By Maggie FitzRoy, Contributing Writer
Realtor Dina Boscio toured a 3,970-square-foot home in The Plantation, admiring its amazing views of a rippling blue lake and the 18th fairway of the community’s Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course.
Then it was on to a 4,316-square-foot home tucked away on a quiet cul-de-sac in Marsh Landing Country Club.
After strolling up the new paver driveway, Boscio introduced herself to the listing agent and then explored the four bedrooms, four baths, backyard pool and significantly upgraded kitchen.
Her last stop that October day was in Sawgrass Country Club. Flowers graced the 2,697-square-foot home’s entry courtyard. A tour of the interior revealed a handmade Italian chandelier, Venetian plaster walls and a floor plan perfect for family life and entertaining.
“This is what I like about having these caravans,” said Boscio, with Watson Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, who toured the homes with fellow agent Chris Peace.
“We are able to compare what’s on the market currently with what just came on the market — the different neighborhoods and how the pricing can be so different,” Boscio added.
Realtor caravans, organized by the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, are a Tuesday tradition for many agents.
During a block of several hours in late morning or early afternoon, they can quickly and efficiently view what is on the market.
Boscio and Peace make it a point to go on the Ponte Vedra Caravan almost every week and most times they have about 15 or so homes to choose from.
But on Oct. 25, less than three weeks after Hurricane Matthew and two weeks before the U.S. presidential election, there was only half that number.
Wanda Peterson of Re/Max Unlimited, listing agent with broker associate Kelly Whitaker for the home in The Plantation, found that surprising.
“It’s the shortest list I’ve seen in a long time,” she said, adding a theory. “I think it’s the election.”
Peace also thought the election was putting everyone in a suspended state of waiting to see what would happen.
But he also said the media attention devoted to it was “overblown,” because “no matter what happens, nothing will change. The interest rates are great. And no, the market is not going to crash.”
In fact, Realtors involved with the caravan that day said this is the best time to buy, despite the fact that inventory in the Ponte Vedra Beach and Beaches area is low.
It also is a good time to list, because homes that are for sale there tend to sell quickly.
Anything under $500,000 is moving, “especially in St. Johns County,” Boscio said. Those priced from $500,000 to $800,000 are selling quicker than those in the million-dollar range.
Realtor George Beebe of Playa Realty & Management, listing agent for the home in Marsh Landing that day, said he believed the hurricane had a lot to do with the short list of homes on caravan.
Although it did not damage many homes, it did fell many trees and large branches, causing large piles of yard debris along curbs, temporarily robbing manicured neighborhoods of their usual pristine beauty.
The home he was showing at 108 Lamplighter Island Court was listed in April for $1.1 million and he added it to the caravan at that time.
The price was recently reduced to $995,000 so he put it on the caravan again but chose to postpone it for a week due to the storm.
The market in Ponte Vedra Beach in general is good, despite the hurricane blowing through. “Things are moving, it’s a good market,” he said.
The Ponte Vedra caravan encompasses Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, some Intracoastal West communities and Nocatee.
With many neighborhoods under construction in Nocatee, new homes are available there in a range of prices.
But plenty of existing homes are on the market, including one listed by Michele Stewart of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty that was part of the caravan.
She said she was disappointed with the turnout of Realtors that day, which she said was also unusually low. But since it is often more difficult to entice them to Nocatee from the Beaches, she wasn’t totally surprised.
She offered a gasoline gift card drawing for agents who toured the four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom home list at $449,000.
But Stewart said she would probably have attracted more walk-throughs if she had hosted a luncheon, which four agents at other homes did that day. She planned to hold an open house that weekend.
After 12 years in the business, Stewart said she is optimistic about today’s market. During the recession, “we did mostly foreclosures,” she said.
“It was very depressing. Because you were mostly a counselor with short sale-sellers,” she said. “Now, we are back to what I would say is normal. Prices are going back up slowly, but with interest rates being fabulous, buyers have the opportunity to purchase.”
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