Follow the Heels on YouTube

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Over the past few months I have really enjoyed using the Facebook and Instragram Live video features to “go live” and share homes and real estate knowledge with all of my friends and followers. After quite a few people asked me where they could find all of the videos in one place, I decided it was time to start my own YouTube Channel. I am still working out the kinks and getting all of my videos uploaded but I wanted to share the news with all of you. Once I get 100 subscribers, I can create my own custom URL so please hit ‘subscribe’ and help me out! 

You will soon find many different types of ‘live’ videos on this channel including home tours, real estate market updates, Q&A’s with experts in the field and much more.

If you have a specific real estate topic you want covered on my live videos just let me know and I will make it happen!

Shop Local with AshleGryre

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After a very successful launch for my Shop Local with Closing Deals in Heals last quarter with Saltologie, I have decided to continue my ‘shop local’  initiative. I am excited to announce that for 1st Quarter 2018, I will be partnering with the AshleGryre boutique in Atlantic Beach!

AshleGryre, which opened in 2013, is locally owned and operated by mother/daugher duo, Robin and Ashely. Their store motto is “Fashion for all”…so whether you’re a busy student, a full time mom with little to no “me” time, a doting grandmother, a career-driven jet setter, or a friend looking for that perfect gift, they have it all.

In 2018, they will bringing in some new collections from designers that lend an Atlantic Beach Coastal lifestyle – without the surf. Designers will include Caroline Constas, Petersyn, Carolina K, MDS Stripes, and S.E.A. NY.

More details to come soon along with a Save the Date for a Sip & Shop Event! In the meantime, finish up your Christmas shopping by stopping by the store at 363 Atlantic Blvd, Atlantic Beach FL or visit their web site here!

Thinking about buying a condo? An insiders look on condo living.

Condo or a house? This is a frequent question I hear from buyers who aren’t quite sure which option is the best for them. With a condo listing on the horizon, I began really thinking about some of the different pros and cons to these different types of ownership. I feel like I have an insider’s look on this topic since I have owned both of these types of dwellings.

The first home I bought was in 2010, a few years after the housing market completely collapsed. I was enticed by the $8,000 tax credit the government was giving to first time home buyers. I looked at both condos and houses but ultimately decided on a 3 bedroom 2 bath condo in Vila Medici Condos in Jacksonville, FL. I got a great deal on a foreclosed unit, buying it for a whopping $103,000. It had originally sold in 2007 for $230,000 so I thought I was getting a steal.

Some of the reasons I chose a condo over a house:

  • No lawn work or outside home maintenance.
  • The ‘security’ I wanted being a single female living on my own. This condo was in a gated community and on the second floor which to me felt safe.
  • More affordable to buy than the houses I was looking at.
  • Nice amenities such as a pool, clubhouse, and fitness center.
  • The sense of living in a community.
  • I knew it would be easy to rent if I ever wanted to move.

Here are some of the items I wish I had known and thought about before buying the condo:

  • HOA fees can increase every year and there is not much you can do about it. Mine went from $250 when I bought to $389 by the time I sold 5 years later.
  • The parking situation was terrible and there was no reserved parking for owners. If I got home late at night I sometimes had to park on the other end of the complex.
  • The ‘security’ gates were almost always broken.
  • The people on the floor above me had 2 huge, loud dogs that I heard constantly.
  • Since so many people were renting in the community, they didn’t take care of the property or their units the way an owner would.
  • It took a very long time for anything on the property to be fixed by management.
  • Since my unit was on the second floor I wasn’t allowed to install hardwood floors.
  • The value of this condo would not go up nearly as much in 5 years as the houses that I was looking at in the beach area. I ended up selling my condo after 5 years for $114,000. The houses I was looking at in the beach area were around $170,000 and the values of those houses now would be well over $300,000.
  • Assessments can be charged at any time and although there wasn’t any while I owned, there was always that little worry that one could arise.

At first glance, you may think I am persuading you to lean towards buying a house over condo. I definitely am not. A condo can be great for certain people and for certain circumstances. If you are single and don’t want the outside work and maintenance of a home, then a condo may be perfect for you! If you love living in a community with a lot of amenities, then a condo may be a good fit.

A condo can also be a very lucrative investment to make money off of the monthly rent you can charge a tenant. Rents in many areas around the country, including Jacksonville, are skyrocketing and a monthly rent payment can now be much more expensive than a mortgage payment. But there are still a lot of people in the rental market willing to pay a premium to live in nice condos and not have the worries of ownership. Online businesses like Air B&B and VRBO are also making it easy for owners to offer short term rentals, which is very popular in snow bird and vacation spots like Florida. Just make sure you read carefully through the condo docs prior to buying to make sure short-term rentals are allowed.

If you are thinking about buying a condo I would highly suggest reading carefully through all the condo documentation and financials. Make sure you ask if there have been any assessments in the community or increase in HOA dues. Take the time to drive through at night and see what the parking situation is like or better yet, find out if there is reserved parking for owners and ample parking for guests. I would also suggest walking around the community and speaking to some residents. Ask them questions about how they like living there and anything they like or dislike about the HOA.

One of the things that is ideal about the condo I am about to put on the market is it exemplifies all of the qualities you need to be looking for in a condo:

  • Amazing ROI for a rental property.  Condos with a similar floor plan are renting out for $950-$1100/month and in this part of town it is easy to find young professionals to occupy.
  • HOA is under $200/month and this year is the first time it has risen (by $6) since they were built in 2005.
  • There have been zero assessments in the community.
  • Plenty of parking even late at night.
  • Amazing amenities including indoor basketball courts, tennis court, renovated clubhouse, two pools and hots tubs, saunas, fitness center, and walking trail.
  • A gate that is fully functional and 24/7 security that roams the property all day and night.
  • Two gates on either side of the property so there is easy access to get in and out depending on where you are going.
  • Walking distance to grocery store, restaurants, bars, movie theater, and more!
  • Ground floor unit (no stairs!) has a screened porch that looks out onto a beautiful pond and is very quiet.

If the above has your name written all over it then check out the full listing here!

Now moving on to owning a single-family home. My husband and I have owned our home for a little over a year now. There are many things I have loved about our home but I’m not going to lie, there have been several times I wished we owned a condo or townhome. There has been A LOT of outside maintenance and lawn work, especially after the two major hurricanes we’ve had in the area. But in turn, I love having a big yard so that we could get a dog. I also love having our own ‘space’, that my mailbox is at the end of my driveway, and that we are in a cul-de-sac, which to me feels very ‘safe.’

 

Still not sure if a condo or a house is right for you? Reach out to me today and I would be happy to talk through all of your questions and concerns.

 

Shop Local Contest Details!

The holiday season is officially among us and with that comes lots and lots of shopping. For some of us, this is fun and something we look forward to every year. For others, it is the last thing you may feel like doing. Whether you are the person that gets all of your holiday shopping done on Black Friday or waits until a few days before Christmas, I have a challenge for you. This holiday season try to complete all of your shopping with locally owned businesses.

I will have a drawing for a gift card to Southern Swells Brewing Co. to anyone that completes this challenge by doing the following steps:

1) By the honor system completes all holiday shopping locally.

2) Takes a picture of themselves in front of three different locally owned businesses and puts them on social media with the hashtag #followtheheels and tags Closing Deals in Heels in the post.

3) Emails me their three pictures by December 23rd at 8 p.m. EST

You will get an extra entry into the drawing if you also attend my Sip & Shop Event on Thursday, November 30th from 5:30 – 8 p.m. at Saltologie in Jax Beach. You will get two extra entries if you bring a friend with you to the event!

 

 

Get Your Christmas Shopping Done in ONE Night!

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In my “previous life” I was an event planner for two different non-profit organizations. I loved both of these jobs because it allowed me to be creative, utilized my attention to detail and perfection, and always gave me something new and exciting to be working on.

In order to continue doing something that I love, I thought it was appropriate to find a way to tie in my passion for event planning with real estate. How does one do that exactly?

Simple…

  • Hosting out of the box open houses with mimosas, raffles, music, and other engaging activites.
  • Throwing house warming parties for my clients to show off their brand-new cribs.
  • Sponsoring Sip & Shop events at the stores I’m working with for my shop local initiative.

The first two I have already checked off my list and have enjoyed every second of planning, partaking, and seeing the enjoyment of everyone that attended. There will be many more of both of these in the future.

So now onto the third…I am thrilled to officially announce my first CLOSING DEALS IN HEELS Sip & Shop event at Saltologie on Thursday, November 30th from 5:30 – 8 p.m!

First of all, the timing of this event is PERFECT. It is after the madness of Black Friday shopping but before everyone starts to get super stressed about Christmas being a week away. I don’t know about everyone else but I am excited to get all of my Christmas shopping done in ONE night and not have it lingering over me all of December.  I am challenging all of my friends this year to complete all of their Christmas shopping at locally owned Jacksonville stores. Let’s support our local businesses this season.

Second, it is on a Thursday night. Why is a Thursday night so key? Thursday is that day of the week when weekend is so near but yet there is still one more work day lingering over your head. I have found that the Thursday’s I go out and do something social with my friends, I end up having a MUCH better Friday. I’m getting to old for anything after 9 pm on a weeknight so when I say ‘go out,’ I mean right after work.  Let’s not get carried away here. 😊

Third, Saltologie is opening their store up after hours for this exclusive event. They are going to have special sales and promotions that are good for that night only. They have items that can fit everyone’s budget and their store is so unique you won’t find things like this anywhere else. From home décor and clothing to chalk paint and jewelry. There literally is something for everyone. My husband and I even bought my father in law a gift here once so it works for men too!

Last but certainly not least, I will be providing some fun holiday cocktails and bites so please come hungry and thirsty. Bring a friend. Bring your man or significant other. Bring your holiday spending cash. And get ready to have some fun.

“How is the market?” you ask…

I frequently am asked the question “How is the market?” I can actually tell you that I was asked that question six different times over the past weekend. Most realtors would answer a question like that with a response such as, “The market is great!” Or, “It’s a great time to sell your house.” Or, “Interest rates are still low so now is the time to buy.” Well, I believe in giving you a more detailed answer. An answer that will allow you to really understand what the market is “doing” so you can be better educated when it comes time for you to buy or sell a home.

Every month, the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, releases monthly indicators that are pertinent to our market. The September 2017 report was just released and one of the main points it continues to drill is that we need more inventory on the market. New listings in Northeast Florida region decreased 20.9% to 2,271 and closed sales decreased 24.8% from last year at this time to 1,835. What we really need is more homes on the market under the $200k price point which is where the largest amount of our population is able to afford.

The good news for sellers is that the averages days on the market is 66. So, if you are planning on selling your house, and are priced under $300k, you better be ready for it to sell quickly. If your house is priced over $300k it may take closer to 90 days to sell and if you are in the $500k+ range it will take around 100-136 days to sell.  If you are lucky, you may be of the 11.7% that is selling for over list price. The average sales price in Northeast Florida is $245,004 which is up 7.7% from last year when it was $227,465 and in 2015 the average sales prices was $210,234.

Have you ever heard of the “Housing Affordability Index?” You have probably heard of it, but like many, have no idea what it means. Like it sounds, the index measures housing affordability for the region. For example, “An index of 120 means the median household income was 120% of what is necessary to qualify for the median-priced home under prevailing interest rates.” The important thing to remember is a higher number means greater affordability. In 2015 our housing affordability index was at 190. Then in 2016 it went down 3.7% to 183. Right now, it is sitting at 161 which a 12% change from last year.

Since this quarter, “Shop Local with Closing Deals in Heels,” is working with Saltologie which is in Jacksonville Beach, I wanted to give a little more information on that area.

In September, there have been 49 new listing in Jacksonville Beach which is down 19.7% from last September. There is a total of 178 homes on the market in Jax Beach compared to 212 in 2016 and there were 40 closed sales last month in that region. The median sales price this month is $370k compared to $336k last year at this time and 10% of those homes sold last month sold for over list price.

If you would like more information on the local market or specific details on any other region in Northeastern Florida, I would be more than happy to provide it to you.

Source: Northeast Florida Association of Realtors

 

Paint de la mar @ Saltologie

Chalk Paint Promo

As I mentioned in my last post, I will be partnering with different locally owned women’s stores in my “Shop Local with Closing Deals in Heels” promotion. Each month of the promotion I will be featuring different items from their store to showcase some of the unique things each store has to offer.

Right now I am working with Saltologie in North Jacksonville Beach. They call their style a mix of “bohemian, gypsy, shabby, industrial, vintage character, and funk-tified lusciousness.” You can easily spend hours just browsing through the rooms and just when you think you’ve seen it all, you will spot something else that catches your eye while standing at the register. It’s happened to me one too many times!

This month I am featuring Paint de la mar, roughly translated, means Paint of the Sea. It is specially formulated with chalk additives so that little or no prep work is required – no stripping, sanding or priming. 

Paint de la mar was designed specifically for coastal, shabby chic or cottage style painting and aSaltologie, all of their painted items are painted in Paint de la mar. It is SO easy to use and is a great way to turn an old piece of drab furniture into your new favorite home décor. Plus it comes in a vast array of colors to match just about anything. If you are worried about doing it yourself, Saltologie offers monthly “Chalk it Up Furniture Painting Classes” that teach you how to make it look just like something you bought out of a store. 

This month Saltologie will be offering $5 off any quart of Paint de la mar when you mention “Closing Deals in Heels” at checkout. Stop by the store today and try it out!

Stay tuned for my blog post next week, which will feature a Jacksonville Beach real estate market update. 

Shop Local with Closing Deals in Heels

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In my first blog post I mentioned an idea to partner with locally owned women’s stores that would promote both real estate and support our local businesses. I am excited to officially announce the launch of “Shop Local with Closing Deals in Heels.”

Every few months I will be featuring a different locally owned woman’s business in my Closing Deals in Heels blog and social media boards. I will highlight different items from their shop as well as host a “Sip & Shop” event at the end of the segment with wine, appetizers, discounts, and of course, shopping!

In addition, I will be featuring the local real estate market that surrounds the store. I will conduct open houses, video tours, and an in-depth market overview to give people a different look at real estate.

I am thrilled to announce that Saltologie in North Jacksonville Beach is the first store I will be partnering with for “Shop Local with Closing Deals in Heels.” I have been a customer of this store for many years now and discovered it long before I met one of the amazing owners, Aixa Groff, through our church.

The first item I ever bought from this store is still hanging in my house today (pictured above). There are many things I could praise about this store but I will stick with just two for this blog post… I love its unique furniture and home accents featuring the design work of some of the most sought after local beach artisans.   I also love how affordable it is! In addition, Saltologie offers in-home design consultationcustom furniture/cabinet painting services and monthly classes for furniture painting and chalkboard art.  The other owner Lisa Miller, painted my kitchen cabinets and did an amazing job. (pictured below before and after).

This week you will see a few different posts/events coming out to kick-off this promotion. The first will be a video on using chalk paint that is sold at the store. The second will be an open house at 134 9th Ave North (just a few blocks from Saltologie) this Saturday, from 1-4 p.m.

Stay tuned to this blog and my Closing Deals in Heels facebook page for more info!

How I Got My Drive Back

Change is hard. I never really comprehended how difficult change could be until I experienced some major changes in my life in a very short period of time… All within 8 months, I had a prophylactic double breast mastectomy, quit a job that I loved, started a new career, bought a house, moved in with my fiancé, and got married.  No wonder I didn’t feel myself. Who was this woman? Even after the stitches came out from my two surgeries and the physical pain had subsided, I was left with a spirit that just couldn’t find its way back to the usual fired up, passionate, and driven self it had once been. Where was that energy and motivation I had once possessed? Why did my life feel totally disorganized and lacking focus and long term goals?  My therapist told me this was a season of my life that I needed to wait out. Yes, it was uncomfortable and unsettling, but it wouldn’t last forever. I didn’t know how to take that. How long would this season last? What if it didn’t end? How could I get my groove back? My husband was supportive and he was confident I’d get back on track, but I knew it was up to me to find my way out of this “season”.

 

It wasn’t until 8 weeks ago when, after a series of events, it was clear to me I needed to make a change. I was enjoying real estate and had received a wealth of instrumental, hands on experience by working with my partner to close 20 properties in less than a year. Most agents are lucky if they close 2 or 3 deals in their first year, so I will be forever grateful for gaining so much knowledge in my first year in the business. But, I felt this urge to truly be my own boss, manage my own business, create my own brand, and do something that felt like I was somehow giving back. Then one evening, while standing in my closet looking at the ridiculous amount of heels I own, it hit me! What if I could do something with real estate and locally owned women’s stores that would promote both real estate and supported our local businesses?  How about a catchy slogan that pops, is fun, and is easy to remember? And that is how “closing deals in heels” was born. The exhilaration I started to feel reminded me of  the “old” Amanda! Over the next few days my mind raced with ideas. I couldn’t even sleep one night because I was so excited to start my business plan! I was getting my spunk back. And it felt SO good.

 

The last few weeks have been an exciting whirlwind… I had a very peaceful departure from my real estate partner who was sincerely happy for me, I joined my new brokerage which I chose very carefully after speaking with numerous ones, and I’ve started building and marketing my own real estate business. I have not felt this much passion and energy since before my mastectomy. I have my drive back, which is funny and ironic because my 7 month old puppy’s name is Drive. She has helped to heal me in so many ways this year and has brought me happiness even on my gloomiest of days. The other day I looked down at my tank top which read, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”, and it dawned on me that I’m finally back to being that person I once knew.  Sometimes it just takes a dog and some heels to find your way again…

 

Are you curious to know about my plan to work with local women’s businesses and tie in real estate at the same time? Stay tuned! My next post will reveal all the exciting details!