Just Listed In Harmony… take a look at this!

Just Listed In Harmony… take a look at this!

There’s no other community quite like Harmony in Florida. . .or just about anywhere for that matter. Harmony offers the best of small town living, in a convenient location where you can take advantage of Orlando’s big town lifestyle. Highlights of the community include:

  • A-rated Harmony High School and a K-8 Community School within walking distance of every home.
  • Two natural lakes – Buck Lake (511 acres) and Cat Lake (430 acres).
  • Harmony Golf Preserve, a Johnny Miller Signature course.
  • Homes within walking distance of parks, schools, stores and friends.
  • 12.5 miles of walking, hiking and bicycle trails through some of the 7,700 acres of conservation areas.
  • A Town Square with restaurants, grocery store, shops, and swim club.
  • Just 20 minutes from Medical City, 25 minutes to the airport, 30 minutes to Disney World and 40 minutes to the Atlantic beaches.
Are Home Warranties a Good Idea?

Are Home Warranties a Good Idea?

When buying older homes it is sometimes very wise to consider purchasing a home warranty. Home warranties can bring peace of mind as well as financial security to your purchase.
Home warranties are purchased to cover or reduce the cost to repair or replace certain home systems and appliances that come with an older home that can potentially bring unforeseen expense to the homeowner. Sellers use them as an incentive to attract more home buyers, who may feel m,ore solace knowing the home comes with a warranty.

What is the cost of a home warranty?

Typical home warranties range from $350 to $600 per year. They can cover the following:

  • Kitchen appliances 
  • Garbage disposals
  • Plumbing 
  • Sump pump – or well water pump
  • Water heater
  • Ceiling fans and exhaust fans
  • Air Conditioning and Heating systems – possible additional costs for these to be insured
  • Swimming pools and septic systems may also be covered  – usually at an additional cost and depending on the current condition.

What else should I know?

With most home warranties the home owner does not pick the service technician when a repair is needed, the warranty company does.

Make sure the details on warranties as they may not cover everything your logic tells you they should. Look closely for the right warrant for you. Once you have the warranty it’s too late top change. Consumers should shop around and compare contracts . Pay close attention to what’s covered and what’s not in the warranty. It’s very important.

Are they worth it?

Home owner warranties are worth it if you feel that there is a good chance a high price item in the house may fail. Certainly purchasing one before you sell can be an added plus when you place your home on the market. Buyers should be having homes inspected prior to purchase – so asking the home inspector’s opinion always makes sense.

In the end, it really comes down to what you feel is right for you, and how insured you like to be in your life!

Read This Before You Buy a Home!

Read This Before You Buy a Home!

Real Estate purchases can often be very complex transactions. It’s very important for people who are looking to impact their finances positively in their real estate decision to buy the right property that suits their long-term needs. To prepare yourself for your real estate purchase, be sure to consider the following steps before you begin.

Commit To Staying In The Home For A Number of Years
The buying and selling of a home comes with the reality of high transaction fees, so it’s  common belief that in order for their not to be an equity loss in every real estate transaction the property or real estate should be held for at least seven years. If staying in the home for at least seven years is unlikely, then perhaps the home search should continue until a better choice arises or perhaps renting would be fiscally wise.

Get Prepared In The Financing Area
Before you launch into the real estate purchasing process make sure to meet with a lender of your choice about 6 to 12 months prior and ask them to pull a credit report. Doing this ensures that you’ll fully understand your credit status. if there are any challenges you can begin the process of clearing them up before you start home searching.

Pre-Qualify If Possible
It also is recommended to have the lender pre-qualify you so you are aware of the price range you can afford. Very often the the lender will offer valuable advise in how you manage your finances during the process up until you close escrow on your home. Making large credit purchases, or transfering savings between accounts is often considered unwise. You will also be reminded to pay extra attention to paying all bills and loans you might have in a timely fashion. A derogatory mark on your credit report at this time can be very much a negative.

Haste Makes Waste
Take your time purchasing property and research thoroughly. Purchasing real estate will very likely be the largest purchase during your lifetime. After you’ve closed there is no turning back. The property is yours and if you should decide to sell soon, you will likely see some level of financial loss.

Choose The Correct Real Estate Agent
Choosing an agent that truly knows the areas you are considering, or one that can recommend an area you are unaware of but matches your aspirations is paramount. They should be able to sho wyou that they’ve been in the business at least 4  or 5 years and they have closed a number of deals successfully in each of those years. Make sure that their license is in good standing and that they respond quickly to your communication attempts. When you choose Goodwin Realty & Associates, Inc. you are choosing one of the most experienced and respected REALTORS in all of Osceola County. We understand the Osceola County Real Estate market. It’s where we live, and where we work.

With Goodwin Realty & Associates, Inc. it’s the name you trust and the company you keep!

the Ultimate Binge-Watching Room

the Ultimate Binge-Watching Room

Once upon a time, lovers of such antiquated shows as “Sex and the City,” “Friends,” and even “Lost” had to wait an entire week between episodes. Oh, the horror.

On Feb. 27, the show that vaulted “binge-watching” onto the Oxford Dictionaries’ radarreturns: Season 3 of “House of Cards” drops, all 13 episodes at once, on Netflix. Where will you be watching? On your laptop, on your postcollege-era couch with your cat? What if you could create the ultimate binge-watching room, one where you’d be perfectly happy to spend 13 hours (or more!) mainlining what may be the most addictive form of legally available entertainment?

It may be too late to pull this together in time for the “House of Cards” premiere, but “Orange Is the New Black” returns in June. So for some tips, we turned to Danny Walker, owner of Woodland Home Theater in Campbell, CA.

Of course, the TV itself is key. Netflix is streaming “House of Cards” in the ultra-HD 4K format, and to take advantage of that, you need a 4K TV (about $2,000 to $3,000, depending on size). You’ll probably want to mount it and run the wires through the wall—and there will be a lot of wires (budget $500 for labor).

“The whole hype in the media is that everything is wireless, but everything needs power,” Walker says. “You don’t want to watch a battery-operated TV.”

If you really want to soup things up, you could also get a stereo and speaker setup for enhanced sound, like the Sonos playbar and sub ($2,000 to $3,000). Because you might want a dance break every so often, and you’ll be able to tap into your tunes on Pandora/Spotify/iTunes.

Oh, and don’t forget to upgrade your lighting (about $500 to $1,000). So the lights will come on automatically when you pause the show. Duh.

In fact, why stop with the lights? Netflix, TV, stereo, thermostat, lighting—one device can rule them all.

“You gotta geek out,” Walker says. “You’ve gotta have a good remote control.” (Cost: approximately $1,000. Control4 is one maker.)

For refreshment, get a minifridge—but not just any minifridge. At Snyder Diamond, a high-end appliance retailer in Los Angeles, a salesman (who preferred to remain anonymous) suggested an under-counter fridge with drawers, like one by Sub-Zero (approximately $3,800, plus about $200 for installation).

As for snacks, nothing beats popcorn. But we’re not talking the microwave stuff: You can get an old-fashioned, theater-style popcorn-popper for $50 to $200 on Amazon.com.

Finally, the seating. “For a dedicated home theater, I would recommend having theater seating,” Walker says, “but for a real TV marathon, you want to be able to stretch out—you want a big, comfy couch. With blankets.”

“Look for a sofa or sectional that isn’t too big for the room, has soft seating but enough cushion fill to maintain its shape over time, and has plush but durable fabric,” says interior designer Jennifer Farrell. For a traditional look, she likes this slipcovered sectional in a variety of configurations ($1,275 to $4,709). Or you can go contemporary with this sectional that’s also a pop-up sleeper ($3,798 to $3,998). “And Z Gallerie has the best throws,” says Farrell ($69.95 to $899.95).

“You could watch TV for years in this room,” Walker says.

OK, now that you’re all set up, only one question remains: What time should we come over? (We’ll bring the pizza.)

Open House Do’s and Don’ts

Open House Do’s and Don’ts

As a seller you must realize a few basic, but imperative facts before you host your Open House. Remember, some people prefer to spend the majority of their time in the living room, some on the patio or front porch, some in a multi-media room, but one common denominator is that we all eat. That makes the kitchen in the running as the most important room in an open house, if not the most important. You’re going to have to deep-clean, declutter, and touch up whatever you can. Luckily, we’ve put together this pathologically complete checklist to help make sure you forget nothing.

Don’t make it hard on yourself: The night before, don’t fry fish, don’t whip up a new batch of kimchi, and don’t cook bacon the morning of the open house. Go out for dinner! Order takeout! Please?

Clean out the fridge! We all know that buyers will look in your refrigerator. They’re just nosy that way. Give them something to look at—a spotless interior. Then wipe down the outside, too.

Clean those floors! Nothing says turnoff like a trail of crumbs on the kitchen floor. If you have hardwood or tile flooring, vacuum and damp mop, making sure to get in all the dark corners. If you haven’t yet replaced your linoleum, sweep, mop, and wax it.

Make it shine. If you have stainless-steel appliances, take care of them properly. Wipe them down with the proper cleaning supplies. Honestly, one spray and a little elbow grease, and they’ll look brand-new.

Clean those stovetop drip pans—or better yet, replace them! A rusty, crusty drip pan can make your stove look older than it is. If you don’t have time to scrub them clean, spend a few bucks to replace them.

Degrease that hood. Those vents are grease magnets. Clean the filter before the open house. You may need to dig out the user manual to learn how to remove it, soak it, and make it make shine.

Clean the light-switch plates. Those switch plates can get splattered with grease or, worse, show years of fingerprints and dirt. If they can’t be freshened up, replace them—all of them.

Debug your light fixtures. See those dark spots in your overhead light fixture? Those are dead bugs! Clear the carcasses and wipe the glass clean.

Granite should sparkle. Most people wipe their countertops clean with the same dish sponge they use to wash their dishes. Let’s take it a step further. Use granite polish to wipe on a shine that will make buyers think you spent thousands of dollars on new granite just for them.

Countertops should be spotless. Nothing impresses buyers more than endless stretches of pristine countertop. So it’s time to stow the toaster, the Vitamix, the burr grinder, the rice cooker—all those appliances that take up valuable real estate.

Clean the microwave. You’ve already polished the stainless steel, now clean the inside. Few buyers will open the microwave and check inside, but for those who do, let’s not greet them with years of caked-on food splatters.

Clean the cabinets, inside and out. No one really cares if your canned peas are next to your canned tomatoes, but buyers do care about space. Now’s the time to purge: Do you really need that tin of Spanish octopus? A buyer should be able to open the cabinet door and see the back of the cabinet wall. And while you’re at it, get a pail of water and Murphy Oil Soap and wash your cabinets.

Update your knobs. Cabinet knobs installed in the 1980s can make a kitchen look dated. But upgrading them is easy: Just buy new ones, then install them. Presto! Your kitchen is awesome(ish).

Don’t bake cookies! Baking cookies seems like a nice gesture for buyers, but the trend has run its course. Just have a clean kitchen—everyone appreciates that.

No need to set the table. The kitchen is all about space. If you’re lucky enough to have an eat-in kitchen, let it speak for itself. A clutter-free kitchen with clean, expansive surfaces will do way more than a set of fancy dinner plates.

Flowers are always nice. The one exception to the clutter-free countertop rule is a vase of fresh flowers. Who doesn’t love a pleasant smell ?


Summer Is Almost Here!

Summer Is Almost Here!

Summer is a time for fresh air and fresh linens, sunshiny afternoons and breezy relaxation. Before it hits full force, get your house in order by tackling a few projects that will help you enjoy the season even more.

1. Buy a soaker hose. If you’re in a state where foundations can become problematic if not watered regularly and/or you’re under drought restrictions, this will keep you sane—and potentially keep you from needing to have your foundation jack hammered and hoisted back into place.

2. Change your air filters. Some manufacturers say you should change them out monthly. Although we don’t know ANYONE who actually does this, it’s worth noting that they do actually work more efficiently when changed out regularly, and that can save you money – even though you’re spending more on the filters.

3. Change your refrigerator filter. You’ve probably been a bit lax about this too, right? Presumably, you’ll be drinking more water when it’s hot outside, so change the filter now and improve the taste of your water before you really need it.

4. Buy some decent outdoor furniture. Or fix yours up with outdoor paint. It’s easy to do, whether you’re dealing with wood, metal, or plastic. Check out this before and after:

5. Plant something pretty. Wait until it’s scorching and you run the risk of floppy flowers. Get info about what to plant when for your climate here.

6. Ditch your ruddy throws and blankets. It’s time to bring in something light and soft. Even if you’re not one who does a big seasonal swap with your furnishings, this easy change out will make your home feel fresh and summery.

7. Change out your backsplash. If it’s dark, drab, or dated, a new backsplash can give your kitchen a lift without knocking anything major down or adding anything super expensive. Choose something reflective to bounce light around the room if you have a dark space.

8. Clean your carpets. Were you aware that “E. coli, salmonella, staphylococcus, and other bacteria” can live in your carpet? Gross, right?

“Research indicates that your carpet probably contains about 200,000 bacteria per square inch, making it 4,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat,” said Men’s Health. “The average person sheds about 1.5 million skin cells every hour; these skin cells hit the rug and serve as food for germs. Add in food particles, pollen, and pet dander, and you have a gratis buffet.”

A vacuum cleaner might not be able to reach deep down to grab all of those germs, but a professional carpet cleaner will.

9. Plant a vegetable garden. Summer is the perfect time to start eating better. Give yourself an edge with an at-home vegetable garden. Veggies that can be planted in early spring include spinach, kale, radishes, broccoli, and peas.

“Summer favorites like okra, squash and tomatoes require long, hot days to grow,” said P. Allen Smith Garden Home. Get a complete how-to for planting your first garden here.

10. Clean your windows. They’re probably gross, and they’re also blocking the light.

11. Slap on some solar screens. If you’re in a high-heat area and you want to block the sun, solar screens may be the answer.

“Solar Screens are the most effective window treatments that you can apply to your home for lowering energy bills by stopping the heat transfer through your windows and doors while still maintaining your view,” said Lone Star Solar Screens.

12. Take on a project and make it a family affair. Summer fun doesn’t have to be relegated to vacations. Want to lay new tile in the kitchen? Take the family to the local big box store for a workshop and then get started. It might just be fun. And even if you have to overcome some occasional (or more than occasional) whining along the way, you’ll always have the pride of knowing you did it yourselves once you’re done.

13. Build a firepit. You could always buy one, but why should you when you can build one of these 38 options yourself.

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