Archive for April, 2011

NEW RENTAL LISTING: 130 Mohegan Road in St. Augustine South

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

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

130 Mohegan Road, home for rent from St. Augustine Team Realty

130 Mohegan Road, home for rent from St. Augustine Team Realty

We are pleased to announce a new rental listing at 130 Mohegan Road in St. Augustine South.

It’s an extremely lovely 3 bedroom / 2 bath home nestled amongst the trees in with brand new appliances in the kitchen. There is new paint throughout and its just been rewired. There is tile in living and wet areas – and new carpet in the bedrooms. There’s a large sunroom/family room with laminate floors, and the oversized master bedroom has room for a den or office area. There’s a large deck out back and a fully fenced back yard. There is a deep one car garage, a cute front porch, and its just a short walk to the intracoastal waterway. Central heat and air. 

Offered at $1,100 a month.  First, last, security. 

Please contact me at to know more about this lovely home!

I Just Discovered the Square Footage Was Wrong! What do I do?

Monday, April 25th, 2011

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

I bought a house last month and I just discovered the square footage was wrong!  What do I do?  Who was negligent?

Did you check the measurements yourself?

Did you check the measurements yourself?

This question came up in an online forum this morning and here’s how I answered it…

You were…here’s why: the appraisal.  If you financed the home you get an appraisal, and the appraisal notes the square footage.  When you signed the closing paperwork you signed off on the appraisal.  If you had any issue with the square footage that was the time to say something.

Failing that you could have checked that tax rolls and compared that number with the advertised square footage, or you could have simply measured the house yourself.

Even the survey would have had the square footage on it.

Here’s what Brian Rayl, a Dallas Realtor, said on the subject: “Does it say where [the seller] got the number that they used?  If so, it was probably the tax roles. They have a reference point to show that they believed the number to be true and accurate, so it would not be a misrepresentation, it would be a mistake.  Big difference.  Legally and ethically responsible?  You are, and perhaps your agent.”

But does it really matter?  Obviously there was something you liked about the house.  It passed the eyeball test in the sense that, to your eyes anyway, the available space would fit your needs.  Does it fit your needs any less now, and if so, why?

For a company that will always help you navigate the available square footage, choose St. Augustine Team Realty.  Email us at .

April 2011 Real Estate Market Report for St. Augustine

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

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

Well, the month is halfway over but we finally have the April 2011 Real Estate Report out for St. Augustine.

We actually expected the market to soften a bit this month compared with the same time last year, due to the frenzied buying driven by the tax credit in the spring of 2010.  But the market is actually stronger this first quarter 2011 than it was at the same time last year.  A good sign that the economy is getting stronger.

You can get the relevant statistics on the Market Report page at, and you can watch the video below.

Broker’s Opinion: Lease Option, WTF are You Thinking?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

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

Even people in the future can't figure this out.

Even people in the future can't figure this out.

Realtors are very sanguine group and it’s almost part of our job description to appear unruffled and calm.  You would be surprised at how hard this front is to keep up some days.

If you were ever to go behind the scenes, the business of real estate sales is essentially the job of spin controlling a nearly continuous cascade of irrational decisions by buyers, sellers and other Realtors that can leave us pulling our hair out at the end of the day.

One of those continuous WTF moments we have is with the Lease Option.

Basically the way a lease option works is that a buyer puts a down payment down on a house and then agrees to lease it for a set term, usually a year.  If at the end of the lease the buyer decides to buy, the down payment and a portion of the rent paid goes toward the purchase price.  If the buyer decides not to buy he loses the down payment and gets no credit back from the rent. 

I will not get into the positives or negatives of a lease option here.  What I will get into is that rarely a day goes by that we don’t get a request phrased as “what do we have in the way of lease options.”  And this is where we have our WTF moments.

And this is why: people with bad credit are the ones hunting for these lease options.  People who have been foreclosed upon.  People who have had bankruptcies.  People who have judgments levied against them.

These are good people, there’s nothing wrong with these people.  But why, Why, WHY? (!) would you want to to get back in the game after all of that?  What on earth would posses you to want to put yourself back in a situation that just bit you so badly, and so hard?

Is it like being a moth drawn to the flame?  Is it like a gambling addiction, where you say to yourself, “this time it will be different.”

There is a small cadre or lease option sellers who have made a cottage industry of making a living off the credit risky.  Lease option the house.  Take the down payment.  Sell the lesee the house with seller financing.  The lesee defaults, they always do, because the interest is high and they can’t pay the balloon note.  Foreclosure.  Fix the home back up, lease option it again.  Over and over.  And no shortage of takers, ever, on the lease. 

Why, Why WHY? (!!!)

Rent! Yes, rent! 

Looking for a group of Realtors that will tell you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear?  Call St. Augustine Team Realty at (904) 825-0099 or email us at .

Do I Owe Delinquent Condo or HOA fees if I Buy a Bank Owned or Foreclosed Property?

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

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

Bomb 'em back to the stone age!

Bomb 'em back to the stone age!

Do I owe delinquent condo or HOA fees if I buy a bank owned or foreclosed property?

That’s a great question.  In Florida the short answer is “no.”

When a home is foreclosed on in Florida, the proceeds from the foreclosure sale go first to pay off any delinquent property taxes* (see update below), then the lender who holds the first mortgage, then any second mortgages, and then whatever’s left goes to pay delinquent HOA or condo dues, etc., in the order which they were filed.

In today’s market most of the homes going through foreclosure are worth less than what they were originally purchased for, so after the taxes are cleared the first lender gets paid, but not as much as they are owed.  And everybody else, including any second (also called junior) mortgage, is left holding an empty bag.  Foreclosure wipes out the old leins, including any past due HOA and condo fees that didn’t get paid.  I’ve been told that even an IRS lein gets wiped out if it isn’t filed on time or correctly in these cases.

The HOA or condo community could theoretically go after the old owner for a delinquency judgment, but good luck.  Even if they found the old owner they would probably end up spending legal fees in excess of the amount owed.  Plus, even if they get to court the judge might be very reluctant to enforce condo dues on a former owner who’s already lost everything.

So what’s an association to do?

Well, some associations have been approaching the new owners and trying to get them to pay a past owner’s delinquency.  You know, they’re using the schtick about being a “team player,” or, “don’t ruffle feathers in the community.”

As of this writing we have a call into an expert who would know for certain, but based on what we know right this minute, an association has no reason or right to approach a new owner about fees that have been since wiped out by foreclosure.  In fact, if it were me that the association approached, my first inclination would be to contact an attorney and (to use a military term) “bomb them back to the stone age.”  I could use some extra spending money, after all.  But that’s just me.

Ok, I just finished talking to Stephen Collins at Land Title of America in St. Augustine and here’s what he told me. When a property is foreclosed on and it’s the bank that buys it back, after the delinquent property taxes are paid, by law they have to pay up to 12 months of delinquent association fees or 1% of the outstanding mortgage amount (whichever is less) for an HOA, or up to 6 months of delinquent association fees or 1% (whichever is less), including any attorney’s fees, before they can clear title. If it is NOT the bank that buys the home on the courthouse steps, then the buyer has to pay the entire amount of delinquent fees including attorney’s fees. OUCH!

But a condo or association cannot come back to a new owner and put a lein on them for someone else’s delinquent fees, especially if it’s the bank that forecloses, and then someone else buys it from the bank.

For a great group of agents who know their stuff, give St. Augustine Team Realty a call at (904) 825-0099 or just email us at .

Price Reduction: Down $8000, now just $3,500!

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

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

If you know anything about Flagler Estates you know its had its ups and downs.

Typically the lots will sell for $3500 to $5000 or even more if they’ve been developed.  Back during the real estate boom these lots shot up for a short period to almost $40,000 each for an undeveloped lot, but now they’re back to where they started (as has most real estate)!

Flagler Estate lots are typically advertised as 1.25 acres, but when you factor out the right of way they tend to run more 1.01 to 1.11 acres.  These lots have what is called Open Rural zoning, which encompasses a variety of uses, and allows up to one horse per acre if you are of the equestrian set.

This particular lot we have at 10135 Nikolich is your typical Flagler lot, priced correctly.  It is a treed lot, undeveloped, a few blocks off the main thoroughfare of Flagler Estates Boulevard.  Our research indicates that it is in the X-500 flood zone, which is not a zone that typically requires flood insurance (from a mortgage lender for a house located there).

Find out more by clicking the link above or the photo below.

10135 Nikolich Avenue, lot for sale in St. Johns County, Florida.

10135 Nikolich Avenue, lot for sale in St. Johns County, Florida.

As a Seller, What Do You Do When You Get a Lowball Offer?

Monday, April 11th, 2011

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

What do you do as a home seller when you get a lowball offer?

Well your first inclination my be to tear it up, throw a fit, counter at full price, etc.

Don't crush that lowball offer...yet.

Don't crush that lowball offer...yet.

Don’t do that.  Simply make a reasonable counter offer as if the original offer was in the ballpark.


This buyer has your money in his or her pocket.  You can’t get your money (in trade for the home) if you aren’t cool and calm about it.

It could be that the buyer got bad advice, or watched too many shows on HGTV that encouraged half price offers.  So don’t hold it against them.  Just disregard this bad first number and counter normal.

We’re actually seeing a lot of this lately.  Buyers that missed the bottom of the market* are now desperate to get in before prices go up.  You, as the seller, don’t have to give them bottom of market pricing, but you still have to give someone market pricing to sell.  So instead of rejecting the offer and waiting for another one, try and work the one you have.  Worst case scenario is that the buyer really is nuts and will miss out on the home, which is no skin off your teeth.

* The market is stable for single-family homes, and for condos under $140k, in St. Augustine.  For condos above $200k it’s still a buyer’s market.

For a group of agents that will work to make sure you get the most money for your home call St. Augustine Team Realty at (904) 825-0099, or email .

Having Fun for a Good Cause: Taste of St. Augustine/Race to the Taste 5k 2011

Friday, April 8th, 2011
Our agent Peter Gold winning the Race to the Taste!

Our agent Peter Gold winning the Race to the Taste!

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

We had a blast this weekend a the Taste of St. Augustine and Race to the Taste 5k!

As you know, the Taste and Race benefit Epic Community Services, which is the administrator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Johns County.  So what we were supporting is a really great cause.  Plus there was a lot of great food there, so that was a bonus.

Our agent, Peter Gold, actually ran in the race and placed first in his age group and 13th overall out of 340+ runners.  It’s worth mentioning that Peter is 60 years old.  That he can run racers 1/3rd his age into the dust is amazing. 

We had a free drawing for some flowers and a gift basket, the winners (all of St. Augustine) were: Paul Navarro, Karen Winters, and Laurie Penney.

We look forward to seeing everyone else at the Taste and Race next year!

I’m VERY Unhappy with My Listing Agent and Want to Cancel, but they Won’t Let Me!

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

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


Maybe it's time to look in the mirror.

Maybe it's time to look in the mirror.

So you’re unhappy with your listing agent, are you, and you want to get out?

The genesis for this is a question I saw posted on a Trulia forum recently, the misspelled words (for once) are not mine:

I’m very unhappy with my listing agent, I want to cancel but they wouldn’t let me, what can I do?  My listing agent past 3 months , she didn’t do anything, no advertising, no open houses, no showings.. I want to cancel my listing and now she saing she cant, or I need to pay them 285$ , I spoke with her broker and he said this same. I wat to pull my house from the market and thay said I can’t, I need to wait until listing expire. What I can do?”

Here’s how I answered:

Sorry, sweetheart, but this is on you. Unless we’re talking about a brand new agent, I’m sure this is not the first house she ever listed. She has a track record, in other words, and apparently you didn’t look at it.

‘She didn’t do anything, no advertising, no open houses, no showings,’  if that’s true then other past customers could have told you that.  But you went ahead and hired her anyway.

One last thing, even the most incompetent Realtor can sell a home under the right price and terms.  Is your house priced right?  Are you letting agents show it when someone calls to make an appointment?

If you really need to get out pay the $285, but don’t do it without looking in the mirror first.”

My comments were not intended to be cruel to this seller.  Real estate brokers, like myself, have to hire agents everyday as part of the business…and boy do we make mistakes sometime.  We get sucked into the same, “Well we’ve seen them around at board meetings and mixers, and I haven’t heard anything bad about them.”  So we give a basic look into their numbers and we don’t check with past customers…and then we hire someone and they are not as advertised.  And the only person we can blame is ourselves, or really, myself.

Back in the heady days of the real estate boom we hired a lady who, get this, didn’t realize being a real estate sales agent required…selling.  We put her through training and she kept bucking the concept of…selling. 

“I could never sell anything,” she said.  “I’ll just wait until people ask me.”

She obviously didn’t understand this business.  So I said, “Fine, why don’t you at least promote yourself as a former financial planner in your ads.  People wanting to sell real estate might find that an attractive attribute.”

And she said, “Oh, no.  I could never self promote like that.”

Do you think we could have figured this out with a better interview?  Yep.  But we were stuck with her until she washed out, which was thankfully not long after. 

If you want a group of Realtors that will tell you what you need to hear vs. what you want to hear, call St. Augustine Team Realty at (904) 825-0099 or email us at .


NEW PRICE: You Have to Love Trees & The Ocean

Monday, April 4th, 2011

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

168 Turtle Bay Lane, Click for more info, video and larger photos.

168 Turtle Bay Lane, Click for more info, video and larger photos.

168 Turtle Bay Lane in Ponte Vedra Beach has now been reduced to $349,900.  Don’t let the address fool you…this home is only 8 minutes to St. Augustine, but 22 minutes to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra.

This home has a big lot with the yard removed for your convenience.  A quarter acre of windswept coastal oaks surround your home providing a level of privacy for you, your family and guests that you’ve never experienced before in a home at the beach. 

 This 4-bedroom/3-bath home boasts a wide open floor plan that is perfect for entertaining: a gourmet kitchen with double ovens, curving staircase, gigantic dining room with massively high ceiling, and a living area with floor-to-ceiling sliders that disappear and open to a 41 x 10 screened patio, nearly doubling the space.  Your and light-and-bright master bedroom has a private deck/terrace with views of the ocean, including breathtaking views of sunsets, the marsh and Intracoastal.  You have a huge front porch for relaxing.

You have private beach access via an easy walk through the Turtle Tunnel under A1A,.

This home is very Green: xeriscaped and nestled in the trees, it includes a 2-zone computerized A/C that (combined with tree cover and ocean breezes) makes it easier and less costly to heat and cool.  A rare coastal home located in flood zone X500 (not in the high dollar AE zone as most are): this home may save you thousands of $$$ every year in insurance just because of this designation.

The huge screened patio includes all weather fans. The living area includes a fireplace. The tiled gourmet kitchen includes wine rack, closet pantry, cabinets with lazy susans and pull-out shelves, a 9 x 7 breakfast nook, double ovens and beautiful windows. The master suite includes a cupola, private balcony with ocean and marsh views, garden tub, seperate stand up shower, and his-and-her closets. The home has a security system, two walk-in closets, and under-stair storage. New Stainmaster carpet in upstairs bedrooms with 5-year warranty.

This custom built 2-story masonry/frame home (not an ICI production home) was built in 1995 and some would say some of the paint and counter colors need updating…you decide. With wonderful views of Intracoastal and Ocean, you may be too distracted to paint at all.

Call Kate at (904) 377-2276 or Sean at (904) 386-8327 for more information, or just email to !