Real Estate



Millennials Search for Unconventional Down Payment Funds, But at What Cost?

By Liz Dominguez

Millennials meeting with REALTOR Rising home prices are standing in the way of millennials who want to buy their first home; however, these challenges are being overcome via some unconventional methods. Millennials are getting creative and finding sources for their down payment by any means necessary. But are these methods hurting the millennial generation financially?

Borrowing from family: Sure, gifted money doesn’t sound bad. But what if the families don’t have the cash to give? Instead, buyers are asking that their parents’ home be refinanced, using the home equity as a way to fund their own home purchase.

Of course, this can be beneficial in multiple-offer situations to get a competitive edge with an all-cash offer, but borrowing from a relative can go south fast. Not being able to pay a bank back can have repercussions like lowering a credit score, but missed payments to a relative can damage familial relations. Is it worth the risk?

Crowdfunding: There are new crowdfunding platforms being introduced every year, and more of them are tapping into the real estate industry. This can be a great way to amass gifted money from friends and family, but not everyone may see it that way. Instead of crowdfunding for their honeymoon, newlyweds are asking their wedding guests to donate toward their first home.

This method can get complicated in the lending world. Buyers will need to look into gifting regulations before accepting any gifted money.

Why Remodeling Can Bring More Joy to a Home

By Meredith Dunn, National Association of REALTORS®

The expected tenure of homeowners in a home continues to increase, according to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Last year, the expected tenure was 12 years – this year, it jumped to 15. And, with tightened inventory in many markets, people are staying put in their homes for longer. As a result, remodeling one’s current home is an increasingly popular option for those who want their dream home, but are unable or unwilling to move.

The 2017 Remodeling Impact report shows that remodeling can bring more enjoyment to a home, and that certain projects have high returns both in terms of the joy they bring to the homeowner, as well as the amount of expenses that are recouped when the home is sold.

The projects that yield the most joy and recoup the most expenses might come as a surprise. According to REALTOR® respondents, the number one project is a complete kitchen renovation. The top reason homeowners renovate the kitchen is for better functionality and livability, according to 44 percent of respondents. When the project is completed, 91 percent of respondents have both a greater desire to be in the home and have a greater sense of enjoyment when they are at home. Overall, a kitchen renovation receives a 10 out of 10 Joy Score and REALTORS® estimate that $40,000 of the cost can be recovered at resale—approximately 62 percent of the estimated cost.

The second-most popular project is a kitchen upgrade. Like the complete kitchen renovation, upgrading worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials is high on the list of reasons to undertake the project – in fact, it’s the number one reason, at 42 percent. When the project is completed, 81 percent report experiencing a greater desire to be in the home and feeling a major sense of accomplishment when they think about the project. Slightly less have an increased sense of enjoyment when they are in the home at 76 percent, but the project overall has a Joy Score of 9.6 out of 10. REALTORS® estimate that $20,000 of the cost can be recovered at resale—57 percent of the estimated cost.

The third project on the list of most popular projects is a bathroom renovation. Forty percent undertake the project for better functionality and livability, while 38 percent want to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials. When the project is completed, 78 percent feel a major sense of accomplishment when they think about the project. The project has a Joy Score of 9.6 out of 10, and REALTORS® estimate that $15,000 of the cost can be recovered at resale—50 percent of the estimated cost.

3 Reasons Your Smaller House Can Sell for More Than Ever Before
Article By: Brooke Chaplan

It can seem like having a small home is a liability. After all, there’s a certain feeling that homebuyers are always looking for something bigger and better. But that trends has shifted over the last few years. Smaller homes are beginning to sell faster than many of their larger competitors. Here are three reasons why.

Area Over Square Footage. Buyers have also become incredibly conscious about the areas in which they live. With some buyers now targeting hip new areas, they are willing to put aside some of their size concerns in order to get into the hottest neighborhoods. These trends are especially true among younger buyers who don’t plan on having large families; they now know that they can get a good space near everything they loved without having to travel.

Bigger Means More Costs. Since the housing market crash in 2008, the way that people buy homes has changed and buyers are considering factors other than square footage in order to make a smart investment. Many buyers consider lower maintenance costs an important asset in a property. This, in turn, allows owners of smaller homes to be more competitive than their larger neighbors, especially when selling to investors.

Minimalism is In. Quite a bit of what’s been discussed goes back to a single, overriding trend among younger buyers: minimalism. There are many who now see having a smaller, nicer home as a lifestyle statement. These are the same kinds of buyers who would have paid top dollar for a larger space years ago, but are now following current trends.

Stryker Electric & Air


How to Make an Open Floor Plan Work for You

Article By: Monica Thomas

Once a trend, open floor plans have become a staple of most modern homes. An open floor plan generally means the living room, kitchen, and dining room are combined into a large space or great room. Before taking a hammer to all interior walls, it’s important to know the structure of your home, as well as the benefits and ways you can accomplish an open concept.

Benefits of an Open Floor Plan

Small, cluttered homes can be transformed into airy, more breathable spaces by knocking down a few dividing walls. A demolition project may seem daunting, but the average cost is just over $3,000. Just be sure to have a professional take a look before wielding a sledgehammer. Hiring a structural engineer will cost you about $500, but you’ll save yourself the headache of rebuilds, fines, or structural problems.

Natural Light
Without walls blocking the windows, natural light is able to stream in your home, making the open space seem even larger and more airy. Along with knocking down walls, you can bring natural light into your home by connecting the outdoors to your home’s interior with large patio doors. On average, you can install glass doors for about $1,600.

It’s right there in the title: an open floor plan means more openness and inclusivity in your home. When you’re preparing dinner in the kitchen, for example, you won’t be closed off from the rest of the house. This is great for both entertaining and every day. When you’re entertaining, you can still be a part of the party, even while preparing food and drinks. And as an everyday solution, you’re able to keep an eye on children, pets, or—let’s be honest—the TV, while still going about your daily tasks.

Sherwin Williams’ Pick for 2018’s Hottest Color


Posted in Home Trends, by Melissa Tracey

A rich blue with jewel-toned greens is forecasted to be 2018’s hottest color of the year, according to Sherwin Williams, which unveiled its 2018 Color of the Year choice this week. Other paint companies will be announcing their paint choices over the next few weeks.

Oceanside SW 6496 is a statement color. It can add a bold, attention-getting pop to wall colors, furnishings, accessories, and even a home’s front door.

“Green-blues in deep values, such as Oceanside, respond to changes in light, which is a quality that creates intense dimension,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “It is a tremendously versatile color, and harmonizes with other diverse color groups.”

Oceanside is reminiscent of a marine-inspired look. But Sherwin Williams says the color can be woven into practically any design style, from mid-century modern to Mediterranean, traditional, or contemporary. Sherwin Williams says the color is versatile enough to be paired with any number of other colors, from hot pinks, yellows to navy or sky blues.

For 2017, Sherwin Williams had selected Poised Taupe (SW 6039) as the hot color. The company has been pushing the brownish-gray hue into more color schemes this year. Sherwin Williams had predicted taupe to become the next “it” color base for many homes today, edging out the popularity of gray.

But for 2018, Sherwin Williams is returning to a bolder shade for its hot-pick.

“People today have a growing sense of adventure, and it is making its way into even the coziest corners of our homes,” Wadden says. “We are craving things that remind us of bright folklore, like mermaids and expeditions across continents. Oceanside is the color of wanderlust right in our own homes.”

Stuart Stamp & Engraving

A family owned business founded in 1973, Stuart Rubber Stamp and Sign Company is a second generation enterprise that has consistently been committed to providing businesses with rubber stamps and marking products, signs and engraving, awards and printed products that reflect the professionalism that our clients have demanded and deserved for over thirty years

Stuart Rubber Stamp and Sign Company is committed to quality service and products based on a superior industry knowledge, a real understanding of the local business community, and a genuine enthusiasm for what we do. Our aim is to act as a trusted extension of our clients’ businesses, producing results that directly and positively impact their objectives. Our culture and philosophy is based on ethical business practices that value honesty, integrity and relationships.


Buying a Home Don’t Forget These Expenses

By: Karin Beuerlein

The home buying process, moving and the first months of home ownership are fraught with unexpected expenses.

Here are a few examples of where your money may go:

Appraisal fee. You often have to pay this fee out of pocket as part of the loan approval process. Depending on your location, the fee can run anywhere from $200 to $1,000.

Professional home inspection. Costs range from $300 to $800 for typical homes, but they can go higher depending on the age and type of structure. More specific inspections, such as those for structural engineering, mold and termites are additional costs.

Extra closing costs. Although the good faith estimate from your lender should be reasonably accurate, you won’t know the actual amount you have to bring to closing until a day or two beforehand. Don’t play it too close. You don’t want to hold up closing because you’re $100 short.

Homeowner’s association fees. If you’re buying in a subdivision, you may pay an annual or even monthly fee for upkeep of common areas. Repairs, upgrades, renovations. Depending on the condition of the home you buy, remember to budget for the work it will take to make it move-in ready.

Moving van rental fees and boxes.

Termination fees for current services. Carefully check your Internet and cell phone contracts.

Appliances. Whether you’ll have appliances included depends on the deal you strike with the seller. Be aware that brand-new houses usually do not include refrigerators, washers or dryers. If the other kitchen appliances are stainless steel, you’ll need to spend some serious dough to buy a matching fridge or else live with the “eclectic” look.

Household items. As a renter, it’s easy to forget that the move to a bigger space means you’ll need more mundane stuff like trash cans, lamps and shower rods. New houses, again, usually don’t include hardware like drawer pulls, bathroom mirrors or towel bars; you may think you can live without them for a while, but trust us, you’ll crack after a week and pull out the credit card.

Lawn-care equipment. Buying a yard? Your new neighbors will prefer that you mow, rake and edge it.Warm milk. Just for the first week of wigging out in the middle of the night, wondering if they still have debtors’ prison. (They don’t.)

4 Things Professional Burglars Don’t Want You to Know

Out2News.comEven though a burglary occurs every 20 seconds in the U.S., you can still protect yourself with simple, common-sense steps.

1. Nighttime Burglaries Aren’t the Best Time. Burglars like to break in to homes during daytime hours – between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – because there’s a high chance people will be away at work or school. The last thing criminals want is to encounter someone at home. Don’t leave your home unlocked just because it’s daytime.

2. They Know When You’re Not Home – Thanks to Social Media. Locating someone’s home address using basic information from their social media profile is surprisingly easy. In one survey of convicted burglars, more than 10 percent say they used social media to determine who was out of town. So while it’s tempting to post about your vacation to your social media feed, wait to share those trip photos until you’re back home.

3. They Don’t Like Your Security Practices. Burglars are looking for easy targets, so your basic security measures are pretty important. Unlocked windows, unused deadbolts, poorly lit homes, and residences without security systems are prime targets for burglars, so make sure you are using the security features you already have.

4. Your Landscaping Choices Can be a Burglar’s Best Friend. Thieves are searching for crimes of opportunity, and landscaping gives them a place to hide while planning a way of entry can be very enticing. Tall bushes are favorites of burglars since they offer an obstructed view from the street and an easy way to hide from neighbors. Sometimes the best defense is a clear view of your front porch.

Five Color Quickies

Gold and Red Dining Room:  Yellow and red amp up our energy and appetites, which makes them great for dining rooms.

Green Bedroom: Green is the perfect not too hot, not too cold color for an easy, breezy bedroom.

Article & Photos by Kimberly Perron
I love using color to change the mood in a room, and sometimes even a small corner of a room. If you are planning a makeover or just want a different experience in a room, keep these five color tips in mind to help you get the look you are craving.

1. Forget the rule that white will make a space appear larger. White will only reflect the available light. If you have a small room with little light, it will reflect the shadows, making the space more desolate. Don’t be afraid to go with a dark color in a small space – it can be dramatic and cozy.

2. Select cool colors for a relaxing interior. They tend to slow us down, and give us a calm feeling. Choose light blues, grays and other light pastel colors to make a space feel airy.

3. Need a little motivation? Then warm colors are the ticket because they tend to be very stimulating. Yellow, for instance, is associated with the mind and actually stimulates mental activity i.e., yellow legal paper and yellow Post-It notes. And red increases heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and appetite, which is why it is so often used in dining rooms.

4. Need a little more balance in your life? Then give green a try. Green is the only color that has no effect on the physical system, because it contains both warmth (from yellow) and coolness (from blue).

5. Bright colors are fast paced. If your life isn’t, then adding some bright colors to your surroundings might give your energy a little boost. Artwork and accessories are great places to add bursts of hot pink, turquoise, and purple. When you’re ready for another change, they are easy and inexpensive to replace.

Kimberly Perron is an award-winning decorator and owner of Resort at Home Interiors and Home Furnishings. She specializes in transforming your home from the place your live into the place you love. She can help you save time, money, and alleviate the stress of managing a home makeover. You can see her many inspiring home makeover photographs at Call 772-291-6601 to request an appointment or visit her beautiful waterfront design studio at 321 SE Osceola Street in Stuart. is a photo journal featuring people, “Who they are, what they do and where they do it”.

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How Much Mortgage Can Your Lifestyle Afford?

By Rebecca Bradshaw

There’s no getting around it, buying a home is expensive. Saving money for a down payment and then living within your means takes plenty of advance planning, strict budgeting, and might even require making a few sacrifices. But what if you have a lifestyle that you love—hobbies, sports, and other interests, that you aren’t necessarily willing to give up in order to own a home? Just how much mortgage can your lifestyle afford? The good news is that with some adjustments, you should be able to become a homeowner while continuing to do the things you love, and all without going broke.
Start by budgeting wisely.

In general, financial experts recommend that your mortgage payments (which include principal, interest, insurance, and taxes) should not come to more than around 28% of your gross monthly income. Be realistic about how much house you will actually be able to afford while still enjoying doing all the things you love and plan your home search accordingly.

Keep in mind, too, that the more money you put down on your new home, the lower your monthly mortgage payments will be. A twenty percent down payment is traditional, though there may be alternative funding programs available that require you to put down much less. Do your homework, talk to your financial institution, and look for the best option that will help you continue to live within your means while still holding on to your lifestyle.
Be willing to compromise.

If traveling is your passion, but you’re afraid that homeownership will cut into future vacations to exotic locations, consider purchasing a house that won’t take such a huge bite out of your monthly budget. Be flexible when it comes to travel opportunities as well.

You can save a lot by visiting locales that are off the beaten path, or by traveling during the off-season. Search travel websites for deals on cruises, hotels, tours, and other savings. The same types of compromises can be applied to your other interests and hobbies as well.
Get creative with your lifestyle budget.

If you’re a theater buff, but visiting Broadway just won’t work in your home buying budget, then check out local websites for community productions of award-winning plays. Sign up for updates from websites such as Living Social for discounts on everything from skydiving to upscale spa weekends. Or, if shopping is your passion, bargain hunt for clothing or home décor on sites or save up for a once a year sample sale splurge, and consider shopping at consignment stores. Don’t overlook the simple luxuries; if you’re a gourmet food lover or wine connoisseur, try indulging in a good merlot with a home cooked meal rather than going out to an expensive restaurant. Offers on everything from free or discounted tickets to concerts or sporting events, manicures, gym memberships, wine tastings, and golf getaways can all be found online with just a little time and effort. is a photo journal featuring people, “Who they are, what they do and where they do it”.

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Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group
Forecasts Conservative Growth in Housing for 2017

Out2News.comDespite a strong year-end performance by the stock market and a post-election jump in confidence among consumers and businesses, limited information on the new Administration’s potential economic policies led to a conservative 2017 growth projection of 2.0 percent, according to the Fannie Mae Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group’s January 2017 Economic and Housing Outlook.

Improved consumer spending in the third quarter drove a slight upward revision from the prior forecast; moreover, a friendly labor market and rising household wealth should continue to support consumers. Business fixed investment is expected to pick up – particularly in the equipment space – as the drag from declining oil prices faded and should add to 2017 growth. Additionally, government spending and inventory investment are expected to add to growth this year, while the dollar should continue to weigh heavily on net exports. Mortgage rates are predicted to rise gradually in the coming year, ultimately reaching a fourth quarter average of 4.3 percent. There is risk that rates could rise faster and higher than forecasted, but the impact on housing could be offset by strengthened income growth.

“Policy changes under the new Administration – in its nature, sequencing, and magnitude – will determine the direction of economic growth in 2017,” says Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. “Incoming data suggest improving consumer spending, diminished labor market slack, and advancements in wages, but until we can more clearly read the political tea leaves, it’s difficult to say whether this late-cycle expansion will continue into its eighth year.”

4 Tips for Organizing Your Home Maintenance Routine

Staying on top of all the things you need to do to keep your home well maintained can seem like a challenge sometimes. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be a monumental chore. Here are four tips on how you can keep yourself on track.

Learn What Needs Maintaining

The first step to keeping your house in good repair is to learn what kinds of things need doing. Find a good online list of home maintenance tasks, and figure out which ones apply to your particular home. From there, you can start to get an idea of the costs and materials associated with keeping things up.

Make a Calendar

Once you have a solid list of maintenance tasks for your new home, you’ll need to arrange the items in a way that will help you track how often you will need to perform each task. Put it up in a common area, and make sure to mark all of the dates for maintenance clearly.

Use Your Electronics

Of course, modern electronics offer multiple ways to help you organize your life. You can use calendar and reminder apps for your smart devices to replace or supplement your physical calendar if you want. Having a monthly reminder pop up telling you what kind of cleaning and maintenance duties are due at your home is helpful as far as reminding you, though it can be a bit too easy to simply flick the remainder away when it goes off.

Put Money Aside

Maintenance isn’t free, unfortunately, and one common cause of putting off what needs to be done is a lack of money when it needs doing. It’s all too easy to tell yourself you’ll just wait a week for some cash to free itself up. To prevent this, set aside a fund for home repair and maintenance tasks, and avoid using it for anything other than a true emergency.

Home maintenance is not always fun, but it prevents bigger problems down the line. Spending some time now on keeping things up will pay off in the future.

The Von Ohlen Team
Keller Williams Realty of the Treasure Coast
Real Estate Specialists
772-678-7544 / 772-222-7653

4 Steps to Improving Your Credit Score

By: Todd Doss

The spring selling season is always a popular time to buy and sell. To prepare for buying a first or next home, refinancing, or if you just want to get back on track, you have to work on your FICO score.

A FICO score is a review of your years of credit history based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company. Most people have scores near 650, but scores range from 300 to 850. The items that impact your FICO score are your credit-to-debt ratio, the types of credit you have, the number of recent credit inquiries, and most importantly, your payment history.

With all the lending turmoil lately, lenders want to know that giving you a loan isn’t a risk. Your credit score gives some insight into what type of borrower you’d be based solely on your credit history.

Building your FICO score takes time, but you can see changes within a few months. You can improve your credit score, or gain credit if you don’t already have it, by using these helpful hints:

1.) Correct your credit report

If you discover mistakes on your credit report, contact the bureau asking that the items be removed. If you have a common name, or the same name as a family member, you’ll want to make sure all of the activity reported is correct.

2.) Keep up with payments

Late payments kill your FICO score. It’s the area where people who have experienced job loss take the biggest hit. It takes longer to restore your credit this way, but it’s the most reliable way to prove that you’re able to make payments to a lender.

3.) Apply for gas station cards or store credit

For those who have no credit or low credit, retail credit cards and gas credit cards are ways to obtain credit, increase your credit limits and start a solid payment history. Beware of carrying a balance because these types of cards normally have high interest rates.

4.) Keep your credit in rotation

If you have older or unused credit cards, use your cards to keep your accounts active. But, make sure you pay them off in one or two payments if you can.

Now that you know more about credit reporting, you’ll be able to improve your FICO score. I can help you keep your credit inquiries within a two-week window to avoid a negative on your credit score.

To learn more, visit and get a free report at

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

Article by: Sonny Lewis

Selling your home is stressful, not least because it’s often just one part of a jigsaw of challenging events. Whether you’re relocating for work, about to get married (or divorced), have a baby on the way, or are retiring and cashing in your chips, you want the best price possible for your precious asset. Your choice of real estate agent is a crucial piece of the jigsaw to get right. This person is going to be right in the thick of your affairs for a while, and you want it to be a good and fruitful relationship. So, where do you start looking?
‘For Sale’ signs
Once you’ve decided to sell, you start to see these signs everywhere. They represent two things – information and threats. They tell you who has dominance in the market and who has similar listings to yours. Agents love it when they get a cluster of signs in an area. Success breeds success. You might not give the listing to them, but you’d get them in. It’s what we all want. The more signs we have, the more entries we’re given to offer appraisals.”
Open inspections
Another way to weed out local agents is to attend open houses, even if you’re not in the market to buy. Watch how agents conduct themselves. Do you like the way you’re greeted? Does the agent follow you around, so you can’t get a moment alone? Are you ignored? Does someone follow up with you the next week, to hear your thoughts on the property? If you live in a part of Australia where property is running hot, you could be facing the gauntlet of selling by auction – not as bad as buying at auction. Sellers are favoured at auction, but it can still be a bruising experience, and it might help to become familiar with the process and see who is going to be working the crowd on the day. When you’re interviewing agents, with an auction in mind, ask who the auctioneer will be and see them in action.
Ask people you know in your area who have sold recently who they used and whether they’d use them again. Return business is the best reference of all.

It’s time to get agents in to give you a market appraisal of your property and discuss how they would sell it. Invite as many as you can make time for. You’ll learn new things from each one, and you’ll start to see a pattern emerging on key issues, such as estimated sale price and marketing tactics. It all helps you feel more confident about what you’re doing.
If local presence is no longer such a driving force for success, what are you looking for in an agent? One key thing is rapport. Do you get on? Do you feel you can trust them? This is followed closely by reputation and track record. Experience is priceless, and thorough knowledge of the area is vital, even if their office premises are not based exactly in your suburb.
If you have seen them at open inspections, you’ll have already gauged a little bit about how they operate. For instance, some agents are generous with information to prospective buyers, some are like clams. Some agents go after buyers with gusto, while others take a ‘softly softly’ approach. Pick an agent who will deal with buyers in a manner you’re comfortable with.
Some agencies send through the whole sales team to see a property, so that all the agents in the business are across all the listings they have, and can handle enquiries. How do you feel about this? Consider the type of sale that’s been suggested and the proposed marketing campaign. Are you happy with these choices? As for commission, there’s not a great deal of variation between agents. In Sydney, commissions might range from 1.5 to 2.2 per cent.
On the same note, does the agent seem to really ‘get’ your home? Most properties, whatever their deficits, have some good points. As the agent looks around your home, does he or she start pointing out the things you love or feel proud of? This is a good sign – it means they can see the positives and are ready to show them off to prospective buyers.
If you don’t feel an agent is taking your individual circumstances into account, then try another agent. There is a lot of competition in the sector and a good agent will value you as a client.”


1. How did you arrive at this appraisal?
2. Will you be working on the property?
3. How many other properties are you currently handling?
4. What price will you be quoting to prospective buyers?
5. May I see references from past clients?
6. Do you have people in your database looking for a property like this?
7. How long does it normally take you to sell a home similar to mine
8. How long have you worked as an agent? How long in this area?
9. I don’t want to go to auction and/or hold open inspections. Is sale by private treaty/inspections by appointment possible?
10. How often will I get progress reports?


• Record in writing all payable fees, commissions and marketing costs
• Record in writing your length of contract and the expected sale price range (which should match the price quoted to interested buyers)
• Offer feedback on inspection numbers, contracts issued and buyer feedback
• Tell you of all offers received
• Act in your best interest at all times
• Be aware of the sensitive nature of your confidential information
• Be a member of a professional body, such as the Real Estate Institute


Creative and savvy, Jillian Von Ohlen knows that if she puts her mind to something, she can accomplish it. Case in point: She started her career after the market crashed and now has a team of seven successful people. “When I started,” Jillian says, laughing, “people asked me, ‘You’re starting this now?’” But she has drive and motivation in spades, and built her business quickly, working with investors and focusing on rentals. Those renters became buyers or gave her referrals. Today repeat clients and referrals account for about 75 percent of her business—and she’s only been in real estate 5 1/2 years.

About 10 years ago, Jillian wanted to invest in properties. She was a design major in college and knew nothing about real estate, but educated herself reading Robert Kiyosaki books and taking his coaching program. The market was extremely inflated, but she managed to purchase and flip a couple properties before it totally crashed. She was between careers and not sure what to do. Her mother worked for a woman who invested in properties and suggested Jillian get her real estate license. She did.

Now she loves the constant challenges. She’s a great negotiator and problem solver, thinking outside the box to keep a deal together. And she loves meeting new people and making them “family.” She stays in touch long after the closing with visits, calls, cards, monthly postcards and client appreciation parties. She sends an annual anniversary card to buyers who’ve purchased, including a market analysis of their home’s current worth. She also emails annually to remind clients to homestead their property. Each action goes above and beyond to build her relationship with them.

As a listing specialist (her husband is the buyer specialist), Jillian starts with an impressive social media campaign to market her homes. When she walks out of a listing, she takes one picture and posts a “Coming Soon” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. She stages the properties herself (thanks to her design background), then does photography and virtual tours, narrating as she walks people through the house. She’s actually sold homes sight unseen from the virtual tour. Then, for the open house, she sends up to 2,500 postcards to neighbors. She’s had buyers make offers from the open houses, so she schedules them as soon as they come on the market. Besides buying Facebook ads and posting the listings on Trulia and Zillow, she has signs with an 800# for people to call. “That way, they don’t have to talk to a Realtor if they don’t want to,” she says, “but can get the information about the home.” Of course, Jillian gets their phone number and calls them. It’s been huge for her sellers and obtaining buyer leads.
She has every base covered. She shows up for the appraisal with “homework” in hand and offers her own analysis of the home’s worth. “We closed 96 deals this past year,” she says, “and only one did not appraise. We’re very honest and pride ourselves on ethics and integrity. Our team is very professional, as well as loving and caring.”

That level of care extends to the community. Her myriad volunteer efforts range from being an award-winning Big Sister to Treasure Coast Food Bank and the Humane Society, as well as financial donations to charitable organizations. With such high-octane activity, Jillian loves to relax with her husband and children, doing musical and outdoorsy things together. Looking forward, Jillian wants to be a team of 30–50 people. “We can and will accomplish it,” she says. One would expect nothing less.

For more information about Jillian Von Ohlen of Keller Williams Realty of the Treasure Coast, Stuart, Florida, please visit, call 772.222.7653 or email is a photo journal featuring people, “Who they are, what they do and where they do it”.

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Five Options for Replacing Vertical Blinds

Article by: Kimberly Perron – Resort At Home
Vertical blinds have been popular since the 1960’s when large sliding doors became the norm in new home construction. Vertical blinds have several advantages including a low cost, ease of light and privacy control, and a simple, contemporary look. But, they also have a few disadvantages including noise when the door is open, large stack-back space needed, and the vanes can break over time. Clients are often asking for other alternatives to update their look. Depending on your style and the look of your home, these are my favorite options.
1. Drapery – Nothing beats the elegance of beautiful drapery. You can add pattern and color with drapery and it is especially nice in a bedroom where the soft fabric helps keep the room quiet. Drapery is one of the more expensive options, but with the many fabric and hardware options it remains a top choice.

2. Planation Shutters – If your home has an island or coastal style, sliding shutters help you maintain a consistent look with all the windows in your home. Shutters come in a variety of sizes, stains and paint colors and have a very long life expectancy. And while there is flexibility in light control, the shutter vanes usually have to be closed to stack the doors which may block more light than you would like.

3. Honeycomb Shades – Vertical honeycomb shades are an inexpensive option and have the smallest stack back of any vertical window treatment. They typically ride in a track above the door and provide excellent insulation from strong sunlight. Honeycomb shades come in a large variety of colors and prints.
4. Sheer Shades – These are a unique combination of vertical blinds and sheer drapery. They are adjustable like standard blinds, but have a sheer fabric over and between the blades and are perfect for golf course views where you would like light, but need a little privacy.
5. Valance and Motorized Roller Shades – If you prefer a completely clear view most of the time, hiding roller shades behind a valance or cornice above the window is a great option. With the option for motorization, you can relax in your favorite chair and use your remote to raise or lower a shade on demand or you can program them to raise and lower at specific times of the day.

Kimberly Perron is the owner and creative force behind the interior design and home furnishings firm, Resort at Home. Kimberly brings together her love of travel and having a beautiful home to create a brand and variety of services dedicated to helping her clients live a five-star life. Visit to see her portfolio and learn about exciting upcoming events.

The Keys to Beautiful Baths

Article by: Kimberly Perron – Resort At Home

I know this might seem like an odd question, but how does your bathroom make you feel? We typically start and end our day in the bathroom. If your bathroom greets you with cracked tiles, low sink vanities, poor lighting, and uninspired colors, it might be having an impact on your day. And while some might think that this time of uncertainty isn’t the right time to start a remodel project, imagine how much better you’ll feel everyday experiencing a fresh and stylish new bathroom.
There are just a few key elements to having a good remodel experience. The first is to have a plan. You should spend time visiting several home improvement stores, tile, flooring and plumbing suppliers, and lighting showrooms. Take pictures that you like from magazines and the internet ( is a great website for inspiration) with you shopping so that you can identify those suppliers that have items you like and you’ll know how much they cost
The second element is to create a reasonable budget. Reasonable depends on how much work you need to have done. The National Kitchen and Bath Association reported that the average cost of a bathroom remodel in 2016 is $16,000 with about 50% of all bath remodels costing between $10,000 and $30,000 and 30% of all remodels costing more than $30,000. Keep in mind that if you hire a contractor, you’ll be paying for materials, labor and overhead so you’ll need to budget for each of those as well as plan for a little contingency for any unforeseen issues.
The third element is to include conveniences that will make your bathroom more functional. Niches in shower walls eliminate the need for clunky shower organizers. If you are planning to use a shower rod, get one of the curved designs to make your shower feel much more spacious. Include extra storage with shelves and cabinets to keep the sink area clutter free which also makes the bathroom feel bigger.
And finally, infuse your plan with your personality. Unless you are planning to sell your home in the near future, you should be creating a space that makes you happy, not one that pleases everyone. If you are thinking about a bathroom or kitchen remodel, join us for one of our workshops to learn about the latest trends, get design advice on your project, templates and planning guides to take home, and a lovely catered lunch. Visit our website at to see our schedule and sign up.
Kimberly Perron is an interior stylist and the owner of Resort At Home, which creates unique spaces inspired by beautiful destinations. Visit to learn more.

Be sure to infuse your bath with your personality like this dramatic wallpaper to make you smile.

Photo by Kaunis Hetki Photography. Remodel by CDR Builders

Out2News.comOpen and closed storage add functionality while keeping the bathroom feeling light and airy.

Photo by Kaunis Hetki Photography. Remodel by CDR Builders.

5 Questions to Consider Before Downsizing Your Home

Out2News.comAs retirement approaches, your lifestyle and priorities begin to change. Chances are the days when you wanted more space – the sizeable dream home with the backyard big enough to entertain a growing family – are long gone. Instead, many retirees are looking for convenience, simplicity and accommodations more suited to their needs as “empty nesters.” As you approach this new life stage, take time to assess how your current living arrangements suit your changing lifestyle.

Here are five questions to consider as you decide whether downsizing is right for you:

1. Does your home still have the right feel?
A big house that was perfect for a family may seem overly spacious with just one or two inhabitants. It may be time to consider a change if you find that there are under-used rooms in your home or if you’re ready for a new environment. However, if you are enjoying the freedom more space brings, then your current house may be just the right fit. That might also be the case if your home is a gathering place for extended family and friends.

2. Is the upkeep sustainable?
In general, a larger house requires more work and regular investment. As you move into retirement, you may want to reduce the stress of cleaning and home projects. If working around the house and yard is something you enjoy, it may make sense to stay put. But, a smaller home will likely be less of a burden, especially if it’s move-in ready.

3. Are you ready to de-clutter?
Moving to a smaller space is a reality check for many people. All of the things you’ve been accumulating and storing for years probably won’t fit in a smaller home if you decide to downsize. That means you need to spend time going through your personal belongings to determine what’s of real value and what can go. This can take time, so it’s a good idea to get started well before it is time to move.

4. Are there cost savings?
In many situations, a larger house can be sold for a price that is higher than the cost of a smaller home. This could result in a smaller (or no) mortgage and potentially some extra money in the bank. But it is not always so simple. There are costs associated with buying, selling and moving into a new place that could impact your retirement savings if you’re not careful. Evaluate how downsizing would affect your budget and review your situation with a financial professional before taking action.

5. Where are you spending your time?
If your retirement dreams include traveling, visiting family or owning a vacation property, you may be away from home more often in retirement than you were in your working years. Having a smaller home that is easier to maintain could make sense in these situations. Alternatively, you may be looking forward to staying put and finally having time to enjoy the home you worked so hard to maintain over the years.

Downsizing doesn’t need to be rushed. Consider your priorities and if you decide to downsize, give yourself plenty of time to do it right.

Landwersiek & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

Advisor is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of NY, CT, MA, AL, GA, NJ, NH, FL.

Investment products are not federally or FDIC-insured, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.

Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.

© 2011 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

6530 S. Kanner Hwy | Stuart, FL, 34997-6396

Office: 772.233.4315 | Fax: 772.233.4316 | Mobile: 772.263.3471

Learn more at

File #1601603

Trouble Selling? Try These Fixes

Out2News.comBy: Todd Doss

If you have had your home on the market for several months in Jensen Beach and haven’t seen much activity or any offers, chances are that one or more of the reasons below are to blame.

Problem: Your price is too high
Solution: Regardless of the reason, if you’ve priced your home too high, you’ve set yourself up for a number of obstacles to selling your home. The fact is this: your home is competing against those other homes, and what buyers are willing to pay is what will determine final sale price. Competitive pricing attracts more buyers and more offers.

Problem: The look of your home
Solution: The more you can do to make your home appeal to buyers, the better your chances for a quick sale. Your best “bang for the buck” is in paint and flooring. Repainting doesn’t cost much, and will usually make the biggest impact on buyers. And, you should consider putting in new carpet. Again, it’s not that expensive but it sure does make an impact on buyers coming to look at your home.

Problem: Your home’s location
Solution: The only really reliable way to overcome a bad location is with a lower price. It’s the oldest real estate cliché, but it’s true. Things like schools, crime rates, visual appeal of the neighborhood, noise and the smell of pollution affect how the desirability of the location.

Problem: Your home isn’t easily accessible
Solution: When an agent is compiling a list of homes to show a buyer, they’ll show houses that are easiest to gain access to first. You should let your agent put a lock box on your home for easier showing. If not, do anything you can to make it convenient for agents to show your home.

What this all comes down to is having a real estate agent who is on your side and helps you make good choices about selling your home. Pick someone with great industry relationships that makes you feel confident and comfortable with selling your home.

If you or someone you know needs a real estate agent, just give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.

Personal Safety Tips for Real Estate Agents

Article By Rebecca Bradshaw

If you are a Realtor®, routines such as showing vacant homes, meeting new clients, and allowing strangers into your car are regular parts of the job. Unfortunately, so is the potential risk to your personal safety. So, what can you do to stay safe while making a sale?

Be smart when marketing yourself. Don’t use head shots that include expensive jewelry or that might be considered provocative. Personal information such as home addresses or phone numbers should never be included on websites or business cards, and to be extra cautious, limit who can see your personal social media accounts by setting them to private access only.

Meet new clients at the office or in a public place, and don’t assume that a referred client isn’t potentially dangerous. Have clients fill out information forms and get copies of driver’s licenses. Leave the copies with another person, as well as an itinerary of properties you’ll be showing, and let the client know that you’ve done so. If you must meet away from the office or after dark, take along an associate or family member.

When showing properties to clients, your safest bet is to travel in separate cars, but it that’s not possible, stay safe by staying hyper-alert. Don’t set yourself up to be robbed by leaving your purse or wallet out in the open. Keep 911 just a speed dial away, and have a coded message to let others know you are in danger without alerting your passenger. Only show properties in daylight, and always park on a street rather than in a driveway where pulling away quickly might be difficult.

Entering empty homes can be high risk; be sure others are aware of your location or take an associate with you. Since vacant houses often attract squatters, check the exterior for any signs that the property has been entered, and be alert to inside hiding places. If you encounter a squatter, leave immediately and call the police. When showing the home to a client, walk behind them, directing rather than leading, and never allow yourself to be trapped in a confined space.

Use the same precautions when holding an open house. Work with another person, and advertise that ID’s will be required; have visitors fill out information sheets at the door. Before the showing, scope out escape routes and check the strength of your cell phone’s signal. Thieves like to strike when the crowd thins, so be extra vigilant for any suspicious behavior late in the day, and don’t assume that everyone has left when the showing is over. Use the buddy system and check backyards, closets, and anywhere someone might be hiding before locking up.

Overall, the best safety measure a realtor can take is to be prepared. Attend self-defense classes, carry a whistle and pepper spray, and arm yourself with one of the wide range of phone apps and personal safety devices that are designed to get assistance to you quickly. Above all, trust your instincts–If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation or call for help.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, Housing Wire, Inman, Realtor Mag

Five Tips for Buying Your First Home

Out2News.comAre you dreaming about moving into your first home? While home hunting can be exciting, the process of buying a home can be somewhat challenging. Purchasing a home is a big financial commitment – potentially one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. With some planning, you can be ready to commit to a home with confidence. Here are some tips to help you get your finances ready for purchasing a home.

Determine your down payment and monthly housing cost. In most cases, you’ll need a minimum down payment of 10-15 percent. However, it can be advantageous to make a larger payment to reduce the interest you’ll pay and avoid fees attached to low-down-payment loans. As a benchmark, your down payment generally needs to be at least 20 percent to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones with a generous relative willing to help with your down payment. If that’s the case, ask your lender about rules pertaining to cash gifts. You can determine your monthly housing cost by adding the cost of your mortgage payment, taxes and homeowners insurance. Be sure to look at the total monthly housing cost before purchasing a home to make sure it fits into your overall budget.

Get preapproved for a home loan. With preapproval in hand from a reputable mortgage company, your offer has a better chance of being accepted. Plus, you may be able to shorten the closing period since the loan approval process has been completed. Keep in mind that getting prequalified for a loan is not the same as obtaining preapproval. Prequalification is merely an estimate of how much you may be eligible to borrow based on self-reported income information – it is not a guarantee you will receive a loan. You are still required to undergo an approval process.

Approach fixer-uppers with caution. Unless you are confident the house you’re buying has been deeply discounted based on the current housing prices in your area, you may place yourself at greater financial risk if your new home requires a lot of work. To avoid over extending yourself, look for a home that is in good shape and will stay that way for the foreseeable future. However, be realistic about what you can afford. If you have the time and know-how to retile the bathroom, paint the living room or enhance the landscaping, a moderate fixer-upper could be worth the financial investment.

Limit your demands. If you want to make a compelling offer, particularly in a strong real estate market, you may want to be selective about the conditions you’re adding to your offer. An inspection contingency is smart but asking for extensive repairs may tip the scales in favor of another buyer who is less demanding.

Do your research so you’re ready to act. Buying a home can be a very emotional decision and it’s important to go into the process well prepared. Take some time to lay out your priorities and research the market. What’s most important to you long-term – resale value, location, school district, number of bedrooms? Be practical about what you can truly afford and take the time to obtain preapproval from your bank or mortgage company. When you start seriously looking, you may have to act fast if you find the perfect house. If you’re prepared and thoughtful at the beginning of the process, you’ll be in a better position to make the right move.

Landwersiek & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

Advisor is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of NY, CT, MA, AL, GA, NJ, NH, FL.

Investment products are not federally or FDIC-insured, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.

Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.

© 2011 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

6530 S. Kanner Hwy | Stuart, FL, 34997-6396

Office: 772.233.4315 | Fax: 772.233.4316 | Mobile: 772.263.3471

Learn more at

File #1506891

Study Reveals Best Technique for Pricing a Home

The best technique for pricing a home when listing it for sale is setting the asking price just below a round number, according to recent research published by the Journal of Housing Research, an official publication of the American Real Estate Society (ARES).

“These findings will help real estate professionals and sellers of homes develop more informed listing and marketing strategies to better suit sellers’ needs,” says Ken Johnson, Ph.D., ARES publication director, real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business and co-developer of the Beracha, Hardin and Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index. “The results of this study take a lot of guess work out of the marketing of homes for real estate professionals.”

The study looked at 1,000 buyers in Virginia considering a pool of more than 370,000 listings. The researchers were able to determine the impact of “rounded pricing” listing strategies versus “just below pricing” listing strategies.

“Our study suggests that by using the just below pricing strategy sellers can price their home slightly higher without driving away potential buyers,” says Eli Beracha, Ph.D., of Florida International University, who conducted the study with Michael J. Seiler, Ph.D., of The College of William & Mary. “As a result, they end up selling their house for more.”

How does dropping your asking price ever so slightly impact the final outcome?

“On average, buyers are more attracted to a house priced at $199,000 than to a house priced at $200,000 and it appears that ‘just below’ pricing works out favorably for sellers in terms of their bottom line,” Beracha explains. “Based on our research, the ‘just below’ pricing strategy yields a selling price that is, on average, roughly 2.5 to 3 percent higher, $5,000 to $6,000 on a $200,000 house, compared with a rounded pricing listing strategy.”

While residential real estate agents widely disagree on the appropriate pricing strategy to use when listing residential real estate for sale, the researchers found that homebuyers more often prefer homes priced using a “just below” pricing strategy. This preference allows sellers to list their home for a higher initial listing price.

On the other hand, due to the demand effect, rounded priced homes typically have shorter time on the market and a lower discount relative to listing price. Their findings suggest that sellers’ ability to set higher listing prices for properties using a “just below” pricing strategy outweighs the lower discount and shorter time on the market associated with similar rounded priced strategy homes.

“We tested the age-old debate concerning the best technique to price a home when listing it for sale,” Seiler says. “We find that using a price just below a round number works best, particularly in connection to the left-most digit in the price. So, $199,000 works better than $200,000.”

For more information, visit

8 Steps to Finding the Perfect Neighborhood

You’ve made the decision to move from one home to another. Exciting, isn’t it? While you peruse the internet and drive around taking in the sights of several new-home hopefuls, have you considered the immediate location of your potential places? If our house is the ultimate picture of homestead happiness that we hope to see ourselves in, then the neighborhood is the frame in which that picture is encased. We have gathered a few points of perfection for your new neighborhood.

Pinpoint Your Wants

Before setting foot in a home, sit down with your family to list out what you want in your new neighborhood. You should of course consider the price point of the house, but don’t stop there. Think on the small things that make your life pleasurable such as sidewalks or access to a pool. What kind of space do you want between you and your neighbors? Do you want to live in a Neighborhood Watch Protected Area? Are you looking for a single-family home or something different? This list of neighborhood wants will serve as a great jumping off point.

Valuing the View

As you make your way through each neighborhood, take in the view and we don’t just mean the scenery. Look at the other houses surrounding your potential home. Do your neighbors keep the yards well manicured? What about the upkeep of the homes themselves, such as paint jobs and gutters? Observe the signage, too. Are there several rental signs? If so, your neighbors may fluctuate on a more than desirable basis. What about foreclosures? Considering these points will give you an idea of how well your home will hold its value.

Commute and Convenience

When deciding where to live, remember that much of our time is spent outside of the home. Consider your commute time to your 40-hour a week home away from home. If you have children, choose a house close to their school, especially if they are involved in after-school activities that will take you there more than five times a week. Close proximity to your most frequented locations will give you more time to enjoy your new house and less time in your car.

Pondering Potential Expenses

Besides the price tag of the mortgage, the neighborhood that you choose can also affect your monthly expenses. For starters, property taxes differ depending on what county and state you reside in. At times, development within an area can also raise property taxes. Further still, some neighborhoods have monthly or annual HOA fees. A Homeowner’s Association can regulate the upkeep of your home and mandate certain updates that could potentially cost you money.

Cruise and Observe

All neighborhoods seem to take on a culture of their own. Try to get an idea for the feel of the neighborhood before you sign on the dotted line. Cruise through at all hours of the day and after dark. Once the sun dips down, are there people still out? Are there families around? Do you see several cars parked on the road or are they garage kept? These are just a few of the clues that give us an idea of what sort of neighborhood we are buying into.

Sights, Sounds, and Smells

We’ve covered several points on the sights already, but let’s hammer that one home. Take a look at your potential immediate neighbors’ houses. Make note if they have anything, such as a tarp covered car or a broken down fence that may be less than desirable to look at each day. When cruising through at various hours, try to notice whether or not the neighbors are loud. What about the buzz of a busy road? Finally, take a whiff of the air. It may sound strange, but you never know if there may be a sewer backup or a stagnant body of water nearby.

Basic Coverage

When you are assessing your neighborhood, research goes a long way. Look up the crime rates in the various possible home locations. Review your family’s collective personality. When it comes to your lifestyle, think about local points of interest that you want to be close to. For example, an avid outdoors explorer will want to have rural terrain nearby. A family who eats out more than they eat in will want plenty of eateries to choose from. If you consider the type of person you are now, then your home’s location will cater to it.

Future Focused

Our final point focuses on any future changes coming down the pike. Are you planning on having children or are your children going to graduate upwards to a new school while at this house and, if so, all the schools they will attend should be nearby. What about job changes? Think about when you may change houses again and what this neighborhood’s value will do.

Save time and heartache by considering these neighborhood points before buying. With a little pre-planning, your home will be centered in a location that you love as much as the house!


The Home Design Center of Florida

Stuart -The Home Design Center of Florida and you will experience a one stop shop when it comes to kitchen design and remodeling. Experience the latest styles in kitchen, and flooring design from the industry’s leading manufacturers.

The showroom experience is created to be a one-on-one intimate interaction where our experts can give the time and energy each project deserves. Our customers come back to us for the same reason every time: the people. Not only do we offer experts to help you in your home remodel, but we set a purpose to have the proper amount of time to make sure the end result of each project exceeds the expectation of our customer every time.

Services Provided: Kitchen and bathroom remodeling, countertops, painting, flooring, rough and finish carpentry,

Areas Served: Treasure Coast, Indian River & Palm Beach County

Certifications and Awards: Certified IICRC Water Technician

7802 SE Ellipse Way, Stuart, FL 34997,  772-223-8400