Have you put enough aside for closing costs? There are many potential homebuyers, and even sellers, who believe that you need at least a 20% down payment in order to buy a home, or move on to their next home. Time after time, we have dispelled this myth by showing that there are many loan programs that allow you to put down as little as 3% (or 0% with a VA loan).
If you have saved up your down payment and are ready to start your home search, one other piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have saved enough for your closing costs.
Freddie Mac defines closing costs as:
“Closing costs, also called settlement fees, will need to be paid when you obtain a mortgage. These are fees charged by people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”
We’ve recently heard from many first-time homebuyers that they wished that someone had let them know that closing costs could be so high. If you think about it, with a low down payment program, your closing costs could equal the amount that you saved for your down payment.
Here is a list of just some of the fees/costs that may be included in your closing costs, depending on where the home you wish to purchase is located:
- Government recording costs
- Appraisal fees
- Credit report fees
- Lender origination fees
- Title services (insurance, search fees)
- Tax service fees
- Survey fees
- Attorney fees
- Underwriting fees
Is there any way to avoid paying closing costs?
Work with your lender and real estate agent to see if there are any ways to decrease or defer your closing costs. There are no-closing mortgages available, but they end up costing you more in the end with a higher interest rate, or by wrapping the closing costs into the total cost of the mortgage (meaning you’ll end up paying interest on your closing costs).
Home buyers can also negotiate with the seller over who pays these fees. Sometimes the seller will agree to assume the buyer’s closing fees in order to get the deal finalized.
Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to.
FlameStone Grill in Oldsmar Florida was our destination today for what turned out to be an excellent lunch. It was our first time there and I know it is not going to be our last. From the excellent service our waiter Nico offered, to the recommendations of what to enjoy from the menu, it was a perfect experience.
I had the salmon salad with goat cheese, mixed greens and fresh berries. It could not have been better! Each mouthful was a sensuous experience. Ronnie enjoyed their fresh ground steak burger with fries. Ronnie feels you can always tell the ability of the chef on how the burger is prepared. We were both extremely pleased with our meals and I sincerely recommend you give it a try for a family dining experience or to take clients out for lunch.
Located at 4009 Tampa Road in Oldsmar Florida, FlameStone Grill is one place you definitely want to check out.
Green Springs Bistro in downtown Safety Harbor Florida has amazing food that is made with a lot of tender love and care. You can tell by the quality of what is served that this is no chain restaurant.
Located on 4th Avenue North, just down the block from the Post Office, this building was once a single family home and as so many of the eclectic restaurants and shops in Safety Harbor, was turned into a commercial property. Perhaps that is part of the charm of the building.
There is always background music since there is always a guitar player in the one of the rooms and the music resonates throughout the bistro. Soothing and never too loud, it is just one more thing that I love about dining here. The food is wonderful! The portobello mushroom ravioli to the mixed blueberry and blackberry compot with yummy vanilla bean ice cream on top! There are so many unique choices on the menu and the evening menu is somewhat different from what is offered during the lunch hours, which are 11:30 am to 3 pm Tuesday through Saturday. The bistro is closed on Sunday and Monday.
The Giraffe Ranch Farm just outside of Dade City Florida offers several different tours and safari experiences. Best of all, it is about an hour’s drive from the Palm Harbor Florida area, so it is an easy day trip the entire family will enjoy!
Imagine being able to ride a camel and go on a 90 minute safari on camelback through the 47 acres of rolling hills that comprise this working farm! You can actually feed giraffe, pet a camel (children 5 and under must ride with an adult and children under age 3 are not allowed to ride the camel at all for safety concerns, which makes sense).
There are also 4-wheel drive safari tours with groups of up to 20 if you prefer this method of transportation or for those who want to ‘do their own thing’ you can take a guided tour on a Segway! Personally, I don’t think I would want to encounter a warthog or a hippopotamus while on a Segway.
So remember, it isn’t all about the beaches when you come to the Palm Harbor Florida area! There is so much more to do, like visit the Giraffe Ranch Farm in Dade City Florida! Imagine the look on your friends’ faces when you tell them you rode a camel and fed a giraffe while on vacation in Florida – or for that matter, the look on your classmates face when you get to school and let them know that we have this great working farm right in our own backyard here in the Palm Harbor Florida area!!!
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is located in Sarasota Florida, just south of the Skyway Bridge from us here in Pinellas County. While we have our own Clearwater Marine Aquarium with Winter the dolphin of the movie Dolphin Tales, Mote Marine is unique.
Mote Marine Laboratory began teaming with various institutes and universities back in 1955 to study our planet’s oceans and eco-systems. Innovative research is being conducted jointly with the University of South Florida and the University of the West Indies in fields the fields of marine immunology, shark biology, fisheries habitat and numerous other areas.
At Mote Marine the family can not only enjoy an educational day viewing everything from sharks, dolphins, manatee, jelly fish, coral and other sea life but also take a tour of Sarasota Bay. Whether you opt for the Eco-Boat Tour which takes you on a pontoon boat or a guided kayak trip, Mote Marine is a great destination. On the Eco-Boat Tour, nets are put down and marine life is brought onto the boat to be identified by staff. Kids love seeing what actually lives in Sarasota Bay. The guided kayak tour offers sunrise, early morning and full moon evening tours of the mangroves. Indeed, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota Florida is a destination the entire family can enjoy!
Ozona Blue Grilling is one of my favorite places for waterfront dining and it is located in quaint Ozona Florida. Whether taking the family out for dinner or meeting colleagues for lunch, this is the place. Located at 125 Orange Street, just off Alternate 19 in Palm Harbor Florida, you want to be sure to check this great restaurant out.
At Ozona Blue Grilling you (and the kids) can come in your bathing suits and sit pool-side or under the cabana while you enjoy your meal and/or drinks. Naturally, there is also dining inside or on the terrace near the outside Tiki bar. Weekends normally offer live bands playing outside and you can dance the night away! Call to see which band is playing (727-789-4540) or to make reservations.
Ozona Blue Grilling has been around since 2006 and is one of the most popular local restaurants. Everything is excellent, from the Ahi Tuna to the Grouper dinner or the Mediterranean Flatbread! I have never had a meal there that I did not enjoy. Come live the Florida lifestyle, enjoy live entertainment and great food at Ozona Blue Grilling.
Leafy Greens Cafe, located at 1626 Central Avenue in St Petersburg Florida is indeed a treat! This wonderful little cafe is not only vegan, raw, organic and gluten free, it is wonderful! I love eating healthy but often find that ‘healthy’ restaurants don’t taste as good. Guess I am used to the overly sweet and salty foods we all have gotten used to.
Leafy Greens Cafe is a delight! The first time I was there, I had their Tacos which is served on two large romaine leaves. The tasty combination of cashew hummus, guacamole, raw walnut ‘meat’, red & green cabbage, grape tomatoes, red bell peppers, red onions and a fantastic chipotle cashew dressing made me an instant fan of this little cafe!
Yes, I did say ‘little’ cafe, so I suggest reservations! Call 727-289-7087 to make sure you have a table waiting for your arrival at Leafy Greens Cafe. They get seriously crowded during lunch time since their food is out of this world! Be sure to go the extra mile and try the gluten free chocolate pie! The crust is made of date paste and crushed nuts with a chocolate that is as smooth as silk and absolutely delicious.
Clients often ask me ‘what is a CDD or a PUD’? A CDD is a Community Development District and something that you often find here in Florida. It is an independent special purpose unit of the local government that the land developer established. This is a method to provide financing for infrastructure development – things like roads, water & sewer, parks, clubhouse & pool facilities. The CDD uses bond money for building the community infrastructure and that bond money must be paid back. That is accomplished by monthly payments from each homeowner within the CDD community.
Many PUDs in Florida have been designated as CDDs. PUDs are Planned Unit Development communities. A PUD allows the developer to meet community density and land use goals without restrictions of existing zoning requirements. A PUD is also planned and built as a complete unit. PUDs can provide more open space for development and lower costs for street and utility development. Together with bond money from CDDs, it is a combination that we are seeing more and more of here in Florida.
CDD fees are in addition to HOA fees. HOA fees cover the maintenance of the grounds and many other items. Each individual community decides what the HOA fees will cover and how high those fees will be. Some communities have only one or the other. Just having the HOA fees (Homeowner Association fees) is the most common but there are also many non-deed restricted communities that don’t have any of these fees. Before purchasing, it is best to ask your Realtor to go over what fees apply to the community you are purchasing into. That is just one more reason why it is so important to work with a Realtor when purchasing your home, townhome or condo here in Florida.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is located on beautiful Island Estates, between Clearwater and Clearwater Beach in sunny Florida. This is home to not only Winter the Dolphin, but also to Hope and Nicholas. Hope is another female Bottlenose dolphin and she shares the tank with Winter. Nicholas is the resident male dolphin and he is in his own tank.
Nicholas was found beached along with his mother when he was a pup. Unfortunately, his mom was so ill that she could not be saved and Nicholas had so much sunburn damage on his back that he cannot be released back into the wild. The sunburn damage comes when dolphins are exposed to the sun through beaching. Their skin is extremely sensitive and can be easily injured. That is why they only roll in the ocean and do not stay on top of the water for very long.
This is the perfect way to spend the day, visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and seeing all of the dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, sharks, fish and sting rays that are there. They also offer summer camps for children of all ages, boat cruises to see dolphins in the wild and so much more. Be sure to check the link to their website! This is just one more reason I love living here in the Greater Clearwater Florida Area.
New England Ale House is located on Alternate 19 in lovely Palm Harbor Florida. This new establishment opened in June 2014 and should prove to be extremely popular. Located in what used to be The Old School House, the new owners have remodeled the building. Built in 1910, the newly remodeled building now includes a large covered deck to accommodate a larger clientele.
Randall & Tara Cook bring to the Palm Harbor Florida area an interesting menu of dishes. One of my personal favorites is the New England Salad, which includes cranberries, almonds, mixed greens, warm biscotti crusted New England goat cheese, shaved onions and a house made maple Vermont dijon dressing. As for desserts, you really need to try the blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream!
The New England Ale House in Palm Harbor Florida offers a wide selection of beers as well as some dinner offerings that you will not find elsewhere in the Tampa Bay Area. Be sure to check out their website to obtain more information on the menu and their Mug Club! This is just one more reason why living here in the Palm Harbor Florida area rocks.