by George L. Ballou, II
Watson Realty Corp.
Menton & Ballou
In 2015 I wrote an article for SJM about St. Johns County. Today we revisit the subject as well as the original article;
I am often asked what is it about St Johns County that makes it so special. Why is it the most sought-after location in all of Northern FL. I have been in the real estate business for well over 30 years and no matter where I have lived there is one fact you can take to the bank…wherever you find a highly rated school system you will also find growth, strong property values with greater appreciation potential, people who value education, and a strong economic environment providing a solid tax base. Congratulations once again to St Johns Co. We have been recognized for having the #1 school system in the state of Florida for 2015.
When I deal with buyers who are relocating to our area they show up fully aware of what they want to find and that is a home in the St Johns County school system. This simple fact is what drives everything else in our county. Developers are flocking to SJC with incredible plans to develop and expand places like Nocatee, Shearwater, Markland & Twin Creeks and the foundation for this commitment to our area is the school system! When my wife and I relocated to Florida just 6 years ago from VT along with my daughter and son-in-law they asked me to assist them in finding a home and business location. When I asked my daughter if she had a place in mind she was absolute in her knowledge that St. Johns County was the only option for them. To be honest I asked “where is that” and she quickly rattled off the statistics that every parent seems to know around here…it’s the #1 school system in the state! Prior to moving to Florida my first answer would have been that there is no state income tax in Florida. Leave it to parents to see past that issue to the real heartbeat of a community…schools!
According to the Chief Economist for Realtor.com in 2015 home sales were up approximately 7% from 2014 driven by a 6% increase in resales and a 15% increase in new construction. Once residential growth re-established itself from the desperate times just a few years ago the retail and commercial development followed. These commitments create jobs and new communities and a positive and forward-looking expectation for all and this is especially true in St. Johns County. Everywhere you look roads are being improved, businesses are opening up and new residents are moving in.
The outlook for the future is very positive in our county. Besides our schools we enjoy a unique location to the ocean, river and coastal waterways. In addition, convenient access to major highways for commuting, shopping and enjoying the amenities of our area makes our lifestyle opportunities one to be envied!
In 2017 once again we were the #1 Rated School District in FL? “Rankings are based upon several key factors such as the strength of academics, health and safety, diversity and quality of teachers”!
In real estate, St Johns County single family unit sales for existing homes was up 9.6% and new construction sales were up 18% county wide. This compares to National figures up 1.1% for existing homes and 4.7% for new home starts. St Johns County was recently honored for having 2 of the Top 20 Best Places to Live in FL…Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine! Unemployment for the county for 2017 year end was 2.8%...lowest in the entire state of FL.
As you can see, not much has changed since my article back in 2015…we are still doing great! Oh…we do have one problem apparently…not enough housing inventory!
By George L. Ballou, II
Menton and Ballou Group
Broker Associate at Watson Realty Corp.
I have been in the real estate business for over 30 years. During that time, I have seen astonishing advances in information and communication technology. I remember when fax machines first hit real estate offices
in the mid 1980’s, cell phones as big as your arm, no one had a desktop or a laptop computer, no websites, no Google or Facebook, no emails or texts and so on. Fast forward to today and communication is nearly instant…so why have some things not improved? Perhaps only Sellers and their Agents will be able to relate to this article but I hope it will help everyone see what goes on behind the curtain…
I might have started this conversation by going the long way around the barn but I have something to say about an element of our industry that hasn’t gotten better despite these state of the art improvements… so here is my concern! Anyone who has ever listed their house for sale or been a listing agent knows exactly what I am about to say. One of the worst experiences for a seller is preparing for a showing on their home only to have the agent never show, show up late even after giving them a 1-2 hour window, or finally having them show but then they never respond to requests for Feedback afterward!
The seller has cleaned and straightened up their house, found temporary places for the pets and kids, figured out where to go when it is 95 outside and now is anxiously hoping for a positive outcome. This process begins with the agent showing up when scheduled and then waiting to hear what the buyer had to say about their home. How in this age of instant communication can agents not have the courtesy to at least call and say they are not coming or they are late? How can they never respond to a Feedback Request from the listing agent. The public doesn’t know this but the showing agent gets requests for Feedback electronically every 24 hours for days after the showing…it’s impossible for them to miss. How can this be happening?
I have come to the following unfortunate conclusion; either no one has trained these agents so they don’t know any better or they are in such a panic they may lose a sale they forget they are in charge of this process instead of vice versa. Since 2012 the number of agents in this local market has increased in the MLS by over 60%... almost 3,000 additional new agents! There are too many agents not being trained properly or at all! If I were speaking to a group of fellow agents their defense would be that buyers sometimes say when they get there “I don’t like this house…let’s go to the next house” or “I have 10 houses to show them and there is always something that gets us off schedule” or “My buyers saw so many houses they didn’t really give me any specific Feedback”. I actually had an agent tell me when I finally called him for Feedback “I am busy. Not responding should have told you we aren’t interested”. That’s not how it works!
When a professional agent shows a buyer a home and they say, “I don’t like the house let’s skip it” a well-trained agent handles the situation this way… “These sellers have taken the time to prepare their house for us. Out of courtesy we need to at least go in and take a quick look around…you never know what we might see”. I have never had a customer say no to that comment. Agents often feel that being off schedule is just a given when showing so many houses so we should learn to deal with it! First of all, it’s a fools mission to show buyers so many houses in a day? It is the rare buyer who can remember which house had a horse in the living room once they have seen more than 5-6 houses. If the buyers saw so many houses they couldn’t really give you Feedback then what was the point of showing them so many. This comes down to taking control of the client and the process and doing what is best for them even when they are clamoring for more. You are the trained expert. You have a responsibility to both the buyer and the seller. Every buyer thinks he needs to see as many houses as he can but a focused search based upon interviewing them properly will allow you to reduce the number of “fake” showings to the 5-6 that are actually relevant to what they really want to see. If you have a few 2 story homes booked only to find out once they are in the car they don’t want to see any 2 story houses that situation could have been prevented by doing your homework before you made the schedule out. There is no excuse for this poor level of preparation and service.
Don’t get me wrong, I have made every mistake I have just mentioned and so have some of the best agents I know. However, those who do well in this business and are respected by their peers learned a long time ago to adjust their approach to showing houses so that it becomes less frantic and a more productive experience for everyone involved.
Sellers need to be shown more respect. Buyers are expecting you to take charge. Our industry suffers when we fail to demonstrate our professionalism.
Just sharing a few thoughts….
by Christie Redmer, We Give Realty
DR Horton Homes and Emerald Homes DR Horton Homes condos starting in the mid $100's, and single family homes starting in the mid $200's:
Aberdeen is a master planned community with extensive amenities offering homesites situated around a large conservation area. Aberdeen features resort style amenities and beautiful homes.
single family homes starting in the mid $300's:
Emerald Homes offers luxury homes in the Aberdeen master planned community located in northern St. Johns County with exceptional amenities. Only a few homesites are being offered and most will feature preserve views, lake views, and oversized homesites. Home are surrounded by natural beauty while still being close to all of life’s conveniences.
Arbor Mill at Mill Creek:
Lennar Homes, Vintage Estate Homes, Landon Homes, and Ashley Homes with pricing starting in the high $200's.
This community includes a stunning lake front pool, family picnic area, children’s playground, a bocce ball court, a multi-purpose sports field and access to onsite boat and RV storage, available for residents only, all with no CDD fees!
KB Home and AV Homes starting in the mid $200's/high $200's and Pulte Homes 55+ Active Adult Section Single Family Homes and Low Maintenance Villas starting in the mid $200's. Bannon Lakes is a beautiful master-planned community surrounded by majestic oak trees featuring an amenity center with pool, playground, dog park and more.
Dream Finders Homes, ICI Homes priced from the high $200's . .
Construction of model homes scheduled to begin 2017! Beautiful new Beacon Lake Community coming soon set around the natural beauty of the 43 acre recreational lake, Beacon Lake. Featuring single family homes and townhomes in the Coastal Vernacular architectural style. Amenities planned to include expansive community clubhouse overlooking Beacon Lake, the "Crew House" which will provide kayak, canoe, and paddleboard storage and a launch area making it easy for residents to enjoy Beacon Lake. Amenities will also include 2 pools, splash park, tennis courts, sports fields, spacious fitness center, and dog park.
Dream Finders Homes starting in the low $300's.
The perfect balance between nature and convenience, Cedar Point consists of only 29 homesites. No CDD fees and low HOA fees make this the perfect fit for families looking to stay in a small community setting.
CalAtlantic Homes starting in the upper $300's.
Conveniently located and perfectly planned gated community featuring extensive amenities and beautiful homes with a Mediterranean feel.
Creekside at Twin Creeks:
Lennar Homes, Pulte Homes, Drees Homes priced in the mid to high $200's.
Creekside at Twin Creeks features family friendly homes with fantastic amenities, a variety of floor plan designs, and a convenient location.
Durbin Creek Estates:
Dream Finders Homes starting in the high $200's.
Homes located in the middle of a lush preserve within walking distance to Veteran's Park with no CDD fees and low HOA fees.
Durbin Crossing Village
Center: Dream Finders Homes starting in the low to mid $200's.
Durbin Crossing provides all of its residents with the convenience and luxury of two master-planned, fully appointed amenity centers within walking distance from every home. The two amenity facilities are the center of activity of Durbin Crossing and mirror the beautiful historic style of Colonial Florida architecture.
The Palisades: Express Homes by DR Horton Townhomes starting in the mid $100's.
Maintenance-free living with resort style amenities. Residents will also enjoy access to Durbin Crossing’s 2 amenity centers which offer daily activities, pools, tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts, kids’ play area, dog walking park, and sports fields.
Riverside Homes, Providence Homes, and Richmond American Homes starting in the high $200's.
Beautiful new St Johns County master-planned community showcases an impressive amenity center, a large lake with a public dock for canoeing, kayaking and more. No CDD fees!
Glen St. Johns:
Richmond American Homes, and KB Home priced from mid $200's.
This exceptional community offers a variety of distinctive floor plans, set on spacious homesites, and no CDD fees. Residents appreciate abundant amenities, including a community pool, playground, and fitness center, all close to I-95.
KB Home starting in the mid $200's.
Quaint, walkable community with only 97 homesites features community pool and numerous green-spaces with mature Oaks. Residents are able to walk to Liberty Pines Academy.
Magnolia Point: ICI Homes prices starting in the high $400's.
Luxury and Estate sized homes in a gated section of one of the most sought after communities in the area featuring over 1,200 acres of natural areas, over 100 acres of ponds, golf course, 2 amenity centers with clubhouses and pools, playgrounds, and more.
Toll Brothers prices starting in the low $400's.
Julington Lakes is a private, gated community showcasing award-winning home designs with lake or preserve views with most homesites. The residents enjoy private walkway to Veteran's Park, resident's clubhouse with pool and fitness area, and walking/biking trails inside the community, all with no CDD fees.
Landon Homes (only prebuilt new homes remaining) offered in the mid $300's to mid $400's.
Quaint enclave of only 34 estate sized homesites set amidst a beautiful wooded preserve.
Dostie Homes, and Pulte Homes starting in the upper $200's.
Community Pool & Cabana with Children's Splash Park, Covered Pavilion with Kitchenette & Picnic Tables, Fishing Pier, Tennis, Basketball & Sand Volleyball Courts, Walking Trails, Multi-Purpose Sports Field, Two Children's Playgrounds, no CDD fees.
Dream Finders Homes, MasterCraft Builder Group, and Riverside Homes from the mid $200's.
Nestled along the picturesque Intracoastal Waterway, Madeira encompasses 1,006 acres including over 600 acres of unspoiled marsh wetlands, a tidal creek, numerous lakes and preserved natural areas laced with ancient live oaks and blossoming magnolias. Old Spanish and Mediterranean designed homes are built on picturesque lake and marsh view homesites.
Arthur Rutenburg Homes, Cottage Home Company, Dream Finders Homes, Providence Homes, Riverside Homes, and Drees Homes starting in the mid $300's.
The Markland community will provide residents with resort-quality amenities including a zero-entry pool framed by cabanas and lounge areas, a fitness center and yoga studio, a gathering and entertainment room, tennis courts, a children’s playground, and an interconnected network of parks and walkways. Beautifully designed homes are situated on over sized homesites.
Mill Creek Plantation:
DS Ware starting in the mid $300's.
Most of Mill Creek Plantation's homesites are on a preserve and/or lake with lake to preserve views, featuring huge Oak trees. The neighborhood is quiet and private, anchored by a cul-de-sac.
Nocatee: Dream Finders, ICI Homes, Del Webb, Mattamy Homes, CalAtlantic Homes, Pineapple Corporation, Cottage Home Company, Toll Brothers, AV Homes, Lennar Homes, Providence Homes, David Weekley Homes, Dostie Homes starting in the high $200's.
The third best selling community in the nation! Nocatee is a vibrant new home community unlike any other on in the area. More than a community, Nocatee is a lifestyle, with amazing amenities and year-round events and activities designed for all ages.
Lennar Homes and Richmond American Homes starting in the upper $200's.
Oakridge Landing is a quiet and secluded neighborhood within walking distance to Veteran’s Park, which offers a skate park, dog park, soccer fields, playground, and basketball courts. Some exceptional features residents are able to enjoy are walking trails, swimming pool, and wooded nature preserves, with no CDD fees.
David Weekley Homes and MasterCraft Builder Group with homes starting in the high $300's.
Oxford Estates is a beautiful natural gas, gated community, close to schools, with walking trails, tot lot, and more amenities to come, all with no CDD fees. Beautiful estate sized homesites and luxurious home designs.
Emerald Homes, Lennar Homes, and Pulte Homes starting in the mid to upper $200's.
Palencia offers homes with upscale features and beautiful designs within walking distance to the 40-acre Village Center and The Palencia Club, with a 33,000 sq. ft. clubhouse and 72-par, 18-hole Arthur Hill-designed golf course. Residents enjoy natural beauty and resort style living near the intracoastal waterway.
Richmond American Homes starting in the mid $200's.
At Park Place in St. Augustine, you'll find inspired floor plans and striking scenery—every homesite backs to a peaceful pond or natural preserve! Those fortunate enough to call this exceptional new community home will enjoy easy access to St. Johns County schools, beaches, golf courses, shopping and major roadways, including I-95.
Preserve at St. Johns:
Dream Finders Homes starting in the mid $300's.
Beautiful new community surrounded by wooded preserve.
Mattamy Homes, Mastercraft Builder Group, Landon Homes starting in the mid $200's.
RiverTown is the only new masterplanned community located along the St. Johns River. It provides access to the St. Johns River and surrounding conservation areas and has the perfect setting for re-connecting with others. The community features adorable cottage style homes and encourages clean, healthy living with miles of hiking trails, running and cycling events, and a world-class clubhouse amenity center which includes pools, fitness center, tennis courts and more.
DR Horton starting in the lower $200's.
Samara Lakes is a family-friendly community with natural landscaping and tree lined winding roads throughout with no CDD fees. Amenities include pool and cabana with lounge area, children’s playground, basketball court, and outdoor recreational fields.
DR Horton-Express Homes starting in the low to mid $200's.
San Salito is a beautiful Mediterranean-style community. Residents will enjoy amazing amenities such as an expansive pool with kid’s splash area, clubhouse, tennis courts, volleyball courts, fitness center, and playground. The community offers affordable homes, amazing amenities, and no CDD fees.
SEDA Construction pricing starts in the high $200's.
This serene community is very private, with only one entrance and many cul-de-sac streets. Residents enjoy the natural surroundings, with winding streets, stunning lakefront lots and pristine conservation lots. No CDD fees!
Mattamy Homes priced from the mid to upper $100's.
The only Townhome Village near World Golf Village is surrounded by nature, and just minutes from shopping, dining, entertainment, and the interstates. Community highlights include a pool and clubhouse as well as several small lakes scattered throughout.
AV Homes starting in the $300's.
Stone Creek is comprised of just 44 wooded estate sized homesites which are located in a private enclave featuring traditional new home designs spanning 2,400 to over 4,400 square feet with expansive front porches with one an d two story plans.
Lennar Homes, Richmond American Homes, David Weekley Homes, Mastercraft Builder Group, and DS Ware and Drees Homes starting in the mid $200's.
Shearwater features 600 acrers which contain preserved wetlands and open space. Residents will enjoy pocket parks, dog parks, 15 miles of walking trails, kayak/canoe launch access and an amenity center featuring tennis courts, two pools, a lazy river and a 7,200+ sq. ft. fitness lodge.
The Reserve at Greenbriar:
Mattamy Homes starting in the low $300's.
This community offers spacious homesites set in a serene location surrounded by preserve. The Reserve At Greenbriar features an oversized amenity area with a community pool, cabana, open recreation space, and wetlands bordering the community.
DR Horton, David Weekley, Providence Homes, and Landon Homes starting in the mid $200's.
Beautiful natural gas community with impressive oak tree hammocks and winding nature trails, TrailMark's architectural design captures Old Florida style and celebrates its authentic North Florida location and history. The planned community amenity center includes a fitness center, lagoon style pool with free-form design and zero entry, pavilion, and a kayak launch located along Six Mile Creek.
Landon Homes, Richmond American Homes, and Maronda Homes starting in the lower $200's.
Located just minutes away from I-95, US Route 1, and beautiful St. Augustine beaches, Treaty Oaks offers a plethora of community amenities and nearby attractions. Residents enjoy a community clubhouse and pool, as well as close proximity to retail shopping and the popular Treaty Park. Choose from several ranch and two-story floor plans.
Lennar Homes, Vintage Estate Homes, Americrest Luxury Homes...Home sales scheduled to begin Fall 2017! Pricing from the $400's.
is a new 3,000 home master-planned community featuring a 14-acre Crystal Lagoon. The beach club will be inspired by high-end Caribbean resorts. The "Beachwalk" section will feature five communities and will also include retail.
Tidewater Homes - pricing by request.
Villa Sovana is a gated neighborhood nestled under old Oak trees and featuring 12 estate sized home sites with beautiful old world Mediterranean charm. Only a few homesites still available.
Lennar Homes starting in the mid $200's.
Windward Ranch provides a charming neighborhood atmosphere with exceptional amenities. The community offers a swimming pool, fitness center and playgrounds. Windward Ranch includes as standard granite countertops, 42 inch cabinets, paver driveway and walkways, home automation and more!
World Golf Village - Legacy Trail:
Emerald Homes starting in the high $200's.
Legacy Trail showcases breathtaking home sites featuring lake and “tee to green” views of the esteemed Slammer & Squire Golf Course. Lawn maintenance is included making Legacy Trail at World Golf Village a low maintenance home choice! New home plans will range from approximately 1800 sq ft to 2600 sq ft and will feature Coastal-themed architectural exterior details, homes with front porches, natural gas appliance options, open plan layouts, large kitchens, spectacular golf views, 2 car garages, and 3-4 bedroom plans. Enjoy this world class community with lower fees than similar communities.
by Linda Ash of Ash & Rose Real Estate
It’s hard to believe the Watson Realty Corp. office in Nocatee has celebrated its one year anniversary. What growth we have seen in the area since our doors opened! It’s also an exciting time to be on the Ash & Rose Real Estate Team! We have over 30 years of business, sales and marketing experience among us, it’s no coincidence we are one of the fastest growing teams at Watson Realty! Our team has been busy in St. Johns County with new construction popping up all around the county. We work with a large number of Millennials, but members of Generation X are really the ones that have been driving the housing market. It’s apparent with many of the new amenity-rich neighborhoods and our highly rated schools, Gen Xers are purchasing homes throughout the county. Gen Xers – adults between the ages of 37 and 51 – make up the second largest share of home buyers, comprising 28 percent in 2016, according to data from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
The Northeast Florida Association of Realtors market stats for April, 2017 continue to show positive trends in St. Johns County. One of the most impressive increases in the area is the median price per square foot. This April the median price per square foot is $137, an increase of 5.4% over last year. There have been 5,950 closings in our county this April, a 10.4% increase over April 2016 when there were only 5,398 homes closed. Another positive trend is the increase in pending sales. There were 9.1% more contracts written this April (2,112) over April 2016 (1,935). The three year dollar volume of closed sales has continued to rise, April 2015 ($486,854,524); April 2016 ($550,528,301); and this year we have seen an 11.7% increase ($615,183,819).
The inventory of homes for sale in St. Johns County this April was 2,313. This amount is down 5.9% from last April giving Buyers fewer choices. We only have 4.6 months supply of inventory. A balanced market is 5 to 6 months supply. I’m sure we will see this number change with the building we are seeing all around us. Driving west on C.R. 210 between Hwy 1 and I-95, you have surely experienced slowing traffic due to all the road construction. Buyers, including Gen Xers, will certainly want to check out the new Twin Creeks planned development community featuring a 14-acre “lagoon”.– This neighborhood has rights to build 3,000 homes plus mixed use development including retail. Crystal Lagoons US Corp is the company that developed the technology for the lagoon. The clear man-made lagoon called Beach Walk will have sandy beaches and surrounded by shops and restaurants. A variety of homes will be built in front of the lagoon, and others will be within walking distance. It will be an exciting option for our Buyers as it will be totally different from other great new construction neighborhoods in St. Johns County.
Nocatee has announced two new communities: Timberland Ridge and Daniel Park at Town Center. Timberland Ridge (Duval County) will be on the north side of Nocatee and surrounded by preserve and water. Multiple builders will be building homes here, David Weekley, ICI Homes, and Providence Homes. Prices will start in the Low $300’s and range from 2,200 to 3,384 square feet. Watch for models opening in the fall. Daniel Park at Town Center is located in the heart of Nocatee, walking distance from Splash Park, Greenway Trails, the Nocatee Preserve, Town Center Shops and restaurants. Daniel Park will feature homes exclusively by David Weekley from 1,300 to 3,000 square feet, starting from the high $200’s.
In summary, pending sales are up, closings are up, median price per square foot is up, the 3-year dollar volume of closed sales is up and inventory is down. All are positive signs for the St. Johns housing market. If you have questions about the statistics, please give me a call. If you are considering new construction or a resale home in the area, call one of the Ash & Rose REALTORS® to assist you throughout the process.
"Generation X: Buying the Biggest Homes and Biggest Home Sellers," National Association of Realtors Economists' Outlook blog (April 14, 2017)
Jacksonville Business Journal, March 9, 2017 14 Acre “crystal lagoon” set to break ground in March, By Derek Gilliam.
by George L. Ballou, II
Menton & Ballou Group
Watson Realty Corp.
St. Johns is the place to be! Home of the #1 Rated School system in the state of FL & Ranked In Top 10 In The Nation by Forbes Magazine; Rated the Healthiest County In FL by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; 3.6% Unemployment rate / 3.7% Growth Rate In Population According to U.S. Census Bureau Durbin Park to be the largest shopping area in all Northeast Florida: Featuring Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Bass Shops
Even though I am in the real estate business 24/7, like many Realtors and fellow residents, the totality of what is going on in our county sometimes escapes us all. When you add up the numbers of just the major new projects under way and some about to begin the number of new homes coming on the market in the next few years is staggering. Where are all of these new owners going to come from? New residents from outside the county and state? Will St Johns County residents be selling their existing homes along the 210 Corridor, WGV, Julington Creek and Palencia for the new, state of the art developments with exciting new floor plans and amenities? What will be the impact on the re-sale market in these areas? If the last 10 years of growth is any indicator there seems to be room for everyone in this mix of new versus old!
Although it will take many years for all of this to become a reality, a quick look at what is on the horizon in new home starts;
23,722 -Total Residential Units
* Many of these developments have been on the drawing board for several years but they all seem to have gained their stride in a major push to make their plans a reality.
The investment being made by developers is enormous, county funding for roads and infrastructure is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the need for more schools is already evident and running behind! Job creation could be enormous to service this growing population. It looks like everyone is “All In” when it comes to St Johns County!
by Darin Magee, Owner of Florida Property Detectives
There are many different types of residential home inspections. Many are done at the transfer of a home, some for the seller, and some for the buyer. Other inspections are done for insurance agents. These include a four-point and a wind mitigation; these are how some people qualify for property insurance, and others qualify for property insurance discounts. Additionally, there are the new home construction inspections. These consists of construction monitoring, new construction, and 11-month warranty inspections. With the extraordinary surge in new home construction in northern St. Johns County, these are increasingly popular.
Construction monitoring is different from any other type of inspection. A typical home inspection is a non-invasive visual examination of the house and its components to determine if everything is functioning as intended. Depending on the size of the house it can take just a few hours to complete. Inspectors conducting construction monitoring inspections are following the building process for many months ensuring that everything is either built or installed to code. This can be very helpful for homeowners who don’t live in the area or for those who have little building experience. If you're thinking about hiring one of these inspectors, talk to your builder first. Builders will typically allow an inspector on the work site but usually aren’t thrilled about it. You should look for an inspector who has the insurance that the builder will demand and if possible, for one who has experience as a builder and knows the construction process.
The next variation is the new home inspection. This is done after the construction is finished but prior to the buyer moving in. In many cases it’s in lieu of, or in conjunction with, the buyer’s final walkthrough before settlement. For buyers this inspection provides move in peace of mind; they have assurance that the visible structure, components, and appliances all function as intended. This is a full home inspection and is priced accordingly. One drawback to this type of inspection is the amount of time that some problems can take to surface. If one or more roof component has been installed incorrectly for example, evidence of the ensuing leak may not show up for months. This can lead to costly repairs and headaches down the road.
The last type of new construction home inspection is the 11-month warranty inspection. Although I wouldn’t discourage anyone from having construction monitoring, of the three inspection types discussed here, the 11-month warranty may make the most sense for some people from both a practical and financial standpoint. The advantages are that after 11 months the house has had time to settle and evidence of problems may have appeared. It’s also an advantage that the home owner has had an opportunity to get to know the house. If you decide to go this route, make sure to ask the home inspection company if they have special rates for 11-month warranty inspections; most won’t. In their defense, they charge their full home inspection fee because they're doing their full home inspection, the same inspection they would do for a new buyer who doesn’t know anything about the house they’re trying to purchase. But you do know your home, you’ve lived in it for 11 months so there are many things that the inspector doesn’t have to inspect. For example, you know if your appliances work, you know if your windows go up and down smoothly, you know if your cabinets are missing hardware, and you know if your doors latch properly. You probably don't know if you have problems with your roof that only walking on it can reveal, or what's behind your electric panel cover, or if you have a moisture problem in your attic. An 11-month inspection is more collaborative than any other type of inspection.
Builders aren’t perfect, so regardless of which inspection type you choose, it’s important to have a certified professional inspector (CPI) inspect your builder’s work at some point in the process. Don’t let your builder off the hook. Make sure you get the quality home you deserve.
by Maddie Taylor
In a little over a year, Shearwater has quickly made its mark in the St. Johns County community with its reputation for its connection to nature, community engagement and desire for healthy living. Shearwater has taken the master-planned community to the next level by offering serene resort-style living with 40+ new home designs that can appeal to every preference for style, floor plan and price point.
Steve Leonhirth, who moved to Shearwater with his wife and two children last May says, “Shearwater is a kid-friendly, multi-faceted community that accommodates all ages of life. It’s not a golf community; it’s a community of unity. The trails, the interconnecting neighborhoods via pathways so you don’t have to get on main roads, the amenities center…it’s all here to connect with each other right in our own front yards.”
In addition to the world-class amenities, energetic social calendar, and outdoor adventures, it’s the neighborhoods that define the Shearwater experience. Quality home builders like David Weekley, Lennar, Richmond American Homes, Mastercraft Builder Group, D.S. Ware Homes, and Drees Homes bring their timeless style to create Florida Bungalows, Spanish Craftsmans, Coastal Traditionals, and even Florida Farmhouses. Front porches, walkways and courtyards bring neighbors together, and the varied options for colors, materials, exterior lighting, and landscaping allow residents to express their own individuality while maintaining a harmonious streetscape.
“The Shearwater development, overall, is wonderful and we really like what we are seeing. We are impressed with our builder, but overall we are very impressed with how Shearwater is laying out the whole community”, Steve adds.
Both families and couples enjoy Shearwater’s diverse home sizes, ranging from 1,637 square feet to over 4,000 square feet, with three to five bedrooms, and one- and two-story models. The Springs and North Creek neighborhoods of Shearwater have price points starting in the low $200,000’s; The Trails area of Shearwater begin in the high $300,000’s’ and The Woodlands, Shearwater’s first gated community, features homes starting in the $400,000’s.
Find Yourself at Shearwater with custom homes that fit your style, budget and lifestyle. Spend your days hiking the trails, winding down the water slide, floating down the lazy river, kayaking Trout Creek and soaking up every bit of Shearwater’s resort-style living. Shearwater resident and single father of two, Chris Easterling put it best when he said “You won’t find a better value in the Jacksonville area. From the quality homes by solid builders, to the great schools, the incredible amenities, and how close the community is to so many area activities…you can’t beat Shearwater.”
Come find out why homebuyers are favoring Shearwater over other local communities and you just might find yourself in Shearwater too.
St. Johns Newest Community
The Markland Manor House adds to the rich heritage of the area. The classic, architecture combined with impeccable interior detailing and extensive landscaping, made a memorable impression on all who attended. Paul Basham, who led the design effort noted, “Attention to detail was critical in the design of the Manor House–given our goal to authentically reflect the rich tradition of 19th-century Greek-Revival manor homes.”
The Markland Manor house is the amenity centerpiece of the community and its architecture is inspired by the historic grand homes of nearby St. Augustine. The tree-lined walkway leading from the community gatehouse to the Manor House provides a dramatic and formal entrance that complements and frames the building. The first floor of the Manor House is warm and expansive with a gathering room, card room, several large televisions, and a coffee bar for residents to enjoy daily. The second floor is dedicated to residents’ health and wellness with an impressive array of Life Fitness strength and aerobic equipment, free weights and a yoga/spin studio equipped with an innovative “on-demand” fitness class system. The elevated location of the fitness room provides inspiring views of the pool grounds and expansive central lakes.
The exclusive, resort pool adjacent to the Manor House has a zero-entry area, lap lanes and fountain jets, and is framed by private cabanas, shaded pergolas and lounge areas on all sides. Beyond the pool, and beside the 30-acre lake network, is a fire pit and event lawn where residents and friends can gather to enjoy community concerts and share stories.
Outside of the Manor House and pool, residents and guests can play tennis by the lake on the two hard surface tennis courts which have been adapted for pickle ball use as well. Numerous neighborhood parks are purposefully spaced throughout the neighborhood so that young children can play “sandlot” games of soccer and football within earshot of home. The central playground features a Kompan “Explorer Dome” designed to inspire imaginative and collaborative play and the grand lawn for any variety of field sports. All of the amenities within Markland, as well as nearby shops, are connected by a series of linear parks and sidewalks that promote residents to walk and bike in their travels or they can use a golf cart on the roads within Markland.
Those in attendance at the grand opening took note of the quality and early delivery of amenities. Lisa Vernon of Keller Williams noted, “I saw the plans for Markland when I visited Palencia a while ago, but they did not do it justice. To see it all built is just magnificent.”
While Debbie Pappas of All County added, “Having the main amenity center available to future residents as their homes are being built makes it easier for realtors to convince potential buyers to move into the community.”
Hines took an unusual approach in the planning and development of Markland and rezoned the property from over 800 homes down to only 345 homes.
Walter O’Shea, managing director of Hines explained, “By limiting the number of homes, we have been able to create a unique offering in St. Johns County. Residents will enjoy more access to the amenities in Markland than in much larger planned communities - residents will have more use of the pool, fitness equipment and the tennis courts as there are less people competing for these facilities. In addition, the reduction in density has allowed us to offer larger lots to homebuyers. The added lot depth and width will allow builders to offer homeowners the ability to have a home, a pool and still have a backyard for the children to play. Finally, we hope that Markland responds to families, couples and individuals who want an amenity-rich lifestyle but want to do so in a setting where you see more familiar faces and get to know your neighbors.”
Markland is centrally located on International Golf Parkway just east of I-95 with model homes open daily. Our six outstanding home builders offer a diverse mix of house plans with pricing that ranges from $300,000 to over $700,000.
Hines is a privately owned global real estate investment firm founded in 1957 with locations in 192 cities in 20 countries. feet. With extensive experience in investments across the risk spectrum and all property types, and a pioneering commitment to sustainability, Hines is one of the largest and most respected real estate organizations in the world. Visit hines.com for more information.
There have been several exciting new developments at Shearwater, the new master-planned residential community on County Road 210, as the community further comes to life.
The community has officially opened the Kayak Club, its expansive new amenities center, and has welcomed its Lifestyle Director, Dylan Read, who heads up Shearwater’s event and activity programming for residents.
“Shearwater is starting to buzz with activity and families enjoying their new home and lifestyle,” said Read, who visits with residents regularly to develop events and activities based on residents’ desires. “Families have been loving the newly opened Kayak Club, and we have already hosted a number of events that are fostering connections among residents. They moved here to have a stronger sense of community and that is exactly what we help create.”
Shearwater’s lifestyle programming further brings the community’s amenities to life with a variety of activities, including annual traditions and signature events to groups, clubs and classes. Shearwater has already hosted S’mores and More, Coffee on the Porch, sports tailgating parties, a running club, fitness classes, tennis lessons, and more. Combined with residents who are happily using the amenities on a regular basis, Shearwater has become a hub of family-friendly activity.
“We have always liked the area, but worked here and didn’t live here. We began looking around and found Shearwater, and there is nothing else like it. We heard about the amenities center and now that it is open, it is very nice,” commented Derek Garcia, a new resident who recently moved into Shearwater. “The Kayak Club made the decision for us to move into Shearwater, along with the trails and having the Lifestyle Director on staff…there is already so much to do, with so much more coming.”
The centerpiece of the Kayak Club is the Clubhouse, which includes multiple gathering spaces in addition to The Hub, a Wi-Fi café serving coffee, lattes and grab-n-go food items. Shearwater also includes the winding Lazy Bird River—the longest in Northeast Florida; ‘The Perch’—a three-story waterslide tower; multi-lane lap pool; resort-style lagoon pool; and four illuminated Har-Tru tennis courts, including a stadium court. Residents can also enjoy the oversized Fitness Lodge, which includes cardio and strength training equipment and a large group fitness workout area, as well as Wellbeats Virtual Fitness Classes™ on Demand. Plus, 13 miles of paved, natural and boardwalk trails weave throughout the community, with a kayak launch on Trout Creek—with direct access to the St. Johns River—coming in Phase II.
Shearwater’s newly unveiled free-range playgrounds are unique themselves, featuring KOMPAN play equipment. KOMPAN works with schools, parks and childcare centers around the globe, and conducts focus groups to follow societal trends in playtime preferences. The company also infuses its education and experience in early childhood development psychology into the design and function of the equipment. Shearwater chose this equipment because, “we believe in their philosophy, which is backed by scientific research: the right amount of play and creativity creates healthier children, social inclusion and more efficient learning,” said Jill Flores, Shearwater’s community director.
Overall, it is an exciting time as Shearwater continues to come to life!
Local Authors & Experts for St. Johns Magazine