.

Prices vary between $20 and over $200 per round depending on the course and the season.  Green fees are typically discounted during the summer months.  From May through October the courses are not very crowded.  You can pick your tee time and enjoy a leisurely round of golf.  During the busy season, travelers should try to book further in advance.  Most golf courses allow only a 3-day public booking window. Go to the following web site for a listing of golf courses in Southwest Florida, http://www.efloridagolf.com/golf-southwest-florida.htm. 

For many homeowners, golf is what draws them to Southwest Florida. This area has an abundance of golf course communities, most of which are in gated, deed restricted areas.  You can live in a single family residence or mobile home on the lush green fairways or live in a maintenance free condo overlooking the golf course.  Make one of these your year-round home, retirement home, vacation home, or second home.  I would be happy to show you homes in some of our fine golf course communities.  Contact me today at tammyhayesre@gmail.com!

Tammy Hayes, Realtor

Sandals Realty, Punta Gorda, FL

941-276-6185

E-mail:  tammyhayesre@gmail.com

Web:  tammyhayesre.mfr.mlxchange.com


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What’s the attraction of mobile home parks in Southwest Florida?

There are many mobile home parks scattered across Florida.  You need to be aware of the differences.  There are land-lease parks which are more economical and there are resident-owned parks for a more permanent home.  Land-leased communities often sell out to developers as land becomes more valuable.  You still own your home and can move it to a new park if this happens, but the cost of transporting the home can be too much for some and they are forced to sell.  Be aware and ask the park about this and what your rights are if the park is sold.  You should check your agreement. 

Many of the parks are for over age 55 and are so-called Mobile Home Retirement Communities.  A manufactured home is called a mobile home when it is built before June 1976.  After that date, it is called a manufactured home.  Many communities have a mixture of ages. 

Why would you want to live in a mobile home park?  Most people that choose this style of living enjoy the convenience and the low maintenance around the exterior of the property. No more grass cutting, which is a plus at retirement age.  It is an efficient and economical way to live comfortably while staying active.  Mobile homes are easy to take care of and provide a comfortable living space.  Some have small sun rooms and patios.  Another major attraction are group activities at the park’s clubhouse such as social events, card games, bingo, pool, dances, shopping trips, and more.  Some of the parks also offer golf, tennis, a swimming pool, golf trails, and bike trails.

Mobile homes come in a variety of sizes and styles.  You can get a 2 bedroom or even a 4 bedroom.  Many of the newer homes have the same amenities as a single family home such as ceramic tiled floors, stainless steel appliances, granite counters and large great rooms for entertaining.  There is something for everyone.  If you are interested in mobile home parks in this area, contact me at tammyhayesre@gmail.com.  I would be happy to send you some information or show you some homes. 

Tammy Hayes, Realtor

Blue Heron Pines, Punta Gorda

Sandals Realty, Punta Gorda, FL

941-276-6185, tammyhayesre@gmail.com


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Why retire in Southwest Florida?

Florida is a wonderful place to retire.  Did you know that Port Charlotte, FL was named #1 Best Place to Retire by CNNMoney.com for 2009?  It has sunny days, balmy nights, beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  There are an abundance of activities to be involved in such as golfing, tennis, jogging, walking, bird watching, gardening, swimming, shelling on the beaches, fishing, boating, sailing, and shopping. 

There are 55+ communities, waterfront communities, manufactured home communities, golf and tennis communities – plenty of choices for any lifestyle at affordable prices.  We also have many senior living facilities and health care facilities.   The town offers arts festivals, historical downtown, parks, recreational and educational activities, and natural beauty. 

Prices for homes have declined drastically in this area since 2006, making this an affordable, desirable location to retire.  Florida is also one of the few states with no income tax. If you live here year round you can apply for a homestead exemption.   And don’t forget one of the best parts of Florida, making friends.  Most people come from somewhere north.  It is easy to make new friends and as you retire you have plenty of time for some fun in the sun.  Feel free to kick back and relax as you get to know your neighbors.  Thinking of retiring in Southwest Florida?  Contact me today at tammyhayesre@gmail.com. 

Tammy Hayes, Realtor

Sandals Realty, Punta Gorda, FL

941-276-6185, tammyhayesre@gmail.com


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Are you facing foreclosure? Should you go the short sale route?

Unemployment, reduced property values, increase in mortgage payments – these are all reasons many homeowners are facing foreclosure.  They are choosing to walk away from their homes and get rid of those unaffordable monthly mortgage payments. 

There is an option that should not be overlooked – a short sale.  The benefits of a short sale typically outweigh the ease of walking away in a foreclosure.  A short sale is where the bank agrees to accept less money than the homeowner owes on the loan.  There is a mountain of paperwork involved in a short sale that may become overwhelming but the benefits of going through the process are worth it in most cases.

Florida has unique rules that homeowners should be aware of.  One of the biggest differences between Florida and other states is the deficiency judgment.  Some states ban lenders from collecting the rest of the money owed on a loan after a foreclosure or short sale is completed. Florida law allows banks to go after borrowers for up to 20 years.  In a short sale, lenders are sometimes willing to write off the deficiency on the front end.  In many cases the bank waives its right to seek a deficiency. 

It is best to sit down with the lender to see if they are willing to accept a short sale.  If a lender refuses to waive the deficiency in a short sale, it still would have to go back to court to seek what was owed on the loan.  In a foreclosure, a deficiency judgment is automatically awarded by the courts and the bank is free to seek a claim.  Homeowners should be aware of  what they are getting into.  Seek legal advice if necessary.  If you want to list your home, contact me today.

If you are thinking of buying a short sale or foreclosure, we have plenty to choose from in Southwest Florida. Contact me at tammyhayesre@gmail.com and I can provide you with additional information. 

Tammy Hayes, Realtor

Sandals Realty, Punta Gorda, FL

941-276-6185, tammyhayesre@gmail.com


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Tips for buying a home in Florida

If you are thinking about making Southwest Florida your next home, you will need to be informed and prepared.  Whether you want to make this your family residence, your second home, a vacation home, or a retirement home, you still need to plan.  Here is a brief outline of the steps necessary in purchasing a home. 

What are some of the most important things you need to consider?  Number one – Qualification.  Many of the homes in this area are short sales and foreclosures.  In today’s market you must be pre-qualified before you can even put an offer on a home.  So your first step is to meet with a mortgage lender to see if and how much you qualify for.  If you decide to pay all cash for a home be sure to meet with a financial planner.  In many cases it is not necessary or financially wise to pay all cash. 

The next thing to consider after you have your finances figured out is searching for that new Southwest Florida home.  It is recommended that you work with a Realtor.  You can search for homes using the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) on my web site at tammyhayesre.mfr.mlxchange.com.  This database allows you to search for exactly what you are trying to find without having to run around from home to home.  You want to know ahead of time what the community or neighborhood offers and not waste your time with homes you are not interested in.  The MLS provides details such as bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, location on a map, photos, and taxes.  Once you find some homes of interest, a Realtor can take you to see the homes.

Once you find a that perfect home, you must then make an offer.  A Realtor can provide you with the best possible price that you should offer for the home by providing current market data that supports its true value.  After deciding on a price to offer, the Realtor will write a purchase contract.  The new Florida Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase is 10 pages long.  Be sure to read it over carefully and ask your Realtor to explain specific details of items that you are unsure of.  The contract is then presented to the seller.  The seller will accept, counter, or reject.

After your offer is accepted, the clock starts ticking.  If you are buying a short sale be prepared to wait 3-4 months or possibly longer.  If you are buying a foreclosure home, it will take approximately 45 days.  If you are buying a non-short sale or foreclosure you can typically close in 30 days.  It is very important to make sure that you comply with the effective dates and timelines in the contract.  A Realtor can help you with a vendor selection for a home inspection and termite inspection. There are many details involved such as escrow, title company, insurance, loan processing, survey,  and closing. 

After closing, the keys are turned over to you.  You may think your work is done.   If you are going to be living in the home year round, you will need to apply for homestead.  This will give you a discount on your taxes.  And then there is setting up the moving truck, getting settled in, and locating all of your resources for acquiring phone, cable, Internet, water, sewer, power and light, garbage, and the list goes on.  Look for a future article where I will provide a list of local resources.

Contact me if I can be of service to you in locating that new Southwest Florida home or answer any of your questions at tammyhayesre@gmail.com.

Tammy Hayes, Realtor

Sandals Realty, Punta Gorda, FL

941-276-6185

E-mail:  tammyhayesre@gmail.com

Web:  tammyhayesre.mfr.mlxchange.com