Dogs Rule in New Smyrna Beach

With endless sunny days, miles of beaches and a laid-back culture, New Smyrna Beach lends itself to being a dog-friendly town. With a dog beach right on the ocean, multiple outdoor restaurants that are dog friendly, and numerous biking and walking paths, it’s not uncommon to see dogs out and about in New Smyrna. This week we are featuring a local business that has been keeping the dogs and cats of New Smyrna happy since 2007.

Silly Willies is a local pet boutique featuring unique dog and cat toys, pet food, treats, and much more. Since opening their doors in 2007, Silly Willies has seen a lot of change, said owner Vicki.


“When we first got here this street was a ghost town,” said Vicki, referring to the store’s Flagler avenue location.

Today, Flagler Avenue is the dynamic pulse of the town, filled with people and bursting with quaint stores and restaurants, showing the growth New Smyrna has experienced just over the past nine years.

Vicki understands why New Smyrna has seen such rapid growth.

“We have one of the prettiest beaches around. I’ve gone to other beaches and I always come back here. And there are always things to do; you should never be bored in this town. There are tons of really good restaurants and really nice shops,” said Vicki.

Shops just like Silly Willies, which Vicki said strives to provide locals and tourists with unique high-quality products that you can’t find just anywhere. That means everything from beach-themed collars with sharks and fish on them to fish-shaped indestructible toys for every sized dog.

“We are always searching for high quality products and a reasonable price. I think there’s a balance and we try to find that,” said Vicki.

Vicki also believes in employing other local businesses in the area and has several products from local Florida vendors. Vicki owns and manages a local treat factory called Kennel Master Foods, which employs about 15 people and supplies the shop with their famous chicken dog treats.


Vicki believes it is important to support other locals and to shop locally in order to preserve the unique culture and character of New Smyrna.

“We hear people all the time saying that they were in Daytona and then they found this and decided to stay here because it’s much quieter, just quainter and cozy” said Vicki.

Even though New Smyrna Beach isn’t Florida’s best kept secret anymore and is the vacation spot for thousands of tourists a year, local businesses like Silly Willies help New Smyrna Beach keep its unique charm and character.

Next time you are on Flagler Avenue, stop by Silly Willies with your dog and let your dog try one of their famous chicken treats- just know you might have to leave with a bag of treats!

As always, if you are looking to make New Smyrna Beach home, please contact us to help you find your dream home.


Happy shopping!



Buying a Home in a Seller’s Market

What can you do to be a competitive homebuyer in a seller’s market? Can a financing offer beat a cash deal? In the video below we answer these questions and give you steps to take before searching for your dream home in a competitive market.


As always, if you are looking to make New Smyrna Beach, Port Orange, Edgewater, Ponce Inlet or Daytona Beach home please contact me to help you make your dream a reality.


Construction Loans: What You Need to Know

What happens when you hear the words “construction loan?” Do you feel your chest tightening while visions of endless paperwork come to mind? Construction loans can be an intimidating process when you are looking to purchase a brand new home, but it’s an important process to thoroughly understand before diving in. This week we sat down with Pete Klironomos, President and CEO of Friends Bank here in New Smyrna Beach to talk about what you need to know when it comes to construction loans.

Simply put, a construction loan start off like a line of credit, said Pete.

“You’re just being charged interest throughout the construction phase on what you use on a daily basis, and that’s how the interest is assessed,” he said.

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Unlike a traditional mortgage loan, new construction loans are dispersed in increments that coincide with the stages of construction. However, before the money is dispersed the lender must verify the job’s progress.

For Pete, verifying progress on construction is one of the things he enjoys doing for his clients.

“I go and do all of the inspections myself,” said Pete. That means if a builder calls Friday morning at 9 a.m. asking for the lender to come verify the progress, Pete goes out to the construction site at lunchtime and then comes back to the office and gets them the money that same day.

“Normally that process takes a week at a bigger bank,” said Pete, which is part of what makes Friends Bank in New Smyrna Beach so unique.

“We watch over them, we keep an eye on them and let our them (the customer) know what’s going on,” said Pete.

Even though Pete and his team will take care of you during the construction process, Pete always advises clients to spend some time doing research on their builder before committing to a construction loan.

“The biggest thing I would say is to do your research on the builder. What kind of references do they have, how they pay their bills- that’s all very important. How do they pay their subs? If they pay their subs well, what kind of work do the subs do? They will do good work and they will always show up,” said Pete.

Even if you find the best builder, you should still plan on a few unexpected delays in the constructuion process. Rain delays or storm delays are common, so go in to the construction process knowing that minor delays are almost always inevitable.

Once you do get past the construction process and the day comes for the last coat of paint to be applied and the certificate of occupancy to be issued, the loan will typically converted in to a traditional mortgage, according to, with the borrower ideally only paying for one closing called construction- to-permanent financing.

No matter what type of loan you are looking to get, be sure to always do your research on your builder and bank before beginning any process. As always, if you are looking to make New Smyrna Beach your home please contact us and we will help you make your Florida life a reality!


Happy house hunting!




The Family Legacy of Bikini Co.

While walking down historic Canal Street in New Smyrna, you will see dozens of unique boutiques, locally owned restaurants and quaint antique stores, but what you won’t see are the familiar bright logos of national chain stores lining the street. Local businesses are the heartbeat of New Smyrna and are part of what makes this community so charming and keeps New Smyrna thriving. This week, in true beach town fashion, we are featuring a local Canal Street boutique, Bikini Co., which specializes in beachwear and bikinis.

As soon as you step inside Bikini Co., you will find rows filled with every style of bikini in every print you could imagine, dozens of sandals and beach attire, but will also find Reef. Even at his young age, Reef seems to have a solid understanding of his job to greet customers without making them feel bombarded. Of course, with his silky coat, big brown eyes and wagging tail, the golden retriever is quick to win over customers. Reef routinely serves as a distraction for kids, and even husbands, while women scour the store for a bikini.

Reef’s owner is Clay, who is carrying on his family’s legacy by opening the Canal street store.

“My grandparents started their shop (Bikini Co.) in Ormond in 1983,” said Clay. “A lot of people from New Smyrna go to Daytona Shore to get their swimsuits so we decided to open this one,” said Clay, explaining why he decided to open the New Smyrna location after college.

With sizes ranging from infant swimsuits up to the largest of sizes and in dozens of styles, Clay hopes that Bikini Co offers something for everyone.

“I just want everyone to be happy and to know they can come here and find a suit” said Clay.

In fact, making customers happy is Clay’s mission for Bikini Co.

“My Mom and my Grandma have been running the other stores for years and I feel like the reason they’ve done so well is because my Mom is the sweetest person ever. She will go out of her way to help you” said Clay. “I just want everyone to be happy and I think that’s the key.”

Bikini Co. opened its Canal street doors just two months ago, and so far, Clay and his co-worker, Vanille, are feeling right at home.

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Bikini Co. on Canal Street

“As soon as we moved in the other business owners brought us plants- they are all so sweet,” said Clay about the community aspect of Canal Street.

For Clay and Vanille, living and working in New Smyrna Beach is the best of both worlds.

“Everywhere I go there is live music, there aren’t a lot of big stores; I can get pretty much get anything I need by walking or riding my bike- there’s even a Farmer’s Market I walk to” said Clay about living in New Smyrna.

“It just feels like everyone is on New Smyrna Beach time, everyone here is less stressed” said Vanielle, who attends the University of Florida but is home for the summer.

For Vanielle, living in New Smyrna means constantly finding new places to explore and new activities to try.

“I recently tried paddle board fishing” said Vanille. “You can just dock your paddle board and fish. It’s different but a lot of fun.”

Next time you are on Canal Street take a moment to stop by and say hi to Reef, Clay and Vanille. If you are looking to purchase property and make New Smyrna your home, please contact us to help you make your Florida life a reality!

Happy shopping!


Why is Real Estate a Good Investment?


What makes real estate “the best investment on Earth” according to Louis Glickman? There are dozens of ways to invest, from the stock market to bonds and mutual fund, even gold. While everyone’s investment situation is unique, real estate is one investment that has stood the test of time and is what many agree to be a wise investment for your money. Here are just a few reasons why real estate is such a smart investment.


  • Consistency is key

A smart real estate purchase provides consistent, steady growth and increases in value over time. According to Investopedia, real estate provided an average return of 8.6% from 1978-2004. Not only that, you can do things to increase your return by adding value to your property. Buy an empty lot and build a beautiful home or renovate a run-down home on a great piece of land and watch your money multiply. There are so many ways to increase the value of your property; it’s just up to you. Like points out, your own actions generally control your net earnings in real estate. The same can’t be said about the stock market.


  • Tangible vs. Intangible

With real estate you have a certain amount of control over your investment. You can physically go to the property, see the house and pick up the dirt in your own two hands. With other investments, such as the stock market, you never see anything tangible, nor do you have very much control over it. If your stock is doing poorly, what can you do? Nothing, except cross your fingers and hope it rebounds. With real estate you not only have the tangible asset right there in front of you, you have control over it. If your property isn’t selling you can put some money in to it, finally install those granite countertops buyers are asking for, and put it back on the market. If dealing with tenants is eating up too much of your time, you can find a reputable property manager to handle tenants and any issues that arise, sparing your valuable time. Real estate allows you to be in the driver’s seat, unlike many other investments where you are a passive observer.

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  • Make your money work for you

The saying goes that landlords make money in their sleep. It’s not just a nice thought, its true! While there are expenses when it comes to owning and renting out a property, when done right the rewards can far outweigh the negatives. Just look at the tax benefits. According to Turbo Tax, if you rent out your second home for 14 days or less over one year, your rental income is tax-free! That’s money right in your pocket just for giving up two weeks or less at your second home. And there are no limits. If you rent out your Daytona Beach condo during the Daytona 500 and make triple what a normal week would bring it, you still get to keep all that money, tax-free. Not to mention you get to enjoy your beach condo the rest of the year!


While everyone should do their own research before jumping into any investment, real estate is a clearly an option that shouldn’t be overlooked. If I can assist you with finding a Florida investment property or vacation home, please contact me at

Neighborhood Spotlight: Venetian Bay

Located just 8 miles from the heart of New Smyrna, you will find a majestic fountain paired with grand arches marking the entrance to Venetian Bay, one of the premier neighborhood communities of New Smyrna Beach. Venetian Bay offers miles of charming homes and townhouses, a quaint town center and amenities that make Florida life so attractive. This week we are taking a closer look at Venetian Bay, and why it could be a good fit for you and your family.


1) What does home look like to you?

When you think about your ideal neighborhood, what comes to mind? Do miles of biking trails, lush landscaping, charming homes, golf courses and pools sound about right? Venetian Bay offers all of these amenities and more, making it an inviting place to call home.

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Venetian Bay Town Center

The town center of Venetian Bay provides a fitness center, Venetian Bay Methodist Church and local restaurants for residents to enjoy without leaving the neighborhood. When residents do feel like venturing out, one of the best beaches in Florida is waiting just a couple of miles away, complete with dolphin sightings and some of the best waves and wide sandy beaches around.

If school zones are a big factor in your decision, Venetian Bay is zoned for Chisholm Elementary, Samsula Academy, Sacred Heart School, New Smyrna Middle School, New Smyrna High School and St. Barnabas Episcopal Private School. In addition, Volusia County has plans to build a new elementary school in Venetian Bay on 20 acres recently purchased.


2) Dust off those golf clubs

Venetian Bay’s golf course is the stuff legends are made of. The 18-hole Championship  course was designed by Clifton, Ezell and Clifton and is specifically designed to accommodate the newest of golfers to the pro golfers looking for a challenge. Venetian Bay Golf Club also offers golf lessons for those looking to develop their talents or golfers looking to refine their technique. After a long day of golf, be sure to stop by Champions Grill and enjoy one of their classic burgers followed by a slice of traditional key lime pie.


3) Completed communities

Venetian Bay offers 6 completed communities, all slightly different enough to satisfy an array of preferences. Parkside Townhomes offer the luxury of maintence-free living with exterior, landscape and irrigation maintenance provided and its own community pool and recreation area.

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Parkside pool

Marisol and Maribella feature 3 and 4 bedroom estate style homes, perfect for growing families. Tuscany Reserve homes give residents extra peace of mind as every home, built by The Johnson Group, has a safe room included designed to meet, or exceed, FEMA requirements.

Tuscany Reserve homes feature lakefront and preserve locations, while offering the security of a gated entrance. St. Regis offers French country design with slate tile roofs while Venetian Villas feature one and two-story floor plans. Tuscany Square condominiums are located in the town center of Venetian Bay and exude a Mediterranean atmosphere, complete with fountains and barrel tile roofs.


4) New homes

Venetian Bay is home to 8 new communities, so if a brand new home is on your wish list, look no further. Portofino Club Homes range from 1,800 to 2,400 sq ft and feature amenities such as solid wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances and granites counter tops. Portofino Reserve homes offer stunning golf course views and top of the line amenities, such as paver driveways, to match.

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Portofino Reserve model home

Portofino Estates homes boast above code construction with a 10-year structural warranty in a gated community complete with water and golf course views. Lakes and preserves surround Arbor Lakes, making it a tranquil escape but still within walking distance to the town center. Savannah Pointe offers one and two-story homes from 1,500 to 3,000 sq ft located with preserve and waterfront views.

Savannah Pointe includes the luxury of maintenance-free living and walking distance to the town center. Lakes of Verano homes include 2-3 bedroom floor plans, with many energy smart features, gourmet kitchens and a two-year warranty of Holiday Builders Coverage. The Estates at Verano is a 191 lot community featuring quaint cottage homes and coach homes with 7 models to choose from. Savona North and South is a community of KB homes close enough to walk to the town center and in the mid 200’s.


Please visit my website,, to view homes currently available in Venetian Bay. If I can answer any question you have about Venetian Bay or other neighborhoods don’t hesitate to contact me at


How to Pick the Right Real Estate Agent

Scott and Sue decided to move to the tropical warmth of the Florida coast after years of living in Massachusetts. They decided to purchase a home before making the move, so they knew they had to find just the right real estate agent to help them with the process. After a few failed meetings with different agents, Scott and Sue contacted Sarah and Tim Caudill, a husband and wife real estate team in New Smyrna Beach, FL. Sarah and Tim helped them secure their dream home and today Scott and Sue are happily settled and living the Florida life in their dream home. Here are some of Scott and Sue’s top tips for picking a real estate agent!

  • Finding the right agent doesn’t just happen.

There are hundreds of real estate agents vying for your business, so how do you pick one? Scott and Sue thoroughly researched agents and read dozens of reviews on Zillow to find the agent that best fit them. While reading reviews, don’t just skim the page and tally up how many stars they have- really read through each review to get a good idea of what that agent is like to work with. Do they have multiple reviews highlighting how responsive and available they were? Finding an agent who is readily available and responds quickly is imperative in a home search.

“We called some agents and they wouldn’t even return our call,” Scott explained. One of the things that made Tim and Sarah stand out was their responsiveness, said Scott.

While looking at an agent’s Zillow reviews and profile, don’t be mesmerized by dozens of listings. Do you want to hire an agent who has 30 listings and multiple buyers all vying for their time and attention? Pick an agent with listings, but not so many listings that you will get lost in the crowd.

Finish your research by calling them up try to get to know them. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions, especially about their knowledge of the area or if they have sold many homes like the one you are looking for.

Finally, after talking with an agent but before declaring that you have found the one, check their license. Real estate agents must participate in continuing education in order to keep their license current and active. Check out your local Department of Business and Professional Regulation website and search under real estate licensees. Make sure their license says current and active. If their license is current and inactive or null and void, slowly step away!

Pro tip: Residents of Florida can download the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s app to look up licensees. Search DBPR Florida in the app store and download it to keep it at your fingertips!

  •  You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

Negotiating one of the largest investments you probably ever make isn’t for the faint of heart and shouldn’t be left to an amateur. A good agent has hundreds of negotiations under their belt and understands the best approach to take. Talk to your potential agent and ask them how they handle negotiations. Getting an agent skilled in negotiations can often mean the difference between purchasing the home of your dreams or watching the deal fall apart.

In addition to negotiation, a good agent will be your ally and help you navigate through the sea of paperwork that will be waiting for you once your offer is accepted. Questions will undoubtedly arise, so make sure you find a agent who is skilled in follow-up and thorough communication.

“Tim and Sarah always had the answers or got back to us right away about the paperwork,” said Scott. They really knew how to handle the paperwork and that just made the process easy, said Sue.

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  • It’s not just about the money.

Are you a client or a commission? An agent who loves their job will stand out- their energy, enthusiasm, dedication and integrity will make it crystal clear that it is not just about a commission for them. Additionally, a good agent will be honest with you and tell you the truth- even when you don’t want to hear it or when it could cost them a sale. The right agent will never push you to make an offer on a home you aren’t sure about or push you too far out of your budget.

“Tim and Sarah never pressured us to buy. You could tell that a sale didn’t matter to them- they just wanted to make sure we were happy. We even went to a few houses and they would say no, this isn’t a good deal for you and we wouldn’t even go in.,” said Scott, who appreciated their honesty.

There is a lot to consider when picking an agent. Follow these tips and don’t let the process intimidate you- the right agent will be with you every step of the way!

Happy house hunting!