WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BUYING A HOME IN FLEMING ISLAND
Over 27,000 people live in some 10,440 homes on Fleming Island. Fleming Island ranks just behind Ponte Vedra Beach for income in the Jacksonville area. Fleming Island includes the upscale communities of Eagle Harbor, Pace Island and Fleming Island Plantation and the A rated, Fleming Island High School which opened in 2003.
Fleming Island has been called Florida’s Gone With the Wind. The early Fleming family once owned over 1,000 acres in what is now the Fleming Island Plantation (built 1998). The Fleming family included Florida’s 15th governor, Francis Philip Fleming. Margaret Seton Fleming’s private chapel and the family cemetery are still located on the old family estate. Across US 17, Margaret’s Walk is named for Margaret Fleming and the author, Eugenia Price, wrote Margaret’s Story about the life of Margaret Seton Fleming and the Fleming family.
The initial development of Fleming Island Plantation was initiated by Centex Homes in 1998 on some 2,100 acres. The development included some $9 million in structural improvements to US Highway 17. Morrison Homes was also a major home builder in the early 2000’s. More recent home builders include DR Horton, Drees and Dreamfinders. Chances are, if you are buying a home in the primary development of the Plantation or Eagle Harbor, you are considering a home built by Centex, Morrison or DR Horton. Homebuyers should understand most builders here are considered production builders who understand how to provide larger homes to meet a target price point.
The primary home on the island is wood frame and stucco. The goal of the builders was to provide larger size homes on minimal lots. You will find many 2 story homes with 3-4 bedrooms, 3 baths and 2-3 car garages. Bonus rooms are common. Due to the small lot sizes and local community pools, few homes have in-ground pools. Complex roof designs are common and finding a localized leak or two is not uncommon.
As is typical of many production builders, buyers will often receive a larger home in a well maintained community but they will give up custom finishes. Most homes here have builder grade cabinets, trim, floor coverings and fixtures. Carpentry and finishes are satisfactory but not considered high end. It is not uncommon to find the air handler sitting on scrap lumber in the garage or to find cracks in the stucco. Many of the homes are now outside the maximum 10 year builders warranty and some are starting to show signs of distress from neglected maintenance.
The real estate depression of 2008 hit Fleming Island like most areas of the state and we now have a sizeable number of rentals in the community. Owners who may have purchased in 2004 – 2007, may still be upside down in their loans. Of course, this has created opportunity for others who are often able to buy below the original selling price.
With A rated schools, (elementary and high school), local shopping options and a well maintained community with lots of amenities, Fleming Island is a great place to live. Buyers should be careful and consider hiring a qualified home inspector to protect their investment. Many homes are entering the age where they will need significant or expensive repairs. Unfortunately, many homes here were built with 20 year rated roof shingles and many need replacement. Many homes are in need of stucco repairs and many homes were built with EIFS wall systems. Buyers should make sure their home inspector has additional certification in the evaluation of EIFS/Stucco wall systems.
Additionally, we find many homes have none or limited termite protection in place. The original builders relied upon minimal termite bait stations for protection and although these type systems can be effective if properly installed and monitored, we find most homeowners did not renew the protection plan with the original pest control company. Many homes we inspect have not had a professional pest control plan for years. These homes are at or near the life cycle where the lack of maintenance increases the chance of termite infestation. Minor leaks may have been building up for years and wet wood is attractive to the Florida termite. In our observation, less than 1/3 of the homes on the island have active professional pest treatment. This tends to coincide with decreased real estate values – when you no longer have equity in the home, pest control is often the first maintenance item to be deleted! Investors/landlords often leave pest control to the tenant who almost never hires a service. Bank or real estate owned homes never employ a pest control company to protect the home. Buyers should be more mindful in purchasing a home which has been owned by an investor or a foreclosure and they should most definitely include a WDO/termite inspection prior to buying.
Items of concern in purchasing a home on Fleming Island include:
• Stucco or EIFS wall cladding systems
• HVAC (air conditioning)
• Poor sprinkler system design
• Exterior paint/caulking
• Roof systems
• Wood Destroying Organisms, termites and general household pests
Recommended qualifications of a home inspector in Fleming Island:
• Certified General Contractor
• Licensed Pest Control Operator
• Certified EIFS/Stucco Inspector
• Licensed Mold Assessor
• $ 1 million in Errors & Omissions insurance
We live in Fleming Island and we know Fleming Island homes. Our local knowledge and superior qualifications will protect your investment and give you the peace of mind you need in buying in Fleming Island. Call us to discuss your Fleming Island home purchase.
The Building Inspector®