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Realty Builder
Jax Daily Record Friday, Apr. 12, 200212:00 PM EST

Question of the month

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“As a recent new home buyer, the three things I was looked for most were a lot of square footage with an open airy feeling, four bedrooms plus a bonus room and a very nice well-maintained neighborhood. Of course, some extras would have been nice such as a screened porch, sprinkler system or a water conditioner. Those would have all been pluses.”

— Debbie Dermody, Northeast Florida Association of Realtors

“The trend that has been most common is the ability to work from home. This includes a separate home office with full communication abilities [not an extra bedroom converted to an office]. Three-car garages are also increasing in demand, as are bonus rooms.”

— Phyllis Staines,

RE/MAX Coastal Real Estate

“What buyers want is view, yet privacy, well-kept property and convenience. They also do not want the home to be too far from schools, shops and work. The trends I see are smaller but well-appointed master baths. Also, they want to get away from that 1990s look of everything alike and the gable roof lines with the returns at the lower edges. Buyers are tiring of the communities that have homes all with similar facades. Maybe they are wanting to assert their individuality?”

— Clare Berry, Broker,

Berry & Co. Real Estate

“My buyers with a family want four bedrooms. They really need the home office and seem to be working out of their homes a lot. Also a good sized back yard with two and a half to three bathrooms is important. Newer is important, too. Builders are building speculative homes and selling them fast. My last two families bought speculative homes after they saw re-sales. My other folks are singles who want townhomes or condominiums. Not an easy find in Jacksonville, especially at the beach or for under $200,000. Retirees take longer [to find what they want]. They want to size down, want two baths, a garage and the newer patio type of houses. They will look forever, but will pay cash. Of course, schools are important, but negative when it comes to Duval County. To avoid traffic, they will purchase close to their office and send kids to private school because St. Johns County is not affordable. There is a waiting list for private schools, too. Hard to find anything decent under $200,000 for the people I work with. Pool and fireplace is a plus, but not primary. I show all over town, since most of my folks are relocations.”

— Annette Page,

Arvida Realty in Sawgrass

“Kitchens and bathrooms are most important. They are also the most expensive items and someone will pay more if they are nice and well done, especially in the old home market. Hardwood floors are quite the rage and carpet is out. I think this is true also for the new home market. I don’t think that this is a new trend, though. Of course, in new homes you are less likely to find a formal living room with a fireplace. New homes have a wonderful family area and as a rule it is a part of the kitchen in an open floor plan.”

— Judy Davis, Watson Realty

“Price is most important. Can they get what they want within the price parameters specified by the lender? The number of bedrooms is also important with a minimum of three. Rarely does someone complain about having too many bedrooms. The size of lot is also important — most say that bigger is better.”

— Robert S. Laumer,

Watson Realty Corp.

“The top three things buyers look for at Turtle Shores is convenient access to the beach, an open and spacious-feeling floor plan with specialty touches, and plenty of spacious bedrooms and baths.”

— Christine Rich,

ICI Homes at Turtle Shores.

“The most important thing: is there a termite bond on the property and what type of bond. Of course, this question usually comes from buyers informed about our termite problems in Florida. But for buyers outside our area, this is an educational conversation. We discuss the benefits of a WDO [wood destroying organisms] inspection and highly recommend it whether it’s a cash transaction or if the mortgage lender requires it or not. The second most important thing: whether there is a home warranty with the property. Many listings are now being sold with a home warranty in place. I like them for three reasons: peace of mind for the buyer, goodwill generated by having a warranty in place when something breaks, and a great negotiating tool for the sellers. The third most important thing: neighborhoods with trees. How many times have we heard this? Properties at the beach don’t always have mature trees. Sometimes it’s hard to find that balance.”

— Pat Smith,

Watson St. Augustine

“All buyers seem to search for the same three things including best quality for their money, best value for their money and best location for their money.”

— Mary Anne Hashem, Beazer Homes - Jacksonville Division

“The top three things buyers are looking for through my eyes are more bedrooms/bathrooms, more land/or bigger lot size, and move-in ready.”

— Billy Spilker,

Prudential Network Realty

“The trends we have seen in new construction include people wanting low maintenance exteriors such as all brick or all stucco, vinyl facia and soffets. They also want to be able to tailor the floor plans to their particular needs and we also have great call for plans with lots of natural light and lots of windows.”

— J.J. Cogdill, Cogdill Builders

“A top thing that I am seeing buyers look for is more yard space. It seems that with so many developments going up in areas such as the Southside that many homes are built on small lots with the homes very close to each other. Having an oversized lot is definitely a plus for selling these days.”

— Paul Wilson, Watson Realty

“I’ve noted that the most recent trend is the same as always — buyers are still looking for location, location, location. The larger master suites and baths are also still the trend. It seems that the two living areas could be making a comeback also. As always, they want the most their money can buy.”

— Teresa Mercurio,

RE/MAX 100 Realty

“Although I’m not a real estate agent, customers are usually excited to talk about their favorite ‘feature’ of the home they are buying. The three things I hear most are lot size, floor plan and price. One trend I see a lot of is the desire for a bonus room and community pool.”

— Laura G. Smith,

Countrywide Home Loans

“I work with various price ranges and in different areas of the city and surrounding areas. The buyers I work with normally will ask for the following three items: a fourth bedroom to be used as an office, a bonus or actual room that is considered an office, and large kitchens with lots of cabinets or as many as possible. I believe the trend I am seeing most is a demand for smaller homes but with more amenities. The baby boomers are trying to locate affordable townhome/garden home living with garages for their autos along with nicely landscaped community and less exterior upkeep. They are asking for this product to include a pool and be priced around $150,000-200,000. I think somewhere in the not too distant future, this demand will be met by builders recognizing this need and supplying it.”

— Dan Daniel,

Prudential Network Realty

“Most of my customers are seeking all brick or stucco exterior, four bedrooms or three bedrooms plus office, fenced back yard and an eat-in kitchen is a plus.”

— Ann Jones,

Watson Realty

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