Northwest Florida Real Estate and Community News

Feb. 17, 2020

The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership

Here's Why You Should Stop Waiting and Start Looking


As you get older, you’ll start to notice everyone around you starting to check all the “boxes”, i.e. finding a partner, settling down with a career, and buying a home. It’s easy to assume dreams of homeownership are unattainable to you for a variety of reasons. Whether it is heaps of student loan debt, hesitancy to commit, or simply a lack of the right resources at hand, these hurdles can feel overwhelming at times, but the longer you wait, the longer you’re putting off the plethora of benefits that come with long-term decision making.

It’s time to take this dream of homeownership off the backburner and make moves, both figuratively and literally.


It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that rental prices are on the rise across the nation. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment hiked 4.2% in 2018 and studio apartments rose 5%, according to The Apartment Guide 2019 Annual Rent Report. A sales associate with ReMax, Bill Golden, shares, “If you’ve seen your rent escalate significantly but you feel trapped renting, it means the balance may be tipping toward buying. With today’s escalating rental rates and low (mortgage) interest rates, chances are your monthly outlay could be less on a purchase than on a rental.” While continuously tossing money at your landlord for your rental unit, it makes it nearly impossible to save towards your goals. In order to start investing in your future and build equity, you have to take the plunge into homeownership.


Home prices tend to increase over time, but NAR expects the median price of existing homes to increase by 3% in 2020. That brings the nation’s average home of $269,600 up to $278,599. Senior economist over at NAR, Gay Cororaton, predicts this based on historical data going as far back as 1999. She explains that this shows the “average month-over-month change in median existing-home sales price changes throughout the year.” Keep this in mind while you balance the pros and cons of homeownership — if you wait until next year, you’re likely to pay more.


Owning a home is one of the biggest steps you can take towards increasing your net worth and building your equity. Many factors over time will help contribute to your home equity, such as the value of your home rising, renovations made both to the interior and exterior, and making your monthly mortgage payments on time. Rather than handing off all of your monthly housing costs to a landlord, you will now be saving a portion each month considering your newly forced savings. The equity you build can assist you in the future, whether it be for retirement, saving for your children, or the possibility of moving into a larger home or even purchasing an additional home.


Being a homeowner offers a great sense of security as well as freedom. You’re welcome to paint your walls as you please and let your furry friends roam wherever they’d like, without any pricey pet deposit. The days of waiting for your landlord’s approval on something as trivial as a new doorknob are over when you own your own home. You want to feel comfortable and safe in your house, considering throughout our lives we spend 33 years in our beds! The elimination of inspections, neighbor’s loud week-day parties keeping you up, and the overall lack of control in your building will allow you to feel more at ease in your own home; your safe place. The idea of having to move is an immensely stressful concept, in fact it often makes the list of the top 3 most stressful events in one’s life. The comfort of settling into your home provides stability and most likely means you won’t be moving anytime soon, so get comfortable — you’re finally here to stay! 


After the slew of expenses that come along with purchasing a home, it’s nice to know there are benefits coming your way. One huge benefit being tax breaks. Both the interest and property tax portion of your mortgage is a tax deduction. As long as the balance of your mortgage is less than the total price of your home, the interest is 100% deductible on your tax return. Considering your interest is the biggest chunk of change when it comes to your mortgage, this is a gigantic relief. In addition to mortgage interest, homebuyers also receive a tax break when it comes to property tax, especially first-time homebuyers. Real estate property taxes paid for your first home, as well as a vacation home if you’re so lucky, are deductible for income tax purposes. You can find more information on tax breaks for first-time homebuyers in IRS Publication 530. 


If you’ve been a lifelong renter, this may sound like a foreign concept, but believe it or not, one day you won’t have a monthly housing payment. Unlike renting, you will eventually pay off your mortgage and your monthly payments will be funding other (possibly more fun) things. Even if your mortgage payments are a bit steep, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Each of your mortgage payments are knocking down the price of your home, and you can even use the equity to fund your next house. While you do have property taxes to keep in mind, these are typically paid quarterly making it much easier to budget and far less of a headache.


 As a homeowner, your monthly costs are most likely based on a fixed-rate mortgage, which allows you to budget your finances over a long period of time, unlike the unpredictability of renting. Especially if you’re living in an up and coming neighborhood, you don’t have to wake up in fear of being shooed out of your neighborhood by a big real estate company buying your building and raising your rent, or the countless amount of other circumstances that could increase your annual rent.

The dream of homeownership will always be a constant. Between more privacy, security, flexibility, financial stability, and pride, being a homeowner has endless benefits. Renting is a great option for many, but it doesn’t offer tax incentives, fixed costs, or building of equity, so while it is an easier option to start with, it won’t present prosperity for your future.

The question often asked is: when is it the right time to take that step? Your future is waiting for you, so maybe the real question is: why haven’t you taken the step towards homeownership yet?

Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 15, 2020

5 Hard-to-Ignore Reasons Why You Should Always Work With a Realtor

From getting you the best deal to keeping you on the right side of the law, there are only upsides as to why use a Realtor.

Buying and selling a home is stressful. Showings. Listings. Open houses. Taxes. Closing costs. Paperwork on top of paperwork on top of paperwork. 

And those are just the things you've thought of off the top of your head.

While it's easy to think you can handle it all yourself, thanks to the abundance of information readily available on the internet (and from the Property Brothers!), the fact is that a real estate transaction is time-consuming and complicated, and, if not handled properly, could end up costing you money. 

Just like you wouldn't represent yourself in a court of law, it's simply not in your best interest to represent yourself when you're buying or selling a home. It's worth it to work with someone who knows real estate inside and out - a Realtor. 

Here are just a few of the compelling (and sanity-saving) reasons why to use a Realtor: 

1. Realtors abide by a code of ethics.

While we believe most real estate professionals are honest folks, those who belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) have agreed to conduct themselves according to the Realtor Code of Ethics, 17 rules that ensure standards of practice to promote honesty and fairness. 

What this means is that your Realtor is looking for you - and only you. Plain and simple.

2. They have insider information.

Every industry has its own special language, its own vast networking system, its own trade secrets, and the world of real estate is no different.

Realtors network constantly with other real estate pros and have exclusive access to market data through the National Realtors Association that help them keep up with what's happening in the housing market. They know the trendy subdivisions and the up-and-coming blocks, and they watch like hawks to find great deals for buyers. 

Realtors know CMAs, EIKs and FSBOs. Amortization, appraisals and assessments. Collateral, co-mingling and cash reserves. If you don't understand this lingo (and most people don't), consider getting a Realtor on board to help you translate.

They also know that advertising isn't what sells most homes, it's networking.

Using a Realtor to buy or sell your home gives you access to his or her extensive contact list of colleagues as well as friends, family and previous clients. Your Realtor could know another Realtor who knows a family that's looking for exactly what you're selling or who's selling just what you're in the market for.

It's these relationships with other real estate pros that can help you get a fair representation of the property as well as the best final sales price, whether you're buying or selling. 

3. They're marketing masters ...

In addition to marketing behind the scenes with colleagues, Realtors know how to make your home shine — from planning the perfect open house to staging your home for showings to photographing your property in the best possible light (literally) for listings. 

We know you have good taste and that HGTV has taught you a thing or two about selling a home. But we also know you have a full-time job, a family and a hundred other things on your to-do list. It's perfectly OK to take the back seat and let a pro handle your real estate venture. 

Truth is, 30 percent of buyers found their home with the help of an agent and 51 percent found theirs on the internet, according to a 2017 National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey.  

Realtors have made it their job to build huge social media followings, and their association with the NAR provides them with all the latest marketing strategies. They network through things such as Facebook groups, NextDoor and LinkedIn to reach even more potential buyers and sellers. 

You, as a homeowner, can only share your listing so many times with your Facebook friends before they snooze you for 30 days. 

4. ... and tough negotiators.

It's all about that final price, and for sellers, the idea of handing part of that to an agent can feel a little unsettling.

Consider this: The average selling price for a "for sale by owner" home was $208,700 compared with $235,000 for an agent-assisted sale, according to 2016 numbers from NAR, which points up that the odds of getting the price you want (and maybe even more), increase when you have a seasoned expert at your side. 

And a bigger profit means you can still walk away with the cash you hoped for.

Plus, Realtors aren't emotionally invested in your property. And that's a good thing, because more than likely, you are. Your home holds memories, good and bad, and letting go can be a heart-wrenching process.

Human beings simply don't make the best decisions when they're emotional. A Realtor can be a common-sense constant who negotiates with his head instead of his heart.

5. Realtors keep you on the right side of the law. 

Do you have to tell a potential seller about that water leak you never had repaired? Do you need to test your older home's paint for lead before putting it on the market? Are there any deed restrictions on the property you're hoping to buy? Who the heck is Dodd-Frank?

When buying or selling a home, dozens of questions will come up that you simply won't know the answer to — and an internet search won't quickly answer. This is where a Realtor comes in particularly handy.

Realtors keep up with the ever-changing rules and regulations that govern the sale of property, thanks to a constant flow of up-to-date information from the National Association of Realtors and related state Realtors associations, so you don't have to.

Posted in Selling Your Home
July 31, 2017

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates