The BP Effect series is brought to you by attorneys Reich & Binstock and Seeger Weiss LLP, which are helping businesses in Panama City Beach recover losses sustained directly and indirectly from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. They can help your business too,
In this series, we’ve talked about a variety of ways this past summer’s oil spill impacted a variety of industries, but this week we’re going to embark on a two article “mini-series” on the oil spill’s relationship with the local real estate industry.
Living in a tourism-driven market, there are a few things that serve as the base that Panama City Beach really relies on. The primary being the vacation rental and service industry, and the other being the real estate industry. Without sales, we would have nothing to rent; without the rental companies, we’d have no one to manage the homes and condos; and without the rental companies, we’d have no one to convince the stressed out work-force of America that our white beaches are perfect for relaxing their toes and keeping them sane.
Today’s story is about Karen Smith. She’s the new broker and owner of the well known Panama City Beach real estate company, Beachy Beach. I say “new” owner, despite her being affiliated with it for years, because she IS the new owner. She bought it from the founder earlier this year when she saw an opportunity and was growing faster than a field of Daisies after a spring rain shower, until the BP well exploded late April this year. You may also know her from The Beach Show, which I founded in early 2009 with her – it’s the only Internet TV Show all about Real Estate in Panama City Beach.
“I had over twenty closings from January through April alone this year,” Karen told me this morning after showing me her board that had the last names of everyone of her customers, organized by month on her dry-erase board. She was rocking, I mean really rocking. She said she was pacing to have the best summer she’d ever had in over 15 years in the real estate business.
“We leased our new office the day before the oil spill happened,” Karen said. Their location is right on Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road for us locals) on the far west end of Panama City Beach. Tastefully decorated with high-end furniture and a very beachy atmosphere, her office is perfect for her customers to lounge comfortably while they work through the nuances of buying or selling real estate.
Looking at her board, she had less than 5 closings all summer long – May, June, July and August. With the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport marketing efforts coupled with Southwest Airlines’ marketing genius behind the trigger, Panama City Beach was finally on the map, and with the audience that we truly wanted here – family vacationers. Based on her estimations from her spring sales pace, Karen speculates that she should have done at least double during the summer what she did in January through April. But she closed 4.
It’s remarkable, she was telling me, that since they “fixed” the oil spill, it’s like the faucet has been turned back on, gradually since September. She’s set to finish off the year with a bang with just under 20 closings. She said this will still be the best year she’s ever had and she’s grateful for all her customers that have been patient through this whole mess.
This was a “Realtor’s” tale, next we’re going to talk about what happened with the real estate industry as a whole in Panama City Beach in summer 2010.