7 Tips for Working with Your Realtor on Finding a Luxury Home

If you have made the decision to buy a luxury home, such as the exquisite high rise condos in Bonita Springs like The Colony, it’s time to get started looking at potential properties that could be your next luxury home. Buying a luxury home is an exciting time — you’re about to make your dreams come true! But before you get started looking, read these seven tips for working with your realtor that can make the home-buying process a breeze.

Read on to learn how you can simplify the process and make it as stress free as possible!

1. Know Your Affordability

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it sadly, there are people who just don’t realize that this is the first step in the home buying — and even just looking — process. There’s no sense in getting your heart broken by falling in love with a property that’s outside your budget. There are plenty of luxury homes that can accommodate budgets anywhere from $400,000 to $1,000,000+, so don’t worry that you won’t find a perfect match. However, it’s important to know your limitations. If you’re buying with cash, this should be a no-brainer, but don’t forget to account for closing costs and fees and any minor changes you may want to do to your home, such as getting it painted in the color you like best or upgrading countertops or appliances. If you’ll need a mortgage, get a preapproval letter before you start looking — then you’ll know exactly what you will be approved for. It’s best to have a realistic approach, especially when it comes to major financial purchases.

2. Determine Your Must-Haves

There are some options that will be deal breakers for you, and there will be some things that would be nice, but that you can live without. Create a list of must-haves so your realtor won’t waste any time showing you properties that don’t meet your luxury home-buying criteria. With this list, add things that really matter and aren’t easily changed/upgraded. For example, if having an extra bedroom available for loved ones to stay is critically important to you, put that on your must-have list. Make your must-have list about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the floorplan, the amenities, and things that can’t easily be changed.  With that said, keep in mind that things like light fixtures, appliances, and countertops can be changed. If you’re not handy, you can hire someone to do these things for you — just be cognizant of that with your budget.

3. Try to Be Realistic

With that said, you may have a list of must-haves to the moon, but that property might not exist. Try to be realistic with your expectations and not include deal-breakers that could be easily added. For example, if you don’t want to have to remodel anything in a home, you might want to still consider a home that has a paint color you don’t care for because that’s an easy fix! Getting your home painted in the colors that fit your personality will likely be something you want to do anyway, and it’s typically not something that will break your home-buying budget. Additionally, if you’re looking at homes that have every high-end option available, expect a high-end price tag. You aren’t going to be able to buy a diamond for the price of a rock.

4. Keep Appointments & Be Punctual

Five minutes late isn’t going to upset your realtor, but not showing up for appointments or expecting a realtor to wait for an hour is unrealistic and isn’t the best way to start your relationship with your realtor. While it’s true that all realtors are in the business of working for their clients, be sure to stay respectful of their time just as they will of yours. I work very hard to meet the needs of my clients, but in order to be respectful of every client’s needs, I have to work on a schedule. This is important for appointments.

5. Know What You Want, Where You Want It

Location! Location! Location! This phrase has been uttered by probably every real estate agent in the country, and the reason is that it’s crucially important. You can change things about your home, but you can’t change the location. So, if you want a highrise condo that overlooks the beach and not a golf course, be sure to communicate this to your realtor. This way you can be sure to only see the luxury homes that meet your needs. Similarly, if you’re looking for a luxury highrise condo and not a villa-style, it’s important to let your realtor know. Keep in mind that if you’ve never been in a highrise home, you may want to check one out. The breathtaking views like the ones The Colony luxury highrise homes have to offer just might captivate you!

6. Understand It’s a Process

Buying a home, whether it’s a luxury home or your first home, is a process! There are a lot of steps, financial documents needed, and paperwork to be completed. Expect that you will need to amass financial records, and get

your hand ready to sign, sign, sign!

7. Don’t Be Off Put by HOAs and Maintenance Fees

Living in a luxury home with amenities is one of the most sought-after life experiences that individuals hope to attain. From talking with my clients, many are retiring to a luxury highrise home to experience the good life. With that said, some clients aren’t aware of the fees that come with owning a luxury home. You’ll have access to excellent health clubs, the golf club, private beaches and more when you buy a luxury home, but it will be something that you pay for outside of your mortgage.

Get Started with Your Luxury Home Search in Bonita Springs: Contact Jill Kushner Today

I hope you’ve learned a lot about the luxury home-buying process — you’ll see it’s not that far off from buying any property, but there’s a lot more at stake. This can make things more stressful, but if you take these tips, you’ll be sure to close on your luxury home without worry and with ease!

As a realtor and resident of The Colony in Bonita Springs for several years, I know all the residences in and out. I am passionate about helping my clients find the perfect luxury home and would love to help you get started. Contact me today by calling (239) 691-5505 or by clicking here.

Are You Retiring? Consider Downsizing Your Home

Retirement is an exciting time, and if you’re at that point in your life, it’s time to examine your current situation, financially and in terms of real estate, to determine how you want to spend your golden years. When you’re ready to retire, downsizing from a single family home to a highrise condo can be an attractive option— after all, it’s finally time to relax! Read on to find out how downsizing may be the right move for you!

Downsizing Doesn’t Mean Downgrading!

When you’ve invested in a single family home, you’ve got a lot of things. You might have an in-home office, a garage, a yard. When you trade all of that in for a highrise condo, the tradeoff has to be worth it. Luxury highrise condos are the way to go. Maintenance free, chock full of amenities, upgrades galore, and exquisite design details; your condo could be what you’ve always dreamed of having. Add in a gorgeous view, and you’re living in paradise! Why vacation? It’s time to live the good life every day.

Two Words: Liquid Assets

If you’re nearing retirement age, you may be in a situation where you have paid for most of your current home (if not paid it off entirely). Selling your home for a condo may leave you with a decent amount of funds that can be used as you wish. Maybe you’ll invest that money, add it to your retirement income, or make your monthly payment on your condo lower. Of course, every situation is independent to the individual, but it might be something to consider if you’re in that position.

Declutter and Live Freely!

Don’t think of downsizing as a negative thing. Think of it as finding the size that fits your current needs and an opportunity to leave a cleaner, less cluttered life. Downsizing can mean getting rid of junk! You have it, I have it, we all have it. But why should you surround yourself with things that just take up space? Live with what you need and live well. Donate items to charity and feel good about the positive impact you’re making. Yes, downsizing means that you will have less space. However, you are perfectly capable of living a happy life — if not happier, more relaxed life — in a highrise condo.

Less Work, More Reward

Highrise condos provide you with easy living! No more mowing and watering the grass, taking care of landscaping gardens, or cleaning the gutters! When you downsize to a condo, you’re rewarding yourself with, to put it simply, less work! Not only will you not have to go to your job, but you won’t have to do work around the house and handle general maintenance. And that means you’ll have more time to enjoy the things you love, like golfing, hanging by the pool, shopping, and eating out. The great news about living in The Colony in Bonita Springs is that you will never run out of things to do. We offer golf, kayaking/canoeing, fitness, a butterfly garden, and more.

You’re Retired – Enjoy It!

Luxury highrise condos are typically surrounded by things to do! You’ve been working your whole life, and it’s finally time to take time out for yourself. Highrise condos offer a ton of amenities within the building, like fitness centers, pool and barbecue areas, private golf courses, and some even have spas. Picture it now: you’ll be looking forward to Monday morning because you can go golfing, hit the beach, lay out by the pool or do exactly what you want to do. These are all things that highrise condos, like The Colony, offer. That’s what retirement is supposed to be all about, right?

Freedom to Travel

When you own a single family home, the thought of leaving it can be daunting — what if something goes wrong, and no one is there to tend to it? What if someone breaks in? Who will cut the grass? The list of worries could go on. When you downsize to a highrise condo, you won’t have to worry about who will take care of your home because your association will take care of it for you. And as an added bonus, most luxury highrise condos offer excellent security as part of the amenities they offer.

Safety First!

Speaking of security, not only will you not have to worry if you want to pack your bags and travel, but when you’re at home, your mind will be at ease knowing you’re living within a safe community that has its own private security. Solicitors won’t be able to bother you, and scam artists posing as solicitors won’t make it past the front gates. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that there’s surveillance in the unlikely event something might go wrong (after all, we do not live in a perfect world — but highrise condo living might be as close as you can get!). Security can get expensive in a single family home because you have to pay for the installation as well as monthly fees to keep it running, and even if you already invest in a security system, you likely don’t have actual security guards manning the entrance. Security won’t be free in a highrise condo, but it will wrapped up in a nominal HOA/condo fee.

Community Living

If you’re like many folks who have retired, you may have children who have grown up or perhaps moved away to attend college. Even if you’re married or have a significant other, living by yourself can get lonely. Highrise condos are an ideal situation for retired individuals because there’s a lot to do, and a lot of people around you who are at similar points in their lives and who likely share common interests. You can make new friends and enjoy spending time with the friends you’ve had for years. Individuals who invest in luxury highrise condos for their retirement years are looking for the same things you are because if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be there.

Retire in Style! Consider The Colony in Bonita Springs Today

If you’re in the beginning stages of planning your move to a highrise condo, I strongly urge you to consider The Colony in Bonita Springs, Florida.

We’re located in the quiet heart of Southwest Florida, with close proximity to beautiful beaches, high-end shopping, amazing dining, and more. Additionally, The Colony offers highrise condos with an abundance of amenities: kayaking, canoeing, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a butterfly garden, and more.

To learn more about luxury, highrise condos in The Colony, contact Jill Kushner, a real estate specialist and resident of The Colony. Simply call (239) 691-5505 or click here.

March 2016 Housing Market Update: Can We Expect the Housing Bubble to Burst?

The real estate market in southwest Florida is definitely one to watch — after all, Florida was severely hit when the housing bubble exploded from 2006-2013, leaving millions with underwater mortgages or facing foreclosure. However, the coastal communities like Bonita Springs and Naples are resilient, and thankfully, the market has improved considerably and shows no signs of relapsing into what was a dark time in Florida real estate. Although some naysayers believe that the housing bubble is back, there isn’t enough evidence to support that theory.

With that said, when you’re considering buying a luxury home, like The Colony in Bonita Springs, you need to have an understanding of why the current bloom in real estate isn’t a bubble that’s going to burst any time soon. Rest assured with your decision to choose a luxury home in Bonita Springs — read on to learn why.

What Caused the Bubble to Burst?

Before we give you all the facts showing why there isn’t a bubble that’s about to burst, it’s important to know what causes devastating real estate crashes. According to Investopedia, the factors that cause a bubble to burst relies on the laws of supply and demand, and specifically include (1) an increase in interest rates, which adds to supply (2) a downturn in general economic activity, which decreases the demand for housing, (3) an increase in supply, as a result in exhausted demand and individuals losing their homes due to depreciation. Essentially, when you have no demand and too large of a supply, you’re headed for trouble. Mix that in with unscrupulous lending practices, and you have the exact recipe for what was perhaps the greatest housing crash to date.

Moving in the Right Direction

The good thing is that none of that is happening — interest rates can be capped due to the Save Our Homes initiative and also transferred, thanks to the 2008 Amendment that allows for portability of the Save Our Homes assessment cap. Additionally, the economy in southwest Florida, specifically in Collier and Lee Counties, is flourishing. In fact, the two counties are leading the state in economic growth, as recently reported in the Naples News. And as far as an exhausted demand — well, that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon as both county’s populations are growing as well. Things are good, but not too good to be true. The growth is apparent, but steady. The S&P/Case-Shiller reports that at the time this was written, the National Home Price Index is up by 5.42%. Just this past summer, Zillow’s Chief Economist Stan Humphries was quoted in a Forbes article asserting that the market is returning to normal: “New and existing home sales are both up, and home price growth continues to slow down. The fact that these indicators are moving in opposite directions actually means the market overall is moving in the right direction – back to normal.” Things are indeed moving in the right direction.

Returning to Normalcy

Last month, NBC-2 News of southwest Florida reported that there are a million fewer underwater homes than last quarter. This means that home values are continuing to increase in value — something that needed to happen after home values hit rock bottom when the last bubble burst. That’s a part of the recovery process. The home values are not anywhere near the over-inflated values of the past, but they are returning to a healthy, more stable value. Specifically, in Bonita Springs, home values have “returned to pre-recession norms” after experiencing a large jump.

Fair Mortgages

Furthermore, the past risky and shady behaviors of the banks, which significantly contributed to the last bubble burst, have been exponentially regulated. People can’t just get a mortgage for anything — they have to prove that they can afford it, which is a good thing. It means that people will not be able to purchase a home that is beyond their means. And that means that your neighbors in your luxury highrise condo won’t be freeloading, waiting for the foreclosure process to get on its way. Mortgage services experienced a stranglehold of regulatory and compliance restrictions after the fast and loose practices were discovered. As the government and banks work to streamline processes and increase oversight and transparency, it is clear that mortgage services are still under a microscope. To keep abreast of what’s happening currently with mortgage service regulation and compliance, head over to the National Mortgage News, which recently published a breakdown of the changes mortgage services will face in 2016.

Additionally, for those individuals who won’t be buying their next luxury home with cash, Florida 30-year fixed mortgage rates are at 3.49% as of March 18, 2016. With the low mortgage rates that Florida has to offer, luxury home buying becomes an affordable option for those who qualify.

The Path to Continued Success

So take a deep breath, and relax. After all, isn’t that what’ Florida’s about?! Florida’s real estate market is clearly in a good place. I’ll leave you with one last tidbit of information: Meyers Research, a consulting firm that focuses on real estate, published a report written by their Chief Analyst Dr. Kevin Gillen, who contends “Florida’s continued success will be driven by its steady stream of business from tourism, international trade, and construction.” We couldn’t agree more. Florida is a great place to live — come join us at The Colony!

Contact Colony realtor, Jill Kushner, to learn all there is to know (and love!) about The Colony in Bonita Springs, Florida!

Choosing a Realtor in Bonita Springs, FL

How to Find a Bonita Springs Real Estate Agent

There is a surplus of Bonita Springs real estate agents who buy and sell real estate. Some of them are dedicated, trustworthy, committed, and go the extra mile to fall in the top real estate agents category. However, some of them aren’t. You don’t want to leave the largest transaction you will ever make in the hands of just anyone. Choosing a realtor is one of the most important decisions in the home buying and selling process – you want to be confident that your agent will be committed long-term.

This long-term commitment builds and establishes a client-agent relationship. When a real estate agent demonstrates commitment, it increases the clients’ commitment in the subject real estate agent. Both parties must feel confident that the working-relationship will work in order to become partners – this is when a mutual agreement can be signed.

So, how do you identify the best Bonita Springs real estate agent to help buy and sell property?

Interview multiple agents: Before you select a real estate candidate, interview multiple agents (at least 3). Start by getting referrals from people you know, such as friends and family – someone you can relate to and trust.

Stop by open houses: Look for open houses in the community where you currently reside or the community that you’re interested in buying into. By driving around, you can see who dominates the community. When you stop at multiple open houses, you can see the real estate agents in action.

Talk with recent clients: It doesn’t hurt to ask to speak with recent clients. Talking to former clients will give you a better understanding of an agent’s style.

Look up reviews & ratings: In looking for unbiased reviews from former clients, you can also see an agent’s relevant experience. Reviews and ratings don’t always tell the whole story, especially since the majority of clients don’t write reviews.

Ask the right questions: When you’re in front of a professional real estate agent, it’s always important to ask the right questions. Make sure the agent that you’re considering specializes in the kind of property you want to purchase – custom single-family, high-rise, mid-rise, condo, etc. Some questions to ask:

  • How will you market my home?
  • How will you get my listing in front of preferred buyers?
  • What’s your specialty?
  • Are you familiar with my community’s real estate landscape?
  • What is your communication style – how often will you communicate?
  • How many listings do you currently have?
  • How many listings have you sold in the area?

Top Real Estate Agent in Bonita Springs, FL

Are you looking for a top real estate agent in Bonita Springs, FL that has many years of Southwest Florida experience? Representing both buyers and sellers, Jill Kushner specializes in selling real estate within The Colony in Bonita Springs, FL. Whether you’re looking for a custom single-family home, mid-rise home, coach home, or villa home, The Colony offers them all. Jill Kushner also specializes in high-rise condos in Bonita Springs, which offers a maintenance free lifestyle with resort-style amenities.

For your Bonita Springs real estate needs, contact Jill Kushner, your Bonita Springs real estate expert.






Sellers: Now May Be Time to Sell Real Estate

The real estate market continues on, and as we get into summer, we are also getting deeper into a sellers’ market, in which prices are rising and inventory is shrinking.

This sellers’ market is one in which sellers can command higher prices, as well as a higher percentage of their original asking price. We are seeing that in our area, as prices have increased consistently for the past two years.

What are some signs that now may be the best time to sell your home? One sign is the amount of traffic we’ve seen online from buyers interested in homes. Trulia reports that it is experiencing “record levels of traffic”, with nearly 50 million unique website visitors in the month of April alone.

The National Association of Realtors also reports that another metric, foot traffic (that is, the number of homes being shown by real estate agents), is also up and has been increasing over the past three months.

Judging by these two reports, now may be an ideal time to sell. Prices are higher and inventory is lower, which means there is less competition for your home. Less competition is ultimately good for sellers; it leads to fewer days on the market and typically receiving a higher percentage of your original asking price from interested buyers.

If you’ve considered selling your piece of real estate, now may be the time to put those plans into action. Contact me for more information on making that happen.

Tips for Negotiating the Selling Price of a Home

Selling your home or high-rise condo can be tricky, but knowing how to successfully engage in negotiations can mean thousands of dollars to you.

Here are some tips you can use for negotiating the price of a home or high-rise condo:

Assess the current climate of the real estate market. Sometimes there will be lots of homes for sale but only a few buyers, but at other times there will be a lot of buyers with less of a selection of properties for sale – which as you know, drives up the demand. Knowing the market conditions will help you determine a fair starting price for your home or high-rise condo.

Be aware of your motivation. If you’re looking to retire and move to Florida soon and want to sell while the market is favorable, you may be a less motivated seller. If you’ve received an amazing job offer and need to relocate, or you’re having a baby and need more room, you are going to be more motivated to sell.

Price it appropriately. Before you list your home or high-rise condo for sale, you or your real estate agent will check out the competition and find out what other houses, similar to yours is going for. I have clients who’ve used the Internet to obtain this information but real estate agents can access up-to-date real estate data. The most critical period is the first 30 days your home is on the market. I tell clients that it’s better to get multiple offers on a moderately priced home or high-rise condo than to risk getting no offers if it’s priced too high. If a home or high-rise condo has been on the market for too long, it begins to lose its appeal.

Listen to your real estate agent. Get the opinion of someone who works in the business regarding the listing price of your home or high-rise condo. A competent real estate agent will help you determine a good starting price.

Make some compromises. If you receive an offer on your home that’s too low and you plan to counter, be willing to make some concessions to help ease the blow to the potential buyer. For example, if the buyer wants to move in quickly, perhaps agree to a quicker closing date. If certain repairs need to be made, determine which you’ll complete to ensure the deal goes through.

Remember, it’s always best to work with an experienced real estate agent who knows the area or community you live in. Their knowledge and passion for your home and the area will only help enhance the selling process.


What you need to do before you list your home for sale.

Deciding to list your home for sale, whether it is at The Colony Golf & Bay Club or elsewhere, is a momentous time. Whatever reason you have for selling your home, it’s a big decision. It’s important to find an experienced agent to list your home with, but it’s also important to take some steps prior to even putting the home on the market. One quick tour of your happy home might sour that dream before it gets out of the planning stages.

Here are a few tips to help you out before you put your home on the market:

Sort Out Your Paperwork: The first step in the process is preparing a list of any repairs, upgrades (major selling point) and any other updates you’ve made to your home. This helps your agent prepare the MLS listing. For example, did you upgrade your kitchen and install granite countertops? Did you redo the cabinets in your bathrooms? Replace the A/C? These are great selling features because they mean less work in the future for the prospective buyer. Be sure to also include any home warranty information as these will most likely transfer with title of the home.

Get Ready to Declutter: Before you list your home, you need to go through your belongings and start getting ride of the things you don’t need. Now for those of you who hate parting ways with things, this can be an arduous task. But for others it may feel liberating getting rid of things and making way for a fresh start. Sort items to toss, keep, sell, and donate. Ideally, your rooms should look open and spacious.

Clean: You’re never going to be able to list you house successfully without cleaning it first. This is the perfect time to wash down the blinds, clean the carpets, wax your wooden floors or touch up the paint. Don’t forget the closets. One of the things I see is a fresh coat of paint everywhere but in the closets and I don’t know about other women, but that’s an important feature!

Get an Inspection: Getting an inspecting is a good way to come up with an accurate listing price. If the prospective buyers come back with issues during their inspection, it’ll affect your asking price. So take a pro-active approach and have a pre-sale inspection done.

Make Repairs and/or Get Estimates: It’s likely your inspection will leave you with a list of repairs – some major and some small. Most agents recommend you move forward with the large repairs as it’s going to come up in the buyers’ inspection report. For small repairs, obtain estimates that can be provided to the buyers. Your listing agent will likely tell you to be prepared to negotiate on the items that aren’t fixed.

Staging: This is something that can be done in conjunction with your listing agent. He or she may have suggestions on how to stage your home so it’s ready for showings. Their knowledge of the community or neighborhood will help determine how much or little you should stage. Without a doubt, staging is helpful in selling a home. So for starters, just make sure you remove the clutter and spruce up the landscape so it has that curb appeal.

Listing your home, whether it is at The Colony Golf & Bay Club, or elsewhere doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor if you take a pro-active approach. Good luck and happy selling!

How to Stage your Home for a Sale

For years the trend in real estate sales here in Southwest Florida has been staging. Staging is essentially the modern name for an old technique of decorating the house for the sale rather than for the taste of the current owner.

Why is it so important? Staging your home makes it look its best before you put it on the market.

If you’re considering selling your single-family or high-rise condo, here are some staging tips to help you make your home stand out from the crowd:

  • Get rid of the clutter: Are you one of those people who have a plethora of small appliances on the kitchen countertop Or have closets filled with clothes from decades past? Perhaps one too many knickknacks used to decorate? Whatever the case, get rid of clutter. The goal is for your house to look roomy, not lived in.
  • Fresh coat of paint: Whether it be indoors or out, painting is the least expensive way to get the maximum impact. It’s quick and simple plus it helps your home avoid looking boring or dated. Visit paint stores for trendy (but safe) color combinations.
  • Update your lighting: This is another inexpensive way to make your single family or high-rise home look more modern. Bright brass is now out, and polished nickel is in. Be sure to use the highest safe wattage for each fixture. It makes your home look “bright and cheerful.”
  • Create the mood by accessorizing: Visit high-rise condominium model homes here at The Colony for ideas from Naples and Bonita Springs best decorators.
  • Focus on kitchen and bathrooms: Creating a kitchen that “pops” is key. That means it makes a strong and positive first impression. And that certainly means a kitchen and bath that is scrubbed until it sparkles, and may mean new granite counters and fine cabinets.

I always tell my clients who are selling their homes at The Colony Golf & Bay Club that we are trying to stage the home to sell, not to be lived in. You can make your home very attractive to buyers, but you’ll need to “move out” emotionally and look at your house in a new light.

Are you ready to sell or purchase a home here in Southwest Florida? If so, contact me today.

Happy staging!