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Look which city made it into the top 20 places to visit this year in the USA according to TripAdvisor!! St Petersburg, Florida!! Yippee! For the last 13 years, I have called St Pete my home. It is surrounded by beautiful water, has gorgeous weather-especially at this time of year, tons of great restaurants representing food from around the world, farmers market, food trucks, unique shops, brew pubs, world famous museums, top-notch galleries, creative murals, waterfront parks, dog parks, boating, sports to watch or partake in, music venues, music festivals, Ribfest, Honda Grand Prix race running through the downtown along the waterfront and so much more. With an average of 361 days of sunshine per year, St Pete has the Guinness World Record for logging the most consecutive days of sunshine (768 days). Hmmm, maybe that is why it is nicknamed “The Sunshine City” in the Sunshine State.

I love it here. Come for a visit or to buy a home, I’ll be waiting for you.

St-Petersburg-Florida-Summer-Southern-Cities-(2)

Nicknamed the “Sunshine City,” St. Petersburg is a warm and pleasant beach town on Florida’s Gulf Coast with much to see and do. Springtime visitors won’t want to miss the St. Petersburg Mainsail Arts Festival, a joyful celebration with artists, food, live music, and entertainment. There’s a lot to do out on the water in St. Petersburg, like this Mangrove Kayak Tour, or a Stand up Pedalboard Tour where you’re likely to spot dolphins and manatees. On a St. Petersburg Speedboat Adventure, you’ll take the wheel of your very own speedboat, exploring the coastline in style.

To see the other 19 cities, including BALTIMORE and BEND, Oregon, please go to https://www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalsBlog/2019/01/28/top-places-visit-usa-best-destinations/?fbclid=IwAR28G8o-j1FkD7sN5KIHbNvS_yBgD8wyshC9rWqL538tOaLrV0oCX_6EW1Y

Young family arriving at their holiday beach house

By the Experts at Hippo

You’ve just returned from a trip to the beach. You ask yourself: Why should I continue to pay rental fees when I could own a vacation home and rent it out? Unless you’re fairly wealthy, you’ll need to make sure you can commit to buying a seasonal home before you start shopping around. Here are five indications that you’re ready to take the plunge:

1. You can afford one

Can you afford to own a vacation home? If the answer to that question is yes, that’s probably the most obvious sign that buying a seasonal home is something you should consider. You never want to buy a home that will leave you drowning in debt.

Remember, the purchase price is only part of the cost of owning a vacation home. You’ll have to pay utility bills, maintenance fees and insurance premiums. And depending on where your home is located, you could also be responsible for paying homeowners association fees.

To decide whether you have enough money in the bank for a vacation home, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have emergency savings (at least three to six months’ worth of take-home pay)?
  • Can you make a 20 percent down payment?
  • If you have kids, have you already put aside enough money for a college fund?
  • Can you still put away enough money for retirement?
  • Have you paid off your existing home?
  • Have you calculated the potential return on your investment?
  • Does it fit in with your long-term investment strategy and financial goals?

Everyone’s situation is different. If you can answer yes to most of these questions, there’s a good chance that there’s room in your budget for a vacation home.

2. You’ve done your research

If you’ve done your homework, that’s another good sign that you’re prepared to purchase a vacation home. When you’re visiting an area that might become the location of your future home, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself; however, doing your research and taking the time to understand what the surrounding area has to offer is important. You’ll also want to make sure you visit during different parts of the year. That way, you can get a feel for what it’s like to live there during different seasons.

Think about the short- and long-term implications of buying a seasonal home, especially if you plan to spend plenty of time there. When you retire, for example, the amenities included in a vacation home may take a backseat. Having access to a hospital and activities that improve your overall health and well-being may be critical.

3. You know what’s happening in the market

If you can keep up with what’s going on in the housing market, buying a vacation home might make sense. If you analyze changes in sales prices, you’ll be able to time your home purchase carefully, and you’ll be able to make the most appropriate decision based on seasonal demand, which drives home prices.

In 2016, new, single-family home sales reached their highest level in a decade, although there was a decline in home-buying activity among vacation home buyers, according to a survey from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). A rising demand for housing and a shrinking supply of options has pushed up prices, making it more difficult for many people to purchase a vacation home. In 2016, the median vacation-home sales price was $200,000, up from $192,000 the previous year.

4. You have a plan

Buying a seasonal home could be worth considering if you know how you’re going to use it. Maybe you view the home as an investment property that can serve as an additional source of income. Maybe you’ve decided that you’re going to find guests online through a website like Airbnb or Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO).

Keep in mind that if you intend to rent out a vacation home, you’ll need to think about advertising and logistics. You’ll need photos of your rental property and a detailed description of its amenities. You’ll also need a rental agreement and a plan for how you’re going to accept payments. Will you use a service like Venmo or PayPal, or ask guests to mail you a check?

You’ll probably need to hire someone to clean your home and check for signs of damage and theft before new guests arrive. Hiring a property management company might make your life easier, but agencies often charge between 25 and 50 percent of your rental income.

5. You’re prepared to pay taxes

Rental income must be included on both state and federal tax returns. If you are renting out your vacation home or even a portion of your vacation home (e.g., a bedroom), you might be considered an innkeeper. That means you might be expected to collect the same lodging taxes that hotels collect and make payments to your county, city and/or state. In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for example, among tourists who pay for lodging, a 12 percent tax is due.

For many people, the decision to purchase a vacation home is serious. If you decide to take that leap of faith and you already have homeowners insurance, make sure you find out whether your current policy will cover a second home. Also, if you intend to rent out the property, consider purchasing rent loss insurance. It covers the loss of rental income following natural disasters and catastrophic incidents.

Hippo is an InsureTech company that’s reimagining home insurance through the lens of homeowners, building policies with more comprehensive coverage for today’s consumers. Hippo Insurance is available to homeowners in 10 states throughout the U.S. and will be available to more than 60 percent of the nation’s homeowners by the end of 2018.

http://blog.rismedia.com/2018/5-signs-youre-ready-buy-vacation-home/

72% of vacation property owners and 71% of investment property owners believe now is a good time to buy. 33% bought their property in a beach area. Location, location, location!! We have some of the best beaches!! Plus we have music venues, a multitude of sports options, first rate museums, art venues, waterfront festivals, brew-pubs, incredible restaurants and much more!

Think St Petersburg, Florida; Clearwater Beach and the Tampa Bay Area!!

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Buying your first home is a big step! It’s wonderful to dream dreams, and it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of searching property sites like realtor.com. Before going too far, however, it’s a good idea to hit the “pause” button and consider these more serious points.

1. Know when the time is right. Do some soul searching and make sure you want to buy a home because you genuinely want a home—not because you need an investment or simply think it’s “time” to settle down. Homes require a great deal of time, money, and energy to purchase and maintain. You want to love your home. If the timing isn’t right, you may regret the decision.

2. Review your credit score and get a credit report. You can (and should) request a free report once a year, at annualcreditreport.com. Review your report for any inaccuracies or disputes. It will take time to fix any issues, so start early.

3. Address any weaknesses in your credit history. If you have outstanding credit card or other consumer debt, start paying it off. If you are debt free but have very little credit history, you may need to start establishing a solid credit record. Important caveat: Do not apply for a new line of credit or a credit card if you plan to buy a house right away. Mortgage lenders are interested in a borrower’s well-established track record but may view a new credit line as a “red flag.”

Once you’ve been extended credit, use it and pay it off every month to establish a good record of managing credit obligations and debt. Don’t close old accounts, since they are a part of your history. Instead, use them occasionally – paying them off in full, so they remain active. To show credit worthiness, it’s best to have three or four open accounts, in good standing.

4. Start saving. Buying a home requires saving for a down payment on the purchase price. The more you save towards a down payment (in terms of a percentage of the purchase price), the better your mortgage terms can be. You also need to save money for closing costs. Many first-time buyers are not financially prepared for the cash required at the closing table. Closing costs vary, but on average, you can expect to pay between two and five percent of the purchase price of the house.

Working with your banker to set up a savings plan will help foster a good relationship and may provide a valuable resource when you are ready to apply for a mortgage loan. Let your banker know your plans and your timeline, and ask for their advice on preparing, financially, to purchase your first home.

5. Recognize the responsibilities. Your living costs will probably increase when you shift from renting to owning a home. You will no longer be able to call a landlord when something goes wrong. You are now the landlord, and will have to fix, or pay to repair, anything that goes wrong. Aside from household systems (air conditioning, heat, plumbing, electrical), you may also need to buy or replace major appliances. But the home will be yours-the rent won’t go up unexpectedly or have to mve because they property is now for sale.

The cost of insuring a house is also much higher than renter’s insurance because you aren’t simply insuring the contents of the house—you’re also covering the structure and any liability for visitors who may get hurt while on your property. Additionally, you’ll have to pay property taxes, which is a pretty hard hit for any homeowner, but can be especially challenging for new owners.

6. Get educated. Before you begin looking at houses, educate yourself about the buying process, what to expect, and what to avoid. Do your homework before you start looking to be an informed consumer.

7. Interview buyer’s representatives. Buying a house is a big deal, so you’ll want to select a qualified real estate professional to represent you in your transaction—someone who is both knowledgeable and will look out for your interests.

As a first-time buyer, you may not know there are differences in buyer’s representatives. If you select an Accredited Buyer’s Representative, you can be assured you’re working with someone who has received special training in representing buyers and has already established a track record with buyers. Find out who serves your area.

Once you start the home search, please don’t make any major purchases. No cars, no music systems, no appliances, no vacations, etc. They can change your income to debt ratio and can keep you from getting the better interest rate or even qualify for the loan. I once had a couple who were so excited about purchasing their first home that they bought a washer & dryer 3 days before closing. It almost cost them their dream. Luckily, the store let them put the washer & dryer on hold for 3 days until after closing. So they did move into their first dream home.

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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