Times they are a changing!!! Return to a Sellers market

Existing-home sales inched up again during January, according to a recent report by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). Existing-home sales, which include recently purchased single family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops are on pace to reach 4.92 million annual units, up 9.1 percent compared to January of last year.

Hearing the words Seller’s market can create quite a stir so most of us are cautious of uttering those melodious words that sellers have been longing for.  The market has changed quite markedly in the last year and even more so in the last 6 months. What was once clearly a  Blue Light special for Real Estate has taken a turn.  No longer can a buyer do some of the things they have done for the past 5 or more years due to a drastic reduction in inventory.

Some of the habits of buyers may  not work to their advantage anymore so I thought we could address a few of buyer practices. The first one is those good ole low ball offers.  There was once a time when the seller was so anxious about selling and competing with the short sales and foreclosures that they would bite their lips and counter those low ball offers.  In the past few months I have seen many a seller just not even address the offer. The danger for the buyer is that once you give a disrespectful way below market offer the seller does not take you serious and worst yet while the buyer is angling for a steal of a deal …. a more sincere buyer waltzes in and snags the home.

When the market was flourishing with inventory buyers would have plenty of time to sleep on it and even sleep on it for days, weeks and even months. Thankfully those days are gone because while you are sleeping, someone else is packing up and moving in the house you were secretly loving but hankering for that better deal.  Granted there are many homes that stay on the market for a while but frankly if priced to the market, in a good neighborhood and in good condition the home should sell quite quickly now.

Another buyer mistake that has lost many a home for the would be home owner is flooding the contract with contingencies. The cleaner and neater and without ambiguities the easier for the seller to take the deal. I am a real lover of AS IS contracts ( more on that later) because it takes the guess work out of the deal, you either want it or you don’t.  Of course this is not a hard and fast rule but the less complicated the deal the easier it is to make it to the finish line with everyone’s sanity in tact.

I guess we are really doing this backwards because one of the most important things that a buyer can have ready is their prequalification letter in hand.  House hunting before you are knowledgeable about what you qualify for is a loosing proposition for everyone. Your agent does not want to get you all excited about 300,000 houses if your budget is for 200,000. Most sellers are wanting that letter in hand before they even accept your offer so be ready so you can get the home that you want for the price that you are comfortable with.

So if you have to sum it up so that the happy home owner gets the pick of the litter quite simply  remember do these 4 things:

  1. Make a respectable offer based on the market and condition of the home with the help of your favorite Real Estate agent
  2. Know what you want when  you are looking so that when you find it you can act quickly with inspection periods of course.
  3. Make a clean offer with a minimum period for inspections.
  4. Have your financing in order

Now… Ready… Set …GO….. Call your favorite Real Estate agent after you have visited with your favorite banker and soon you should be loading and unloading boxes and enjoying your new home.  Thanks for letting me share little knowledge and some joy and until next week remember, “The only people we have to get even with are those that have helped us.”

Spring Break is Here – Total List of Schools on Break

Every year the weather warms, the skies clear and the college kids go on break, flocking to the beach.  And after a few months of studies, who can blame them?  You know I’ve had a tattered relationship with spring break, and consistent with many in the community, I cringe at the thought of what some of them do while they are here.  However, being in the Panama City Beach vacation rental business (shameless SEO plug), I know first hand that spring breakers are just about the only business to be had during the month of March.

Technically, Spring Break started the last week in February.  But this week is the first real week of the season with the majority of the traveler influx starting next week.

Total list of schools on spring break this week (2-9).

Ball State University (In)
Boston College (Ma)
Bowling Green State University (Oh)
Central Michigan University
College Of Charleston (Sc)
College Of William & Mary (Va)
Columbus State University (Ga)
Duke University (Nc) Mar 3-17
Eastern Michigan University
Emerson College (Ma)
Florida Atlantic University
Geaorgetown University (Dc)
Grand Valley State University (Ma)
James Madison University (Va)
Loyola University Of Chicago
Michigan State University
Northeastern University (Ma)
Northern Michigan University
Pennsylvania State University
Santa Fe Community College (Fl)
Southern Illonois University – Edwardsville
Universite Laval (Qb, Ca)
University Of Central Florida
University Of Florida
University Of Michigan
University Of Mobile (Al)
University Of North Carolina – Charlotte
University Of Pennsylvania
University Of South Dakota
Valencia Community College (Fl)
Valparaiso University(In)
Vanderbilt University (Tn)
Villanova University (Pa)
Virginia Western Community College
West Virginia University
Western Michigan University

Total list of schools on spring break NEXT week (9-16).

Auburn University(Al)
Belhaven University (Ms)
Bentley University (Ma)
Boston University (Ma)
Bridgewater State University (Ma)
Colgate University
Duke University (Nc) Mar 3-17
East Tennessee State University
Eastern Illonois University
Eastern Kentucky University
Emory Uiversity (Ga)
Ferris State University (Ma)
Florida State University
Geaorge Wahington University (Dc)
Harding University (Ar)
Howard University (Dc)
Illonois State University
Indiana State University
Iona College (Ny)
Liberty University (Va)
Miami University – Oxford (Oh)
Middle Tennesee State University
Misouri State University
Mississippi State University
North Carolina State University
North Dakota State University
Northern Illonois University
Ohio State University
Old Dominion University (Va)
Purdue University (In)
Sam Houston State University (Tx)
Southern Illonois University – Carbondale
St. Cloud State University (Mn)
St. Louis University (Mo)
Syracuse University (Ny)
Temple University (Pa)
Tennessee State University
Texas A&M University
Texas State University
Texas Tech University
Troy State University(Al)
University Of Bridgeport (Ct)
University Of Idaho
University Of Kentucky
University Of Louisville (Ky)
University Of Memphis
University Of Miami (Fl)
University Of Mississippi
University Of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
University Of North Dakota
University Of Notre Dame (In)
University Of Pittsburg (Pa)
University Of Rochester (Ny)
University Of South Alabama
University Of South Carolina
University Of South Florida
University Of Southern Indiana
University Of Southern Mississippi
University Of Texas – Austin
University Of Utah
University Of Virginia
Utah State University
Virginia Tech University
Webster University (Mo)
Western Illonois University
Western Kentucky University
Winthrop University (Sc)

New Walmart Set to Open Next Week

Spring is in the air, can’t you smell it? Flowers are getting ready to boom, the weather is warming (wait, did it ever cool off?) and there is a new Walmart opening in Panama City Beach. Nope, they aren’t replacing the old Walmart, this will be in addition to the other Walmart, colloquially referred to as “The Beach Walmart.”

I swear I had found some article substantiating a claim that the Beach Walmart was the highest in volume sales nationally for Walmart Corp, but I can’t find it now, so maybe that was all a dream. But, General Manager Jennifer Ross (the Beach Walmart’s former GM and the new GM at the Pier Park Walmart) mentioned that possibly the claim I was referring to was total in beer and liquor volume sales.

Last week I had the opportunity to tour the new Walmart with Store Manager Jennifer Ross.  A firm opening date will be announced this week, but Ross expects they’ll be ready to open next week.

Let’s talk about what’s different.

The big question everyone has had about this new Walmart is what the difference is between it and the existing Walmart. With the existing Walmart ringing in at around 220,000 square feet, the new Walmart is about 70% of that size, just over 156,000 square feet. Naturally, one would think the new Walmart is smaller than the other one, offering less of a selection, but there are a few things that the new Walmart doesn’t have that accounts for that lost square footage.

One huge component the new Walmart doesn’t have, that accounts for a large amount of the square footage difference is the Tire and Lube center. Additionally, there is almost no tenant space in the new Walmart, with the exception of a Subway and Airbrush. The Beach Walmart has an Eye Center, Nail Salon and other tenant space at the front of the store.

Walking around the inside of the store, it really feels every bit as large as the other Beach Walmart.

Other things that are new to this Walmart.

One of the things I love about the new Walmart is that they kept the exterior design completely consistent with that of Pier Park.  We’d been seeing signs of this all along, but it was something, as a community, I’ve heard concern of.

  • Implementation of sustainability features, including
    • Freezer motion sensor lights
    • Cycling overhead lights
    • Energy efficient refrigeration
    • Concrete floors
    • Recycled composite counters that look like granite
  • All touch-screen registers
  • Bull-pen style self check-out with 8 registers
  • Drive-through pharmacy
  • A/C ducts for Outdoor Center cashiers
  • Big Ass Fans in Outdoor Center (you’ll just have to go see them, that’s really their name)

Right now they’re looking to hire about 50 more people for the season claiming they’ll employ about 250 people seasonally and 250 people normally the rest of the year.

Economically, this is pretty huge. This one installment literally added over 200 jobs locally and will definitely supplement the city’s tax revenue bucket offing a diversified shopping opportunity for travelers on the west end of Panama City Beach.

Photos

Hey Grandma! Southwest Airlines Announced Direct Flights from St. Louis for 2013

Hey St. Louis residents, looking for a cheap way to get to the beach?  Southwest Airlines just announced direct flights from St. Louis to Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) starting March 9th and going through August 10th.  They experimented with daily flights last year from the great midwest to Panama City Beach, and obviously it was successful enough to warrant doing it again!

Last year they ran the non-stop flights from June to August.

So, Grandma, pack your bags, I’m flying you to the beach!

Full Press Release.

PANAMA CITY, FL (February 27, 2013) – After a successful trial in 2012, Southwest Airlines is bringing back a nonstop flight from Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL). The route begins March 9th and will run every day through August 10th, covering the busy spring break and summer travel seasons in Northwest Florida.

Southwest tested the seasonal flight from June through August of last year and achieved great results. During its two month run, Southwest carried about 16,000 passengers on the roundtrip route between Panama City Beach and St. Louis.

“We are very happy about the return of the nonstop flight to St. Louis,” said Airport Executive Director John Wheat. “St. Louis is a fantastic destination for our locals to visit and at two hours flight time, it makes visiting Panama City Beach much more convenient for those in the Midwest.”

The initial March 9th flight is scheduled to depart from Panama City Beach at 10:05 a.m. while the first flight in is scheduled for a 2:45 p.m. arrival. Subsequently, the route’s regular departure time is 12:05 p.m. with arrival at 2:05 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.southwest.com.