Pensacola Home Blog

Emerald Coast Real Estate Update

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Oct. 26, 2014

Selling a Small Home or Condo in Pensacola

Making a Small Home Look Larger

Selling a small home or condo

Maybe you bought a one bedroom condo because the price fit your budget. Maybe the two bedroom home that was so cute when it was just the two of you is too small for your family of four. Even if your property is not that small, it looks that way, even to you. What can you do to make a home or condo appear larger than it really is? Here are some tips to help!

1. Keep rooms painted white, light or neutral colors. Dark colors make any room look smaller.

2. Replace any dark carpet with lighter colored, solid carpeting.

3. Replace that sectional sofa with something smaller. Large furniture will crowd the room and take away any impression of space.

4. Remove that queen or king sized bed and replace it with a full bed instead. Keep as much room open around the bed as possible and the bedroom will seem larger. Distance the bed from the door.

5. Remove area rugs and shine up the hardwood floors. Make sure any tile or carpet is spotless and uncluttered.

6. Adding a large mirror to any room will make it appear larger.

7. Remove sofas or chairs upholstered in patterns, and replace with lighter, solid colors.

8. Get rid of any extra "what-nots" and keep counter space clear of unneeded items.

9. Brighten rooms with extra light, or lighter window dressings.

10. Clean the closets before showing the home or condo. Empty spacious closets are always a plus!


Taking the time to make your property appear clean, fresh, and uncluttered will help to sell it, and impress a prospective buyer with room, whether true or appearing so. Let us give you some suggestions before you list and we can help with the sale!

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Oct. 25, 2014

Expansion plans for Portofino Condominiums on Pensacola Beach

Kim Gibbons of Emerald Coast Realty was lucky enough to be invited to the Portofino Home Owners Meeting today at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Pensacola.  One of the items on the agenda was the development of the remaining 12 Acres available at Portofino Condominiums on Pensacola Beach.

Portofino Resort condos in Pensacola Beach FL

The speaker, Robert Rinke, Owner/Broker of Levin & Rinke, discussed the planned development but made it clear these plans are preliminary at this stage. He showed drawings depicting two new towers oriented towards the gulf and the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  Range Point is to the north of this new development and will not be affected.

The proposed new Portofino towers, six and seven will maintain the triangular design that the other towers have, but will only have six condo units per floor.  This proposed expansion will add 234 homes to Pensacola Beach.  The speaker stated that Pensacola Beach has a cap on building that will be maxed out with this new development.

Beach to Bay was that the theme speaker kept returning to during his presentation.

The preliminary plans included a massive terraced pool, conference center, and plenty of room to cater to local events including weddings. Several new options were discussed including promoting a wellness aspect to the facility and teaming with doctors from the Mayo Clinic/Baptist Hospital. Other ideas under consideration include an Eco Spa, an upscale grocer on site and a ballroom. 

These plans are very exciting news for Pensacola Beach!

Posted in Pensacola Beach
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Oct. 24, 2014

Unique Waterfront at 9919 Lillian Hwy, Pensacola, FL

I ventured out to the west side of Pensacola today to photograph a new real estate listing. When I say west, This is the furthest you can go in the Pensacola area without being in Alabama.

Dock, pier and boat lift on Perdido bay, Pensacola

That being said; this is a relatively short stretch of highway along Perdido Bay and has great waterfront views.  This property is located at 9919 Lillian Hwy and is a three bedroom and two bathrooms house with a two car garage.

The house itself is in great shape and photographs well, but the I really loved the waterfront views in the front and the stands of pine trees that can seen from the back deck.

More than just views here - this property has water access, a pier, dock and covered boat lift. This house is currently for sale with a list price for sale at $135,000. Get a good view of the property from this YouTube Video.

View from 9919 Lillian Hwy, Pensacola

If you would like to tour the inside of this house call Kim Gibbons, Broker at Emerald Coast Realty, she will make the arrangements to get you in. (850) 912-9826

Posted in Pensacola
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Oct. 21, 2014

Pensacola Foreclosures Dwindling

After several long years of foreclosures hurting the communities and condo complexes in resort areas along the Florida Gulf Coast, the market is looking up, and these "deals" are becoming a thing of the past. There may always be a handful here and there, but for the most part, the biggest number of them are sold and have happy new owners.

As of July, REO sales nationwide were down to 7 percent of sold homes and short sales down to 4 percent. Compared to January of 2009 when the total of both made up 32.5 percent of all sales, and you can see how far we have come. Before the boom and bust in real estate, distressed homes were usually around two percent.

Where are the most distressed properties still looming? Michigan is the highest of all, with 26.3 percent of their sales in July. The state of Florida is the second highest - mostly because of the Miami area's condo glut - with 23.3 percent. Illinois and Nevada were still in the 20% range, and Georgia made it in at 19.8 percent.

In the Greater Pensacola and beach areas, distressed properties only made up 12% of the inventory in August 2014 compared to 15% in August 2013, and 16% in August 2012.

California had the most improvement with an almost 14 percent drop from July 2013 to 2014 and a whopping decrease of 67.4 percent since its peak in 2009.

Some other interesting statistics from Corelogic's July Foreclosure Report

45,000 foreclosures were completed nationally, down from 57,000 in 2013. Last year there were 976,000 homes nationally in some stage of foreclosure, whereas only 640,000 homes were distressed in 2014; a 34 percent decrease. Although California had a small increase in the month of July, other states in the US were down 8.5% in foreclosure sales compared to June. Great news!

The states with the highest inventory of homes in foreclosure were New Jersey, Florida, New York, Hawaii, and Maine, in descending order. States with the lowest inventory were Alaska, Nebraska, Arizona, Minnesota, and North Dakota - all well under 1% of their total market inventory.

We have also seen that the banks are not offering to sell at the extra-low prices seen when so many were on the market. If you are looking to find a good deal, you might be as likely to find it looking at real estate in Pensacola Beach that is not distressed  instead of concentrating on foreclosures and short-sales.

Posted in Real Estate News
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Oct. 21, 2014

Portofino is all about the view

View of Pensacola Bay from Pensacola BeachPortofino Resort Condominiums come in two and three bedroom floor-plans, but views can vary significantly. It can get a little tricky depending on the view you desire since not all condos are for sale.

Remember other towers can interfere with your view but a knowledgeable real estate professional that understands the geometry of each tower can save you a lot of frustration.

The two bedroom condo I am photographing today, unit 708, is in Tower IV and faces northwest.

The view is from West to North standing on the balcony, and in this instance the view is unobstructed by any of the other Portofino towers.

West view from Portofino 708 Tower 4

Portofino is the quintessential Pensacola Beach resort condominium with dramatic water views in every home and exceptional amenities that are not found in other complexes in this area.

Condo unit 708 is currently for sale and interested buyers can contact Kim Gibbons, Broker at Emerald Coast Realty in Pensacola, FL (850) 912-9826 to arrange a viewing.

Posted in Pensacola Beach
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Oct. 20, 2014

Photo shoot at 8017 Virginia Ln in Milton, FL

Today I photographed a waterfront home in lower Milton, FL at 8017 Virginia Lane. This property is ideal for the sportsman that wants direct access to Blackwater Bay the Yellow River Marsh Aquatic Preserve from a private canal.

Milton FL waterfront property.
 
The house has a boat lift and pier, which allows you to walk out your back door directly to your boat.  What a great location for fishing or boating enthusiasts, all just five minutes from Interstate10.

What I found most appealing was how quite this location is, and the sound of birds in a serene pine forest setting was most relaxing.

The house is elevated and has three bed rooms, two bath rooms with decks to enjoy the woodland setting, and the master bed room even has a private deck.

Elevated waterfront home for sale in Milton, FL

You can see the photos I took at 8017 Virginia Lane and the Youtube video gallery I created.

This home is currently for sale, to get more details about this house call Kim Gibbons, Broker at Emerald Coast Realty in Pensacola, (850) 437-5618.

Posted in Milton, FL
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Oct. 11, 2014

Buying a home - First Steps First

Home Buying Tips

As we have all heard many times, buying a home is the single biggest investment most of us will make in our lifetime. If you do not choose wisely, you will likely go through some troubles before you find the one house that makes you happy to wake up every morning. Here are some tips to help you take the right steps to buying property.

1. First, and probably the most important - Choose the right agent to help you with the purchase. You will be spending a lot of time in this relationship, and it is vital that you trust your agent completely. Interview more than one. Be sure the agent is full time in real estate, not a part-time dabbler. Choose an experienced agent that has been in the business a long time, and one that knows the area like the palm of their hand. CHECK REFERENCES!

2. Choose the right lender and get pre-approved! Ask your Realtor for advice with a lender. Most agents and agencies have a list of preferred lenders that can stream-line and close the loan, and do not add on any extra fees that are unnecessary. If the interest rate does not sound right to you, get a second quote.

3. Know and keep your Credit Score up. This one thing can save or cost you thousands of dollars over the course of a thirty-year loan. Even a few points on the percentage rate will make a big difference in the total amount you will pay. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be. A good mortgage professional can help you with tips to do this. Lower your debt, pay your bills on time, and do not apply for new credit for months before you buy a home.

4. Get a pre-approval letter. You should know exactly how much home you can afford before you start looking at properties. Nothing is more disappointing than finding a home you love, only to learn that the payments are way out of your price range. It also gives you an edge when you do find one and make an offer. Many sellers will not even look at an offer without a pre-approval letter.

5. Keep your bills low and try to have some savings or an emergency fund. Not only will it help your credit score, but it can make a big difference when unexpected expenses pop up. A leaky roof, storm damage, even a car accident can put you in a real bind when you have a mortgage payment to keep up.

6. Get a total of the estimated closing costs, prepaid expenses and how much you need to save for a down payment.  Depending on the type of loan you qualify for you will probably need between 3.5% to 10% down and closing costs can typically run anywhere from $1,200-$3,000 or more. Your prepaid taxes and insurance and funds to set up your escrow account will add to the amount you will need to have on hand for closing.  Even buyers that qualify for VA loans have closing costs.  Having this information will avoid problems at the closing table, and if you can put a little more down, it will keep your payments easier to maintain.

These tips can make buying a home fun and exciting, and help keep you from making an expensive mistake. When you find the right agent, listen to his or her advice and do not let emotions overrule common sense. The best agents have YOUR best interests in mind and will be your advocate in the search for your perfect dream home. We would love to be your advocate!

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Oct. 6, 2014

Navarre Beach Property Taxes and Land Ownership

In 1947, the Department of Interior relinquished the portion of Santa Rosa Island (Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach) back to Escambia County. Subsequently, in 1956 Escambia County began leasing Navarre Beach to Santa Rosa County for a period 99 years.

Navarre Beach homes and condos

Ever since 1947, the beach residents paid no property taxes to the respective counties. This all changed on March 20, 2014 when the Florida State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that both condo and house owners in Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach were subject to county property taxes. There were several attempts to appeal, but the decision to tax prevailed.

Congress has passed legislation in the House of Representatives and now requires approval by the Senate before the way will be clear for leaseholders in Navarre Beach fee simple title to their property (this would also apply to Pensacola Beach).

Fee simple title would alleviate the apprehension that some prospective buyers have about buying lease property on the beach. While the sale of leasehold property is not an uncommon practice, most properties sold in this country are fee simple not leasehold. This change will also in some cases make it easier to secure a loan to purchase a property there.

Posted in Navarre Beach
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Sept. 26, 2014

Maximize Your Home-Buying Power

Maximizing Affordability and Home Buying Power

As the real estate market has largely normalized after the last decade's crash, home sales have increased. New construction has started again and prices on existing property are getting back to the levels before the boom, if not higher. Foreclosures are no longer the best way to get a deal, and are even rare in some places. So what should you do to get the most home for the money now?

When the bubble burst back in the mid 2000's, the first areas to be hit were outside of the major cities. During the growth spurt, builders ran out of places to build in Pensacola. So they had moved out of the cities, marching further and further away to build new subdivisions with high-medium to very high-priced homes with their own amenities. Golf course developments, communities near equine facilities, and finally just agricultural areas provided developers with space to build exceptional homes with community pools, clubhouses, and parks.

Buyers seemed to jump on the chance to own a home that was really more than they could afford, but the banks were handing out mortgage loans to anybody at the time...so many took the leap and the chance to live large or buy at pre-construction prices and re-sell for even more.

When it all came to a grinding halt, the trouble began. Those who had previous homes for sale couldn't sell them. Speculators who bought above their means to flip and make quick and easy money were caught with property they couldn't flip and bank notes coming due. Jobs started to suffer, which made it even harder for the new buyers to make the higher house payments.

While there will always be a market for beach property or ritzy downtown condos, it is not so when it comes to communities that are 10 or 20 miles from the business office and commuting prices are even higher. These beautiful suburban neighborhoods often were the first to suffer from foreclosures and short sales. Home prices fell like bricks, and what was a coveted luxury property ended up as a reduced-price white elephant.

The first to fall has become of the first to recover, with prices lower and mortgage loans still manageable. Down payment percentages might be higher, but the price can be half of the original, so the requirements are still about the same. Rates are still extremely low, payments are more reasonable, and buying a home outside of the city or the beach is proving to be an easy way to have the home you've always wanted. Take a look at the communities of:
Gulf BreezePace, West Pensacola, Beulah, and  Northeast Pensacola.

During the boom, builders were swamped. Supply versus demand allowed builders to increase their prices while developers designed higher-end homes to cover the higher costs of building. New home prices got higher and higher, especially near the beach or inside the city limits. Existing home prices were high, but not in the price range of the new ones. When the crash came, many half-built subdivisions and homes were left unfinished, or developing plans had to be scrapped and left to wait for better times.

Well, better times are coming back, and new subdivisions are actively under construction. If you're in the market to choose your lot, choose your home style, choose your interiors, and live in a brand new house - this is the time to do it. We can direct you to new developments in the suburbs. You won't be plagued with replacing the roof or decaying wood, an old air conditioning system going out, or even replacing old appliances. Choose an inexpensive new subdivision or a lavish lifestyle community. Buying a new or resale home in the suburbs is now not only possible, but may possibly be the best investment you can make!

For more information about buying a home in or around the Pensacola area, browse around our website or give us a call. We're here to find the perfect home for you!

Posted in Real Estate News
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Sept. 26, 2014

All About Florida USDA Loans

Florida USDA Loan Approval

When buying real estate, one of the best ways to save money on a mortgage is the often overlooked USDA home loan. Offered by the US Department of Agriculture as a rural housing program, these loans can finance up to 100% of the appraised price, and offer  low fixed rates. The catch is that the home has to be in an approved rural area, usually far from town, and the areas have already been chosen and pre-approved by the government.

In the Pensacoloa area, there are homes in northern Escambia and Santa Rosa County that qualify under this program. (Gulf Breeze 32563 is eligble but 32561 is not eligible.)

Let's discuss these kinds of loans, what they offer, and the requirements.

1. The property being purchased must be for a primary residence, and located in the Florida USDA Rural Development area. There are no exceptions to these two rules.

2. Minimum credit scores can be approved, even with previous short-sales, foreclosures, and bankruptcies on a buyer's record.

3. Interest rates are lower than most other types of mortgages, which makes the payments lower as well.

4. There are no set limits on price. Mortgage amounts are determined by income and appraised value. If the appraised value is higher than the cost of the home, the buyer can even finance settlement charges as well as 100% of the property's cost - no down payment required if the price is right.

There are come income limitations that that are not applicable in other types of mortgages.  Unlike other mortgages, USDA mortgages are based on the income of all family members, not just the borrowers. Some deductions are available that help with qualifications in this situation, however.  Most counties have a family income limit of $74,750 for 1-4 person families, and up to $98,650 for families with 5 to 8 persons. (The term "family" includes all household members, not just relatives.) If a household has 9 or more members, special limits can be allotted.

If you're looking to buy more house for the money, can commute to a job or work from home, and enjoy living in the country, please ask us about USDA homes in Pensacola, even if you have less than stellar credit. You might be very pleasantly surprised at what you can buy and how much you can save with this special government funded mortgage loan.

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