The local real estate market halted its downward spiral in August, showing the first signs of recovery since the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion. While no significant gains were made in overall sales over last year, there were bright spots around the Emerald Coast. “Looking at the numbers, we are cautiously optimistic that the local market is recovering from the oil spill crisis,” states Mary Anne Windes, ECAR President. “Although we are showing no gain yet, our pending sales are up.”
Crestview and North Walton County continued to see an increase in sales while the coastal areas still felt residual pain from the oil spill crisis with slight decreases in Destin, Niceville, and South Walton County. Pending sales for the month of August show an increase of 12 percent over last year and nearly 20 percent over July of this year.
Buyers are slowly stepping back into an advantageous market. “Based on telephone volume, the buyers are not back with the same intensity as before the oil spill, but showings seem to be picking up a little,” continues Windes, broker-owner of The Real Estate Professionals of Destin.
Where are the sales coming from for the north end of Okaloosa and Walton counties? According to Toni David, Realtor with American Realty of NW FL in Crestview, “The 7th Special Forces are beginning to move to the area.”
“Crestview is a good place to be. They [the soldiers] like the small town atmosphere, the large lots, and that they are close to the compound,” continues Davis.
In North Walton County, a myriad of factors came together for the increase in sales. According to ECAR Director Sally Merrifield, that area saw an increase in the sale of foreclosures. “Four of the properties sold were foreclosures which is a high number for our area,” states Merrifield, broker-owner of Merrifield & Pilcher Realty in DeFuniak Springs.
The same factors that have made this a great market over the past several months continue to hold steady. Historically low interest rates, elevated inventory levels, and competitive pricing contribute to the current buyer’s market along the Emerald Coast. With the incoming military and those no longer concerned about oil, the future of the local real estate market is looking bright.