Longleaf Writers Conference Returns to 30A: May 10-17

“Leave sunscreen fingerprints on your manuscript pages. Analyze the telling detail with sand in your ears. The story ‘actually starts’ on page three? Nope. The story actually starts on 30A.” – Snowden Wright, author of American Pop and Play Pretty Blues

The time has come to spill the beans on one of 30A’s best-kept secrets. And to all you creative writers out there – aspiring or otherwise – this one’s for you.

Since 2013, the Longleaf Writers Conference (formerly Seaside Writers Conference) has been the ultimate creative gateway to the Gulf Coast, bringing together nationally recognized and award-winning authors, emerging talent, and book lovers of all kinds.

Established “by writers for writers,” the conference takes place every year in the second week of May and offers the opportunity for beginners, intermediate, and advanced writers to celebrate writing, network with fellow writers, and hone their craft.

And with a full week of intensive writing workshops and seminars, school outreach programs, readings, bonfires, shrimp boils, 30A sunsets and more, what better way to do so?

Ask any past attendee and there’s a good chance they’ll tell you that Longleaf is the perfect balance of laidback fun, ravenous learning, and boundless inspiration. As for the folks behind it, including directors Seth Tucker and Matt Bondurant, it’s their favorite labor of love.

“We started the Longleaf Writers Conference in May 2013 with four core principles,” said Tucker and Bondurant. “To bring to the Gulf Coast a unique opportunity for writers of all backgrounds to meet and learn and grow alongside contemporary literary masters of genre and form. To not only provide financial aid for emerging writers, veterans and under-represented writers but to be a springboard for their careers. To create an outreach program that sends those fellows and scholars to local underserved schools in order to expose students to the value of literature and writing. And to make this conference an exemplum of what a small conference should look like by creating a community of writers and poets without any sense of hierarchy or professional competition.”


At the heart of the conference is their “Writers in the Classrooms” outreach program. Each year they bring young published authors into underserved local schools for a series of workshops and discussions about writing and creativity to help foster early exposure to the arts. As the conference grows, they hope to expand their efforts to spread literacy and creative practices to more underserved schools throughout the Florida Panhandle area.

In the meantime, they couldn’t do it without the help of local support, including that of this year’s sponsors Sundog Books, Cultural Arts Alliance, Grayton Seafood, Black Bear, Chiringo, Big Wheel Pizza, Distillery 98, Grayton Beer, Bud & Alley’s, Macho Taco and more.

Market Update June 2020

It’s been roughly two months since the effects of  COVID-19 virus began in our area and our real estate market. In those two months, much has changed.  Stay-at-home orders have given way to the resumption of normal beach vacations.  Visiting restaurants, retail stores and even bowling alleys are now possible.  The real estate market has changed as well.  Thankfully, it is progressing as we anticipated back in March.  It’s great news for all of us who love the Emerald Coast.

Back in March when COVID was dramatically impacting the stock market and the level of real estate activity, we made the case this market slowdown was different than those in the past.  Real estate market fundamentals are and were stable, strong and more resilient.  Our opinion then was the market would behave much like it did after 9/11.  In March we stated,

“The lingering psychological effects of 9/11 on the consumer led many to look for “safe havens” to invest their money and spend their time.  Many people avoided air travel and larger populated areas for years after.  This resulted in drive-to destinations and markets with strong regional consumer bases experiencing a spike in demand.”

The question we could not answer then was when would this increase in demand occur?  In a subsequent article in May, we wrote that it appeared the market was behaving as we predicted.  Around April 1st, the downward trend began to reverse with the number of real estate contracts being signed (pended contracts) increasing.  Below is the graph (Figure 1) from that article comparing 2019 and 2020 pended contracts where the increase from April 1st through May 10th can be seen.


The trend looked promising and we stated that transactions were returning to normal levels.  Following is the same graph (Figure 2), updated through June 5th, 2020.

The change is striking.  As the COVID-19 related restrictions that kept visitors and buyers away from the Emerald Coast were slowly lifted, the number of pended contracts increased dramatically.  At this point, a few questions should be asked:

1)    Where does the market stand year-to-date?  Have the declines experienced during March and April been reclaimed?

2)    How have values fared during this period?

3)    Is the increase in transactions during May and June the result of pent-up demand or is it real market growth?

Let’s go through each of these

1)             Where does the market stand year-to-date?  Have the declines experienced during March and April been reclaimed?

Following are two graphs (Figure 3 and Figure 4) that help show where the market stands.  Figure 3 shows the cumulative number of pended contracts for 2019 and 2020.  The teal line and the orange line represent 2019 and 2020, respectively.  This year started promisingly with total pended contracts higher than 2019 until March 11th when the effects of the COVID-19 slowdown overcame the year-to-date gains.

From a pure number of contracts signed, 2020 is still slightly behind 2019 by approximately 5%.  Looking at the trends; however, it seems as though the gap will be closed by the end of June.

From a volume (contracted price) standpoint, the news is even better with the gap being completely closed and total pended volume year-to-date for 2020 higher than 2019 and can be seen in the below graph (Figure 4).  This graph is the same as the one above but for cumulative contract values rather than number of contracts.  Note 2020 volume was greater than 2019 volume until March 24th.  We will come back to that date later.

While contract signings are great, what about closed real estate transactions?  Figure 5 below is similar to Figure 4 but for cumulative volume of closings rather than cumulative pendings.  Keep in mind that the average time from pended contract to closed contract is around 40-45 days.  As a result, the lag between the chart above and the chart below is a little over a month.

This year was performing well from a volume standpoint at the start of the year with 2020 volume outpacing 2019 volume.  Around March 20th however, the impact of COVID virus can start to be seen.  It’s subtle but the consistent year over year growth starts to decline; the impact of the reduced number of pended contracts starting to be felt and closings being delayed due to a variety of reasons, namely stay-at-home orders.  Starting in early May, total volume for 2019 and 2020 are relatively equal.  By early June though, 2019 volume is higher than 2020.  The good news is this was predictable from looking at the cumulative pended contracts graph.

Remember the March 24th date in Figure 4 when cumulative pended volume for 2019 became higher than 2020?  Adding 45 days to that date puts you in early May, just when 2019 and 2020 sold volume is relatively equal for the first time all year (Figure 5).  Pended volume (Figure 4) in 2020 starts to eclipse 2019 volume again in late May.  As a result and assuming a 45 day contract to close period, cumulative sold volume for 2020 should start to be higher than 2019 again sometime in late June, early July.

Most of the first quarter market reports for the area from area brokerages bragged about how first quarter sold volume in 2020 was higher than the same period in 2019.  While this was true, they forgot to write about the real headline; the upcoming impact of COVID-19 on the market.

2)             How have values fared during this period?

While COVID-19 has had an impact on the number of transactions, it has not had an impact on average prices.  As the chart (Figure 6) below indicates, the average contracted price for each month in 2020 is higher than the corresponding month in 2019.  While June is not shown on the below graph, preliminary data shows this trend continuing.

Also of note is the year of year growth for each month is increasing, ranging from 1% growth in January to 19.7% growth in May. While some of this increase is due to true price growth, we also believe this is due to a disproportionate increase in the number of transactions at higher price points.

3)             Is the increase in transactions during May and June, the result of pent-up demand or is it real market growth? 

Based on conversations with agents and buyers, the answer is both.  The extent of each is not clear yet.  Agents state they have buyers who were waiting for short-term rentals to open back up before they purchased real estate and agents also say they have buyers that had been looking elsewhere but chose to buy here for many of the same reasons we stated in March and earlier in this article.  People want to own second home property in “safe haven” areas that could be reached quickly.  This could be buyers who could afford vacation homes but chose to rent are now buying property or buyers previously looking in Europe, the Carribean or other fly-to markets are now looking for property on the Emerald Coast.  This increase in demand could also be why the year over year price growth is increasing each month.

In summary, the market is behaving much like we said it would back in March.  The market is performing remarkably well and we expect the trend to continue through the summer.  This of course assumes the restrictions previously put in place due to COVID-19 continue to be relaxed and there is no second wave of restrictions put in place.  In either case, the market continues to be robust, healthy and active.  If you have any question about real estate properties, our market or anything else related to the Emerald Coast, please feel free to reach out to me; I’m ready to help!

Parkside at the Henderson to Break Ground this Fall

Destin’s exclusive Crystal Beach community will soon welcome the addition of a new standard in luxury condominium development. Following a successful pre-sales launch, the Premier Property Group (PPG) is gearing up to break ground on Phase 1 of Parkside at the Henderson, a distinctive retreat that will provide an elegant addition to the Henderson Beach Resort portfolio of accommodations.

As of early September, approximately two-thirds of the 32 residences that will encompass the first phase were already reserved. Bryan Whitehead, lead agent for the development, noted that the first units will likely go to contract at the end of September in anticipation of an October groundbreaking.

“The response to this offering has been tremendous,” Whitehead said. “We only have about 10 condominiums left in the Phase 1 inventory. Our owners are excited about the prospects of stepping into their new condominiums as soon as late 2020 to enjoy the best of upscale coastal lifestyle.”

Phase 1 of the development includes three of the five planned buildings—the main Parkview Building overlooking the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico and two pool-view buildings—along with the resort pool. Notably, owners and guests will also enjoy full access to the expansive Henderson Beach Resort amenities package that includes a full-service spa, fully-equipped fitness center with classes, multiple resort pools including a lazy river, poolside cabanas, free shuttle service and a private beach. An onsite kid’s club ensures parents get to unwind as their children enjoy daily camp and kid’s night out activities as well as live entertainment provided on the resort property. Bicycle, kayak, snorkel and paddleboard rentals are also available.

Parkside at the Henderson features one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, although Whitehead acknowledged that most of the one-bedroom condominiums available in Phase 1 are already reserved.  Floor plans are thoughtfully designed for easy, everyday living, and PPG’s commitment to quality construction means residences come with high-end stainless steel appliances, polished chrome plumbing fixtures, quartz countertops, all-wood cabinetry, frameless glass shower enclosures and a craftsman-style interior package. Residences are equipped with extras that include a wet bar and undercounter wine fridge as well as a generous balcony for entertaining or simply enjoying a quiet evening watching the sun set.

In addition to its upscale interior residence package, Parkside at the Henderson is raising the bar on coastal condominium living through high-end concierge and valet services, in-room and poolside dining, daily cleaning, courtesy shuttles and beach chair and umbrella service. Two upscale restaurant options are offered on the property including Primrose and the area’s celebrated Beachwalk Café, Destin’s only fine dining located directly on the Gulf of Mexico. To engage in a more social atmosphere, Horizons octagon-shaped beachfront bar has quickly become a Destin hot spot for guests and locals alike. The resort also offers casual dining at Sea Level Poolside Bar and Grill, Sprinkles Ice Cream Shoppe, Beach Cantina grab and go offerings and the soon-to-be-built North Pool Bar and Grill.

Whitehead noted that strong rental showings within the existing Henderson resort condominiums have contributed to the pre-sale success. “Real estate investors recognize the opportunity available through Parkside,” he said. “Destin’s Crystal Beach community is a coveted vacation haven, and new condominium investment opportunities do not surface very often, especially within the scale of luxury offered through the Henderson portfolio.”

On-site resort rental management and maintenance is available, and unit pricing begins in the low $500,000. Whitehead noted that reservations for the 16 units that will encompass Phase 2 of the development will likely begin in the early part of 2020.

Click here for all available units for sale in Parkside at The Henderson

Nice Seaside Home for Under 1.5 Million!

It is not often one can find a home in Seaside for under 1.5 million that has already been remodeled! Built in 2005, this 3 bedroom 3.5 bath home epitomizes the charm of Seaside.

Click here for all details and photos

Rental Restricted Beachfront Condo with Gorgeous Kitchen

Hands down the nicest condo for sale in St. Thomas at Silver Shells and the best view as well! Check out the Palamino Quartzite in the kitchen and “hidden” back door service entrance.

This Condo is temporarily off the market. To view all condo’s currently for sale in St. Thomas at Silver Shells

  Click Here

Destin & Miramar Beach; 3 Beachfront Homes Under Contract in October

Fall is a good time to buy beach property. In October of the the 19 total beachfront homes for sale in Miramar Beach and Destin, 3 went under contract and 1 sold.  Email me if you would like specific market statistics and sold comps.

Click here for all beachfront homes for sale in Destin and Miramar Beach

Best Priced St. Maarten at Silver Shells Condo

Silver Shells  is one of the most luxurious beachfront resorts in Destin. St. Maarten is their rental capable beachfront building. Check out this 11th floor, 3 bedroom condo which happens to be the best priced in the building.

Click Here for All Photos and Details

Beachfront Home in Miramar Beach for 2.3 Million

Well maintained and recently updated beachfront home in Destiny Shores with private beach has NOT been a rental. It is rare to find a beachfront home for this price, especially one this nice! Just reduced 200,000.

This home has SOLD. Click here for all beachfront homes for sale in Destin and Miramar Beach.

Destin Harbor Sunset Views

Destin Harbor Sunset Views Condo for Sale

Destin Harbor Sunset Views Condo for Sale

Only West End (Sunset View) Corner Unit Available in Harbor Lights one of Destin’s Newest Condominiums on the Harbor. Rental Restricted  2,364 sq. ft 3 bedroom 3 1/2 bath.
This listing is no longer available.

Below is an up-to-date list of all of the Harbor Front Condominiums in Destin with 3+ Bedrooms:

Radical Price Reduction In The Empress

Unobstructed Gulf Views at The Empress in Miramar Beach

Unobstructed Gulf Views at The Empress in Miramar Beach

Radical price reduction to 625,000 on this 2,675 sq ft. 3 bed, 3 bath end unit with unobstructed Gulf views.  The Empress is a fantastic luxury building located in Miramar Beach, across from the beach and just down from the Whales Tail. Too many details to list, please click on the link below for all details and photos. There is also a second link for all units for sale in the building.

All Empress Units