Cindy Cole sums up 2014’s waterfront sales

Cindy Cole
4764 Ocean Blvd, a 3,000 sq ft, Gulf-front home in Destiny by the Sea sold for $2.75 million after only a week on the market.

“God isn’t making anymore oceans.” Charlie Renfroe gets credit for that piece of real estate investing advice. Those who can, buy real estate on or near the water. In our case, that water might be the Gulf of Mexico, the Choctawhatchee Bay, the Destin Harbor or a canal or bayou.  As far as I can tell, God isn’t making any more of those either.

While Gulf-front property gets most of the attention and almost all of the glamour, there’s plenty of other water to watch (and buy).

Big boat fan? Think Destin’s Holiday Isle. Holiday Isle’s canals and harbor attract fishing and boating enthusiasts in droves. In 2014, 11 homes were sold along Holiday Isle’s waterways. Seven of these homes were built before 1985, and about half of these will be torn down to make way for new construction.

Average prices don’t tell us much about Holiday Isle real estate values, as home prices vary as widely as the size, age, and style of the homes along Holiday Isle. For example, in 2014, a small, canal front, 1975-built home sold for $445,000, while a 7-bedroom canal front home built in 2008 sold for $1.7M.

Investors and buyers love the potential for new construction and renovation on Holiday Isle’s waterways.

“I didn’t even know Holiday Isle was here before last year,” said Kevin Hense, a 2014 Holiday Isle buyer. “I didn’t plan on this big of a renovation project but it was worth it for the views.

“The Bay is just not selling,” was an often-heard lament in 2014. Truth-be-told, 2014’s 39 closed bay front/bayou front sales registered on the high side of normal for all of the last 10 years, except for 2004.

While bay front sales volume decreased $35 million year-over-year, average sold price per square foot rose almost 10 percent to $280 per square foot in 2014. That’s a pretty hefty price increase for an area of the market with more than 100 homes on the market.

As in any part of the market, bay front homes that were updated sold for much more than homes that were not – as did homes in gated communities and homes on larger lots. On average, a home on the bay or bayou sold for a little above $1 million in 2014.

East 30A’s Gulf-front properties led the market in sales price and sales volume for 2014. Last year, median Gulf-front home prices rose 20 percent from the previous year to $3.2 million.

At $8.43 million, Rosemary Beach’s sale at 11 Spanish Town Court was 30A’s highest priced home sale. This 5,400 square foot Gulf-front home built in 2008 had been on the market for 790 days.

Destin/Miramar Beach’s Gulf-front home sales got off to a slow start last year. As of Aug. 1, only four Gulf-front homes had closed versus 11 in the same time period in 2013.

A price correction in 2013 appeared not to be able to sustain itself into 2014. August saw two sales with the fourth quarter pulling out a strong nine sales. Destin/Miramar Beach finished with 16 sales, just one sale behind 2013’s 17.

Median Gulf-front sales price in Destin/Miramar Beach finished at $1.86 million, down from $2.15 million in 2013. 4764 Ocean Blvd closed on Dec. 28 for $2.75 million and $903 per square foot for the highest sales price per square foot. In the fourth quarter, one Gulf-front home in Caribe and another in Destiny by the Sea closed for $4.1 million each for the high Gulf-front sales in 2014.

Destin/Miramar Beach’s stagnant Gulf-front prices for 2014 should push their market to a bigger rebound in 2015.

To sell your waterfront home in 2015, update interiors, paint, caulk, clean up your landscaping, and price according to market conditions. It is likely to sell for a higher price than it would have in any of the previous 10 years.

Cindy Cole is the Principal Broker of Cindy Cole Fine Homes, a boutique real estate brokerage specializing in properties on or near the water. In 2014, she was named one of America's Top Real Estate Agents by Real Trends. She can be reached at, 850-502-6344.