3 Things You May Not Know Your Realtor Can Do For You

When it’s time to buy or sell a house, your first call is likely to a referral realtor that can help you through the process. It’s usually someone you hire without a second thought, but have you ever wondered what all a realtor is supposed to do for you that you won’t have to do for yourself?

 Instead of thinking of your realtor as someone who just shows you the home, draws up the papers, and earns their commission, you should think about what a realtor is handling on your behalf that is not only saving you time and energy but could also save you money. Use the expertise and convenience of a realtor knowing that they are helping you in these three ways that you may not have realized.

They learn the market for you

Do you have the time or experience to learn about the current market, find available properties, and learn about specifics that could affect you in the long-term, such as when a home is in a flood zone? Do you know how to properly price your home compared to comparable properties on the market?

Your real estate agent gets educated and uses their expertise to help you price your home for sale or find great properties for your family’s needs when it’s time to buy. It can be difficult to be matched up with the right properties on your own, and your realtor has likely already taken the time to tour properties and even prepared a preview of it. You won’t have time to visit every single option in your budget, but your realtor has and can tell you which ones are not going to suit you before you take the time to check it out.

They handle annoying administrative tasks

While you could make the phone calls to get a tour of available properties on your own, you may find you’ll be put on a waitlist or not responded to right away if you don’t work with a realtor. Your realtor is not only there to find you homes and get your offer in, but they take care of all of the annoying administrative tasks that you don’t have time for. Your agent schedules the tour for their clients and for the ones selling; the realtor will take care of talking to buyer’s agents and fielding email inquiries.

In addition, they spend other time in the week marketing, writing up offers, and attending pitch sessions in which they can swap listing info with other agents. Plus, they are on-call most of the time making sure problems get solved when the phone rings and things are on a deadline.

They stay informed on the inspection and manage the closing

After you’ve found the home you want and inspections underway, you are likely waiting for your realtor to call you with the news. During that wait, your realtor is actually sticking around for the inspection to make sure he or she has the results right away. You can go home while your realtor finds out if there is a termite problem or leak.

When it comes to the closing, your realtor is going to manage the whole process. You don’t have to try to negotiate on your own with the agent, but instead, your agent will be handling these things for you. They will make sure everything is signed correctly and all have a copy that needs it. Relax while your agent handles this final and most important step.

If you ever wondered how a realtor earns the commission you are paying them, have peace of mind knowing that your realtor is working hard on your behalf in these three major ways. Contact a Jacksonville Real Estate Professional at Redzone Realty, today!

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5 Reasons a Townhouse May Be Right for You

Have you considered a townhouse for your next home? It may actually be the perfect choice for your family, especially if you like the idea of living with a tight-knit community, having a low-maintenance property, and enjoying a more affordable housing option. Townhouse living isn’t for everybody, but it can be the perfect option for the right family. Consider if your family is looking for these perks below and if you are, a townhouse may be the right choice over a home, condo, or rental.

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Financial savings

Did you know that townhouse living tends to be more affordable for a first-time buyer? Buying for the first time can be overwhelming, expensive, and full of change, but going with a townhouse can lighten the burden when you become new to ownership.

You’ll be able to own your home for a more affordable price and you’ll save money in the long-term since your utilities tend to be lower in a shared building. The townhouse itself will be less expensive than a single-family home, and you’ll still enjoy all of the same benefits of planting a garden or grilling out.

Low maintenance living

Who doesn’t love the idea of buying a home and never having to worry about mowing the lawn or shoveling the walk? Townhouse living comes with a low maintenance lifestyle since there is often a maintenance department that handles general upkeep. With your typical single-family home, you’ll be in charge of all of the yard work, home repairs, and snow removal, while a townhouse usually results in free weekends without these tasks.

Community

Do you want to feel a sense of community? Townhouse living is perfect for gaining a tight-knit community. You’ll be sharing walking trails, community parks, amenities, and more. You’ll also live so close to each other that you’ll be likely to run into one another outside or in shared spaces. In a typical neighborhood, you’ll have to choose to be engaged with your community while in a townhouse community, it’s inevitable.

Amenities

You don’t get amenities in a typical neighborhood unless you move to the right one or you’re willing to pay for them. In a townhouse community, you’ll enjoy exciting amenities that will make you feel like you live at a hotel. You’ll enjoy things like a beautiful swimming pool, a modern fitness center, dog parks, clubhouses, a recreational center and more. It’s one of the best perks of townhouse living.

Smart design

Lastly, your townhouse will be designed with you in mind. Along with being able to choose a location near your favorite places to hang in the city, you’ll enjoy a living space that’s modern, secure, and beautiful. Townhouses often feature beautiful hardwood floors, multiple levels, high ceilings with large windows, natural light, modern appliances, and smart technology to make life a breeze. You’ll not only avoid yard work on the weekends, but you can start your dishwasher and turn off the lights with the tap of a button. You’ll feel secure being surrounded by many neighbors and having updated electronic keys.

If you like the idea of spending your weekends on a rooftop terrace or poolside with your neighbors, before returning to your beautiful, updated townhome where the maintenance is all handled for you and things are less expensive than your typical single-family home, you’ll find that townhouse living is a dream. Consider if it’s the right move for your family!

Home Financing Lingo: What is an Underwriter?

Being a first-time home buyer means that you are likely learning something new every day. Once you’ve started learning about the process of buying and financing a home, you’ll start to hear terms used casually that you may not understand.

One of the terms that will be thrown around a lot is the term “underwriter,” referring to the person that approves, declines, or suspends your mortgage application. Take a closer look at how the process works to apply for and get approved for a mortgage, and how the underwriter is involved in this equation.

What is an Underwriter

The underwriting in the home financing process is the entity or company, that is responsible for analyzing and assuming the risk of another entity. This is something that happens behind closed doors, taking your mortgage application and putting it through phases of verification, appraisal, title search, flood certification, and survey. The underwriting will either approve your loan, suspend it if you need to supply documentation or decline it if you don’t qualify.

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How do they decide on my mortgage application?

Now that you understand what an underwriter does, it’s a good idea to understand how they make their decisions. The underwriter will work on several tasks with your mortgage application, with the main tasks including your credit reputation, your ability to repay the loan, and what collateral you may have to improve your chances of approval.

An underwriter is going to start with the verification process, which involves tasks such as calling your employer to verify salary. Next, the underwriter will make sure that the property’s price is comparable to the prices of similar properties by getting an appraisal. Once the lender has gotten a physical appraisal of the house, they’ll have a title company do a title search to verify the legal history ensuring there are no claims against the house.

From there, a title insurer will need to issue a policy and a flood certification will be needed if it’s found to be in a flood zone. Lastly, a survey is done to have the property’s boundaries verified.

What do I need to know about underwriters

Underwriters are responsible for ensuring you have a solid credit history, you can afford to repay the loan, and whether you have collateral to be used in the event that you don’t repay your loan. These tasks work together to get you approved because lacking in one area can be made up if the other areas are stellar.

It’s important to understand that it is not a quick process for the underwriter to complete these tasks. There are many elements to approving a mortgage. They tend to work for a lender or bank help to make these loan decisions once a sales member brings it to them and they don’t make commission since it would be a conflict of interest.

Are you confused by all of this new home-financing lingo that has become part of your daily life? Start learning them one by one and the process will start to make sense. Your home financing underwriter is the one that needs to make sure you have presented all of the details, have been honest in the process, and have enough credit stability to be trusted with such a large loan. Consider the job of an underwriter and be sure to have these items in tip top shape before deciding to buy a home.

3 of the Best Brunch Spots in Jacksonville Beach

Who doesn’t love brunch? Living in Jacksonville Beach means that you get to indulge in some awesome brunch options every weekend. It’s the perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday before enjoying the sunshine or relaxing at home with the family. You’ve likely stopped into Casa Marina for a drink overlooking the water, but have you ever stopped in for their Sunday Brunch Menu?

Jax Beach Brunch Haus obviously serves an amazing brunch because it’s their goal to do so, but you can also grab breakfast or brunch over at Maple Street Biscuit Company. Take a look at why these three spots have some of the best brunches in Jacksonville Beach.

Jax Beach Brunch Haus – 610 3rd Street, Jacksonville Beach

What better place to grab brunch than at a brunch restaurant? Stop into Jax Beach Brunch Haus on 3rd Street for brunch and brews by the beach. Prices are inexpensive with entrees ranging from $11-$30. They are only open during prime brunch hours starting at 7 am and ending at 2:30 pm every day. If you’re looking for a lighter portion you can order breakfast, and you’ll find a kids menu for just $6 for their meal (and no charge for kids Monday-Thursday!).

Be sure to start with a favorite beverage like café-tails including Celtic Coffee and Almond Brothers, or go for something stronger like their Sunday Bloody Brunch Day or Paradise City Brunch-tails. You can try the local beer, something bubbly, or your classic juice and coffee options.

Choose from breakfast basics, brunch options, or breakfast smoothies. You’ll love entrees like the croissant chicken, the veggie wrap, the eggs benedict, and the buttermilk hauscakes. There are tons of side items including biscuits, fries, black beans, and soup.

Casa Marina – 691 1st Street North, Jacksonville Beach

If you’ve never stopped into this local favorite, you’ll want to make sure you come in during Sunday Brunch. This hotel and restaurant offer so much but their Sunday brunch is really something special. Who doesn’t love spending time with the family over a meal on Sundays? Stop in from 10am-1:30 pm on Sundays with the whole family to take advantage of this lavish brunch menu only at Casa Marina.

You’ll find an outstanding variety of foods from the carving station prime rib to the omelet station. Plan on options from roasted carvings from the chef to fresh seafood, as well as fresh salads and a variety of pasta.

You won’t go hungry with the homemade bread offered and the desserts to finish it all off with a bang. Try the eggs benedict over fried green tomatoes with a side of tropical fruit and a mimosa to drink or an omelet with garlic mashed potatoes, a coffee, and a cheesecake for dessert. Plan on $29.95 per person with discounts for children and a changing menu!

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Maple Street Biscuit Company – 410 3rd Street North, Jacksonville Beach

Lastly, you’ll love the brunch options as this casual café over on 3rd Street. Maple Street Biscuit Company is serving up brunch right with biscuit sandwiches and Southern dishes for breakfast and lunch, as well as dinner on the weekends.

You’ll love the food, the staff, and the variety of fresh options daily. Their menu is your favorite comfort foods with a modern twist, featuring options such as biscuit with fried eggs, sausage gravy, and bacon, or fried chicken with collard greens. Try the fresh coffee with a signature biscuit, biscuits and gravy, or entrees with a twist like hashups, homemade waffles, or a delicious salad.

When you want to hit brunch this week in Jacksonville Beach, you won’t be able to top these three restaurants!

What to Look for in Your Neighborhood's HOA

Joining a neighborhood HOA can be a great addition to your family’s life and routine. Not all HOA’s are going to be the same, though, and it’s important to have a general understanding of how they will work. You may have heard bad things about HOA’s, such as that there are too many rules in place or that it’s just an organization taking your money for nothing in return.

In reality, HOA’s can offer immense benefits to neighborhoods and they are all going to offer something different. Before you move into a neighborhood, find out the HOA style to make sure you can get on board with them.

Variances in HOAs

Before moving into a neighborhood, make sure you’ve looked at the conditions and rules of this one to make sure you can envision following these rules. You may see regulations on paint colors and a section on expected dues. Be sure to check how much it will cost, the level of enforcement to expect, what services they will provide its residents and the schedule of board meetings. Knowing these things will help you determine if the services are something you desire enough to be a part of it.

How they are similar

All HOAs are going to have rules, dues, meetings, and interactions amongst the group. It’s actually a great way to make friends because you’ll be able to build relationships with the board and with other members of the group. You can easily attend a meeting to see if you’re going to be interested in what an HOA is going to offer and to see if you would like the politics of an HOA before moving into a neighborhood.

While there are rules in place, they are there for a reason and that is typically to help homeowners maintain their property values, to protect homeowners from neighbors that want to sell their house too low or build a taller house that ruins the view, and to look out for the community as a whole. Of course, paying dues is no fun, but in exchange for your investment, you are getting services such as upkeep of common areas and community events.

What to keep in mind

You may have heard negative things about HOAs, but it’s important to keep your mind open to having one in your new neighborhood seeing that they can often make a problematic neighborhood situation resolved to protect the other homeowners.

If you do happen to break their rules, such as violating a rule in renovating your home, you will pay heavy fines and sometimes have to 'undo' the work. It’s a good idea to learn about the bylaws, such as how board members are elected or removed if there is a problem, and you may move into a neighborhood in which all homes are required to be a part of it.

It’s also a good idea to look at how it will affect your family. Do you tend to hate being told what to do, or can you accept that in the case of an HOA? Can you accept being told how to maintain your lawn or what colors your house may be painted?

Will the cost of the HOA affect your financial picture too much? Be sure to get the notes from the last meeting or talk to members to find out what an HOA is like before you move into a neighborhood, in case you don’t feel that it’s a good fit for your family.

Make sure you understand how all HOA’s work and what the one is like in the neighborhood that you are considering moving to before making the move.

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Live Near These Top Golf Courses in Jacksonville

There’s no better place to be in Jacksonville than living by a dreamy golf course. With many golf course options, how do you know which ones are going to offer the best experience? Now you can use this guide to find out the top choices in Jacksonville so that you can find the right neighborhoods to put you right by all of the action. When you’re ready to live near a golf course so that you can hit the links any time you want, look for places near these top course in Jacksonville.

TPC Sawgrass – Dye’s Valley Course – Ponte Vedra

One of the best options in the area is the course that The Players Championship chooses to use for their PGA Tour. TPC Sawgrass is a prime location to live near Jacksonville and you can find several living options to be right by this course. Whether you’re looking for a craftsman style home or one of those beautiful Mediterranean options, you’ll find them plentiful here. You’ll also find great waterfront properties and easy beach access when you live in this area. A favorite for this area is Palm Valley.

 
 

Jacksonville Golf & Country Club – Southside Jacksonville

If you’re anywhere near Hodges Blvd., you’ve likely heard of this great track. This is certainly one of the finest golf courses and neighborhoods in the area, and we even dedicated another blog post to it. The championship golf course has 18 holes and is known for their excellent conditions. One of the best parts of this club is the membership! They regularly get together for parties, children events, etc. and is known to have one of the best social memberships in the Jacksonville area.

 
 

Amelia Island Plantation – Longpoint

This Tom Fazio course is great for those that love natural hazards and a course requiring an experienced golfer. You’ll love the beautiful features such as saltwater marshes and coastal dunes. If this sounds like a dream to you, choose neighborhoods such as the Beach Walker or Heron Oaks. Amelia Island is a special place and home to many fine neighborhoods and golf courses.

Bent Creek Golf Course – West Jacksonville

For those that love to visit the Bent Creek Golf Course in West Jacksonville, you’ll have great opportunities to live near it and play it every weekend. This course is known for having large greens, moderate slopes, open fairways, and rolling hills. Check out options such as Westside or Jacksonville Heights.

Pablo Creek Club – Jacksonville Beach

You’ll love living near the beach and having access to this excellent course. Join Pablo Creek Club while living in Jax Beach, Atlantic Beach, or Neptune Beach. It’s actually off of San Pablo Blvd while headed out towards Jacksonville Beach, and has a limited membership including numerous professional golfers! 

Lastly, be sure to check out neighborhoods that would put you in close proximity to the top golf courses including Deerwood Country Club off of Baymeadows, as well as Cimarrone Golf & Country Club in St Johns. These are some of the top course in Jacksonville that you’ll want to live by in order to enjoy them more easily!

4 Reasons that Make Jacksonville a Great Housing Market

What is it about Jacksonville that makes it such a great housing market? If you’re considering a move here or you’ve just arrived for a new job or opportunity, it’s time to learn what it is about Jacksonville that makes it unique. Not only does it have a unique location in Florida for the ultimate access to everything, but it is full of job opportunity, top-notch schools, and amazing weather. Housing sales are going up and there’s a reason for it. Take a closer look at these four reasons for proof:

Sales are up

For starters, Jacksonville’s housing market is noticing undeniable increases in sales. Part of the reason is that more people are arriving into Jacksonville and setting shop, but also just for the fact that housing prices are reasonable for former renters. You’ll see many buyers targeting areas like San Jose and Riverside, which looks good on the whole city’s market. Trends are indicating an increase in Jacksonville real estate sales. The median price in Jacksonville from for the spring was just under $170k.

The Schools are Incredible

One of the best reasons to live in Jacksonville is access to the top-notch schools offered here. You’ll find popular elementary schools including Chet’s Creek, San Pablo, and John Stockton Elementary, while James Weldon and Fruit Cove are great options for middle school. Fleming Island High School and Stanton College Prep are great options for high school education. You also have Bolles, Trinity Christian, Bishop Kenny, Providence, and Episcopal private schools. It’s easy to see what would draw families to the area when they can count on a great education from elementary school through college here. 

The Job Market

Jacksonville is bringing people in left and right because of all of the job possibility seen here. Jobs are up and unemployment is down in Jacksonville, causing housing sales to increase and the population to go up as well. In fact, Jacksonville has seen almost 4% in an increased job growth rate since 2016 putting it as one of the healthiest ranked markets for employment in the entire state.

The increase of people coming to the area of jobs and homes, as well as very few leaving the area, bring in economic stability and better job security to residents. Usually, the beautiful weather and great schools keep people wanting to stick around.

You can drive anywhere

Lastly, Jacksonville is a huge driving city. It’s the type of city where you can drive just about anywhere and it makes it easy for people to commute to work, to experience the local culture, and to feel the freedom to get out and do things. It’s actually about 97% of the city that commute by car to get to work and enjoy life in Jacksonville. Plus, you rarely hit a bad traffic jam!

Have you ever wondered what it is that is making Jacksonville’s housing market so great? Consider these four reasons that point to the obvious answer and show why Jacksonville truly stands out. Contact Redzone Realty Group today and let us help you find your dream home!

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Keep in Mind these Dog-Friendly Areas of Jacksonville

One of the great things about Jacksonville is how much it can appeal to dog owners. Not only are there plenty of dog parks to get your pups out for a run when you don’t have a backyard of your own, but you can take the dogs with you on a day in the sun on one of our local beaches, or to your favorite restaurant out on the patio.

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It’s easy to bring Fido along when you don’t want to leave him behind so you can have fun while he stays home. It’s also a great way to incorporate more exercise into your puppy’s life and introduce more opportunities for socialization as well. Take a look at the easy ways to take your dog along with you by visiting these dog-friendly parts of Jacksonville.

Neptune Beach

Start with a visit to Neptune Beach for a way to catch some rays while also bringing the dogs along with you. You likely visit this beach to swim, surf, or cycle, but you may have never known about the beautiful sunsets you can catch from Lillie’s Coffee Bar or Sliders Seafood Grille that allow you to bring dogs.

Being one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, you’ll find it calling out to you to walk along the shore. Just be sure to bring dogs on a leash and only before 9 am or after 5 pm when most of the pedestrian traffic has cleared out. Along with this rule, you’ll also need to have your dog current on their rabies vaccines and have a city pet tag.

Jacksonville Beach

You can’t beat the thrills of the larger Jacksonville Beach and all of the fun it has to offer. It’s a great option for dog owners since there are so many dog-friendly restaurants to choose from, like First Watch and Hoptinger.

Just like Neptune, you’ll need to avoid going from 9a-5pm, but it will be perfect for grabbing breakfast and catching the sunrise or coming out after work for a cold beverage and a dog walk. This area is also perfect for those looking for a dog park because there is an off-leash option called Paws Park that offers flexible hours and separation by dog size.

Dog-friendly Coffee and Dessert options

If you’re looking for a new favorite coffee shop or place to grab a treat with your pup, you’ll find tons of options in Jacksonville. Check out Bold Bean Coffee in Riverside where you can get a cup of joe, or even beer and wine, as well as Wi-Fi and a place to take the dog.

Mochi Frozen Yogurt is another great choice located in Southeast Jacksonville makes for the perfect afternoon treat with your pup, while Liberty Bakery in Southpoint is the perfect place to stop for a baked treat. Of course, Starbucks on Midtown Parkway or San Marco Blvd will allow you to bring your dog and get you a coffee and dessert all in one stop!

Where to dine

When it comes to dog-friendly restaurants in Jacksonville, you’ll find plenty of options include Moe’s Southwest Grille on Atlantic Blvd, Metro Diner on San Jose Blvd, and Stan’s Sandwich Shop on Beach Blvd. Don’t forget that The Happy Grilled Cheese food truck will welcome your pets and that you’ll find pet-friendly dining at Panera where you can get anything from breakfast and coffee to dinner and dessert. These are just a few of the many pet-friendly restaurants around our area.

Lastly, don’t forget that Atlantic Beach and Mayport Naval Air Station allow pets during certain hours and there are more pet parks and dog-friendly restaurants around town. Be sure to check them out so that you don’t have to leave your tail-wagging companion home as often as you think!