Paradise is affordable right now, and many are fighting to buy their little piece of it.
New homes sales on the gulf coast of the Florida Panhandle are as hot as beach goers in the middle of August.
According to the Central Panhandle Association of Realtors (CPAR), which is the multiple listing service for five counties in the Florida Panhandle — Bay, Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson and Washington — the residential sales volume as of June 7 was $1.99 billion. Sales for June are already up 60.8 percent over last year and there is another three weeks left in the month.
Figures for March show closed sales residential property in just Bay County were $255 million, an increase of 100.8 percent over March 2020, which was up nearly five percent from the year before.
Residential listings are on the market an average of only 21 days. Many of the homes are sold as soon as they are listed.
CPAR President Amanda Corbin said, “People are putting the offers in before they come to town because by the time they can drive here or fly here, the property’s gone. So, I recommend to all my people to put the offer in and then come because, if they don’t do that, they’ve lost it before they could ever even get in the car.”
She told about a buyer that day who put in an offer more than $5,000 over the asking price on a home as soon as it came on the market. By the time the Realtor got the offer written up and submitted to the seller, they had already sold the property for way above the asking price. That Realtor’s buyer wasn’t even in the running.
CPAR CEO Debbie Ashbrook said this strong demand is due to several factors.
Interest rates are very low and will remain low. And, even though prices in the Panhandle are going up, homes are still priced at a good price point compared to a lot of other beach areas.
Panhandle residents devastated by Hurricane Michael a few years ago are just now receiving their insurance money and are looking for new, larger homes.
Also, because of Hurricane Michael, Tyndall AFB is rebuilding and growing, which increases demand for new homes even more.
The Florida Panhandle is rated the top location for vacation Investment by several rating groups. Ashbrook said the area’s ability to attract tourists draws real estate investment dollars in addition to tourism dollars.
Ashbrook said with the pandemic, people realized they can work remotely and are coming from other locations to live and work at the beach.
She said the pandemic also created a demand for smaller towns and rural areas.
“Because they can work remotely, we get a lot of people moving here from states like New York and California. I’m not meaning to bring politics into it but I think because we have a governor who’s opened our state back up, I guess you could say, they’re coming here because of his leadership in the state,” she said.
Driving up prices even further is a lack of inventory. In Bay County, there are only 630 homes on the market. That’s down 71.1 percent from the year before.
Builders are trying to keep up with demand but are being slowed by a lack of building materials. The increased costs of those supplies are also driving up costs.