Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy New Year-Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas Market Update & More

Happy New Year!
I hope everyone had a wonderful 2010 and is looking forward to a joyous and prosperous 2011. I’d like to thank everyone for another great year. I was able to help get over 30 pieces of property sold and invite you to click here to see what some of my customers had to say about their experiences. I work very hard to give the best service possible. I appreciate the opportunity to work together and have successful relationships with so many of you. I sold a wide range of different properties including the 2 highest sales and the lowest sale in the Mexico Beach/St. Joe Beach Area. I also sold more vacant lots than anyone for the Cape San Blas Area. I enjoy what I do and am especially excited about 2011. I’ve worked with a number of the top companies over the last 6 years and have big plans to open a new company next month. 98 Real Estate Group will be able to offer the highest level of customer service and professionalism. Our agents have been top producers from Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas for years and provide unmatched hands on experience and knowledge of the local market.

I’ve decided to send out an update by answering a few of the questions that I am most frequently asked. Hopefully, some of this information is interesting and helpful to you.

The #1 most asked question is, what are prices doing? It depends on what type of property. I’ve seen some reports out of Panama City saying that prices were up 1% last year. I don’t know if our overall market went up or not. It is clear though that single family homes are doing much better than anything else. Townhouses aren’t far behind holding their values. The prices that did fall last year were condos and residential lots which both sold for new lows in most areas. During the boom there were hundreds of vacant lots and condos that hit the market and were purchased at peak prices. The combination of these vacant lots and condos going into foreclosure combined with the very limited financing that is available for these, limits the number of buyers and causes prices to fall. There are going to be and are some awesome prices on both condos and vacant lots. 2011 might end of up being the year of the condo in Mexico Beach due to banks and struggling developers holding so many units that are finally liquidated.

The 2nd most asked question I get from people looking at property is, what are the taxes, insurance, and HOA fees? This obviously depends on the property, but taxes and insurance have come way down since 2005. A good “guestimate” on what to expect to pay on taxes is 1.2% per year of the purchase price/value. Insurance is getting very reasonable, especially for anything built after 2001, which means it’s built to current building codes. I’m listing a single family home in Windmark Beach on Monday that is paying less than $1,200/year. Remember when it comes to flood zones that X is by far the best and will have the least expensive insurance. HOA fees average $1100/quarter for 2BR condos and usually include insurance, management, trash, water, sewer, and cable. It’s much less for townhouses, but the owners pay individually for the above mentioned items.

Is anything selling? Yes, more property sold in 2010 than any other year since 2005. I’d mentioned in previous newsletters that despite the oil spill threat, 2010 still looked like it would have the most sales since 2005, and it did. 392 properties sold in Gulf County and Mexico Beach in 2010 which is 79 more properties than have sold in any of the last five years.
Mexico Beach/St. Joe Beach/Windmark- 168 Sales
Cape San Blas and Indian Pass- 112 Sales
Port St. Joe-64 Sales
North Gulf County- 48 Sales

How many sales were either short sales or foreclosures? 36% or 143 out of the 392 sales in 2010 were listed as either short sales or foreclosures.

How can I see the best deals on the market? Check the recently updated Top 25 on

Where do people want to buy? We still have a steady stream of buyers wanting second homes, future retirement homes, or investment properties. They key is that these people want to be near the beach. A good rule is that people are buying where the tourists/vacationers want to be. There is a direct correlation between the areas with the whitest beaches and prettiest water to the highest number of sales.
What are the most common properties people are looking to buy in the Mexico Beach/St. Joe Beach Area? There are three types of property that the majority of people contact me to help them find. Beachfront is always close to the top of the list. These properties are most desired and still bring a significant amount more than gulf view and interior properties. Believe it or not, I get more calls from people looking for a lot to put an RV on than anything else. I’m not alone in this and most colleagues say the same. (Mexico Beach does not allow RV’s.) The other popular property type that a lot of people are looking for is a really good deal on a condo or townhouse close to the beach that they can use and/or rent out. Next on the list are gulf view single family homes with rental potential. Close to that are interior single family homes where you can get a lot of bang for your buck. It seems like the least amount of people are looking for interior lots in subdivisions. The majority of buyers these days don’t like the HOA fees and usually more expensive building restrictions. You can find the biggest discount on these, and I’ve sold lots that once went for $250,000 for less than $20,000.

What’s selling on Cape San Blas? There were a total of 112 sales. For the first time that I can remember, there were more vacant lots sold (61) than residences (50). I’m not surprised at this as there were and are some huge discounts on vacant lots on The Cape. There were many lots offered as foreclose/short sales, and buyers couldn’t resist the deals. I led the way for this area on MLS, listing or selling 14 vacant lots. Very attractive listing prices often attracted multiple buyers and raised selling prices. 5 of my 14 sales sold for over asking price. 38 of the 50 residential sales were single family homes. The high sale for the year was a nice gulf front home in Jubilation that brought $950,000. The lone commercial sale was “The Trading Post” which brought $599,000. The North End of the Cape remained by far the most popular area with buyers purchasing 69 properties . The next most popular area was CR-30 with 16 sales. Indian Pass and Cape San Blas South only recorded 11 sales each. There are plenty of buyers waiting for deals on the North End, but it’s much less of a frenzy for the other areas.

What’s selling in Port St. Joe? The St. Joe or “town” market remains slower than the beach markets. Out of 64 sales, 21 were vacant lots, and only 2 were commercial sales. Not one residential lot sold for over $60,000, and most sold for $30,000 or less. 38 out of 41 residences that sold were single family homes. 35 of the 41 sold for $200,000 or less. The highest sale price of the year in PSJ was $350,000.

When should I place my property on the market? The highest number of sales take place during the spring and summer. There are lots of buyers who plan to look at property while they are here on vacation. It’s time to get your property ready and on the market. 98 Real Estate Group is going to be doing about 3 times the advertising I’ve done in years past. I want to get our name out there and help us off to a great start. If you want a lot of exposure for your listing, list it with 98 Real Estate Group. Whether you’re looking to sell now or just curious about your current value, I’m here to help.

Are there many foreclosures left? That answer varies depending on the area and property type you’re asking about. It seems that areas where values are down the most have the most potential for other owners to go into foreclosure. Many are making strategic defaults when they watch banks sell properties almost identical to theirs for as little as 10%-30% of what they owe. I monitor services that give me a heads up on foreclosures usually 3-6 months before they are actually foreclosed on. I’d like to think the foreclosures are behind us, but there will be a significant number in 2011. There are certainly areas that are more stable than others. There has still only been one single family gulf front home from Mexico Beach to Windmark Beach that has been foreclosed on in the last 4 years.

What’s going on with the fishing? The big change this year is that grouper season has been shut down for at least 6 months. 98 Real Estate Group is proud to announce that we are starting back a cobia tournament this year much like the once beloved "Ling Ding". Fishing will be open for the tournament every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from April 1st to the 29th. An award’s party will follow on the 30th. It’s only $150 per boat to enter with an unlimited # of anglers allowed. Weekly winners will be paid along with $2,000 for the biggest fish winner. There’s also a bonus $500 Spanish mackerel division. Feel free to contact me for more information. Halfhitch Tackle and Marquardt’s Marina will both have registration forms and are our official weigh stations.

Did you ever get any oil? Thankfully, there was never any oil that hit our beaches. Are some of these crazy stories about BP claims true? Yes, I have heard of multiple waiters that have received over $100,000 and other small businesses that have received much more than that. Unfortunately, the only profession with a maximum claim amount is real estate sales, with a cap of $12,000. Not everyone is being paid and identical claims from workers from the same places are being denied while others are paid. One reason I am mentioning this is for those of you with rental properties. There's no cap on rental income losses and I've seen some big checks go out to owners that were effected and could document cancellations and/or reduced GRI. I hope the oil spill is behind us, and that those that are paid make good use of the money.

I'm thinking about renting my property this year, who should I use? That depends on your goals and what type of property you would like to rent. My friends at No Worries Vacation Rentals specialize in maximizing rental income for their owners. They produced some great results last year. For example, one home I'm helping a nice couple purchase this week is listed at $425,000, and bringing in over $60,000/year. No Worries handles a limited number of properties and markets them heavily. I'd especially consider them if you are beach front or have a pool.

2011 will offer buyer’s incredible opportunities with some selling prices at over 10 year lows. There are plenty of buyers out there for those sellers willing sell at market prices. It's awful cold right now, but the warm days of relaxing on the beach will be here before you know it. The Gumbo Festival is just around the corner and my team is the defending champion of both the gumbo and Brunswick stew divisions. I hope to see you there and please remember that I am hear to help you. Please feel welcome to drop by my office located in The Villas next to Marquardt's Marina and just past the pier anytime.

Best Wishes,

Zach Childs

1 comment:

Pia's blog said...

Happy new year too' I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing this update. I've got some info.

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