Archive for July, 2011

How to Find a Home for Sale or a Rental Online

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.

Click here to see St. Augustine Team's homes for sale and rent!

Click here to see St. Augustine Team's homes for sale and rent!

So I’m doing yard work last weekend and a car rolls up and the people wave me over.  They want to know if there are any rentals in the neighborhood.

I let them know I’m a Realtor and no, there aren’t any rentals in the neighborhood.  I help them best I can and tell them where they can look.

But I walk away thinking, “Are these people nuts?  Who drives around looking for rentals anymore…what a waste!”

This was not to be disrespectful to these folks (they were very nice).  But seriously, you can sit down at your computer and find the rentals yourself (or homes for sale if you’re looking to for something to buy).  You save gas and time, and you don’t miss the rentals without signs (most condos don’t allow signs).

There’s a short video below on how to do it, but here it is in a nutshell.

The first place you want to look is www.Realtor.com.  Why?  Because this is where a lot of the residential property managers place their listings.  It feeds from Realtor MLS systems and is accurate to the day.  In other words, if a property manager adds a rental listing (or a sales agent adds a home for sale) to an MLS anywhere, or a change is made, it will show up on Realtor.com that day.  So it is the most up to date and comprehensive system for finding rentals or homes for sale.

The second place you want to look is an online classified site like Craigslist.com (or Backpage.com or Ebay Classifieds).  Why?  Because this is where a lot of the private sellers and landlords will place their property.  You can see what date the listings are posted so it will give you what idea how fresh they are.  The one caveat is that there are a lot of scammers in the online classifieds.   A scammer might find a vacant house (like a foreclosure), change the locks, advertise it for rent, take your money and then disappear.  So do your due dilligence. 

The last way is by going old school to the newspaper classifieds, in our case that would be the St. Augustine Record or their online classified system at www.StAugustine.com.  Newspaper classifieds cost money, so in the age of Craigslist most real estate agents and private parties don’t use them like they used to.  But the benefit to placing a classified (for a seller or landlord) is they might be the only one doing it, and thus it will bring more eyeballs to their ad.  Your eyeballs.

Hope you enjoy the video!

If you need a group of Realtors that can track down any rental or home for sale fast, contact St. Augustine Team Realty!

If I Have an Eviction, Will it Show Up?

Monday, July 25th, 2011

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.

If I have an eviction will it show up?

Get evicted and you could end up living here.

Get evicted and you could end up living here.

Oh, yes it will.  If the property management company or landlord does a background check that includes evictions it will show up.   Our property management department does that type of background check.

Look, if you get behind on your rent for any reason, make nice with the landlord and work something out.  An eviction is like taking a nuclear bomb to your credit rating because not only will it keep you from renting, it will keep you from buying as well.  You may end up living in a car or cardboard box…I’m not being trite here I’m being for real.

The thing is, at least in 2011, landlords can understand foreclosures and bankruptcies.  The stock market crashed, people lost their jobs, the home bubble burst…people lost their homes and their savings. 

But no landlord (or lender) understands eviction.  Eviction is willfully staying on in a place after you’ve either quit paying rent or violated the terms of the lease.  It means that the landlord had to hire an attorney and go down to the courthouse and file papers.  It means that the situation went so far that a judge ordered you out of the property and sent a sheriffs deputy to physically remove you from the premises. 

It’s not that a landlord doesn’t understand the reasons why you couldn’t pay your rent.  In many cases it could be the same things cited above (stock market crash, job loss, etc.).  And a landlord can even understand that if you leave a place you may not have anywhere else to go at least in the short term.  Maybe you can work something out with them, maybe you can’t. 

But don’t ever let it go as far as eviction!  If you’re not paying rent you’re going to leave anyway, right?  If you turn in the keys that’s not eviction, it’s default.  And default might be bad for your credit but eviction is death for finding a place to live…at least a place that’s nice enough to live where someone will check your background.

Trust me, you want someone to check your background.  Because if they didn’t check your background, they didn’t check your neighbors’ background either.  You want your kids living next to that?  

Want a property manager that will care enough to check your background?  Contact St. Augustine Team Realty!

New Oceanfront Rental: Stylish Corner Unit in Gated Community with Private Beach Access

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.

Oceanfront condo for rent at Atlantic East in St. Augustine, from St. Augustine Team Realty

Click image to see a virtual tour and video of this oceanfront condo for rent at Atlantic East.

Now available as a rental, our unit 201 at the gated community of Atlantic East. 

Live direct oceanfront in this 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 gated community includes pool and private beach access.  Lease must be 6-months or greater in length.  One (1) pet allowed up to 35 lbs, with additional pet security deposit of $250. This unit is also for sale, offered at $469,000. Learn more about Atlantic East.

This unit will be removed from sale if it is rented. Please review the Rental Criteria by clicking, or request it by email from Sean. This home cannot be shown until you review the Rental Criteria.

A portion of the rental proceeds will go to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of St. Johns County.

Is the Seller Responsible for Repairs After Closing?

Monday, July 18th, 2011

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.

This hole in the roof of old Cowboy Stadium is not a latent defect, it is just a defect. The same may be said of Jerry Jones.

This hole in the roof of old Cowboy Stadium is not a latent defect, it is just a defect. The same may be said of Jerry Jones.

Is the seller responsible for repairs after closing?

The short answer is “no,” unless the real estate contract you signed says they will make repairs after closing. 

Getting a seller to make the repairs after closing is another issue entirely.  Back in the day I had to deal with a builder who promised repairs after closing (commonly called a “punchlist”) but never completed any.  This builder was slow to begin with, and was way behind deadline on what he was building anyway, so the buyers elected to close and hope that he would actually make the repairs… instead of waiting 6 months for Mr. Sloth to fix some cracked tiles and then close.

Normally, builders do complete their punchlists.  Sometimes, however, they ask you to give them 6 months so if anything else crops up in the meantime (as the house settles in to being lived in) they can complete any and all repairs at the same time.

The only other instance where a seller might have to fix something after closing is in a case where the seller failed to disclose a “latent defect.” 

What is a “latent defect” you ask?

Well, a latent defect is a problem or past issue with a property that a seller knows about, but a buyer can’t readily see.

For example, the seller knows the septic system leaks, but doesn’t tell the buyer.  Because the buyer can’t see the septic system (because it is buried), it is a latent defect.  The key in getting the seller to repair it, however, is proving that “the seller knows” (or knew) it was leaking. 

So you bought the house, the septic starts leaking, and you call up the septic company to come replace or fix the tank.  They answer the phone and say, “Oh, we were out there just last month trying to fix that thing.”   At that point you’ve got a pretty strong indication the seller knew something was wrong and didn’t tell you.  In this situation you can ask that he repair or replace the septic tank, and he may, but you also might have to take him to court to get him to pay, and in that case it may just be cheaper to replace it yourself.

So what is not a latent defect?

It’s not a latent defect if you can see it, or is otherwise readily observable. 

A hole in the wall, heck, a hole in the roof (for example) is something that anyone can readily see.  If a seller fails to disclose that there’s a hole in the roof good luck getting him or her to repair it after closing.  Why?  ‘Cause, duh, there’s a hole in the roof!  Why did you close on the house with a hole in the roof?  Why did you close on the house without getting the hole fixed?  Anybody can see there’s a hole in the roof!

I hope this helps!

For a real estate team that will never fail to point out holes in the roof, contact St. Augustine Team Realty!

What are the Disadvantages of Working Without a Real Estate Agent?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.

St. Augustine Team Realty can give you a distinct advantage.

St. Augustine Team Realty can give you a distinct advantage.

What are the disadvantages of working without a real estate agent?

I think the big disadvantage is that you don’t know what you don’t know. 

A real estate transaction has several distinct phases: identifying the home and neighborhood that the buyer will make his or her final choice in (or) identifying the correct price and marketing plan to sell the home for the seller, the technical expertise of preparing the offer or contract, the negotiating expertise and problem solving expertise involved with getting a final offer acceptable to both parties, an expertise and experience with inspections, and a familiarity with the loan and closing process. 

A Realtor is going to be familiar with all these phases.  Even if an agent is stronger in one area and weaker in another, he or she will still have an overall comfort level with the process. 

If you are a buyer I’ll give you one advantage of working with a real estate agent, at least in my case.

While I’m not a contractor or general contractor, I’ve probably attended hundreds of home inspections. And so I’ve seen hundreds of issues and I can advise the customers how other buyers handled similar problems, and what the outcomes were. This is one of the most valuable things I’ve provided to buyers in my career, and those insights would get my customers to the closing table feeling good about their purchase.

On the side of the seller I am equally valuable.

Because I’ve spent the last 10 years learning where (and more importantly, how) to post my listings online I give my sellers a distinct advantage. I am also aware of how much I don’t know, so I’m always looking for certain areas where we can boost visibility on a certain home.

I will say this: don’t feel like you have to work with the first agent to run into. Like any other other profession there are good and bad agents. If you aren’t hitting it off, talk to a few other agents until you find someone you like.

If you want to work with an agent that will give you an advantage, contact St. Augustine Team Realty!

Do I Need to Be at the Home Inspection? Does My Agent?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.

If you are a buyer you need to get a home inspection.

If you are a buyer you need to get a home inspection.

Do I need to be at the home inspection?

If you are the buyer, YES! 

If you can be there, get there.

Why?  Because a good home inspection is like getting an owner’s manual to your home.  And if an issue pops up and it concerns you, you can ask question after question until you are satisfied with a course of action.

Another good reason to be at an inspection; your inspector isn’t going to know if you have any special concerns, unless you are there to voice your concerns.  Don’t leave it to your agent…it’s that important.  Your agent can’t articulate your concerns the way you can.

Now should your agent be there?

When it was my buyer I was always at the inspection. 

I was there so that if any issues popped up that needed to be negotiated out, I would know exactly what issue was, what the inspector’s insight was about it, what the possible cures were, and so on.  In other words, it was so I could negotiate the problem intelligently.

I was also there so that I could help put problems in context for the customers.  While I’m not a contractor or general contractor, I’ve probably attended hundreds of home inspections.  And so I’ve seen hundreds of issues and I can advise the customers how other buyers handled similar problems, and what the outcomes were.  This is one of the most valuable things I provided to a buyer, and those insights could really put a customer at ease.

On the other hand (in my opinion) the agent for the seller, and the seller, should never be at the inspection.

Why?  Let the home and the home inspection speak for itself.   

Plus, you don’t know what the buyer’s hot buttons are, and you might not get along with the buyer in person.  Being there could predjudice the buyers against the house.

As a seller what you should do is provide a truthful disclosure about the home to the buyers before the home ever goes through an inspection.  That way if there are any past issues that might crop up they get resolved before the inspections.  Or, rarely, if it’s a serious issue the buyers might still do the inspection and have that be the make or break decider on the home.

The point here is that the disclosure and inspections solve problems before closing.  Because you do not want to deal with these issues after closing.

Last thing: do I even need to do an inspection?  YES YOU DO!

Why? If  a buyer declines to do an inspection, and it turns out there are termites on the property that the seller didn’t know about, guess what?  The buyer just bought a termite colony, and the seller has no further responsibility.   

For a group of Realtors that will always insist that you get your inspections done, contact St. Augustine Team Realty!


Two Great Price Reductions!

Friday, July 8th, 2011

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.

We have two great back-to-back price reductions this week!

1535 CR 13 A

1535 CR 13 A

The first is at 1535 CR 13 A in Elkton.  Elkton is the area surrounding SR 207 just west of I-95.  Most folks who live in Elkton are closer to St. Augustine proper than a lot of folks with St. Augustine addresses. 

This absolutely awesome piece of Florida boasts a well kept 2,600 square foot, 3-bedroom home with large kitchen (includes island and stainless appliances),a  fireplace, a HUGE master suite with its own office & much more on 56 beautiful acres. Partly cleared, partly wooded there’s plenty of room & approximately 18 acres of cleared, fenced pasture with a 4 stall horse barn. There’s an additional 1,600+ square foot, 5 bedroom mobile home, ponds as well as a 30′ x 40′ garage with 220 power & water!

Our next price reduction comes on a gorgeous country club home without the country club price!

915 Brookhaven Drive

915 Brookhaven Drive

The extremely nice 4-bedroom / 2.5- bath home at 915 Brookhaven Drive sits on a deep golf course lot in the popular St Johns Golf and Country Club.  It includes a large open ground floor with formal living and dining rooms as well as a family room opening up to screened porch. It has a nicely upgraded kitchen with granite counters, 42″ cabinets & commercial-style gas range. All wet areas are tiled. All bedrooms are upstairs. The master bedroom features it’s own sitting/den area. The location is convenient for access to Jacksonville & St Augustine. This home can be considered a short sale.

Click on either of the photos to see a virtual tour with larger images and video!

What is the Best Way to Market My Home without a Realtor?

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.

What is the best way to market my home without a Realtor?

If you think hiring a pro is expensive, try hiring an amateur.

If you think hiring a pro is expensive, try hiring an amateur.

First of all, I’m not anti-for-sale-by-owner. 

But if you are not a professional when it comes to real estate sales, by default you are an amateur. 

And if you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.

But if you are commited to doing it here’s how you do it: put a sign in your yard, and price it right.  Maybe advertise it somewhere online that people will see it.  Tell your friends and coworkers it’s for sale.  That’s all.

Does that sound trite?  It is not.

For example, I put a sign in the yard of the homes we sell.  So you should too.  I try to take only the listings that are priced right…sometimes the price on paper doesn’t always agree with what the buyers want to spend…so you may have to work through that.  I advertise all my listings online where people will see it.  And I tell all my coworkers and friends that it’s available. 

The last one is key for me: most of my friends and all of my coworkers work in real estate.  So when I network with my friends and coworkers there’s a strong chance that someone will know someone looking to buy exactly what I’m selling.  So as a Realtor I have a distinct advantage over you there.

I also have a distinct advantage over you online, because I’ve spent the last 10 years learning where (and more importantly, how) to post my listings.

And once I get a buyer, I know how the process works and how to get it to closing. 

This is not to discourage you, goodness knows there are plenty of homes to sell, but just be aware of what the effort entails. 

Is the real issue (possibly), “I would hire a Realtor but I don’t know anyone I can trust.”  I feel your pain there.  It’s like finding a good mechanic. 

If that is really the issue then the best thing you can do is ask around.  Ask friends that have sold their own homes if they would recommend the Realtor that did it.  Believe it or not word of mouth is still the way a lot of folks find their listing agent. 

If you have any questions about how to sell a home or hire a listing agent, contact St. Augustine Team Realty!

 

Beer: Getting Ugly Houses Laid, Oops, I Mean Sold! St. Aug Team T-Shirt

Monday, July 4th, 2011

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.

Beer: Getting Ugly Houses Laid T Shirt from St. Augustine Team Realty

Beer: Getting Ugly Houses Laid T Shirt from St. Augustine Team Realty

Last week we did a post on “What Beer Has Taught Me About Real Estate.”  It was a pretty well received post.

As such we took one of the signature lines out of it…Beer: Getting Ugly Houses Laid, Oops, I Mean Sold, for Years…and made it into a T-shirt.  You can now buy this tee shirt (our agent Suzie Hancock came up with the line). To get one just click on the photo and it will take you to our store.

There are all sorts of styles and colors to choose from (hit the “See all…” tab under Choose Your Style and Color). If you see a tee style where the lettering isn’t quite centered where it should be…that’s fine, you can fix it by pressing the “Customize It” button below the photo and place the logo where you want it.

We hope you have as much fun wearing this shirt as we did creating it.  Thanks for being the best customers in the world!