Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Holidays - Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas Market Report

Happy Holidays,

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-

Cape San Blas/C-30/IndianPass-143 Closings-

Port St. Joe/Highland View/Oak Grove- 75 Closings-

It’s not uncommon for interior vacant lots to sell for less than 10 cents on the dollar compared to their 2005 values, condos to sell for 1/3 of their former selling prices, and single family homes to be reduced hundreds of thousands of dollars. Below are the best deals currently on the market:

Mexico Beach/ St. Joe Beach/ WindMark Residences-

Mexico Beach/ St. Joe Beach/ WindMark Vacant lots-

Cape San Blas/Indian Pass Residences-

Cape San Blas/Indian PassVacant lot-

Port St. Joe Residences-

Port St. Joe Vacant Lots-

2011 was a banner year for tourism and lots of visitors came to spend time and enjoy this beautiful area. There was a great sense of fun and optimism this year compared to the worry and fear from the BP oil spill that dominated 2010. The fishing was great and the bay was full of scallops once again. It’s been a fun place to live and visit with many concerts, festivals, fishing tournaments, and great fireworks. Many business owners have reported 2011 as their best year ever. Gulf County tourism reported the highest bed tax revenues in history and is up 11% from last year. Mexico Beach reported similar increases. This is collected from local motels and vacation rental properties. This improved rental income is making owning a 2nd home or investment property much more attractive for many buyers. Buyers have many different intentions, but one of the most common types of buyers we deal with is people looking for a second home/future retirement property. Most of them want to use it for themselves and their families, and also rent it out enough to help with expenses and bring in extra income.

98 Real Estate Group has truly been blessed during our first year of business. We recently had the privilege of opening our 3rd office in September. We were selected by The St. Joe Company (NYSE:JOE) to operate the sales office at WindMark Beach and exclusively list properties for The St. Joe Company in this area. This partnership has been a great combination of resources and knowledge. We have been able to close 88 transactions in 2011 with a number of additional properties scheduled to close before the end of the year. I’ve been very fortunate to continue to work with a number of great buyers and sellers. I’ve made lots of friends this year with people that have bought properties and I’ve personally sold 41 properties this year. I appreciate the opportunity to work together and have successful relationships with so many of you. Those of you not familiar with WindMark Beach will hear me mention it more and more in the future. Here’s a picture I took walking the beach there a few days ago.

My job becomes more enjoyable each year as I meet more great people that love this area. It’s hard for me to believe that I took my first job on the coast as a clueless intern at WindMark Beach 8 years ago. I’ve learned a lot along the way and am excited about continuing to improve helping buyers and sellers along with operating 98 Real Estate Group. I was again one of the top producing agents from Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas. I have more plans for 2012 than I’ve ever had and hope it’s my best year yet. I’m proud of the service I provide and welcome you to read these testimonials written from buyers and sellers I have worked with in the past.

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.

I want everybody to know that I’m here for you to help with any of your buying and selling needs. If you’re just curious about your property’s value or looking for a specific type property, just let me know. 2012 looks like another great year for buyers. There are still a number of bank owned properties that will have to be sold and many other sellers attempting short sales and pricing their properties very aggressively. 98 Real Estate Group works hard for all of our sellers, and we were able to successfully close over 50 of our listings in 2011. Please enjoy this wonderful time of year and don't hesitate to let me know if I can help with anything.


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

1 comment:

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