Saint Augustine, FL Real Estate News

By For Buyers Only Realty, Sharon Stevens & Dwight Cole
(FOR BUYERS ONLY REALTY )
When you're ready to sell your home, your agent will inform you how to successfully price, present and market your property; but some "family members" may be left out of the loop, completely unaware of the process and feeling the attendant anxiety.  No, it's not your kids, but your pets.Unfortunately, there is no way to communicate to your pets what to expect during a showing, and sometimes their barking or jumping or hissing or scratching can be a real turn-off to otherwise enthusiastic and qualified buyers.We know that our animal companions are creatures of habit, and strangers visiting your home can be very stressful.  How do you successfully show your home and protect your pets at the same time?The ideal solution, especially early in the listing when you can expect multiple showings...
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By For Buyers Only Realty, Sharon Stevens & Dwight Cole
(FOR BUYERS ONLY REALTY )
If you have ever driven north of St. Augustine and Vilano Beach  along the Coastal Highway A1A you have probably seen and wondered about the medieval Castle that is seen from just off of the road.  What in the world is a medieval castle doing by the ocean in Florida?  What is its history???Castle Otttis- as it is called- was created as an original "landscape-sculpture" built to adorn the landscape. This castle was inspired by Irish medieval castles. The interior was created under the guidance of historians from the local Catholic Diocese of Northeast Florida to replicate the atmosphere and feel of an Irish Medieval Abbey.The castle was begun in 1984 and was the exterior was mostly completed by 1988. The materials used in the exterior are concrete block and poured concrete, and steel rei...
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By For Buyers Only Realty, Sharon Stevens & Dwight Cole
(FOR BUYERS ONLY REALTY )
You might assume that the fewer credit cards you have, the higher your credit score could be.  Because of that assumption, some buyers preparing to apply for a home loan mistakenly cancel one or more credit cards.  Why would this be a bad idea?It has to do with the ratio of your debt to your available credit.  Here's a simple example: Let's say that you have four credit cards, each with a $10,000 limit, giving you $40,000 available credit.  If you have a total of $20,000 charged to those accounts, you are using 50% of your limit.By canceling one of those cards, you now have $30,000 available credit.  That $20,000 in charges now equates to over 66% of your total credit, which represents an adverse effect on the debt-to-credit ratio.  You have essentially reduced your credit without reduc...
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Most of us read and hear daily in the media how bad real estate is.  Is it really?  Well, if you need to sell your house quick, yes, it's bad.  If you are trying to make a bundle of money in real estate, I don't know how you're going to do it.If you are moving to Florida and have been planning to move to Florida for some time, you are able to find great values in land and homes that just were not available in the last couple years.Many investors bought in 2005 and 2006 and some really did make a quick bundle of money.  Most have their houses still, either empty or rented for 1/2 to 2/3 the mortgage amount, and are desperately trying to have them sold.  But, they are not lowering their prices, for the most part.  Some are selling short just to "stop the bleeding".  Others don't want to b...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
Not far from the middle of Palatka, Florida is an unusual garden, topographically speaking.  Built in the 30's as one of the WPA projects, The Ravine Gardens has 95,000 azalea plants in 64 different varieties, 11,000 palm trees, and a whopping 250,000 ornamentals.  It's terraced and not wheelchair friendly, and I wouldn't take grandma unless she's in tip-top condition.  It's Grand Canyon-like, with the first part of the hike easy and downward.  Then when you're tired, you still have to get back up.  There are formal gardens and statuary, and the pathways are well-maintained and clear.  Some of the steps are not "code" but rather quite steep.  Two suspension bridges span the ravine and they provide a great view of what's down under is you wish to avoid the very bottom.  You can circumnav...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
When my husband is returning from out of town, he's likely to take back roads.  He's an adventurer at heart, but he's also looking for places to take me on the weekend.  We both like a good Sunday drive. Palatka is not far from St. Augustine, an easy commute if you are inclined, and it's not Disney World to be sure.  But it has it's strong points, and some of them are the murals. In their attempt to become the official Mural City of Northeast Florida, the Conlee Mural Committee orchestrated over 30 murals on the sides of downtown buildings depicting various historical events or places, including such notables as The Battle of Horse Landing, and Cattle Drive to Paynes Prairie (neither depicted here).  Varying in both size and quality, some of these are quite good.  Would I make them a re...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
We've been lulled into complacency about our gas prices.  I think this is akin to Pavlov's dog, or maybe Skinner's mice.  They pull up the price; we scream and yell and worry for awhile, then they bring the price down a few cents and we're "relieved."  But then it goes up again, and each time it's up a little more, then a little more, and before we know it, we'll be looking at $5 a gallon or even higher.  Anyone who thinks this will not happen is asleep at the wheel.  It's only a matter of time. Ethanol refineries are laying off and going out of business.  The demand is not there, and I can only guess why.  How many cars on your block burn ethanol?  And who among us can afford to dump their current car and go out on a whim and buy an ethanol-burning vehicle?  A Google search turned up a...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
Less than three hours from St. Augustine, Savannah is close enough to us to be considered a day trip.  For others, this may be a bit too much driving.  We're from D.C.  Three hours can be a one-way commute! Savannah is a fabulous town, with wonderful people, great food, and so many tours to take, we could have a month of day trips and still not see it all.  The horse and buggy ride is a must.  We found ours at the market, right near where "Chablis" (the famous cross-dresser from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) has her show.  By the way, Chablis is playing October 20th.  She/He only has a few shows a year, and I hear they are spectacularly wild!  The parks (squares) all have a story, and we heard several.  There's no park bench upon which to sit and wait for the bus as Forrest G...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
It was a purposeful trip to Orlando today, not for Disney, but rather to pick up a few tiles that our local store did not have.  Imagine, 120 miles (or 240 miles round trip) for 5 tiles.  I must really want those tiles. We decided to make a day of it and wound up early in Winterpark, Florida.  I went there last year, during a weekend dog parade, and the place was festive; hopping with crazy dogs and their crazy owners.  All the restaurants had outdoor dining, sidewalk sales, and it was a 10 on the people-watching scale from beginning to end.  But today it was like Winterpark had turned to Summerpark, everyone was indoors, and it looked liked a ghost town.  We saw nothing, did nothing, and bought nothing. Trying to salvage the day, we took highway 4 straight to the beach, which in this c...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
Often we need reminders about our wildlife in Florida.  Our St. Augustine beaches are teeming with life, much of which we'll never see.  One of these is the Sea Turtle. Nesting between May and October, this is prime beaching weather for out-of-state visitors who do not know about these turtles.  There are precautions we should be taking, and each one of us can help.  For instance, at the end of the day, remove your beach chairs, umbrellas and toys that might obstruct sea turtles from nesting in that area.  Pick up any objects such as plastic bags or balloons that may be mistaken by the turtles as food.  When you leave the area, be sure your sand castles are leveled and your holes are filled in as these may impede the hatchlings from getting to the water.  Watch your pets closely to see ...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
I just applied to become a volunteer in a Florida State Park and you can too.  Florida has award-winning parks that had 18,000,000 visitors last year.  With 160 state parks covering 700,000 acres of land, you can imagine why they need volunteers.  The website HERE basically says you need to pick a park and contact that park directly.  But last week I found an application with which I can contact the park service about writing and editing.  That I frequently visit these parks, I feel the duty to give something back.  That I am enthusiastic about my time spent in them can be channeled into what I hope will be great copy for them to use in their literature. But that's me.  I'm almost 60, and not quite up to doing construction or maintenance, or helping at a Ranger Station.  I know we all h...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
It's one of those cosmic conundrums, the ugliness and cuteness of the Manatee.  The aquatic equivalent of a sloth, this giants somehow pull us in.  They are what we wish we were:  unencumbered, lazy, dreamy, and appearing, for all intents and purposes, carefree. If only it were true.  The Florida Manatee is on the endangered species list, and they are dying in droves, not just from disease and predators, but moreover from those who love them the most, you and me.  Our boats are chewing up these friendly creatures as if they were toast with our morning tea.  Recently I saw my first manatee, not in the wild, but rather in a secure habitat where visitors could spend hours watching them do nothing.  Actually it was a bit mesmerizing.  But whether it is hyperbole, or simply some kind of pher...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
I haven't any idea as to why, but it appears to me that the change in temperature in Florida during the fall is far more dramatic than in Washington, D.C., from whence I came.  Today I opened my doors to the lanai, as I usually do every morning, but, and here's where we differ from the last 7 months, I didn't close them at 10 a.m.  Instead, they remained open all day. I love this time of year.  I'm pulling out sweaters and thinking fall colors.  Most people don't realize that the northern coast of Florida, especially on the eastern side, gets chilly....if only now and then.  Actually, it's perfect weather in the daytime in the fall and winter.  70's turning to 60's in January, and a chill to the night sky which is perfectly illuminated by the Milky Way because of our ocean breezes clear...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
Florida is renowned for its state parks both in quantity and quality.  And this weekend we found a jewel.  Two miles past Marineland on the right hand side of A1A is the entrance to Washington Oaks.  Click HERE for all the pertinent information about location, hours, and a bit of history, but read on if you want a personal perspective. Now I admit to being a Master Gardener, but I'm of the Virginia variety of gardener where everything is right out there in the open, with vistas from the main house kind of thing.  But this garden was like a trip back in time.  At first it seemed primordial, if you could get past the park benches, with the Spanish Moss hanging so low you could touch it.  The underbrush and the river left little walking room, and then we headed in-land, into the dark.  The...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
We were on our way to Marineland off A1A south of St. Augustine Beach when we saw a fire truck with lights flashing and a news crew vehicle right behind it.  A small group of people was on a dune in front of all this looking into the ocean.  So needless to say we stopped and parked to see what this was all about, especially since it was only recently someone found a beached whale near this area. The ocean has been raging for over a week.  First the nor-easter, and now just lots of wind and rips.  The commotion was about a beached boat that was now starting to come apart.  By the time we got there there was little chance of salvaging this poor thing.  People were picking up pieces and bringing them to the curb.  There was a man-made stone wall protecting the new addition to Marineland, a...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
At their peak, it sounds like torrential rain on your windshield.  But when you put on your wipers, you are simply smearing a sticky yellow glob of unspeakable goo across your visual field, making matters much, much worse.  They are  Plecia nearctica but are called lovebugs because they mate in flight.  They not only obscure motorist's vision, but they can clog radiators and get into refrigeration systems on trucks.  These critters have their higher-ups on the food chain, including birds and armadillos.  But when they swarm, they are annoying beyond measure and topic of conversation #1 until they are gone.  My car came back from a short trip this weekend with what can only be described as a mustache on the grill.  Black and furry and disgusting.  I'm a nurse and yet I tasted my lunch wh...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
Unbeknownst to me, this is off season in St. Augustine.  I'm not sure what that means, but according to the Holiday Inn at St. Augustine Beach on Anastasia Island, they are not providing beach chairs, umbrellas, or any beach services at their beach-front resort hotel.  OK.  I must have missed this, but I have talked to others who say we have no off season.  We are open for tourist business every day of the year, winter, summer, spring and fall.  This is an historic destination, not just a fun-in-the-sun get-away. If you are planning a vacation to our wonderful city, you will be greeted with the warmest welcome ever.  But I now recommend you check with your host to see if umbrellas, beach chairs, and hotel coolers are available to you when you get here.  If not, perhaps you can prepare o...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
My greatest fear when first coming to Florida was alligators.  But having encountered a few of those, I realize they're much less interested in me than I am in them. Today, however, I went to Mt. Dora with my husband.  We wanted lunch and shopping, and Mt. Dora is rife with both.  We didn't stay long because we saw some heavy weather coming in, and we left around 3:30.  We took some main road north just to see what Leesburg looked like, then took a right on 44E for some country viewing.  All was well until we got to the LPGA Blvd and from there, almost right at I95 I saw it.  Not far from us, I'm thinking no more than 3 or 4 miles back, maybe less, over the west side of I95 where we just came from, three twisty clouds came slowly, and I think this took no more than about 3 minutes, down...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
Excuse me???? I'm compelled to share these arcane laws I found in a more arcane book I just bought about my beloved state of Florida.  I will paraphrase so as not to commit any criminal acts of plagiarism.  Italics mine. First and foremost, selling your children is a criminal act.  How about simply trading them in? An elephant tied to a parking meter requires the same fee as a car parked in the space.  And who's going to make him pay? You must be married to legally parachute over Florida on a Sunday.  I guess that means by the time you hit the ground.  In Daytona, it's illegal to molest trash cans.  This must have been put on the books during Bike Week. In Cape Coral it is illegal to hang clothes outside on a clothesline.  So use powerlines.  They'll dry quicker. In Key West, chickens a...
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By Patsy Ittner, Your Premier Broker Selling St. Augustine Real Estate
(Little Fox Realty)
I had a suspicion that many of our "Snowbirds" (those who are here only for the winter months) are from Canada, but a recent published statistic bore that out.  Canada makes up the majority of our visiting foreigners.  No one would dispute that it's a weather issue that brings our Canadian friends south, but it's the shear beauty of this area and the affordability of housing that brings them to St. Augustine and Jacksonville. I was surprised to learn that 84.6 million (total) tourists came to Florida in 2006 which is up from 83.6 million in 2005.  We must be doing something right according to the U.S. Department of Commerce which ranks Florida number two in the nation for visiting foreigners.  And though you might think it's all about Disney, St. Augustine gets more than its fair share....
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