by Karen Williams-deCastro- Realtor®, C2EX, RSPS, GRI, SRS, ABR, SFR, AHWD

It’s not easy being a first-time homebuyer right now. Not just in the Florida Keys, but everywhere. At the end of last year, housing affordability hit an all-time low.(1) Additionally, mortgage rates have risen significantly since 2021, while inventory remains tight for many property categories, but especially for starter homes. Even lower-priced condos are harder to snag these days, as investors and downsizers muscle out first-timers by offering stronger, often cash-heavy bids. (2)

In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, only 26% of last year’s homebuyers were first-timers—the lowest share on record and down from 34% a year prior. This underscores…

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By Karen Williams-deCastro- Realtor®, C2EX, RSPS, GRI, SRS, ABR, SFR, AHWD

Keeping a clean and orderly home is a challenge for many of us. Between busy work schedules, social obligations, and family commitments, it’s tough to keep up with daily chores—let alone larger seasonal tasks.

The effort is worthwhile, however. A sanitary environment can keep you and your family healthier by minimizing your exposure to germs and allergens.1 Plus, researchers have found that organized, uncluttered homes have quantifiable mental health benefits, too, including reduced stress, improved emotional regulation, and increased productivity.2

The reality is, we enjoy our homes more when they are in good order. It’s much easier to relax without piles of unopened…

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 by Karen Williams-deCastro- Realtor®, C2EX, RSPS, GRI, SRS, ABR, SFR, AHWD

When it comes to listing their home, most home sellers want three things: 1) to make a lot of money, 2) to put in minimal time and effort, and 3) to sell quickly. But the reality is, selling a home is rarely that simple. And homeowners who try to do it themselves—or receive bad advice—can end up stuck (months later) with a property that hasn’t sold.

If that’s you, don’t panic! We’ve outlined the top five reasons a home doesn’t sell—and action steps you can take to overcome each of these issues.

Not sure why your property didn’t sell? If you’re not already working with an agent or your listing has expired or been withdrawn, give us a call! We’d be happy to offer a…

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 by Karen Williams-deCastro- Realtor®, C2EX, RSPS, GRI, SRS, ABR, SFR, AHWD
Over the past few years, many of us have spent extra time at home—and that means we appreciate the personal design touches that make a house cozy and comfortable more than ever. Some of us have adapted our dwellings in new ways, from creating functional home offices to upgrading the appliances we use most.

But while it’s important to make your home your own, it’s also smart to think about the long-term impact your renovations could have on its value. Choosing highly-personalized fixtures and finishes can make it harder for future homebuyers to envision themselves in the space. Even if you don’t plan to sell your home soon, investing in popular design choices that are likely…

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by Karen Williams-deCastro- Realtor®, C2EX, RSPS, GRI, SRS, ABR, SFR, AHWD

Last year, one factor drove the real estate market more than any other: rising mortgage rates.


In March 2022, the Federal Reserve began a series of interest rate hikes in an effort to pump the brakes on inflation.1 And while some market sectors have been slow to respond, the housing market has reacted accordingly.


Both demand and price appreciation have tapered, as the primary challenge for homebuyers has shifted from availability to affordability. And although this higher-mortgage rate environment has been a painful adjustment for many buyers and sellers, it should ultimately lead to a more stable and balanced real estate market.


So what can we expect in…

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 by Karen Williams-deCastro- Realtor®, C2EX, RSPS, GRI, SRS, ABR, SFR, AHWD

You don’t have to break the bank to celebrate the holidays in style—even in this season of inflation. Prices may be higher on everything from food to gifts to decorations, but there are still plenty of opportunities to eke out extra savings. 

For example, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you can save a couple of hundred dollars a year just by sealing your home and boosting its insulation.1 Other small fixes—such as swapping old light bulbs for LEDs and plugging electronics into a powerstrip—can boost your yearly savings enough to pay off some of your holiday budget.

And thanks to a pandemic-era boom in online shopping, it is easier than…

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 by Karen Williams-deCastro- Realtor®, C2EX, RSPS, GRI, SRS, ABR, SFR, AHWD

Over the past few years, a real estate buying frenzy bid up home prices to eye-popping amounts. However, as mortgage rates have risen, buyer demand has cooled.1 Consequently, home sellers who enter the market today may need to reset their expectations.

The reality is, it’s no longer enough to stick a “for sale” sign in the yard and wait for buyers to bang down the door. If you want to net the most money possible for your property in today’s market, you’ll need an effective game plan and a skilled team of professionals to implement it.

Fortunately, we’ve developed a listing strategy that combines our proven approach to preparation, pricing, and promotion—all designed…

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 by Karen Williams-deCastro- Realtor®, C2EX, RSPS, GRI, SRS, ABR, SFR, AHWD

Deciding whether to jump into the housing market or rent instead is rarely an easy decision – especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. But in today’s whirlwind market, you may find it particularly challenging to pinpoint the best time to start exploring homeownership. 

 A real estate boom during the pandemic pushed home prices to an all-time high.1 Add higher mortgage rates to the mix, and some would-be buyers are wondering if they should wait to see if prices or rates come down.

 But is renting a better alternative? Rents have also soared along with inflation – and are likely to continue climbing due to a persistent housing shortage.2 And while homebuyers can…

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 by Karen Williams-deCastro- Realtor®, C2EX, RSPS, GRI, SRS, ABR, SFR, AHWD



Mortgage rates have been on a roller coaster ride this year, rising and falling amid inflationary pressures and economic uncertainty. And even the experts are divided when it comes to predicting where rates are headed next.1


This climate has been unsettling for some homebuyers and sellers. However, with proper planning, you can work toward qualifying for the best mortgage rates available today – and open up the possibility of refinancing at a lower rate in the future.


How does a lower mortgage rate save you money? According to Trading Economics, the average new mortgage size in the United States is currently around $410,000.2 Let’s compare a 5.0% versus a…

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by Karen Williams-deCastro- Realtor®, C2EX, RSPS, GRI, SRS, ABR, SFR, AHWD

The process of buying a new home can be both exhilarating and exhausting. But the journey doesn’t stop when you close on your property. On the contrary, you still have quite a bit to do before you can begin the process of settling into your new place.


Fortunately, you don’t have to do everything in a day. You don’t have to do it all alone, either. When you work with us to sell or purchase a home, you’ll have an ally by your side long after your transaction has closed. We’ll continue to be a resource, offering advice and referrals whenever you need them on packing, hiring movers and contractors, and acclimating to your new home and neighborhood.


When it comes to a…

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