Home prices are up: It’s a seller's market along the Emerald Coast

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

When it comes to the housing market along the Emerald Coast, area Realtors say it’s a seller's market as people are willing to buy at high prices. 

“Prices have been rising like crazy for houses and condos in 2021,” said Mary Anne Windes, broker/owner of Real Estate Professionals in Destin and a lifelong resident of the area. “Prices were on the rise previously, but the shift this year has been significantly eye-opening.” 

Mary Anne Windes with Real Estate Professionals in Destin stands in front of one of the homes she has listed. The Emerald Coast is seeing a surge in demand from homebuyers.

Last year the average sale price for single-family homes from Fort Walton Beach to Inlet Beach in Walton County was $817,179. In 2021, the average price is $1,125,076, said Ed Smith, broker/owner of RE/MAX Coastal Properties. 

“That’s an outstanding 37.7% increase,” said Smith, who’s been in real estate on the Emerald Coast for more than 30 years. 

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As for the price of condos, Smith said they are up 59%, from $411,218 in 2020 to $653,747 in 2021. 

“These numbers are the result of both strong appreciation and the fact that there is very little lower-priced inventory today,” he said. 

A sign advertises a home for sale in Destin. Last year, the average sale price for single-family homes from Fort Walton Beach to Inlet Beach in Walton County was $817,179. In 2021, the average price is $1,125,076, according to Ed Smith, broker/owner of RE/MAX Coastal Properties.

Windes agrees with the lack of lower-priced inventory.  

“There’s not enough ‘affordable’ homes or condos on the market,” she said.

Windes defined affordable as anything $400,000 or below. She said when they do get anything priced $400,000 or below, they receive multiple offers within days of being placed on the market. 

Contributing factors 

Last year, while most states were closed down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis kept Florida open as much as possible. And word got out.  

“No one predicted the influx of people moving from locked-down states to Florida,” said Rick Moore, a Realtor at Century 21 Blue Marlin Realty. “As demand increased sellers figured out that it quickly changed from a buyer's market to a seller's market.”

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Moore said buyers were coming in with “cash in hand” and willing to pay the asking price or more to secure a home or condo regardless of the appraised value. 

“Many times, homes/condos received multiple offers,” he said. 

“Housing is very competitive right now as more people flood into our state. Florida is definitely open for business. Thank you, Gov. DeSantis,” Windes added. 

Moore said the pandemic made many people realize they could be productive from home, wherever home might be. 

“They decided if this was the case, they could live anywhere and work from home, so why not the free state of Florida,” Moore said. 

Ed Smith of RE/MAX Coast Realty has been selling houses on the Emerald Coast for more than 30 years.

Smith said the market today reminds him of the “Perfect Storm.” 

“Many factors and events have contributed to create this exceptionally hot market,” he said. 

On the supply side, Smith said housing starts have been lagging behind the population growth for 16 years. 

“The lumber shortage really did serve to make things even tighter,” he said. 

As for demand, “record low interest rates have fueled both purchases and refinances. Buyers can afford more for the money,” Smith noted. 

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“The additional factor that is impacting demand here along the Emerald Coast is the influx of buyers from states such as Illinois and Michigan. Purchasers who have not been well-represented here in the past such as those from California, Oregon and New York are moving here,” he added.  

“Our favorable climate and tax structure are powerful enticements,” Smith said. 

The turnaround

The time a property is on the market has shortened. 

“Many properties receive multiple offers and offers of above asking price within the first few days on the market,” Smith said. 

On the Emerald Coast there are basically two markets, single-family homes and condos, he said. 

Mary Anne Windes with Real Estate Professionals stands in front of one of the homes she has listed in Destin. “Prices have been rising like crazy for houses and condos in 2021,” Windes said.

Single-family homes are seeing an average of 41 days on the market, while condos are at 64, according to Smith. 

“Days on the market is simply the time it takes for a property to go under contract once placed on the market,” he said. 

“And cash is still king,” Smith noted. 

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According to the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors website, as of June, 272 buyers paid cash for single-family homes, which was up 60.9% from 2020. The increase for cash for condos was almost as much, 175, up 56.3% from last year. 

“It’s a seller's market,” Windes said. “We’re looking for inventory, but I caution any sellers that if they don’t have somewhere already lined up to move, they should not sell until they do.

“At this point, I’m advising buyers for the first time in my real estate career that although they should always get an inspection, do not waste a seller’s time with contingencies or the seller won’t even look at your offer,” Windes said.