5 Things to Do to Make Your New House Feel Like Home

House in Sanibel FloridaMoving into a new house can be an exciting experience. Once you’ve made the initial move, it can feel like there’s so much to do that you don’t even know where to start. Here are some tips to help you navigate your move and make it as smooth as possible.

Get to know the area (and the neighbors)

During a stressful time like moving into your new home, it’s important that you take breaks. One thing you could do that takes advantage of the perfect fall weather is going for a stroll around your neighborhood. Get to know the streets, businesses, and neighbors - if you see someone outside, go up and introduce yourself. The Sanibel community is very welcoming and locals are always happy to help you adjust to island life. Once you’ve walked around and introduced yourself to the neighbors, you could also suggest a socially distanced house-warming party. 

Unpack personal items first

A lot of people start unpacking the living areas first, but getting your bedroom, closet, and bathroom set up is what really makes a home feel like yours. Who cares if you have two perfectly fluffed couch pillows if you have to dig through boxes to find your favorite blouse? Having a full and organized closet helps you start the day off on a good foot, leaving the rest of the day to unpack less important items (like those couch pillows). You should also have your bathroom set up with your toothbrush, toothpaste, and any other grooming products you use. This will help you start to get back into your routine and feel more relaxed in your home. 

Get the address change over with

Once you move, there are a lot of documents you need to change and people you should notify. Some of these include your driver’s license, bank, doctor’s office (change your pharmacy too, if necessary), and filling out a change of address form at the post office. Once all of this is done, the move will start to feel official. And getting your first piece of mail at your new house will really make it start to feel like home. 

Decorate - but not officially

Decorations are the first step to making a new home your own. Having some pieces that were present in your old house can be a good way to make your surroundings more familiar. You don’t, however, want to start decorating in the midst of unpacking, only to change your mind about decorations later. It can be useful to take out all your decorations and simply place them on the floor, leaning against the wall, or otherwise placed somewhere that is not permanent. This way you can get used to seeing all your decorations but not have to commit to placing them before the rest of your home is arranged. 

Use the kitchen

It can be tempting to order takeout every night during move-in, but cooking meals in your new kitchen is one of the best ways to settle in. Take a break from the organizing and unpacking and cook a dinner from scratch - the whole family can even help! Carve out some time where everyone is free to sit, talk, and eat a delicious home cooked meal in the dining room. 

If you're interested in buying or selling a home on Sanibel Island, contact Phaidra McDermott or start your home search here.


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    5 Questions for Your Real Estate Agent

    Finding the Right Agent - Questions to Ask Your AgentFinding the correct real estate agent is the first step in finding the perfect home for you. Your agent is someone who champions for you during the buying process, so it’s important to know the correct questions to ask them in order to make the best decision for you. Below are five questions you should ask your realtor that many may not think of. 

    1. Do you see any red flags with this home? Would you purchase this home?

    Agents will often see red flags with homes that buyers might not notice. Use this time to take advantage of their knowledge. Take it one step further and ask your agent if they would want to purchase the home for themselves. Take note of their answer and language. If they say no, ask further details as to why. 

    2. Do you have a recommended a home inspector, handyman, or real estate attorney?

    Remember that the agents are the experts. They will know other local service experts and should be able to recommend inspectors and attorneys to help keep the home buying process smooth and efficient. 

    3. How many homes do you help buyers purchase each year? How many homes total each year, do you help close?

    Knowing how much your agent has on their plate can be helpful in your home buying search. On average, an agent sells twelve homes per year. If the agent is well below that, ask them why. This could be a red flag. 

    4. How many buyers clients are you working with currently?

    In line with the above point, an agent working with too many clients could mean they don’t have enough time to devote to you. It could also mean that they are in high demand, so ask for references to see why so many people want to work with this particular agent.

    5. What are the closing costs?

    Closing costs are additional costs that come with purchasing a home that is not included in the price of the property. Those can include, attorney fees, lender costs, title fees, inspectors, and more. Asking ahead of time is a good way to get a handle on all of the costs needed upfront.

    Contact Phaidra McDermott today with any questions or start your home search here


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      Four Things to Consider When Buying an Island Home

      Home on Sanibel IslandSanibel and Captiva Islands are some of the most coveted places to live in Southern Florida. The unmatched natural beauty and tight knit communities of the area are what draw people in and keep them hooked. Once you visit these islands, you’ll never want to leave. And you don’t have to! But buying an island home takes special preparation - there are a lot of things to consider before making the transition, especially for those who have never experienced island living before. Here are some tips to prepare you for the island lifestyle:

      Old Fashioned Living

      With fewer than 10,000 people living on the island, Sanibel offers a small town charm that cannot be missed by tourists. Even today, the island has no traffic lights and no billboards. Biking is a preferred method of transportation here, made easy by the 22 miles of traffic-less bike trails that weave around the island. Sanibel is also unique in that it has a long-standing ban on a number of chain restaurants, which helps preserve local businesses. Sanibel and its residents prioritize the preservation of the island’s natural beauty, and you should be prepared to do the same if you’re thinking of moving here. 

      Local Isolation

      Isolation and local-centric communities are both things you can expect to encounter when transitioning to island living. While the word “isolation” has negative connotations, residents of Sanibel Island actually appreciate the distance from the bustle of the mainland. There is a toll bridge that connects the mainland to the island, and although even year long residents are subject to fees, locals insist that it is a small price to pay for a life in paradise. Local residents have formed a very tight-knit and friendly community - the prohibition of most chain restaurants have allowed the local businesses to flourish and provide for the community. In short, locals are content with what the island provides; many have said that there is hardly anything worth leaving for anyway. 

      “Island Time” 

      Living on Sanibel - or any island - you should expect a change of pace from regular urban (or even rural) life. Things tend to move much slower here. In fact, the speed limit never exceeds 35 mph on the whole island. Generally, people tend to be in less of a hurry. Things like honking your horn or letting out an exasperated sigh while standing in line may be frowned upon. The island is a place of relaxation, and locals strive to maintain the serenity and beauty of the island that keeps them in constant “vacation mode”. 

      Presence of Nature

      Over half of the area of Sanibel and Captiva Islands are reserved for nature preserves or wildlife refuges. Many islands have their own ecosystems, which may mean that you encounter creatures you are unfamiliar with. Doing some pre-move research on the wildlife of the area is definitely a good idea. While the incredible environment offers you never-ending opportunities for exploration, it also demands a certain respect for nature that has been adopted by locals. Residents here are committed to keeping the environmental community in which they live. This means supporting conservation efforts, making sustainable lifestyle changes, and taking advantage of the man-made environment that already exists without encroaching on the natural preserves. 

      Feeling ready for island living? Check out the currently available listings here or create a custom search.


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        Best Beachfront Restaurants on Sanibel

        Sanibel Florida Beachfront RestaurantsPart of the charm of the Sanibel and Captiva Islands is the ocean. Dining on the islands is one of our favorite activities. We’ve compiled a list of the best waterfront restaurants to enjoy a variety of cuisines from an incredible view.

        Thistle Lodge

        This historic beachfront restaurant features European, Asian, and Flordia style cuisine. The restaurant has a romantic atmosphere with a stunning view of the Gulf of Mexico.

        Traditions on the Beach

        Traditions on the Beach is a favorite of the locals and takes pride in using fresh, local ingredients to create Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Along with the amazing beachfront view, the restaurant features live music and dancing every night. 

        Sea Breeze Cafe

        Sea Breeze Cafe is within the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa. They serve a variety of sandwiches and salads, as well as signature entrees and fresh wild-caught seafood. You can enjoy your food inside or outside on a palm-lined patio overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

        The Mad Hatter

        The Mad Hatter offers American Cuisine that changes seasonally and is always prepared from scratch. This elegant restaurant is known for its beautiful sunset dinners as it overlooks the ocean.


        We hope you enjoy these suggestions. Contact Phaidra McDermott for all of your Sanibel Real Estate needs. 


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          Start Your Virtual Home Search on Sanibel Island

          Home Buyers OnlineWhile we are experiencing lots of changes and uncertainty happening all over the world, our needs to find a new home or sell a home still exists. Phaidra McDermott provides buyers and sellers with valuable resources and services. You can find the island home of your dreams in the Sanibel and Captiva area. 

          Find Your New Home Online

          Use these recommended searches to view current listings. Some of the most popular searches are below. Listings get updated daily!

          You may also like to create a custom search using this MLS tool. You can filter your search results to match the criteria for your ideal home. 

          Buyer & Seller Resources

          By working together, we’ll get through these uncertain times. If you have any questions about buying or selling, or if you’d like to learn more about our beautiful Florida islands, contact Phaidra McDermott today.

          Click to Browse Sanibel & Captiva Homes that Feature Virtual Tours


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            Sanibel Home Buyers Guide

            Buying in SanibelBuying a home is a big commitment. In addition to being one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make, it’s also one of the most complex. This is why it’s so important to find a real estate agent you’re comfortable with, and one who’s experienced and knowledgeable about the local real estate market. Here are some steps to make your buying process go as smooth as possible:

            Get Pre-Approved

            There are lots of reasons to get pre-approved with a bank or lender. Most importantly, this will give you accurate information on how much home you can afford. Having a pre-approval letter shows sellers that you’re a credible buyer who’s ready to take action. You’ll be able to act fast once you find the right home.

            Choose an Agent

            You’ll want to find an agent who can offer expert advice and help you make the best decision when buying a home. Look for an agent who is up to date on the current real estate trends in the local market and who will provide you with the highest level of service. The most important thing is for you to feel confident and comfortable working with your agent. 

            Start Your Search

            If you’re thinking about buying a home on the Sanibel & Captiva Islands, be sure to contact Phaidra McDermott. She grew up on these beautiful islands and knows the ins and outs of the local real estate market like no one else!


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              5 Romantic Restaurants on Sanibel & Captiva Islands

              Sanibel RestaurantsValentine's Day is the perfect day of the year to enjoy one of the amazing restaurants on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. The island has several places to enjoy the sunset and to listen or dance to live music. Below are a few of my favorites for you and your partner to enjoy a romantic holiday dinner. 


              Cielo, Sanibel Island:

              Enjoy a locally sourced seafood dinner at this award-winning, upscale restaurant. Cielo features live piano performances from 6:00 pm to close.


              Mad Hatter Restaurant, Sanibel Island:

              What's better than a romantic sunset dinner? The Mad Hatter features world-class dining with an ever-evolving, fresh menu, that changes with the seasons, and that perfect sunset view.


              Traditions On The Beach, Sanibel Island:

              Visit this award-winning restaurant, with views of the sunset from every angle in the dining room. Traditions On The Beach also has live music and dancing.


              Old Captiva House, Captiva Island:

              Enjoy this newly renovated steak and seafood restaurant. On Valentine's Day, you can enjoy their special menu or if you'd like, the traditional menu will also be available. Reservations are required so be sure to call or book online.


              Green Flash, Captiva Island:

              This waterfront restaurant is the perfect location for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner. The Green Flash serves local seafood, as well as offering vegetarian and vegan options. 


              If you are looking to buy or sell a home on Sanibel or Captiva, contact Phaidra McDermott today. She's happy to share her local knowledge and island real estate expertise with you.


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                Moving? 5 Things to Do Before You Pack

                Moving TipsAre you planning to move in the near future? Here are some things to do before you start filling up boxes so you can make your move easier. With some planning and forethought, you can eliminate a lot of stress. 

                1. Separate your items

                Make a clean sweep through every room, closet, drawer, shelf, and cabinet in your home. Start with the biggest items first and work your way down to the smaller stuff. Categorize your belongings by things to keep, things to donate, things to sell, and things to throw away. 

                2. Get rid of items you no longer need or want

                Many charities offer free pickups for things you are going to donate. Go ahead and schedule it so you can get these items out of your way. Have a yard sale for anything you want to sell, or post it online. For the larger junk items that won’t fit into your trash bin, contact a haul away service or dumpster rental company.

                3. Make a list of the items you’ll need right away

                Once you get to your new home, think about the things you’ll need immediately. These are the items you want the movers to put on the truck last, so they are the first things to unload. Think about any essentials and important items you’ll need to get to right away. 

                4. Designate a special area for items that won’t go with the movers

                You may want to move some items in your personal vehicle. These may be things like sentimental jewelry, small heirlooms, financial documents, and small electronics. Put any of these items in a small room or closet so they don’t get mixed up with the other boxes. It’s important to know that moving companies are prohibited from moving hazardous materials. Your moving company will provide you with a list of these items. 

                5. Make sure you have the right packing supplies

                Take a look around at everything you need to pack. What box sizes do you need and how many of each size? What kinds of materials do you need to pack breakable items? Make a list so you don’t forget anything. Be sure to include tape, scissors, markers, labels, etc. If you have everything you need before you start packing, you won’t have to make any extra trips to the store.

                If you need help buying or selling a home on the Sanibel & Captiva Islands, contact Phaidra McDermott today. 


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                  Home Buyer and Seller Trends in 2019

                  Sanibel & Captiva Florida RealtorIn November, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), released the home buyer and seller profiles report for 2019. Here are some key findings from this year’s survey.

                  Home Buyers

                  • 89% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent.
                  • 52% of buyers said that having an agent help them find the right home was what they wanted most when choosing an agent.
                  • 90% of buyers would use their agent again or recommend them.
                  • 87% of buyers said their agent was a very useful information source.
                  • The typical home search took 10 weeks.

                  Buying a home is a major financial decision that can give you peace of mind and a great place to live. A good real estate agent will help you find just the right home for you. They will be your advocate, advisor, and guide throughout the home buying process. 

                  Home Sellers

                  • 89% of sellers sold their home through a real estate agent.
                  • FSBOs sold for much less than homes sold with an agent. The median selling price for FSBO homes was $200,000 and the median selling price for agent-assisted homes was $280,000.
                  • The typical seller lived in the home for 10 years.

                  If you want to sell your home for the highest competitive price in the least amount of time, you’ll want to choose the right real estate agent. A good real estate agent will guide you through the home selling process with confidence and ease. 

                  If you are looking to buy or sell a home on Sanibel or Captiva, contact Phaidra McDermott today. She’s happy to share her local knowledge and island real estate expertise with you.


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                    Holiday Decorating Tips: Sanibel Style

                    Sanibel Florida BeachesGetting into the holiday spirit is lots of fun! Doing it Florida style is even more exciting because you can get so creative and really think outside the box. Who needs cold weather and snow to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest? Here are some holiday decorating ideas to get you started: 

                    Light Up Your Palm Trees

                    Turn your palm tree into a Christmas tree by adding lights and ornaments. You can also do this with your other tropical plants, inside and out. Use solid lights, multicolored lights, flashing lights, static lights, net lights, or all of the above, it’s up to you. Feeling lazy? Light snow projectors are easy to use and offer a variety of features like music, patterns, colors, and more.

                    Use Beach Inspired Decor

                    A beach and ocean theme is a great way to pull Florida and the holidays together. Experiment with different shells, crafts, sand dollars, and starfish ornaments. Wrap gifts in turquoise, blue, and vibrant beach colors. Make some holiday signs out of driftwood, a wreath with starfish and shells, mini seashell trees, and beach towel stockings. Hang clear ornaments filled with sand and seashells on the tree with a sandy tree skirt underneath. And don’t forget to bake some delicious sand dollar shaped sugar cookies.

                    You Don’t Need a Fireplace

                    Or a mantle for that matter. You can hang stockings almost anywhere! Hang them on the staircase, in the windows, on the doorknobs, and on the walls. As long as you can fill them up with goodies, you’ve found a good spot. A lighted floor stand is another great option to consider. Add some lights and sea life garland to the window frames and staircase railings. 

                    Add Faux Ice and Snow

                    Think about buying or making some fake snow. You’ll find some easy DIY recipes online. Sprinkle some snow on your outside trees and plants. Add some faux icicles and snowflakes to mix things up a bit.

                    If you’d like information about the Sanibel & Captiva real estate market, contact Phaidra McDermott today. She can help you find the right home on these beautiful Southwest Florida islands.


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