Manatee/Sarasota FL Real Estate Blog by Alana Jeltema, Realtor


Let's talk about real estate photography.

Have you ever searched the MLS or other websites and are shocked at the photos you are seeing and asking yourself, WHY? I see it everyday, photos that are sideways, blurry, dark or better yet a picture of a toilet. REALLY?

I have even seen photos of kids and animals. BIG NO, NO!!!

Is your real estate agent taking your photos with their phone? Are you thinking, "no real estate agent would do that".

Unfortunately, they are!!

A professional photographer should be hired for every listing, no matter the price of the home. This is the #1 marketing of your home. If photos are bad the entire listing is bad. Please do yourself a favor and make sure that the agent you are interviewing to list your home is planning on hiring a professional photographer. Ask to see photos of their other listings.

On the day of the photo shoot of your home, make sure your ready and your home is looking its best.

Spruce up your lawn and lay fresh melch.

Remove all clutter from countertops in kitchen and baths.

Clear all tables and limit knick knacks.

Hide garbage cans, dog items etc.

Open all blinds so home is light and bright.

Make beds and pick up clothing off the floor.


Misconception of purchasing a home.

Let's talk about why so many people are renting instead of owning their own home. There is a big misconception, that you need a large down payment and high credit score to purchase a home.       This is not true!

I am putting many clients into homes with $0 money down. Other loan programs require as little as 3% down payment. So why are people continuing to rent? Fear and lack of knowledge.  I am here to educate you that it is possible to own a home with no money down or as little as 3% down payment and with a credit score in the 600's. Many people do not realize there are grants of up to $10,000 to assist with down payments. 

Knowledge is power!

Here are a few programs that can be used to purchase a home with little to no money down. Grant money from the government, up to $10,000. USDA 100% financing is for single family homes in rural areas, Parrish is USDA approved. FHA only requires 3.5% down payment and we have a new conventional loan program with as little as 3% down payment. The only thing stopping you, is you. I am here to help guide you in getting the knowledge you need and to make the next step.

So why wait? Let me help you get the knowledge you need and place you with the right people. I work with the best mortgage lenders...

Market Value VS. Appraised Value

When selling or buying a home what is the difference in the market value or appraised value? How do they effect you?

Both market value and appraised value are utilized in the dealings of residential homes, commercial property, retail buildings, farms and land. However, there are distinct differences between the market value and the appraised value of real estate.

Market values are driven by the consumer and appraised values are driven by experts. The appraised value of a property is determined by an exact number regarding its value. Appraised values are based on gathered data of recent sales and the professional judgment of the professional conducting the appraisal. The market value has more variance than the appraised value. Unlike the appraised value, buyers have influence over the market value of a property because a property is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay.

Our market is currently rising faster than the appraisers are increasing the values. It's important to understand the difference when pricing your home for sale. What happens when a seller prices their home over market value in hopes of gaining the most profit. If they are lucky, a cash buyer will purchase it and not have an appraisal performed. This drives up values, but typically, this is not...

Tips to Save Energy and Add Value

When it comes to energy efficiency, look for smart features and expertise to help you save energy and money and add value to your home.

1. Begin with a Right-Sized Home.

If the home you buy is simply too large for you or your family’s needs or plans, you stand a good chance of wasting energy through excessive heating and cooling costs. If it’s too small, you’ll feel cramped and uncomfortable. It’s a big investment, so seek balance and buy it “right” from the outset. 

2. Purchase Energy Star Appliances Such as Your TV, Dishwasher, Washer and Dryer, and Microwave.

And especially the refrigerator, as it alone contributes about 10 percent of the energy use in a home. Also, unplug electronics not in use or turn off power strips to avoid phantom charges. 

3. Install Efficient Lighting Such as Compact Fluorescent (CLF) or LED Bulbs in Every Fixture.

Lighting accounts for about 6 percent of an energy bill each year.

4. Get an Energy Audit and Have Tests Performed to Identify Ways of Improving Your Efficiency.

You can always upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system as well as your thermal envelope, which includes insulation, windows, and doors  and the seals or weather stripping around them. Visit

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