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Today is a Great Day to Look at Houses...

Today is a great day to look at houses – first the weather is not very nice – it has been rainy and windy for days.

Call a real estate agent, call Janyne Kenworthy!  A great agent doesn’t care if the sun is shining or its pouring down rain they will take you out anywhere you want to look.

On a sunny day everything looks better, brighter and cheerier; but on an overcast rainy day you will see other things and be less apt to overlook flaws. Remember you buy a house with more than your sense of sight, you use other senses also!

Now, how is that subdivision drainage, are you driving thru huge puddles and mud to get to the house you want to see? Is the yard flooded? Step in the grass – soft and spongy? Are the gutters flowing like they should or are there gutters at all? Is the landscape flooding from all the rain?  In Florida it’s hard to keep palm trees from shedding palm fronds on a windy day even if they are kept nicely trimmed there will be a stay frond or a coconut that falls in the wind but overall the house on the outside should still look nicely kept regardless of the weather.

Now enter and be sure to wipe your shoes or remove them – especially if there is a tile floor which with wet shoes is like being on an ice rink – what is your first impression of the house – dark, gloomy and depressing? Are there windows all around that let the little overcast light come thru? As you walk thru the house try to envision how you live, what rooms you will be utilizing when the weather is not the greatest, will you have to turn all the lights on to just function? And if that’s what you’re looking for then you are in a perfect place for your liking. Are you thinking this is the perfect house to curl up with a book on a day like this – wonderful, good start!

Remember, paint is superficial and can be changed to fit your liking – some people prefer darker walls and light floors, some light walls and dark floors and some mix and match, but look around with the idea of how you will decorate and make this home into your comfort zone.

Now, listen to the house, is it quiet, noisy, rain pelting the roof and wind whistling thru the windows? Do you love what you hear? Are trees and bushes outside beating against the house and roof in the wind? Look at the possibility of a good trimming to fix that. Any other sounds that you can’t identify? Ask what the noise is if there is one; maybe it’s the refrigerator, washer or dryer or another appliance that will go when the owner leaves – or maybe they are leaving the noise to go with the house.

Now you’ve used your eyes and your ears – how does it smell? Inside and out – is there a ditch with water flowing outside, will it always have water flowing or will the water stagnate? Does it have a septic? What’s the status of that? Inside, any unusual smells dog, cat or something you just can’t put your finger on – ask! Don’t assume the smell is something in the house and don’t assume it will leave with the current owner – ASK!  It might be a musty moldy smell and that could be a tell tale sign of previous water damage – or it could be they just came back from camping and the hamper has wet clothes they forgot about!

Viewing a house for sale should be a trip to envision your family in the house – look at as many places as you can until you find the one that says – this is my future comfort zone. When the house looks, feels, sounds and smells like it could become yours. Where you walk thru and say, “I can’t wait to cook in this kitchen” and “Wow, this bathroom is just what I wanted” and even on a rainy day you envision yourself curled up with a good book and relaxing! Then you’ve found your home!

Call me rain or shine, Janyne Kenworthy to find your perfect comfort zone in Florida.

1-800-773-8985 or 772-696-5110    Treasure Coast Sotheby’s International Realty.

 

 

Flood Zones or Natural Disaster Areas

For map information on Florida Flood zones: http://www.mapwise.com/maps/florida/hazards.php

Or Floodsmart website: http://www.floodsmart.gov/

 

Floods and Natural Disasters can be devastating to a homeowner. You should know your insurance policy and what and how it covers during storms – like flood waters rise and do damage from the ground – water damage from blowing rain and winds because of a hurricane or tornado may not be a considered a flood.

 

A flood can happen anywhere it rains or anywhere there is a river, dam, levee or a natural body of water. Also any manmade structure that influences or guides waters that can fail! Currently in the United States most of the dams and levees are over 50 years old and there are over 14,000 of them but even though they are monitored regularly by a state or government agency there is a chance of their failure anytime, but even more risk during heavy rains or a storm or storm surge.

 

When purchasing a residence you will want to inquire as to potential flood zone – however just because there never was a flood there before does not guarantee there never will be – look at the topography and ask others. Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period on new flood insurance policies, so get coverage before the next storm is on its way. Flood insurance is worth the cost of the policy to feel secure.

 

One good thing is taxpayers don’t subsidize flood policies – unless the US Treasury Dept. forgives what is owed to them. But the Flood Program “WAS” doing great and was solvent from 1986 to 2004 and then Katrina! Katrina was a more costly flood than everything prior to 2005 combined. All the 15 flood events prior covered under the Flood Program didn’t cost what the Katrina flood did!  According to USGS.gov almost 50% of the population of the United States lives within 50 miles of a coast and that number is increasing. In the event of a storm the barrier islands and coastal wetlands are the first to get the storm surge and/or erosion so understand the policy you have.

 

If you live on a coast or are buying on the coast or barrier island it naturally is a risk – but you can prepare and become educated to the risks and be ready to deal with the issue. If you live on the mainland or an interior area where there are mountains and valleys, keep in mind that topography was created by nature – valleys are a natural area for the water to seek in a heavy rain disaster! If cautioned to leave an area – go! You can rebuild and replace a home, not a life.

 

In most natural water disasters loss of life is usually unnecessary – residents in an area need to heed the warnings that are given to them. If necessary, take your important papers in a plastic bag and leave the area to safety.

 

The Flood maps are being redrawn and there is talk of huge increases to flood insurance; we will have to watch to see what happens in this arena in the near future.  Most of all residents wherever you live or are looking to buy should learn what you can about the area and if necessary how to prepare and deal with a flood or water disaster. The first part of staying safe is learning! Stay safe and be smart!

 

Call me, Janyne Kenworthy if you have a question about a home location – I can help you!

Treasure Coast Sotheby’s International Realty  http://janynekenworthy.treasurecoastsir.com/eng >

1-800-773-8985 or 772-696-5110

Open Houses – Tool and Risk

Open houses can be great sales tools, for both Real Estate agents and for a FSBO (for sale by owner). There is a potential for risk for both anytime a house is being shown – a seasoned agent is trained to do a host of inquiries and knows how to show the house to put themselves at as little risk as possible but for a FSBO showing their home to a caller they can put themselves open to potential harm. When an agent gets a call to see a house they or their office or both try to get pertinent information on the potential client – who, what, where, when and how; when a homeowner is selling themselves – they ask the name and when they want to see it. Usually for a FSBO there is no one else home, sometimes no one even knows there will be a showing – even the dog gets locked up for the visitors. In a home showing both the human showing it and the home are vulnerable at that time; and the home may be at risk for a future crime. Most Real Estate agents know how to open a home for a showing, guide the potential buyer through and secure it again. Most areas and houses are considered safe but there can always be that one person looking to harm in some way – and they are there to view the home for the wrong reason. Stay safe by practicing some guidelines.

  • Pick the open house hours with daylight and neighborhood in mind!
  • If you are a FSBO and having your own open house – keep in mind you are letting strangers in your home.
  • Agents will have their homeowners prepare the home ahead of the viewings – important items secured out of sight and harm’s way.
  • Check your cell phone’s strength and signal at that location prior to the open house. If your phone battery loses charge quickly bring your charging cord or an extra battery. Many homes now do not have a home phone service.
  • All rooms will be brightly lit to enhance the look and all curtains open to show off the views.
  • As prospective buyers come – make sure you have the sign-in sheet ready for them and that they fill in their information – and you make a mental note of how your new guests look and how they make you feel upon their entrance – first gut feelings are usually the best!
  • Open rear doors to enable potential buyers to view the lovely yard landscape or swimming pool area; make a note of those who exit so you are aware they have re-entered or be their guide to the outdoor patio area.
  • If you feel uneasy with anyone’s presence – make note of their vehicle and their physical appearance. Are they looking more at the furnishing and tech items than the home itself? Could they be looking to come back to burglarize? Or are they just focused on the things and not the home – maybe they are nosy neighbors!
  • When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct your guests don’t lead them, gesture for them to go ahead of you saying, “The guest room is on the right” and you will already have the lights on and the draperies open.
  • Make arrangements to call in to either the office or a friend half-way thru the open house and again at the end to let them know you are closing up and securing the home. If you don’t call, they are to come there or notify the police.
  • Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  • When you are closing the house at the end of the day – check the outside area and then all windows and door locks to make sure no one has opened them for future convenience of breaking in, turn out all lights and close curtains or window coverings as they usually are. Lock and leave if you are an agent you will call the homeowner to report they can return home and how the traffic flow of potential buyers is and for a FSBO you can lock and return to your usual day – with a plan of how to handle a future showing or what to do with the names and numbers you collected.. Oh and don’t forget to let the dog back out!

Some of these tips may sound extreme – they may be for your area -“These things never happen in this neighborhood” but there can always be that one unexpected time or that one unexpected person who saw your open house as an opportunity. With a tight economy and crime on the rise you should never let your guard down!

 

Gated vs. Non-gated Communities

Gated communities are perceived to be safer communities by residents and potential buyers – but what kinds of crimes do they deter? Do they eliminate the opportunistic burglar? How about the drug addicted burglar?  Do those gates interfere with the prompt access of emergency personnel like ambulance and fire-fighters?

Typically homes in gated community are perceived to be more costly than their local communities without gates – but is it? Do they give the residents a false sense of security? Many businesses get the code numbers to access the area, from lawn services, home security personnel, cleaning people, pet sitters or dog walkers, repair services and their staff, anyone who is employed at a business that is called for repair for any of the homes or any city or county employee now has a code. Are they trustworthy persons? The business may have a long-standing trustworthy reputation but they may have staff and helpers who you wouldn’t give access to your residence. Some upscale businesses have their employees checked and bonded to ensure all residents are safe and that business keeps their excellent reputation; some businesses hire people to fill in and who know if they are day-labor or can be trusted. That doesn’t mean all day-labor is not trustworthy just that it’s more comfortable to feel like someone has done background check of some kind.

When it comes to living in a gated community there are certainly some pros and cons. Some adults like the way community gates limit pass-through traffic, and choosing to live in a gated community is a personal preference, yet there are a few points on both sides of the fence.

One point to keep in mind is that there are different types of gated communities. Some communities offer 24-hour staffed main gatehouses but coded entrance at others and some simply use automated gates with a security code. Having a security person at the gate can provide a bit more security than an automated gate, they can take information down about the company, the vehicle and the person entering and where they are expected in the community or on the property – but they also are not infallible.

When it comes to crime statistics, there is little difference between gated communities and their open counterparts. Burglaries do happen in gated communities.

Although gated communities may not be safer from crime than other neighborhoods the streets are a bit quieter and it lends an exclusive prestigious atmosphere.

Even in gated communities, every homeowner should take measures to protect their own safety. Being safe at home means locking your home’s doors and windows and keeping your garage door shut. You can also protect your home with safety devices and a monitored home security system.

There ARE pros and cons to living in a gated community but most of all -it is a personal preference.

Call Janyne Kenworthy - Treasure Coast Sotheby's for information on any community in the Indian River County area.

Improving Curb Appeal – Increases Value

Improve your home's value and sell-ability by sprucing up your yard even on a budget.

Walk across the street from your house and turn around and look back – nice? When pulling out or into your driveway or past your house – go slow and see it as a potential buyer would. Many people in the market for a home do a drive-by first before telling the agent what houses they’d like to see. Sure your house and yard might not be a show stopper but it should look well kept and clean; a few blooming flowers during the season help make it look like you still care.

We don’t all have magazine photo worthy yards and some of us have black thumbs and not green – but there is so much you can do with little effort that makes a big impact.

Look at a few houses and yards you like – what gives them their appeal?

Now ask yourself what I can do to get that kind of look – the color, the clean look, the neatness, the well cared for lawn and a few décor pots outside. Are you planning to stay in your house or fixing it to sell it? The answer to that question will help determine what and how you plan your improvements. If you are planning on staying there – determine how you want to increase your living space-do you want to eat outside on a patio, grill more often, entertain, have children who need a place to play or pets that need a space to do what they do – when you determine your needs you can easily determine how to fix up your spaces into the necessary “rooms”.

If you are looking at your house to clean up, fix up and move – you have a different view of what needs to be done and what you want to spend.

First clean up – nothing laying around, no broken toys; if everything looks dirty and dingy – plan on pressure washing the house, walkways and driveway, if you have a patio, clean that too! Create a welcoming entrance with one or two big pots filled with colorful plants. How is your front door – need paint? Poor maintenance outside can sometimes be a turn off to the inside.

Make sure all landscape is free of weeds and bushes are trimmed neatly. Buy seeds, such as a mix of wildflowers or brightly colored small annuals that give your landscape that “cute” look. Use mulch in your flower beds you want to get that added appeal.

Check also the mailbox area – outside lights and anywhere you think people will look.

Now – drive by again – did you improve your house and landscaping – is there more to do? Ask your neighbors!

If you're trying to impress potential buyers "don’t neglect the street appeal of your home,"

Call me, Janyne Kenworthy for a pre-sale review to help your home sell at top dollar.

1-800-773-8985 or 772-696-5110    Treasure Coast Sotheby’s International Realty

Rain or Shine – A Good Real Estate Professional is there for you!

Rain or Shine – A Good Real Estate Professional is there for you and in Florida that is very important! In Florida there may be rain predicted on any given day – but you may be looking to purchase a home during the Florida rainy season! Florida rainy season typically is not like a northern spring rainy season; Florida can be sunny on one side of the street and raining on the other or sunny and in 5 minutes come the old afternoon rains, but don’t worry much, sometimes they only last an hour and then it will be sunny and very humid for the rest of the late afternoon.

Rainy season is a great time to shop for a new residence – you will be privy to the drainage or flooding of a subdivision area or a particular property. Since Florida has much of its drainage via open cut ditches rather than enclosed sewers you get a full view of the swales and how the water flow is at any given rain in any subdivision. Some areas drain slower leaving standing water sometimes only an hour during heavy rains and other places it may be days before the land dries again.  You also can see if there are any water issues with the home in particular or if the patio or driveway is pitched correctly – anything you may have questions about.

As a Real Estate Professional in Florida the scheduling of a home showing during the rainy season may become a fun game of timing or process of sharing umbrellas with the home viewers! A few rain drops have never deterred me from showing a home to a potential buyer – though the sun shining thru a residence or a rainbow is better than a run to the inside on a dreary day!

Florida needs the rainy season to keep its beautiful tropical plants blooming and thriving, also the rain helps quell the possible fires out in the marsh and open land in a dry period. Usually there are 3 phases to a Florida rainy season – Late May to July – stormiest season; early July thru mid-August – hotter weather with dryer periods; late August thru mid-October – higher rainfall possible and tropical storm systems and even early fall cold fronts. Could things be different - of course – that’s just the typical and systems arise to change weather patterns all the time! But there is no place finer than the East coast of Florida for a great place to live!

By the way – if a rainbow shows when you are leaving a home after a rain – maybe that home is your pot of gold! 

Call me, Janyne Kenworthy

1-800-773-8985 or 772-696-5110

Treasure Coast Sotheby’s International Realty

Rain or Shine - I will guide you to Your Gem on the Treasure Coast

New to the Treasure Coast - Hurricanes Got You Scared?

You can’t believe everything you hear or read – The Treasure Coast WAS hit with 2 hurricanes in 2004 but it was 20 years before that we saw more than a Category 1 or Tropical depression.

I won’t minimize the hurricanes and tell you the Treasure Coast and Vero Beach was not damaged – it was – there were many trees down or ruined and some homes on the barrier island took major damage and rebuilding and major repairs of some of the structures even west of town; some also with minor damage and some with no damage. But the long and short of it was the area learned a valuable lesson in its building codes and older homes have been updated and modernized. The landscaping has returned, for the most part, to its original loveliness – a benefit to the southern climate and natural plants!

So – worry not – almost every location in the United States has some natural disaster to worry about; some areas worse than others – hurricanes are not to be thought of as minimal storms, but can be –you are typically given many days to prepare and the home you buy today will be hurricane ready.

Hurricane ready homes are updated or built with the new codes – since hurricane Andrew hit the Miami area in 1995, the codes for construction have been updated – homes built since 1973 have been built under the standard building codes and any remodeling or updating included the newer codes.  Roofs are strapped now, windows and doors are either hurricane resistant, hurricane proof or have hurricane shutters; door hinges and door frames are placed securely; some homes have safe rooms; some have an interior room without windows, garage doors will have bracings and large trees are kept trimmed and branches too close to a house are cut back.  Some areas of the barrier island are “required evacuation” areas – mostly because of the chance of storm surge and flooding – some of the flood zone areas have new codes for new homes which has eliminated any chance of flood damage in those areas. The barrier island is at risk if the storm surge is over about 18 feet; check the history books for that ever happening and how far back if it has!  Overall most homes on the Treasure Coast are safer than ever! 

And most of all people are prepared!

Ask Janyne Kenworthy, your local real estate agent any questions and concerns – and watch for additional information here to update your preparedness watch for part 2...

Call me, Janyne Kenworthy  1-800-773-8985 or 772-696-5110 

Treasure Coast Sotheby’s International Realty

I will guide you to Your Gem on the Treasure Coast

Janyne Kenworthy | REALTOR®
Broker Associate, e-Pro


1401 HIGHWAY A1A
VERO BEACH, FL 32963
Phone: 772-696-5110
Email: Janyne@Janyne.com

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