Is White-Boxing the Way to Go When Selling Your Naples Home?

For most sellers, home staging plays a huge part in how quickly their home sells as well as for how much. But a trend we’re beginning to see with higher-end homes like those in Naples and Marco Island is something called “white-boxing”. That’s the complete opposite of home staging. So, is white-boxing the way to go when selling your Naples or Marco Island home? It just might be.

White-boxing is a new trend we're seeing in higher end Naples and Marco Island homes. Is this the right strategy to use when selling your home?

What is “White-Boxing”?

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island area

Click the photo above to search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island area.

White-boxing is the absence of furniture or furnishings of any kind. This provides buyers with a truly blank slate. Only white walls and blank floor space. No artwork, books, area rugs, dishes…nothing. Your Naples/Marco Island home is simply a “white box” filled with infinite possibilities.

What Makes White-Boxing Popular?

Today’s luxury buyers want to go in and put their personal stamp on a place. No matter how lovely of a home it may be, they want to tear down walls, rip up flooring and customize the space to fit their lifestyle. When a seller uses white-boxing, it allows the buyer and their designer to better see what they’d like to change instead of focusing on the furniture and fixtures. For designers, this blank canvas makes it easier to render their design concepts for the buyer to visualize once customization has been completed. Plus, buyers feel less guilty about gutting a home to redesign it if it’s already empty. In fact, these buyers may pay more for a white-boxed home than a staged one.

Does White-Boxing Work for Every Home?

No. It may seem odd, but many rooms actually look smaller without furniture in them. White-boxing works best when you have large rooms and a fabulous view. Otherwise, this might not be the best strategy. Determine who your buyers are before you list. Talk this over with your Naples REALTOR® to decide whether or not white-boxing is a good selling plan for your home.

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

Naples Food Angels Need Volunteers

Did you know that one in six people in the United States goes hungry every single day. This includes men, women, and children. It affects families living right here in the Naples area. That’s heartbreaking and should never happen in a country as rich as our own. Places like the Naples Food Angels help feed these families in need every week. But they need your help.

What: Naples Food Angels
Where: The Current Community Center (13510 Tamiami Trl N #5, Naples, FL)
When: Every Saturday 10:30 am to 12 pm & Every Wednesday 6 pm to 7:30 pm
Contact: First Christian Church of Naples (239) 529-3977

Naples Food Angels Need Volunteers

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island area

Click the photo above to search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island area.

Naples Food Angels are looking for volunteers to help them with their food distribution efforts. Twice a week (Wednesday evening and Saturday morning), they open up their facility and allow local families in need to shop the shelves for free. Items they choose from include fresh produce, meat, baked goods, personal care products, and other available items. What began with service to just eight people four years ago has grown to serve over 1,000 people a month. As you can imagine, that means the Naples Food Angels need more hands helping pick up, pick through, and organize the bi-weekly distribution efforts.

How to Volunteer for the Naples Food Angels

With the Naples Food Angels, everyone is welcome. Age doesn’t matter. In fact, bring a service hours volunteer form from your school and receive credit for all duties performed as part of the Naples Food Angels family. Public service looks excellent on college applications, by the way. Currently, the “angels” need help with bakery pickups, retail rescue pickups, delivery of leftover perishables to St Matthew’s House, and distribution of food at the center every Saturday. They also need assistance with pickups at various donor locations as well as sorting and stocking the shelves of the facility at the community center throughout the week. In addition, the Naples Food Angels prepare bags for homeless teens going to two Naples area schools. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Dara Albert, volunteer coordinator with the Naples Food Angels, at (719) 304-9961.

Of course, donations are always welcome as well. The Naples Food Angels rely on donors as well as volunteers to fulfill their promise to bring good, healthy food to those less fortunate members of our community. If you’d like to donate food or personal care items in person, feel free to drop them off at the Current Community Center between 10:30 am and 12 pm any Saturday of the year. Or, you can donate money online as a one-time-only or regular recurring donation. All money raised is used to purchase food and personal care items for the families serviced by the Food Angels. Thank you and God bless.

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

Home for the Holidays in Lely Resort of Naples

Michelle Thomas proudly presents…



With over $175,000 in custom upgrades, this immaculately maintained premium cul-de-sac end lot offers magnificent lake views and a spacious Montessa floor plan. Lush tropical landscaping and custom lighting surround the outside of this beautiful residence. Spanning over 2,200 square feet of living area with three bedrooms and a den, this impeccable home presents an array of upgrades such as a newer washer and dryer, recently custom-painted interior, newer tile in the baths and upgraded faucets. Tile, volume ceilings, upgraded lighting fixtures and two designer chandeliers decorate the inside. The great room, formal dining room and expansive lanai offer the perfect setting for intimate gatherings or elegant entertaining. Access the paver lanai from the great room or master bedroom, and enjoy your private saltwater swimming pool and spa area. The kitchen boasts granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, pantry and dry bar area. Additional features include remote keyless entry system, impact glass throughout, alarm system and Nest remote thermostat. Only minutes from downtown Naples, beaches and marina, an extraordinary lifestyle is waiting for you in Lely Resort.

Luxury Living in Award-Winning Fiddler’s Creek Golf Community in Naples

Fiddler’s Creek is one of Naples most desirable communities, and it’s easy to see why! Championship golf course, pro shop, tennis, state-of-the-art fitness center, resort-style pool, casual and fine dining, boating and beach memberships…the list of amenities and things to do go on and on!

One of the premier Southwest Florida builders – Ashton Woods Homes – has built this fantastic Spanish Colonial Revival-inspired home on an 80-foot lot. Over 4,700 sq ft of elegance, comfort and style!

Offering privacy and a golf course setting, this three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home with a den is truly an estate home of unsurpassed splendor. Featuring the Pontevedra floor plan of open-concept living with architectural details, this home includes vaulted ceilings with beam treatment, maintenance-free tile flooring in a wood-grain look and multiple French doors. A modern kitchen, that is well-equipped with a center island, Shaker-style cabinetry and stainless steel appliances, is flanked by a spacious and bright dining area with built-in buffet to create memorable gatherings. The home’s accommodations are no less luxurious. Master suite offers a sitting area and bath with dual sinks, stand-alone soaking tub and expansive shower with frameless glass door. The home features a covered lanai area with a swimming pool and spa with spill-over water feature. Located in the renowned community of Fiddler’s Creek, residents enjoy access to award-winning recreational and social activities that include tennis, fitness, resort-style pools, spa services, a fine dining restaurant, a poolside bar and grill and multiple clubs. Optional golf, marina and beach memberships are available.

For more information about this home or about living in Fiddler’s Creek, contact Michelle Thomas at 239-860-7176

ICE Can Save Lives – In Case of Emergency

ICE Can Save Lives

ICE.pngEveryone knows that ice can make a drink cool or reduce swelling, but if you put it on your cell phone, it might just save your life.

The concept is simple.  Make a contact record in your address book with the name “ICE”, which stands for In Case of Emergency.  In the note section of the record, you would list your name, blood type and medical conditions along with prescriptions and physicians.  You’d also list the people and their phone numbers that can be contacted in case of an emergency.

Several years ago, a British first responder came up with the idea when his emergency unit responded to a call where the victim was unable to communicate due to illness or trauma.  The victim’s wallet didn’t indicate specific persons to be notified in an emergency.  The fireman went through his cell phone to try to identify a relative and wasn’t successful.

That’s when he came up with the idea of a universal entry into the address book for ICE where the necessary parties and special information could be kept.  The story received a considerable amount of publicity and spread across the pond to the United States and into many other countries.

While it isn’t recognized everywhere, it is becoming increasingly more popular.  Even if emergency technicians didn’t find it, the slight possibility that they would find it and it would make a difference would justify the few minutes it will take to create it.  Click here to download a card to carry in your wallet or purse.

Don’t Consider Appreciation or Tax Savings

Don’t Consider Appreciation or Tax Savings 

iStock_000004701496XSmall.jpgAppreciation and tax savings are legitimate contributors to an overall rate of return on rental real estate but what if you didn’t consider them at all.  If you only looked at one or two, very conservative measurements, you might decide to invest especially knowing that there are more benefits that will accrue to your investment.

If we bought a property for cash, collected the rent and paid the expenses, the amount left would be called Net Operating Income.  In the example below, if would generate $7,200 a year which would be a 7.02% cash on cash rate of return which is considerably higher than the current 10 year treasury rate of around 2.3%.

If we place a mortgage on that property, the rate of return actually increases due to leverage.  After the principal and interest are paid, the net operating income obviously decreases but the cash on cash rate of return increases to 9.10% because the borrowed funds means less cash invested.

Another contribution to the investment’s rate of return occurs with the mortgage due to amortization: the principal reduces with each payment made which increase the investor’s equity.  In this example, the equity build-up divided by the initial investment yields a 5.25% rate of return in the first year.

Single family homes for rental purposes offer the investor high loan-to-value mortgages at fixed interest rates for long terms on appreciating assets with tax benefits, reasonable control and an opportunity to earn higher than normal rates of return.  Call if you’d like to talk about what kind of rental opportunities are available.

Equity buildup.png

Breathe Easy – Home AC Maintenance

Breathe Easy 

iStock_000020770516XSmall.jpgThe benefits of regularly changing the heating and air-conditioning filters are obvious to homeowners; the real challenge is creating a system to make sure it gets done. 

A reasonable schedule would be to replace it with a new one-inch pleated filter every 60-90 days. Households with shedding pets should consider replacing them every month. Some people change their filters every month when they pay their electric bills.  A simple system would be to set a recurring appointment on your calendar like Outlook or Google.

Filters trap dust, mold and bacteria which can directly affect the air quality and play havoc with your allergies. When a filter is dirty, it prevents proper airflow and allows dust, dirt and allergens to blow through your home. Changing your filter regularly helps to avoid maintenance, improves equipment life and produces increased energy savings.

When shopping for filters, it’s understandable to look for the best bargain but the cheapest price may not be the best choice. When purchasing, recognize that HEPA-rated and HEPA-type filters are not the same thing. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter meets or exceeds standards for efficiency set by the U.S. Department of Energy. Most HVAC contractors recommend HEPA filters.

Some filters need to be changed monthly and other types have manufacturer recommendations of every three months. An alternative to disposable filters are the permanent, washable types. These will cost more initially but because you can clean them and re-use them, eventually, you’ll recapture the cost and realize savings.

Selecting the Right Color for your Home

Selecting the Right Color for your Home 

Have you ever picked a color from the myriad of paint samples available, put it on the wall and decided that it was all wrong? It shouldn’t have to be that difficult but trying to pick the perfect color from those little swatches is just not that easy.

Painters and decorators suggest you buy a small amount of the colors you’re considering. Your paint store should be able to mix them in any brand and any color. Once it’s on the wall, it will be easy to determine if it needs to be lighter or darker or if it’s completely wrong.

Take them home and paint a 2′ x 2′ area on the wall. If you’re concerned about testing the colors on your wall, you can paint some sample boards that can be easily moved around to see how they’ll look with the furniture, floors and other items in the room.

Instead of guessing what it’s going to look like, you’ll actually see how it looks during different times of the day, in natural and artificial light.

While $30 to $40 a gallon for paint may seem like a lot of money, the cost in time and labor to put it on the wall is even more. It’s worth taking the time to test the color on the wall before you buy all the paint needed

Being a Good Neighbor

Being a Good Neighbor

iStock_000041025734Small-250.jpgA good neighbor might be characterized as someone who’ll look after your home when you’re out of town by picking up your mail and watering your plants.  You’d most likely reciprocate for anyone who’d be so generous toward you.

In some cases, you might only be able to name one or two of your neighbors who would step up to that level of service.   Wouldn’t it be nice if more people on your street would be happy to make that offer?

The solution may just start with being a better neighbor first.  The following suggestions go a long way to improving your neighborhood and making new friends at the same time.

  • Meet your neighbors and exchange phone numbers and email addresses.  Agree with each other that you’ll let them know if you see something strange going on at their home. 
  • Slow down when driving through the neighborhood; it will make it safer and everyone will appreciate it. 
  • Control your dog: keep it on a leash; pick up after it; don’t let it bark too much.
  • Don’t park in front of your neighbor’s home.
  • Notify your immediate neighbors when you’re having remodeling done and ask them to let you know if any of the contractors cause damage to their property.
  • Let your neighbors know when you’re having a party and that there will be more cars on the street than usual.
  • Maintain your home and yard so that it adds to the beauty of the neighborhood.
  • Put your garbage out for collection on the correct day and bring the containers back in promptly.

In reality, it is fairly obvious; you just have to think of the things that you’d want from your neighbors.  Be friendly; don’t be noisy; offer a helping hand when available and respect each other’s boundaries.  Having a sense of community and that you all share the neighborhood can be underlying principles that will guide your behavior.

A good neighbor would be aware of suspicious activity and would call their neighbors and the police if warranted.  This might be something you can discuss with your neighbors.  Click here for a template to record your immediate neighbor’s contact information and keep readily available if needed.

Get Your Offer Accepted

Get Your Offer Accepted

As the market shifts from a buyer’s market, it’s good to know how to improve your chances to have the seller accept your offer.

Once you decide on a home, don’t waste time; write an offer and submit it as soon as possible. Competing with another buyer happens more frequently than you’d expect. Multiple offers are a seller’s advantage but here are some tips to level the playing field:

  • Realistic offer – don’t give the impression you’re trying to “steal” the property. Submit comparable sales that justify your offer.
  • Pre-approval letter – this satisfies seller’s biggest concern that an unqualified buyer will unnecessarily take the home off the market and the seller will lose other opportunities.
  • More earnest money – it shows you’re serious and makes the seller feel like the contract will actually close.
  • Minimize contingencies – from a seller’s standpoint, each contingency is one more reason why the sale won’t go through. They feel the home is “off the market” and they’re in limbo.
  • Shorten inspection period – your agent can help you set a reasonable date but let the seller know you’re willing to close prior to that if possible.
  • Write a personal letter to the seller telling them why you want their home – this can be the emotional connection to the seller that makes the difference in you getting the home.
A seller wants to feel confident that the offer they accept will actually close so they can plan for their next move. Following tips like these can definitely affect negotiations and help put together an offer that is more likely to be accepted.