I hope that everyone has had a wonderful year. I’m pleased to report that from Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas, there have been more closings in 2011 than any year since 2005. There have already been 413 sales as people continue to buy up the heavily discounted properties. A large majority of these sales were either short sales or foreclosures that have currently accounted for 168 closings in 2011. (There were only 190 sales for all of 2008) There is also an additional 91 properties currently under contract.
Higher sales volume paired with many owners withdrawing their listings (until the market will allow them to sell for higher prices in the future) has decreased the number of properties on the market considerably. There were over 1,450 properties on the market in December of 2006 compared to less than 840 today. The beach properties remain the most active markets and below is the breakdown of where the closings have occurred as well as links to see the properties that have sold in 2011 through December 12th.
Mexico Beach/St. JoeBeach/WindMark-193 Closings-http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=2061345910
Cape San Blas/C-30/IndianPass-143 Closings-http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=2061345911
Port St. Joe/Highland View/Oak Grove- 75 Closings-http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=2061345914
Mexico Beach/ St. Joe Beach/ WindMark Residences-http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=2061353062
Mexico Beach/ St. Joe Beach/ WindMark Vacant lots-http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=2061353066
Cape San Blas/Indian Pass Residences- http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=2061359409
Cape San Blas/Indian PassVacant lot- http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=2061359413
Port St. Joe Residences- http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=2061353068
Port St. Joe Vacant Lots- http://www.rafsg.net/RAFSGReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=2061353070
Not just tourism and real-estate sales were up in 2011. The local business climate has been improving and we’ve had some great additions in the area. This is most noticed in Port St. Joe. A new CVS, Dollar General Market, and remodeled McDonalds will greet you now as you enter town from Hwy 98. These updates along with the additions on Reid Avenue are greatly improving the Port St. Joe downtown shopping experience. We love the small town feel and these additions as well as the new hospital and number of other locally owned businesses make it more convenient to live in the area without having to rely on a trip to Panama City for products and services. We also saw the opening of Bailey’s Crab House in St. Joe Beach and Tripletails Oyster Bar in Simmons Bayou. I’ve enjoyed great meals at both of these places and am glad to have them as additional options for fresh seafood. Another place that I recommend trying (that many people haven't been to) is the beautiful Boondock’s Restaurant in WindMark Beach.
Not all businesses have fared well and the turmoil and transition in the banking world should be pointed out. Superior Bank, Coastal Community, and Bayside Savings were all taken over by the FDIC this year. Centennial Bank took over Coastal Community and Bayside. They also reached an agreement in November to purchase the struggling Vision Bank. Superior was taken over by a holding company out of Texas and merged with another bank that was taken over to form New Cadence. Capital City is the only bank still operating under the same ownership in the area that was here in 2005.
Despite all the hardships the local banks have faced, banks have the best appetite for lending that they have had in years. Mortgage rates are near 60 year lows, hovering around 4% for a 30 year mortgage. Banks seem most willing to loan to primary and 2nd home buyers looking to purchase single family homes and townhouses. There is some financing available for condos and vacant lots, but the terms aren’t nearly as attractive for these properties as they are for the single family homes and townhouses. Appraisals are one of the biggest concerns I have in moving forward. Appraisals coming in lower than the agreed contract price is hindering more deals for buyers and sellers than anything else. This can be very frustrating for buyers and sellers. It’s not uncommon for a deal to be cancelled and then the next buyer agrees to pay the same amount as the first buyer and has no problem getting an appraisal at contract price.
New Year’s Eve on the Coast has been attracting more and more people each year as people enjoy celebrating at the local restaurants and bars in Gulf County in the Eastern time zone and then riding a trolley to Mexico Beach and celebrating again in the Central time zone. It’s a fun experience known as “Celebrate Safe, Celebrate Twice” that I recommend everyone giving a try.
One of my favorite local events is the Mexico Beach Gumbo Festival that will be held on February 18th. This event raises money for the 4th of July fireworks show. Our cooking team has won the gumbo division twice and Brunswick stew division in 2010. We look forward to competing and helping out again.
Broker/Owner 98 Real Estate Group