Category Archives: HOME & GARDEN

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!

What YOU Need to Know When Buying New Construction in Boca Raton

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There are so many new developments in a range of price points cropping up in and around Boca Raton like The Bridges/ 7 Bridges, Tuscany, Boca Reserve, Canyon Trails and Azura, just to name a few – it can get a little overwhelming!
And I’ll tell ya – these developers know their business.
The houses are just. so. pretty! In fact, if you’re considering a new construction community, chances are, you’re already sold. Like a moth to a flame – shiny new homes with shiny new appliances are awfully appealing, aren’t they?
From buying my OWN home from a developer to helping clients and friends – here are the most important things I’ve learned when buying new construction.
The main thing you need to remember to do is check everything. Check the plumbing, electrics, roofing, anything you can think of. It may be a new build but this doesn’t mean it won’t have any faults. You don’t want to pay big money for a house that ends up having tonnes of issues.

Assess what you really need
Yes, 6 bedrooms + a media room + 3 car garage + a guest suite can seem AMAZING, but keep in mind that drives up the base price of the home (um, and who is going to CLEAN all those rooms – am I right, ladies?).
Unless you’re the Duggar family and really need all that space, assess the floor plans rather than the square footage. Are all of the bedrooms on the same level? Can you see the kids from the kitchen? A good flow will make your home that much more enjoyable.
Budget for upgrades
As you walk through the model homes, everything is pristine. It’s perfect, it’s ‘when-can-I-move-in-ready’. Keep in mind that these are professionally-decorated models showcasing the best of what the developer has to offer. Some of the things you’ll see won’t be included in the price of the home. This even includes the lot. Prime lots like Cul-du-sac or waterfront in a development can sometimes add $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 to a list price.
Realtor Tip: ALWAYS go for location. I say this at least once a day “The only thing you cannot change about a house is its location.” Come resale time, someone may not want to pay extra for those wide-plank hardwood floors that you would have sold your firstborn to have and cleaned everyday using a vacuum recommended by until they were sparkling, but you can bet you’ll recoup your investment on a prime lot.
Don’t hate – negotiate!
Some aspects of a home are much easier to add or modify while it is under construction rather than after you’ve already moved in.
What if you don’t like the developer’s countertop choices? Or hardwood flooring choices? It’s not always possible, but one benefit of working with a Realtor is helping you identify where there’s flexibility from the developer. Oftentimes, Realtors will have a rapport with the developers’ agents and be able to effectively negotiate on your behalf.
Timing is everything
Bear in mind that you’re buying something that isn’t built yet. If you’re expecting a baby, or moving from out-of-state, be sure to factor that into your approximations. (We know about this one – Our daughter Edison was born just a week after we closed on our new-construction home!)
HOWEVER, if you’re not particularly choosy on finishes or floor plan, it may be possible to snag a completed home whose sale fell through (or a model home if the development is sold out).

New Construction WM

In addition to the above, here are some questions you should ask when shopping for a new-construction home.
What is the deposit schedule?
Developers typically require a deposit to secure your ‘spot’. Additional draws may be required depending on your upgrades (which are usually paid out of pocket). A sample deposit schedule could look like 10% at contract signing/ 10% at groundbreaking and the balance at closing.
What comes standard and what features are upgrades?
Your agent can help you get a list of standard features and, if available, a list of common upgrades and their associated costs.
What kind of warranty is there with the property?
In this situation, you’re often buying a home that is not completed. What guarantees do you have the home will be ready on time? Your purchase agreement documents should specify a completion date. However, many builders add provisions that make the completion date dependent on permit approvals from the municipality or availability of building materials from suppliers. There can also be additional charges if you’re unable to close on time if your lender isn’t ready.

Hope these tips are helpful on your journey if you’re planning to purchase new construction! Comment below if you have any questions!

Margaret Schaffer, The Modern Boca Real Estate Mom, is a REALTOR® living, working and raising two little ones in beautiful Boca Raton, FL!

Margaret is the Boca Raton/ Highland Beach specialist on The Samantha DeBianchi Team (as seen on Million Dollar Listing Miami)! For all your real estate needs- contact me at

Margaret Schaffer- DeBianchi Real Estate –

5 Ways to Totally Transform Your Space: NO Painting!

Temporary Decorating Ideas Hi all! I loved reading and responding to all your comments on my ‘How Much House’ Post last month – (which you can read here). This week, I’m back to show my DIY side *revvs power drill* – I find my inner peace when wielding a paintbrush or getting crafty, so this week I rounded up my absolute FAVORITE ways that you can totally transform your space… wait for it… in a weekend. Temporary decorating ideas! My friend is thinking about moving into a Piermont Grand apartment so I shared some of these ideas with her so she could decorate as soon as she moves in.

So whether you want to stage or spruce, these tips will make your home show-worthy in no time and no paintbrush needed!

Temporary Decorating Ideas

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You’ve probably seen decals in the form of owls, trees, butterflies and flowers in nurseries, but what you might not know that vinyl decals can be an awesome way to add graphic interest to a big. blank. wall – and they’re not just for the nursery. I especially love these for renters – using them in a living room or bedroom will add tons of pizzazz without putting your security deposit in jeopardy. If you feel like switching up your walls by using something similar to simple shapes marble wallpaper , then go for it! When it comes to making changes like these, they can make such a massive difference to the overall look of any room.

If you’re really on a budget- here’s the DIY option that I did for my daughter, Edison’s, nursery. Using a circle cutter and metallic contact paper (intended for appliances, if you can believe that) I created this darling polka-dot wall. (psst…You can read the full tutorial on my blog here.) Temporary Decorating Ideas

Temporary Decorating Ideas

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Faster and less permanent than hanging actual wallpaper, and certainly less cumbersome than stenciling a pattern, removable wallpaper comes in a variety of patterns and even textures like faux brick and grasscloth!

It’s great for adding a dose of personality to any space – try it for an accent wall, or add extra ‘wow’ factor by going all- out in a smaller space, like in a powder room or breakfast nook. Then, when your lease is up or you feel like redecorating – it just peels right off!

Temporary Decorating Ideas

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Hanging a gallery wall like this one is an inexpensive way to create visual interest, not to mention a fabulous conversation-starter! A gallery wall is equally at home over a couch, in a hallway or in a bedroom.

Structured rows with a series of similar prints (for example, architectural photos or botanical prints) add a sophisticated vibe, while a collage approach mixing frames and objects of different sizes, textures and colors is a first-class ticket to causal elegance. (Tip: Make your child’s artwork the star with a collection of white frames!)

Temporary Decorating Ideas

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At a minimum, curtains with coordinating pillows will make your room feel pulled together in a snap. IKEA sells fabulously inexpensive curtains and if you’re handy with a sewing machine, I love to use these curtains as an inexpensive source of fabric to make my own pillows. If you’re NOT handy with a sewing machine (or, let’s face it– who has time??) Sites like have a wide array of accent and throw pillows in all the trendiest styles.

For a sophisticated neutral look (I like this one above for staging!), keep textiles to the same tone, and vary your patterns and textures within that color. To liven things up a bit – choose a pop of one bold color (like indigo) and keep everything else a complementary neutral. Accessories and textiles in the same shades add texture & dimension, and chances are you can use stuff you already have!

I love Home Goods and thrift stores for knick knacks that will really give your room that ‘finishing touch’ and temporary decorating ideas.

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Looks like tile, but it’s actually vinyl! Online companies in addition to retailers like Lowes and Home Depot offer these peel & stick vinyl tiles of all shapes and sizes, literally.

They’re sold in sheets or as individual tiles and are fabulous for adding a kitchen backsplash or redoing a tired tiled floor (say that 5 times fast) on the cheap! These are phenomenal for renters who simply can’t stand their ugly floor any more, or to get you through while you’re saving up for the big reno!

These tips are just a few ways to show that no matter how stretched your time (or your budget) there’s always a way to bring your signature style home!

Margaret Schaffer, The Modern Boca Real Estate Mom is a REALTOR living, working and raising two little ones in beautiful Boca Raton, FL!