Friday, May 27, 2011

It's Summer and There's Lots to Do- Market Update‏

Happy Memorial Day weekend,

Summer is here and so are the people that love to visit. The sense of optimism continues and we’ve added a number of nice amenities and new businesses since last year. We’re still your small and quiet coastal area, but it’s nice to see the additional activities and services available to those that visit the area. As more people visit and like the area, a percentage of them will buy and help raise prices. I’m showing around a number of people now that fell in love with the area during their first visit this Spring. Don’t worry, there aren’t any huge changes and Mexico Beach and Cape San Blas still don’t have red lights. There have been 157 sales this year which is keeping 2011 on pace to have 10%-15% more sales in 2011 than any any year since 2005. There are an additional 70 properties currently under contract. More good news for those wanting prices to go up is that inventory is being reduced at steady rate. Today, there are almost 200 less properties listed than there were a year ago and over 500 less than there were 3 years ago.

The new sidewalk that now takes you from one end of Mexico Beach to the other has been a great addition. I’d like to thank the city council for sticking to their plan and bringing this to the community despite all of the objections over this project. Everyone I’ve talked to loves it and first time visitors can’t believe it hasn’t always been here. The City of Port St. Joe constructed a very nice gazebo next to City Hall. The construction of a very well laid out kayak park/volleyball court/recreational area at Salinas Park and a new fire station is also complete at Cape San Blas. These are all great additions that are making this area more attractive and visitor friendly.

Two of the biggest additions of new businesses that you will notice are the new beach version of Dollar General in St. Joe Beach and the relocated/expansion of CVS in Port St. Joe.

What are the best deals right now? As we are running out of foreclosures, more and more sellers are trying short sales and pricing their property at great prices. They are called “short” because the sellers owe more than their asking price and their proceeds will fall short of what their bank is owed. Sometimes the seller is required to pay part of the difference and sometimes the bank will take the whole loss. If a bank feels that a foreclosure is the only other option, they are usually more willing to work with a seller on a short sale. Short sales can be very tricky and often frustrating for both the buyer and seller. I’ve got a number of buyers that won’t look at short sales because of all the obstacles associated with them and how long it usually takes to get answers. I’ve got a number of other buyers that have jumped through all of the hoops and ended up purchasing awesome deals.

Once a seller decides to try a short sale, they really need an offer from a qualified buyer to see if the bank will work with them or not. One of my former #1 picks on was a short sale right across from the dedicated beach that was reduced from $429,000 to $220,000. This was not my listing and $220,000 was an awesome price. I had multiple people offering the asking price and more. There were near 10 offers in that I knew of and the seller ended up countering everyone way over asking price. It ended up closing 103 days later for $107,000 over the asking price. That was still a very good price. The banks that are working with the sellers will order an appraisal during the short sale process. They will give the buyers a good deal, but will not sale for substantially less than the current appraised value. I’ve never seen them take more that 15% less than the appraised value. That’s about as much as I’ve seen a foreclosure sell for under asking price as well. I wouldn’t say to pass on a short sale if it’s a great deal, just be prepared for some extra waiting and uncertainty. was just updated with the best deals for the Mexico Beach to WindMark Area and I’ve now starting adding the top 5 best deals in Port St. Joe on the Top 25. Remember that you can always find all of the foreclosures and short sales on including a page for my other site, Here are some of the other best deals for Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas.

Cape San Blas and Port St. Joe Residential Deals:

I’m excited about all of the new businesses that have opened this year and the others that have upgraded to larger locations. Two restaurants, not pictured, are also scheduled to open very soon. It’s nice to see the commercial market getting active and healthier again. Some of the new businesses opened include: a sunset tour boat, women’s clothing/bathing suit store, a dive store, golf cart sales, bike rentals, interior decorating, a shaved ice/hot dog stand, and an ice cream/frozen yogurt store. It will be nice to have all of these services and products available and give the area a more “beachy” feel.

98 Real Estate Group that opened this year is rolling along well and we’ve had 32 closings as of May 24th. I’ve closed 17 personally and have 7 more under contract. The “Ling Ding Fishing Tournament” that we hosted in April ended up with 61 boats. With the proceeds earned, the tournament was able to donate $1,500 to the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association and have a reef named after this year’s tournament. We also donated $1,000 to the Forgotten Coast Warrior Weekend. This event is associated with another great fishing tournament called The Bluewater Outrigger Charity Classic. I’m very proud that we’ve teamed with Big Fish Construction and will be one of 10 teams taking a veteran that was wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq fishing out for a special tournament for the veterans on June 3rd. The whole weekend should be a lot of fun with a free concert featuring Julie Roberts on Saturday night. Below is a 70 plus lb wahoo caught by one of the veterans that had lost both legs in combat.
I’m here to help however I can. If you’re curious about what your property is worth or are thinking about selling, now is the time, as summer is upon us. If you’re looking to buy, I need to know what you’re looking for so that I can help you find it. This link will show you some remarks that people I have worked with in the past had about their experiences working with me.

Take care,

Zach Childs
Broker/Owner 98 Real Estate Group
Cell: 850-819-0833
Fax: 888-382-9608

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Late Spring Market Update-Mex​ico Beach to Cape San Blas-98

Things are going well at your favorite Coastal area. There’s a sense of optimism everywhere and there were some great crowds down enjoying the beach for Spring Break. I heard over and over again on the weekends from different business owners that it felt like the 4th of July did 10 years ago. I’ve seen rental companies cut their summer advertising, not because they are doing poorly, but because everything is almost completely booked. There are more and more people wanting to come to the area this year. We have had some new businesses open this year and others are under construction right now. The overwhelming majority of business owners I talk to tell me that they are up this year and that this may be their best year ever.

Real estate sales are definitely up as well. There have been 116 sales so far this year which puts us on pace to have the most closings of any year since 2005. Mexico Beach/St. Joe Beach is having the most activity with 51 closings while Cape San Blas/ Indian Pass has had 32 sales and Port St. Joe is at 23 for the year. There’s also an astounding 78 properties under contract!! The higher end market remains a little slow. I have the 2 highest residential sales ($400,000) for the Mexico Beach/St. Joe Beach area and also have the highest sale in the Port St. Joe area for the year at only $190,000. There has been a little more higher end activity for the Cape San Blas market with 6 sales of $400,000 or higher with the highest sale year to date at $525,000.

98 Real Estate Group started back the Ling Ding fishing tournament that was an old time favorite but hasn’t been held since the 80’s. We hoped to get 30 boats entered our first year and we currently have 61 boats. We have had wonderful response and participation from the community. Our finale will be held at the Mexico Beach Marina this Saturday afternoon. There will be live music and we will be smoking a pig and providing free BBQ and refreshments. Feel free to stop by and enjoy the company and see some big cobia weighed in. This link will show you all the pictures:

My parents are both retired teachers. They sold their home in Bainbridge Georgia last month and are now full time residents of Mexico Beach. They sold a smaller house here late last year and want to consolidate and have one large home at the beach. They are planning on buying a nice lot and build the house my mother has always wanted on it. They are looking for a lot in a nice area within easy walking distance of the beach that’s at least 70’ wide and surrounded by other single family homes. I took my dad around and showed him 4 lots that stood out as good deals last month. All 4 have sold since then or are under contract.

I’m telling their story to help to show that it is hard to be passively looking for a place at the beach and expect the properties you’ve looked at to still be on the market when you decide to purchase. He really liked 2 of the lots and now we can’t find anything at those prices that compare. It could realistically take us a few months now and they may still have to pay more. There are a few exceptions and some deals stay on a few weeks longer than expected, but most deals are moving pretty quickly. If you seriously want a place for Summer, you need to be a committed buyer that can act quickly. If I can help you in any way, please let me know and I need to know what you’re looking for. The best way for me to be able to help you is to spend some time looking around one day at properties and by listening to what you like and don’t like.

I updated the Top 25 today at and below are the deals that stand out for Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas.
Port St. Joe Residences:

If you're looking to sell, 98 Real Estate Group is leading the way getting properties sold. We have been extremely successful this year and are advertising and marketing extensively. We currently have 13 properties under contract and are in negotiations on numerous other properties. There are less people here right now, but many of them are negotiating on property that they saw over Spring Break. I expect May to remain steady and then have a very busy Summer. I've put a gulf front duplex, gulf view lot, gulf front condo, and and interior townhouse under contract in the last week and have closed on 8 other properties since March 1st.

I’ve partnered with a few friends and have purchased a home on the beach in Beacon Hill that sits across 2 beach front lots. We will be moving the house about 3 miles to a lot on 35th St. in Mexico Beach. There are not many gulf front lots left. There’s usually only one or two that sell each year as most owners want to hold on to them or either sell them at 2005 prices. The least expensive gulf front lot from St. Joe Beach to Mexico Beach is currently $449,000. These two lots will be available at $299,000 each. With building prices down, you could be in a very nice brand new beach front home for under $600,000. There are some good deals on existing gulf front homes as well, here is a link to see all of the gulf front single family homes on the market now.

Superior Bank was taken over by the FDIC on April 15th. Houston based Community Bancorp was set up to take them over and they never missed a beat and were open for business Monday morning. They will now operate as Superior N.A. Every single employee I talked to seems optimistic that this has happened and that they now have a much healthier bank. One of them told me they went from the worst capitalized bank in Florida to the best overnight. Rates are still looking good and a rate sheet I saw this week had 30 year conventional mortgages at 4.875% and 15 years at 4.375%. Vacant land loans aren’t as attractive, but more banks are starting to lend on land and there are many more options than there were 2 years ago.

I hope that you get to come and enjoy the beach soon.

Take care,
Zach Childs
Cell: 850-819-0833
Broker/Owner 98 Real Estate Group