Ask The Realtor: Is there still time to purchase investment property?

YES!  With the strong real estate recovery, many think the opportunity for investing in real estate is over.  But while hedge funds may have backed off, private investors are still pouring money into the market.

Core Logic reports that 37.4% of 2013 sales nationally were cash transactions.  In Florida, our cash sales were a whopping 54%.  Cash sale account for most REO, short sale and condo purchases.  Investors are putting their cash into real estate because they can get a good rate of return not found with banks.

The Chinese are investing here also, and have expanded their footprint across the USA.  Their top ten cities of choice are: New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlanta, San Diego and Memphis.  (How did they miss our wonderful Jacksonville?)

Interest rates have hovered around 4.5% and have not slowed housing sales at all.  It is possible to finance an investment purchase with 20-25% down, but cash may be required for bank properties needing a lot of work or condos not on a “bank approved” list (two top places to find bargains).

I love real estate and invest in it my myself!  If you are considering an investment purchase, please give me a call at (904) 386-9816.

2013 – A Great Year for Real Estate

What a difference a year makes!  The numbers are in, and 2013 proved to be an excellent year for real estate.  Multiple Listing statistics reflect an increase of 24% in the number of sold transactions in 2013 as compared with 2012.  The total sold volume for 2013 was up 32% and the median sales price was up by 14%.  Our Jacksonville housing market has come back to life.

Why the rapid price increases in 2013?

  • A shortage of homes for sale – With new construction just starting to come back and sellers postponing putting their homes on the market until prices improved, our inventory of homes dropped from a peak of over 22,000 five years ago to under 8,800.
  • Fewer distressed properties – As property values increased, there were fewer short sales and foreclosures.  What foreclosures did hit the market were quickly gobbled up by institutional investors.
  • Buyer sense of urgency – Buyers now realize that not only are home prices going up, but interest rates are also likely to rise, as the government backs off its stimulus programs.

The net result was a tight inventory that created a competitive bidding market – supply and demand at work.  It is interesting to note that this competitive market extended across all price ranges.

Looking ahead towards 2014, we should continue to see a recovery of the housing market, but at a more moderate pace.  If you are considering a move, or just have a question about the market, just give me a call at (904) 386-9816, and I’d be glad to help!

Here are two reports:

RealtyWeb 4thQtr

2013 Annual Report


See a Performance at the Florida Theater

Jake Shimakuburo at the Florida TheaterThe downtown Florida Theater is one of Jacksonville’s treasures.  Built in 1927 as Jacksonville’s largest movie theater, this Mediterranean Revival style building is one of only four remaining movie “palaces” in Florida.  The main lobby is designed as a Moorish  courtyard, complete with glittering stars, balconies and fountains.  Longtime Jacksonville residents remember fondly hearing the Mighty Wurlitzer Opus 1569 pipe organ played at most events.

One of the most famous artists to perform at the Florida Theater was Elvis Presley in 1956.  It is said that Judge Court Judge Marian Gooding sat through the entire performance to make sure Elvis’s body movements were not too suggestive!

Interior of the Florida TheaterAs our population deserted downtown and moved to the suburbs, the Florida Theater fell into disrepair.  A major renovation in 1983 restored the building to its original splendor.  Sadly, the renovation did not include the Mighty Wurlitzer, now adorning  Grace Baptist church in Sarasota.

Today, the Florida Theater seats 1,900 and offers an incredible variety of over 200 events each year.  From Merle Haggard (country), to Pat Metheny (jazz), Beach Boys (60s rock), Jake Shimakuburo (ukulele), the Temptations (do-wop), magicians, Chinese acrobats, and more, there is truly something for everyone.  Check out their schedule at

Gingerbread Extravaganza

A Gingerbread Extravaganza was recently held at the former St Andrews Church, now home to the Jacksonville Historical Society.  Here are some pictures of the event:

Historical St Andrews ChurchGingerbread Extravaganza






The meticulous detail given to each home was so impressive.  One of my favorites was a rendition of the former home of author Harriet Beecher Stowe, created by the Mandarin Historical Society.  This historical building is now the home of the Mandarin Community Club.  Note the Mandarin orange trees in the yard!

Gingerbread House

Cat Show this Weekend

Cat ShowFlorida Sun Cats is hosting a cat show this weekend,  January 17 – 19 at the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk downtown.  More than 200 cats will be competing in 7 rings.   A cat show offers a wonderful opportunity to see and learn about many different breeds.  There are Bengals,  Sphinx, Ragdolls, Persians, Siamese, and more. There’s even a special category for  housecats!

Cat Show in Jacksonville, Florida

Lucas has brought his cat all the way from South Carolina to be in the show.

Vendors will have booths with cat-related items for sale.  And if all these kitties make you want to add a new member to your family, Lucky Cat Adoptions will be on hand with homeless cats and kittens seeking forever homes.


Hours are from 4:00 to 9:00 pm Friday and 9:00 am to 4:00pm Saturday and Sunday.  Admission is $6 for adults, and $5 for seniors, children and military. More information and photos are at

Foto Friday – Ornament

Do you remember a Christmas ornament like this in your past?  This little plastic whirly-bird from the 50s still spins when hung over a tree light and brings back fond memories.

Christmas Ornament

Famous Amos Restaurant

Famous AmosFamous Amos has been serving Jacksonville residents delicious southern-style country cooking for over 40 years.  Featuring breakfast all day, great lunch and dinner specials, and lots of fresh, locally-grown vegetables, it is a favorite in the Mandarin community.

My grilled tilapia with fresh veggies on a bed of rice was the best!  Here is a picture:

Famous Amos

If you go:  There are six restaurants and a full service catering department.  Most menu items are under $10.  Locations, hours, and a complete menu are available on their website at

Why Aren’t Agents Answering Their Phones?

As Realtors, we spend a small fortune promoting both ourselves and our listings.  We live in the most-connected society ever.  Yet, I have personally found it to be true that most agents (and people in general) simply don’t answer the phone.  It seems we want people to contact us, but then don’t respond to their basic inquiries.

A recent study by the California Association of Realtors found that the top three reasons buyers were unsatisfied with their agents were:

  1.  Slow response time (51%)
  2.  Ineffective/Inefficient communication (23%)
  3.  Undesirable communication methods (15%)

If you choose me to be your Realtor, my promise to you is to be “The agent who answers her phone” .

2014 looks like an excellent year for real estate in Jacksonville, Florida.  If you are thinking of buying or selling, please give me a call at 904-386-9816.

Read a Good Book about Jacksonville’s Past

Freezing days – rare for our fair city and drizzly, rainy weather – not so unusual.  What better time to stay home and curl up with a good book!  Here are two that I have enjoyed recently:

Books about Jacksonville, FLDorothy Fletcher is a long-time Jacksonville resident, retired school teacher, Florida Times-Union columnist and  author.  Her books bring fond memories of our city back to life.

Remembering Jacksonville By the Wayside captures life in Jacksonville in the 50s and 60s; it includes letters and recollections from locals.  Lost Restaurants of Jacksonville highlights some of our finest restaurants that now exist only in memory.  Remember dining and dancing at the George Washington Hotel?  World-class entertainers at The Thunderbird?  Morrison’s Cafeteria downtown where there was “no waitin’ on the main floor”?

If you are younger or newer to our city, I believe you will find Dorothy Fletcher’s writing both interesting and entertaining.  If you’ve been here a while, as I have, these books will bring back fond memories long forgotten!

Handel’s Messiah Tonight

Jacoby Hall Jacksonville, FLHarried by all the hustle and bustle of Christmas?  For a change of pace,  come to  Jacoby Hall tonight and hear Handel’s beloved Messiah.   Donald McCullough conducts our own Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, with guest soloists.

This concert is a longtime Christmas tradition in Jacksonville, and will likely be a sellout.  Come early!