Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January Islander Ad

First Listing:
Mariner's Walk - $279,000
Single level condominium located on the south end of Amelia Island. Mariner's Walk unit with 3 large bedrooms and 2 full baths. Extensive tile throughout the unit. Granite countertops in the kitchen and new rear deck highlight this propert. Community has recently completed major renovations to the grounds and buildings. Short stroll to the beach. Conveniently located near the Ritz Carlton and Amelia Island Plantation.

Second Listing:
Amelia Surf & Racquet - $528,000
Tastefully remodeled 2 bedroom and 2 bath unit. Located on the 4th floor with exceptional views of the pool and Atlantic Ocean. Tile floors, plantation shutters, new countertops, recently painted, stainless appliances and more. Great location for a vacation getaway. Property can also be used as a short term rental with management company on site. This is an end unit and offers views from every room. Furniture is available.

Third Listing:
1611 Geddes Lane in Amelia Park - $310,000
Located in the cottage district at Amelia Park. Enjoy the serenity of nature around you, while being in the middle of activity on the Island. Walk to the YMCA, local church, post office and shopping. Upgrades include the wooden floors, granite countertops, plantation shutters, custom fireplace mantel, screened front porch, fruit trees and fenced brick courtyard. Quality touches highlight this 2 bedroom home!

Fourth Listing
1364 Shipwatch Villas - $985,000
4th Floor oceanfront at the Amelia Island Plantation. Renovated 3 bedroom and 3 bath unit. Silestone countertops, plantation shutters, new furniture and direct ocean views from the livingroom balcony. World class Golf and tennis on site. Relax by the private community pool. Extra side balcony in master suite. Located of the south end of Amelia Island.

John Holbrook - REALTOR Prudential Chaplin Williams Realty Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Yulee FL 32034 904-415-0171 Search the entire MLS at

Desserts of Amelia

The annual Desserts of Amelia takes place from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 6 at the Atlantic Avenue Recreation Center.

Desserts of Amelia co-chair Patti Burch said this year's event is not just about the desserts.

"This is the sole fund-raiser that Fernandina Beach Middle School has for their teachers. There have been huge budget cuts from the state so the teachers really need money for educational supplies for their classrooms. All the money raised goes directly to meet those needs."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jacksonville Veteran's Cemetary

Veterans Cemetery Opens

After 16 years of planning and preparation, the Jacksonville National Cemetery officially opened as the remains of eight veterans, including the first female surgical technician in Vietnam and her husband, were laid to rest. The veteran cemetery is the nation's 127th, and about 150 families have already expressed interest in burial there. The 20-acre early burial area with temporary facilities begins the first phase of the planned 526-acre site.

Jacksonville Veteran's Cemetary

Veterans Cemetery Opens

After 16 years of planning and preparation, the Jacksonville National Cemetery officially opened as the remains of eight veterans, including the first female surgical technician in Vietnam and her husband, were laid to rest. The veteran cemetery is the nation's 127th, and about 150 families have already expressed interest in burial there. The 20-acre early burial area with temporary facilities begins the first phase of the planned 526-acre site.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Brash Housing

Check with me in the future about the BRASH program.

John Holbrook

Monday, January 19, 2009

New FHA Option

Consider FHA 203k home loan

The Federal Housing Administration has a new program called the 203k streamline limited repair program. FHA’s streamlined 203k permits homebuyers to finance up to an additional $35,000 to improve or upgrade their home before moving in. The program also allows homeowners to upgrade their current residences by simply refinancing. Homeowners can quickly and easily tap into cash to pay for repairs or improvements or even new appliances. As a rule, most lenders will not close a loan unless the property is in good shape and all repairs have been completed.

With an FHA 203k streamline, it is possible to close on a property needing repairs.
If you are interested in an FHA 203k streamline loan to fix up or modernize a property, contact an FHA approved broker/lender. The Department of Housing and Urban Development Web site will help you find one in your area. Then seek a pre-approval from a 203k specialist.

Once homebuyers find a suitable property, they need to create a work write-up. This document shows the repairs they wish to complete and the cost estimates for those repairs. When your broker/lender receives the work write-up, an appraisal will be ordered to determine the value of the home after repairs. While the borrowers are waiting for an appraisal, they can actually get bids on the work that needs to be done. They can then submit a final quote to the broker/lender showing how much they will need, including both the purchase price and cost of repair.

At closing, the seller will be paid for the property, and the repair money will go into escrow, where the new homeowner will have up to six months to complete the project. The FHA 203k streamline program is used when there are no permits, plans or specs needed.The eligible property must have been built for at least one year and can be a single-family dwelling, duplex, triplex or four-plex. Condominiums are allowed if the condominium project has been approved by the FHA.

At the end of 2008, there were more than one million homes for sale nationally that were bank owned. Many are in need of repair that the banks will not do. With the FHA 203k streamline, the borrower can now purchase a property and complete the renovations. This is a great time to buy with low rates and there is a $7,500 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. Karen Blondin, a mortgage specialist with Blondin Mortgage Co., can be reached at (941) 365-1926

South end Condo

Had a chance to do an open house at Mariner's Walk over the week end and had a good amount of visitors. There seems to be more traffic on the Island as the seasonal residents are making their way south. The unit is one level and has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. There is a dedicated beach walkway as well. The condo is priced at $279,000.

John Holbrook - Realtor 904-415-0171

Mariner's Walk

Spent a few hours over the weekend at an open house at Mariner's Walk and had some good traffic. The unit has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and is located on the south end of Amelia Island. the current list price $279,000.

John Holbrook - Realtor 904-415-0171

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Picture of my new listing on Arrigo Blvd. Located just off Island and priced at $199,800! Great deal for those looking to be close to the Island. Easy to show. If you want to take a look, just give me a call.

John Holbrook - Realtor

Fun on Amelia

Found this old photo from a costume party on the Island and thought that it would add some amusement to the blog.

Cruise Ships On Amelia?

By Michael Parnell, News-Leader

Above is a conceptual plan for the cruise terminal proposed at Mayport Fishing Village as provided by Jaxport.
It may be wishful thinking, but city officials have entertained the notion of having a cruise ship terminal on the north end of Amelia Island.

That would depend on Jaxport or the city of Jacksonville giving up on locating a terminal at Mayport because of public opposition there.

Public opposition also could be expected here - at least two city commissioners have discouraged the idea - but the mayor hails the possibility as a major economic boost for Fernandina Beach and Nassau County.

"People's major objection is that cruise ships don't bring in business. ... But that's not true," Fernandina Beach Mayor Bruce Malcolm said.

"It would have an enormous effect on the downtown," he said.

Three island sites have been mentioned for a cruise ship terminal - the Port of Fernandina, the former pogy plant adjacent to Fort Clinch State Park and Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. property.

Malcolm admitted that a cruise ship terminal here may be "in the realm of fantasy right now."

Nassau County Commissioner Mike Boyle, a member of the Tourist Development Council, described the prospect as "fanciful."

"About a month ago, I heard a rumor that if the plans for a cruise terminal in Mayport fell apart, that they might consider Fernandina Beach. I don't think there's much chance of that happening," he said.

"I said to the person telling me, 'This sounds like leverage to try to get the Duval people to pass the Mayport thing,' because there's many, many obstacles in Fernandina Beach that would make it impractical."

"There were no details, and that's why I didn't give it a lot of credibility," Boyle said. "I tended to discount it as just a fanciful rumor. ... It hasn't even be mentioned on the TDC, and I haven't heard anything else since that one time somebody spoke to me about it."

"I think there's been some people looking around for alternatives if the Mayport deal doesn't go through, but . . . I haven't talked to anybody from Jaxport," said Gil Langley, president & CEO of the Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau,

Nassau County Coordinator Ed Sealover said he is unaware of specific conversations with Jacksonville officials about it. "I don't know of any formal contact. I've heard folks talk about the old pogy plant being the location of the new cruise ship (terminal)," he said.

Steve Reich, executive director of the Nassau County Economic Development Board, said, "Nobody has called me officially about any project like that." He said he would wait to see what Jacksonville does before considering the prospect.

Nancy Rubin, director of communications and public relations for Jaxport, said Fernandina Beach has been considered in the past but, "There has been no official Jaxport contact with either Nassau County or Fernandina Beach leaders on the subject of a potential cruise terminal" recently. She said Jaxport is focusing on the Mayport proposal.

Malcolm said the possibility was broached with him at a meeting in St. Augustine about a month ago where he was told there was "a rumor going around" about a possible cruise ship terminal at the Port of Fernandina.

Malcolm said he mentioned the conversation to City Manager Michael Czymbor the next morning. He said as far as he knows, nobody at City Hall has been in contact with Jacksonville or Jaxport officials about locating a cruise terminal in Fernandina Beach.

The matter came up Tuesday at the city commission meeting when Commissioner Ron Sapp said he discussed the matter with Czymbor.

Czymbor told commissioners alternative sites to Mayport included the Port of Fernandina, the former pogy plant and property at Smurfit-Stone Container Corp.

Sapp has concerns, and Commissioner Susan Steger "encouraged the city manager to be discouraging about the cruise ship" locating here.

Jacksonville city officials are expected to vote Jan. 27 on locating a new $60 million terminal in Mayport. The present cruise terminal on the St. Johns River will be part of Hanjin Shipping Co.'s new container terminal, requiring the move to be completed by mid-2010.

But the Mayport Civic Association on Monday rejected the terms of a proposed settlement offered by Jaxport to settle a lawsuit challenging construction of the cruise ship terminal in the historic fishing village.

The settlement was rejected because of unresolved concerns over shore power sources and compatibility with the village's shrimping and fishing industry, said Michelle Baldwin, president of the association.

"A terminal, with all its pollution, environmental damage, crime and Homeland Security issues, simply cannot be placed right in the middle of a residential neighborhood," Baldwin said.

The cruise industry has expanded in Jacksonville. Carnival Cruise Lines replaced the 1,486-passenger Celebration with the 2,052-passenger Fascination last year. A 2006 study determined the smaller ship's presence created 400 jobs and had a $40 million annual impact on Northeast Florida.

Reporters Angela Daughtry and Ryan Smith and Community Newspapers reporters in Jacksonville Beach contributed to this story.

Interested in local property for sale on Amelia - Click Here

Monday, January 12, 2009

2008 Nassau County MLS Wrap-up

For the year 2008, there were 660 sold properties in the MLS in Nassau County. The total sales volume was about 201 million dollars and the average sales price was about $305k. This is a drop compared to MLS sales for 2007 in Nassau County in which we saw a sales volume of about 379 million, 1028 total properties and an average sales price of about $369k.

For Amelia Island Sales (areas #1-6),our Prudential Office was the number one single office for sales dollars and continues to perform well on both the listing and selling side of transactions.

Improved affordability spurs buyer traffic.

Buyer traffic improved slightly in December. While most potential buyers are “hesitant to enter the housing market based on financial and job market security concerns,” improved affordability has attracted investors and some first time buyers seeking bargains. “Both lower interest rates and declining home prices account for the traffic increase,” comments one agent.

Financing remains tough.

The financing environment remains tough, with “changes in lending criteria discouraging buyers despite the lower rates” and banks requiring bigger down payments for entry level buyers. Appraisals are coming in at “unexpectedly low” values given what a number of agents attribute to “a lack of good comps.”

Rising inventories pressure home prices.

Home prices continued to fall in December. Despite the lack of new construction, the increase in inventory levels continued in December, largely stemming from a growing number of foreclosures. Rising inventories have further pressured prices, as distressed sales make up a sizable proportion of homes on the market. Expect bloated inventories to continue to pressure home prices in the coming months.

John Holbrook - REALTOR Prudential Chaplin Williams Realty Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Yulee FL 32034 904-415-0171 Search the entire MLS at

Search the Local MLS

New Listings on Amelia Island

I recently had a chance to preview some properties on Amelai Island. Each of these properties has something unique to offer and each of them would be great for a second home or weekend get-away.

Sandcastles on Amelia Island Plantation - $460,000
Corner end unit located on the fourth floor with spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. Steps away from the beach and short stroll to the Amelia Island Plantation Shops. Beautifully furnished, recent upgrades include new heating/AC (2005), carpets/drapes, appliances, televisions and entertainment systems. Ability to rent short term, excellent rental history. Lifestyle experience with championship caliber golf, multiple tennis facilities. Fantastic ocean view from the LR, MBR and balcony.

Eventide Court - $1,150,000
Fantastic home built to Miami Dade standards. Reminiscent of Rosemary Beach. First of 28 single family homes to be built in this community. Steps from the ocean, 3rd floor crows nest. Second floor library/sitting area with wet bar & refrigerator. Elevator for first and second floor. A perfect home for the discerning buyer. 3 large covered porches (22X8) with ocean view on second floor. Become one of the first to live the good life at The Surf! New construction , all the bells and whistles!

First Avenue - $238,500
Walk across the street to the beach! This unit has been remodeled with new kitchen cabinets, baseboards, windows, wood flooring downstairs and a new deck. 2 car garage with storage space. Maintenance fee pays for exterior insurance, pool, lawn and pest service. Great location for weekend get-away or rental property.

If you would like more information about these properties or any others in the Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island or Yulee areas please contact John Holbrook at (904)415-0171.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Homeowners make dash for low interest rates

MIAMI – Dec. 19, 2008 – Homeowners in South Florida and across the nation rushed to contact their mortgage brokers on Wednesday to take advantage of the Federal Reserve’s decision the day before to cut its key interest rate to nearly zero.

“They’re calling big-time,” said Louis Spagnuolo, vice president of mortgage banking for WCS Lending in Boca Raton.

Brokers said rates on 30-year, fixed mortgages were below 5 percent, and some borrowers with good credit were locking in at 4.5 percent. Rates on home equity lines of credit were near 3 1/4 percent.

“Pretty phenomenal,” said Jim Sahnger, a vice president with Palm Beach Financial Network.

The national average rate on 30-year, fixed mortgages was 5.06 percent on Wednesday, according to financial publisher HSH Associates – the lowest since the 1960s and down from 5.3 percent Tuesday.

The Fed’s announcement was the best news in months for anyone looking to buy or refinance. But it’s not expected to be a cure-all, and borrowers already in danger of foreclosure or those who don’t have equity in their homes probably won’t be able to take advantage.

“It’s a call to action for homeowners looking to get out of adjustable-rate mortgages,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at in North Palm Beach. “Unfortunately, it’s not an equal-opportunity party.”

Mortgage rates are the top variable in housing affordability, and the Fed’s action this week was unprecedented, said Chris Lafakis, a economist covering Florida for Moody’s

Still, Lafakis and other analysts say South Florida’s housing market faces serious challenges, especially now as job losses mount. The picture here won’t improve until the excess supply of homes is sold off. And that might not be until 2010.

An estimated 12 million Americans owe more on their home loans than their properties are worth, and foreclosures are soaring.

“I think it’s a stretch to say that this is a panacea for the housing market and the economy, but it’s nothing to scoff at, either,” Lafakis said.

Besides lowering the interest on fixed-rate mortgages, rates should come down on adjustable-rate home equity loans. Those are tied to the prime lending rate, and banks and lenders began lowering the rate immediately after the Fed’s move Tuesday.

The Federal Reserve also plans to buy up mortgage debt and is considering buying long-term Treasury bonds that are closely tied to mortgage rates, so analysts expect rates to drop even further.

As a result, some people are asking whether they should wait to apply for a mortgage or refinance, said Spagnuolo of WCS.

“If you can find a rate that you’re comfortable with, pull the trigger now because you don’t know what the future holds,” he said.

For homeowners who haven’t been able to sell their houses, the lower rates represent an opportunity to at least save some money. And if they have enough equity in their homes, they can still pull out money to make improvements, albeit at a higher interest rate.

Tony Jabon had an e-mail in to his mortgage broker by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The 35-year-old environmental consultant in Charlotte, N.C., had heard about the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut its key interest rate to nearly zero and wanted to refinance to something lower than 5.5 percent.

Within hours, he had locked in a rate of about 4.6 percent. He’ll save about $160 on his monthly payment. “Any time you can save a dollar,” he said, “why not?”

Copyright © 2008 Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. The Associated Press contributed to this report.