Bardell Real Estate Logo
Hands of Hope America

Hands of Hope America

Hands of Hope America


Evelisse Bookhout headshot - Hands of Hope AmericaEvelisse is a veteran, leader, an ordained minister, and advocate in her community. Evelisse has a BSW from Southeastern University with a certificate in Child Welfare, and her MSW in Clinical Social Work. Evelisse discovered her passion for empowering the next generation while working as a residential counselor for the developmentally disabled at Springbrook in Oneonta, New York. Evelisse’s passion for Human Services continued to grow as she worked as a nursing assistant with disabled veterans and the elderly population. Evelisse moved to Florida in 2012, where she got involved in mentoring at-risk youth in her community and church youth groups. Currently, Evelisse sits on the Board of Lake County Children’s Services Council and is the Executive Director of Hands of Hope America; a nonprofit organization that provides services and resources to equip families, empower youth, and advocate to restore underserved communities.


Maritza Garcia
I am Maritza Garcia, mother of three children, and one of the Board of Directors of Hands of Hope AmericaI Inc. I was born in Puerto Rico; My family moved to NYC when I was four years old. I attended NYC Technical College, where I studied accounting/Business Administration where I earned a 2-year degree. I retired as a Correction Officer after 20 years in one of the worst prison systems in NYC, Rikers Island. During my twenty years as a Correction Officer, I worked with inmates in different capacities, courts, lawyers, judges, and different law enforcement agencies.

One of my assignments was working with the Institute of Inner Development program for inmates. Such programs involved emotional support counseling for past traumas that led them to incarceration, self-empowerment, and coping skills. In essence, inmates received rehabilitation strategies to become productive members of society.

Bolivar Tellado
My name is Bolivar Tellado Jr., I’m originally from New York City and have been living in and involved in the community of Four Corners, FL for about 10 years now. As a Realtor and a local small business owner, I tend to take the hands on approach in our community. Being a veteran of the US Air Force, I bring those qualities of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do into our vision here at Hands of Hope America. As an adolescent, I was caught up with being respected and known rather than walking towards the right path faithfully and righteously. This caused me to have run ins with law enforcement, hang with the wrong crowds, become involved with street activity and was almost paralyzed from the waist down from a gunshot wound as a teenager. Through faith and my service in the US Air Force I was able to turn my life around and am now able to give back to communities where I once may have seen myself struggling to be accepted in.

We, here at Hands of Hope America, strive to be a guidepost for all of those affected by struggles and hard times and offer a helping hand while lifting each other up positively as a community. Throughout the years of my life, I’ve witnessed both the pitfalls of adversity and the resilience of hope. You are not alone!

Help us in building up our community and join us in celebrating and spreading life, hope and happiness amongst one another.

Tina Sweeten

Hands of Hope America - Tina Sweeten

Tina Sweeten is a nonprofit professional with over 30 years of experience leading both small and large nonprofit organizations. She holds a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management and is a Certified Volunteer Administrator. Tina has been a Red Cross employee for the past four and a half years and has volunteered for Red Cross prior to that for over 20 years in a variety of disaster and training services positions. Tina is a compassionate leader who embodies the values of the Red Cross and is currently the Executive Director of the Mid-Florida Chapter in the Central Florida and US Virgin Islands Region.


Hands of Hope America is on a mission to provide Thanksgiving meals for more than 400 families, and your support is crucial. Below, you’ll find a list of essential items needed to make this holiday season brighter for these families. Your contribution can make a real difference.

  • Turkey (10-25 lbs)                                     
  • Corn Bread                                      
  • Cake mix or pie
  • Cranberry Sauce                          
  • Mac & Cheese Box 
  • Mashed Potatoes   
  • Gravy                                          
  • Green Beans or mix veggies                                                                  
  • Yams or Candied Yams
  • Stuffing                                                   
  • Cranberry Sauce 
  • Gift Cards
  • Rice (2 lbs)
Just listed 333 LAKE HOWARD DR in Winter Haven

Just listed 333 LAKE HOWARD DR in Winter Haven

Just listed 333 LAKE HOWARD DR in Winter Haven

Blog Post 8

333 Lake Howard Dr NW #204C, Winter Haven, FL

Click here to Get Directions
387 sqft Lot

One or more photo(s) has been virtually staged. Welcome Home!! This 55+ community, piece of paradise in the heart of Winter Haven, Florida will not disappoint! Entertaining will not be an issue with your upgraded kitchen and spacious living area boasting with tons of light. This condo originally had a 3rd bedroom but was converted to formal dining room. The spacious master bedroom offers an on-suite bathroom with walk-in shower and closet. Enjoy all the amenities Imperial Harbours has to offer such as swimming pool, fitness center, and a private dock for boating and fishing on Lake Howard connected to the chain of lakes. Conveniently located just minutes away from Winter Havens finest shopping, dining, and recreational activities. Don’t miss the opportunity to make it yours! Schedule your private tour today and start living the Florida lifestyle today.

Real Estate Market report- July 2023

Real Estate Market report- July 2023

Real Estate Market report- July 2023

July Home Sale


July’s interest rate was recorded at 6.8%, up slightly from 6.7% in June. This is the second-highest interest rate in Central Florida in 20 years. October 2022 had the highest interest rate in 20 years at 7.0%

    • In ORRA’s new survey of Orlando REALTORS, 43% of respondents said that rising interest rates are the biggest challenge facing buyers, causing some buyers to wait out purchasing homes right now or look at lower price points.
  • Overall sales fell 8.7% from June to July. There were 2,852 sales in July, down from 3,124 sales in June. Sales in July 2023 were also 13.8% lower than July 2022, when there were 3,309 sales.
  • Inventory for July was recorded at 5,720, up 5.0% from June when inventory was recorded at 5,450.
    • Low inventory was cited as the second biggest issue facing buyers in ORRA’s new survey.
  • The median home price for July was recorded at $380,000, down from $385,000 in June. This is the first month this year that median home price has fallen.
  • Median home price in July 2023 was extremely close to July 2022, when it was recorded at $380,900.
  • New listings fell 7.8% from June to July, with 3,413 new homes on the market in July, compared to 3,703 in June.
  • Homes spent an average of 39 days on the market (DOM) in July, down from 41 days in June. This is still 85.7% higher than July 2022 when homes spent an average of just 21 days on the market.
    • Last year, 63% of Orlando REALTORS said clients were selling their homes in 10 days or less. This year, only 34% said clients are selling their homes in 10 days or less.
  • “Approaching the end of summer with interest rates at nearly their highest level in 20 years, we are seeing an impact on both buyers and sellers,” said Lisa Hill, Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association President. “More homeowners are being locked into ‘golden handcuffs’ – where they’re choosing to stay in their current homes to keep their low mortgage rates, which could be 3% or lower – and more buyers are choosing to wait in hopes that rates go down.”

Market Snapshot

  • Interest rates increased from 6.7% in June to 6.8% in July. This is 27.7% higher than July 2022 when interest rates were 5.4%.
  • Pending sales fell, with 3,964 in June and 3,808 in July.
  • 25 distressed homes (bank-owned properties and short sales) accounted for 0.9% of all home sales in July. That represents a 10.7% decrease from June, when 28 distressed homes sold. 
How Your Agent Prepares a Walk-Through Before the Open House

How Your Agent Prepares a Walk-Through Before the Open House

How Your Agent Prepares a Walk-Through Before the Open House

How Your Agent Prepares a Walk-Through Before the Open House

Before debuting an open house to attract prospective buyers or their agents, it’s essential to have a walk-through with your agent. Preparing your home to make it shine when potential buyers arrive at your front door is crucial. Your agent will play a key role in this process by touring your house and providing you with valuable advice on specific actions that need to be taken to ensure success.

What agents look for in a walk-through

The primary objective of a walk-through is to collaborate with your agent in identifying the key areas to address in order to sell your home quickly and at a premium price. Typically, the walk-through involves a comprehensive tour of your property, inside and out, with a focus on every detail and aspect of the home. Together, you and your agent will devise a plan to enhance the space before potential buyers visit.

It’s essential to remain open to feedback during this process, even if some of it may not be entirely positive. Embracing constructive criticism is crucial as it helps you attract potential buyers. Agents are trained to evaluate a property from a buyer’s perspective, offering valuable insights.

Throughout the walk-through, your agent will meticulously examine the property, identifying any potential turn-offs for buyers. This can encompass various aspects, from suggesting major repairs to assessing the arrangement of furniture or the appearance of the interior, including the inside of your pantry.

What needs work

Following the initial walk-through, your agent will be prepared to have a discussion with you about the necessary steps to get your home ready for an open house.

Certain homes may necessitate significant work, such as flooring upgrades, fixing a leaky roof, or addressing structural issues. There are two options: either temporarily taking the house off the market or postponing the open house. This gives the seller enough time to make necessary repairs before showing the property to potential buyers.

For an average house, dedicating a week or two to address minor repairs and upgrades might be necessary. Even simple fixes like securing a loose railing or banister, which may cost just a few dollars, can significantly impact a potential buyer’s perception. A small issue left unattended could lead a first-time buyer to assume that the overall construction of the home is subpar and unsafe, potentially leading them to believe that substantial repairs amounting to thousands of dollars are needed.Taking care of these minor details significantly impacts a buyer’s impression and boosts the chances of a successful sale.

During your discussions, you’ll also address functional obsolescence, which refers to elements in the home that are still functional but outdated. An example of a home that recently sold, which had an original push-button electric stove and a large floating exhaust vent. Although the stove was still operational, potential buyers immediately recognized the need for a modern replacement. It’s essential for you to assess if there are any similar items in your home that could be easily improved with a modern upgrade. Upgrades can enhance the overall appeal of your property and make it more attractive to prospective buyers.

Lastly, you will address all the necessary cleaning tasks that need to be completed. Thoroughly cleaning key areas like kitchens and bathrooms, as they hold critical importance for potential buyers. Your agent will likely provide valuable suggestions on which specific areas of your home require significant cleaning attention. Making sure these crucial areas are looking top-notch will definitely leave a fantastic impression on potential buyers that’ll stick with them!

Developing a marketing strategy

After identifying the necessary tasks, your agent will devise a marketing strategy aimed at selling your home and generating buzz for your open house event.

After conducting a walk-through with a seller, discussions will take place regarding any specific characteristics of the home that could appeal to a particular type of buyer. The focus will be on strategizing the marketing efforts to include that buyer profile.

Due to the uniqueness of your home, a similar approach will be employed by your agent. This involves identifying your target market and staging your home in a way that attracts that specific type of buyer. The entire process may span several days, during which your agent will be dedicated to marketing efforts until potential buyers and their agents arrive at your doorstep.

Experts in Residential Real Estate in Orlando

If you are BUYING or SELLING real estate it’s quiet often the single most important financial decision you make. For the last 30 years we have helped clients buying and selling property in Orlando and the surrounding areas. Put simply, this means the knowledge and expertise accumulated over this time ensures our clients get the best representation possible.

Our experienced agents will help and guide you through the entire process providing valuable support every step of the way.

Ready to make a Move?

Bardell Real Estate are the experts in helping you with your selling, buying or renting needs near Orlando, Florida. Make your Disney area experience a forever memorable one. Call us now to speak to a real estate agent.


10 Steps to Purchasing a New-Construction House

10 Steps to Purchasing a New-Construction House

10 Steps to Purchasing a New-Construction House

10 Steps to Purchasing a New-Construction House

Purchasing most things in life is usually straightforward – just add them to your cart and pay with a credit card. However, when it comes to buying a home, the process becomes understandably more intricate. This complexity is particularly true if you’re looking to purchase a brand-new home, as it involves a distinct set of steps and considerations.

While the process of buying a new-construction home shares similarities with purchasing an existing house, there are several notable distinctions. With new-construction homes now accounting for approximately one-third of the U.S. housing inventory, it has become an attractive option that many prospective buyers will undoubtedly contemplate.

To provide you with a glimpse of what lies ahead, let’s explore the step-by-step process of buying a new-construction home, along with valuable advice to ensure a seamless experience from start to finish.

1. Set a budget

Before diving into the process of purchasing a new-construction home, the initial and crucial step for any prospective homebuyer is to assess their affordability. This becomes particularly significant as new-construction homes generally come with a higher upfront cost, with the median price currently standing at $493,000.

Don Turner, the regional sales director of new homes at, emphasizes the importance of avoiding the allure of a home that surpasses both your needs and budget. He advises prospective buyers to be mindful of their income relative to their spending habits and establish clear guidelines to steer clear of this situation.

2. Get preapproved for a mortgage

Obtaining preapproval is a wise step to ascertain your purchasing capacity and effectively communicate this information to the builders you are exploring. Securing preapproval can be accomplished through various methods. One option is to apply online, where you can discover the loan amount you qualify for based on your present income and debt.

During the lending process, lenders will request financial documentation from you. Therefore, it’s essential to be prepared with your bank records and pay stubs ready to go. Having these documents readily available will help expedite the process and ensure a smoother experience.

It’s important to remember that obtaining preapproval from a lender doesn’t obligate you to proceed with them. On the contrary, it is highly recommended to explore different options and compare preapproval offers from at least three lenders. This way, you can ensure you are securing the most favorable terms and the best overall deal for your situation.

3. Choose a location

Selecting the ideal community and location for your new-construction home is a critical aspect of the process, as not every community will be a perfect fit for every buyer. It’s essential to carefully consider your preferences and needs to ensure you find a community that aligns perfectly with your lifestyle and requirements.

For instance, if you have a young family, your criteria for a new home will undoubtedly differ from those of a homebuyer in search of a 55+ neighborhood with HOA activities tailored for retirees. Each buyer’s preferences and priorities will shape their quest for the ideal home and community.

Landers proposes a helpful exercise called the “what matters most” ranking, which assists in refining your area search. In this exercise, prioritize the following factors from one to twelve based on their significance to you, and utilize the list as a guiding reference for making informed location decisions:

  1. Travel/commute times
  2. Distance to family/friends
  3. School district quality/higher education
  4. Access to nature/parks/lakes
  5. Availability of community clubhouse/social areas
  6. Walking trails/sidewalks
  7. Outdoor recreation (e.g., tennis/pickleball courts, playgrounds)
  8. Neighborhood pool
  9. Fitness center
  10. Pet friendliness
  11. Proximity to shopping/dining/entertainment
  12. Nearby health care/medical facilities

4. Hire a real estate agent

While it’s technically possible to acquire a new-construction home without representation, having the right real estate agent can prove to be an invaluable asset. They can provide you with crucial guidance and support, helping you identify the perfect fit in a new home and community that aligns with your preferences and needs.

It’s essential to remember that the on-site agent you encounter at a new-construction office represents the builder’s interests. As a savvy homebuyer, it’s prudent to engage your own agent to join the process. Having your agent by your side will enable you to negotiate effectively and ensure you have proper protection throughout the transaction, safeguarding your best interests.

An excellent buyer’s agent possesses the ability to thoroughly review contracts before you commit, ensuring you don’t unknowingly agree to terms that solely favor the builder. Additionally, in numerous instances, the builder will cover your agent’s commission as an expression of gratitude for directing your business to them. This arrangement can be highly advantageous, providing you with professional guidance and protection throughout the buying process at no direct cost to you.

Landers advises that before hiring an agent, it’s essential to conduct thorough due diligence.

5. Shop home builders

Just like when selecting a real estate agent, it’s crucial to find a homebuilder with a strong reputation. Take the time to review their online feedback and testimonials. Additionally, closely examine the floor plans they provide. Ensuring that the builder offers floor plans that align with your family’s current requirements and future growth needs is essential for making a wise decision.

There are other important factors to consider as well. Given that finances often play a significant role for new-construction buyers, it’s essential to thoroughly compare and contrast the builder incentives that are being offered. Taking the time to evaluate these incentives will help you make a well-informed decision that aligns with your financial goals and priorities.

It’s advantageous to find a builder that provides buyer incentives, such as special financing deals or assistance with closing costs. Additionally, if you come across a builder offering complimentary upgrades in the home, such as upgraded cabinets, appliances, or improved flooring, these perks can be significant wins for the customer.

Consider posing the following questions as well:

  • What are the HOA dues? Are they monthly or annual? What do they cover as far as amenities, activities, and programs?
  • Can guests use the community pool, fitness center, and other amenities?
  • What is the community pet policy?
  • Do you offer a new home warranty? If so, what does it cover?
  • What are the average utility bills and other associated costs of home ownership in the community?

6. Decide whether to build or buy move-in ready

Spec homes are constructed, or at least initiated, without having a buyer contract in place and can be found in different stages of construction. When the home is completed or nearly finished, it may also be referred to as “move-in ready” or “quick move-in” (QMI), usually available for occupancy within three months. However, it’s worth noting that each builder may have its own interpretation of what “quick” entails.

“Build from scratch” entails commencing construction from the ground up after you finalize the contract. Generally, the process of building a home from scratch takes around 6.5 months, though this timeline can significantly vary depending on the builder. To gain clarity, it is essential to inquire about the specific timeline from the builder you are considering. Buyers who can patiently wait during this period may enjoy the advantage of having more control over various design decisions. This control may encompass aspects like the home’s layout, finishes, and other personalized details, making it a potentially rewarding choice for those seeking a customized living space.

To avoid any confusion, it’s crucial for homebuyers to recognize the significant distinction between a build-from-scratch home offered by a production builder in a planned community and a “custom home.” In the case of a custom home, you take on full responsibility for every aspect, which includes purchasing the land, engaging an architect, obtaining construction loans, handling city permits, and more. Building a truly custom home can be a lengthier process, sometimes taking up to two years to complete due to the extensive level of personalization involved.

7. Sign a builder contract

Based on the type of home you select, the subsequent step involves signing a contract. If you opt for a move-in-ready home, the sales process will resemble a typical real estate transaction for an existing house. You make a down payment, move in, and commence with monthly mortgage payments.

On the other hand, if you lean towards a build-from-scratch situation, the financing process will differ. When you sign a builder contract, there will likely be a required deposit, typically ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. The good news is that “most builders use this deposit as a credit toward the purchase price of the home,” according to Turner.

Within the contract, the projected completion timeline should be specified. This is also an opportune moment to seek clarification on how unforeseen issues during construction will be handled. For instance, what recourse do you have if supply chain delays impact the construction schedule, and how will any changes be communicated to you?

To ensure you’re protected, it’s advisable to have your real estate agent review the contract. Additionally, seeking legal counsel to review the agreement and all addendums before signing can provide an added layer of protection.

8. Prepare to move in

If you plan to sell your current home before moving into your new build, it’s essential to seek advice from your real estate agent regarding the optimal timing to put your current home on the market. Waiting too long might result in a situation with dual mortgages, so proper planning is crucial. However, in the event that you sell your current home before your new-construction home is completed, you may need to arrange for interim housing and storage for your belongings during the transition. This aspect adds an additional consideration to the purchase of a new-construction home.

Furthermore, prospective buyers should refrain from making significant purchases like buying new furniture or a car during the interim period while their home is being built. Such actions can negatively impact their credit score and potentially jeopardize their mortgage approval. Practicing financial caution during this time is essential to ensure a smooth and successful home buying process.

9. Have your new home inspected, and do a final walk-through

Despite something being new, it doesn’t guarantee absolute perfection. Even if your new-construction home comes with a home warranty, it remains essential to conduct an inspection before officially taking ownership.

Throughout the construction process, new-construction homes undergo inspections by local municipalities, and before move-in, these groups provide a final certificate of occupancy (CO) to ensure compliance with regulations. However, it’s advisable to hire your own home inspector to ensure that everything meets your standards.

Before moving in, you should also be granted the opportunity to perform a final walk-through of your home. During this walk-through, you can create a “punch list” of items for the builder to address, typically consisting of minor issues such as paint drips and scuffs on floor tiles, ensuring that your new home is in pristine condition.

10. Close on your mortgage and move in

Once your new-construction home is finally complete, the builder will likely be eager to close the deal and have you move in swiftly. This is one reason why many builders prefer when homebuyers work with their preferred lenders; it helps ensure a smooth and timely transfer of ownership.

When you receive the go-ahead to proceed, be prepared to act promptly. At that stage, you’ll be expected to make the full down payment (minus your initial deposit) and commence making monthly mortgage payments to your lender moving forward. Being prepared and responsive will facilitate a seamless transition into your new home.

Experts in Residential Real Estate in Orlando

If you are BUYING or SELLING real estate it’s quiet often the single most important financial decision you make. For the last 30 years we have helped clients buying and selling property in Orlando and the surrounding areas. Put simply, this means the knowledge and expertise accumulated over this time ensures our clients get the best representation possible.

Our experienced agents will help and guide you through the entire process providing valuable support every step of the way.

Ready to make a Move?

Bardell Real Estate are the experts in helping you with your selling, buying or renting needs near Orlando, Florida. Make your Disney area experience a forever memorable one. Call us now to speak to a real estate agent.