Archive for September, 2009

Real Estate in St. Augustine: The Worst Value at the Beach?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

by Staff

Two weeks ago we did a post on what we thought two of the best values at the beach were.  If you recall they were Anastasia By the Sea (great location and condition for the price) and Anastasia Island Townhomes (incredible central location plus great square footage and parking).

Now, what about the worst?

I think if you asked us a year ago our opinion of Pier Point South Condos would have been a lot worse.  It’s practically on top of the pier with all its activity and traffic, its aesthetics are not that great, the beach washes away in front of it periodically (right now the beach there doesn’t exist at high tide), and the list prices were, in my opinion–and this is coming from a pro– ridiculous. 

Even though the beach is still mostly not there, and the aesthetics aren’t great, we have a much higher opinion of Pier Point South this year.

First of all the units all went under a major exterior renovation…it looks newer.  Secondly, I like all the traffic and activity at the pier…it’s where I usually go when I go to the beach (well, maybe a few blocks south now where there’s some sand).

And price looks like it’s getting in line.  The lone sale this year was in the $240,000s, about where it should be.  There are still the ridiculous listings at $450,000 or above, but as long as one seller is willing to price it with the market, that’s all you need to get the other sellers either in line or out of the game.

What a Realtor in St. Augustine Does Part II

Friday, September 25th, 2009

by Sean

Earlier in the week I did a post about what a Realtor actually does.  Today I posted a follow up on my own website, What a Realtor Does Part II.  Enjoy!

St. Augustine Real Estate: What Does Your Realtor Do?

Monday, September 21st, 2009

by Sean

It’s been said that if you could just go online and buy a house you wouldn’t need a Realtor.  You can also just stick a sign and a yard and sell your own house.

I think the reason we need Realtors is because average people cock things up so much, and that’s why Realtors like me have a profession. 

Theoretically it’s an easy thing: you find a house you like and you buy it.  But there’s so much drama.

Here’s some of the issues I’ve seen pop up over the years:

  • A buyer wanted to to buy a house near the beach, and yet seemed astounded when I advised her that she needed flood insurance.
  • I had another Realtor tell my customers as we were showing a house that some river rocks around the house made it “termite-proof.” I had to convice these buyers that there is no such thing as “termite proof” in Florida.
  • In a sale where I had the buyers, the sellers claimed on a written disclosure that the home never had seen hide nor hair of termites, yet proudly presented receipts for work done to repair “extensive termite damage.”
  • I’ve had the sellers in a transaction swear a home was termite free.  After termites were discovered and a pest service came out to fumigate, the neighbor strolled over and said, “well, they’re finally doing something about those termites.”
  • After a lender told me three days before closing that the buyer’s paperwork was good and we would close on time, the lender disappeared. I had the sellers and it was a very rough month until we could close again with another lender.
  • At a home inspection one of my partners attended, they opened the door to find a man standing there with a gun drawn.  He was the tenant and the seller didn’t bother informing him that people were coming in that morning.

So, just to recap, what does a Realtor do?  Keeps the buyers and sellers (and other Realtors) honest, massages away problems when they happen, and occasionally finds a gun stuck in their face, facing it all with unbelievable calm.

Two Great Values in St. Augustine Real Estate

Friday, September 18th, 2009

by Sean

Here’s a post I did for my own website on two of the best values I’ve ever listed in St. Augsutine.  Enjoy!

Real Estate in St. Augustine: Buying a Short Sale

Monday, September 14th, 2009

by Sean Hess

We’ve done a bit already on what to do if you need to sell a short sale, now a bit about buying one.

It’s a pretty straight forward process, you just have to be prepared to wait a long time to find out if you’ll be successful or not.

The big difference between a short sale and a regular sale is that the seller’s lender has to approve the sales price.  The lender can sometimes take 90 days to give an answer, thus the long waits.  During this time there is no news…I mean absolutely zero news…on the status of the offer with the lender.  It’s like the offer goes into a big dark hole.

You make an offer like you would on any other home…typically the seller signs whatever offer comes across the table because they are just trying to get rid of the house.  The offer is then turned over to a negotiator…sometimes it’s the seller’s Realtor, sometimes a law firm, sometimes a title company, sometimes a “short sale specialist,” which is often one of the first three who has given themselves a fancy title.

There are sometimes other offers on the table at the same time.  Sometimes a lender will give instructions that they want offers only one at a time, other times they want to see all offers. 

As a buyer you will need to turn in your pre-approval letter or proof of funds with the offer or it will not be considered by the lender.

After a time, sometimes a very long time, the lender will typically fax an answer and what the terms are for them to accept a short sale.  Sometimes the bank will try and feel the buyer out directly to see if they will go any higher. 

In the successful cases I’ve worked with the bank often gives an approval of the sales price for only a set amount of time, for example, 21 days.  So you have to have your ducks in a row with your own lender and get your inspections done fast. 

In the unsuccessful cases the bank will come back with a price that is out of line.  The lenders are often very rigid with this amount.  In these cases my buyers have went to different short sale homes in the same neighborhood and been successful.   

If you’ve got time to wait, and don’t mind any missing houses that may come on and off the market while you wait, a short sale is the way to go.

Cash Flow on Residential Property In St. Augustine

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

by Sean

Here’s a post I just did for my own website for figuring Cash Flow on Residential Property in St. Augustine. I hope you enjoy it!

St. Augustine Real Estate: Buying a Condo

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

by Sean

Condo sales in St. Augustine are about a third to half of where they were in the boom market. 
Why? Inventory and credit.
Condos up and down the beach have seen relatively few foreclosures based on their size, but mainland condos, specifically ones completed between 2005-2007 (not the older, established communities) have seen foreclosure rates that are pretty high. 
So the established communities with solid track records get lumped into the same credit pool as the more risky group.  Yet a new townhome community with the same problems as a new condo community can get easy lending because it’s classified as residential/single-family home.
Thus the high inventory.
As a rule of thumb you HAVE to get with your lender, because they may not even lend in this market.  While FHA is available for some communities with only 3.5% down (on a case by case basis), typically your talking 20%, 30%, or even 50% down to conventionally finance a condo.
Once you narrow your targets, here’s some things your lender may need to know if you want to buy a condo in St. Augustine today:
  • Does the community have at least 70% primary residents (in other words, less than 30% rentals).  I do not know of a community in St. Augustine that will meet this criteria.
  • Does the community have insurance? I don’t know of any that do not.
  • Is the community involved in any litigation?
  • Is the community over 10% delinquent in its association fees?