The Live Local Project

Our goal at The Live Local Project is to share the awesome things we all love about the cities we live in!

One of my favorite things to do is speak to the people that actually live in an area and get great nuggets about where to eat, what do to, where to shop, and what we absolutely must see before we go.

No matter where you go it's always good to have a resource to tell you how you too can live like a local! Let us be that resource for you!

Live local. Shop Local. Be a local.


May 26, 2020

What are CDD and HOA fees?


CDD vs HOA: What’s the Difference?


Home buyers, especially first-time home buyers, have many things to consider. One of those questions they should make sure to ask is:

Does the home you’re interested in require CDD or HOA fees?

These fees are extra charges that can affect your monthly payment. There might also be community restrictions to consider when looking for your home as well such as the number of pets you can have, or what color you are allowed to paint your home.

To help you make an informed decision let's drill down into the differences between CDD's and HOA's.

What Is a CDD?

A Community Development District (CDD) is a type of government entity that provides infrastructure such as roads, utilities, and amenities to specific planned unit development (PUD).

Most planned communities are CDD's. This means they normally have community amenities such as pools, tennis courts, pickle ball, bocce ball, or they could have an activity staff and planned community events. We have several wonderful planned CDD communities in Manatee and Sarasota counties such as; Arbor Grande, Bridgewater, Central Park, Del Webb at Lakewood.

The developer can finance the costs of infrastructure for a community with a CDD tax-free municipal bond. This bond is basically a loan and is repaid by the homeowners in the community. Each property is charged an annual amount. This shows as an assessment on the homeowners’ tax bill and is collected by the county tax collector. If you have a mortgage, this is built into your monthly mortgage payment and paid by your mortgage company.

Generally a portion of the CDD is collected as actual bond repayment. The balance is the continued Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of the development. The bond portion has an end date. Make sure to inquire when the bond will be paid off, because that will leave you with only the O&M portion to pay.

What Is a HOA?

An HOA (Homeowners Association or POA Property Owners Association) can vary based on the community or subdivision. An HOA fee is a predetermined set fee that each homeowner in the community pays monthly, quarterly, or annually to help maintain the community. In an HOA community a homeowner is subject to certain Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). These outline what a homeowner may or may not do with the property.

If the home you’re looking at is in a HOA community that has a CDD, the HOA deals with the overall condition of the neighborhood and ensures the covenants and restrictions are adhered to regarding the appearance of the homes in the community.

If your subdivision is only a HOA community, the HOA is there to make sure the pool, playgrounds, and common areas are well maintained and the CC&Rs are upheld by the residents.

Fines may be issued to homeowners who don’t abide by the CC&Rs, and some communities may even place liens against homes for broken rules and unpaid fines. To find out if the home you’re interested in has this particular fee make sure to review the Sellers Property Disclosure.

It's important to remember that homeowners pay CDD and/or HOA fees in addition to any mortgage payment they may have. These fees must be factored in when calculating “how much house” you can afford.

There are many pros and cons to living in an HOA/CDD community. Make sure your Realtor explains the differences, and that you review a copy of the CC&R's either before you make an offer or as part of the offer process.

If you have any additional questions about CDD's, HOA's, or anything else regarding buying real estate in Manatee and Sarasota County don't hesitate to reach out to us at 941-202-1723 or

May 22, 2020

Vacation Rentals Back for Sarasota and Manatee Counties


The Department of Business & Professional Regulation has approved the plans related to the reopening of vacation rentals in Sarasota and Manatee County's counties. 


As a reminder, as part of the governor's full phase 1 reopening of Florida that was announced last week and made official by Executive Order 2020-123, all counties may seek approval to operate vacation rentals with a written request from the County Administrator and the county’s safety plan for vacation rental operation submitted to DBPR.


To help assist Florida counties with the development of their vacation rental reopen plans, DBPR has offered the following guidance:


Recommended Safety Measures

Effective May 18, 2020, the following measures are recommended as minimum standards for vacation rentals that are accepting reservations and guests for any length of stay:

  • Maintain adequate time between the conclusion of a guest stay and the check-in of the next guest stay for appropriate cleaning and sanitation.
  • Clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in the property between each guest stay
  • Wash all linens, dishware, and other service items available for use by guests between each guest rental.
  • Provide sufficient soap and surface sanitation supplies for guests to utilize in the vacation rental property during the guest’s rental period.
  • Ensure adequate safety protocols are in place and publicly displayed, in line with CDC guidance, regarding shared or multi-residence amenities such as pools, gyms, and other communal spaces.

Click here for other best practices.


In addition to this guidance, Sarasota County has provided Recommendations for Property Owners and Managers.

Posted in Community Updates
April 21, 2020

Island Bar & Grill Surfside Beach, SC


Island Bar & Grill in Surfside Beach, South Carolina is truly the bar where "everybody knows your name." (I dare you not to sing that theme song in your head!)

Originally from Maine, Brandon and Cynthia Bushaw opened Island Bar and Grill in 2004. They never imagined just how much this little hometown bar would capture their heart and the hearts of the community.

Brandon and Cynthia have been each others sweethearts since they were in middle school, and began their exciting adventure of owning their own restaurant just a few short years later at the ages of 22 & 23! Little did they know that their decision to open one of the best restaurants in the area would bring them the following they have now.

Their commitment to not your typical "bar food" is what sets them apart from all the rest. One of the early pioneers of craft beer in our area Island Bar and Grill strives to think outside the box when it comes to new additions to their menu.

A new item I cannot WAIT to try is their Philly Cheesesteak Totchos! How can you go wrong with Philly Cheese Steak on top of tator tots?? Two CAN'T!

There are not many days that you could visit Island Bar and Grill where you wouldn't run into the entire Bushaw family (including their adorable kids Aria & Kellen)! Just a few that you might have the chance to meet are; sister Juliann Bushaw DeForrest & brother-in-law Trip DeForrest of The Deforrest Team, sister Melissa Doucette of Doucette Appraisals & brother-in-law Tom of Gutter Techs, or their parents Tim & Karin Bushaw of TK Cleaning.

The most awesome thing about this family is that they are all local small business owners. They all do what they can to support each other and other small businesses in our community! To know them is to love them, and once you're in your're part of the family too!

So what are you waiting for?? Call Island Bar and Grill in Surfside and grab a dinner you won't soon forget!


Order Online - Island Bar & Grill Surfside Beach Website

Call ahead - 843-650-3157

Become a FAN on facebook

Join their Friends of Island Bar Group

Follow them on Instagram

Give them some love on Yelp

Check out their tweets on Twitter

Posted in Beach Eats
April 20, 2020



One of my favorite foods is BBQ! There is not much that can compete with BBQ that is done really well and SMOQE HOUSE has it down to a science!
SMOQE HOUSE AMI is located in Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island. We visit at least once a month and try out their new tatsy creations!
Priding themselves on being a fast casual eatery they feature hand crafted sandwiches, salads, soups, fries and whatever else the creatives have up their sleeves that day!
SMOQE HOUSE is not a fly by night operation. It is a concept that owners Andy and Heidi Kubes developed after years in the restaurant industry.

"Our purpose and mission is to make amazing, quality food that is both accessible & affordable while also providing stable & rewarding job opportunities for the local community!"
The Kubes brought their commitment to quality, outside of the box, delicious food down with them from the cold north of Fairbault, MN in 2017. AMI has had their heart for years and they just knew they wanted to make this area their new home!
I challenge you to come check out Smoqe House AMI or Smoqe House in Sarasota the next time you come visit Florida's beautiful Suncoast!

While you are here go check out our first issue of The Live Local Project Newsletter April 2020.
Check out the rest of their amazing story at
Make sure to go FOLLOW and LIKE Smoqe House!