Archive for March, 2013

Lighthouse Park: Tips for Buying then Renting a Condo

Tuesday, March 26th, 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+.

For our video on condo buying tips, we go on location to one of the hidden gems in St. Augustine, Florida: Lighthouse Park.  It was a bit windy…bear with us through the first minute until we get into the lee of the St. Augustine Yacht Club!

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

Is a Rental History Important?

Monday, March 25th, 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+.

Rental. History. Get it?

"Just sign here with this quill!" Rental. History. Get it?

Is rental history important when buying an investment condo?

It depends.

Rental history is important if you are keeping the same property manager, and the same furnishings, because that is really what rental history is based on in the St. Augustine market.

There are very good property managers who are lousy at getting properties rented. In other words, they do a bang up job once they get a tenant, but can’t get a tenant to save their life.

And property managers will always rent their best units first.  The reason they do this is it makes happier customers, brings better reviews, and leads to less complaints.  The less “nice” units get shunted down the line.  The unit with the faded and dated furniture, cathode-ray tube television, and no wi-fi gets rented last.

If you buy a condo and don’t plan to use the same rental manager or furnishings, what a rental history can do is help you see what improvements need to be made.

For example, if a property manager has a stable of condos in the same building and the one you are buying has a rental history that is weaker than the others, it could tell you that renters find it “not so nice.”  That might mean it needs some serious updating.

But rental history can be misleading as well.

Maybe the seller only rented it during certain times.  Maybe they used it all summer, or every spring break, or every year for the TPC at Sawgrass.

It also may be indicative of that rental manager who can’t find renters.  In my experience that’s the main reason why condos don’t get rented in this market.

So take rental history with a grain of salt.

And what if a condo doesn’t have a rental history? For example, one that was just used as a private residence.  In that case then the track record of the property manager is what you will be looking at.

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

Is There A List for “Pending” Homes?

Thursday, March 21st, 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+.

Are there lists of pending homes?

Are there lists of pending homes?

There are shopping lists, grocery lists, travel lists, and to do lists.

But are there “pending” lists for real estate?

There are, but you’ll have to ask your Realtor to get you one.

Since consumers typically contact Realtors to buy a home, online directories generally just list the homes that aren’t sold yet.

But if you are buying a house and want to get an idea of what homes are already sold, how fast they are selling, and what list prices are bringing offers (helpful for a seller as well as a buyer), you may want a pending list.

So to get the pending list, just ask your Realtor.

Can I See a a Pending Listing?

Sometimes an agent will solicit showings for a listing that is already pending. They do this when a contract gets shaky or when a buyer is getting ready to back out.

But otherwise Realtors don’t show pending listings. Why not?

Well to answer your question I’ll tell you a story.

A cop pulls over a speeder. The speeder admits to speeding.

The cop then asks if he can search the car. The speeder refuses. The cop asks, “Why?”

The speeder replies, “What, are you going to find evidence I was speeding in the back seat?”

In other words, if you are looking to buy a home, why do you want to see a home you can’t buy?

You already know what list price brought an offer and you already know how many days it was on the market, and you have all the other information from the data sheed (beds, baths, etc.), what else do you need to know?

Homes are private property. They aren’t tourist attractions. When they go off the market they return to their private status.

Sure, sometimes it would be helpful to see the inside maybe to compare a home off the market with one you are about to make an offer on, but that’s what photos and video are for.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are looking to buy or sell in St. Augustine! Or if you want a list of pending homes (but just don’t ask to see a pending home, you know, unless the contract is shaky). Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

Photo kind courtesy of the Georgia National Guard.

Are You Missing Tax Breaks for Your Home?

Monday, March 11th, 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+.

"The government, she do take a bite." Image Circle Films / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

"The government, she do take a bite." Image Circle Films / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Fair warning: though I do pay taxes I am not a tax professional, so consult your accountant or tax attorney on any advice given or implied in the following article.

There’s this great line about taxes in the movie Raising Arizona: “The government, she do take a bite.”

Since tax season is here you may want to lessen that bite.   Do some research and find out if you are taking all the home-based tax deductions that you can.

To help you out my partner Kate found this great series of articles about home-based tax deductions (courtesy of HouseLogic.com) that outlines a bunch of them.

For example, are you paying private mortgage insurance (PMI)?  That may be deductible.

Do you have a vacation home or rental property?  Some of the money there may be deductible.

Was your home damaged by vandalism?  Some of that damage may be tax deductible.

Make sure you check out these series of articles above, and when you want help with buying or selling, Hire St. Augustine Team Realty.

Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

All images, video and audio not in the public domain are used in accordance with the Fair Use Law (Per Title 17–United States Code–Section 107) and remain the property of the film or photo copyright owners.  And by the way, go out and buy Raising Arizona, its one of the funniest films you’ll ever see.

The Azaleas are Blooming at 399 Federal Point Road!

Monday, March 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+.

The azaleas are blooming at our riverfront listing at 399 Federal Point Road on the St. Johns River!

This 18 acre estate boasts a main home and a guest home, a 350′ dock with boat lift, and 435′ of river frontage.  Find out more info by clicking the address above, and make sure you watch the short video we did of the azaleas (below):

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

Can You Offer Way Less Than the Seller is Asking?

Monday, March 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+.

The Property Brothers. Image from HGTV.com.

The Property Brothers. Image from HGTV.com.

The downside to having DirectTV is that instead of relaxing when I get home, I end up watching real estate shows instead (like I don’t have my mind full enough of work already).  The latest show I’ve been watching is Property Brothers on HGTV.

One of the brothers is a contractor, the other is a real estate agent.  While one brother tries to find a new dream home for the people on the show, the other brother tries to upgrade their current home so that it becomes their dream home.

Or maybe that’s Love It or List It. I get my HGTV shows mixed up all the time…

Anyway, I was watching Property Brothers the other day and the couple featured on the show were set on buying a new dream home, and the husband was set on lowballing the offer.

“I want a STEAL,” said the twenty-something buyer with bad hair, “I want to offer $270,000!”

The real estate agent brother, looking like he’d rather suck an egg than relay the offer, said something like, “Well, a better offer would be $300,000.”

Cut to the next scene and the buyer with bad hair is chewing his nails, looking anxious.  The phone rings.  It’s the real estate agent.

“They rejected your offer,” the agent said, “they didn’t even counter offer.”

And I laughed and laughed and laughed as the buyer with bad hair had to give the news to his angry wife, who really wanted the house.

As a real estate agent I don’t get to laugh when my own customers make bad offers.  Instead I have to get the alka-seltzer or, in some cases, ambien.

Bad Hair eventually did get the house, for $310,000, and probably $10,000 of that was a premium for insulting the seller in the first place.

The point is this.  If you’ve seen enough houses you know what the one you want is worth.

The trouble is, instead of offering what the home is worth, too many buyers get fixated on “how low they can get it.”  Which is a good business move, say, if you’re buying spark plugs for your auto repair shop.  But it’s a lousy move if you are looking for a place to shelter your family and you’ve already looked at dozens of homes, and you’ve only found one that really, really fits your needs.

One might argue that if you’ve really only found one home that fits the bill, you might actually offer over market price to make sure you get it.

So when can you offer way less than the seller is asking?

When you find five homes so similar that any one of the five would fit the bill.

Sure, you might have a first choice, but your second choice (or third or fourth, etc.) would work just as well for you.  If you offer low in this case, one of the five houses will surely deal.

Now what happens if the list price is really out of whack with market price?

For example, maybe the home is really worth $270,000, and you offer $270.000.  The trouble is the seller is asking $340,000, and he counters at $310,000.  Maybe in this case you’d be willing to go up to $280,000, but if the seller won’t deal…

…let he or she keep the house.  When you’re ready to move again in five years it may still be on the market!

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you are looking to buy or sell in St. Augustine!  But if you make a lowball offer you may become part of this blog.  Email us at ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.