Thursday, 30 August 2012

9 Costly ‘Extras’ to prepare for as Homeowners

9 Costly ‘Extras’ to prepare for as Homeowners
Buying a home is very exciting time.  There is so much to think about with the buying process that people often overlook some of the extra costs that will pounce on you as a new homeowner.  I found this article on an amazing website called but have edited it to fit our Real Estate market in The Bahamas.
When people have a budget in mind for their house they typically factor in the cost of the home, the taxes and fees required for the transaction and then focus on the monthly mortgage payment amount. 
As a potential new homeowner, it is important to factor in the following extra costs so the excitement and joy of becoming a homeowner and fulfilling a dream does not quickly fade and become a nightmare! So, if you’re planning to buy a new home, have just signed the paperwork, or are moving in next week, this list is for you. And if you know someone who's moving in, share this with them.

1. Window Coverings, Treatments, Hurricane Shutters & Security Screens

“Oh, look at all the windows! It’s so bright, so spacious, the views are lovely!” Well, yes they are. But you don’t want people viewing you at night, or looking in whenever they want, so all those windows need coverings. If it’s a new home, you’re going to be spending hundreds (and probably thousands) of dollars on blinds, curtains, curtain rods, tie backs, valances, and shades (even more if you're not too handy and have to have someone come and fit them for you). If it’s an old home, you may be fine for a year or two with what is there, but you’ll need to decide if you want to live with the old owner’s treatments or have your own.  You also need to factor in hurricane shutters and in some locations security screens for added protection if the home you are buying is not already equipped. 

2. Landscaping and Grounds keeping  

Walking around new neighborhoods, you see all sorts of beautiful landscapes. And there, almost always, you’re on your own. Depending on the size of the yard and the HOA rules and restrictions, you could be looking at $10,000 - $30,000 worth of landscaping materials and labor. Want a deck or a patio? That’s even more money. And then you may need sprinklers, irrigation, and other services. If you move into an old home, that’s no guarantee of a great yard.  So, do your homework. See if you can hustle the homebuilder for a finished back yard too, or ask the seller to drop the price to cover landscaping.  Or be prepared to live with it as is until the additional funds come along.

3. Major Appliances

New home builds will sometimes include utilities, but not always. If you buy an existing home, you may not have any appliances included, or they may be old.  So figure on spending a nice chunk of change when the time comes to move in or upgrade.

4. HOA Fees

In Nassau, gated communities are first on everyone’s wish list.  However, Condos and Homes in gated communities come with a Home Owners Association. In theory, they’re a sound idea. They are their to keep the community looking great, and deal with trash collection, playgrounds, community pools, street lighting, common areas, security, and so on. Of course, in practice many people hate the HOA because they extend their reach far beyond what most people consider fair. They can tell you what colors you can and can’t paint your house, what type of blinds and window treatments are allowed, what you can and can’t put in your yard, and the list goes on.  Some are just a few hundred a year, while in the higher-end neighborhoods, you may not see much change out of $1,000 every month! Did you see that one coming? Before you buy, make sure you know what the HOA dues are, but remember, they can go up annually and you have little say in the matter.  Be sure to allow for this in your monthly budget.

5. Furniture

Of course tastes can range from Ikea to custom-built furniture, but what you need to know is that most homeowners completely underestimate the amount of furniture they’ll need. This is especially true when upgrading from your starter home into a bigger home. You may now have two areas for relaxing, a living room and family room. You could also have a den, a library, a nook or study, extra bedrooms, guest rooms, outdoor dining/living areas or even a game room. Depending on what you’re moving into, you could have a very empty-looking house that needs to be filled. Get ready to go shopping.  Or get creative, talk to people who are updating their house, try consignment shops and garage sales.

6. Insurance

There are a few different types of insurance you need to have when buying a home. First, you must have homeowners insurance. If you have a mortgage in The Bahamas you are required to have catastrophe which covers hurricanes. If you live in a duplex or other type of connected building, the insurance may be covered in your HOA dues, but you should also have contents insurance, based on the value of your possessions. Banks also require life insurance policies, which is not substantial but still an extra monthly expense.

7. Property Tax

Property Taxes in Nassau vary depending on the price bracket of your home and occupancy status and it is still another expense to add to the long list of ‘extras’. The good news for first time home buyers is that you have your first 5 years exempt, but take it from me, those first 5 years fly by!  After that the breakdown owner occupied property is: For the first $250,000 of market value is tax exempt, more than $250,000 and not exceeding $5,000,000 of market value is ¾%, more than $500,000 and not exceeding $5,000,000 of market value is 1%. 

8. Utilities

This can be quite a shock, especially the electricity bills in Nassau. And what’s worse, depending on when you move in, you could really get a wake-up call. You will want/need your air-conditioning more in the summer months, so you may budget based on the winter bills, only to be unprepared for summer.  Ask neighbors have they have been paying or be sure to ask the previous home owners during the negotiation process. 

9. Repairs and Maintenance – Who Knows!

One of the biggest unknown expenses of owning a home is the repairs and maintenance costs that can hit you out of nowhere. If you were formerly renting, that was all taken care of. Now it’s all on you. If the water heater breaks, you pay. If the roof leaks, you pay. If you need a new well, you pay. If there are plumbing issues, you pay. And these bills can be steep. You’ll soon find out that hourly labor costs for plumbers, electricians, and builders are usually a lot more than the hourly wage you get paid.  It is important to have a reserve fund for emergency household expenses, and factor that in as a monthly ‘expense’ to put away money into a household repairs fund so when the fridge breaks you have the money to repair/replace it.   

As a licensed sales agent and appraisal associate, I would be more than happy to help you through your home purchasing experience and aim to make it as smooth as possible!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Life Lesson #2 - Always ask yourself - Is this an inconvenience or a tragedy?

On my path to self-improvement I have picked up something else I wanted to share with you all. 

Jackie Leavenworth shared this question on Saturday August 11th during a lecture I was attending at the Florida Association of Realtors conference. 

When things are not going right always ask yourself this little question BEFORE reacting "Is this an inconvenience or a tragedy?" 

And then just this morning I was reading something and there was the same piece of advice, worded slightly different but nonetheless the same concept! Is someone trying to tell me something? 

If you are cool, calm and collected at all points in life then you are really lucky and I want to be like you! If things do rattle you everyday, sometimes, or occasionally perhaps this short and simple question may be able to bring you closer to being that cool calm and collected person you really aspire to be.  Maybe post it up on your computer, or on your fridge...

Living in this busy busy world, there is lots to get done and lots going on.  One thing goes wrong and it can really throw off your day can't it? Guess what folks, it really does not have to! And if you remember this question you may not be perfect all the time, but I bet it will save you a lot of wasted energy.

It helped me out huge just the day after I heard it - I think it was a test! On Sunday I left the hotel at 9.30am to arrive at the airport for 10am with lots of time for my 12.15pm flight, arrive in Nassau before 2pm and hit the beach with some friends! YAY! Had my bathing suit all ready and was really looking forward to a nice Sunday afternoon.  That was my plan.  

Only I arrived at the airport and found out the flight was already delayed until 2.15pm which would realistically put me in just before 4pm by the time I got my bags, so the beach was out.  Filled with disappointment and emotions starting to build, I asked myself this key question - Is this an inconvenience or a tragedy? Simply an inconvenience.  I thought, well I have all this work to do that I did not get the chance to do while in Orlando, I will find my gate and settle down to do that.  I had a very productive day in the airport, enjoyed a starbucks and the use of the free internet and power socket... not what I had planned but it ended up being not all that bad.  I felt great having put in several hours of work and I was also really proud for not overreacting and wasting energy. All in all I walked out of Nassau airport at 6pm - not my first choice on how to spend a Sunday, I mean for heavens sake I could have almost made it to London in that amount of time... but life happens and you have no control over it!

This scenario could have gone a whole lot differently - When things do not go our way we get upset, angry, say and do things we always end up regretting and lets face it - looking a little bit silly! We also exhaust ourselves with negative energy of stress, which is not good for us!  It is stress that is killing us.  When you are not at a sense of 'ease' you are in 'dis' ease... dis + ease = disease.   

So when something goes 'wrong' and you start feeling those building emotions, before reacting ask yourself 

"Is this an inconvenience or a tragedy?" 

(Keeping in perspective that tragedy includes things like severe illness, loss of life, a disaster, 9/11, and other life changing events)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Chillin' on a Dirt Road... In Graham, Texas

As you may know, one of my favourite things is to travel and see new places.

In April we went to Texas!  We flew into Dallas/FW and stayed in FW for a couple of nights before heading out to the ranch.

Wildcatter Ranch was everything we had hoped for and more. Neither of us had been on a ranch holiday.  We knew we wanted to relax, in a relatively 'authentic' country style place, have a few things to do, and just enjoy the rugged beauty of the Texas country.  We certainly achieved this staying at Wildcatter.   We stayed at OT's Cabin for 6 nights and we did not want to leave on the Wednesday morning when we had to check out.

Wildcatter Steak House
The Wildcatter Steakhouse on the ridge is superb.  The service there, and actually everywhere on the Ranch was top notch.  The decor of the restaurant is really great as well, country style, but not tacky.  Some of the dining rooms have the most beautiful view from the top of the ridge, and the bar is a great spot to hang.  One of my favourite touches were the latches on the bathroom, like a barn gate.  I appreciate the details.

Beautiful view on the Trail

There is certainly enough for everyone to do.  We went on 3 trails with Jeremy, which were all super enjoyable. The first one was an hour and a half, and we headed up the side of a hill and enjoyed the views from the ridge.  Another time we rode past the cows in the fields and down along the river.   There is canoeing down at the river as well, but unfortunately we did not get a chance to go, we were so busy relaxing :)

Long Horns you can feed every morning! So cute!

The skeet shooting range is awesome! Being a girl, I did not have the experience shooting that my boyfriend did but Jay was very helpful and I did not feel useless at all.  He showed me how to do everything properly and gave me tips to hit more!  We each had massages one day at the Sage Room.  That was early on in our stay and put us in a relaxed state of mind.

Ranger taking a dip! 
The pool area at Wildcatter was designed so well.  It fits right in with the nature look, and the infinity pool overlooks a valley below - there is no better place to enjoy a glass of wine at sunset!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Life Lessons #1 - Looking for the Humor in Life

"The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday" ~ Unknown 

After reading this above quote about a week ago, it has inspired me to try and learn as much as possible to be better than the person I was yesterday... 

If you are aware and make a conscious effort, you can pick up lessons from life everyday... and I thought it would be fun to share the life lessons I start picking up along my journey and perhaps they will also help you also be better than the person you were yesterday.  This first one is definitely for me... I get so caught up on my 'to do' list the day can fly by as a race to get things done and I miss the joy and humor I could have relished in. 

Life Lesson #1 - Always find the humor in a situation - Life is too short to be taken so seriously! 

I had the honor of listening to key speaker, Jeanne Robertson, on Thursday August 9th at the Florida Association of Realtors convention in Orlando.  She is HILARIOUS! I think I will hear her voice every time I hear the word America in her North Carolina accent now! HA! But she had a message... To find the humor in mostly everything each day - being 6'2" at a very young age she learned very quickly that life would be challenging if she did not choose to laugh at herself and find the humor in the situation.  

Jeanne Robertson

It's okay to laugh at yourself when you make a mistake, when your day isn't going well, when your spouse makes a mistake or argue about something super trivial, when that person who drives you nuts could easily put you in a bad mood... I could go on and on!  Perception is reality, so if you choose to get frustrated by every little thing you'll lead a stressful life but if you choose to find the comedy in daily life you will enjoy your day so much more and see things from a different perspective! 

So challenge yourself and when you feel yourself getting bothered/frustrated/upset/angry - ask yourself if you can find something funny about the situation? After all isn't it some of the most crazy stressful situations that become hilarious stories that you tell a couple of weeks later? Try and find the humor in them from the start! 

Monday, 6 August 2012

8 Reason’s why you should buy Real Estate in The Bahamas

8 Reason’s why you should buy Real Estate in The Bahamas

  1. It’s a buyers market! Cash is king right now and there are many great deals to be had if you are in the position to buy.  Property prices that were once over-inflated have come back to a reasonable price.
  2. It’s better in The Bahamas! Arrive in the Bahamas and relax.  The pace is slow and the people are friendly.  Grab a Sands beer and hit the beach!
  3. Strong Rental Market – With the new resort of Baha Mar under construction and many contract workers coming in, the rental market is booming.
  4. Our proximity to major cities!  With direct flights to London, Toronto, many cities in the US (Dallas, NYC, Miami, Atlanta etc) it is easy as pie to come to your second home!
  5. Island Hopping is heavenly! – If you have a base in Nassau you can spend weekends on the family islands – explore new places and soak up the tranquility and beauty of the Bahamas.
  6. Currency! – The Bahamian Dollar is pegged to the US Dollar and you can use US dollars one for one in the Bahamas.
  7. Building has now become so much easier! ‘Pre-fab’ homes have come so far and there are now amazing options for hurricane safe beautiful island cottages.  My dream is to buy a little piece of property in Eleuthera with an ocean view and have a 2 bedroom cottage to rent out to visitors, and a get away for us to go when we can! 
  8. Fantastic new developments – Take advantage of developer prices in this buyers market and get great deals. Here are just a few examples: 

PS. I am a real estate agent so contact me at if you are looking :) 

Back to Blogging!

After quite the hiatus from my blog I am back.

2012 has been a whirlwind of wonderful travels and fun adventures but I have certainly missed writing my blog! 

Stay tuned for updates... 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Spring is here! Tips on Spring Cleaning!

Spring is in the air! It’s the time of year that we all feel, or are supposed to feel, compelled to give our homes the once over ‘spring clean’.

This however can seem incredibly daunting and most people do not know where to start.  Even myself, a person close to being OCD with organizing, sees the idea of spring cleaning looming in front of me. 

So, as I am a ‘planner’ I was going to break my ‘plan’ down for me and thought why not share it with my followers. 


STARTING POINT – Break it down… if you are a list writer, write a list of all the rooms in your house and then start with one room in the house, even if it is just the powder room, or start from the back of the house and work forward – whatever works best for you! Identify what needs doing in that room specifically and get to it!  


In each room you will have to do a few things, some of course maybe more.


1.      DECLUTTER! Take a scan of the room and see what you can ‘repurpose’.  So often we just pass things by and do not even notice that ‘watch box’ that you got for Christmas and is still sitting on the tv stand in May, with the 3 links that you will never need.  Go through your closet and think about what you have not worn for the entire year.  Even if I kind of like something, I think – but I have 4 other shirts I would wear before this one and it will not get worn – give it to someone who actually would wear it.  Don’t be afraid to tackle that junk drawer in the kitchen, once you empty it out it will not take long to organize. 

2.      Clean windows – the worst of the spring cleaning jobs and probably the best place to start.  Get the right equipment so it is easy – buy a squeegee and have a good supply of old cloths or tshirts.  Directions: To start, dip a sponge into a bucket of warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Wet window; rub dirt away. Dampen squeegee; starting at an upper corner, draw it down pane from top to bottom. Repeat, overlapping strokes and wiping rubber edge with sponge after each stroke. (For large windows, ''snake'' squeegee back and forth; then touch up edges.) Dry windowsills with a cloth.

3.      Wipe down – doors, above door frames, light bulbs, fans, picture frames, light fixtures, blinds, and curtain roads all gather dirt.  Do you have slatted closet doors? It is amazing how much dust gathers in the slats. 

4.      Curtains and Carpets - For synthetic carpeting, rent or buy a shampooer/extractor -- a machine that cleans the fibers and removes traces of soap using hot water. Open windows and let air flow to help carpets dry. If you have wool carpets or rugs, or any that are valuable or delicate, contact a professional for cleaning. Vacuum and steam-clean curtains or have them dry-cleaned. If you'll be replacing heavy curtains with lighter ones as the weather gets warmer, it is especially important to remove dust and dirt before putting the curtains away for storage.




1.      Clean Out the Refrigerator… This task is a daunting undertaking; make it more manageable by breaking it down.

·        The first step is to wipe up spills immediately so surfaces won't become stained.

·        Make it a habit to throw out old food once a week.

·        Every few months, wash the interior with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda for every quart of warm water. Wash removable shelves and drawers in the solution (let glass shelves come to room temperature first so warm water won't crack them).

·        Loosen hardened spills on fixed parts by wetting the area with the solution, allowing the residue to soften. 

·        Use a toothbrush to scrub crannies. 

·        Twice a year, vacuum or brush dust from the condenser coils to keep the system from overheating.

2.      Clean out the pantry.  Had a few old cans, or half eaten bags of chips sitting in there for you do not remember how long? It’s time to purge.  We feel this need to hold on to things sometimes, but if you know you are never going to use it, get it out of there and free up the space.  If canned goods are not expired, donate them to a local soup kitchen or charity.

3.      Organize the Tupperware, pots and pans.  Taking the time to match up lids with containers, and tidy up your pots and pans will save you time in the long run. 



Maintain Household Appliances:

1.      Washer and Dryer – does it need a service?

2.      Air-conditioning vents – do they need cleaning? Summer is approaching and you want your air-conditioning to be working efficiently and effectively.

Restock Housekeeping Supplies

You'll need all-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner, specific products for problem spots such as mildew in tile grout, as well as natural cleansers such as baking soda and vinegar. Stock up on sponges, rags, scrub brushes, new mop, broom and toilet brush and rubber gloves, too. Looking to go green this year? try The Copper Pot's awesome green cleaning products 


One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Ask around in your community, the local Salvation Army, Children’s homes etc are always in need of people’s throw-a-ways.  If you are in Nassau, the Bahamas humane society has a thrift shop and they can actually make money on gently used items that then goes towards the animals.