5 Easy Ways to Add Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is a big deal when you are selling your home because it’s the first impression buyers will see, and often times it can either make or break their impression of your home. Here are five easy ways to spruce up your curb appeal on a budget:


  • Add shutters

Shutters are an easy way to add character to your home without breaking the bank. Shutters provide that extra touch of character and help frame big windows by giving the eye something to focus on. When it comes to shutter options, wooden shutters give an extra homey-feel, but in humid climates, such as Florida, wood shutters will deteriorate over time. A nice alternative to wooden shutters are plastic shutters, which are ideal for humid climates because of their durability. Plastic shutters are also a little friendlier on the budget than wooden shutters and can be less maintenance.


  • How are your numbers?

When was the last time you looked at your house numbers? Chances are your house numbers have seen better days and are showing it. If your house numbers are rusted, faded, dirty or distressed, consider purchasing a new set from a hardware store. A good rule of thumb is to match the finish of your house numbers to the finish of your exterior lighting – avoid contrasting finishes and go for a unified look.


  • Flower Power

It’s no secret that planting flowers adds curb appeal, but before you go out and buy a dozen daisies, stand back and critically look at your home from the street. Better Homes and Gardens suggests resisting the urge to buy every plant that catches your eye and instead aiming for five to 10 perennials, one or two trees and three to five shrubs. This will give your yard a cohesive look and save you the trouble of trying coordinate several mini gardens throughout your yard.


Thoughtfully planned flowers add instant curb appeal to a home.

  • Go Solar

Not solar panels – solar lights. Solar lights can line a walkway or flowerbed, and add a touch of class to your front yard for little money and effort. Or, if you have a prominent tree in your front yard add a solar light or two to illuminate it at night, giving your yard the instant elegance of a 5-star resort.


  • Paint your front door

Your front door should make a statement about the home, but it should also be the unifying piece that ties the whole picture together. Just remember not to skip the primer, as tempting as it may be. Your front door is exposed to the elements constantly, so that primer is going to be necessary to keeping your paint job intact.


As always, if you are interested in living the Florida Life please contact Sarah Caudill with all of your questions regarding buying a home in New Smyrna Beach, Port Orange, Ponce Inlet and Daytona Beach.




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 Bankrate.com, 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 fortunebuilders.com 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 sarah@sarahcaudill.com.

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, sarahcaudill.com, 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 sarah@sarahcaudill.com.