Real Estate is Back According to Builders & Realtors

When shelter-in-place orders brought the economy to a screeching halt earlier this year, many believed the residential housing market would follow suit. Countless analysts predicted buyer demand would disappear and home values would depreciate for the first time in almost a decade. That, however, didn’t happen. It appears the opposite is taking place.

After the bottom fell out of the real estate market immediately following the shutdown, it has come roaring back – and seems to still be gaining steam. Here’s a look at two recent reports – one from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and one from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) – showing this growing strength.

Builder Confidence Hits All-Time High

Last week, it was reported that applications for new home purchases with home builders were 39% higher than in July of 2019. That has builder confidence soaring.

Each month, NAHB releases its Housing Market Index, a survey of NAHB members who rate market conditions for the sale of new homes at the present time and over the next six months, as well as prospective buyer traffic for new homes.

This month, they reported that builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes increased to the highest reading in the 35-year history of the series. NAHB Chairman, Chuck Fowke, explained:

“The demand for new single-family homes continues to be strong, as low interest rates and a focus on the importance of housing has stoked buyer traffic to all-time highs…Housing has clearly been a bright spot during the pandemic and the sharp rebound in builder confidence over the summer has led NAHB to upgrade its forecast for single-family starts, which are now projected to show only a slight decline for 2020.”

The number of newly constructed homes being built will be almost at the same level as last year, even though the economic shutdown crushed home building earlier in the year.

Existing Homes Are Also Selling Like Hotcakes

Last Friday, NAR released its Existing Home Sales Report. The report revealed that month-over-month sales increased by 24.7%, setting another record for the category. The Wall Street Journal reported that the increase crushed expert forecasts:

“Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 14.2% monthly increase in sales of previously-owned homes, which make up most of the housing market.”

Home sales increased by 8.7% year-over-year.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, explained how the resale market is just as hot as the new construction market:

“The housing market is well past the recovery phase and is now booming with higher home sales compared to the pre-pandemic days. With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021.”

In addition, the Housing Market Recovery Index, which is released monthly by, also showed the market is recovering nicely. The latest index reading was 104.8, which means the housing market is doing better than it was in January and February of this year. As a reference, the highest point in the index was a 106.5 in early March, just prior to the health crisis setting in.

Bottom Line

Both the newly constructed and existing home sale markets are posting numbers greater than a year ago. Real estate is back. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, let’s connect so you have the expert counsel you need along the way. Cathy Turner 850.502.3422

Homebuyer Demand Is Far Above Last Year’s Pace

Couple holding keys to their new house

Homebuying has been on the rise over the past few months, with record-breaking sales powering through the market in June and July. Buyers are actively purchasing homes, and the momentum is continuing into the fall. It is, however, becoming harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, the coming weeks might just be the timing you’ve been waiting for.

According to the Pending Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

Pending home sales in July achieved another month of positive contract activity, marking three consecutive months of growth.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, rose 5.9% to 122.1 in July. Year-over-year, contract signings rose 15.5%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.”

This means that for the past several months, buyers have signed an increasing number of contracts to purchase homes – well above where the market was at this time last year. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR notes:

“We are witnessing a true V-shaped sales recovery as homebuyers continue their strong return to the housing market…Home sellers are seeing their homes go under contract in record time, with nine new contracts for every 10 new listings.”

Below is a graph that shows the impressive recovery of homes sales compared to previous years. The deep blue v marks the slowdown from this spring that turned into an exponential jump in sales that followed through the summer, skyrocketing above years past:

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

If you were thinking about putting your house on the market in the spring, but decided to wait due to the health crisis, it may be time to make your move. Buyers are in the market right now. With so few homes available to purchase, homeowners today are experiencing more bidding wars, creating an optimal time to sell.

Is This Trend Going to Continue?

As CNBC notes, there are no signs of slowing buyer demand this fall:

The usual summer slowdown in the housing market is not happening this year. Buyers continue to show strong demand, spurred by the new stay-at-home world of the coronavirus and by record low mortgage rates.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at, concurred:

“In a typical year in the housing market, buyer interest begins to wane before seller interest causing the usual seasonal slowdown as we move into the fall. Due to a delayed spring season and low mortgage rates, we could see buyer interest extend longer than usual into the typically quieter fall. Whether this means more home sales will depend on whether sellers participate or decide to stay on the sidelines.”

As Hale mentioned, homeowners who are willing to sell their houses right now will play a big role in whether the trend continues. The market needs more homes to satisfy ongoing buyer demand. Maybe it’s time to leverage your equity

and move up while eager home shoppers are ready to purchase a house just like yours.

Bottom Line

If your current home doesn’t meet your family’s changing needs, let’s connect to help you sell your house and make the move you’ve been waiting for all year. Call me for a market analysis of your home. Cathy 850.502.3422


Second-Home Boom… YOLO

Record-breaking demand for drive-to destinations. In July 2020, the Sierra Tahoe MLS logged its highest residential dollar volume in history, up more than 200% year-over-year. Sales at Long Cove, an upscale masterplan on Cedar Creek Lake south of Dallas reached an all-time high in June and again in July. Pending home sales in Bend, Oregon rose 150% year-over-year in July. And in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, sales doubled compared to the same time last year, fueled by demand from New York and New Jersey.

Family refuge in less than four hours. Most second-home buyers, particularly those with school-age children, prefer to drive less than four hours. They desire a getaway to “invest in family,” as well as a place of refuge for the future.

The new “primary” home means longer stays. Because parents can work remotely and children can learn remotely, homeowners now measure second-home stays in weeks and months, rather than days. This use pattern flips the traditional weekend second-home model on its head. Now, households may stay at their second home for most of the time and travel back to their primary home on occasion. Elements such as high-speed internet, home offices, and learning spaces for children have become just as important in second homes as primary homes.

Buyers want to move in soon, which means a priority on a finished home. Today’s buyers are less interested in purchasing a homesite and spending years designing and building a custom home. Resort developers across the country tell us buyers prefer finished product so they can experience their second-home lifestyles right away. We recommend developers in second-home destinations focus on completed homes that are ready for purchase. For to-be-built homes, the build process should be simple and short and include design elements consumers want most. We are tracking consumer preferences and offer great resources to keep you on top of the latest trends.

YOLO in addition to FOMO. Last week, we featured FOMO (fear of missing out) as a reason that buyers are rushing to purchase new homes. The psychology of “you only live once,” or YOLO, is driving the surge in second-home sales. Households who may have otherwise waited have decided now is the time to buy, often using funds that would otherwise be allocated to more traditional vacation travel. Today’s buyers are showing more interest in lifestyle and use than rental potential and future appreciation. Developers who emphasize the lifestyle in their marketing programs will experience stronger sales.

30A Farmer’s Market Sundays in Grand Blvd & Rosemary Beach

A Stroll through The 30A Farmer’s market in Rosemary Beach, Grand Blvd at Sandestin and Niceville makes for a pleasant Sunday morning and a great way to buy local produce, meats, hand crafted breads and much more.

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Robust Recovery for the Housing Market

For months now the vast majority of Americans have been asking the same question: When will the economy turn around? Many experts have been saying the housing market will lead the way to a recovery, and today we’re seeing signs of that coming to light. With record-low mortgage rates driving high demand from potential buyers, homes are being purchased at an accelerating pace, and it’s keeping the housing market and the economy moving.

Here’s a look at what a few of the experts have to say about today’s astonishing recovery. In more than one instance, it’s being noted as truly remarkable.

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist, Meyers Research

“The housing recovery has been nothing short of remarkable…The expectation was that housing would be crushed. It was—for about two months—and then it came roaring back.”

Fannie Mae

“Recent home purchase measures have continued to show remarkable strength, leading us to revise upward our home sales forecast, particularly over the third quarter. Similarly, we bumped up our expectations for home price growth and purchase mortgage originations.”

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for

“All-time low mortgage rates and easing job losses have boosted buyer confidence back to pre-pandemic levels.”

James Knightley, Chief International Economist, ING

“At face value this is remarkable given the scale of joblessness in the economy and the ongoing uncertainty relating to the path of Covid-19…The outlook for housing transactions, construction activity and employment in the sector is looking much better than what looked possible just a couple of months ago.”

Bottom Line 

The strength of the housing market is a bright spark in the economy and leading the way to what is truly being called a remarkable recovery throughout this country. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, maybe this is your year to make a move after all.

Is the Health Crisis Driving Buyers to Leave Urban Communities?

The pandemic has caused consumers to re-examine the components that make up the “perfect home.” Many families are no longer comfortable with the locations and layouts of their existing homes. The allure of city life (more congested) seems to be giving way to either suburban or rural life (less congested). The fascination with an open floor plan seems to be fading as people are finding a need for more privacy while working from home.

Recently, released a report that revealed how buyers’ views of listings are leaning heavily to more suburban and rural properties. Here are the year-over-year percentage increases in views per property type:

  • Urban – 7%
  • Suburban – 13%
  • Rural – 16%

In the report, Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for, gives these numbers some context:

“This migration to the suburbs is not a new trend, but it has become more pronounced. After several months of shelter-in-place orders, the desire to have more space and the potential for more people to work remotely are likely two of the factors contributing to the popularity of the burbs.”

Realtor Magazine also just

that the desire to move is strongest in our city markets:

“Nearly 30% of respondents living in a high-density urban area say that the pandemic is prompting them to want to move by the end of the year…This is more than double the rate of those living in rural parts of the country, where residents are much more likely to stay put rather than to relocate.”

New Construction Also Seeing a Surge in Views

Since the pandemic has altered how consumers think about floor plans, builders are anticipating how future homes will change. In a

by Zillow, it was explained that:

  • Builders believe as people spend more time at home during the pandemic, buyers are realizing which features of their homes are working and not working.
  • Homebuilders predict open-concept floor plans will be a thing of the past, as people now value more walls, doors, and overall privacy.
  • New construction, which offers the chance to personalize home features, saw its listing page views grow by 73% over last May.

The Virus is Even Impacting the Luxury Second-Home Market

It appears that COVID-19 is impacting the luxury market too. In an article released last week titled,

, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for reported:

“Stay at home orders and social distancing have put a new value on the extra space. We’re seeing this in the luxury market as well, which could mean there is renewed interest from high-end buyers to find a second-home that is within driving distance from their primary residence.

Much like the suburbs are gaining favor with home shoppers, second home markets are seeing increased interest from luxury buyers…Views of luxury properties accelerated 56% in The Hamptons, 28% in Palm Springs and 24% in Greenwich compared to January trends.”

Bottom Line

It appears that a percentage of people are preparing to leave many American cities. Some of these moves will be permanent, while others will be temporary (such as a getaway to a second home). In either case, many consumers are on the move. Real estate professionals are ready and willing to help in any way they can.

The 2020 Seaside Prize

Seaside Prize Weekend

The communities that make up the Emerald Coast are diverse, reflecting regions that are both rich in heritage, progressive, and forward looking. Along Northwest Florida’s famed Scenic Highway 30A, the story of the Seaside community is exceptional, centering on an uncommon connectedness and the people who gather there. It’s a community strengthened by countless voices who have contributed to the quality and character of the town.

In honor of those contributions, the community celebrates

each year to honor leaders who have contributed to the development of Seaside and who have influenced its advancement. This year’s honoree is Michael N. Lykoudis, Dean of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, for his efforts at enhancing the architectural community while advancing New Urbanism, a harmonious blend of cottages and walkable streets that represent the opposite of the condominium trend. The event attracts visionaries and thought-innovators who seek to make life better through design and function.

The 28th Annual Seaside Prize™ Weekend was held March 6-8, and included keynote speaker Michael Dennis on Friday, an award ceremony and dinner Saturday evening, Seaside tours on Sunday, as well as a series of lectures throughout the weekend. Attendees had options to choose a lectures-only option, a food-only option, or full admission. The Seaside Institute also accepted

for the weekend event and offers continuing education credits as well.

The Seaside Institute was founded in 1982 to promote the building of sustainable places through design and education, using Seaside as a living laboratory. Each year, it honors individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions by challenging existing ideas about diversity, walkability, sustainability, livability, and quality of life. Seaside’s 2019 recipients were Tom Christ, Richard Gibbs, John Massengale, Derrick Smith, and Charles Warren.

First presented in 1993 to Seaside co-town planners Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Vincent Scully, the award has been given to architects, planners, writers, politicians, and the City of Portland. The event began as a small, intimate gathering, and has blossomed into a multi-day event that enlists participation from the entire town as well as from people who were part of the town’s infancy.

“In an era when resilience, beauty, and good stewardship are more important than ever, it is a special honor to be recognized by the Seaside Institute…”

Michael N. Lykoudis

31st Annual Sandestin Gumbo Festival

If you’ve never visited the Emerald Coast during the winter months, you’re missing one of the most popular off-season events in the area: the Sandestin Gumbo Festival. Entering its 31st year, the event coincides with the long President’s Day weekend, making it a perfect opportunity to take in the local sights and sample the area’s very best gumbo as offered by a number of Gulf Coast competitors.

The Sandestin Gumbo Festival, which kicks off the local festival season, happens at The Village of Baytowne Wharf, where the two-day event raises money to benefit the Sandestin Foundation for Kids (SFK). Last year’s event raised $3,300 for SFK, which provides immediate support to children throughout the community and abroad.

This year’s event kicks off Friday, Feb. 14 at Hammerhead’s Bar & Grille with a neighborhood seafood boil, drinks, and live entertainment at 5 p.m. The main event happens Saturday, with the gumbo cook-off and family activities, as well as live music from Dikki Du and the Zydeco Krewe.

Participants bring a variety of recipes, each with its own unique spin and a variety of secret ingredients, with most repeat participants bringing a new offering each year. In years past, competitors reported beginning the cooking process on Thursday prior to the event and bringing 50 gallons of gumbo to share. Visitors can sample a wide variety of gumbos and vote for their favorite as the “People’s Choice” winner. And, back by popular demand after its introduction last year, the event includes the Best Bloody Marys at the Beach competition, where connoisseurs can sample them all and vote for one participant to win the coveted title.

Celebrity judges will determine the gumbo winners in multiple categories, like Veteran’s Award, Best 1-5 Years, Best Non-Restaurant, Best Display, and Best New Participant. Last year’s People’s Choice award winners were Crab Island Cantina, Dewey Destin’s, and Slick Lips, with Crab Island Cantina also taking home the title of Best Bloody Mary at the Beach. This year, however, with a new round of competitors for 2020, the results could look very different.

The Sandestin Gumbo Festival, nicknamed Pursue the Roux, is a rain-or-shine family-friendly event, so pack your gear and make plans to join in the fun. The main event lasts from noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 15, with award presentations beginning at 4. General admission tickets are available on the

for $35 until Feb. 14. Ticket prices are $45 on the day of the event. This event could sell out, so grab your tickets now.

In preparation for the big event, try out this gumbo recipe from 98 Bar-B-Que, the


33 quarts water

2 cups olive oil

4 ounces shrimp or clam base

2½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup chopped garlic

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

1 pound chopped okra

2 tablespoons black pepper

1 cup diced onion

3 tablespoons salt

1 cup diced green pepper

2 tablespoons thyme

1 cup diced red pepper

7 tablespoons gumbo filé powder

1 cup diced celery

3 tablespoons blackening seasoning

½ cup chopped parsley

½ pound butter

½ cup chopped green onion

4 cups cooked rice

1 24-ounce) can diced tomatoes

3 lbs 26- to 30-count shrimp (peeled, tail off)

Heat water and shrimp/clam base in a large soup pot; bring it to boil and let it reduce.

While water is heating, pour oil into skillet about 1 inch from starting point and heat on medium. Once oil starts to warm, add flour with a whisk slowly; continue to mix until all lumps are dissolved. Mix the flour and oil mixture (roux) about every 10 minutes until it browns and begins to have a nutty aroma.

Once the stock has reduced, add garlic, okra, peppers, onions, and celery; then add tomatoes. Bring back to a boil and then simmer. (Remember to stir the roux.) Add gumbo filé and shrimp.

Reduce the heat to low and slowly add the roux to the stock mixture with a whisk. Add as little or as much roux as you like to make it thinner or thicker. Add spices, mix well and add butter.

Serve gumbo over cooked rice and garnish with chopped parsley and green onion.

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Panhandle’s Highest Priced Residential Deal on Record

11-Acre Miramar Beach Property Sold for $16.1 Million

One month into 2020, and our team here at The Premier Property Group (PPG) is already breaking out the bubbly. One of the first closings of the year—39 Sandy Dunes Circle in Miramar Beach—represents a significant milestone for our company and the local real estate market: It’s the highest priced residential deal on record in the panhandle.

The coveted 11-acre property, commonly recognized as the Pennington home, extends from Highway 98 all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Sold for $16.1 million, a redevelopment project is currently in the works between Premier Development and the new owner that will include a mix of residential, commercial and hospitality developments. Stay tuned, as discussions are currently pending as to whether that could include a beachfront bed and breakfast, condominiums or hotel.

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The Premier Property Group- Superior Emerald Coast Brokerage

Defining a Premier Brand

A behind-the-scenes look at how The Premier Property Group distinguishes itself in the market.

Consumers have more information at their fingertips than ever before. In an age where the noise flooding any marketplace can be deafening, how does a company effectively break through and make a connection with its audience?

The answer starts with the right foundation: a company’s brand. Recently, Paul Landers, creative director with The Premier Property Group (PPG), shared his insights on the importance of branding and how the executive team at PPG is strategically positioning itself for sustainable success as a luxury real estate company within the Emerald Coast’s crowded marketplace.

“Branding goes far beyond a company’s consistent use of color or a consumer’s ability to recall a logo or graphic element. It equates to a promise,” Landers said. “The PPG brand should embody a great customer experience and be compelling, honest, distinctive and proprietary. The  Premier brand is, after all, what our customers say it is, not what we say.”

PPG along with its sister divisions, Premier Commercial Group and Premier Development Group, all operate under the umbrella of the parent company, The Premier Group. In a market of just over 4,800 real estate professionals (just in Walton County) all vying to earn the trust of buyers and sellers, Landers noted that PPG is differentiating its brand in the following ways:

Quintessentially Local

PPG is one of the top locally-owned, independent real estate sales firms in Northwest Florida. That characteristic brings many advantages, according to Landers. “Number one, we know our communities inside and out,” he said. “In addition, PPG is not governed by a headquarters five states away that may or may not understand the nuances of our market. If we need to adjust strategy based on what’s happening across the communities we serve today, our team has the power and flexibility to do that.”

Global Visibility

PPG may maintain its operations on the Emerald Coast, but its team has global reach. Landers emphasized that a key differentiator for the company is its designation as the only local real estate group to be invited to become part of Luxury Portfolio International and Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. PPG listings are marketed in over 52 countries worldwide and across 500 websites—an important feature that ensures high-end real estate reaches the right audience.

Proven Track Record

A consistent leader of area sales, PPG has been ranked in the top 10% of luxury sales from the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors since its first year of operation. The company serves some of the Gulf Coast’s most sought-after communities including South Walton, Scenic Highway 30A, Destin, Niceville and Panama City Beach. Landers noted that this success comes from understanding its audience and narrowing its marketing focus to meet the needs of luxury buyers and sellers.

Next-Generation Marketing Techniques

The way companies reach their constituents is evolving rapidly in tandem with technological advancements. Not only must PPG continually adjust its own marketing strategies, but it must offer buyers and sellers of luxury real-estate access to forward-thinking marketing techniques as well. “Communication must make a connection in today’s market. Otherwise, consumers will look elsewhere,” Landers emphasized. “At a time when connectivity has actually resulted in a more disconnected society, we are all looking for personalized experiences and want to relate to the human element of a company.”

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