Today Is The Day To Buy Beach Real Estate Near Destin, Florida

Will Estell

So you’ve dreamed of owning your own little piece of paradise and being able to slip away for a three or four day weekend multiple times per year. You can smell the salt in the air, feel the Gulf breeze in your hair, and see visions of family vacations that don’t entail making reservations weeks ahead of time. However, like many other fans of the area you’ve never really made the effort to look around for the right place because you think all beach properties are outrageously expensive. The truth is, if you’d been reading this article four to ten years ago you’d probably be right.

There are a number of reasons to own a condo or home on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast and most of them are much better than you could’ve convinced yourself of–or those around you for that matter-
just a few years ago. Maybe you’re looking to strengthen your investment portfolio with a property that can generate rental income. Maybe you just like the idea of being able to entertain family and friends in a home away from home throughout the year. Perhaps you’ve even fallen so hard for the beautiful beaches of Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast that you’re ready to become a full time resident of the Sunshine State. Whatever your individual reason, now is the ideal time to invest in real estate along the Emerald Coast. While the information herein is geared more toward the Northwest Florida market, there are plenty of great opportunities to be had on the Alabama Gulf Coast as well.

There are many reasons why now may present the perfect opportunity to buy at the beach. Among them is the undisputed fact that after steady decades of real estate value increases the market hit a low during 2009 and 2010. Don’t let that scare you from buying your dream though, as it didn’t just happen in the heavily tourist populated towns of the Gulf Coast. It happened most everywhere. If you live in Oxford, Alabama it happened. If you live in Dallas, Texas it happened, and if you live in Detroit, Michigan it happened…well, much worse in Detroit, but that’s an entirely different story, and one likely without a happy ending. What matters most about the real estate market in any post recession is not as much about why values declined, but moreover how fast they are recovering and what opportunities are created for potential buyers because of this.


One such opportunity for those looking to buy along Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast is that it is again possible to buy the right property at the right price, put it on a rental program at a 20 to 30 percent average fee, pay your mortgage and association fees, use it yourself a third of the year or more (you just can’t save all the spring and summer dates for yourself), and still cash flow the property solely on net rental income. This is a practice that most all of us familiar with the area believed to be long gone a decade ago. It can’t be done with every property you find, but it can in fact be done. The key of course, as with any real estate transaction, is finding that “right” deal.

Johnathan Hughes, Broker of Destin’s Blue Marlin Realty had this to say when asked about why now is a great time to purchase real estate in the area. “It's a great time to buy due to more foreclosures and short sales on the market than what there would be at a market high. Prices are still way off from the high, but I believe they will come back where they were during the boom. It may sound crazy that those ultra-high prices could happen again, but the main reason they will is because of the beautiful white sand beaches and emerald green waters that represent this coast. It is truly an amazing place to live and people want to be here.”

While Hughes is certainly correct that prices are still well below their all time high, I have personally seen many of the bargain basement prices from 12 to 24 months ago disappear. Much of this I’m sure is due
to a large portion of foreclosures and short sales having been bought up and off the market again. Still there are some of those properties available if you look hard enough. So do your homework and search
listings from multiple brokers and the MLS. It has amazed me how many condos you can still find where the asking price may vary by as much as a third or more between two same size units in the exact same building or resort. These are the ones you want to find and pounce on!

For all the opportunities to buy low, the prices have still risen from what they were even a year ago, and thanks to the growing appeal of the area they show no real signs of slowing. This is a positive for future profits, but a negative for procrastinating buyers.

I asked real estate professional Blake Morar, Owner and Broker of Destin Real Estate Company, what he thought about the current Emerald Coast real estate market. This is what he had to say, “Stability is a primary factor of a returning market. A stable real estate market allows us to more precisely measure property values. It was difficult to determine market value in the absence of sales when the prevailing
market atmosphere was stagnant for a short time. A steady increase in sales over 2012 restored the Destin, 30A, and surrounding markets to a respectable degree”.

Numerous other real estate professionals also believe the Emerald Coast will again experience the real estate values of the mid 2000’s enormous peak. This being the case, you really do have the ability to own a piece of paradise today, and reap the benefit of a big increase in value in a few short years. Something that’s not likely to happen with many other current investments… and remember, you can’t play in the surf and sand, or entertain vacationing friends with stocks and bonds!

Will Estell is the Founding Partner and Editor-in-Chief of Beaches Resorts & Parks magazine. He is a bestselling business author, entrepreneur, and speaker. Will Estell has published numerous articles on everything from business and entrepreneurship to automobile test
articles to travel and tourism. Originally from Pine Grove, Mississippi, he now lives in Oxford, Alabama with his wife and children. He is a big fan of automobiles, baseball, business, and the beach. You can find him on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/will.estell