Category Archives: blog

Lake Alice and Bat Houses

bat 1Lake Alice is a small lake on the University of Florida campus. It is known for being a wildlife hot spot- and is home to animals including alligators, terrapins, and a colony of over 100,000 bats.

When visiting Lake Alice, you should start at the Baughman Meditation Center. Located on the shore of Lake Alice, this beautiful Gothic-inspired structure is open to the public. Take a few moments to simply admire the architecture of the building. The Baughman Center offers breathtaking views across the lake, and you can experience several forms of wildlife from this point. There is nature trail around the lake. The trail starts off as a dirt path and leads to a heavily wooded area, you can see massive trees and lovely forest wildlife. The path turns into an elevated boardwalk that takes you through a wetlands area, where you can experience cypress and cedar trees by the lake. The trail will fork, with one path leading to an overlook of Lake Alice. The trail ends where you entered, and you can pass the University of Florida Bat House, where over 100,000 bats live and take flight every day at sundown. There are park benches provided, so you can enjoy the amazing feat of this bat colony taking flight.

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The University of Florida Bat House began when a colony of bats decided to find shelter on university property after their home had been destroyed in a fire. Campus officials responded by creating the bat houses. Since then, the bat house has not only grown in popularity with the bats, but also with people- and it has become a large attraction on campus. The most common species living here is the Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis), the Southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius) and the Evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis). The colony usually fully emerges after a 15-minute period after sunset!

Lake Alice is not only one of Gainesville’s trademark attractions, but also a nature-lover’s paradise. There were previous plans to drain portions of Lake Alice for additional student parking, and also plans to remove the bat structures for new student housing. Any plans to disrupt the beauty and ecology of Lake Alice have been successfully protested by the students to keep this unique ecosystem healthy and alive.

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Insurance Nightmares

nightmareWhile I’ve never had a buyer not be able to secure home insurance, I am seeing more companies declining policies and buyers often have to call a few companies before finding one coverage. One main reason for rejection is that the house is located in an area characterized as “high sinkhole activity.” This could be based on trends that the individual company has seen or a broader scope of research finding many sink holes in the area. In addition, homes with shingle roofs over 15 years old are hard to obtain coverage, with some companies denying coverage while others requiring a new roof be put on within a few months of closing. Finally, during hurricane season, underwriters stop writing policies when a tropical storm gets near the coastline of Florida. Hence, even if you have been assured you will be covered, you may have to delay closing if a storm is near.

Auction Homes

auctionSo, you have heard about real estate auctions, but you are unsure of how they work and what’s available to you? This is a common concern of prospective buyers. In the past, real estate auctions were usually held on properties that were rundown or in foreclosure, but this has changed. There are different types of auctions that are available.

Absolute Auction
This auction has no reserve and whoever has the highest bid gets the property. These auctions get the most participation because prospective buyers hope to get a good deal on a property. It is common that foreclosed properties will go through absolute auctions, so the bank can get rid of them quickly. The only time an owner can put their house up for an absolute auction is if they own the property outright and can sell the house without mortgage conflicts. Absolute auctions can take place online, in the foreclosure marketplace, or at a live auction event. Once the auction is open, the seller is required to sell the house to the highest bidder. If the bid does not exceed the price of the taxes and liens owed on the property, the seller will have to pay the difference.

Minimum Bid Auction
This auction has a minimum price and the house will only sell if the bid meets the minimum price. Once the minimum price has been met, the property will go to the highest bidder. This auction protects the seller because they know their house will not sell for less than the minimum price. The price is usually low enough to draw prospective buyer’s attention, but high enough to satisfy the seller.

Reserve Auction – Subject to Confirmation
Final bid on this auction is subject to seller’s approval. There is a low, suggested opening bid, but again approval of the final bid is up to the seller and will usually accept within 2-3 days after the auction has closed. Most prospective buyers will not invest the time for reserve auctions because there is no certainty that they will be able to buy the property.

Foreclosure Auction
These auctions take place on the courthouse steps. Through legal procedure the mortgagor forces the property to be sold. These auctions must be advertised in the legal newspaper for the county (Alachua Today, The Gainesville Sun, The Record), for four consecutive weeks before the auction. This can be the best way to purchase an investment property, but it can also be the most dangerous. Inspecting the property can be hard because you do not have access to the property, and you are not aware of the structural damages that could be present. You can get a title report, and you should to determine if there are any liens on the property before you purchase it. The lender’s attorney holds the auction and only accepts cash bids. You can look on the Alachua County Clerk of Court’s website, under foreclosure sales and find a list of upcoming houses that will be sold at the courthouse. Foreclosure sales at the Alachua county court house take place Tuesday-Friday at 11:00AM. Bidders must pay 5% of their final bid at the auction in cash, or in a money order.

Do as much research on the home you plan to bid on. Be confident with your bid, and most importantly be able to walk away from the property. There is much to learn about auction homes, but they can be a rewarding buy.