Retrofitting Your Tampa Bay Home for Energy Efficiency

Energy efficient buildings and products have been around for quite a while.  Having a home that is environmentally friendly can reduce your monthly utility bills while reducing harm to the environment.

When choosing which items to add or replace in your home it is important to evaluate the cost of the item vs the return you will see.  Many energy saving items that can be added to your home have a relatively quick payback period such as

  • Programmable thermostats
  • Additional insulation or weather stripping
  • Jacket insulation on hot water heaters
  • On-demand hot water heaters
  • Low flow toilets

Other ways to go green and save on utilities include

  • Xeriscaping your yard by using native plants which require less water and us mulch appropriately
  • Replacing old appliances with newer more efficient units that have a higher Energy Star rating
  • Use ceiling fans to add air flow to a room and help you feel cooler
  • Recycling and reusing rainwater
  • Use public transportation or walk or bike to your destination when possible

You can tighten your homes airflow to reduce heat and air conditioning losses by

  • Caulk and insulate where air leakage is suspected
  • Check windows and doors for air leaks and install weatherstripping
  • Clean and maintain air conditioners and furnaces

You will find even making small changes will have an impact on both your utility bills and your impact on the environment.

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Century 21 Shaw Realty





Kiefer Jewelers in Lutz Saves the Day

Tuesday is my mother’s birthday and our family held a luncheon birthday party for her Sunday at Outback.  Being your typical mom she insisted upon no gifts.  We all agreed.  Or at least thought we did.  Until Sunday morning came around and I simply could not go to the party without something to give my mother!

Panic began to set in, it’s Sunday morning, what’s open where I can purchase something beautiful and thoughtful?  Plus the lunch started at 1:00 so I needed to be finished shortly after 12:00 so we had time to get to the restaurant.

I checked online and found Kiefer Jeweler’s opened at noon.  Mom has a soft spot for jewelry.  Erin and I were outside when they opened up at noon.  Two years ago I bought her a Pandora bracelet she loves.  I decided to look at their charm collection and see what I could find.  They had several different birthday charms to choose from.  Thankfully Erin was with me and helped, I would have picked the wrong one on my own!

While the saleswoman carefully wrapped the gift we had a chance to look around.  They have lots of beautiful pieces.  Along with Pandora they also carry Alex and Ani, several bridal collections and many other jewelry designers I have never heard of!  Plus they do repairs and watch batteries.  I will be back!

We were able to make it to the lunch on time.  Both of my brothers were there along with my cousins, uncle, daughter in law as well as my father, my husband, Erin and I.  All of us disobeyed mom and got her a little something!  And yes, she loved her charm.  It was a filigree heart with an opal birthstone, perfect for her.  (I almost chose the red charm that said Happy Birthday on it…I liked it!)

Thank you Kiefer Jewelry for helping me put a smile on my mothers face for her birthday!

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Century 21 Shaw Realty


1031 Exchange Basics

Do you have investment property you want to sell?  Are you going to purchase another piece of investment property?  Then you might be interested in a 1031 Exchange.  A 1031 Exchange allows you to sell one piece of investment property and “exchange” it for another while delaying taxes on the gains you might incur.  The best way to find out if you are a candidate for this type of transaction is to speak with your accountant and attorney, but I can share some of the basics with you.

The property in question must be investment property.  You cannot do a 1031 on your personal residence (there are other ways to save on those), your second home, or a home you bought to fix up and flip.  It can be your rental property or investment property.

You will need to find a trusted Qualified Intermediary or QI to help in the transaction.  When you sell your property the proceeds may not be paid to you, they must be paid to your QI who is acting as a “safe harbor” in the transaction.  If the check is accidentally made out to you during the closing you lose your eligibility to participate in this type of tax savings.

Once the sale on your first property (relinquished property) is complete you will have 45 days to identify a new property (replacement property), to purchase.  You must complete the transaction within 180 days.  If for any reason you do not identify your replacement properties within 45 days you will not be able to access your money until the end of the 180 days.  Your QI and I will be keeping you informed about the important non negotiable time line the IRS has established.

There are three types of exchanges, simultaneous, delayed and reverse.  Simultaneous exchange is when you have already selected your replacement property and the purchase occurs immediately after closing on the sale of your relinquished property.  A delayed exchange occurs when the replacement property is purchased between 2 and 180 days after the closing on the first property, this is the most common.  A reverse exchange is when the replacement property is purchased and closed on before the relinquished property is sold.  It can be done, however it is more difficult and more expensive to do a reverse exchange.

I hope the basic information I have provided answers some of your questions on 1031 Exchanges.  You need a knowledgeable CPA, experienced attorney and an educated Realtor® on your team to assist in this process.

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Century 21 Shaw Realty





What a Tampa Bay Area Appraiser Looks For

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Often during a home purchase one of the most nerve wracking time periods is waiting for an appraisal.  What is an appraisal, and why do we need one?

An appraisal provides an unbiased opinion of value for a home as of a specific date.  An appraiser looks at the overall marketability of the property for resale under normal market conditions.  Your lender will require one on any home you purchase or refinance.  Other times an appraisal might be needed are during a divorce, evaluating an estate or during a bankruptcy.

Here are some things an appraiser looks for when evaluating a home-


  • Type and condition of roof, trim, soffit, fascia, gutters and downspouts
  • Type and condition of exterior siding
  • Types of windows and are there screens
  • Type and condition of any porches
  • Type and condition of garages, carports and driveways
  • Landscaping
  • Condition of surrounding properties and general price range
  • What utilities serve the home, are they private or public
  • Makeup of neighborhood
  • Measurements of exterior
  • Style of exterior
  • It the community and HOA, gated community, deed restricted, public or private roads


  • Detailed information on number of rooms, dimensions, type of flooring, walls, ceilings and condition
  • Square footage
  • Materials and condition on bathroom flooring, walls, fixtures and exhaust fans
  • Handrails on stairs
  • Condition of kitchen and appliances
  • Number of bedrooms and closets
  • Attics- are there floors?  are they insulated? is there water leakage from roof?
  • Type of insulation in walls and roof
  • Air Conditioner, what kind of system, age, condition
  • Electrical systems working and condition
  • Plumbing leaks materials used in pipes
  • Physical deterioration that can be observed
  • Functional obsolescence

An appraiser will also review the survey and legal description of the home.  If there is a well or septic tank they may require a water purity test.  If the appraisal is used for the sale of a home they will request a copy of the sales contract as well.

They will use comparable recent sales from the area of similar homes.  Depending upon the situation they may search sales records from three to twelve months previously.

This list comprises most things an appraiser uses to determine the value of a home, but each case is different so additional criteria may be required.

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Century 21 Shaw Realty




7 Tarpon Springs High Schoolers Chosen to Perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Image result for tarpon springs high school color guard

It with great excitement I am sharing information I found in the local Tampa Bay News and Lifestyles magazine that 7 members of the Tarpon Springs High School Colorguard have been chosen to perform in the 2016 Macy’s Great American Marching Band during the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Only a handful of students were selected from over 14,000 schools across the US to be members of the Great American Marching Band.  The Colorguard adds extra drama to band performances by dancing, twirling flags, sabers, rifles, batons and an sometimes other props.

Tarpon Springs High Marching Band has a strong reputation in the local and state world of band competitions.  The band also had the privilege of marching in the parade in 2014.

As a former band mom (from Sunlake High School) and a former TSHS alumni (yes, I realize it was a long time ago) you can bet I will be watching.  If you love the parade or just want to see some local talent on the national stage I hope you take a moment to watch too!

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Century 21 Shaw Realty


The second largest number of first time home buyers is…

group-of-women-laughingDid you know single women are the second largest number of first time home buyers?

A 2015 profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows 54% of first time home buyers are married couples and the second largest group of first time home buyers are single women, making up 18%.  Single women rank higher in the study then single men, 18% for women and 11% for single men.

These first time women home buyers average 32 years old with an income of $49,000.  They have a strong desire for a home of their own.  Some are younger women who search for independence after college that home ownership can provide.  Others may be single mothers looking for more space for their families.  Many older women may have lost a spouse or have gone through a divorce and are now looking for a place they can call their own.

Home ownership often makes the most sense.  In today’s market it often costs less to purchase a home than it does to rent.  Rents prices are skyrocketing while home prices are beginning to stabilize.  Interest rates are the lowest they have been in years, plus there are tax advantages to owning a home.

Do you want to paint the walls purple and select custom woods for the floor?  When the home is your own you can personalize it to your taste, not your landlord’s.  Plus no one can tell you your dog is not allowed.

I suspect my daughter will be a single first time home buyer in a few years, we often talk about what she wants in a home.  Is now the time for you to become a home buyer?

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

CENTURY 21 Shaw Realty




How is the sale of price of your home determined?


Everyone wants to sell their home for the most money possible.  As a REALTOR® my job is to help you do that.  It’s important to price your home correctly, at a price the market is willing to bear.

Current market conditions will dictate what a buyer is willing to pay for your home.  The market is not influenced by how much you paid for the home, how much you are hoping to net from the sale of the home or how much people outside the industry think you should gain from the sale.  These things will have NO impact on the sale of your home.

So what market conditions will affect the price of your home?  Things such as buyer demand, interest rates and the state of the economy.  When there are more buyers than homes for sale prices tend to go up.  When interest rates are low there tends to be more buyers and prices can increase.  If the economy is in poor shape and unemployment is high prices tend to go down.

Other questions to consider when pricing your home include- How does your home compare to other homes that recently sold in your area?  What are similar homes selling for now?  How many other homes are currently for sale?  Is your home in good condition?  Does the home have a good floor plan?  Is it in a good location?

Another very important factor is your motivation.  Do you want to sell the home as quickly as possible or once your home sells do we need to search for a new home for you?  A highly motivated seller may price their home less than other sellers for a quick sale.

When you are ready to sell your home I will perform a detailed Property Analysis to help you get the most profit possible.

Kelly Harden, REALTOR®

Century 21 Shaw Realty