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5 Ways to Show Your Home Some Love

Now that February is coming to a close and winter has slowly died down, it's time to show some love to the home that's kept you warm all winter.

Here are 5 ways to show your home some love.

Try those easy DIY updates you've thought about

Even if you’re not planning on selling your home anytime soon, it’s always good to try those small improvements to increase the value of your home. Plan a quick weekend project, like one of these:

  • Install a no-touch faucet in the kitchen
  • Swap those drawer handles and knobs from the ’90s with a more "up-to-date" design
  • Replace the old fluorescent light fixtures in the bathroom with something softer
  • Upgrade the frameless builder-grade mirror to a more stylish one
  • Paint the front door and shutters a vibrant color you love

These simple changes can make a huge difference in how you see and enjoy your home — and make it easier to sell when the time comes.

Buy your home something nice

Just like buying something new for yourself, purchasing something you love for your home will instantly lift your spirits.

Buy that eye-catching vintage door you’ve seen online (after carefully measuring, of course). Upgrade the curtains the previous owner left behind, buy something colorful to change the room’s look, or take the plunge and finally purchase that rug that pulls the room together.

Cultivating great style in your home doesn’t usually happen overnight, but occasionally purchasing items that make you happy will eventually result in a space you love.

Create moments in it

When you first looked at your home, you might have said something like, “This would be a great space for entertaining.” Since moving in, however, have you actually entertained in your home?

If you haven’t (or if it’s been awhile), consider hosting a potluck or a casual dinner with friends and family.

But don’t think you have to scrub the floors for three days and prepare a feast. There’s no need to get too fancy when you host — all you really need is great friends, lively conversation, and good food. Make a menu, choose the music, and hang some string lights or light some candles to create a festive atmosphere.

Save money on it

If mortgage rates are down and you’re interested in lowering your monthly payments, you might want to consider refinancing your home.

Though saving money on your mortgage is the most obvious reason to refinance, many homeowners choose to refinance so they can change from an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate mortgage. This can make payments more predictable and less dependent on how the market is doing.

Knowing that you are making the best financial decisions when it comes to your home will ultimately make you happier to be there.

Make sure it’s protected

Reviewing your home insurance policy may not be the most exciting way to spend an evening, but it’s a good way to make sure there aren’t any obvious gaps in your coverage.

Read your policy carefully. Are you overly insured? Or are you overpaying for the amount of coverage you’re getting? Remember that standard coverage often doesn’t often pay for flood or earthquake damage, so check your policy and understand what’s covered in the rare case of a disaster.

If you find areas for improvement, shop around for a new insurance company or work with your existing provider to create a plan that makes you feel more prepared and secure. Understanding the ins and outs of your insurance policy is the best way to look after your pocketbook — and it will likely help you sleep better at night, too.

A home is more than just a roof over your head — it’s a place that’s meant to be loved and enjoyed. Try some of these quick tips this weekend, and you’re sure to fall in love with your home even more.

Maintaining Your Maintenance Costs

It comes to no surprise to investors and homeowners alike that deterioration of their property is inevitable. Years pass and it’s only common sense that without proper care, these things will come back to haunt you. Whether it’s a destructive roof leak or a faulty appliance, these things can really catch anyone off guard, and even though situations like this can seem like a disaster at the time, standard insurance policies don’t cover damages or repairs that are from the normal wear and lack of upkeep when it comes to maintenance. However, the key to keeping unwelcomed costs out of your wallet is to anticipate and budget appropriately for these repairs.

A main ingredient in anticipating life expectancy in your home is to observe the hardiness of the materials that are used in the essence of the home. These factors usually determine how long the home in general will last, but the quality of the installation, intensity of use, local weather conditions, and level of typical preservation impact their longevity.

Here is a look at the typical life expectancy of commonly used products:

Life Expectancy (In Years)

Definitely, keep these lifespans in mind when replacing or considering worn-out and dated features in your home. Also note the neighborhood norm when selecting those materials. Over-improving or under-improving can impact the potential return on your investment.

Employee Spotlight: Michelle Treiber

Michelle Treiber, REALTOR®

 

 

 

 

Phone: (904) 994-1107

Email:mtreiber@suncoastpropertymanage.com

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” -Confucius

           

We want to take the time to introduce you to one of our newest employees here at Suncoast Property Management, Michelle Treiber, REALTOR®. Only starting with us in late February, Michelle has already exceeded our expectations in both work ethic and customer service.

Michelle was hired on to become a part of our amazing team of leasing agents. Chandler Janger, Suncoast’s Investor Relations Manager, sold her on the fact that the sky is always the limit around here, and Michelle couldn’t agree more. She also serves as a notary in her extra time but when she really gets a chance, spending time with family is her greatest gift. With her three amazing children, she considers cooking a passion as well as a perfect time to bond with them. She absolutely loves the outdoors, horseback riding, kayaking, as well as hiking with her pit lab (pictured).

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When we asked how she would describe herself she said, “I’m the definition of a Virgo.” She considers herself hardworking, someone who is friendly with excellent customer service, extremely organized, and systematic (and it shows).

We also asked her what keeps her working hard and striving for the best for our tenants. She exclaimed, “I LOVE to make other people happy, since I’m a Virgo.” She truly believes one of her work’s biggest rewards is the look on her tenants’ faces when she finds them their perfect home.

If you or someone you know is looking for a home, Michelle Treiber is your answer. Her drive and tireless efforts are exactly what you need in order to find that home with Suncoast Property Management. Call or message us now to find out how to get in touch with Michelle and our other wonderful leasing agents to stop wasting your time and finally find that dream home.

3 DIY fixes that you can do yourself

Bust out the tools and roll up your sleeves. These quick repairs will have your home shipshape in no time.

Little things go wrong in a home sometimes. These issues are usually too small to call someone about, but they can be bothersome nonetheless.

Fortunately, you can easily fix these issues yourself. We’ll show you how to troubleshoot — and permanently correct — three common household problems that can occur time and again in a home.

The jammed garbage disposal

You know your garbage disposal is clogged or jammed if you turn it on and it makes a humming sound — and nothing else. Don’t force it to grind up whatever is lodged in there. Just follow these easy steps to troubleshoot the problem.

Tools needed: Flashlight, pliers or tongs, and an allen wrench)

  1. Turn off the garbage disposal or switch off the electrical circuit that feeds it.
  2. Shine a flashlight into the garbage disposal, and use pliers or tongs to pull out whatever is clogging it. Never put your hand into the garbage disposal! If you locate and remove the object right away, you should solve the problem. If not, move to step 3.
  3. Option A: If your garbage disposal has a reversal feature, run cold water into the disposal and run it in reverse. This should push up whatever is lodged in there so you can remove it. Option B: If your garbage disposal does not have a reversal feature, take the following steps.
    1. Turn off the power at the circuit breaker (if you didn’t already in step 1).
    2. Go underneath the sink and locate the hole at the bottom of the disposal. Stick the end of the hex wrench into the hole and work it back and forth in both directions. The goal is to free up the impeller blade, which may be stuck. Once you can turn the wrench completely in a full circle, you should be able to go back to step 2 and free the object.
  4. Push the reset button and run cold water through the disposal for about a minute.
  5. Turn the garbage disposal back on.

The loose toilet seat

Nearly everyone experiences a loose toilet seat from time to time. Even if you retighten the hinge-bolt nut periodically, it always seems to come loose again. Fortunately, there is an easy and long-term fix. Follow the steps below, and you’ll never have a loose toilet seat again.

Tools needed: A toilet-seat tightening kit, found in the plumbing section of most home improvement stores

  1. Remove the hinge-bolt covers from the toilet seat.
  2. Loosen and remove the nut that is holding the hinge bolt in place. Leave the hinge bolts in place.
  3. Using the tool provided in the kit, slide a washer from the toilet-seat tightening kit onto the hinge bolt, underneath the toilet. Slide it up the bolt so it’s wedged tightly into the underside of the hinge-bolt hole.
  4. Replace the hinge-bolt nut and tighten it into place. Replace the hinge-bolt cover.
  5. Repeat the process on the other side.

That should do it!

The sticking or misaligned door

Several issues may cause an interior door to stick or not close properly. Possible remedies include shimming a hinge with cardboard to realign the door, driving a long screw into the jamb to pull it in, or taking down the door and planing the edge so the door swings freely.

But before you do any of those, you might want to see if your hinge screws are loose. If they are, there’s a simple 10-minute fix.

Tools needed: Cordless screwdriver, wood glue, wooden matches or toothpicks

  1. Remove the screws from the hinge, then remove the hinge from the door or jamb (whichever hinge side is loose).
  2. Put a drop or two of wood glue into each of the screw holes.
  3. Take some wooden matches (the wood part only) or some wooden toothpicks, and put one or more in each of the holes. Wait 10 minutes, then snap off the excess wood.
  4. Reattach the hinge with the screws. It should be nice and tight!

Sometimes you can fix common household problems in a matter of minutes — and get the satisfaction of having made the repair yourself. You can do this!

February Tips For Your Home

Since February rolls is here, we’re often thinking of little ways to show our loved ones how special they are to us. Why not take the opportunity to do the same for your home? There are plenty of things you can do to show your home a little love this Valentine’s Day.

Schedule Easy DIYs Even if you’re not planning on selling your home anytime soon, it’s always good to make small improvements to increase your home’s value. Plan a quick weekend project, like one of the following:

  • Install a no-touch faucet on the kitchen sink
  • Swap those brass drawer pulls from the ’90s with a more modern design
  • Replace the old fluorescent light fixtures in the bathroom
  • Upgrade the frameless builder-grade mirror to a more stylish one
  • Paint the front door and shutters a vibrant color you love

These simple changes can make a huge difference in how you see and enjoy your home — and make it easier to sell when the time comes.

Buy it something pretty Purchase something you love for your home that will instantly put you in a great mood.

Buy that gorgeous vintage door you’ve been eyeing online (after carefully measuring, of course). Upgrade the curtains the previous owner left behind, buy something colorful and cheery to change the room’s look, or take the plunge and finally purchase that department store rug.

Cultivating great style in your home doesn’t usually happen overnight, but occasionally purchasing items that that make you happy will eventually result in a space you love.

Make happy memories in it When you first looked at your home, you might have said something like, “This would be a great space for entertaining.” Since moving in, however, have you actually entertained in your home?

If you haven’t (or if it’s been awhile), consider hosting a potluck or a casual dinner with friends and family.

But don’t think you have to heavily prepare. There’s no need to get too fancy when you host — all you really need is great friends, lively conversation, and good food. Make a menu, choose the music, and hang some string lights or light some candles to create a festive atmosphere.

Save money on it If mortgage rates are down and you’re interested in lowering your monthly payments, you might want to consider refinancing your home.

Though saving money on your mortgage is the most obvious reason to refinance, many homeowners choose to refinance so they can change from an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate mortgage. This can make payments more predictable and less dependent on how the market is doing.

Knowing that you are making the best financial decisions when it comes to your home will ultimately make you happier to be there.

Make sure it’s protected Reviewing your home insurance policy may not be the most exciting way to spend an evening, but it’s a good way to make sure there aren’t any obvious gaps in your coverage.

Read your policy carefully. Are you overly insured? Or are you overpaying for the amount of coverage you’re getting? Remember that standard coverage often doesn’t often pay for flood or earthquake damage, so check your policy and understand what’s covered in the rare case of a disaster.

A home is more than just a roof over your head — it’s a place that’s meant to be loved and enjoyed. Try some of these quick tips this weekend, and you’re sure to fall in love with your home even more.

If you’re in the market for a brand-new home, you’ve got a ton of options. Sales of new homes surged to an eight-year high in 2015, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau, and single-family production is estimated to reach 840,000 units in 2016, an 18 percent increase over 2015, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Unfortunately for home buyers, new residential construction is coming at a steeper price: Last year the average price of a new home jumped to $351,000, up $100,000 from 2009, reports the NAHB.

Nonetheless, there are still ways you can save when buying a new home. It’s like shopping for a new car: You need the right strategy to nab the best deal.

Ask prospective builders these six questions in order to find the right home at the right price.

“What financial incentives do you offer for using your preferred lender and title company?”

The bad news: Production builders are often reluctant to set a precedent for negotiating sales prices. (Custom builders tend to be more flexible.)

“If a new home is listed for $370,000 and it sells for $360,000, the next buyer in the development is going to want to pay that lower amount,” says Craig Reger, a real estate broker at Keller Williams Realty in Portland, OR. However, many offer handsome incentives to buyers who use their preferred lender and title company.

Some may even knock off up to $10,000 in closing costs, says Peggy Yee, a supervising broker at Frankly Real Estate in Vienna, VA. Others will sweeten the deal by negotiating prices on finishes, such as upgrading carpet to hardwood floors.

You should still shop around and get quotes from at least two other lenders before making your decision. But don’t just pay attention to the interest rates. “You need to compare each loan estimate’s terms to make sure you’re getting an apples-to-apples comparison,” says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis.

“Which are the standard finishes?”

When you tour a development’s model home, keep in mind that you’re previewing a high-end version of the standard home. “The model has all the bells and whistles,” says Dossman. Therefore, you need to find out from the builder which options are standard, which options are upgrades, and what each upgrade costs.

One way to cut costs: Move into the home without an upgrade, then hire a contractor to do the work. “Builders charge a huge markup on certain finishes and products,” says Reger. “The builder might charge $4,000 to $6,000 for a high-performance air conditioner, but you may be able to get another company to install that same unit for as low as $2,500.”

Granted, opting for the latter means you’ll probably need to pay the contractor in cash. “For some people, the benefit of paying the builder to do upgrades is that they can roll the costs into their loan amount,” Reger points out.

“What are your long-term plans for the community?”

Depending on the size of the land, the builder might be planning several subdivisions. This could impact your decision to buy.

For example, let’s assume that only a few homes have been built and sold. If the developer plans to construct an additional 50 homes and you’re one of the first people to move into the neighborhood, you may have to deal with loud construction crews for several months.

There’s also the risk that the builder loses funding and another company takes over the development. Dossman advises proceeding with caution: “If the builder changes and a lower-quality builder takes over, that could affect the value of your home.”

“What are the homeowners association rules and regulations?”

Each homeowners association (HOA) has its own Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws. Get these from the builder and review them carefully.

“I’ve seen HOAs that don’t allow storage sheds in the backyard, solar panels, or private fences,” says Reger.

In most cases, the HOA can assess a homeowner penalties for infractions, and some associations are more restrictive than others.

Also, look into when you’re required to start paying HOA dues. Many builders cover the costs until at least 50 percent of the homes in the development are sold, says Yee.

“What warranties do you provide?”

Most builders offer a one-year workmanship warranty and a 10-year structural warranty, says Reger. Make sure the warranties you receive explicitly state what is and isn’t covered, and what the limitations are for damages.

You should also receive manufacturer’s warranties on the washer and dryer, hot water heater, air conditioner, kitchen appliances, and roof.

“Can you connect me with some of your past clients?”

Always check references when vetting home builders, says Dossman. Ask past clients questions such as, “How responsive was the developer when you expressed concerns?” and “Would you use the builder again?”

Caveat: Most builders will only provide glowing references, so you should still scout out some past customers on your own. You can find these people through reviews on Angie’s List, or knock on doors of homes in the neighborhood that have already been built.

5 Things Home Buyers Need to Know As You Wait for Closing Day

The seller accepted your offer, and now you've just got to sign on the dotted line. Right?

For some home buyers, the closing day for a real estate purchase is as formal and complicated as the transaction itself. For others, it’s just a blip on the radar. Either way, there are some important things to keep in mind as you make your way to homeownership.

Your mortgage rate could expire

Mortgage rates can fluctuate daily, and the rate your bank quoted isn’t good forever. Instead, a bank will “lock-in” your interest rate for 45, 60 or any number of days. Once that lock expires, you may have to pay a higher rate.

Any number of issues can come up: open permits, illegal renovations, or other types of roadblocks might require the loan process to stop until resolution.

For example, a buyer in upstate New York learned at the last minute that a previous owner built an addition to the home in the 1970s but never documented it properly. It turns out it was so bad that it wouldn’t pass today’s requirements. The buyer had to hire an architect, re-draw plans, and document the issue before the bank approved the loan. And, consequently, he lost the rate he’d been quoted.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, and don’t assume it’s a smooth journey to the closing table. Rate-lock expiration can throw an expensive wrench into the closing process.

The mortgage process isn’t over yet

Some buyers think once they’ve completed the application and submitted paperwork, their loan is approved and ready to go.

Not so fast. Today, some lenders will verify income, assets or credit all the way up until the very last minute. Don’t make any major changes to your finances until the closing.

That means don’t apply for a new credit card, finance a new car, or take a new job without running it by your mortgage professional.

The smallest (even seemingly insignificant) change to your finances can affect your ability to be approved for a loan.

And the house isn’t yours yet

In some locations, the walk through is a formal event, and in others, it’s a checked box. Most real estate contracts provide for a walk-through up to 24 hours before the closing. Be sure to take advantage of it.

Why? You don’t want to close on the home if systems aren’t working, the seller hasn’t made the necessary repairs, or the seller hasn’t moved out.

If things aren’t as they should be, you can postpone the closing until they are.

You may need to do some homework

Once the home closes, not only is it physically yours, but also it’s completely your responsibility. In most states, the law is on the side of the buyer, and requires the seller to disclose any issues and confirm they’ve been resolved.

In others, it’s “caveat emptor,” or buyer beware. In this case, it’s up to the purchaser to double- and triple-check that the seller closes all outstanding building permits, releases all liens from the title report, and resolves any issues with the local building department, assessor or health department.

The actual closing could be very low-key

In most places, the end happens in parts, and the two parties don’t need to meet. Buyers sign their loan documents in the privacy of their home or office, and the seller shows up at the title company to sign off on the deed. It’s seamless and straightforward, and happens in the background.  Buyers wire their down payment, and sellers receive their funds electronically.

But sometimes, the buyers and sellers and lots of attorneys and title folks sit around the table for hours, passing paperwork and using calculators. The process is archaic and cumbersome. What’s worse: If the transaction wasn’t smooth, the atmosphere around the “closing table” could be pretty tense.

What can you do?

The easiest way to a smooth closing is to be on the lookout for red flags and do lots of research.

Have a solid team on your side, starting with a good local agent. He or she can refer you to necessary mortgage pros, title insurances, escrow offices, attorneys or inspectors.

Processes and customs vary by market, and customs that apply in one community won’t matter across the country, so getting as much information upfront as you can will help avoid unpleasant surprises.

3 Factors that Affect the Price of Your Move

When you're moving, the last thing you need is a list of surprise fees to further hurt your bank account.

When planning a residential move, it’s important to have an accurate idea of the final moving costs so you can set a realistic moving budget. Estimating your moving costs, however, is not always accurate.

The movers will provide you with an estimate but there plenty of other factors can also affect the final price and make your relocation significantly more expensive than anticipated.

To make a good financial plan for your upcoming move, you need to know exactly what can affect your moving estimate.

The Required Moving Services

The factor that will most affect the final cost of your move is the amount of moving help you’re going to need.

If you want your movers to take care of all aspects of your move, it will cost you a pretty penny.

But if you decide to do some of the work yourself (such as packing your belongings or disassembling your large furniture), you won’t have to pay for those services, and will be able to cut down the moving costs.

Keep in mind that any specific packing, handling, or transportation requirements you may have (like crating, exclusive use of the moving vehicle, or split pick-up or delivery) will also incur additional fees.

Sometimes, circumstances beyond your control may necessitate a specific service, regardless of whether you want to use it or not.

Poor access to the pick-up and/or drop-off location is the most common obstacle that affects the flow of a move and results in nominal fees. Here are several examples:

  • If your old home (or your new property) is not accessible to large moving trucks because of physical constraints (such as narrow roads or weak bridges), your goods will be picked up or delivered with the help of smaller vehicles. This will incur an additional shuttle fee.
  • If the moving truck can’t stop in front of the entrance to your home and the movers have to carry your items over a considerable distance (greater than 50 to 75 feet), you’ll be charged a long-carry fee.
  • If the movers have to take your goods up or down a number of stairs (or wait long for an elevator), you’ll have to pay a flight charge (or an elevator fee).
  • If some of your furniture or appliances don’t fit through the doors or along the narrow hallways in your property, you will need hoisting services (that is, movers will take your large items in or out of the home through a window). These tend to be really expensive.

Storage needs are the second most common reason for increased moving costs. If you need your belongings to be stored in the carrier’s warehouse, you’ll have to pay an additional storage fee.

And if your items have to be kept in storage for some time, because you’re unable to receive your shipment on the agreed date and time, all the warehouse handling costs will be at your expense.

You’ll also be charged extra for any idle time the movers waste waiting at your home if you’re not ready when they arrive to pick up your goods.

Timing Your Move

The specific time of year when your relocation takes place will also greatly affect the final moving costs.

It’s no secret that moving company rates are much higher during the summer — the busiest moving season— than they are for the rest of the year. So, moving off-season (anytime from September to mid-May) will significantly reduce your moving costs, and will also allow you to ensure the help of experienced moving professionals at the most convenient time for you (reputable movers are not easily available during the peak season).

Also, remember that moving rates are usually higher on national holidays and on the first/last day of a month, when many people need to move house because of rental agreements or job-related considerations.

If possible, avoid such peak periods and schedule your relocation for a day during the second half of a month when you can expect lower rates, plenty of available movers, and considerably less hassle.

As far as specific days of the week are concerned, the weekends are, of course, the busiest and the costliest. Tuesday, on the other hand, is the least preferred day for a move, so you may receive a significant discount if you decide to relocate on a Tuesday.

Moving Insurance

The basic liability coverage (60 cents per pound per item) you get for free when using professional moving services may not be enough to ensure your peace of mind, especially if you are relocating items of high sentimental or monetary value.

If you want Full Protection (under which the carrier assumes liability for the full cost of repairs or the replacement value of any lost or damaged goods), your moving costs will go still higher.

With so many factors affecting your movers’ estimate, you need to be really careful when researching your moving options and really choose what best suits you. Get three or four on-site binding estimates, compare the rates and conditions different moving companies offer, and make your pick wisely.

Southern Impression Homes is Live!!

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welcometothebeginning
welcometothebeginning

We are so happy to announce that our sister company, Southern Impression Homes, is now live! As our eagerness grows, the developments in Glenda's Meadow Phase II and Forest Hideaway are moving so fast we can hardly recognize them.

Be Sure to Follow SI Homes on all of their social media @southern_impression_homes

and check our their official website at SIhomesfl.com

A Huge Thank You From Suncoast!!

Suncoast Gives Back

As we come to the close of our “Suncoast Gives Back” food drive event, we are overwhelmed by the response from the community.

Due to the generous amount of donations given by you, we managed to acquire two large boxes full of canned goods and perishables.

We would like to thank all who have donated as well as the Mandarin Food Bank for making this possible.

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5 Home Mends To Make Before The Holidays

As winter approaches, the colder weather is now a set back to the options you have when fixing up your home. More than likely, you have a very limited time before the family starts to arrive and with all the work that needs to be done around the house, stick with the minor tasks before the holiday festivities begin.

If you're new to the party hosting role, or if this isn't your first rodeo, these tips will ensure that your family gathering will go as smoothly as you hope it will.

Lighting the way

Now that the time has fallen back an hour, it's important that the pathway to your door is clean and illuminated.

If you have a larger front yard, focus more on the front of the entryway and the path that leads up to it. Porch lights and any near lighting should be checked as well as any shrubbery that is blocking the walkway.

Whenever you host your party, the blinds should be open on the front windows so guests can see and feel the warmth of your home. It's a great way to create a sense of welcoming.

TIP: a cheap and easy way for lighting your walkways and paths are solar lights. The sun does the work for you!

 

Take care of the basics

Cleaning. Even if you're unable to do a head to toe cleaning before your party, you will definitely need to have all the floors cleaned before the first guest steps into your home.

TIP: If you have carpeting, it takes a minimum three days before your carpets are fully dried from a carpet cleaning.

 

Brighten up the bathroom

If you just can't seem to get that grime out of your grout, there IS an inexpensive and non-toxic way to get rid of it: Spray some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. DONE!

next, adding a few flowers, holiday decorations, or pictures on the wall will add a little bit extra pizzazz to your bathroom.

TIP: Quickly de-clog your slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This tool looks just like a giant zip-tie. You work it into your drain and it then pulls up your hair clogs - all the other debris stuck in your sink will come up with it.

 

Double check those kitchen appliances

Obviously, your kitchen appliances are the backbone to your holiday party, whether its a family dinner or cocktail party. You want them to be ready and fully functional.

Check that all the stove burners work. Clean the oven if you haven't in a while.

Clean out the refrigerator, make sure that both the fridge and freezer are running at ideal temperatures.

See that the dishwasher is also in working order. You can easily clean it with a cleaner that you run through a cycle.

TIP: Sharp knives make food prepping a big meal a whole lot easier. Make sure all the kitchen knives are newly sharpened.

Kid-friendly

If your home is welcoming to children, you will guarantee that the parents will have a good time as well.

If you happen to have kids that are around the same age as your young guests, all the better. If not, consider adding little touches that will make the parent more comfortable and relieve the kid of his/her boredom.

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Make a spare room into a nursing/changing area.
  • Toddlers or younger children will want to be near their parents, so it's a good idea for them to be set up near a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, or tablet for watching cartoons, maybe even a few pillows and throws.
  • One really good strategy for older kids are to turn the dessert course into an activity. For example, you can bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put different colors of icing or sprinkles on them. It lets the kids (and adults) go crazy with decorating their own cookies.

TIP: If you don't have any children, or if they are older, don't forget to kid-proof your space. Put anything expensive, breakable, or unstable away. Do baby-proofing, if necessary. That way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.

 

Hopefully these ideas and tips will give you some relief for holiday entertaining, and ensure that you and your guests will relax and enjoy each other's company this season.

7 Ways to Lower the Cost of your Homeowners Insurance

When it comes to Homeowners Insurance, Remember these discounts and cost drivers as you shop for your new home.

  1. Year of Construction

As a general rule, as a home gets older, the more it costs to insure/upkeep. Homes built after 2002 receive discounts based on the face that 2002 was the date of the most recent building code changes.

  1. Construction Type

A wood frame house will cost about 25% more to insure than a comparable concrete block house.

  1. Roof Shape

A significant discount is available or having a hip shaped roof, due to its superior wind resistance.

  1. Wind Mitigation Credit

Have an inspector perform a Wind Mitigation Inspection, which looks for construction features that promote wind resistance. Depending upon the results of the inspection, this can result in savings of upwards to 30%!

  1. Secured Community Credit

Some companies offer credits for living in a gated community, a community having security guards, or even for a living on a cul de sac.

  1. Monitored Alarms

Monitored fire and burglar alarms will earn you some credits. It might be as little as $25 or as much as $100 per year.

  1. Fire Protection Class

A house within 5 miles of a fire station and les than 1000’ of a fire hydrant will cost less to insure than a comparable house outside those distances.

With all these things in mind, you should always take into consideration these, what seem to be minor, oversights in homeowners insurance.

The 6 Red Flags for Homeowners Insurance

When purchasing a home, a serious thought should go towards insuring your new place for those unexpected emergencies and disasters. So with that in mind, these 6 things make it harder and more expensive to insure your home.  

1. Age of the Roof

Many companies will not insure a home with a shingle roof over 15 years old (some go to 20 years). A tile roof will raise red flags at 30 and a metal roof at 50.

2. Poly Pipes

Make sure the house is not plumbed with polybutylene plumbing, used in the 70’s and 80’s. No insurance company wants to insure a house with poly pipe.

3. Federal Pacific Electrical Panel

Federal Pacific Stab-Loc brand electric panels are a potential fire hazard. Most companies will not insure a house with one.

4. Aluminum Wiring

Used in home construction from 1965-1973, it was later discovered to be a fire hazard as the system ages.

5. Swimming Pool?

Not a problem – but a diving board or slide is. And either a screen enclosure or six foot fence with a self-locking gate must enclose the pool.

6. Know the Flood Zone

Just before closing, the mortgage company will do a Food Zone Determination. If the house is in a Special Hazard Zone, flood insurance will be required. You don’t have to wait to find out.

Be sure to call or email Suncoast Property Management if you have any questions regarding your home or if you would like more information on these red flags.

Move-In Checklist for Renters Relocating to a New City

apartment-for-rent-via-rentcafe Image courtesy of rental website RENTCafé Jacksonville

Moving to a new apartment in a new city can be an intimidating and stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be! Consider the following move-in checklist for renters relocating to a new city:

Before the move-out date:

Schedule the big day with a reputable moving company. Do your research, search online, and ask around for referral for moving companies with good reviews.

moving-services

    Image courtesy of dreamstime

At least a month before you move, contact your utility providers to either transfer or end services at your old apartment. Be sure to return any equipment that belongs to cable or internet providers to avoid being billed later on. For a seamless transition in services at your new rental apartment, schedule installation a few weeks ahead of time.

Stock up on packing materials. The last thing you’ll want to worry about is having enough tape, boxes, and other essential materials when you’re packing. An even better tip: color coordinate when packing. Take it from someone who’s moved 5 times so far (and I’m not sure I’m done), it will be much easier to unpack when you know all the boxes wearing the green label go in the bedroom, and all the yellow ones go in the kitchen. It’s one way to ensure you won’t have to dig through your decorations or kitchenware to find the blue pair of sandals you want to wear to work on Monday.

Decide what stays and what goes. If you are moving across the country and starting fresh, you may not be able to bring all of your furniture. Make a list of what items you will take with you and which items are no longer of use. You can donate any unwanted belongings to a charity, such as Salvation Army.

After you’re moved in:

Unpack room by room. To avoid becoming overwhelmed with a lot of boxes to unpack, take it one room at a time. Not only will this help you to focus on each room, it will help you to avoid a cluttered mess of open and half-unpacked boxes.

Find a school for your child. If you’re a parent, you’ll need to find an ideal school for your children to attend. If they are transferring midyear, you'll have more than likely already found a school for them. Otherwise, do your research online or ask your new neighbors about what schools their children attend. Also, be sure to visit the new school and meet the staff before the big first day.

Find an awesome takeout joint. Craving some Pad Thai or pepperoni pizza? You’ll need to know the numbers of the places that serve delicious food for when you’re starving after all that unpacking! Search online for the best food establishments (look for reviews!) or better yet, ask one of your new neighbors!

moving-to-a-new-home

    Image courtesy of dreamstime

Have any other cool tips for renters relocating to a new city? Leave a comment!

Looking To Save Money On A Home? Now Is The Time!

Still looking at leasing a home? Now is the time to make a deal!

Assuming you have the flexibility to pick a time of the year to move, the first thing you need to decide is what is more important to you: saving as much money as possible or having a lot of options to choose from.

Most prospective tenants tend to move between May and September. This is not surprising when you think about the fact that young people start or graduate from college during this time, younger kids are out of school on summer break, and the weather is generally a lot nicer when it comes to moving your household from one location to another.

Because of this, there is more turnover in rental units during this time of the year as compared to most any other time of the year–which means you may have a wider selection of units to choose from than at other times of the year.

The flip side is that there may also be greater demand from renters vying for those rental units during the summer than at other times of the year. This may mean that you have to act more quickly in making a decision about a rental so as not to lose it to another interested renter.

If you’re looking for a deal on an apartment, winter is generally the best time to find a new place to live. Apartment turnover is much slower during the winter months, so while you may have fewer units to choose from, property managers may be more likely to cut you a deal to fill their vacancies.

In addition to doing your apartment search during the off-season, you’ll generally get a better deal on an apartment in markets that have greater supply than demand. Coincidentally, Suncoast Property Management have plenty of homes for you to choose from with dozens of options and areas around Jacksonville to choose from. Contact us when you need you're ready to find both the right home and the best deals!

10 Home Security Tips for First-Time Homeowners

Congratulations! You bought your first home! But first, before you get caught up in decorating your spaces or planning that housewarming party, it’s important to make sure that your new home is safe and secure before anything. New homeowners are easily vulnerable to the security risks since they are just learning about their new home and neighborhood. Get a jump-start on educating yourself with the 10 home security tips for first-time homebuyers.

 

  1. Aim to be an informed resident of your neighborhood before even moving in. Always assess the security situation before you buy.
  2. Take your neighborhood for a test drive. Drive around the neighborhood during the day and at night. This allows you to gauge the happenings of your new neighborhood at different times of the day and week.
  3. Do your research for the area’s crime rates — for both property and violent crimes. Even the safest neighborhoods are not immune to crime.
  4. Meet your neighbors. New homeowners should get acquainted with their neighborhood and neighbors. Talking to your neighbors about neighborhood crime and safety will provide a sense of the kinds of security precautions needed in your home. Getting to know your neighbors also leads to an increased awareness of trends in criminal behavior in your neighborhood, thus reducing the risk of being a victim.
  5. Perform a home security audit. After you’ve moved into your new home, inspect all of the home’s entry points and identify any outdated or malfunctioning locks. Specifically looking at locks to windows and rear doors, as well as your exterior and garage lights. And don’t forget to re-code your garage door opener. There also may be a need for a thorough home audit, cautioning new homeowners that many break-ins are by people who have had a chance to scope out your home.
  6. Identify your local emergency services. Once you’re aware of the kinds of crimes that occur in your area, determine the proximity of emergency services to your neighborhood — and then work this information into your security and safety plans. Furthermore, after neighborhood watch members are trained on what to do when suspicious activity is seen, they should know who to contact and what information should be provided when reporting crimes to authorities.
  7. Focus on prevention. Even if you decide not to get a home security system, you can still address home security issues. Showcasing valuables through open curtains and discarded packaging on the street. Add secondary blocking devices to sliding glass windows and doors so they can’t be easily forced open. Additionally, secure your garage. If a garage door is left open when you leave the house, your belongings and family become vulnerable. New homeowners to consider installing a garage door that can be controlled remotely via a smart home app. First-time homeowners should be especially mindful of who enters your home, including service vendors, delivery persons, contractors, and even friends of your children.
  8. Shop around. The [home security] industry has a history of aggressive sales tactics, so it’s more important than ever to find a provider you feel comfortable working with that can offer advice and guidance without pushing a product. Assessing your family’s specific goals for a security system is key. Use a full smart home or security system, noting that they allow you to rely on cameras to keep an eye on your home’s surroundings and flag any unusual movement inside.
  9. Don’t rule out DIY systems. You can purchase a wireless security system without paying for installation or monthly monitoring. If the alarm is activated, it triggers a loud siren, which is good enough to scare most burglars away. The best part of any security system is the sign in the lawn advertising that you have a security system. Many burglars will bypass your home due to the sign alone.
  10. Consider financial benefits. Beyond the security benefits alone, a home security system also often brings you a home insurance discount of up to 10 percent. A reduced insurance rate is not a universal rule, however, and any possible deduction will vary by insurance provider. In addition to potential home insurance discounts, take into account that some home security systems help homeowners conserve energy costs, as they can be integrated with thermostats and outlets, and monitored remotely.

 

It’s all about preparedness

Ultimately, proper home security precautions stem from research and preventive actions. Take a critical look at your new neighborhood, home, and lifestyle to best determine your family’s specific security needs.

Hurricane Safety Checklist

As Hurricane Matthew approaches Jacksonville, Suncoast Property Management wants to make sure that you, your family, and your home are safe and prepared for any and every situation that may arise. Hopefully you've already avoided the rush and last minute scrambling to the local supply and grocery stores but if you failed to do so, go through this checklist taken from Hurricansafety.org to make sure you haven't forgotten anything.

Water

  • Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles and gallon jugs. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.
  • Store one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for each person in your household for food preparation/sanitation).

Food

Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food (foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water). If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno, which is a essentially canned heat. Select food items that are compact and lightweight.

Include a selection of the following foods in your Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
  • Canned juices
  • Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
  • High energy foods
  • Vitamins
  • Food for infants
  • Comfort/stress foods

First Aid and Non-Prescription Drugs

Most First Aid Kits should include:

  • (20) adhesive bandages, various sizes.
  • (1) 5″ x 9″ sterile dressing.
  • (1) conforming roller gauze bandage.
  • (2) triangular bandages.
  • (2) 3 x 3 sterile gauze pads.
  • (2) 4 x 4 sterile gauze pads.
  • (1) roll 3″ cohesive bandage.
  • (2) germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • (6) antiseptic wipes.
  • (2) pair large medical grade non-latex gloves.
  • Adhesive tape, 2″ width.
  • Anti-bacterial ointment.
  • Cold pack.
  • Scissors (small, personal).
  • Tweezers.
  • CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield.

Common Non-Prescription Drugs, such as:

  • Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Laxative
  • Activated charcoal

Tools & Supplies

  • Mess kits, or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
  • Emergency preparedness manual
  • Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cash or traveler’s checks, change
  • Non-electric can opener, utility knife
  • Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type
  • Tube tent
  • Pliers
  • Tape
  • Compass
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Signal flare
  • Paper, pencil
  • Needles, thread
  • Medicine dropper
  • Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
  • Whistle
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Map of the area (for locating shelters)

Sanitation

  • Toilet paper, towelettes
  • Soap, liquid detergent
  • Feminine supplies
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid
  • Disinfectant
  • Household chlorine bleach

Clothing and Bedding *Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person.

  • Sturdy shoes or work boots
  • Rain gear
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Hat and gloves
  • Thermal underwear
  • Sunglasses

Special Items

Double check that people that have particular needs such as infants and the elderly will have the necessities they need to perform daily tasks such as:

For Baby

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered milk
  • Medications

For Adults

  • Heart and high blood pressure medication
  • Insulin
  • Prescription drugs
  • Denture needs
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Extra eye glasses

For Pets

  • Do not leave your pets behind.
  • Securely fasten a current identification tag to your pet’s collar and carry a photograph of your pet. It’s important to include the phone number of a friend or family member on the tag so anyone who may find your pet is able to reach someone who knows you.
  • Transport pets in secure pet carriers and keep pets on leashes or harnesses.
  • Call hotels in a safe/host location and ask if you can bring your pets. Ask the manager if a no-pet policy can be lifted during the disaster. Most emergency shelters do not admit pets.
  • Call friends, family members, veterinarians or boarding kennels in a safe/host location to arrange foster care if you and your pets cannot stay together.
  • Pack a week’s supply of food, water and other provisions, such as medication or cat litter.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to evacuate. Rescue officials may not allow you to take your pets if you need to be rescued.
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers (veterinarian, local animal control, animal shelters, Red Cross, etc.).

Possessions and Documents

  • Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container:
    • Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
    • Passports, social security cards, immunization records
    • Bank account numbers
    • Credit card account numbers and companies
    • Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
    • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
    • Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the supplies kit in the trunk of your car.
    • Keep items in airtight plastic bags. Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh. Replace your stored food every six months. Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
    • Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.

Giving Credit When Credit is Due!

Here at Suncoast Property Management, we strive and work hard everyday to make sure you get the service you deserve, and Kim McPhee is a prime example of that. Recently, Kim received a well deserved thank you card that we couldn't help but show.

We are honored to have Kim McPhee as part of our Leasing Team and are proud to have someone represent Suncoast in such a way that makes us strive to work even harder and prove to you that we deserve your business!