August 2018 Market Update and new projects coming soon to South Walton


By Tad Hunter

The growth in Walton County is well documented and those of us who live here can feel it in the traffic.  The construction along HWY 98 bottles things up and short trips and errands can take an hour. Yogi Berra is quoted as once saying of a popular restaurant, “no one goes there any more because its too crowded.” That’s often how I feel when I think about daily life during the summer. But for all the challenges created by the growth, there are some great new projects about which to be excited.

The EO Wilson Biophilia Center is adding a 3600 square foot pavilion that will be a multi-use facility designed to attract users year round. The pavilion will include wrap around porches, meeting rooms, and a kitchen. Currently, elementary and middle school aged children from Walton and the surrounding four counties receive free environmental education during day trips to the Biophilia Center. The expanded facility is designed to draw visitors to the area from Alabama and Georgia. Long range plans include the addition of six air-conditioned cabins that can sleep 60 children total. Paul Arthur, Director of the Biophilia Center, says the overnight Naturalist Outdoors education program is already receiving attention from educators in neighboring states. The new program has not begun marketing and he is already receiving phone calls for pre-bookings. The opening is slated for the Spring of 2019.

The Lighthouse Pointe neighborhood is located along Chat Holly near Hwy 331, one block North of the Choctawhatchee Bay. Developer Scott Norton is building coastal styled homes with high end finishes priced in the low to mid $300s. The small neighborhood of 18 homes is 50% built and presold. The development features a community pool. The location is ideal for primary residences and investors looking for long term rental property.

The demand for industrial space in South Walton continues to grow along with the population. Brett Stuart of Taylor Allen Properties recently shared information about a new warehouse project south of Hwy 98. The 10 acre site is located along Hwy 83 on the way to Blue Mountain beach. The development will serve light industrial demand with spaces ranging from 1600 square feet and larger. The project features 18’ eave heights, rolling doors, and ample parking.

Do you have questions or want to share information about a development or a piece of property? Call me and I’ll research it for you. If you are interested, others likely want to know as well.

Market data for the number crunchers in the crowd:

In the market served by the Emerald Coast Area Realtors Association, a total of $369 million in deals closed in May.  Nearly 1 in 5 of those deals were cash transactions. Excluding single family homes, 40% of all condo and townhomes sales were for cash.

Our local Miramar Beach area remains an attractive market for buyers looking to own along the coast.  The availability of homes and condos in our local Miramar Beach/Sandestin market is down slightly (2%) from a year ago. “New listings” on the market are up 16% ytd. Thus with new listings coming on the market at a quicker pace and the active listings trending down, the number of properties sold has increased, and the time on market has likewise decreased. The absorption rate, or the total number of properties on the market, divided by the average number of homes sold each month for the past 12 months, decreased by 18%.  The days on market for a property to sell dropped 21% over a year ago to a median of 65 days.

Both the average sale prices and median sales price were each up 7% over the 12 months. Remember that the “median” refers to the middle of all sales with an equal number above and an equal number below. While the “average” is the sum of all sales divided by the number of sales. The data showing these two measures being up equally indicates that the market is healthy from top to bottom. There were no large sales that skewed the average and the high end is moving as well as the low end.

Tad Hunter is a partner in the RealJoy Vacations property management company and a LAH Real Estate sales associate. He and his family have lived in Sandestin for the past 8 years. They all really miss Jordano’s Pizza. Tad and his wife Platte recently celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary. Tad is a graduate of SMU in Dallas and has an MBA from LSU.