County Property Values Increase

For the first time since 2006, Franklin County’s tax base will show an increase, according to Property Appraiser Rhonda Skipper’s initial “good faith estimate” filed with the State of Florida.  The increase will be approximately 3/10th of 1% or 5.5 million dollars.  The total tax base is now about the same as it was in 2003 before the real estate boom and bust.

OPEN HOUSE – Sunday, May 25 1-4 pm at 115 Ave B, Apalachicola

Please join me on Sunday afternoon for an open house at 115 Ave B in the south historic district in Apalachicola from 1:00-4:00 pm.  “The Coca-Cola House.”  The main part of this traditional southern home was built circa 1867 with the latest renovation done in the mid-2000s.  Move-in ready with many original features including 6″ pine plank floors.  3360 square feet, 4 BR, 3.5 BA, carport, garage.  For more information, please contact me at hspohrer@stgeorgeisland.com or 850-899-1262.  MLS #251769.

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St. George Island State Park #3 Ranked Beach in America

Stephen Leatherman, AKA “Dr. Beach,” announced his list of the top ten best beaches in the US today.  And St. George Island State Park is number 3 on the list.  It’s the only beach in the Florida panhandle to make the list.  Below you will find a link to the complete list.

Dr. Beach’s top beaches for 2014:  http://www.today.com/travel/dr-beachs-top-beach-hint-its-hawaii-2D79687779

Sunrise and baby turtle on SGI

Sunrise and baby turtle on SGI

 

Spectacular Bird Fall Out on St. George Island

For the past few days, St. George Island has been experiencing an incredible spring “fall out,” bringing a huge number of migrants to the area.  In birding terms, fall out is a mass of birds that is exceptional in both number and diversity that descends on a locale as a result of seasonal or meteorological forces.  More images are found when you click “Read More” below.  This spring fall out is much greater than normal and includes warblers, tanagers, buntings and orioles (to name a few) in full breeding plumage and song.  My husband John has been busy photographing these delightful visitors.

Indigo Bunting (c) John B. Spohrer, Jr.

Indigo Bunting (c) John B. Spohrer, Jr.

 

Baltimore Oriole (c) John B. Spohrer, Jr.

Baltimore Oriole (c) John B. Spohrer, Jr.

Orchard Oriole female (c) John B. Spohrer, Jr.

Orchard Oriole female (c) John B. Spohrer, Jr.

 

Prothonotary Warbler (c) John B. Spohrer, Jr.

Prothonotary Warbler (c) John B. Spohrer, Jr.

President Obama Signs New Flood Insurance Law

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act was signed today by President Obama.  This bipartisan bill limits premium increases, stops FEMAs ability to increase premiums when a property is sold and provides for some refunds.  This is good news for coastal property owners.  Here is a video discussion of the new law by the National Association of Realtors.  Click “Read More,” then click the link to view:

http://bcove.me/kfurjbif

 

New Flood Insurance Bill Passes Senate

On March 4 the U. S. Senate passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act with a vote of 72-22.  The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.  This bill solves many of the issues with the Biggert Waters Act of 2012 which placed undue hardships on many coastal property owners.  Both Florida Senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio voted in favor of the bill.  Here is link that compares the new bill with the previous one.   http://www.ksefocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/4/1975.pdf

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More Good News for Flood Insurance

Here is a flood insurance update from John Sebree, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for the Florida REALTORS.

“The US House of Representatives has just passed H.R. 3370, “The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act.”  This bill is expected to go straight to the Senate (versus go to “conference” with the flood bill the US Senate passed previously).  If it passes the Senate without amendment it will then go to President Obama for his signature.  Attached is NAR’s letter of support and here is a synopsis of what the House bill accomplishes.

Reinstates Grandfathering – This bill permanently repeals Section 207 of the Biggert-Waters Act, meaning that grandfathering is reinstated. All post-FIRM properties built to code at the time of construction will have protection from rate spikes due to new mapping – for example, if you built to +2 Base Flood Elevation, you stay at +2, regardless of new maps. Also importantly, the grandfathering stays with the property, not the policy.

Caps Annual Rate Increases at 15% – This bill decreases FEMA’s authority to raise premiums. The bill prevents FEMA from increasing premiums within a single property class beyond a 15 percent average a year, with an individual cap of eighteen percent a year. Pre Biggert-Waters, the class average cap was 10%. Currently (Post Biggert-Waters), the class average cap is 20%. The bill also requires a 5% minimum annual increase on pre-FIRM primary residence policies that are not at full risk. The updated legislation also states that FEMA shall strive to minimize the number of policies with premium increases that exceed one percent of the total coverage of the policy (e.g., 1% of $250,000 = $2,500).

Refunds policyholders who purchased pre-FIRM homes after Biggert-Waters (7/6/12) and were subsequently charged higher rates.

Permanently Removes the Sales Trigger – This bill removes the policy sales trigger, which allows a purchaser to take advantage of a phase in. The new purchaser is treated the same as the current property owner.

Allows for Annual Surcharges – This legislation applies an annual surcharge of $25 for primary residences and $250 for second homes and businesses, until subsidized policies reach full risk rates. All revenue from these assessments would be placed in the NFIP reserve fund, which was established to ensure funds are available for meeting the expected future obligations of the NFIP.

Funds the Affordability Study and Mandates Completion – This legislation funds the affordability study required by Biggert-Waters and mandates its completion in two years

Includes the Home Improvement Threshold.  This bill returns the “substantial improvement threshold” (i.e. renovations and remodeling) to the historic 50% of a structure’s fair market value level. Under Biggert-Waters, premium increases are triggered when the renovation investments meet 30% of the home’s value.

Additional provisions: This legislation includes several other provisions including preserving the basement exception, allowing for payments to be made in monthly installments, and reimbursing policy holders for successful map appeals.”

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Great Press! Article in Wall Street Journal

Apalachicola was featured as one of four classic, old Florida areas in a recent Wall Street Journal article.  Here is a link to the article.

WSJ.com – Secret
Florida: Four places to find quiet beaches, cute bungalows and great food

Shrimp boat on Apalachicola Bay

Shrimp boat on Apalachicola Bay

SOLD! 133 Ave B, Apalachicola

Congratulations to new owners Pat & Mariterese Balthrop who recently purchased the former Willis home in Apalachicola at 133 Ave B.  This 4400+ sq ft home sits on five city lots in the heart of the South Historic District and was built circa 1895.  The wood floors and grand staircase are just a few of the many original features in this unique property.

133 Ave B

SOLD! 524 West Gorrie Dr, St George Island

This charming beachfront home on St. George Island just closed for $787,450.

SOLD:  524 West Gorrie Drive, SGI.

SOLD: 524 West Gorrie Drive, SGI.

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