Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Fall Market Update

The weather lately has been absolutely beautiful. The air feels great outside, and it makes sense again why so many owners block off their homes from the rental market and come and enjoy them for themselves in October. We still haven’t had any oil, and it looks like the Gulf Coast is going to be just fine. Come on down and enjoy it for yourself.

There hasn’t been a huge flood of buyers back in the market now that the oil threat is moving on, but there has been a steady flow. I currently have 7 properties under contract, which is the most I’ve had at any one time since before the oil threat began. There are a total of 70 properties under contract, which is another solid number. There don't seem to be any serious concerns about oil that are still keeping buyers from acting.

Everything points to 2010 still having the most number of properties sell since 2005. The majority of prices haven’t started going back up, but the discounts have remained enough to get buyers to purchase. It's also the first time in years that buying is cheaper than renting in some situations. Many sales have resulted when banks and other sellers have put prices out there so low that people just can’t pass them up. I have 2 listings under contract now that received multiple offers before going under contract. I have also had 2 buyers in the last 10 days that made offers on properties that received multiple offers and our offers were not the highest and best. My point here is to illustrate that the best deals are getting significant interest.

More good news is that we are having a bonus red snapper season this fall. The season will include Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays beginning Oct. 1 and extending for eight consecutive weekends through Sunday, Nov. 21. That gives fishermen an extra 24 days to enjoy Gulf red snapper fishing at a time when the weather is usually very nice and on weekends when most people are able to take off from work. The first two weekends of this season brought down a nice extra crowd of fisherman and visitors. It seems everybody is catching a limit of good red snapper except me. I’ve been busy the past few weekends working with interested buyers looking around for a deal of their own.

One of my favorite events in Mexico Beach is The Art and Wine Festival. This event is being held Saturday, October 16th, at The Driftwood Inn. The event will feature local seafood, fine wines, live auction, musical entertainment, and plenty of amazing artwork.

# of Sales 2009 vs 2010

Last year from 1/1/09-10/6/2009- 206 Sales
This year from 1/1/09-10/6/2010- 302 Sales

Remember, more property sold in 2009 than any year since 2005, so there is a significant amount of buying going on in 2010. Around ½ of the sales remain either short sales or foreclosures. The prices for homes have remained much steadier than the vacant lot market. There will be a sale every now and then for a home at a higher price and then one or two at a lower price, but it’s been pretty steady with the home prices lately. There are a good number of vacant lots selling, but it’s taking big discounts to attract the buyers, and we have seen some new lower selling prices for vacant property. The lower priced properties are continuing to get the attention this year while the gulf front and other higher end properties are selling very slowly. Out of over 300 sales this year, only 28 properties have sold for more than $300,000 and only 9 have sold for more than $500,000. A big reason for this is obviously that prices are down so much that many properties that were once selling for over $500K are now selling for well under $300K. There have been many great deals and it's unbelievable how cheap some of the vacant lots are selling for these days.

Financing rates remain incredible. Thanks to Amber Lowry (850-227-4492) at Vision Bank for helping me this week with a rate update. I’ll also add that for mortgages on primary homes, there are options available with 0% down and other programs that only require 10% down. For a second home, plan to put down at least 20%. Investment loans and vacant lot loans remain much more difficult to acquire and don't have near as attractive rates. 30yr loans are as low as 4.25% and there are 15yr products that are as low as 3.625%. With rates that low, if you purchased a $200,000 second home with 20% down and got a 30 yr mortgage at 4.375%, your principal and interest payment is $798/month. Not bad. There is an easy to use loan calculator on my website if you would like to figure up payments for any loan scenarios.

I have been updating the Top 25 on MEXICOBEACHSALES.COM at least twice a week and have added a section with the best deals on The Cape. Below are some of my favorite deals right now. There are good deals not featured on our MLS which can’t be included on the links below. You can find those at MEXICOBEACHSALES.COM. Still included on the site is all listed foreclosures/shortsales, recent sales, and other interesting information.

Best Deals on the Market:
Mexico Beach/St. Joe Beach/Windmark
Vacant lots: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206725496
Residences: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206725499

Cape San Blas/Indian Pass
Residences: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206725503
Vacant Lots: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206726656

Port St. Joe

Please let me know if I can assist with any of your buying or selling needs.

Take care,

Zach Childs
Broker-Port St. Joe Realty
Cell: 850-819-0833

Friday, August 27, 2010

Life on the Gulf Coast is starting to return to normal. The fear we had for months that oil could ruin the area for years has greatly subsided. The fishing waters off this area have all been opened, and the MBARA Kingfish Tournament that my father directs will be taking place as usual this weekend. Last year brought just under 200 boats, and we hope to have another big crowd this year. I will be helping out and filming a TV show Friday night at the captain’s party at the El Governor. I hope to see you there and good luck fishing. My team is currently 9th in the first annual Panhandle Kingfish Slam, and we’re going to need a whole bunch of luck to make up that many spots in the final tournament. The great news is that we were able to have all of the planned fishing tournaments this year. Most of us thought the first tournament would be the last of the year and possibly for years to come, as the media scared us to death with their talk of all the devastation that the oil would bring. You can read all about the tournament, fishing waters, tournament standings, reef sites, and more from the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association which has raised over $1,000,000 at their redesigned website, http://www.mbara.org/.Below I'm with my Dad and a 30# king.

There have been a good number of people looking at property over the last month. I would say that I’ve shown as many people around this August as I did last year. We are starting to get back into the market where the best deals are going quickly, but it’s taking most buyers a few months to find something that they are happy with within their price range. I personally dropped a contract on a lot I was buying in early June when the seller offered to let me out because of the oil threat. Those were some very uncertain months. That lot actually closed a few weeks ago for more than I had it under contract for. I am confident things are going to be okay and did buy a different property a few weeks ago. The buying slowed down over the last few months with the fear of oil, but it didn’t stop.

Many buyers have the impression that prices are way down since the oil scare, but this is not the case. There have been some slight reductions, but nothing drastic happened to prices because of the oil. It did keep a number of properties from getting offers this summer, and this may lead to further reductions in prices this fall. I would say the number of closings over the last 4 months is down 50-70% from where it would have been without the oil threat. In my last newsletter I tried to stress what a busy summer it looked like it was going to be with so many buyers looking. Since so many buyers were looking to buy, even with most dropping out for a few months, there were more closings this summer than last summer.

# of closings from May 1st to August 24th (Gulf County and Mexico Beach)
2009: 94 closings http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206664012
2010: 118 closings http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206664015

The Scallop Festival on Aug. 6th–8th was great fun and brought a nice crowd. Since that event, Gulf County received $250,000 from BP that has to be spent directly on marketing and events with hopes of bringing people to the county before the end of the summer. Mexico Beach received additional funding, and we could have some great concerts and events coming up shortly. http://www.starfl.com/news/tourism-21429-county-money.html I don’t often mention politics, but many of you have asked about some of the things going on the last few months. Two Gulf County Commissioners that had been serving close to 20 years each were defeated Tuesday night by 2 newcomers promising to bring positive change to the area: http://www.starfl.com/news/county-21434-peters-traylor.html

School has started back, and our big crowds won’t be seen again this year with the exception of a few big weekends and happenings. There should be some great, exciting events with all of the BP money that must be spent to draw tourists in the next month or two. Heading into September I guess summer has been as good as it could be with the oil threat. Thank God nothing serious has come of the oil here, and I hope that everything will be completely normal by next spring. Meanwhile, it’s just about gridiron time. Good luck to everyone’s team, especially Florida State.

We did have one of our local banks get taken over on July 30th by the FDIC. I feel very sorry for the stockholders who lost money on this investment and especially sorry for anyone who lost their job. Coastal/Bayside Bank has been taken over by Centennial Bank out of Arkansas. They are open for business, and you can learn more at this website http://www.coastalcommunitybank.com/. This bank had a lot of hard working, good people, but they were very tied to the local real estate market, and we all know how much real estate values have declined. It has been rumored for 2 years that this takeover would happen. It’s a relief to many that it has happened, and everyone involved can move forward with the stronger bank that took them over.

There are 70 properties that are currently under contract. This number is higher than it would be if some of these short sales weren’t taking months to work out, but it does mean there are 70 buyers trying to close on a piece of property right now. 37 out of the 70 properties are listed as either being short sales or foreclosures. http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206664022 . I've had a very busy day since I wrote that paragraph on Wednesday. Today I've put 3 more of my listings under contract to bring the total number of under contract properties up to 73.

Proposed property tax notices started being mailed out this week. Most people’s assessments and tax bills are down from last year. I have mostly heard from people that they are pretty pleased with their reductions. Still, many are tired of paying these taxes. I’m getting calls from a few sellers that are ready to just sell and move on. The market may see a few good deals hit the market from sellers like these. This is a much more common thought on vacant lots vs. properties people are actually using. Below are two aerials recently taken over The Cape & Windmark Beach Town Center.

Be sure to check out the new listings at mexicobeachsales.com. I’m also listing 8 foreclosures for RBC in the coming days at some great prices. There have been some exceptional deals from the lowest priced listings on up. It’s also been almost 5 months since the last sale of a Gulf front single family home in Mexico Beach or St. Joe Beach. All of these gulf fronts are priced to sell. http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206665887 Below are other properties that are great opportunities. I have been updating the top 25 on Mexicobeachsales.com at least 3 times a week. Please also remember you can find all foreclosures and short sales at mexicobeachsales.com as well as mexicobeachforeclosures.com and capesanblasforeclosures.com. If you don’t see what you are looking for, please tell me what you want so that I can be looking for you.

Best Deals on the Market:

Mexico Beach

Residences: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206665927

Vacant Lots: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206665928

Cape San Blas:

Residences: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206665930

Vacant Lots: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206665964

Port St. Joe:


Take care and tight lines,

Zach ChildsBroker- Port St. Joe Realty

Cell: 850-819-0833


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Market and Oil Update- Our Coast is Still Clear

We have constantly talked and worried about the threat of oil for the last 3 months. We have claims offices and clean up workers everywhere, but thankfully, no oil. I think the news has scared us all and we’ve watched and waited but still have not had any confirmed oil arrive at Mexico Beach or any of the Gulf County beaches. Despite this, we battle the perception that there is oil on our beaches. The good news is that it looks like we are going to salvage a pretty good summer. The crowds are down a little, but it hasn’t been disastrous. I know one of the larger rental companies is on track to have their best year yet. These visitors aren’t buying real estate right now, but at least our restaurants, motels, and stores that depend so heavily on the summer season have been doing okay. We’ve even gotten a fair share of new vacationers who came from places where there was oil, and many are planning to come back. Many others vacationers and second home owners keep coming each chance they get just in case there is oil in the future. If you have plans to come to the beach right now, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to change those plans at least for the next several weeks. This is a local website that gives updates and shows a number of beach cameras showing the “Coast is Clear”.

Scallop season opened early this year and most people are finding all that they want. Fishing has been great, and it may be the best year I can remember. I love going fishing and have had some great trips. Below are a pictures from the last few weeks, including one of my dad and an 84# cubera snapper & my 43# wahoo.

How’s the market? It’s not dead, but it’s not the great summer it looked like we were going to have prior to the oil threat. Everything pointed to a ton of property selling this summer before the oil threat began. I think my situation gives a good representation of the current market. In May, I had roughly 15 buyers that were ready to purchase as soon as we could find the right property. 12 of the 15 adopted a “wait and see” attitude about what is going to happen with the oil. I’m getting some sales calls and new inquiries, but most people just want information and have no plans to purchase until the oil situation is resolved. There were so many buyers looking to purchase at the beginning of this summer that even with the majority on hold, there have been more closings this summer than last summer. Last year from May 1st to July 14th there were 56 closings. This year for the same time period, there have been 62 closings. That's amazing to me that the majority of buyers are on hold and we've still had more closings. There were going to be a lot of sales this summer if not for the oil. It’s most unfortunate for the sellers who looked like they would sell this summer without having to give further discounts. There’s still property selling, but the volume is not what it was in March and April when there were more and more buyers, and almost every good deal was getting multiple offers. Those of you who follow the market closely will be surprised at some of the deals that have not sold on my Top 25 at Mexicobeachsales.com.

The one positive effect from the oil threat on the market has been on long term rentals. BP has hired hundreds of workers to be here in case they need to clean up oil. These people need places to stay, and many have been paying very high rental rates. I have seen a number of places which normally rent for $1,200/month that are now renting for $3,000/month. (The renters do get all of their utilities included at this price.) The downside is that these workers must be allowed to cancel with just a 15 day cancellation notice because they need to move if the oil doesn’t get here or they are needed in other areas. I hope they all have to cancel their leases. On a very positive note, I’ve met a lot of these workers, and the majority are under the impression that it’s not going to get bad here.

What about these super low prices on Condos? There have been and are some new condos priced in the $50K range. They are located about ¼ mile from the beach in a development called Palmetto Plantation. It’s an unfortunate situation that’s a good example of a worst-case scenario in a condo/homeowner’s association. Most of the condo projects did certain things to save owners and developers money. One way they do this is to have one water meter with the city, and the water payment is included in HOA dues. This saves everybody. However, when an HOA lacks sufficient funds, this is a big problem. A number of owners weren’t paying their mortgages, much less their HOA dues. The HOA didn’t have the money then to pay the city for water. After months of failure to pay, the water was turned off by the city. Insurance was also combined and included in the HOA dues. I’m told this wasn’t being paid either. Since there was no water, the buildings were condemned because of fire codes. This project has had some new owners buy in and work out some items with the city. There are now two functioning buildings that do have water. It’s risky buying in these, but also maybe a great deal. These units are getting tons of interest by people who want a cheap place at the beach, but they can’t get loans on them. There is a good chance cash buyers will end up buying multiple units in this project and wait until they can get other paying owners to work together to resolve all of the issues.

Keep in mind that a bank will not give a mortgage on any project that is not in good standing. The Summerhouse project is right across from the beach in a good location with attractive, well-built units. There is a concern about this project failing next since the developer that owned about ½ the units filed bankruptcy. Prices have plummeted here, and there’s one 3 BR short sale now listed at $135,000. However, projects don’t always fail when it looks bad. Waterside Village was shaky a year ago and now looks very healthy with 24 units selling this year.
Rates on 30 and 15 year mortgages are near 50-year lows. Amber Lowry at Vision Bank told me this morning that she can do 30-year loans at 4.5% and 15-year loans at 4.125%. Even if you’re not looking to buy, it is a great time to consider refinancing. Her cell phone number is 850-227-4492 or you can email her at: alowry@visionbankfl.com. Superior Bank is another good local lender and you can reach Sam Tyus at 850-509-2442 or Sam.Tyus@superiorbank.com.

Short Sales vs. Foreclosures: This is confusing to many people. I try to address it each year in a newsletter since many of you have been added this year. A foreclosure is a property that a bank has foreclosed on and is now owned by the bank. A short sale is when the individual who owns a property tries to sell for less than they owe a bank. Short sales usually require quite a bit of negotiations with the seller's bank and are not all the time successful. Just because a short sale is listed at $399,000, that does not mean the seller’s bank is going to accept that amount. I know that can be very frustrating, and it can drive realtors and buyers crazy. You can often get a great deal on a short sale, but you may need to be patient as it often takes months to try and work out the details. A foreclosed property is different. Once it’s been foreclosed on and the bank owns it, it's a usually a much simpler process to purchase these properties. There are presently 76 foreclosed properties on the market. There are 19 foreclosed residences and 57 foreclosed vacant lots on the market. There are an additional 88 properties listed as short sales, 51 are residences and 37 are vacant lots. You can find these updated daily on the foreclosure link at MexicoBeachsales.com.

Best Deals on the Market
Mexico Beach/St. Joe Beach/ Windmark
Vacant lots
Cape San Blas/Indian Pass
Vacant lots
Port St. Joe

It was great to hear the reports last night that the oil has been stopped for the first time. Let's all hope the fix works and we can begin moving forward.

Take care,

Zach Childs
Broker- Port St. Joe Realty
Cell: 850-819-0833

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas-Sales Way Up-New Hospital & Airport-Oil?

I hope everyone is doing well and looking forward to a nice Summer. The buying momentum has carried over from last year and the market has seen a lot of closings. 2009 had the highest number of sales since 2005. This year we’ve almost doubled the number of sales we have had year to date. From 1/1/09- to 5/24/09 there were 80 sales. For the same time period this year, there have been 153 closings. Most new listings that are priced aggressively are getting multiple offers. Many properties are closing over asking price. The idea of closing over asking price would have seemed crazy a year ago and is no longer uncommon. I’ve had 17 closings this year and 4 of my listings have closed over asking price.
Mexico Beach/ St. Joe Beach is by far the most active market with almost twice as many sales as any other area. (All sales for this year are below) The Cape also has a lot of ready buyers; the reason for fewer sales seems to be there have been less great deals available. There was one foreclosure listed earlier this year that was a Fannie Mae foreclosure. There is a new rule with some of the Fannie Mae foreclosures that no offers can be accepted within the first 5 days the property is on the market. In the 5 days, there were ten offers. I had a buyer offer $30K over asking price, close in 7 days, no contingencies. We were told that our offer was appreciated, but we were neither the first or second place offer. In these situations where there are multiple offers, the sellers/banks are making a common counter. They are countering each buyer with “bring your highest and best offer”. It’s tough to know what to bid and most properties that get to this point are closing over asking price.

The majority of properties on the market are not priced at these low prices. For certain property types like gulf view condos, there are a lot of buyers waiting on the next deal. Not many traditional sellers are willing to sell for a 70% loss, which means buyers are usually waiting on the next foreclosure or short sale. Over half of the sales in 2010 have been a short sale or foreclosure even though only 1 out of 6 listings is a short sale or foreclosure. The big banks are pricing their foreclosures at very aggressive prices that result in quick sales. With significant competition for the best deals and the fact most listings are priced well over what comparable properties have sold for, it’s not that easy to find a great deal for every property type right now. Many buyers are getting frustrated because they wanted they wanted a place to use by Spring. I’m hearing buyers say more and more that they wish they would have bought that property they liked last year. Rather than somebody coming down and looking at 10 good deals one day and picking one, it’s taking most buyers much longer now to find a deal they are happy with. Most buyers are losing out on the first deal they go after and then they get very serious with their next opportunity. I think there are many good deals that are still to come. It does look like buyers are going to have to get used to having to compete for the very best deals and you may have to look around more than one time.

You can always make offers if you think an asking price is too high. I recently sold what is probably the nicest house in Mexico Beachfor $240,000 less than the asking price. I have sold others this year for 40%-50% of their asking prices. It’s hard not to want to make a low offer, but I don’t advise this when a property comes out listed at a great deal. I have not seen a bank move more than a few percent from their asking price in the first month a property is listed.You will more than likely lose out to another buyer, but I’m always happy to write offers and it may be worth a try. There are still lots of properties that have been on the market for years. These properties usually have the sellers that are more likely to take far below their asking prices.

Do I think it’s a good time to buy and invest in the market? Yes. Am I buying anything? Yes. I’ve personally bought or partnered with others and bought 5 properties in the last 6 months and have contracts on 2 more. I think it makes sense as an investment to buy quality lots in desirable areas that are selling for 15 to 20 cents on the dollar from 2005 prices. Condos and other residences are being purchased for 30-40 cents on the dollar and these can obviously be used and enjoyed and also offer potential rental income. Many of you plan to retire here and have decided to buy now that new houses have been purchased for less than the vacant lots sold for a few years ago. For some of you thinking of entering the market, many prices are the lowest they have been in 10 years. There have been good deals everywhere. At one time, nothing was under $800K in Windmark Beach. There was a closing this year for $45,000. There are townhouses and condos in the low $100’s that formerly sold in the $300’s which is making owning here affordable for more and more people. It may take some time, but let me know what you’re looking for and I’ll do all I can to help you make it a reality.

Two huge new area projects have recently opened. I believe these will both have a tremendous positive effect on the area. The $40 million dollar Sacred Hearth Hospital in Port St. Joeopened March 15. We now have top notch health care that people use to have to drive to Panama City to receive. The new $318 Million Dollar International Airport in Panama City opened this past weekend. This is being referred to as one of the biggest things to happen statewide with an effect that could “change everything”. A smaller project recently completed was the 250' pier extension in Mexico Beach and the new boat ramp is scheduled to be completed in early July. On another good note, I noticed yesterday that Mexico Beach recently made an AOL.com Travel list as a top 35 beach.

Of course the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the oil situation. We don’t have any signs of oil rightnow and I hope we never do. Obviously none of us know for sure exactly what’s going to happen. Is there any effect on the real estate market right now? Yes, the immediate effect has been bigger on vacation rentals. There have been some cancellations. Many others are nervous and want to make sure they can cancel if the oil does come. I have also heard of a few sales contracts cancelled. These all involved people closing this time of year and counting on the big rental income from the next 3 months. Others have postponed closings a week or two to try and get a better understanding of what’s going to happen. Most closings have continued as scheduled. Most buyers have told me they will still happily write offers and close right now if I can find them the property that meets their goals. I do have some buyers that want to wait and see what happens with this situation before purchasing. The next 3-4 months would normally have significantly more closings than any other time period of the year as more people are here vacationing and looking to buy. We were really rolling along well with inventory being reduced and more and more buyers looking to buy. I guess time will tell what long term effect the oil will have on our area and the real estate market. I don’t wish the oil upon any area, but I really hope it stays away from here.
One of the properties I sold recently was our office in Beacon Hill. We still have offices in Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas. We just opened a new office in a much better commercial location in Mexico Beach. This is the office I work out of the most and please feel free to stop by anytime at 3706 Hwy 98. We are in the office formerly occupied by Pelican Real Estate in The Villas of Mexico Beach condominium complex.

Best Deals on the Market:
MexicoBeach/ St. Joe Beach/ Windmark Beach (Mexicobeachsales.comtop 25 and top 15 lots are now being updated at least weekly. I also went back to ranking the best lot deals.The hot products seem to be cheaper lots in the 30’s to $40’s and condos under $200K. There have also been very nice high end houses purchased at great prices.
Residences: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206544958
Vacant Lots: (Not shown are a few new foreclosures just listed in the $30K-$45K range, please let me know if you’re interested) http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206544995

Cape San Blas:
Residences: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206545040
Lots: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206545042

Port. St Joe
Residences: http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=1206545002

What's Sold in 2009? 153 Closings
Mexico Beach/St. Joe Beach: 67 Sales
(The hot properties seem to be cheaper lots in the 30’s to $40’s and condos under $200K. There have also been very nice high end houses purchased at great prices.)

Cape San Blas/Indian Pass: 37 Sales
Buyers are buying whatever they can get a great deal on. Most buyers are continuing to chose the North End of the Cape.

Port St. Joe: 31 Sales
The majority of purchasers have been buying single family homes from $50-$150K with some buyers also looking for heavily discounted vacant lots.
North Gulf County: 18 Sales
Mostly lower end sales with only one closing over $100K

What's Currently Under Contract? 72 Properties
MexicoBeach: 30
Cape San Blas: 28
Port St. Joe: 8

North Gulf County: 6

I hope some of this information is helpful. As always, please let me know if I can help with any of your real estate needs. Mexicobeachsales.com now has links to see all foreclosures and tons of other real estate information. If you’re coming down this weekend, there is a music festival in Port St. Joe on Saturdaythat should be a lot of fun. For those of you that like me that like to fish, red snapper season comes in Tuesday and fish are everywhere.

(Recent Aerial taken in Mexico Beach showing the pier extension)

Have a Great Holiday,

Zach Childs
Broker- Port St. Joe Realty
Cell: 850-819-0833

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy New Year- 311 Sales in 09' and What to Expect in 2010

Happy New Year to Everyone,I know we are all excited and looking forward to 2010. 2009 was a mixed year that many are glad to see behind us. It was definitely a year full of buyers taking advantage of the low prices. The subject line was not a mistake. It does seem hard to believe, but a remarkable 311 properties were sold in the combined area of Mexico Beach and Gulf County in 2009. For this area, that’s a high number of sales. It’s the most sales since 2005, up significantly from 217 sales in 2008. The 2nd half of the year was particularly stronger with 197 sales last year vs. only 115 sales in the 2nd half of 08. The buying momentum is continuing with 57 properties currently under contract. I will show you all of the sales and break them down below along with the trends and my predictions for 2010. Since my last newsletter, 8 out of my top 10 picks on MexicoBeachSales.com have sold or are currently under contract.

There seems to be a steady stream of more and more buyers looking to buy distressed and aggressively priced properties while the market is down. These buyers appear to be end users that want these properties rather than people speculating and trying to make quick money. Out of 311 sales, there were less than 15 properties put back on the market. I would like to thank everybody for such a wonderful year. I was able to find many buyers their dream property at great prices. I also sold a lot of my listings for sellers that needed to sell. Port St. Joe Realty finished the year ranked #1 in sales volume for the combined Gulf County Area and Mexico Beach. I’m very proud to say we were the first company for this area since 2005 to have more than $20,000,000 in sales volume. I personally finished #2 on MLS in sales volume for the same area with 37 transaction sides totaling $8,314,911. I still have a ton to learn with lots of room for improvement. I really enjoy what I do and look forward to getting better at serving your real estate needs. I have many New Year’s resolutions focused on doing just that.

2009: 307 Total Sales(Click links below to view)
Mexico Beach/St. Joe Beach/Windmark: 132 Sales
Cape San Blas and Indian Pass: 103 Sales
Port St. Joe: 49 Sales
North Gulf County: 27 Sales

There are some exciting new infrastructure projects set to open in 2010 that seem to only be able to help the area. The new international airport is set to open on May 23rd, 2010. It got a huge boost when Southwest Airlines announced recently that it would be coming to the new airport. Vacationers rarely flew to the old airport because it was so expensive. Southwest is already offering many flights for only $69 and will be flying 2 daily non-stop flights to Nashville, Baltimore, Houston, and Orlando. There are many people and organizations including The St. Joe Company that donated the land for the airport who feel that this is a huge announcement. Top leaders are quoted as comparing this to winning the Super Bowl, and the St. Joe CEO is quoted as saying, “This will change the destiny of Northwest Florida.”

Another development that may have an even bigger immediate effect is the March opening of the new Sacred Heart Hospital located in Port St. Joe. Don’t forget that Gulf County and Mexico Beach do not currently have a hospital. This has kept many retirees from choosing this area because of the lack of nearby medical care. Additionally, it’s going to bring a significant number of quality paying jobs to Port St. Joe. The homebuyer tax credit of $8,000 has been extended until April 30th and has a good number first time buyers looking at homes, mostly under $200,000. Rates on a 30 year mortgage are still around 5%. The idea that rates may rise this year also has some potential buyers wanting to go ahead and purchase to ensure a historically low rate.

We are starting to run out of the “great deals”. Buyers aren’t dumb these days. They bought 311 of the best deals on the market. A common discussion that I am having with fellow Realtors these days is about how few of the “no-brainer” great deals are left on the market. I was at a class with a number of other Realtors this week and the consensus seems to be that the St. George Island and Mexico Beach markets have had the most demand and thus have the fewest deals left. There are still deals and more to come; it just seems the number to choose from is getting smaller and smaller. It’s often taking months for me to find a buyer a good deal vs. this time last year when it was a matter of choosing from 4 or 5 different good deals.

2010 looks like it will be a very interesting year. Many signs point to a start of the upturn. The number of properties on the market is down substantially due to so many selling and there seems to be more people looking to buy right now than any time since 2005. I’m not just being optimistic. Look at the number of sales and properties under contract. People are buying. The New Year’s Holiday brought a big crowd and the number of people viewing property compared to the 4th of July. New Year’s Eve here really is a lot of fun, so join us for the celebration. There are trolleys carrying people from Gulf County, which is in the Eastern time zone to Mexico Beach, which is located in the Central time zone. It’s a pretty cool experience that allows you to celebrate the New Year twice.

Out of the 307 sales in 2009, close to half were either a foreclosure or some kind of short sale. The only real negative factor influencing the market is the number of distressed properties that are in or that are potentially going into the foreclosure process in 2010. A great number of the foreclosures have already been sold the past 2 years, but there is still potentially at least another 50-100 properties that could be foreclosed on and hit the market in 2010. What kind of foreclosures and good deals to expect in 2010?

Mexico Beach/St. Joe Beach/WindmarkThe deals, foreclosures, and reductions were across the board in regards to property type with the exception of single-family gulf front properties. The interior single-family home market seems to be stabilizing with just a foreclosure here and there. You may see a few sellers able to sell for slightly more than last year in this category. I do have a heads up on some lots in Gulf County a few hundred yards from the beach that you could build on or put an RV on that are more than likely going to sell very fast when they come out in the mid $20’s. For those of you wanting to park your RV on a lot, remember that Mexico Beach does not allow this, but Gulf County does allow it. Only one foreclosed gulf view condo hit the market in 2009. It looks like there could be 10-30 hit the market in 2010. Most people closed on the condos when the market was very high back in ‘04 and ‘05. There have been almost no sales in the last 3 years because all of these owners have so much invested in them. Now that some foreclosures are occurring, it looks like these very nice units will finally come down to the prices buyers want to pay. It looks like you will be able to get a good condo close to the beach in the mid $100’s. That’s down from the $300 to 500’s people paid a few years ago. There are a lot of potential buyers that like these projects and the idea of almost zero maintenance. This will be a very popular type of property in 2010 that many buyers are waiting to buy. See some of the best deals by clicking here and as always, look on mexicobeachsales.com to see the top 25 deals in this market.

Cape San Blas and Indian PassThe North End of the Cape San Blas remains the most active market. There were a lot of foreclosures gobbled up by buyers in 09. 48 of these were on vacant lots that mostly cash buyers taking advantage of the 50%-85% discounts from 2005. The high end home market was also strong with quite a few sales around around $800,000 for nicer X flood zone Gulf fronts. X flood zone interior lots sold as low as $50,000 and some nice first tier X flood zone lots sold in the $150K range. Many buyers purchased homes at big enough discounts that the rental income can bring them a solid cash flow. With so much demand on the North End, the biggest discounts may be found on the South end of the Cape and Indian Pass in 2010. I do know of one great deal about to be available on a gulf front lot on the North End that was purchased for near $700,000 that will be available in the low $200’s. Remember you can see all foreclosures and short sales listed on Cape San Blas at www.capesanblasforeclosures.com Click here to see some of the other deals.

Port St. JoePort St. Joe does not have the demand for second homes that the other areas do, mainly because it’s not so close to the beach. On the flip side, it does have the most permanent residents and they need somewhere to live. The prices have really come down and the affordability factor is allowing many people that live there to purchase homes as low as $60,000. When you add an $8,000 tax credit to this, that's often makes much more sense than renting. This market has by far the least number of properties on the market and could get a big boost from the new hospital. There have been nice and newer homes purchased as low as $150K and lots in the $20's. Current Best Deals:

If you're looking to buy, sell, or just need advice, I'm here to help.

Stay warm and take care,
Zach ChildsBroker- Port St. Joe RealtyCell: 850-819-0833

Turtle Rescue in St. Joe Bay

I had a pretty cool experience yesterday. I went with some friends and coworkers to the St. Joe Bay when we got an email saying help was needed. We were able to help save about 40 turtles that were in shock from the cold. Most of them were just floating around in the bay and you could drive the boat and pick them up. The people in charge of the rescue said around 500 had been saved in the last few days. They thought almost everyone of them that was brought in would be fine. They had a big Lowes truck they were being loaded up in to take over to Gulf World in Panama City.