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When it comes to selecting an assisted living facility, one size does not fit all. That’s where Katie Mentor comes in. The Senior Advisor for Assisted Living Made Simple is dedicated to helping people find assisted living or memory care when they are no longer safe to stay at home.

The company, based in New Smyrna Beach, makes placements throughout much of the state. As a resident of St. Augustine, Katie concentrates on Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra and Nocatee.

The service, which is free to families, is focused on easing an often difficult process. As Katie puts it, “It is such a stressful transition and we do everything possible to make it easy for everyone concerned.”

Katie also attends Davidson Realty’s Networking Events, which take place monthly in World Golf Village and Jacksonville Beach. Katie said, “I’ve met a lot of interesting people and have made some great connections for referrals.  It’s a great group!”

Learn more about Katie and her work below!

 

How does the process work at Assisted Living Made Simple?  I look at each individual to determine what their needs are – physically, socially, financially and mentally.  Then I match them up with places that are the best fit for them. We see things from an entirely different perspective.  While big, beautiful, bright and shiny is appealing, more importantly the quality of care has to be the primary concern.

What sets you apart from other similar placement services? We work very closely with the family as well as the individual who needs to be placed. They are our clients and as such we do not share any of their personal information. We protect their privacy and do not want them to be inundated with solicitations. We tour with the families personally and negotiate with the different communities on their behalf.   

Do you offer additional services? In addition to placement services we have a small army of individuals and companies that we can refer. Everything from in-home care to moving services, to procurement of VA benefits and elder law attorneys, just to name a few. 

 

We also have a resource center in our New Smyrna Beach office where we accept used medical equipment and donate it to anyone who needs it—everything from wheelchairs to hospital beds. We had a walker that has been given away and returned four times!  The community has been very kind and generous with their donations.

What made you want to pursue a career with Assisted Living Made Simple?  Before I started with Assisted Living Made Simple, I worked in sales and marketing for a radio station.  Assisted Living Made Simple’s owner Rose Traub was one of my clients.  When she heard I had moved to St. Augustine she asked me to come to work for her. I was very flattered. We always had a great working relationship and that continues today.

What was your inspiration to switch industries?  I had the responsibility to place my Mom back in the day and I would have given anything if I had someone who could have helped me. You just don’t know what you don’t know, and not everyone has their heart in the right place. I made mistakes in the process to say the least. When I was telling Rose about my experience, she said I am going to be great because I “get it.” I understand the process, how important it is and the impact, both positive and negative, it has on everyone involved.

What business advice would you give your younger self just starting out?  Never take “no” for an answer; use that as ammunition to prove you can.   

 

What do you like to do in your free time?  I like to ride the bike trails here in St. Augustine (I’m not a speed racer; I’m a tourist on a bike). I enjoy a good murder-mystery, but just about any good book will keep me flipping pages. Also, there’s nothing that feels better than getting my hands dirty in the garden.

Are you a caregiver? Starting September 27, Katie will facilitate a monthly Caregivers Support Group. She invites anyone who is caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Katie said, “We will offer caregivers a safe place to cry, laugh and share their journey, as well as learn and share tips to help deal with different behaviors and support one another. So often caregivers feel isolated and overwhelmed. We want them to understand they’re never alone and the value of taking care of themselves.” The group will meet every fourth Friday of the month at 10:30 a.m. at the Main Library in St. Augustine (1960 N Ponce De Leon Blvd, 32084).

Come meet Katie at the next Davidson Networking Event in World Golf Village! Davidson hosts two local monthly networking events:

  • Jax Beach Networking Event– 3rd Wednesday of each month, 6 to 8 p.m. at Southern Swells Brewing Co. (1312 Beach Blvd. in Jacksonville Beach). Learn more here!
  • World Golf Village Networking Event– 3rd Wednesday of each month, 6 to 7 p.m. at the Renaissance Resort in The World Golf Village (500 S Legacy Trail in St. Augustine). Learn more here!
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It’s almost that time once again—back to school time! Davidson Realty agent Mirtha Barzaga is committed to making sure every child in St. Johns County is ready.

Mirtha’s annual charity drive brings in hundreds of bags of donations to ensure all kids have the backpacks, lunch boxes and supplies they need to start the year right! This year, Mirtha will collect donations at two locations:

Saturday, July 27at the Heritage Landing Amenity Centerin World Golf Village (from 12 to 3 p.m.)

Sunday, July 28 at the King & Bear Amenity Centerin World Golf Village (from 12 to 3 p.m.)

“I was very involved in the schools in St. Johns County as my grandchildren were growing up and I saw the need for the children in the area, not having the means for the supplies,” said Mirtha. “The need grows every day and I do this on an annual basis and deliver to the schools in our area.”

Hundreds of local children qualify as homeless and are unable to buy their own supplies, putting them behind their peers at school. Providing the needed supplies makes for one less worry, allowing them to concentrate on their studies.

Since schools require students to bring specific supplies, Mirtha has made donating easier than ever. Click Here to see the list of needed items. Donors can choose one of the following options:

  1. Deliver supplies to Heritage Landing Amenity Center on July 27or the King & Bear Amenity Center on July 28. Both drives last from 12 to 3 p.m.
  2. Make donations online by visiting https://rightgift.com/individuals/mirtha-barzaga.
  3. Drop off donations to the Davidson Realty office during business hours between Saturday, July 20 and Sunday, July 27. Davidson Realty is located at 100 East Town Place, Ste. 100, St. Augustine, FL 32092 (exit 323 to International Golf Parkway, turn right at World Golf Village).

Questions? Contact Mirtha at 904.501.1830 or mbarzaga@davidsonrealtyinc.com.

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Thanks for all the support and referrals this year! We helped 31 families purchase their new home or sell their existing home in June.

Suzy Evans is our Top Producer and Top Lister for June and our Top Sales and Top Lister for the 2nd quarter. Suzy helped 10 families make a move in the quarter with volume of over $3.8 Million.

Mirtha Barzaga is our Top Producer for the 2nd quarter. Mirtha had $3.5 Million in closings for the quarter helping 9 families move. Mirtha is always giving back to our community. She is having a school supply drive this month to help provide school supplies to our homeless St. Johns County students.

Jennifer Todd had a great month and quarter. Jennifer was Top Sales for the Company for June, Top Producer for the Jacksonville Beach office for June and Top Sales for the Beach office for the 2nd quarter. Jennifer helps customers in the World Golf Village area and the Jacksonville Beach area. She helped 10 families in the 2nd quarter with sales of over $3.5 Million.

Shelley and Tim Nemethy are our Top Producing and Top Sales Team for the month of June and the 2nd quarter. They helped 10 families in the quarter with over $3 Million of closings. Shelley is now serving on Davidson Cares Board to give back to St. Augustine Youth Services, Investing in Kids and Builders Cares.

Matt Roberts is our Top Producer at the Jacksonville Beach office for the 2nd quarter and the Top Sales agent at the beach for June. Matt helped 7 families make a move at the beach with over $2 Million in closings for the quarter. Matt hosts our Beach Networking event on the 3rdWednesday each month at Southern Swells Brewing Company. Come out and check it out.

Enjoy the summer and let us know if we can help you with any of your real estate needs.

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The Northeast Florida Association of Realtors market stats for May 2019 show increased pending sales and closings. Prices continue to rise, but at a slower pace than the previous few years. Home sales had weakened late last year when interest rates on mortgages spiked, but the declining rates and strong economy in Northeast Florida have the numbers outpacing 2018 year-to-date.

There were 3,114 contracts written in May which is up over 5% for the previous May and year-to-date. There were 3,091 closings in May which is up over 4% month-to-month and year-to-date. The median sales price of $232,000 is up 2% year-to-date. The average sales price of $276,429 is up 1% year-to-date.

The days on market until sale is 66 days which is the lowest number since November 2018. There are no concerns about the amount of inventory available or months supply of inventory which is 3.6 months.

Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner has positive comments about Florida. “We expect economic growth to moderate this year, as the national economy slows. Florida is poised to remain one of the nation’s fastest-growing states; however, and growth remains remarkably broad-based across industries and geographies.”

Our great team at Davidson Realty and Davidson Property Management are here to serve you. If you would like to buy a home or investment property or sell your existing home, please give us a call.

Have a wonderful July 4thholiday!

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New construction homes in the U.S. continue to inch a little larger each year, however the number of family members in the average household remains steady. This leaves many buyers scratching their heads and asking, how much house should I buy?

Since all residents generally meander around the entire house, estimations are individual and approximate. Some online sources estimate as high as 1,000 square feet per person while others dip down to 100 square feet per person. Many estimates fall around 500 square feet per person.

One Atlanta architect recommends calculating a ratio between bedrooms and living space. He said, “A rule of thumb that we have is: for every bedroom, you need to provide places for two people to sit in the dining area and living area.”

Before you start doing any math, there is another huge consideration: how much is right for you.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you determine the right amount of space for you and your family in your next home.

What are my individual needs? Beyond our personal space—where we eat, sleep and relax—we also have jobs, hobbies and other individual needs that increase our space requirements.

For example, do you work at home and need an office? Do you have large pieces like a piano, pool table or gym equipment? Do you have a space-gobbling collection? Do you or a family member have a disability that requires a little more space?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, 100 square feet per person probably won’t work for you. So long, tiny home.

Will there be additional residents in the future? You may plan to someday have more children; and remember, those children may not need a lot of space as tots, but they soon become space-hogging teenagers!

In addition, you may plan to get married, take on roommates, move your parents in to care for them, or even get more pets. Each of these additional residents will require their own square footage.

How does my ideal home feel? Depending on their design, individual homes can vary widely in their “flow,” which greatly impacts your square footage needs.

A 1,400-square-foot home with an open floor plan and 10-foot ceilings can feel much bigger than a 2,000-square-foot home with closed spaces and 8-foot ceilings.

In addition, the home needs to fit everyone comfortably. Will everyone be able to fit together into the common spaces—living room, breakfast nook, back porch, etc.? In addition, will everyone have a space they can go to be alone? If so, the house looks to be large enough.

Conversely, does the home have extra rooms you simply won’t use? If so, it may be a little too much house for you.

Let me help you find the perfect sized home for you! Call me at 904.501.1830 or mbarzaga@davidsonrealtyinc.com.

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As mortgage professionals, we are often asked about refinancing, especially at times like these when interest rates are historically low.

In addition, every time you turn on your television or go online, you are bombarded with advertising encouraging you to refinance now! But when should you consider refinancing?

In a normal interest rate environment and in Florida, the “rule of thumb” is that if you can reduce your rate by 2%, and plan to stay in your home for more than 2 years, you will begin to realize some actual savings. The math is simple:

On a 30-year fixed rate loan of $200,000 at a 6% interest rate,your payment (principal + interest) would be $1,199.10.

If you secure a new rate of 4% on the loan, your payment would go down to $954.83. That is a payment reduction of $244.27 a month.

Over 24 months, that’s a net savings of $5,862.48!

Sadly, it’s never that easy. There are always those pesky closing costs! In Florida, average closing costs on that $200,000 refinance would be in the $5,000-$5,500 range. Therefore, it takes about 2 years just to recover the closing costs you paid and actually start saving money!

Of course, I bet I know what some of you are thinking. What about those “no closing cost” ads? To be perfectly honest, one way or another, you are still paying the lion’s share of those costs.

Lenders of all kinds like credit unions and banks spend millions every year enticing people to refinance. Why? Because it’s extremely profitable! The profit comes from various fees collected at closing.

The State of Florida also collects taxes on the transaction. Plus, somebody must pay for the endorsements, title work, attorney settlement fees, appraisals, title insurance, bank fees, tax service letter and related costs. That “somebody” is you.

Here is how it works: In most cases, you’re not getting the lowest available interest rate. Lenders may offer a slightly better rate than you currently have, but they can often do much better. They typically lock the applicant into a slightly higher rate to generate extra “back-end profit” to offset closing costs. On the $200,000 loan balance, the difference in .25% can easily generate $1,000-$1,200 for the lender, which they apply to your closing costs. This is known as “premium pricing.”

In the fine print of most “no closing cost” loans you will find “no closing costs out of pocket.” That’s completely different. In these cases, closing costs are simply added to your payoff at closing. If the new payment is $150 per month less than your current payment, but your new loan balance increased from $200,000 to $206,000, how much are you really saving?

 

I also suggest making sure there are no pre-payment penalties. Can you imagine having to relocate, sell your home in a year or two, and pay off a higher balance than you started with (or pay a pre-payment penalty)? I have experienced this scenario on countless occasions.

Lastly, the companies that constantly push refinancing are shoestring operations with poor service. Their staff is not commissioned or incentivized, and processors are often overwhelmed with work, slow and unresponsive. They count on volume and not reputation to generate profits. With our hurried lives and frantic schedules, it’s common for homeowners to leave the closing table without realizing the $200,000 loan they just refinanced is now $206,000. Suddenly, you have a slightly lower payment but are further in debt.

Currently, interest rates are at a historic low, so some borrowers are looking to refinance for as little as a 1% savings. But the determining factor will always be how long you plan to be in that property.

With all that said, refinancing is never a decision to take lightly. After all, it is your home and you are trying to build equity. If you really want to reduce your interest, make extra payments any time or put yourself on a 15-year payment schedule. You won’t pay any closing costs to do that! I often meet with clients who intend to refinance but end up leaving my office with a new payment plan (without spending a dime). Your lender should be a consultant, not a salesman.

In the end, lenders cannot lend money for free. A few minutes with a calculator and the required disclosures form and a lender will give you the answers you need.

Atlantic Trust Mortgage’s Mark Sherman has been a licensed mortgage broker in Florida since 1989. Davidson Realty is proud to work with Atlantic Trust Mortgage to make the lending process as smooth as possible for customers.

Looking for more information? Contact Mark today at 904-509-8272 or mark@atmfl.com.

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We are thrilled to welcome Katelyn Chapel to our real estate sales team in Jacksonville Beach! Katelyn brings to Davidson experience in yoga instruction and home renovations.

“Katelyn is dedicated in all things she does. I’m confident her customers will benefit from her positivity and commitment to customer service,” said Sherry Davidson, President of Davidson Realty.

Originally from Grant, Florida, Katelyn earned an Associate’s degree from the University of North Florida and later worked as a certified yoga instructor in Colorado. After Katelyn and her husband Nick purchased their first fixer-upper home, she became interested in real estate and soon earned her license.

The couple recently moved back to Florida where Katelyn joined our Jacksonville Beach sales team. She is eager to help buyers and sellers at the beaches and throughout Northeast Florida.

When she’s not helping customers or renovating, you’re sure to catch Katelyn enjoying the outdoors! A nature enthusiast, Katelyn loves spending time combing our beaches for trash (and treasures), hiking and trail jogging, kayaking, and spending quality time with her rescue lab Messi.

Welcome to Team Davidson, Katelyn!

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Our region is green. We have extensive greenbelts of interconnected, preserved forested lands, distinguished with a variety of native trees. Our towns, communities and neighborhoods are populated with countless planted trees. In many instances, the built environment blends and meshes with the natural one to create a complete “green scene”.

According to the USDA’s official Plant Hardiness Zone, we are in Zone 8B – which is a thin string stretching from Savannah, down the Georgia Coast, thru Jacksonville, then due west along the Florida Panhandle, into southern Louisiana and deep south Texas. The northern portion of the next southern zone, Zone 9, lies just southeast, brushing the greater Jacksonville metro area and reaching into St. Johns County, near the ocean. Zone 8B is a temperamental zone. Appalachian-friendly plant species don’t like the heat and humidity of the Zone. Sub-tropical and tropical beauties, from points south, don’t fare well in our seasonally-cold events. These factors limit the number and variety of native plants in our region.

The silver-lining is that the variety we do have, flourishes. Rapid and lush tree growth is evident in both our forests and in our planted yards and commons. Many tree types readily respond to our soil and climatic conditions. When all related factors are in synch, our forests sustainably mature and our planted trees grow healthy and strong.

One of the very best native trees for our area is the Southern Live Oak, Quercus virginiana. The Live Oak is one of the strongest-wooded trees in America. It can endure for centuries. It will grow fast in its early years, not slowing down until it reaches around 100. The Live Oak typically (if left to its own devices) will mature with a beautiful, gracefully-spreading, shady canopy, sometimes spilling to the ground. When planted in areas where clearance is necessary, a Live Oak will readily adapt to having a “lifted” canopy. Live Oaks are elegant as individuals and are majestic in clusters, masses and groves. When planted at a modest size, they can create almost instant scale in the landscape. The tree is pest and disease resistant, a favorite haunt of birds and small mammals, produces a wildlife food crop and offers the very best kind of natural shade.

I have always been perplexed by folks that fall in love with our region, only to worry about the trees. Too often, trees (and regrettably, Live Oaks) are assumed to be at fault. Limbs and branches will fall, hurricane-spawned or otherwise. The pesky little leaves never will stop dropping and staining everything they touch. Roots will run rampant, night and day, wreaking imaginary havoc like a scene from Little Shop of Horrors. In the middle of the night, sounds of breaking driveways and collapsing foundations will drown out the chorus of frogs and bugs. Before long, “Root Fear” seeps in and the knee-jerk recourse is to fire up the chain saws.

A trip to Savannah, or one closer-by to Riverside and Avondale, will reveal sterling examples of trees, roots, streets, curbs, sidewalks, porches and foundations all co-existing and getting along together. Sure, sidewalks and curbs may have to be repaired now and then – but these communities share a collective appreciation and understanding of the true value of mature trees. Pavements can be repaired, shaved and/or replaced, major tree root/s can be cut-back or severed in extreme cases, root barriers can be installed, overhanging and/or weakened branches and limbs can be manicured and cable-stayed to increase structural integrity, older trees can be removed and replaced with like kind in a close-by alternate location, and experienced arbor-care specialists can be consulted for practical and effective tree-saving options.

If you settle in a neighborhood graced with trees, count yourself among the most fortunate. Those trees were either preserved or planted at great cost. Collectively, the composition of natural greenbelts coupled with planted commons and streets, represents a long-lasting neighborhood amenity – one that will buoy and increase your home’s value. When streets and paths enable you to traverse in the shade, whether by car, foot, bike or cart, your health and disposition will be rewarded.

Root Fear be damned. Tree hug – don’t mug. Share the benefits of our Tree Treasures, appreciate them, exercise care and plant more.

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Think of a typical gym and visions include mirrored walls of dumbbells, treadmills and endless weight machines. You may also envision bored gym goers spending hours practicing ineffective workouts.

Enter Body20, a technology-driven workout system that uses EMS (Electro Muscle Stimulation) to mimic the natural action of our central nervous system to stimulate muscles, thereby supercharging your workouts for results NOW.

Body20 workouts have been shown to boost strength and endurance while preventing injury—all in a fraction of the time you’ll spend in a conventional gym. Workouts take, you guessed it, just 20 minutes.

This format is catching on and Body20 is expanding fast. In fact, a new location recently opened in Jacksonville Beach. We connected with franchise owner and manager Elle Borg to learn more about Body20 and just how it achieves big results far better than other gyms.

Elle, who attends Davidson Realty’s monthly Networking Events, earned her EMS certification in January 2018 and launched the Jax Beach location in March 2019. Learn more below!

What sets you apart from other fitness studios?  What sets us aside is our unique concept on the modern effective workout! No other gym in Jacksonville currently offers EMS to their clients. 

 

Body20 is a culture created in South Africa and brought to the states by an extremely innovative and amazing man named Burt Albertse. EMS aids in the mind-muscle connection to send a frequency to the central nervous system to contract your muscles 150x more than your brain can do on its own. This gives you 36,000 muscle contractions in each 20-minute strength session and burns 700 calories in each cardio session. 

What made you want to pursue a career in fitness?  Istepped into a Body20 in Ft. Lauderdale and knew from the moment I felt the stimulus that this was my future. I fell in love with the concept, and more than that, my personal results. I was determined to help people achieve similar results and change people’s lives.

What business advice would you give your younger self just starting out?  Looking back on my younger self now, I would tell myself to follow your instincts and learn from other’s mistakes, be humble and patient.

Aside from your new business what do you like to do in your free time?  In my free time I enjoy hanging out with my puppy Kasha, rollerblading and singing karaoke with friends, making memories. I love to work out and be outdoors in any kind of outside activity. Walking on the beach and kayaking are two of my favorite pastimes. 

Attention Dads!! For Father’s Day, sign up for Body20 in June and receive the month of July for free! Body20 also offers a free demo and body assessment to all first timers.

Body20 is located at 1420 3rd Street North in Jacksonville Beach. Check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Body20JacksonvilleBeach/.

Come meet Elle at the next Davidson Networking Event in Jacksonville Beach! Davidson hosts two local monthly networking events:

  • Jax Beach Networking Event– 3rd Wednesday of each month, 6 to 8 p.m. at Southern Swells Brewing Co. (1312 Beach Blvd. in Jacksonville Beach). Learn more here!
  • World Golf Village Networking Event– 3rd Wednesday of each month, 6 to 7 p.m. at the Renaissance Resort in The World Golf Village (500 S Legacy Trail in St. Augustine). Learn more here!

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