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Winter Decor Ideas for Your Home on Sanibel Island

Winter DecorThe holidays are approaching, and once the decorations are down, how do you add some winter charm to your Sanibel home to make it feel like winter? Here are a few ideas to give a wintery look to your bright, sunny home in Florida.

Use Bold Colors

Bolder colors will warm up your home. Consider colors like burgundy, navy blue, emerald green, and ebony. Sprinkle a few accent pieces with these colors throughout your home, layering an assortment of colors, patterns, and textures. Maybe add a nice rug to the floor in your living room or bedroom.

Brighten Up the Linens

Swamp out any white, neutral, gray, or beige linens with colorful linens. Adding bursts of color will help create a warmer feel. Bring out some colorful throws and pillows to add more warmth to the room. You probably won’t need heavier linens in Southwest Florida, just more colors to make your home feel warm and cozy. 

Spruce Up Your Patio

Add some pillows and lightweight blankets to your patio furniture. Add a few bursts of color to winterize your porch. Keep some of the evergreen trimmings from your Christmas tree, and put them into a pot with a few pine cones wrapped in colorful strings of yarn.  

Winter Fragrances

Let’s not forget to bring in the scent of the season with a bowl of potpourri and pine cones or a cozy candle. Aim for wintery fragrances like pine needles, evergreen, pinecones, cypress, or cinnamon. 

If you have any questions about Sanibel Island real estate opportunities, contact Kingfisher Real Estate.

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    Renting vs Buying: Which is Right for You?

    Renting or Buying a HomeIf you’ve been renting properties for a while, you may be wondering when you’ll be ready and able to have a home of your own. Especially when looking at island homes, there are a lot of things to consider before making a decision. Here are some questions to ask yourself to figure out if renting or buying is right for you.

    Do you move frequently?

    Renting a home requires less commitment and is usually a better option for people who move around a lot. Even if you aren’t required to travel for your job, if you are a spontaneous person who doesn’t like things to stay the same for too long, renting may be the best option for you. When you rent you’re not responsible for home maintenance, which allows you to leave for longer periods of time without having to worry. On the flip side, if you’re a homebody who likes to make a space your own, buying would be the better option. When you own your home, you don’t have to ask the landlord’s permission to paint the walls or otherwise personalize the space. It is your own!

    Are you financially equipped to buy a home?

    This one may seem obvious, but it is the most important. Being financially ready to buy a home usually means having minimal debt and a good-standing credit score, and having enough savings for a downpayment. You should also think about job security - can you rely on an income for at least the next year? If you lose your job or receive a demotion, will you still be able to afford your mortgage? It can be scary to think about things that may not go as planned, but it’s important to consider all the possibilities so you don’t end up in over your head. If you have substantial savings for emergencies, you should feel more secure in your decision to buy.

    Are you prepared for added costs?

    There are a lot of expenses that become your responsibility once you own a home that you didn’t have to think about while renting. For instance, homeowners have to pay property tax, and renters do not. Also, homeowners cover the cost of home maintenance that a renter's landlord would cover, and they also have to pay for home insurance, which can cost a lot more than renter’s insurance. Owning a home is an investment that can pay you huge returns, but those returns won’t come right away, so preparing for a costly first few years is important. 

    Which is more important to you: Stability or Flexibility?

    When asking the question “what is right for me?”, it’s essential that you think about what you value most in your life. For some people, tying themselves down to one place feels suffocating. For these people, having the flexibility to move with little to no notice may be more important than the stability that comes with owning your own home. Buying a home is a huge investment and some people may not be ready for that level of commitment, which is okay. That’s why we rent! On the other hand, other people may find the constant moving and property search draining. If you’re someone who likes to lock things in for the long-term and is looking to settle down, you should consider buying. 

    If you have any questions about buying a home in Sanibel or Captiva, contact Kingfisher Real Estate today.

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      Fun Fall Activities on Sanibel Island

      Sanibel Island Things to Do in Fall SeasonFall on Sanibel Island is not your typical picture of the autumn season. The leaves stay green and the air stays a balmy 80 degrees well into September, making it the perfect place to visit if you want to extend your summer by a few months. There’s still plenty to do and it will be less crowded than the more popular summer and winter seasons. Here are some ideas of fun things to do while on Sanibel in the Fall:

      Tennis and Golf

      There is no shortage of golf and tennis facilities on Sanibel Island, and the cooler fall temperatures make it the perfect time to work on your game without working up too much of a sweat. Most facilities have daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rates to choose from. So whether you want to become a regular at the courts or just want to have a fun day with the family, Sanibel’s facilities have got you covered. Sanibel Island Golf Club offers facilities for both sports, and The Sanctuary Golf Club does the same. If you’re just interested in tennis, be sure to check out Beachview Tennis Club and Blackwood Tennis, which has one location on either end of the island. 

      Visit Historical and Cultural Sites

      While beach-going and sunbathing are definitely still possible and popular activities during the fall, it can be good to take a break from the beach and visit just some of the many historically significant sites around Sanibel Island. The most popular of these sites is the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village that offers both guided and self-guided tours of the island’s history through photographs, exhibits, and live presentations. Another popular site is the Sanibel Island Lighthouse, which was built in 1884 and is the perfect spot to watch the sunset or have a picnic. One more must-see spot on Sanibel is the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, which is both a teaching hospital and visitor education center that dedicates its time to saving wildlife. CROW is a great place to visit to understand the importance of maintaining the mutually beneficial relationship that residents of Sanibel Island have with wildlife. 

      Biking Tours

      Biking is one of the most popular activities on Sanibel Island, no matter the season. With almost 35 miles of paved biking trails, Sanibel is definitely the place to be during the fall months. Many people come to Sanibel to submerge themselves in nature, which is why the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a top spot for bikers and nature enthusiasts alike. Admission to this four mile trail is only $1, and it includes an education center where you can learn more about all the wildlife you saw on your ride. If you want to bike to a beautiful destination, try biking to Bowman’s beach, which is one of Sanibel’s most beautiful yet most secluded beaches and is accessible as it’s located in the midpoint of the island. 

      Attend Area Festivals

      Sanibel Island has an amazing community that comes together for days of fun and exploration. One of these days is “Ding” Darling Day, where people gather at the wildlife reserve for tram tours, live wildlife presentations, origami, birding tours, hot dogs, archery, kids crafts, wildlife yoga, nature sketching, and other fun activities. They also offer free paddleboarding clinics, as well as discounts on kayak rentals and tours and boating excursions all day. “Ding” Darling Day is held in mid-October and is the perfect way to get a taste of the Sanibel Island culture and interact with some of the locals.

      For more information about Sanibel Island or real estate opportunities in the area, contact Kingfisher Real Estate.

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        Types of Mortgages

        Types of Mortgages for Home BuyersBuying a home is a big commitment. One of the first steps is to talk with your bank or mortgage broker to find out your different types of mortgage options.

        Conventional Mortgage

        A conventional mortgage is one that is not insured by the federal government. There are two types of conventional mortgage loans, conforming and non-conforming. A conforming loan falls within the maximum limits that are set by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. This type of loan is ideal for a buyer that has a strong credit score, stable income and job history, and at least a percentage of the down payment. 

        Jumbo Mortgage

        A jumbo mortgage loan is for the houses that home prices exceed the federal loan limits. These loans are common in areas where the home prices are higher than the average cost. Additional documentation is often required to qualify for a jumbo mortgage loan. Qualifiers often need to have at least have a 10-20% down payment, show significant assets, and a strong credit score.

        Government-Insured Mortgage

        While the government isn’t a mortgage lender, it does have three agencies that help back mortgages in the United States: the federal housing administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  

        Loans from the Federal Housing Administration are for those who don’t have a large down payment and/or credit that could use improvement. 

        Department of Agriculture loans help those in rural areas qualify for a mortgage loan with lower-income borrowers. 

        Veterans Affairs loans are available to active and retired members of the US military and their families. VA loans don’t require a down payment and closing costs are generally capped. 

        Fixed-Rate Mortgage

        Fixed-rate mortgages offer terms of 15, 20, or 30 years, which means that your interest rate is set for the lifetime of the loan. Your monthly loan payment will stay the same each month. 

        Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

        An adjustable-rate mortgage fluctuates up and down based on the market conditions. An adjustable-rate mortgage could save you a lot in interest payments over the years. However, one disadvantage is that the monthly payments are not set and could change drastically from month to month. 

        Ready to find your new home? Contact Kingfisher Real Estate today or check out our recommended searches.

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          How to Stage Your Home Like a Pro

          Staging Your Home to SellStaging is one of the most important steps to add value and versatility to your home. Steps like depersonalizing and decluttering help convince buyers that your house could become their new home, but there are some extra steps that can really make your home stand out. Remember, it’s all about the buyer, which means sweeping away the past to make way for the future. Keep reading for tips on how to most effectively stage your home.

          Hide the Mundane

          Your home should look like a place where people could imagine themselves living, but it shouldn’t look like someone is already living there. Eliminating clutter and hiding maintenance items, such as dish towels, extra cooking utensils, and laundry detergent is an important step to optimizing the appearance of rooms. Doing this makes the house feel like more of a blank canvas upon which the buyer can create their home, thus making them more likely to buy. 

          Prioritize Key Rooms

          When it comes to staging your home, remember that not all rooms are created equal. If you have limited time or budget, you’ll want to focus on the “money rooms” first. According to a 2017 report by the National Association of Realtors, the rooms that have the most influence on a buyer’s decisions are the kitchen, the living room, and the master bedroom. Giving these rooms some extra love can make all the difference in selling your home. Making a good first impression is also key, so make sure the front entrance of your home looks clean and inviting. Remove any seasonal or personal decorations in favor of some fresh-looking plants or a nice doormat. 

          Stick to Neutral Colors

          While bright colors are the perfect way to add a personal touch to your new home, they can often turn buyers off, especially if the color is on a wall, carpet, or something that would be hard to change. Although this can be time consuming and a little more cost intensive, painting over brightly colored walls with neutral tones (grey, white, beige) can make all the difference in making your home more versatile and appealing to buyers. While some buyers may appreciate a brightly colored wall, most would prefer to choose the color and placement of their statement piece to make the home feel more their own. 

          Appeal to All the Senses

          When staging your home, appearance is the priority, but smell and climate are also important factors. Before buyers enter your home, make sure it is a comfortable temperature and try to have good airflow. This could mean cracking a window and turning on some fans in the summer, or making sure every room is warm (but not too warm) in the winter. Although most people don’t think about it, giving your home a pleasant but subtle scent is also beneficial. You should always deep clean your home before showing it, but make sure there are no harsh chemical smells when the buyer comes. Adding flowers to a room can help, both with smell and appearance, or you could use fake flowers and a subtle air freshener for the same effect. 

          If you’re thinking about selling your home in Sanibel or Captiva, contact Kingfisher Real Estate to learn how we can help you.

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            5 Ways to Stay Cool During Your Summer Move

            Summer Moving Tips: Staying Cool The first official day of summer is almost here and summer is the most popular season for moving. If you’re planning to move into your new home this summer, here are some tips to help you stay cool. 

            Get an Early Morning Start

            The temperatures in the morning are much cooler than the temperatures in the afternoon. Try to wake up early and take advantage of these cooler temperatures. Plus, movers usually like to get an early start so they will appreciate it.

            Stay Hydrated

            Bring plenty of water with you and remember to drink it often. Drinking water helps reduce your chances of dehydration and heat exhaustion. Take breaks frequently and remember to quench your thirst with some fresh H2O.

            Use Sunscreen

            Don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen, whether it’s a spray or a lotion. It’s best to use a sunscreen that is SPF30 or higher and water resistant. Try to apply it about 15 minutes before going out in the sun and again every couple of hours.

            Keep Cold Towels Handy

            Pack a few cold wet towels with some ice in a cooler. Break them out when you or your movers start to feel hot. This is a great way to reduce your body temperature. Put the towel around your neck for a few minutes and use them to wipe the sweat from your face.

            Dress Cool

            Wearing loose fitting, light weight, and breathable clothing will help you stay cool. Light colored clothing works best because dark colors absorb the sun and heat, which will make you feel even hotter. You can also wear a hat to keep the sun off your head and face. 

            Be sure to contact Kingfisher Real Estate for all of your home buying and selling needs on Southwest Florida’s Captiva & Sanibel Islands.

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              How to Buy a Home Virtually

              Buying a Home VirtuallyWith all of the recent restrictions, you might be asking yourself: How am I going to do a walkthrough of a potential home? How will I meet with my agent? What does the home buying process look like? Amidst the pandemic, the real estate industry has had to adapt even more to the new normal. At Kingfisher Real Estate we understand that things may be different, but we are as committed as ever to helping you find your dream home. Below is a step by step guide on how you can purchase a home virtually. If you have any questions we’d be happy to help, contact us online or by phone. 

              Start Your Search Online

              Most home searches these days start with an online search. This is a good way to understand what properties are available in the area you want to live and how much homes are currently selling for. 

              Get started today by browsing our most popular searches or try our advanced search tool

              Get Mortgage Approval

              Once you’ve looked around and are ready to make the commitment to find a new home, it’s time to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Try our Mortgage Calculator tool to get an idea of how much you may be able to afford. Many banks have converted to a virtual method or you can find a mortgage website. It’s essential to get pre-approved so that you can be realistic about how much you can spend. Be sure to have at least your last two W2’s, two month’s worth of bank statements, and your most recent pay stubs. Once you’ve been preapproved, you will receive a preapproval letter, which becomes important as you move through the buying process.

              Choose Your Real Estate Agent

              An agent will become your biggest confidant during this time. They are the experts on the market, the neighborhoods, the available listings, school ratings, taxes, and more in an area. He or she can tour listings for you and send you photos or videos that online listings may have left out. Our team at Kingfisher Real Estate are the local experts for Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Find the right agent for you.

              Find Your Perfect Home

              Once you find your agent, connect with them to go over what you’re looking for in a home. Bring up some listings that you found in your research. They’re going to want to know details such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, acreage, and proximity to schools. Agents often have information on homes that haven’t yet hit websites and additional footage from virtual tours that may not have made it into the final cut. 

              Have an agent walk you through the house on FaceTime or another virtual service. Think about all the questions and places you would look in, in person, be sure to do the same thing virtually. Be sure to have them open cabinets, look out windows, and show you the street and other homes in the neighborhood so that you get the full impact of the home. You should be asking as many questions as possible if an in-person home tour isn’t available. 

              Write an Offer Letter

              After you’ve viewed all of the homes that fit your criteria and you’ve found one that you like, it’s time for your agent to write an offer letter. The seller has three options after the letter has been submitted: to accept, reject, or counter offer. Your agent will help you navigate through this process. 

              The Closing

              Once you and the seller have reached an agreement, it’s time for closing. You will need to get the home appraised, which is where the bank evaluates the home and ensures that they are not loaning you more than they think the home is worth. Once they’ve finished the appraisal, the mortgage company will finish underwriting your loan and verifying your financial information. 

              Next, you should schedule a home inspection to make sure everything about the home is as you think. This is especially important when buying a home online. An inspector will point out anything that is wrong with the home and needs repair. Anything that comes up in the inspection can either be repaired before closing or taken off the final price of the home. This needs to be negotiated with the seller before the closing.

              Once the closing is completed, you can move into your home!

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                How to Find Your Dream Home on Sanibel Island

                Home Buyers Finding a Home OnlineWith all of the uncertainty the world is going through today, you may think it’s not easy to find your dream home. Even though things are different right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t go ahead and find a home. Finding the right home takes time and Kingfisher Real Estate has plenty of helpful online resources. We are still here to help you through the home buying process, too.

                Start Your Search Online

                View the latest listings by browsing all of our recommended searches. Here are some of our most popular searches. 

                Kingfisher’s MLS tool allows you to create filters and customize your home search. The results will match your criteria so you can find available properties that are just right for you.

                Helpful Resources for Buyers & Sellers

                Use the links below to access our resources for home buyers and sellers.

                We are here for you and we are ready to help you! If you have any questions or need more information about buying or selling on Sanibel Island, contact Kingfisher Real Estate.

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                  Spring Home Buying Tips for Sanibel Island

                  Home Buying in Southwest FloridaSpring is a popular season for home buying. Typically, there are more homes on the market, so you’ll have more to choose from. There are also more home buyers searching for homes, so this gives you more competition. Here are a few tips to help you get started with the home buying process this spring.

                  Get Pre-Approved

                  If you have a pre-approval letter in hand, this will get you off to a great start. It will prove to sellers that you’re a serious buyer and you’ve already started the process with a bank or lender. Being pre-approved means you can act quickly when you find a home you’re interested in buying.

                  Find an Agent

                  Look for a trusted local agent who will give you the highest level of buyer representation. Choose an experienced agent who knows the local market. Your agent will be able to guide you through the process so you can make sound real estate decisions that are right for you and your specific goals.

                  Determine How Much House You Can Really Afford

                  If you’re already pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll know the loan amount you qualify for based on your income and credit information. You’ll also want to consider your other monthly expenses and the amount of savings for a down payment. Remember, you don’t have to max out your pre-approval amount when you buy a house.

                  Make a List of Your Needs & Wants

                  For many homebuyers, your budget doesn’t allow you to get every single thing you want in a home. This is why it’s a good idea to make a needs versus wants list. Focus on your must haves and also make a list of your preferred features. Read more about how to create a needs versus wants checklist

                  Find the Right Home

                  • Start your search. Use our advanced custom search tool. Listings on Kingfisher’s site are updated daily. Use our MLS tool to create a customized search for properties that meet your criteria.
                  • Save your favorites. Create a free account and we’ll send you email notifications about new listings that match your criteria.
                  • Check out our recommended search categories. You can view properties by location, type, and more.
                  • See something you like? Use our free mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly payments.

                  Our realtors live, work, and play in Sanibel & Captiva and we would love to help you find your new home. Contact Kingfisher Real Estate today to learn more about our services for home buyers.

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                    3 Fun Ways to Spend Valentine's Day in Sanibel & Captiva Island

                    This year, Valentine's Day falls on a Friday, offering the perfect, romantic way to start off your weekend. This holiday is the perfect day of the year to change up your everyday date night and do something a little bit different. Below, are three of our favorite things to do in the islands. 

                    Sanibel Island Florida

                     

                     

                     

                     

                     

                    Cook a Sunset Dinner on the Beach:

                    Both Captiva and Sanibel Islands feature beaches that have BBQ grills on them, creating the perfect backdrop to cook a sunset dinner with your partner. Bowman's Beach on Sanibel Island is known for being pristine and quiet. The beach has nature trails and places to launch canoes or kayaks for fun activities after dinner is completed. 
                     

                    Bike on the Beach in Florida

                    Rent a Bike and Go For a Ride:

                    Rent a bike and ride along Sanibel Island's 27-miles of bike paths. Stop along the way to explore beaches and discover wildlife preserves. Bike to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum to learn from highly trained marine biologists about the importance of shells.
                     

                    Boating in Florida

                    Book a Romantic Cruise:

                    Port Sanibel Marina offers several options for fun-filled boat cruises and tours. While waiting for your cruise to start, take a walk on the mile-long Nature Boardwalk, or sit on one of the three seating areas to gave at the water. Be sure to make sure your reservation ahead of time, as they are required. 

                     

                    Kingfisher Real Estate helps home buyers and sellers on Sanibel Island. Contact us today for your Sanibel real estate needs, or if you want to hear more about the area. 

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