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Significant property on Sydney Harbour Australia

Elaine is an exceptional property on Sydney Harbour in Australia

Significant offering in Sydney Australia


Elaine is  a unique waterfront property offering in Sydney, Australia and will likely be the largest holding to be sold into private hands on Sydney Harbour.  The grand Victorian mansion was built in 1863 and the property has both stables and a tennis court. A private gate leads to the secluded Seven Shillings Beach. Elaine has been in the family for four generations and  is a rare opportunity to own a historically significant property.

Why would you care about a property in Australia? Many international buyers have multiple homes, located around the globe. Christie’s makes it easy for you to buy and sell around the world.

For more information on this property, visit Elaine‘s property website and contact Ken Jacobs, exclusive affiliate for Christie’s, or visit his website.



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Why does Florida have so many cash sales?

Conversation over coffee this morning included the question, “Why does Florida have so many cash sales?” He said Florida is leading the country in the percentage of real estate sales for cash.

I think it’s a combination of factors:

  • Florida has the largest percentage of international buyers and they usually pay cash for their properties.
  • Many buyers have sold a larger home up north and are paying cash here and investing the remainder.
  • Florida has been popular with large and small investors buying properties to rent – and they usually pay cash.
  • Some buyers who might otherwise have taken out a small mortgage are choosing to pay cash because then they aren’t required to purchase flood insurance.

According to recent statistics from Realty Trac, 42% of national real estate sales were for cash. In Florida, 63% of real estate transactions were cash.

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Still a sellers’ market for downtown St Pete condos

Compared to a year ago, we started 2014 with 55 downtown St Pete condos on the market, more than twice the number from a year before. However, downtown condos were selling at the rate of 24 per month during 2013 so that’s still only a 2.3 month supply of condos. A six month supply is considered a balanced market, so it’s still a seller’s market.







.1-2 Mil. 

.2+ Mil.




















Downtown St Pete condos are listed from $60,000 to $2,499,000. As the table shows condos are available in a wide range of prices. For more information on any of the condos available, please call The Simms Team at (727) 898-2582  (or email them at info@SimmsTeam.com). For representation in buying or selling a condo, contact The Simms Team with Coastal Properties Group, affiliate for Christie’s International Real Estate.

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Flood Insurance in St Petersburg and Pinellas County Florida

Saint Petersburg waterfront

St Petersburg waterfront


Many clients have been asking for an update on flood insurance here in St Petersburg and Pinellas County. Here’s what we know:

In Washington:  on Monday the US Senate voted 86-13 TO BEGIN DEBATE on delaying flood insurance rate increases for 4 years. Both the White House and House Speaker John Boehner have expressed opposition.

In St Petersburg: in one waterfront neighborhood, Broadwater, there were 3 waterfront home sales between October 1st, when the flood insurance rate increases began, and the end of 2013.  All three were cash, which means the buyers had the option of not buying flood insurance and “self-insuring”. The one waterfront sale this year in Broadwater, which we successfully marketed, closed with a conventional loan, which meant flood insurance was required. The premium for that house, built in 1973, was $914.00 (not through Citizens) – which was less than the Seller had been paying. We obtained a new quote on a Broadwater waterfront home built in 1981 and it was less than $1,000.

Call The Simms Team at (727) 898-2582 if you’d like more information on flood insurance (or email them at info@SimmsTeam.com  For representation in buying or selling a home, contact The Simms Team with Coastal Properties Group, affiliate for Christie’s International Real Estate.

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New Christie’s Affiliation for The Simms Team in St Petersburg, Florida

Coastal Propertyies Group

Christie’s St Petersburg


On January 1st, The Simms Team merged with Coastal Properties Group, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in Tampa Bay.  We’ve enjoyed our five years owning ALVA International, a boutique real estate company in downtown St Petersburg, but realize that the real estate market is changing and we need to change with it. We’ll continue to operate as The Simms Team, as we have for many years, and will now have the additional resources of Coastal and Christie’s International to offer our clients.  We’ll offer the same personal service but with more tools and reach. Christie’s – yes, the same as the auction house – has provided integrity, expertise and exemplary service since  1766. Alex and Laren Jansen opened Coastal Properties Group on Clearwater Beach in July 2012 and have been making waves in north Pinellas county ever since. St Petersburg is Coastal’s sixth office, with a seventh soon to open on Treasure Island.

Come in and see our redecorated office at 238 Beach Drive NE in downtown St Pete. Join us for a cup of coffee and we can talk about everything that’s happening in real estate. We’re living in exciting and interesting times. photo 1

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Should we put our St Pete home on the market before the holidays?

Photo of a home for sale in St Petersburg that sold during the holidays

Homes do sell during the holidays


We often get the question, “Should we put our home on the market before the holidays?” or less frequently, “Should we take our home off the market for the holidays?”  Yes, and no.

Generally, although there may be less buyers looking between Thanksgiving and Christmas, those who are looking are generally more serious.  Also, people visiting relatives or taking a holiday vacation in the St Petersburg area may want to buy while they’re here.  Many sellers wait until the first week in January to put their house on the market, so there will be more competition if you wait.

A home is particularly appealing during the holidays – homes have aromas of cookies and baked goodies, of fresh evergreens, perhaps flowers and fruit. Go ahead and decorate, just don’t overdo it.  Think simple, think highlights and accents. For me, there are also memories of glogg and cardamom seeds.

If your home is listed and you have planned events that won’t be convenient for showings, tell your real estate agent so that they can schedule showing requests around your activities. If you’re going out of town,  be sure to leave a phone number or email contact so your agent can reach you with any offers that come in.

Want to get your home on the market now? Call The Simms Team at 727-898-2582 for a consultation.



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Home Tours in St Petersburg

We’re starting to get phone calls asking about the holiday homes tours here in St Petersburg, so here’s the information for your calendar.

OLD NORTHEAST Candlelight Tour of Homes

Sunday, December 8 from 3 pm to 8 pm.  Tickets are $20 when purchased in advance and the proceeds are donated to charity. This will include a self-guided tour of 8 homes. A tour brochure will have a map and a detailed description of each home. There will be free shuttles throughout the tour time. Hospitality houses offer complimentary refreshments and the use of their restroom facilities. Watch a video of the Candlelight Tour of Homes and get more information on the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association (HONNA) website.

SNELL ISLE Holiday Homes Tour

Saturday, December 7 from 10 am to 4 pm.  Advance tickets are $20 and will benefit The Florida Orchestra.    The tour will include 5 homes on Snell Isle, along Brightwaters Boulevard, Coffee Pot Riviera and Monterey Boulevard. A limited number of reservations are available for a wine tasting reception with hors d’oeuvres on December 6th. Get more information on the Snell Isle Holiday Homes Tour on the Florida Orchestra website.

If you like what you see and want to buy a home in the Old Northeast or Snell Isle, please contact Sharon, Tami or Rob with The Simms Team at ALVA International, Inc.  We’re at 238 Beach Drive NE, next to Tryst and across from the Museum of Fine Arts in downtown St Petersburg.


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Do I need a permit for that?

One of the inevitable and often desirable aspects of home ownership is home improvement or renovation. Whether you hire a contractor or decide to do it yourself, you should know which projects require a permit so that you don’t run into trouble after you’ve already invested time or money. The standard for when a permit is required varies by municipality but here in St. Petersburg, you can find the answer on their website at www.stpete.org

“Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by the Florida Building Code (FBC), or to cause any such work to be done, shall file an application and obtain the required permit or certificate.”  –  City of St. Petersburg Planning & Economic Development Department

 In St. Petersburg, the city’s website has a very comprehensive section on permitting and home construction that provides not only applications, codes and guidelines but an entire project planning packet with checklists to insure that you have everything in order and compliant with our current codes and ordinances. Even when you hire a contractor to do the project, you should familiarize yourself with this process and follow up with your contractor to make sure that everything is handled appropriately because ultimately, you are responsible if the permit isn’t in place and properly closed when the project is complete. 

Obtaining a permit is important not just for your own safety and enjoyment of home improvements but as a record of value added to the home. Homeowners who do not think about permits until it is time to sell their home often face a costly process that might involve obtaining a retroactive permit or worse, being required to remove the “improvement.” We once represented a seller who had constructed a tiki bar on their property and when they tried to sell, learned that the permit had not been closed. It was several years after the project was complete and the contractor they had hired had passed away. Also  in the time since construction, new codes had been introduced that made the structure out of compliance and so the structure had to be torn down. Not only did they not have this wonderful feature that they had paid to construct, they now had to pay to have it removed.

Most standard real estate contracts will require the seller of a property to close all open permits prior to closing. This process may take days or even weeks to resolve so if you are planning to list your home, it’s always good to check your home’s permit history. In St. Petersburg, you can do that by visiting the city’s website here: Property Cards Not every city has them available online but they can often be obtained from the building department simply by calling  and giving a fax number or e-mail address.

Owners often get a copy of the building permit from their contractor, but often neglect to get proof of the permit being properly closed. Be sure you get evidence of the final approved inspection and permit closing before you make your final payment to the contractor.  If you get a permit for work that you plan to do, which you don’t do, you should also check to be sure that permit is closed.

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Rita Gould Fine Arts Gallery Opening in St Petersburg

Rita Gould Fine Arts Gallery has Grand Opening

Rita Gould Fine Arts Gallery


The Grand Opening of the Rita Gould Fine Arts Gallery is Saturday, November 9th from 5:30 – 9:00 pm. The gallery is located just across from the Courthouse at 550 1st Avenue North in downtown St Petersburg. This a welcome addition to our arts community. St Petersburg has consistently been rated the #1 mid-size city for art.

Artists featured in the gallery include Carole Bardes, Kennedi Benjamin, Mirella Cimato, Gail Falkingham, Jean Hurst, Ronn Johnson, Mary Khosh, Richard Logan, Pamela Rubinstein, Sonia Ann Smith and Rita Gould.

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Flood insurance relief for St Petersburg and the beaches

Good news this morning for flood insurance in St Petersburg and Pinellas County! Implementation of rate increases is postponed for four years and is subject to required studies that were not completed as well as showing of affordability. Read the article on flood insurance relief.


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