by Nikki-Lyn Holm &
The Coastal Home Group
St. Johns County - North
Statistics for January 2020:
The median sales price year to date is $328,000 which is up 7.4%,
this means homes are selling at a higher price point from last year.
Homes are sitting for an average of 84 days.
The Northern region of Saint Johns boasted 345 new listings in January,
which was an increase of 12% from last year.
Northern Saint Johns closed 178 transactions, which was up 11.9% from last year.
This means more properties are closing in 2020!
Nocatee Market Statistics
for January 2020:
The median sales price for Nocatee is $430,000 which is up 12.9% from last year.
Houses are spending 78 days on the market, which has dropped by 7.8%.
Homes are selling a bit faster than this time last year.
Nocatee had 88 new listings in January, which is up 6%.
There were 53 closings as well; homes are selling 26.2% more than a year ago.
Nocatee is one of the fastest growing communities in Florida
with top rated schools of the Saint Johns school district.
Whether you are looking to buy or sell in Northern Saint Johns county or Nocatee,
please reach out to the local experts to get the job done with a five-star experience!
What are your local real estate goals?
Are you in St. Johns Country or Nocatee and thinking of selling your home?
Give The Coastal Home Group a call! 904-327-2797
by George L. Ballou, II
Broker Associate & Private Office Advisor
Menton & Ballou Group
Engel and Voelkers
904.687.6140 / George.Ballou@evusa.com
When my Jamie and I moved to Nocatee over 10+ years ago we moved into the 55+ age restricted Del Webb Ponte Vedra community. The move to Nocatee seemed like a leap of faith in many ways. As midwest transplants, Florida always conjured up images of broken promises made by builders
For those of you unfamiliar with Nocatee let me give you the big picture; over 13,000 acres less than 10+ minutes to the ocean and PVBeach shopping and clubs with 65% of the total land mass dedicated to preserve and protected areas! We are between I-95 and A1A and are serviced by the Nocatee Parkway which is also a primary evacuation route during severe storms…we are not in the hurricane zone!
Going back to our arrival in 2009, Nocatee as well as the rest of the country was in the beginning stages of the recession. There were no grocery stores, banks or gas stations and the iconic Splash Water Park was barely off the drawing board. I believe there were only about 500 homes in Nocatee at that time spread out between 5 different developments. Del Webb which was slated to have 1900+ homes when finished only had 117 homes at that point with no owner’s club…we all just hung out in the Discovery Center which was also the sales office.
Today we look back at what has happened since those days and it is shockingly impressive! Promises made turned out to be promises kept! The Parc Group who are the master developers of Nocatee have made sure that our community is constantly evolving.
There are now 44 different “neighborhoods” in Nocatee of which 18 are already totally built out…only resales in those areas. Total occupied homes now approaches 8,500 with a population estimated to be over 25,000. We now have one of the largest Publix in NE Florida which is currently opening their 25,000 sft Greenwise store just across the road. Ben & Jerry’s is opening this summer, Panera Bread just opened, we have banks, gas stations, numerous restaurants like Dick’s Wings, South Kitchen, MShack,
the Loop, Coastal Wine, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Wendy’s and many more coming.
Other enhancements to the Nocatee Life-Style are two gorgeous K-8 schools as well as pre-school facilities like Primrose, the Starling Assisted Living and Independent Living facilities, apartments like the Reserve, new and fun amenities called the Spray Park, our own Amphitheatre, athletic facilities for soccer, tennis and pickleball, fenced dog park with their own pond, a swim club, storage facilities, a county kayak launch into the intracoastal waterway and bike and golf cart trails throughout Nocatee!
We have fitness centers and major commitments to Nocatee’s medical services by Baptist and Flagler Medical Centers including a YMCA, as well as urgent care and emergency response facilities keeping us healthy, active and happy!
If Nocatee sounds exciting, come take a look! Stop by the Nocatee Welcome Center located at the Splash Water Park and Town Center Offices…tell them George sent you!
If you have any questions or you need a Realtor who knows Nocatee new construction, resales or rentals please feel free to give me a call.
Finding the perfect home comes with plenty of exciting decisions for your family to make. Shearwater, a master-planned community, was meticulously designed for today’s way of life with every family in mind. As one of the fastest-growing communities in St. Johns County, Shearwater continues to meet the needs of current and future residents, while remaining true to its vision of fostering healthy living, community engagement and a connection to the outdoors. So, why make the move?
Just 20 minutes from Florida’s Historic Coast, Shearwater is located in the heart of St. Johns County within close proximity to everyday conveniences such as grocery stores and schools, as well as a variety of cultural, sport and entertainment opportunities in two major cities: Jacksonville and St. Augustine.
Shearwater is just down the road from Johns Creek Center and another growing retail shopping center, the Pavilion at Durbin Park. Shearwater residents can easily access these commercial retail centers which includes numerous well-known stores such as Walmart, Home Depot and Publix. The area continues to grow even more with lifestyle retailers, restaurants and entertainment options.
Jacksonville is a metropolis where you can cheer on sports teams like the Jaguars and the Icemen or enjoy world-class entertainment at venues like the Florida Theatre, Daily’s Place, Jacksonville Veteran’s Memorial Area or the Jacksonville Symphony Hall. And experience the arts at the Cummer Museum or the Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s a dynamic city with major employment hubs, international transportation and logistics, 22 miles of beaches and a burgeoning culinary scene.
St. Augustine is a seaside community that blends historic ambiance with thoroughly modern shops, restaurants and more. At this staycation destination, just down the road from Shearwater, residents are able to visit iconic monuments and museums while experiencing recreation at some of Northeast Florida’s favorite culinary spots, attractions and world-class golf courses.
School is back in session and Shearwater’s students will continue to access excellent schools. St. Johns County was recently rated by Niche as the #1 Best School District in Florida according to Niche’s 2020 Best School Districts. Shearwater’s youngest residents are zoned for the following schools: Timberlin Creek Elementary, Switzerland Point Middle School, and Bartram Trail High School.
Timberlin Creek Elementary, is located within the Shearwater community – just a short walk away for residents and their children.
Switzerland Point Middle School serves grades 6-8 and seeks to empower all students with a passion for learning and deep empathy for others.
Bartram Trail High School offers students the choice between a curriculum or specialized training tailored to each student’s interests and aptitudes.
Shearwater is committed to providing its residents with the very best in world-class amenities. The Kayak Club, Shearwater’s amenities epicenter, includes a large clubhouse, an expansive Fitness Lodge, lap pool, resort-style pool, the longest lazy river in Northeast Florida, “The Perch” 3-story waterslide tower, playground, sports fields and four illuminated Har-Tru tennis courts.
Residents can begin their days running or jogging the 15 miles of trails throughout Shearwater before heading over to The Hub, a Wi-Fi café within the Kayak Club. The Hub serves grab-n-go food items as well as provides a gathering space for residents to spend time with neighbors.
The Falls neighborhood recently debuted several new amenities, including Falls Park; the Falls loop trail that enhances the community’s already robust trail network; Shearwater’s first dog park, which includes one fenced park for large dogs and one for smaller dogs; and a community garden for residents to plant flowers, herbs and vegetables year-round.
Falls Park, Shearwater’s newest and most expansive park, is centrally located in the heart of Shearwater and offers four-acres worth of outdoor opportunities including a lake overlook pavilion, shaded picnic pavilion, a tot lot, an event lawn and multi-purpose paved pathways.
The Shearwater lifestyle is more than just great amenities, it’s about bringing those amenities to life by integrating them with a variety of activities that bring neighbors closer together. As the full-time Lifestyle Director for Shearwater, Dylan Read leads the community’s unique approach to lifestyle programming and activities. From day one, Read works with Shearwater families directly to develop events and activities that fit their interests, ranging from casual coffee dates and specific fitness classes to community concerts and holiday events.
Find the Home for You
Finding a home that meets your family’s unique preferences, lifestyle and budget can be challenging, which is why Shearwater, the master-planned community in St. Johns County, was meticulously designed for today’s way of life. In addition to its resort-style amenities, robust social calendar and connection to the outdoors, Shearwater offers a variety of innovative home designs to satisfy the needs of your modern family – whether you are empty nesters, a growing family or living in a multi-generational home.
Pew Research Center released a report in 2018 showing almost 1 in every 5 Americans lives in an environment with multiple generations. As lifestyle trends have shifted toward keeping multiple generations under one roof, Shearwater shifted with them, prioritizing function without sacrificing form.
The beauty of multi-generational homes is the flexibility each family is afforded. This is a great option for families with children who just graduated from school yet need time before venturing off on their own. Aging family members who can no longer live on their own can also move in without feeling burdensome or invasive. Living with more family members may just be the best financial option for some, or perhaps this lifestyle is a cultural tradition.
No matter your family’s unique makeup, Shearwater offers diverse home sizes. Homes range from 1,637 square feet to over 4,000 square feet, with three to six bedrooms, and one- and two-story models. Varying home designs and prices are offered in each of Shearwater’s distinct neighborhoods: The Cove, North Creek, The Trails, The Falls and The Woodlands, Shearwater’s gated community.
In addition to homes, Shearwater recently opened the Cove, its first neighborhood of one and two-story townhomes
The Cove features David Weekly Homes townhomes that were designed with both the individual and the family in mind. Future homeowners have the option between three different floor-plans ranging in size from approx. 1,574 – 1,817 sq. ft. with 3 bedrooms and 2-2½ baths. One and two-story plans are available. Each home includes a 2-car garage, 9-10 feet high ceilings, private entry and open-concept living spaces throughout. The goal with each of these townhomes is to create a no maintenance lifestyle, perfect for active families.
The first and smallest option is The Barnes, a single-story townhome with an open living room, dining room and kitchen featuring extra windows. This plan is perfect for individuals with aging family members who may not be able to tackle the stairs every day, but still want to be included in daily festivities.
The Alton is the largest of the three plans. It is a two-story townhome with an open living room, dining room and kitchen on the first floor and two bedrooms, a bathroom, the laundry room and the owner’s retreat on the second floor. This plan will keep all family activities downstairs and is best for families who enjoy having guests over for dinner and social events.
Finally, The Megan embraces some of the finest features from both the Barnes and Alton plans. It is a two-story townhome with an open great room on the first floor and the kitchen with owner’s retreat on the second floor, featuring optional balconies.
These designs are just a sample of the possibilities you have with Shearwater. Whether you are living as a single professional, downsizing, or you are purchasing a home to raise your children, picture yourself spending time on hiking the trails, attending community events or floating down our lazy river. The house is just one piece of what makes Shearwater home!
for more information visit Shearwater.com
An Interview with Melissa Glaslow, Director of Economic Development in St Johns County
by Christine Durkin
SJM: Looking at the exponential growth in the area’s residential communities these past couple of years, can we expect similar expansion in retail and commercial?
MELISSA: Whenever a residential market experiences this level of growth, the commercial side of things will inevitably follow. What’s been happening is typical in that commerce gauges critical mass, counting “rooftops” if you will, to determine and anticipate demand. What we see now is the commercial side really coming online, as well as the infrastructure to support it.
SJM: Can you tell us about some of the highlights of incoming commercial development?
MELISSA: Durbin Park, on Racetrack Road and St. Johns Parkway, is the largest commercial development underway at this time. Walmart opened there late last fall, and Home Depot is expected to open in March. There are another twenty retail stores slated to open later this year, including a Cinemark movie theater.
There will also be a commercial component in tandem with the continued residential expansion at Beachwalk. More than 1 million square feet is being designated for retail and even some industrial development. (This area is also close to announcing a new grocery store, but has not yet formally announced any retailers or commercial tenants in the development as of the time of this writing.)
Earth Fare grocery store will anchor the coming development on the NW corner of CR 210, and St. Johns Parkway, across from Publix. Sleiman Brothers is building the Shoppes of St. Johns Parkway. They expect construction to be underway this spring, and anticipate opening by end of 2019.
Another development, The Forum at Greenbrier, on CR210 has recently cleared property on the south side of CR 210, East of St. Johns Parkway, on the opposite corner of The Shoppes of St. Johns Parkway.
SJM: Can you talk about some of these infrastructure initiatives, such as roadways underway to support the ongoing expansion?
MELISSA: We’ve seen roadways being modified and expanded to support not only our internal transportation needs, but to ensure more fluidity in entering and exiting the area via I-95 and other major thoroughfares.
A case in point is the area where 9B joins St. Johns Parkway, heading south. The roadway currently dead ends at CR 210, but will ultimately connect with SR 16.That next segment is already underway and is expected to open this year.
SJM: What about schools?
MELISSA: St. Johns County is proud to offer the best schools in the state, and more schools are on the way. According to the St. Johns County School District, “with the approval of the ½ cent sales tax in 2015 dedicated to our school district, three schools were proposed to be constructed with those funds. They have since opened all three, including two in northern St. Johns County.”
The St. Johns County School Board opened two new K-8 schools in northern St. Johns County for the 2018-2019 school year. Palm Valley Academy is located in Nocatee at 2135 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra, Florida 32081 and Freedom Crossing Academy is in Aberdeen located at 1365 Shetland Drive, Saint Johns, Florida 32259. The new schools will relieve overcrowding for kindergarten through eighth grades in northern St. Johns
County. For more information, visit http://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/newschools/info//
SJM: The availability of quality healthcare is also a concern in areas of such rapid residential growth. What is underway or planned to help ensure area families have easy access to healthcare?
MELISSA: According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, Flagler Hospital recently purchased 4 acres for their Flagler Health Village at Nocatee. This facility will include a 30,000 square foot building encompassing family practice, pediatrics, specialty care, women’s health care and other community services. Construction is slated to begin this spring, with an opening date planned for summer 2020.Flagler has a similar development under construction in Murabella due to open in 2019.
Also in late 2018, Baptist Health purchased 12 acres in Nocatee for a healthcare campus and groundbreaking is planned for early 2019. According to the Florida Times-Union, as part of the new development, Baptist plans relocate its primary care office in Nocatee Town Center to the new location about two miles away. They also plan to offer extended hours and expanded team of caregivers at this location.
by Nikki Lyn Holm, The Coastal Home Group (Keller Williams Jacksonville)
“Real Estates cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.”
Speaking of good investments, as an agent who loves, lives in, and assists many people in buying and selling their homes in St. Johns County, I would agree: This market is hot! The number one driver for people moving here is the well known and respected school system of St. Johns. Check this site out for more information: https://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/
In our county last year, we had 6,709 total closed sales in 2018, and over 30% were a result of the new home construction boom. Almost 20% of these sales were condos and townhomes. The new home construction market is receiving 98.4% of their original list price. Clearly a sign of strength, demand, and market confidence.
Four "Fun Facts” for future buyers and sellers:
Although buyer enthusiasm has slowed down a bit through the winter months, our biggest challenge as a housing market, is to clarify the misperception that buying now is potentially the "height of the market.” The spikes and drops from the Federal Reserve have left many consumers more cautious and concerned. However, in reality, if lenders continue to act on the conservative and responsible side, we should see more homes becoming available. Ultimately, there should be a leveling out in our marketplace, which would result in a more balanced market shift. If the economy continued to thrive, and rates can hold firm, we will see consumer confidence and activity improve for 2019.
*Statistics derived from NEFAR
With long-time resident and local real estate expert, George L. Ballou, II
When my wife Jamie and I moved to Nocatee back in 2009 there were about 500 homes in all of Nocatee spread out over 5 or 6 “neighborhoods”. Each community had their own demographics they were marketing to from condo buyers to single family homes with very specific price ranges they stayed in and one age restricted development.
I think when we moved into Riverwood by Del Webb (now known as Del Webb Ponte Vedra) there were only 117 homes. There was no grocery store yet, the Splash Water Park was just beginning to be built, no gas stations, no banks, no real estate company offices, no doctor offices and just one restaurant. The original residents were “true believers” in what was to come down the road.
Fast forward to 2018 and Nocatee has over 33 communities, just over 6,200 occupied homes (eventually there will be nearly 13,000) with a current population estimated in excess of 18,000. Del Webb Ponte Vedra where we still live has nearly 1,500 homes today and growing. We now have multiple banks, a great grocery store, offices going up everywhere, gas stations, over a dozen restaurants, storage facilities, apartments...we’re building something new every day! Did I mention that we have also built two new schools and probably need a third school already?
Not only did the Splash Water Park get built but it exceeded everyone’s expectations…and Nocatee keeps on evolving! We have added a swim club, pickle ball & tennis courts, dog parks, a fire department, assisted living and independent living facilities, trail systems, fitness centers and numerous boutique shops. Our Farmer’s Market held once a month is now “Huge”! We are also a golf cart friendly community so we can go to the grocery the fun way!
This coming summer our newest water amenity will be opening called the Spray Park, a four-story above ground interactive spray playground — the first and only of its kind in Northeast Florida. In addition, a kayak launch facility will also be opening on the intercoastal waterway just off of Crosswater Parkway in the newly opened southern section of Nocatee.
Location! Location! Location! Nocatee is just 10+ minutes from the ocean & Ponte Vedra Beach shopping and restaurants. Looking down the road we will only be 10 minutes away from the Durbin Town Center being built just west of I-95. We will be close yet just far enough away to avoid the traffic. It will be twice the size of the Town Center in Jacksonville and the first phase The Pavillion will include Bass Pro Shops, Home Depot and a Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Stop by the Nocatee Welcome Center located at the Splash Water Park where all of your questions can be answered. If you are looking for a real estate agent familiar with Nocatee new construction and re-sales call Watson’s Menton and Ballou Group, Watson’s Top Selling Team, at 904-436-1354 and ask for one of our Nocatee Certified Agents…We also live there!
When Founders Lisa Menton and George L. Ballou, II created their real estate group they wanted diverse agents who would be able to meet the needs of buyers. Get to know the agents.
(photo: front second from left)
Resident of Del Webb Ponte Vedra in Nocatee
George (Jamie’s husband and real estate partner) and Jamie have been married for 41 years.They have raised five children – two biological daughters and three adopted sons. She is organized and can wear many hats at once. Now they are blessed to have three precious granddaughters who light up their world.
Jamie has owned, renovated and expanded several homes over the years. She has hired architects, GCs and supervised many residential and commercial projects. She has had the privilege of living in the city, on a farm, on an island off the coast of Maine and now LOVES calling Florida our home.
Jamie has always been an involved community member, fundraiser and has served on several boards. Recently she served for three years on the newly formed Architectural Review Committee in Nocatee, and last year served as chairman. What a great way to learn about your community.
Jamie’s latest passion is painting.
(photo: back center)
Resident of The Greens in Julington Creek Plantation
Dave Kenyon has lived in Jacksonville for 19 years. He is an active member in the community and has contributed in it for 18 years. Dave has raised two children who attended the top rated Saint Johns County Schools.
Dave has been in the customer service business for a career spanning 32 years. Dave has a warm personality, proven work ethics, and loyalty. These characteristics will make you to feel as if a trusted friend is assisting you in the most important financial decisions you will make. He is familiar with all of Jacksonville but concentrates with real estate in Saint Johns County.
(photo: back left)
Resident of The Cascades at World Golf Village
Prior to becoming a realtor, John retired from the Department of Defense as a Regional Federal Manager in 2004 after 35 years of service. A career customer service advocate, John not only managed several customer services groups, he wrote and taught customer service classes across the United States and internationally.
Born and raised in Western New York, John served in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam war. His military service eventually took him to Southern California, where he spent 22 years. He then relocated with his family back to Western New York. Ten years later, his career progression afforded him the opportunity to work overseas, where he spent three years. He and his wife, Kathryn, then relocated to St. Augustine FL in 2001, where they enjoy the company of their two grown sons and three grandchildren.
(photo: back row second from right)
Resident of Willowcove in Nocatee
Born in Philadelphia and a native of Philly’s western suburbs (Valley Forge / King of Prussia), Melissa is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Her career started with HSN (Home Shopping Network) in St. Petersburg, FL as a buyers associate. With an added passion for photography, she then graduated from Moore College of Art with a degree in Digital Media / Web Design and started up her own photography business.
Melissa has been a photographer since 2009. She enjoys learning new photo techniques and technologies, including aerial photography and flying a drone, which has brought a new marketing perspective to the Menton & Ballou Group.
Melissa moved to Ponte Vedra / Nocatee in 2013. She has been the photographer and marketing coordinator for the Menton & Ballou Group since its inception and is also a licensed Realtor.
In her free time, she enjoys relaxing at the beach, swimming, playing pickleball, Crossfit, sewing and spending time with her Yorkie, Archie.
(photo: front row second from right)
Resident of Palencia
Jody is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico and currently reside in St. Augustine, Florida. She has also lived in Amarillo, TX and in Charleston, SC where both of her children were born (Ella, 13 and Colby, 9). She has been married to John Steele for 15 years, an Air Force veteran of over 24 years who is currently with the Jacksonville Air National Guard. She loves living in St. Augustine and feels lucky to have the benefits of a big city so close and she appreciates the quaintness and historical significance of St. Augustine. She enjoys reading, the beach, fishing, monogramming, and decorating her home.
Jody previously worked for Hallmark Marketing as well as in Pharmaceutical sales. She loves real estate and looks forward to helping buyers find a home to make their own memories, as well as helping sellers to bring out the best in their own home for potential buyers. I have bought, sold, and built several homes through the years and I have always enjoyed the process. I look forward to making it a fun and easy experience for my customers.
(photo: back first from right)
Resident of St. Johns Golf & Country Club
From the service to the end results, there truly can be so many things to consider with a real estate transaction. Early in her career as a real estate professional, Stella was told that no two transactions are alike, and she believes this to be true! She says everyone has different timelines, housing needs, financial considerations, etc. So, she makes every transaction is a customized for her clients.
(Photo: back row, first from right)
Resident of Del Webb Ponte Vedra in Nocatee
Originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, David Carter has been a long time resident of the North Florida area since 1985. His background includes more than twenty-five years in sales, sales management, and finance. David and his wife Pat, a teacher, reside in Nocatee, the third fastest growing planned community in the United States. It’s a great place to live! He prides himself on his vast knowledge of the new and resale properties in the Nocatee Communities. David and Pat have three children and two grandchilden.
While attending Minnesota State University, David a longtime tennis player, was the 1976 Minnesota State Singles tennis champion. After college he moved to Rochester, New York, where he taught tennis and was the men’s tennis coach for the Rochester Institute of Technology for several years. Today, David still enjoys playing tennis and pickleball (played on a smaller tennis court).
(photo: first row, first from left)
Resident of Palencia
Alexis McDaniel moved to St. Augustine from West Virginia in 2009 and has been engaged in the community since then, with 8 years of volunteerism in the St. Johns County School District. She’s currently the president of the Allen D. Nease High School PTSO and recently served on the county’s calendar committee. Alexis offers great insight into what makes St. Johns County an A-rated school system and how important school selection is for new homeowners.
With a degree in journalism, she started her career as a newspaper journalist and editor. A favorite time in her life was in broadcasting, where she was a news anchor, producer, and reporter. Being involved and plugged into the community has always been important. She was the chairman of a four-day town festival that brought 10,000 visitors to the small town in which she lived. For the past five years, she’s been active with the Palencia Charity Tennis Tournament, which benefits Camp Boggy Creek for disabled and seriously ill children. It’s raised $60,000 to date.
Alexis owns AMAC, LLC, a rental property company that at one time had 22 units. She enjoys exploring the residential real estate market in St. Johns County. She resides in Palencia with her family, including two children, ages 16 and 18. In her free time, Alexis enjoys boating, reading, and traveling.
Resident of Durbin Crossing
Christina is a fourth generation-born Jacksonville native, who has extensive knowledge of the Greater Jacksonville area. She graduated from Barry University, with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Christina has worked in several Jacksonville landmarks, such as Mayo Clinic and Brooks Rehabilitation. She brings over twenty-three years of customer service experience. Christina, and her husband Drew, have four children, all who attend St. Johns County schools. She is looking forward in assisting you with your real estate needs.
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….
Local Authors & Experts for St. Johns Magazine