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, 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
2010: 118 closings

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. 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:

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 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. . 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 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. Below are other properties that are great opportunities. I have been updating the top 25 on at least 3 times a week. Please also remember you can find all foreclosures and short sales at as well as and 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


Vacant Lots:

Cape San Blas:


Vacant Lots:

Port St. Joe:

Take care and tight lines,

Zach ChildsBroker- Port St. Joe Realty

Cell: 850-819-0833