It's the busiest start to Spring I've seen in my 11 years of selling real estate at the beach. The "off season" was steady, but it's been a different market since Valentine's Day weekend. That was also President's Day and lots of people had Monday off and decided to come to the beach to look at property over their 3 day weekend. I had a couple of listings shown over 10 times during those 3 days. The market has been extremely busy since then with buyers that are wanting to purchase before summer. Many of the buyers I'm selling to right now have looked for years. They are now pulling the trigger because they feel prices are going to rise at an accelerated rate by this Summer. There were as many or more buyers in March of this year as there usually are during our peak season of June and July. There were 162 closings in the first 3 months of the year vs 118 for the same time period last year! That's a huge increase from a great 2014 which had the most sales of any year since 2005. As of 4/9, there are an additional 119 properties under contract from Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas/Indian Pass.
We are selling more than our share, and it has been an exciting year to be a Realtor. I've never had over 20 properties under contract at one time. As of 3/6, I had 29 properties under contract before closing a property 5 days in a row. For whatever combination of reasons, it's a fact that there are lots of people wanting to buy in our area. March was one of my best months in my career, and 98 Real Estate Group was the top performing company in Gulf County and Mexico Beach with over $5,000,000 closed on MLS production.
It's the first year when there are many definitive examples of buyers paying considerably more than they were just last Fall. After 2-3 years of small price increases, 2015 is on track to see much larger gains. The condo and townhouse market has been on fire in Mexico Beach. Here's an example of how prices are trending. Let's take an average 2BR townhouse or condo in a newer project with at least some gulf view. These properties sold for as much as $400K-$450K in 2005 and dropped all the way down to the $150K-$170K range 3-5 years ago. Last year you could have bought one of these in the $190K-$220K range and had 10 to choose from. This year, these same properties are already closing in the $235-$255K range. The buyers that are paying these higher prices feel lucky, because there is almost nothing comparable left on the market.
One of the groups of buyers I worked with during the President's Day weekend really like the Paradise Shores condos. They had looked at the units last year and decided that it was the project for them. There were 5 different condos available and there hadn't been a sale in the building for over 7 months. They negotiated and got one under contract the following week. That got a number of other buyers off the fence and all 5 went under contract in a matter of days. There currently isn't a single available unit for sale in Paradise Shores, The Club, Palmetto Plantation, Tranquil Harbor, Oceanside Village, or Sea Pines. There is only 1 unit for sale in The Palms, 1 condo at The Villas, 1 at The Vue, 1 condo and 1 cottage at Waterside Village, 2 condos at Summerhouse, and 2 condos at West End Harbor, and 2 at Surfside. These are the 13 newer developments that construction started on during the boom from 2002-2005. They total over 400 units and here are the only 10 on the market.
The North End of Cape San Blas remains extremely hot as well. (This area has seen larger price gains in recent years than the majority of the market). This is primarily a single family home market. We are down to 23 single family homes available, with only 2 being under $400K. Even Port St. Joe is seeing a nice increase in values. For years, it wasn't seeing the increases that the beach markets were enjoying; however, that's changed in the last 12-18 months. In the past couple of years, you could get a pretty nice single family home for under $175K in "town". These seem to be a thing of the past and almost everything newer or remodeled under $200K has sold. There's even very little available under $300K. I've got a number of people that have made an appointment to look at property one day on their summer vacation. They picked 5 or 6 properties they wanted to watch and look at when they are here. Almost every home that was picked as a good deal a few months ago has sold or gone under contract. The number of beachfront homes and quality beach front lots is also getting very low and is seeing price increases. There are only 4 single family beachfront homes left on the market from Mexico Beach to St. Joe Beach and 2 lots. There are only 9 single beach front homes on the market along the 7 mile stretch of beach on North Cape San Blas. WindMark Beach seems to be the only waterfront lots not yet seeing price increases. There are bayfront/beachfront lots starting at $195,000 with 9 to choose from.
There are still some good deals, but the number of competitively priced homes is getting very low. The overall number of properties on the market has only decreased slightly from 590 in January to 560 now, but many of the new listings are people testing the market to see how much buyers in 2015 are willing to pay. Vacant lots haven't increased as much and continue to fuel a building boom of single family homes. I've had a couple people ask if all the press about Spring Break in Panama City negatively affects us. Absolutely not, the bad press from Panama City and large crowds in Destin continue to drive more people to our laid back, family friendly beaches.
Normally the beginning of March isn't that busy, and I thought it was a great idea when Michelle suggested having a very small wedding in the mountains. We got married March 1st in North Carolina. My good friend and co-worker Grant is now also officially Reverend Grant Terry and he conducted our ceremony. We are very happy, and I appreciate all of the kind wishes.
98 Real Estate Group is growing, and I'm proud to announce the addition of our 10th agent. Bonita Thompson has been a friend and top producing Realtor for years. We are happy to welcome her to our team. Bonita has proven once again she's a better fisherman than I am. Check out this cobia she caught on Tuesday.
Please let me know if I can help with any of your buying or selling needs.