Excellent advice-stride for the perfect blend of form, function, and meaning when remodeling.

Growing up, I always wished I had an older brother or sister who could tell me what was cool. Back in the day, I wanted someone to explain which bands were awesome and which ones were “posers,” as was the vernacular at the time. Now that I’m about to purchase my first home, there’s a part of me that wishes I had an older sibling who was working on making their second or third house a home. What disastrous remodeling project would s/he warn me against? Is my DIY idea going to be a homey improvement, or cheesy and impossible to resell? Is wallpaper a natty way to dress up a nook, or is it a literal pain in the neck that will be outdated by the time I’m done Instagramming it?

Sure, there’s Pinterest and Houzz and a million other home improvement blogs I could consult with my specific design queries. But what if I want to have a conversation? What if I wanted to page through the potential of my new home, room by empty room?

Sherry and John Petersik. (©Todd Wright)

Well, I’ve decided on adopting Sherry and John Petersik as my know-it-all older sibs.* Not that they’re arrogant (quite the opposite really) but they have much more experience than I do at this sort of thing; they have three home purchases and countless upgrade projects under their collective belt. The couple started blogging about their home adventures some seven years ago, and continue to do so at Young House Love. Now they’re on their second book (Lovable, Liveable Home: How to Add Beauty, Get Organized, and Make Your House Work for You, due out from Artisan publishing on Sept. 22) and reading it, I can guess how the first one found its way onto the New York Times Bestseller list. Their advice is eminently approachable and chic while always keeping cost considerations as part of the conversation. Among their own step-by-step project instructions and case studies from home owners around the world who conquered their own design issues, they sprinkle in snarky asides from their dog, Burger, poll results of their sizable readership on trends and common home conundrums, and realistic but flexible rules you might glean from an interior design class.

Burger the dog (from Lovable, Livable Home).

My favorite part is the Petersik’s approach to infusing personality in one’s home. Because, please: Who wants to actually live in Martha Stewart’s house? No thanks. Instead, the guiding principle of their advice is to try for the perfect blend of form, function, and meaning. Having the most efficient, workable house (function) is no better than having the most beautiful one (form). Then again, no one picks up a home design book with the intention of wallpapering the whole place with their children’s amateur artwork (meaning). The key, say the Petersiks, is to marry these three ideas as best you can in each project.

Above all, this is a practical read. The Petersiks include considerations for families in all stages of development and often make note of the most durable, easy-to-keep-nice options available to each project. They’re keen on helping home owners make a good use of the space they have (whether that’s too much or too little).

I’ve been trying to read it slowly, because we haven’t moved in yet and I think it’ll be more useful when I’m actually in our new space (can you tell I’m counting the days?) But I can’t put it down, so I guess I’ll be reading it twice. It’s the most addictive home design guide for new-ish, young-ish home owners I think I’ve ever come across, and I highly recommend it as a closing gift, or even a staple in your office. Because we all need a big brother or sister’s advice from time to time.

*I should mention here that I draw plenty of inspiration from my little brother and sister-in-law’s adorable home in Minneapolis and my husband’s brother and sister-in-law’s super cute Salt Lake City home, and I wouldn’t give any of them up for the world!

Meg White

Meg White is the multimedia web producer for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine’s Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

Just in case, you are looking for something to do today, St Pete has a variety of events going on. These are just a few of the many things happening. Enjoy the calm before the storm.

Public Walking Mural Tour
Florida Craftsmen and the City Of St. Pete host walking mural tours of St Petersburg every Saturday. Tour begins at 10am and goes until 11:30am. $19 for adults, $11 for children and FREE for kids ages 5 and under. Tour begins at Florida Craftsmen at 501 Central Avenue.

Paint Your Dream, St. Pete! North Straub Park
Includes four group paint sessions where you work with a professional painter to paint collective visions for the city. The paintings will be judged by city officials.. Also paint individual paintings of iconic St Pete monuments—like Tropicana Field and the Pier. Proceeds raised through sponsorship will benefit Pinellas County Urban League. PCULYP will also be accepting school supply donations which will benefit students in the Urban League’s NULITES (National Urban League Incentives to Excel and Succeed) program. Noon-4pm. FREE event. North Straub Park, 400 Bayshore Drive Northeast.

M.C. Escher Exhibit @ The Dali Museum
This special exhibition will highlight M.C. Escher, a renowned 20th century artist, whose visual illusions puzzle and delight audiences worldwide, and is best known for his “impossible constructions” and use of tessellation. The exhibit will be on display through January 3. Open 10am-5:30pm daily, open until 8pm on Thursday. General admission is $24 for adults, $22 for seniors 65+, $17 for college students (with ID) and kids 13-17, $10 for children 6-12 and FREE for children 5 and under. $10 for adults and $8 for children after 5pm on Thursdays. The Dali Museum, 1 Dali Boulevard.

Dog Swim Day @ Fossil Park
Bring your dog to Fossil Park for a day of leash-free swim and play in the pool. TWO SESSIONS: 9-10:30am, 11am-12:30pm. $5 per dog per session. No humans permitted in pool. Fossil Park Pool, 6739 Dr. MLK Jr. Street North. 

Five Decades of Photography @ Museum Of Fine Arts
As part of their 50th Anniversary, the Museum of Fine Arts presents their newest exhibit which traces the history of photography,  June 20 through October 4.  Adults $17, Seniors and Military with ID $15, College Students $10, Child (7-18) $10, Child (6 and under) FREE. Open Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sunday 12-5pm; open until 8pm on Thursdays ($5 admission after 5pm).  255 Beach Drive Northeast.

Free Dali Museum Events:
DillyDally with Dali 
Children can discover the creative world of Dali through games, puzzles and arts + crafts activities which educate and encourage family interaction. 11:45am-4:30pm.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Fury Watch Party @ Rowdies Den
Don’t miss the OFFICIAL Tampa Bay Rowdies Watch Party this Saturday at Rowdies Den. The Rowdies take on the Fury.. Game begins at 7pm. Rowdies Den, 200 1st Avenue South.

Live Music and Food Trucks @ 3 Daughters Brewing
Doyle’s Revenge will perform live at 3 Daughters this Saturday.  Cajun In A Truck will be on hand serving food. 8-11pm. No cover. 3 Daughters Brewing, 222 22nd Street South.

Tampa Bay Rays vs KC Royals (All Weekend)
Game begins at 6:10pm. Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive.

An Evening with the Mojo Gurus @ Palladium Theater
High energy 60′s rock and early roots rock. Show begins at 8pm. $10 in advance, $13 day of show.  253 5th Avenue North.

Our Pinellas Realtor® International Council’s Real Estate Trade Mission to Costa Rica in July of this year was a tremendous success !

The purpose of the trade mission was to show Realtors a variety of properties in variety of prices in about 2/3 of the country. We wanted them to have enough information that they could properly help buyers in not only purchasing properties but also inform them of the lifestyle, the infrastructure, the available health care, real estate laws, building costs and how to put together a team of the necessary support people that they would need, such as attorneys, notaries, title companies, etc. We wanted them to connect face to face with Realtors and developers in many parts of the country so they had reliable referral agents with which to work. We viewed properties ranging in price from $80,000. for small 1200 square foot mountain home to a $5.9 million mountaintop estate.

Visit our new website http://coastal.506.nu to view a variety of types of properties through out Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Website

These budget-friendly home improvements will help you enjoy your home more today — and sell it for the most value tomorrow.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

When it comes to home improvement, some dollars stretch more than others. And if you’re on a limited budget, it becomes even more important to spend those dollars wisely.

Here are eight affordable (under $5,000) home improvement projects that’ll help you enjoy your home more today and provide excellent financial return in the future.

1.  Add the Finishing Touch of Molding

Chair rail moldingImage: Crazy Wonderful

Decorative molding is a classic touch that’s been around since the ancient Greeks and Romans first installed it to add grandeur to their buildings.  Centuries later, molding is still one of the most dramatic ways to dress up a room. It’s a budget-friendly improvement that trims a room for a finished and expensive look.

Today’s wood moldings come in hundreds of options — from simple to ornate — that you can stain, paint, or leave natural. You can also find moldings in flexible materials, such as foam, that make installation a whole lot easier. Some moldings even include lighting that casts a soft, ambient glow.

Buyers consistently rank both crown molding and chair railing in their list of most desirable decorative features they seek in a home (#3 and #7 respectively), according to the annual National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey, “What Home Buyers Really Want.”

And at $1.50 per foot if you DIY it, or $8 per foot if you hire, it’s a no-brainer in terms of personalizing your home while adding value. (Although we don’t recommend DIY unless you’ve got above-par mitering skills.)

A few tips about molding:

  • Use crown molding to make a room seem bigger and taller. But be careful about proportions. If your ceiling height is 9 feet or less, go with simpler styles to avoid overwhelming the room.
  • Chair railing placed incorrectly can make a room seem out of proportion. Rule of thumb: Place chair railing at one-third the distance of the ceiling height.
  • Don’t forget entryways, doors, and windows: Bump up the trim around these areas to give rooms a completed and expensive feel.

Related: Stunning Transformations with Crown Molding

2.  Install Quality Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fan in nurseryImage: Kate from This American Wife

If crown molding and chair railing were #3 and #7 on buyers’ decorative wish lists, what was #1?

Ceiling fans.

Over the years, ceiling fans have become quite the crowd pleaser. Once they were just a cheap solution to rising energy costs — ugly, wobbly, noisy eyesores endured because they were cheaper than air conditioning.

Today, ceiling fans have evolved into an essential component of American homes as energy prices continue to rise. And since designs have caught up with the times, they come in a variety of styles and colors to complement any room.  If your ceiling fans are old and outdated, new ones (coupled with a fresh paint job and crown molding) could give your rooms a refreshing update while saving money.

Some tips about ceiling fans:

  • Ceiling fans should hang 7 to 8 feet above the floor. If you’ve got a low ceiling, buy a hugger ceiling fan that’s flush-mounted.
  • Size matters more than the number of fan blades. Go for the biggest Energy Star-rated fan that will fit the space.
  • Choose quality. You’ll get better cooling results, less noise, and good looks at a digestible price point of $200 to $600.

3.  Plant Some Trees

Apple tree in yardImage: M. Williams

Say what? Adding trees doesn’t instantly pop into your head when you think of adding value to your home. But trees are moneymakers that get better with age.

A mature tree could be worth between $1,000 to $10,000, says the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. A 16-inch silver maple could be worth $2,562, according to a formula worked out by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service.

In urban areas, money really does grow on trees. A recent study of home sales by the Pacific Northwest Research Station of Portland showed that street trees growing in front of or near a house boosted its sale price by an average of $8,870 and shaved two days off its time on the market.

There’s more. Trees also:

  • Save $100 to $250 annually in energy costs
  • Lower stress
  • Prevent erosion from downpours and roof runoff
  • Protect your home from wind, rain, and sun

But don’t just run out and plant trees willy-nilly. Here are some tips:

  • Follow the sun. Plant shade trees on the south side of the house where the sun beats strongest and longest.
  • Follow the wind. Plant windbreak trees, which can lower winter energy costs by 30%, on the north and northwest sides of your property.
  • Don’t plant too close. If you do, branches can scrape roofs and siding, causing expensive damage. Rule of thumb: Don’t plant trees any closer than the tree’s mature height plus one-fourth of that height. So, for example, if a tree reaches 40 feet, it should be planted at least 50 feet from any other trees.

4.  Install a Patio

Patio adds valueImage: Suzanne Davis at bebehblog

Patios are a great cost-effective way to increase your home’s living space without actually adding on. Plus you’ll recover 30% to 60% of your investment. A $2,000 patio would return around $900 at resale.

But don’t go crazy and trick out your patio with high-end amenities, like an outdoor kitchen — especially if you’d be the only one on the block with one. When it’s time to sell, you won’t get back much — if any — of your investment on kitchens and other high-end amenities. Instead, keep it simple and functional. (And, really, how often would you use an outdoor kitchen?)

Some wise advice when planning a patio:

  • Check property for slope, sun, and shade patterns.
  • Remember ‘dig alerts’ that utilities provide free of charge.
  • Don’t skimp on patio lighting. It can make all the difference in functionality and beautification.


5.  Pump Up Your Home Security

The peace of mind that comes with installing a home security system is priceless.

In reality, price varies. You can buy and install it yourself for $50 to $300, or a security company can sell and install a system from $0 to $1,500. The “zero” is the hook companies use to lure you into signing a multi-year monitoring contract that ranges from $95 to $480 per year.

If a monitored system suits your needs, you’ll also get a break on your home insurance. Most companies will discount your annual rate 15% to 20% if you have a security service.

Home security systems also make your home more marketable: 50% of homebuyers (in the NAHB survey) say a home security system — particularly security cameras — tops their list of most-wanted technology features.

You can go over the top and install high-tech security gadgets, like smartphone-operated locks and a laser trip wire. Or you can keep it simple with a keypad that communicates with sensors and motion detectors throughout your house.


  • If you do decide to go with a monitoring system, choose a company with a 10-year track record to ensure reliability.
  • Don’t rely on any system as your sole means of security. Locking doors and windows is still your best first-line of defense.

6.  Do Almost Any Energy-Efficient Upgrade

The value of energy-efficient houses just keeps going up and up. A UCLA study examined the sales prices of 1.6 million California homes from 2007 to 2012 and found that homes with Energy Star, LEED, or GreenPoint certification had, on average, a 9% higher price.

That finding is echoed in NAHB’s report that surveyed homebuyers across the nation: Nine out of 10 potential buyers would select an efficient home with lower utility bills over a less efficient home priced 2% to 3% less.

One energy-saving home improvement project that not only saves energy but gives you tons of enjoyment, too, is converting a wood-burning fireplace into a gas one. If you like to crunch energy numbers, gas fireplaces have energy-efficient ratings as high as 77%, compared with wood-burning fireplaces that convert only 15% of wood’s energy into useful heat.

In fact, 39% of homebuyers say a gas fireplace is an essential or desirable feature of the next home they purchase. So when it comes time to sell your home, more than one-third of potential buyers will be looking for a gas fireplace.

In the meantime, it’ll be paying for itself in reduced heating costs.

Some tips for converting to gas:

  • A direct-vent gas insert most closely replicates the wood-burning experience at a cost of about $3,000 to $4,000, installed.
  • If you don’t have an existing fireplace, you can install a direct-vent (vents directly outside so you don’t need a chimney) gas fireplace for about $5,000 (installed and finished).

7.  Add Some Creative Storage

We don’t have to sell you on the value of storage and built-in organization. Since when have you heard someone complain about too much storage? Never, we bet.

Adding storage is a no-brainer, but it does take a little brainpower to find your home’s hidden storage.

Here are a few ways to think outside of the toy box:

  • Open drywall to create storage cubbies between your wall’s studs.
  • Install platform storage that hangs from your garage ceiling.
  • Even stairs can give you more storage. One clever mom repurposed an old chest of drawers and created storage within a basement staircase.

8.  Light Up the Outdoors

Exterior lighting makes your home shine in the evening, accents features you like most about your house, and helps keep burglars away. A hard-wired lighting fixture can cost $150 to $250 to install. On the plus side, you could get a 50% return on your investment, says Judith Patriski, a Cleveland appraiser and REALTOR®. Installing motion-detecting lights can even lower some homeowners’ insurance premiums. (Check with your agent.)

And with technological advances in solar lighting, it’s easier and more cost-effective than ever to boost your home’s nighttime curb appeal.

Plus, 90% of buyers say outdoor lighting is on their list of desired home features.


  • Place accent lights under your favorite trees to show off your landscaping’s top earners.
  • If your lights are hard-wired, put them on a timer so you don’t waste energy running them during the day.
  • Choose a warm white light. It’ll make your home look and feel welcoming.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com

Please join us August 12th, 2015 from 3-4:30pm for the Pinellas International Marketing Session.

The event is FREE but you must register on the Pinellas Realtor Organization website.

Pinellas REALTOR® Organization | 4590 Ulmerton Rd. in Clearwater


Featured country – India

Featured speaker – Alex John Realtor®

Native of India where he was an engineer, Keller Williams Commercial Realtor Alex will report on his recent trip to India and share insights into real estate and business practice in his native country.

We welcome all Realtors® to join our National award winning Pinellas International Council (PIC) for just $25 annually. The goal of PIC is to acquaint members about currents events and issues that impact international business while providing

networking, marketing, educational and travel opportunities in order to enhance their success in conducting business

in a global real estate arena. Learn more about PIC by visiting our page on http://www.PinellasRealtor.org under “Business Specialties” or contact Chair, Martha Matthews Vasquez, martha@marthavasquez.com.

Hope to see you there!


StarGate Mansion or Estate.

This incredibly unique chic mansion on 4.5 acres has a 360 degrees view. The main house (10,000 sqft) has 5 bedrooms, 4 1/2 bathrooms, large living-areas, bar, gourmet-kitchen with breakfast-area, dining-room, TV room with fireplace, study and a library.


  • Fireplace(s)
  • Library
  • Office
  • Security System
  • Media Room / Home Theater
  • Staff Quarters
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Air Conditioning
  • 2 Car Garage
  • Garage – Attached
  • Hill / Mountain View
  • View

Aerial-556 aHome-Entrance---810 bBar--125 bSalon---142 bSalon---151 bSalon---161 bSalon-wide-view--78 cKitchen---746 cKitchen-valley-view---696 dTV-Room+view---191 eLibrary---783 fBathroom-MBR---596 fMaster-B-Room---573 fMaster-B-Room---577 nSWimming-Pool-+-House---625 nSWimming-Pool-+-House---628 nSwimming-Pool-view-621

Location Grecia Alajuela
Address: Grecia, Alajuela
Property ID: CVLH2014E3
Type: Single Home
Collection: Mountain Living
Category: Sale
Status: Available
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 4.5
Stories: 2
Lot Size: 18,150.80 m² – 195,373.58 Sq Ft.
For Sale: $ 2,500,000.00

Good article to read when purchasing a home:



The loan is approved, the contract is signed, the title is clean, the closing date is set, and everything seems on track to get that home.

And then some people do the unthinkable that costs them their dream home.

“I’ve had clients call me and say they’ve quit their job, or bought a new car,” just before close, says Mark Livingstone, a mortgage broker with Cornerstone First Financial in Washington, D.C. “All I can do is say, “What were you thinking? I’ve seen a number of deals fall through that way.”

Take, for example, the furniture store line of credit. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t making payments yet on the $10,000 of furniture you just bought, Wind says, because the bank assumes you’ll be making a monthly payment straight from the start, which will likely throw off your debt-to-income ratio. “All that installment debt goes on your credit before you make a payment,” he says. “Even if we find that there’s a deferment, we have to take that future payment into account.” (For the most part, most lenders say your total debt-to-income ratio can be no more than 43%, and prefer no more than 28% for your house payment portion.)

If you need new furniture to fill your house, consider renting for a few months. There’s often no hard credit check and given that your store-bought furniture will likely take several weeks or months to be delivered, and it can be a more cost-effective option.

Car leases can also trip up potential homebuyers, because the bank treats the lease payments like any other debt payment and the lease includes a hard credit check, says Sabine Schoenberg, a former realtor in Greenwich, Conn. who now runs SabinesHome.com, a real estate advice and home design website. Leases often require more cash at signing, which could be used for paying down credit cards or increasing your down payment. “Anything that might gobble up cash is money you should have in your account,” she says.

Even if you avoid the temptation to splurge before the close, another frequent hiccup occurs when home buyers switch jobs at the last minute, Wind says. “People think in their mind it doesn’t make a difference if it’s company A or company B or if I make $100,000 here, or $100,000 there, but the difference is we still have to validate all if it,” Wind said. “The risk you’re going to have is we’re going to have to call the old company if we find out you’re not there. It’s going to be an issue,” he said.

Wind says even if you leave a job for more money or even the same money, it may be difficult to get pay stubs at the last minute. “If you’re not talking to your lender it could delay your closing or put your deposit at risk,” he says.

Of course, scraping up the cash to ensure you can close is one of the hardest parts of the real estate transaction. Many buyers opt to borrow from their 401(k) accounts or withdraw from their IRAs. What you shouldn’t do, says Boneparth, is use cash advances from your credit cards to bring more cash to the table. Naturally you run up more debt, and you’re going to pay more interest on the cash advance (usually double digits and sometimes even higher than 20%).

It’s also important to let your lender know if you’re getting large deposits, such as gifts from family members or withdrawals from your IRA to help with the down payment, Wind adds. “Those are very easy things to explain, but we need to know where the cash is coming from and clearly document that it’s not a loan,” he says.

In June 2015, REALTORS® were by and large “strongly confident” about the outlook over the next six months compared to a year ago, according to the June 2015 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey Report.[1]

The maps show the REALTOR® Confidence Index Six-Month Outlook across property types by state.[2] In the case of single-family homes, all states registered an index greater than 50, which means that the number of respondents who had a “strong” outlook outnumbered those with “weak” outlook. Despite the drop in oil prices, the real estate market remained “very strong” in states with significant oil/shale industries such as North Dakota, Texas, Alaska, and Oklahoma where the indices were above 75.

In the case of townhomes and condominiums, the outlook over the next six months was “very strong” in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The outlook for home buying activity for condominiums and townhomes was “strong” in California, Oregon, and Washington where technology-related jobs have been growing robustly. REALTORS® continued to have “strong” outlook in Texas despite the slump in oil prices. In Virginia and West Virginia, the levels of confidence were broadly “moderate.” Among all property types, the condominium market is the weakest, with REALTORS® reporting about condominium financing issues for both FHA-insured and the GSE-backed loans.[3]

sf outlookth outlookcondo outlook

[1] Respondents were asked “What are your expectations for the housing market over the next six months compared to the current state of the market in the neighborhood(s) or area(s) where you make most of your sales?”

[2] The market outlook for each state is based on data for the last three months to increase the observations for each state. Small states such as AK, ND, SD, MT, VT, WY, WV, DE, and D.C. may have less than 30 observations.

[3] FHA and the GSEs have financing eligibility criteria  relating to ownership occupancy requirements, delinquent dues, project approval process, and use for commercial space. See the Statement of NAR Submitted for the Record to the Senate Committee Housing and Banking Affairs on December 9, 2014 at http://www.ksefocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/1/2180.pdf

One of the many gorgeous homes, I toured while in Costa Rica this month. Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing this fantastic home in the Grecia area of Costa Rica.

okProperty overview-0965
Details for Spectacular Mountain View Home
Bedrooms: 5 Full Baths: 5
Interior: 5,675 Sq Ft.
 Exterior: 1.9 Acres
Magical, tranquil and spacious hideaway estate with a spectacular view! This estate distills both the spirit of Costa Rica mountains and the essence of its singular landscape. Architect /Designer, Joe Beatty thoughtfully studied the sunrise and sunset of this site and designed this home to compliment both. Fantastic 1.9 acre lot with unobstructed spectacular views of the Poas mountains during the day and San Jose city lights at night. . The main home 3 bedroom and 3 bath is totally furnished and includes a extra 1/2 acre lot. A separate 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom fully furnished guest house accompanies this estate.
The 4000 sq ft main house has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. With an open grand floor plan, the kitchen and living room are spacious perfect for entertaining or just relaxing.
Soaring Windows, Upper skylights, 2 Coral Fireplaces & Custom Cabinetry abound. Natural Bamboo Wood and Tile Floors. Great Room, Gourmet Kitchen, Granite/Marble in the 3 Bedrooms & 3 Baths. The floor-plan is open and inviting with vaulted, beamed, light stain wood ceiling in the living room out to the grand open patio with an outdoor kitchen. Amenities include a pond, an outdoor kitchen, a 2  1/2 car garage and security system with cameras.
The main house comes with an extra ½ acre lot already with electric, water, cut in driveway and ¾ landscaped. Add a pool, tennis court, barn or another house for income or family.
          nMain-and-Guest-house-at-night-7034[1] - Copy - Copy nPano-over-the-valley-at-night-7056[1] nterrace -at -night Living Room nTerrace-at-Night7021[1] okGuest House-0915 okMain House-0930 okMain House-0941 okMain house-1036­


  • Guest House
  • Security System
  • Outdoor Kitchen
  • 2 1/2  Car Garage
  • City / Mountain Views
  • Sprinkler system
Location Grecia
Address: Grecia, Alajuela
Property ID: CVLH2014E2
Type: Single Home
Collection: Mountain Living
Built  2013                                                                                                                                           
Category: Sale
Property ID: 1404101947318576
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 5
Stories: 1
Home Size: 371.61 m² – 3,999.98 Sq Ft
Lot Size: 7,689.02 m² – 82,763.92 Sq Ft.
For Sale: $ 1,350,000.00
by Kimanh Moreau | June 2015


If you believe House Hunters, the home buying experience goes something like this:

1. Visit home in ideal neighborhood.
2. Check for granite countertops in kitchen.
3. Check also for double sinks in master bathroom.
4. Make jokes about how your partner or significant other will not get any closet space.
5. Make an offer.
6. Move in!

In reality, the home buying process is often a lengthier and more complicated process than what we see on TV. And that is a good thing. Why? Because buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you are likely to make and your choice should not hinge (only!) on countertops and double sinks.

Here, we take a look at five essential questions that any prospective homebuyer should ask before making an offer on a particular home:

What are Similar Houses Selling for?

Before making an offer on a home, it is wise to explore what comparable homes in the area have sold for recently. (In real estate parlance, these are referred to as “comps”.) It is only through looking at comps that you will be able to understand whether or not the home’s asking price is reasonable. Your agent will be able to pull together a list of comps for you easily and should be able to explain what the comps suggest about your prospective home’s value.

What’s the story with this house?

It’s easy to fall in love with a house, but it is hard to stay in love with a house that needs a surprise new roof or turns out to be riddled with asbestos. To avoid major buyer’s remorse, a home inspection is key.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Nowadays, many sellers will have purchased a home inspection before they put the home on the market. Make sure you read the inspection rather than simply receiving a run-down of highlights from the selling agent.
  • If the seller has not already had the home inspected, commissioning an inspection from a trusted & accredited home inspector is key. Your agent will likely have recommendations for a good home inspector.
  • Some buyers will forego the option of requesting a home inspection in order to strengthen their offer to the seller in a hot market. Before going this road, it is wise to talk about the risks associated with purchasing a home without having it inspected with your agent.

Is Documentation Available for the Garage Door/Hardwood Floors/etc.?

Rarely do buyers think to ask for something as mundane as a user manual for an air conditioning system, or the warranty on a roof. However, having these documents at hand can save major headaches later, should something go wrong.

Below are a few common items that it pays to ask for information about before you close on a new home:

  • Warranties on major appliances and home systems such as heating & cooling units, and windows.
  • Purchase information and passwords for alarm systems, keypads, and garage door openers.
  • Instruction manuals for any of the above.

While your seller isn’t required to leave these for you, most should have no problem doing so, especially if the sale has been amicable. If, however, you realize you are missing some key documents after you get the keys, a few phone calls to a dealer or service provider can point you in the right direction.

Will you Need Flood Insurance?

Do you know if your prospective home lies in flood plain? If so, you will likely be required to carry flood insurance. This raiser your insurance costs and is something you will definitely want to research.

FEMA provides maps detailing flood plain areas and these are worth exploring. It is also important to note that flood plains are assigned different ratings depending on the level of flood risk. This rating will impact the cost of your flood insurance policy.

Once you understand that a home is in a flood plain think about the following:

  • How much more each month will flood insurance cost you and can you afford this?
  • Are you comfortable living in a home that is in a flood plain?
  • Are there comparable homes available that are not in a flood plain?

What are the Monthly Utility Costs?

No one likes paying utility costs, but unless you are planning to live off the grid, chances are you’ll be sending off those bills to the utility companies each month.

To gauge how much utility costs will impact your bottom line, consider asking the seller for copies of their utility bills during peak month. (Depending on where you live, peak months could be the cold months or the very hot summer months.)

Before you let high utility bills scare you from a property, however, it makes sense to think about whether or not some little fixes could save you big money down the road. For example, adding weather stripping around windows and doors helps prevent drafts, as does insulating light switches and outlets. If there is room in your budget to upgrade to energy-efficient appliances, you can realize savings there as well.


Whether this is your first foray into homeownership or you are an experienced buyer, purchasing a new home is an exciting time! And while tracking down user manuals and examining flood plain maps is no one’s idea of a good time, spending time researching these things can save you major headaches (& wallet aches!) in the months and years to come.

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566

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