Real Estate Information Archive


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Highlands County Market Share Report

by Maureen Cool

The Highlands County Closed Real Estate Transaction Report for Avon Park, Sebring and Lake Placid, Florida for January 1, 2018 through September 30, 2018

If you are interested in how I can help you with your real estate needs,
please call 863-873-7243 or email me.

I am always happy to answer any questions.

Loop the Lake for Literacy at Okeechobee

by Maureen Cool

On Saturday, April 2nd, Loop the Lake for Literacy is a cycling event benefiting the programs of the Literacy Coalition.This amazing program ensures that adults, children, youth and families gain the literacy skills necessary to succeed in life.

In this fun filled event, cyclists will ride 25, 50, 100 or 200 kilometer routes around the southern shores of Lake Okeechobee to raise funds and awareness for the Coalition and its mission.

For more information about promoting literacy at Okeechobee call 305-385-4010 or email



Debt To Income Ratio Explained

by Maureen Cool

As you are preparing to purchase a Highlands County home, your lender is going to look at what is called a debt-to-income ratio.  This is a factor that could make or break your home loan approval. Here are a few reasons why it is important to you and how it effects your financing.

Debt-to-income ratio is the comparison of the money you earn to the money you owe.  The debt included is credit card debt, existing mortgages, auto loans and any other personal debt.

Your mortgage lender will look at your Debt-To-Income (DTI) to evaluate your ability to afford your new mortgage. It is a good idea to know what your DTI ratio is before you approach a lender or consider buying a new home.

You ultimately want to achieve a low DTI ratio. A high number means that you have less disposable income and less ability to maintain the home once you purchase it. With foreclosures at an all time high, lenders are not willing to assume any additional risk in lending.

Most lenders seek DTI ratios in the 20-36% range or lower, with no more than 28% of debt dedicated to the mortgage itself. While some lenders will consider higher ratios, DTIs in the upper 30% range are considered high risk.

There are several different calculators available online to help you determine your ratio, and you can always check with your financial institution for guidance on determining your DTI ratio.

Here’s a simple formula:

  • Add all your monthly payments (mortgage or rent, car, credit cards, any other debt payments)
  • Add your gross income (before taxes), bonuses, alimony, or any other outside income and divide by 12
  • Then divide the total number in (1) by the final number in (2)

The result is your DTI ratio. In this difficult economy lenders are tightening lending requirements so learning your DTI is important whether you are purchasing a home or just want to keep up on your financial health. When you know what your numbers are you can learn what to do to get the ratio lower and get closer to becoming debt free.



Inexpensive Fixes To Help Your Home Sell

by Maureen Cool

In a buyers market you want to do everything you can to get your home sold quickly and for top dollar.  The good news is that you don't need to spend thousands of dollars on renovations and improvements to get your home noticed. There are several things you can do on a budget to help your home sell faster.

The first step is to clear out excess clutter. If you have already planned to sell your home, start making some necessary preparations. Start by removing all knick knacks and large decorative fixtures. You want the potential home buyer to see the potential in your home not your decorative collections. Excess clutter can make your home feel smaller as well as make buyers feel uncomfortable and you want them to picture themselves living in your home.

Eliminate odors! The smell of animals, musty smells or even strong cleaning agents will leave a bad impression on buyers. You want the home to be clean but not smell like cleaning chemicals or even strong air fresheners. Do a throughout cleaning and burn a simple candle like vanilla to give the home a comfy and clean aromatic environment.

Some studies have shown that most of the buyers look for homes that are ready to move in. Make sure to fix all the damaged areas of the house from both small and large problems. Even a broken door handle can leave buyers wondering if there are more issues that may be lurking. Touch up all old and peeling paint, fix all leaky faucets and have the carpets cleaned. Small touches can make a big difference.

While selling your home, it is important that every room must be able to display what is expected of it. For example, your dining room should be shown as a dining room, so it should contain some dining tables and a few chairs. If you have been using it for a make shift office or storage it can turn off buyers. 


New Years 2010 Events

by Maureen Cool

The countdown to the New Year has started and the Highlands County area has many fun events to ring in the new year! Plan your evening now and have a safe and fun New Year's Eve!

New Year's Eve Biker Gala
Thursday, Dec 31 3:00p 
Quality Inn & Suites Conference Center, Sebring, FL 

 This event features the Sebring Biker Scavenger Hunt & S'mores, a gourmet buffet, open bar, live entertainment, a midnight champagne toast, party favors and more. Enjoy a tiki bar under the stars. Packages start at $179.99 +tax. Price includes gala and room. Add an extra night for $59.99 (Jan 1-3)

New Years Eve Murder Mystery
Thursday, Dec 31 7:30pm
at Ramon Theater, 15 E. Wall St., Frostproof, FL 33843

Enjoy a unique event for New Years with a murder mystery! Cost is $25 includes food and mystery show.

New Years Eve Racing 
Thursday, Dec 31 7:00p
Auburndale Speedway, Winter Haven, FL  

Racing starts at 7:00 p.m. The New Year's Eve party starts after the races. 2.00 beers all night, music and prizes and free overnight camping.

New Year's Eve with Thomas Wynn & The Believers
Thursday, Dec 31 9:00p to Friday, Jan 1 (2010) 12:30a
at Music Ranch, Lakeland, FL

The community is invited to New Year's Eve at the Music ranch with Thomas Wynn & The Believers Band starting at 9 p.m. Dec. 31 at 1920 Banana Road in Lakeland. Doors open at 8 p.m. B.Y.O.B. and barbecue sandwiches will be for sale. Also, overnight camping is permitted. Call (863) 815-2293.

Do You Need Title Insurance?

by Maureen Cool

Many homebuyers will ask me what exactly is title insurance and do they really need it? When you buy a home you are given a title. The title is the owner's right to possess and use the property. It is important to know that it may not the home seller who owns the title. A bank with a mortgage on the property might own an interest in the property, as does someone who has done work on the house and filed a lien against it or even a homeowners association if the dues have not been paid. The government may also have liens against the property for unpaid taxes.

When you purchase your home, how can you be sure that there are no problems with the home's title and that the seller really owns the property? Problems with the title can limit your use and enjoyment of the property, as well as bring financial loss. That is what a title search and title insurance are for.

A title search will reveal if someone other than the owner of the property owns the title. This search can be done by examining public records to look up the history of property ownership. While you can easily do your own title search, if you are obtaining a loan to purchase the property, the lender will require that a qualified third party do the title search. The title search shows not only limitations on the use of the property and rights others may have in the property, but also liens or monetary obligations that are outstanding against the property. 

Title insurance is different than the standard insurance where you are covered in case of a future event. For example, if you get car insurance you are insured in case you have an accident, you buy health insurance in case you get sick.  Title insurance is different as it covers events relating to the title that have already happened. It does not cover anything that happens to the title after the date of issuance. For example if you have liens filed against the property for taxes that you have not paid, your title insurance policy is not going to help you. But, if the lien is for taxes not paid by someone who owned the house before you, then you may have coverage under your title policy.

A title company will do a title search on the property before issuing the policy to see if there are any problems with the title. This search is done in an effort to minimize the risks of offering insurance.  Problems such as deeds, wills, outstanding mortgages, judgements, and tax liens can be located from the search and can typically be cleared up before the closing on the property. When these problems are not cleared they will often be listed as exceptions to the policy's coverage. You would then need to decide whether the property is still something you want to purchase given the known problems with the title.


Should You Sell Your Home During The Holidays?

by Maureen Cool

Sellers are sometimes reluctant to put their home on the market during the holiday season, many may feel that it is not a good time to sell their home and think that buyers are not interested until the New Year.  In reality, the holiday season may be a busy and exciting one but it is a great time to sell your home! Selling your home during the holiday season affords you many advantages such as the amazing staging options you have at this time of the year. During the holidays you have a chance to show your home at its very best.  You can use all the holiday decorations to stage your home with all that the season has to offer. Below are some tips to help you sell your home during the holidays!

  • The visual aspects of a home during the holiday season can make a buyer feel that your home is cozy and welcoming. Twinkling lights and greenery bring out the charm in a home. Keep in mind that aside from decorations it is important to remember the basics, if you live in a snowy area, make sure walkways are cleared and any trace of ice is cleared. Remember to trim all trees and keep landscaping in order and a perhaps hang a festive wreath on your door.
  • Brighten and warm it up. When showing your home be sure to turn on all lights so your home will look bright, cheery and welcoming. If the weather is cold, turn up the temp a couple of degrees. Don't overdo it, you want it warm and cozy not hot.
  • Market to motivated buyers. The holidays are a hectic time so anyone house hunting during the holidays must have a good reason for doing so. By targeting buyers who are perhaps are in need of housing quickly due to relocation, buyers wanting to purchase before the new year or even military personnel, if you live near a military base.
  • Make your home welcoming. Make your home feel cozy and inviting during showings by lighting a fire, playing soft holiday music and offering homemade holiday treats. If buyers feel welcome they are more likely to spend more time admiring the home.

A good rule of thumb is to keep decorations on the conservative side. Not all home shoppers may celebrate the holidays in same way you do and you don't want to overwhelm. You want potential buyers to notice your home not necessarily your decorations.


Avoiding Toxins In Your Home

by Maureen Cool

When you think of toxins you might think of air pollution or poisons but the reality is that there may be many toxins right in your own home. If you or someone in your home has allergies or asthma, these toxins can make it even more difficult to breathe. Below are a a list of simple changes that you can make to make your home free of toxins.

Cleaners: There are many cleaners that you should avoid such as bleach and ammonia, they contain irritants that can cause breathing difficulties. Many other cleaners that we use on a daily basis contain many powerful cleaning agents that contain toxins that can cause problems. The good news is that there are many alternatives on the market today that do just as a good of job cleaning but are much more safer to both the environment but to those that live in your home!

Paint: Paint has traditionally been  high odor substance that contains potential toxins. There are many 'green' paint options available today that are not only low odor but that have no cancer causing toxins (also called VOCs). Look for paints that have been certified by Green Seal.  Benhamin Moore also has a Natua line of paints that are just as rich and durable, just water based and much safer.

Air Fresheners: Everyone loves their home to smell fresh, but items like air fresheners, candles and fragrances contain synthetic components that can cause irritation to the lungs. In addition to irritants some can contain a chemical called 'phthalates', which has been shown to cause birth defects, hormone disruption and reproduction problems. Look for alternative candles or scents that have essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.

Furniture: Many people don't think of furniture as being toxic but if your furniture is old and worn it main contain flame retardants called PBDE's that can cause serious health problems. These chemicals can effect brain, nervous or reproduction problems. Be informed that stain repellents on furniture can also contains toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde. Do your research before putting any repellent on your furniture.

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8




Contact Information

Photo of Maureen Cool, CRS, CIPS, RSPS Real Estate
Maureen Cool, CRS, CIPS, RSPS
RE/MAX Realty Plus
809 US 27 South
Sebring FL 33870
Fax: 863-385-5897

Maureen Cool * RE/MAX Realty Plus
809 US 27 South, Sebring, Florida 33870
Office: 863-385-0077 X215
Direct: 863-873-7243
Fax: 863-385-5897



Maureen Cool of RE/MAX Realty Plus offers real estate services to buyers, sellers, relocation's in the Highlands County real estate area.

Including Polk County, Hardee County, Okeechobee County, Desota County and Glades County.

Whether you are looking for luxury, investment, second home, commercial, bank owned, foreclosures properties Maureen Cool and The Cool Team are your real estate professionals for the entire Central Florida area.

Maureen Cool is your Luxury Home Expert in Highlands County. 
She can assist you with your Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid real estate needs. 



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