Walton County is Growing Fast, Tourism Up

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By Tad Hunter

Walton is the third fastest growing County in the State of Florida. Walton County is growing at a rapid pace making it one of the fastest growing markets in Florida. Tourism as measured by bed tax receipts was up over 16% in 2017 from the prior year. Reports of early vacation booking information plus a strong regional and national economy indicate 2018 will be a record year. Home sales in Miramar Beach are brisk and constrained by a lower level of inventory.

The availability of homes and condos in our local Miramar Beach/Sandestin market is down from a year ago by 16%. The absorption rate, or the total number of properties on the market divided by the average number of homes sold each month for the past 12 months, decreased by 24%.Homes sold and pending exceeded the new listings in January. The days on market for a home to sell in January actually increased. The days on market potentially reflects the seasonality of our market and cold, wet weather.

Average sale prices were up 7% over the last 12 months while the median sale price remained basically flat. Wondering what the difference is in the price change between the average and median price? The average sales price reflects a few larger sales while the median price reflects the middle of the market. It indicates that prices are not running wild and its not too late to purchase. For buyers, it’s still a good time to be purchasing.

These numbers reveal a healthy market that is growing at a quick pace. There are more buyers than sellers as inventory of available property is in shorter supply. If you are thinking of listing your home for sale, now is a great time as the competition is lower. However, while the data continue to indicate that the market is generally in balance, it is trending towards becoming a seller’s market. High quality homes priced correctly are selling.

There have been 5 interest rate increases since my last monthly column. Rates are now around 4.35% for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage. The changes amount to roughly a $50/month difference in a monthly payment. Not enough to matter at this point and much lower than the 7-9% interest rates that were common just 15 years ago. Cash sales are between 55-65% in our local market and nearby areas.

Tad Hunter is a Realtor serving families in the Miramar Beach and South Walton area. He is a partner in the RealJoy Vacation company which provides property and vacation management services in the area for 8 years. Tad and his family are residents of Sandestin.