Best U.S. cities to flip homes

Aug. 1, 2017 – More than 126,000 U.S. homes were flipped last year – the highest rate since 2007, according to a study by WalletHub. The average gross profit on a single home flip? Nearly $63,000.

Overall, Florida metro areas ranked in the top 25 percent for home flipping, with only cities in South Florida ranked below 50 percent. Miami ranked lowest out of Florida metros for home flipping, but at No. 110 it still ranked better than about 25 percent of all U.S. metro areas.

WalletHub looked at three broad categories to create its “Best & Worst Places to Flip Houses” study:

  • Market Potential: ROI, purchase price, share of home flips, average days to flip and more
  • Renovation & Remodeling Costs: Average costs for kitchens, bathrooms, full homes and more
  • Quality of Life: Crime rates, schools, walkable park access, job growth and more

Tampa was the only Florida city to make the top 10, though Orlando followed closely behind at No. 16.

Florida ranking of top flipping metro areas out of 150 in U.S.

6. Tampa (Market potential 8; remodeling costs 19; quality of life: 66)

16. Orlando (Market potential 29; remodeling costs 23; quality of life: 70)

24. Pembroke Pines (Market potential 33; remodeling costs 63; quality of life: 25)

36. St. Petersburg (Market potential 6; remodeling costs 79; quality of life: 79)

51. Cape Coral (Market potential 98; remodeling costs 71; quality of life: 18)

55. Jacksonville (Market potential 14; remodeling costs 69; quality of life: 111)

58. Tallahassee (Market potential 42; remodeling costs 34; quality of life: 128)

69. Port St. Lucie (Market potential 83; remodeling costs 85; quality of life: 24)

84. Fort Lauderdale (Market potential 49; remodeling costs 58; quality of life: 134)

90. Hialeah (Market potential 24; remodeling costs 83; quality of life: 121)

110. Miami (Market potential 91; remodeling costs 87; quality of life: 116)

Florida cities also ranked in the top five in some of WalletHub’s secondary reports. Orlando, for example, is third nationwide for the number of real estate agents per capita. Only Seattle and Atlanta have more.

Tampa (No. 2) and Orlando (No. 3) made the top five for the percentage of home flips. Only Memphis, Tenn., had more.

© 2017 Florida Realtors

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Parade of Homes Begins Saturday

If you are considering building a new home or enjoy visiting builder models to get fresh ideas on decorating and technology, then get out your walking shoes. The Northeast Florida Builders Association Parade of Homes starts Saturday, April 22.

This annual event has been a tradition since 1954. Today, it spans four counties including St. Johns, Duval, Clay and Nassau. There are 105 models in 75 neighborhoods and thousands of dollars in prizes.

It’s a free event that thousands of people attend. Enter to win a grand prize of a $5,000 outdoor kitchen at any of the models.

The winners of the builder awards are announced in May.

For more information on the Parade of Homes, visit either of these websites or pick up a copy of the Parade of Homes Magazine at area Gate gas stations.


The event ends April 30.

Starling at Nocatee offers assisted living in Ponte Vedra

If you’ve driven through Nocatee, you’ve probably noticed the beautiful “Starling at Nocatee” building under construction and wondered exactly what will be happening on the site.

Starling at Nocatee is a concierge living, assisted living, and memory care facility near the Nocatee Town Center. These three levels of care are matched to the resident’s capabilities and needs with a range of amenities. The property will be lush! There will be a bistro and bar, restaurant, spa and salon, art studio, game room, media center, lounges, library and internet cafe, and a multipurpose room for movies and events.

The apartments for rent (not sale) will include high-end finishes, gourmet meals prepared by a chef, weekly housekeeping and laundry services, trash removal, transportation, and a full social calendar. The outside will be landscaped with lake views, gardens, walking trails, an outdoor fireplace, and pet-friendly areas. There will even be a playground for visiting grandchildren.

The memory care center will have all the care your loved one needs, such as on-site nursing, grooming assistance, medication monitoring and more.

Living at Starling will allow residents to use all of the Nocatee amenities.

Realtor George L. Ballou II, who is also a Del Webb at Nocatee resident, recently visited the facility and was impressed with the details. There are 91 units. Once they are rented, they will build a second building for independent living, he explained. A Menton & Ballou Group real estate professional would love to take you or your loved ones on a visit to the site.

Twin Creeks to feature man-made lagoon


Twin Creeks visual.

It might be miles from the ocean, but a new man-made “crystal blue” lagoon will be called the “Beach Walk” at Twin Creeks Development.

Twin Creeks is a new master-planned development in St. Johns County that will have up to 3,000 houses. It’s on County Road 210 east of Interstate 95. It also will have retail, commercial, office and industrial space.

The lagoon is a highlight of the development in Florida, where homebuyers are willing to pay a premium for water views and water access.

Crystal Lagoons US Corp. is breaking ground on the 14-acre water feature on March 23. That’s when the company plans to release all the details and renderings on the project, according to spokesperson Hanna Thornton.

The company’s website says Crystal Lagoons is an international company with 15 offices around the world. The patented technology allows clear lagoons to create an “idyllic beach lifestyle anywhere.”

The lagoons use technology with custom sanitation and can be salt or fresh water. It can be used for swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, boating and other traditional water activities. The body of water is lined, clear, and free of marine life, but uses fewer chemicals that a swimming pool.

The first lagoon was built in Chile 18 years ago. There are 600 projects in different stages of planning in 60 countries, the company reports. One is in Miami, featuring two 10-acre lagoons.

For now, those curious about the company and other man-made lagoons can check out this YouTube video.

If you’re interested in buying a home in Twin Creeks, contact one of Menton & Ballou’s team members for more on this project.




Another record-breaking year for Menton & Ballou Group

Watson Realty Corp. honored Menton & Ballou Group with the Top Producer Award for closing more than $38 million in volume in 2016. It’s the third record-breaking year for the team.

The Top Producer Award is the highest award for teams at Watson Realty, a company started by Bill Watson in 1965. Today, there are 48 offices and 1,500 realtors.

Overall, the Jacksonville region had an outstanding year in 2016, with more than $1.7 billion in closed volume. This helped the company to achieve more than $3.2 billion in closed volume last year.

Watson hosted the Jacksonville regional awards banquet in February at The Renaissance Hotel at World Golf Village. Mr. Watson presented the Top Producer team leaders with gold coins.

The Menton & Ballou Group consists of co-founders Lisa Menton and George L. Ballou, II, and real estate associates Jamie Ballou, David Kenyon, John McClure, Melissa Naldzin (also team photographer), Jody Steele, Stella Alexander and David Carter, and new member Alexis McDaniel.

Lisa Menton said she appreciates the honor, as well as the hard work it took by all of the realtors who made it happen.

“I have so much gratitude for our successes,” she said.

“Our team consists of full-time realtors working exclusively for the Menton & Ballou Group to give outstanding customer service,” Ballou added.

The Menton & Ballou Group is entering its fourth year as a team.

The goal was to use their combined years in the industry to offer a diverse and specialized skill set, providing advice and guidance that is unparalleled in the industry.

The team is based out of the Watson office on County Road 210 with a branch at the Watson office in Nocatee.

Their marketing platform includes a mix of television real estate ads, several community publications, property specific flyers and mailers, and social media. They customize each house listing with professional photography, and other elements, such as video from drones if desired. All homes listed with Watson Realty get a special YouTube presentation.

A Visit to Cascades, World Golf Village

Each week, agents from Watson Realty Corp. and the Menton & Ballou Team participate in a caravan to view beautiful listings in St. Johns County and Duval County. This week, 15 open houses were staged in Cascades, a 55 and older community in World Golf Village.

A visit to homes in the Cascades neighborhood in World Golf Village revealed a few things.

First, the residents and homeowners take pride in their properties, on the inside and out.

Second, the amenity center offerings are abundant. The Grand Center features an outdoor saltwater pool and spa, plus an indoor saltwater heated lap pool. There’s an arts and crafts room with a pottery wheel, a billiard room with dart boards, a card playing room, a ballroom with dance floor and kitchen, and a bocce ball courts.

And maybe we saved the best for last.

Third, the Homeowner Association Fees provide a lot of value.

The HOA monthly is $358. Here are the many services that are included: lawn cutting, trimming of shrubs, lawn fertilization and pesticide, irrigation water, mulching, home security monitoring, 70 channels of Direct TV, gated entry 24/7 with security staff (7 days per week, from 8 a.m.-6p.m.), fitness/tennis center, full-time lifestyle coordinator, sidewalks for walking and biking, professional management company services.

One final note.

There are NO Community Development Fee in Cascades.

Watson Realty Corp. has many listings in Cascades. Our Menton & Ballou Real Estate Associate John McClure has a listing in Cascades with unique features. The two bedroom/two bath home at 429 North Legacy Trail has an office and water to preserve views both in the front and the back. This is one of less than five homes with this spectacular view. The price is $319,900.

To contact John McClure, his cell is 904-436-1315. Or email


Southern restaurant coming to Nocatee

Biscuits and cornbread. Fish and grits. Cast iron mac and cheese.

If food with a southern kick sounds appealing, then a new restaurant opening in Nocatee’s Town Center is the answer to your culinary dreams.

South Kitchen & Spirits announced it’s opening in a retail building by Skinner Bros. Realty (behind the Dunkin Donuts) in St. Johns County.

The original South Kitchen & Spirits is in Avondale and opened last fall. With 240 seats, its chefs are Brian Siebenschuh and Jason Motley. The menu is described as affordable, with hand-crafted cocktails, beer, and wine, and includes traditional pot pie and bread pudding.

But there are some twists and turns among the rainbow trout and burgers. For inquiring minds, here’s a sample of the existing menu and the prices:


pimento cheese “queso fundido” > 6.95 *

roast pork, mushrooms, cilantro, fresh fried pork rinds & white corn tortilla chips


big superfood salad > 11.95

locally grown kale, chargrilled tempeh, napa cabbage, raw collards, popcorn shoots, pickled edamame, crunchy quinoa, sunflower seeds


Bold City braised beef stroganoff >13.95

hand cut pasta, roasted mushrooms, Duke’s Brown Ale braising jus, cream, fresh herbs, truffle oil


trucker sandwich > 9.95

fried bologna, cheddar, vinegar slaw, french fries (on the sandwich), sesame frybread


Sound like fun? The opening date for the 4,050 square foot restaurant is estimated for December.

St. Augustine Holiday Lights makes world’s top 10 list

When selecting a home, people are attracted to local events and “things to do.” In northeast Florida, the variety is abundant. In fact, St. Augustine is among National Geographic magazine’s best 10 locations in the world to see holiday lights. There’s still time left to check them out.

The Night of Lights kicked off in November ends on Jan. 31, 2017.

The other U.S. city named by National Geographic is Callaway Gardens, Ga.

The St. Augustine festival is 21 years old and features 2 million white lights. They sparkle on the waterfront and down the side streets, with lights strung across the park. It’s a public-private partnership rooted in history.

According to, “Nights of Lights in St. Augustine traces its origins back to the traditional Spanish practice of displaying a white candle in windows during the Christmas holidays. Candles in the window allude to the fact that Mary and Joseph could find no inn that would give them shelter. When the Spanish put candles in their windows, they were symbolically making room in their homes and hearts for Jesus. It also reflects the welcoming attitude of the holiday season, showing that guests are welcome to the home. The stunning lights reflect the city’s 450-year history and illuminate the beautiful cityscape for lasting holiday memories. The city of St. Augustine has been celebrating Nights of Lights for 21 years.

Here’s the National Geographic’s top 10, in no particular order:

St. Augustine, Fla.

Callaway Gardens, Ga.



Hong Kong



Kobe, Japan

Medellin, Colombia

Gothenburg, Sweden


Jacksonville the hottest real estate market to watch

Trulia, one of the most popular residential real estate sites in the United States, has named Jacksonville the hottest market to watch.

Trulia created a list of the top 10 real estate markets poised for growth this year. The results were based on five key metrics, including high affordability, strong job growth, low vacancy rates, and home searches on Trulia. Another element is the population of Republicans, because of the 2016 election outcome.

Trulia is an online residential real estate site for home buyers, sellers, renters and real estate professionals in the United States. It was founded in 2004 and purchased by Zillow in 2014. Here’s what Trulia had to say about number one on the list Jacksonville:

  1. Jacksonville, FL: Jobs and a great location

“Situated on the banks of the St. Johns River and oft-considered part of southern Georgia given its proximity to its northern neighbor, Jacksonville, Fla., has quite a bit going for it. Why is it so appealing? First, there are serious job opportunities. Jacksonville posted a 3.8% job growth rate in 2016, which makes it one of the healthiest markets for employment opportunities in the state. Second, there’s an increasing influx of people — which contributes to the area’s very high ratio of inbound home searches on Trulia by out-of-towners versus outbound searches by locals looking to leave.”

Here’s the entire list of markets to watch in 2017:

  1. Jacksonville, Florida
  2. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida
  3. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida
  4. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  5. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida
  6. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  7. Charleston, South Carolina
  8. San Antonio, Texas
  9. Phoenix, Arizona
  10. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida