2012 Strawberry Music Fest

For the second year in a row, the Strawberry Festival is bringing entertainment and attraction to the Panama City area.  Last year it was at Pier Park, this year they’re holding it at the Bay County Fairgrounds.

About the event

This year they’re bringing in a variety of music talent including:

  • Diamond Rio
  • CMT’s Next Superstars Steven Clawson
  • Suite Caroline
  • Tobacco Road

This year, some of the many things you can find at the festival include:

  • Fresh Sweet Farm strawberries
  • Great Music, Kids Entertainment
  • Green Amusement Rides
  • Tons of vendors
  • Great food
  • Car show
  • Miss Strawberry Pageant
Date, time and event location

This year the event is on February 25th and 26th from 10 am to 10 pm.  The event location is at the Bay County Fairgrounds (map link).

Mardi Gras at the Beach – Full Event Schedule [THIS WEEKEND]

Every year since 2009, Pier Park has played host to one of the greatest Mardi Gras celebrations in the southeast.  This year is no different with the celebrations kicking off tomorrow and running through Saturday evening.

We’ve covered this event extensively in the past  and this year’s event is sure not to disappoint.

Full weekend schedule
February 17th Events

12:00pm- Festival Village at LC Hilton

12:00pm-10:00pm- Classic Cars at Pier Park Circle

2:oopm-4:00pm- Hot Lava Performance at Pier Park Circle

4:00pm-6:00pm- Heritage Performance at Pier Park Circle

6:00pm- Pet Costume Contest at Pier Park Circle

7:45pm- Float Christening at LC HIlton East

8:00pm-10:00pm- Dr. Muffaletta Band Performance at Pier Park Circle

Schedule for February 18th

11:00am- Children’s Activities and Contest at BookIt.com Park

12:00pm- Festival Village at LC Hilton

1:00pm- Kids Parade at Pier Park Circle

2:30pm- Mardi Gras Parade thru Pier Park

4:00pm-6:00pm- Zydeco Gents Performance at Pier Park Circle

6:00pm-8:00pm- Kevin Jacobs Band Performance at Pier Park Circle

8:00pm- Fireworks at the City Pier

8:20pm-10:00pm- Heartbeat City Performance at Pier Park Circle

Past pictures and video

2011 photos

2010 photos

 

Boardwalk RV Park Zone Change Application Withdrawn

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

In what could seem like a temporary victory to the current (and concerned) property owners at Boardwalk Beach Resort, the developer requesting a zone change to allow an RV park has withdrawn his application.  Whether you love RV’s or hate them, allowing them on a gulf front property such as this was a potential precedence that was concerning to local property owners.

The application would have changed the zoning from T-2 to T-M, allowing the property to be used for mobile homes, travel trailers, motor homes, motels, hotels, condos, town homes, apartments, churches, clubs, lodges, parking lots, parking garages and mobile home sales.

Working through the education of this matter, it was made clear how concerned people were about this.  While there were some that believed this was a great idea, there were many that were in opposition of this change.

Here were some of the comments we saw.

The Developer had a vision in 2003 – 4 Luxury hi-rise condo buildings with world class amenities. . . Now the same Developer – Royal American Development Inc. . . has a new vision – let’s put a low investment mobile / RV park and trailer storage facility next to this luxury condo to at least generate some income.  The obvious result will be lower property values in this “mixed use” scenario resulting in lower property taxes collected and lower sales tax revenues for the governmental entities. . . The developer also owns most of the amenities seaward of the building’s footprint, the fitness center and the condo commercial space on the 1st floor of Boardwalk Central. How will the Boardwalk owner keep the “trailer people” from over-running our amenities? ~ Jim Vider

There is no distinction for a “high end” luxury motorhome park in the licensing application for travel trailer parks. Any size or type of trailer can and will be allowed in here. The market will decide that. Once the zoning is changed the parcel can be sold or leased (it’s more valuable now) and all the slick marketing materials and promises won’t prevent it from turning into a field of BBQs, barking dogs, lawn chairs and clotheslines. ~ STL

The area the developer wants rezoned was to be phase 2 of the project. I certainly can understand the cash pinch the developer has, but lowering the value of properties owed in Boardwalk Central as well as Top of the Gulf through the creation of a “campground” is outrageous. ~ Bill

Excellent use for this parcel of land, as homeowners a luxury RV resort adds more value than a vacant construction lot and puts more occupancy tax into town too! Great idea, move forward without delay! ~ Cat

I think this is a fabulous idea. It seems to me that some of the people commenting on here and the one owner that was interviewed on TV have no concept of a luxury motorcoach or RV. . .  I applaud this development group for actually trying to go down another avenue that is a win win for both them and our local economy. . . Are we really going to argue that this developer SHOULD build another condo. . .  Have we learned nothing from the past 4 years? ~ Gilly

Will Gulf Front Condo Prices Continue to Fall?

Is the Gulf Front Condo Market at the Bottom?

As a real estate professional who specializes in Gulf Front Condos in Panama City Beach, I get asked all the time for my opinions about the current marketAre condo prices going to drop anymore?   When are prices going to start going back up?   Are short sales and foreclosures still dominating the market?  Should I buy now or wait a little longer?

In my opinion, I think now is a great time to buy.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Of course he’s going to say ‘buy now’, he’s a real estate agent and he just wants to make a sale.”  Not so fast, I like to base my opinions on facts and not just good old fashioned optimism.  So here are the facts.

The Bay County Multiple Listing Service (MLS) shows that there were 44 gulf front condos in Panama City Beach sold in January of 2011.  In Jan. of 2012 that number was up to 47.  It’s a slight increase of almost 7% I know, but let’s look a little deeper.  The average sales price in Jan. of 2011 was $183,509.  In Jan. of 2012 the average was $217,436.  That’s nearly a 20% increase in sale price in just one year.

Are you thinking that 2012’s average sales price must have been skewed by the sale of a huge, really high priced penthouse?  Think again. The highest priced sale in Jan. 2011 was $600,000.  The highest priced sale in Jan. 2012 was $540,000.  Even if that weren’t the case, we can level the playing field by looking at the average price per square foot.  In Jan. 2011 this was $164.27/Sq.Ft. In Jan. 2012 it was $183.93/Sq.Ft. That’s a 12% increase.

Are foreclosures and short sales still dominating the market?  Yes and no.  In Jan. 2012, 36% of sales were either foreclosures or short sales.  While that’s still a considerable percentage, it’s actually down from 45.5% in Jan. 2011.   If you are the type of person that likes to see these numbers in a neat and clean format (like me) here’s a handy table.

Gulf Front Condo Sales Comparison
January 2011 vs. January 2012

Jan. 2011 Jan. 2012 % Change
Total Sales 44 47 6.82%
Average Price $183,509 $217,436 18.49%
Average Price / Sq.Ft. $164.27 $183.93 11.97%
% Foreclosure/Short Sale 45.50% 36% -20.88%
Listing $ vs. Sold $ Variance -7.85% -4.48% -42.93%

The bottom line is that nobody has a crystal ball.  Any investment carries inherent risk.  The savvy investor looks at the big picture.  Does the picture of today’s condo market in Panama City Beach look like we’re at a snow capped peak or are we somewhere near the bottom in the foothills?

If you are interested in finding out more about Gulf Front Condos in Panama City Beach, please contact me, Opey Russ Broker-Associate at Beach Beach Real Estate, at 850-699-1996.

Should Gulf of Mexico be Changed to Gulf of America?

Yes, in the very same vein of the “Freedom Fries”, legislature has been introduced to change the name of Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of America. The name change could mean a number of things, namely, a much more positive spotlight on our community and tons of press.

A recent MSNBC article stated that Mississippi state Rep. D. Stephen Holland introduced H.B. 150, “an act to provide that for all official purposes within the state of Mississippi, the body of water located directly South of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties shall be known as the ‘Gulf of America’; and for related purposes.”
Read the bill here.

This Tuesday, the bill will go before the Marine Resources Committee and is expected to get a hearing.

So what are your thoughts? If it came to a vote, would you vote to change the name?

Waves of Fog Overtake Splash Resort, Pictures Go Viral

It’s a scene that’s seemingly common, something that JR Hott has seen many times when he’s flying his Panhandle Helicopter.  Meteorologically, it’s a pretty normal event,  but the result in these photos was captured just right, at just the right time.  Just a little later or a bit earlier, and these photos would have never happened.

Last Sunday, Hott went for a flight with his lead captain and fired off some very interesting pictures. The pictures seemed to capture waves of fog flowing over the gulf front condos in Panama City Beach, specifically, Celadon and Splash Resort and several others on the western end of Panama City Beach.

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

Hott said, reflecting on his thoughts before he posted the original image to his Facebook page, “Eh, these look pretty cool, I thought, maybe I’ll post them to my page. . .  When we started seeing the Likes and Shares come through, we were dumbfounded. . .  We never expected this.”

The pictures.
What’s really happening in the pictures.

As explained to me by the Panhandle Helicopter guys, when the air temperature, dew point and water temperature are all about the same, a fog is created.  Add a slight breeze from off the gulf and that fog will envelope the structures on the beach.  If it’s just a little too windy, the fog won’t form.

Meteorologist Dan Satterfield describes the process on his blog:

“Cool air offshore was very nearly at the saturation point, with a temperature near 20ºC and a dew point of about 19.5 degrees C. The air at this temperature can only hold a certain amount of water vapor, and how much it can hold depends heavily on the temperature. Drop the temperature, and it can no long hold as much water vapor, so some of it will condense out and a cloud will form.

“In this case, the air was cooled by lifting it about 50 meters over the top of the condos,” Satterfield continues. “A parcel of unsaturated air will cool when lifted at a rate of 1 degree C per 100 meters. In this case, it probably cooled about 0.5 degrees C, but that was all it took! On the back side of the condos, the air slowly sinks back down and warms at the same rate. As it warms the air can hold more water vapor and the cloud evaporates and disappears!”

The pictures were taken on Sunday, February 5 at 12:40 pm, and the main shots are picturing Celadon and Splash Resort with a variety of other resorts in the shot as well, including Tidewater, Tropic Winds, and Emerald Isle.

The virility of a picture.

Sure, there are talented people that have nailed the creation of viral content over and over, but a large part of creating viral content just really can’t be predicted.  A number of anomalies have to occur and fall into place just right to create that viral spread.

In this case, the photo was capturing something that happens on a regular basis, but the shot was captured from a vantage point that is not so regular. We see fog all the time, but we see it from the ground.  Seeing it from the air is very unique and rare, especially since helicopters can’t take off in foggy conditions.  However, with this situation, the fog was not impacting their landing/take-off location and they were able to get in the air.

The fog seems to be taking over the condos in massive waves, and everything blends together to create a neat, viral package.

So, just how viral is this?

Hott has said he’s literally seen his picture on sites around the world.  Spain, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, England, and Russia just to name a few.  The pictures have shown up on sites like weather.com, cnn.com, tntmagazine.com, huffingtonpost.com and news.discovery.com.  There is a YouTube video from CNN that has over a half million views.

Looking at the Facebook Insights, the original image has over 15,000 people who have interacted with it by either sharing, liking or commenting on it.  Bringing the analytics a little further, according to Facebook, the image as “reached” over 33,000 people.

Their Facebook page, last Saturday had just over 1,050 Likes. As of this post, they had just over 2,500 with over 3,500 people “talking about” them.

What are you thoughts on these pictures?