Archive for August, 2011

St. Augustine Team Introduces Deborah Link, Realtor

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

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

I am proud to announce the addition of Deborah Link to St. Augustine Team’s sales team.

St. Augustine Team is proud to introduce Deborah Link

St. Augustine Team is proud to introduce Deborah Link

Deborah is a successful entrepreneur; she owned and operated her own moving company from 1985-2010, and she still holds an interest in it.  We are gratified that this accomplished businesswoman is bringing her experience to our customers.

In her own words: “My name is Deborah Link: I’m a Realtor with St. Augustine Team Realty. I was born in Havertown, Pennsylvania, and married my husband Jim in 1976. I’ve worked in Retail and even ran a bubble gum wrapping machine for a few years after I married. My step children loved that job; I always had a pocket full of gum when I got home and I smelled like powdered sugar.

“In 1985 I acquired a Real Estate license and around that same time my husband and I purchased a moving company. Interest rates were very high at that time but in spite of that fact I was very successful and building a significant list of customers. Our moving company was also thriving I must say life was good.

“In 1992 my husband and I purchased a home on Porpoise Point in St. Augustine Florida, we simply fell in love with the old city and everything St. Augustine has to offer. We became snow birds, traveling back and forth in our motor home from here to Pennsylvania while maintaining our moving company. With much regret I gave up my Real Estate career and focused on our company and long morning walks on the beach with my friends and neighbors.

“In the year 2002 we left Porpoise Point and moved to a much bigger piece of property, we bought 5 acres and some horses. I’ve been blessed here in Florida with fantastic friends and neighbors, St. Augustine if truly a wonderful place to live. Well we filled up our little ranch, which we called the Lazy L, with both full size and mini horses, chickens, dogs and cats.

“In 2009 after 33 years of marriage I lost my husband and best friend to cancer and became a widow. Needless to say it’s been quite an adjustment. Having a moving company enabled me to stay current with the Real Estate industry and now that I am licensed here in Florida I am enthusiastic and happily preoccupied with servicing my customers.

“You can can reach me anytime at (904) 806-5464 or email me at Deb@StAugTeam.com.”

St. Augustine’s Ocean Gallery

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

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

Let St. Augustine Team get you on the beach at Ocean Gallery!

Let St. Augustine Team get you on the beach at Ocean Gallery!

Ocean Gallery is located just south of St. Augustine Beach proper and about 12 minutes south of St. Augustine’s Historic District.  Ocean Gallery has over 400 condominiums and 20 homes all on 40 acres, making it the largest condominium community on the beach.

The community has a gate that is staffed 24-hours (and an additional gate for residents), five pools (including a large, heated indoor/outdoor pool), tennis and racquetball courts, an exercise room, a small playground, and two private beach access points.

Four of Ocean Gallery’s buildings are oceanfront (Pacifica Vista, Caribe Vista, Aegean Vista, and Premier Vista).  The rest of the community’s condos (Village Del Lago, Village Del Prado, Village Las Palmas) and the few homes are off the beach and typically don’t have an ocean view.

One thing unique about ownership in Ocean Gallery is that you pay two association fees: one for your building, and one for the master association and common areas.  So your association fees could be higher or lower depending which building you live in.

For a group of Realtors who will find you a comfortable place in Ocean Gallery, contact St. Augustine Team Realty or call (904) 386-8327.

 

2nd Quarter 2011 Real Estate Report for St. Augustine

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

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

The 2nd Quarter Report from St. Augustine Team.

The 2nd Quarter Report from St. Augustine Team.

We recently came out with the 2nd quarter 2011 real estate market report for St. Augustine. 

As expected home sales were stable to appreciating.

As expected the average price for a condo inched up, even though choice still remains strong.

Click the link below (or the image) to see the report, which includes video.

See the 2nd Quarter 2011 Real Estate Market Report for St. Augustine, Florida.

For a group of Realtors that is always up to date on market conditions, contact St. Augustine Team Realty or call (904) 386-8327!

Native Plants and Drought Resistant Plants for St. Augustine’s “Valley of Death”

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

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

“Look around you, this is the Valley of Death.” -The Humongus to Mad Max, The Road Warrior

The Valley of Death is not so far away as the apocalyptic wasteland of the 1981 classic The Road Warrior.   In fact, it’s my front yard, near Wildwood Drive in what I like to call the Unfashionable South End of St. Augustine.

Fountain Grass wondering what it did to deserve this.

Fountain Grass wondering what it did to deserve this.

Beyond sand, the only thing my front yard will tolerate growing is the occasional and daring blade of bahia grass.  The centipede grass that we thought would weather the full sun and sand better than anyother grass only grows until the unyielding sun burns it into a brown crisp.  A magnolia…a Southern magnolia…that we planted six years ago still survives, but it’s shrunk.  It only stays alive from the water I use to wash my bike every weekend.

With the extended drought this year it’s been a particularly hard for the green things trying to eek out an existence in the Valley. Even the weeds won’t grow.

I don’t have an irrigation system, and don’t want one.  So what to do?

The solution of course is drought resistant plants and Florida Native plants whenever possible.

I started by checking out every Florida landscaping book and Florida native plant book from the library to get ideas.  From those books we got a good idea of what plants could survive the full sun and poor soil of the Valley of Death.

Then my wife and I “mapped” our yard by walking it and planting stakes in the approximate areas where were wanted to plant.  And then we figured out what we could plant during the hot month of August.

From there it was to Southern Horticulture on the Island where we talked to our friend Lauri to see what plants they had in stock.  We came up with something called Tender Fountain Grass (pennisetua setaceum) “Rubrum,” which tolerates heat, poor soil and doesn’t reseed itself all over the place. 

We had some good luck on the way.  The St. Johns County Ag Center was hosting a monthly talk on native plants at the same time.  Hosted by Elkton’s Renee Stambaugh of Native Plant Consulting, it was a quick introduction into some six or seven native varieties that we could plant right away.   

One of the master gardners speaking at the native plant talk also instructed us how to get the ground prepared now for planting Florida native wildflowers in October.  And even better, a source where you could buy Florida wildflower seeds in bulk: the aptly named FloridaWildflowers.com.

To start our plantigs we only put in three smallish containers of Fountain Grass.  As time goes on and we add plants season by season we’ll update you how it’s going in the Valley!

Planting Trees with Every Sale

Back in the day I started making a charity donation and tree planting donation with every sale.  The tree planting donation started when (during the go-go days of the real estate boom) a developer axed a gigantic old oak that my friends and I used to lunch under to build a parking lot.  The parking lot is pretty empty these days but the tree is still gone. 

I started the donation as an actual tree given to the buyer or seller (who’s house I just sold).  But nobody ever would get back to me on what plant or tree they wanted, so I just ended up donating to either American Forests or the American Chestnut Society, which used the monies to plant trees…but not necessarily in Florida.

So with this Valley of Death project I just started I am going to turn my donation focus there, for two reasons.  One, it will keep the donation local.  Two, it will also make the donation more relevant, in that we can learn together here about planting in the tough soils of St. Augustine. 

See our charity and tree donations so far.

For a team of Realtors that strives to be knowledgable about local plants as well as local real estate, contact St. Augustine Team Realty or call (904) 386-8327!

How to Price a Home for Sale

Friday, August 19th, 2011

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

Below is a short video on how to price a home for sale.

Active listings tell you what you are competing against.

Pending listings tell you how much activity there’s been in the market over the last 30-60 days, and what price is enticing enough to bring a buyer into a home and make an offer.

Sold listings are real people paying real money for real houses.  Sold prices are usually less than the prices seen on Active and Pending listings.

Expired listings tell you where not to price at, or what price is too high. 

I put the most weight on Sold listings.  We can take a Sold home, compare it to the home we want to sell, and weight it higher or lower depending on things like price, condition and location. 

Pending listings can help us narrow the price range a bit because even though we don’t know the final sale price, if we have a house similar to a Pending listing, we know that a price in the same range should bring buyers in to look.

Active listings can be valuable especially for true luxury listings.  Luxury homes are often one of a kind homes…you can weight the price for condition and location, but making an apples-to-apples comparison home-to-home is difficult.  Assuming that money is no object on a true luxury home (within reason), you can use the Active listings to essentially establish yourself in the pecking order for the other luxury homes on the market.

Lastly, Expired listings (listings that were placed on the market then failed to sell during the listing contract, usually 6-12 months) tell you what price is too high for the home’s condition and location.

In the video I mention some things that can hurt your price.  For example, if you don’t keep your home clean and clutter free, it will cost you $$$ thousands.  Get rid of the cat tower in the living room.  Get rid of the Stairmaster.  Pictures, nicknacks, anything extraneous.  If you don’t want to clean or declutter, then you have to factor it into the price.

I also mention that if you have a neighbor that piles mattresses agains the side of their house, or has derelict car in the driveway, or a garage packed full of junk and open to view, this will cost you $$$ thousands as well, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  But you must factor it in.

St. Augustine’s Heritage Park Community

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

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

A Heritage Park home recently sold by St. Augustine Team Realty.

A Heritage Park home recently sold by St. Augustine Team Realty.

Heritage Park is a large community on the north side of St. Augustine situated to the east and south of Woodlawn Road as it curves from State Route 16 to Lewis Speedway.

The community is located approximately 9 miles from St. Augustine Beach, 6 miles from Vilano Beach, 5 miles from the St. Augustine Historic District, and 6 miles from St. Augustine’s outlet malls.  For commuters, Heritage Park is 36 miles from Downtown Jacksonville. 

Heritage Park is a wonderful community when it comes to recreation.  It includes a community clubhouse with fitness center and pool, playgrounds and tot lot, fitness trails, a picnic area, baseball fields (2), volleyball courts (2), soccer fields (3), basketball courts (4), and tennis courts (6). 

Heritage Park ownership includes a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) and a Community Development District.  Building in Heritage Park dates to 2004.

For a group of agents that can help you find the best deal in Heritage Park or anywhere in greater St. Augustine, contact St. Augustine Team Realty today!

605 N Heritage Creek Circle, 2400+ sf and four bedrooms, for sale from St. Augustine Team Realty

605 N Heritage Creek Circle, 2400+ sf and four bedrooms, for sale from St. Augustine Team Realty

How Long Should it Take for a Seller to Respond to Your Offer?

Monday, August 15th, 2011

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

Make your offer a good one so the seller rushes to respond.

Make your offer a good one so the seller rushes to respond.

How long should it take for a seller to respond to your offer?

That’s a good question, and there is no set time limit.  It generally depends on:

a) How good (or how bad) your offer is.

and

b) If the sellers are in town or not. 

Typically sellers will respond within 48 hours though most will respond within 24 hours.  Good offers…where the terms don’t need dickered with…and bad offers…which are rejected without much more than a passing glance usually get the fastest response time.

If the sellers are out of town (or otherwise occupied) a response could take a week.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received an offer the day after my sellers left for a vacation.  While you can do signatures electronically, some sellers are sometimes more motivated to take a vacation on their vacation rather than negotiate a real estate deal. 

This can make a buyer antsy.  But if you’re a buyer and the sellers just left on a cruise, you’re not going to get an answer this afternoon.  It may be Tuesday next week before you get an answer.  It’s simple logistics.  Consider how you’d feel if someone sent you an offer on your skiing vacation.  Would you drop everything and respond?  Probably not.

One sitiuation where it may take a looooong time to get an answer is in a short sale.  In most cases it takes the banks Months (see that capital “M”) to come back with an answer.  If you have a short time frame a short sale is not the way to go.

One final thing.  At least in Florida sellers are not under any obligation to answer your offer in any set time.  They don’t even have to answer your offer at all.

So make your offer good enough that the seller will drop everything and rush to give you an answer.

If you are looking for real estate agents that will rush to get you an answer  contact the agents at St. Augustine Team!

St. Augustine Team Realty Beach Buckets are Back!

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

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

The St. Augustine Team beach buckets are back!

The St. Augustine Team beach buckets are back!

The St. Augustine Team beach buckets are back!

If you have a child who would like a FREE St. Augustine Team beach bucket, just email Sean (Sean@StAugTeam.com) or Kate (Kate@StAugustineTeam.com) and we’ll make sure there’s one ready for you to pick up.  You can also call (904) 386-8327 (Sean) or (904) 377-2276 (Kate), or just stop by the store when we’re open. 

This was a big hit last summer so we hope everyone enjoys it again!

What School am I Zoned to Attend? How to Find Sex Offender Data…

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

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

St. Johns County has Florida's highest rated schools.

St. Johns County has Florida's highest rated schools.

With school getting ready to start up we’ve seen a lot of last-minute moves as people try to get settled in before school starts.

If you’re one of those people here’s a handy link on where to find out what school a home or apartment is zoned for: http://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/rules/zoning/

Also, if you have kids, a great resource from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will help you track sex offenders and sex predators.  You can find it here at the FDLE website: http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/Search.jsp

Need anymore help finding local resources?  Contact the St. Augustine Team!

Is it True that I Can’t Look At Housing Until I Get Financed?

Friday, August 5th, 2011

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

Get financed and get a home!

Get financed and get a home!

Is it true that I can’t look at housing until I get financed?

There is no law requiring you to get financed before you look at housing.  However, since you’re looking at at private properties, most owners require it.  And most Realtors require that you have some type of pre-qualification letter from a bank or mortgage broker before they show you property. 

The real question is why wouldn’t you want to know your financing before you went out looking?

First of all, the status of your financing is pretty much required when you submit your offer.  If you submit an offer without your financing particulars you can pretty much forget about the seller even looking at it.  And for bank owned properties and short sale, your financing is absolutely required for the offer or it cannot be submitted.

Secondly, don’t you want to know how much house you can own?  Or what your payments will be?

How would you like to look at $200,000 houses for two weeks and then discover you can only afford $150,000?  That would be a step down, wouldn’t it?

Take my advice and talk to a bank or mortgage broker, or contact us, because we know a few good ones. 

Want a team of agents that can find you the most house for the money?  Then hire a St. Augustine Team Realty Realtor!