By Will Estell
Let’s face it, the right investment never goes out of style, and neither does the American dream of being able to have your own perfect piece of paradise to slip away to… or make money on when you’re not there. If this sounds like a recurring concept of your own then pay attention to your dreams, because they can still come true. Especially if you’re itching to buy that perfect beach bungalow or condo on the shores of the Northwest Florida or Alabama Gulf Coast.
The prices for coastal properties have been rising at a steady pace for over six consecutive years now and seem to be going nowhere but up. It’s true that for a few years some difficult times and tighter money restrictions made it harder to buy vacation and investment homes to an even greater degree than it did primary homes, but much of that has changed. Especially for those with a decent credit score and the desire to buy in an area where lenders can see the rapid increases in value, and as such tend to also take more aggressive measures to make the approval happen.
While it’s important to point out that the prices are continuing to rise at well above the national average along the beaches of Northwest Florida and Alabama, they haven’t gotten anywhere close to what most real estate professionals would call a peak again. Meaning that in many choice vacation havens the prices for entry are still poised to allow a new buyer some really substantial gains and lots of room to make money on both the potential sell and the short or long term rental aspect of the ownership.
The inventory –as fast moving as it may be in places like Destin and the beach communities of South Walton and 30A- is still available, and there remains a lot of room to build equity and wealth in coastal real estate investments of all sizes, from efficiencies and one bedroom condos to multi-million dollar beachfront homes. One of the primary ways to insure better than average returns is simply by working with a realtor who is well versed in real estate along the Emerald Coast and Alabama’s Gulf and let that professional work closely with you in locating the property that best suits your individual needs. It’s no secret that as much as investing in real estate in general is usually a much safer hedge against inflation than many other opportunities, investing in areas where tourism is booming and the demand for rentals often exceeds availability makes buying even more advantageous.
Remember, most all of the beach towns and communities along the Northwest Florida and Alabama Gulf Coast continue to beat out their previous year numbers each season and show no signs of tourism, or the property demands it brings, slowing down anytime soon.
Everyone from movie stars and musicians to famous athletes and business moguls have now discovered this part of the Gulf Coast, and it’s done a lot to propel just how the rest of the world sees it too. We’re talking about areas like Destin, the beach communities along Northwest Florida’s now famous County Hwy. 30A, and Alabama’s Orange Beach and Gulf Shores; all places where literally millions of couples, families and corporate groups continue to choose as their vacation destination of choice each year. For instance Destin Florida –where I actually live and work after making a move to the beach almost two years ago- has a population of just 13,000 permanent residents, yet at any given week from spring to fall there will be a quarter of a million people, from all over the country and abroad, converging on our town to relax and play along our crystal white sands and emerald waters. That’s not even taking into account the millions that visit the surrounding beach communities in South Walton, and over to Panama City Beach. A little research into this trend and the magnetic draw of what I’ve often referred to as “America’s Favorite Coastal Playground” and you will quickly see why this is the place you want to invest.
Perhaps the Broker and Co-owner of Destin based, Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican Realty Group, Jerry Sullivan, said it best when he told me, “Across the board, more people than ever, from all across the country, are moving to the Destin and Northwest Florida area full-time. In fact, Okaloosa and Walton County are two of the fastest growing counties in the state of Florida. Yet, the population is still small enough that when people come here they don’t feel like they’re on top of one another like some much higher populated coastal areas across the country.” I’d have to agree with him, and while I’m at it, I’d also strongly suggest his company for both your real estate purchase and vacation rental needs. As for the Alabama side of this coastal equation, Realtor, Erin Kaiser with Kaiser Real Estate says there are several reasons why 2019 is really a great time to buy. “The first reason being that the past five years has brought major new developments along the Alabama Gulf Coast that have attracted attention and continue to move the market in the right upwardly mobile direction. I also believe that high quality construction and better insurance rates have definitely been a plus. There is also a great selection of properties for all types of buyers. The cities and counties surrounding the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area have put a lot of effort into promoting the Gulf Coast, which in return brings new tourists,” she said, adding that buyers and tourists alike are attracted to the family-oriented atmosphere of the Alabama Coast.
Ultimately whether you are making a full time move to the beach, investing in real estate to rent for great returns, or simply buying a place to use when you can slip away to this little piece of paradise, you have a smorgasbord of great choices and will likely be able to find just the right place for your individual needs and investment goals… who knows you might even find two or three!