At Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate By Design we understand how challenging and complex selling your home can be. In this ever changing marketplace, we are here to assist you by providing you with the best marketing in the area, practical, strategic pricing and sound negotiating to facilitate your best deal. If you are serious about selling, we are serious about getting your property sold…Real Representation.
Welcome to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate By Design
Old Florida still exists. You just need to look a little off the beaten path. Centered in the Heart of the Florida, just a short drive away from the larger cities of both Tampa and Orlando, Polk County offers the charm and flavor of “Forgotten Florida”, encompassing the laid back lifestyle for which Florida is known, while being within arm’s reach of major tourist attractions, theme parks, and world-class beaches. Do you dream of living near a tranquil lake where you can wake up to stunning views and enjoy exhilarating water adventures anytime you want? Do you enjoy immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the great outdoors, surrounded by over 37 nature parks and over 25,000 acres of preserved land? Look no further.
In Winter Haven, Auburndale, Lake Wales, and the rest of Polk County, you have over 500 lakes to choose from. We're here to help you find the Polk County home that’s perfect for you!
At By Design Real Estate, we specialize in the East Polk County area and surrounding communities. Our company’s dynamic founders, Brad and Rhonda Martin, as well as the rest of our team, are certified local experts and are your best guides to everything Polk County real estate.
About Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate By Design
Founded in 2011, By Design Real Estate is not your average real estate brokerage.
We provide Real Representation! We will be by your side and work with you through every step of the home buying and selling process to make sure your real estate goals are fulfilled.
We are a one-stop-shop brokerage offering a complete range of real estate services, delivered one on one. Our esteemed agents will put you front and center of our priorities every single time. You’re not just our client for the moment. Our aim is to establish a relationship that will last long after closing!
Our marketing support services are second to none. We have 2 professional websites, plus access to important listing sites where we feature the homes we represent. We also offer personal property websites, aerial and drone image capturing capabilities, professional quality photography, YouTube video production, and 2 full pages of Homes and Land print ads monthly. We have recently procured a state-of-the-art Matterport camera, which allows us to shoot high-definition, 3D interactive home tours, harnessed with the power of virtual reality!
Need help taking care of your home? We provide comprehensive property management services as well.
Call us for your Polk County real estate needs, and discover the many opportunities waiting for you in this wonderful place we call home.
Winter Haven, FL real estate and homes for sale in Winter Haven, FL
Winter Haven is a place like no other. Previously known as the City of 100 Lakes, it offers a lifestyle that many dream about – serene and laid-back yet filled with economic opportunities and exciting adventures. As a “Main Street” town, Winter Haven is a wonderfully planned and maintained community that offers something for everyone.
Winter Haven boasts a wide range of properties – from starter homes to luxurious waterfront estates. Condominiums and townhouses are also available. You can find these homes in friendly residential streets lined with citrus trees, or in exclusive gated neighborhoods and scenic golf communities – everything just minutes away from the nearest lake.
Auburndale, FL real estate and homes for sale in Auburndale, FL
Auburndale is a picturesque community with a small-town vibe that belies its booming economy. Named a “Florida Main Street” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Auburndale features a charming mix of historical landmarks and newly developed shops, restaurants and entertainment hubs.
Auburndale’s location gives residents great access to the region’s major attractions and destinations, while exuding a remote, away-from-it-all vibe. Homes here reflect the city’s affluence and refinement. You will find beautiful gated estates, excellently preserved historical homes, and a number of townhomes and lakeside properties.
Lake Wales, FL real estate and homes for sale in Lake Wales, FL
With its central location in the Florida peninsula, Lake Wales offers a glimpse of what the state is all about. It is home to historical landmarks, beautiful gardens, a bustling downtown, and acres of stunning natural preserves.
Lake Wales real estate is as diverse as the city itself. It boasts historical homes and estates in classic architectural styles, charming single-family homes in quiet residential neighborhoods, beautiful lakeside properties, and modern townhomes and condos.
Please explore the site for more information and let us know how we can help you today.
“Brad and his company always responded. He was willing to advise, but never pressure either way. They were professional and a joy to have as an agent. The office had the knowledge to explain each step in the process and I would use them again.”
“Brad managed the sale of our home in a highly professional manner. Based on his advice, we established a sale price significantly higher than we had anticpated, and sold the house in 6 days at price very, very close to our asking price. Our details of the sale went smoothly and we closed with happy buyers and sellers. Brad is a pleasure to work with, he is a good man.”
Brad and his team worked overtime to make our complex purchase as smooth a transition as possible. They have a lot to offer and always do it with a smile. My family and I highly recommend Brad Martin!
“Brad was professional from our first meeting. His knowledge of the area, the market and the means to advertise the property effectively in today’s social media dominated marketing world was spot on. For anyone looking to sell or buy a home and focused on working with a true professional who makes your happiness and peace of mind his first priority; Brad and his family will take very good care of you. I would work with Brad again without hesitation. He understands this business, but realizes buying or selling a home is much more than just business, it’s personal.”
Rhonda has been representing me in Real Estate transactions for years. I have found her to be a top professional in property manners. Her efforts, timeliness, and exception level of attention to detail cannot be overstated. You will not regret working with Rhonda
“Brad (with ByDesignRealestate) came highly recommended by a family member. He was a breath of fresh air as my wife and I had just had a bad experience with another local realtor. Brad is very knowledgeable about the area and we noticed a lot of expertise in negotiating. He was always available and very reassuring through a stressful home-buying process. This was our first home purchase and we feel it was made very easy due to his vigilance and expertise. When we found our forever home, Brad could sense immediately that my wife and I were in agreement and had found our house. He had gotten to know our tastes and preferences over the house hunt search. He was a quick study. Without hesitation, we will certainly utilize his services again.”
“He (Brad) was like family and helped us find our dream home!”
“Short sale that was a long sale!
Brad had excellent communication skills, kept us informed and updated us as needed, excellent follow up and pleasant to deal with. Thank you Brad! Surprises the last 2 weeks of short sale, never been through short sale, I believe things got complicated due to bankruptcy, possible foreclosure, condo fees/interest, and attorney fees. Unexpected increases to contract price during the last two weeks prior to closing.”
“Rhonda and her staff have worked with me for several years on RE transactions. I have several rentals and BDRE has been important to me in finding qualified renters, and handling the execution of leases. I highly recommend them for their professional and carefully considered approach to the real estate business. BDRE is currently working to close a deal on a property which I have listed for sale. Prompt and complete communication has been the hallmark of this process. It is a pleasure to work with them.”
“It is with the highest level of comfort for me to promote the positive experiences I have had with Brad and Rhonda and the team at By Design. They have handled multiple transactions for me on both acquiring/repositioning/marketing and reselling properties since September of 2012, and I have more faith and confidence in their abilities and values than ever before. They will invest 100% in you and your goals. That’s a rare and valuable thing to appreciate in my book and I would never hesitate to be a reference for them to back-up any points or comments made here.”
Renovating your home not only upgrades the property. When done right, it also boosts the overall value of your home, especially when you decide to sell it. The following renovation projects will prove incredibly beneficial this year, based on Remodeling magazine's 2018 Cost vs. Value report. Garage door replacement Replacing your garage door not only improves your home's curb appeal. It also promises the highest return on investment. The whole job can set you back by ,470 on average (if you're thinking of installing a four-section garage door), you will also be able to recoup up to 98.3 percent of your cash. Manufactured stone veneer Another home upgrade that will significantly boost your property's curb appeal and aesthetic value is replacing your home's current siding with manufactured stone veneer. It comes at a hefty sum, with the average cost at about ,221 according to the report, but you will also be able to recoup 97.1 percent of your expenses come resale. Wood deck addition If your property has ample yard space, you might want to add a snazzy wood deck that measures at least 16-by-20 foot. The average cost of this project, including the railing system, balusters, and wood posts, is at around ,950. It is worth it, however, as this project will also allow you to recover almost 83 percent of your investment. Minor kitchen remodel If people have been telling you a kitchen renovation might be useful, they're correct. You don't even have to do a major upgrade, as a minor remodel (which includes new laminate countertops, better cabinetry, and new, energy-efficient appliances) can already improve your property value significantly. This project costs about ,198 (with the upgrades stated above) and will give you back 81.1 percent of the total cost. Siding replacement You don't need to invest in manufactured stone veneer to reap a sizable return on investment (and add to your home's resale value). Any siding replacement can easily do that for you. According to the 2018 Cost vs. Value report, replacing about 1,250 square feet
[caption id="attachment_848" align="aligncenter" width="583"] Bok Tower Gardens[/caption] Museums and other similar institutions offer visitors an experience seldom offered anywhere else. These places hold objects and materials that carry great cultural, religious, and historical significance, and it helps to visit them once in a while to remind ourselves of the incredible journey that we are on. If you’re interested in visiting these sites in Polk County, here are our top seven recommendations. Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College The Polk Museum of Art (PMOA) is considered one of the top 10 art museums in the entire state of Florida. It is also an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, that’s why it’s easily one of the best-curated art museums anywhere. If these credentials aren’t enough to convince you to visit, then how about this: entrance is absolutely free! PMOA hosts extensive permanent and rotating art collections while showcasing a meticulously planned schedule of exhibitions and art education programs, making it one of the perfect places to visit for art lovers living or vacationing in Polk County. Polk County History Center If you’re interested in knowing the story behind Polk County, then there’s no other place to be than Polk County History Center. The exhibits focus on the rich history and heritage of this Central Florida county through eleven permanent and four temporary family-friendly museum exhibits. The site also hosts tours and workshops for a little variety. There’s also a vast library onsite, perfect for local book lovers. Explorations V Children’s Museum For a more kid-centric good time, make sure to visit Downtown Lakeland’s Explorations V Children’s Museum, where the hands-on exhibits and programs are geared toward children up to twelve years of age. The ‘V’ in the museum’s name is actually the Roman numeral five and is meant to represent the five senses.As you can imagine, the exhibits are designed to develop a child’s sense of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Bok Tower Gardens Bok Tower Gardens is a serene garden and bird sanctuary that never ceases to amaze.
Many people buy a home specifically for their retirement. After all, who needs a two-story, five-bedroom home when the kids are all grown up and out of the house, and walking up and down the stairs has become a daily struggle? Needs change with age, and there’s no better change to make as you advance in age than to buy a new home that suits your current needs when you retire. If you are seriously considering to buy a retirement home, here are five factors to consider. Location Depending on your personal situation, you may want your home to be near family and friends, preferably with easy access to medical care. Or you may want to live in a place where the climate is agreeable all year round. A good location that complements your lifestyle will increase the enjoyment you get out of your retirement home for many years to come. Priorities You will have to make compromises on your purchase based on your priorities. For instance, if you want to move to a place that’s sunny and warm, you may have to live far away from people you care for. (On the other hand, the fact that you live someplace sunny and warm may make them want to visit you more often.) Know your priorities, and weigh your options carefully. Setting your priorities straight before buying can make a lot of tough decisions easier. Budget You need to consider the possibility that your financial standing when you retire may not be the same as where you are now. To avoid potentially damaging setbacks, set a post-retirement budget and stick to it as best you can. You’ll need to know how much you can actually afford to avoid becoming “house-rich” but “money-poor” when you retire. If you plan to take out a mortgage, make sure to include all your projected income and expenses, such as Social Security benefits, medical bills, etc. For your own security, get help from a financial planner. Senior-friendly features Don’t forget to make sure that the
[caption id="attachment_838" align="aligncenter" width="583"] Celebration, Florida[/caption] We all have that vacation place we call our “home away from home,” that serene sanctuary we escape to when things get hectic. Wouldn’t it be nice if you actually had a property that you can call your own in that special place? A vacation home can be a great investment – not just on a personal enjoyment level, but on a financial one as well. This is especially true if you invest in a home in premier master-planned communities like Celebration, Reunion, and ChampionsGate, all of which are close to the Walt Disney World Resort, the world’s most popular theme park. Here are the questions you will want to ask yourself to see if investing in a vacation home makes sense for you. Can you afford it? Buying a property has many financial implications that could impact your entire budget negatively if you’re not careful. In case you can no longer make payments, for example, you can’t expect to sell your vacation home and earn a profit or even break even from the sale, especially in the first few years of ownership. Create a budget, take the time to research every financial aspect (including tax implications), and be prepared for the expenses. Consult a certified public accountant or financial planner if you need more advice. Is it worth it? Let’s say you have the funds to buy a second home – how do you make sure it will be worth it? The location, ease of access, and purpose of your vacation home are critical components of your decision. Plot the travel logistics of your special retreat, and make sure it’s easy to get to. If it’s too far away, you might end up not using it as much as you first thought you would, which means you’re not really getting your money’s worth. Who will manage it when you’re not there? Homes require regular monitoring and maintenance, and vacation homes are no different. Do you plan to handle these responsibilities personally? If not,
[caption id="attachment_811" align="aligncenter" width="583"] Fictive application on the screen controlling modern home and mother with a child cooking in the kitchen[/caption] Thinking of a new home improvement project? Why not level up your home’s comfort and convenience with smart home upgrades? Built around today’s handy mobile devices and wireless connections, these appliances deliver the new standard of luxury for homeowners in the digital age. Make the smart switch Smart plugs and switches are the fastest and most affordable way to turn any home into a smart home. These allow you to monitor and control the use of your lights and electrical appliances through Wi-Fi-connected mobile phonesand tablets. Because these accessories fit right over regular power outlets and light switches, there’s no need for any major rewiring or renovation work. Just “plug and play” – you can continue using your current appliances and lighting fixtures while you save up for other smart tech upgrades. Enjoy optimal comfort with thermostats that “learn” your preferences Maintaining optimal room conditions across different areas in a large home used to be a challenge until smart thermostats came around. Going well beyond the basic functions of raising and lowering the temperature, these appliances enable remote access from anywhere inside the house. Even more exciting is their ability to “learn”– over time, a smart thermostat can automatically make adjustments based on your usage patterns. Centralized, smart thermostat-operated AC systems are a must-have for homes in balmy Florida neighborhoods. Not only will you stay cool and comfy throughout the year, you will also be able to save on your electric bills. Manage sunlight with automated shade control Automated window shades are another practical application of emerging smart tech for Florida luxury homes. In a place where the sun shines nearly all year round, you’ll appreciate having centralized control over window shades. A bonus benefit that automated shade control gives homeowners is the fact that it can be operated remotely. This allowsyouto save energy withinternal temperature control, take care of indoor plants’ sunlight needs, or even make the home
Feeling festive? Let holiday cheer to spill out beyond the four walls of yourhouse! Add these creative ideas to your decorating plans to keep the yuletide joy flowing. Go white or go bold Decide on a theme to unify the look and feel of your décor, both outside and inside the home. It’s hard to go wrong with a “White Christmas” theme. Try this: use a spray bottle to mist the corners of your windows with water, then blow talcum powder onto the windows. The result will be a nice, frosted effect that is not only cheap and non-toxic, but also easy to clean up at the end of the holiday season. “Frosted” fruits also add to the theme very well. Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on apples, grapes, and berries to create pleasant holiday-themed centerpieces for your outdoor tables (just be sure to clean up after). Alternatively, you can opt for bold colors to take advantage of Florida’s bright, sunny days. Holiday reds and golds will look even more festive under the abundant sunshine. If you live by thewater, use non-traditional shades of blue and green to complement the surrounding natural scenery. Your distinctive holiday theme will make your style the talk of the neighborhood. Opt for the rustic and minimalist style Setting up outdoor decorations is a great opportunity to embrace the timeless rustic holiday theme. This theme opens many doors for DIY projects, and with plenty of easy-to-find raw materials around your Florida home, it’s a cost-effective and engaging way to embrace the season’s festive spirit. Fashion wreaths and garlands out of dried leaves and bark. Craft star-shaped ornaments using twigs and colorful twine or ribbons. Use fern leaves to decorate candles or candle holders. Keep tabletops lively with fresh floral arrangements. Decorate your entrance Greet guests in style with a thoughtfully decorated entry way. The columns and railings of your front porch are perfect for hanging fresh garlands. Add fresh blooms and fruits to give the décor a sweet fragrance that will welcome everyone who steps through. Remember
[caption id="attachment_803" align="aligncenter" width="583"] Photo of elegant dining table preparing for holiday[/caption] Spruce up your Central Florida home with these fun and festive decorating ideas! Make things shimmer and glow with icy white and silver accents Dreaming of a white Christmas? Enjoy one in the heart of sunny Florida with these clever hacks. Make your home sparkle with silver wire ornaments, ribbons, and beads. Wrap these up – along with your string lights – around your tree and get creative by accentuating windows, doorways, and mantels. Placing silver and translucent accessories on your tabletops will complement this theme well. Pair these decorative highlights with white drapes and white or light-colored upholstery. Wow with your waterfront What Polk County, Florida may lack in snow-covered neighborhoods, it surely makes up for in breathtaking lakes! Showcase the best of your area by using great waterfront views from your home to frame your interiors. The lakes’ bluehues can inspire a distinct theme for your holiday décor – it will surely stand out from all the typical red-white-and-greens! A strategically placed Christmas tree by the window facing the lakes will create an exceptional image. The sight will impress guests coming from out of town, not to mention create a gorgeous backdrop for your holiday family photos. Breathe in the holiday spirit The holidays are more than a visual experience, so be sure to decorate for all senses! The right scents can go a long way in completing your home’s holiday vibe. Real Christmas trees are a great way to bring home an authentic ambience. But if a tree is too cumbersome and impractical for your living space, you can also choose scented candles or oils to create the right effect. Evergreen, cinnamon, and peppermint will fill your home with the best scents for the season. And speaking of cinnamon and peppermint, how ab out warming up that oven to bake some gingerbread cookies, snickerdoodles, and more holiday favorites? Use greenery and other abundant natural materials to create DIY décor Here’s a fun decorating idea that
Staging your home is one of the many ways you can entice prospective buyers to your property. More than just tidying the place, home staging allows people to imagine what it's like to live in the space. Here are five tips that will help you stage your home effectively. Take note of your target market. Dress up your property with your target demographic in mind. If your property is located in a family-friendly neighborhood, stage your home to appeal to that market. If your property is located in a trendy area with a high influx of young professionals, the best way to stage your property is to dress it up in a way that caters to that market. The same can be said if you're planning on selling your home to baby boomers looking to downsize or retire. Detach yourself from the property. Cutting emotional ties to the property should be done during the early stages of the home selling process. By detaching yourself, you'll be able to stage the home to appeal to other people, not to your personal preferences. It's important to de-personalize the property to allow interested buyers to imagine themselves in the home. Additionally, cutting ties to the property allows for an overall easier selling process. Remember that you're setting the property up for its next owner. Choose the appropriate furniture. Highlight and accentuate the property's best features or hide its flaws by choosing the right furniture. Remember that in home staging, you're showcasing the property's strengths and downplaying its weaknesses. Stay away from large furniture for smaller rooms. Leave enough space for interested buyers and their companions to weave in and out of the rooms. If the property has an open space floor plan, use this to your advantage and highlight how prospective buyers can easily dress up the space according to their preferences and lifestyles. Don't forget to make necessary repairs. Home staging is more than making the property aesthetically pleasing to buyers. Take time before the sale to take care of repairs and
Buying a home is a milestone, whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned home buyer. It can be a stressful process, but with ample preparation, you can expect a positive home buying experience. The following steps should help you prepare for your home purchase. Strengthen your credit score A good credit score is an important requirement in obtaining a loan. And as we all know, a loan finances your home purchase. Before you begin shopping for a home or even a mortgage, it's imperative to improve or strengthen your credit score, depending on its current situation. Aside from improving your chances of getting approved for a home loan, a good credit score can also mean lower monthly payments. Strive for a credit score of at least 700, which will be able to get you a good deal, according to BankRate.com. So, how do you improve or strengthen your credit score? There are several ways. You can do the following to get your credit score in shape before you shop for a home: Pay your bills on time - Never miss a payment and you'll be on the path towards a great credit score. Stay within your credit card limit - An even better option would be to maintain low balances and pay debts as soon as you're able. Before you apply for a mortgage, pay off your cards. Get mistakes on your credit report fixed - Carefully examine your credit report for any discrepancies. Should you find one (or more), don't hesitate to file a claim and get those inaccuracies fixed. Choose a lender A home is a long-term commitment, and so is a mortgage. Therefore it's important to find a mortgage lender that best fits your needs and financial capacity. Before you jump into the pool, it's best to acquaint yourself with the different types of lenders in the market. The most common include credit unions, mortgage bankers, correspondent lenders, and mutual savings banks. Survey the landscape to find a lender that fits your needs. Don't hesitate to ask
In selling your property, an important step you need to fulfill as a seller is to find a listing agent. Picking a great one comes with a number of perks, such as getting to sell your home for more money in a short span of time. Get the wrong one, and you'll be in for a stressful home selling process. The following questions will help you get to know prospective listing agents and pick the right one for your sale. "What are your credentials?" Experienced real estate agents with a bevy of accreditations, licenses, and additional training are not shy in stating their credentials. After all, these factors reflect their years and experience in selling homes. At the very least, the listing agent you pick should be a member of the local real estate trade association and/or the National Association of Realtors®. The former means the agent has access to the multiple listing service (MLS), while the latter indicates he or she follows a strict code of ethics and has received additional training. "Do you have a team of agents?" You can either work with one specific listing agent only or sell your home with an agent and his or her team. By asking this question, you'll be able to weigh each option carefully. On one hand, working with one agent allows you to have specific requests entertained. This might not be the case if you work with a bigger team. Consider your needs to determine whether you prefer working with a solo agent or a real estate team. "What are the neighborhoods you specialize in?" Hire a listing agent that understands the in and out of the neighborhood where your property is located. The location plays a big factor in selling a property to the point that it affects its value and listing price. You'll want a listing agent who knows the market and any current or future developments in the area. This way, he or she can determine the right time to sell your home and use the