Archive for June, 2011

Finding Green Incentives, Rebates and Tax Credits for Your Home

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

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

Green features in your home can lead to tax credits and rebates!

Green features in your home can lead to tax credits and rebates!

Here at the home office in St. Augustine we do Realtor training most Thursdays.  These past few weeks we’ve been doing training on Green Homes (i.e. homes with environment-friendly features or energy saving features).

While doing this training we’ve discovered a lot of nifty websites that will help you get tax credits and even rebates from the power company for green features in your own home. 

Without further ado, here they are:

For a real estate team that will always help you save lots of “green,” contact St. Augustine Team Realty!

The Real Estate Market is Okay, Really.

Monday, June 27th, 2011

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

The real estate market in St. Augustine is okay, really (with one exception).  I’ll get to the exception a little further on.

Author’s note: a single obscenity dead ahead.  If you have delicate ears proceed with caution.

The real estate market in St. Augustine is okay, but stop with the "Now is a great time to buy!" already.

The real estate market in St. Augustine is okay, but stop with the "Now is a great time to buy!" already.

I was listening to NPR on the radio yesterday and two f*cking idiots were talking about how bad the real estate market is.  These folks, who’s career choice is radio, somehow feel they know the market better than I do.

No matter how much you want to sugarcoat it, no matter how many hairbrained thoeries you want to throw at it, the sale of real estate simply comes down to supply and demand. 

Right now the supply of single family homes in St. Augustine is on par with demand.  We know this because prices are stable and even appreciating.

For example, the price of a single family home in St. Augustine has an average cost of $225,119 through the first five months of 2011, which is on par with the average cost of a home 2010.  There have been an average of 125 home sales a month in 2011, which is also on par with 2010.

Another thing to remember is that 2010 sales figures included the $8000 tax stimulus.  There is no tax stimulus this year (except for military deployed overseas), and yet sales figures are just as robust.   

Sales prices are up 3% over 2009 (so the market has appreciated, albeit modestly), but what is even more critical is that unit sales are up 10%.  So if you have the same amount of people putting their homes on the market, and you have 10% more buyers than you have had in the past, then the supply of available homes goes down, which leads to stability and appreciation.  That’s what is happening here in St. Augustine.

“Now Is a Great Time to Buy!”

Realtor and Realtor organizations have been slammed, justly in my opinion, for always trumpeting “Now Is a Great Time to Buy!”  It erodes public confidence in the real estate professional when the phrase is thrown about willy nilly.

The truth is, unless you’re a real estate investor, buying or selling a home has nothing to do with “Now Is a Great Time to Buy!”  It has to do with your needs at the time.  If you have to sell grandma’s house, for example, you have to sell grandma’s house regardless of market.  If you get transfered from Seattle to St. Augustine (after living in Seattle only two years), you’re going to get hosed regardless of market because your going to eat closing costs on both ends.  

My point is: even though the real estate market is stable and appreciating in St. Augustine, whether it’s a great time to buy or sell (or not) depends on your individual circumstance.  Don’t take this as another “You Better Buy Now Before Prices Go Up!” post from an idiot Realtor.

The exception(s).

The exception in this market is the vacation class / 2nd home class of beach condos, typically the ones that are in beachside communities.  These condos never saw the massive foreclosures that the rest of the market saw…most of the owners are stable.

But that stability in ownership is part of the problem.  These people don’t need to sell.  And since there is no need to sell there is no motivation to get price in line with market.  And since lenders have brought some sanity back to 2nd home lending (20% down, for example), no one is willing to put a lot of money down on a property where there is still a high supply and low demand (which mean prices have to come down).  So the market stagnates in a kind of Mexican standoff.

Land is somewhat of an exception.  But because the residential market is stable there is a dearth of choice in single family homes.  And since buyers aren’t finding a lot of choice in the marketplace (compared to what was available for the price two years ago), they are thinking of building.  The upshot is that after not being able to even remember the last piece of vacant land I sold, we’ve already sold two vacant lots this year and have another two under contract.  So that people are starting to build again is another good sign for this market.

If you want a team that gives you the best market advice, contact St. Augustine Team Realty!

The “Inside” Secret Meaning of Real Estate Marketing

Friday, June 24th, 2011

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

Shhh! This is top secret stuff!

Shhh! This is top secret stuff!

So you’ve been searching for the perfect home online.

Doubtless you’ve been bombarded by more clever marketing phrases than you know what to do with. I mean just how many “immaculate,” “secluded,” “fabulous” homes in “garden like settings” are there really out there anyway?  As such we thought we’d reveal some of the “inside,” secret meanings of real estate marketing:

“Seller is Motivated!” Seller wants an unrealistic price and is yelling at his real estate agent. Agent is desperate and wants an offer to stick in his face so he’ll shut up.

“Great Potential.”  If the owners would have done at least a little yard work or any maintenance at all the agent could have justified the list price.  Now it’s yours to clean up and fix up.

“Great Value, Great Location”   The location is great, but the 300-pound neighbor parades around all day in a tube top while yelling at her boyfriend on a cell phone…hence the great value.

“Exquisite home with lots of charm!”  I have no clue what the frilly wood decorations are called so I’ll just call it “CHARM!” :-)

“Loads of upgrades!”  The seller got talked into $350 a square foot crown molding by the builder.  Now you can pay extra too!

If you want a group of Realtors who won’t let YOU get talked into $350 a foot crown molding, contact St. Augustine Team Realty today!

The First Day of Summer: 3 Price Reductions!

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

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

11 Marilyn Ave, Now Just $175,000!

11 Marilyn Ave, Now Just $175,000!

Wow, it’s the summer solstice (or a day or two after) and we’ve got three great price reductions to announce!

Ever wanted to live on the Island near the lighthouse?  Well, 11 Marilyn Avenue has you covered! Now available for $175,000, this home solid concrete block home offers ISLAND living close to the beach and downtown, and State Park. Sit out in the Florida room and enjoy the coastal breezes and lush landscaping in your private back yard. This is a move in ready home in an established quite family neighborhood with NO HOA nor deed restrictions. Cannot beat the price for island living. Owner realtor. Tenanted till early July. Contact Peter Gold at (941) 914-1265 or at .

If it’s a home that you need with an easy commute to Jacksonville that’s still close to everything in St. Augustine, then 1587 Timber Trace Drive is the home you’re looking for!  This well maintained 4 bedroom/2 bath home sits in St. Augustine’s popular and established subdivision of Whisper Ridge. The open floor plan kitchen opens onto a family room with vaulted ceilings. The home includes a formal dining room, an upgraded master bath with garden tub, a fenced back yard, low association fees and NO CDD fees. Located close to SR16/I95 intersection so ideal for access to St Augustine and Jax.  No more new construction in this subdivision.  This home is a short sale, and a portion of the sale proceeds go to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of St. Johns County.  Now just $134,900! Call Kate at (904) 377-2276 to find out more or email .

Lastly, we have a great rental property available for $775 in St. Augustine’s Conquistador Condos.  This top floor unit at 36 Catalonia Court is an extremely nice 2 bedroom /2 bath condo that includes washer and dryer + all kitchen appliances.  It includes a large porch with shade in the afternoon, and basic cable is also included. This well maintained community includes 3 pools (one heated), tennis courts, community dock, clubhouse and more, and is located on the intracoastal waterway. First, last and 1 month security required.  No pets.  Available immediately. Email Sean for more information at .



Think Bud Light and Sell the House: What Beer Has Taught Me About Real Estate

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

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

Even the Prez says "Hell, yes!" to a beer now and then.

Even the Prez says "Hell, yes!" to a beer now and then.

I started thinking about this last week and asked my agents to come up with some answers: “How is Beer Like Real Estate?” or, “What Has Beer Taught Me About Real Estate?”

From Suzie Hancock: There will always be time for a few more before closing.  And…Beer: It’s been getting ugly houses laid, oops, I mean sold, for years.

From Cami Ferguson: Like real estate, sometimes my beer glass is half full, sometimes my beer glass is half empty. 

From Ron Barry: The first beer is the best beer. Your first offer should be the same.

And from myself:

Not everybody may like your weird tastes:  You may love quaffing Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard, Brewdog Sink the Bismark, and even Pelican Kiwanda Cream Ale.  But though you love them, these beers require, shall I say, eclectic tastes.  And they may sit on the shelf at the beer store collecting dust waiting for an eclectic buyer.  Think Bud Light and sell your house.

No amount of advertising can sell an overpriced beer.  I’m assuming the Pelican Kiwanda Cream Ale (above) is a more expensive beer than say, a Miller Lite.  I bet it even tastes better.  But Miller Lite will do the trick and I’m guessing after beer number three you can’t tell the difference between the two anyway.  Miller Lite sells a few more bottles than Pelican Kiwanda Cream Ale.

You get what you pay for.   That being said, Sam Adams also costs more than Miller Lite…and people are fine with that. 

For agents that are stone cold sober during business hours but who can still throw down (or up), now and then, contact St. Augustine Team Realty!

Photo credit: the Washington Examiner

I Want Out of My Contract Because the Closing is Delayed!

Friday, June 17th, 2011

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

So you didn't get nuts on your what!

So you didn't get nuts on your what!

“I want out of my contract because the closing was delayed!”

I saw this rant in an online post sometime this week and you know something, this type of comment is way too common in real estate.

Real estate transactions have a lot of moving parts, and sometimes the parts don’t mesh well.  Hang ups and glitches happen.  It’s not neccessarily supposed to move like a Swiss watch.  It helps when it does, but it often doesn’t. 

So if you’re a seller should you blame the buyer when Bank of America or some other third-world lender can’t deliver a loan package on time?  These are the same banks that were part of the financial crisis after all…how can you possibly blame a buyer?  Expect delays.  These are bankers.  FedEx and UPS may pride themselves on on-time delivery, but banks do not.

And if you’re the buyer and the loan package magically appears and you want to close early…and the seller can’t…don’t lose your mind.  These people weren’t expecting to move this early.  Maybe the new place isn’t ready yet.  Who knows?

As Realtors we understand that some of this is just posturing by a person who wants to get things done quicker.  We understand that you may need to blow off steam (we’re fine with this, by the way).  Realtors also understand that people have to miss work to attend closings, and it isn’t easy telling your boss you need to change your schedule (again).  And Realtors understand that rescheduling everything else at the last minute is also an issue. 

But also understand this: throwing tantrums doesn’t help.  Beyond a certain point, stomping around like you didn’t get nuts on your sundae at McDonald’s just ensures that the next time you call you’ll go straight to voice mail.  Even worse, it breaks down trust.  We ask ourselves, “Is this guy just blowing off steam, or is this guy for real?”  Your Realtor is fighting for you: give them a reason to keep doing it. 

If you do intend to break a contract, see an attorney before you do it.  But keep in mind that the deal will probably close on its own before you can schedule a consultation.  And if you do break the contract, and you still intend to buy or sell: be prepared.  Because you get to go through the same process all over again.

If you need a great Realtor just email St. Augustine Team Realty!

$10,000 Price Reduction on a Great Starter Home!

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

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

4635 Fourt Avenue, contact me for more info!

4635 Fourth Avenue, contact me for more info!

I am proud to announce a recent $10,000 price reduction on my home at 4635 Fourth Avenue here in St. Augustine. It is now priced at $89,900. 

This nicely maintained short sale home would be a great place to live especially if you work in Jacksonville (it’s close to the city gates so you don’t have to fight in town traffic to get to the interstate.  It has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, an open floorplan with a split bedroom arrangement. The laundry area is inside, and there’s a walk in closest in master suite.  This 1199 square foot home sits on a corner lot and there’s even a work shed in the backyard!

Please call me at (904) 377-0898 to learn more, or just email me at !

Agents that Suggest I “See an Attorney” Don’t Seem to Understand that Attorneys Charge Lots of Money to Answer Real Estate Questions!

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

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

Attorneys can help you avoid costly real estate mistakes.

Attorneys can help you avoid costly real estate mistakes.

Agents that suggest I see an attorney to answer my real estate questions don’t seem to understand that attorneys charge good money!  

I saw this comment posted in a online blog last week and it just stuck in my head. 

My thought is this: will the “good money” cost a lot more, or a lot less, than “the problem” that you need to see the attorney about?

If the issue is a $150 well pump, chances are the attorney will cost more than the well pump. 

But if you are talking about a title issue (for example) on a foreclosure, where it could cost you thousands and thousands of dollars down the road, why wouldn’t you spend a few hundred bucks on an attorney?

It’s like the people who spend $400 on a home inspection or survey and then complain when they find some fatal flaw.  They complain that they spent the $400.  They don’t even consider that the $400 they paid out helped them avoid a $400,000 mistake.

So if your Realtor goes out of their way to suggest that you consult an attorney, consult an attorney.  Or you may end up throwing “good money” after bad.

What is the Average Amount of Days on Market?

Friday, June 10th, 2011

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

Average days on market is just that: an average.

Average days on market is just that: an average.

How many days does it take the average home to sell?

This is a bit of a loaded question.

Anytime you have an average the first thing you have to remember is that it’s just that: an average.  There are homes that beat the average and homes that take longer to sell than the average.  This has to do with four things: price, condition, location and buyer pool.

Is the price the best or correct price?  If homes of equal condition and age are selling in your neighborhood for $220,000, and you are priced at $240,000, the oddsmakers in Vegas would say you’re going to take longer than average to sell. 

Is your home in better or worse condition than the homes you are competing against?  I haven’t met a seller yet that didn’t think their crown molding was ten times better than their neighbor’s crown molding.  But seriously, if your home is original, and your neighbor’s has been updated, the neighbor is going to get a better price.  And if you try to compete for the same price…you’re going to sit on the market longer than the average. 

Where is your home located, and how big is the buyer pool?  We’re talking about the average days on market for the entire market here.  But each subdivision / community / location is going to have its own very unique days on market.  A subdivision with lower priced starter homes should always beat the average because the prices are better and there’s a bigger pool of buyers.  Conversely, there may be only 14 sales a year for million $ beachfront homes…even though there are over 100 on the market…so you will nearly always lose against the average, and usually by a lot.

The average days on market for all St. Augustine homes and condos (lumped together, as of this writing) is 158 days.  But what you really need to look at is, what are the days on market for your specific neighborhood and type of property.  For example, condos and homes priced between $100,000 and $120,000 are currently selling at an average of 114 days.  Over $500,000 it goes up to 255 days.

So price your home appropriately for it’s condition, location and the buyer pool, and don’t worry about the average.

Reduced! Clean Conquistador Condo now just $795 a month!

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

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

This extremely nice 2 bedroom / 2 bath, 2nd floor condo is in immaculate condition and is now available for just $795 a month. It has a large porch with shade in the afternoon and basic cable included. Conquistador Condos is very well maintained community with 3 pools (one heated), tennis courts, community dock, clubhouse and more. First, last and 1 month security required. Condo association approval necessary. No pets. Available immediately. Just a short walk to the Intracoastal waterway.  Click on the photo below for more info and a virtual tour.

One of 3 pools at Conquistador. Click on image for a page with more info and a virtual tour.

One of 3 pools at Conquistador. Click on image for a page with more info and a virtual tour.