Coastal Real Estate: Why 2016 is the Year to Buy

- by William Franklin
     From the beautiful family oriented beaches of Destin and the 16 beach communities of South Walton, to the crystal sands of Pensacola and Panama City Beach, West to the waters of Alabama’s Gulf Coast, This is going to be a great year to buy real estate.  Many people, probably a lot like yourself, have grown to love the beaches of the Northwest Florida and Alabama Gulf Coast, and a large number of these frequent vacationers have made the move into ownership in this enchanted beach lover’s paradise. In fact it’s estimated that around 65% of all the combined properties in the majority of these beach towns are second homes. And rightfully so, as there are not many regions of the country where you can get away to such pristine white sands and emerald waters.

     Another factor in 2016 being such a prime time to buy is that not only can you still get a great price, buy it low and sell it high, but more over a buyer can place their property with a number of reputable rental management companies such as Destin area’s Blue Marlin, Vacation Happily, Go Southern, and Resort Quest (to name a few) and often cash flow their new investment with all the increased rental traffic the booming area is seeing. Remember, if millions of new, first time, vacationers are making tracks (in the sand) to these Gulf Coast towns, they all have to have a place to stay. So, with this tourism increase comes an almost insured ability to rent what you buy. Providing you list it with the right management company, that is.

    As for who these newly minted vacation real estate buyers are, Robert Banks-Morgan, of Beachy Beach Real Estate, has this to say, “Our typical buyer seems to be a family person that is interested in a little bit of both enjoyment and rental potential.” “Trending on our beaches is a new breed of buyer that loves to visit and also get help on their payments by renting out to others.”
   New developments are springing up to service the growing needs of all these tourists too. One such condominium in the works is The Lofts, a luxury beachfront resort condominium that will be adjacent to the Emerald Coast’s newest high-end resort hotel, The Henderson, and part of Henderson Beach Resort. These affluently appealing residences are ideally located in the heart of Destin, neighboring the beautiful Henderson Beach State Park to the West, and the vibrant Crystal Beach area to the East. The Lofts is uniquely located within the resort and boasts Beach Club membership, which will provide luxury services to owner members and guests.
   Destin based, Blue Marlin Realty Group’s Jerry Sullivan is a firm believer that the destination factor is a huge reason we’re seeing property values go way up way fast. Sullivan says,  “Across the board, more people are moving here full-time. In fact, Okaloosa and Walton County are two of the fastest growing counties in the entire United States, but the population is still small enough that when people come here they don’t feel like they’re on top of one another.” Arguably this is another great reason to buy the beach in Northwest Florida and Alabama than it is to buy along the East or West Coast, or further down in Florida. Well, that and the fact that the beaches of the Gulf Coast really are better than anything you’ll find North of the Caribbean.

  If you’re interested in buying on the Alabama Gulf Coast, Realtor Erin Kaiser with Kaiser Real Estate feels the same way about the opportunities and tourism growth are available in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Erin says, “There are several reasons to buy on these beaches, the first reason being that there are brand new developments in the area that are attracting attention and are helping move the market in the right direction.” Which is to say rising, but not so much that 2016 isn’t still a brilliant time to get in on the growth. Kaiser says, “Higher quality construction and better insurance rates have definitely been a plus, and there is also a great selection of inventory giving all types of buyers a great opportunity.”

     Kaiser pointed out that a continuing improvement in the market has also led to a stronger demand for new buyers in the area. “The Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area has put a lot of effort into promoting the Gulf Coast, which in return brings new tourists.” She also tells me that property values have increased as much as 10 percent within the last year. “Right now the supply of homes is low and the demand is high”, Erin says. Whether you’re a writer of real estate trends, an investor, or a father wanting to give his family the gift of a second home, this means one thing to all of us; this is a great time to jump in and ride the tide to the top!

    While rental investments are still popular, Kaiser said she is seeing more and more buyers come to the coast in search of second homes. “My clients are from all over the country and looking to find an area to spend time with their family and have something to pass down to their children,” she said. And while some are interested in rental income to help offset the purchase cost, “they still have their primary focus being personal use.”
I believe it’s safe to say that investing in real estate on the Northwest Florida and Alabama Gulf Coasts is going to be a smart move in more ways than one during 2016. After all, how often can you purchase something that’s rewarding in personal use, income potential while you own it, and big profits when you sell it? It’s a lot like the trifecta of fun, with a lot of benefit thrown in for good measure. Get in while you can!
William Franklin is an Alabama based freelance writer who specializes in tourism and real estate editorial. He has been involved in many facets of the business, from personally investing and selling to consulting, and representing buyers and sellers of residential real estate. While Franklin doesn’t live at the beach, he spends a lot of his time there, and has for almost two decades. He is a regular contributor to Beaches, Resorts & Parks magazine.