Existing Home Sales Better than Expected

More good news on the housing front this week as reports on new and existing home sales both beat analysts’ expectations and showed signs of a bottoming despite a monthly decline for March. Possibly the best news this week was Wednesday’s report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency that showed home prices actually edged up .7% from January to February for single family residences.

These encouraging housing reports coupled with some better than expected corporate profit reports have reignited the stalled rally on Wall Street sending stocks higher for the week. The gains for stocks, however, came at the expense of the bond market with the ten-year Treasury note getting pounded sending the yield to right at 3% in Friday trading.

Mortgage rates, while slightly higher, have managed to resist the rise in bond yields thanks to the Fed’s ongoing program of purchasing up to $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities. Rates remain near record lows, and we are even beginning to see some relief in the Jumbo market where rates have remained stubbornly close to 7% for thirty-year fixed.

I have some interesting anecdotal news this week as well. I actually had two bidding wars break out this week over a condo and a single family home I was trying to finance – something I haven’t seen since before the crash. This further convinces me that this market has bottomed and is on its way back up. I am seeing more appraisals make value and, better yet, come in above sales price, which is another sign of a resurgent market.

The challenge remains the strict underwriting standards and shortage of loan programs that have choked off what would otherwise be a flood of business. I am closing primarily condos but, for every ten applications I take, three may go beyond the pre-approval stage and actually close due to the limited financing options available. Yet as more and more of these deals get closed, and as more buyers rush to snap up the bargains before rates begin to rise, the crippling “distressed market” designation should eventually be lifted for Florida real estate. This is crucial to providing our potential customers the same access to the mortgage programs and less-stringent underwriting guidelines enjoyed in our neighboring states.

Youth Fishing and Free Hot Dogs

This Saturday, April 25th from 10 am until 1pm, the city of PCB Parks and Recreations department will host a youth fishing rodeo. Kids under 16 are invited to come out and enjoy the weather, the park and the fishing. There will be free hot dogs and giveaways. The Fish Florida Foundation will be providing free rods and tackle boxes  to participants to help promote responsible fishing practices. This event is open and free to the public.

Frank Brown Park is located at 16200 Panama City Beach Pkwy Panama City Bch, FL 32413

For more information call (850) 233-5045

Episode #3 – House in The Glades for $120/foot

This week on The Beach Show we have a cute, darling little 2 bedroom starter home that has been completely remodeled throughout, a beautiful foreclosure home in The Glades for only $120/foot and a huge 6 bedroom 3200 square foot home right across from the beach that’s an awesome deal.

The Beach Show, your ONLY internet TV show all about real estate on Panama City Beach.

http://www.viddler.com/player/6be7e508/

Click here for show notes.

Don’t forget to visit www.TheBeachShow.com for Real Estate Tips with Karen Smith and The Mortgage Minute with Hunter Palmer.

Thunder Beach Will Be Huge. Thanks Myrtle Beach

2890942751_ccc7337011If you’ve been aching to don that new leather vest and harness boots, ache no more. On April 30th Panama City Beach shall rumble, heralding the return of the Thunder Beach Spring Rally. From end to end, families, riders, celebrities, artists and some of the most spectacular bikes in the world will cover the beach.

Regarded by many as the “most biker friendly free rally in the United States”, the Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally is always a big event. But this year’s event may be the best and biggest Panama City Beach has ever experienced and Myrtle Beach may have a lot to do with it.

As many of you know, Myrtle Beach is Panama City Beach’s largest competition when it comes to bikers and rallies. But by the looks of recent law changes, they might be getting out of the business. Recently, a 3 million dollar property tax increase was passed in Myrtle Beach to fund anti-rally efforts. That’s not the half of it. Myrtle Beach has also added new laws declaring unpermitted rallies and events to be public nuisances, created a midnight curfew, closed bars at 2 am, required all motorcyclists to wear helmets (not a requirement under state law), towing and impounding all motorcycles that do not meet noise standards, checkpoints where motorcycles will be monitored for noise, and traffic diversion such as barriers and closed streets. So what does all this mean? Basically, it means a bigger rally for Panama City Beach, and I’m sure the local businesses will take it.

“We’re definitely expecting huge turnout this year.” Says Corky McCollum, A Thunder Beach Productions coordinator. “We’ve got bigger events, more venues and the total numbers of vendors have increased considerably.”

The schedule for bike week is substantial and the venues cover the entire beach. The list of venues include, Shoppes at Edgewater, Club La Vela, Sandpiper Beacon, Boardwalk Beach Resort, Sharky’s, Pier Park, Rockit Lanes and Frank Brown Park.

And the events this year are family-friendly. There will be demos all over the beach particularly the Harley Davidson Drill Team at Pier Park. They’ll be teaching and doing all sorts of stunts. If that doesn’t make you want to jump into your chaps, at Club La Vela, Speed Channel’s Jay Barbieri, host of American Thunder, will be hosting a televised “Build Off” allowing two bikers to pick any parts from their accessory demo rig to amp-up their bikes. Suckerpunch Sally, an old-school bike manufacturer will be giving away one of its beautiful custom bikes during a VIP party at Ebro Greyhound Park. At Frank Brown Park X-game enthusiasts can witness firsthand the amazing jumps seen on television as stunt bikers hit ramps and the “Ball of Death”. Live bands will be playing at all the venues. Everyone is welcome to come out to enjoy the events and, if nothing else, gawk at some amazing bikes.

Without doubt, the Thunder Beach Spring Rally is expected to be a success. So I guess, if things go as planned, we should all head to Hallmark, get a nice big thank you card and send it to Myrtle Beach. I’ll be the first to sign it.

New Additions to Pier Park

As if it were physically possible for Pier Park to get better, it just did by adding a few new features everyone will enjoy.

Here are the new additions:

3427850478_4d69c55f85The Miracle Strip Carousel – This carousel was purchased from an auction of the equipment used at the Miracle Strip Amusement Park, which closed in 2005. The carousel is a 1964 Allen Herschall 36-foot model featuring 30 horses and 2 chariots.

Transportation Booth – Owned by a local entrepreneur, this booth offers surrey rentals and Pedi-cab rides throughout the Pier Park property.

Train – Don’t miss out on the five-car train that travels up and down Pier Park Drive. Hop on to rest your feet and enjoy a tour of the property.

Euro Bungee Jump –This dynamic bungee experience slings groups of four people at a time 35-feet into the air!

Coconut Tree Climb –Up for a challenge? Grab your friends and see who can scale this 30-foot simulated coconut tree the fastest!

Spider Mountain –Spider Mountain welcomes children of all ages to safely scale up to 35-feet using a labyrinth of ropes, nets and safety harnesses.

Manhattan-style Hog Stand –Enjoy delicious refreshments like hot dogs, cotton candy and an array of drink options after a fun afternoon at Pier Park.

If you haven’t yet ventured out to Pier Park, or even if you are a frequent visitor, now is the time to grab the family and check out these new additions. Not only has Pier Park added attractions, but new stores as well. Feathers Shoe Boutique has recently opened while fashion retailer Rue 21 and Spring Ridge Welcome Center will debut in May. Happy shopping.

Business Expo at Edgwater Draws Big Crowds

Job seekers and business owners alike came from all over teh Panama City Beach area to brush shoulders and talk about the future.  Businesses in attednance ranged from Neves Media and ViaMedia to Musgrove Flowershop and Beach Scene.

“The economy is bad and I’m just looking for a job,” said one attendee.  Although most businesses in attendance weren’t there to “hire”, many locals came hopeful for an opportunity to again bring home the bacon.

“Do you know why everyone here is just here for the free stuff,” one local busines asked me. “Is it more than usual,” I asked.  Their answer was without hesitation, yes.

Just about anything could be seen on the show floor.  A man, who after blowing up a 6 foot baloon, stuffed himself inside it, stuck only his head out and presumed to dance around.  Girls where spotted wearing anything from brown bags, boxes and even bikinis, spelling of sun tan lotion – everyone goaled at promoting their business.

“We had around 2,000 people come through Business Expo yesterday.  103 businesses exhibited, which is 25% up from our last Expo in 2007 (Superheroes).  Everyone loved it, from the Green Room which showcased the “green” side of Bay County with recycling, green and sustainable practices, nature, and eco-excursions, to the booths and costumes decked out with “The Nature of Business” theme, to the Green Entertainment (Todd Herendeen and his band) to Edgewater’s “Global Cooler” martinis!  Most of the Exhibitors gave away prizes including massive gift baskets, facials and cosmetic procedures, several months of free storage units, T-shirts, teddy bears, portraits, kayak and canoe trips, and even a Hobie kayak!  The event was deemed a huge success and everyone had a really good time.” – Marta Rose

I was talking to Noel at Cyber Sytes and he was telling me these events are big for them because it gives them another opportunity to promote business to business and network with other local business owners.  Hmm, looks like PCBDaily should’ve had a booth there.  Maybe next year?

Miracle League Field to be Complete by Tomorrow

As workers methodically and swiftly lay down the hexagonal rubber-pellet blocks the painting crews were preparing to paint the in-field of  the new Miracle League Baseball Diamond at Frank Brown Park in Panama City Beach.  The field is expected to be complete by the end of the day tomorrow.

The field has been under construction for a few months now with the asphalt paving having gone down about 30 days ago.  Late last week crews began putting down the rubber blocks, one piece at a time.  The entire field is comprised of 30,000 blocks covering 15,000 square feet.  The pavers are made of recycled rubber from tires and other disposed rubber products.  The garbage rubber is ground into small pellets, cleaned and compressed into a form and held together by an environmentally friendly bond.

Every ten feet, a row is glued down to prevent shifting, but all the others are free floating so as to ease repair or replacement over the years.  “We guarantee our surfaces for 5 years, but we have some that are 10 year old that still look fine,” said Jose Rodriguez, Director of Sales and Business Development for Sofscape, the company that is installing the field.  “In five years, if the paint begins to fade, you just repaint it and you have a new field.”

As of this post, they had the template forms down for painting the infield.  When complete, it will look like a regular baseball diamond with the bases painted on.  The entire surface will be flat so as to allow kids in wheelchairs to be able to roll around the bases.  If the wind stays down like it was when I was up there, they’ll paint this morning.

As I was leaving, I was talking to Jeanie Quave, the Broker at Edgewater Beach Realty, and we were discussing all the great memories this field will be home to.  Many kids will have an opportunity here that they did not have before, and the new field will be home to many great memories for these kids and their families for the rest of their lives.  I think it is great the positive impact that this will have on the community, and I commend all those that were involved in making this happen.

On a side note, Jeanie was saying that they still need someone to donate a flag pole and flag, so if there is anyone that is willing and able to do so, please help.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-21

  • just finishing up the newsletter. had a super busy weekend with all the events. been working today since 7 am. going to bed. . . soon. #
  • Awww, dude, this chicken is amazing. #
  • At red bar in grayton beach. This place is packed! Anyone have any connections here? #
  • Wow, awesome day at the zap skim jam. Now to the seabreeze jazz festival. #
  • Cebo brought his computer, copying pictures now. Sweet, you rock cebo! #
  • Arrghh. Ran out of memory on the dslr. Shot 800 pix already. Cebo’ going to put them on his computer. #
  • Skim jam – Photo: http://bkite.com/06Bub #
  • Ahhh, mid 60’s and clear skies. Perfect for doing anything outside on panama city beach. #
  • Eating fruitloops getting ready to go out to the skim jam. #
  • Whoa, pier park is packed out. #
  • Wow, fun times at the skim jam. Thank you mr surfs and edgewater beach resort. #
  • Am I cool cuz I’m hangin with the pros? – Photo: http://bkite.com/06zQV #
  • Goong out to the skim jam at edgewater #
  • Just held a gator #
  • Capt rick holding a gator with swampvette.com – Photo: http://bkite.com/06zDH #
  • Just held a gator #
  • Out for a croc tour on the swampvette – Photo: http://bkite.com/06zD4 #
  • Just held a gator #
  • Is guy harvey british? Learn something new everyday. #
  • Was just told at guy harveys that they felt like I was a local celebrity. Wow, thanks rose! Great to meet u 2 #
  • Guy harvey in person in panama city beach – Photo: http://bkite.com/06y3m #
  • At the meet and greet at guy harveys in pier park in panama city beach – Photo: http://bkite.com/06y2M #
  • going to guy harveys to meet guy harvey! anyone else going? #
  • Don’t forget Episode 2 of The Beach Show will be live today at 3pm. http://tinyurl.com/cebeke #
  • On the roof of regency towers. I love rooftops! – Photo: http://bkite.com/06xeq #
  • @BSJMcConnell yea, just went out to see where and see them getting set up. #
  • I talked to my friends at edgewater and they said the cheer competition that’s going on up there will be sweet too #
  • Just went to pier park for jazz fest. Now to skim jam at edgewater #
  • Mmmm reeses puffd for breakfast. #
  • Going to shoot episode 2 of thebeachshow.com. Going to see awesome luxury newer home for 171/foot. #

They Came, They Saw, They Skimmed

skimmingThis weekend, near perfect weather and the top skimmers from around the world converged on the beach behind Edgewater Beach Resort to compete in the 11th annual Zap Pro/Am Skim Jam contest. Onlookers in the hundreds, some enthusiasts of the sport, others just enjoying the extreme event, watched the likes of Morgan Just, Corbin Dull, Patrick Hunt, Anthony Cox, Derek Shenton and others shred ebbing surf up and down the beach. Efforts from Mr. Surf’s Surf Shop on Panama City Beach, Zap, Skim USA, Global Surf Industries, Surftech and others filled the beach with activities and free giveaways.

This year’s event had big expectations and boy did it live up to them. The skimming was absolutely amazing. Awesome rides were skimmed by several triggering gasps and waves of applause from those taking in the competition from the shore. Next to the event was the UCA cheer camp competition, which carried over, filling the beach with over 5,000 people.

2009-04-18_00056Heats were broken into skill level and age. One of the highlights from the earlier brackets was Anna Prophet, a local female skimmer, who shredded lines all over the place making skim history advancing to the semi-pro finals of the competition and landing in the top 5. But for hundreds in attendance under the perfect weather conditions, the anticipation continued to grow awaiting the pro-level skimmers.

I was among those anxiously waiting and I have to say, there was no disappointment. Those guys are good—real good.

Here is the video Jason made from footage shot Friday.  He has tons more footage from Saturday’s event that will be published later in the week.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=4206737&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1

11th Annual Zap Pro/Am Skim Jam from Jason Koertge on Vimeo.

Corbin Dull, a local pro skimmer, won the Zap Pro/Am competition, blistering waves left and right. Other notables was another Panama City Beach local, Lance Richardson, who placed third overall and probably got the most air out of all the contestants.  Alex Hood placed fifth overall and had a stunning show. Other awesome performers included, John Ackerman, Blake Tyre and last years champion Mogan Just.

On top of all the great pro skimmers, lots of local amateur skimmers showed their stuff during the free skim. All over the beach, kids and adults of all ages had a blast skimming themselves crazy and watching one heck of a show.

Skimming the History:

I read up on the history of the sport and learned that Skimboarding dates back to the late 1920’s when lifeguards skimmed on pieces of wood. Evolution of the sports has skimboarding as one of the most high-tech water sports anywhere. The boards used by professional skimboarders are built using technology adapted from aerospace to attain maximum lightness, buoyancy, and rocker (which is the curve on the board from one end to the other). In fact, the board used by the average skimboarder is far more technologically advanced than that of the average surfer.

If you’re interested in learning more go here or stop by Mr. Surf’s Surf Shop where you can learn the basics and take a board out for a test run.

Edited: I have to give a shout out to our good buddy Arlene Froeming.  Thanks to her and her generosity in loaning me a sweet telephoto lens, we had the ability to produce some stunning close-ups.  She does some freelance photography and can be found here. – Jason


Seabreeze Jazz Festival A Swinging Success

An amber sun sets on Panama City Beach and I watch two couples, vacationers from Mobile, Alabama, dance amid hundreds of others in the Seabreeze Jazz Festival attendance. It is their second day at the event and the energy from the first day hasn’t waned at all. Around them, vendor booths selling artwork, food, wine and music make a halo around the Pier Park’s outdoor amphitheater. Creamy jazz rhythms saturate the air. From where I stand, the couples are having a wonderful time, as is everyone else. Reluctant to interrupt their fun, I stopped and asked them what they thought about the festival. One of the husbands, still dancing, shouted back to me, “Ya’ll should do this kind of stuff more often. This is the most fun I’ve ever had in Panama City.”

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=4248918&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1
Nick Colionne at the 2009 Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Pier Park Panama City Beach from Jason Koertge on Vimeo.

That was the scene at this weekend’s Seabreeze Jazz festival held at Pier Park. If you missed this it, you missed on heck of an event. The place was packed, the food was delicious and the music intoxicated everyone in the amphitheater. Hosted by internationally acclaimed jazz guitarist Nick Colionne, the event featured some of the most skilled jazz musicians in the world. The likes of Eric Darius, Boney James, Wayman Tisdale, Will Downing, Althea Rene, Warren Hill, Joyce Cooling and others hit Panama City Beach like a silk-covered bomb. From the start of the event until the end the music was just outstanding; without doubt the best you’ll ever hear live in one sitting. Singers, Guitarists, Saxophonists, Fluotists–you name it, they rocked it. The attendance was stratospheric; not an empty patch of grass anywhere. And best of all, the artists loved being on Panama City Beach.

“The Seabreeze Jazz Festival is at the top of my list because the people here are so receptive; they come out to hear the music,” said Nick Colionne, “The people here are beautiful, everyone has been so nice to all the artists.  I look forward to coming back next year.”

So the question remains, was the Seabreeze Jazz Festival a success? Well, that depends on the lens with which you view success. If you view success by sheer number of people, then the Seabreeze Jazz Festival was a smashing success. Pier Park had no parking, which is quite a statement being that Simon works hard on providing that service so close to the shore. People were everywhere; in the amphitheater, around the mall, in the streets—everywhere!

If you judge success by the festival’s economic impact, well, by that standard, the event was a success as well. I don’t know about you, but to me, the traffic on the beach felt awful “summer-y” as did the waits at restaurants and the lines in the shopping centers. Mind you, the Zap Pro Skim Jam and the UCA Cheerleading Camp aided in filling the beach, but the crowds seemed to stretch from one end of the beach to the other and that spells dollars for most the businesses on the beach.

So was this year’s Seabreeze Jazz Festival a success? Well, there’s one other way to view success. For me, the degree of the event’s success manifested itself in the two couples who danced on our beach until the stars came out. They decided on a vacation to Panama City Beach and, as the man said, it was the most fun they’ve ever had. That’s success.

Tip-of-the-hat to all the people involved in bringing the Seabreeze Jazz Festival to Panama City Beach. It was a blast. You guys did a great job.

I have to give a shout out to our good buddy Arlene Froeming.  Thanks to her and her generosity in loaning me a sweet telephoto lens, we had the ability to produce some stunning close-ups.  She does some freelance photography and can be found here.