The Advantages of Home Ownership in 2019

Image via Pexels

To many, the idea of owning a home signifies the fulfillment of the American Dream. The desire for owning land and a place of your own dates back to the frontier days. In a recent NAR survey, 75% of non-home owners reported that homeownership is considered a part of their American dream (source).  It is a milestone that many are anxious to meet, but there can be several factors that interfere with this dream. Poor credit, short-lived employment history, and lackluster down payment funds can serve as a barrier between you and your dream home. In addition, there is the argument that homeownership comes with unwanted responsibility and disadvantages. Despite the obstacles that can delay or prohibit home ownership, there are plenty of advantages to being a homeowner in 2019.

The Advantages

  • Greater privacy– You don’t have to share a building with other tenants like you do when you rent an apartment, and you are not subject to landlord visitations
  • Decorative Freedom– You are free to decorate how you see fit: paint color, wallpaper, fixtures, flooring, cabinetry,  backyard design, etc…
  • Tax benefits– You can typically deduct the interest on your mortgage and property taxes; helping you to offset a fraction of the cost of owning your home
  • Predictable payments– Your monthly principal and interest payments stay the same the entire length of a fixed-rate mortgage. Unlike renting, where it’s common to see a rise in rent each year, owning allows you to have a locked-in mortgage rate.
  • Build equity- Homes tend to rise in value and loans that are paid down begin to strengthen your equity in the house. In turn, this can create financial security for your family. You can use it towards the purchase of a new home, towards retirement, or a second mortgage.
  • Place roots- Buying a home equates to settling down in one area for several years (normally). The burden of packing up and moving from place to place becomes less of a possibility when owning a home. It allows you to build ties within your community and with your neighbors.

Benefits Relevant to This Year

According to U.S. News, “While interest rates are rising, housing prices are expected to stabilize, offering additional affordable options to first-time-homebuyers.” The ways in which credit is checked against a mortgage will be changing with the launch of UltraFICO.  UltraFICO offers an adjusted score based on factors like your bank account balance and history. This new information can be used to supplement your traditional credit report information (source). This change is going to open up more doors to mortgage accessibility to those who may have not otherwise been qualified.

Below, is a helpful graphic illustrating some of NAR’s findings regarding the benefits of home ownership (source):

Home ownership continues to be a goal for many Americans. 2019 will bring some changes to the real estate market; the effects have yet to be seen. Buying a home is made less stressful with the help of a seasoned and skilled realtor. It is a monumental step, an achievement, that should be carefully considered and entered into with the help and guidance of a reputable realtor. There are many perks that come with being a homeowner. If you’re interested in taking the step towards home ownership, contact a local realtor today.

Your Neighborhood Expert,

Bettina Guild

Posted on March 19, 2019 at 6:48 pm
Bettina Guild | Category: Uncategorized

A Look inside the Design of the White House

Photo via David Everett Strickler

 

One of the greatest pieces of real estate in the United States is the White House. The White House boasts many renovations and remodels throughout the years, and serves as a staple in American history. In honor of President’s Day this year, we are taking a look at the history and conceptual design behind this monumental residence.

George Washington lived in three houses throughout his term of presidency, moving between New York City and Philadelphia before placing roots in Washington D.C. It is one of the only cities to be designed before construction. Roadways and buildings were centered around the estate and what is now known as Capitol Hill.

Many debated over the features and grandness of such a building. Thomas Jefferson ran a contest for submission of the best design which was ultimately executed by the winner, James Hoban. The first construction started in October of 1792 and took eight years before it was deemed inhabitable.

Jefferson, who would later move in during his presidency as our third president, named it the “President’s Palace.” By 1801, most of the outside building was completed. However, in 1812, the British set fire to the house and all of the interior had to be gutted and replaced. A portrait of George Washington was the only original item to be saved from the fire and still remains intact to this day. The exterior was repainted white to hide the damage that was done. President Jefferson was the first to open the house for public tours and it remains open- except for declared times of war.

The South Portico was constructed in 1824 and President Andrew Jackson led the addition of the North Portico in 1829. Truman dismantled and reconstructed everything except for the outer shell during his term. The large project was overseen by architect Lorenzo Winslow. This was eventually completed in 1952.

 

The Oval Office Photo via Architecture Digest

 

Each president is allocated $100,000 to redecorate as they see fit. In 1961, the White House was declared as a museum; thus, ensuring that no items could be sold or auctioned. Items are sent to the Smithsonian Museum. The White House has seen many decor transformations throughout the terms. The Oval Office (formal workspace) was completed in 1909 by President Taft. Hoover had it restored and expanded in 1930. This room houses the “Resolute Desk” which was gifted by Queen Victoria in 1880.

The White House was designed in Neo-classical style and has some impressive real estate specs:

  • 18 acres of land equipped with an organic vegetable garden and rose garden
  • 55,000 square feet
  • 132 rooms
  • 35 bathrooms
  • 6 levels of residence
  • 412 doors
  • 147 windows
  • 28 fireplaces
  • 8 staircases
  • 3 elevators (the first government building to be handicap accessible)
  • 5 full-time chefs on the property (kitchen equipped to host dinner parties for 140 guests and lavish cocktail parties of 1,000)
  • Tennis court
  • Single-lane bowling alley
  • Private movie theatre
  • Full-sized track
  • Pool
  • Solarium
  • Putting green
  • Requires 570 gallons of paint to maintain outside appearance
  • Solar panel installation on the roof

The Center Hall Photo via Architecture Digest

Master Suite Photo via Architecture Digest

 

The interior is divided into five different sections: Executive Residence, West Wing, East Wing, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and Blair House (guest residence). The White House also has two, massive basement levels. The history that exudes from the walls and hallways of this building tell the story of one amazing design structure and the amazing men who have served as some of our nation’s greatest leaders. As we reflect on the meaning behind this day, let’s also pay respect to the classical and ever-evolving style of this exclusive piece of real estate.

Sources:

Whitehouse.gov

Architectural Digest.com

Your Neighborhood Expert,

Bettina Guild

Posted on February 18, 2019 at 12:01 am
Bettina Guild | Category: Uncategorized

Helpful Technology Trends for Real Estate Consumers in 2019


Technology Shaping Real Estate

We live in a digital world that is rapidly evolving and changing the way we behave as consumers. It seems that the real estate realm has also cashed in on the idea of technology enhancing the services that both realtors and buyers/sellers benefit from. Many people realize that millennials are categorized as a large group of consumers in today’s market. However, according to Forbes, the upcoming “Generation Z account for $29-143 billion in direct spending.” This population is technologically savvy and the rest of us are catching up with these trends. Today, buyers and sellers want fast, accurate ways to gather information and realtor professionals like myself are embracing the needs of today’s consumers by streamlining the way buyers/sellers access the housing market.

Helpful Trends

Artificial Intelligence

Most websites are utilizing AI (artificial intelligence) tools to help the consumer experience. Chat bots help consumers to save time while navigating websites and a helpful pop up box can allow you to chat directly with someone via the web. Realtor websites allow you to access mapping tools, mortgage estimators, compare house prices, tax information, and check property values in real time. If you are a home buyer, the first step you need to take towards home ownership is to become prequalified. You’ll want to have an idea of your budget and what you will be eligible before you start the home search.

On my website, you can access a mortgage calculator that provides a predictive snapshot into your monthly mortgage cost in a particular value bracket. In addition, technology has enabled me to provide you a map of all homes currently on the market in a particular area of town. Interested in a 3 bedroom home, in St.Petersburg for less than $400,000? You can easily set filters to search for the home of your dreams by navigating particular areas of interest.

Virtual Reality

Are you looking to relocate and want to see a home several hours away from you? Do you want to visit an open house,  but don’t have availability that day? Virtual tours are becoming increasingly popular among realtors as a way to showcase properties. Services like Matterport allow homebuyers to walk through the property room by room as if they were actually there. It provides more of an actual feel of the flow of a property vs. static pictures.

Apps

There are several apps to allow sellers and buyers to view and shop properties and to gain invaluable property data. A service that I love to offer to my clients is SavvyCard. While it’s not an app, this electronic business card of sorts provides useful features. This unique mobile website has an integrated IDX to view all properties on market. Pretend you are driving on your way to the store and you pass a beautiful house for sale. You want to know the price, square footage, and specifics of the house. You can scan the QR code associated with the house and immediately pull up the information on your mobile device. It makes house hunting a breeze by offering turn-by-turn driving directions to properties in my database! What’s also nice is that my SavvyCard is easily shareable and accessible to others; very user-friendly.

Other sites/ apps such as Realtor.com  (official search portal for NAR), Zillow, and Redfin allow you to see the value of homes in the area, school ratings, and to filter homes by upcoming open houses and other such features. It’s imporatnt to understand that these sites don’t always provide the most up-to-date information and some properties may not be on the current market. It’s best to consult with a real estate professional who can provide you with more accurate and in-depth information. Agents can also offer you comprehensive buyer and seller market analysis reports that are current to the day.

Technology is shaping the way we buy, sell, and market homes. As we enter further into the new year and the following years, we will be seeing an increase in tools to make aspects of real estate more convenient. Being equipped with these tools and a knowledgeable real estate agent to advocate for you will help you to stay ahead of the trends and to assist in your real estate needs.

How has technology helped you in this scope? What are your thoughts on the matter? Leave a comment below!

Your Neighborhood Expert,

Bettina Guild

 

 

 

Posted on January 11, 2019 at 3:29 pm
Bettina Guild | Category: Uncategorized

What’s Happening Around St. Petersburg, FL in November

The holidays are right around the corner. Before you get bogged down with shopping, planning, and running your last minute errands, enjoy some local events to take your mind off of the holiday madness! Our friends up North are experiencing snow, so it’s only right that we enjoy the gorgeous weather and all of the fun that our local area has to offer!

Sanding Ovations

Where: 10650 Gulf Blvd. Treasure Island, FL 33706

This year, Treasure Island is celebrating its 10th annual event, Sanding Ovations Master’s Cup. The event is taking place from November 15th- November 18th, 2018. Ten master sculptors from all over the world gather together each year to participate in the competition. The event is free for everyone and features elaborate sand castles and sculptures, live music, food trucks, crafts, and children’s play areas. Sculpting lessons are also available if you’re feeling especially creative! Visit here for more details.

Bert’s St. Pete Beach Bikefest

Where: 5550 Gulf Blvd. St. Pete Beach, FL 33706

This bikefest is happening now until November 18th, 2018. Every night, unwind to a free, beach party and concert.  There will also be a RoadKill Scavenger Ride, Builder’s Row custom bike expo, bike shows, poolside biker games, beach bar crawl, and other events taking place. You can check the website for more details about lodging and other relevant details.

Dunedin Celtic Music & Craft Beer Festival

Where: 1920 Pinehurst Rd. Dunedin, FL 34698

On Saturday, November 17th, you can enjoy a full day of traditional Celtic music and craft beers from all over. Musicians from Scotland will be performing live music from 12-10 p.m. You can get your tickets in advance at a discounted price of $15 or pay $20 at the door.

St. Pete Drive Dine & Wine Tour

Where: 501 5th Ave NE, St. Pete, FL 33701

Every Tuesday of the week from November 20th-December 18th 2018, you can take a tour of the waterfront Beach Drive neighborhood. The 3-hour tour begins at the Vinoy Hotel in downtown St. Pete and ends at Cassis in St. Pete. All along the tour, you can taste good wine and food pairings and end with coffee and a delicious dessert. In between the food and drinking, explore the rich history of the town! Find more details here.

Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot

Where: Keene Rd, Clearwater, FL 33767

This is one of the largest running events in our area with over 17,000 participants who run in this event each year. Running not your thing? There’s a race for every skill level, whether you are a competitive runner or an avid walker! The top competitor of each race wins a trophy, but even more so, the proceeds support a great cause. Canned goods and proceeds will be collected and donated to local charities. Races start at 7 a.m. and include an event t-shirt.

Holiday Hope

Where: 245 107th Ave. Treasure Island, FL 33706

Want to give back to your community? Help give the gift of joy this holiday season to those in our community who are less fortunate by bringing an unwrapped toy, non-perishable item, and personal hygiene item. Donations are being accepted now through December 14th, 2018. Donations will support the Women with Purpose and The Christmas Toy Shop charities. Visit here for more details.

There are several events to explore now that the weather is starting to cool down. Take advantage of the good times and good cheer to be had this holiday season in the Tampa Bay area!

 

 

 

Posted on November 16, 2018 at 7:55 pm
Bettina Guild | Category: Uncategorized

Pinellas County Trick or Treating Safety Tips

halloween

Halloween is a fun time for children and adults alike! Jack-o-lanterns line the doorsteps of neighborhood houses and costumed people parade the streets. There are plenty of fall festivals and local events to check out. Whether you decide to take your little ones to the Tampa River Walk or go door-to-door around your neighborhood, be sure to follow some simple safety guidelines to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and safe Halloween this year.

Trick-or-Treater Safety Tips

  • Only visit well-lit homes
  • Use sidewalks when going from door to door
  • Always supervise young children and older children should stay in groups
  • Teach children to never approach any vehicle
  • Cross streets at the correct intersection and not between parked cars
  • Look both ways when crossing the street and never assume the right of way
  • Eat store-wrapped treats and not homemade treats
  • Be sure costumes are breathable and are able to be seen through when wearing
  • Children should carry flashlights or glow sticks
  • Bring a cell phone with you to all locations
  • Always read the ingredient list on snacks/treats
  • Be cautious around pets
  • Examine all candy before being eaten
  • Use reflective tape for improved visibility
  • Teach children to never enter inside a stranger’s house

Common trick-or-treat times for Pinellas County are between 5:30-9:00 p.m. For a list of events for both the children and adults to enjoy, visit here. The weather is beginning to cool down and the local forecast is predicting a clear night for Halloween. This year, make sure that safety and having fun are equally important priorities and take advantage of all the fun that this time of year brings to our area!

Your Neighborhood Expert, Bettina Guild

 

Posted on October 27, 2018 at 1:22 pm
Bettina Guild | Category: Uncategorized

3 Reasons Why Autumn is the Best Time to Buy A House

Image via Photo Collage

Ahhhh, fall. It’s the time of year for pumpkin lattes, pumpkin patches, and cooler nights. Floridians look forward to a break from the humid days and anxiously await the ability to relax outdoors without dripping in a puddle of sweat! There’s more to love about this time of year if you’re on the hunt for a house. Many people think that spring is the most active season in real estate. However, October has been proven to be the optimal month for home buying. RealtyTrac’s analysis of more than 32 million home sales over 15 years showed that October buyers averaged paying 2.6% below the estimated market value for their dream homes. In fact, it gets even better! The infographic further breaks down the best days to buy a home; nearly all of them falling within the fall months. Let’s delve into three reasons why purchasing a home in the fall makes the most sense for your budget!

Image via RealtyTrac.com

#1 Less Competition

The more buyers there are looking in a particular area, the less likely you are able to score a deal on the house you want. Odds are, there are several interested buyers for that particular house, and this gives the seller the upper hand during negotiations. This spells bad news for you. Most buyers tend to start house hunting in the spring and summer months. Families with school-aged children tend to settle into their new house before the school year begins. To avoid competing for offers, wait out this active market period and buy in the fall.

#2 Motivated Sellers

Once the activity of the spring and summer months fizzles out, remaining properties are left to sit on the market for longer periods than intended. Houses that were priced too high tend to receive price reductions and sellers begin to entertain offers less than the list price. As the year draws to an end, sellers want to move on before the chaos of the holidays ensues. The thought of packing everything in boxes around a time that should be spent gathering with families is just as unappealing to them as it is to you. Use this to your advantage as a bargaining tool.

#3 Holiday Deals

We’re not talking deals on houses, per se. Though, you’re likely to see lower list prices during this time. We are talking about all of the end-of-the-year shopping deals on home goods, appliances, furniture, etc… Stores release their Black Friday deals and homebuyers can find some seriously discounted prices on items needed for upgrades, repairs, and cosmetic fixtures. Consumer Reports details what the time of year dictates as far as pricing is concerned. Coincidentally, September proves to be a good time for paint purchases; October for mattresses; and televisions and appliances are cheaper in November. Thank you, Cyber Monday!

It’s also worth mentioning that homebuyers receive tax breaks and certain advantages. You can deduct property taxes and mortgage interest for an entire year’s worth of income. This applies even if you closed on your new home in December! All of these advantages make buying a home in the fall a smart choice. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, a buyer looking to upgrade, or a buyer looking to downsize, purchasing a home is a big step.

Knowing when to buy and where to buy are important factors to consider. Equally important, is working with the right realtor who will negotiate and advocate for you in order to help you find the house that is the perfect fit for you. Contact me when you’re ready to “fall” in love with a new home!

Your Neighborhood Expert, Bettina Guild

 

 

Posted on September 30, 2018 at 4:27 pm
Bettina Guild | Category: Uncategorized

Top Places to Shop in St. Petersburg, Florida

 

This month, we are covering a mini-series on the best places to shop, to dine, to hang out, and things to do in the local area of St. Petersburg, Florida.  From St. Pete’s Beach to its many art districts and vibrant nightlife, the city is bursting to life with sights and sounds that are just waiting for you to explore. Whether you’ve been a long-time resident or you’re a tourist just dropping by, you’ll want to check out our recommendations of the best of the best of St. Pete.

Let’s kick start our series by exploring the top places to do some retail therapy in the city of St. Petersburg! With so many options available, it’s easy to find something for everyone. You can navigate through downtown and score some great finds or peruse shops along the coastline.

 Sundial

Image via Tampa Bay Times 153 2nd Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida

 

The shopping complex, formerly known as Baywalk and The Shops at St. Pete, has undergone some aesthetic transformations as well as broadened the scope of retail. You’ll find stores unique to the area, such as the upscale, Tommy Bahama; sports retail shop, Tampa Bay Rowdies; and local jeweler, Diamonds Direct. You can also shop at familiar chains such as White House Black Market and Chico’s. The center is located minutes away from the waterfront and offers a pleasing, open-air shopping experience.

It’s easily recognizable by the stunning fountain sculpture. The sundial design is fully functional and pays homage to the town’s history as the “Sunshine City.” When you’re finished shopping,  grab a bite to eat at one of the many eateries or catch a movie at the center’s AMC theater. The complex is opened Monday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00-8:00 p.m. Be sure to check their website for information on store deals and promotions!

Corey Avenue Shopping District

Image via Josh Connor 7395 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, Florida

 

Corey Avenue Shopping District is surrounded by water and offers a diverse mix of shopping opportunities from boutiques, galleries, retail, arts and crafts, gift and specialty shops. Vincent Williams Art Gallery boasts to be voted the best beach gallery and is a great place to find custom-stained glass work.

On Sunday mornings, you can scroll through the Sunday market where over 50 vendors meet to sell produce and other home-made goods. You can enjoy live music and eat gourmet cheeses and fresh bread to your heart’s content! If you’re looking for a quaint mix of shops, consider checking out this shopping locale. Check out their website for event details and to read about this district’s rich, historical background.

Mermosa Winery & Boutique

Image via St. Petersburg/Clearwater Travel Guide 400 Beach Drive, Suite 161 Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida

 

This shop makes our list because of the innovative concept behind shopping for stylish swimwear while enjoying a glass of something sparkling! You can find fashionable resort wear that appeals to any style. Mermosa’s, formerly named Cerulean Blu, collections are designed to fit any body type. Most women will appreciate that they can find beachwear here to frequent the beautiful sands of St. Pete Beach. You can also check out their boxed gift sets that make the perfect gift for any fun occasion. There’s no better way to wind down a day of shopping at St. Pete’s finest, than with an originally crafted beverage. You can shop online and read more details here.

You can easily, and almost literally, shop until you drop! Although, we don’t recommend it. There are a plethora of shopping opportunities in the St. Petersburg area to cater to each consumer and fashionista. If you’re visiting the area as a tourist, give these shops a visit. If you’re looking to relocate to the area, there are several beautiful waterfront condominiums and neighboorhood communities that are very closely located to everything downtown has to offer.

In our next series, we’ll be giving you the scoop on the best places to eat, locally. Stay tuned! As always, please feel free to leave a comment down below and let us know what you think!

Your Neighborhood Expert, Bettina Guild

 

 

 

 

Posted on September 20, 2018 at 2:47 pm
Bettina Guild | Category: Uncategorized

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Posted on September 13, 2018 at 6:23 pm
Bettina Guild | Category: Uncategorized

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Posted on September 11, 2018 at 7:33 pm
Bettina Guild | Category: Uncategorized

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