Michael Graham and Ralph Cigliano - INI Realty Investments | Jacksonville, FL Realty


If you're searching for a new home open houses can present many learning opportunities. It's your chance to gather information--not only about the particular home you're touring, but also about buying homes in general. It's also your chance to get used to working with real estate agents to learn what they can offer you. Many people arrive at an open house with an open mind. This isn't a bad thing, but it is good to be prepared with some questions for the agent. In this article, we'll talk about some important questions that will help you make the most informed real estate decisions as possible. But first, let's talk open house preparation in general.

Open House Etiquette

Many people expect to be pounced upon by an agent at an open house like a salesman in a furniture store. However, you'll most likely find that the agent is hands-off at the open house, letting you take a look around unbothered. Here are some tips for good open house etiquette to leave a good impression as a potential buyer.
  • Sign in to the guestbook. Or, if you do decline, do it politely
  • Ask for permission before you take photos
  • Ask the real estate agent your questions casually and give them time to speak with other guests--interrogating the agent will make it an uncomfortable meeting for everyone
  • Save probing questions or criticism until you leave. You'll get a chance to speak with the agent again, but don't want to seem rude at your first meeting.

Top Five Questions

  1. Why are the owners selling the home? This one question will give you several details about the home. If they are selling because of the neighbors or problems with the home this question will give you insight into those important buying factors.
  2. Has the listing price changed?  Fluctuation in the price of the home can mean the seller is on a timeline or that the house isn't receiving any offers at the original price. This information could mean that there is some flexibility in the price of the home.
  3. Are there any problems with the home? Most states require the seller to disclose problems with the house. There are many issues that could affect the value of a home that aren't in plain sight, such as plumbing and electrical work. Don't be afraid to ask when the last time the roof was repaired or when any other major work was done on the house.
  4. What is the neighborhood like?  If you aren't familiar with the area you're moving into this is a very important question to ask. Real estate agents should be experts on the area they work in and will be able to give you information about noise levels, schools, traffic, and so on.
  5. What is the cost of utilities?  Everyone uses different amounts of electricity and water. That being said, each home also has its own level of efficiency. If the home has outdated lighting and appliances or if the faucets let out a high volume of water, you might be surprised at how much your future utility bills will be.

For those who can't get enough American history, a Florida trip is a must. In fact, those who decide to settle down in Florida and buy one of the Sunshine State's luxury residences should have no trouble enjoying a wide array of historic landmarks.

Luxury residences are available near some of Florida's most popular historic landmarks, such as:

1. Castillo de San Marcos

A symbol of human determination and endurance, the Castillo de San Marcos monument in St. Augustine is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States.

Castillo de San Marcos was constructed in the late 1600s as a Spanish stone fortress. Today, the monument is a history buff's dream come true, as it features a large interior courtyard, gun deck and other historic sites.

Let's not forget about the spectacular view of St. Augustine that Castillo de San Marcos visitors can enjoy, either. And for those who purchase a luxury home near Castillo de San Marcos, they can take advantage of this wonderful view of St. Augustine any time they choose.

2. Henry B. Plant Museum

In the 1880s, Henry B. Plant built a massive empire of railroads, steamships and hotels. Now, Florida residents and visitors can check out the Henry B. Plant Museum to learn more about Plant and his impact on the Sunshine State.

The Henry B. Plant Museum offers myriad artifacts that illustrate Plant's contributions to the development of Florida. It also includes many artifacts from the legendary Tampa Bay Hotel.

Ultimately, the Henry B. Plant Museum is a must-visit for anyone who wants to gain deep insights into Florida's rich history. If you own a luxury residence in the Tampa area, making a trip to the museum should be quick and easy.

3. Flagler Museum

The Flagler Museum brings Florida history to life unlike any other Sunshine State landmark.

In 1902, a Gilded Age estate was constructed in Palm Beach for American industrialist Henry Flagler. This estate later became the Flagler Museum, a historic landmark that boasts changing exhibits, special programs, guided tours and much more.

At the Flagler Museum, guests can celebrate the life of Flagler. The museum features various collections and materials related to Flagler's life, along with artifacts that provide insights into Florida's history and America's Gilded Age.

As the aforementioned historic landmarks show, Florida is more than just a state that offers awe-inspiring beaches, gorgeous weather and fun, exciting amusement parks.

Meanwhile, if you work with a real estate agent, you can move one step closer to acquiring a luxury residence near one of Florida's historic landmarks.

A real estate agent will learn about your luxury homebuying goals and help you map out your homebuying journey. As a result, this housing market professional will make it simple for you to secure a luxury residence in any Florida city or town, at any time.

Ready to buy a Florida luxury home? Contact a local real estate agent today, and you can streamline the process of acquiring a deluxe residence in the Sunshine State.


Ready to upgrade from a condo to a house? You'll first need to add your condo to the real estate market to ensure that you can sell this property and buy a new residence. However, selling a condo sometimes can be difficult, particularly for those who are selling a property for the first time.

Fortunately, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of selling your condo. Here are three tips that you can use to list your condo on the real estate market and maximize your property's value.

1. Set a Competitive Price for Your Condo

Spend some time learning about the prices of condos in your area. By doing so, you'll be able to establish a fair price for your condo and improve your chances of generating substantial interest in it.

Condo sellers should look at the prices of similar properties in their respective neighborhoods. This will enable condo sellers to understand how much other condo sellers are asking for their properties, along with how much various condos have sold for over the past few months.

Also, don't forget to include your assets in your condo listing. If you have extra storage space or a covered parking spot, you may be able these amenities into your condo listing to help your property stand out from others.

2. Understand Your Condo Association's Rules

A homeowners association (HOA) sets guidelines and rules for condo owners to follow in a community. And if you fail to comply with these regulations, you may face fines or other penalties from the HOA.

When it comes to selling your condo, it always is better to err on the side of caution. Thus, you should reach out to your HOA in advance to inform the association of your decision to sell your condo. This will allow you to find out whether a homebuyer will need to be approved by the HOA before he or she can purchase your condo.

3. Work with an Experienced Real Estate Professional

Collaborate with a real estate agent who understands what it takes to sell a condo. With this real estate agent at your disposal, you should have no trouble stirring up plenty of interest in your condo in a short amount of time.

An experienced real estate agent will possess many years of condo selling experience and can share his or her insights with you. Plus, if you ever have concerns or questions about selling your condo, your real estate agent will be happy to respond to these queries immediately.

In addition, an experienced real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to sell your property. He or she will host condo showings and keep you up to date about any potential offers. This real estate professional also will provide expert guidance to help you optimize the value of your property.

Hire an experienced real estate agent to sell your condo, and ultimately, you can streamline the condo selling process.


Although owning one or more dogs involves a long-term commitment of time, energy, and money, the vast majority of dog owners would have it no other way! While dog ownership isn't for everyone, few people can resist the unconditional love, playfulness, and companionship that dogs offer. If you grew up with dogs in your household and feel comfortable with them, chances are high that your home is never complete without one. Some people even get a second dog so that their first pet isn't lonely when the family is at work and school. Besides the joy of having an affectionate, four-legged companion in the house, the advantages of bringing a dog into the family are practically innumerable.
  1. Exercise: We all need regular physical activity to look and feel our best, but it's all too easy to come up with excuses for skipping a day or two. As most of us can attest to, a few days of exercise avoidance can easily turn into weeks or more of inactivity. However, since dogs require daily walks to relieve themselves and expend pent up energy, you're less likely to have a sedentary lifestyle when there's a dog in the family. Motivating us to take them for a walk and play with them, every day, is one of the countless ways dogs enhance our lives. They may even help us live longer and be healthier.
  2. Home security: Whether a dog is an intimidating German Shepherd or a fluffy, white Bichon Frise, they're still going to bark when they sense a stranger on your property. While small dogs aren't going to inspire terror in the hearts of would-be burglars, their barking has a similar effect to that of a security alarm or a motion-sensor floodlight. It's going to call attention to the potential intruder. Since one of a burglar's main objectives is to not be noticed, a barking dog -- of any size -- can be an effective deterrent.
  3. Benefits to kids: If you had a dog when you were growing up, you know what a source of joy and companionship they can be to a child. Dogs not only create fond memories for children, but they can also help teach responsibility, empathy, and compassion for other living beings.
Although dogs can bring a lot of joy to you and your family, they can also be potentially destructive, overly aggressive, and noisy. If you've ever watched the TV show The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, you know how troublesome some dogs with behavioral problems can be. That's why it's important to select your dog from a reputable breeder, rather than a so-called "puppy mill," and train them properly, from day one. It also pays to research the temperament of different breeds before you decide which one would be the best match for you and your family. Some breeds are known to be high strung, while others tend to be more mellow and gentle -- a trait that's especially important with young children. It's also helpful to know in advance whether a dog sheds, whether it's prone to any medical conditions, and how much exercise it needs on a daily basis. If you don't have experience training or house breaking a dog, there are plenty of videos, books, and articles available on the Internet to provide you with the knowledge and skills to be a successful dog owner. Dog training classes are also available in most communities.

If you’re buying a fixer upper, whether you plan to live on the property or flip it, there are plenty of things that you’ll need to consider. So you can budget appropriately, below, many of the costs and fees are laid to so that you can see what you’ll need to budget for when rehabilitating a home.



The Overall Costs


The costs that you’ll incur in buying and finishing a home that needs to be rehabilitated are as follows:


  • The team needed for rehabilitation
  • The purchase price of the property
  • The cost of owning the property
  • The cost of selling the property (if you plan on flipping the home)


The Team


The people that you put together to rehab your home will be very important to the entire rehabilitation process. You should take the time to research each person that you’re hiring to be sure that they are a good fit for the job.


Professionals who will be involved in the process include:


  • Lender
  • Attorney
  • Realtor
  • Contractor 
  • Insurance agent
  • Home inspector


You can ask your realtor or other trusted contacts for recommendations. Putting a team in place helps to make the entire, sometimes cumbersome process of house rehabilitation a bit smoother. 


Buying The Property


These costs are pretty standard as if you were buying any other home. You’ll need to pay closing costs, attorneys fees, realtor fees, and more. Costs typically included in a home purchase are:


  • Inspection
  • Purchase price
  • Closing costs
  • Appraisal


You should budget for all of these typical home buying costs when buying a rehab home. 


The Costs Of Home Rehabilitation


This is where things get expensive. You’ll need to first pay a contractor just to consult with them to see how they will create your vision for the property. You could also take another route an consult with a home inspector who has experience in construction. They can give you an idea of what the construction expense will be and what needs to be addressed. 


When you do get to meet with contractors, you’ll want to understand their construction experience and feel comfortable that they can produce the work that you need at a high level of quality.  


Owning A Home


Once you have the home in need of rehabilitation in your possession, you’ll need to pay the typical costs of any homeowner. These include:


  • Mortgage payments
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance


Even if you’re not currently occupying the home, once the property is purchased, all of these costs will need to be covered and considered. 


If you decide to flip the property and sell it, you’ll need to consider additional costs including realtor’s fees and other closing costs.  




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