Archive for February, 2013

I’m Planning to Buy New Construction. Do I Need a Real Estate Agent?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

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

New Construction

Get a Realtor before the framing goes up! Image by ArmchairBuilder

I’m planning to buy new construction, do I need a real estate agent?

It is a very good idea to get a real estate agent to help when you buy new construction.  Here’s why.

A Realtor brings you a measure of protection.

Realtors are part of a builder’s life blood, so they want to keep their relationship with Realtors in good standing.  If a builder starts jerking customers around, or building a bad product, word gets out in the real estate community.  A Realtor won’t necessarily steer a customer away from a builder, but they will tell their customers what they heard and recommend a different builder in the same neighborhood with a better reputation.

So, if you are working with a Realtor, the builder will want to keep the Realtor happy and there will be less chance you will get jerked around.

A sales agent in new construction cannot legally work for you against the builder.

The sales agents working for builders in new construction are almost always single agents.  What that means is that they can legally only represent the builder.  Everything they do must be for the builder’s benefit.  They cannot offer you a good deal they may know about, because if they do that it would mean less profit for the builder.  And if they work for your benefit instead of the builder’s benefit, they are breaking the law.

So, having a Realtor on your side puts someone on your team that can work for your benefit.

Is the home a good deal, a bad deal, or an okay deal?

When you go into a sales office the agent is going to tell you how great the house is, how great the upgrades are, and so on.  But is it a good deal, is it a bad deal?  If you are coming in cold you will never know.

The sales agent might offer you a $5000 upgrade package out of the gate when they were offering $15,000 last week.  If you work with a Realtor it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the $15,000 they were offering earlier, but you might get better than $5000 if you had that information in your back pocket.

The Realtor will help you after the build is done, but before you make the final sale.

When the home is built, a good Realtor knows to look for what isn’t there.  Did X get installed?  Did Y get installed?  And for the things that were installed, were they installed right?

You might feel like you are being fussy or  a bother about asking a builder to install something minor that is missing.  A Realtor isn’t bothered by that at all.  And a Realtor won’t mind helping you on your walk though or with pointing out punch list items.  I even had home inspections done on new construction just to help the buyer feel more comfortable, something most buyers would never dare ask for on their own.

So get a Realtor in your corner before you go out looking for new construction, it will add a measure of transparency to the transaction and will put someone on your side.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are looking to buy new construction in St. Augustine!  Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

Image kind courtesy of ArmchairBuilder at http://armchairbuilder.com/resources/how-to-build-your-own-home .

Barbie Is Moving, and Why Am I Not Surprised?

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

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

Barbie is Moving

Barbie's beach digs are on the block.


Barbie is moving, and why am I not surprised?

I took one look at her Malibu home on Trulia and my first thought was, “Wow, this girl isn’t afraid of color.”

Garish shades of pinks and purple color the three-story house.  Purple tile flooring and even a purple chandelier.  Pink chintz on the canopy bed, pink glasses on the table, pink polka dots on a lamp shade, and even a pink toilet seat.  A few white chairs, a torquoise throw pillow, and an aqua hot tub were the only nods to something other than a color wheel for bubble gum and grape juice.

It must have been too much for her.  She must have just thrown her hands up and said, “Enough with it!  There is just too much to fix, I need to start over!”

The marketing screams glam: “The definition of Malibu beach living awaits in this totally glam, contemporary home where the sophistication of Hollywood style meets California casual chic all within steps to your 150 feet of private sandy beach.  Designed as the ultimate bachelorette compound, it’s perfect for A-Listers, internet entrepreneurs, entertainment moguls and dolls of all ages who love to entertain yet want to relax and take in the never-ending ocean view.”

Pity they don’t mention the colors.

I’m sure all the pink and purple furniture will go to some worthy cause, fetching huge sums of money in a charity auction.  And the house will be renovated, repainted and redecorated by someone who will thoughtfully add some stairs, just in case the elevator breaks down.

And Barbie will have a nice, new modern house in modest earth tones that will be the envy of Malibu.  Snubbed in the past for her over-the-top, bright-colored digs,  Barbie will find herself getting lunch invites from nearby celebrities like Giada De Laurentiis and Tom Hanks.

You go girl!

But seriously folks…

Tying the redesign of Barbie’s iconic Malibu beach home to a site where people search for real homes, call it “stroke of genius” marketing for Mattel (creator of Barbie) and Trulia.

Think about all those couples with little girls surfing the web and looking for a new home.  What would make a better move-in gift to soften the blow for a little girl moving for the first time?

And talk about brand awareness!  I’m a 43-year old real estate broker in Florida who is now aware that Mattel is redesigning the Barbie Dream House.  My advertising demographics would seem to suggest that my only interests are beer, ATV’s and pop tarts.

But I have a little girl, too. 

Kudos to whoever came up with it, great job!

Click on the link above for the Trulia listing for Barbie’s Maliubu house.  Check in on Barbie’s move at her facebook page.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are looking to buy or sell a beach house in St. Augustine, garish pink or otherwise!  Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

Selling a Home Occupied By Renters? Do the Renters Have to Let Realtors In?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

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

So you are a renter and your landlord or the owner of the home has just put it on the market for sale.  The question is, do you have to let Realtors in to show it?

Yes you do.

Get Noticed, image by Cillian Storm

It's GIVE notice (preferably 24 hours) when showing a rental. Not GET noticed. Image by Cillian Storm.

According to the article “Who Do You Work For” by attorney Harry Heist:

“If an owner is desperate to sell and the price is right, this can dramatically increase traffic from local real estate sales associates and their clients to the unit. Most tenants fear a sale, thinking that their lease will be terminated, or they simply get tired of having to keep the unit clean or tidy, knowing that people will be traipsing through the unit while they are at work…A sale of the unit is an unfortunate part of rental living, and the tenant must put up with this.  Florida law specifically states that the tenant must allow access for showings.”

So you have to let Realtors in.  But (per 83.53, Florida Statutes) the Realtor / Landlord / Property Manager has to give you reasonable notice.  If it were a repair being done, the law says reasonable notice is 12- 12.5 hours, but the law doesn’t specifically define what reasonable notice is for a Realtor coming over to check out the property.

Practical Issues if you Have a Tenant, or if You are a Renter

If you are a renter, and unless the lease you signed says otherwise, my understanding is that they can’t kick you out.  In other words, the owner can’t sell the property to someone else, and then the new owner kick you out before your lease expires, unless the lease says it can kick you out.  So check your lease or talk to an attorney.

So if the lease and your attorney says you can’t get kicked out, you’re golden.  And it’s in your best interest to let the Realtors in…because the more Realtors that get in sooner, the faster the home will go under contract and the faster things will be getting back to normal.  If the home goes under contract, there will be inspections and possibly repairs, but the parade of Realtors making showings will stop.

Now, if you are an owner and want your renters’ help, give them plenty of advance notice.  We try and give our tenants 24 hours notice.  In some cases we’ll ask for a time earlier than 24 hours, say, if we know that a 4 pm showing would work much better than a 7 pm showing.  We try to make it easy for the tenants, and you should too.

If you make it easy for the tenants, if they know that no one is going to crash the 24 hour notice window, they’ll relax and trust you, and they will help you sell the home.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are looking to buy or sell in St. Augustine!  Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

Image kind courtesy of Cillian Storm.

350 South Churchill Drive, St. Augustine, Florida 32086, in Hidden Lakes

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

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

I, along with my partners Ron Barry and Kate Stevens, just listed this beautiful home at 350 South Churchill Drive in St. Augustine, Florida, located in the Hidden Lakes subdivision.

This 3-bedroom home boasts a lot that is probably the biggest in the subdivision and comes in at just below a half-acre.  The homes multiple gables and broad front porch give it an elegant look not often seen in St. Augustine.  Click on the address above to see more information including a virtual tour with still photos, or watch the short video below:

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are looking to buy a home in St. Augustine!  Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327 about this particular home.

1207 Ardmore Street in the Meadows of World Golf Village, St. Augustine, Florida

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

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

My partners Ron Barry, Kate Stevens and I just listed this beautiful home at 1207 Ardmore Street in the Meadows of World Golf Village, in St. Augustine, Florida.

This is a three bedroom home with a beautiful kitchen, plenty of space and a fenced backyard.  Click on the address above to find out more, see a virtual tour with still images, or watch the short video below:

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are looking to buy a home in St. Augustine!  Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Ron Barry at (904) 501-2424 about this house.

1298 Ardmore Drive in St. Augustine, Florida’s, the Meadows of World Golf Village

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

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

My partners Ron Barry, Kate Stevens and I just listed this great home at 1298 Ardmore Street in the Meadows of World Golf Village, in St. Augustine, Florida.

This is a three bedroom home with an office / den that could work as a fourth bedroom.  Click on the address above to find out more info on the home, including a virtual tour with still photos, or watch the short video below:

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are looking to buy a home in St. Augustine!  Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Ron Barry at (904) 501-2424 to find out more about this home.

What Hospitals are in St. Augustine?

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

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

Flagler Hospital St. Augustine

Flagler Hospital, St. Augustine. Image Flagler Hospital website.

Last month I sold a house to someone moving in from out of state.  The reason this buyer chose St. Augustine was because of its quality health care.

The proximity of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville also factored in her decision.  What she didn’t know is that Mayo Clinic has a satellite clinic here in St. Augustine, on US 1 South, near St. Augustine Shores, making it a very convenient option.

St. Augustine’s main health care facility is Flagler Hospital, on the southeast corner of US 1 and SR 312.  The hospital currently boasts 335 beds and calls itself an “acute care hospital.”

According to its website, Flagler Hospital “has also been recognized for leading the way in patient safety and clinical outcomes, earning recognition from numerous accrediting bodies including: Primary Stroke Care Center Designation by the Joint Commission, ASMBS Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence designation, Joint Commission Accreditation for Hip & Knee Replacement Surgery, Magnet Designation by the ANCC, Accreditation by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, American Academy of Sleep Medicine Accreditation, and Certification by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.”

Flagler Hospital opened a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in 2011.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are looking for local amenities in St. Augustine!  Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

Does the Seller Has to Consider My Offer?

Monday, February 4th, 2013

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

Does the seller have to consider your offer?  Does the seller have to consider your offer first before he or she considers a second offer?

No on both counts.  The seller can do whatever they want to.  So make a good offer that the seller will want to consider.

My partner Ron Barry and I did a short video on the subject below:

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are out of town and need to buy or sell here in St. Augustine!  Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

Can I Buy a House If I’m Not There?

Friday, February 1st, 2013

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

Empty chairs at empty tables ain't just a song from Les Mis.

Empty chairs at empty tables ain't just a song from Les Mis.

Can I buy a house if I’m not there?

Of course you can.  You can sell one too.  It’s fairly common.

But you should look at it first before you ever make an offer.

On rare occasions we’ll have a buyer out of state who finds a “hot deal” online and wants to write an offer to it, the offer being contingent on the buyer seeing it and inspecting it.

In plain English: they want to put an offer in, but have the right to walk away if they don’t actually like it.

In some cases these deals are rejected because…assuming it’s a hot property…there are other people who want to buy it and have already seen it.

But in other cases these are accepted and sometimes the buyer actually goes through with it.

And last year we even had a true overseas buyer, who never saw the property in person, and who purchased it.  His agent did a lot of legwork regarding inspections, video, photos that were emailed overseas (the buyer was serving in Afghanistan at the time).

Here’s how the out of town buyer or seller usually works:

The buyer comes into town on a very tight schedule, views multiple properties, makes an offer, gets it accepted and then leaves.  On some occassions we can schedule the inspections quickly enough so that the buyer can attend, but not always.  From there on out everything is done electronically.  While I would attend the inspections for the buyer, the reports are sent via email, and the closing is done by overnight mail or electronically.

In this market, where we have a lot of second homes or homes where the seller has already moved to take a job, it is not unusual for the buyer and seller both not attend inspections or closings, with everything done by overnight mail or via email.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are out of town and need to buy or sell here in St. Augustine!  Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.