March 10, 2016

Spring 2016 is in the Air

By: Virginia Girton

Hooray! Spring is here - the time when buyers awake from hibernation, enter multiple bidding wars, and purchase their perfect homes. This is great news for homeowners interested in selling, right?


Industry experts believe Spring 2016 will prove to be one of the best times in history for home sales. Why? Because several factors have created the perfect conditions for home sellers to gain the most financially:


Interest rates were predicted to skyrocket this year - but after a slight increase, interest rates actually went... back... down. This sent buyers into a frenzy. They expected low rates to last forever, faced reality when interest rates increased, and then received a momentary reprieve when rates decreased again. For the first time in years, buyers understand that, to qualify for the homes they want, they must move swiftly before rates increase again (next time, for a long term period).


The number of homes for sale is extremely low - Buyers' most common concern is that they can't find the right home because so few are listed. In fact, when well-priced homes in good condition are placed on the market, they go under contract quickly. With such little competition, sellers are maximizing their profits and minimizing the time their homes spend on the market.


House values are up - Because of low interest rates, buyers have had more purchasing power for years, and average home prices have steadily climbed year-over-year as a result.  Many homeowners who were previously underwater in their mortgages now have the equity to sell their homes outright - for the highest amount we've seen in years. 


Home sellers can use their profits to purchase a replacement home with a low payment - Interest rates are extremely low (are you seeing a trend?), and new home construction is booming. Many homeowners are taking advantage of low interest rates to build new - and qualify for a more ideal home with the lowest payment possible (average interest rates are currently in the low-to-mid 3% range).


If you've thought about selling your home to downsize, upsize, or change locations, it's a great time for a pulse check to find out how much your home is worth - before the Spring frenzy gets fully underway. To determine your home value, click here to use my online pricing tool, or call 904-703-6977. I will personally answer your questions and provide a custom, specific value for your home. Happy home selling!





Posted in Home Selling
Dec. 22, 2015

Duval County Down Payment Assistance Program

By: Virginia Girton

If you or someone you know is interested in purchasing a first home, there's never been a better time.

Thanks to the Florida Bond Program, Duval County buyers can purchase a home with only an approximate $1,500 in out of pocket costs. In fact, if you meet these three criteria, you more than likely qualify:


  • First time home buyer (i.e., no homeownership in the last 3 years)
  • Purchasing a home in Duval County, FL
  • Single person households: Must earn $86,620 per year or less (the income limit is even higher for households with more than 1 person)
  • Credit score of 640 or higher

How does the Florida Bond Program work?

The Florida Bond Program is a state funded initiative that was created to help first time buyers achieve home ownership, and it's only available until all funds have been used. It provides $15,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, and the great news is that if you make all payments on time for the first 5 years, the entire $15,000 is forgiven.

  • Year 1 with on-time payments: $3,000 forgiven (total)
  • Year 2 with on-time payments: $6,000 forgiven (total)
  • Year 3 with on-time payments: $9,000 forgiven (total)
  • Year 4 with on-time payments: $12,000 forgiven (total)
  • Year 5 with on-time payments: $15,000 forgiven (total - 100% forgiven!)

There are also no major hoops to jump through to complete the Florida Bond Program. The underwriting process is similar to any standard loan, and the only special requirement is to complete an informative 8-hour home buying course online or in person. It's that easy!

If you're interested, don't wait to find out more on this limited time program that's already helped countless home buyers. For additional details about this program or to get in contact with a loan officer who can prequalify you, call 904-703-6977 or email me at



Posted in Home Buying
Nov. 23, 2015

Are you buying cheap, or are you buying value?

By: Virginia Girton

Face it. We all know that person who relentlessly wants to buy everything for the cheapest price imaginable (relax Mom, I'm not talking about you! Well, not really...).

That's appropriate when you're shopping for, say, a brand new pair of shoes from your favorite designer and you're price shopping across stores. With major purchases like real estate, though, it's usually not that simple.

A common myth when purchasing a home is to assume the property with the lowest price per square foot is also the home with the best value. Although a home's price per square foot is important, there are other variables to consider, including:

  • Condition
  • Foreclosures and Short Sales in the Neighborhood
  • Local Growth and Planning


By condition, I don't mean how clean or well staged a home is. Questions to consider include - What is the life expectancy of the air conditioner and roof? Are the plumbing and electrical systems in good repair? What updates will you complete to turn your house into a home?

Even if you purchase at a low price, repairing just a couple of items could quickly increase your home's true costs - and drive you bananas throughout the process. Remember the old adage - you get what you pay for. This applies in real estate, too!

Foreclosures and Short Sales in the Neighborhood

When searching for a home, pay attention to the number of foreclosures and short sales in the subdivision. When just 1 or 2 are present, there's usually not much reason for widespread panic, but if multiple defaulted homes exist, there may be an indication that depreciation - or a loss of value - could occur in the very near future.

Tip: If 25% or more of active homes in a subdivision are foreclosures or short sales, proceed with caution if you're planning to purchase a traditional seller-owned home.

Local Growth and Planning

Suppose you find a home in a well established neighborhood that's already experienced a significant amount of appreciation. Will you gain the benefit from future appreciation, or are you making the seller rich from past appreciation that won't benefit you?

In many cases, it could make more sense to purchase a home in an up-and-coming area with plans for future growth that will increase your home's future value. This helps you to earn money from appreciation vs giving it to someone else.

Tip: Check out your county's zoning department's website to find about future plans for the area.

Of course, these are just a few variables to consider when determining your future home's true value. For more information on making the most of your next home purchase, call 904-703-6977 or email me at  




Posted in Home Buying
July 5, 2015

July 2015 Greater Jacksonville, FL Real Estate Update

By: Virginia Girton

Happy Independence month! Whether you’re enjoying barbecues, spending time at the beach or pool, or simply relaxing in the comfort of your home, I hope you’re enjoying the summer.

Summer brings the busiest time of year for real estate, and the most common question I receive is, “How’s the market?” 

So, what's the word on our real estate market?

Thanks to consumer confidence and low interest rates, the greater Jacksonville, FL market remains very strong. We’ve had healthy levels of appreciation for the past 4 years, and we’re currently in a sellers’ market.

Currently, available home inventory is low, and buyers are competing to purchase desirable homes before interest rates increase. This is helping sellers earn top dollar for their homes, decreasing the number of days on market, and allowing buyers to qualify for higher value homes.

Trending Watch: Over the past month, average interest rates inched slightly over 4%. This upward movement is definitely something to monitor. Why?

Let's use this example. If a buyer qualifies for approximately $1,050.00 in monthly principal and interest payments (not including taxes and insurance), a 1% interest rate change makes an immediate impact to their purchasing power.

Interest Rate Facts

That’s right – without any chance to income or debt, this buyer’s purchasing power changes by $53,000 due to interest rate changes from 3 - 5% alone.

Since buyers want to purchase the most home possible within their budget, and sellers want to see the greatest profit from their homes by attracting the largest buyers’ pool, interest rates will be a definite trend to watch in the future.

Rates impact both sellers and buyers, so let's keep our eyes open in the months ahead.




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Posted in Market Updates