Category Archives: HOME & GARDEN

Modern Boca Mom’s Guide to Getting a House in Boca

Are you getting a house in Boca? Have you got a mortgage broker and are in the final stages of buying your new house? Or are you only just starting the process? Wherever you are in the process, you’ll probably need to sell your current home. Did you know that when a home is put on the market, the most amount of activity and interest it will have is within the first 30 days?

Well, duh.

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Obviously a property that’s new to the market will get more attention than something that’s already been seen by interested buyers. That statement may seem like common sense. However, did you also know that many homeowners will attempt to “hold out” for a better one?

So, as a seller, how do you determine if an offer is right for you?

Any offers that come in during that first 30-day time frame are worth examining. They will tell you (a) What kind of buyers are likely to be attracted to your property (cash investors? FHA/VA loans? Conventional loans?) and (b) How you’re priced.

Even if you don’t take the offer, consider it carefully. What terms are they offering? Is there a financing contingency? Do they need to sell their current home in order to buy this one? What if you as the owner don’t need or want to move just yet? Can they offer a 6 month closing? Or what if you need to move right away? Can they offer a 2 week closing?

In fact, when sellers dismiss what they feel is a ‘lowball offer’ early on, it generally ends up costing them more in the long run. As the property sits on the market, the perceived value to buyers getting a house in Boca depreciates. One could liken it to this season’s clothes vs. last season’s. If it’s been available long enough, someone’s going to be looking for a deal. Whereas if something’s attractive, fresh to the market and priced right, it’s going to sell.

Selling your property is such a big decision and not one to be taken lightly, but it’s understandable if you want to sell your home as fast as you can. A friend of mine from the UK is using as they have promised to buy her property in under 7 days. Acting quickly is everything in the fast paced world of property no matter where in the world you are.

Ultimately, even though buyers getting a house in Boca and sellers are on opposite sides of the table, they both want the same thing: To get the deal DONE.

getting a house in Boca

There are 5 main points that are covered in a typical offer for getting a house in Boca:
  • The Price – How much the property is being sold for
  • Closing Date – When the property will change hands
  • Inspection Period This language outlines how long the buyers have to hire a home inspector to inspect the property. During this time-frame, the buyers still are able to cancel the contract, (usually with no penalty). It is possible to waive the inspection contingency and opt not to inspect, but it is not generally recommended.
  • Financing– This will state how the property is to be purchased– if it is going to be a cash transaction or if the buyers need to obtain a loan. This will also outline whether or not the contract is contingent on the ability of the buyers to secure financing for getting a house in Boca.
  • Additional Terms– This is where parties explicitly detail furnishings or fixtures that will or will not stay with the property, any credits to buyer or seller, or any additional terms of the transaction.

Inspections and financing are the two elements typically put in as contingencies. An offer with an “inspection contingency” means that the buyer has the right to inspect the property, and they have the right to cancel the transaction as long as it’s within the inspection period.

A “financing contingency” means that the deal will only proceed if the buyer is able to obtain financing. If the buyer cannot obtain financing, the contract will be canceled. This is typically with no penalty to the buyer getting a house in Boca, unless otherwise stated. This is why it’s important for buyers to check their credit and handle any collections before pursuing a house.

getting a house in Boca

So, with those things said…How do you MAKE a strong offer?

DO come in at a fair price. Do your homework and research the comps. Look at how long the home has been on the market, what upgrades have been done and what comparable homes have sold for in the past 3 months. Then, look at your finances to see what you can realistically afford. (Realtor Tip: Give yourself $10,000- $25,000 of breathing room in case of a counteroffer.)

DO be flexible on the closing date. Even if your offer comes in at a slightly lower number, there may be a unique situation that controls when they need to be out. In my experience, sellers either want out ASAP or they need a little bit of extra lead time to buy another property, for example.

DON’T shoot yourself in the foot. There’s a strong offer, and then there’s a stupid offer. Waiving your right to inspect in order to make your offer most appealing may seem like a surefire way to get the property. But, you could be buying a home riddled with issues and will have no way of knowing.

DON’T sweat the small stuff. Letting a deal fall apart because a buyer and seller can’t come to terms over patio furniture or a washer/dryer may sound silly, but I’ve seen it happen! Keep the big picture in mind. Remember that sometimes you have to give a little to gain a whole lot (like your new home)!

Margaret Schaffer, aka Modern Boca Design Mom, is the founder of the company ReStyle Home. She’s also a wife and mom of three little ones living, working and playing in beautiful Boca Raton!

Playroom Makeover – Create the Space Your Child Needs, Without Losing YOUR Mind!

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I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn the day we signed a one year lease for a one bedroom apartment.

We ended up sticking it out until we found a place we were really comfortable with– we found it when I was about 6 months pregnant. Too close for my comfort, but at last we found it. I fell in love with this quaint townhouse in a desirable neighborhood. Quite possibly for the playroom opportunities.

There was an awesome sized room right off of the kitchen, pretty centrally located in the home. I decided this was going to be a really “fun” room. Playroom planning began at about 4 months old (overachiever alert). I started to realize that everyone was willing to contribute to my madness and soon the toys just flowed in from friends and family members.

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The problem with this was that I didn’t have much say on what toys made the cut or not, and before long my beloved playroom was looking like a toy graveyard! I always knew I wanted to keep things simple “toy-wise”, and that less would be more.

It just seemed to get out of control so quickly.

Reading up on plenty of research over the years about the importance of “true play” and how commercialized childhood has become, I was determined to make a drastic change. The theory is that there are different types of play, each inspired and driven by the toys that are offered to the child.

“Imitation Play” is inspired by single-use toys such as Spiderman or any action figures, pistols from cowboy sets, swords from pirate play sets, etc.. These toys can only be used for a single purpose, so the opportunity for imaginative play is limited. A gun can only be a gun, a car that lights up only has one function and the fun can run out pretty quickly, therefore fostering a need for endless single-use toys to occupy a child’s time (See how this can be attractive to the toy industry?). “Imitation Play” takes place when a child is acting out a scene from a cartoon or movie, they are only repeating what was seen or heard. This isn’t pure creative play and doesn’t require much imagination, therefore isn’t exactly ideal for a developing brain.

“True Play” is encouraged with open-ended toys, such as blocks, erector sets, play dough, etc…

Open ended toys can be ANYTHING, therefore inspiring endless imagination and creativity. A stick could be used as a sword in an epic battle one moment, or as a Maestro’s baton while composing a symphony another. Play Dough can be formed into a worm one moment and then change into a train or a ball. The possibilities are endless and completely up to the child.

Toys as a whole are believed to be an introduction to children as parts of the world and parts of themselves. The materials we surround them with at the earliest stages in life set the stage for the type of environment they accept, and build around them as adults. The types of material we offer to them at such an impressionable age sends a message and communicates values that we wish to instill as parents.

If we surround a child with an endless supply of plastic, bright, shiny light up toys that require not much interaction from them and is completely disposable, can we really be upset with unmotivated, entitled children with no real sense of appreciation or responsibility? Hey, I didn’t do the research (don’t kill the messenger), but I have to say it all adds up for me and my family at least. I’ve definitely noticed a difference in the children of my generation and the technology-driven, disconnected adolescence I see in schools and on television today.

Anyhow, I decided it was time for a change and I slowly but surely removed everything battery operated or mostly plastic. I started by watching what they no longer played with and removed it from the room to see if they would notice it even went missing. Then, I started removing toys that served only a single purpose (most not all at once) and kept it outside of the playroom.

My next job was to give the room some functionality and “flow”. By observing the setup at a couple of my favorite play spaces at Sunflower Creative Arts or The Bees Knees in Boynton Beach, along with following a few of my favorite blogs for inspiration such as, or These are all women whom I admire and respect; they are incredible moms with wonderful blogs.

I get a lot of questions about our Tot School / Play Room area, so I’m going to give a tour / breakdown of this high traffic area of our home!

Tot School is all about learning through play and immersion. Its framework lies somewhere between Montessori and arts and crafts. It’s popular with our boys and really just gives us new fun and interesting ways for us to spend time being creative. I’ve acquired some additional shelving over time to accommodate the different activity trays / invitations to play. Here is an outside view of the room:

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The alphabet mural was a wonderful project that took quite a bit of time because I handpicked each letter separately and then had to paint them all. Pinterest has lots of different variations of this mural that I love. Pinterest can single-handedly end save my marriage depending on the week.

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The work bench is a great place they practice motor skills and its all just made up of different pieces they can create / build with, definitely a keeper! The bin on the side is filled with balls and their fave throwback dinosaurs they can pretend to ride to their hearts’ content.

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The chalkboard wall is always a hit, every couple of months I slap on a new coat for their blank canvas and see how it develops over time. I figured if I gave them a place they were allowed to draw on the walls, I would limit the accidents of them actually drawing all over my walls. This has worked, to some degree. There were a few minor incidents, but hey it’s part of the process! I also have their puzzle basket and the infamous Montessori Pink Tower. They absolutely love this tower and can play with it for hours.

I knew I had wanted a “Cozy Corner” where they could nestle up and “read” books. They have one at Sunflower that the kids love and I wanted to re-create that quiet space here at home. I found some on Pinterest called a “Book Nook“, I keep it close to the books and some fun little ‘touch n feel” books in a basket as well.

Next up are the shelves…

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Here I have some of the Montessori materials such as the Cylinder Sequence Blocks, Zipper Practice Board, Alphabet Box and Number set. These grow with the boys and they delve into new ways of approaching them each time. I added a globe for some of the matching trays I plan on tackling this year and of course STUFF, which is mostly finger paint. I keep the “class plant” here as well. It aides in teaching responsibility and the difference between “living” and “non-living” objects.

The middle shelves are where we keep books and some toys that are great for play like wooden blocks, lacing beads, art supplies like crayons, colored pencils, glue and paint brushes. All accessible to them as they need. As well as a few goodies like their fave truck and a basket with all of their dinosaurs and animals. Mostly Toobs from Safari Ltd. that are a hit with us!

It’s also home to our “class pets” Henry & Maury (R.I.P. Percy), our hermit crabs.

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The rest of the shelves hold Instruments and their Super Sorting Pie, along with another favorite truck and their erector set. These all get switched out as I put out trays for a new week of adventures.

Up top is the Montessori inspired crayon sorter, these are actually Del Monte fruit cup cans that I was able to clean out and paint, then screw onto a piece of 2 x 4. (Yes I did buy the fruit cups and dump out the sugary processed fruit, all in the name of a crafty project!)

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They also have their own music corner (just like Mommy) next to their instrument basket, piano and record player. Many a jam sesh is enjoyed here!

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Alas, the infamous train table! Where all the action goes down.. I love that their obsession at least requires them to use their imagination building new tracks every day and working together to create new scenarios.

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Did I mention the wonderful storage options this provides? #ThriftyMomScore for $35!

Over on the Art wall, is the Kitchen Set. This beloved natural all wood kitchen is home to hours of creative play and plenty of “birthday pies” for Mommy. (Don’t even ask how long this took to build on Christmas Eve.)

On this wall, we display any art or pictures that mean something to the boys; they do get to choose which makes this space even more special.

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Here they’ve chosen their geometric tape art projects and Evan’s Seedlings class picture. They also have an original painting by #MBCDad and a sweet picture of Evan on his beloved trike in his pajamas (my favorite).

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Throughout the space I’ve tried to help incorporate bits and pieces of themselves, personal touches that make it feel like its truly their space. The “Play” sign that they helped to paint, or the picture gallery of some of their play time together. The hanging art display where they dry their art or just proudly display which piece they wish that day. This space is constantly evolving, because they are constantly growing and changing.

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I wanted a safe space at home where they could do so freely, creatively and expressively. In my research, I’ve found plenty of articles supporting the theory that the window for the most creative and expressive time in a child’s life is in the first six years, coincidentally the same time frame in which compassion and empathy are taking form in a child’s development.

I don’t want to spend that time cramming facts, shapes, colors or even reading and writing techniques down their throat. I hope to instead provide a space where they can learn about themselves, strengthen their creative muscles, fall in love with life and hone their craft whatever that may be.

You only get one childhood, I intend on letting them have it. It’s a sacred space that shouldn’t be tainted with ulterior motives, adult agenda or coercion. The way I see it, they have the rest of their lives to feel the pressures of fitting in and doing what is expected of them. Even then, I hope they follow their dreams because they took the time to learn what those dreams were early on. Because they were allowed the time to truly be themselves and learn what it is that makes them shine.

What would you like to change about your playroom? Tell me about it!

Essentially Yours,

Modern Boca Crunchy Mom

If you would like some more information on the effects the toys you introduce may have on your child you can check out this article at:

You can also check out the following books:

The Case for Make Believe or Consuming Kids both written by Susan Linn
Taking Back Childhood by Nancy Carlsson-Paige
The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv Continue reading Playroom Makeover – Create the Space Your Child Needs, Without Losing YOUR Mind!

Living East of Federal for South of $1Million

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Happy Wednesday everyone!
This week I’m back to share three neighborhoods that will give you total access to the East Boca lifestyle, without the East Boca price tag. Downtown Boca is getting revitalized, no doubt about it –  there’s new construction everywhere you look – new luxury rental buildings and hotels in and around Mizner/ Royal Palm speak to that, and to support this influx of people there are new businesses, shops and restaurants opening weekly.
While new construction is everywhere, there are still some great deals to be had. The key with these neighborhoods is that you’re buying based on LOCATION. These are hot areas where the greatest reward is to be had long-term.

First up is: Boca Villas/ East of Mizner Park
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Located north of Palmetto Park Road and East of Mizner Park this neighborhood, formerly filled with old-Florida style “granny” homes are knock-downs waiting to happen. Developers have steadily been buying up these old homes to build spec and custom homes in Mediterranean and West Indies styles.
A brand new home in this neighborhood will start at about $1.2M, and homes on the intracoastal to the East are mega mansions (like $10M+). Even with its proximity to Mizner Park, this neighborhood is really livable, walkable and pleasantly quiet while still having total access to everything that downtown Boca has to offer.
  • East of Mizner Park/ North of Palmetto Park Road
  • Prices for a brand new home start at about $1.2M
  • Older homes start at about $500K
  • 5-10 minute walk to Mizner Park
Some tips for buying in a transitional East Boca neighborhood:
1. Look at lot size – the larger the lot, the greater the possibilities to renovate or knock down.
2. Is the property already plumbed for gas? Gas lines are run street by street in many of these East Boca neighborhoods, and while it’s possible to get natural gas installed, it can be quite costly, especially if it needs to be run from another street. (Tip: If you’re planning on doing a major renovation or knock down and your property does not have gas – a propane tank buried deep below ground is a popular and cost-effective option.)
3. Order a soil density test. If you DO plan to knock down the existing home or do any major renovations down the road, make sure to order a soil test in addition to your home inspections. Closer to the ocean, the soil is less dense, so you’ll need to find out if the property will need pilings to support the larger home you intend to build. The soil density test itself is not cheap, but if pilings are needed, they’ll cost around $50,000 so it’s worth it to know in advance!
4. Look at what new homes on similar lots are selling for. When choosing a transitional neighborhood, you sometimes have to see it for what it WILL be, rather than what it is. Purchasing a property in the entry price point of a neighborhood where there’s a lot of upward mobility (i.e. new homes on comparable lots selling for considerably more) is desirable because as long as you renovate or upgrade appropriately, your investment is protected.

My next pick is just across the bridge from Boca Villas: Boca Riviera 

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Nestled between A1A and Palmetto Park Road in Boca Raton is the Boca Riviera neighborhood. It abuts the affluent and popular Sun & Surf community where homes start at about $1 Million (and go up from there). Public beach access is just a short walk or bike ride away and you truly get that “sleepy beach town” feel, while being mere minutes away from downtown. Homes on the water start at well over $1 Million, but under there are older Florida style homes as well as some historic bungalows.
  • Between A1A and the intracoastal North of Palmetto Park Road
  • Prices for a brand new home start at about $1.3M
  • Older homes start at about $600K
  • 5-10 minute walk to the beach/ 15 minute bike ride to Mizner 
  • Public beach access with pavilions at Palmetto Park Road

     Slightly further South from Boca Rivera is the neighborhood of: Spanish River Land Co. 

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A short distance from the Boca Raton Beach Club and swanky One Thousand Ocean at the Boca Resort is the Spanish River Land Co/ Spanish River Land Estates neighborhood. Homes on the water in this neighborhood easily start at $4 Million and can top $9 Million. Neighborhoods like this one are particularly interesting because there’s a range of homes for sale not on the water in a variety of price points.
Typically in South Florida you see homes on the intracoastal in the million-dollar range, but landlocked properties across the street often sell for far, far, far less. That’s true in this case too, but instead of $2 Million and $300,000, it’s $7 Million on the water and $2 Million not on the water. Not too shabby. Here are some neighborhood stats:
  • Between A1A and the intracoastal South of Camino Real
  • Prices for a brand new home (not on the water) start at about $1.9M
  • Homes start at about $700K
  • 5-10 minute walk to the beach
It’s so exciting to see so many new things coming to Boca Raton!
If you’re looking to make Boca your home, or are considering a move, call me! I’d love to work with you! (561) 789-7084

Margaret Schaffer, aka Modern Boca Real Estate Mom, is an active Realtor with The Samantha DeBianchi Team (as seen on Million Dollar Listing: Miami) living, working and raising two little ones in beautiful Boca Raton!

Faking “Fall” in South Florida…How to Do It!

It’s fall y’all! Even though it doesn’t feel like it when I get into my car mid-afternoon and it reads 100 degrees. I don’t know about you, but I am sooooo over this lingering summer heat! So this New Yorker is going to fake it till we make it! We’re officially in “fall in South Florida mode” here in our home, and you could be too!

Continue reading Faking “Fall” in South Florida…How to Do It!