Oct. 20 (Source: By Deborah Wheeler, The Walton Sun, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.) - In an area that depends on the real estate market more than other regions, “how’s the market?” is often a hot topic of conversation heard when out and about.So, we at The Sun decided to ask those in the business, “Just how is the real estate market in South Market?”
The answers were decidedly heartening.
As the largest real estate parcel in South Walton, Joseph R. Bracciale, Jr., President of Sandestin Real Estate gives a very encouraging report: “Compared to 2010, sales are up by over 50 transactions. Our inventory is quickly being absorbed with low-hanging fruit going first. If 2012 remains the same, it won’t be long before it becomes a sellers market.”
Hilary Farnum, Beachy Beach 30A Realty broker/owner, agrees. “All the buzz right now seems to be about the 43 percent increase in sales from September 2011 over September 2010. While that statistic is intrinsically impressive, the more interesting fact is that number of homes sold is almost the same, year over year, and it is the sales prices that are garnering all the attention. Sales of high-end homes in the $1, $2 and even $3 million range pushed the percentage way up. It is a solid indicator that the South Walton market is rebounding and is truly attracting the high-end buyer. On the other end and contributing to this increase is in the $300,000-$500,000 range and many of these sales are from new home construction. As a whole this is the most exciting development as it provides a real economic catalyst for the area as a whole. Communities that were at a stand-still during the downturn have now started to come back to life with builders partnering with developers to bring a new energy into these neighborhoods. It’s like a perfect storm; the combination of great prices in great locations and the market is responding. It will definitely be fun to watch these trends as we head into 2012. All in all this a great time to invest for buyers at both ends of the spectrum.”
Rita Montgomery of Pelican Real Estate said, “It’s a great time to buy along 30 A, with home prices more affordable and low interest rates. I’m seeing buyers that were looking years ago but felt priced out of the market returning to find great deals. I’m also seeing buyers lose properties they’ve been watching to other buyers due to hesitation and not pulling the trigger fast enough. The good deals don’t last long. Of course, the No. 1 reason I see buyers returning to our area is still the 30A lifestyle. Popularity of the area with annual attractions like Alys Beach’s Digital Graffiti, The 30A Songwriters Festival, the Seeing Red Wine Festival, and of course the over-the-top Noche de los Muertos Costume Party at Alys Beach, just to name a few, are all part of the lifestyle that continues to sell our area. It’s a great place to visit, live and invest. The gates are open and it’s a great time to buy.”
Garner Chandler of The Premier Property Group said, “The good deals are getting harder to find and sell quickly. The market is definitely improving for sellers. Prices are stabilizing, and in some locations going up. I am very optimistic about the year ahead.”
Caryl Gibson, Realtor with Dune Allen Realty said the market is definitely up. In fact, Gibson said her sales are up 160 percent over last year. “I am seeing more cash buyers, more investors, and families buying to keep the property in the family.”
Jeanne Carter, owner/broker with Star Real Estate Association said, “Almost all real estate agents we encounter are having a significantly better year than in either 2009 or 2010. Short sales will be with us for the next few years, but buyers love to find great values, and they are buying NOW. And while lenders’ underwriting is more difficult, as it should be, there are lenders and programs available for qualified purchasers.”
Located at the far eastern end of the county, Rosemary Beach Real Estate Broker Linda Miller said she saw the best spring ever. In addition, she will have the 15th anniversary Coastal Living Home in Rosemary Beach July-October 2012 and Rosemary Beach Realty agent Billy Creswell has the listing. “It will be so exciting and create energy and synergy for our community,” she said.
Bobby Johnson, Realtor with The Beach Group, believes the market is still in recovery mode. “But … It’s also very local and can change by the mile,” he added. “One neighborhood could be doing quite well and another a mile away could still be recovering. The numbers show 2011 has been the best year since 2005 and I believe it will only get better. If you are really a buyer, the bottom bell has rung and you might ask yourself what are you really waiting for?”
Wanda Duke, owner of Crye Leike Coastal Realtors & Destingetaways Vacation Rentals, says, “The market is good! But buyers want a deal and sellers want a high price; hard to get them to meet in the middle.”
Kitty Taylor, broker with Grayton Coast Properties said, “The properties currently for sale are presenting some of the best prices we have seen in years. The inventory currently on the market, including foreclosures and short sales will continue to keep prices down toward end of 2011. From what I hear and have experienced with my own seasonal rental properties, this past summer was an outstanding year for most rental owners. That said, buyers have a fantastic opportunity to purchase a rental investment property in the next few months in time for the 2012 rental season. Sellers in this market will need to be very competitive in order to sell. They are competing with distressed properties and will continue to do so until these distressed properties are liquidated.”
Christina Meinen, Realtor at Destin Real Estate Company, said for her, the local real estate market has been extremely busy with lots of closings this year. She, along with husband Andy Meinen have closed over $22 million so far this year and it does not seem to be slowing down as they near the end of the year. “Prices are amazing and buyers are taking these opportunities to get in the market. When a property is priced right, it is moving quickly. Most importantly, the inventory is continuing to decrease with just over one year of inventory supply, way down from a five-year high of nearly seven years of inventory. It is a great time to purchase real estate,” she said.
Richard McNeese with McNeese Title Company said, “The real estate market continues to improve. Just today I was teaching a class to a group of Realtors who advised they were having some of their best months. Our closing volume confirms this. My opinion is that we have reached the bottom and prices will begin to rise. If buyers want to get deals, now is the time to buy.”
(c)2011 The Walton Sun (Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.)
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A service of YellowBrix, Inc. Publication date: 2011-10-20
Source: By Deborah Wheeler, The Walton Sun, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.