Susan Halverson

Real Estate updates on Clermont FL Properties


Consider Community Amenities and Fees

Amenity-rich communities are nice, but no one wants to pay for perks that they know they won’t use. For the best deal, compare the monthly association fees at your favorite active adult communities. Find out what the fees cover and if you would be paying for something you won’t use, like a mandatory golf course membership.

While larger resort-style communities are impressive, make sure you plan to use a good portion of the amenities. Otherwise, you might be happier in a community with lower association fees and just the amenities you will use.



Honestly Assess Your Needs

In real estate, there’s an old adage which advises against buying the biggest or grandest house on the block. This is because the value of your home is always dependent in part on the price of its neighboring homes. Bigger homes also require more maintenance and upkeep costs.

Now that the market has made homes more affordable, don’t be tempted to buy a bigger or more luxurious house than you need just because it is a “good deal.” Instead, look for a home that is just right for your retirement needs and use the savings to reach some of your other retirement goals.



Heading into retirement, it’s more important than ever to know just how much house you can truly afford. Many homebuyers got in trouble during the recent housing crisis because they followed bad advice, even though they were afraid it sounded “too good to be true.”

Before talking to a community sales agent or other real estate agent, meet with an independent financial advisor to review your retirement savings. Don’t forget to plan for retirement goals like travel or recreation expenses. Once you know how much you can truly afford to spend on your retirement home, it will be easier to stick to your budget while home shopping and negotiating the sale.Review Your Finances and Retirement Goals.



By now, you have enough experience to understand that buying a home is a major investment. Perhaps you’ve owned a home (or many homes) before. While you may know more than a young, first-time homebuyer, don’t let your previous experience keep you from doing your homework.

The housing market is changing, and smart homebuyers take the time to research before buying. Investigate the community, the developer and recently sold homes in your chosen area to find out what constitutes a “good deal” in the current market. Do your homework!



Choosing whether to build a new home or buy an older resale home is a common dilemma for potential homebuyers. A sparkling new construction may be eye-catching when visiting active adult communities, but it isn’t always the best choice for everyone. Before making the decision, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of buying an older home, especially when it’s in an active adult community.

When it comes to house hunting, resale homes can be a great value. This is especially true when they have after-market upgrades like granite countertops, hardwood or tile flooring, updated kitchens or have installed window shades and treatments.

These types of upgrades are also available on new construction homes, but the choices are limited to whichever features the builder is offering at the time the home is built. For example, options may only include a few specific brands and models of appliances or light fixtures. Also, the same upgrades on a new construction typically raise the home’s price more than they do when they are an existing part of a resale home.

Many people prefer older homes because they have more mature landscaping, including lush plantings and larger trees. They may have more character, with backyard plantings or unique touches which were added by the homeowners. In general, older homes feel more established than newly built homes which often have small seedlings and yet-to-be-sodded yards.

Homeowners who have purchased new construction homes before know that minor settlement cracks, nail pops and other issues frequently show up during the first year. While most problems are covered under a warranty, and builders will usually fix them with no charge, some homebuyers prefer to skip this by purchasing a slightly older home which is already settled.

Of course, an older home can have more problems than simple first-year settlement. Every home, no matter how well built, will reach a point when its basic systems need to be repaired or replaced. This means an important part of the buying decision depends on two questions: “Just how old is this older home?” and “How well was it maintained?”

A home that is more than twenty years old, but has been well-maintained, can be a better investment than a ten year old home which has been neglected. This is particularly true if that older home has passed the point when its original systems gave out, and the homeowners opted for high-quality, energy-efficient replacements.

The layout of new construction homes will likely reflect the current design trends, such as open floor plans and functional loft space. But some homebuyers prefer the design of older homes. An older layout might have features that are harder to find today, such as a variety of cozy rooms instead of an open design, or perhaps a breakfast nook instead of a sunroom.

When looking at active adult communities, homebuyers can also find benefits in a more established community. The clubhouse or amenity center may not be quite as state-of-the-art, but it is nice to have facilities which are already open for business, instead of waiting for the plans to be constructed. If the community is completed, homeowners also won’t have to put up with construction equipment constantly passing through.

Just as they prefer a variety of recreations, active adults have different priorities when it comes to buying a home. There are pros and cons to buying both new construction homes and older resale homes. Some retirees are happiest choosing every element of their new home, and others find that the benefits of older homes outweigh their minor drawbacks.


55+ Communities have the town centers concept, this is taking the clubhouse facilities one step further. July 22, 2011

For most homebuyers, “community” is the most desirable part of active adult communities. Social clubs, classes, events and amenities are strong selling points, and that often means choosing a community with a large central clubhouse. However, several developers are taking the clubhouse concept one step further with the evolution of community town centers.

In many ways, town centers in 55+ communities are quite similar to community clubhouses. Town centers generally house central amenities, such as fitness centers, swimming pools, hobby and game rooms and large multipurpose rooms. Like clubhouses, they may contain restaurants, golf or tennis pro shops, spas and learning centers.

In addition to their resort-style amenities, town centers may also include a variety of daily services. They often are comprised of multiple buildings, and feature necessities like banks, post offices, gas stations and even retail stores. In essence, they help a residential community become more of a small town.

Many 55+ communities have also added town centers which combine recreational facilities with retail stores and professional services. As 55+ communities continue to evolve, builders are finding more ways to support active adult lifestyles. Spacious clubhouses provide a wide range of recreational amenities and social activities. Town centers take the idea further by bringing retail stores and professional services even closer to home.

Call Susan for information on Arlington Ridge, 407-376-6120 or email



As home values have fallen, most homeowners think that they will be paying less on property taxes. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In fact, some homeowners have found that their property tax rates have gone up, despite the fact that their homes are worth less. How does this happen, and is there anything homeowners can do about it?

In most states, funds from property taxes are mainly given to local governments. They are then used to pay for schools, roads, police departments, fire departments and other community services. Local governments depend on the revenue from property taxes to fund many programs, and their financial needs are not reduced when the housing market takes a hit.

In order to make up the needed revenue when home values fall, some local governments pass measures to raise property tax rates. By increasing tax rates, they can offset the decline of a weakened housing market and still bring in the money they need to run community programs. This is frustrating for homeowners, and can be a problem for retirees on a fixed income.

Some states do have property tax limits, which are designed to protect property owners from big increases. These limits may still allow taxes to rise, but more gradually from year to year. The specifics of property tax assessments and limits vary from state to state, and are something active adults should consider before relocating to a new home.

In some cases, property taxes may be based on assessments that do not reflect the current housing market. Property taxes are supposed to be based on a home’s fair market value. However, not all counties make property tax assessments every year. They may use the same assessed home values every other year, or even up to every five years.

In areas where property taxes are only assessed every three, four or five years, the assessment may reflect a home value that is not consistent with the current market. This can be a particular problem if the last assessment was done at the peak of the housing bubble, and a new assessment isn’t scheduled until several years later.

Homeowners who feel that their property tax assessment does not match their home’s fair market value do have the option of appealing the assessment. To see if they may be a good candidate for an appeal, homeowners can start by doing their own assessment of their home by comparing it to recent home sales in the neighborhood, or by checking the value at a website like

When considering an appeal, homeowners should also look for errors on their property tax assessment. It’s important to check the square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the other specific features listed on the assessment. Errors could lead to a new assessment with a lower tax bill.

While it may seem reasonable to expect that lower home values will equal lower property taxes, that is not always the case. To ensure that you are paying the correct amount of taxes, carefully check over your property tax assessment and don’t be afraid to file an appeal if you find errors or feel that your home has been overassessed.