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  • The 2012 Market Gifts

    by System | Apr 19, 2012
    As our year closes out we must continue to interpret the market dynamics. These past few years have be even more challenging to decipher. Below you will find my thoughts regarding where you will find the best opportunities in your local real estate markets.

    I think the best place to look first are bank owned (REO) properties. In many markets, according to Kiplinger’s Housing Forecast bank owned properties may be discounted as much as 1/3 of the average square foot price. Additional “distressed property sales” including short sales & pre-foreclosures may still offer high appealing discounts. Please note, huge discounts previously offered by lenders in the “lender assisted sales” are really behind us. More often than not, lenders are much tougher in negotiating price and concessions. For those interested in this market segment need to act now to achieve the greatest value package from lenders.

    While the investor driven market may have been the economic engine which drove us to price levels which could not be sustained, they will undoubtedly be the ones which will drive the 2012 recovery. It is my opinion that current price levels have dropped below “fair market value” and investors are now returning to the market with cash and big smiles on their faces!

    There are two additional categories of properties available today. They are new home sales and “seller owned (non-distressed sales).” If you have ever considered new home purchases in the past, now is the time to take advantage of builders standing inventory to negotiate the past value package they represent. Builders’ inventory levels have shrunk and those remaining units can be purchased at rock bottom price levels.

    Where does this leave the home seller who has kept their homes in well above average condition and if there is a mortgage it remains current. This is still the preferred choice of many buyers. They know they are going to pay a fair market price for this group of homes, but they come with much less risk as it relates to condition and ongoing maintenance and care. These homes can be purchased and closed within 30-45 days and may be as few as 7-10 days. We have closed several “cash sales” within this short time frame. This group of homes are the neighborhood standard for all others to admire and aspire to. These are properties which have contributed to slowing down the continued drop in neighborhood values.

    My advice, research types of properties you desire whether as a new residence or as an investment purchase. Today’s emerging investor is one who knows that purchases today will yield incredible returns in the future. These investors want to acquire, enhance, rent and let their tenants build their next future egg. They want well qualified tenants who will add value in curb appeal to their investments and hopefully will stay beyond a one year term.

    If you are interested in taking advantage of these opportunities please feel free to contact me for additional information at

    Don Shamblin
    Vice President/Managing Broker
    Watson Realty Corp.
    OP Oakleaf Office
  • Choosing The Right Real Estate Company To Begin Your Career With

    by System | Apr 19, 2012
    As a 19 year real estate veteran, spending 15 of those years with Watson Realty, I know something about choosing the right real estate company. To be fair I will confess bias toward Watson Realty, but for this blog I will put myself in the role of “new agent”, looking for the best fit in a real estate company.

    When you are a new agent, training is what you need most. Training first, guidance second, and mentoring third.

    Training is simply learning the day to day fundamentals of the real estate profession.

    These include a thorough understanding of:

    • Contracts & Addendums
    • Short Sales & REO (real estate owned) Properties
    • The Listing Process (developing a fluid presentation, preparation of CMA, objection handling techniques)
    • Prospecting for listings and buyers (high impact, low impact, farming)
    • Developing an Effective Marketing Plan for Listings
    • Servicing the Listing (customers, clients and co-broke agents)
    • Conducting a Successful Open House
    • How to build a successful Sphere of Influence, gain referrals, etc.
    • How to effectively work with buyers (prequalify for financing, questioning techniques to help you separate needs & wants, prepare an accurate net sheet, negotiate contracts)
    • Develop a Business Plan
    • Using Social Media effectively to grow your business
    • Mastery of various Computer Programs you will be using
    • And More

    Once you have completed training classes to become more familiar with “the basics”, you now need guidance on what to do, when to do it, and who to do it to! Your broker or branch manager is “key” to keeping you on a successful path. They know where you should be spending (80%) of your time, and where the other (20%) needs to go. This guidance from your broker or manager can make the difference in the new agent making their first few contracts, or floundering about like a fish on dry land.

    Many brokers and branch mangers will utilize a “mentoring program”, whereby they assign an experienced agent to assist the new agent on their first few listing presentations, outings with buyers, assistance in conducting open houses and more. In this process, the new agent may “shadow” the experienced agent on some of their transactions, and the experienced agent will do the same for the new agent. By prior arrangement, the experienced agent may share a portion of the new agent’s first couple commissions as just compensation – and most new agents will be quite happy to have this oversight on their first few transactions. A new agent will become confident in their abilities, and will soon be running their own successful businesses.

    Frank Plesko
    Vice President/Branch Manager
    Watson Realty Corp.
    Maitland Office
  • The Story of the Gold Coin

    by System | Apr 19, 2012
    Gold dollars have become a symbol of appreciation to the Watson family. No good deed goes unnoticed, whether you are a manager, associate or employee of Watson Realty Corp. On a daily basis, Mr. Watson acknowledges hard work, determination, and kindness with a simple yet meaningful gold dollar.

    We were very pleased to receive such a kind note from someone outside of Watson Realty Corp. who received a gold dollar from Mr. Watson. Joan Erni, Director of Relocation and Referral Service at Michael Saunders & Company® shares her experience with the coveted gold dollar.

    Years back, Mr. Watson gave me a gold coin. Big deal, right? I bet some of you have gotten them from him too. But to me it was a big deal, I kept the coin in my purse for 8 months as a symbol of good fortune, for I indeed considered it good fortune that a great man like he would spend 15 minutes talking business with the likes of me.

    In November of that year I went to “The Jazz Bowl”, a touch football game that my son Brian organizes every Thanksgiving morning. This is not just some pick-up game, it is an "event". Since 2001 the same core group of “kids” have been playing in this bowl; their parents & grandparents, friends, girlfriends (and now wives and fiancées) all come to watch. My husband is the “official”, ref uniform and all. It is a Thanksgiving tradition in St. James, NY.

    When it was time for the coin-flip, Bri remarked that they should have a special coin. “Wait a minute”, I shouted, ran to my purse and gave them my gold coin. That coin has been used to start the game every year since.

    I could not wait until the next time I saw Mr. Watson, so I could tell him about the special purpose “his” coin was now serving. He seemed pleased and then reached into his pocket and gave me a “replacement”. Again, big deal, huh? Again, to me, it was.

    That first coin could have been many things, Mr. Watson’s “shtick”, a promotion for his company etc. (notice I said COULD because I never took it that way) but that second coin, that was a gift of pure kindness. A little gift to be sure, but one that had a big impact; not only did I think more highly of the giver, and by extension, his company, I also learned a lesson it is all too easy to forget; kindness, no matter how small, no matter how quiet, rings loudly in the heart of the receiver.

    Whether you celebrate Yule, Festivals, Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanza, at this time of year our thoughts turn towards presents. I know personally, I cannot afford to buy something for all the people who play an important role in my life. Therefore, I am giving little things, with a heavy emphasis on thought, word and deed and all wrapped in a blanket of kindness. I am hopeful that the recipients will understand how special they are to me, and that I have in some way learned the lesson of the story of the gold coin.

    Joan M. Erni, CRP, GMS
    Director, Relocation & Referral Service
    Michael Saunders & Company®
  • Mineral Rights

    by System | Apr 19, 2012
    At a closing last month, the purchaser of a small home outside of Middleburg on a couple of acres looked over at me and asked a question I had not heard in a long time, “Do I own the mineral rights?” Not a common question in residential real estate, but an important one for anyone who is purchasing property of any size.

    Of course, in this case, he did. As part of the investigation that leads to title commitment, we will discover anything like a sale of rights that would prevent the buyer from having free and clear ownership.

    My maternal grandfather’s constant refrain was, “Never sell your mineral rights!” My mother’s family is from southern Mississippi on the northern edge of the oil deposits found in the Gulf of Mexico. Mineral rights are no small thing even if you don’t have a little oil on your land.

    There is more than oil, coal or metals when it comes to mineral rights. Even here in Florida exceptional value can be found on and underground. Florida ranks fifth in the nation in mining, with an industrial mineral production value of $1.92 billion. From limestone to rare earth elements, some of the most valuable mining land in the country is in Florida, with active mines in all counties of North and North Central Florida, and elsewhere throughout the state.

    Value isn’t just found below the ground, people can also sell their timber rights and air rights. Yes, it is possible to own land but not the trees on it or the air above.

    If the owner sells their timber rights, they no longer own the property free and clear. The timber rights include current trees on the property and future trees that will grow, and the owner of the timber rights can take them whenever they want if that is how the rights were conveyed.

    In this situation, if a timber company can come on the property, they could take the trees and leave.

    Air rights are usually seen in areas where you see things such as ski lifts – so perhaps not a big Florida concern, but it is still a possibility. Each situation is different, but the importance is the same.

    In summary, unless you want dredging equipment behind the pool, a forest of stumps, or a zip-line over the front porch, make sure you have free and clear title to your property when you purchase it – something your title company will do for you.

    Greg Harris; GRI, CDPE
    Watson Title Services of North Florida, Inc.
  • Getting a Deal in Real Estate

    by System | Apr 19, 2012
    Many buyers are out there at this moment trying to get the best “deal” they possibly can. To them it’s all about how much they can negotiate off the list price. It doesn’t matter that the list price is already well below what it sold for years ago, or even if it’s lower than competing homes. To those buyers it’s about WINNING!

    However, this is not “Survivor.” Yes, everyone wants a good price, but the lowest priced home may not be the best VALUE. To look at overall value, you need to take into account more than just lowest price or lowest price per square foot.

    What’s the location of the home? Does it back up to a busy street or a quiet lake? What is the condition of the home? Is the floor plan desirable for most people or is it functionally obsolete? All of these factors are a part of the equation.

    Would you rather buy a home for $10,000 less than list price or pay list price for a home that could appreciate $20,000 in the next few years when the market turns? The best VALUE in a home is the home that stands to appreciate the most in the coming years. Those homes may not be as discounted as others are now because they are always desirable.

    Buy the BEST home you can afford and pay fair market value. That’s the proven way to build equity and make your money appreciate at the highest rate! Need help with that? Talk to your Realtor®!

    Crissie Cudd
    VicePresident/Managing Broker
    Watson Realty Corp.
    Southside Office
  • Watson Realty Corp. Welcomes Cindy Hewett to the Ponte Vedra Beach office

    by System | Apr 19, 2012
    Watson Realty Corp., REALTORS® is pleased to welcome Cindy Hewett to the Watson Realty Ponte Vedra Beach office. As a resident of Jacksonville for nearly her entire life, Ms. Hewett had no doubt about which real estate brokerage firm to place her real estate license.

    “Watson Realty Corp. is a real estate market leader in Northeast Florida and a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®. To me, the choice–the vision-- is clear,” shared Ms. Hewett.

    Ms. Hewett became a licensed REALTOR® after a 25-year successful career in the legal field. Now doing her dream job, her real estate customers can benefit from her experience and professional skills in ethics, negotiation, investments and contracts.

    Ms. Hewett has a love for the natural beauty of Northeast Florida and the serenity of beach living in Ponte Vedra. She enjoys volunteering with her loving Papillion, Lucille, for the Community Hospice pet therapy program and also with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as part of their volunteer sea turtle patrol. Ms. Hewett is a proud member of the Ponte Vedra Woman’s Club and a charitable sponsor of their social events in support of organizations such as the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. In her spare time, she enjoys golf and is a certified yoga instructor – loving to practice as much as to teach.

    Ms. Hewett welcomes the opportunity to help buyers and sellers with all of their real estate needs in the Northeast Florida area or to provide a referral for any out-of-town transactions.

    For more information or to view listings, Cindy Hewett can be reached by phone at (904) 607-6277 or at The Ponte Vedra Beach office is located at 615 Highway A1A in the beautiful coastal city southeast of Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Watson Realty Corp. welcomes Chris Levchuk to the Ponte Vedra Beach office

    by System | Apr 19, 2012
    Watson Realty Corp., REALTORS® is pleased to welcome Chris Levchuk to the Watson Realty Ponte Vedra Beach office. Ms. Levchuk joins Watson Realty with 14 years of experience in real estate in California and South Carolina, where she was owner of her own company specializing in residential sales. Ms. Levchuk holds the prestigious Graduate, REALTOR® Institute (GRI) designation awarded by the National Association of REALTORS®.

    Ms. Levchuk and her husband moved to Ponte Vedra Beach in 2007 from San Diego to be nearer to their family. Chris is a member of the Junior League of Jacksonville’s Sustainer group at the Beaches as well as a volunteer at Katz 4 Keeps. She is a master gardener with St. Johns County and was a volunteer at two local elementary schools with their gardening programs.

    Ms. Levchuk was attracted to Watson Realty for many reasons which included the dedication to professional development through training and education of associates.

    “Watson Realty's educational programs keep my ‘tools’ sharp and allow me to provide the best service possible to my customer base," shared Ms. Levchuk.

    For more information or to view listings, Chris Levchuk can be reached at (904) 473-1176 or The Ponte Vedra Beach office is located at 615 Highway A1A in the beautiful coastal community southeast of Jacksonville, Fl.