White Russian

White Russian
By: Judie Mackie

Coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
Cream or milk

Fill your glass with ice. Put vodka in your glass up to the 1/3 line.
Add enough Kahlua to make your glass 1/2 full.
Make sure your glass is still bursting to the rim with ice and top it
off with 2% milk (or cream).


Home & Condo Sales Improve in 2Q; Is This A Sign of Market Rebound?

Of course we hear the news daily that the market is sinking deeper, but then this is the type of news that keeps the news media alive. When you look at the real numbers there is a speck of light at the end of the tunnel, and it may not be the headlight on the engine. I was reading this article from the Florida Association of Realtors and found it interesting, and I felt it was worth sharing.

During the second quarter of 2008, Florida Realtors continued to report positive signs for the state’s housing sector, such as an increase in pending home sales (based on contracts signed but not closed) and a slower rate of expansion of inventory levels in some areas.

Sales of both existing single-family homes and existing condominiums improved in second quarter 2008 from the first quarter of the year, according to the latest housing statistics from the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR). A total of 35,178 existing homes sold statewide in 2Q 2008, up 38.2 percent over 1Q 2008 when 25,443 homes sold. The statewide existing home median price in 2Q 2008 was $203,000, slightly higher than the $202,300 median price reported in 1Q 2008.

In the state’s existing condo market, a total of 11,343 units sold in 2Q 2008, a 32.2 percent increase over 1Q 2008 when 8,581 units changed hands. The statewide existing condo median price in 2Q 2008 was $181,100, an increase of 1.5 percent from 1Q 2008.

“Across the state, we are seeing positive signs for Florida’s housing market,” says 2008 FAR President Chuck Bonfiglio. “Realtors are reporting heightened interest from buyers, more business activity and an increase in pending sales. Prices also appear to be reaching equilibrium in many areas, another encouraging sign that could boost the market’s momentum.”

Looking at the year-to-year quarterly comparison, a total of 35,178 single-family existing homes changed hands during the three-month period, a decrease of 6 percent compared to 37,407 homes sold during the same time a year earlier, according to FAR records. The statewide existing-home median sales price was $203,000 in the second quarter; a year ago, it was $241,200 for a decrease of 16 percent. In 2003, the second-quarter statewide median sales price was $154,700, which reflects an increase of 31.2 percent over the five-year period. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half for less.

To gain insight into current trends in Florida’s real estate industry, the University of Florida’s Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies conducts a quarterly survey of industry executives, market research economists, real estate scholars and other experts. The second quarter 2008 survey found the long-term outlook for Florida remains positive. “As long as the United States economy has bright prospects and particularly as long as Florida has good prospects, it’s very hard I think to make a case for a long-term picture that’s negative,” says Wayne Archer, director of UF’s Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. He added that the logical time for market cycles to change is likely the spring of 2009.

In a year-to-year quarterly comparison of condo sales, 11,343 units sold statewide for the quarter compared to 12,585 in 2Q 2007 for a 10 percent decrease. The statewide existing-condo median sales price was $181,100 for the three-month period; in 2Q 2007, it was $215,300 for a 16 percent decrease.

Continuing low mortgage rates remain another favorable influence on the housing sector. According to Freddie Mac, the national commitment rate for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.09 percent in second quarter 2008; one year earlier, it averaged 6.37 percent.

The latest industry outlook from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicts improvements in existing home sales in the coming months, with broader gains seen by the fourth quarter as buyers take advantage of new provisions provided through the recently approved housing stimulus legislation. “With a tax credit now available to first-time homebuyers, increases in home sales could be sustained with the momentum carrying into 2009,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Carmel Corn

Caramel Pop CornThis is a great Friday or Saturday night treat to enjoy whether watching a movie or simply sitting around solving all the problems of the world. This quick and easy recipe will do the trick!

Caramel Corn
Submitted by: Nick Deonas

2 sticks butter
1 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup light kayro syrup
1/2 teas. vanilla
1/2 teas. baking soda
1 (8 oz.) bag of pop corn

In a saucepan add the butter, brown sugar and syrup. On medium heat bring to a slow rolling boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla (it will foam) and baking soda. Put pop corn in a roasting pan and pour the mixture over the corn puffs and stir to coat. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes. Ohhhh, This is Good !!

How to Stage Your Home for a Sale

How to Stage Your Home for a Sale
By: Nick Deonas

The Real Estate market today is challenging to say the least. Not only are Real Estate professionals feeling the pinch, for sale by owners are also suffering. There are many things that need to be done to a home in these trying times.

Just as you would prepare for a trip, you also need to prepare your home for selling. These are just a few tips that will help.
Potential buyers make their decision to purchase your home in the first 30 seconds upon entering. First impression is the key to selling your home fast and for top dollar.

In addition, well staged homes sell 30-50% faster than their counterparts.

  1. De-Clutter, Clean, and/or Organize all rooms in the house – This should be your very 1st step. This includes kitchen countertops and cupboards. Countertops and shelves should not be filled with food and appliances. You want your kitchen space to appear large, clean and functional.
  2. Address any and all repairs that need attention. Inspect your house inside and out to search for cracks, etc. The small investment of time and money will mean a bigger return when it comes to the sale price.
  3. Keep the bathroom as bare as possible, never leave your personals in view when showing your home. In fact, depersonalising your whole property is a powerful selling tip. Buyers will be more attracted to your house when they can imagine themselves living there. To make your house look lived-in without looking like anyone actually lives there, pack away into storage:
    All family photos
    Holiday souvenirs
    Trophies & certificates
    Collectible items
    Children’s artwork
  4. Home Gyms that haven’t been used in months
  5. Whether selling professionally or by yourself, make sure you have some fliers made up with details and photos of your house for prospective buyers to take away with them.
  6. Know that an open house should appeal to all five of the senses:

    Reach out and touch someone.
    Sight: Open the blinds and drapes to let in natural light. Keep clutter away and consider keeping your pet out of the home for that day.
    Smell: Put out flowers and candles in the main rooms of the home and a colorful bowl of fruit on the dining table.
    Taste: A hot pot of coffee helps with taste and smell also.
    Hearing: Turn off the sound on all television sets and computers, and have some easy listening or jazz music playing in the background softly.
    Touch: Have your guests sit on the softest couch, and make sure everything is clean and dust-free.
    Space: When showing guests around your property, let them enter the room first. In smaller rooms like the bathrooms, stay at the door. Too many bodies can make a small space feel even smaller.

It’s Show Time:
You are putting your home on display, so present it well! If you don’t think you have an eye for presentation, ask one of your friends or family to prepare your house for you. If you can’t see a problem with clothes lying around and sticky floors, get someone else to present your house for you!
– Pay them if necessary – as presentation is so important in presenting your house.

Remember: you are decorating your home for someone else so keeping that in mind will help you to make purchases that will appeal to the masses.
– De-clutter your home as well as deep cleaning will work wonders, and will show to potential buyers that the house is in stellar condition.
– Every room in the home, including the garage and decks, should be absolutely clean. Empty waste baskets and garbage pails daily. Try to keep pets out doors along with their litter boxes and food bowls during showings. Try to relax during this stressful process.

Things You’ll Need
You may need to make a few purchases – maybe new bed covers, sofa pillows, flowers, etc. Make the purchase needed to update the home so that it will show well. You will certainly see a return on your investment.

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