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 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 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 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.