I’m a glass half-full sort of girl — and even in the worst of times, I can usually find a reason for positivity.



I admit, however, that at the beginning, 2013 had me scrambling pretty hard for opportunity, and I was more than a little worried that I wouldn’t find it in the near term.



I focus solely on selling luxury and luxury investment real estate and by the end of February 2013, I hadn’t sold any. None. Very few Realtors had. Sales volume in the $1 million and up residential category was down from the previous January and didn’t improve much in February.



By March, I was back to my old positive self and the market to its new one. In the Emerald Coast MLS, March saw almost $45 million in luxury property closings, a nearly 60 percent improvement over the previous year. Luxury sales volume continued its upward trend through the spring, and in July we saw a whopping 147 percent sales increase over the previous July with over $94 million in luxury residential home sales.



Jo Stewart, a Realtor with the Premier Property Group who leads sales volume in the Burnt Pine neighborhood of Sandestin, says, “In Sandestin, single family home sales over $750,000 increased 182 percent from $17.3 million to $49.2 million — almost triple the volume we saw in 2012.” 



For the entire Emerald Coast, 314 $1 million-plus homes sold in 2013, a 50 percent increase over 2012. In total residential sales in all price ranges, the market finished over 10 percent ahead of 2012 in units sold.



The 30A corridor accounted for almost 70 percent of the more than 300 $1 million-plus home sales with the WaterColor neighborhood reporting 55 luxury sales. Realtor Richard Barnett who sells in and lives in Watercolor says "I haven’t seen sales demand like I saw in 2013 since 2004.”



Forty of the total luxury homes sold in 2013 were built in 2012 or later, and buyers were willing to pay a premium for new construction. In Destin’s premier gulf front neighborhood, Destiny by the Sea, non-gulf front homes built in 2012 or later sold for an average of $223 more per square foot than older homes in the same neighborhood.



The luxury end of the vacation rental industry reported a banner year for 2013, as well. Josh McLean, owner of Five Star Beach Properties, said most of his Gulf front inventory rented out for the 2013 summer high season by mid-March of last year. “While the rains of 2013 certainly hurt our reputation for pristine weather a bit, we are looking forward to an incredible 2014,” he said.



As for me, I ended the year about like the rest of the market — up. Way up. In fact, 2013 results were my best ever. I suppose even if they hadn’t been, I would be reporting a silver lining instead of a golden one.



 



Cindy Cole is the owner/broker of Cindy Cole Fine Homes, a boutique luxury real estate brokerage serving the Destin and 30A markets. She can be reached at cindy@ccfinehomes.com, 850-502-6344.