HEATHER MERRILL | St Augustine Beach Real Estate, St Augustine Real Estate, Palm Coast Real Estate


Living in Florida brings with it an abundance of sunshine, warm temperatures, and access to incredible oceanic views. For people who thrive on spending a lot of time on the beach or golf course, Florida offers many opportunities to indulge in both.

If you're considering buying a home in Florida, you do need to give careful thought to the kind of lifestyle you'd like to enjoy. Temperatures and weather conditions can vary noticeably from Jacksonville, in the north, to Miami, in the south, so it's a good idea to know what you want and to factor those preferences into your decision.

If you decide to focus your house hunting efforts on suburban or rural areas, chances are you'll still be reasonably close to beaches, golf courses, and bustling big cities. There's a tremendous amount of beach access up and down the Florida coast, and it's generally not difficult to find a quiet stretch of beach on which to stroll and relax.

Before buying a home in Florida, it's essential to research all aspects of the area you're interested in, including real estate prices, market conditions, property tax rates, commuting distances, traffic conditions, crime statistics, school district reputations, nearby amenities, and other quality of life issues.

While some Floridians thrive in touristy areas, others prefer to live a comfortable distance from the crowds. Although tourism is one of the major industries in Florida, there are hundreds of charming neighborhoods, suburban areas, historic sections of town, and quiet communities that offer the best of both worlds. Whether you're attracted to the excitement of city life or the slower pace of outlying areas, the diversity of Florida offers many options for home buyers.

The key to becoming a satisfied Florida homeowner is to visit the areas you're considering moving to and choose a real estate agent who's familiar with the characteristics of those neighborhoods and cities. In addition to talking to locals and asking them what it's actually like to live there, a lot of helpful information can be gleaned from Internet research. For example, surveys conducted by reputable polling companies, such as Gallup, can shed light on the quality of life in different parts of the state.

In a nationwide Gallup survey conducted in 2015 and 2016, three communities in Florida ranked among the top ten (out of 189) in the United States, in regard to overall satisfaction with life, personal wellness, and local ambiance. Naples and a couple nearby areas earned the number one spot in the poll. North Port, Sarasota, and Bradenton were ranked number six.

In addition to gauging the physical, financial, and social well-being of respondents, the survey also asked residents if they liked where they live and whether they had pride in their community. The feedback residents provided reflected their level of satisfaction with their location and quality of life. Other cities that were ranked in the top 40 included Port St. Lucie (#30), Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach (#35), and Cape Coral–Fort Myers(#38). The report was part of the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being series.


Although you may be tempted to spontaneously make an offer on a house that triggers happy memories of your childhood, it's usually best to approach house buying in a methodical, dispassionate way.

Your emotions will come into play as you visit different listings, but they should be tempered by a realistic budget, a list of personal requirements, and a sprinkling of "wish list" items -- ones that will help make your new home extra special!

A lot will depend on whether you're a first-time home buyer or a seasoned home owner. In all likelihood, the more houses you've owned, the higher your expectations will be. That's certainly not a hard-and-fast rule, but it does lend itself to reason. As is the case with most things in life, experience tends to clarify our needs, our tolerances, our quality standards, and our lifestyle preferences.

Buying a home is a huge decision for two reasons: It not only impacts our financial situation (both immediate and long term), but it effects our quality of life for the foreseeable future. So, similar to the institution of marriage, buying a house is a commitment that should not be taken lightly!

Fortunately, there are several effective ways to help ensure that the home you buy will live up to your expectations. One of the most steadfast "anchors" you can have in your search for the ideal home is a seasoned real estate agent. They have the training, knowledge, and communication skills to help you find the house, the right property, and the optimal location that will best suit your needs.

Your agent will work closely with you to create a list of house hunting requirements and preferences. Although the location, school district, and number of bedrooms will probably have a major bearing on your decision, there are literally dozens of other features and characteristics that will influence your final choice. Among those will be square footage, number of bathrooms, and the property's tax rate.

Standard checklists that include a wide range of home buyer requirements are available online and through your real estate agent. These checklists will help you rank each house you visit and objectively compare the homes you like the best. While flexibility is a necessary part of a successful house-hunting campaign, there will invariably be items you won't want to compromise on.

By deciding in advance what your new home should include, you'll create a clear vision of the type of living environment you and your family will find the most satisfying. Whether you're looking for a home with an open floor plan, a screened-in porch, one or more fireplaces, a finished basement, a two-car garage, or ample space between neighbors, getting your requirements down on paper is the first step to turning your house-buying goals into reality!


Many buyers are searching for a home with an attached garage. It helps to keep cars out of the sun, rain, and snow. An attached garage allows you to walk directly from your vehicle into your home without worry. 


Garages used to be detached. These structures offered many benefits to homeowners that seem to be forgotten. As cars became more popular and larger, families began to own two cars at their properties. When this became common, so too di the attached garage.  


While an attached garage is seen as a luxury and often a necessity, the good points a detached garage have shouldn’t be overlooked. 


Attached garages can be converted into living spaces. This affords you as a homeowner much more room without the need to move. Homeowners can then build a detached garage for storage or the placement of a vehicle. 


Other Advantages To Detached Garages


A detached garage adds character to a home. Many buyers complain of tired suburban architecture, where the garage often becomes somewhat of a focal point for the front of the home. Detached garages can be more pleasing to look at.


You’ll also have a bit more wiggle room as to how you design your home. If you build a detached garage, it can be placed at an angle on the property. The garage can also be hidden in the backyard, or designed to look like a smaller version of the larger house. A path can even be built through the yard to the garage to bring a design to the entire yard. 


Another advantage to a detached garage is that toxic fumes from your vehicle won’t get into the house. Homes with detached garages can often receive green points for environmentally friendly building practices. There’s also less of a risk posed to you and your family for things like carbon monoxide poisoning. You can’t leave a vehicle running very long in an attached garage without that risk.   


A detached garage also affords the possibility of adding living space above the garage. It can be a great play space for kids or a game room for adults. You can even build a home office in the upstairs portion of the garage. The area will indeed be quiet if placed strategically. If the attached garage is new construction, you can run wild with it. The design is up to you and the possibilities are truly endless. 


While many buyers search for a home with an attached garage, detached garages can have many pros and allow great flexibility to you as a homeowner.           


Let's face it – clutter can be problematic, particularly for those who want to list a home in the near future. Lucky for you, we're here to help you cut down on clutter so you can add your residence to the real estate market as soon as possible.

Now, let's take a look at three tips that you can use to remove clutter before your list your residence.

1. Rent a Storage Unit

A storage unit offers a great way to protect your belongings while you sell your home. Then, once a homebuyer agrees to purchase your house, you can move your belongings from your storage unit into a new residence.

The price to rent a storage unit often varies based on the size and location of the unit. Therefore, you should shop around to find a storage unit rental that matches your budget.

Also, consider the items that you'll want to keep in a storage unit. If you find that the value of your belongings is less than the rental price of a storage unit, you may want to consider other options to declutter your residence.

2. Host a Yard Sale

A yard sale provides a wonderful opportunity to declutter your residence and earn extra cash at the same time.

Remember, one person's trash is another's treasure. Although you might no longer have a need for some belongings, these items could be valuable to the right buyer.

The best time to host a yard sale usually is a Saturday or Sunday morning. Before your yard sale, you should set up posters around your city or town to advertise your event. That way, you can stir up plenty of interest in your yard sale.

In addition, you may be able to sell items without leaving your couch. Listing some of your excess belongings online allows you to promote a broad array of items to a large audience.

3. Donate Items to Charity

If you're in a hurry to declutter, many charities may be willing to pick up household appliances, furniture and other items without delay. In some cases, you might be able to donate these items and receive a tax deduction as well.

Search for charities in your city or town and contact them directly to find out if they accept donations. Next, you can set up a date and time for a charity representative to pick up your items, or you may be able to drop off the items at a nearby location.

Decluttering your home may seem like an uphill climb, but a real estate agent may be able to provide additional assistance.

A real estate agent can evaluate your home and offer expert tips to help you declutter. As a result, you can revamp your house's interior and ensure your residence looks amazing before you add it to the housing market.

Take the guesswork out of decluttering your residence. Use the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble eliminating clutter from your home.


As a homebuyer, it is important to do everything you can to find your dream residence. Once you discover your ideal house, you should be ready to submit a competitive offer to purchase this home.

Ultimately, there are several factors to consider as you try to put together a competitive offer to purchase your dream house. These factors include:

1. A Home's Age and Condition

Examine a house closely before you craft an offer to purchase – you will be glad you did. Because if you leave no stone unturned in your quest to learn about a residence, you can create an offer to purchase that accounts for a house's age and condition.

If you have questions about a house, you should reach out to a seller's agent. That way, you can address these questions before you submit an offer to purchase.

Also, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a "bad" question to ask about a house. A home purchase may be one of the biggest transactions you will complete in your lifetime. And if you devote time and energy to learn about all aspects of a house, you can ensure you are ready to purchase this home. Perhaps best of all, you can identify potential home problems that otherwise may prove to be costly and time-intensive down the line.

2. The Current State of the Housing Market

Differentiating between a buyer's market and seller's market is key, particularly for those who are ready to submit an offer to purchase a house. If you assess the local housing sector, you can find out whether a buyer's or seller's market is in place and submit an appropriate offer to purchase your dream residence.

In a buyer's market, homes may remain available for many weeks or months after they are listed. Thus, a seller may be willing to accept an offer to purchase, even if it falls below his or her initial home asking price.

Comparatively, in a seller's market, there is a shortage of quality houses available. And in this market, the best houses sell quickly, which means you likely will need to submit a competitive offer to purchase to secure your ideal home.

To determine if a buyer's or seller's market is in effect, take a look at how quickly houses are selling in your city or town. You also should find out if homes are selling at or above their initial asking prices. With this information in hand, you will be better equipped than ever before to submit a competitive offer to purchase your dream house.

3. Your Homebuying Budget

There is no need to overspend to buy your ideal house. Therefore, you should try to submit an offer to purchase that accounts for your homebuying budget.

Oftentimes, it helps to meet with banks and credit unions before you embark on a home search. This will allow you to get pre-approved for a mortgage and enter the homebuying journey with a budget at your disposal.

As you navigate the homebuying journey, you may want to hire a real estate agent, too. Because if you have a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble crafting a competitive offer to acquire your dream residence.




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