Trees and Responsibility…Thoughts

This question comes up every few years.¬† With smaller lots and neighboring roofs nearing property lines, trees on one property can become an annoyance to the neighbor.¬† Whether we’re talking about blocked sunlight, a roof or a pool filling with dead leaves, this is a very common complaint.¬†¬† Generally, not including subdivision or local tree ordinances, you are usually entitled to trim limbs hanging over the property line and no further.¬† If the trimming would kill the tree or cause some unusual harm to the tree, it would be prudent to have the work done by a tree surgeon and permitted, if needed, with your local municipality.¬† How common is the issue?¬† I’ve been approached at least once a year, either with a question or by a neighbor,¬† since I started working in this industry.¬† ¬†How do I prune a neighbor’s tree or will you please cut limbs hanging over the property line?

The ‚Äúcommon sense‚ÄĚ rules below often applies to trimming.¬†¬† Keep in mind any conflicts or permits required by local ordinance.

  • The tree can only be trimmed to the property line.
  • There is no right to trespass on a neighbor‚Äôs property to trim, unless limbs threaten to cause immediate and irreparable harm.
  • The tree cannot be destroyed or cut down‚Ķ.only trimmed.
  • The expense for the trimming is born by the¬† party doing the trimming.¬† Source: or 8/14/17

Branches and roots frequently extend across property lines. Whether a branch or root from a tree on an adjacent landowner’s property is the responsibility of the landowner with the tree located on his or her property or the landowner of the property to which the branches overhang or roots encroach depends upon the branches or roots themselves. If the branches or roots are healthy, then the landowner with the tree located on his or her property is not liable for damage caused by the branches or roots. The adjoining landowner may, at his or her own expense, trim back the branches or roots as he or she desires up to the property line. If the branches are dead, however, then the landowner with the tree located on his or her property is responsible and could be liable for damages caused by the branches (1 Fla. Jur 2d Adjoining Landowners section 8 [2014]).¬† Source: FE962/FE962: Handbook of Florida Fence and Property Law: Trees and Landowner Responsibility

In Fernandina Beach, we have a long history of protecting canopy.¬†¬† Our tree protection ordinance is something you should read before trimming or cutting a tree.¬† One past client called someone sheimage assumed was a licensed tree surgeon.¬†¬† The removed a live oak tree with a substantial diameter.¬†¬†¬† About a month later, she left the state for a trip, only to return to a fine, notices on the door and substantial penalty.¬†¬† The “tree surgeon” was not based in Fernandina and declined to reappear.¬†¬† Her fines were in the thousands and she replanted numerous trees in the nearby area.¬†¬† While the fine seems harsh, the community benefits from protection of an urban canopy and fines are sometimes the only way to encourage protection.¬† It is also important to read your HOA documents carefully.¬†¬† Local ordinance or association restrictions may limit your ability to cut limbs or may require use of an arborist.¬†¬† A local community with requirements to approve permanent changes to landscape or with rules related to maintaining street trees is Amelia Park.¬† Amelia Park Neighborhood Association Rules & Regulations require review of permanent changes and, since they are located inside city limits, the Fernandina Beach tree ordinance also applies.

If you want to read more, the handbook linked below includes a nice summary and also lists decisions related to disputes and trees.  This post should not be considered legal advice and there is no substitute for an attorney, current survey, arborist as required or qualified professional.   Regardless, in my experience, talking over concerns with your neighbor is a good first step.  I’ve been approached over issues of branches, leaves in a gutter from a tree, leaves in a driveway, limbs, a fallen tree during a storm and even a dead tree.  In an area with tree ordinances, permitting fees and replanting at an inch for inch basis, breaking the rules in removing a problem tree/limb can be expensive.

Additional Related Reading/Links:

Unlocking Development of Underutilized Commercial Parcels – Key to Unlock CRA

How do we encourage the use of prime property?  We all benefit from the tax revenue, jobs and economic impact, but finding a way to trigger the use is the real key.  Sometimes a small change moves an entire area forward. The corner of 2nd and Alachua looks nearly the same as it did 10 years ago, with a few changes.   We all think of the Standard Marine building, but this is only one example.    Looking at the expansion of the marina northward, multiple properties in the CRA and in the historic district, benefit.

What is a CRA?
Redevelopment – Its the “revitalization” of a public area. AND, the “preservation” of a community’s history.¬†It’s about building cohesiveness within “our community.”

Community Redevelopment Agency (‚ÄúCRA‚ÄĚ) refers to a public entity created by a city or county to implement the community redevelopment activities outlined under the Community Redevelopment Act which was enacted in 1969 (Chapter 163, Part III, Florida Statutes). The CRA is established by the local government and functions within that local government. The City Commision sits as the Community Redevelopment Agency and makes all final decisions on actions or expenditures within the CRA (area).¬† Source: City of Fernandina Beach¬† 10/25/17

Redevelopment encourages more redevelopment….

Looking at the Standard Marine property at 101 North 2nd Street, this is an example of an almost criminally underutilized site.¬† With a view of the water, using the property is handicapped by missing access to a “beautiful waterfront”….we may soon see.¬† Look at the map.¬† The properties outlined in red are either on the market and would benefit by an opening of the access at Alachua Street or are on the market and would be far more likely to sell.¬† All outlined properties are underutilized.

Starting with the standard marine building, this is a massive property with potential for high-end residential units or perhaps a mixed use.   Vacant, it is likely bringing in 1/20th of the tax revenue and none of the economic impact a development would bring to Fernandina Business.

The hotel site at the SE corner of Alachua and 2nd Street is another example.¬† Stalled based on the cost, I think some of the delay is based on uncertainty over Alachua’s opening.¬† Why would anyone invest millions in a hotel, when access to the water and traffic flow is an uncertainty.¬† Hotel guests want a view, but they also want access and easy traffic flow.¬† Creating a traffic nightmare because you can’t agree on a simple street crossing…..well, it doesn’t make sense.

Source: Nassau County Property Appraiser or 10/25/17

The old Picker’s Market at 201 Alachua Street and 116 North 2nd Street, the property immediately behind it, is another substantial corner.¬† Both on the market as of this writing, the total asking price is $1,539,000.00…not bad, when you consider the size and density bonus from 375 feet of street frontage.

Beyond the site above, several other properties have been or will be on the market and should benefit.¬† Most are inside the CRA boundary and would create the cash flow needed for waterfront improvements, but also an economic impact often overlooked.¬† The Hampton downtown pays over $144,000 each year.¬† Consider projects moving forward, potentially after an Alachua Street opening.¬† I can easily see $20,000,000 in added taxable value from highest and best use redevelopment of the three larger sites and tax revenue increases in the neighborhood of $400,000.00/year.¬† Source:¬†¬† Assuming we continue to see increases, this is well over $4,000,000.00 in tax revenues in 10 years and we still haven’t considered economic impact.¬† ¬†Small towns have a kind of synergy and economic impact, employment and diverse uses, all feed the vitality of a business district.¬† Seeing the Historic District as a tourism driver makes certain improvements logical.¬† Using those projects to finance improvements is, literally, what CRA’s are created to accomplish.¬† Compare the pictures of the Hampton and a comparable location, challenged by lack of access to an improved waterfront, north of Center Street.


Friday Thoughts

One of my former clients, a friend, is in the hospital and has been for the last few days.¬† We talked about it several times, but he never took the time to have his attorney prepare any of the documents you think of, when considering an estate plan.¬† Estate plans aren‚Äôt just about leaving a will or dying.¬† I‚Äôve been through the ‚Äúend of life‚ÄĚ process with several family members and it was never the same, but I would imagine it is much more difficult with absolutely no paperwork.¬†¬† Who pays the bills during an illness?¬† What happens if you‚Äôre unable to consent to treatment?¬† What happens if you would prefer not to have treatment?¬† Everyone should think about consulting an attorney to update your plan or make a plan.¬†¬† Leaving absolutely nothing in place is difficult for your family and for you, especially if you haven‚Äôt left anyone designated to help or preferences.

Since the April, I’ve been following a fitness and diet regimen.   A few friends have been seriously ill and I began to notice some warning signs personally.   My blood pressure moved up a little and I was not happy with my resting heart rate. Over the last 6 months, I began logging everything.  Exercise was meticulously entered into a program and every bite passing my lips went on the log.   Today, I’m 53 pounds lighter and spend an hour in the gym almost every day.   Work is easier and I notice improvements in every part of my life.   One of the issues with real estate or any self-employed career choice, is time management.  Without a plan in place and consistency, we all gradually slip into poor choices.  I made a few more changes and treated fitness like another appointment, but it worked.   I’m down in weight, but my heart rate dropped into the 40’s, blood pressure is in perfect range and I feel 10 years younger.    Being a broker is social, but can be pretty isolating.  Time management to budget time for your health or down time is as important as time you spend on the phone or computer….much more if you plan to have a long career.

2018 looks interesting.  I’m making plans for a small development, with a personal project and new relationship with a local builder.  Technology is also changing in a way I see as beneficial to my office and routine.   The more technology improves, the more I feel small offices have an advantage.  I read an article earlier on integrations possible and coming, allowing SIRI to become a bigger part of the sales process.   AI or artificial intelligence is interesting to me.  I’m not trying to say SIRI is the same as AI, but augmenting everything we do and integrating mobile or wearable devices is akin to changing an attachment on a tool.    Think about some of the ways we connect with people and how our lives become more efficient.   I spend time each day reading through automatically curated stories, based on content I like or search.  Every web experience is a bit of automated content or augments something.  The changes to facial recognition from Apple, augmented reality and talk about AI are getting my attention.  The coming year looks interesting and it isn’t a question of whether I’ll look for personal upgrades, but which I can afford to leave out.

Thinking about ethics again, it is worth periodically reading over portions of the standards of practice for the National Association of REALTORS¬ģ.¬† While ‚Äúdoing unto others‚ÄĚ sounds simple, the perception of behavior is often different from one side of the transaction to another.¬† I think avoiding the perception is important, if the goal is to promote professional behavior.¬†¬† Ethics don‚Äôt need an upgrade, but we do need to think about new circumstances and perception.

2016 Presidential Election Cost and Angry Taxpayer

You love Trump or you hate Trump.¬† I don’t seem to see many moderate views of the presidency this year, but there is an excessive coverage of the “so called” Russian interference in the election.¬† ¬†The amount in question appears to be about $100,000, with 56% of the money spent after voting day.¬† This means the actual dollars spent during the election, when an outcome could actually change, is about $44,000!¬† Of that $44,000, how much is purely pro-Trump, apparently the only concerning part of an unspecified Russian buying advertising?

The nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics estimates spending on the Clinton-Trump contest at more than $2.65 billion, actually down a bit from $2.76 billion in 2012 when Democratic incumbent Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney.   Trump, a real estate tycoon, bought fewer ads than many experts predicted because he benefited from huge amounts of free press.

Source: Election 2016’s price tag: $6.8 billion – CBS News

Spending so low as a percentage, it isn’t visible on my graph!

The odd part of the $44,000 is that a part of that money was actually meant to support Black Lives Matter in Ferguson and Baltimore.¬† My thoughts are that BLM is probably not pro-Trump. I would take two thoughts from the numbers and kinds of ads purchased.¬† Russian ads were meant to create chaos and waste in our country.¬† We are spending how much on the investigation of $44000 in Russian Ads?¬† Does anyone think we are making anything better by spending tax money on the issue?¬† I don’t think we should allow foreign countries to disrupt our elections, but I also think it is beyond stupidity to waste many, many, many times the cost of the ads in question.¬† The point of the ads was to generate disruption, IMHO, and they were, apparently, very effective.¬† Influencing the election with $44000 was, if you consider the .0016% spending, just not possible. The expense and time congress is spending on the issue is significant.¬† Our government is not moving forward and is over-reacting to a tiny expenditure, meant to do exactly what is happening, in my opinion.

Our country is wasting time doing something unproductive, Congress is increasingly dysfunctional and our tax money is being wasted.¬† I’d like to see a health care solution, among other things.¬† So many real problems and we’re spending time investigating something likely intended to create division?¬† I’d say that $44,000 was the most effective bit of advertising in history, but it had a statistically infinitesimal impact on the actual election result.

Signs of an Illegal Rental

If you rent, short or long-term, did you ever wonder if you were illegally renting?¬† ¬†Reading through an article on illegally permitted rental property, I began to think about just how many properties might be illegal on Amelia Island.¬† ¬†A few I’ve experienced or heard of in the past are included below, along with some of the reasons you might choose to avoid the “illegal” route as a tenant or owner.¬† ¬†¬†Rentals or any occupied building is regulated to insure public safety and the safety of anyone providing a service to the resident.¬† Consider a residential fire.¬† ¬†Can the residents be evacuated safely and can the police or fire department safely enter and exit the building?

Woodford 3/4 in. x 3/4 in. Brass Add-On Hose Connection Vacuum Breaker

Outside Spigot Backflow Preventer from Home Depot Source: 10/14/17


Legal Long Term Rental or Home

Warning signs of an illegal rental aren’t always obvious.¬† I’ve seen garages with interior wall conversions, a pretty good bet you may be dealing with an illegal partitioning, but far more likely when the door still opens.¬† ¬†Commercial space offered as either residential or commercial might be a sign.¬† Changing use usually means a change to match current code.¬† ¬†Storage buildings or buildings like a detached garage with shared power might be a sign.¬† Is there a separate electric meter?¬† ¬†Do you see permits for daily or weekly rental?¬† These should be visible in city limits, but all short-term rentals should have posted permits, exit diagrams, emergency lighting and backflow preventers.¬† If you don’t notice a few of these, the rental might not be legal.

Are you dealing with the actual owner of the property or their agent?  I hate to think about fraud, but it is common.   Make sure you have some proof the person offering to rent is actually the owner.  Renting remotely, be careful to check for either a company website and licensing or read the feedback if using a site like VRBO.

Everyone wants to rent or buy a safe home, but what happens when a portion of a home is converted into a second “illegal to rent” space?¬† ¬† Thinking about building code, fire walls, separately wired units, window and exit openings and proper access are all required for a reason.¬† I can think of one property with single family zoning and, at one time, 4 to 6 illegal units.¬† The residents were walking up an illegal stairway, to access an unpermitted addition in an attic storage area.¬† ¬†I doubt the property had firewalls, more than one electric meter or even adequate sanitation systems.

Resort rentals are another thought.¬† While it is legal to rent short-term inside city limits, a permit and either the proper zoning or a grandfathered property is required.¬† Buying a rental property based on short-term income can be unpleasant if the property isn’t actually legally permitted for short-term rentals.¬† ¬†The same can be said for long-term rentals or seasonal rentals of more than 30 days.¬† If the units fall short in some way, the income you planned to use for a loan or as investment income, might not be so stable.

Converted commercial space or grandfathered spaces illegally converted are a little less common, but do exist.¬† I can think of one space used as a restaurant, but illegally rented as residential space for some time.¬† The property was sold and completely remodeled a short time later, but the owner was taking a dangerous risk The downstairs pub was actually using power from the upstairs apartment.¬† ¬†Paying the much higher bill finally, as I understand, drew attention to the intermingled wiring and confused billing.¬† ¬†Think about liability for the wiring, insurance, signing a lease for an illegal use…so many risks for an owner!

Alachua Street Opening Approved and Long-Awaited CRA Domino…falls into place…

Something you notice immediately, when looking at an aerial view of Fernandina’s waterfront, is the success of the area south of Centre and the under-development of the area to the north.¬† ¬†Why?¬† Well, the most obvious reason is access.¬† Northward, the access to the water and traffic circulation are forced past an industrial and working waterfront area.¬† While this, in itself, might seem like a good thing, the photo below shows years of neglect and underutilized property..¬† Consider the tax revenue from buildings constructed to take advantage of the view.¬† There have been multiple projects planned, including a hotel planned for the right side of this picture, in my opinion, sidelined partially because of a delay in Alachua‚Äôs opening.¬† ¬†Cost is always a consideration, but having access and good traffic flow through Alachua is likely the final piece of the puzzle to move the CRA forward and creat tax increases allowing for waterfront improvements.¬† ¬†Moving the marina north to reach deeper water, eliminating the silting issue, opening Alachua and improving the infrastructure are all pieces of the puzzle for investors and developers, interested in our waterfront.


Fernandina Beach City Manager Dale Martin has released the following letter from FDOT dated October 9, 2017:

Dear Mr. Martin,

I am writing on behalf of the Florida Department of Transportation (Department) regarding the opening of the highway-railroad at-grade crossing at Alachua Street in Fernandina Beach. It is the understanding of the Department that the City of Fernandina Beach, First Coast Railroad and the Department have agreed in principle to open the rail crossing at Alachua Street in Fernandina Beach upon the satisfaction of certain conditions. These conditions include, but are not limited to, the acceptance of drawings for the planned crossing by the Department, the City of Fernandina Beach and First Coast Railroad. Upon acceptance of the drawings by all the parties, the Parties shall enter into a formal stipulation to opening the crossing at Alachua Street in Fernandina Beach. The opening of the crossing at Alachua Street will remain subject to the satisfaction of any other applicable regulatory conditions.


Laura Regalado

Florida Department of Transportation

Source: Fernandina Observer  10/13/17


I see the changes as essential to the CRA and, combining this change with the release of funds for the marina, expansion of the marina and change to density downtown, we will see tax revenues from previously vacant or very underdeveloped structures.¬† When you change a vacant property like the Goodsell/Front Street Property, LLC, also known as the Standard Marine property, at the corner of Alachua and 2nd, into a highest and best use development piece, tax revenues skyrocket.¬† This one parcel could go from a taxable value of about $1.6 million to something 10 times higher.¬† 2016 taxes on this piece, vacant and nearly unused for years, was $32,298.83.¬† We could easily see $200,000 in additional annual tax revenue, before considering the hotel site on the other corner.¬† ¬†Think about the residential use and vitality added to downtown businesses.¬† ¬† Considering funding for front street improvements, we’re at the verge of seeing a very, very successful CRA!


1980’s Fernandina Waterfront

Years ago, this is what the waterfront looked like at the foot of Center Street.  Things always change.   Looking for a way to insure a waterfront continues to benefit the rest of the city is important.  Using this resource as an economic driver and to improve other businesses is far more desirable than vacant land with a million dollar view.


Master plans are potential visions…often an incentive to investment.

Tax Cuts in the Forest…..

If every tree in the forest were 2 feet shorter, would you notice?¬† I’m reading an article on tax reform and the proposed cuts, including a doubling of the standard deduction, some claim will curb the incentive to purchase a home, leading to a “de facto tax increase on homeowners” according to the National Association of REALTORS¬ģ.¬† I’m not so sure I agree with this.¬† The changes being proposed encourage growth in parts of the economy, going far beyond a single tax cut or change in deduction.¬† Listening to the change proposed to the corporate tax rate and the reasoning, I can see an increase in jobs and vigor in the economy, leading to an increase in real estate value, if not home ownership.¬† ¬†IMG_9104

Where is the issue with the change?¬† I can see an issue as lobbyists make efforts to preserve bits and pieces of the old tax code.¬† The change is dramatic enough, it really is equivalent to making every tree in the forest taller or shorter…if you’re considering the reduction.¬† ¬†“A rising tide lifts all boats” applies to the way I would see this working for the US economy and, I hope, the real estate market.

What about the goal of homeownership?¬† In the past, everyone assumed ownership was the only path possible.¬† Everyone renting, must want to buy.¬† Everyone buying, must want to buy another home.¬† ¬†Everyone should want this…..well….just because.¬† ¬†Ownership stabilizes the market and the vested interest is supposed to be a good thing.¬† What happened when lending standards became weaker?¬† Some of the reason had to do with the promote home ownership agenda.¬† ¬†I pre-qualify buyers or take enough time to be sure a buyer can buy, but should everyone buy?¬† ¬†If you match the ratio, but tell me about a drastic life change in the coming year or a reduction in potential income or two vehicles you plan to replace, that ratio might not mean as much.¬† ¬†If down-payments drop to zero or very low levels, just how much stability is being created?¬† Jobs become the stabilizing factor, not equity.¬† ¬†By equity, I mean money a buyer invests in a property creating a financial disincentive to default on a loan or reduce the price during a stressful period.¬† ¬† I’m not so sure we should artificially incentivize any ownership before a buyer is ready for the responsibility.¬† ¬†There is a snowballing cost to fighting the natural path of a free market.¬† ¬†Removing the low down-payment loans becomes difficult, once they exist.¬† ¬†Changing the incentives becomes difficult, when you consider all the owners with low equity will eventually hope to sell.¬† ¬† When do you make a change?¬† ¬†When the market might make it possible with growth or when the market is at an all-time low?


Ethics and Real Estate….Not “Turtles all the way down….”

“Always put your client first.”

Not “Turtles all the way down…”

In the biggest transactions most of us will see in a lifetime, consideration of fairness does not mean sacrificing the ability to negotiate or market a property.¬† ¬†Fairness insures the client comes first.¬† Fairness insures agents working together are on the same page.¬† Having common guidelines is helpful, but it also encourages consideration of behavior.¬† ¬†I take great pride in subscribing to the standards in the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice followed by REALTORS¬ģ.¬† Learning to do business fairly, paying commissions when offered, presenting offers in a timely fashion, protecting the interests of a client…all are governed by the behaviors and standards laid out in our code of ethics.

When in doubt, consider how it might appear from the perspective of the other party.¬† Are you working with an owner, unfamiliar with the process or standard way of proceeding in a real estate transaction?¬† ¬†Does the other agent feel an offer was presented and were you able to communicate this in a timely fasion?¬† ¬†Having a written standard creates clear professional guidelines.¬† Negotiation doesn’t suffer and professionalism increases as you refer to basic guidelines meant to improve the process.

REALTOR Code of Ethic‚Äôs 2017¬†The Code of Ethics establishes the foundation on how REALTORS¬ģ are to operate as professionals in the Real Estate Industry. Not every Real Estate Professional is a REALTOR¬ģ; only those who adhere to the 17 Articles of the Code of Ethics which defines a higher standard of professionalism and behavior in three categories: Duties to Customers and Clients, Duties to the Public, and Duties to other REALTORS¬ģ. By becoming a REALTOR¬ģ, members agree to the duties and responsibilities outlined in the Standards of Practice for each of the 17 Articles, and are subject to be sanctioned if found to be in violation of any article.

Source: Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of NAR | SRCAR¬ģ

Why does Atlanta love Fernandina? (…Amelia Island)

The TDC does a wonderful job promoting Amelia Island, including Fernandina Beach, the town covering most of the northern half of Amelia.  Why someone might choose a vacation location is often the same reason we seem to be unusually popular with Atlanta.


(Source: Amelia Island Tourist Development Council 10/8/17)

Lifestyle is one way to think about the island, but what about the small things you might miss in that “Lifestyle” description?¬† ¬† Atlanta and Amelia Island are connected by airports.¬† Moving from one city to another can be an easy commute, but we also have the local airport on the island.¬† Thinking about the way we work, having easy access to great beaches and recreation is important.¬† What about the time it takes?

Atlanta, or any major city, has one thing we’ll never have in Fernandina.¬† Space and population.¬† We’re limited by the size of the island, but that limit means it takes very little time to reach the beach, your favorite restaurant, the gym or….well… anything.¬† I regularly drive home for a healthy lunch and quick trip to the gym.¬† Living less than 5 minutes from my office, I can fit in laps in a pool, an hour of circuit training or time to take the dog for a walk.¬† ¬†We live in a compressed space, with everything good squeezed into convenient distances.

Last night, we met friends over dinner.¬† The trip to the restaurant took less than 5 minutes.¬† We parked about 200 feet from the front door in free public parking.¬† Afterward, we spent some time enjoying Center Street and more conversation with neighbors.¬† ¬†The town and island offers something unique.¬† We’re small enough to have community, but diverse enough to have something for everyone.¬† We ran into a couple last week, with reservations and tickets to a local commuinty theatre.¬† ¬†The things I sometimes take for granted, are unique to someone from a distance challenged location.¬† The video above, from the AITDC, underscores the sheer variety available here.

What is the most common advice I offer to all prospective homeowners?¬† Pick a location close to work, play or both.¬† Time can’t be replaced, even if you ignore the cost of gas or use of a vehicle, you can enjoy vacation hours every day…365 days a year.¬† Longer commutes or distance between the things you need, mean you’re being robbed of time daily.¬† Choosing carefully is a part of location, but can become more important if your household is bigger.¬† The more people, the more often the commutes for work, school, play, shopping or anything, can begin to erode any free time remaining.¬† ¬† Why do I think Atlanta loves Fernandina?¬† ¬†Assuming work can be remote or relocation is possible, Fernandina gives every resident something irreplaceable.¬† ¬†Time!

Proximity, Aggregation and Scarcity

Proximity to Schools, Beaches, Dining, Events and Employment…..

I had a conversation with a client earlier and it made me think about some of the ways to consider value.¬† Appraisers try to attach value and justify the numbers a local market will support for a particular property.¬† Typically, most appraisers will use income, comparable sales or the cost to reproduce the building on a site.¬† Far from simple, appraisal does have limits.¬† An appraiser won’t always think of aggregation of a nearby site.¬† They do look at proximity and relative scarcity, but creatively valuing a site or property is not their job.¬† ¬†Their job is not to considering how to creatively develop a site or performing a feasibility study.

What does proximity mean to me?¬† Several factors make proximity worth considering.¬† Selling quickly and at a good price means being surrounded by homes or properties with similar value.¬† Locations with deterioration nearby or much lesser properties can sabotage marketing efforts and mean pricing at a premium is impossible.¬† Beyond this, proximity can mean proximity to shopping, schools, utilities or other development.¬† I’m working on several sites with nearby development.¬† Water or sewer is coming closer, but I also see potential interest as new construction or revitalization moves closer.¬† ¬† Knowing changes coming to an area makes a huge difference in buyer perception.¬† ¬†If you want marketing material, sometimes just the existence of change or recent permitting is attractive.

Aggregation is another possibility.¬† One listing is worth about the same with or without an adjacent parcel, but the adjacent piece may become available and would be much more valuable with the property I have listed.¬† Shifting retention or just adding to the scale of a development can create economy or allow use of the lease valuable portion of land for entry and more valuable parcels in an area with potential for premium prices.¬† I’m thinking about a specific parcel and how it might benefit an adjacent piece, but recent talk of lot combinations at a City of Fernandina Beach meeting made me think.¬† Combing or dividing property is about finding the best way to use an asset.¬† ¬†As long as an owner follows local requirements, it makes sense to allow the use.

Scarcity is something we are all considering now.¬† ¬†With far fewer properties and far less time on the market, 2017 is, at least based on the reduced inventory, a seller’s market.¬† ¬† Scarcity can drive pricing and reduce negotiability, but what else changes?¬† ¬† Price ranges for a finished product can change, when building sites are scarce.¬† Less prime locations can become a possibility.¬† ¬†Sometimes, as sites become less available, the view of the market changes entirely.¬† ¬†We’re seeing warehouses considered for residential development and a shift in areas like 8th Street and Front Street.

Fernandina is a kind of last bite community for Florida.¬† While the rest of the state developed and attracted tourism, we were relatively quiet until the 70’s.¬† Our tourism changed with Amelia Island Plantation, now Omni, in my opinion.¬† ¬†The Ritz and Summer Beach changed the landscape again and we’re suddenly benefitting by being a late bloomer.¬† The quality of development and redevelopment is higher and the population is unique.¬† We enjoy a live/work lifestyle on the island and attract a variety of residents to work and retire, while much of the state seems to be a retirement “OR” tourism population.