Land Speculation and Dubious Deals Still Part of Florida Real Estate Landscape

Flagler Estates – Most lots are inaccessible. Yet 543 lots changed hands within the past two years. 58 are currently listed, priced between $9K and $44K, with a median price of $26K.

April 23, 2007 – Buyers beware. You probably don’t know the whole story.
William F. Tilton owned Flagler Estates known as Gopher Ridge (Ten Thousand Acres). He gave the land to his six sons. It became known as The Six-T Ranch Corp. On July 8, 1969 they sold it to World Wide Development Company of Florida Corp. World Wild cleared the land with the intention of farming. However, it was not financially feasible, so World Wide sold it to Florida General Equities who began the unrecorded subdivision now known as Flagler Estates. Florida General Equities, a defunct corporation, began the promotion and sale of this 10,000 acre farming tract around 1970. The developer did not install the necessary infrastructure as required to serve this development.
In 1971, the Florida Legislature established the Flagler Estates Road and Water Control District. By assessment to each property, revenue was generated to install portions of the necessary infrastructure. These improvements have been limited to Units I, II and III (5,449 lots) lying in St. Johns County (north of Division Street). A Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) was established to dedicate tax dollars toward improving infrastructure and promoting redevelopment. However, progress is slow.
Zoning in the St. Johns portion is very permissive. Residents can put practically any structure on their land. Nearly all streets are dirt or grass covered. For many, this is a plus. However, the low level of public services provided, including limited police presence has spawned problems. Visit or for a glimpse of the issues they face.
The District assessments in Flagler County were phased out by Legislative action. The Legislature found that it is unfair to levy assessments because Flagler County owners cannot feasibly build on their property. District assessments were lowered by 20% per year and eliminated January 1, 2004.
There are 1,935 Flagler Estate lots in the northwest corner of Flagler County. Zoning is R1, which prohibits mobile and modular homes. Average lot size is above one acre. 93 of these lots are designated as conservation and are not usable for residential purposes until and unless the property receives a wetlands alteration permit from the State of Florida (click here for a list of the 93 lots). From the Flagler County website: “No facilities or services are available, or scheduled to become available, in Flagler Estates. Much of the property is low lying and subject to periodic inundation. The streets are not dedicated to the public nor are they deeded to a private or public maintenance entity. Because of the above conditions, Flagler County will not issue building permits for these lots.”

Florida’s concurrency law prohibits development before services are in place. The reality is that St. Johns County is not interested in providing services to southern Flagler Estates. And Flagler County’s ability to provide services at a reasonable cost is limited by geography and density. So many issues need to be addressed, including roads, water, sewer, electric service, schools, police and fire protection.
In spite of this daunting information, sales of Flagler Estate lots continue, although at a reduced pace. The number of transactions peaked in June ’05 with 60 sales. There were 155 sales in 2006. An examination of public records and listing data reveals some interesting information, some of which begs further questions.
Lawrence Tilton, same last name as the original land owner, has been involved in over one hundred transactions.
  • He accumulates lots at very low prices, selling them in bulk to others.
  • He has sold a batch of lots to Stewart Mitchell for $150K and a batch to G.A.M.E. Investments, Inc. for $360K.
  • Mitchell still owns 5 lots, G.A.M.E owns 33 lots.
  • Tilton is listed as the current owner of 50 lots, some of which have the conservation designation (cannot build).
Pan Florida Land Acquisitions currently holds 9 lots. They show up on several transactions:
  • Bought a lot on 3/7/06 for $17.5K and sold it on 3/23/06 for $25K.
  • Bought a lot on 4/20/06 for $18.5K then sold it for $40K four months later.
  • Bought for $17.5K in April ’06 and sold for $29K the next month.
Other names with trading success rivaling Pan Florida are:
  • DMS Ventures
  • Line 13 Properties LLC
  • Nathan Oliver
Only five sales agents represent forty-six of the fifty-eight Flagler Estate lots listed.
  • One listed lot carries the conservation designation (cannot build). This is not noted on the listing.
  • Public records show that two listed lots are owned by the listing agency, but the listing does not disclose this fact, as required.
  • Several listings include the following statement: “once these services are in place building permits will be issued. County estimates it will take two years.” This statement is not substantiated by the county’s website.
  • Most listing give directions to the lot (implying that you can actually get there), but most lots are inaccessible.
  • One lot is advertised on a well known commercial real estate website for $45,000 with no disclosures. The lot is described as "high and dry" – which is where the next buyer will be.
Buyers – learn the facts before you buy. Sellers (and their agents) – be careful to disclose any information required by law and the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) regulations. The local Board of Realtors® states that they are working to correct any erroneous listings.
You may not have noticed, but the current median selling price for a Palm Coast Lot (on a paved road, with access to water, sewer, electricity, cable, police and fire protection, schools, and shopping) is $50K. Some recent sales have been as low as $30K. And you can build on them now.
2 replies
  1. jeannine garnett
    jeannine garnett says:

    thank you

    Thanks Toby for the info. I have thought of buying an inexpensive lot in that area in the past. Now, I know better and will stay away from those lots.

    Jeannine Garnett

  2. Alan M
    Alan M says:

    Are You Sure?

    Seems like a \”down-and-dirty\” side of things. And I 100% agree with exposing these things that ultimately put any buyer at risk. But I’m not sure if all of your information is correct. I called a friend of mine and found different information. The search they did revealed over 150 lots for sale in Flagler Estates and represented by over 50 different agents. Not as scandalous sounding in light of those numbers.

    In regards to the \”misrepresentations\” you specified, isn’t that something you would bring before your organization? When is that being done, or has it already been done? Because if this is a situation of individuals misleading buyers aren’t you obligated to report that? Wouldn’t that be the best course of action? When will we hear the results of that disciplinary action (i.e. who, what, when, where?)? It would be interesting to hear how this Board of Realtors addresses this don’t you think? Shouldn’t that be information we hear about also?

    We can look for that article soon?

    Alan M

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