Excellent School System in St Johns County

There are so many reasons to buy a home in St Augustine, Florida and Education from kindergarten to high school graduation is first on the list for many home owners. One of the major considerations for buyers with children is the school system.

ImageAs a Realtor I often hear: how would you rate the schools around here, or, I need to find a home in a good school district so my children will get a good education.  The answer to those important questions when considering a home in St Johns County makes my job very easy. The schools here are excellent and many have an A rating and are #1 in the State! The graduation rate here continues to grow, and in 2011 it was 93.3% well above the state average which is 81.2%, these numbers come directly from the Florida Department of Education. Our dropout rate here in the county is also decreasing from .9% to .8%; and the state dropout average is higher at 1.9% for 2010-2011. More information and points of interest can be found at the St Johns County School District web site, http://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/

You can even find out in which school zone the home you’re interested in buying is located, just type in the address on the School Attendance Zones Locator web site, http://www.gis.bocc.co.st-johns.fl.us/schoolaz2/  This web site is a magnificent convenience and will give you the results for Elementary, Middle and High School, pertaining to that specific address. Along with this information, each school is hyper-linked and will take you directly to their website. With this easily assessable knowledge you will be well informed and confidently prepared before you sign that purchase and sale agreement.

In 2011, St. Johns County was First in overall ranking out of 67 counties on the FCAT. Our county was recognized for being in the top 16% of our nation in “what parents want in public schools.”  Our school district even received the award for, Energy Star Top Performer and Leader, from the EPA for energy savings; this was the second year in a row and the only district in Florida to win.

We are proud to be home for the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in operation since 1885, a tuition free, state supported public school; this is the largest school of its type in the United States and serves pre-school thru 12th grades. To find more information about this outstanding school with a boarding program, visit their website at http://www.fsdb.k12.fl.us/

The mission statement for the school district is “The St. Johns County School District will inspire good character and a passion for lifelong learning in all students, creating educated and caring contributors to the world.”

Take advantage of all St. Augustine Florida has to offer, our great school system, it’s beautiful beaches, historic downtown, and a variety of activities like horseback riding, fishing and jet skiing, to name a few. There are so many things to see and do here in St Johns County; after school of course!

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Restaurants On The Water

I would like to do a some restaurant reviews, the more I think about this subject the more overwhelmed I get since this is a Restaurant town. St. Augustine has eateries to satisfy any taste or budget. I suppose this topic of mine might have to be continued over several blogs and today I would like to start with a few Restaurants “On The Water” that I personally enjoy. If I leave out one of your favorite places I may cover it in another blog, but in the meantime please leave me a comment and tell me all about your favorite on the water place and tell me why I should go there.

These three places are located on or just off A1A north in St. Augustine, Florida.

Let’s start with The Reef, http://www.thereefstaugustine.com/, this is the place for ocean front dining. Not only do I go there myself but I really like taking out of town guests here because of the great food and wonderful ocean views. Inside is tastefully decorated with linen table cloths and wrap around windows for an unobstructed view of the sand and sea! Here you can enjoy lunch for around $15 and dinner can average about $50 per person if you include appetizer and a cocktail. Like most places around town summer casual is accepted but dressing up fits nicely for the weekend evenings. I suggest making reservations for this is a popular place. You can’t go wrong starting with the saffron mussels or fried green tomatoes, two of my favorite appetizers. Daily specials are always available, I had swordfish the last time I was there and it was very good, I was pleased. I have been going to The Reef for many years and have never been disappointed. Here you’ll find a full bar with a nice wine list and a formal attentive staff.

Caps on the Water, http://www.capsonthewater.com/menu/, is a local favorite, and someone told the tourists about this place because it’s always busy. Located on the intercostal water way this is what you expect a restaurant in Florida to look like. A great place for couples and families complete with a beach for your children to play on while you enjoy the meal. Appetizers run around $10 and dinner averages $22, there is a full bar inside and one outside on the deck with water views and a big selection of oysters. The last time I was there I saw plenty of boats and even dolphins playing in the water. You can get here by boat or by car and the views are fantastic, this place is really a piece of old Florida and your out of town guests will love it. I like to start with the fried Alligator Tail or the Oysters Rockefeller, and sometimes I have both and just make that my meal. The seafood dinners are always good from fish, shrimp and crab legs, getting hungry: I know I am.  My sister ordered a steak and it was cooked to her liking and whenever she visits me she wants to go back to Caps. It opens at 4:30 during the week, get there early so you don’t have to wait for a table. On the weekend, that includes Friday, the doors open at 11:30. This place gets pretty busy as the day goes on, so be patient order a drink and take a walk out on the pier I promise it’s worth the wait. They have inside and outside dining but I always sit outside, after all, that’s why I go there. It’s a fun relaxed place and the staff are attentive and seem truly happy all the time.

Aunt Kate’s, http://aunt-kates.com/index.html, this is smaller than Caps but also on the water and very casual. The average price of lunch or dinner is about $13; they serve seafood, steak, burgers, pasta and salads. I like the Coconut Shrimp and the fish tacos, if you’ve never had fish tacos you should give them a try, order the fish anyway you like, grilled, blackened or fried. I go for the blackened myself. When you sit down they will give you a nice cake like bread basket full of surprises, and I’m sure you’ll be asking for more. The food is always fresh, the staff friendly and always happy to make suggestions. They have seating inside and outside on the deck.

Well if you’re out and about looking for a place to eat while enjoying the St Augustine sunshine you can’t go wrong with any of these places. I’ll blog about more On the Water restaurants in the near future.


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Are you Tired of Paying Rent

ImageWhy are you renting when you could be buying? Now is the time to buy Real Estate, mortgage rates are at an all-time low and it’s a buyer’s market. You might be surprised at just how much home you can afford.

You’ve heard and seen this topic many times before so what are you waiting for. The dream of home-ownership is only a phone call away. Your local realtor will be more than happy to discuss your current situation and make suggestions that will eventually save you money in the long run.

If you’re worried that you don’t have enough money for a down payment think again, there are so many mortgage programs out there for little or no money down. There are government programs for first time home buyers and loans for veterans. Your Realtor can put you in touch with a licensed mortgage broker who can explain several programs and ways in which you too can become an owner instead of a renter.

We can crunch all kinds of numbers here which wouldn’t be fair or adaptable to your unique financial condition. For example I could say that if you’re spending $900 per month for rent then over the next 10 years you could save $50,314.69 if you buy instead of rent. The bottom line is every month that you pay rent you’re making someone else rich and most likely paying off their mortgage loan. Why not pay your own mortgage. Wouldn’t it be nice being the King of your own castle instead of paying homage to your leigh lord, more commonly known today as the Land Lord.

I can remember as a child how important owning land was to my grandparents who immigrated to this country from Italy. They wanted to be American to have a piece of that American Dream, and that dream began with the road to American Citizenship and owning Real Estate. My grandparents bought what they could afford, a nice three bedroom row home in Germantown, Pennsylvania. They took pride in their home, raised their children and grandchildren under that roof and I must say the happiest times of my childhood were spent in that cozy loving home. When I grew up got married and owned three quarters of an acre, my grandparents were thrilled with my special little piece of home-ownership and they considered my husband a rich man because of that property. To them wealth equaled land, not necessarily money in the bank. Today my own dream is a reality; and I’m lucky enough to be assisting others down that rewarding road leading right smack to owning their own home.

So if you’re considering buying a home, don’t wait, investigate your options, talk to a Realtor and sit down with a mortgage broker, the only cost with this first step is a bit of your time.

Why not do it now since there’s nothing worse than a

“Would of, Could of, Should of “regret in your future.



St. Augustine Top 10 Once Again!


Saint Augustine Florida is once again listed in the top ten. This time recognized by Forbes Magazine as among one of the top ten prettiest towns in the country. Wow, that makes me proud seeing that in print. Of course I identified that fact in 1992 when I relocated to this gorgeous town, and now the rest of the country knows it too. I am still awed but the natural beauty each and every time I drive over the 312 bridge and then work my back to the Bridge of Lions over the bay front and into the Old City.  St. Augustine has been named for so many things, among them being a top travel destination and one of the most walkable cities in America. American Express named our city as a Top Ten destination.

The testimonials go on and on, this is a wonderful town there’s always something going on! Beginning this year we’re kicking off the 450th anniversary of the founding of the City of St. Augustine in 2015.  This is a four year long event beginning this year, 2012, starting with the 200th Anniversary of the Spanish Constitution.

We were also honored in National Geographic as one of the TOP TEN places in the World to see holiday lights during our annual Night of Lights. Our city is lit up with three million white lights, a beautiful sight to behold. We do this every year and it begins on “Light Up Night,” after a celebration in the plaza with music and family fun, the lights were turned on November 11th. The Night of Lights continues until January 31st and during this time not only is this historic city glowing beautifully, but the stores stay open late and strolling around down town you can hear music playing just about everywhere. The sightseeing horse and buggies, trollies and trains also run during the evening hours and the air is filled with a friendly holiday atmosphere. If you missed it last year we’ll be looking for you this coming year. Do come, you’ll be so glad you did.

Saint Augustine Florida is located in our state’s No. 1 school district. And our county, St Johns, is also rated the healthiest in the state, according to a study released Tuesday, April 3, 2012, by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Those numbers are hard to beat, not only will your children receive a quality of education you and your family can also enjoy a high quality of health care.

Flagler Hospital, located here has earned national accreditation in key clinical areas, including stroke, chest pain, cancer and joint replacements among others. Flagler Hospital was named in 2012 as one of the top 50 hospitals in the Country.

We have it all here, great schools, healthcare, miles of beautiful beaches, the inter-costal waterway, plenty of rivers, creeks, and rural country areas with horses and cows. Our shopping and dining establishments are top notch and personally I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. How about you? If you’re thinking of relocating St. Augustine should be on your options list.

I’ll be looking forward to seeing you in historic down-town.


What is a CDD Fee?

St Augustine Team Realty

CDD = Community Development District. This fee is best described as a loan for the developer to finance amenities to a community by using a tax-free municipal bond. The bond helps to pay for roads, utilities, golf courses, clubhouses, pools and other niceties a community will have to offer.

The CDD fee is a yearly fee and usually structured on a 10 to 30 year term, once the term of the bond is over the fee no longer exists. The bond is essentially a loan to the developer and the bond is payment on the loan. Your realtor can answer any questions you have about a particular CDD fee.

Every homeowner in a community with a CDD fee will pay on a yearly basis. The fees vary across the state, here in Saint Augustine Florida an average CDD fee is $2000 per year. The CDD fee is in addition to your taxes, insurance and if applicable a home-owner’s association expense. The CDD fee will be included in your yearly tax bill.

Note: The taxes that a current home owner is paying will most likely change after the property is sold.

So ask questions when looking at property, find out what your monthly cost would be to own the home you’re considering. An informed buyer will always have the upper hand in negotiating a fair price for real estate.

Don’t be put off by CDD fees when searching for a home, usually these homes are priced lower than comparable homes in the areas without CDD fees. Let’s say the CDD fee is two thousand dollars a year, that breaks down to $167 per month and over 30 years the total cost to a homeowner would be $60,120.

Remember working with a Realtor® is the best way to stay informed with anything real estate related, and not every real estate agent is a Realtor®.