The Bubble Popped, the Oil Spilled, but the Sun is still Shining.


When the real estate bubble popped a few years ago, a lot of people around here and other places experienced devastating losses.  Some of them got back on the proverbial horse and started over with a more renewed spirit, learning from their mistakes, others are still struggling, wondering how it all happened.

And while we are seeing tremendous regrowth, we have not forgotten how we got here.

Property values are ascending, people are buying second homes again for their beach getaways and even more amazing, people are BUILDING again, but there is still the dust of loss in the air.

Some of us blow it away in reaffirmation of our own strength and some of us feel it weighing in on our chests.

Many people that you know here lost thousands, even millions of dollars.  People gave back their homes, their cars, and put their designer shoes for auction on Ebay.  You know people in your neighborhood that held off on a divorce because they could not afford it, or asked their children to consider community college instead, or even moved in with their seventy year old parents.

So when we ponder all this lost……what did we really lose?

What is it truly a loss if we learned from it?

If it made us better?

Is it a “loss” only when we quit?

A certain Vince Lombardi quote comes to mind,  “We didn’t lose the game…..we just ran out of time.”

We still live in an amazing place. There is still sunshine to be had, from Panama City Beach to Destin.  There are still waves to be surfed….okay so only during tropical storms. 🙂

My point is our panhandle coastline is still a beautiful, glorious place.  We have lost nothing.  If anything we have gained.

Those of us that gave our possessions back to the bank learned to appreciate what really mattered, our relationships with our loved ones, with our God, with our inner self, all items that interest rates and the stock market index can not commandeer , unless we let them.

Those of us that experienced material loss had an amazing opportunity to look deep inside ourselves and tap into our own abundance, our own power to create and manifest.  We gained spiritually.

So we went back to school.  We picked up new skills, we changed careers.  We started to write that business plan, that song, that piece of art we always dreamed about.  We rolled up our sleeves and job or no job, we got back to work.  I watched my mother start over at nearly fifty years old.  I watched her build a company and then help start another.  She chose not to relive, but to rebuild.  A choice, that many people in this community have made.

This is an area that is used to rebuilding.  When a hurricane is coming, we put boards on our windows until the storm passes.  We do what is necessary, but we do not stop living.

And living we are, as occupancy rates are up, houses are selling and 2012 is on point to be a record breaking year for visitors, all proving that the Florida panhandle is resilient and ready for the next chapter of her adventure.

And the best part?

Coppertone still smells like heaven.

My Absence, A Likely Story

If you haven’t noticed we’ve been sparse around here, then you probably aren’t reading as much as you tell me you are when you see me around town.  😉  There can be a variety of complicated excuses and/or reasons that involve entrepreneurship, psychology, and management, but it really all comes down to lack of focus as a result of too much busyness.

As you know, summer season makes our bread-and-butter business crazy.  Panama City Beach Luxury Properties is doing phenomenally well, but we’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to focus that much on writing.  And I apologize for that.

On top of that, in the last two weeks, I’ve moved our personal residence to 30A (yes, we moved west)(with 4 kids worth of stuff) and now we’re moving our offices.  And, on top of that, we’re making some huge business changes, growing dramatically and hiring like crazy.

So, whether you want to call these excuses or reasons, they’ve kept me from being able to focus on what’s important to you – news and information about Panama City Beach.

I can assure you, Panama City Beach is a passion of mine, and we’ll get back to regularly scheduled posts as soon as we get settled down.

I’m sorry for our absence and I thank you for your patience.

Record Breaking Tourism Month for May

Summer tourism is off to an explosive start with May’s bed tax revenue numbers literally smashing the mild record that was set last year. Total collections for May of 2012 were $1,409,032.20, whereas the total collections for May of 2011 were $1,127,340.30. This equals a 24.99% increase and provides the local tourism industry clear support for another record breaking summer.

Bed Tax, or officially known as the Bay County Tourist Development Tax, is a tax on revenue generated from tourism accommodations rentals.

Read here to learn more about the Bed Tax.

Let’s look at the numbers.

May of 2011 was a weird month. Many had high expectations, yet many others were very leery as we were still distancing ourselves from the devastating impact that the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill left us with in the tourism season of 2010. Tourism numbers were up last year (2011) over the year before (2010), but only slightly (4.8%).

For May of 2012 (this May), everyone’s hopes were high, but expectations weren’t, necessarily, since April had been such a lackluster month (seeing a paltry 4.45% gain 2012 over 2011).

But, putting all speculation aside, May turned out to be phenomenal and we have the numbers to prove it.

  • May of 2009: $998,779.40
  • May of 2010: $1,075,882.69 (7.7% gain)
  • May of 2011: $1,127,340.30 (4.8% gain)
  • May of 2012: $1,409,032.20 (24.99% gain)
The numbers from Panama City Beach Luxury Properties

Being in the tourism business, I have the great luxury and benefit to have a real picture of what we are seeing. Now, grant it, occupancy stems from a variety of factors that carefully work together, including type of rental, marketing acumen, exposure and environmental circumstances.

Since we’ve experienced dramatic growth over the last 18 months, looking at raw numbers year over year would be misleading. So obviously we’d need to do a unit by unit average. And I’m not sure if it’s considered social acceptable or even ostentatious to disclose how many total vacation homes we manage, so I’ll just leave that number out. But, if you were really curious, you could always just go to our vacation rental website and count them. 😉

Please note: these numbers are an average across the board, and include properties that may or may not perform equally during all tourism periods.

May of 2011

  • Total average: $843.30
  • Highest performing unit: $2928
  • Lowest performing unit: $182

May of 2012

  • Total average: $1779.87
  • Highest performing unit: $5,233.75
  • Lowest performing unit: $603.09

Looking at our average revenue per unit, we had an astounding 111.06% increase in our average revenue generated per unit.

Again, this representation is extremely skewed, especially looking at the variety of rental units we host this year compared to last year. We have a large number of high-revenue properties because our flat rate management fee ($397 per month) lends itself very good to those owners (saves tons of money).

June’s bed tax revenue numbers should be out the first week in August, so expect to see some really fun numbers then as well.

What is the Bay County Bed Tax

We talk a lot about Bed Tax around here, because largely it’s a fairly accurate snapshot of the vitality of our tourism industry.  Bed Tax, or officially known as the Bay County Tourist Development Tax, is a tax on revenue generated from tourism accommodations rentals.  In other words, if a property charges $1000 base rent rate, there is an additional 5% bed tax charged on top of that, or $50, which is collected and managed by the Bay County Clerk of the Court and Comptroller, Bill Kinsaul.

What the bed tax is used for.

To understand what the bed tax is used for, we need to break down what every percentage is apportioned to.

The first 3 points are specifically designated to be used “for advertising and promotion of Panama City Beach, Florida as a tourist destination, beach cleaning and maintenance and product improvement of the area.”  Then “1% of the monies collected are dedicated to the beach renourishment project and for the on-going maintenance of the renourishment. [And]1% of the monies collected are dedicated to supporting low cost air service and promoting the area nationally and internationally.”

Further clarification from Dan Rowe, CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau: “The third cent goes to beach renourishment. The 5th is for cooperative marketing with low fare carriers flying into ECP. The CVB is funded from the other 3 cents, as is beach maintenance, landscaping, etc.”

The original base bed tax rate was 3%, but it was increased to 5% in February of 2009 in what was a dramatic series of public workshops and meetings.  The decision went through a litany of discussions in boards that ranged from local home owner’s associations (whether they would support it) to Tourist Development Council meetings, with the ultimate decision being on the shoulders of the Bay County Commission.

Read the 5th cent increase article here. 

Originally determined in the county commission meetings in which the bed tax increase was proposed, the 4th cent increase had no “sunset clause” – meaning it would never expire.  The 5th cent increase had a sunset clause that was to expire its collection in April of 2013, however that sunset clause was removed this morning in a regularly held County Commission meeting.

At this point, the bed tax rate will remain at 5% indefinitely.

Foreclosures & Summertime Dreaming on The Beach Show

1.  Deal #1 is a Wild Heron Foreclosed bungalow for only $279,900
2,496 square feet, 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths
Gated neighborhood of Wild Heron located on Lake Powell with amazing amenities
Fitness center, Kayaks, canoes, fishing, swimming pool, boat house, walking trails and 24 hour security
2. Deal #2 is a beautiful Gulf front community home for only $765,000
Summertime Dreaming is an amazing beach home with a guest house
Pool with beautiful architecture and landscape
Over 2,000 square feet and total of 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths
Several walk overs to the beach with 3 pools and playground, tennis courts and 24 hour guarded gate
3. Deal 3 is move in ready GREAT investment condo for $224,900
EXCELLENT rental potential with a fully furnished Beachy Beach FUN
Beautiful pool with murals and great access to your beach front with excellent views
Near the water park making it a family fun spot

30A Sales Activity

What’s Going On in the 30A Real Estate Market?

Are statistics exciting or what? To some, me included, it is like watching grass grow, unless it happens to be about a subject dear to my heart or perhaps my wallet.

Recently there has been a lot of buzz in the area about how the market is going up and the doom and gloom is over. With that in mind I decided it was time to just take a look at the facts and see where things stand.

The area that I am concentrating on is the roughly 18 miles of the Hwy. 30A corridor. I am comparing the first 2 quarters of 2012 to the same period in 2011 (January 1 to June 30th). These numbers were generated from the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors and do not include properties that were handled outside of that format.

These are simply the facts and I will let you draw your own conclusions, but I do have a couple of observations.

It is apparent that sales activity is up as far as single family homes and residential land is concerned. Prices are also up in those 2 categories with 5.6% in price per square foot for homes and 10% for residential land. Time will tell if these increases are sustainable. Condominiums are a different matter, while sales have gone down the prices have gone up 7.3%. It’s possible sales have been affected by the financial market. Condominium mortgages continue to be problematic.

Well, the grass has grown a little since you’ve been contemplating this information. I hope you find it useful and welcome any suggestions you may have for additional research on this topic that affects all of our wallets.

*Statistics were compiled by Hugh Smith using data provided by the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors.

Beachy Beach Real Estate  850-233-4351

Panama City Beach July 4th Celebration Locations

July 4th is this Wednesday and in celebration of our country’s independence, there are a variety of fireworks displays to enjoy along the beaches of Panama City Beach.  Every year we’ve watched our local celebration grow as Pier Park has opened and more and more people flock to our beaches to commemorate the independence of our country.  And beginning last year, the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau responded to the public’s request and sponsored fireworks displays at three different areas along our beaches: Russell Fields Pier (at Pier Park), M.B. Miller Pier (County Pier) and Grand Lagoon.

Fireworks Display Locations and Event Schedule

This year, the fireworks display will be at three different locations, simultaneously.

Along with the fireworks display, there is always a huge celebration at Pier Park.


9:00 a.m. Veterans Celebration at the Veteran’s Memorial Park (adjacent to Aaron Bessant Park) Chairs will be provided for Vets and Families for the Morning Service.

7:30 p.m. POPS Performance in Aaron Bessant Park  — Bring your chairs, blankets and all the children.

9:00 p.m. Three Fireworks Shows all along the Gulf.  — City Pier, County Pier and Grand Lagoon.

History of Independence Day

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day of the United States.

More information in Independence Day.