BRENDA WILSON | Sarasota Real Estate, Bradenton Real Estate, Lakewood Ranch Real Estate


Although you might already own a house, now may prove to be a good time to pursue a second residence. For example, if you have always wanted to own a home in the mountains, you can purchase a second residence to make your dream come true. On the other hand, if you want to own a vacation residence on or near the beach, you could enter the housing market to find a beachfront house that suits you perfectly.

Like any home search, finding a second house that matches your expectations may be difficult. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to streamline your quest to find a second home, such as:

1. Evaluate Your Finances

Your finances will play a significant role in your ability to purchase any house, at any time. As you get set to pursue a second home, examine your finances closely. Then, you can map out your home search accordingly.

Generally, it helps to consult with banks and credit unions before you launch the search. If you meet with these institutions, you can gain financial insights that you can use to make an informed purchase.

2. Establish Home Buying Criteria

Think about the features you want to find in a second residence. Next, you can craft home buying criteria.

Once you have home buying criteria in hand, you can narrow your house search, too. By honing your home search to residences in specific cities and towns, you can speed up your quest to find the right home at the right price.

It often helps to maintain flexibility as you conduct a search for a second home as well. If necessary, you can modify your home buying criteria throughout the home buying journey.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

There is no reason to enter the housing market on your own. Thankfully, real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market experts can help you quickly and effortlessly acquire a second residence.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to navigate the home buying journey. This housing market professional first will learn about you and your home buying goals. He or she next will craft a custom home buying strategy based on your individual needs. Finally, a real estate agent will put this strategy into action and ensure you can discover a terrific home at an affordable price.

Furthermore, a real estate agent takes the guesswork out of buying a second home. If you are unsure about whether to submit an offer to purchase a particular residence, a real estate agent can offer a data-driven recommendation. Or, if you have concerns or questions at any point during the home buying journey, a real estate agent is prepared to respond to them.

If you want to pursue a second house, it helps to plan ahead for the home buying journey. By using these tips, you should have no trouble finding a second home that you can enjoy for years to come.


If you're renting a nice house, condo, or apartment, there's a good chance your monthly rent check is almost as much as a mortgage payment. Perhaps you've realized this and have been asking yourself why you're contributing to someone else's nest egg, instead of your own! If that sounds familiar, you may be ready to take the plunge into home ownership.

The other half of the equation is whether you're financially ready, and that would depend on a variety of things, including your credit rating, your debt-to-income ratio, and your ability to make a sufficient down payment on a new home. Although a 20% down payment is a desirable target to aim for, there's often a lot of flexibility on how much you're required to put down on a house.

One of the main reasons a 20% down payment is desirable is that it takes you "off the hook" for having to pay monthly private mortgage insurance (PMI). The second advantage of making a substantial down payment is that it reduces the principal amount of your loan, which, in turn, lowers your monthly payments even more. However, if you're ready to become a home owner, but can't afford a 20% down payment, you can often eliminate PMI payments earlier than scheduled by making extra principal payments. The bank or mortgage company you decide to work with can fully explain their policies and what your options are.

If you are interested in making the transition from renter to home owner, now's a good time to start talking to loan officers. If nothing else, you'll be educating yourself on the intricacies of buying a home. Working with an experienced real estate agent is another way to learn the ropes, so to speak, when it comes to the home buying process.

Other than the financial benefits of building equity in your own home, there are also a lot of practical advantages. If you're currently a renter, for example -- especially in an apartment building, duplex, or townhouse -- you're probably tired of the lack of privacy and the unwelcome noises you can often hear through walls, floors, and ceilings.

Becoming a home owner brings with it a pride of ownership and the ability to plant trees, bushes, and gardens on your own property. Depending on what's available in your price range, you can also enjoy your own private deck, screened in porch, or patio. Options for the kids (if you have them) include swing sets, sand boxes, and room to play backyard sports or run through a water sprinkler during the hot weather.

If you feel like you are ready to take the plunge into home ownership, the first step is to make lists of your requirements, your preferences ("wish list"), and financial resources. The next step is to find a good real estate agent to start showing you homes that fulfill your needs and check off as many items on your wish list as possible!


When you budget to buy a home, you sit down, do the math, and try to estimate what all of your monthly costs will be. There are so many monthly costs that come with being a homeowner that can make the whole process complicated. Sure, you have taken the standard costs into account like home insurance, property taxes, and even utilities. But there are a few out-of-the-box costs that you’ll need to consider for your house hunt.


Flood Or Other Natural Disaster Insurance


Natural disasters are costly and devastating. Many homeowners who live in areas that are affected by natural disasters like floods and earthquakes often opt for additional coverage for their homes. Premiums for earthquake and flood insurance often end up being very high. As a natural disaster strikes, these premiums can go up even more. If you live in one of the high-risk areas for natural disasters, you’ll want to check with your insurance agent ahead of time to plan for the additional costs that these special kinds of insurance will incur.


Water Costs During A Drought


There are many areas across the US that suffer drought conditions from time to time. Your water bill can skyrocket during these times. It’s best to continue conserving water and watch your bill closely in order to try and save some costs. There’s not a whole lot you can do otherwise to control your bill. You’ll need to stay prepared with some extra cash on hand in case of these emergencies and know that costs can rise due to different environmental conditions.  


Tax Hikes And Special Assessments 


As a homeowner, you’ll need to prepare for different kinds of assessments and tax increases. If your condominium complex needs significant repairs then you’ll probably end up paying an assessment to help offset the costs. This is what comes with belonging to a homeowner’s association. 


You can’t prevent that the town is building a brand new school that requires a tax increase, nor can you prevent roof damage on one of the buildings in your complex. Financially, this is a hidden cost of homeownership that you should be prepared for. 


Unexpected Maintenance Costs And Home Furnishings


Once you move into a home, you’ll need to prepare for the unexpected. The dishwasher may need to be replaced. The roof may need repair. The walls may need some paint. 


When you buy a home you may also need a bunch of things to furnish the home. These could include dishes, pots and pans, sofas, beds, and more. You don’t want to leave your new home completely empty! You also don’t want to be without vital appliances like an oven or a sink for too long if they are outdated or in disrepair. This is why it’s a good idea to have extra money on hand to deal with any of these costs.


The best rule of thumb to follow when buying a home is to always be prepared with a but of extra cash on hand to avoid major issues down the road.           



Many hopeful homebuyers seek to save money by buying a fixer-upper and doing most of the renovations themselves. This is a proven method for those who have a knack for home improvement and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

However, estimating the cost of a remodel can be difficult. There are many costs you may not be aware of, and others that are easy to go over budget on.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the cost of an average remodel, and some lesser-known costs that you might be forgetting to factor into your budget.

Average remodeling costs

As you might guess, the cost of a remodel can vary greatly. Things like the size of the home, the number of rooms you’re remodeling, and the type of repairs you’ll be making all factor into the equation.

Some repairs can be quite costly. Septic system replacements can cost several thousands of dollars depending on the type of system you need. And, if you’re buying an old home, you’ll need to look out for expensive fixes like asbestos removal and foundation damage.

According to one report, most Americans spent between $17,000 and $61,000 on their remodel, with the average renovation cost being around $37,000.

If you’re hiring a contractor for the bulk of your remodel, expect them to charge between 10% and 15% of the total cost.

Lesser known costs of a home renovation

Remodeling a home isn’t as simple as looking up a contractor and telling them to give you the bill once it’s finished, and that’s probably a good thing because odds are you would be shocked by the cost.

First, you’ll pay a contractor to do a walkthrough and estimate costs. Next, you’ll need to get any permits that are required for your renovations.

If you plan on doing the renovations yourself, there are a few costs you’ll need to consider. First, understand that you likely won’t be able to take advantage of all of the discounts that contractors can, meaning your building materials may be more expensive than expected. Similarly, the cost of tools for the project adds up quickly. And, when you make mistakes--we all do, we’re only human--you’ll be paying for it out of pocket.

Knowing your long term goals

An important consideration for a remodel is to look toward the future. Do you want to sell your home within the next few years? If so, you might consider going with less expensive materials--such as generic kitchen cabinets rather than custom-built--to save money while still increasing the value of the home.

However, if you plan on being in this home for decades or more, it may be worth the extra money now to make sure you are happy with your home for years to come.

Remodeling a home can be a memorable and rewarding endeavor. You get the chance to take a house that you see potential in and make it truly your own. Now that you know the costs, you’ll be better prepared for planning your home renovation.


A diligent homebuyer understands what it takes to shop for a residence. As such, this individual may be better equipped than others to discover a house that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.

Ultimately, there are many reasons to become a diligent homebuyer, including:

1. You can boost your chances of acquiring a top-notch residence.

Buying a home can be a long, complex process, particularly for those who lack housing market insights. Fortunately, it is easy for any homebuyer to become a diligent homebuyer, thanks in large part to the wealth of housing market data that is available.

A diligent homebuyer can analyze the prices of recently sold houses, along with the prices of homes that are currently for sale. By doing so, a diligent homebuyer can understand whether he or she is shopping in a buyer's or seller's market. This homebuyer also may be able to narrow his or her home search.

For those who want to acquire a first-rate residence, diligence is paramount. And as a diligent homebuyer, you may be able to identify many opportunities to purchase a deluxe residence.

2. You could save money on a home purchase.

When it comes to shopping for a home, there is no need to overspend, regardless of whether you're searching for a residence in a buyer's or seller's market.

Meanwhile, a diligent homebuyer is a thrifty home shopper who understands how to save money on a house.

A diligent homebuyer, for example, may be more likely than others to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This homebuyer will meet with a variety of lenders and learn about all of his or her mortgage options. That way, a diligent homebuyer can enter the housing market with a budget in hand and avoid the temptation to overspend.

Furthermore, a diligent homebuyer knows how to stay calm, cool and collected in stressful price negotiations with a property seller. This homebuyer will possess the housing market insights to make an informed purchase decision. In addition, he or she will have the confidence to walk away from a potential home sale if price negotiations get out of hand.

3. You can accelerate the homebuying process.

Although a diligent homebuyer analyzes real estate market patterns and trends closely, he or she usually realizes that navigating the housing sector alone can be tough. Thus, a diligent homebuyer may reach out to a real estate agent for extra help.

A real estate agent can provide even a diligent homebuyer with the necessary assistance to speed up the homebuying cycle. This housing market professional can help a homebuyer understand and overcome assorted property buying hurdles. Plus, he or she can offer expert insights into the housing market that a homebuyer may struggle to obtain elsewhere.

If you plan to purchase a house in the near future, it definitely pays to become a diligent homebuyer. This property buyer will be able to browse a broad array of high-quality houses, assess these residences effectively and seamlessly move through the process of acquiring the perfect home at the lowest price.