Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

How to Research Neighborhoods Before You Buy

Just like you would want to drive a car before you purchase it, most buyers would want to “test drive” the neighborhood they are considering buying a home in before they pull the trigger. Where a home is an even larger purchase, you should be sure that you really like what it has to offer before you make a sizable investment. Here are some tips on how to do some proper research.

Daily Routine

Aside from general activity in the area, it is always a wise idea to test out your commute or daily routes that you will be taking on a regular basis. See how long it takes to get to work, how easy it is to get to the grocery store, the gym or house of worship. Also, do you plan on walking or taking public transit? See how those options fair in your new location. 

Real Life Experience

The best way to immerse yourself in a neighborhood is to actually spend a few days in it. If you don’t have friends or family to stay with, consider even booking an Airbnb nearby. Ideally, stay a couple of days to experience both a weekday and weekend day to see what the area is like. Go for walks or drives at all times of day, morning and evening to gauge the general activity and noise levels. You may also be fortunate enough to meet some of the residents and talk with them to get a real feeling of what it is like. 

Nightlife 

Evening and weekend activities are a part of what makes a location “home.” Pick some of your favorite activities and bring along some friends to partake in them as you explore the area. Perhaps it could be some dinner spots, local bars or shopping venues that you could visit. Be sure to tell your friends that you are considering the area and solicit their unbiased opinions. After all, they will be the ones most likely to be visiting you so it’s good to see how they feel too!

4 Ideas for Home Exterior Updates

Most everyone at some point will consider doing some home improvements not only to rooms on the inside of their home, but also for the exterior. Especially where much of the Fort Lauderdale housing stock was built decades ago, chances are there may be some things you may want to do for updating. Here are 4 great ideas that you can do fairly easily for your home.

Front Door Focus

Not only is it a main focus of your home’s exterior, but visitors literally touch it every time they come over. If you have a standard or plain front door, consider replacing it with something that is more architecturally stimulating. There are some great options today, many that are equipped with high impact glass as well. If you already have a great, high quality door then consider giving it a fresh coat of paint. A complementary color to your home’s palette that also draws attention is ideal. While you are at it, consider updating your address numbers as well!

Landscaping

Mature plantings are always great, but keeping them from getting overgrown is always best. If your landscaping needs some updating, consider selecting materials that are drought tolerant like succulents. Doing accent areas with rock gardens also is a great idea as they don’t require much maintenance but also still allow for drainage. 

Paint and Masonry

Some homes may have particular masonry details that may associate it with an older time period. The good news is either removing them with some light masonry work or in some cases even painting them, you can bring your home into a more modern day look. Concrete or iron pillars can also be boxed in with wood materials for a great contrasting look.

Porch Update

Many homes either already have a front porch area or in other cases this can be somewhat easy to add. A front porch can add character but also offer function. Outfitting yours with pavers, potted plants and a stylish bistro set or outdoor lounge set will provide a great area for enjoying your yard. 

 

Home Improvement Ideas For Custom Budgets

Unless you are extremely particular on a regular basis, most homes will need some sprucing up for when it comes time to put them on the market for sale. As not everyone has an endless amount of funds for enhancing the home they are selling, here are some great ideas for improving your home based on your own comfortable budget.

Under $250 – Like they always say, “a little paint goes a long way.” This is true for both increasing appearances but also for getting a lot out of a small budget. If any rooms are tired looking or perhaps too risky of a color, fresh paint can help. Other ideas in this budget include investing in some nice flowers or plantings for your yard. 

$250-750 – On the low end you could consider hiring a professional cleaning company to do a deep clean of your home. This may also include some power washing of any exterior areas that need it too. For physical enhancements you may want to upgrade any old or dated fixtures or even a bathroom vanity. 

$750-1,500 – If you have any old appliances like a beat up stove or washer that is dated, consider upgrading to new and energy efficient models. Tankless water heaters can also be a great value add as they save on energy and your monthly utility costs. On the higher end you could also replace your front door with something more inviting or add crown molding to your primary rooms. 

$1,500-3,000 – In this range you can consider things like upgrading your lighting perhaps in your kitchen. Add sconces, pendants or some under cabinet task lighting. You may even be able to open up a dark bedroom or dining room by adding a glass door leading outside.

$3,500-5,000 – This amount will help you repair any worn driveways, walkways or patios outside. You may also consider upgrading/replacing any flooring that is damaged or outdated. Modern flooring can really have a big impact on prospective buyers. 

$5,000 or more – When you can afford to spend this amount, where it is substantial you will want to give ample thought to what is necessary for achieving a higher price. In some cases it may be worth doing a new roof or in others you may want to consider a kitchen remodel. As your experienced realtor I am happy to provide you with my expert opinion on what makes most sense for your home in this market. 

6 Ways to Win a Bidding War

It can definitely be discouraging to hear there are other offers on the property that you want to buy. Sometimes this can even happen if a home has been on the market for a little while when just at the same time two or more parties decide to submit an offer. In the interest in coming out on top, here are 6 strategies to assist you with your winning quest.

Avoid the war

Sometimes it can be as simple as asking. Find out what the seller is looking for. Perhaps it is a particular time frame for closing or maybe they will let you know if they have a price in mind that would persuade them to call off the bidding war. You don’t know if you don’t ask. 

Get your pre-approval letter ready

If you must play the game, make sure you are well armed. A pre-approval letter is a must so that the sellers know you are financially secure enough to buy their home. Make sure you have this ready and include it with your offer.

More cash

Not everyone has the luxury of paying cash for a home. However, in a bidding war you may want to consider your options for strengthening the deal. You could offer more for the escrow deposit, more for the down payment or finally more for the purchase price. These options either show the seller more security or of course, more money if a higher price is paid.

Contingencies

During a contingency period a buyer can back out of the deal for a variety of reasons. However, you could reduce your timeline and omit some contingencies to appeal to sellers. For example, removing a home inspection contingency is something buyers do in these types of situations. 

Experienced agent

As much as you prepare, you will also want to have an experienced agent such as myself to represent you. With my numerous years of experience and expertise, I am well prepared and well versed in all types of situations to assist you. 

Emotional appeal

Some opinions differ on whether this can help or not. However, you really don’t know what will strike a chord with the sellers so it can’t hurt to submit a personal letter with your offer. Drafting a brief, but sincere note on what you love about the house and how you and your family would enjoy it may just appeal to the sellers in a way that a plain offer may not. 

5 Tips for a Successful Home Search

No matter what market you are looking in to find your next home, the search can take some time. Inventory levels are still on the slim side and home prices continue to rise which can make things more challenging. The best thing to do is to tighten up your search and be as best prepared and focused as possible. Here are 5 tips for beginning your home search. 

Mortgage Pre-Approval

This is essential, even if you purchased in the recent past. Your financial situation, credit or the rates may have changed since then and you will need to have a mortgage lender give you a pre-approval letter. This will only strengthen your offer as we will submit a copy along with it.

Needs and Wants

At the end of the day, there is no perfect house. Whatever you buy and customize will make it ultimately your home, but decide what things are “must haves” versus “would like to haves.” Chances are a great home will become available that hits your wish list items, but perhaps it may have a carport versus the garage you really wanted and you need to decide on what things you can budge on.

The Right Neighborhood

Every area is unique in its own way and offers different things. There are the obvious things that make sense like ease of commute to work or school district, but also see which area offers things that cater to your lifestyle for spare time activities. Finally, see what homes cost in each area of consideration as that can really dictate your options. 

The Right Home Style

Once you have evaluated your needs for simple things like bed and bath count, you may want to consider your lifestyle and needs in terms of type of home. For some, condo living with the ease of maintenance and social setting is ideal, where others prefer having their own yard and privacy that comes with a single family. Decide on what works best for you and focus on that for your search. 

Make Notes

Once you begin touring homes they can sometimes blend together. It can be a helpful tip to not only make notes about them in general so you remember, but also list out what you like and don’t like about them. This can sometimes help you figure out just what you are willing to compromise on. 

6 Home Features That Sell It

While every home is different, they all cater to the same common needs of buyers in today’s marketplace. Every home is going to have a kitchen, one or several bathrooms and the essentials, but there are some specifics in design today that bring your home from “let me think about it” to “I must have it.” Here is a closer look at what is ranking high among home buyers these days to see if your home can be sold as-is or if you should do some adjustments. 

Gourmet Kitchen

This should not be news to anyone that kitchens remain as one of the top focal points of the home. However, a kitchen that is updated, spacious and has plenty of counter and cupboard space is sure to help sell your home faster and increase its value. Common amenities that will also bring your kitchen to gourmet level include double ovens, a microwave drawer, stone or stainless counterparts, an island or bar counter and some form of a pantry. 

Open Floor Plan

In some cases this is more challenging to obtain than others. However, an open floor plan allows for a larger feel, makes the home brighter and can be more accommodating when hosting larger groups. If your home doesn’t inherently have an open floor plan, check with a reputable contractor for ideas on how you can achieve this. Sometimes walls can come down or doorways can be enlarged for simple solutions. 

Backyard Patio/Deck

Where South Florida living is so conducive to the outdoors for most of the year, creating a true backyard oasis is surely going to be an extension of your living space. Materials like pavers or composite decking can be good options for their look and care. 

Crown Molding

This is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to add character and warmth to your home. Bring your simple rooms to elegance and a higher level of craftsmanship with some interesting crown molding.

Vegetable Garden/Fruiting Plants

Aside from having a beautifully landscaped yard, having a designated vegetable garden or fruiting trees can be a value add. Everyone today is becoming more health conscious and home grown fruits and vegetables are a winner for anyone at any age. 

Mother Nature Preparedness

Especially in South Florida, tropical storms are a fact of life. There are many ways to add protection to your home to weather the elements. From high impact doors and windows to roof strapping to built in home generators, any of these additions will be sought after by today’s buyers.