Archive for March, 2011

159 E. River Road: Riverfront Home Reduced $100,000!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

by Monica Nunchuck (, Realtor for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.

159 E River Road in East Palatka, reduced $100,000

159 E River Road in East Palatka, reduced $100,000

Reduced $100,000! 


Riverfront home on 4.5 acres offering barn and fenced pasture perfect for horse lovers.  2300 square foot stable with separate guest quarters. An oversized 6-car gargage with additional guest quarters. Located on the St Johns River. Enjoy spectacular sunsets from your river front country home. Kitchen includes Monogram appliances and granite countertops. Wet Bar. Marble/tile flooring,cathedral ceilings, skylights. Hurricane covers. Both baths have jacuzzi tubs. Metal roof on home, garage & stables which are less than 10 years old. Owner is Florida Realtor.  Now priced at $499,000!

Call Monica for more details at (904) 669-1075 or email me at !

The Appliances Have Been Changed! What Am I To Do?

Monday, March 28th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.

From this.

August 2014 Update:

I originally wrote this three years ago. It was rare then and it is rare now for a seller to try and run off with something, but it does happen, and it’s pretty stressful.

Here’s what to do if the seller runs off with your appliances…

Original March 2012 post:

So you’re going through your final walk through and the appliances that were there when you wrote your offer…aren’t there anymore.

That nice stainless refrigerator…GONE!  In it’s place is a 30-year old fridge that has seen better days.

So what are you to do?

The first thing is to check your contract.  What does it say?  Does it specifically address the appliances?

Does it say that the appliances that were there at the time of offer have to stay, or does it just say that a refrigerator is included?

It sounds like a trite answer but it really is as simple as that.

So the contract says any appliance will do–but you’re still steamed!

Most of the time if the sellers get called on it, a threat of walking away will usually do the trick in getting the appliances back.  However I will caution you that the folks who nabbed their own appliances knew exactly what they were doing when they did it, and generally won’t replace the things until the very last minute out of pride.

Now, what if the sellers won’t replace the appliances?  Do you walk? 

No … not at least until you talk to an attorney.  And before you do that ask yourself, “Am I buying the house or buying the appliances?”

You will get the last laugh if you got a really great deal.  Buy the sellers lunch and bring a copy of the appraisal showing how much more the home is worth than what you paid them for it. Better yet, email them a snapshot of it and a picture of the updated appliances you treated yourself to after you found out how much equity you now have.

The strangest thing I’ve seen a seller remove was a mailbox … post and all.  Seriously!  Stop laughing!

So we get to the closing table and I say, “Well, you know, were you going to return the mailbox?”

And the seller says, “Well, it had sent-i-men-tuhl value.” 

It’s possible. I’ve seen the movie Up.

So I say, “But were you going to replace it then?”

And the seller says, “Well, I’ll think about it.”

My buyers closed anyway because it was such a great story.  I even offered to buy them a new mailbox but they wouldn’t let me.

If you want a group of Realtors who will fight for your appliances at closing, email me at the address above, or contact my partner Kate Stevens at !

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Broker’s Opinion: Why I Hate Open Houses

Friday, March 25th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.

Just Say No to Open Houses

Just Say No to Open Houses

As I stated in a

post earlier this week, real estate brokers have a big difference in opinion about open houses, at least here in St. Augustine.

I’ve listened to people who have worked in other markets where 50 people may show up to an open house.  But here in St. Augustine–at least for the decade I’ve been in business, including the mad rush of the real estate boom–open houses typically attract little to no traffic.  This is not just me, this is everybody.

You know what?  I’m done with the things.  Here is why I hate open houses:

1. They are a waste of my agents’ time.

Statistically, only about 1%-2% of sales come from an open house.  I’m not going to site the source but I’ve seen that number several times in both Realtor and business publications.  Most agents sit an open house for 3 hours.

So for every hundred open houses, 300 agent hours are invested.  For a maximum of two sales. 

Three HUNDRED hours.

For TWO sales.

That’s 7.5 weeks per sale if you take into account an standard 40 hour work week.

Do you think an agent could generate more than 2 sales if they spent the 300 hours differently?  I think playing solitaire on the computer for 300 hours might generate more sales…at least the agent could post online ads and respond to emails while playing.

2. My Agents’ Safety

I’m just not in love with an sales technique that essentially advertises to the public: “Empty home available from 2-5 with agent by herself.”  Sorry, maybe it’s just the times we’re living in, but I think the open house has outlived it’s usefulness.  Adding a second agent to make it safer is certainly an option, but doubling the man hours to 600 for 2 sales (see above) makes no business sense. 

3.  I Don’t Want to Be Your Friend

This is a bit more personal: pulling a sale out of an open house means making a connection with a potential buyer in about 15 seconds. 

To quote the rock band Rush, “I just can’t pretend a stranger is a long awaited friend.”

I probably do like you.  You probably do like me.  But we need some time to get to know each other, don’t we? 

I could plant balloons around the house tied at the bottom with candy so your kids love me, I could try and make a connection with you based on where you’re from or what you do.  And that’s okay for some Realtors because it’s natural and genuine.  But not for me. 

I just want to sell the house.  If you like the house, I will help you buy it. 

But if you don’t like the house, let’s talk a bit before we start working together. 

4. I Don’t Like Being a Security Guard

An open house is an invitation to any and all strangers to come visit a property (see #2).

And I’ve had sellers dumb enough to leave prescription medications and guns out in plain view.

So, on occassion that people actually do show up to one of these open houses, I have to police the house before, during and after the showing.  I have to worry about keeping a party of two people from splitting off—so that one of them isn’t sneaking through your underwear drawer or looking for your meds while the other is distracting me. 

I can’t sell the house if I’m worried about looking after the property.

In a regular showing an agent at least knows his or her customers, they’ve spoken a few times and may even have been financially vetted. 

But the open house turns the knowing on its head.

5. Two Exceptions: When I am in Favor of an Open House

When the property is a model home selling new construction I am in favor of an open house.

Why?  Because in most cases you’re selling a home that hasn’t been built yet, and it’s easy to do.  You are selling a dream, after all, and dreams sell.

When the house comes out of the ground, the customers are so anxious to get into it they overlook all the little warts and inconsistencies (that all homes have, by the way), and it’s so little stress.

When else do I favor an open house?  When you have a re-sale home in a neighborhood full of new construction. 

New construction draws a lot of buyer traffic.  When you hold an open house in one of these neighborhoods the home you are sitting is on par with what the builder is selling.  So you can poach the buyer traffic and promise quicker close because the home is ready to go.

If you would like to sell your home with us because we do it faster than the other guy (because we actually value 300 hours of agent time), just email us at !

Price Reduction: 1587 Timber Trace in St. Augustine’s Whisper Ridge, Now $139,900

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
1587 Timber Trace Drive, Home for sale in St. Augustine's Whisper Ridge.

1587 Timber Trace Drive, Home for sale in St. Augustine's Whisper Ridge.


by Kate Stevens (, Broker Associate for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.

Where can you get a 4-bedroom home for $139,900?  The answer: in St. Augustine’s Whisper Ridge at 1587 Timber Trace Drive, that’s where!

This well maintained 4 bedroom, 2 bath home boasts a large floor plan kitchen that opens onto a family room with vaulted ceilings. The home includes a formal dining room and an upgraded master bath with garden tub.  Outside is a fenced back yard. Low association fees here in Whisper Ridge and NO CDD fees. Located close to SR16/I95 intersection, this home is  ideal for access to St Augustine and Jax. No more new construction in this subdivision. Short Sale. A portion of the sale proceeds go to Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Click the photo above for more info, larger pictures, and video of this home!

Florida Open House Weekend: How a Realtor Shouldn’t Act at an Open House.

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.

Florida Realtors Open House 2011

Florida Realtors Open House 2011

It’s the Florida Realtors statewide open house this weekend of March 26, and earlier this week I did a post aimed at buyers on how not to act at an open house.  Now it’s my turn to help you recognize bad Realtor behavior.

1. If you tell the Realtor You Aren’t in the Market, but the Agent Still Bird-dogs You

So you’re out looking at open houses to get design ideas.  And you follow my advice and tell the agent holding the open house that you are a “suspect, not a prospect.”

But then he won’t leave you alone.  He follows you around.  He tells you what a great time it is to buy. 

The best thing you can do is just leave the open house. 

While his job is to make a connection with anyone who enters (because he knows there’s only a scant 2% chance he will actually sell this particular home through an open house), if he knows you’re not a prospect and he still tries a sales job anyway, then he’s a numbskull.  He won’t even last two years in the business.  But get his name and adress so you can send him a sympathy card when he washes out.

2. When You Tell the Agent You’re Working With A Realtor, and They Won’t Leave You Alone

If you go into an open house and you tell the agent on duty that you’re working with an agent, and the agent still tries to snake you’re business, run away.  Why?  Because this person is a Scumbag.

In the Realtor world, proper protocol is that if someone else’s customer comes into an open house, and identifies themselves as such, it’s a “hands-off” situation.  In those cases the agent on duty is generally even more helpful because they know you’re a real prospect, that you have a genuine interest in the house, and they probably know the other agent and it will bring good relations for the future. 

So if a Realtor is so over-the-top by broaching protocol they are not someone you want to work with.  Because if they don’t respect proper work conduct in an environment that affects them directly, they sure as hell won’t respect your wants and needs, follow proper protocol on your behalf and may not even respect the law.

The Exception? 

When the Realtor you are working with doesn’t return your calls, disappears for long periods of time, etc. 

Say you go into an open house and the agent on duty asks, “Are you working with a Realtor?”  And you hedge. 

You were trying to see this property all week, you called your agent but he never called you back.  You emailed.  No response.  He wasn’t on vacation or out of town, he simply didn’t have any priroty about, oh, I don’t know, being in the real estate business.  So feel free to punish that agent.  And when he does call you back in two weeks explain that there is no need because “you’ve already found something.”

3. If the Realtor is Disrespectful To You, or Lies

Back in the halycon days of the real estate book I actually witnessed a Realtor speak directly to my male customer and call his wife “the little lady.”  This same ass later in the same showing told my customers the home (wood-frame construction) was “termite proof” (no such thing by the way).

The best thing you can do?  Get out fast.  This is not normal behavior.  And tell everyone you know not to work with this person.  While boorishness may not be illegal or even unethical, no customer should ever have to experience it.

Want to work with a team of GREAT Realtors? Email St. Augustine Team Realty today, !

Florida Open House Weekend: How Not to Act at an Open House.

Monday, March 21st, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.


Florida Realtors Statewide Open House 2011

Florida Realtors Statewide Open House 2011

While we’ve been very rah-rah in supporting the Florida Realtors statewide open house this coming weekend of March 26, St. Augustine agents and brokers debate endlessly on whether the open house is a viable sales tool for re-sale homes in this market.


Buyers love open houses because they can touch and feel a home.  But buyer traffic is so thin, and actual sales of open houses are so few, many in the real estate business question whether the open house is a valuable use of an agent’s time. 

In any case, the big open house weekend is coming up so there’s no ducking the issue this weekend.  So since you may be out in the field looking at houses, here’s a quick primer on how not to act in front of a real estate agent at an open house.

1. If you are a suspect, say so.

I like to go on car lots sometimes and look at cars, but just to look, not to buy.  What I tell the salesman is that “I’m a suspect, not a prospect,” and they appreciate that.  Because we’re both in the sales industry I respect their time, and by telling them this straight up they can let me go about looking at cars for fun and they can focus on the real prospects walking around the lot. 

So if you’re out looking because you just want to get decorating or design ideas, or because you’re a nosy neighbor, or just because you want to see how the other half lives, tell the Realtor that.  Don’t say, “Well, I’m just looking for a friend,” or, “I’m thinking about buying in a few months.”  Just be straight if you’re not in the market to buy.

2. Don’t Disrespect the House or the Neighborhood at an Open House

I’m at a rather advanced age for a Realtor (a decade in the business where most other Realtors wash out in two years), so I really don’t care who I offend at an open house.  If you come in and start knocking someone’s decorating, or choice of carpet…I’m going to throw you out.  Like some loudmouth at a movie theater, I’m going to chuck you out on the street.

Yes, the decorating might not be to your taste.  Yes, it may be a bit dated.  Yes, the homeowner may not be afraid of bright colors.  But they’ve lived in this house, raised kids in this house, maybe even had a loved one die in this house, and it is their sanctuary and their castle.  So if you get snarky with me about the countertops I’m calling you on it and you’re gone.

And for goodness sake don’t dis the neighborhood.  You drove through it to get to the home, didn’t you?  If it was such an awful place to live why did you stop? 

Understand this, you may be on the receiving end of those same comments some day.  Those wonderful granite counters in your own home, that Rooms To Go leather couch ensemble…in ten years some *ss might come into your open house and say, “Gosh, this house is soooo Real Housewives of Orange County.”  In other words, karma is a b*tch.

3. If You Are a Real Buyer, Understand the Role of the Agent

If you are in the market for the house then it’s the Realtor’s job to try and hook up with you and help you find something to buy.  So respect that.  And they have no illusions about selling you this particular house…they know there’s a 98% chance you’re going to buy some other house…and that’s why they’re trying so hard to make a connection before you leave.

But, if you don’t like the agent (or he’s dressed unprofessionally, or hasn’t showered, or hasn’t a brain in his or her head), you’re not obligated to work with them.  Not in the tiniest iota. 

If you already are working with a Realtor, however, tell the agent who is holding the open house.  They will still be very helpful, and they might even give your agent a call and said you stopped by.  It would just kill your Realtor to put time and effort into working with you, and show you homes, and then have you write a contract with an open house agent, effectively cutting him out of any earnings.  It’s just bad business.

Coming Wednesday, How A Realtor Shouldn’t Act at an Open House.

NEW Home for Sale: 4635 Fourth Avenue in St. Augustine, 32095

Friday, March 18th, 2011

by Kim Stacy (, Agent for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.

You will love this home I just listed near the county administration complex in St. Augustine.  Nicely maintained, this 3-bedroom, 2 bath home has and open floor plan with its own inside laundry area. It’s also a split floor plan which means the master bedroom and guest bedrooms are located on opposite sides of the home.  There’s even a walk in closest in the master suite. The location boasts an easy commute to St. Augustine or Jacksonville, so it’s a gem no matter where you work.  This short sale home is priced at $99,900.  Find out more about 4635 Fourth Avenue by giving me a call at (904) 377-0897 or emailing me at !

St. Augustine, Florida, home for sale at 4635 Fourth Avenue from St. Augustine Team Realty

St. Augustine, Florida, home for sale at 4635 Fourth Avenue from St. Augustine Team Realty

March 2011 Real Estate Market Report from St. Augustine Team Realty

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.

To See the Statistics along with this summary and video, go to the Market Report Page at

Homes: Home sales are on par with last year in terms of average price and unit sales, and we expect this for the next three months (last year home sales were boosted by the tax stimulus in a weak economy). This year the economy is stronger…after April or May we should see residential prices continuing to show appreciation when compared with the non-stimulus sales of 2010.

A unique twist this month: January price points are typically the lowest of the year. But this year January was unusually strong while February was unusually weak. Unit sales, however, remain strong.

Condos: Condos are still down. As in residential, however, January was unusually strong, and February was unusually weak. Coupled with a unusually strong February 2010 to compare with, the condo market this month looks weaker than it probably actually is.

One thing is clear however, the bargain hunters are still raiding the market below $140,000…that’s where the majority of sales are still even though inventory is getting scarce in those price points. If you are a buyer looking for a deal, it’s still a buyers market above $200,000 and especially above $500,000.

Get Your Ocean Front Here: Price Reduction of $100,000 at 6170 A1A (Atlantic East)!

Monday, March 14th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.

6170 A1A South, Altantic East 201 in St. Augustine, Florida

6170 A1A South, Altantic East 201 in St. Augustine, Florida

Live the direct oceanfront lifestyle in an elegant way.  This is not a cookie cutter condo with legions of renters heading in and out each week. This is a romantic and stylish 3-bedroom corner flat that boasts fireplace, wetbar, tiled terrace/patio, and breathtaking views of the ocean.  The unit has a large, open living and dining area with tile floors, and gourmet kitchen with granite counters and stainless appliances. The community includes pool and private beach access.  Leases must be 6-months or greater in length, which prohibits the parade of weekenders that plague other communities.  A portion of the proceeds from this sale will go to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of St. Johns County.

Now priced at $469,000…a price reduction of nearly $100,000.

Picking the Best Agent: One with LOTS of Listings, or FEWER Listings

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (   Join us on Facebook.

Picking an agent is like picking the lotto: it's not about the numbers, it's about the right numbers.

Picking an agent is like picking the lotto: it's not about the numbers, it's about the right numbers.

So you’re looking for an agent but you’re not sure about which one to chose, the mega-lister or the agent with fewer listings.

What I would be looking for is not the amount of listings listed, but the listings sold.

“The factor that I would be looking at is the conversion ratios of the brokers you are interviewing” said Tom Matthews, a Realtor from Weston, Massachusetts, in a recent online post. “There are some agents that are amazing listing agents, but not selling agents. That means they get the property listed, but can’t get it sold.”

In other words, if an agent with 50 listings at any one time is expiring out 25 and selling 25, that agent isn’t good enough for your home.  C’mon…they succeed half the time? 

Those type of numbers are basically “luck.”  You, the reader, could do that well.  Seriously, if I give you 50 random residential listings you’ll sell half.   

But if you have an agent that lists 12 and sells 10, that’s an agent who is paying attention to their inventory.

And the reason this type of agent is so good is because they have to be.  If they don’t sell 80%-90% they won’t eat.  They don’t have the luxury of a full stable of homes to fall back on.

But getting back to that agent who lists 50 and sells 25…from a real estate standpoint it’s not a bad strategy.  After all that is 25 sales. 

The agent who does 10 sales out of 12 is the better agent but has half the income.  So who would you be if you were a Realtor?

And as a Broker I honestly would love to have both types.  They both keep me in business.

But which one is the to sell your home? 

I will tell you this, the one that sells 10 out of 12 will know their conversion rate exactly, to the percentage point.  The one that sells 25 out of 50 won’t have a clue what their conversion rate is, I guarantee it.  So there’s your starting point.