Author Archives: Don Norris

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Norris Real Estate Brevard County florida

They’re In the Air Force Now

Category : Family , Military , VA

Natalie and I just got back from spending a week in San Antonio, Texas to watch, celebrate and participate in our son’s (Luke) graduation from BMT at Lackland AFB.   (Basic Military Training)  One thing we have learned since joining our son on this journey of joining the Air Force, is that, our United States Military loves them some acronyms!  Every thing has an acronym!  From going to the BX with some of his A1C buddies, to getting his MREs for BEAST week and then finally graduating to go off to tech school.  Not knowing if he is going to be CONUS or ONUS once he does complete tech school.  I could go on and on, but I digress.

There is a special sense of pride when you see the kid who you helped raise, that same kid who only used to want to play Minecraft, XBox, skateboard and think of every excuse in the world not to do the school project that was due on Monday morning, and it is 8:00pm on a Sunday night, to wear that Air Force uniform and almost instantly transform from a 19 year kid to a 19 year old professional young man.

Our first time seeing Luke, almost 8 weeks after dropping him off at the MEPS center (military entrance processing station) in Tampa to ship off to Boot Camp, was Thursday morning for the Airman’s Run. All 786 Airman trainees in the their respective flights, wearing their flight colors and designed t-shirts ran in formation along the training pad yelling out their running cadence.

Norris Real Estate Brevard County Real Estate

♪, ♫ ♪, ♫ “What’s it feel like,

To be bit by,

by a Gator?

Whoa Whooa Whoooa” ♪, ♫ ♪, ♫

I admit, it was pretty impressive!  Lot’s of pride, the good kind of pride, on those young men and women’s faces and you could hear it in the voices as they yelled out their Jodys.

Next up was the “Coin Ceremony” where, while dressed in their ABUs, the airmen received their Airman Coin from their respective MTI (Military Training Instructor) and were officially transitioned from trainees to Air Force Airmen.  We all went down on the training pad, and dismissed Luke by “tapping” him out.  We had our Airman for the rest of the day, but was confined to base liberty only.

The next morning, was the official graduation parade.  Luke and his fellow Airmen was decked out in their blue Air Force uniforms.  Complete with their rank (if they had received it yet) and their chest pins.  It was a great morning watching and listening to the official oath of office to the Airman’s Creed.  When 786 men and women repeat something at the same time, it has the ability to give you chills.

Saturday we spent the morning walking up and down the famous River Walk and had lunch.  Did I mention we walked the River Walk….lots of walking.  We had our FitBit 10,000 steps in by noon.  I was beautiful and not as crowded as we had expected!  Love the River Walk and it is a definite “must-do” for anyone who visits San Antonio.  Hung out at the house more that evening before taking Luke back to his HQ.  Sunday, Natalie, Chase and I hung out with Luke on the base.  Played some intense rounds of Ping Pong, Foosball and a little shopping and lunch at the BX.

Norris Real Estate Brevard County Florida

Proud mom spending the day with her Airman at the San Antonio Riverwalk.

It was quite impressive and amazing to witness the change in posture, demeanor and overall the way he carried himself in just 7 1/2 weeks.  What ever our United States Air Force does for and to these men and women during BMT, they know what they are doing and they are doing it very, very well!  My dad was a Navy man and my brother was an Airman.  This past week however, offered a taste of military pride I had not experienced before.  It has even made a strong positive impression on our 15 year old who went with us.

Being in Real Estate, I have had the pleasure of assisting some of our nations heroes/veterans in both selling and purchasing homes.  It is a big honor for Natalie and I to help and try to give back a little to our veterans.  We are offering a “cash back” award, during the closing, to all of our clients who are active or past military as a small gesture of saying, “Thank you for your service”.

God Bless America and Aim High!


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Norris Real Estate Brevard County

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Category : Fun , Merritt Island

It is a conflict of both time and technology.  The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge sits on the northern end of Brevard County and shares it’s geography with one of the most advanced technological areas of the world, the Kennedy Space Center.

While NASA, the US Air Force, Space X, Blue Origin and others are sending satellites and getting ready to send astronauts back into space, there is another kind of amazing happenings going on with over 500 different varieties of wildlife and well over 1000 species of plants.  The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of 35 miles of barrier islands strung along Central Florida’s east coast.  This is part of the are popularly known as the Space Coast of Florida.  The subtropical and temperate climate makes it ideal for most species of plants and animals to thrive year round.  The Refuge happens to lie geographically right along the Atlantic Flyway, which is the most significant and primary migration bird corridor on the east coast of the North America. The Refuge itself is a major stop for migratory birds.  The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (MINWR) is home to one of the most concentrated collection or variety of endangered and threatened species of all wildlife refuges across earth.  We are very fond and proud of our Refuge and it itself is a testament that both nature and advanced technology can coexist.

Norris Real Estate Brevard County

photo: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Travel Distances From the Refuge Visitor Center:

Black Point Wildlife Drive – 3.5 miles

Hammocks Trails – 1.5 miles

Manatee Observation Deck – 10.5 miles

Playalinda Beach – 7 miles

Scrub Ridge Trail – 6.5 miles

Pine Flatwoods Trail – 13 miles

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Membership and Fees for the MINWR

The MINWR annual pass is a great bargain at $15.00.  Anyone with a valid i.d. can purchase an annual pass at the Visitor’s Center.  Additional passes can be purchased at the Visitor’s Center as well, including; The Refuge Daily, the Refuge Annual, the American and the Beautiful Senior, Access, Military as well as the Federal Duck Stamp.  Children, accompanied by an adult, under the age of 16 are admitted for free.  The Canaveral National Seashore Annual pass is also available and allows entry for all refuge fee areas.  Each pass admits the pass-holder and all of their passengers in a private, non-commercial vehicle.

Refuge Daily pass can be purchased for $5.00 per non-commercial vehicle.

Individuals on foot or bicycles can purchase daily pass for $1.00.

America the Beautiful Senior Pass – $10.00

America the Beautiful Annual Pass – $80.00

America the Beautiful Access Pass – Free to medically authorized individuals

America the Beautiful Military Pass – Free to U.S. Military members and their dependents.  A valid U.S. Military I.D. must be provided.

Federal Duck Stamps – $25.00.

Cash or Check is required.  Credit Card payments are not accepted.

 

Visitor Center

The visitor center is the heartbeat of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  If you have never visited the Refuge before, it is greatly beneficial for first-time visitors.  Visit our Facebook Page for our Visitor Center Hours of Operation.The visitor’s center is located on SR 402, five miles east of U.S.1 in Titusville.

Enjoy:

  • Refuge Maps
  • Wildlife and Habitat Displays
  • Auditorium for Movies and Programs
  • Bookstore and gift shop
  • Educational Resources
  • 1/4 mile Boardwalk

 

Foot Trails

One of the most popular activities at the Refuge is hiking.  With our subtropical and temperate climate and weather, hiking can be enjoyed year round.  There are currently 7 walking trails and they are marked on maps for the hiker’s convenience.

Visitor Center Boardwalk – 1/4 mile loop

Oak Hammock Trail – 3/4 mile loop

Palm Hammock Trail – 2 mile loop

Scrub Ridge Trail – 1 mile loop

Cruickshank Trail and Tower – 5 mile loop

Wild Bird Trail – 1/4 mile loop

Pine Flatwood Trail – 1 mile loop

Norris Real Estate Brevard County

photo: Don Norris

 

Wheel Chair Accessibility

  • Refuge Information Center & 1/4 mile Boardwalk
  • Manatee Observation Deck
  • Observation Deck at stop #9 on Black Point Drive
  • Observation Deck at Refuge entrance on SR406
  • Beach access at EddyCreek (parking lot #9) at Playalinda Beach

 

Restrooms

Restrooms are located at:

  • Refuge Visitor Center
  • Stop #9 along Black Point Wildlife Drive
  • Playalinda Beach

 

Beach Access

Some of the most beautiful beaches and shoreline in all of Florida.  The Canaveral National Seashore and Playalinda Beach has over 24 miles of undeveloped, natural and pristine beaches for relaxation, walking, sunbathing, swimming, surfing, camping, horseback riding, fishing and hiking.  Camping and horseback riding are limited to the months of November 1st through April 15th and require a special permit.  There are no designated picnic areas, food services, beach showers or drinking water available.

 

Manatee Observation Deck

One of the most popular and beloved residents of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is the West Indian Manatee, or better known as the Florida Manatee.  Manatee can be seen year round at the Refuge, but most notedly in the months from Spring to Fall.  The manatee observation deck is a great place to view these wonderful animals in the natural habitat.  The deck is located 10.5 miles north of the Visitor Center off SR 3 at Haulover Canal.  (another good spot to view the manatee is at Bairs Cove boat launch)

Norris Real Estate Brevard County

photo: Don Norris

 

Boat Launches

If it will float, and you can get it there, the Refuge is a great place to enjoy a day out on the water whether you are in a motorboat, canoe, kayak or stand up paddle board.  A great place for fishing or just getting out and being one with nature.  Bring your camera for some amazing pics of scenery and wildlife.  Boat speed regulations are strictly enforced for the protection of manatee. Boat, canoe and kayak launching is limited to designated launch sites.  To launch from Bairs Cove, Bio Lab and Beacon 42, a $5.00 Refuge Daily Pass is required.

  • Bairs Cove – Haulover Canal
  • Beacon 42 – Mosquito Lagoon
  • WSEG – Mosquito Lagoon (No Fee)
  • Bio Lab – Mosquito Lagoon
  • Eddy Creek – Mosquito Lagoon

 

Wildlife Observation and Photography

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge has the potential to make even the most amateur photography look like an expert.  The best trail or route to view wildlife is the Black Point Wildlife Drive.  One of the best ways to view and photograph wildlife is by kayaking or canoe.  Hiking trails, observation towers, decks and dike roads offer a great opportunity to view the diverse wildlife at the Refuge.  Best time for observing the wildlife is October through March.

Norris Real Estate Brevard County

photo: Don Norris

Refuge Regulations

Of course, there are some basic Rules and Regulations to keep both the visitors and the wildlife safe.  The park is always closed, unless otherwise posted, from sunset to sunrise.  All activities and use of the Refuge must be done during daylight hours.  Due to the close proximity of NASA, certain areas of the park may be closed from time to time due to security restrictions.

  • Air boats, jet skis, wave runners and ATVs are not permitted within the Refuge.
  • Carrying, possession and firing of any kind of firework is strictly prohibited.
  • Persons carrying a firearm must comply with all local and state laws.
  • Feeding, enticing, disrupting, or disturbing alligators, manatee or any other wildlife is not permitted.
  • Littering and dumping of any kind is prohibited.
  • Camping, open fires and barbecue grills are not permitted on the Refuge.
  • Pets are allowed on the Refuge, but must be registered (shots), leashed and under control at all times.
  • Horses are not permitted on the Refuge.  However, as stated earlier, they are permitted on the North District of the Canaveral National Seashore from November 1st through April 15th.  Call 386-428-3384 est. 0 for information and reservations.
  • Releasing any any wild or domestic animal onto the Refuge is prohibited.
  • Collecting, capturing, trapping or any animal or plant life on the Refuge is prohibited.  (other than legally taken fish or waterfowl)
  • Fishing and crabbing is permitted on the Refuge in accordance with state and refuge regulations.  A Refuge permit is required for both recreational as well as commercial fishing.  Fishing is allowed in open waters of the Indian River Lagoon, Banana River, Mosquito Lagoon, mosquito control impoundments and interior lakes.  Fishing is prohibited on the Kennedy Space Center security areas as well as along the Black Point Wildlife Drive and it’s adjacent dike roads with the exception of L Pond Road.
  • Two pole and troll zones are located in the Mosquito Lagoon.  Operation of internal combustion engines is not allowed within the zones and vessels drafting more than 12″ may not enter.
  • Electric trolling motors and non-motorized power sources such as peddles, paddles and push poles are permitted.
  • Waterfowl hunting is permitted September through January only in designated hunting areas.   A Refuge permit and hunter safety certification is required.  State, Federal and Refuge regulations apply.
  • Glass beverages containers are prohibited.
  • Bicycles are prohibited on foot trails.

 

For More Information about the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Contact:

Refuge Manager
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 2683
Titusville, Fl. 32781

321-861-0067

Visitor Center Phone Number: 321-861-5601

email: merrittisland@fws.gov

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/merritt_island


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norris real estate brevard county

Important Merritt Island Area Phone Numbers

Important Merritt Island Area Phone Numbers

For your convenience we have put together a list of important Merritt Island Area Phone Numbers. Let us know if you see that we missed one, or if you come across a correction! Thank you!

UTILITIES:

Florida Power and Light……………………………………………………..321-723-7795 or 1-800-26-3545

Florida City Gas…………………………………………………………………1-888-757-6500

Amerigas…………………………………………………………………………..321-631-5070

City of Cocoa Water Department ………………………………………..321-433-8400

Call Before You Dig……………………………………………………………811

AT&T Cable and/or Internet……………………………………………….1-888-757-6500

Spectrum Cable and/or Internet………………………………………….1-866-309-3279

Waste Management……………………………………………………………321-636-6894

 

BREVARD COUNTY GOVERNMENT SERVICES

FOR EMERGENCIES, ALWAYS DIAL 911

Brevard County Sheriffs Office (non-emergency)………………….321-633-7162

Fire Department – Volunteer………………………………………………321-453-0457

Fire Department – County………………………………………………….321-633-2056

Poison Control………………………………………………………………….1-800-222-1222

Animal Control…………………………………………………………………321-633-2024

Building Permits & Licensing…………………………………………….321-633-2072

Occupational Licensing……………………………………………………..321-264-6935

Code Enforcement…………………………………………………………… 321-633-2086

Brevard County Tax Collector…………………………………………….321-264-6930

Department of Health……………………………………………………….321-454-7111

Housing and Human Services…………………………………………….321-633-2007

Voter Registration…………………………………………………………….321-633-2124

Planning & Zoning……………………………………………………………321-633-2070

Traffic Operations (Traffic Signals)…………………………………….321-637-5437

County Commissioner District 2………………………………………..321-454-6601

Merritt Island Post Office………………………………………………….321-453-1479

Public Library………………………………………………………………….321-455-1369

MIRA (Merritt Island Redevelopment Agency)…………………..321-454-6610

 

HOSPITALS:

Cape Canaveral Hospital…………………………………………………..321-799-7111
701 West Cocoa Beach Causeway, Cocoa Beach

Wuesthoff Hospital………………………………………………………….321-636-2211
110 Longwood Avenue, Rockledge

 

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Brevard County Public Schools Main Office………………………..321-633-1000 ext. 500

School Board District 2……………………………………………………..321-271-9705

Ethics Hotline………………………………………………………………….321-633-1000 ext. 170

Merritt Island High………………………………………………………….321-454-1000
100 East Mustang Way

Edgewood Jr./Sr. High…………………………………………………….321-454-1030
180 East Merritt Avenue

Jefferson Junior High………………………………………………………321-453-5154
1275 South Courtney Pkwy

Audubon Elementary……………………………………………………….321-452-2085
1201 North Banana River Dr.

Lewis Carroll Elementary………………………………………………….321-452-1234
1 Skyline Blvd

Mila Elementary……………………………………………………………….321-454-1070
288 West Merritt Avenue

Stevenson Elementary………………………………………………………321-454-3550
1450 Martin Blvd

Tropical Elementary…………………………………………………………321-454-1080
855 South Courtney Pkwy

Brevard Virtual School……………………………………………………..321-633-3660

Florida Virtual School………………………………………………………407-513-3587

 

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

Merritt Island Christian……………………………………………………321-453-2710
140 Magnolia Avenue

Divine Mercy Catholic Academy………………………………………..321-452-0263
1940 North Courtney Pkwy

Ambassador Christian Academy………………………………………..321-305-6931
175 Cone Rd.

Brevard Private Academy………………………………………………….321-459-3466
508 South Plumosa

Merritt Island Presbyterian Preschool………………………………..321-453-1640
150 Cone Rd

Alpha Academy………………………………………………………………..321-453-7077
3700 North Courtney Pkwy, Ste. 102

Faith Lutheran PreSchool…………………………………………………321-452-4143

 

Fun and Family Activities

Parks & Recreation…………………………………………………………..321-633-1874

YMCA……………………………………………………………………………..321-433-7770

Boy Scouts of America………………………………………………………407-889-4403

Girl Scouts of America………………………………………………………407-896-4475

Y-Indian Guides……………………………………………………………….321-259-2929

Football – Pop Warner Football/Cheerleading…………………….321-59-6282

Flag Football……………………………………………………………………321-452-3105

Football MIYFCA Merritt Island Youth Football/Cheer……….321-466-1170

Cheerleading MIYFCA……………………………………………………..321-960-3443

Cheerleading – Competition Coastal Elite…………………………..321-505-1002

Baseball – North Merritt Island Little League……………………..321-543-6215

Softball – Merritt Island Lassie League………………………………321-626-8040

Basketball – Upward Basketball………………………………………..321-453-2146

Volleyball – Cape Coast Volleyball……………………………………..321-636-3800

Rugby – Cape Pirates Rugby……………………………………………..321-506-2540

Lacrosse…………………………………………………………………………321-454-4943

Soccer – Central Brevard Soccer………………………………………..321-394-5083

Hockey……………………………………………………………………………321-504-7500

Dance – Dussich Dance Studio…………………………………………..321-452-2046

Dance – Martha’s Legacy Dance Studio………………………………321-453-6277

Swimming – Merritt Island Swim School……………………………321-698-5840

Calema Windsurfing & Water Sports………………………………..321-453-3223

Martial Arts – Unlimited Kickboxing………………………………..321-368-9307

Martial Arts – Brevard Shotokan Karate……………………………321-323-9480

Martial Arts – Shorin Ryu Karate……………………………………..321-459-3000

Lauts Music……………………………………………………………………321-453-6424

Walk on Water Equine…………………………………………………….321-412-8057

 

 

 


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norris real estate brevard county

​Hidden Costs for Homeownership

Category : Need to Know

​Hidden Costs for Homeownership

I have owned a few homes as well as leased a few.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  Once you have made up your mind that you are going to purchase your own home, there are some things to consider financially that some Real Estate Agents may not inform you of.

It’s not just as simple as looking at the sales price of a home, figuring in a interest rate spread over 15 or 30 years and voila, you know what this new home is going to cost you on a monthly basis.

No, there are some other things to consider that may cause you some financial stress and rob you of fully enjoying your new dream home.

On top of your new mortgage you just took out, here are a few important considerations when planning out your monthly budget.

Hidden Costs for Homeowners – Property Taxes

Property taxes is something every property and home owner has to contend and deal with on a yearly basis.  Your property taxes are typically based on the location of your property and the size of your property.  These tax monies go towards the cost of street lights, road repairs, public works, government employee wages and local public schools.  As your home increases or decreases in value, so do your property taxes fluctuate accordingly.

Some people choose to pay their property taxes up front in one payment, while others may choose to pay them monthly out of their escrow account set up at the closing of the purchase of the home.
Forgetting to include the cost of your property taxes on your home could thrown your budget into a whirlwind.

Hidden Costs for Homeowners – Home Owners Insurance

It goes without saying, or at least it should, that no one is going to get away with taking a mortgage out on a home purchase without having to show proof of and maintain home owners insurance.  This protects the home in the event of an unexpected and natural occurrence that could damage the home and affect the value should the damages be costly.

Hidden Costs for Homeowners – Supplemental Insurance

In addition to your homeowners insurance that protect you and your home against things such as plumbing mishaps, normal storm damage, roof leaks, etc., you may live in an area that is prone to natural disasters such as frequent flooding, earthquakes, tornados or hurricanes.  If this is the case, you are likely going to be required to purchase a supplemental homeowners insurance policy that will cover these natural disaster type of occurrences your regular homeowners insurance do not cover.

Hidden Costs for Homeowners – Mortgage Insurance

Different than homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance protects the lender in the event you default on your loan.  Depending on how much money you put down on the house, 20% or more, you may not be required to purchase mortgage insurance.  If you bring less than 20% of the loan/purchase amount to the closing however, chances are, your mortgage company is not going to allow the transaction to go through.  Mortgage insurance is typically 0.5% – 1% of the loan amount and is, in most cases, lumped in with your monthly mortgage payment.

Hidden Costs for Homeowners – HOA Fees

HOA fees are an expense not all homeowner or condo owners have to pay for.  If you purchase a property in a neighborhood that has an existing HOA, then this is an expense that must be considered when determining if you can afford the property you are considering.  The HOA fees cover a myriad of expenses such as local neighborhood park, pool or community center.  HOA costs can vary widely depending on your association.  Expect to spend anywhere from $10 to hundreds of dollars per month.

Hidden Costs for Homeowners – Home Maintenance

Now that you have purchased your dream home, you will now have to take care of it.  There are ongoing maintenance costs associated with the upkeep of a home that can not be ignored, lest you compromise the investment of your home.  Air conditioner, appliances, plumbing, lighting, flooring, painting, the roof and even sometimes new windows.  Industry practices suggest that a homeowner allocate at least 1% of your homes value to ongoing maintenance costs.  In reality however, 1% is only the starting point when considering landscaping projects, home decoration and upgrades.

Hidden Costs for Homeowners – Landscaping and Lawn Care

After you have settled into your new home, there are going to be things on the outside of your home that will need regular attention such as lawn care, landscaping and possible tree care. Depending on the are of the country you live in, this may be seasonally, or it could be a monthly, year round expense.

Buying your own home is likely one of, if not the single most, significant purchases in your life.  Before you even start the process of looking for a new home, consider all of the expenses associated with home ownership and go into the process with a balanced and realistic expectation of costs.


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norris real estate brevard county

5 Ways to Research the Property History of Your Home

Category : Fun , Need to Know

5 Ways to Research the Property History of Your Home

Researching the history of your property of property you are contemplating purchasing can add several benefits to the overall enjoyment of your purchase, investment and home.

Understanding your homes history can not only simply add the mystique and bring out the traditions of a home, it also can serve as a practical use in that you may learn important information that would be relevant and crucial to doing home repairs and possible add-ons.

1. Talk to the people who have known your property longer than you, your new neighbors

If some of your neighbors have lived in your area for a considerable amount of time, it is likely they will be more than willing to talk about what they know about your property. Memories can spark some relevant events and information in your new homes history. If you have access to the previous owners and their family members, that would be an excellent source as well.

2. Internet search, the library and local public records

Land records can yield information about previous and historical owners of your property as well as information about when it was built, original and previous owners. Much information can be found on the internet about your property simply from doing an address or neighborhood search. Go to your local library and search old periodicals or local historical periodicals and publications that may include events and information about your property. If you are in an established community, do not hesitate to talk to the librarian themselves as they may recall some information and where to locate same.

3. You Inspector may offer more information than you’d think

Talk to the man who has gone over your property with a fine tooth comb. This is the individual who can tell you what lies beneath the carpet, in the attic rafters and basement crooks and crannies. This individual may have inspected your home in years past on previous purchases. Whether you have original and valuable wood flooring under the carpet, hidden areas behind walls and tif there is or where the original foundation stone is located may add that extra special something to your home.

4. The Deed to your new home holds valuable information

If you want to know the legal description of your property and how it was recorded, the deed is the first place to check. Your home’s legal description, whether in a rural area or subdivision will tell you the official address, subdivision lot, section, township and range of your property.

You’ll want to go to your Register of Deeds at your local county courthouse for this information. Be prepared to use various ways to locate this information depending on the technological updated systems of your county courthouse. You may have to look up the information on physical documents, microfilm or a computer. Regardless, the courthouse staff should be able to assist you in finding exactly what you are looking for. It’s always easier to start with the most recent deed transactions and work your way backwards.

5. Thinking outside of the box

There are a few other ways to locate some historical information about your home. There is a Bureau of Land Managements General Land office that will reveal when and how the federal government first sold the land your home sits on and who that owner was that it was sold to. This would be a great historical piece of information for you home and area. Census data records as well as marriage and death records may reveal information about your home and property. A very good website to location a property and home’s historical information is www.porch.com. Here, you will find information such as past work permits and orders, statistics as well as who and what work has been done to your home.

Whatever method you choose and what ever your motivation is for checking on historical data and information about your home and property is, this is just a few methods your can begin to explore. Regardless of the information and method, have fun and happy hunting!

 


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norris real estate brevard county

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Home

Category : Comfort , Need to Know

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Home

I have heard the expression over and over agin, “Less is more.” I never realized how true and accurate that statement was until I experienced it for myself a few years ago. For most of us who have had or continue to have more “stuff” than we really need, it is a foreign concept. You have to see it and experience it to appreciate it.

I remember back when I was living in Carrolton, Texas, a suburb in the North Dallas area, I was getting ready to sell one of my homes and relocate to Merritt Island, Florida located on the Space Coast of East Central Florida. My realtors at the time, MaryJane and Prakash Mathew with Keller Williams Realty advised me, I had way too much “stuff” and needed to declutter my home by either give away, throw away or have an impressive garage sale.

Mind you, at the time, I was a single guy and like most other guys, I liked my toys and electronics. I realize now, that no one outside of an electronics store or engineering firm needs more than a couple of computer monitors, computers, a couple cases of canned air, multiple keyboards, etc… (you getting the picture?)

I had to declutter my home at the advice of my experienced Real Estate Agents, and so, I followed their advice. My home sold in two days.

I then had to pack up what was left in my home and move it all down to Florida. Well, I realized that I still had an abundance of stuff that I had not used in years and probably never intended on using again. Yet and still, it was my “stuff” and had a personal relevance, or so I thought, to my life.

I needed to declutter my home once more and got rid of more stuff, as painful as it was, but I fought through it and prevailed.

Now that I was back to my home town of Merritt Island, I was getting married to the most amazing women I had ever met and going to be moving in with her and her six children. Yes, I know, there is no typo there, I said six children. Tropical Storm Faye came knocking in August of 2008 and whether I wanted to or not, at least half of my belongings fell victim to the 36 inches of rain TS Faye dropped on the area in only three days. Instant declutter!

I have not looked back since and life has been much much sweeter!

So, outside of marrying an amazing woman with six children and living through a slow and steady tropical storm that will flood your home and destroy half of your belongings, may I offer you all my Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Home and get you ready for a much better staged house to sell and offer on the market.

1. Stop Buying So Much Stuff!

You can be the most organized person in the world and the farthest thing from a hoarder, but if you continue to buy “stuff” while not conversely getting rid of older “stuff”, then you home is going to be a clutter mess. Before you make a purchase on something, try to think about 6 months into the future and if you are really going to get your money and usefulness out of the object.

2. Decluttering is Not a One Time Event

To simply declutter your home is not necessarily something that you have to start cold turkey! A one time event may be necessary to get you boosted in the right direction, but decluttering your home should be an ongoing thing. Otherwise, go back and read #1 above, you’ll continue to accumulate items and voila, before you know, you home is all cluttered up again!

3. Get rid of and declutter the small and easy “stuff” first.

Let’s face it, and I know because I have been there too, some things are just really hard to throw away. That racket-ball racquet you bought in college, or the Force FX lightsaber replica from ROTJ. (Return of the Jedi for all of my non-nerdy readers) Get rid of old magazines, books you have read or know you have no interest in reading, cry computer screens/monitors you know you will never plug in again. The point is, make a habit of throwing out small and easy things to let go of first and it will get easier and easier. over time, the things that you may think you could never part ways with today will become easier and easier over time.

4. Dispose of and Recycle Smart

selling your home

Before you throw away that first magazine, book, piece of electronics or bicycle, make a thought out plan of where to dump this stuff. Instead of just dropping into your garbage can for the Tuesday curb pick up, think of alternate uses for someone else who might be able to use the items. Who knows, you may even make some money off of decluttering. Recycle centers, Salvation Army, Ebay, Craigslist and local thrift stores are a good place to start.

5. Don’t Let False Obligation or Guilt Force You to Keep Stuff

Your home should be a place for your stuff. Remember, it is not meant to be a museum or storage facility for you children who moved out and live on their own 5 years ago. Also, don’t let other people dictate or influence you on what you should keep or get rid of that belongs to you.

6. Do Not Throw Away Stuff That Doesn’t Belong To You Without Permission

Going along with #5 above here, do not declutter items or possessions that do not belong to you without the owner’s permission even though the stuff is in your house. A good example of this is my stuffed animals and train set from when I was a kid. When I graduated from college and went home for a break before starting my first real job post graduation, I remember going into my parent attic and looking for a particular box that had some of my childhood object and memories only to find out my father had “donated” it to a local thrift store. To say the least, I was not happy with his decision to declutter his home with my stuff.

Allow the person who owns the clutter the respect and dignity to either collect their belongings or give you permission to thrown away or donate them accordingly.

7. Do Not Be Afraid!

It’s understandable that some things are just harder than others to get rid of. If you are anything like me, you think to yourself, “Hey, I might be able to use this ripped t-shirt one day to wax my boat I might buy one day”. I can stiff probably find a dozen items in my garage to justify keeping for a possible future obscure use. Understand the difference between something that is relevantly useful to you and something that has potential to be useful.

8. Gifts Do Not Have To Be “Stuff”

There are many instances and ways my wife and I gift others that will not become a clutter item or possibly even a “re-gift” item. You can communicate and encourage others to follow your lead when considering gifts for you and your home as well. Instead of something that is going to sit on a shelf, in a closet or under a stack of other items in your garage, some simple and quick ideas would be gift certificates to your local home improvement store, a bottle of nice wine or even a gift of time away with your spouse or favorite person. (which, coincidently may be by yourself)

9. Be Realistic About Your Home Needs

Despite what some people on the internet might lead or want you to believe, the government is not going to take over tomorrow and the economy is not going to tank in the next few months. Neither is that meteor going to come crashing down and cause the next ice age. There really isn’t a need to have enough linens in your closet to run a small hotel. Your pantry should hold enough food until your next trip to the grocery store. In the event you have a situation where you are going to have a lot of guests at once, you can always borrow the extra items you need to get through the weekend. In the meantime, declutter your home by decluttering your pantry and linen closets.

10. Stop Wasting Your Life on Clutter

Every single object you own has a time stamp on it. Whether it is something that takes time to maintain, clean, service, purchase it, the money it takes and coincidentally, the time it takes to earn the money for purchasing it, or simply move from one spot to another, it is a time stamp on your life. The more “stuff” you have, the more time you need to own it in one way or another. Declutter your home and you will declutter your life!

Less is more my friend. Embrace and more importantly, understand the concept to declutter your home and not only will your home be a better place to live and share with your guests, but your life will be better for it and free’er as well.


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Top 10 Myths About Realtors

Category : Fun , Need to Know

Think You Know All There Is To Being A Real Estate Agent?
Top 10 Myths About Realtors

It’s not all Open House Events, driving around in expensive cars and selling million dollar waterfront homes all the time. Being exposed to the Real Estate industry for a number of years now, I have heard just about all the questions and misinformed statements there are about the Real Estate profession.

How many of these Top 10 Real Estate Myths have you heard?

1. Real Estate Agents get paid to drive people around to look at houses all the time. It’s their job!

Not exactly true my friend. The only time a Real Estate Agent gets paid is when they actually close on a transaction. Sometimes, all of that driving around from house to house results in a zero commission for the Realtor if the client’s financing falls through or the deal falls apart all together.

2. Realtors just want your commission on the sale of the house and will do anything to make it happen.

Now, I can’t personally vouch for every Real Estate Professional out there, but I do know for certain, that my wife and I and anyone on our team, as well as hundreds of other Real Estate Agents I know personally, have the customer’s best interests both financially as well as personally at the forefront of their mind.

Besides the fact, that there is the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) that monitors and governs all real estate laws and practices, there is the foundational fact that most business done in real estate is based off referrals. Good news travels slower than bad, we all know that. So, a good experience for a new buyer or seller goes much farther for the benefit of the Realtor than a bad or neutral experience.

My wife and I are in the business to help people reach their goals for a new home.

3. Realtors are Rich, live in big waterfront homes and drive expensive cars.

Don Norris and Natalie Norris

If that were true, the world would have an over-abundance of the Real Estate Agents. While it is true, that an individual can make a good living as a Real Estate Professional, it is no different than any other job or profession. A person is going to reap the benefits of hard work, exceptional customer service, ethical practices and smart business sense.

Natalie Norris and Don Norris Realtors

4. Agents Get Paid the Entire Commission On A Sale

NO! I wish this were the case, but all Realtors must share their commission with their Broker and in most cases the other Realtor working the opposite side of the transaction. Some Realtors share up to 50% of their portion of the commission with their Broker.

5. You Will Get A Better Deal If You Buy Directly from the Listing Agent

Don’t believe this for a second. In most cases, the seller has a contract with the listing Real Estate Agent to sale the property for a fixed commission percentage. By having your own Real Estate Agent, you have someone looking out for your best interests in negotiations, market price, repairs and inspection as well as closing costs.

6. No Need To Talk To A Lender Until You Have Found the Perfect Home

While this may work for some buyers, in todays housing market, you run the risk of losing your dream home to someone who has already prequalified. For those who have already arranged their financing by getting pre-approved, they are in a better position to secure a contract. Your dream home may get multiple offers on the same day you make your offer. By not being pre-approved for financing, you stand a big chance on being looked over by someone who has their financing pre-approval letter in hand.

Another advantage of pre-approval, is that you will have a clear picture of a dollar amount you have been approved for financing and thus, not waste any time looking at houses you will not qualify for.

7. Real Estate Agents Have An Easy Job

So, you think Realtors just drive around all day looking at nice houses and sit around and collect commission checks without doing much? Again, if this were the case, the world would have an over abundance of Real Estate Agents. Real Estate is a very complicated and difficult profession.

Realtors are constantly marketing, dealing with the public both on the private sector as well as the professional. Organizing home repairs, inspections, pest control and various other professionals it takes to close on a house. Many times, the Real Estate Agent does a lot of work on a transaction for a buyer, and the sale never goes through. The Realtor does not get paid for their time unless the transaction for the home closes and is funded.

Don Norris and Natalie Norris Realtors

In order for a Real Estate Professional to be successful, it requires a full time effort. Real Estate is not a 9-5 job. It is a weekends, early mornings and working into the late hours of evenings profession.

Realtors are constantly working with various personalities of their clients and maintaining a high level of customer service. For most people, a real estate purchase is the biggest and most important financial transaction of their life, and the Real Estate Agent is responsible for making sure the best interests of the clients is at heart.

Real Estate is certainly not an easy job and not everyone is cut out for it. Realtors are special people who are able to deal with the emotional, rude and “time wasters” on a regular basis. Education for Realtors is a constant engagement to stay up to date and certified on new real estate laws and practices.

8. A Realtor Is Only Allowed to Show Their Own Listings or Those Listings of Their Sponsor Broker

Not at all! A Real Estate Agent who represents a buyer can show any home listed on the market. The sales commission for a Buyer’s Agent is no more or no less than any of their own listings or listings of the sponsoring Broker.

When a Realtor is representing a buyer and that buyer is interested in purchasing a home their agent also has listed, then that Real Estate Agent then transitions into what is called a Transaction Broker.

9. If Your Aren’t Getting the Offers You Want For Your Home, Your Realtor Isn’t Doing Their Job

Of course this is not the case! Prices of homes are driven by the overall market. Some houses in a neighborhood sale for more than others, but there are some many factor that go into that. Square footage, location, updated appliances and amenities, as well as desirability of the individual looking. The Real Estate Agent has no influence in those factors. You home is only going to sell to someone when the appraisal value of the home is at equal or less than the selling price. *(unless of course, a buyer wants to purchase the home for more than it is appraised for and is willing to bring cash to the closing to make up the difference)

10. Fast Expensive Cars and Million Dollar Water-Front Properties Shows How Good A Realtor Is

Not always! Some Real Estate Agents are very successful and drive nice, expensive cars no doubt. Those same Agents also list some very expensive, impressive large homes as well. That does not always relate to how good a Real Estate Agent is though.

The key to being an excellent and successful Realtor is not based on the car or listings they hold. It all comes down to customer service and customer satisfaction. People who trust and have confidence in their Realtor are those who are likely to refer that same Agent to their friends and family. Also, they are those who are most likely to use that agent for future transactions.

Find an agent that you can connect with, trust and know they are looking out for your best interests.

Brevard County Realty

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Our Guarantee for a Successful Open House

Category : Fun , Need to Know , Sales

Our Guarantee for a Successful Open House

Thinking of having an open house to get more prospective buyers to notice your property? Think you have it all figured out? Maybe, but just in case, read on.

It’s common knowledge that a house that smells like cookies is a sure fire way to attract interested buyers and set your house apart from the normal smelling house a few streets over having their own open house. Of course, people being able to locate and find your Open House is a given.

I’m here to tell you folks, the days of lighting a Yankee candle that smells like baked cookies and just waiting for the people to show up one after the other are over. It just doesn’t happen like that.

Top 10 ways to have a successful open house

There should be a considerable deal of planning and coordinating to your open house.

I realize that there are many real estate agents these days who don’t believe that open houses are an effective means to marketing and selling your home. I am not going to debate and engage that ideology for the simple fact that having an open house to market and sell your house is a proven and effective means to do just that. I have experienced this first hand on numerous occasions and I am telling you, it makes a big difference between your home and the numerous homes like yours that aren’t having an open house. Year after year, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows in their annual report, Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, that those who are looking to buy a home are finding theirs homes 10-15% of the time through open house events. While that 10-15% isn’t necessarily a staggering amount, it is a significant amount of buyers. Keep in mind, this is only one tool a good real estate professional will use to market and sell your home for you in as quick a time frame as possible.

Before you have an open house, be sure to discuss some of these ideas with your real estate agent.

Market the Open House Event

Yes, this is an event. This isn’t simply a day to unlock the doors to your house, have your real estate agent sit on the sofa with a book and wait for people to stroll by to see what it looks like on the inside.

People have to know about your open house event in order to get a substantial amount of traffic to walk through your front door. Everyone knows, real estate is based on numbers and marketing. If you get a piece of property in front of enough people, someone is going to be interested enough to pay a price you are happy with.

Other than the traditional method of putting out Open House signs in the area, balloons on the mailbox and front of the house there are a few other methods we use to make it more of an event to maximize your houses exposure.

Work with other agents

Talk with other listing agents who are helping owners sell their house in the neighborhood and make it a neighborhood event. It’s all about the traffic. If there are multiple houses in the neighborhood that will participate, make it even more fun and interesting by making a game of it with punch cards and door prizes.

Community Events

Coordinate your open house at the same time as a local community event. This could generate more foot traffic to your home. This works great during community or neighborhood garage sales, grand opening of businesses or local sporting events.

Old School Marketing

There is no shame in using some old school marketing techniques. Door hangers is still an effective method for getting people to hear and spread the word about your open house. People who love where they live, want other people to know about it. Especially people who want their friends to move to their neighborhood and live close by them.

Internet Marketing

Internet marketing is a potentially powerful tool. We have been experts in internet marketing for the past 25 years. If you have someone who knows their way around the internet and knows how to effectively market your property through the internet, there are no other methods more powerful.

Posting your property on Zillow, social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are all free and effective methods for getting potentially thousands of eyes on your property and then those thousands of people could potentially “share” your listing with thousands of other people. You beginning to see the potential here?

Think Outside the Box!

Just because everyone has an open house on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, doesn’t mean you have to. In fact, I encourage you to switch it up a bit! Try having an open house in the evening hours, to showcase the sunsets, tiki lamps around the pool. Try having one on a Monday night during Monday Night Football and stage it as a tailgate party to get couples more involved. Thinking outside of the box is one way to separate you from the hundreds of other people all doing the same thing as one another.

Open House Themed Tailgating

Educate Your Sellers

Communication is the key to any relationship, whether it is a personal or a professional one. As a seller’s agent, we believe that setting the proper expectations up front creates the best experience for everyone involved. Be sure to explain clearly to your client that an open house is not a guaranty of a sell, especially on the day of the event. Make them aware of the possible dangers of inviting strangers into their home, by making sure any loose valuables are secured safely. Many times, during an open house event, a real estate agent may pick up a buyer for a different piece of property based on the needs and wants of that buyer. By setting realistic and clear expectations of an open house event, everyone should walk away feeling like winners.

Nosey Neighbors are the Best

Successful Open House for Real Estate

You’re sitting there at your open house, and the only foot traffic you are getting so far are all of the nosey neighbors coming by to look at the house and the updates they have been wondering about for months now. Some may see that as an annoyance and frustration, but you can use this to your advantage and turn it into a positive. All of those nosey neighbors can actually help you sell that house. When they go back home and run into their friends and talk on the phone, they will;l be talking about how great the “Johnson’s” old home looks that is now for sale. They will be telling their friends and possibly even family members how they could buy the home and live close enough to hang out during the day and walk the dogs in the evenings together.

You may even consider having a neighbors only preview and start the Open House an hour early by passing out a few flyers to the surrounding neighbors as an invitation only.

Keep the Valuables Safe and Away

Unfortunately, not everyone who comes to an open house is there to see the house for sale, but to actually “case” the house for a potential burglary mark. Educate your seller about the importance and need to tuck and secure any valuables away that could easily “walk off”. This of course would include, but not limited to jewelry, small family heirlooms, prescription drugs and of course, money.

Keep valuables safe during an Open House

Get Those Digits and Email!

Sign in sheets may be good in a pinch, but how many times has a Real Estate Professional looked over their sign in sheet to see that some very famous people and cartoon characters were there at the Open House. Sadly enough, some people just don’t want to share their information and of course some do it just to be silly.

Try being more creative with a door prize that will be giving away a day or two after the Open House or using an app to have the potential clients sign in and register with upon arrival.

Getting the visitors sign in information could turn them into a future client even if they do not feel a connection with the home you are currently showing.

Plan Ahead and Be Safe

Sitting at an Open House alone is not necessarily a bad thing nor is it unsafe. That being said, it may be a good idea to have someone join you for your Open House just to be there with you. Safety is always better in numbers. If you really want to be creative, bring along one of your favorite Lenders to join you in the event you so your potential customers can talk with and ask questions about their financing needs and situation.

This is your Open House and it could very well be the 2-3 hours you need to sale that house. Treat it as though it is going to happen and market it like it is the best house in the neighborhood.

Brevard County Realty

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Norris Real Estate Brevard County

Be Smart About Financing Your Mortgage

As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril. Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that “for sale” sign on your new home.

Get pre-approved. Sub-primes may be history, but you’ll probably still be shown homes you can’t actually afford. By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford. You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Unlike pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history. By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you’ll be less likely to get in over your head.

Choose your mortgage carefully. Used to be the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible. Today, the debt the average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it’s better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year. This way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good. Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you plan to stay in the house for a long time—and given the current real estate market, you should—taking the points will save you money.

Do your homework before bidding. Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood with sites like Zillow. Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three months. For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8 to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.


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How To Negotiate Multiple Offers

Category : Need to Know , Sales

As a Realtor, working with both Buyers and Sellers in the rebounding Real Estate market can be challenging at times. Selling your home or buying a property can be one of the most important decisions and transactions in your life. As a licensed Real Estate Agent, I take my responsibilities very seriously by studying negotiation strategies that will put my Buyers or Sellers in the best possible situation to complete a transaction on a deal.

space coast real estate tips and strategies

I have outlined 12 Simple Tips for handling multiple offers at once.

1. Contingencies Should Be Your Last Option
Do not automatically go to or consider a contingency. Only consider a contingency offer for the sale or lease of your property unless it is absolutely necessary. A financing contingency may be a prudent idea when you have another piece of property to sell.

2. Go In Strong!
When you find a home or piece of property that you really want, you have to be assertive and go in strong sometimes. If a property is receiving multiple offers, go in strong with your best offer! It is your objective to get that house and close on that transaction! Going in strong and to the point with your best offer, lets the person on the other end of the transaction know you are serious and if it is a strong enough offer, they will accept it. They too want to get this transaction to the closing table as quickly as possible!

3. Understand, There Will Likely Be A Counter-Offer
Be aware, that even going in with a strong offer on a property, if the seller’s agent is doing their due diligence, almost all offers will include a counter-offer. Knowing this ahead of time should save you any surprises and frustrations with a strong first offer.

4. Find Out Where the Seller Is and What They Really Want
Knowing the situation of the seller and what they are genuinely after in regards to an offer can save you and the seller a lot of time and head aches with offers and counter-offers. Sometimes this information is easily obtained, even through the seller’s agent.

5. Show Your Buyer’s Funds Credentials
If you want to make a solid impression with your offer, send in a verification of funds letter with a cash offer. If financing, send in a strong pre-approval letter or an underwriting approval letter which carries a good bit more weight than just a pre-approval letter.

6. Make a Strong Impression with Earnest Money
Let the seller know how serious you are about purchasing the property by putting down a considerable amount of earnest money along with an underwriting or pre-approved financing letter. By putting up $10,000 or more for earnest money where others are putting up $5,000 or less will certainly set you apart from the rest of the multiple offers being considered. All of that earnest money goes towards your down payment, so if you have the cash to put up, always put your best foot forward and set yourself apart from the rest.

7. Don’t Ask For Part of Your Closing Costs To Be Paid By the Seller
In a hot market with multiple offers, the sweeter you make it for the seller, the better chances your offer is going to be the one accepted. The seller is going to be looking at his bottom line just like you are. The more money in the sellers pocket at the end of the transaction, the better your chances are of getting your dream home! Do not ever let closing costs be the reason you lost your perfect home to another buyer!

8. Don’t Ask For Everything!
One of the surest ways of losing out on a contract with that perfect home you have been looking for is by getting greedy when it comes to the contract. Unnecessary things like personal property requests (flat screen televisions, refrigerators, washer and dryers and furniture in general) termite bonds, home warranties, etc…, will kill a contract before it even gets started. The more simple and attractive to the seller, the more likely your offer will be the one accepted over the other complicated offers.

9. Give the Sellers a Chance to Move
By allowing the seller a few extra days after the closing to pack up and move is a good way to show the seller you are going to be someone easy to work through the closing process. As anxious as you are to get into your new house, give the previous owners a little breathing room to move out. Little things like this can go a long way in weighing whose offer to chose and whose to put at the bottom of the pile.

10. Communicate Clearly and Quickly
There is a reason I saved this tip as the last. Probably one of the single most important tips anyone who is going into a home purchase can have. Communication is key is not just a cliche. Good, clear and prompt communication can save a transaction from disaster most times than not. If there is a counter offer, be clear and expedient to your reply. Again, this could be lone factor on whether or not your offer is pushed through or not. If the seller is waiting around for you to respond, he is going to quickly start to think of the other multiple offers being presented to them on a daily basis. Be smart and prompt!

No single transaction is identical to another. Each person involved in any kind of real estate deal has their own personalities and working with different types of people require different types of approaches. Being able to be flexible and compliant to the needs of the seller is key to making any real estate purchase a smooth one!