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Want to Supplement your Income?

A Reverse Mortgage is not for everyone, but it may be for you.
A Reverse Mortgage will work for you if you meet the following criteria:
  1. Are you a homeowner over 62 years of age?
  2. Have you paid off your mortgage or paid down a large portion of your mortgage?
  3. Do you currently live in your home?

If you can answer yes to the above three questions, you are eligible to participate in the FHA’s HECM Program. This program is the only reverse mortgage insured by the U.S. Federal Government and is called a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). The HECM is FHA’s reverse mortgage program that will enable you to withdraw a portion of your home’s equity. The amount available to you is dependent upon the factors below:
  1. The age of the youngest borrower or eligible non-borrowing spouse.
  2. The current interest rate.
  3. The appraised value of your home or the HECM FHA mortgage limit or the sales price.
  4. A financial assessment of your willingness and ability to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance.

In general, the older you are, the more equity you have in your home, and the less you owe on your home, the more money you can get.
To locate a reverse mortgage counselor near you, search the HECM Counselor Roster or call 800-569-4287.
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Tips for North-Bound Snowbirds

As our Florida temperatures begin to rise so do the temperatures up north, making it time for our Snowbirds to begin their journey to their summer homes.
When you are away from your home, there is often no way to know if there is an issue; set yourself up for success by following a few of the ideas below and you can have a worry-free summer and return next winter to a problem free home:
  • Call an expert and have them install a smart thermostat. Once this is done, the temperature of your home can be controlled from your cell phone. With a smart thermostat you will be assured that your HVAC unit is running and your home away from home is being maintained at the proper temperature.
  • Keep your blinds and drapes drawn and keep all your windows locked to keep the cool air in.
  • Change your HVAC filters before leaving and have your HVAC flushed to prevent possible issues while you are away.
  • In Solivita you do not have to worry about safety, but you do want to protect your home from potential problems. Don’t let the mail pile up in your mailbox. Arrange for a mail hold or mail forwarding. Arrange as many bills as possible to be paid online. This way if mail goes astray you will get an email alert and still be able to “take care of business”.\
  • Cancel your newspaper delivery and arrange a start and stop date. If you want to keep up on local news, see if your local newspaper has an electronic edition.
  • Put your telephone, cable and or/internet on vacation hold. Not all companies offer this service, so call your local utilities and ask. You will pay a monthly fee that is significantly less than if you were paying for regular service.
  • Empty your refrigerator. Use this opportunity as a time to clean out the fridge and freezer. If you decide to unplug your refrigerator, clean it out and LEAVE the refrigerator and freezer doors open to prevent mold and odors.
  • Empty your dishwasher and leave the door open to prevent odors.
  • Open the washing machine lid to prevent odors.
  • Read up on your Hot Water system and turn it off the proper way so that you are not heating water all summer long.
  • Unplug all unnecessary lights and appliances.
  • Leave a few lights on timers inside your home or install smart lights that you can control from your cell phone.
  • Set the house alarm if you have one.
  • Winterize your toilets, Put just a cap of bleach in the toilet. Cover the porcelain only with Saran Wrap very tightly. You'll come back to a clean and fresh toilet. Just flush and you're ready to move on to better things in your life.
  • Give your house plants away and take your favorite ones with you.
  • If you have a landline phone remember to turn off the ringer. If you have an answering machine, DO NOT change to an away message. Leave your message on and retrieve your messages remotely.
  • If you have a golf cart, please be sure to perform the shutdown routine required for your golf cart before leaving it unattended for a few months. I unplugged mine, but never read the owner’s manual and after six weeks of non-use our golf cart needed new batteries. A very expensive mistake, and one I will not make again and do not want to see you make either.

Recognize that these steps will prevent mishaps, but unless you have a caretaker to visit your property a few times a month, to run the water for a few minutes, flush the toilets, inspect the lawn for working/broken sprinkler heads, etc., you may still encounter a problem. Have a safe and fun summer and we look forward to your return when the weather up north cools down.
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Bok Tower Sunrise Service

Sunrise Services at Bok Tower Gardens are an annual Central Florida tradition since 1926. Everyone is invited to enjoy the majesty of the sun rise from atop Iron Mountain at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. Parking is accessible, a choir will perform, an inspirational Easter message will be delivered by local clergy and the day will be off to a wonderful start. Admission to Bok Tower is complimentary for the sunrise service and after the service you are welcome to enjoy the gardens. See you in the gardens.
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Happy Easter and Happy Passover =

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all our friends, clients and neighbors. Spring has officially sprung, although in Florida, spring generally arrives in February, it is now officially spring in the USA. Lee and I hope you enjoy every moment and every memory the wonderful spring holidays bring.

This year for the Easter holiday we are serving lobster. Michael, my brother-in-law Gregg’s youngest sibling, is flying in to spend the holiday with us. Mike has been a part of our family for years as my older sister met her husband Gregg about 47 years ago when Mike was 8 years old. So, Mike is not only Gregg’s brother but, in a way, my little brother too. We are all looking forward to a nice visit, especially Mike, as it was a long hard winter up north. Bella Verde Realty keeps me busy and leaves me little time for cooking and entertaining, so I am taking the easy way out, and buying our lobsters already steamed. All I need to do is set the table, briefly heat the lobsters, melt a bit of butter, slice a few lemons and my responsibility is met. My sister and mom will supply the rest of the dinner. Since Lobster is the STAR of the SHOW, none of us are planning to put extra effort making the side dishes. If the past dictates the future, with lobster on the table, the sides just sit around looking pretty.

The one Easter Tradition that remains, is the Easter Pie “Pizzagaina” Mom bakes every Good Friday for us to enjoy on Easter Sunday with a cocktail. The traditional Italian Easter Pie is a bountiful meat and cheese pie based upon an old family recipe from Italy. Lent, the season preceding Easter, is a time of penance; and this pie is chock full of rich ingredients, perfect for the celebration. This pie signals that Lent is over, and Easter has arrived. Mom has been baking this pie for over 50 years for us to savor as we carry on family traditions. Although the pie is baked only once per year the flavor and love, plus lots of work (THANK YOU MOM), that go into making this special treat is appreciated all year long. The baking and sharing of our Pizzagaina helps us recall very sweet, happy memories of Easter Sunday spent with the family.

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Naturally Green Party Spinach Spread

Green beer or *vinho verde (green wine) is a perfect pairing to enjoy with this naturally green and easy to make spread.

1 - 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped. Discard stems.
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 small clove of garlic minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
½ cup mayonnaise

Thaw spinach and drain thoroughly, squeeze out extra liquid. Wash parsley, pat dry on paper toweling. In food processor, chop parsley. Add spinach and remaining ingredients; pulse till combined. Serve with crackers or raw vegetables.

*Surprise, vinho verde is not actually green in color, but a wine from Portugal that is light and crisp and one of my favorite spring choices.

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Simple, Inexpensive Staging Tips

  • Freshen up your landscape by adding brightly colored flowers to your entry, porch and garden. A welcoming entry adds to the curb appeal of your home and invites potential buyers in.
  • Spruce up your pavers, sidewalk and entrance area with a power wash. Your entry will appear brighter and your home will make a good first impression.
  • Light the lights, open the blinds. - simple fact: a bright, sunlit home sells faster than a home with a dark, moody appearance. 95% of my buyers ask for a home with natural light.
  • If you have any rooms painted in a dark color. Simply buy a gallon of paint in a neutral color and lighten up the dark walls. Light, neutral colors make rooms appear larger and will redirect the focus from a dark wall color to your home’s special features.
  • If you use candles for ambiance or scent, use the battery-operated candles. These candles will create a nice atmosphere and a warm glow in your home without creating a fire hazard.
  • Keep your home temperature comfortable. A cool home will encourage a potential buyer to spend time when viewing your home. Your home will sell quicker than a hot, uncomfortable home will.
  • Always declutter your home and your closets. Moving is the perfect time to reduce your footprint. Donate items, sell items, or simply box up your items to move to your next address. The goal is to have your home appear spacious and appealing with plenty of storage space. Please do not declutter your home and stuff items into a closet. After decluttering, keep your closets organized and clutter free, and always remember to close closet doors when your home is being shown.
  • Keep all toilet lids down and maintain clean bathrooms. A dirty bathroom is a big turn off to a potential buyer.
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Interior Design Styles – What is Yours?

Looking to change up your home design, what is currently in vogue, and what is your style?
As I have matured, I have watched not only my hair color change, but my personal sense of style too. My home design has evolved from classic, to modern, to mid-century, and candidly I still retain pieces from each of my design styles. Rather than put furniture into storage, I find it fun and creative to blend all my design styles into one cohesive decorating style that I affectionately have labeled Florida eccentric.
I love the refined lines and natural shapes of mid-century design when paired with the classic, comfortable feel of an upholstered piece, combined with the beauty of hand rubbed and masterly designed antique furniture. It sounds good and frankly looks good too. The look works when woven together, by keeping the color palette similar and fresh, and the accents simple and timeless. At this stage in our lives, most of us have maintained a few vintage items, mine gathered during our travels, and I find these items add a spark of urban modern to my style with a well-worn international flair. I love my new look and feel inspired each time I walk through my home. I hope you too find inspiration in items you love from earlier years and find fun in incorporating new, or new to you, items into your look. Next door Solivita, our thrift shops, the habitat restore, local flea markets, and our antique shops are all great sources for inspiration and a new look to you and to your home.
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Solivita Events

Solivita had an amazing assortment of creative and fun activities and events in February. No need to leave the community when you can hop in your golf cart, enjoy dinner, a concert, the resident edition of Solivita Master Chef, a car show, an art class, an exercise class, or any one of the educational classes being offered. If a class is not for you, sign up for an event sponsored by one of our over 200 clubs, make some new friends, and join a club or two. Be busy or not, the choice is yours when you are a Solivita resident. Don’t miss out on the fun. Living life in Solivita is a great way to live an inspired life. Less stress and more fun, will add years to your life and life to your years…. Come and grow young with us.
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Cher Concert at the Amway Center in Orlando

Growing up in Madison Square Garden territory, I must admit to seeing a lot of concerts, but I had never had the opportunity to see Cher live in concert. Her tour is billed as a farewell concert. Cher is the first to admit this is not her first farewell tour, but Lee and I wanted to catch her live before it really is her last farewell tour. And I have to say wow! Cher looks great and can still strut her stuff with the best of them, even in those crazy high heels and her body-hugging costumes. Her voice is strong, and her stage show was spectacular. Cher was personable and did an opening act with footage of her early career, when she was Sonny and Cher or Cher and Sonny, as I fondly recall from a routine performed on the 1970’s Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. The opening act was poignant and left me with a real sense of how the loss of Sonny has affected her. Cher spoke briefly of her children when they were young and how they celebrated her 40th birthday. She ended her monologue with an announcement to her fans that she is 72 years young and asked all of us what our “grannies are doing tonight.” I don’t know about your granny, but I know mine stopped strutting her stuff a long time ago. The Amway in Orlando is a nice venue, the acoustics are good, and Church Street rocks when a concert is in town. The only other thing that could have made the night better is a public transportation option. Fingers crossed, as we hope the train continues to gain in popularity and the operating hours are extended affording us the option of traveling to and from Orlando without the I-4 drive.

We celebrated our evening out with a pre-show dinner in downtown Orlando at Kres Chophouse on Church St. A perfect start to the evening as the restaurant is warm and inviting and not your typical noisy steakhouse, but rather subdued with a casual, quiet elegance. Nice white linen on the tables, inviting space and great service. Kres is within walking distance to the Amway and turned out to be a great pick. Our table was comfortable, the wine selection was good, and each glass was served at the right temperature in nice stemware. We were a group of four and together we each shared our entrees. Every dish on our table was plated beautifully and delicious, the soup was spicy and served hot, the salads cool and crisp, the steak was cooked to the perfect temperature, but the pork chop was the undisputed winner at the chop house. It was perfectly tender, slightly pink in the middle, juicy and flavorful. A dish we all agreed we would order again on our next evening at Kres. You can visit Kres on the web at:
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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Are you wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day? Bella Verde is always in green. It is our official color. Our name (beautiful green), our logo, our front lawn, and this time of the year, even our beer is green. Bella Verde Realty is always happy to market and sell your home and bring some green to your pocket too. We hope to see you downtown this year at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. It is always a fun event and a good excuse to party with friends and family. Our niece Michele, is usually here for the party, but this year she is planning a big bash in New York (without us) but she promises to visit later in the year. We will miss her, but her late visit will give us a great excuse to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day twice this year, once now and again when she arrives. Lee and I hope you enjoy a slice of soda bread, Irish stew, a wee dram of Irish whisky, a good corned beef sandwich or just a few laughs with friends and family. Whatever you do, we hope the luck of the Irish is with you now and all year through.