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Category Archives: build your own home


“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding on the 20th” –  Julie Andrews


Here is another example of a recycled home! Wow, if people started building this way, we would have a much cleaner planet!

To read the entire article, click on the following link:


“SHORT SALE” Great Starter Home!

“SHORT SALE”  Great Starter Home!

This is a great home for the price.  The neighborhood is excellent and the lot is one of the larger lots in the area.  All in all,  this little brick gem is a great deal! I sold this home to the owners originally, and now it is time for them to move on.  So here I am selling the home once again. It is adorable and whoever buys this home will be very happy in it as my sellers are. To view more pictures of this home click on the link below.

“SHORT SALE” Great Starter Home!.



“A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it.” –  Bob Hope

Re-printed from Trulia
January 3, 2012|Tools & Trends|No Comments
Jed Kolko, Trulia’s Chief Economist

5 events that rocked housing  in 2011; by Jed Kolko

Government, lending changes, and forces of nature all shook the housing market in 2011. They had both an immediate impact and slow-burning effects. They set the stage for a bumpy 2012 with more foreclosures, political battles and local market risks – which will affect the industry and how agents do business.

1) Robo-Signing Reverberations

The “robo-signing” scandal – where banks were accused of approving foreclosures with incomplete or incorrect documentation – exploded in October 2010, but where are we now? Banks want a settlement in order to avoid costly, drawn-out lawsuits. One is shaping up that could reduce loan balances or interest rates for current homeowners, give payments to people who lost their homes and establish new mortgage servicing standards for the future.

Even if you think there’s money coming to you because you lost your home, don’t start spending against your settlement windfall just yet. One estimate from the Wall Street Journal is for a settlement of $25 billion if all states participate. Another report from TIME says that will translate into $1,500-$2,000 for households who were mistreated in the foreclosure process. A couple thousand dollars will give people some breathing room, but it won’t change anyone’s financial lives. And, be patient: it could be months before a deal is reached, an administrator is in place and the details are finalized.

Until that’s all figured out, here’s the immediate drama: who’s in and who’s out? Some states might hold out for a better deal or decide to sue these mortgage servicers directly, as Massachusetts has. California was the first and most vocal state to back out, and New York, Delaware, and Nevada have spoken out, too.

What Really Mattered: The threat of robo-signing lawsuits made banks gun-shy about pursuing foreclosures in 2011, which left many homes stuck in the foreclosure process. But once a settlement is reached, we’ll see a rush of foreclosures in 2012.

What It Means for Agents: More foreclosures will hurt prices and consumer confidence. Short sales could be harder to get approved if the foreclosure process gets easier.

2) The Debt Ceiling and the Budget Deficit

The federal government is running a deficit — it is spending more than it collects in taxes and other revenue – so it borrows to cover the gap by issuing debt. When there’s a deficit, we add to the pile of debt. To shrink this pile, the government needs to collect more than it spends (or, if you prefer, spend less than it collects) and use the surplus to reduce the debt.

In August, the government played a game of chicken over whether to raise the debt ceiling – which is really just a formality acknowledging that the deficit requires issuing debt to keep the government going. However, the right way to deal with the debt is to reduce the deficit – not by fighting over the debt ceiling.

Long before the debt ceiling debate and Standard & Poor’s federal credit-rating downgrade, we all knew that the federal budget was in bad shape. The debt ceiling debate rattled the markets and consumer confidence temporarily but interest rates stayed low. The important effect was that Congress created a bipartisan supercommittee to tackle the deficit – but it couldn’t reach agreement by its November deadline.

What Really Mattered: The deficit-reduction supercommittee teased us with some policy proposals that will surely rear their heads again. One idea that both Republicans and Democrats didn’t totally disagree about was reducing the mortgage interest and other tax deductions. If and when that happens, high-income homeowners with mortgages would pay a lot more in taxes.

What It Means for Agents: Scaling back the mortgage interest deduction would lower the offers buyers – especially high-income buyers – will make on homes. And some buyers will drop out of the market if the deduction, which favors homeownership, shrinks or vanishes.

3) The Expansion of HARP

In October, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) said seriously underwater homeowners will be able to refinance through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). Originally, refinancing under HARP required a loan-to-value of less than 125% — that is, you couldn’t be more than 25% underwater – but that rule goes away for fixed-rate mortgages. But there’s a catch! Loans must be guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and – more importantly – borrowers must be current on their payments and must not have missed a payment in the last 6 months.

What Really Mattered: Some seriously underwater borrowers who fell behind on their payments in hopes of negotiating a loan modification are now kicking themselves because those missed payments make them ineligible to refinance. But those who can and do refinance will have lower monthly payments and extra money to spend — which will help stimulate the economy.

What It Means for Agents: Even if easier refinancing may not affect the home-purchase market directly, it will stimulate the economy a bit, which will raise housing demand and give buyers more confidence.

4) Natural Disasters Cause Insurance Disaster?

In 2011, several tornadoes, floodings and a hurricane temporarily halted what little construction there was to begin with, but this was just a short-term slowdown. The bigger long-term effect was the near-collapse of the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Still struggling financially under debt amassed after Hurricane Katrina, the NFIP’s insurance premiums don’t fully cover insurance claims when disaster strikes. August’s Hurricane Irene and its flood damage returned this problem to center-stage.

What Really Mattered: In flood-prone areas, you can’t get a mortgage if you don’t have flood insurance. Without NFIP, housing markets in these areas would skid to a stop. Could the program actually expire? It could, but as part of last week’s payroll tax agreement, the program got a last-minute extension until May 2012. No doubt, the political fight over this program’s long-term future will continue in into next year.

What It Means for Agents: Those working in flood-prone areas should be aware of private-sector flood insurance options for buyers in case the federal program lapses after May. And agents in these areas should follow the debate over NFIP on websites and blogs that cover the insurance industry.

5) Lowering the Conforming Loan Limit

Starting in October, the government lowered the upper limit for loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) from $729,750 to $625,500. Why? Government agencies now back or insure most loans, but it’s time to make the housing market less dependent on the feds. Lowering loan limits is one step in that direction; however, the real estate industry has urged the government to push the loan limits back up. And you know what? They scored a half-win in November, raising the loan limit back up for FHA loans but not for Fannie and Freddie.

What Really Mattered: Mortgage lenders are willing to charge lower rates for loans that are backed by Fannie or Freddie; with a lower conforming loan limit, a small number of loans that used to qualify for federal backing no longer do. As a result, homes that are now on the wrong side of the conforming loan limit will see fewer potential buyers and lower sales prices. This will matter more in California, New York, and other high-cost areas.

What It Means for Agents: Agents need to know the local loan limits, which may be different for FHA insurance and Fannie/Freddie backing. Homes for which loans will be above the new limits might see less buyer interest and price reductions.



“Of all human activities, man’s listening to God is the supreme act of his reasoning and will.” –  Pope Paul VI

Let’s keep America working! We can do this by buying American made products.  Should we be such bleeding hearts that we build up another country at the expense of our own country and livelihood?  I think not.  Here’s a video from “Good Morning America” about a builder who refuses to use anything other than American made.  That’s right, everything in the home from the concrete, nails, sheet rock, to joists and sheathing have been made in America.  Koodoos to you Mr. Contractor,  I wish there were more people who felt this way.  For more information, and to look at the video please click on the link below.  Thanks Helen for sending me this link!



“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein

How many years does it take for a Yankee to become a Damn Yankee? Five years, ten years, fifteen years? Maybe it just takes putting up with the strange-looking and gigantic bugs that call north Florida their home.

Just a few weeks ago I was joking around with a friend who was moving north.  She was born and raised in the south and now she was moving to the mountains of North Carolina. True, it’s not the same as moving to New Jersey, New York or Massachusetts, but still in all, North Carolina is up there.   I told her she was going to become Northernized (my own word) and after living there, she probable won’t want to come back to sunny Florida. She turned and looked at me and said, “and you’re a damn Yankee”.  Then she asked me if I knew what a damn Yankee was. I just laughed and said yes,  “I moved here and stayed!”

But I began thinking, I’ve been here 21 years and this is the first time someone actually said that to me.  I wonder if 20 years is the benchmark for becoming a damn Yankee?

I really don’t mind living here – but it took many years to get to that point.  It definitely was a culture shock – moving from New York to Alachua. I’m not talking upstate New York, but the city.  I was born in Manhattan, raised in the Bronx and moved to Long Island 13 years before moving to Florida.  I used to commute from the Bronx to Manhattan to go to work. I worked in the garment district, for a company that imported woman’s knit clothes.  When the buyers came into town, I modeled the clothes and got to keep everything I modeled.  When buyers were not in town, I was a one girl office.  Even when I moved to Long Island, although I no longer worked in Manhattan, I would go there quite often to catch a play or just study the architecture.  When I went to study the architecture, I would go to Queens first and pick up my childhood friend. Then we would go into Manhattan and make a day of it with the kids.  Walking from one end to the other. The summer before I left for Florida we did this three times a week.  So being used to walking everywhere I thought nothing of sending my daughter next door or to the 7-11 to pick up an ingredient I was missing for dinner or a cake I had started.  Here, it is a 10 mile trip – one way – to the grocery store.  I quickly learned to either abandon the thought of whipping up something at the spur of the moment, or making sure I was stocked up on staples, for those last-minute deserts.

My wonderful husband took this dilemma of mine one step further.  He thought it would be a good idea to raise chickens, so I would never be out of eggs. He fixed the little play house in the back specifically for the barred rock chickens he bought.  He put some 5 gallon buckets on their sides and stuffed them with hay.  Now the chickens had a comfy place to lay their eggs.  Only thing was, no one told the chickens they were supposed to us the buckets to lay their eggs in. Eventually they figured it out and collecting the eggs became easy.

Next, to prevent us from running out of milk, he got a couple of Nubian goats for me to milk.  I thought my idea of powdered milk was a much better idea. Anyway, I learned how to milk goats, and how to process and store the milk.  As a matter of fact, I actually began to like goat milk – you know – the fresh kind – not the pasteurized, cardboard boxed kind.  That tastes nothing like the real thing.


“Ah, mon cher, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.” –  Albert Camus

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This weekend Rob wanted pizza, so I made one.  After a summer of  eating pizzas – some good, some not so good, I finally perfected the crust, and Rob the sauce.  Now our pizza rivals even “New York Pizza Plus” and “I Love New York Pizza”!   Since the oven was on for the pizza, I whipped up a pumpkin bread.   I cleaned out the pumpkin this morning, washed the seeds, and stored three cups of pumpkin in the refrigerator. It only takes one cup of pumpkin to make pumpkin bread and two cups of pumpkin for a pie.  So far I have baked one pumpkin bread.  I can either make two more breads or one pie.  I guess the deciding factor will be whether or not the bread is any good. Then, while the oven was still warm, I decided to roast some chestnuts. While the chestnuts were roasting, I put the pumpkin seeds in a cast iron skillet with some olive oil and roasted them. What a delight those little seeds are when they are eaten warm.

Today, Fifi had her stitches removed and she was so very happy to get that Elizabethan collar off.  I was happy I could give her a bath! Louie got a bath as well, much to his chagrin!  Unfortunately, when Fifi had her surgery, the Vet found it necessary to shave the ear on the side of the surgery. Today, I shaved the other ear so they would both match.  When Fifi was just a pup, her ear hairs got so tangled with Spanish needles, we had to trim them and they never grew back.  I mentioned that to the vet and she said that is typical if a poodle is very young.   I hope the ear hairs will grow back some, now that they have been shaved.  It will take some getting use to, to look at Fifi with no hair on her ears.

Louie, on the other hand, has long hairs on his ears.  The last time he got a trim, we gave him a Mohawk along his back.  Next time I think I’ll shave it off.



“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young”    Henry Ford 

Colder temperatures send pests, such as field mice, spiders, water bugs, and cockroaches – or palmetto bugs as they call them here in Florida, searching for food, water and shelter inside your homes. Mice are a common winter nuisance here in the south, and only need a space the size of a nickel to enter your home.
I remember as a child, my father putting steel wool around the pipe openings, or if he made a repair, in the opening before sealing that repair.  It didn’t matter if there was no way anything could come into our home once the repair was made, as long as my mother felt secure, that is all that mattered. So to help you keep those unwanted house guests away here are some tips.

  • Seal any cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including utility and pipe entrances.
  • Seal the openings where a pipe comes into your home – under sinks etc. You can use that stuff that squirts into an opening then expands and hardens or you can use the old steel wool method.
  • Put screens on vents and openings to chimneys. This will also keep birds, bats, raccoons and squirrels away.
  • Replace loose mortar and weather-stripping around the basement foundation and windows, and at all entry doors. Helps with utility bills as well.
  • Keep attics, basements if you have one, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  • If you store items in totes, make sure you tape up the holes.  Those holes allow spiders, roaches and other assorted bugs to crawl into the tote and nest.  You’ll usually find those holes in the handles or the carved out spaces for your hands to carry the tote.  Yes, those holes are there for ventilation, but I for one do not like to be surprised with a spider nest when I go for something stored in the tote. I would rather seal it, than create a nesting place for bugs and mice. Been there! Done that!
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