Real Estate

Why should I fill out a sellers disclosure when selling my home?

pexels-photo-618158When listing your home for sale your Realtor® is going to ask you to fill out a Sellers Disclosure form.  What is this and why should you fill it out?

The sellers disclosure form is a list of questions about your home that is given to the potential buyer to disclose any known past or present defects with the property.

As a seller you are required to disclose what you know due to a rule establised based upon the Johnson v. Davis court case in 1985.  This rule came into effect when the buyers purchased a home from the sellers and sued them because they believed the sellers knowingly sold them a home with a defective roof and as sellers failed to disclose this fact to the buyers.

You don’t have to use the exact form but you must disclose “any defects you are aware of that may materially effect the value of the property that are not readily observable and are not known to the buyer”.

Disclosing anything you know about the home protects you from a potential lawsuit after the sale.  It also helps the buyer make an informed decision to purchase your home.

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.



Real Estate

What should a seller take care of before closing on their home?

LRE+StockEveryone wants a smooth transition when a property is sold.  As a seller, do you know what your responsibilities are just before closing on your home?

Repair Any Items Negotiated on During the Inspection Period

Any items sellers agreed to repair during the inspection period have to be completed before the closing date (or sooner if they are lender required repairs).  A licensed contractor is usually required to complete the repairs.  The lender or insurance company may require proof the repairs are complete.

Clean and Empty the House

Your contract should spell out exactly what items convey to the new buyers.  All your furniture, boxes and personal items should be removed from the home before closing.

Once your things are removed you should do a light cleaning- wipe down the counters, sweep the floors, vacuum the carpet, etc.  The buyers will do a deeper cleaning before they move in but you want to be sure the home is in the same condition or better then when the contract was signed.

Leave These Items for the Buyers

Keys to the home and mailbox, garage door openers, gate openers and such should be left in a kitchen drawer or given to the sellers Realtor®.

Owner’s manuals to all appliances should also be left in a drawer for the buyers.

 Transfer Utilities

Be sure to cancel the utilities and transfer service to your new home.

Congratulations on the sale of your home!  By following these guidelines you can expect a smooth transfer of the home from seller to buyer.

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.



Real Estate

Finding the perfect neighborhood for your new home


When you begin the search for your new home you will want to decide what type of neighborhood you want to move into.

Your agent will ask lots of questions to help find your new home.  Some things you will want to consider are-

  1.  Does the neighborhood suit your lifestyle?  Think about what activities you enjoy doing and what you want to have near your new home.  Would you like to live next to a park or trail because you love to bike ride?  Are nearby schools important for your young children?  Do you like the idea of a walking neighborhood that is close to area stores and restaurants?
  2. What amenities are important to you?  Do you want a community with trails, parks and a community pool?  Do you want a clubhouse with a state of the art fitness center?
  3. What type of home do you prefer?  Thing about how you are going to live in the home.  Do you need a large single family home with lots of bedrooms, a big yard and a pool for you and your growing family?  Do you prefer the idea of a townhome with limited yard but lots of great amenities?  Or is a condo with no maintenance more your style?
  4. How long of a commute to work would you prefer?  Do you have to live within 30 minutes of your job or is a longer commute doable?  Perhaps you primarily work from home but need access to the airport for monthly business trips?

All of these questions will help you and your agent determine the best place to search for your new home.

Happy Home Hunting!

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.




Real Estate

Is my home in a flood zone?


I sell real estate in Florida and buyers often ask about buying a home in a flood zone.

Florida is a pretty flat state surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico with lots of rivers and lakes added in.  You stand a good chance of being near some form of water.

Britton Hill, located in the Florida panhandle, has the highest elevation of anywhere in the state of Florida at 345 feet above sea level.  This is the lowest highest elevation point out of all 50 states.  With a mean elevation for the entire state at 100 feet above sea level chances are your new home could be near a flood zone.

Our MLS has a notation indicating if the home is in a flood zone but I also suggest confirming with FEMA’s website    Simply enter the address of the home and you are provided with a detailed flood map of the area.

Your insurance agent will also give you this information along with rates for flood insurance.  Keep in mind just because your home isn’t in an official flood zone area doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purchase flood insurance, it simply means purchasing the insurance will not be required by your lender.

Typically, your standard homeowner’s policy does not cover rising water such as water from a flood or even a backed up sewer.  Flood insurance gives added protection for such issues.

Many communities have built up the land itself to increase the homes elevation.  If you are very close to the water you may need to build your home on pilings or stilts.

I hope that answers your questions about flood zones, if not please let me know.

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.




Real Estate

Increasing Your Home’s Curb Appeal

exterior-2046781_960_720We all know first impressions matter.  The first impression your home gives when a potential buyer pulls up outside is known as curb appeal.  You want the first impression to be warm and welcoming.

How can you improve the curb appeal of your home?  Here are a few ideas to help you get started-

Begin by cleaning

  1. Pressure wash the driveway, front entryway and sidewalk
  2. Clean the front windows
  3. Clean the front door

Update your greenery

  1. Remove any fallen leaves
  2. Replace any plants that have died over the winter
  3. Trim the shrubs and trees

Add a pop of color- 

  1. Paint the front door a bright and cheery color
  2. Add colorful plants or flowers either in free standing pots or as part of the shrubbery
  3. Add colorful pillows to the chairs on your front porch


  1. Upgrade the door knob and lock
  2. Replace the porch light with a more contemporary set
  3. Replace old tired house numbers with a shiny new set

I hope I’ve given you some ideas to get started.  Now it’s time for me to plant new shrubs in my own flowerbed.

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.





Real Estate

How to get your home ready for a showing in record time


Your Realtor® just called, there is a buyer nearby who would like to see your home within the hour.  Will your home be ready to show at the last minute?

Every seller who lives in their home while it’s listed for sale loves the luxury of a 24-hour notice before showings.  But in today’s fast paced real estate world that is not always possible.

Here’s how to get your home show ready in record time-

Start at the back of the house and move toward the door you are going to leave through.

Bedrooms– pick up clutter on the floor, if you don’t have time to put away all of the children’s toys place the items in the hamper and cover with clothes.  Quickly make the bed if you didn’t do so this morning.  Open the window shades and turn on the lights.

Bathrooms– Make sure the toilet is flushed and the lid is down.  Quickly wipe the counter, sink, faucet and mirror.  Empty the trash and close the shower curtain.  Turn on the lights.

Living area– Quickly pick up any clutter.  Boxes on tables tops and baskets on the floor make great places to store television remotes, children’s toys, magazines and more.  Place a folded blanket on top of the basket to cover items quickly stored inside if needed.  Plump and straighten your sofa cushions and throw pillows.  Open the blinds and turn on the lights.

Kitchen– Place any dirty dishes in the dishwasher.  Wipe down all counter tops, stove top, and appliances.  Do a quick sweep if needed.  Turn on the lights.

Final items– Make sure all lights are on and take out the trash as you, the family and your pets leave for the showing.

I hope these tips help you, and remember if you make your bed and straightening up daily, your house can easily be show ready within an hour (or even less).

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.


Real Estate

Purchasing a New Construction Home

blueprint-964630_960_720Are you ready to purchase a home and considering new construction?  It seems like an easy process where you can customize the features and finishes to get your dream home, but there is risk involved when it comes to new construction if you go in blindly.  It’s smart to have a Realtor represent you during the purchase to look out for your best interests, and best of all it doesn’t cost you anything.

The agent at the model center represents the builder, not you  It seems easy enough to pop into a model home and have the agent on site write up a contract for you, but remember they are there to represent the builder and the builders best interests. Your Realtor represents you.

Selecting the right lot in the right neighborhood  In the excitement of the buying process sometimes we tend to overlook important features like lot placement and view.  Your Realtor will help you find the right neighborhood for your lifestyle and the lot location that works best for you.  Selecting the wrong lot can cost you money in the future when you sell.

Upgrades and plan modifications  Your Realtor should help you select the upgrades and modifications that will best suit your lifestyle and help your future resale value.

Negotiations Your agent will negotiate the terms of the contract on your behalf.  They will work to get the maximum amount builder incentives and builder paid closing costs for you.  They will run market analysis on the home to ensure you are not overpaying.

Handling contracts and paperwork  Your Realtor knows contracts and will make sure there are no errors in yours and no unforeseen penalties that could occur.

If you have questions about a new construction home in the Tampa Bay area please reach out to me, I’d be happy to help.

Kelly Harden, Realtor

Mihara & Associates, Inc.




Real Estate

What does your monthly mortgage payment include?


Your monthly mortgage payment is more than just your loan amount.  There are several charges that are grouped together and paid as a single payment monthly.

Your mortgage lender should review all of these fees and payments when you apply for a mortgage.

Here is a general breakdown of what is included in your monthly mortgage payment:

  • Principle:  The portion paying down the original amount of the loan
  • Interest:  The charge in dollars for the use of the money (loan)
  • Taxes:  These vary by county and state.  Your tax assessor determines your property taxes annually and this amount is divided into a monthly figure.  This amount is then held in an escrow account by your lender and paid once a year when the bill is due
  • Home Owners Insurance:  This policy protects you from loss of your home.  Your insurance company typically bills annually, your lender will then divide this amount into monthly payments that are held in an escrow account and paid once a year when the bill is due
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI):  Typically, if you paid less than 20% down payment your lender will charge mortgage insurance.
  • Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP):  FHA loans will have this insurance due to the borrower using less money toward their down payment

Your lender should review all of this information with you when you apply for a mortgage, but if I can help answer any of your questions please reach out to me.

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.



Looking to update your kitchen?

Have you considered painting your cabinets to update your kitchen?  I have a client who is thinking about painting her dark wood kitchen cabinets.  She is thinking about white paint on the cabinets and grey on the kitchen island.

Painted cabinets are a hot look right now and it’s less expensive than replacing all of the cabinets.

This article from Houzz gives you step by step instructions if you decide to tackle the job yourself or simply want to learn more about it before hiring a professional to do the work.



Real Estate

Costly mistakes to avoid when selling your home

mistake-1966448_960_720Avoiding these common mistakes when selling your home can save you thousands.

  1.  Not hiring a professional to sell your home.   A professional Realtor® knows the market trends, home prices in your neighborhood, how to negotiate, and how to get you to the closing table.
  2.  Mispricing the home.  A home that is overpriced based upon comparable area sales will linger on the market for a longer period of time with no offers.  Underpricing a home can cost you thousands.
  3. Using poor quality photos.  Buyers search on the internet first; high quality photographs are a must.  Select a Realtor® who uses professional photographs.
  4.  Not disclosing past or current problems.  A home inspection will discover the roof leak you had so be sure to disclose it ahead of time.  You don’t want to have a lawsuit after the sale because you failed to disclose a past problem.
  5. Listing the home for sale before it is ready.  Take the time to repair any damaged items, replace burnt out light bulbs and ensure the lock on the front door works properly.  Skipping small maintenance items can give buyers the impression the home has not been properly cared for.  Larger items that need to be repaired will show up on the home inspection and will either need to be replaced anyway or the buyers could ask for financial compensation to repair it themselves.  It could even cause the buyer to cancel the sale during the inspection period.
  6. Not prepping the interior.  Take the time to declutter each room, closets and cabinets.  Hire a professional stager if the home is empty to help buyers see how the rooms can be used.
  7.   Poor planning.   Do you know what your next step will be after the sale is complete?  What will you do if the house sells quickly or takes longer than expected?

Your agent should be able to help you avoid these costly mistakes when selling your home.  If you are in the Tampa Bay area, I’d be honored to help you sell your home and I have a list of great referral partners who can sell your home if you don’t.

Kelly Harden, Realtor®

Mihara & Associates, Inc.