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Emerald Coast Real Estate Update

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March 28, 2014

NW Florida Foreclosure Properties Tend to Be Low End

Residential foreclosures have been a wild ride in NW Florida.  Peaking in 2009, the total number of foreclosures has been decreasing since mid 2010 and the overall number of distressed properties for sale has also been in decline.

If you are looking for properties here in the Destin or Pensacola real estate markets you will find that some areas have few or no foreclosures available. As you can see below, foreclosures are in short supply for Okaloosa Island, Navarre Beach, Gulf Breeze Proper, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key.  Foreclosures in our market area are most likely to be found away from upscale neighborhoods.

Foreclosures in Short Supply

So how does price affect the chance of a house being listed for sale as a foreclosure?  When you look at available foreclosures by county the numbers vary a little but the average is 7.8%.  One thing the over-all averages do not show you is which price segments of the market are most affected.  53% of foreclosed properties selling in our market are listed under $100,000.  Properties in this price range make up only 18% of all properties for sale. There is clearly a disproportionate number of foreclosures affecting properties listed under $100,000.

Escambia County: 68% of all foreclosures are under $100k
Santa Rosa County: 50% of all foreclosures are under $100k
Okaloosa County: 42% of all foreclosures are under $100k

Table of Foreclosure Cities

Another way to look at this is that only 4% of local properties listed over $100,000 are foreclosed properties, while foreclosures make up 22.6% of the properties listed under 100K.

Today's foreclosures are listed at market price.  Banks commission an appraisal or hire real estate agents to determine a suitable sale price for the property through a “Broker Price Opinion” prior to foreclosures being listed for sale.  The lender knows what the property should sell for in today’s market and is getting market value for these homes.  As foreclosed and short sale properties decrease, the number of non distressed sales increase. 

The best opportunity for buyers in today's real estate market may not be a distressed property at all.  Buyers need to start looking at homes that are priced to sell and be prepared to move quickly on these opportunities.  This is particularly true for those looking for luxury and beach homes.

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March 23, 2014

Pensacola Beach Photo Gallery

Pensacola Beach Gateway

Historic Pensacola Beach Gateway sign, when you see this you are almost in paradise.

Beach chairs on the Florida Gulf Coast

This is why most people come to Pensacola Beach, great Gulf views and relaxation.

Pensacola Beach welcome sign

Welcome sign as you are entering Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island.

Trolley Stop

This one of the stops for the free beach trolley. This a great way to get around the island for free.

Waterfront activities on Pensacola Beach

There are plenty of waterfront activities to keep you busy all day.

Portofino Condominium

Portofino on Pensacola Beach is one of the most amenity rich condominiums available locally.

Snorkeling Reef at Pensacola Beach West End Park

The signs you see here indicate the area reserved for the Pensacola Beach Park West snorkeling reef.

Observation Wheel

The Observation Wheel is a great way to get bird's eye view of all the beach has to offer.

Beach access

Access to Pensacola Beach over the sand dunes.

Pensacola Beach paddleboard class

Students at a paddleboard class in Pensacola Beach are preparing to launch their boards on the Pensacola Bay.

Florida Gulf from Tristan Towers Condominiums

Great view of the Gulf beach and Pensacola Bay at the West end of Pensacola Beach from Tristan Towers Condominium.

Posted in Pensacola Beach
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Feb. 23, 2014

5 Mistakes Homebuyers Make

Over the past fourteen years, we have had the pleasure of helping thousands of homebuyers. It is safe to say that I have seen just about every mistake that can be made by home buyers and sellers as a real estate agent and broker. Most of these mistakes are self inflicted; the good news is that these mistakes are easily avoided.

 Homebuyers making a mistake

  • No inspections. We have all seen the real estate programs where the investor decides to save a little money by not paying for a home inspection and/or termite inspection only to discover after closing there is significant hidden damage. While there may be legitimate reasons not to have an inspection (new construction), this is one step you should not skip over lightly.
  • Trying to time the market. We all want to get the best deal available; the best price, the best interest rate, the best potential. We often witness great opportunities disappear while people wait for verification that a better deal is not around the corner. Experienced investors will tell you to look for a sound investment in the current market.
  • Failure to understand the “local” nature of real estate. Real estate is big business and is featured all over the news these days. That being said; real estate markets in New York have little to do with what is happening in our market. What is typical in your town may not be the same here. Your real estate professional should be able to provide recent stats on what is happening in their local market.
  • Not shopping by neighborhood. We see a lot of people utilizing the internet to shop for homes with little thought to the neighborhoods they are looking in. Generally speaking, homes in a subdivision are similar in value to other homes in the neighborhood. A $250K home will be surrounded by other similarly priced homes and so will a $50K home.
  • Not all mortgage lenders are created equally. Talk to your realtor about local lenders so you can compare them to those internet lenders you have been in touch with. Learn what the local guidelines and challenges are so you can be assured that the lender you chose is ready, willing and able to assist you.

Buying a home is a team effort. Ideally your realtor, lender, inspectors, insurance agent and closing agents will all work with you and each other to make for a smooth transaction. When you work with a highly knowledgeable Realtor, you benefit from years of experience. There is a lot to know to make a sound purchase, don’t leave it up to chance.

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Jan. 27, 2014

Buying a condo; why association fees?

Why are there association fees anyway and what do they cover?

Insurance is generally one of the pricier items the typical HOA fees pays for.  These fees also cover upkeep and maintenance for the structures, grounds, common areas, parking structures and or parking lots and recreational facilities.  In addition, the HOA fees will need to pay for management staff, security, and the lighting, heating and cooling of common areas. Water, sewer and trash and pest control are typically included, and many condominiums also pay for basic cable.

Beach condo HOA fees

Every year the budget is established to cover the cost for all the items included in the HOA fee and is divided among the owners by the number of units or square feet.  These dues are generally collected monthly, but some associations may stipulate quarterly or annual payments.

The HOA can levy a special assessment when the association lacks sufficient reserves to pay for unexpected repairs or when it feels the reserves on hand may be too low to cover a potential major expenditure.  This “special assessment” can be levied in two ways; as a lump sum payment or can be pro-rated monthly basis and added to the current fees.

Most people associate condominiums with HOA fees, but home owners associations can also apply to single family homes and town homes.   PUD’s or planned urban development’s often offer amenities like swimming pools, tennis courts, golfing or even marinas that are managed and/or maintained by the management of their home owners association.

Your HOA may also have the legal power over rules that govern what is allowed or not for a particular condominium.  For instance, some common rules may pertain to pets, the kind and size, the types of rentals that are allowed, noise, parking rules and other behaviors, practices and conduct.  More neighborhoods are going smoke free than ever before.  Home owner association rules and regulations must be disclosed to potential buyers by Florida law.   If you are interested in a specific neighborhood ask your realtor to assist you in getting a copy of the rules and regulations for that HOA.

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Jan. 26, 2014

2013 Pensacola Real Estate Market Year in Review

It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since the crest of the housing bubble. Property sales peaked here on the Gulf Coast in 2004 while other markets trended behind us until early 2006.  Nationally not one metro area escaped the fall in sales and the inevitable subsequent bust.

Pensacola beach houses

Real estate sales in the greater Pensacola area have been steadily improving since 2008.  In 2013 things really kicked in to gear, and we anticipate that trend to continue to build in 2014.  You can see from the chart below 2013 was the strongest year since 2006 as many people have been taking advantage of low prices and affordable interest rates.

These residential sales numbers represent all homes, condos and townhomes that have sold in Escambia county and Santa Rosa county, Florida since January 1999.

Pensacola residential sales chart


2013 sales increased almost 14% compared to 2012 sales in spite of tighter lending practices and higher interest rates. So why are we seeing sales accelerate? Perhaps this is because there is a lot of pent up demand, and buyers are feeling more confident that there are better times ahead.

2013 provided a broad base of buyers made up of primary home buyers, first time buyers, military relocation, retirees, investors, second home buyers, beach resort buyers and buyers looking to turn a profit.  We saw an abundance of people investing towards long term wealth as well as those looking for properties to flip.

Residential sales prices are up and are moving in a positive direction.  The average price increase from 2013 to 2012 is up 4%, while the median price is up 5%. This appreciation has resulted in the number of upside down loans decrease dramatically, and this declining trend is continuing as property prices increase. More sellers and buyers are being attracted to the current real estate market since prices are rising and  distressed properties are on the decline.

The outlook for 2014 is bright.  The number of pending sales is up as well as buyer internet traffic of people looking for properties.  The internet is where most people begin to look for a home.

For more market information, see the Pensacola Association of Realtors 2013 Market Snapshot and Pensacola Market Sales Trends or contact ERA Emerald Coast Realty.

Posted in Real Estate news
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Jan. 10, 2014

Florencia Condo Photo Gallery

We have some nice additional photos of Florencia Condos in Perdido Key that we want to make available for everyone to see. I hope these photos give you a better idea as to what this wonderful condominium has to offer.

Florencia gated entrance

The gated entrance to Florencia is attrative and provide security for owners and guests.

Florencia Front

Florencia as viewed from the south looking north, from here you start to feel the Mediterranean style.

Florencia outdoor pool

Pool and deck area overlooking the Old River in Perdido Key.

Florencia Dock

Here are the private dock, boat slips and pier at Florencia.

Florencia Breezeway

The breezeway patio area has tables and chairs that offer a great place to spend some leisure time next to the beautiful indoor pool.

Florencia waterfront views

Florencia offers a lot of different waterfront views.

Florencia tennis court

The tennis courts here are well maintained and in great condition, clean and green.

Posted in Perdido Key
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Dec. 4, 2013

Fort Walton Beach Photo Gallery

Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island

Okaloosa Island, famous for sparkling water and white sand beaches, is located in Fort Walton Beach.

 Waterccape in Fort Walton Beach

Living at the Waterscape Condominium in Fort Walton Beach is like have your own waterpark.

Beach and palm trees in fort waton beach

Palm Trees, Surf, Sand and Green Grass; this is where the turf meets the surf at Azure Condominium.

 Pool at Summer Place condos

A bird's eye view of the two pools at Summer Place Condos that overlook the beach.

Fort Walton Beach Pier

The Fort walton Beach Pier is a great place for sport fishing either day or night since the pier is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Posted in Fort Walton Beach
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Dec. 4, 2013

Will the New Gulf Breeze Parking Regulations Improve Property Prices?

Gulf Breeze City Hall

On September 4th a new ordinance was adopted that regulates vehicle parking in the City of Gulf Breeze,  also known as Gulf Breeze Proper.

This change went on the books with few residents noticing but will affect residential parking at private homes and vacant lots.

The idea is to keep residential areas in the city looking good by controlling where and how cars, trucks, commercial and recreational vehicles can park.

Here are some high points of the ordinance:

  • No parking in front yards unless in a driveway
  • No living or sleeping in vehicles
  • Vehicles must be operable
  • No sewer connection to vehicle
  • No parking on vacant lots
  • No blocking of sidewalks
  • No long term parking by non-resident
  • No recreational or commercial on-street parking
  • No more than two commercial or recreational, parked perpendicular to street
  • Vehicles cannot be used for storage

As a resident of Gulf Breeze, I have seen all of the above occurrences and I agree they are not attractive and do have a negative affect on the quality of the neighborhood. Ultimately this is a good change that will help maintain the integrity and quality of our community. Click here to see the actual ordinance.

Yes, this will also have a positive effect on real estate values; after all no one wants to live or buy next door the guy with three cars parked on his lawn or the RV that has become the second home on the property.

Posted in Gulf Breeze
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Aug. 17, 2013

Perdido Key Photo Gallery

Perdido Key Welcome Sign

This is the first thing you will see once you cross the Theo Baars Bridge as you arrive on Perdido Key.

Perdido Key Beach

The beach at Perdido Key is never crowded allowing you unwind and enjoy the natural sights and sounds.

condo pool near beach

This beautiful pool and deck area at Indigo condominiums are overlooking Perdido key beach and the Florida Gulf beyond.

Lost Key Golf Community

Perdido Key is home of the Lost Key Golf Course and golf community homes.

Purple Parrot Pool

The Purple Parrot swimming pool here on Perdido Key captures the tropical feel of island living.

Gulf Island National Seashore, Johnson Beach

Johnson Beach located at Gulf Islands National Seashore on Perdido Key. This beach is named in honor of the first casualty of the Korean War.

The jellyfish on Perdido Key

The Jellyfish is a great store that specializes in beach merchandise. Conveniently located less than a half mile after the crossing the bridge onto Perdido Key. Located across the street from the Indigo and Perdido Sun Condominiums.

Posted in Perdido Key
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July 20, 2013

Is Real Estate Today's Best Investment?

Hedge fund manager John Paulson is famous for short-selling subprime mortgages in 2007. He made over $3 billion in that year as the result of his move on the market.

John Paulson

 On July 18 here is what he said at the CNBC Delivering Alpha Conference:

"I think the best thing for an individual investor, if they don't own a home, is to buy a home and if they own a home and have some extra cash or extra availability its not a bad idea to think about owning a second-home as well."

The day before he also said “buying a home is the single best investment anyone can make”.

These statements should be a stunning wake up call to all potential buyers. Inventories and interest rates are near record lows demand and prices have been climbing if you may want to take stock in this investment legions’ sentiment.

If you had been thinking about buying real estate, this may be the moment you have waiting for.  Click Here to see properties for sale on the NW Florida Gulf Coast.

Posted in Real Estate news
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