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“You can make all the excuses you want, but if you are not mentally tough, and you’re not prepared to play every night, you’re not going to win. “ ~ Larry Bird








“If you view all the things that happen to you, both good and bad, as opportunities, then you operate out of a higher level of consciousness.” ~ Les Brown

Real Estate Heading in the “Right Direction” | Keeping Current Matters

The housing market has taken a great turn toward recovery over the last few years. The opinions of the American public toward real estate took longer to recover, until recently.

For the first time since 2006, Americans have an overall positive view of real estate, giving the industry a 12% positive ranking in a Gallup poll.

Americans were asked to rate 24 different business sectors and industries on a five-point scale ranging from “very positive” to “very negative.” The poll was first conducted in 2001, and has been used as an indicator of “Americans’ overall attitudes toward each industry”.

America's View on Real Estate | Keeping Current Matters

Americans’ view of the real estate industry worsened from 2003 to the -40% plummet of 2008.  Gallup offers some insight into the reason for decline:

Prices Dropped

“In late 2006, real estate prices in the U.S. began falling rapidly, and continued to drop. Many homeowners saw their home values plummet, likely contributing to real estate’s image taking a hard hit.”

Housing Bubble

“The large drops in the positive images of banking and real estate in 2008 and 2009 reflect both industries’ close ties to the recession, which was precipitated in large part because of the mortgage-related housing bubble.”

Bottom Line

“Although the image of real estate remains below the average of 24 industries Gallup has tracked, the sharp recovery from previous extreme low points suggests it is heading in the right direction.”

If the news of recovery has you considering homeownership, meet with a local real estate professional to discuss the opportunities that exist in today’s market.


“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” – Victor Kiam

Beware of the ‘silent killer’

By Bill and Kevin Burnett
Reprinted from:  Inman News™

Q: Our house was built around 1940; the fireplace is original; and we installed forced-air gas heating about 10 years ago. We haven’t had the fireplace or furnace inspected. What do you guys recommend to get the fireplace and the furnace ready for winter?

A: Regular inspection and servicing of fireplaces and furnaces adds to comfort, makes them more economical and most important, keeps them safe. Regular inspections can prevent a deadly house fire or the introduction of a silent killer: carbon monoxide.

Here’s our checklist to keep you cozy and safe during the winter months:

Wood-burning fireplaces

1. Inspection by a certified chimney sweep is a must. For heavy use, the chimney should be inspected and cleaned annually. Go up to five years if the fireplace is used only occasionally. The sweep should inspect for proper operation of the damper and for cracks in the flue liner, as well as sweeping the flue to remove creosote and other combustion byproducts.

2. Close the damper when the fireplace isn’t in use.

3. Install a chimney cap if you don’t already have one. You don’t want creatures building their nest in your flue.

4. When starting a fire, “prime” the flue by holding lighted newspaper at the back wall of the firebox to start the warm air rising.

5. Burn aged, dry hardwood if possible. Fir or pine burns hot and deposits creosote in the chimney. Don’t burn construction debris. It may contain toxic chemicals that will vaporize in the fire and could enter the living space.

6. Do not clean out the fireplace when the ashes are still hot. And dispose of the ashes in a place where wayward embers won’t start a fire.

Fireplace with gas starter

1. If the flame goes out, wait at least five minutes before attempting to relight the fireplace. This allows time to clear the fireplace of gas.

2. Be alert for unusual odors or odd-colored flames, which are often a sign that the fireplace is not operating properly. In such cases, contact your dealer or licensed technician for servicing. Contact the gas company if you smell gas when the unit is off.

Gas furnace maintenance

1. An annual maintenance check of a gas furnace extends the life of the appliance and ferrets out any hidden problems. A qualified heating contractor should vacuum out the unit, inspect the blower motor, inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, check the electronics and perform a multipoint checklist to make sure the furnace is operating properly.

2. Clean or replace the furnace filter frequently during the heating season. This ensures that air returning from the inside of the house is unobstructed and clean when entering the combustion chamber.

3. Keep vents, space heaters and baseboards clear of furniture, rugs and drapes to allow free air movement.

4. Ensure there is free airflow around your furnace and make sure there are no storage items obstructing airflow.

5. Do not store or use combustible materials, such as chemicals, paint, rags, clothing, draperies, paper, cleaning products, gasoline, or flammable vapors and liquids in the vicinity of the furnace.

6. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and lethal gas that can occur any time there is incomplete combustion or poor venting. Any home that contains fuel-burning appliances, such as a fireplace or furnace, should have a carbon monoxide alarm installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Copyright 2011 Bill and Kevin Burnett



“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!



“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”   Khalil Gibran

Fall is upon us and so are the many festivals that come this time of year.  And if you need more than just festivals, how about maneuvering one of the 3 corn mazes in the Gainesville area.

Newberry Cornfield Maze: September 30th – October 31st – Friday and Saturday nights: 3PM – 11PM / Sundays: 2PM – 5PM. Adults: $9 / Children 10 and under: $7. Hay Rides: $5

Activities at the maze include the Haunted Maze, a pumpkin patch, a barnyard, hay-rides (which will be haunted at night), a mini Maze for kids, and much more. One of the unique activities at the Maze is a Corn Cannon, where customers will be able to shoot ears of corn at a target out of a small cannon. One can ‘laugh by day’ with activities including a pumpkin patch, hay rides, a mini-maze for children, a cow train and farm animals, or one can ‘scream by night’ in the haunted corn field and bone chilling hay rides.

Roger Farm Corn Maze: October 1st – October 31st: Fridays: 5PM – Midnight / Saturdays: 10AM – Midnight / Sundays: 1PM – 8PM. Attractions Only: $8 / Add Maze for $4

Rogers Farm Corn Maze and other fun activities: We have a tractor pulled hay ride that travels around 110 acres of farm land! At the end of the hay ride everyone gets a free pumpkin to take home! We have a petting zoo that features goats, donkeys, pigs, sheep, chickens, guinnies, quail, phesants, cows, ponies, rabbits and more. Our activities include rubber duckie races, corn launcher, play place, mini maze, pony rides, spooky trail, tractor pulled hay ride, tractor pulled cow train, jumping pillow, roping and more!


Coon Hollo Corn Maze: September 30th – October 30th: Fridays: 4PM – 9PM / Saturdays: Noon – 9PM / Sundays: 2PM – 7PM. Adults: $8.50 / Seniors (65 and up): $7.50 / Military, Law Enforcement, Firefighters, FREE
Children 4-12: $6.50 / Children 3 and under: FREE

Fall Family Fun on the Farm! Admission Includes: Interactive Corn Maze, Pasture Putt Putt (NEW!), Hayride, Farm Train, the Coony Coon Goat Tree House (NEW!), Pedal Carts, Hay Fort/Corn Cribs/Buckin’ Barrels/Tire swing, Farmyard Obstacle Course (NEW), Antique Farm Equipment, Agricultural Educational Displays. Also enjoy the Concessions, Farm Animal Exhibit and Old Country Store.

The list of festivals for October and November is as follows:

Weekend of October 1st & 2nd

Peanut Festival: Saturday, 9-4 PM  – Arts & craft vendors, food vendors, entertainment, rides, games and a petting zoo. Williston

Horsin’ Around Fall Festival: Sunday, 2-6PM – live music, food, kids games and crafts, face painting, a hay maze & hay rides, bounce house, family sack races, pet adoptions, equestrian performance, raffle and more – Archer

Saturday, October 8th

Family Literacy Festival: 10-12 – local performance groups, vendor displays, literacy awards, free books,favorite mascots and characters and much, much more. Headquarters Library in Gainesville

Ocala Cultural Festival: 1-8PM – live bands, cultural dance performances, a child’s craft area plus, cultural food and craft vendors – Ocala

Ocala Scottish Highland Games and Celtic Festival: 10-5PM – Come experience the sights and sounds of Scottish and Irish heritage. – Silver Springs Theme Park in Ocala

Weekend of October 14th -16th

5th Avenue Paint Out: Saturday, 9-4PM Local plein air artists will be invited to capture the essence of this historic African-American neighborhood in paint and canvas plus children’s art activities. – Gainesville

Alligator Warrior Festival: Friday – Sunday 9-5PM – reenactment, a Native American festival with music and dancing, living-history camps, demonstrators of historic skills, traders, craftspeople, and food vendors. – High Springs

Cedar Key Seafood Festival: Saturday and Sunday 9-5PM – 200 arts and crafts exhibits, great local seafood , musical entertainment and parade. – Cedar Key

Newberry Fall Market Festival: Saturday and Sunday 9-3PM – arts adn crafts, vendors, kid-friendly activities. – Newberry

Weekend of October 21st – 23rd

Haile Oktoberfest: Friday, 5-11PM –  live bands, a performance from the Cameron Dance Studio students, plus there is always beer, bratwurst, strudel, pretzels and other German foods plus kids activities. – Haile Village Center in Gainesville

Butterflyfest: Saturday and Sunday 10-5PM – fun and educational activities, including take-away crafts for children, informative workshops, and presentations on conservation and attracting butterflies and other pollinators. – Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville

Fine Arts for Ocala Festival: Saturday and Sunday, 10-5PM – local children’s art and entertainment groups as well as children’s art classes and professional entertainment. Free Childrens activities and workshops.  – Ocala

Heart of Asia Festival: Saturday and Sunday, 12-6PM – highlights the rich arts, cultures, and traditions of the Asian continent.  dine on a variety of Asian foods and visit the numerous booths that will feature Asian arts, crafts and information about Asian cultural organizations. – Thomas Center in Gainesville

McIntosh 1890’s Festival: Saturday, 8-5PM – Residents of the small town, welcome visitors to the very popular arts and crafts festival dressed in 1890s clothing.   – McIntosh

Pumpkin Fest at Big Shoals Park: Saturday 3:30 -7:15PM – This one-day annual event invites participants to enter two different contests the whole family can enjoy. – White Springs

Weekend of October 28th – 30th

High Springs Fall Festival: Saturday, 10-4PM – vendors, food and arts and arts and crafts – High Springs

Lubee Bat Festival: Saturday, 10-4PM –  a one-day educational event for families and folks of all ages, which includes a tour of Lubee Bat Conservancy, bat arts and crafts, family activities and vendors. – North Gainesville

Weekend of November 4th – 6th

Alachua Harvest Festival: Sunday, 11-5PM- arts and crafts vendors, food, live entertainment, and free hands-on children’s activties. – Alachua

Liberty Fest: Sunday, 1-6PM – a patriotic family event in celebration of Veterans Day, motorcycle show, car show, races, food, children’s activities, facepainting, music and more. – Santa Fe College in Gainesville

Weekend of November 11th -13th

Downtown Festival and Art Show: Saturday and Sunday 9-4PM An outdoor street festival showcasing the works of over 250 of the nation’s most talented artists plus a Children’s “Imagination Station,”  includes activities for kids like sidewalk chalk murals, book-making, or mask designs.- Downtown Gainesville

Weekend of November 19th -21st

Cross Creek Festival: Saturday 9-4PM – Delicious Florida Foods, Bake Sale, Arts and Craft Vendors, Entertainment for the Whole Family. Old Time Activities (story telling, turkey shoot, etc.) – Cross Creek

For a more comprehensive and up to date list of Festivals please click on the following link:


“An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded. ”     Pope John Paul II

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this.  Well I have both good news and bad news.  First for the bad news.  If you decide to go the route of permitting something that has already been built, you will pay double for the permit, compared to what you would have paid in the first place.  Then you will have to hire a contractor to draw plans, do the engineering and have everything inspected.  If your addition has electricity and plumbing – and most do – you will need to remove a section of the wall to enable the electric and plumbing to be inspected.

On the other hand, let’s say for instance you hired a contractor to build your addition and later on you find out he never obtained a permit – what can you do?  You should start by contacting that contractor and requesting that he file the permits.  If he refuses, you should call the DBPR (Department of Business and Professional Regulation) in your state and file a complaint against the contractor.  This should get his attention rather quickly.

Let’s say for instance you finished off a part of your attic, which already had electric, just so you could have some extra space for storage or a place for the kids to hang out in.  All you did was hang some sheet rock, install a floor and paint. You still should have obtained a permit, but now your selling and don’t have the time to go through all that. Now for the good news: You will need to disclose the remodel on the seller’s disclosure and to you agent.  The buyers can then decide to purchase the home in spite of the addition not being permitted, taking the risk of an un-permitted addition on themselves.



“Ask, and it shall be given unto you.”  –  Jesus Christ

There’s nothing more frustrating to a ready, willing, and seemingly able buyer than to lose an offer to another buyer — especially since the seller was not specific (down to the letter) about what he expected to receive.

Sure, there’s the list price; but in today’s fast-paced market, a buyer/ prospect may offer thousands more than the list price and STILL not be the lucky buyer who gets the property!

That’s why sellers should be as specific as possible with buyers in what they want to receive and achieve in a successful offer.

Let’s tackle the major elements the seller should be prepared to address with serious buyers. I suggest that sellers (or their real estate agent) prepare a “Suggested Contract Requirement” sheet to give to buyers, outlining what they expect in the following:

Loan pre-approval
By now, it should go without saying that buyers without loan pre-approval shouldn’t be competing in the current market; but sadly, some are. That’s why it’s important for the seller to specify that buyers be pre-approved for loans ample enough to fund the purchase price, AND detail the type of loan and respective costs (if any) the seller would cover.

For example, a buyer might claim to be pre-approved for a mortgage of “x” amount. What she fails to disclose, however, is that it’s Veteran’s Administration (VA) financing and she expects the seller to cover her two discount points. On a $140,000 sales price (with zero down) that’s a hefty $2,800 for the seller.
Or what about the buyer who claims to have “cash” coming to him to fund the purchase (often coming from proceeds of an estate or settlement of a law suit.) The buyer’s funds are delayed. In order to close the sale, he must borrow the money, causing the seller a three-week delay in accessing his proceeds. Verifying the buyer’s funding (which is tougher to do in a “cash” sale) is vital for sidestepping potential delays for the seller.

Earnest Money
In the old, slower school of home buying a decade or more ago, buyers would offer a meager amount of earnest money or even a post-dated check with the idea that they could always up the ante if need be. In today’s market, more (rather than less) earnest money is advised in most situations. Not only does it subtly signify to the seller how financially motivated a buyer is, but can serve as a buyer’s first (and often only) shot at a strong first impression to the seller.
By letting prospective buyers know (in writing on the “Suggested Contract Requirement” sheet) the minimum amount of earnest money the seller is seeking, it places a strong buyer on equal footing with competitors. It also gives a heads-up that if you want a stronger foothold with the seller in this area, exceeding the suggested minimum amount is certainly in order! If a buyer structures an offer to include minimal contingencies like obtaining financing in a certain amount and the property appraising for at least the sales price, etc., earnest money would be at little risk of loss.

And what about contingencies? Should a seller require that buyers make all offers free of positively all contingencies if they’re serious about the property? Hardly. But keeping contingencies to a minimum (as we’ll see in Part II of this article) definitely gives buyers an added advantage over their competition and results in a smoother sale for you as a seller.

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