The Costs of Home Ownership to Consider Before Buying

Just about everyone dreams of owning their perfect home. If you are financially stable and have found the right property at the right time, there is no reason you should not make an offer. However, for some, owning a home is a bit of a complicated step as there are many more costs involved in addition to the purchase price. For those who are operating on a tight budget, any surprise costs of home ownership may cause financial trouble. If you are planning on buying a house, here are some of the most overlooked home ownership costs to consider before you make your decision.

Property taxes

For some hopeful homeowners, the property taxes may be a bit much as they will still have to make payment to the municipality or town in addition to the monthly mortgage fee. This amount can come all the way up to $1000 a month in areas with higher priced properties. After a house is constructed, the town in which the home is situated will decide the property tax amount.

The risks

If you lease a rental property and someone gets injured on the premises, there is a high chance that the property owners will be able to pay for the damages with the aid of their insurance policy. This will not cause any financial damage to the property owners. As for a purchased home, a homeowner’s insurance policy is a must. Unfortunately, should someone face an accident on your property, there is a chance that you will have to pay higher premiums to cover their injuries and damages. Additional risks include natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and snow damage. Water damage as a result of rainstorms is not always covered in a basic homeowner’s policy. This means that if you are purchasing a waterfront property or a property within an area with frequent heavy rain, you will have to pay a higher premium that is often $500 – $1000 higher than that of a basic policy.

Property maintenance

Of course, if you are to buy a house and plan to live in it for the next few decades, you will have to keep up it to make sure comfort and long-term property values. Aside from routine maintenance, there is a high chance that you will have to make certain repairs now and then. The roof, floors, plumbing and windows often need repairs and will cost you money. Property upgrades also fall into the maintenance category and can actually be considered an investment that will add plenty of value to the property. If you are on a tight budget with your average expenses and mortgage payments, be sure to consider a proper maintenance budget to prevent financial surprises.


They say time is money and when it comes to home ownership, you will have to put aside a sizeable part of your time to keep the house looking and functioning at its best. Mowing the lawn, painting the doors and cleaning the windows are often done by the owners and their families and therefore, they will take plenty of time from your lifestyle.

It is very important that hopeful home owners are well aware of these costs so that they can better prepare for them. Be sure to make your choice with extreme care as to avoid future disappointment and financial strain.

How to Make Your Home Offer Stand Out

In a seller’s market, it is very important that buyers understand the right tactics and methods to make their offers stand out from the crowds. If you have found the perfect house at the perfect place that fits all your needs and you budget, then the next step would be to make a great offer that is bound to get the buyer’s attention. Frankel Realty has been in the real estate business for a while and is well aware of making great offers that sellers can’t refuse. Here are some great tips for home buyers.

Make sure that the seller likes you

If you have found the perfect house, it is very important to make sure that the seller actually likes you. This will improve your chances of getting offer to stand out. For most people, parting with their home is an emotional decision and they would always be happier to hand it over to someone who they like. If your sellers have lived in the house that you have picked, they most certainly love it and will be happier to hand over the keys to someone with the same interests. If you can get in touch with the seller, be sure to let them know that you like the house and that you are willing to take good care of it.

Consider managing the repairs yourself

When you know that you have competition for the house that you love, taking two weeks to get the home inspected is not likely to get your offer to stand out. In reality, you can consider a fast inspection that will also make sure that the offer does not have to have a contingency on inspection. The best way to make your property attractive to a seller is to make the offer with an ‘as is’ contingency. This will let the seller know that you are willing to buy the property without asking for any repairs. Should the inspection reveal simple repairs are necessary, the buyer can pay for the repairs themselves or walk away if the inspection reveals something very expensive.

Non-contingency offers

In most cases, home purchase contracts are drawn up to have contingencies on appraisal and financing. This allows buyers to take back their deposit if they are not able to finance their home or if the appraisal does not support the home’s price. A non-contingency offer is actually a cash offer and is only recommended by real estate professionals if the buyer can afford it. If you are confident of your financial situation to make such an offer, a seller is most likely to take notice. However, you should only work with a trustworthy lender who is capable of delivering to reduce the risk on your part.

Add an escalation clause to your offer

Most buyers tend to think that they ought to save the highest offer for the end for when a seller makes a counter-offer. In reality, sellers often go for the highest offer in a competitive market without going through the negotiation process. However, if you are to add an escalation clause to the offer that you plan to make, this is a way to let your seller know that you are willing to pay more for the house. This is a safe way to attract a buyer’s attention to get into a contract. In order for the escalation clause to be put into effect, the seller has to show evidence of other offers to the buyer.

What You Need to Know about Foreclosure Scams

Foreclosure is a nightmare that any homeowner fears. If you are facing financial difficulties and are on the path to foreclosure, it is very important that you try to avoid the many foreclosure scams out there. Of course, you may have seen the billboards, flyers as well as TV and radio ads. There is a high chance that this sort of foreclosure ‘rescue’ companies are scammers waiting for a home owner in trouble to contact them. There is a very high possibility that a scammer will acquire your home for a fraction of its worth and purchase price or transfer your title in such a way as to allow them to resell or rent it. Even after you’ve lost ownership of the home, you will still have to pay your mortgage.

Three Types of Foreclosure Scams

There are three main types of foreclosure scams. One type will seek exorbitant fees for simple paperwork or phone calls that the homeowner can do without much hassle. This type of scam is known as ‘phantom help’ where homeowners are given false hopes while adding high charges for useless services while also preventing owners from getting real help. Another type of scam, known as ‘the bailout’ is all about deceiving the owner to sign the property over to the scammer by allowing them to believe that they can live in the property as renters until they can buy it back. Unfortunately, buying back the home is made impossible with the terms of their fraudulent agreements. In ‘bait and switch’ scams, the homeowners are made to think that they are bringing the mortgage current while actually surrendering the ownership of their property to the scammer.

Avoid Eviction Notice

The sad truth is, the owners rarely know that they are being scammed until the eviction notice comes along. In most cases, the failure to understand the terms of the documents leads to homeowners falling for this type of scams. The homeowner is at a vulnerable position as they approach foreclosure and it is mostly desperation that makes them an easy target for fraudsters. The scammers often promise homeowners that they will discuss the issue with their lenders and modify the mortgages. There is always an upfront fee involved along with a warning to not talk to their lender as not to interfere with the negotiations.

Help From Real Estate Attorneys

With high lawyer fees and fewer lawyers willing to take the case and the very low prospect of collecting a court award, it’s not easy to find help for scam victims. The best option for victims of foreclosure scams is to seek volunteer real estate attorneys. Of course, there has been situations where the victims managed to bring the scammers to justice but the chances of finding the right help to do this is quite low. It is always very important to be highly cautious and alert about scams if you are facing foreclosure. Be sure to contact your lender to discuss your options before you seek out any other professional advice. In some cases, they may be able to point you in the right direction.


Attracting Buyers with a Home Warranty

Developers and building contractors generally offer a warranty with all new construction. This warranty, known as the ‘home warranty’ provides a guarantee that the home’s plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems will work for a specified period of time. Additionally, if the house is sold with major appliances installed, the warranty will also include these items. Should any system or appliance malfunction during the warranty period, the repairs or replacements will be covered. Typically, home warranties cover a property from one year up to five years, and may be renewed with a fee.

Home Warranties Coverage

Home Warranties vary from company to company, but in general they cover:

  • Kitchen appliances such as your range or oven, dishwasher and built-in microwave
  • Garbage disposals
  • Plumbing including a whirlpool tub
  • Sump pump
  • Water heater
  • Ceiling fans and exhaust fans
  • Heating and electrical system components
Find a Great Deal

Home buyers generally look for a good deal and a home warranty, even when it is offered with a house that has been previously occupied. The majority of homebuyers invest most of their liquid assets to make the purchase, and a warranty that offers a few years of not having to deal with any expensive repairs would definitely influence them to choose a specific property. The cost for the home warranty will be included into the house’s price.

Seller’s Warranty

Competing with newer properties in your vicinity can be a bit tough if you are selling a home that is 20-30 years old. Don’t worry – You can still offer a seller’s warranty to attract buyers. With a seller’s warranty, you will make your property attractive to potential buyers by taking the worry of repairs and replacements off of their hands.

Specialized Seller’s Policies

Obtaining a seller’s warranty is simple. You will have to pay about $300 – $400 for one year of coverage and in the event of a malfunction within that time; the new owners will only have to pay about $50 – $75 in the form of a deductible. Some companies offer specialized policies where you don’t have to pay the premium until you have finalized the sale of your house. You need not worry about the age of your home, as the majority of these companies will provide warranties even to old houses.

Home Warranty vs. Homeowners Insurance

Do not confuse home warranties and homeowners insurance. Homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover appliances or mechanical systems in a house. As a seller, a seller’s warranty offers you protection in the event of a system or appliance malfunction in the property that you had sold. If you have any more questions about selling your home with a seller’s warranty, contact Frankel Realty (561) 427-2154.

5 Easy Ideas to Update Any Room

Thinking about giving your interiors a new look with the New Year? Most homeowners associate the words ‘revamp’ and ‘new look’ with high expenses and a lot of time. In reality, there are many ways to transform a room without spending days and weeks or breaking the bank. The idea is to consider quick and small changes with plenty of impact to transform a room with minimal cost and efforts. Here are 5 easy and simple ideas.

Consider changing the fabric

The curtains, pillows, rugs and upholstery make up a big part of any room. By changing any or a few of them, the entire look and feel of the room can be changed without much hassle. Whether it is a living room, sitting room, den, bedroom or even the kitchen, you can simply pick a different fabric color or print to completely change the look.

A fresh new coat of paint will make a world of difference

A new paint color or a fresh coat of the existing paint color has the ability to completely change the look of your room. This is one of the most simple and easiest ways to transform any part of your home. You can go from light to dark, dark to bright or from dark to light as per your preference. If you don’t want to make a commitment by painting the entire area, you can simply paint an accent wall in a different color for an instant fix and dramatic change.

Pay attention to your shelves

If you have book shelves or other shelves in your rooms, making changes to them can help you transform your space without taking much time and effort. For instance, if you have a wall shelf full of books, simply by the books with framed photographs, art or ornaments can make a considerable difference. Additionally, you can paint the space behind the shelves or add bright accent pieces in the form of book ends for more vibrant changes.

Update your art

The art on your walls are among the best ways to not only add bright pops of color for a new look but also to showcase the talent in your family. Frame your children’s most impressive paintings or simply purchase a blank canvas and paint it in a single bold color for an instant pick-up for any room. You don’t have to have any artistic experience to DIY accent pieces for your walls. You can always reuse the existing frames if you ever feel like changing your mind. Of course, if you are willing to make an investment, go for prints or purchase something a few affordable yet beautiful pieces for a great effect.

Accents can make a huge difference

Whether you feel like updating your living room, bedroom or even your bathroom, the best way to liven things up is to add one or a few new accents. A colorful wallpaper, painted stripes or a beautiful chandelier can make a huge difference without the need of undergoing massive scale remodeling.

Things To Do On Singer Island

Located along Florida’s east coast in the Palm Beach region, Singer Island is full of great activities for the young and old. Previously owned by Paris Singer all the way back in the 1920’s, the area now offers beachside fun, hotels, resorts and various activities. The neighborhood boasts a unique blend of natural charm, stunning beaches and beautiful hotels and resorts to enjoy. The area is highly popular among those who come to snorkel, dive, hike and bike.

Sailfish Marina

The Sailfish Marina is located in Palm Beach and offers a range of activities for visitors of all ages. The Sailfish Marina is a fantastic location to enjoy a delicious dinner and drinks at a dockside restaurant while enjoying a breathtaking view. Additionally, visitors can also enjoy the novel experience of the Palm Beach Water Taxi that provides fully narrated tours that are ideal for sightseeing. Visitors can take the shuttle to make a stop at the famous Clematis Street for some shopping or a quick meal or to catch the shuttle to Peanut Island, a relaxing getaway just minutes from the city.

Peanut Island

Peanut Island is easily reached by the Palm Beach Water Taxi and is a perfect spot to enjoy a truly unique experience. The island is entirely manmade and is thus named because of the peanut oil shipping terminal that was planned to be constructed there. Peanut Island is an ideal location to take the family as visitors can camp, snorkel and enjoy picnics in the sun. The southern portion of Peanut Island is home to the Palm Beach Maritime Museum and a nuclear bomb shelter built for the president’s family during the Kennedy era.

Phil Foster Park

Phil Foster Park, located at the base of the Blue Heron Bridge is home to the highly popular Singer Island Outdoor Center. This is a great place to enjoy the many waterfront activities with the whole family. Visitors are offered a chance to hire boats, kayaks or paddleboats for rent and to venture out to Peanut Island, Lakeworth Lagoon and sail around Singer Island for a truly fascinating experience. In addition to boating excursions, the Singer Island Outdoor Center also presents visitors with a chance to enjoy snorkeling and to take guided snorkeling tours on the gorgeous snorkeling trail found right off the beach. This is a fantastic opportunity for the marine life lover with regular appearances made by octopi, sea turtles, eagle rays, starfish and manatees. Regardless of your level of expertise on snorkeling, the tours are offered with plenty of guidance and required gear.


What You Should Know About Retiring in Florida

According to a recent poll, over 9 million Americans have expressed an intention to retire in Florida. Additionally, the numbers of British buyers in the Sunshine state have also seen significant increases over the last few years. Needless to say, the demand for Florida properties are high and are expected to stay that way for years to come.

Why Florida?

If you ask anyone who have retired in the Sunshine State or are planning to, they will have a lot of great things to say –The beautiful weather, the possibility of an idyllic lifestyle and the opportunity to lead an active life in the outdoors are among the most popular reasons among many hopeful retirees. The social life is vibrant with a multi-ethnic community and many, many activities to take part in. With the festivities running high from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve at the end of the year, there is a lot to enjoy.

What type of properties to look for

There are wide ranges of different property types as well as many communities that offer a relaxing lifestyle. From stylish condos with ocean views all the way to golf club communities with exclusive amenities, the options offer something for everyone. In order to make sure that a retiree is fully comfortable, properties located in country clubs, waterfront land and gated communities are highly recommended. These options provide them with a chance to enjoy a calm, quiet and relaxing lifestyle without having to worry about security or travelling too far to find entertainment, essential groceries or services.

Tax benefits

Another important reason for most people to consider retiring in Florida is the tax benefits. Florida is one of the few US states that does not charge income tax. If you are obtaining any type of income such as your pension, earnings from a job, social security benefits, annuities and security benefits can all be obtained without having to pay taxes. Of course, it is a very real concern to wonder whether you will have to pay taxes for your pension if it is coming from a different state. However, the Federal Pension Source Tax act of 1996 makes sure that your pension income is free from taxes regardless of which state it comes from.

The weather

With beautiful weather, great options for activities and a laid-back atmosphere, Florida is one of the best places in the world to consider living after retirement. There are plenty of retirement communities alongside great properties of all types to help you lead a safe, secure and content lifestyle. To take a tour of luxury properties in Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach, Jupiter, Juno Beach and West Palm Beach, call the realtors at Frankel Realty, (561) 427-2154.

How To Share Closing Costs on a New Home

Closing costs are an unavoidable part of the home buying and selling process. The costs are made up of all the fees and taxes that are applicable at a real estate transaction. Closing costs vary in each state. It is necessary to consider which party will settle the closing costs, but it is also normal for buyers and sellers to share the expenses.

Understand the closing costs

In most cases, the party that is responsible for closing costs depends on the type of market. In a seller’s market, the larger portion of the costs falls on the buyer’s shoulders while the seller’s pay the bigger portion in a buyer’s market. In some cases, the offer made on a house by a buyer includes the closing costs so that the mortgage will cover these fees without putting the buyer in financial strain. It is very important that you ask your real estate agent for a standard closing cost break down so that both parties are well aware of what the payments and taxes.

Escrow and attorney fees

The typical costs associated with a real estate transaction include escrow or attorney fees. In some states, the closing is handled by third party escrow companies or attorneys. However, depending on the state, the costs can be handled by title agents, brokers, lenders and real estate agents may handle closing and escrow. These fees can be spilt between the buyer and the seller as they apply to both of them.

Find out the type of title insurance

Title insurance is very important and come in two types: the owner’s policy and the lender’s policy. The property titles are well-researched by companies that specialize in titles or by lawyers to check if there are any unidentified owners or liens against the property. The policies are designed to protect the owner and the lender for the property’s value. It is quite normal for the seller to pay for the title insurance policy. This process is known as clearing the title.

Other fees you should know about

Transfer taxes or document taxes, recording fees and mortgage taxes are also a part of closing costs. The buyer and seller often split the closing fee or settlement charges. The settlement charges or closing fees include the escrow or lawyer fees for the financial transfers. The brokerage fees are often paid separately by the buyers and sellers as the realtors are different. Additional payments include pest inspections and septic inspections. Both of these inspections are handled and paid for by the buyer.

The final word

When closing on a house, it’s important for the buyer and seller to come to some sort of agreement to create a win-win situation. In some cases, statements where the seller pays up to a specific amount are arranged. Be sure to consult with your real estate professional before closing day to determine the closing costs that you will have to pay. This will help you negotiate with the other party to come to a suitable arrangement.

When you’re interested in purchasing a new house, consult the realtors at Frankel Realty on (561) 427-2154 to guide you through the process.

Events in Palm Beach – January 2015

Palm Beach is a fantastic residential destination with much to offer its lucky residents. The beautiful weather, gorgeous surroundings and a community that presents so many great activities and events, life truly is a breeze at Palm Beach. With the New Year upon us, let’s take a look at what events Palm Beach has to offer in January.

Palm Beach International Polo Season – 4th January

This is a great opportunity for Polo enthusiasts and players to enjoy the skill of renowned players and ponies. The Polo Season features a choice of exciting tournaments and reaches its end with the prestigious US Open Polo Championship. Held at the Palm Beach International Polo Club, the Polo season lasts from 4th January all the way to 19th April and features a selection of fascinating competitions. This is a chance to witness first-rate competition, high-profile players and excitement leaden matches.

FTI Winter Equestrian Festival – 7th January

The FTI Winter Equestrian Festival is a fantastic opportunity to see world-class horses and riders. The competition takes place at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington where dressage and show jumping will be features. Horse riding enthusiasts will get to witness some of the best riders in the world such as Olympians, juniors, adult amateurs and even children, competing at the event. The show runs from the 7th of January until the 29th of March and is the biggest and longest running horse festival in the world. The show is a fantastic entertainment opportunity for families, adults as well as aspiring riders.

South Florida Fair – 16th January

The South Florida Fair is one of the top-rated events in the state and a great opportunity to enjoy exhibits, stalls and rides. This annual event in Palm Beach is much adored by visitors and residents alike. Many recommend riding the midway and staying to enjoy the music performed by well-known bands from all over the country. The fair features fun rides, interesting exhibitions and stores featuring hand-made crafts, award-winning livestock and agriculture along with fair-food that many people love. Starting from the 16th of January and finishing on the 1st of February, the South Florida Fair is a chance to enjoy a winning selection of entertainment for every taste and every age. Be sure to try the cotton candy, funnel cakes and crispy corn dogs along with the many other delightful food options only offered at this event. Held at the South Florida Fairgrounds, the fair features rodeo style events and plenty of live music to keep participants entertained.

Foto Fushion – 20th January

Held from the 20th of January until the 24th, Foto Fusion is a celebration of digital art. The event is a perfect opportunity for enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals to enjoy multi-media presentations and digital art exhibitions. Aside from fantastic art to look at, the event also offers an opening reception and a farewell party at the end. The unique exhibition also allows digital art enthusiasts to learn more about the art with hands-on computer labs, panel discussions. There is also the great opportunity for amateurs and professionals to get their portfolios reviews as well as to spend some time in the Foto Fusion Technology Lab.

Expensive Mistakes Home Buyers Make

Buying a home is an expensive process, and what you don’t know might cost you. When it comes to purchasing a home, there are quite a few mistakes that buyers must avoid. Unfortunately, most of these mistakes are quite common and may consequently cost buyers thousands of dollars.

1. Failure To Research The Neighborhood

While real estate websites, magazines and agents may endorse various established and upcoming neighborhoods, it is also important to do your own research. Things such as driving to work, access to facilities and maintenance costs vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and may result in additional costs. It is important to understand how your life will be affected by your move.

2. Buying Based on Decor

Surprisingly, this is a common mistake. You may appreciate the paint colors, carpets, furniture and lighting in a house. However, these can all be changed to suit your preferences. Instead of the décor, focus on the space, the light and the functionality for a better understanding of purpose.

3. Failure To Inspect

Getting an inspection is a must when you buy a home. In reality, an inspection is one of the most important investments involved in the process of buying a home. Our advice is to splurge on the inspection as it can end up saving you quite a lot.

4. Purchasing The Most Expensive Property In The Area

While you may feel that the most expensive house in the area carries a certain sense of prestige and pride, the reality is not quite as attractive. While you may get all the facilities and of course, the prestige factor, selling the property later on might be a problem, if it is surrounded by reasonably priced options.

5. Choosing The Wrong Lender

Your lender may happily announce that you qualify for a very large mortgage but that doesn’t mean you ought to take it. Despite being qualified for it, you might not be able to afford it when added up with the other costs such as maintenance, community payments and living expenses. Instead, set a realistic price limit and look only at properties that fit in.

6. Making The Smallest Down Payment

Putting down 20% of the total house price is the acceptable amount for a down payment. If you think of paying a smaller amount or are not able to raise the cash, it is best to reconsider your decision. A smaller down payment will result in higher interest rates and a higher monthly payment. Instead, save up and try again when you can afford a sizable down payment to avoid high long-term costs.

7. DIY Everything

DIY is great! However, DIY is not so great if you don’t know what you are doing. Unless you are particularly gifted with crafts, it is best to stick only to small-scale projects if you want to DIY anything in your home. Excitement on a grand DIY project can quickly transform to regret if you are lacking the necessary materials, tools, skills and of course, the time.

Frankel Realty Group follows the letter and spirit of the Equal Housing Act, and is a member of the Northern Palm Beach County Board of Realtors, the Florida Multiple Listing Service, and National Board of Realtors.  Thomas Frankel is Broker of Record.   Frankel Realty Group and all of its affiliated agents are licensed as either brokers or salespersons by the Florida Real Estate Commission.  Copyright © 2013 Frankel Realty Group, All Rights Reserved. The name Frankel Realty Group and its logo and design are trademarks of Frankel Enterprises or its affiliates.


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