Certified Senior Real Estate Specialist
Dec 05

Becky Lane, Certified Senior Real Estate Specialist

By Becky Lane | Certified Senior Real Estate Specialist

Working in real estate in Central Florida often involves interacting with people who are retiring to the area. Working with retirees comes with a host of issues uniquely related to seniors. It’s important for a realtor to be aware of senior problems and be equipped to help with them. With my clients’ benefit in mind, I became a certified senior real estate specialist (SRES). This gave me a better understanding as to what seniors want and expect when making a home purchase. The SRES educates realtors on how best to address issues such as downsizing. With seniors who are downsizing, there is often a lifetime of furniture and accrued possessions that need to be handled. Knowing if these items should be sold in an estate sale, put in storage, or moved to the new home. It’s important that their possessions fit in the new home without cluttering it. An SRES can help with these decisions. I’m aware of safety issues that need to be addressed in your new home. Issues such as rails to hold on to or doorways wide enough to allow wheelchair access. I’m able to assist the family to determine if their loved one needs to be in a senior community where home health assistance is readily available.

A Certified SRES Acts in the Client’s Interest

I make sure that the seniors involved in a transaction are not losing money to move; by serving as an advocate on my client’s behalf. I know that leaving a home where they raised their children and where decades of warm memories were made can be emotionally challenging. It can also be emotional for a child of a senior to sell the home because their parents can no longer maintain it. Because I have completed the requisite SRES education, I’m able to address these issues facing seniors and many more. I want to be an asset in the life decisions seniors face in buying and selling their homes.
Aug 21

Location, Location, Location on Chain of Lakes in Winter Haven!

By Brittany Graham | Uncategorized

Ready for fun in the Florida sun?

Imagine waking up every morning, walking out onto your back porch to have a cup of coffee by the pool and watching the water over the canal. Sound like a dream? Then your dream home is ready for you!
Situated on a canal off Lake Eloise, 1220 Cypress Point East in Winter Haven is your ticket to fun in the Florida sun year round!

This 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom home boasts 3200+ square feet of space, perfect for the entire family. Exit from the large family room onto your screened-in pool deck. The pool, which was resurfaced in 2015, is heated and maintenance is made easy by the screen coverage. Spend less time scooping leaves and debris out of your pool and more time floating on the water!

Speaking of water, it's no doubt that this home's best feature is the location! The canal is ready for you to build your custom dock. Keep your boat, kayak, or jet ski just steps from your back door. Jump on and go for an afternoon spin around Lake Eloise or explore the entire Chain of Lakes from your backyard!

With so much fun outside, you may never want to come indoors, but just in case your next birthday pool party gets rained out, there is plenty of room for entertaining inside this lovely home as well! The large family spaces, open layout, and beautiful double-sided fireplace create several areas to customize for your friends and family. Host your next football party, family reunion, or Sunday brunch in your gorgeous new home on the canal!

Call the Home Connection Group today at 863-602-8605 to schedule a showing to view this special home!

Aug 10

Your Oasis on Lake Bonny

By Brittany Graham | Real Estate Listings

Thanks to the bustling Central Florida real estate market, the Home Connection Group is fortunate enough to assist many families each year in selling their homes. All of our listings are great properties in their own right, but once in awhile a really interesting one comes along. That happened this month and we want to share this incredibly special home with you.

Nestled on 420+ waterfront feet on Lake Bonny in Lakeland, the family that is selling this home refers to it as a grown up’s playground. The defining feature of that description, apart from being on the lake of course, is the interior courtyard. Trust us when we say, there is not another property like it in Lakeland. Similar in style to a Spanish-style home with an open garden in the middle, the courtyard in this home makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into your private spa. The lush wood paneling, ample natural light perfect for growing all manner of plants, and built-in Jacuzzi create a hidden oasis as soon as you step in your front door.

At a generous 3700+ square feet, this home has more than enough room for your entire family to enjoy. Have a picnic lunch in your personal gazebo by the lake, play a game of basketball on your own court, or host a family gathering in one of several entertaining spaces. There are bonus rooms that would make perfect hangouts for teenagers or play rooms for little ones. Push off from your personal dock on the lake and enjoy the rest of the summer taking your boat or kayak for a cruise.

One of the most interesting features of this home is the level of privacy it affords. Safety was a major priority for the former owner who lived in this home also, so built into every aspect, from design to technology, there are security measures that will keep you and your family safe. The home's main entrance is through agated breezeway monitored by security cameras. Around the home, there are security cameras on floodlights, so you’ll never be surprised by anyone.

Interested in income property or supplementing your mortgage payments with rental income? The adjacent duplex, being sold as a separate property by the same owners, features two sides of 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms with interior laundry. The desirable lake-front location means you’ll never lack for tenants creating instant value in your investment.

This incredibly unique home is waiting for the perfect buyer - someone looking for a home outside of the ordinary, with limitless potential for family fun! Call the Home Connection Group today at 863-602-8605 to schedule a showing to view this special home!

July 4th events lakeland
Jul 02

Lakeland Life: July 4th Events

By Brittany Graham | Lakeland Life

Happy Independence Day! July 4, 2017 marks the 241st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and we hope you are celebrating as much as we are! Here are a few fun family events happening around Lakeland and Polk County to get you in the spirit of celebration!

Red, White, & Kaboom! at Lake Mirror Promenade, Lakeland, FL · Monday, July 3rd

Hosted by the City of Lakeland and sponsored by T. Mims Corp., the Red, White, & Kaboom Independence Day Celebration will feature live music, vendors, food, and fireworks. The event takes place from 6pm-9pm on Monday and City garages will be open for parking. Jah Movement will be playing reggae and cover music beginning at 6pm. There will also be a canned food drive for VISTE, supporting food banks for elderly Lakeland residents. Coolers are allowed (no glass) and you can find the full list of food trucks attending on their Facebook event page.

Rock N’ Freedom Fest at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Winter Haven, FL · Monday, July 3rd

The City of Winter Haven is hosting Rock N’ Freedom Fest at Lake Silver on Monday from 6pm-9pm. The event will feature live classic rock/funk music from the Dan Signor Project and food trucks. The Winter Haven Hospital Bloodmobile will be on site so attendees can donate blood to support the blood bank in their community. The fireworks will take place at 9pm over Lake Silver. Complete information on their official Facebook event page.

Thunder on the Ridge at Lake Eva Park, Haines City, FL · Tuesday, July 4th

Celebrate the 4th at one of the largest events in Polk County! Featuring rides, games, live music, and, of course, fireworks, Thunder on the Ridge is a Polk County annual tradition! The festivities start at 3pm and conclude with a fireworks show at 9pm. There are multiple live bands playing all afternoon and lots of family friendly activities to keep kids entertained. Bring your A-game and sign up for the double elimination cornhole tournament (signup form on website) – the tournament check-in is at 4pm and there is a $200 cash prize! Complete schedule can be found on their Facebook event page.

LEGOLAND Knight Lights in Winter Haven, FL · Tuesday, July 4th

Celebrate Independence Day with all-day fun at LEGOLAND! There is a special July 4th holiday schedule of events for the day, including all the Knight Lights summer fun, plus a giant July 4th Flag Build to participate in. Kids of all ages can attend character meet & greets, stage shows, group builds, scavenger hunts, and dance parties. The Fireworks Spectacular will take place in Pirates’ Cove at 9pm! More information and the special July 4th events schedule download can be found on the LEGOLAND website.

Happy Independence Day from all of us at the Home Connection Group!

View Of Downtown Lakeland from Lake Mirror
Jun 24

Estate Sales 101

By Brittany Graham | Lakeland Life , Selling Your Home

Since it's the busy season for garage and estate sales, and you're probably seeing ads and flyers for them everywhere, we thought we would go over the basics of estate sales! If you are interested in setting up an estate sale, contact us! We have great community contacts that would love to discuss the process for your unique sale!

estate sales ad

Why have an estate sale?

Estate sales are commonly held when the entire contents of a home needs to be liquidated quickly. Typically, though not always, estate sales present a good option when someone passes away and their heirs either do not want or do not have space for an entire home’s worth of belongings. In some cases of a death in the family, the deceased’s will may mandate an estate sale or the sale is required to pay debts on behalf of an estate. Sometimes, an estate sale is the best option when you’re looking to relocate/downsize or in cases of divorce, foreclosure, or court-ordered liquidation.

What’s the difference between an estate sale and a garage sale?

The clearest difference between an estate sale and a garage sale is the amount of items for sale. Obviously, if you host a garage sale, attendees are not going to arrive expecting every single thing in your home to be on offer. With an estate sale, typically ALL the contents of a home are available for sale because that’s the whole goal - to clear out the house completely.

"I think this may be a good option for me - how do I go about having an estate sale?"

We would strongly suggest contracting a professional company to manage an estate sale. The logistics of the sale can get overwhelming, from sorting/clearing, pricing, and negotiating. A professional service will typically work for a percentage of the profit from the sale, so it’s in both of your best interests to maximize the amount of revenue. They will also advertise the sale to get the best buyers there, based on their experience with selling the kinds of items in your home. On a more personal level, a professional company is also not going to experience the sentimentality you may when liquidating the home and in many cases, avoiding that emotional burden is worth their fees alone.

Obviously, your mileage may vary when contracting a professional service and there may be room for judgment. For example, if you sale includes highly-specific items, sets of antiques, etc., it may be worth contacting a professional broker for those specific items to assess the best way to liquidate. For the bulk of home goods and furniture however, an estate sale management company is likely experience enough with the market to get the best price for your inventory.

Lake mirror home equity
Jun 01

Home Equity 101

By Brittany Graham | Buying a Home , Real Estate News & Tools , Selling Your Home

Hi all! Today we’re going to start a series of blog posts getting back to basics! We realize that real estate can be confusing when you’re not a Realtor – heck, we even get cases that challenge our problem solving skills! We thought it might be a good idea to, at least once in awhile, answer the most common questions we hear. Two things before we get started:

  • We are not lawyers and none of this constitutes legal advice! Please consult a real estate attorney if you have any legal questions. Phew, now the *official* disclaimer is out of the way!
  • We’re addressing some FAQs here, but we are ALWAYS happy to talk in person! Whether you’re ready to sell right now or just want to have a conversation, please don’t hesitate to connect with us so we can answer these questions with respect to your specific situation.

What exactly is home equity?

Good question! Simply put, home equity is the market value of your home minus the total of any liens against it. In non-Realtor-speak, it’s the amount your home is worth minus what you owe. Make sense? For example, let’s say the fair market value of your home is $250,000 and you still owe $200,000 on your mortgage loan. The difference between the two, in this case $50,000 is what you have in equity. It’s the real property value of your home to you.

How do I get home equity?

Better question! Home equity is an awesome thing to build and there are a few ways to go about it! The first is to put a down payment on your home when you purchase it. If you purchase a home for $250,000 and immediately put $50,000 down on it, you now have $50,000 in home equity (leaving closing costs and other fees out of the equation for the moment).

Another way to build home equity is to pay against the principal of your mortgage. Let’s say you’re paying an extra $1,000 per month on your mortgage payment. A percentage of that will go toward paying down the principal balance of the mortgage faster, so you’ll build home equity faster.

As the fair market value of your home increases, like we’ve seen in recent years with rising property values, the home equity of your loan increases similarly. If you can sell your home that you purchased for $250,000 at $300,000 – boom, $50,000 more in equity.

A riskier way of building home equity is through renovation. Let’s say you spend $20,000 on a kitchen renovation that increases the market value of your home by $25,000. Excellent! You’ve earned $25,000 of equity and profited $5,000. The flip side (get it?) of the renovation strategy is that there are a number of scenarios where you don’t build as much equity as the cost of your reno – if you over-renovate for the neighborhood, spend money on something that doesn’t traditionally get as much back (we’re looking at you, swimming pools), or renovate to your specific taste without considering a buyer’s perspective, you may lose money on your renovation.

This is all great! So home equity only increases, right?

Unfortunately, no. While homeownership is one of the most stable investments, as we’ve all seen, it’s not without a certain amount of risk. When you’re riding the market to build equity, it’s just as possible that home values decrease than increase. If that happens, you’re losing equity. If you get locked into a mortgage with an unfavorable rate or repeatedly refinance, you could lose equity even as you make timely payments. These are obviously situations to be avoided, so it’s important to work with a Realtor and a mortgage lender you trust to steer you away from these possibilities.

Why does it matter? What is equity doing for me anyway?

Home equity is, by definition, not liquid (when you can repeatedly buy and sell and investment without affecting its price). For that reason, it’s important to consider how you might make that equity work for you. Home equity management is the process by which you invest the equity in your home, usually through loans then further investments, with liquid assets. Yes, all of this takes a lot of math, careful planning, and a certain amount of risk, but it’s how you can put the equity in your home to work for you.

Phew, that was a lot!

We know it is. While we handle scores of buy/sell transactions every year, the average person only moves 11.3 times in their entire life (as of 2015) and obviously not all of those involve buying and/or selling a home.

It’s our job to know how to navigate the real estate world and our privilege to assist you in the process! Connect with us today – via text, phone, or social media – so we can talk about how to figure out your home’s fair market value and how much equity you likely have in your home. Even better, we can talk about listing your home now while the market is favorable to maximizing equity and putting it to work for you in your next home!

May 26

Lakeland Life: Memorial Day Weekend 2017

By Brittany Graham | Uncategorized

Happy Memorial Day weekend! As the unofficial kick off to the summer, this weekend is full of cookouts, beach trips, and family fun for everyone! We do not, however, want to lose track of what this weekend commemorates: the memory of the military service members killed in action. Let's all take some time this weekend, amidst the sunshine and barbecues, to take a few moments to express our gratitude for those killed in defense of our country. We would not have the opportunities and freedom we have today without their sacrifice.

Here are a few things to do for Memorial Day weekend in Lakeland and central Florida:

memorial day lakeland indie flea popup

Indie Flea Pop Up at 801 E. Main

While you're out and about tomorrow night, stop by 801 E. Main in Lakeland for the Indie Flea Pop Up event! From 5-9, you can stop by and browse a maker's fair. Vendors selling handmade and vintage crafts and goods will be set up in the awesome space! Grab a cold brew coffee or 801 E. Main's summertime signature drink, a watermelon Fresca, and a beignet and enjoy the Indie Flea fair!

memorial day lakeland siesta beach

Enjoy the best beach in the USA!

Celebrate the start of summer in true Florida style - head to the beach! In fact, you can go to the BEST beach in the USA! Dr. Stephen Leatherman, Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at FIU, has been ranking beaches for nearly 30 years. This year, he put Siesta Beach just southwest of Sarasota in the #1 spot on his list, edging out beaches in California, Hawaii, and US territories. Siesta Beach's fine quartz sand, convenient development, and family environment gave it the boost from runner-up last year to first place this year. Have you been to this awesome Florida beach yet?

memorial day lakeland calvary baptist vienam

Pay your respects at Calvary Baptist

Attend the annual Memorial Day service at Calvary Baptist starting at 10:45. Every year, the church honors the service and commitment of military veterans. This year, they are specifically honoring three fallen service members, two from Vietnam and one from Afghanistan. Vietnam veteran Ret. Army Col. Al Cartwright will be the guest speaker for the day.

sellers market
May 19

More Good News for Sellers: 2017 Q1 Housing Stats

By Brittany Graham | Real Estate News & Tools

Unless you have been completely ignoring the real estate market (and you haven’t been, because you’re reading this), you are probabaly aware that it is without a doubt a sellers market right now. In this blog post, we will go over what it really means to be a sellers market, how we know it is, and how to take advantage of it.

What does it mean to be a sellers market?

In short, it’s all about supply and demand. Right now, demand is very high thanks to steady job growth over the last few years. More people are employed and incomes are (believe it or not) rising, so more people can afford to enter the market as buyers.

How do we know?

Statistics can be confusing, but they tell a pretty clear story about the current housing market. Here are a few keys takeaways:

  • $232,100 and 6.9% – The national median existing single-family home price in Q1 was $232,100, a 6.9% increase from 2016 Q1.
  • 5.62million and 5.0% – Total existing home sales in Q1 were 5.62 million, a 5.0% increase from 2016 Q1.
  • $209,000 and 8.8% – The median existing single-family home price in the South in Q1 was $209,000, an 8.8% increase from 2016 Q1.

What does it all mean? (Terrible statistics pun notwithstanding)

The moral of the story right now is that sellers are at an advantage. Home builders cannot keep up with demand and existing home sales remain high, which leads to a decrease in supply.

HIGH DEMAND + LOW SUPPLY –> Prices stay high, days on the market decrease, and sellers are at an advantage.

All the housing market stats continue to point for a tough road for buyers – there is more competition among buyers for fewer homes, and prices will likely continue to rise. Buyers are feeling the squeeze and it’s for a good reason.

So how can you take advantage of the sellers market? The first step is to call us for a market analysis of your home! We’ll talk you through how sales are in your specific area, what you might be looking at for a reasonable listing price, and approximately what to expect for days on the market. Connect with us today! 

*All statistics are drawn from the National Association of Realtors Quarterly Metropolitan Median Area Prices and Affordability report and are based on existing home sales.

Video tour 6359 Highlands in the Woods
May 18

Video Tour: 6359 Highlands in the Woods

By Brittany Graham | Real Estate Listings

Have you seen this great home in South Lakeland? We love giving buyers every opportunity to explore our listings and this video walk through gives you a chance to see all the features this home has to offer! 6359 Highlands in the Woods has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and almost 4,000 square feet of heated space!

This luxury property truly features indoor/outdoor living with a beautifully upgraded back patio. The stacked sliding doors from the family room open to a full outdoor kitchen with stainless appliances, grill, refrigerator, and ice maker. Motorized screens will keep your patio shaded in the summer and the wood burning fireplace is a perfect spot to cozy up when the weather turns cold!

Watch the video below for the full tour of this home and all its features! When you’re ready to tour your Lakeland dream home in person, call us at 863-602-8605 to schedule a showing!

6359 Highlands in the Woods .

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