Homeowner Tips

In-Law Suites: Why Your Naples Home Needs One

Casita. Granny Flat. Ohana Unit. Whatever you call it, in-law suites add value to your Naples home in more ways than one.

If your Naples home includes an in-law suite, it can increase the value of your property as well as appeal to a wider potential audience base, whether it's attached to your main house or completely separate from it.

In-Law Suites

What are They?

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island areaIn-law suites can either be a part of your main structure or set up completely independent from your main house. Typically, they include at least a bedroom and a full private bathroom. However, some also provide a living space and a kitchen/kitchenette. Still, others offer a separate entry point from which to come and go from the property.

What Else Can You Use Them For?

Primarily, these areas of the home allow your elderly relatives to live with you while still maintaining their sense of privacy. However, it offers many other uses as well. These suites make great home offices or guest rooms. When your child starts college, it creates a nice transition space between childhood home and completely moving out on their own. These suites also provide the possibility for rental income, especially if it is completely separate from your main Naples home.

Cost to Create

The cost to create an in-law suite depends on whether you plan on adding it to your existing house or if you wish to create a completely separate dwelling. An addition averages anywhere from around $33,000 to $63,000. When building a separate structure, your expenses may increase to as much as $125,000. Make sure you hire a licensed contractor and check that they pull all necessary permits to keep everything right.

Factoring This Into Your Home Sale

Today’s buyers want multi-generational homes. As families age, they want to bring their elderly parents back into the fold instead of putting them into expensive assisted living facilities. Sometimes, leaving them completely on their own isn’t feasible either. If your home already offers a main floor guest area with private bath, you’re already ahead of the game. Make sure to advertise this space as an office/guest room/potential in-law suite. This appeals to a broader audience of buyers.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

How to Make Your Marco Island/Naples Home Safer

Compared to almost every other cities in Florida, Marco Island and Naples rank among the safest. In fact, according to Alarms.com, only Key Biscayne and Satellite Beach rank higher in safety than Naples (#4) and Marco Island (#3). Even so, it always makes sense to stay on top of security to avoid becoming a statistic. If you want to keep your loved ones as secure as possible, follow these tips to make your Marco Island or Naples home safer.

Even though Marco Island and Naples land in the top 5 of safest cities in Florida, our family's security tends to be one of our highest priorities. Find out how you can make your home safe for all who dwell within.

How to Make Your Home Safer

Schedule a Safety Home Inspection

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island areaWhether you just moved in or you lived in your current home for years now, schedule a safety home inspection. North Collier Fire Control offers free safety home inspections for any resident who asks for one. Simply contact Donna Smith at the Life Safety & Prevention Bureau (via phone at 239-597-9227 or via email) to set up your free inspection. Inspections will be able to point out potential safety hazards that you may not have even been aware of before.

Change the Locks

One of the most common things new homeowners overlook is their door locks. Don’t assume that the set of keys you were handed at closing are the only set floating around out there. Install a keyless door lock for less than $200. Then, you won’t worry about fumbling in the dark for your key, allowing prowlers an opportunity to attack.

Let There Be Light…a Lot of Light

If you tend to work late at night, one simple way to scare away would-be robbers is by installing lights on the exterior of your Naples or Marco Island home. It’s a fact that burglars prefer dark, unlit homes to brightly lit ones. Motion-sensitive lights go off when they sense a prowler (man and beast) in the area. “Smart” lights allow you to control any light in your house while you’re away from the convenience of your smartphone. Throw off potential thieves by changing up which lights are on in your house at different times on different days while you’re out of town.

Install a Smart Home Security System

Whether monitored or unmonitored, smart home security systems have come a long way. According to PC Mag, their experts looked at several different home security systems. Their most recommended systems for your house? ADT Pulse, Vivint SmartHome, and SimpliSafe. Their initial start-up fees run between $49 and $230, with each requiring a monthly monitoring fee. SimpliSafe can be installed yourself while the other two require professional installation. Alexa easily hooks up to all three as well.

Be Friendly With the Neighbors

One of the most effective yet least tech-savvy ways to increase the security of your household is to get friendly with your neighbors. Talk to them. Let them know when you expect a delivery or plan on being gone for vacation. Ask them to keep an eye on your place while you’re gone. In return, offer to do the same for them. The more eyes watching out for suspicious activity in the neighborhood, the better. And create a phone tree so that all of your neighbors can quickly and easily get in touch with one another in case of an emergency.

Practice Your Exit Strategy Regularly

It always helps to put an emergency exit strategy in place. If a fire starts in one part of your house, how do you exit to safety? Where do you meet up to make sure everyone’s OK? Set up a direct line of communication with someone outside of the area (grandma in Des Moines, an aunt in Salt Lake City, etc.). Then, make sure everyone has that number memorized. When big emergencies strike (such as a hurricane), local lines tend to clog up with people trying to reach others. Therefore, designating one person for everyone to contact frees up the phone lines. They can disseminate any information necessary. This really helps if you get separated from one another. Practice how you should handle these types of emergencies on a regular basis so that they become second nature. If once a month isn’t feasible, consider doing it once a season.

Don’t Share Everything Online

Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t share everything online. Sure, Bali looks even better in person than pictures. You’re so excited to share the gorgeous photos you took that you can’t wait to upload them right away. But you should…wait that is. Today’s burglars can be quite technically-advanced. Even if you don’t announce your current location in your social media post, the geo-tags on your photos give you away. If they do a little digging, they can find where you live. Since you can’t be in two locations at one time, your home becomes prime target #1 for a break-in. Save your vacation pics until after you arrive safely back home.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Senseless Ways to Use Your Naples Home Equity

Like many areas around the country, Naples home values increased tremendously over the last couple of years. In turn, this may have caused you to consider cashing in on some of that equity. Last week, I discussed smart ways to utilize the equity in your home. This week, I want you to know about the flip side of that coin: what you shouldn’t use your Naples home equity to fund.

While there are good ways to use your Naples home equity, there are also some bad reasons to use it. Avoid them at all costs.

Senseless Ways to Use Your Naples Home Equity

Automobile Purchase

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island areaLately, you’ve been desperate for a new vehicle. You managed to rack up over 150,000 miles on your 10-year-old car and would really like to trade it in on something new. Should you use the equity in your Naples home to purchase a new automobile? No. If your credit is decent, you may end up with a lower interest rate on your car loan than you would on a home equity loan. Plus, car loans only run five to seven years. On the other hand, home equity loans extend out anywhere from 20 to 30 years. During that time, you pay thousands of dollars more in interest. If you can’t afford the higher payment on the shorter terms of a car loan, you might not be ready to take on the expense of a new car yet.

Stock Market Investing

It might be tempting to take some of your home’s equity to invest in the stock market. Over the long term, stock market investing tends to be a viable way to create a nice nest egg. However, it can also be a bumpy ride, with extreme highs and lows along the way. (Remember the huge crash of the mid-2000’s?). Besides, the interest you pay on your equity loan eats into any profits you make. Plus, if your investments fail, not only do you lose the money you invested, but you also face the very real possibility of losing your home in the process.

Dream Vacation/Wedding

A three-week European vacation. You or your child’s dream wedding. A Boston Whaler Conquest. All of these come with huge price tags. But you can afford it…if you tap into your equity. Stop! Like stock market investing, you run the risk of losing your home if you can’t pay back the equity loan. Instead, divert a specific amount of money each paycheck to a special vacation/wedding/other luxury expense account. Save up over time and you pay no interest in the process. Plus, your equity may likely increase during that time period. Bonus!

Funding Your Lifestyle

Finally, never use your equity as another stream of income. If you need to dip into your equity in order to fund your lifestyle, consider scaling back on a few unnecessary expenses instead. When you look at where your current income goes, you will most likely find several places you can cut or eliminate spending to help alleviate some of your financial burdens. That’s a much smarter move than depleting your equity.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos

Smart Ways to Use Your Naples Home Equity

As home prices continue their march onward, many Naples homeowners see an increase in their home equity. That’s the difference between what you owe on your mortgage and the current value of your property. Some homeowners use this equity when they sell in order to boost their downpayment on a new home. Others want to tap into that equity before they sell. But not all uses of equity are equal. Here are a few ways to use your home equity wisely.

Do you have equity in your Naples house that you want to spend? There are some smart uses for your home equity that would actually benefit you.

Smart Uses for Your Home Equity

Home Improvement Projects That Add Value to Your Property

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island areaIt might be time to make some changes to your Naples home. Using your equity to do so can be a smart use of funds. Replacing outdated appliances or adding energy-efficient and smart home features are great ideas. Something as simple as replacing the garage door offers the best return on investment. Installing solar panels actually pay for themselves over time. But if you dream of adding a pool to increase your home’s value, beware. The cost to install a swimming pool is far greater than any value it might add to your property. If you’re in doubt as to whether a home improvement project will increase or lower your home’s value, talk to your real estate agent first.

Debt Consolidation

Trying to pay down your high-interest credit card debt? Using some of the equity in your Naples home might be beneficial. Of course, that depends on why you carry a lot of credit card debt. Did your credit card usage skyrocket during college? While temporarily unemployed? Have you decided to change your out-of-control ways by creating a budget? You still need to pay your current debt load down. Depending on your credit score, you could save 10% or more in interest. That helps pay down your debt faster. But, if you don’t have any intention of changing your spending habits, it would be a bad idea to use your equity to consolidate your debt. You could fall further into debt very easily.

Create an Emergency Fund

Financial experts suggest that you keep enough money in an emergency fund to handle at least six months of your living expenses. That includes mortgage, utilities, insurance, health care, food, etc. You never know when an emergency may hit your household. So, you need to be prepared. The money also should be easy to access. Instead of maxing out your credit cards to get you through a tough time, apply for a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit). If you do so now when you don’t necessarily need it, it will be there when you need it most.

Invest in Real Estate

Finally, another smart way to utilize the equity in your Naples home may be to invest in another property. This also comes with risk. But it also potentially brings in more money as well. Talk to your financial adviser to see if this is a risk worth taking.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos