Homes across the Panhandle: What $500,000 homes look like across Northwest Florida

FORT WALTON — Northwest Florida homes with a $500,000 price tag are vastly different, depending on where you look.

In Seagrove Beach along County Road 30A in Walton County, for example, you can snag a beachfront 670-square foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom home for a cool $499,000.

But about an hour north in DeFuniak Springs, you can get a 5,500-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom Victorian mansion for almost the same price. The home may not have sweeping Gulf-front views, but it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was once the home of Sidney Johnston Catts, who was governor of Florida from 1917 to 1921.

The reason for the disparity in size, despite similar price tags, is simple, according to Gay Lundreth, a Grayton Beach-based Realtor with 40 years of experience selling homes in Northwest Florida.

“It really is about the location; it comes down to that every single time,” Lundreth said. “Being by coastal towns and shopping and the harbor, it’s just going to bring a higher premium, just like being by Central Park in New York City is going to bring a higher premium.”

Bruce Naylor, who is listing the Victorian mansion with his DeFuniak-based realty company, Naylor Realty and Associates, said homes north of Choctawhatchee Bay typically fetch a lower price.

“What determines value in real estate is supply and demand,” he said. “Demand south of the bay is very high, and there’s only a limited supply of properties, homes and condos available there, so prices rise.”

A quick search of homes and condos available at about $500,000 mark in Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties reveals that a half-million dollars goes further in the northern end of the counties.

In Destin, a three-bedroom, three-bathroom, 2,195-square-foot condo in Regatta Bay, one of Destin’s well-known golf communities, runs right at $500,000.

But in Crestview for almost twice the square footage, you can buy a five-bedroom, five-bathroom home on a 1-acre parcel for $479,900.

“As for money, you’re going to be able to get more house if you buy in Niceville, Crestview, that type of area,” Landreth said.

But she cautioned that size doesn’t always equal worth.

“Square footage doesn’t necessarily create value,” she said. “Not that having a nice, large home isn’t very attractive, but when you’re shopping for a home, let’s look at the big picture.”

Naylor said towns like DeFuniak Springs are courting higher-end buyers who might otherwise have looked for homes south of the bay and closer to the beach by instituting Main Street revitalization programs and promoting economic vitality.

However, most average home buyers in Northwest Florida aren’t searching for homes with a $500,000 price tag.

According to the Zillow real estate website, Santa Rosa Beach has the highest median home price of any area in Santa Rosa, Okaloosa or Walton counties, clocking in at $487,800.

Miramar Beach has the second highest median home price at $369,000. Destin rounds out the top three at $344,800.

The lowest median home price is in DeFuniak Springs, coming in at $103,200. That’s followed by Milton at $145,600 and Crestview at $164,600.

Pace, Fort Walton Beach, Freeport, Navarre, Shalimar, Niceville and Gulf Breeze are in the middlet, with Pace coming in at $177,000 and Gulf Breeze at $275,200.

Kelly Mogensen, a Destin-based Realtor with Keller Williams Realty, said the real estate market right now is a “seller’s market,” meaning homes are selling at above-average prices. Mogensen added that homes in the northern end of the county typically cost less and spend less time on the market than homes in the south end.

“There are a lot more investment properties in those (beach) areas,” she said. “A large amount of our buyers in Destin and Seagrove are people that are buying homes to rent them out, not necessarily to live in them.”