Real Estate Along the Emerald Coast
01/07/2013 10:05AM ● Published by Nancy Babin
Have you seen what’s been popping up around town lately? Not just the For Sale signs but rather the addition of another, smaller sign on top of it stating, “SOLD,” “PENDING,” “UNDER CONTRACT,” or “LEASED.” Therein lies the changes. There is positive energy in the air. Those smaller signs indicate something much bigger is happening which may lead you to wonder why?
Three such individuals, along with many others in this area, are pouring themselves into their passions and keeping the Destin area at the forefront of the real estate market. These three individuals are not new to the area. They are not overnight success stories. Each has seen their share of hardships and persevered through the downturns. This is their home. They chose to live in this area years ago and love it so deeply they work to promote the very same space they inhabit. That zeal and admiration for their community keeps so many others in the area employed.
Andrea Farrell spent time serving with several different agencies before finding her perfect fit in the very specialized and uniquely creative, boutique real estate house of Beachy Beach. Beachy Beach, opened by Chad and Hillary Farnum, gives buyers a specific viewpoint and knowledge base from agents personally involved in each precise area they represent. This incredibly talented professional refuses to give authority to the “recession” or “downturn.” She holds true to the philosophy that what you focus on you will achieve and that, to her, is nothing but success, no matter what the national economy is doing. She believes in the power of the spoken word, therefore, refuses to talk negatively about the market. After 15 years in the industry she is constantly seeking a deeper level of compassion in order to increasingly relate to her clients and their ever-changing needs. She does not consider herself just a realtor, but one who is in the same boat as her buyers because she too has invested in this area, and its success matters as much to her as those she helps to achieve their lifelong dreams of home and investment ownership.
Andrea has a degree in Architectural Design, but when jobs in that field were hard to come by, her dad suggested she give real estate a try, simply because she loves to help people and what better way to do that than by helping them achieve their dreams by investing into a stable stronghold and place for future generations. She lives and breathe real estate and gives her clients no less than 100% by making herself fully available at all times.
Her daily motivation is giving back. She works hand-in-hand with autism activists as well as homeless shelters. She keeps herself grounded by regularly asking herself, “What difference did I make? In 100 years the only thing that will matter is the difference made to a child and the next generation.”
Richard Eimers is a broker/agent with a very unique brand: his lowercase green “e” can be seen all over town, in the front lawns of single family homes as well as commercial property all along the coast. He holds to the philosophy of The Tortoise and the Hare - “slow and steady wins the race” - by unhurriedly but surely pouring himself into real estate day after day, year after year, since 1982. He is not a gambler and doesn’t waste time on “what ifs.” Richard is a “numbers guy” – always looking at the numbers, “They don’t lie”, he says. He performs a PNL (profit & loss) twice a week and is conservative with every penny, slowly expanding his firm, moving from a small office space over Destin Commons with only a couple of agents into the newly opened, large green building on Gulfstar Drive along with 18 total agents, two focusing exclusively in commercial space.
Richard assuredly confirms that values are increasing and that nothing can defend those values except scarcity and demand. The net total availability is down 75%, meaning of the properties that were available in 2006, only 25% remains in inventory. How does he know? “Numbers don’t lie!” he says with a wink and sparkle in his eye, a spark that speaks of pride. That pride stems from what he and his team of experts and others like him have been able to do in spite of the downturn and tough economy. Why? Not to sound clich・ but he explains, “Location! Those people still making money - the business owners, doctors, lawyers - those with cash flow, are investing in a little piece of paradise. We are ‘The Other Florida’.” Even with prices starting to climb their way back up, people are investing in “a stable market here along the coast.” And with the decreasing inventory available, Richard is optimistic about the “little pockets” of undeveloped land still available for new construction. He explains that when residential sales are high, commercial is a little lower, and when commercial is high, residential is low; “the two kind of stair-step each other – both feeding into each other and the demands of the area.” Both great for our local economy! When asked what motivates him and what gets him out of bed day after day, after a moment of silent reflection, he replied, “We want things for our kids; things we couldn’t have.” He has raised four children in this area; this is his home, and while so many other agents have come and gone, he is in this business, in this area, for the long haul, “loving every day makes it easy too!” He has become more astute to the financial side of the business, is more disciplined, scrutinizing every decision, setting up reliable, user-friendly websites where buyers can educate themselves by tracking properties sold and pending, and by following the numbers because after all, “The numbers don’t lie!” And one final piece of advice he gives to anyone considering investing in this area: “Don’t wait!”
Another knowledgeable real estate broker in the area, not just in the market, but in the history of Destin itself is also a well known developer, Davage “Buddy” Runnels. He moved to this area 63 years ago when he was just five years old. He remembers when the total population of Destin was just 200 residents and yes, as clich駸 have it, he did actually go to school in, not a one-room school house, but three! He has been in the real estate and development business of this area for over 41 years. He has survived the downturns of the mid ‘70s, late ‘80s and 2000s. He will tell you that the one thing he knows for sure about such things is that this area has always been “the first one in but the first one out as well.” When asked if he thought there might be another recession or downturn headed our way in 2013, he answered with the same distinguished insight and confidence by saying, “D.C. relates to our local budgets. Democrat, Republican, doesn’t matter. What matters is that a recession can be avoided if we all become serious about the budget.” He speculates only so far as to say one thing is certain - “the next 12-18 months will be very dynamic.”
Even with the national home sales at a 71-month low, Destin area sales remain steady. Buddy, also a numbers man, had one of his partners, Mike Henderson, pull up a report showing that Pending Sales, month-to-month for Oct ‘11 compared to Oct ‘12 is +50.5% with the year-to-year, 2011 to 2012, at +10.3%. That means there is an increased demand overall. He also showed where commercial sales have been stagnant for the last six years are now at an all-time high. Why? “Supply and demand.” Yet buyers are not seeing enough profit to “flip it” like in the height of the housing boom. People are buying for “long term, consistent, safer investment” purposes than what is available right now in “other markets.” Again, when asked, “Why Destin?” the answer remains evident. There is no secret that we live along some of the country’s most beautiful beaches. “This area’s lifestyle is underestimated. There is so much to offer residents. The previous boom did NOT have the resources to support the million dollar investor but now we do,” adds Mike. And it’s true! Look at the expansion going in Destin Commons and the first ever movie theater coming to South Walton in 2013. Buddy believes it is also our “sweet tea hospitality,” the faith and church involvement in the local community, the low crime rate, the heritage and the “old fisherman mentality of treating people the way you want to be treated” that brings the visitors, then turns them into homeowners. His commitment to his Creator, his family and his community is evident in all that he does. And he does it with integrity, insight and love – love for this area and love for others. His motivation is keeping promises, like the one he made to Destin matriarch Mattie Kelly in preserving her family’s land and helping the growth of the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation. His commitment to the generational transfer of values and repeating relationships matter most. He says, “Sure, money and success are important for survival, but at the end of the day, it’s about values and building relationships that carry forth into the future.”
These three individuals share the same ardor and dedication to the Destin area and Destin community here On the Coast. All three remain optimistic in the future of our county’s economy and even more so about our local one. All three agree that the real estate market is a safer investment than any other right now. All three confirm that while the national average of home sales may be decreasing or slowing down, this area remains steady because of the unique environment and package that comes along with owning a piece of paradise. And each one of these gifted, dedicated individuals does what they do out of love, respect and a promise to the future of our children, our families, our area. Our sugar white sand beaches and emerald green waters are unlike anything else in the continental US. Our ever growing resources and easier access from the expanding and transforming nearby airports has kept the Emerald Coast at the top of the list for vacation destinations. And as bad as the oil spill was, the national exposure was a silver lining, reflecting brighter and clearer than the sheen on the water’s surface, which crept ever closer, but never touched our immediate beaches. This area is blessed, seemingly surrounded in supernatural ways. And those fortunate enough to call it home are blessed; blessed by the views, the weather (most days) and by each other. Let’s all work together to protect it, cherish it and keep it pristine for generations to come. What we leave our children does matter.
About the Author: Erica Scannell is the proud mother of 5 and 1 angel baby, married to Kip for 11 yrs. Resident since 1999, founder/president of the William Ryan Foundation and when not coaching soccer and chasing kids likes to read, run and write. Look for part 1 of her first book just released on Kindle, Struggle of Will.