Archive for January, 2014

New Townhome Listing in St. Augustine, Elegant & Upscale: 112 Gargonza Court

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

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

We just listed an elegant and upscale townhome at 112 Gargonza Court  in St. Augustine’s Tuscany Village. This 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath home includes all stainless appliances in the kitchen, a large dining area, kitchen island, and extra storage in the pantry. The upstairs master bedroom and second bedroom add to the already spacious area (indoor laundry and desk alcove also upstairs). A screened patio overlooks a private backyard. An attached garage is included. Community pool.

Click here to find out more about 112 Gargonza, and watch the short video of it below:

Want to know more about 112 Gargonza Ct.?  Email my partner Kate Stevens or call her at 904-377-2276.

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I Am Two Years Out and Agents Won’t Deal With Me! Why Am I On The Back Burner?

Monday, January 20th, 2014

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

Feeling like you are on the back burner?

Feeling like you are on the back burner?

A sales rep from one of the regional franchises stopped by to chat.

We got into a conversation about salespeople. The rep had me envision a scenario where I hand a sales lead (from a retiree in Ohio two years away from moving) to two different agents.

The first agent says, “I only deal with people in the market today,” and slams the phone down (apparently this rep’s franchise still uses desk phones). The other agent says, “Here, let’s see what your looking for and we’ll try and find something.”

I think the rep wanted me to be horrified at the first agent blowing off the customer. Presumably, if I became his company’s newest franchisee, the company would have a drip system for treating all leads equally, and in this case, incubating the retiree over the two years before he moved.

Instead, I said, “If I had a choice between the first agent or the second, I would take the first agent every time.”

Here’s why, but before that a quick lesson on how real estate agents get paid…

Real estate agents don’t get paid a salary and they don’t get paid by the hour. They don’t get paid if they spend three months or three years on a project, they only get paid at the closing table, and only when a property sells.

Real estate sales is all about the here and now.

A buyer who is retiring in two years isn’t moving for two years. The prices will be different in two years. Interest rates will be different in two years. There will be completely different homes on the market in two years. A real estate agent that recognizes this and focuses on the here and now will succeed. A real estate agent that tries to “incubate” leads two years out is destined to starve.

I know, I was that starving agent!

Being in retirement heavy Florida, we see a lot of retirees who are “two years out.” One of my first customers was one of these, I’ll simply refer to him as CD.

CD, and his wife, were two of the nicest people I have ever worked with. We still run into each other from time to time around town and he is as gracious as ever. But man, CD was maddening to work with as a customer.

He was straight up with me and he told me the first time we met that he was two years out, even though he could have bought at any time. He showed up at odd times and we would go look at houses … lots of houses. And he would always return north with “lots to consider” but he never bought anything. And I loved the guy, but I wasn’t eating either!

Finally, after two years he came down unannounced and bought a for sale by owner home. Oh my gosh was that a kick in the gut. Two years! All those showings! All those phone calls! All those emails! A for sale by owner!

As luck would have it I did get paid a little bit. Almost on accident I referred him to a Realtor up north to list his house for sale. The Realtor I referred it to didn’t get the job, but his company did and somehow I still got paid a few hundred bucks. But man, a roofer gets paid more in the first few hours than I did on that deal.

All real estate agents have been there.

So this is why, if you are still a few years out, you get put on the back burner.

Now, I also realize that more and more customers are looking for their agent one year or two years out. That’s why I work so hard on behalf of our company on social media (this blog you’re reading, for example). We want to develop a relationship and a level of trust with you over time, so that when you finally do come into town and are ready to buy, we’ve already built a relationship.

So it’s really a tricky balancing act. We know that you are earnest. We know that your desire to look at homes is, in part, simply a desire to touch and feel this new place you are drawn to.

But you also have to understand that any agent that takes you out knowing you are not going to buy in the near future is doing so at an extreme opportunity cost. It will directly affect their ability to feed their kids and put a roof over their head. It’s nothing personal if they don’t want to take you out. They need to focus their time on working with people and cultivating leads for people who are going to buy soon.

So if you are two years out here’s my advice: Dream big and stay online.

If you do that you will get a much bigger picture of the market and you will be able to spot trends more easily.

I set people up on automated internet home searches all the time.  If you are on one of these searches and you notice that prices are trending upward and choice is going down, you might decide to jump into the market earlier than you anticipated. If you aren’t doing this and you just pop in and out of the market every six months or so, and waylay some poor newbie Realtor (like I was) to show you homes, you might show up (for real) one day and discover that all the homes you like cost a lot more than they used to, and the only home you can afford is now a lot smaller.

One last thing. If you are trying to narrow down two locations early in your search, I can understand the wanting to touch and feel.

For example, Cocoa Beach is a lot less expensive than St. Augustine*, straight up. You will get more for your money in Cocoa than here. You might want to compare homes in the two cities side by side. The homes prices might change over time but things like style and build will probably remain consistent dollar-for-dollar.

So here’s what I suggest. Get a hotel room or rent a condo for a few days and see what the place is like first. If you must look at homes find some open houses and go look. Tell the Realtor you’re a “suspect and not a prospect” and just tire kicking for down the road so you can narrow down a market.

And this leads me to another reason that Realtors will treat you with kid gloves when you are still a year or two out. They know you’re going to show up. They know you’re going to do just as I suggest and hit open houses. They know that while there is a chance that you will buy down the road, there’s an equal or greater chance that you will get snagged by another agent (or locale) somewhere in the process, or like me, have you run off and buy without an agent altogether.

So, keep shopping online and if you must, visit open houses. But understand that if agents decline to take you out it’s not personal. They are real people with real families that have real needs that have to be met.

*I think Cocoa is a beautiful town. But St. Augustine is magical … there’s no place like it on earth, and there’s no place anywhere like it raise kids.

Are you two years out? There’s no way we’re going to show you homes. But let us help you get started, and when you’re ready we’ll help you get it done.  Email my partner Kate Stevens, call her (904-377-2276), or contact me at the email above. You can also check our our great new home search feature by clicking here.

Find Sean on Google+.

Home Not Selling? Don’t Want to Lower the Price? Consider the Alternative…

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

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

The Alternative May Be Getting Stuck (With the House).

The Alternative May Be Getting Stuck (With the House.)

I and the St. Augustine Team Realty are pretty good at selling homes. However, every once in awhile it becomes obvious that the price needs to come down on a home.

For example, we do all the marketing, we do videos that get viewed hundreds of time, we get great web traffic, etc., but nobody shows the home, or worse, people show the home a lot but we don’t get any offers.

We, and I think I speak for all Realtors here, don’t like to broach the conversation about price. I’m pretty sure sellers don’t love it either.

Here’s some actual quotes from sellers I pulled from a Realtor trade magazine:

“She could have been more creative in keeping our house price competitive rather than just dropping the price after a few weeks.”

“We told our agent several times about the bottom line on our house. We couldn’t go any lower, but he pressured and pressured.”

“His answer to everything was ‘drop the price,’ ‘drop the price.’”

What I was struck by is that these comments came from homes that sold, not homes that failed to sell

The Realtor did the job, got the home sold–the seller’s goal–and got scolded for it.

Yes price is a difficult conversation, but consider the the alternative.

Would the sellers be happier if they could make quotes like this:

“My agent was super passive about the price.  The home didn’t sell but it was such a pleasant experience.”

“It was a very positive experience. There were a few frustrating moments when we got an offer, but we countered it at a ridiculous price and we were able to keep the home.”

“We are very satisfied.  Our agent was slow, uninformed, and incredibly passive on our behalf. Even though we could have lowered our price he didn’t ask, and he made darn sure we never got to the closing table!”

When you hire me to get you from point A (I need to sell my home) to point B (home sold), I take it very seriously. I want to talk about price even less than you do.

But. I. Will. Talk. About. Price.

Let us help you get you home priced right from the start, and we’ll do great marketing to make sure everyone knows about your home!  Just email my partner Kate Stevens, call her (904-377-2276), or contact me at the email above.

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. I love The Christmas Story, don’t you? Go out and buy it on DVD right away.

Find Sean on Google+.


296 Moses Creek, a Price Reduction and New Video

Friday, January 10th, 2014

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

I light of the New Year’s price reduction on 296 Moses Creek Boulevard, I shot some new video. It’s much more open and you can really see the space this time without the furniture.

Here’s the home in a nutshell:

Former model home. 4 bedroom / 3 baths. Huge, open kitchen sports a breakfast nook, breakfast bar, 18” tile, and plenty of room. Big, big living area wired for surround with gas fireplace and wood flooring. Giant master bedroom opens to patio and includes tiled master bath with garden tub, double vanities and stand up shower. Bonus with its own bath upstairs. 20×10 screened patio. Privacy fenced. Finished garage heated, cooled, carpeted with its own office.

Click here to find out more about 296 Moses Creek Boulevard, including square footage, school district, room dimensions, and a link to photos. And make sure to watch the video below:

Thanks for watching!

Want to know more?  Just call me at (904) 386-8327 or contact me at the email above.

Find Sean on Google+.

Charity Giving: The Big Tip

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

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

From the time I was 18 until the time I was about 30, I had to work during the holidays.

I still work during the holidays, but real estate gets slow in December just because people are obligated to do so many different things.

Anyway, I was thinking of how blessed I was this year to be a real estate agent, and to be able to take time off when I needed to. I was thinking back to the days that I worked in movie theaters as a manager and I got scheduled for Christmas day and Thanksgiving day and New Years day because “I didn’t have a family.” Or the years I worked as a sales manager for Toys R Us (I worked with great people at TRU by the way) where it was simply understood that you worked 12 hour days and 6-day weeks from the middle of October to New Years. An no, there wasn’t comp time for all the extra days you put in.

As you may know, everytime I get paid for a sale I make a sponsorship to a charity. As it states on our website:

Since 2004 I’ve donated a portion of my gross commission from every sale to a charity. When I started St. Augustine Team Realty with Ron and Kate I decided to continue the tradition. As the broker I believe it’s important to support the community and people in need. The reason I do this is also a bit self-serving: I hope that you’ll do business with us because we give back. I hope that by doing business with us you realize it helps the health, safety and quality of our community at no cost to you. And I hope that by doing this you refer new business to us. 

I thought it would also help to spread some good will this year. So after I made a $170 donation to the local Empty Stocking Fund (for the 137 King Arthur Court sale), I decided to take the $100 earmarked from the 168 Fonseca Drive sale and do, what I call “The Big Tip.”

The Big Tip was simply this. I split the $100 into five $20 bills. On the few days leading up to Christmas, whenever I had an opportunity to drop a tip, I dropped a $20, to make the day a bit brighter for those poor saps (like I used to be) who were working the holidays while I was free. The least tip was 100% ($20 on a $20 meal), the highest was $20 on a $2 coke.

Two people I never saw the reaction because I dropped the tip and left. Two saw it and gave a big thanks. The teenager who got the $20 on the $2 coke tip said, “Are you sure?!” So, cool that one.

I guess I wasn’t looking for a reaction as such, but it was fun to see anyway. Make these people realize someone appreciated them being out there when they were.

Want to know more?  Just contact me at the email above.

Find Sean on Google+.

New Pool Home Listing! 416 San Nicolas, St. Augustine, FL 32080

Monday, January 6th, 2014

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

We just listed this beautiful 3-bedroom pool home nestled in the gated beach community of Ocean Palms. The home features a screened pool, spacious kitchen, living, and dining areas, all which overlook the pool. Ocean Palms includes two parks, nature trails, a community pool, and a pier on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Watch the short video below and click here to find out more about 416 San Nicolas.

Want to know more?  Just email Kate, or call her (904-377-2276), or contact me at the email above.

Find Sean on Google+.