Category Archives: Niceville

Choosing a Location for Your New Home


Making the decision to relocate is almost always difficult. You can be influenced to move by many factors. Do you want to upgrade, downgrade, change school districts, or find a better lifestyle? Moving can provide these changes for you, but can also be a hassle without the right guidance. We have some tips to help aid your search for the perfect home in just the right spot.


What kind of climate are you looking for? Do you want a large amount of land or just a small front yard? Decide what you’re looking for before diving into the search. The internet is an excellent tool to research various regions and what they have to offer. You may be surprised to learn what areas align with your perfect idea of a home location.

Contact a real estate professional to save time and become more informed. They will help with home availability in areas you wish to review while advising you of the selling prices of the homes.


If you have children, finding a home within an exceptional school district is probably one of your main concerns when relocating. There are several online resources for DIY research. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics offers helpful data and snapshot reports to help you compare districts. Use this and other free tools to stay informed.

There are also consultants who specialize in finding the best school for your child. If school district is one of your top priorities, consider hiring a consultant to help you navigate the maze of school choice.


Do you enjoy fine dining or walks in the park? Perhaps both? Figure out how you would like to spend your free time and find a location that caters to your needs. If you enjoy hiking or other outdoor activities, maybe the middle of a busy city isn’t the best place for you. If you like a wide variety of restaurant choices nearby, you may not enjoy living in a rural area. Consider your choices carefully, and make sure you fully appreciate the amenities of your new home’s location.


Most of us would enjoy a shorter commute versus a longer one. Figure out travel time to and from your place of business. Get to know the traffic patterns of your potential new location. What seems like a short drive in the middle of the day may actually be quite strenuous during rush hour. Do you use public transportation? Ensure that there are systems in place in your location of choice to get you where you need to go. If you have an electric vehicle, charging stations nearby could be a selling point for you. Travel frequently? A shorter drive to the airport could really help your trip time. Keep your needs in mind and make sure your commute is a sustainable one.


We all want to feel safe. Just like school districts, there are plenty of resources online to check safety statistics on your potential new neighborhood. These resources can prove invaluable, especially if you’re the type of person who likes being able to leave their door unlocked.


Make sure the value of homes in the area you are considering is going up, not down. Are there potential new developments occurring? What will the neighborhood look like in the future? Know approximately how long you plan to stay in that location and choose accordingly.

Consider these and other tips when choosing a location for your new home. You and your family are sure to find contentment if you know your needs and plan ahead.

Ask Bart Swan or any of my team members if you have any questions or concerns. While purchasing a home may be stressful, it is one of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences you will ever have.


FHA maximum mortgage limits to be reduced


FHA loans in Florida
FHA loans in Florida

Sometimes people think that FHA is an acronym that means first time homebuyer. The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loan isn’t just for first time homebuyers.  In fact, you can have multiple FHA loans.  It is required that you plan to reside in the home as your primary residence though.  It’s conceivable under certain conditions that you could rent your current home with an FHA loan already in place and relocate to another home and get another FHA loan, having two FHA loans at the same time.  “FHA” does not mean “first time homebuyer”.

The FHA, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), places limits on the mortgage amounts in various counties.  I guess HUD doesn’t want to be financing homes for the rich and famous buying their mega mansion.  They want to finance homes for the common folks like me! HUD changes their limits as prices fluctuate.  The limit is going down this time which seems bad, but it’s because homes are so much more affordable now, and that’s a good thing!

My primary area of business is Okaloosa County,Florida.  The limit in Okaloosa County is reducing from $312,500 to $271,050.  To check the loan limit in your area, click the HUD logo above.  It’s important to note that this change affects loans registered (not necessarily closed) with FHA on or after Oct 1, 2011.  So if you’re working out a purchase agreement in this price range that isn’t going to close for several weeks or months, that’s ok so long as your lender (me, of course) gets it registered with FHA before Oct 1.

How can I help you or your friends?

Rural Housing Loan Changes Are Upon Us!

Rural housing loans in Florida
Rural Housing loans in Florida

I hope you’ve got your Rural Housing loan ready to close by the end of September 2011.  The cost of financing a RH loan will go up for any loans approved by Rural Housing on or after the 1st of October.  It’s not a huge increase, but you may want to know about it.

The Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan is already similar to the FHA loan, but it offers financing at 0% down, whereas the FHA loan requires at least 3.5% down.  The FHA loan has an upfront fee that is rolled into the loan, and an annual fee spread across the 12 payments.  A Rural Housing loan has historically only had an upfront fee.  Beginning with approvals on or after Oct 1 the RH loans will have a reduced upfront fee but will be adding an annual fee.  The difference in payment for loans approved after October 1 will be about $17/month higher per one hundred thousand financed.

It’s interesting to note that the annual fee is calculated every year based on the average unpaid balance for that year.  In other words, the calculation is pretty complex, but makes a little bit more sense than the typical mortgage insurance model.  The new RH model only charges mortgage insurance (they call it “Annual Fee”) on the unpaid principal each year, so it reduces over time.  Typical mortgage insurance is a flat fee calculated upfront and doesn’t reduce regardless of how much you pay down your loan.  So while the RH fee is more complicated, it’s fairer, at least in my humble opinion.

Remember the RH loan has household income limits you can access here, and is only available in some areas.  To find eligible areas, click here.  My primary area of business is Okaloosa County, Florida.  The income limit in Okaloosa county is $102,500/year for a household of 5-8 and $77,650 for a household with 4 or less people.  If your household earns more money than the household limit (kids included), you can’t get a Rural Housing loan.

The Rural Housing loan is an excellent program if you and your property are eligible!

How can I help you or your friends?

A very happy new year indeed!

“You’re generally better off sticking with what you know” This time, I’ll agree with Donald Trump! 
In July while managing a branch for a locally owned mortgage lender the company I was working for was suddenly unable to fund mortgage loans.  Faced with a decision, I decided to pursue a career as a Realtor.  What was I thinking??  That is hard (and often thankless) work!  I never appreciated the effort a Realtor must put forth until I attempted the same.  Needless to say, I have a new respect for successful Realtors.
While is was a struggling Realtor, a management position became available with a large mortgage lender and I will happily return to mortgage lending beginning January 3rd.  My primary objective is to provide mortgage loans for people who want to purchase or refinance a home; but I will also be managing other Mortgage Loan Officers in Niceville and Destin, Florida.
Since late 2008 I have been publishing my own newsletter and maintaining a website with resources, links, tools, and a blog.  This is my first experience working for a large company with it’s associated compliance requirements.  In order to continue to provide timely information and resources without worrying about compliance I have decided to avoid any direct references to my employer on this website or in my newsletters moving forward.  
I encourage you to peruse this website viewing the tools, links, or former newsletters!  You may also call me using my phone number in the picture above.
I hope you too, have a very happy new year!

Mega Sale!

Thanksgiving is coming.  Were you aware of that?  Maybe you’re just thinking about the day after thanksgiving “Black Friday”?  I know some shopping maniacs really enjoy Black Friday, even planning their attack for weeks in advance.  In fact, everyone loves a great deal on something they want, and if they actually need the item, then the satisfaction of a great price is even sweeter!

For all but the real estate investor, a home is a need, not just a want.  And guess what?  It’s all on sale!  Home prices are at the lowest they have been in close to 10 years, and interest rates are about the lowest they’ve ever been.  If you’re thinking that you might wait until home prices fall further, you should know that the median home price YTD in Niceville has been about the same as it was in 2009.  That’s right, the median home price hasn’t gone down since 2008.  A recovery is indeed on the way.  In fact, some price ranges of homes are moving very quickly, with homes selling within a week of being put on the market!

From an affordability standpoint, homes haven’t been this affordable since the very early 1970’s.  If you aren’t familiar with the affordability index see my newsletter entitled When were homes cheap?? Posted in April 2009.

Maybe you don’t know whether it’s cheaper to buy or rent?  I can show you using real numbers you provide!  Just give me a call at 850-678-HOME or email me.

When did we stop being neighborly?

This past Friday night the Swan family did something “weird”.  We invited our entire neighborhood to our driveway for a “Block Party”!  I know there are people that would freak out to think about opening themselves up to their neighbors, but we took the “big risk”, and invited others to be our friends.  And guess what? It worked!

On Monday of last week we decided to do it.  On Tuesday after work my family and I walked the street and knocked on every door and handed out simple flyers to every house, no fancy graphics, no special paper, just the facts: 

Neighborhood Fall Block Party: Friday, Oct 8 beginning at 5:30pm

Please come join your neighbors to celebrate the pleasant weather!  You’re invited to a Fall Block Party.  Organizers are Bart and Wendy Swan and kids, (238 Karen).   

We’ll have hot dogs, chili, iced tea, and chips.  Bring anything else you want to eat or drink.  To help cover cost of food, bring 1 dollar per person.  Bring your own chair(s), and let’s have a good time getting to know each other better!  Please RSVP, to Bart and/or Wendy (and we gave our phone number)

The RSVP’s started coming in the next day and continued until Friday afternoon.  We had 40 people show up, and there were still at least 10 adults at 9:45!  The kids had a blast running through the yards, playing football, then playing with flashlights when it got dark.  Flashlight tag is always so much more fun when you have the entire neighborhood as your playground.  On Friday night several neighbors came up and said they had thought of doing something like this for years, and they thanked me for organizing it. The organizing was so easy!!!  You just need a little bit of initiative, and you’ve got a party! 

Since Friday night all of our neighbors wave and have a big smile on their face as they drive by.  Everyone is already looking forward to the next party we’ll have in April.

When I was growing up my Mom used to say, “Bart, you need to go up to people’s doors and say ‘Hi, I’m Bart Swan, will you be my friend?'”  Now, I still can’t see myself doing something like that, but I learned how to make a whole streetful of friends in one evening over hot dogs and brownies.   It made me wonder, when did it become the norm to be strangers in our own neighborhood? 

I encourage you all to try the neighborhood party on your street; even use the same invitation I put above.  If you pass out the flyers by Tuesday evening, you could have a whole driveway full of new friends by Friday night!  And neighbors who are also your friends?  Who could ask for anything better?

If you try this, please comment about your experience!