March madness is almost upon us! Be prepared for a calendar jam packed with so many great activities and events that there just isn't time for you to enjoy them all. For those who have recently relocated or are planning to join our community, here are a few of my favorites I'd like to share:
March 4 4th Annual Habitat Strawberry Festival
Be prepared to enjoy live entertainment, vendors, pie eating contests, car show, and of course lots and lots of strawberries! Festivities occur at the McPherson Complex in Ocala from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. I recommend arriving early if you desire to purchase flats of strawberries. This fundraising event supports Habitat for Humanity's mission to strengthen communities, build hope, and provide dignified housing solutions. Your participation raises funds to build a home for a family in need located here in Ocala / Marion County. You can preorder your strawberry flats here: www.habitatocala.org
March 11-12 Marion County Master Gardeners' Spring Festival
Bring the entire family and learn from the experts at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion from 8 a.m. -5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Sunday. This festival features talks and seminars on all things green, a plethora of vendors for all of your landscaping needs, and even a Kids' Gardening Zone. For more information visit: www.marioncountyfl.org
March 24-25 Southeastern Pro Rodeo
This year's entertainment at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion will include one of favorite acts - John Payne aka "the One Arm Bandit" who maneuvers his horse at top speed with his legs while cracking a bullwhip and herding wild and woolly livestock ON TOP of his trailer (nope that is not a typo). Don't miss the excitement starting at 7:30pm both nights! For a full list of advance ticket outlets (discounted) visit: www.ocalarodeo.com
House Hunting 101
We’ve started a new year and many folks have vowed that 2017 is the year to buy a home. Spring will be upon us before we know it, and the upcoming longer days are perfect for touring homes in person. It isn’t a surprise that this is a popular time of year for home buyers to start their search.
Before you begin driving around touring neighborhoods and visiting open houses, here are a few tips that will ensure your search is enjoyable and successful.
1.Obtain a Pre-approval Letter
Being preapproved for a home loan is a must, especially when there is competition, and you want your offer on a house to be taken seriously by the seller. Most agents will not submit your offer without it being accompanied by a loan pre-approval letter. If you are a cash buyer, a letter from your bank verifying funds or a bank statement should accompany your offer.
Create a detailed house hunting checklist that outlines your wants and needs, and make sure that your list covers the type of home (e.g. house or condo), location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and home features that you are looking for. Make sure to identify what is a must have, and also the items that you can be flexible about. Include your desired work commute time, any school zone requirements, recreation needs, and price
3.Know the Neighborhood
If you have a specific neighborhood in mind, visit the area more than once, at different times of the day and week.
4.Don’t be Afraid to Take Your Time
It can feel very awkward when you are viewing someone else’s home. Don’t be afraid to “snoop”, and make sure to take the time to look at everything closely: Try the doorknobs, open cabinets, turn on the lights, peek inside all closets, and bring the measurements for any critical pieces of furniture that you cannot part with. Looking closely at the details of the home will help you decide if it is the best home for you. It is also an early opportunity to find out if there is anything that needs repair. With any problems you find: Ask.
Before you leave the home, make sure to find a quiet moment and listen. What noises do you hear? Traffic from a nearby road? School children playing? The barking of a neighbor’s dog? Make sure that the surroundings and the home’s insulation align with your needs.
Your real estate agent will help you find the resources you need to complete your research. If you are considering an older home I strongly advise that you contact the local utility companies and obtain a history on the utility costs. Most companies will provide you with the 12 month average, a high, and a low for the monthly utility cost.
It is important to have a trained professional examine the home you have selected to purchase. This is the best way to identify any major repairs that need to be made, before, not after closing. If you do not know a home inspector in the community where you are buying, your real estate agent will have a network of trusted professional resources, including home inspectors.
7.Have the Best Real Estate Agent on Your Side
Your real estate agent will guide you and keep you focused on the next step - the best tool to keep you from feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. This is especially important when you are competing with other buyers in a hot market. Your real estate agent has access to your local MLS (multiple listing service) – the most accurate and up to date listing tool when searching for homes.
I want you to find the best home in the very best location. If you are searching for a home please give me a call and let me know what you are seeking. I am ready to help you navigate the road to home ownership. - Melissa 843-321-0819
Melissa J. Townsend
Our community’s beautiful rolling horse farms, magnificent live oak trees, fresh water springs, and Ocala’s historic downtown called me back to my hometown in 2009. The experience of growing up in Ocala instilled a passion for the arts, architecture, outdoor adventures, and equestrian pursuits. We have so many resources and opportunities right here that allow us to explore all of our interests! I believe there is no better place to live. I fully enjoy assisting visitors and new residents find their “place” in Ocala.