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July
12

Florida Boating Safety Tips

Florida Boating Safety

Living in Florida is truly living the dream! Living close to the water and being able to enjoy it almost year-round is one of the benefits of living here. As the summer weather heats up, be sure to test your boating safety know-how before you hit the water. Here are a few tips from our real estate agents to help keep you safe this summer.

  • Wear a Life Jacket
    Hands down, the most important safety precaution you can take on a boat is to make sure all passengers are wearing life jackets. Even if you are a good swimmer, you could be knocked unconscious or become disoriented if you're thrown from the boat. Also, make sure you get a life jacket that fits properly, especially for kids. It won't do you any good if it comes off when you hit the water.

  • Prepare a Boat Safety Kit
    Life jackets may be the most important, but they're only one of the things you need on board in case of an emergency. Also, be sure to have emergency items such as a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, a flashlight, duct tape, rope, a bucket, and a mirror, and a whistle for signaling if you need help.

  • Beware of Carbon Monoxide
    Carbon monoxide is as much of a concern on a boat as it is in your home. You'll have to be very aware of the risk of carbon monoxide created by your engine. Be wary of things like blocked exhaust outlets or idling your engine while sitting still, and have your engine checked regularly to ensure everything is in good working order.

  • Check the Weather
    Even in beautiful Florida, the weather can sometimes be a hazard. A beautiful day near Bradenton homes for sale won't always stay beautiful, and getting caught in a storm could turn that beautiful, relaxing boat ride into a fight for survival. Always check the weather forecast before venturing out onto the water.

  • Have Your Boat Checked Yearly
    Just like with your car or the HVAC system in your house, it's important to have your boat checked out regularly to make sure everything is in good operating condition. A safety check ensures that everything from emergency equipment, to ventilation, to your boat's battery are all present and functioning properly. It's a good idea to have regular checks and maintenance done on the mechanical components as well.

  • Take a Boating Safety Course
    Want to really make sure you are prepared to hit the water? Enroll in a boating safety course. You can find them both online and in person. The idea is to ensure you know common safety procedures, how to prevent common accidents, and are prepared in case of an emergency.

Florida may be like living in paradise, but it's still up to all of us to make sure our favorite activities stay safe and fun for everyone. Looking for your dream home among the Sarasota homes for sale? We can help with that, too! Contact us today for more information about buying and selling homes in Florida.

June
21

Summer Lawn Care: How to Install a Sprinkler System

Summer Lawn Care

Your dream house has a beautiful yard with grass, trees, shrubs, even a flower garden. There are plenty of Sarasota homes for sale that fit the bill. Our real estate agents can help you find the one that meets your needs. Caring for your new lawn, though, is up to you.

One of the most important aspects of lawn care is water - giving the area just enough water, just often enough, without doing it too much or too frequently. To do that, you'll need a sprinkler system that's designed just for your lawn's needs. You can have it professionally installed, but as long as you're reasonably handy, you might prefer to go the DIY route instead and install it yourself. Here are some tips for installing your sprinkler system.

What You'll Need

Before you begin the installation, you need to make sure you have all your tools and materials ready. Here's a list of what you'll need:

  • PVC Pipes and Fittings. PVC pipe is sturdy and durable but easier to work with than metal, so you can cut it down to lengths of whatever size you need. The fittings let you put the pipe segments together in different formations, as needed: elbow fittings, for joining two lengths together around a curve, and T-fittings, for joining three.
  • Sprinkler Heads. The most important part of your sprinkler system. You can choose the direction of the spray, as well as how much and in what pattern. You'll also need risers to connect the heads to the PVC pipe.
  • Timer. Allows you to set when and how often your lawn gets watered. A smart timer can automatically adjust to weather conditions so it doesn't go off when it's raining.
  • Valves. The valves allow you to control how much water flows through your sprinklers. They're accessed through a valve box and connected to the system with wiring.
  • Drains. These remove the excess water from the pipes when the sprinklers aren't on. It can be done either manually or automatically.
  • Backflow Prevention. Sometimes, water from the soil can flow back into your water supply, contaminating it with dirt and bacteria. A backflow prevention valve keeps this from happening.

What to Do

The first step is to find the pipe that you'll be using as the water source for your sprinkler system. Water will flow from that pipe through all of your PVC pipes and be distributed to your lawn. Check the pressure of that pipe to make sure it's up to the job.

Next, dig trenches around your yard in the pattern in which you want to place your sprinklers. Also, dig one from the water main to where you want to place your valve box, and dig a hole for the valve box. Dig the trenches between four and twelve inches deep. You'll want to rent a trenching machine to help you get them the right width and depth. Then, lay the PVC pipes in the trenches.

This is just the basics. There's a lot more to know about sprinkler installation. Don't attempt to install your own sprinklers unless you know what you're doing or have an expert on hand to help you. If you're unsure, call a professional.

If you're looking for Bradenton homes for sale with great lawns that are perfect for DIY gardening projects like this, contact us! We'll help you find the home of your dreams!

June
7

Terms to Know When Looking at Gated Communities

Gated Community Terms

Gated communities offer various advantages that many residents find appealing, but the gated community lifestyle isn't necessarily a perfect fit for every buyer. If you've been shopping for homes and thinking about purchasing a home in a gated community, then it's important to understand exactly what to expect from your neighborhood. Our real estate agents are here to help you make an informed decision, with our guide to terms you need to know when considering a gated community.

  1. Homeowner's Association (HOA)
    When you live in a gated community, the homeowner's association (HOA) is the organization that makes rules, enforces them, and ensures that the community is properly maintained. Each HOA is typically made up of members of the community, including an elected board of governors who are responsible for enforcing HOA regulations. Often, in addition, there may be a Management Company to oversee properties. The rules created by an HOA can be restrictive in terms of the architecture of homes, home maintenance, and the ways in which you're allowed to modify your property. However, those rules also play an important role in keeping the neighborhood looking great, keeping home values high, and making sure that everything from streets to landscaping are well-maintained.

  2. HOA Fees
    When you purchase a home in a gated community, you will be required to join that community's HOA. Joining an HOA means paying HOA fees, which can be paid monthly, quarterly, or annually. While the details vary depending on the community, HOA fees typically cover a wide range of service related to security, as well as maintaining your property and the community as a whole. In addition to maintenance, HOA fees often cover community amenities like pools, recreation areas, parking, and landscaping that help keep the community beautiful. If you're considering a home in a gated community, make sure you research exactly how much HOA fees will cost and what those fees will cover, and when they are paid.

  3. CDD Fees
    An alternative to HOAs, some communities have Community Development District (CDD) fees. These fees go toward paying for infrastructure and amenities within the community. Unlike HOA fees, CDD fees are paid as part of your local property tax, and CDD payments are tax-deductible. The cost of community improvements are put into a bond, and part of CDD payments go toward paying that bond off over time. Communities with CDD fees may have HOA's and HOA fees.

  4. Condominium Fees
    If you choose to live in a condominium community, then you can expect to pay condo fees. Just like with the other types of fees we have mentioned, condo fees go toward maintaining the condominium complex and covering the cost of any amenities offered by the complex. These fees can vary significantly based on the community and the size of your condo, so be sure to research them carefully. Some condominiums also have HOA and/or CDD fees.

  5. Recreation Fees
    Recreation fees can cover a wide range of amenities, activities, and services, with the exact details depending on the rules of each community. All members of the community pay the recreation fee, whether they use a specific amenity or not. The good news is that if your community requires recreation fees, then you may in most cases be able to use all of those amenities without any additional charge beyond the fee.

Whether you're shopping for Bradenton homes for sale in a gated community or a more traditional neighborhood, our team is here to help. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout Southwest Florida communities.

March
1

5 Ways to Make Your Home a Happier Space

Happy Home TipsEveryone spends a great deal of time at home, so why not make your space as happy as possible? It's easy to get used to the way your home looks, even it's less than ideal. Instead, look at it with fresh eyes and plan some ways to make your home calmer and more relaxing. That way, you'll enjoy your home even more.
  
Our real estate agents suggest the following 5 ways to make your home a happier space:  

  1. Get rid of clutter.   
    Clutter creates the opposite of a relaxing, happy space. Having piles of disorganized papers and other items is mentally distracting and causes you to spend time stressfully looking for misplaced objects. You'll feel much less tension at home if you go through your unused possessions and donate what can still be used. This needs to be done regularly to keep clutter at a minimum. Finally, invest in some attractive organizational tools like woven baskets to neatly store what you've decided to keep, and you'll have a happier, neater home.
      
  2. Use color to transform your mood.
    Color can transform your mood! Add a splash of color to your home by painting a wall or buying a colorful statement piece. You may want to use calm, relaxing colors like blues, greens, or greys in your bedroom but try more vibrant colors such as yellow in your family room. Accents like throw pillows and rugs can also easily add some more color – and happiness – to your home.
      
  3. Let the sunshine in.   
    Natural sunlight is a proven mood-lifter, so instead of creating a cave-like atmosphere by closing your blinds or draperies, keep them pulled up or off to the sides. Even if it's not a particularly sunny day, you'll still be getting a boost from the daylight. If you don't have many windows in your home – or for areas that don't face the sun – use large mirrors on the wall to reflect light from the outdoors. And when the sun goes down, rely on adequate artificial lighting in each of your rooms to help create a brighter atmosphere.
      
  4. Make every space count.
    Most homes have one or more areas that are drab or tend to be ignored. In your home, it might be a laundry room or a spare bedroom. Don't ignore these spaces when you're decluttering or refreshing your home since they can have a positive or negative impact on your mood.
      
  5. Go for greenery.   
    Plants and flowers add color and vibrancy to your home and bring about a sense of calm and happiness. Plants also eliminate toxins from indoor spaces, making the air you breathe in at home healthier. Buy a bouquet to brighten up your kitchen table every week and invest in some plants to place throughout your home. Even if you don't have a green thumb, varieties like the snake plant thrive with little maintenance.

Contact us to find out about Sarasota homes for sale and Bradenton homes for sale. Our agents would be happy to help you find the home of your dreams! 

January
18

Is it Time to Upgrade Your Kitchen Appliances?

Kitchen Upgrades Sarasota

If your kitchen is beginning to look a bit outdated or things just aren't working as well as they used to, you might be wondering if it's time to upgrade your appliances. Our real estate agents usually recommend replacing your appliances before they break, as replacing items one by one can result in mismatched appliances. The last thing you want is a set of appliances that differ by color, age, or style appliances especially if you're planning to sell your home. Mismatched appliances can really give your kitchen a cluttered look.

Figuring out the best time to replace your kitchen appliances is the key to maximizing the longevity of your products and also maintaining your home's aesthetic value. Below are some tips to help you determine the best time to upgrade your kitchen appliances.

  1. They're Simply Aging
    Every appliance has a lifespan, so knowing the age of each kitchen appliance can help you predict when they might be on their last legs. Refrigerators generally last 13 to 15 years, while dishwashers usually last about 8 or 9 years. Of course, the exact lifespan will depend on the product and brand. If your appliances are getting up there in age, then it's probably time to start thinking about replacements.
  2. Your Kitchen is Out of Style
    If your appliances are wood-paneled, bright green, or look like they're from the 1960s, then they might be a little outdated. While your outdated appliances may work well or have sentimental value, installing modern-looking appliances may be helpful when it comes time to sell your home. Some of these Sarasota homes for sale have classic stainless steel appliances, which really creates a timeless look.
  3. The Noise is Becoming an Issue
    If your dishwasher sounds like a semi-truck or your refrigerator is buzzing, it might be time to start thinking about new appliances. You may have even become used to the sound by now, but you'll notice such a big difference when you upgrade. In fact, some of these Bradenton homes for sale have the quietest kitchen appliances on the market today.
  4. Your Utility Bills Are Too High
    Some old appliances can actually be really expensive to keep around because they're not very energy efficient. Modern refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, and washing machines consume a fraction of the energy compared to older models from ten or twenty years ago. Upgrading to new appliances may be expensive in the short term, but you may actually see some cost savings down the road.
  5. They Don't Work Like They Used To
    All appliances tend to lose performance over time, so if yours aren't working as well as they used to, then it's probably time to start saving-up for replacements. If it's taking longer for your oven to heat up or your dishes aren't coming out as clean as they used to, it might be time to start shopping.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for determining the best time to replace your appliances, but age, style, and condition are often the best indicators. For guidance on the best ways to upgrade your kitchen, contact us today!

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