Marco Island Virtual Art Tours

Governor DeSantis implemented a stay-at-home order back in March in an effort to curb COVID-19 exposure. That shut down gyms, beauty salons/barber shops, churches, in-house dining at restaurants, and all other “non-essential” businesses. Just last week, he reopened many of these businesses in the first of his multi-phase reopening plan. Unfortunately, the Marco Island Center for the Arts remains closed. However, they site “problems in the building” as the reason for not opening at this time. Luckily, they offer Marco Island virtual art tours for the art-lover that can’t wait to step inside again.

Marco Island virtual art tours brings wonderful work exhibited inside the Marco Island Center for the Arts directly to your home through the internet.

Marco Island Virtual Art Tours

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island areaThe center created its own YouTube channel five years ago. For a while, content was sparse. In the last couple of months, though, they have uploaded seven different videos for viewers to enjoy. These include Kevin Boldenow’s Vanishing Florida exhibit, Myriam Kriel’s digital artwork, a talk with artist Emily James, and the 50 Years of Fashion exhibit.

Earlier this month, the Marco Island Center for the Arts hosted an art competition for students at Collier County High. The center accepted submissions via social media. Winners were chosen by patrons of the center as well as how many “likes” each submission received. You can view the submissions on the center’s YouTube channel.

Kat Rinaldo, Editor, talks about Marco Made by Hands. This beautiful coffee table art book showcases 50 years of art as well as the Marco Island Center for the Arts’ history. The book is currently available for purchase through the center’s gift shop online.

Membership Has Its Privileges

As a member of the Marco Island Art Center, not only do you support the local art scene, but you receive some fun perks along the way. Members receive discounts for things like viewing juried exhibitions, studio time, gift shop purchases, classes and workshops, and concerts. They also gain entry into exclusive Members Only exhibitions held throughout the year. And each month, the center hosts a gallery reception for members. Each member may bring one guest with them. If you’re interested in becoming a member, visit the Marco Island Art Center’s membership page.

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

Homeowner Escrow: Where Does Your Monthly Payment Go?

When you buy a Naples home, you must pay an Earnest Money Deposit. This provides a sort of protection for the buyer because the seller promises not to continue marketing the property while you go through the buying process. Plus, it protects sellers because they get to keep the money if you cancel your transaction for any reason not outlined in your purchase agreement. This money goes into escrow. However, did you know that your lender may open a homeowner escrow account for you once the home sale is complete?

When your offer gets accepted on a Naples home, your agent opens an escrow account to hold your Earnest Money Deposit. But did you know that after your sale is final, your lender may open a homeowner escrow for you as well?

Homeowner Escrow Accounts

What Is It?

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island areaIn an escrow account, a third party holds and distributes money in a real estate transaction. In the case of a homeowner escrow account, the mortgage lender opens an escrow account that handles the disbursement of payments to the appropriate parties. This simplifies things a bit because then you only pay into one account each month to get your real estate needs taken care of.

What Gets Paid Out of Escrow?

These escrow accounts typically pay four things for you:

  • Principal on your mortgage loan
  • Interest on your mortgage loan
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners’ insurance

Property taxes tend to get paid three for four times a year. Your homeowners’ insurance comes due just once a year. With a fixed-rate loan, principal and interest remain steady throughout the life of the loan. But property taxes and homeowners’ insurance may vary from year to year. The loan servicer estimates the next year’s amount based on the current year’s payments. So, if you owed more taxes in the current year than the previous year, you may see an increase in your monthly payment. On the other hand, if you paid less, the surplus may come back to you in the form of a refund.

Pros and Cons of a Homeowner Escrow Account

On the plus side, you only need to make one payment to one account to cover your principal, interest, property taxes, and insurance. Instead of coming up with one lump sum when the taxes and insurance are due, these payments get split up into 12 smaller payments that you pay monthly over the course of a year. This also ensures that everything gets paid so that you don’t run into potential tax liens or judgments against you for non-payment. On the minus side, your monthly payment is higher to cover all of these expenses. And because the insurance and taxes change from year-to-year, your exact payment may vary slightly to accommodate these changes. But, again, this also means you don’t have to suddenly come up with one lump sum when these payments are due to their respective companies. That makes budgeting a little easier.

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

Garage Cleaning Made Simple

The calendar still shows us in the midst of spring. That means spring cleaning time is in full effect. And, if you plan on selling a home in one of the safest cities in Florida anytime soon, you need to make sure everything on your property is in tip-top shape. That includes the garage. Feel overwhelmed at the thought of tackling that area of your Naples home? No need to worry. The following guide to garage cleaning makes simple work of this loathsome task.

Garage cleaning is now easier than ever when you follow these simple guidelines in your Naples home. Spring cleaning made easy.

Garage Cleaning Made Simple

Add Shelves/Bins

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island areaOftentimes, a mess garage comes about due to a lack of storage. How about an easy way to alleviate that problem. Shelves! If that’s not the issue, consider purchasing storage bins. Best case scenario: shelves and bins. Make sure the bins include securely fastening lids. Label the outside of each bin so you know exactly what it contains before opening it. Park your large, heavy objects on the bottom shelf.

Get Organized

Sometimes, the best way to do this is to tackle one shelf at a time. First, take everything off of it. Then, sort through. Throw away any trash right away. That includes broken items beyond repair. It seems we always collect this stuff in the nooks and crannies of our homes, including the garage. Separate what you have left into three piles: keep, sell, donate.


Place items you plan on keeping into their appropriate bin. Remember to label the outside of your bin for easy reference. Bag or box up donations and take them to your local charity of choice right away (Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc). Right now, the safest way to sell your stuff would probably be through Facebook Marketplace. Take a photo of the item you wish to sell. Then, post it on Facebook Marketplace with your contact info and your sale price. Super simple. You can even set it up as a no-contact sale through PayPal, Venmo or any other online payment system.

Follow these instructions for a quick, simple garage cleaning that won’t stress you out.

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

How to Write an Offer During a Pandemic

Over the last few weeks, the real estate market changed dramatically. For a while now, we’ve seen both sales and prices rise. But, since COVID-19 hit our shores, things shifted. Don’t get me wrong. People still buy and sell houses in Naples. However, physical tours no longer happen. We now rely on virtual home tours. Did one of these strike your fancy? Congratulations! Now the next step: writing an offer. Learn how to write an offer during this new era in the real estate market for your best chance at success.

When buying a Naples home during a pandemic like COVID-19, there are a few bits of advice you should follow, especially when it comes time to write an offer.

How to Write an Offer During a Pandemic


Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island areaNot a good idea during a seller’s market. Certainly not a good idea during a pandemic. With current protections from foreclosure currently available, many sellers can afford to wait for a better offer. Plus, some sellers opted to take their properties off the market and wait it out. Less inventory means prices stay pretty close to the same before the pandemic. If you offer too low of an offer, you might anger the seller. However, circumstances may dictate that a less-than-asking offer is appropriate.

Is the seller under a time crunch? Is the property priced too high for the market? As in times before the COVID-19 outbreak, this could warrant a lower offer. Before you write an offer, talk to your agent. Have them check out the comps in the area to help you determine a fair price.

Closing May Take Longer

Before COVID-19, we had to “hurry up and wait”. After an offer is accepted, you need to wait for the appraisers, home inspectors, repairs (if needed), and paperwork processing to be completed. Now, appraisers, home inspectors, and repairmen all might take a little bit longer as they change over to working remotely and adjusting to limitations now in place. A 30-day escrow request may not be possible. Keep that in mind when you write an offer.

Secure Funding ASAP

Honestly, you should try to secure financing before you start looking for a Naples home. If not then, then as soon as possible afterward. Most sellers want to see an approval letter from a lender included with an offer. Interview several lenders (starting with your own bank) to find the perfect fit for your situation.

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