Category: Uncategorized


7 Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts for a Home

unique gift collage

It’s the season of love, and what better way to celebrate than with gifts? We’re not talking the boring chocolates and flowers type of thing. No, no, no! Home is where the heart is, so why not focus on a gift for a home?

We’ve come up with a shopping guide that includes unique – and quirky – gifts to get for someone you love, especially if that someone is yourself!

Mistaken Lyrics Coasters

One of our favorite past times is singing the wrong lyrics to songs. Why not spread the joy alongside house guests with these Mistaken Lyric Coasters?

Mistaken Lyric Coasters from Etsy

Automatic Pan Stirrer with Timer

Take “Suzy/Sam Homemaker” to the next level with this Automatic Pan Stirrer with Timer. Never worry about continuously stirring the sauce and free up your hands to prep other items for your recipe. Or, go ahead and get back to your Netflix binge while the sauce cooks. (We won’t be held liable for any burnt sauces, though.)

Automatic Pan Stirrer with Timer

Florida Botanical Embroidery

Nothing says “I love Florida” more than Florida-themed embroidery. This botanical creation shows others the pride you or your loved one has for the State of Florida. And, it gives the opportunity to explain that not everyone in Florida is like “Florida Man.”

Florida Botanical Embroidery

The Worst Case

First-aid kits? No, you need The Worst Case kit. (Well, keep the first-aid kit too!) This carefully crafted survival kit is everything someone would need if there were ever a zombie apocalypse, an opportunity to be on Survivor, or you find yourself up THAT creek without a paddle.

The Worst Case

The Burrito Blanket

Ever wanted to be wrapped like a burrito and left alone on the couch for a few hours? Well, now you can! Take Taco Tuesday to the next level in a Burrito Blanket. With micro-fiber fleece, this blanket will keep you or your loved one warm and cozy!

The Burrito Blanket

Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park Oil Painting

Because who doesn’t want a shirtless oil painting of Jeff Goldblum contemplating life while surrounded by dinosaurs?

Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park Oil Painting

Swarovski Crystal Master Yoda

Yeah, Baby Yoda is cute and all. But, have you seen a Swarovski Crystal Master Yoda figurine? Step up you or your loved one’s Star Wars collection with this classy Jedi Master.

Swarovski Crystal Star Wars - Master Yoda

 

 

 

 

 


Flood Zone Information

Getting Your Flood Map

Here are some very basic instructions on how to access your county’s flood maps:

Hillsborough County

  1. Open this link and click “View your property on the current online searchable flood map viewer.”
  2. Enter your address in the boxes, making sure to follow the on-screen directions exactly as the program is complex.
    HC Screencap
    Hillsborough County Website
  3. Once you’ve identified your map segment and opened the map, you’ll see a satellite image of your location. Click on the parcel closest to your home and a list of information about your property will come up. All of your flood data is in there.

Pinellas County

  1. Open this link to be taken to Pinellas County’s Flood Maps Page. When there, click on “Flood Zones – Flood Insurance Rate Maps.”
  2. Once at the FEMA Map Service Center, enter your address in the box on the left hand side of the page. Be sure that the “Product” dropdown says “Flood Maps.” (Your popup blocker must be off.)
  3. In the new window, the map will zoom directly to your property with a link to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Click that link.
  4. A window will open with that segment of the map. Click on the magnifying glass to view the map.
  5. The interactive map will pop up, showing you the various classifications the land surrounding your property as well as your property. (Legend included at bottom of post.)

Pasco County

  1. Pasco County’s website directs you to the FEMA Map Service Center.
  2. Once at the FEMA Map Service Center, enter your address in the box on the left hand side of the page. Be sure that the “Product” dropdown says “Flood Maps.” (Your popup blocker must be off.)
  3. In the new window, the map will zoom directly to your property with a link to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Click that link.
  4. A window will open with that segment of the map. Click on the magnifying glass to view the map.
  5. The interactive map will pop up, showing you the various classifications the land surrounding your property as well as your property. (Legend included at bottom of post.)

Polk County

  1. Polk County’s website directs you to the FEMA Map Service Center.
  2. Once at the FEMA Map Service Center, enter your address in the box on the left hand side of the page. Be sure that the “Product” dropdown says “Flood Maps.” (Your popup blocker must be off.)
  3. In the new window, the map will zoom directly to your property with a link to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Click that link.
  4. A window will open with that segment of the map. Click on the magnifying glass to view the map.
  5. The interactive map will pop up, showing you the various classifications the land surrounding your property as well as your property. (Legend included at bottom of post.)

Manatee County

  1. Manatee County’s website directs you to the FEMA Map Service Center.
  2. Once at the FEMA Map Service Center, enter your address in the box on the left hand side of the page. Be sure that the “Product” dropdown says “Flood Maps.” (Your popup blocker must be off.)
  3. In the new window, the map will zoom directly to your property with a link to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Click that link.
  4. A window will open with that segment of the map. Click on the magnifying glass to view the map.
  5. The interactive map will pop up, showing you the various classifications the land surrounding your property as well as your property. (Legend included at bottom of post.)

Hernando County

  1. Hernando County’s website directs you to the FEMA Map Service Center.
  2. Once at the FEMA Map Service Center, enter your address in the box on the left hand side of the page. Be sure that the “Product” dropdown says “Flood Maps.” (Your popup blocker must be off.)
  3. In the new window, the map will zoom directly to your property with a link to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Click that link.
  4. A window will open with that segment of the map. Click on the magnifying glass to view the map.
  5. The interactive map will pop up, showing you the various classifications the land surrounding your property as well as your property. (Legend included at bottom of post.)

Highlands County

  1. Highlands County’s website offers no links to mapping services. Therefore, the FEMA Map Service Center will be provided.
  2. Once at the FEMA Map Service Center, enter your address in the box on the left hand side of the page. Be sure that the “Product” dropdown says “Flood Maps.” (Your popup blocker must be off.)
  3. In the new window, the map will zoom directly to your property with a link to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Click that link.
  4. A window will open with that segment of the map. Click on the magnifying glass to view the map.
  5. The interactive map will pop up, showing you the various classifications the land surrounding your property as well as your property. (Legend included at bottom of post.)

FEMA Map Legend

Taken from Pasco County’s incredibly helpful website:

Zones designated as AE, A, AH or AO Zone. These properties have a 1 percent chance of flooding in any year and a 26 percent chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

VE or V Zones. These properties also have a 1 percent chance of flooding in any year and also face hazards associated with coastal storm waves.

High-risk areas are called Special Flood Hazard Areas, and flood insurance is mandatory for most mortgage holders.

Low or Moderate Flood Risk

Shaded X Zone. These properties are outside the high-risk zones. The risk is reduced but not removed.

X Zone. These properties are in an area of lower risk.

Lower-cost preferred rate flood insurance policies (known as Preferred Risk Policies) are often an option in these areas.


Hillsborough Title's Very Own Beth Cromwell is Quoted in Today's Paper

  

This house in New Port Richey sat on the market for 37 months before the lender finally accepted a short-sale offer. With the expiration of the mortgage forgiveness tax break, a short sale of $100,000 less than the homeowner’s mortgage debt could, in a 25 percent tax bracket, mean a $25,000 surprise in taxes.

It’s deja vu all over again for struggling Florida homeowners: The massive tax break that saved them tens of thousands of dollars has once again expired.

Underwater homeowners whose lenders let them sell their home for less than they owed have not had to pay taxes on that debt thanks to a law passed shortly after the housing bubble burst.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act has been extended twice since 2007, including last year. But its expiration Dec. 31 could mean a rude awakening for homeowners come tax time.

Florida houses more than 1 million of the 6 million underwater mortgages nationwide. Even with rising home prices, about 30 percent of Tampa Bay’s 600,000 outstanding loans remain underwater.

Those homeowners, many of whom bought at inflated prices during the housing boom, could ask the bank for a short sale that would let them move and dodge their debt.

But even if the bank forgave the debt, they would still be responsible for paying taxes on what is effectively an increase in their income. A short sale of $100,000 less than the homeowner’s mortgage debt could, in a 25 percent tax bracket, mean a $25,000 surprise in taxes.

“These are clients with true hardships who still don’t have jobs, still aren’t able to find work,” said Beth Cromwell, a short-sale processor for Hillsborough Title. “They’re running out of options.”

And it’s not just short sellers. Foreclosed homeowners would owe taxes on what they failed to pay on their mortgage. Even homeowners offered mortgage help, like loan modifications or principal forgiveness, would be on the hook for taxes on what was cut.

Lawmakers could discuss an extension this month alongside dozens of other expired tax breaks. Pending bills now in Congress would extend the tax break through 2015.

Realtors short-sold 6,700 Tampa Bay homes, townhomes and condos last year, listing data show, and more than 1,500 are now listed for short sale.

Up to $2 million of a homeowner’s forgiven debt qualifies for the tax break. The extension last year saved taxpayers across the country $1.3 billion, federal data show.

Housing advocates said the expired tax break will hurt those least able to afford more in taxes. Agents for some distressed homeowners attempted to rush through short sales last year to dodge the “phantom income” tax bill.

Many distressed homeowners can dodge the mortgage debt taxes if they prove to the IRS they are insolvent, owing more in debts than what they own in assets. That can be a saving grace for short sellers today who are in deep financial trouble.

“Most people who are doing (short sales) now aren’t the strategic defaulters,” said Keller Williams agent Steve Capen. “They have true hardships, and they usually will be insolvent at the time of closing.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and 41 other attorneys general last month called on lawmakers to extend the relief, saying that, even with improvements to home prices and equity, “we are still not where we need to be.”

“This relief is crucial to both the homeowners struggling to regain their financial footing and to the battered housing market whose recovery is slow and still uncertain,” they wrote.  

 By: Drew Harwell of the Tampa Bay Times


Hillsborough Title’s Very Own Beth Cromwell is Quoted in Today’s Paper

  

This house in New Port Richey sat on the market for 37 months before the lender finally accepted a short-sale offer. With the expiration of the mortgage forgiveness tax break, a short sale of $100,000 less than the homeowner’s mortgage debt could, in a 25 percent tax bracket, mean a $25,000 surprise in taxes.

It’s deja vu all over again for struggling Florida homeowners: The massive tax break that saved them tens of thousands of dollars has once again expired.

Underwater homeowners whose lenders let them sell their home for less than they owed have not had to pay taxes on that debt thanks to a law passed shortly after the housing bubble burst.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act has been extended twice since 2007, including last year. But its expiration Dec. 31 could mean a rude awakening for homeowners come tax time.

Florida houses more than 1 million of the 6 million underwater mortgages nationwide. Even with rising home prices, about 30 percent of Tampa Bay’s 600,000 outstanding loans remain underwater.

Those homeowners, many of whom bought at inflated prices during the housing boom, could ask the bank for a short sale that would let them move and dodge their debt.

But even if the bank forgave the debt, they would still be responsible for paying taxes on what is effectively an increase in their income. A short sale of $100,000 less than the homeowner’s mortgage debt could, in a 25 percent tax bracket, mean a $25,000 surprise in taxes.

“These are clients with true hardships who still don’t have jobs, still aren’t able to find work,” said Beth Cromwell, a short-sale processor for Hillsborough Title. “They’re running out of options.”

And it’s not just short sellers. Foreclosed homeowners would owe taxes on what they failed to pay on their mortgage. Even homeowners offered mortgage help, like loan modifications or principal forgiveness, would be on the hook for taxes on what was cut.

Lawmakers could discuss an extension this month alongside dozens of other expired tax breaks. Pending bills now in Congress would extend the tax break through 2015.

Realtors short-sold 6,700 Tampa Bay homes, townhomes and condos last year, listing data show, and more than 1,500 are now listed for short sale.

Up to $2 million of a homeowner’s forgiven debt qualifies for the tax break. The extension last year saved taxpayers across the country $1.3 billion, federal data show.

Housing advocates said the expired tax break will hurt those least able to afford more in taxes. Agents for some distressed homeowners attempted to rush through short sales last year to dodge the “phantom income” tax bill.

Many distressed homeowners can dodge the mortgage debt taxes if they prove to the IRS they are insolvent, owing more in debts than what they own in assets. That can be a saving grace for short sellers today who are in deep financial trouble.

“Most people who are doing (short sales) now aren’t the strategic defaulters,” said Keller Williams agent Steve Capen. “They have true hardships, and they usually will be insolvent at the time of closing.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and 41 other attorneys general last month called on lawmakers to extend the relief, saying that, even with improvements to home prices and equity, “we are still not where we need to be.”

“This relief is crucial to both the homeowners struggling to regain their financial footing and to the battered housing market whose recovery is slow and still uncertain,” they wrote.  

 By: Drew Harwell of the Tampa Bay Times