Tips to Get Ready for a Busy Home Buying Season

Tips to Get Ready for a Busy Home Buying Season

Whether you have your eye on homes in Southwest Florida or a condo in San Diego, February is a great time to prepare for the home buying season. Now, it’s true that in SWFL, the warmer weather does keep our market moving throughout the year, we also see increased activity as spring approaches.

However, if you’re thinking you can hold off to prepare until March or even April… I recommend a different approach. Because the home buying process can have many steps, it’s best to get a head start. This is especially true if you’re buying during a busier time of the year. The last thing you’ll want is to get outbid by other buyers only because you weren’t fully prepared.

But with this handy checklist, you’ll be able to get ready to buy your home, even in a bustling market.

Create a priorities checklist

First, you’ll want to know what your priorities are apart from your wants. This adds perspective to the buying process during a time when it matters most.

Sit down and have a conversation

Next, I recommend talking with your partner, if you have one, about your purchase. This conversation will allow you both to get on the same page about your timeline and other aspects of the home buying process.

Create an action plan

Once you’ve had a chance to talk, it’s time to create an action plan. You might not think of buying a home as something that needs an action plan. But truthfully, it can be a time-sensitive process, where you want to know what your next step is after you complete each one.

Review your credit report

One of the first items on your action plan should be to review your credit report again. Now, you don’t want to be checking in on your score constantly (and we can talk about what time makes the most sense for you). But you want to have an idea of where you score stands, including your debt to income ratio.

Set your budget

Once you’ve looked at your report, you can start to set your budget range. Without a budget, it will be difficult to narrow down homes to match your unique situation. Once you’ve set one, however, you’re free to start comparing properties.

Determine your down payment

Your down payment is a big part of your home purchase. For some programs, which we’ll look at in a moment, a smaller down payment is certainly possible. However, in many cases, increasing the down payment may be a good idea.

Start shopping banks

Did you just think you’d take out a loan from your bank? The fact of the matter is that you don’t have to choose your bank for your home loan; other banks may have more attractive offers when it comes to taking out your home loan.

These are just a few of the steps you can take to get prepared ahead of time for a busy real estate season. And if you need more information, or have any questions about Southwest Florida real estate, please feel free to email me.

Terry Records

Broker/Owner
Records Results Real Estate
Residential Sales and Property Management Service

Terry.Records@gmail.com

239-887-2163

 

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5 SWFL Activities for a Romantic Valentine’s Day

5 SWFL Activities for a Romantic Valentines Day

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought it would be a wonderful time to highlight a few of the romantic locations in our area. But I also wanted to give you more than just a couple of spots to visit. In reality, when you own a home in Southwest Florida, there are numerous activities and amenities that are great for an intimate, fun time with someone special.

A Walk on Sanibel’s Lighthouse Beach

For my regular readers, you probably don’t have to guess that Southwest Florida has more beaches than you can count. And nearly all of them are first class. Of course, there’s nothing more romantic than taking a long walk with a loved one on our sandy shores. And on Sanibel Island, there’s something extra extraordinary about Lighthouse Beach. This small little beach is amazing at sunset, but the cute, historic lighthouse in the background adds that special touch of magic.

Kayaking together at Lover’s Key

The appropriately named Lover’s Key is a lesser-known set of islands just south of Fort Myers Beach. But it is an incredibly wonderful stop, especially if you own a home in Southwest Florida. This outdoor treasure has more than a few kayaking channels weaving around it, and it’s a great place to take someone you love to just enjoy the amazing outdoor amenities our area offers.

Food and Drinks at Siesta Key

We are privileged to have numerous sleepy little coastal towns. And at many of them, you’ll find that local small-town vibe, but with some decent shopping and eating choices. One reason I love Siesta Key for Valentine’s is that you can grab a dozen oysters at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, then you can relax and sip tasty daiquiris at the Daiquiri Deck. There are also a few other choices as well, but the fact remains that this world-famous beach can be a great stop for Valentine’s Day.

Take a Dip at Gasparilla Island

Okay, I have to add one more beach destination to this list. However, while Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel is great to stroll on and collect shells, this one is a bit different. You see, when you live in SWFL you discover that every beach has its own personality. And on Gasparilla Island, the beaches are a bright blue like you only see in the postcards. With a loved one, it’s even better to take a quick swim! You’ll remember this Valentine’s day for many years.

Simply Relax on Secluded Captiva Island

In Southwest Florida, there are a few spots that locals like to keep to themselves. And Captiva is just such a spot. For a truly romantic Valentine’s Day book into a hotel on Captiva and then… simply relax. That’s it! This is one way to ensure your holiday is totally romantic.

Wondering about everything that Southwest Florida has to offer? At Records Results, my entire team is all about providing you with all the info on amenities, property trends, and more. Send us an email for more activities!

Terry Records

Broker/Owner
Records Results Real Estate
Residential Sales and Property Management Service

Terry.Records@gmail.com

239-887-2163

 

 

Questions to Ask When You’re Ready for Your First Home

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As an investor and a Southwest Florida real estate agent, I can say that your first home purchase is a big step. In fact, it likely will represent one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. And of course, you want to be able to discover your dream home!

At the same time, your purchase can represent a strategic piece of your financial plan as well. For example, a home in Southwest Florida can be beautiful and affordable. Yet, we’ve also seen tremendous value growth in the past few years.

But let’s not forget the amenities either. As we’ve been seeing in our recent articles, there’s arts, entertainment, shopping, dining, and outdoors. And that’s just the beginning because there’s so much more.

However, you might be wondering when is the time right to buy your first home. Whether you’re looking for property in Southwest Florida or San Francisco, the same questions are applicable. So, today, we’re going to look at 3 questions that can help you determine if you’re ready for your first home.

Has your lifestyle shifted?

Maybe you recently started to consider new jobs in a different metro area. Or perhaps you’re thinking that the laid-back life by the beach in Southwest Florida is for you. Either way, I like to start by asking all my clients what their lifestyle looks like. This will give us a great start for your first home purchase. And by understanding how your lifestyle is changing, we can look at which areas of might be right for you.

Is your family situation changing?

Of course, if you’ve recently found out that a baby is on the way, you may very well also be thinking about buying a home. Another common situation when deciding if you’ll buy your first home is whether caring for ageing parents in the future might play a role. These examples highlight the need to factor in your family situation as you determine if you’re ready to purchase your first home. And the reality is that many people decide to buy their starter home for the simple reason that their family is growing.

What are your long-term financial goals?

Like I mentioned at the start of this article, your first home purchase can be a big part of your financial planning. When you strategically buy your home, you can position yourself for the possibility of greatly increased value in the future. Now, this question isn’t necessarily the most critical factor in deciding to buy your first home. But it certainly should play a part in your decision and could be a life-changer.

Are you in the process of deciding if you should buy your first home? My Southwest Florida real estate team is ready to answer all your questions!

Terry Records

Broker/Owner
Records Results Real Estate
Residential Sales and Property Management Service

Terry.Records@gmail.com

239-887-2163

 

Amazon’s Finalists and Southwest Florida

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Atlanta. Pittsburgh. Miami. What do they all have in common? One of the biggest companies in the world, Amazon, is considering these and a number of other locations for their HQ2. By now, Amazon has become a household name for many Americans, and even though Miami is in Southeast Florida, the impact could very well be felt in Southwest Florida as well. After all, Miami is simply a short jump away from many metro areas in Southwest Florida. So, today, let’s take a look at what the possibilities may hold.

A bigger spotlight on what Florida has to offer

Even the fact that Miami is in the running for Amazon’s next base of operations is a big sign. Now, it’s true that Miami is in the news occasionally, and it’s a seasonal destination for countless people. However, outside of the beaches, the tourist spots, and some select industries, this area doesn’t always get the attention it deserves in terms of business. It’s not like there’s a lack of business; it’s just not that you think of Miami necessarily as a hub for companies like Amazon or even Google, Netflix, or others. But, with Miami in the running, it’s thrust our general region back into the spotlight as a player for these companies.

More companies moving to Southwest Florida

Of course, with this increased attention for Southeast Florida, comes more interest in Southwest Florida as well. The truth is that throughout Central and Southwest Florida, more large companies are starting to set up shop. And this makes perfect sense when you think about it. Our area has several major ports, a friendly tax environment, a growing university system, and incredible property values that come in at affordable prices. Oh, did I mention the amenities for the staff members at these companies? It may seem like a small factor, but in reality, companies are looking for ways to improve the quality of life for their employees. And as we’ve seen, South Florida has everything from international art to fine dining, extraordinary outdoors and more.

Increased economic activity throughout the area

If Amazon does choose Miami as its location for HQ2, we can expect that all these factors together will give our economic activity a boost. What this translates to is the acceleration of a trend that’s been going on for several years. More and more, we’re seeing professionals choosing Southwest and Southeast Florida as their destination. Equally true is the growth of our tourism industry, but also diversifying of our economic activity, which is a big positive.

Growing home values in the region

Finally, with all of these factors combined, it’s possible that home values will see additional growth. Even though Miami is a few hours away in some cases, their metro area is limited in where it can expand to. While that doesn’t mean that people will necessarily be commuting from Fort Myers to Miami, it does mean something else: As more companies consider moving or expanding in South Florida, SWFL will be an attractive choice. In turn, home values could keep climbing.

Are you thinking about Southwest Florida and a professional career? The possibilities may surprise you. But I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. Just send me an email!

Terry Records

Broker/Owner
Records Results Real Estate
Residential Sales and Property Management Service

Terry.Records@gmail.com

239-887-2163

 

Living in Southwest Florida: Food and Dining Amenities

Living in Southwest Florida Food and Dining Amenities

In recent weeks, we’ve been looking at how our slice of paradise has a wealth of amenities. And when it comes to Southwest Florida real estate, you get access to it all. For this week’s article, we’re getting a taste of what our area offers on the food and dining scene.

Of course, when you think of Florida, you might not think of a budding food scene. But in reality, from Marco Island to Sarasota and Fort Myers to Naples, our region has a number of hidden gems that dish up truly tasty food. Over the years, we’ve developed an interesting, electric mix of food options that are well-worth checking out.

Ford’s Garage

Okay, I have to start with this local, home-grown favorite. With a few locations (and more on the way), this restaurant is known for being special. Based around one of our historic snowbirds, Ford’s Garage has food that is down-to-earth, but upscale at the same time. It also doesn’t hurt that their locations are decked out like a hip throwback to everything automotive and industrial.

The Columbia

Located in St Armand’s Circle, the Columbia is known throughout Southwest Florida (and Florida in general) as a place to get a nice meal. With a fresh ambience and a solid lunch and dinner menu, this choice has been getting singled out for its food since 1905. People also love to talk about how amazing the sangria is at this one. By far, one of my favorites.

Made

With a bold, trend-setting name like “Made,” this restaurant lets you know you’re in for a treat. And with a Modern American approach, it’s up there with some of the best places in Southwest Florida to grab a bite. If you’re looking for real estate in Sarasota, you’ll be happy to know that this choice has been recognized by local media numerous times. I definitely recommend checking out their brunch menu.

The Bevy

Located in Naples, Florida, this one has a catchphrase that I just love: Sip and Socialize. This one is special because the menu isn’t just your run of the mill menu. First of all, in dog-friendly Southwest Florida, they have their own dedicated dog menu. That’s not something you see every day. At the same time, their dinner and brunch menu offers dishes like deviled oysters, crispy pork belly, and lamb.

Ario

On Marco Island, Ario is the steakhouse that people know. Whether you want a porterhouse or simply a decent selection of wines, this restaurant is tops in the lower area of Southwest Florida. It’s equally as good if you’re grabbing lunch or dinner and the drinks are absolutely delicious.

Looking for a place to grab a meal while you hunt for your next dream home in Southwest Florida? Send me an email, and I can give you a few more recommendations!

Terry Records

Broker/Owner
Records Results Real Estate
Residential Sales and Property Management Service

Terry.Records@gmail.com

239-887-2163

 

Buying Your First Home in Southwest Florida or Anywhere in the Country

Buying Your First Home in Southwest Florida or Anywhere in the Country

Whether you want to buy your first home in Southwest Florida or San Francisco, there are a few steps you can take to make your journey easier. As a Realtor, I’ve worked with numerous first-time buyers over the decades, and in every case, there were several tips that have worked for many of them. After all, this decision will be one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. And not only do you want it to be headache-free, you also should be able to enjoy it as well. Let’s find out a few ways you can do just that!

Prioritize Your Monthly Spending

Regular eating out, premium coffee drinks, and extravagant trips. When you’re getting ready to buy a home, even years ahead of time, it’s time to prioritize your monthly spending, Of course, I recommend this tip often, but if you’re a first-time home buyer, it is the very first step I recommend. And I can’t stress it enough. Sure, sacrificing now can be a challenge, but doing so will get you to something even bigger and better: your dream home.

Set a Budget for Yourself

Next, after you tackle those items that are weighing down your monthly spending and see what matters most, you can set a budget. It may sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many people overshoot their earnings on a regular basis. This problem can lead to a situation, and very quickly, where you’re unable to save a down payment and even destroy your credit rating.

Start Saving… Right Now!

It is never, ever too early to start saving for your first home. I recommend starting a separate fund for your down payment, so every time you add to it, you aren’t thinking about emergencies or anything. This way, through visualizing the joy your first home will bring you, you’ll have a powerful motivator to continue saving. And every little bit counts. $50 a month might not seem like a lot, but after a few years, you can save up a couple of thousand dollars.

Make All Your Monthly Payments

And I do mean all of them! While it’s possible to repair a credit score that’s been damaged, having a good score can go a long way toward an easier home buying experience. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about credit card payments or car payments, the fact remains the same: all your monthly payments matter and impact your score.

Watch Your Credit Score

Finally, keep an eye on your credit score. Although you don’t need to check it constantly, knowing where it’s at means you can make strategic decisions to boost it further as you get closer to purchase time. These strategies are something I teach regularly in my seminars, but for now, just remember, you can do a once yearly credit score audit with a professional.

And in Southwest Florida, if you’re buying your first home or need advice on credit scores, I’m always ready to help. Send me an email, and let’s look at some properties!

Terry Records

Broker/Owner
Records Results Real Estate
Residential Sales and Property Management Service

Terry.Records@gmail.com

239-887-2163

 

Understanding Your Credit Report

Understanding Your Credit Report

As a Southwest Florida Realtor, I’m regularly asked questions about the loan process when buying a house. And it makes perfect sense. FICO scores, APRs, collateralized loans. These aren’t necessarily terms that regular people come across every day. Even if you’re familiar with some of these, the differences between revolving credit and instalment credit, not to mention fixed interest rates vs adjustable, can make you feel like you have to take a class just to buy a house.

But after decades in the real estate and investment world, I’ve learned that these concepts can be related in more simple and easy to understand ways. After all, you shouldn’t need a degree in finances just to understand your credit or how it relates to your decision to buy a home. So, today, we’re going to dive into understanding your credit score and what’s important to it.

What’s in your credit report?

The first place I like to start when it comes to understanding your credit is the info in your report. You probably can guess that things like credit cards are included. But there’s also your personal information, the accounts you’ve had or have, and several other factors. For example, there’s also the dates your accounts were opened, loan amounts, credit limits, payment history, and any delinquency info. As we’ll see in a moment, these all can greatly impact your home buying process.

What can hurt your credit score and what determines it?

From on-time payments to delinquencies, your payment history is a big part of what determines your credit score. Repossessions, garnishments, collections… these can knock your score down in a hurry. Whether it’s a 60-point loss from a 30-Day delinquency to a 250 point loss from a bankruptcy, you can see how every payment you’ve made or not made (and when you made it) factors into the equation.

Credit capacity and your amount owed

One factor that not many people talk about, but one that is equally important, is your credit capacity. By definition, credit capacity refers to how much credit you are able to handle. In deciding whether you qualify for a particular loan, your income is considered along with any other expenses and debts you may have.The most ideal balance-to-limit ratio is about 25% to 30%. Any percentage points over 30% and you start seeing a 1 point drop in your credit score.

3 types of credit

Now let’s talk about 3 different types of credit that exist. Revolving is composed of those unsecured loans, lines of credit, and any credit cards you may have. Installment involves car loans, boat loans, and the like. These can be really great for re-building credit if you’re looking to boost your score. And finally, real estate, which is made up of mortgages and home equity loans.

I regularly give a more in-depth seminar on understanding your credit report (and how to repair your score before you buy a home), but this gives you a good place to start. And as always, please feel free to shoot me over an email if you have a question. As a Southwest Realtor, I love to connect with home buyers and home sellers alike!

Terry Records

Broker/Owner
Records Results Real Estate
Residential Sales and Property Management Service

Terry.Records@gmail.com

239-887-2163