Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mid Year Market Recap - Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas, FL

Zach's Website        Top 25 Homes          98 Real Estate Group        Top 15 Lots
July 2018
We're already halfway through what is on track to be a very good year for real estate in the Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, and Cape San Blas real estate markets.  In the first 6 months of 2018, there were 393 properties sold with a total sales volume of $104,256,450.  The average property was on the market 116 days before selling and sold for 95% of the asking price.  We aren't seeing any out of line sales, but a very consistent and solid market.  2018 is on pace to slightly have the most sales of any year since the 2004-2005 boom days.  The dollar volume will also be the highest since the boom with the highest average sales prices since the subsequent recession that saw prices finally start back up around 2011.  98 Real Estate is now 18 agents strong and continues to dominate the Mexico Beach to WindMark Market while also being one of the top real estate brokerages in Port St. Joe , Cape San Blas, and North Gulf County.  We have continued to produce for our customers and have sold 130 properties totaling $30,867,565 in MLS sales production.  We are on schedule for our best year in company history.  


200520112012201320142015201620172018 *as of 6/30

Properties Sold 
                                  192 - Mexico Beach / St Joe Beach / WindMark Beach                              

Homes on the Market

Lots on the Market

There's no doubt the overall economy is doing well with more and more people liking this area.  This has been a strong trend for the last 5 years, and many sellers have been able to successfully sell this year.  There are also many sellers that also haven't been able to sell.  While the market has seen some steady appreciation, many sellers have priced their properties substantially over recent selling prices and aren't having much luck.  Other than a few beachfront/canal front properties, we haven't seen buyers willing to pay much more than recent sales/appraised values.  It's a good market, but not a name your price market for 99% of properties.  There are some segments of the market that are holding steady but aren't seeing the price increases many sellers desire.   An average 3 bedroom gulf view condo in Mexico Beach is a good example.  These were $500K plus in 2005, sold for around $200K in 2011-2013 and have gone up to $280-$300K.  Most of them have been selling for about the same price since early in 2017.  (The Tranquil Harbor foreclosures sold last year are the big exception and were probably undersold. The 3 resales in 2018 have sold for approximately $50K more than last year.) The number of properties on the market has increased about 20% from the beginning of the year.  This is largely due to many sellers deciding to give selling a try at these higher prices that haven't been achieved yet and are leading to more and more properties on the market.   

I wanted to share a few more points and local headlines that are helping to drive the real estate market.

The Gulf County Property Appraiser turned in preliminary tax rolls for 2018 last week and his figures show values up 8.4% for fiscal year and a 5th year in a row of value increases.  Here's the Article "Property Values Continue Growth Spurt

Rental income from vacation rentals is continuing to go up as more and more people rent vacation properties in the area.  We are also seeing lots of people from areas further away than the traditional Georgia and Alabama markets.  Here's a recent article titled "Bed Tax Revenues Spike in May". 

I've had the largest private tract of land inside the traditional Mexico Beach city limits listed for a few years.  This beautiful 87 acre tract is now under contract with a group of developers.  This is one of the last undeveloped pieces of land around and it's future use will have an impact on the future of the area hopefully fill some housing and commercial needs for the area.

Beach Renourishment - North Cape San Blas -  This project has hit many funding and budget obstacles, but looks set to start August 1, 2018.   

Brothers Osbourne - Besides the award winning group naming their new Album Port St. Joe, the Nashville artist continue to help promote the area.  They recently filmed a national Dodge Ram Commercial that debuted during the CMA Awards on the beaches of Cape San Blas and at The Port Theatre, which they helped renovate.
DR Horton - It looks like Horton will have no problem building and selling homes on the 64 lots they bought from St. Joe in WindMark.  We can help you with these if you're interested.  Here's the 16 that have sold this year or are under contract and the one available home (They do have others under construction set to hit the market in the future).  

Eastern Shipbuilding held a groundbreaking ceremony at the old mill site in Port St. Joe on June 4th.   This isn't the groundbreaking for the big potential Coast Guard project, but is a good first step.  Here's a news video from the ceremony

The fishing is great in this area and remains one of the large attractions for many buyers.  I hear all the time that "my wife loves the beach and I love to fish, so we chose Mexico Beach or Port St. Joe."  While I don't get time to fish much these days, the fishing was a big part of why I moved here 15 years ago and I enjoy promoting the fishing and diving in the area.  Myself and a few friends put on the annual Mexico Beach GollyWhopper.  We've become the 2nd largest tournament in the area and had 64 boats enter our event last month. The seas were extremely rough this year, but here's a link to see the pictures from the weigh-in including some very large fish.  The biggest tournament in the area is  MBARA kingfish tournament, which my dad is the director for each year.  It's being held on August 25th. 

For those of you that like to inshore fish, the Bayou Bash is being held this Saturday.  For those that like to go offshore and troll, The Mexico Beach Offshore Classic is July 27th and 28thI did get to go fishing July 1st and caught this nice king.  Hudson turned 1 that week and he and Michelle are doing great.  

Remember the upcoming scallop season for Port St Joe Bay is starting later than usual in 2018 and will be from August 17 - September 30.  

Check out my favorite housing deals for the Mexico Beach to WindMark market on my Top 25.
I hope you all continue to enjoy a great summer.  


Zach Childs 
Broker/Owner- 98 Real Estate Group
#1 Producing Real Estate Company Located in Mexico Beach-
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018

Thursday, April 05, 2018

1Q 2018 Market Recap - Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas, FL

We've seen a very solid start to the real estate market in 2018.  There have already been 166 closings totaling $43,672,039 in sales in the first 3 months of the year.  The price of homes is continuing to go up steadily throughout the area.  The average selling price of a home in the Cape San Blas area is now almost a 1/2 million dollars.  The average Mexico Beach area home has broken $300K, and Port St. Joe homes are still slightly under $200K.  Each of these areas is continuing to see steady growth.  All indications are pointing towards a positive 2018 with continued price increases.  98 Real Estate Group has had a great start with 66 closings and is the # 1 company for the MB and Gulf County market in the first quarter of 2018.

200520112012201320142015201620172018 *as of 3/31

The amount of new construction going on for single family homes is through the roof.  The vast majority of these homes are being custom built for the lot owners and are not on the market.  Buying a lot and building remains a very popular option for homeowners, particularly on Cape San Blas and in the higher value areas of the Mexico Beach market.  The overall housing quality in the area is greatly improving with all of these new custom homes.  There have been 63 lots sold this year

Insurance -  One positive worth pointing out is that there are a number of new insurance providers in the market, including flood insurance companies that are saving people lots of money.  I've had many customers recently re-quote their policies and go from paying $8K/year to under $3K on homeowners insurance.  The private flood insurance options on the Cape and non FEMA areas have helped people pay $2-$3K/year vs. $7-$10K plus.  It might be worth shopping your rates if you're not happy with your current insurance.  Many owners are even getting their current companies to shop their policy and are finding big savings. 

How's D R Horton doing in WindMark?  It seems like their product is being received well, and 7 of their first 10 homes are under contract prior to completion. Horton looks like they are in WindMark to stay and construction will continue on their other 54 lots. 

The Grammy nominated duo Brother's Osborne named their new album Port St. Joe where it was recorded.  The group will be having an album release party at WindMark Beach this Saturday.  This has generated lots of buzz for the area and should be a special event that helps create awareness of the area to more and more people.  Horton is one of the sponsors that helped land this event, and hopefully, their influence can continue.  Perhaps they can get the restaurant open and obtain some occupants in the commercial spaces in WindMark.  If you're interested in a free ticket to this event that sold out in 3 minutes, check out 98's Facebook Page. 

Do I see any negative signs that worry me?  Rates have gone up from around 3.75% on a 30 year fixed mortgage to about 4.5%.  I haven't seen this stop anyone from buying, and it's gotten others that are on the fence to go ahead and purchase as they believe rates will go higher.  However, if rates get to a certain point, it's got to slow down demand at some point.

I get asked a lot what I think could slow the market down.  I always say the national economy, particularly the Southeast economies where the majority of our owners live is the biggest factor.  If people are making money and doing well, they want to own 2nd homes and take vacations.  I hear investors joke that if Atlanta is doing well, Mexico Beach and Cape San Blas are doing well.  There's some truth to this as so many people from the Atlanta area choose this area as their preferred place to vacation and own 2nd homes.  Another factor that I always consider is the number of people that use vacation rental income to help subsidize the costs of their vacation homes.  It's a great fit and works well for many families all over the world.  The vacation rental market has remained strong, and I've seen no signs of weakness, but if something does happen, this could negatively hurt the model that so many owners rely on.  The long term rental demand remains at all time highs and this does give a very viable 2nd option for rental income for many properties if something does slow down the vacation rental market.

The Port and many groups in Gulf County are still trying hard to land what they hope starts with around 400 jobs in Gulf County.  This process has been going on for 10 plus years, and there are hopes that the next year or two will finally start to see the results of all this work and planning.  To the west of Mexico Beach, Tyndall Air Force has landed a huge program that's expected to bring 1,600 new Airmen to the base.  This is going to further help the Mexico Beach area long term rental market and sales to a smaller degree.  The base impacts Panama City much more, but it's a nice boost to the economy of Mexico Beach and some Airmen families choose Port St. Joe as well.    Here's more on the "Reaper" program
Upcoming events:  
Beach Blast Triathlon - April 28
Scallop Season for Gulf County is August 17 through September 30 


Zach Childs 
Broker/Owner- 98 Real Estate Group
#1 Producing Real Estate Company Located in Mexico Beach-
2013, 2014, 2015, & 2016

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2017 Market Recap - Mexico Beach to Cape San Blas, FL

Happy New Year,

2017 was another positive and active year for the local real estate markets.  There were a significant number of people that decided it was the right time to buy.  The popularity of the area continues to improve and attract more and more vacationers that become 2nd home buyers along with a sizable amount of people deciding to move full time to the area.  Prices overall have continued to trend upward.  Values are still well off the all-time highs seen in 2005, but have seen steady growth for the last 5 to 6 years.  All signs point to 2018 being another positive year for sales and values.  I hope we can help even more customers in 2018 and can't thank all of the wonderful people enough that trust us help them with their sales and purchases.

The Mexico Beach market which includes St. Joe Beach, Beacon Hill, and WindMark Beach has been the busiest segment in the area with 323 sales on MLS.  These sales totaled $65,582,397 with the majority of the volume coming from existing homes.  There were 117 vacant lots sold totaling $8,268,947 for an average sales price of $70,674.  There were fewer Gulf front and lots close to the beach on the market this year, and the bulk of the sales were on interior lots 2-5 blocks from the beach.  These lots have seen increases from approximately $40K two years ago to closer to $55K-$60K today.  Windmark Beach saw a mild year with 17 reported sales on MLS and values fairly flat.  The big news in WindMark is that national homebuilder D. R. Horton purchased 64 lots directly from The St. Joe Company and has begun offering homes from $302,125 to $384,600.  (This sale of 64 lots is not included in the MLS referenced sales data) This has certainly upset the majority of homeowners that have built larger and more custom homes at far greater costs.  It will be interesting to see if Horton can sell these homes and what impact it will have on the development.   There were 204 homes sold from Mexico Beach to WindMark with only 6 of them being in WindMark.  These 204 sales accounted for $56,813,448 of sales volume with an average selling price of $278,497.  The average prices have seen steady increases each year since 2010 as seen below in the chart.    98 Real Estate Group dominated this market and finished #1 for the 5th year in a row in 2017.  We sold 89 of the 323 properties and $7 Million more than any other company.  I personally finished #1 again in this market, which I've done for 4 of the last 5 years.   Here's a link to my favorite deals on the market in this area.


While the Mexico Beach and Cape markets have a large percentage of 2nd home buyers, Port St. Joe is still made up of a very large majority of full time residents.  As the local economy continues to improve, so does this locally driven market.  This is further supported by the emergence of Port St. Joe as a vacation destination market that's becoming a trendy place to have a 2nd home.  More and more restaurants and businesses are opening, and the town is hopping these days.  The full time population in Port St Joe is growing more than in the other areas.  The Port still hasn't opened, but is further along than it's ever been.  There is a lot a significant amount of money from the BP oil spill that's starting to trickle down to Port St. Joe and Gulf County.  The local leaders are prioritizing these funds for opening The Port and overall job and economic growth creation.  This market has 133 sales totaling $19,014,801.  The majority of this volume was made up from 92 homes selling for a total of $17,216,301.  Vacant lot prices have continued to slowly pick up and there were 39 sales totaling $1,548,500 for an average selling price of $39,705.  The home prices here saw a huge jump in 2017 with the average sale going up almost 25%!  This looks like it could be the first market to recover back to it's 2005 prices.  


I get asked why I personally don't follow the North Gulf County markets that are comprised of Wewahitchka, Howard Creek, White City, and Dalkeith.  Quite frankly I don't want to work anywhere I'm not an expert, and there's barely enough time in the day to stay on top of the Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, and Cape San Blas markets.  These are all very different in their own ways.  Another reason is that the top Realtor for this area is Miranda Rollins who is one of 98's great agents.  She was by far the top agent on MLS for this area in 2017 and 98 Real Estate Group was the #1 Company.  This area is her expertise.  The North Gulf market has much lower price points than the South End of the County.  What I wanted to point out in regard to the market is a trend that is starting to repeat itself.  As seen in the 2003-2005 boom, when the prices start to rise in Port St. Joe like they have in recent years, many buyers are priced out, and they start buying in the North End of the County which is much more affordable.  The average home sold for $94,064 and the average lot $18,208.  If you're interested in these areas, here's a link to Miranda's website.

The final area I cover is the Cape San Blas/Indian Pass market.  This is a very hot second home and investment home market despite having by far the highest prices in the area.  This market saw the highest amount of sales in regard to money spent with 236 sales adding up to $70,291,344.  This was the only market with more lot sales than home sales.  There were 133 lots sold adding up to $20,376,149 for an average price of $153,204, which is more than double that average selling price of the other markets we are discussing.  103 homes were sold with an average sales price of $484,613.  This counts all homes including townhouses and condos which have an average closer to $300K.  The average of a single family home is now well above $550K!  The selection of existing homes has been very low, and many people realize with price points so high that they can often build something new for less than an older home will cost them.  Thus, so many lot sales and new homes being built. Construction isn't just busy on Cape San Blas, there are new homes going up throughout the area.  I've shown customers around that are amazed that it seems like there is a brand new home or one under construction on about every corner.  Finding workers and handymen has become extremely hard with so many working full time only on new construction jobs.  It didn't take D. R. Horton long to see the shortage in available workers, and they held a large job fair on 1/11 hoping to find some more available workers.


Important Factors Impacting the 2018 Market
Interest Rates- Rates have gone up slightly and some experts call for more increases, yet they are still near historically low rates.  Centennial Bank is currently offering 30 Year mortgages at 4.25 and 15 year mortgages at 3.75%. 
Construction Costs-  The cost of material and labor has gone up making building more expensive.  This hasn't slowed down the number of people wanting new homes, but may help existing homes if it continues to rise.
The inventory of vacant land is still fairly high with the exception of Gulf front lots compared to the inventory of homes on the market.  The number of homes on the market remains low enough that it's more of a seller's market than an buyer's market.  There are 72 properties currently under contract  and 23 that have sold this year. 
Foreclosures-  These are almost a thing of the past as we get into 2018.  There are zero foreclosed homes currently on the market and only these 6 were sold in 2017.
Rental Income- Both long term and short term rentals continue to perform well.  The supply of long term rentals remains lower than the market wants and almost every long term rental is rented quickly with multiple applicants.  The short term side is seeing some impact from so many owners deciding to place their homes on vacation rental programs.  Most homes I'm aware of still had their best year's ever in 2017, but some of the older homes and properties that don't have all the sought after amenities have seen dips due to the renters choosing their competition. 


Zach Childs 
Broker/Owner- 98 Real Estate Group
#1 Producing Real Estate Company Located in Mexico Beach-
2013, 2014, 2015, & 2016