Category Archives: Real Estate

Will the Florida Real Estate Market Slow Down in September?

FL Home Sales July 2015

“Northeast Florida’s July real estate activity reflects a trend that we have seen for the bulk of this year: a sizeable volume of sales, diminished inventory, increasing prices and fairly rapid sales. It’s an opportune time for home sellers in Northeast Florida.”  –Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, President, Sally Suslak

In June and July North Florida home sales soared, surpassing the 2,500 mark. In June 2,587 homes sold, the highest monthly number of sales on record since NEFAR started tracking stats. Another 2,534 homes changed hands in July. This followed three consecutive months of 2,200+ sales in March, April and May.

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But as we move forward, the big question is will the Fed raise interest rates at their September meeting?

A September rate hike seemed very likely before the stock market tanked and regained its footing last week. Now the Fed may be more reluctant to raise rates. They usually don’t like to do so in the middle of global economic turmoil.

Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer indicated that if market volatility eased a rate hike could occur, but other members of the committee suggested raising rates was “too risky” in the current economic environment. Some also admitted that the recent stock sell-off across the globe could have a big impact on the coming interest rate decision.

“It’s too early to tell. We’re still watching how it unfolds,” said Fischer

So keep a close eye on how things unfold over the next few weeks. But even if the Fed waits to increase its benchmark rate, it’s clear that a rate hike is coming soon. And the best time to buy and sale a home is now, before higher mortgage rates eat away at your buying power or slowdown the hot Florida real estate market. 

Now let’s take a quick look at the sales data from July 2015.

Pending Sales

Pending sales data also indicated that the market would keep trending in a positive direction through August. (The final numbers will be out in a few more days.)

There were 2,661 pending sales in July and over the last 5 months this number has topped the data from the market’s peak in 2005. The 2,661 pending sales represented a 24% jump over numbers from last July. So far this year pending sales have climbed 20% higher year to date than in 2014.

Closed Sales

The 2,534 closed home sales referenced above were divided between single-family homes (2,174) and condo/townhomes (360). The number of closed sales exceeded July 2014 numbers by 13.5 percent.   For the year, sales are up 12%.

Go Here to Discover How Much  Your Home is Worth?

Median sales price

Median sales price rose 9.1 percent from $165,950 last July to $181,000. This was a slight decline from June of 2015, when it stood at $183,590. Compared against 2014’s year-to-date sales data, the median price has risen 9 percent. Average sales price, which hit $224,891, also increased 4% over last July’s numbers and 6% for the year. On average, sellers received 94.3 percent of their listing price.


The lack of housing inventory is one of the drivers of higher prices. Sellers listed 3,373 homes in July, but buyer demand tin spring and summer still diminished inventory below normal levels. When July ended, only 9,722 properties remained, which is 4.4 months of supply. So the market was definitely tipped in the favor of sellers. Over 66 percent of the properties listed for $200,000 or less, while more than 33 percent of the homes were priced at $300,000 or more.

Days on the Market

Homes are also selling 3.7 percent faster than a year ago, as the average days on the market dropped to 78.

Contact Us Today if You’re Buying or Selling Your Home

Without a doubt, the North Florida real estate market is regaining its footing and building momentum. And as I mentioned above, now (while mortgage rates remain low) is the best time to buy or sell. If you’re a seller, inventory is low and demand is high, partly due to the low rates. If you’re a buyer, you can get more for your money while rates are low.

Contact us today and we can have your home on the market or find you your ideal home BEFORE RATES INCREASE. Reach us at 904-509-7584 or send us an email and we’ll get in touch with you.

The Perfect Time to List Your Home – Mid-March to Mid-April


Spring is one of the best times of the year for sporting events — March Madness, The Masters, and of course, Ponte Vedra’s own The Players Championship.

It’s also the perfect time to list your home for sale according to  “Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate.” Co-authors Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries analyzed  supply, demand and seller’s outcomes and pinpointed the middle or March to the middle of April, as the optimum time to list and sell a home.

(Click here to view all homes for sale in the Beaches Area.)

Mid-March to Mid-April

Zillow also looked at the best time windows to list in specific parts of the country. What they found is not that surprising, as the weather heats up so do home sales.

For warm climates — like Florida’s — the peak listing time begins in early March. If you’re in a cold weather climate, like the northeast, the season begins a bit later — around the middle of April.

Here’s a look at their findings:

March April Listing PeakHomes Sell Faster and For More

Here’s the crux of the research. Data reveals that homes sell around 15 percent faster and for about 2 percent more during the mid-March to mid-April timeframe.

Less Competition Means More Exposure

Why? Many homebuyers start their searches on the Internet. So if you list during the last part of February — as a mass of home sellers do — you face a ton of competition.

But if you wait a little longer you can get maximum exposure as the mass of listings are no longer as fresh.

Finding the Serious Buyers — Not the Tire Kickers

Data also shows that lender and agent contacts peak around early April. This is important to know, as serious buyers — not just tire kickers — usually contact an agent or lender when they are ready to act, not just look.

So listing your home, as buyers are getting more serious is a smart selling strategy.

Drop in Time on the Market Comes in Late March

If those aren’t enough good reasons to list now, here’s one more. Late March is typically the first time that the Days On the Market number begins to decrease markedly for homes listed after January first.

This drop shows that demand is growing and homes are selling faster.

Sell Your Home Faster and for a Higher Price

Contact us today and we can walk you through the listing process and have your home on the market as the buying season hits its peak. Reach us at 904-509-7584 or send us an email and we’ll get in touch with you.

Neil and Kathie McGuinness - Zillow Reviews
Click the Image to Read Kathie and Neil’s Reviews From Many Satisfied Clients.



Atlantic Beach Country Club Clubhouse from Montello

The Atlantic Beach Country Club had its grand opening on January 10th 2015, with over 700 in attendance.

This wonderful kick-off weekend included both the first ever golf tournament and the first ever Round Robin Tennis Tournament.

Become a Member

Memberships are doing extremely well with over 615 members already on board and we understand that social memberships now have a waiting list.

Purchase a Single-Family Lot

There are 178 residential single-family lots which will be developed along the new golf course. Two of North Florida’s most prestigious homebuilders have signed up for a total of 120 of these lots.

Toll Brothers

Toll Brothers Atlantic Beach Country Club Lots

The national luxury builder, Toll Brothers, has contracted for 90 lots where they will package the lot and home in one price.

Toll Brothers offers 8 home models, and each model has four elevations (Coastal, Classic, Shingle and Carribean). Toll Brothers’ impressive model home, their expanded Catalina Model, opened on January 12th. A basic Catalina Model in the Classic Elevation with the lot starts at $781,995.

Riverside Homes

Riverside Homes Atlantic Beach Country Club

Our Local Custom Builder, Riverside Homes, has contracted for 30 lots and will be offering eight floor plans (from 2300-3500 sf) designed exclusively for the new Atlantic Beach Country Club.

These fresh home designs will be packaged with a lot in their custom offering. The Riverside Homes Model Home will open on March 1st.

24 Lots Still Available

Separately, there are 58 lots which can be bought directly with your choice of licensed builder.

Of these lots, 34 have been sold, so 24 are still available for sale!

Come Join Us!

Kathie and I, ourselves, have contracted for Lot # 24. We look forward to working with anyone looking to purchase or build a home in the new Atlantic Beach Country, either through Toll Brothers or Riverside, or directly with an eye toward choosing your own builder.

We would be delighted to walk you through the models, floor plans and lots available.

Please call us for information on any of these residential possibilities.

You can reach us at 904-509-7584 or email us at [email protected].

Take the Mystery Out of FL Homestead Exemption Portability

Save Our Home Benefit Florida

Last week, we explained how Florida homeowners could cap their property taxes on a homestead using the Florida Homestead Exemption.

So this week, let’s discuss how you can “port” or transfer your assessment limitation or “Save Our Homes” (SOH) benefit with you if you plan to buy or have recently purchased a new home.

What Exactly Is the Save Our Homes or SOH Benefit?

The SOH benefit is the accumulated difference between your Assessed Value and the Just (Market) Value of your homestead.

Even though your assessment value can go up 3% per year — even if your property declines in value — it can never exceed the Just Value of your home.

However, the Homestead Exemption does not automatically transfer from your old home to your new home.  You must file a new Homestead Exemption application for your new property.

The seller’s exemption covers you for the year of the sale, but after that you MUST apply for your own Homestead Exemption.

How Much Can You Port?

You can transfer up to $500,000 of your SOH benefit from an existing home to a new property that’s established as your homestead. But you must do so within two years of selling or abandoning your existing or prior homestead.

For example, if the Just Value (or Certified Market Value) of a prior homestead is $500,000 and the Certified Assessed Value from the prior homestead is $250,000, you can transfer the “Portable Amount” of $250,000. (Portable Amount equals the “Just Value” minus the “Assessed Value.”)

An Important Note About Trading Up or Down

You can transfer the entire amount if the Just Value of the new home exceeds the old home. If you trade down, you can transfer the percentage of the accumulated benefit rather than the full dollar amount.

Using the above example, you’d be able to utilize $250,000/$500,000 = 50%. So if you bought a home for $400,000, you would only pay tax on 50% of the Just Market Value. In other words, you’d pay tax on 50% of the $400,000 or $200,000.”

Follow this link for a detailed example. 

What to File?

To “port” your benefit, you need to complete form DR-501T “Transfer of Homestead Assessment Difference” at the same time you apply for your new homestead exemption.

If you’ve already applied for the homestead exemption, you can still download the application, complete it, and submit it to the Property Appraiser. But, you must do so by March 1. (The same date the application for the Homestead Exemption is due.)

Follow this link to access the application.

For more resources on Florida property taxes go to:

Buying or Selling? Contact Us

Hope this post helps you get the most out of your Homestead Exemption and take the tax advantages with you when you move.

If you have any other real estate questions — or are buying or selling a home, get in touch. We’d love to help you out.

You can reach us at 904-509-7584 or send us an email here.


How to Cap Your Property Taxes With the Florida Homestead Exemption

Florida Homestead Exemption

The March 1 deadline for applying for the Florida Homestead Exemption is fast-approaching.

So let’s overview the Florida Homestead Exemption so you can take full advantage of the tax benefits it offers.

If you bought a house in 2014, you can file now (by March 1) and lock in your assessed value as your base. This will save you money on your property taxes going forward.

The Florida Homestead Exemption – Section 196.031, Florida Statutes

When someone owns property and makes it his or her permanent residence or the permanent residence of his or her dependent, the property owner may be eligible to receive a homestead exemption up to $50,000. The first $25,000 applies to all property taxes, including school district taxes. The additional exemption up to $25,000 applies to the assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000 and only to non-school taxes.

But the $25,000 reductions are not the biggest benefit, especially if you own a home that is valued over $400,000.

Capping Your Assessment Value at 3% Per Year

The most important benefit for you is the Save Our Home (SOH) assessment limitation.

Here’s how it works.

The first year after a home receives a homestead exemption, the property appraiser assesses its just value. After this “just value” is determined, your assessment value can’t go up more than the lesser of 3 percent or the percent change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on a year-to-year basis.

Your SOH benefit (or assessment limitation) is the accumulated difference between your assessed value and the just (market) value of your homestead.

That doesn’t mean your assessment can’t go up. It can, even if the value of your home goes down — but it’s capped at the lesser of 3% or CPI. Also, the assessed value will never exceed the just value of your home.

Why this Cap Is Important

Obviously, this helps you make better financial plans, as you don’t have to worry about the wildcard of a huge jump in assessed value loading you with an unanticipated tax burden.
By comparison some states have no limits and other states like Texas  have caps three times that of Florida’s limit. This can make a huge difference in the increase of your tax bill over a multi-year period.

How to Transfer or “Port” Your SOH Benefit

You can transfer your SOH benefit if you buy a new home.

The clock starts ticking after you abandon (not necessarily sell) the home with the SOH benefit. You have to establish a homestead exemption on your new home within two years of January 1 of the date you left (not sold) the old home.

I’ll get more into the details of that in a separate post, as it can get a little complex based on whether or not you trade up to a more expensive or down to a less expensive house.

Act Now If You Bought a Florida Home in 2014

If you purchased (and moved into your home) in 2014, you need to file your application for the Florida Homestead Exemption by March 1, 2015.
As I mentioned above, doing this locks in your assessed value as your base since Florida homeowners pay property taxes in arrears (2015 property taxes are paid on November 15, 2015.)





Need a Bigger Home? Now May Be the Time!

trading up

Is your family growing? Do you need more space?

Has your income gone up and made you ready to invest in a nicer and larger home?

If so, I’ve got some great news for you.

Now Is an Opportune Time to Trade Up

First, interest rates are extraordinarily low — below 4% — and are unlikely to go much lower.

In fact, expect them to rise 0.5% to 1% over the next year. That rise will eat away a big chunk of your buying power. You’ll pay more for less house.

Home Values Are Up, But Not Peaking

Here’s one more compelling reason to act now — not later.

Housing prices have regained 82% of their peak value.

So if you’re selling a lower-priced home and buying a more expensive home you’re in great shape.

You’ll get 82% of your current home’s peak price, while saving 18% on the cost of a more expensive home.

Let’s say you bought a home now that had a peak value of $600,000 a few years ago and sell one that was valued at $300,000. You would save  $108,000 on the new purchase, while only “losing” $54,000 of the top value on the sell of your old one.

So you come out ahead by $54,000. 

Now Is Not The Time to Wait

If you wait until your current home regains its peak value, you’ll also have to buy the more expensive home at its higher value.

So you’ll actually lose ground – and dollars by waiting instead of buying now.

Need More Information? Contact Us Today!

Contact us today to explore your options. Give us a call at 904-509-7584 or email us here.

We can give you a detailed assessment of the value of your current home and also help you identify homes in The Beaches area in your new price range.

How to Stage Your Home — Cost-Effectively — To Increase Its Value

Staging a Home - Cost and Benefits SIn a previous post we talked a little about how to stage your home with cost-effective, high-value improvements to attract more attention and sell it at a higher price.

Staging is a big issue and can put more money in your pocket when you sell your home. For every one dollar you invest in improvements, you usually increase your sales price by two dollars.

However, if you invest in high-cost improvements that don’t translate into a higher selling price you can miss out on that investment return.

So this week we’re going to dive a little deeper into staging and how you can invest your dollars into the highest payoff areas.

How Much Is Your Home Worth?

Put Your Home on Display

Think of it this way. Staging is putting your house on display for all to see. And just as you wouldn’t want to attend a big social event without looking your best — you don’t want to list your home until you’ve made some cost-effective improvements that will bring a higher selling price.

Remove Yourself From The Home

Sure, you love the way your house looks with all your pictures and family momentos, ut here’s the problem — buyers have to be able to picture themselves in your home. It’s harder to do that if they’re looking at your family photos.

So it’s best to put away those photos and let your prospective buyers imagine themselves and their family living in the home.

Remove the Clutter

Okay, let’s talk closets.

Imagine this. You open your closets and instead of clutter, you see a few of your best outfits hanging from matching hangers and all of the other stuff neatly stored in matching boxes or storage bins.

This goes for all your rooms, but particularly your storage areas.

It’s vitally important that you remove the clutter from your closets and make them appear as spacious and organized as possible. Invest in some matching hangers and storage bins if you don’t have them. Or invest in a storage shed for a few months.

It’ll make a huge impression!

Create a Relaxing Look and Feel in Your Bedrooms

Also, take a look at your bedrooms.

Do they have a simple, uncluttered look and feel? If not, consider moving the clutter and extra accessories somewhere else.

Most buyers will feel more relaxed if they see a headboard, a cohesive color scheme, and a few decorative items — not office furniture, power strips, and televisions.

Also, use gender neutral colors if possible, as this appeals to more people.

Sell Your Kitchen and Bathrooms

Most buyers care the most about kitchens and bathrooms. When they buy they want to feel really good about these two areas. So time and money invested here can earn a big payoff.

Yes, you should keep both areas immaculate, but you can also take a few extra measures to make sure these areas really stand out.

Keep counter tops clear. This makes the kitchen and bathrooms look larger. You can also display white bath and hand towels in the bathrooms to create an open look and feel.

Make High-Impact Updates

Be honest about your home.

Does it need an update? If so, here are some low-cost changes you can make.

Consider replacing gold or brass fixtures and cabinet hardware with nickel, chrome, brushed silver, or stainless steel. Also, you can buy newer appliances or update the ones you have with stainless steel stick-on coverings or specialty appliance paints.

Don’t forget to clean the clutter from your cabinets, drawers, and oven. Some buyers scrutinize every detail of your kitchen, so be ready.

Removing rugs can also make your kitchen look more spacious.

Go Neutral

Just as removing pictures helps buyers picture themselves in your home, so does using neutral color schemes.

In addition, adding lighting and showcasing natural light makes a big impression. Also, you can add to any room by displaying a vase of fresh flowers on a simply decorated table.

In addition, pay close attention to window treatments. You can use neutral curtains or ones with subtle designs to enhance rooms and sheer curtains let in more light.

Lighting is a key to making your home look its best.

Contact Us Now to Learn More

These are just a few of the little things you can do to add value to your home in the eyes and minds of prospective buyers. We can also give your home a detailed walk through and show you other improvements that can increase the selling price of your home.

We’ve sold properties in The Beaches area for years and know exactly what most buyers are looking for. So call us at 904-509-7584 or send us an email.

We look forward to talking with you.