Tips for Conducting a Home Search Online

There are many things to consider when looking at houses online. While sites like Zillow and Trulia make searching easy, there are plenty of advantages to checking local Realtors that those sites cannot replicate. Here are a few major considerations to keep in mind the next time you look at homes for sale online.

1) Homes on Zillow and Trulia may not still be available.

The major home search sites populate their listings from the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. The MLS can take several days to update after a home is sold. Zillow and Trulia cannot update until after those services have updated, meaning there could be a several day lag. While Realtors, by comparison, know their listings and can update accordingly. Also, you can call a Realtor to check on a home’s availability, something the bigger sites do not offer.


2) Realtors often save pictures for their own sites.

If you are interested in a house but want more information, check with the listing agent’s website. They will often put less pictures on the big sites and save some for their own sites. This is not only to drive traffic to their own sites, but also as a way to work around the limitations of the bigger sites. Often, there is only so many pictures they will allow someone to post. In order to show off everything, you need a site without limits. This is easily accomplished on your own site. If you want to see everything a listing has to offer, check the agent’s gallery.


3) To get your questions answered, call a Realtor.

Even if you are trying to go it alone in your search, it is nearly inevitable that you would have questions about a property. The big sites frequently lack the information you would need. Homeowners may not be the most reliable sources of information. In order to get all of the answers, sometimes you need to ask a professional. Sometimes you need a Realtor. As a buyer, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Sellers cover commissions. A Realtor can help a buyer negotiate a price. If you are looking to buy, you have no reason not to call an agent, like our own Bonnie Barbieri.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you conduct a home search online. This is obviously just covering the basics, but if you are conducting the search in this manner, there are plenty of resources to assist you further.

Hernando County for Nature Lovers

Florida Manatee Hernando County

Credit: Division of Public Affairs


Hernando County has plenty of natural beauty to explore. We have already mentioned Pine Island, Hernando’s most well-known beach. We have also detailed a prime cave diving spot for those who are experienced enough to navigate such a trek. We have even found footage of the coastline as seen from the air. For nature lovers, we have only scratched the surface of what this region has to offer.

For bird-watchers, we have the Ahhochee Sanctuary in the Brooksville Ridge region. It is home to one of the highest hilltops in the state. The land was acquired by the Florida Audubon back in 2002 and became one of the top sanctuaries in the state. There is a two-mile long looping trail to hike and take in the sights, but you would need to contact the sanctuary’s manager before making a visit.

You can bike or hike through bear habitats at the Weekiwachee Preserve. You may not see the bears, as they tend to keep to themselves, but there is still plenty to take in. There are bird-watching stations, picnic facilities, fishing and boating. There is plenty to see and do for any nature enthusiast.

For more wildlife sightseeing and hiking opportunities, the Chinsegut Conservation Center gives nature lovers the chance to see animals that you might not catch elsewhere. From the endangered gopher tortoise to bobcats, from turkeys to white-tailed deer, this refuge has a bit of everything. The site is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays, but only until 2 P.M., so come early.

There are plenty of parks in Hernando County, a few of them have equestrian trails for the horseback riders out there. Many of these trails are open all year long, but like the bird sanctuary reference above, you will want to check in before going to be aware of any rules or regulations you need to be aware of.

There are many more opportunities that we cannot get into here, or this article would stretch to several pages. We will continue to profile more of the plentiful recreational options in Hernando County in future articles, so check back here or subscribe to our email list or Facebook page to be notified of new content.

There Is Still Hope For The American Dream

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Many people in today’s economy are stressed about their prospects in regards to home ownership. Many are beginning to consider home ownership an unattainable dream. Our lawmakers have done nothing to make this any better as they tighten the rules on mortgage lending. There is hope, however. There are ways to get yourself into the financial shape necessary to join the ranks of American homeowners.

First, as we have mentioned before, keep an eye on your credit. Credit scores have a huge impact on your ability to get and afford a mortgage. If you have outstanding debts, there are usually ways to work with your creditors to resolve them. Many creditors would rather try to negotiate a payment plan, even a partial one, rather than not get anything. Credit card companies frequently cut interest rates and accept lower payments to get a customer who was behind on payments back up to date. Sometimes, pressing other service providers, such as your cable company, can result in a lower bill. There are many ways to cut debt and trim expenses.

Sometimes, getting trimming expenses might be necessary to save for a down payment. There are ways to cull excess in almost any budget. Scaling back services or using cheaper alternatives to popular brands can add up to big savings over time. If you are willing to make small sacrifices, you can free up substantial portions of your budget. Small workarounds can free up hundreds of dollars a month.

As far as the process of getting a mortgage, a Realtor, such as our own Bonnie Barbieri, can help you determine how much house you can afford. Many work directly with lenders and can easily help you determine what you qualify for and help you budget accordingly. Realtors know the ins and outs of the mortgage market and are there to help you as much as they can to simplify the home-buying process.

Also, researching a potential home market can help you further in finding an affordable home. Here in Hernando County, Florida, there are numerous homes that are reasonably priced and are great places to live. There are options all over the Tampa Bay area, but few as affordable as here.

While there is certainly reason for trepidation due to the rocky economy, there are still ways to make home ownership an attainable goal for you and your family. Call Bonnie Barbieri  and see what options are available to you. Home ownership is a vital part of the American Dream. Do not give up.


5 Reasons to Sell Your Home Right Now

Many people have been reluctant to sell their homes in the current economy. The reality is that, despite the uncertainty in the financial world, there may not be a better time than now to call a Realtor look into selling. If you are looking to make a move in the near future, now is the time to pursue it. Here are five reasons why you should consider making the call to a Realtor if you have been on the fence.

1. Lack of Competition

There are serious shortages of homes for sale in most parts of the country. Many of the ones that are available are foreclosures, and many people just do not want the headache and risk of purchasing a foreclosure. While this may not be the greatest news for the real estate industry, especially in areas like here in Hernando County where listings are at a premium, but it is great news for sellers. Many homes are selling quickly and with multiple offers because buyers do not have much to choose from. Take advantage of it and you could be making a considerable amount more on your sale than if you wait.

2. Mortgage Rates Are Low (For Now)

Buyers are lining up to purchase homes because they are getting low interest loans. The banks are loosening the purse strings and buying a home is becoming easier. This also means that getting a new place wherever you want to move to will also be a good bit cheaper with the lower interest mortgages. Of course, this trend is not expected to last forever. Analysts claim that demand will drive up interest rates. Then, with all of the shenanigans in Congress these days, political bickering could hurt our nation’s economy, sending rates even higher. The longer you wait to make a move, the more your financial security looks like a game of Russian Roulette. You are gambling with your future if you wait for the economy to look better before making a decision.

3. Home Prices Are Still Reasonable

While the rock-bottom prices of 2012 may be behind us, home prices have yet to really recover much of the value they lost when the bubble burst. Listing prices are low enough to entice buyers, but those buyers often end up paying a premium because they are fighting a seller’s market. When moving to a new area, the lower prices are beneficial. When selling, especially in a region like this, the lack of inventory pits buyers against each other. Many believe that the current prices are nearing a peak. They say mortgage interest rates will force prices back down soon. As a seller, you want to sell high and buy low. The window to do so is closely tied to those mortgage rates. You do not want to miss that window.

4. You May No Longer Be Underwater

Many people have refrained from selling their homes because they are underwater on their mortgage and do not want to just sign over the check to the bank at closing. Well, remember those rising home prices I mentioned earlier? They have lifted millions of homes out of the “underwater” status. There is now profit to be made for millions of homeowners who would have taken a loss just a few months ago. Many people may not even realize just how much the rising prices have helped them. Calling a Realtor can help you find out. Even if you are not looking to sell, you may be able to find out some good news about your home’s value.

5. All of This Could Change Without Much Notice

Every current advantage listed here could turn against you depending on the direction of the mortgage interest rates. If they go up, prices fall, homes could end up back underwater, and a seller could face an enormous loss. If the rates drop much further, more sellers are going to look to take advantage of the situation. If they do, you may be getting into the game too late. This is why now is the time to sell. There are numerous factors making now the best time to sell since before the foreclosure crisis began in 2008. It is a perfect opportunity, and it is unlikely to last. If you want to take advantage, act now.

Historic Hernando County: Brooksville

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Previously, we looked at one of Brooksville’s most treasured traditions, the Brooksville Raid Civil War reenactment. This week, we take a glimpse into the history behind the city itself. The first settlement to pop up in what we today call Brooksville was Fort DeSoto. Named after famed explorer, Hernando DeSoto (who we also cover here), the fort was founded in 1840 to protect settlers from Native Americans. The fort was built on what is now Croom Road. It served as an important stop in a stagecoach trade route that ran south into Tampa. The foundation of the fort, much like large portions of the area, sat on a bed of limestone. The builders of the fort were unaware of the composition of the ground upon which the structure sat. The porous limestone absorbed water like a sponge, making obtaining water for the denizens of Fort DeSoto a daunting task. Facing dire shortages, the decision was made to abandon the fort and head for more favorable surroundings.

Two communities began in response to the failure of Fort DeSoto. Pierceville, was started by the Hope and Saxon families. The other community that would form in what is now Brooksville was known as Melendez. In 1850, a post office was set up in Melendez. It would be Christmas Eve of that year that the county’s name was changed from Benton to Hernando County. Four years later, it would be closed in favor of moving operations to Pierceville. Two years after that, the two communities were merged into Brooksville and the newly formed city was named the new county seat.

The new city was named after South Carolina Representative, Preston Brooks. Brooks was best known for an incident in which he beat Senator Charles Sumner with his cane over Sumner’s support of the abolitionist movement and disparaging remarks made towards Brooks’ family. Sumner was injured so badly that he was incapable of performing his duties as a Senator for close to three years. Brooks became a hero in much of the South. Northern Congressmen demanded Brooks be booted from from Congress, but he resigned willingly. Not long later, he ran for his old office again and was re-elected. He never got to serve any of that term, however, as he would pass away before his term began.

Four families played a large part in setting up the groundwork for the new city, the Howell, Mays, Hale and Parsons families each built up sections of the city. The Howells built up the north; the Mays family developed the east; the Hales took the west, and the Parsons family handled things on the southern portion of the city. As the city grew, it would not be officially incorporated until October of 1880.

Since then, the city of Brooksville has grown into the heart of Hernando County. Many of the county’s vital services, hospitals, colleges, county government, are all found here. It has not been all smooth sailing since then. In 2010, a controversy sparked around the city’s name. Many felt that the connections to slavery implied by the name were distasteful and shameful in modern society. It was suggested that the name be changed to distance the city from such a tainted past. The city’s residents overwhelmingly opposed the change and the push died out before the city council.

Brooksville has had its share of ups and downs. As Hernando County continues to grow, Brooksville is one of the areas that stands to gain the most. As the county seat, Brooksville is at the center of any major event in the county. As time goes on, there is certainly reason to believe that this region will begin to return to the growth that exploded in Hernando County through the past twenty years. While nothing is certain in the future, Brooksville’s position as the heart of Hernando County is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.