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JACKSONVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL
Friday, October 19, 2007
By Hunter Valmont

World Seeks First Coast

Location. It's an important real estate mantra known by the world's vast majority of homeowners, and it is a primary factor for shoppers in deciding where to make such important life purchases. Both nationally and internationally, buyers of all walks of life are coming to a place where the living is easy - Florida's First Coast.

As one of the nation's fastest growing cities boasting world-class recreation and affordable coastal living, Jacksonville and its surrounding areas have experienced home sales that increasingly originate from out-of-town and out-of-country buyers. Over the years, countless foreign investors ultimately have chosen Northeast Florida as their destination of choice. While the reasons for this are many, some, however, stand out to create a unifying home-buyer mindset.

Diverse and Desirable Lifestyles

Whether you are a first- or second-home buyer, "snowbird," real estate investor or experiencing a corporate relocation, coastal Florida has everything you could ever need or want for a stellar quality of life. World-class business, educational, medical, social and recreational opportunities abound for those who want to enjoy highly active or well-earned leisurely lifestyles.

From professional sports and renowned concert halls to famed art galleries and sugar-sand shores, Jacksonville and the Beaches provide a wealth of fun for individuals and families alike.

"Jacksonville is the perfect spot for year-round outdoor activities," said Realtor Will Vasana, GRI, MBA, of Watson Realty Corp. "Whether you like golf, fishing, water sports, surfing, boating, relaxing at the beach, tennis or spectator sports such as Jaguar football games, we say that Jacksonville offers all the best of Florida. Here we have a variety of housing options with opportunities to meet everyone's needs."

Cost of Living

With no state income tax and housing costs that are lower than the national average, Florida real estate has caught the eye of many national and international buyers. In fact, Jacksonville has been named three times by Expansion Management Magazine as the nation's No. 1 city for relocating and expanding companies.

"Florida is acknowledged as being the number one international 'hot spot' in the U.S.," said Ponte Vedra Beach Realty broker/owner Kim M. Davis, CIPS, CLHMS, CAM. "The (foreign) exchange rate currently makes U.S. properties very affordable for buyers as compared to properties in their home countries."

Weather

The cooperative Florida climate affords homeowners a wealth of fun-in-the-sun recreation and relaxation. According to StateOf Florida.com, the average annual temperature of North Florida summers is 80.5 degrees. Winters average 53.0 degrees.

"The primary purpose for which almost half of foreign buyers purchase in North Florida is for a vacation venue for family and friends," Davis said. "Our warmer climate greatly contributes to the enjoyment of their time spent here."

Transportation

With more and more residents settling on Florida's First Coast each day, an efficient transportation system successfully addresses the mobility needs of the region. Locally, Jacksonville is very well connected, both within city limits and to neighboring counties.

Planes, trains and automobiles are just the beginning of the countless transportation options found in Northeast Florida. Jacksonville's Skyway Express Monorail System, downtown trolley and shuttle services, and a fleet of buses provide for convenient commuter and inner-city travel. The St. Johns River and Intracoastal Waterway connect to the Beaches and make for easily navigable boat travel. The Jacksonville International Airport successfully manages hundreds of flight arrivals and departures each day.

National Recognition and Rankings

It's no secret that Jacksonville is "on the map."

The vibrant city is also the recipient of some exciting national kudos. Whether being named as one of the top 10 "Best Places to Live" by Money magazine, being ranked in the top 100 "Most Productive Cities in America" during a Sprint Business poll or being consistently top-ranked in Golf Digest magazine as one of the nation's best golf destinations, the First Coast deservedly shares the spotlight with some of the world's best regions.

"Here, you will find great climate, affordable housing, fantastic beaches, open waterways, a thriving downtown, years of steady economic growth, a strong workforce, no state income tax and no snow days," Vasana said.

See print copy.

Florida Times Union