You Just Bought a House – Change the Locks

I recently sold a house in Destin Florida. The buyer’s agent asked repeatedly for the seller to turn over all the keys – they only had a couple of them. Where were the rest? Who knows? They had two teenage sons and there was an ex-spouse. Perhaps they had extra keys. Maybe a neighbor, or two, had a key to the house. Perchance, the pet sitter had a key.  When the seller bought the house, he may not have received all the keys from the previous owner. What does this mean? Stop worrying about all the keys. As a matter of course, when you buy a new house, condo, townhouse or commercial property, change the locks, yes, even for a brand new house! There is such a thing as a master key that builders use. What does it cost to re-key a house? Not much. I just called A to Z Lock and Safe, who cover the Emerald Coast of Florida. Their service call charges are between $50-$75, it’s $12.50 per lock change and keys are $2.25 each. So, you could change locks on your new property easily for under $150.00!

Why risk it?

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Monday Diary of a Realtor in Destin Florida

Think it’s all glamorous being a Realtor in Destin Florida? It’s Monday!  Today some of my tasks were:

  1. Calling clients to confirm commercial listing appointment in DeFuniak Springs, Florida and to confirm receipt of market analysis sent by email.
  2. Calling Walton County Public Works to get status of one-way road proposal for Driftwood and Ellis Roads, located behind Miramar Plaza, in preparation for the annual meeting, where I am association president.  I will also get a status update on the traffic light that may go at the end of Driftwood on Highway 98, and find out when construction is to begin on the hotel being built on Highway 98 next to my office.
  3. Updating sellers in Fort Walton Beach and 30A in Santa Rosa Beach about last week’s property inquiries and the marketing I’ve done on their behalf.
  4. Entering property disclosure information online for a Holley by the Sea listing to ensure that my MLS entry is accurate.
  5. Talking with my Buyer Specialist about the trek he’s made from Apalachicola to Santa Rosa Beach to Milton in the last few days, showing buyers waterfront homes.
  6. Setting up showing appointments for my Navarre Florida listing.
  7. Recommending a surveyor to my buyer purchasing a home with acreage in Panama City Beach, Florida.
  8. Recommending a lender for my Destin Florida condo buyer who wants to get a reverse mortgage to increase cash flow.
  9. Paying business bills.
  10. Calling State of Florida Department of Revenue to decipher correspondence.
  11. Contacting one of my short sale sellers to get an update on their paperwork progress for entering information into Equator for a Nationstar/Mr. Cooper short sale.
  12. Buying a box of Godiva chocolates as a closing gift for my Sandestin Florida seller.
  13. Going to a closing in Shalimar Florida.
  14. Buying myself the Italian issue of Vogue magazine as a closing present!

Happy Monday, All!

Wendy

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Are You a Customer or a Robo-Caller? Excuse My Tone While I Answer the Phone

 

Ring, ring!! “Rulnick Realty, may I help you?”

PAUSE

“Hi, (stutter) this is Sarah from Travel Rewards, can you hear me ok?”

Ring, ring!! “Rulnick Realty, Wendy Rulnick speaking.”

“Hi, is this Wendy?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I’m calling from Fast-Loop Sales. We’re looking for aggressive real estate agents to handle leads in your area. Could you use more business?” 

Ring, ring!! “Rulnick Realty” (down tone)

“THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE (recorded voice). DO NOT HANG UP!!!”

If you are a business owner, you understand how interruptive these robo-calls have become. I get several a day. Oftentimes, there is no one there, they just hang up after you answer.  I’ve read this is a way to identify there is a live person at the number dialed, and thereafter, you will get another call from an actual salesperson robo-calling you.  A new ploy is to spoof a local number, so you think the call is legit before you answer. For example, my Destin Florida real estate office gets many calls from an “850” area code, but the company is somewhere else, maybe not even in this country.  One of the classic tricks is for a robo-calling salesperson to say, “Can you hear me ok?”  Don’t say “yes”! (read the article). That’s your clue to hang up. I typically say, “Take me off your list.”  I doubt that’s sufficient.  It’s gotten to the point where every call I get is suspect unless I know who it is from the caller id on my phone. It’s really sad. Being totally forthright, it’s hard to remain upbeat when answering the phone when every other call is either a computer, a hang-up, or a robo-calling salesperson.  I actually accidentally hung up on a real business associate once because I thought they were spammers! After realizing my mistake, I called the party right back and apologized, and we both laughed over it.  But, seriously, how much time is spent by businesses handling these calls, when it would be better served helping customers?

Here are some interesting articles on handling robo-calling telemarketers from USA Today:

Can the FCC really put the kibosh on robocalls?

More: How to stop those endless, annoying robocalls to your smartphone

More: How to beat robocallers and telemarketers on your landline

Finally, when you call me, I will do my best to answer with a smile… that is, if I haven’t had a dozen robocalls that day!

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Welcoming Showing – Buyer Agents into your Destin Florida Home for Sale

The other day I was showing homes in the Destin Florida area and had to schedule seven houses to show a couple.  This is an exercise in geography and timing. You see, you cannot just jump in the car and show up at people’s houses, knock on the door and expect them to let you in. Also, in my association – the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors, you must even call to schedule appointments for houses that are vacant.  So to plan my showing timeline, I started with Google Route Planner (there is also Mapquest Route Planner) to show me which homes were most closely located.  I added my client’s current home, as I would be picking them up from there. From the map results, I picked the best order to show the homes.  I then had to guesstimate how long we would spend at each house and call the seller’s agents to schedule the showings and get instructions. Of course, the first house is the easiest to set a time to show. I still gave the listing agent a 30 minute “window” in case there was an unexpected traffic delay (and in Destin – there usually is). The next houses in order became a bit trickier to set up a window for arrival, as you never know how long a buyer will stay in a house. If they don’t like it – it could be five minutes. (Sometimes if they don’t like a house, they still spend time analyzing it). For each home, I gave about a 45 minute window for arrival, for example, between 11:00 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.  The last houses to show have the highest risk of being off schedule, so I may give those a one-hour time frame.  Interestingly, at one of the homes, I was met by the seller (it’s better not to be present at showings), who stated his agent said I would be there “at noon”. This was absolutely not the case, as I never give an “exact time” for arrival! My clients and I decided to leave and come back when they vacated the house, rather than wait in the driveway.

The other interesting Destin showing experience was the house with the piles of “instructions” in the foyer for the buyer’s agent. It was all typed in bold and numbered with items such as “1. Do not open any blinds 2. Turn off all lights 3. blah blah blah”.  I’m telling you, it was not a very friendly introduction to the home.  I called the listing agent later to ask a question about the home for my buyers and she asked, “Didn’t you see the packages I left?” Hmmmm, you mean there were packages underneath the pleasant instructions? I certainly wasn’t going to pick up one of those papers and cast a negative light in front of the buyers….

As luck would have it, my clients went to a couple of open houses the next day, and remembered to hand the seller’s representatives my business card. One of those homes was the one they bought.  I’m happy – they are happy!

Are you selling your home soon? Should you be present for showings? Also, check out my seller’s showing tips!

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Free Instant Home Value

Pazzo Italiano – New Destin Italian Restaurant

Pazzo Italiano Destin pizza restaurant

We just lunched at the brand-new swanky Italian restaurant, “Pazzo Italian”, in Destin Florida. “Pazzo Italiano” means “crazy Italian”. It wasn’t crazy at all – but it was posh and elegant!  The first thing that struck me was the sleek decor, suspended lighting and touches like the contemporary metal map of Italy on the wall.

Our waiter, Art, was very professional and attentive.  He explained that one of the owners, Alfonso di Bonito, was from Naples, Italy, and emphasized that that was the home of the original pizza (which it is!). The other owner, Levente Tischler, is from Romania, and the two created the restaurant of their dreams (dei loro sogni), according to the website for Pazzo Italiano. My lunch date ordered the white pizza porchetta for $16.00, which had artichokes and smoked gouda, along with the featured porchetta (roasted pork).  It was a large pizza, enough for her lunch and dinner! She thought it was excellent and definitely “artisanal”, which they tout as their specialty. While eating, we heard the banging of the pizzaiolo, which means “pizza maker” in Italian, in the open kitchen toward the back of the restaurant. It added quite an authentic atmosphere. I was healthy at lunch, ordering un’insalata cesare con salmone (salmon ceasar salad) for $11.00, but we will be back for cena (dinner) with our mariti (husbands) soon.  Then I will splurge on the rest of the fabulous looking menu, especially the pacherri della mamma (jumbo rigatoni with shrimp and gouda cheese).

Pazzo Italiano is located next to Barnes & Noble on Highway 98 at 34904 Emerald Coast Parkway in Destin.  They are open Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Call 850-974-5484.

Lunch prices are between about $9.00 to $17.00 and dinner prices are also reasonable, between $9.00 to $18.00. There is also a separate menu for “Bambini” (children).

Non vedo l’ora di ritornarci. Buon Appetito!

(By the way, if you are interested in joining a local Italian speaking group, check out my Destin area Meetup Group Parliamo Italiano Emerald Coast!)

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

 

iRobot Roomba 980 – My New OCD – Destin FL

My life has changed. I have a new obsession, a new pet, a new OCD. It’s the iRobot Roomba 980.  I’ve named it “Shuttlecraft” (Star Trek fan). How did this come about and what does it mean? A few weeks ago a friend and I were chatting at my house and I apologized that it was a mess with cat hair everywhere. I have three cats. It was neat, but there was cat dander and dust on everything!  My friend immediately grabbed his phone and told me he had a solution for that. He brought up an App and said, “Roomba 980”!  He raved that it cleaned his house, mapped where it has been and he can program it on his phone.  Having two dogs and three kids, he said you can now walk around barefoot with no worries in his house!  Pricey? Yes. But I had to have one.  I got the iRobot Roomba 980 at Bed Bath & Beyond with a 20% off coupon. They cost about $899.  Not kidding.

Was it worth it? Yes!

Now,  each morning I have the Roomba 980 clean my house at 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and at 10:15 Saturday and Sunday (I know that’s so weird!). It goes over my wood and tile floors and low throw rugs with ease. It does have trouble on high plush carpet, transitioning from a flat surface. Those areas we just hand-vacuum.  The cleaning time is over three hours per day! It cleans up any litter that gets thrown by my cats out of their Litter Robots (I have those, too!). Sometimes I am bad and brush off a few crumbs on the floor because I know they will be eaten by Shuttlecraft. When I tell people I bought a Roomba, they usually say, “I hear those things’ batteries die fast.” This is not the case.  When its battery gets low after about two hours, it goes back to “home base” to plug in and re-charge for about an hour, then remembers where it left off and finishes the job.  If there are areas you don’t want the Roomba to clean, there are radio frequency emitters you can set up on the floor unobtrusively to electronically wall off zones. You can set up a straight line to wall off a room or a cone shaped area spanning 24″. I find the latter useful in my cats’ room behind the water bowl. I don’t want it pushing or knocking around the water! Normally, we keep our bedroom door closed to keep out the children, so if I want that room cleaned, I just pick up the Roomba and place it in the bedroom. It goes from there. You can set it up to “edge clean”, where it does a detailed cleaning around the edges of everything (cabinets, furnitures, walls). You can also set it to do a higher suction mode when it’s on carpet, or at all times. You can program the Roomba to make two passes at everything. I even get a map report about where it’s cleaned. I love it!  I spoke with a friend a few days ago who had one and didn’t like it. He owns a carpet cleaning company. He said his Roomba would get clogged with pet hair.  Mine doesn’t! I clean it out everyday! He never cleaned  his out. That just requires opening the lid and dumping it in the garbage, and shaking out the filter.

Does the iRobot Roomba 980 ever get stuck?  Yes. If I accidentally leave a cat toy on the floor it can get the little “mouse” tails twisted in it.  If that happens, I get an alert on my phone saying the Roomba requires my attention. Of course, I get frantic at the office and want to run right home to fix it.  I get entranced watching it. For the first several days I couldn’t get ready for work, I had to follow Shuttlecraft around the house. Do my cats like it? No.  They usually stay in the walled-off room while it’s running. I think they think it’s alive and they are jealous of my new pet. I actually found Nikolai sitting in front of it staring while it was parked at home base. He was waiting for it to move.

I’ve never been OCD about cleaning before. This has spurred on a new aspect of my personality.  If only they could automate a Swiffer!

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Free Instant Home Value

Enjoy the View on Henderson Beach, Destin Florida!

I thought I would share this lovely view from lunch at 790 on the Gulf in Destin, Florida!

Thinking of selling? Get an instant valuation at www.pricemyemeraldcoasthome.com.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Working Real Estate From Home After Gym “Ouch”!

What do you do after you pull your hamstring working out at Gold’s Gym in Destin, Florida? You work from home accompanied by your kitties. Here is a picture of Micah and you can sort of see Nikolai in front of him. They were my constant companions, along with Athena (not pictured), while I was propped up on the couch with an ice pack, typing emails to clients thinking of buying and selling real estate! To help me out while Hubby was out of town, Mary Davis from Mary’s Critter Sitters stopped by a few times. By the way, I highly recommend the local physical therapy office of Orthopedic & Sport Physical Therapy Center with offices in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Niceville and Crestview!  They are fixing me up in no time!

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Free Instant Home Value

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

 

What’s Your Home Worth? Free Home Value Report – Emerald Coast Florida

Wouldn’t you like to know what your Emerald Coast property value is? Now you can!

I just had a new website built that will give you a free, instant home value report. Not only that, your report will be updated automatically each month to let you keep track of your home value and what’s going on in your neighborhood. 

 Sound like something you’d be interested in? Just CLICK HERE for your free home value report.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Guest Post: Things to Do With Kids in Destin, South Walton, and on 30A

Guest Post: This post, written by Destin resident Lori Saczynski, originally appeared on Andy’s Saczynski’s web site in July 2014 and was revised in February 2017. Andy was the 2013 South Walton Artist of the Year, and was voted Best Local Artist multiple times. His art gallery is located in Grayton Beach.

I’ve called the Emerald Coast home since 1990, so I’m very familiar with the area. I have five kids ranging in age from 3 to 17. Below are my top 10 things to do with kids in Destin, South Walton, and on 30A. These activities are listed in no particular order.

Destin beach
#1 The Beach
My favorite public beach access is James Lee Park (at the Crab Trap) because they have a playground, restrooms, showers, plenty of free parking, and an option to buy food if you’re too lazy to pack snacks.

Village of Baytowne Wharf playground
#2 Playgrounds
These are my favorite playgrounds and why: The Village of Baytowne Wharf (built of wood and the most interesting), James Lee Park (on the beach), Morgan Sports Center (surrounded by a tall fence to prevent little ones from escaping), Destin Commons (has a splash pad), and Clement Taylor Park (shaded with bay access).

Village of Baytowne Wharf fireworks
#3 Fireworks
During the summer, you can see fireworks every Tuesday night at The Village of Baytowne Wharf, and every Thursday night at HarborWalk Village. Arrive early to both or parking will be a nightmare.

#4 Outdoor Movies
Throughout the summer, you can enjoy family-friendly movie night in the Seaside amphitheater every Friday night.

Gulfarium Fort Walton Beach
#5 Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
The Gulfarium gives you an opportunity to see dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, otters, sharks, alligators, tropical fish, and more!

Big Kahuna's Destin waterpark
#6 Big Kahuna’s
My kids love water parks, especially Big Kahuna’s. I hate to say it, but sometimes the beach is too hot to enjoy in the summer.

Destin paddleboarding
#7 Surf or Paddle Board Lessons
My kids have never taken surf or paddle board lessons because their dad teaches them. I know there are a few companies in town that rent boards and offer lessons, but since I haven’t personally used them, I’m not sure who to recommend.

Biophilia Center Freeport
#8 E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center
The Biophilia is a great place to learn about northwest Florida’s natural habitat and see a lot of cool animals.

Big Kahunas mini golf
#9 Putt-Putt
You can play miniature golf at The Track or Big Kahuna’s.

Fudpuckers Gator Beach
#10 Gator Beach
Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s in Destin offers free interactive gator shows every day at noon, 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm. You can even hold a gator and get your photo taken with one.

The fun doesn’t stop there, but this is a good start. And if you’re on vacation, this should at least keep your kids occupied for a week. If you’re looking for things to do that don’t necessarily cater to kids, check out this post.