How to Stage a House for Free: 7 Ideas That Don’t Cost a Dime

January 21st, 2019

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate – by Whitney Coy

One of the most common mistakes sellers make is assuming they need to sink a bunch of money into home staging. Some choose the expensive route—swapping out their furniture and art at the behest of a hired professional home stager—but that’s not the only way to impress potential buyers.

“Everyone needs to stage their home to sell it efficiently,” says Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving. “But you do not need to spend a lot of money to stage your home.”

1. Depersonalize

The first step to staging your home is getting rid of personal items such as photos, albums, handmade items, trophies, and mementos—even the kids’ artwork on the fridge.

“No family pictures,” says McHolm. “A buyer wants to be able to envision living in that house. It’s not your house anymore. It’s a house that will soon be their house. So get the ‘you’ out of your house.”

Removing your personal items isn’t easy—they’re the things that make your house feel like your home, but keep in mind that it’s only temporary. Pack them up and store them safely until you can find them all spots of honor in your new place.

2. Declutter

All that stuff littering the surfaces of your home has to go.

“Most surfaces should have between three to five items on them, because clutter is distracting both in photos and in person,” says property stylist Julie Chrissis, of Chrissis & Company Interiors. “You want buyers looking at the home, not the stuff.”

This means eliminating piles of mail and magazines, collections you have on display, knickknacks, and most other items that can easily be packed away.

3. Nix the extra storage

If you’ve been living in your current home for a while, you’ve probably come up with a lot of creative ways to store all of the items you’ve accumulated. But now that you’re hoping to sell, it’s time to get rid of them. Purge!

“Eliminate any plastic storage bins, over-door storage, above-cabinet storage, and extra racks in rooms,” says Chrissis. “This is important because buyers never want to think they will outgrow a home. A seller’s job is to show them there is plenty of storage space for them to grow into.”

Since all those stored items are already packed into bins and baskets, it should be simple enough to move them to a storage facility until you’ve moved.

4. Deep clean

Even if you consider yourself a neatnik, you’re probably going to need to do a little extra work to get your house ready for buyers.

“Take a critical eye to your home. Living somewhere daily reduces the things you notice that might be a problem, like dirty walls, scuffs and scrapes, leaks, or even odors you have become accustomed to,” says Marty Basher, home organization expert at “Also, deep clean the kitchen and bathrooms. These areas of the home are generally the most cluttered and dirty. Both of those things will turn off willing buyers.”

It might help to ask a friend or family member to come by and help you find areas that need attention. Someone who doesn’t live in your house will be better able to look at your space through the eyes of a buyer.

5. Change the furniture layout

Maybe you’ve placed your couch at an odd angle to keep the sun out of your eyes during your midday nap, or your armchair is in the middle of the room so you can better see the TV. Those things are all fine for you—but not for buyers. Now it’s time to stage the room for optimal space and flow.

“Room layouts should be set up for photos first. It’s important that the photo not be of the back of a sofa, large chair, or other piece of furniture, as this makes the room look smaller because it blocks the view of part of the room,” says Chrissis. “The same goes for open houses and showings. If buyers see a room with furniture barriers, it makes the room seem smaller.”

6. Let there be light

Now that your home is clean and uncluttered, it’s time to brighten things up so buyers can actually see it.

“You want natural light and lamps with warm light—no swirly bulbs that look like office light,” says Chrissis. “We tell most of our clients to remove valances as they typically make a room darker and, in most markets, are a little out of fashion. Lamps are important, especially in winter months when there is less sun and sunset is earlier.”

7. Reduce your furniture

If your house is filled to the brim with furniture, it’s time to move some of it out.

“After the home is thoroughly cleaned out, keep only up-to-date furniture in excellent condition, and just a couple of accent pieces in each room,” suggests broker and interior designer Tory Keith of Natick, MA.

Not only does this go hand in hand with making things look less cluttered, but less furniture will also make the rooms look bigger.

Move unneeded pieces to the basement, garage, or a storage facility until you’re ready to move.

Whitney Coy is a writer and editor living in Lancaster, OH. Her work can also be seen on SheKnows, Mashed, The List, Techwalla, and more.

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How Much Do You Really Need to Put Down on a Home?

January 18th, 2019

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate

Buying a home is often one of the most expensive endeavors one will take throughout their life, so it’s not surprising that saving for a down payment remains a major hurdle for many Americans on their path to homeownership. But although a 20 percent down payment is considered ideal, it’s not actually as common as you might think, nor is it a necessity to buying a home.

According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, the majority (52 percent) of buyers put down less than 20 percent on their new home.

Typically, you have to put between 3 and 20 percent of your home’s sale price down in cash to qualify for a conventional loan (30-year fixed mortgage), but there are exceptions. If you meet eligibility guidelines, you might qualify for a home loan with a zero-down payment through Veterans Affairs (VA loans) or the Department of Agriculture (USDA loan) programs.

What is a Down Payment?

A down payment is the amount of money you spend upfront to purchase a home and is typically combined with a home loan to fulfill the total purchase price of a home. In addition your down payment amount, your credit score, credit history, total debt and annual income will influence how much of a loan you can qualify for.

A great tool to see how much you can afford based upon your down payment and annual income is our affordability calculator. It will also take into account your monthly debts, the interest rate on your debt, your loan term, and many other settings that you can personalize to give you a more accurate result on a home price.

Why 20 Percent is Considered Ideal

If you are able to come up with a 20 percent down payment, you’d reap quite a few benefits. Putting that larger amount down lets you avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), it can help you qualify for a lower interest rate (which can help you save thousands over the life of your loan), it’ll give you more equity faster, and it will result in a smaller monthly mortgage payment. Depending on where you’re looking to buy a home, a larger down payment might also help you be a competitive buyer and stand out to the seller if there are multiple offers on the home.

Although 20 percent isn’t a prerequisite to homeownership, many buyers do put that amount down and then some. Larger down payents are more prevalent for buyers in the West (47 percent put down 20 percent or more) and the Northeast (52 percent put down 20 percent or more). This is because of tighter markets and the need to present a more competitive offer to a seller in order to win the home.

Sourcing Down Payments is Tough

Just because some buyers are able to put more than 20 percent down doesn’t mean they don’t struggle coming up with the money. According to a Zillow survey, 68 percent of renters cite saving for a down payment as the biggest hurdle to buying a home.

Nearly one-third of buyers (29 percent) struggle saving up money for a down payment. Most (53 percent) do it by saving up the old-fashioned way. But nearly one-quarter (24 percent) are getting more creative and combining two or more sources to finance their down payment.

Some buyers have found luck using more creative ways to fund their down payment by receiving gifts from family or friends, selling stocks or other investments, using retirement funds, asking for a loan from family and friends or using leftover money from the sale of a previous home.

Because repeat buyers can often put some of the money from their previous home sale towards their down payment, they’re more likely than first-time buyers to put down larger lump sums. First-time buyers, however, are more likely to put down between 3 and 9 percent. According to a Zillow survey, only 37 percent of first-time buyers pay 20 percent or more.

Loans with Less than 20 Percent Down

While getting a zero-down payment loan is challenging and you have to be a strict set of criteria, there are other programs that offer low down payments that may be more achievable.

One of the most popular of the low-down payment loans is a Federal Housing Administration (FHA loan), which allows for a 3.5 percent down payment. One of the downfalls of this program, however, is that you still have to pay mortgage insurance premiums to protect the lender if you default on your loan.

Buyers are also taking advantage of two Fannie Mae offer loans; Conventional 97 and HomeReady mortgages, which both allow for a minimum down payment of just 3 percent. HomeReady mortgages are designed for creditworthy, low-to moderate-income borrowers, with expanded eligibility for financing homes in designated low-income, minority, and disaster-impacted communities. Conventional 97 mortgages are designed to help creditworthy home buyers who would otherwise qualify for a mortgage but may not have the resources for a larger down payment.

Outside of these Fannie Mae, FHA, VA and USDA loan types, there are state and local assistance programsthat can help you get into a home with a low-down payment. There are also towns that offer incentives to move there, ranging from student loan forgiveness to free lots of land to build on. Even though these programs don’t cover your down payment for you, they can help you save money elsewhere if you can come up with the initial down payment up front.

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Things To Do This Weekend

January 17th, 2019

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate

Clematis By Night – Thursdays
Clematis by Night is the place to be for great live music, a taste of mouth-watering foods and fun people all in the hip ambiance of an energized downtown waterfront. Centennial Square at the end of Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach.
100 N Clematis St. – West Palm Beach, FL 33401  Clematis By Night

South Florida Fair – Friday to February 3rd
Since 1993, the themed expositions produced each year during the South Florida Fair are one of the most popular attractions of the 17-day event. As you enter the gates, you will experience the New York of the Marvel Universe. Marvel Entertainment even has an actual office there on the 135 W. 50th Street. Because New York is such a big city and a melting pot of different people and cultures, it is the most densely-superhero-populated city in the Marvel Universe.
9067 Southern Blvd – West Palm Beach, FL 33411   South Florida Fair

Beach Cleanup – Saturday
Help us keep the very beach that our turtles call home free from trash and litter. Join Lynne Wells and her group of Blue Friends Society members this month on Saturday, January 19 at 8:30 a.m. on the back deck of LMC. Bring a bucket to collect the trash and garden gloves if you have them. Please pre-register by emailing
14200 U.S. Highway 1, Juno Beach, FL 33408      Beach Cleanup

West Palm Beach Green Market – Saturdays
The West Palm Beach GreenMarket is the area’s first and premier green market located on the scenic West Palm Beach Waterfront. You can shop more than 80 vendors featuring the freshest and most unique offerings including local produce, plants, exotic flowers, herbs, baked goods, gourmet foods, teas, coffee and much more.  Free parking in the Evernia Garage during Market hours.
Downtown West Palm Beach, Waterfront Commons  Green Market

Downton Abbey The Exhibition – Now for a Limited Engagement
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, based on the beloved television show, transports you to post-Edwardian England, where the characters and the iconic house come to life. You’ll be immersed in the fascinating social history, culture, and some of the most memorable moments from the show’s six-season run.
575 South Rosemary Avenue – West Palm Beach, FL 33401  Downton Abbey The Exhibition

German Beer Fest Picnic Under the Pavilion – Sunday
Admission includes meal of German and American fare and all you care to drink German and domestic beer, domestic wine and soft drinks. Dessert and other libations available for purchase. Enjoy traditional Bavarian favorites, including the bells and Alpenhorn!  Held every third Sunday of the month.
5111 Lantana Road – Lake Worth, FL 33463   German Beer Fest

The Gardens GreenMarket – Sundays
At the Market, you can shop an abundance of just-picked, orchard-grown goods, a wide selection of seasonal vegetables and fruits, fragrant herbs, honey, homemade old-fashioned breads, pies, cheeses, sauces, handmade crafts and much, much more. This event is rain or shine.
10500 N. Military Trail – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   The Gardens GreenMarket

Buying and Selling a House at the Same Time: Where to Begin

January 15th, 2019

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Zillow Home Buyers Guide

Buying a new home while selling your current one is a balancing act. Here are some practical tips to help you succeed as both a buyer and seller.

Buying a new home at the same time as you’re selling your old home is all about timing — and some luck, of course. And while you can’t control everything that happens during the complicated buying and selling process, there are some things you can do to set yourself up for smooth closings — maybe even on the same day!

Consider this key information on how to buy and sell a house at the same time.

Evaluate the local housing market

The state of the real estate market in your area is often the biggest factor in timing your home purchase and sale correctly. Knowing what kind of market you’re in is important whether you’re just moving across town, or if you’re moving across the country. If you’re selling in one market and buying in another, you’ll need to factor that into your timing. The length of time it takes to buy and sell can vary dramatically depending on the local real estate scene.

What is a buyers market?

In a buyers market, there are more homes available than people looking to buy. In a buyers market, you’ll likely have an easier time finding your new home than you will selling your old home. Sellers may be willing to accept a contingent offer, which means you agree to purchase their home contingent on selling yours first — more on that later.

What is a sellers market?

In a sellers market, there are more buyers in the marketplace than there are homes available. In a sellers market, your current home will likely sell more quickly than you’ll be able to find a new home. Consider asking your buyers to do a rent-back after closing to allow you time to find your new place.

If you’re in a…                       What to do
Buyers market Make an offer with a sale and settlement contingency
Buyers market Request an extended closing
Sellers market Make an offer with a settlement contingency
Sellers market Ask for a rent-back agreement

Choose an experienced real estate agent

Buying and selling at the same time can be complicated and at times overwhelming, so it’s helpful to have a pro by your side. An experienced local agent will not only be able to help you determine the market value of your home, but they’ll be able to talk you through timing, strategy, and negotiation.

An agent can guide you to a listing price

In addition to answering questions about process and helping you negotiate, one of the most important roles your agent plays is to help you find the perfect listing price — one that will help you sell on your desired timeline and for enough money to help you take that next step. They’ll use their local market expertise and comparables to inform the price.

Remember to interview

Don’t just go with the very first real estate agent that comes your way. Especially when you’re buying and selling at the same time, it’s important to give your business to a true professional, one who can really help you make smart decisions. And, if you’re buying and selling in the same market, consider using the same agent for both transactions to help streamline communication.

Understand your financials

After you’ve chosen an agent and gotten a feel for your local market, it’s time to know your numbers. Reach out to both your mortgage lender and your financial planner to see what’s feasible based on your financial situation. The amount of liquid cash, the amount of equity in your home, and the loan products you qualify for can all factor into which path you take.

Determine your home’s likely resale value

Part of researching your equity is knowing how much your house will reasonably sell for in the current market. Consider completing a pre-inspection so you know how much work needs to go into your house before selling, or the types of concessions you’ll have to make to a buyer to cover those repairs.

Know how much equity you have in your home

If you’re selling a house with a mortgage, do some initial research to find out how much equity you have — meaning the amount left over when you take the current market value of your home and deduct what’s remaining on your mortgage. Also, consider if you’d be able to purchase without tapping into that equity. Remember, the equity you have in your home won’t be accessible until after the sale closes.

Buying a house before selling

If you choose to buy a second home before selling your current home, here are some ways to make it happen:

  • Make an offer with a sale and settlement contingency:  In this scenario, you’ll focus on finding a new home before you list the old one. Once you find a house you love, you’ll submit your offer with a sale and settlement contingency, which means you’ll buy the home only if you can successfully sell your existing home. Typically, the sellers of the home you’re buying are still allowed to seek other offers, but you’ll receive the first right of refusal if you’re unable to remove the contingency when a second offer comes in. Contingencies typically work best in buyers markets, when the seller is less likely to get another offer.
  • Request an extended closing: If you’re confident that your existing home will sell in a short period of time, you can request to extend the closing date of your new home, past the standard 30-45 days. This will give you enough time to sell your current home and use your home equity to buy another house. Just like with contingent offers, you’re more likely to have success with this strategy in a buyers market.
  • Purchase with significant savings: If you’re in the financial position to do so, the simplest route is to use your savings to pay your new down payment, then sell your old home after the dust settles. Keep in mind that you’ll also need money to cover closing costs, inspections, and moving expenses.
  • Purchase with a HELOC: A HELOC, or home equity line of credit, allows you to borrow against the equity in your current home. If you qualify, you could use a HELOC to access money for your down payment, then pay it off when your home sells.
  • Purchase with a bridge loan: A bridge loan is a short-term loan offered by a bank to cover your down payment, just until your sales close. Make sure to talk to your banker about this option early in the process, because not all banks offer this product and it can be hard to qualify.
  • Rent out your first home: If you don’t need the money from your first home to make your down payment on the new home, you could always find renters for your old home, which would allow you to cover the mortgage costs while delaying the need to sell at the same time as you’re buying.
  • Sell your house with Zillow Offers: The Zillow Offers program makes it possible for you to sell your home quickly, and without many of the time consuming tasks that come with the traditional listing process. Selling your home to Zillow can be a great option if you’re hoping to close the sale on your old home in time to apply your equity toward your new purchase.

Pros of buying before selling

  • You have somewhere to move right away.
  • You only have to move once, which allows you to save money on storage units or temporary housing costs.
  • You’re less pressured to make quick buying decisions, as you can always stay in your current home a little longer if you don’t find a property you love.

Cons of buying before selling

  • You may feel rushed to sell, which may lead you to take a lower offer than you would otherwise.
  • Contingent offers are less competitive, especially in fast-paced markets.
  • You may not have enough cash to make a competitive offer if your money is tied up in your current home.
  • If you decide to rent out your current home, being a landlord isn’t always a walk in the park. And, when you do decide to sell, it can be a challenge to sell while tenants are living in the home.

Selling a house before buying

If you’ve decided to sell your current home first, here are some steps you can take to make the process a bit smoother.

  • Make an offer with a settlement contingency: In this case, you’ll list your house first, then once you have an offer in hand (but before closing), you start looking for your new digs. When you find a house you love, you’ll submit an offer with a settlement contingency, which means you’ll buy the home contingent on the sale of your existing home closing. This works best in a seller’s market, where you can expect to receive offers on your existing home fairly quickly.
  • Find a temporary rental to live in: Yes, you’ll have to move twice, but sometimes closing one sale before starting another one can be the least stressful option, as it takes the pressure off the timing and gives you the time to find a home you really love.
  • Sign a rent-back: A rent-back provision is when you go through with the sale of the home, with the agreement that you can rent the home back from the new owners (and keep living in your home) for 60-90 days. This option can give you more time to shop for your new home, while still giving you access to the money from your sale. Keep in mind that this option works best in a sellers market, where buyers have to be more flexible with contract terms in order to get the home they want.

Pros of selling before buying

  • You know exactly how much equity you’ll have available to put toward your new home.
  • You can easily roll your existing equity into the new purchase.
  • It can be less stressful to close the book on one chapter before focusing on your next move.

Cons of selling before buying

  • You’ll likely have to find a temporary living situation.
  • Storage and double moving costs can add up.

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Rising Mortgage Rates Thorn in Otherwise Rosy Conditions for Home Buyers

January 14th, 2019

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Zillow Research – by Matthew Speakman

  • Mortgage rates have risen 0.7 percentage points this year, and most experts expect that trend to continue.
  • If rates increase to 5.5 percent, it would eliminate an additional 5.4 percent of currently for-sale homes from a typical household’s budget.
  • Would-be home buyers in Las Vegas, Denver and Sacramento would be the most affected by rising rates.

As home-value growth slows and for-sale inventory ticks up, one would think that all is well for would-be home buyers. However, mortgage rates continue to grow, taking a big bite out of home shoppers’ budgets and slicing the share of homes available to those looking to buy.

In fact, if mortgage rates grow to 5.5 percent from where they are today[1], a typical household looking to spend no more than 30 percent of its income on housing would have to slash its home-buying budget by nearly $35,000 to cover the higher mortgage payments. Doing so would eliminate 5.4 percent of currently for-sale homes, or about 31,700 homes, from a typical household’s budget[2].

Mortgage rates rose substantially in 2018. The average 30-year fixed rate in the U.S. increased by 70 basis points this year[3], more than any year since 2013, when rates were just beginning to ascend from historic lows. In mid-November, rates touched their highest point since early 2011, nearly reaching the 5 percent mark, only to retreat slightly to end the year.

Even though rates declined in December, many experts expect that rates will resume their ascension in 2019. Zillow projects that by the end of the year, rates will have reached at least 5.5 percent, higher than any point since June 2009. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also expects rates to rise to an average of around 5.3 percent sometime in the new year.

Increasing mortgage rates present financial issues for potential buyers:

  • Homeowners are less likely to sell their domiciles, as they themselves would be forced to take on more expensive debt to buy a new home. Because they stay put, there are fewer available homes on the market.
  • What’s more, homes become less affordable, as higher rates make the typical monthly payment represent a larger share of a buyer’s income. In other words, the value of a home that a would-be buyer can afford will decrease as mortgage payments eat into their budget.
  • A rate increase also limits the number and share of homes on the market that a buyer can afford. These (now fewer) affordable homes will become more competitive and could potentially sell at a premium, as a result.

As a result, many home buyers will likely have to reset their price points and possibly make concessions — about where they want to live, how large a home they want, among others.

Should rates reach beyond 5.5 percent to the 6 percent threshold, the impact would, obviously, be even larger. Compared to the current environment, the typical household would have to set its budget $52,800 lower, eliminating close to 50,000, or 8.5 percent, of current for-sale homes from its radar.

As one would expect, the impact of rate changes varies regionally. Of the 35 largest metro areas in the U.S., a mortgage rate increase to 5.5 percent would have the greatest impact in Las Vegas. Such a rate hike would make a whopping 10.2 percent of currently for-sale Sin City homes no longer affordable to the typical household there, which earns an annual income of $57,900. A rate increase to 6 percent would remove 14.1 percent, or more than 1,500, of today’s for-sale homes from the ranks of affordability.

Households looking to buy in Portland, Ore., Sacramento, Calif., Denver, Riverside, Calif. and Orlando, Fla., also would disproportionately feel the impact of rising rates: In each of those metros, a move to 6 percent rates would eliminate more than 12 percent of currently for-sale homes from a typical household’s budget.

The impact of rising mortgage rates on the share of affordable for-sale homes would be smallest in St. Louis, where only 4.1 percent of homes would no longer be affordable to the median household should rates reach 6 percent. Following the Gateway to the West is Cleveland, (where 4.2 percent of for-sale homes would no longer be in the typical family’s budget) and Pittsburgh (4.3 percent). Each of these three metros has a median home value that is less than that of the nation.

Although growing mortgage rates would have the most immediate impact on potential home buyers, renters would feel the effects as well. As increasing rates limit the number, and share, of affordable homes for buyers, many of those potential buyers would choose to abandon the home search and continue renting. As a result, should more households choose to renew their leases, after a few months of slow or even negative growth, many experts believe rents would resume their climb alongside mortgage rates.

[1] At the time of writing, the average 30 year fixed mortgage rate for the U.S. was 4.63 percent

[2] Based on homes listed for sale on Zillow, at time of writing


Matthew joined Zillow in May 2018. He was previously a fellow with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose California. He received a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, and a Master of Science in applied economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Things To Do This Weekend

January 10th, 2019

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate

Clematis By Night – Thursdays
Clematis by Night is the place to be for great live music, a taste of mouth-watering foods and fun people all in the hip ambiance of an energized downtown waterfront. Centennial Square at the end of Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach.
100 N Clematis St. – West Palm Beach, FL 33401  Clematis By Night

Food Truck Invasion at Abacoa – Friday
Come have a taste of the best food trucks in South Florida. The growing trend of gourmet food trucks is headed to Abacoa. The ultimate picnic rolls into Abacoa Town Center every 2nd Friday of the month. You provide the seating. Bring your folding chairs, blankets, even a table, and the whole family. Pick and choose from the different cuisine/trucks. There is something for everyone.
4798 S. Central Blvd. – Jupiter, FL 33458    Food Truck Invasion

Stuart Boat Show – Friday to Sunday
The largest boat show on Florida’s Treasure Coast featuring over 175 local, national and international exhibitors displaying hundreds of boats in-water and on land. Many boat brands are represented at the show, including the latest models of motor yachts, cruisers, center consoles, speedboats, sport fishing boats, and pontoons ranging in size from 12 feet to over 90 feet in length. Additional exhibits include the latest in personal watercraft, marine electronics, outboard and inboard engines, safety equipment, accessories, boat lifts, fishing gear, nautical clothing and jewelry, as well as financing and insurance companies.  Plenty of seminars, music, delicious food and drinks add to the festivities.
54 NW Dixie Highway – Stuart, FL 34994      Stuart Boat Show

Public Safety Day – Saturday
Get out and get to know some of Palm Beach Gardens’ police and fire personnel at our first ever Public Safety Day on Saturday, January 12th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. We’ll have live demonstrations, kids’ activities and games, face painting, food vendors, and so much more. An afternoon of fun and excitement awaits you and your family at Public Safety Day.
10500 North Military Trail – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   Public Safety Day

West Palm Beach Green Market – Saturdays
The West Palm Beach GreenMarket is the area’s first and premier green market located on the scenic West Palm Beach Waterfront. You can shop more than 80 vendors featuring the freshest and most unique offerings including local produce, plants, exotic flowers, herbs, baked goods, gourmet foods, teas, coffee and much more.  Free parking in the Evernia Garage during Market hours.
Downtown West Palm Beach, Waterfront Commons  Green Market

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Saturday
The Kelsey Theater is bringing The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Palm Beach County! Featuring full shadow cast performing along with the movie, This time on stage! So who is ready to “‘Give yourself over to absolute pleasure. Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh – erotic nightmares beyond any measure, and sensual daydreams to treasure forever. Can’t you just see it? Don’t dream it, be it.” with us? Enter at your own risk!
700 Park Avenue – Lake Park, FL 33403   The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Downton Abbey The Exhibition – Now for a Limited Engagement
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, based on the beloved television show, transports you to post-Edwardian England, where the characters and the iconic house come to life. You’ll be immersed in the fascinating social history, culture, and some of the most memorable moments from the show’s six-season run.
575 South Rosemary Avenue – West Palm Beach, FL 33401  Downton Abbey The Exhibition

The Gardens GreenMarket – Sundays
At the Market, you can shop an abundance of just-picked, orchard-grown goods, a wide selection of seasonal vegetables and fruits, fragrant herbs, honey, homemade old-fashioned breads, pies, cheeses, sauces, handmade crafts and much, much more. This event is rain or shine.
10500 N. Military Trail – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   The Gardens GreenMarket

Hands-Only CPR Classes – Tuesday
Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue has teamed up with Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center to provide free monthly hands-only CPR classes for the community. Classes will be held at Fire Station 61. Local EMS will give a hands-only CPR demonstration and go over Automated External Defibrillator (AED) use. No certification is provided. Participants will have the opportunity to practice their new skills using CPR manikins. Reservations are required. Class is open to all ages, anyone under 18 MUST have adult supervision.
4425 Burns Road – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410    Hands-Only CPR Classes

Credit Score Boost? Cellphone, Utility Payments Soon to Get Factored In

January 9th, 2019

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Realtor® Magazine

Millions of consumers may soon see a boost to their credit scores, which could help when applying for a mortgage. One of the largest credit-reporting firms in the U.S., Experian PLC, announced it will give consumers the option to have their cellphone and utility payments factored into their credit scores early next year. About 46 million consumers who have limited credit data could instantly see an increase to their credit scores from the new data being added in, according to Experian.

This marks the first time consumers will be able to have such data factored into their credit reports and scoring. It follows on the heels of several other changes. Fair Isaac Corp., the creator of the FICO credit score, will soon be launching a new credit score with Experian that will take into account a consumer’s history managing their checking and savings accounts. That move also could give consumers a boost to credit scores for those who at least keep several hundred dollars in their accounts and don’t overdraw.

Also, all three major credit reporting firms—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—have all recently removed negative information, like tax liens and judgments, from consumers’ credit reports. This move has also helped lift many consumers’ credit scores.

Experian’s latest change, named Experian Boost, will allow consumers to opt in and link the bank accounts they use to pay their phone and utility providers to Experian. The company can then track their monthly payments to utilities, cellphone, and landline phone and cable TV accounts. It will not track missed payments, according to The Wall Street Journal. Experian will delete the account from its credit report if consumers stop paying their bills for three consecutive months from the accounts linked to Experian Boost. Consumers’ scores will then be recalculated without the additional account. In such cases, that could then cause a drop to the credit score.

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10 Tips For A Successful Remodel

January 8th, 2019

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Florida Realtor®

What Should I Look Out for in a Lease Contract?

January 7th, 2019

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate
Trulia Guides\Rent

Your lease details are a big deal. Make sure you’re super clear on these things.

Clicking the box on a user agreement without reading all the fine print is pretty common, but don’t let that habit spill over into your lease-signing behavior. Your lease is usually binding for a long time, and every detail affects your daily life. From pets to parties, it’s important to read all the policies before you sign—no matter how fine the print is.

While you should plan to review (and make sure you understand) every word of your lease contract or agreement, there are some parts worth keeping a special eye out for.

Here are things to look out for when signing a lease.

Rent Amount and Due Date
Make sure the lease matches the rent you expect to pay. If you think rent will be $1,500, but the lease has the rent at $1,600, ask why. It could be an error, or the landlord could have forgotten to mention certain fees, such as a for pet, parking, or landscaping.

Also, note the date rent is due (it’s not always the first of the month) and how and where to pay it. And check whether there’s a grace period before rent is considered late. Some leases say rent is late if it arrives more than three days past the due date—those days are your grace period. Some leases have no grace period at all. If there will be late charges, the amount of those charges and when they start should be specified in the lease. Note that some states restrict how much landlords can charge for late fees.

Terminating and Renewing
Many times a lease simply ends on the date stated in the lease. But not always. Some leases automatically renew unless you give written notice, generally one or two months in advance. Make sure you know, especially if you’re planning to move when the lease’s original term is up.

An early termination clause states what happens if you want to leave before your lease is up. You might be able to break the lease by paying an early termination fee, typically equal to two month’s rent. If there is nothing about a lease break fee, you will probably be on the hook for rent until the end of your lease term or until your landlord re-rents.

When you rent, you’re almost always allowed to have people over. But when does a frequent guest become a part-time roommate? Many landlords have a specific guest policy to help clarify the difference. It’s common for a lease to limit how long your guests can stay, such as for no more than 10 days in any six-month period.

Whether you’re studying abroad or on an extended work trip, you might need to be away from your rental for an extended period. It makes sense to have someone take over the rental and the rent payments while you are gone—called subletting. Before you arrange this, read your lease to determine whether you’re allowed to sublet. Some landlords prohibit it, some allow it, and some allow it only with approval. If the lease is silent on subletting, it’s best to first ask your landlord for permission. It is their property, after all.

Maintenance Responsibilities
One of the perks of renting is that repairs are usually the landlord’s job. But what about maintenance? Anything from mowing the lawn to changing the HVAC filters can be a gray area. As a tenant, you’re typically responsible for keeping the place clean and letting your landlord or property manager know if something is wrong, such as a leaky roof. If you’re responsible for anything else, it should be in the lease. Some tenants take care of landscaping, snow shoveling, and minor repairs such as replacing light bulbs and smoke detector batteries.

Pets are a big deal in rentals. If you own one, make sure you’re allowed to have it. Don’t try to sneak one in. Pets are hard to hide, and being found out can mean making the heartbreaking choice between your furry friend and lots of money. The good news is that many landlords allow pets, but they might limit the amount or type. They also might charge a pet deposit or extra pet rent each month.

Renters Insurance
Some landlords require tenants to have renters insurance. If so, it should be in your lease. Renters insurance covers your belongings if they are damaged or stolen, so even if you aren’t required to have it, it’s a good idea to buy it anyway.

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5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional Before Entering the Market

January 3rd, 2019

Steve Hollander – Hollander Real Estate

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite the adventure. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can ‘For Sale by Owner’ or ‘FSBO,’ but it’s not as easy as it may seem. That’s why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to achieving your ultimate goal!

The 5 reasons you need a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates and home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?
Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. So you found your dream house, now what?
There are over 230 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to ensure you achieve your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?
So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyers (who want the best deals possible), to the home inspection companies, all the way to the appraisers, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?
It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start in order to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you its true value. According to a recent article by the National Association of Realtors, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than the prices of similar properties sold by real estate agents:

FSBOs earn an average of $60,000 to $90,000 less on the sale of their home than sellers who work with a real estate agent.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional!

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?
There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line
You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic, so why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?