Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 96

Budget Breakdown For Your Kitchen Remodel

by Lisa Castanet
























Thinking about remodeling your kitchen? Here's how the pros say you're likely to earmark your money. According to Florida Realtors and sources from National Kitchen and Bath Association.

  • Cabinetry & Hardware - 29%
  • Installation - 17%
  • Appliances & Ventilation - 14%
  • Countertops - 10%
  • Flooring - 7%
  • Lighting - 5%
  • Walls & Ceiling - 5%
  • Design - 4%
  • Doors & Windows - 4%
  • Faucets & Plumbing - 4%
  • Other - 1%


Common Expenses for New Home Buyers

by Lisa Castanet























When considering buying a home, think about these common expenses for new home buyers. Courtesy of Florida Realtors with sources from

  • $635 for bedroom furnishings
  • $575 for washer and dryer
  • $215 for window covers
  • $300 for computer system
  • $724 for sofa
  • $1,704 for other appliances
  • $1,172 for other furnishings
  • $270 for a new fence
  • $687 living room chairs and tables
  • $345 for dining room furniture and kitchen furniture
  • $2,106 for outside addition or alterations
  • $150 for new plumbing fixtures
  • $515 for lawnmowers and yard equipment
  • $1,203 other upgrades and repairs


How to Save for Your First Home

by Lisa Castanet

























Want to buy your first home but need help coming up with the down payment? Consider these tips to set you on the right path. Florida Realtors, sources,, The Motley Fool and resources, have provided ideas on how to save for your first home.

  1. Figure out what you can afford. Be realistic and factor in the monthly costs for repairs, property taxes and more you'll face as a homeowner.
  2. Talk to your Realtor about special financing programs. Many programs for first-timers offer lower down payments and/or provide down-payment assistance.
  3. Based on your research, determine how much you'll need to save. Include closing costs in the figure.
  4. Create a timeline for buying a home and then a budget to get you to your goal.
  5. Pay off credit cards, auto loans and any personal loans. This will make it easier to get a mortgage at a lower rate.
  6. Pay your down-payment fund first. Start a separate home-buying account and set up an automated transfer that moves a portion of each paycheck there as soon as the check is deposited.
  7. Look for creative ways to save faster. Cut back on luxuries and other costs where you can. Put windfalls, such as tax refunds, into your home-buying account. Consider working a part-time job.

What to ask when choosing a lender

by Lisa Castanet


























Did you ever wonder what to ask when choosing a lender?  Unless you are paying cash, you will need to obtain a loan (financing) in order to purchase your home. Here are some questions provided by Florida Realtors with sources National Association of Realtors and to consider asking your loan officer.

1. What are the most popular mortgages you offer? Why are they so popular?
2. What fees are included in a loan; and what fees will be due at closing?
3. Are your rates, terms, fees and closing costs negotiable?
4. Do you offer discounts for inspections, home ownership classes or setting up automatic payments?
5. Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance? If so, how much will it costs and how long will it be required?
6. What are your escrow requirements?
7. What bill-pay options do you offer?
8. What would be included in my mortgage payment (homeowners insurance, property taxes, etc.)?
9. Which type of mortgage plan would you recommend for my situation?
10. Who will service this loan - your bank or another company?
11. How long will the rate on this loan be locked-in? Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if the market rate drops during the lock-in period?
12. How long will the loan approval process take?
13. How long will it take to close the loan?
14. Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying this loan?
15. How much in total will I be paying over the life of this loan?

Secrets For A Stress-Free Home Purchase

by Lisa Castanet

What Are Closing Costs?

by Lisa Castanet

Are you thinking about buying a home? One of the details in the home buying process is qualifying for a home loan. There are certain costs involved with obtaining a mortgage called closing costs. What are closing costs? 

We have spelled it out below for you.....



















  • Origination Fee - Payment to lender to evaluate your credit, underwrite and process loan.
  • Discount Points - Paid to a lender at closing to reduce interest rate over the life of the mortgage.
  • PMI or Mortgage Insurance - Required if your down payment is less than 20%. Protects the lender if you default on your loan.
  • Appraisal Fee - Paid to appraiser to confirm the home's fair market value.
  • Title Search - Covers the costs to confirm the seller own's the property and it is free from liens.
  • Title Insurance - Protects the lender and you (if you request policy coverage) if a title claim surfaces in the future.
  • Termite Inspection Fee - Inspection is required to certify the home is free of termite damage or infestation.
  • Survey Fee - Charge to verify property boundaries.
  • Flood Certification Fee - Covers the cost to determine if home is in federally designated flood zone. If it is, the lender will require you to purchase flood insurance. Some lenders also charge a separate flood monitoring fee to check for flood map updates.
  • Prepaid Interest - Covers any mortgage interest due between the date of closing and your first mortgage payment.
  • Prorated Property Taxes - Covers property taxes from the date of closing to the end of the year.
  • Homeowner's Insurance - Typically, you will pay the full first year policy cost upfront at closing.
  • Homeowner's Association Transfer Fee - Paid on properties located in a community with a homeowners association to transfer ownership documents to you, as the new owner.
  • Initial Escrow - Lender may require the first two months of next year's homeowner's insurance, flood insurance and property taxes to build up a reserve balance in your escrow account.
  • Closing or Settlement Fee - Paid to the title company, attorney or escrow company that conducts the closing.
  • Recording Fee - Paid to the state or county to record the transfer of property from one owner to another in public records.
  • Transfer Tax - Also known as Documentary Stamps, paid to the state or county based on the amount of the mortgage. This fee is charged when a property changes ownership.

We hope this helps explain and answer your question....What Are Closing Costs?

Our Realtors can help you purchase a home. Call or text us today! Lisa Castanet 863-838-1318, Deane Hart 863-860-4257, Joe Baker 863-409-2293, Ed Phelps 863-640-2320, Andy Hernandez 863-838-6736 or Valerie Castanet 863-640-6103

Buying A Home in Central Florida 101

by Lisa Castanet

Buying A Home in Central Florida 101

Our Realtors can help you purchase your dream home, Call or Text us directly...

Deane Hart, Broker Associate 863-860-4257    Joe Baker, Realtor Associate 863-409-2293

Andy Hernandez, Broker Associate 863-838-6736    Ed Phelps, Realtor Associate 863-640-2320

Lisa Castanet, Broker/Owner 863-838-1318    Valerie Castanet, Realtor Associate 863-640-6103

Search our website for homes here - My Home Search

Protecting Your Identity When Buying a Home

by Lisa Castanet

Protecting your identity when buyer a home. Here are some ideas, courtesy of Florida Realtors.
























Thieves are using ever-more sophisticated scams to steal your identity and, ultimately, your down payment. To help protect yourself, consider theses suggestions:

  • Install malware protection software on your computer to help block online attacks.
  • Create strong passwords for your computer and smart devices and change them regularly.
  • Add lock-out software that blocks access to your computer when you're not using it.
  • Never access or send financial or personal information when connected to a free Wi-Fi hub or charging stations.
  • Seek referrals before choosing a lender. And never send sensitive information without first meeting the lender in person.
  • Never open suspicious emails or attachments, even if they appear to be from your lender or RealtorR. 
  • Use caution if posting information about your purchase on social media, where it can be mined by scammers.
  • Never email sensitive information. Instead, send it by courier, drop off the documents in person or use a secure, encrypted document-sharing platform.
  • Ask your Realtor and lender who will have access to your personal information and how it will be disposed of if it's not needed when your transaction is complete. Will it be shredded or stored in a secure location?
  • Work only with a lender who uses dual controls on sire transfers so no money can be moved until two employees independently approve the transfer.
  • Never wire funds until you have phoned a trusted source to confirm that all the information in the wiring instructions is accurate.
  • Always be on the lookout for scams and impersonators.

Sources: Florida Realtors, Federal Trade Commission, National Association of Realtors.






Guide to Securing a Smart Home

by Lisa Castanet

Here is a guide to securing a smart home, courtesy of Florida Realtors.























When a home filled with smart devices changes hands, it can create security risks for sellers and buyers. To help protect yourself, consider the following steps.


  1. Make a list of all smart devices that will stay after the sale, including locks, lighting, thermostats, alarms, streaming video players, modems and Wi-Fi repeaters.
  2. Immediately before closing, reset all devices to factory defaults to wipe away email addresses, credit card numbers and other personal data.
  3. If a device is tied to a personal email, create a free, generic email address (ex. and connect the device to that.
  4. At closing, pass the generic email address and other smart home codes to buyers.


  1. Ask sellers for manuals and manufacturer contact information for all smart devices.
  2. Notify manufacturers of change of ownership and provide new contact information so they can send you updates and security patches.
  3. Update all devices to the latest security software and firmware.
  4. Change passwords and user names of the devices.
  5. Change access codes for door locks, gates and garage door openers.


  1. Include an inventory of smart home devices in the contract to make sure all parties understand what will transfer with the sale.
  2. Make a smart home device reset part of the seller's transaction checklist.

Sources: Online Trust Alliance, National Association of Realtors

18 Tips To Protect Your New Home

by Lisa Castanet

Here are 18 tips to protect your new home courtesy of Florida Realtors.





















Fire Protection

  1. Install smoke/carbon monoxide alarms on every level. Test monthly and replace batteries each year.
  2. Buy an ABC multipurpose fire extinguisher for the kitchen, where half of all fires occur. Check pressure annually.
  3. Plug major appliances into wall outlets, not extension cords, which can overheat.
  4. Create escape plans for all rooms and place escape ladders in upstairs bedrooms.

Burglary Protection

  1. Change locks on exterior doors and confirm that all doors and windows lock securely.
  2. Add security bars to sliding glass doors.
  3. Trim shrubs near home to reduce spots where burglars might hide.
  4. Install motion-detector lighting to illuminate dark areas.
  5. Consider adding a home alarm system.

Flood Protection

  1. Place wireless water alarms under washing machine and sinks.
  2. Install flood-safe hoses on washing machine.
  3. When leaving on trips, turn off water at main valve to prevent floods.
  4. Confirm that homeowner's insurance covers water and mold damage due to leaks and sewer backups. Some policies don't.

Storm Protection

  1. Trim trees and shrubs so weakened branches won't fall on home or be propelled into windows by high winds.
  2. Install downspout extensions to carry heavy rains away from the foundation.
  3. If you evacuate when a dangerous storm hits, turn off utilities to deter flooding and fires. (

Wear and Tear Protection

  1. Inspect inside and outside of home monthly for signs of damage.
  2. Repair/replace broken items before small problems become serious ones.

Sources: Red Cross,, House Logic,







Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 96

Contact Information

Photo of Native Palm Team Real Estate
Native Palm Team
Native Palm Properties
5925 Imperial Pkwy, Suite #111
Mulberry FL 33860
Fax: (863)701-8309