Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 12

National Flood Insurance Program

by Lisa Castanet

We found some very helpful information about changes in the national flood insurance program.  The information is provided by the Florida Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.  You may appreciate this information as it relates to your home and business.

The video below will give you a historical perspective of the national flood insurance program and the recent changes known as the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The video is just under 20 minutes in length.

We have also provided a link to a brochure provide by the National Association of Realtors regarding questions you should ask your insurance provider entitled Protect Your Home.

We hope you find this helpful in understanding the changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.

The Reserve at Fairway Oaks

by Lisa Castanet

The Reserve at Fairway Oaks Community Details

Gated Community

Lakefront and conservation home sites available.
Price: From the $160,000s preserve views; From the $180,000s lakefront
New Construction
Bedrooms: 3-5
Bathrooms: 2-3
Square Footage: 1469 to 2487

Call Our Office at 863-647-1679 to schedule your private viewing of this community.

You Will Love the Views at The Reserve at Fairway Oaks

Wonderful opportunity to build a brand new home in lovely, gated Fairway Oaks within Imperial Lakes Golf Community.  Highland Homes is the builder and construction is just beginning in this new phase of Fairway Oaks called The Reserve which was developed a few years ago.  Home sites on the conservation side are approximately 71 feet wide by 125 feet deep and on lakefront range from 61 feet wide by 170 to 200 feet deep.  There are so many species of birds, reptiles and animals to enjoy watching and the neighborhood offers such a restful setting. 

Energy Saving Features

One of the benefits of new home construction are the many energy saving features offered in the homes.  Homes built in The Reserve at Fairway oaks have 14 SEER heat pump, programmable thermostat, Low E, Double Pane Windows, R-30 insulation in living area ceilings and Whirlpool brand energy saving appliances in the kitchen.  You can also customize your home with additional energy efficient features such as insulated foam cement block exterior walls, radiant barrier reflective roof decking under shingles and upgraded appliance packages.

 Kitchen Perfect for Entertaining

There are many luxury kitchen upgrades to customize your beautiful home including granite counter tops, solid surface under mount sink, Delta brand stainless steel faucet, wood cabinets, cabinet crown moulding, cabinet hardware, upgraded  light packages, tile or wood flooring.  The sky is the limit when you visit the design center and choose your favorite finishes with the builder’s interior designers.

Living In The Reserve at Imperial Lakes Mulberry

The best thing about living near Lakeland and in the Imperial Lakes community is the location.  Centrally located off the Interstate-4 corridor and many other intrastate roadways offer a resident or vacation guest many entertainment and day travel destinations.  We are 35 minutes from downtown Tampa, 45 minutes from Disney, Universal, Sea World, Legoland and other area attractions. Imperial Lakes is within an 1 hour drive to Orlando and 90 minutes drive to area beaches.  There are many shopping centers around the area including Lakeland's Lakeside Village Mall, North Lakeland Mall, Tampa's Westshoreand International Mall, Westfield Mall in Brandon, Orlando's Millenia Mall and dozens of outlet shopping centers.

Adventure seekers can spend their days and weekends at a variety of museums, local and state recreation and water parks.  If you love wildlife, then you will fall in love with all the beautiful and unique animals that live in Florida. Where else can you see Alligators, snakes, frogs and toads, lizards, fish, freshwater and sea turtles, sea gulls, eagles and hawks, Sand Hill Cranes, Great Blue Herons and dozens of other species that live here.

The Reserve at Fairway Oaks  in Imperial Lakes Golf Community is a great place to call home. You will not be disappointed if you end up living here. There are only 17 home sites left to build on so the time in NOW.  Call us today to schedule your shopping trip at 863-647-1679!  You can see all available Imperial Lakes condos and homes for sale on my website.


Early Termination

by Lisa Castanet

I am often asked about what happens when a tenant does not remain for the whole lease term and instead gives early termination notice to a landlord.  In 2010, the Florida Association of Realtors/Florida Bar Association created an addendum to the annual lease agreement called the Early Termination Fee/Liquidated Damages Addendum (form RLAUC-1).

Prior to this addendum there were really only two options for a landlord to exercise if a tenant broke the lease term.  That was to do nothing or to decide to file in small claims court against the tenant which can be time consuming and requires court filing fees.

The annual lease agreement between landlord and tenant is written for a 12 month period and a total sum of money is owed from the tenant to the landlord.  The total sum is then broken down into monthly installments.  For example, a rental rate of $1,000 for a rental property would have a lease agreement for a total sum due the landlord of $12,000.00 for the annual lease term.  The lease would then state that the total sum due of $12,000.00 which is broken down into 12 monthly installments of $1,000.00 each.

If the tenant gave an early termination notice during this annual lease period in the 3rd month of the lease term then they would have an obligation to pay the landlord the remaining sum of $9000.00.  However, in the real world it is rare that a tenant would actually pay this amount.  And often the landlord does not want to pursue a judgment against a tenant due to filing costs and time involved.  In addition, assuming a landlord would win a judgment in court then there is no guarantee that the tenant would pay that judgment amount.

Apartment complexes have had policies to address early termination for many years. The consequences of not paying the termination fees as required may include a negative report to the credit reporting agencies.

This addendum states specifically that both parties either agree to go to court OR that the tenant will be charged and would owe a fee up to an amount equal to 2 months of rent should they break the lease term.

A tenant can still be non-cooperative if they choose. However, we have been using this notice since it’s inception in 2010 and it has definitely been helpful to specifically address that there will be a fee charged to the tenant should they terminate the annual lease term early.

Low Credit Score

by Lisa Castanet

I recently read a Q&A article regarding rental properties.  The owner of a rental property asked if a low credit score was enough reason to decline a tenant applicant.

This is an interesting question and I thought about the many applicants we have seen in the past several years that were honest and disclosed that their report would probably come back showing a low credit score.  Many families have experienced financial difficulties such as bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sales on their homes and health related  issues which have negatively effected their credit scores. In fact, I think we have only seen three applications which have been above a 700 credit score in the past five years.

The tenant screening process contains several different elements including a background, criminal and eviction check.  The eviction check will screen court records and report if the tenant applicant has ever had an eviction filed against them.  We also verify employment and confirm the ratio between their proposed rental payment and their gross monthly income.  Another critical component in our application screening is to verify a tenant’s previous rental history with the former landlord(s).

The entire screening process and pieces of information are so important to review with rental property owners.   Positive reports and reviews can offset a low credit score in many cases. It can be better to leave a rental property vacant for a few extra weeks then to spend months evicting a bad tenant.

Once we have the home rented then it is equally important for owners to maintain the property and respond quickly to maintenance calls.  When we receive maintenance requests from tenants then we manage the communication between tenants and owners and schedule vendors as needed.  By showing a tenant that you care about the house then they will most likely take better care of it too.

We like to describe the tenant screening process to both owners and tenant applicants so they know what to expect.  We obtain the complete screening package and review the information with the owner.  Positive information and the tenant’s complete explanation can certainly offset a low credit score in most cases. 

Polk County September Market Updates

by Lisa Castanet

Here are the latest Polk County September Market Updates

Get all the latest September data for your market area all over Polk County.  Check out the latest analysis for Lakeland FL, Mulberry FL, Auburndale FL, Bartow FL, Winter Haven FL or Plant City, Haines City and surrounding areas.

You can even look at your specific zip code within each of these cities.  All market data is updated in real time on the 15th of each month for the previous month's reports. The data is from My Florida Regional multiple listing service powered by Real Estate Business Intelligence and provided as a courtesy to by Native Palm Properties.

So check Polk County September Market Updates and check back each month for you zip code information.


Turn Your Home Into A Rental Property, part two

by Lisa Castanet

You are thinking about the possibility to turn your home into a rental property.  We have mentioned previously that current local market conditions are improving and that values in our area are also increasing.

I would recommend that you should be current on your mortgage payments, property taxes, home owners insurance and home owners association dues, if applicable.  Then the following questions can be asked when you talk with potential property mangers:

  • Ask the company to outline how they market their rental properties.
  • Have them describe the screening process for potential tenants.
  • Ask them to explain their management terms and fees, discuss any contracts or forms used.
  • What kind of accounting system do they use for their rental escrow account?
  • Will they share with you exactly what makes their company outstanding?
  • Does the management company view their properties on a regular schedule?
  • Is there an initial walk through with tenants prior to move-in day or final inspection prior to the tenant moving out?
  • Do they employ a full-time maintenance coordinator and how does the maintenance process work?
  • How many properties do they manage and how big is their staff to manage these properties?
  • Can they provide customer testimonials?
  • Are they a member of any trade organizations?

A little up front investigation and homework can help you turn your home into a rental property. Then your family can rest assured and continue with your life’s plan. For more information, please feel free to call our office and speak to one of our agents today at 863-647-1679. 


Turn Your Home Into A Rental Property

by Lisa Castanet

Have you wondered if you should turn your home into a rental property?  The Lakeland market has been inundated with short sales and bank owned (REO) properties since 2007.  Some owners have felt their choices were limited due to these depressed market conditions.  However, in 2013, a large number of investors have been purchasing homes as rental properties.  If you want to move on, transfer jobs or need more space then I suggest you too can turn your home into a rental property.

 I think you can hold onto your home another 3 to 5 years before selling it and the market conditions will continue to improve. That would allow you to move on and continue to live your LIFE!  You can expand or downsize your home according to your family’s needs and move within town or even relocate for change in employment. Lakeland may have been hit by the “bust” but we have fared better than other parts of the State and our real estate market is showing signs of recovery.

If you have never owned rental property it can be very confusing and quite time consuming.  Property managers must know the Florida Landlord/Tenant Act. The law is cumbersome and the State requires the Landlord to handle issues regarding security deposits, maintenance and evictions in a very specific manner. Many property owners may not be aware of their obligations regarding tenant relations.

Property Management is a specialty within the real estate community that requires expertise and knowledge of legal requirements.  A property that is managed properly can turn a home into a good real estate investment for the owner. The old adage still remains true, real estate ownership is a key factor in building real wealth in your lifetime. Our market conditions are improving and should continue over the next few years. Follow the trend of the large investment firms that are purchasing homes as rentals in the central Florida market.  They have purchased thousands of homes as rental properties in the I-4 corridor.  In fact, a friend in Pensacola sent a recent article from their local newspaper that list Lakeland as one of the hottest markets for investors this year.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog post "Turn Your Home Into A Rental Property" later this week.  We are here to help with all your real estate needs so call our office 863-647-1679.

Community Open House

by Lisa Castanet

We would like to announce our community open house this Sunday from 1pm to 3pm at Fairway Oaks neighborhood within Imperial Lakes Golf community. The gate will be open during these hours and we will have directional signs to guide you to each home.

We have four houses that are available for sale and will be open for viewing on Sunday between 1pm to 3pm; perhaps longer if we have a good crowd turn out.  Our Realtors will be available to answer your questions and we will also have one of our lenders, Jerry Moore, with Premier Home Mortgage available to answer your finance questions.  We look forward to seeing you Sunday!


4387 Winding Oaks Circle, Mulberry FL (Furniture included if you wish)


4426 Winding Oaks Circle, Mulberry FL


4462 Hidden Pine Court, Mulberry FL


4356 Winding Oaks Circle, Mulberry FL



USDA Financing

by Lisa Castanet

Thanks to selective closing of government services the USDA financing program is currently unavailable to buyers.  Their website simply says they are closed.

                           USDA website

USDA financing is specific to geographic areas and offers a 100% financing for buyers who purchase a home within the territories that USDA has mapped out in Polk County. There are other guidelines to meet in order to obtain this finance program and a buyer’s loan approval package has to be sent from their lender to the USDA department for approval.

I would highly recommend that any current buyers whose loan files have not already been sent to USDA for approval consider other financing options.  You can talk to your lender and evaluate what other types of financing you may qualify for at this time.  Waiting on USDA financing to become available again could delay your purchase for weeks, if not months due to the backlog of files that were in review or which have not yet been submitted for review.

There are other good programs available such as FHA financing or other local programs through your County agencies that may be available to you as an alternative to USDA financing.

Ask your real estate agent and talk with your lender today so you can close on your new home without delay.

Moving Checklist for Sellers

by Lisa Castanet

Ok, so we have a contract offer which was accepted and now we are waiting for the closing day.   Perhaps a helpful moving checklist for sellers would be helpful to you.....

  • Provide the post office with your forwarding address two to four weeks ahead of the move.
  • Notify your credit card companies, subscriptions, and bank of your change of address.
  • Create a list of friends, relatives and colleagues who need to be notified about your move.
  • Arrange to disconnect utilities and have them connected at your new home.
  • Cancel the newspaper, or change the address so it will arrive at your new home.
  • Check insurance coverage for moving. Usually movers only cover what they pack.
  • Clean out appliances and prepare them for moving, if applicable
  • Note the weight of the goods you’ll have moved, since long-distance moves are usually billed according to weight. Watch for movers that use excessive padding to add weight.
  • Have a “first open” box with the things you’ll need most, such as toilet paper, soap, trash bags, scissors, hammer, screwdriver, pencils and paper, cups and plates, water, snacks, and toothpaste.  Don’t forget the coffee or tea for the first morning in your new home.

Plus, if you’re moving out of town, be sure to:

  • Get copies of medical and dental records and prescriptions for your family and your pets.
  • Get copies of children’s school records for transfer.
  • Ask friends for introductions to anyone they know in your new neighborhood.
  • Consider special car needs for pets when traveling.
  • Let a friend or relative know your route.
  • Empty your safety deposit box.
  • Put plants in boxes with holes for air circulation if you’re moving in cold weather.

What other things can you think of that should be added to this moving checklist for sellers?  Let us know your thoughts.  Do you have friends or relatives moving into or out of our local area?  Share this list with them as it may be helpful and moving can be so stressful.  We are here to help you when you need to sell your home.  Give us a call at 863-647-1679.


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 12

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