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Horribly Horrific Things To Avoid When Buying A Beach Home

Things to Avoid When Purchasing Your Panama City Beach Home

So you are considering buying a beach house or condo in Panama City Beach?

What could possibly be horrible or horrific about that? Well absolutely nothing, almost.

This is a list of red flags to avoid that is really relevant to buying a new home anywhere but would be particularly obnoxious when you have finally arrived at your beach home and are expecting to exhale with a pina colada in hand (or margarita, depending on your personal preference).

  • Don’t buy a piece of real estate before taking a glance (and listen) around at the neighbors. Unfortunately, they come with any new property and last time we checked, you can’t renovate them if they irritate you. Are they loud, unfriendly? Do they have a dog that they let bark constantly or an unkept yard or balcony? It’s pretty awesome to have a condo on the 28th floor looking out at the ocean but not if you can hear your neighbor’s Rottweiler barking to go on a walk every three hours. That is not a recipe for a relaxing and happy vacation spot.
  • Have your realtor help you check to see if there are any outstanding liens on the property. This can be done at the county clerk, recorder or assessor’s office (and in some cases, online). If there are liens, then they need to be remedied before you purchase the property. This should be taken care of with the title, but it never hurts to check at the outset in hopes of preventing hurdles and time delays further into the purchasing process.
  • Also consider looking to see if any suits have been filed against the property builder or condo association. Even if a case has been settled or closed, it will still apprise you of potential issues such as chronic leaky windows. It’s easy for a seller to repair and paint over damaged areas for the purpose of selling a property so it’s good to have a heads up if there is something specific you want your inspector to look for.
  • Last but not least, it’s easy to be swept away but granite countertops and updated bathrooms, but it’s important to also take notice of community areas in a condominium building. Community areas are also part of what you are purchasing and will be associated with your property (and your enjoyment of it) for as long as you own it. Is trash being disposed of in a timely and appropriate manner? Is the outside of the building in good repair (no peeling paint, rust or signs of water damage)? These are important issues that can drive down your property’s resell value down the line if not attended to. Take the time to investigate them now as well as the steps that are typically taken to remedy any issues. Also, your realtor should help you review the rules of your condo association as well as the HOA fees you are obligated to pay to address such upkeep requirements.

Using a knowledgeable and experienced real estate group such as Life’s a Beach Real Estate can help you navigate through some of these red flags when purchasing a house or condo in Panama City Beach. We know the Panama City Beach real estate market well and are looking forward to helping you find your dream home successfully!

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Why Panama City Beach Should Be Your #1 Retirement Destination

Why You Should Retire to Panama City Beach

Ahhh, retirement is here at last (or at least on the horizon) and you can finally start living your dream life at the beach.

There are numerous reasons why buying a condo at Panama City Beach should be a major contender in your retirement plans.

Here is a list of what we at Life’s a Beach Real Estate think are the major ways in which Panama City Beach is an attractive retirement spot. Feel free to reach out us for additional information about this great city and all that it has to offer!

  • Smart Investment. It’s always a good idea to choose an opportunity where your financial investment has a high probability of growing. You never know what might come up in life and there’s just no reason to look away from an opportunity to invest in real estate that has chances of bringing you a positive return. Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia all report growth in the Panama City real estate market with Trulia showing median home prices with an increase of 7% in the last twelve months and the average price per square foot rising from $139 to $153. Similarly, Zillow reports a 6.4% growth in median home values in 2017 and predicts an additional 3.9% value growth in 2018. We don’t need to explain to you the value such trends could bring homeowners if they continue long term. We think it would be pretty sweet to be making money off your beach house in retirement just by sitting at the beach – don’t you agree?
  • Active Senior / Retirement community. Almost half of Panama City Beach’s population is made up of people over the age of 45 (https://www.floridaforboomers.com/retirement-spotlight-panama-city-beach/). This statistic is important because it shows the value that seniors have to the community and economy in this city. As a result there are countless clubs, communities, activities and resources dedicated to senior wants and needs. Not to mention the numerous golf courses and golf clubs in the area . . that is, if the idea of golfing during your retirement is appealing to you!
  • Beaches. This goes without saying but there’s no reason not to throw it in here as well since it’s our favorite part of this area. Did you know Panama City Beach boasts 27 miles of beautiful beaches? Depending on what other beaches you have visited in the world, your appreciation for Panama City Beach’s sugary soft white sand will be substantial. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world in part due to the luxurious softness your feet are treated to simply by taking a daily walk by the water. Not. Too. Shabby.
  • Restaurants and Shopping. For those of us not as into playing 18 holes five times a week (that’s a total of 90 holes, FYI), Panama City Beach is also known for its countless restaurants and shopping. Restaurants range from beachside dives to anniversary worthy five star restaurants, bring on the culinary romance!

Shopping has an equivalent spread of options with the most popular spot probably being Pier Park, an open air mall with almost a MILLION square feet of stores that is located across the street from the beach. Retirement is looking better and better!

If this sounds like a great way to dive into retirement, Life’s a Beach Real Estate can help you locate the perfect house or condo in Panama City Beach to call your new home. We are on standby, waiting to show you what this city has to offer!

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Prepping Your Beach Home for the Panama City Beach Real Estate Market

Panama City Beach Real Estate Marketing - Prep Home Image

The first and most important step to putting your home on the market is to find and enlist a real estate agent to be your guide and resource throughout the process.

On average, real estate agents are able to get sales prices 15% higher than when a realtor is not involved.

Here at Life is a Beach, our familiarity and experience with the Panama City Beach real estate market can go a long way in helping you find the right buyer for the best price and as efficiently as possible.

However, there are a few things you can do to get started on prepping your home even before we get involved!

  • Clean out closets and get rid of clutter and then clean out more closets and get rid of more clutter! It is very difficult for buyers to imagine lazy days at the beach with your property as their home if their immediate vision is obstructed by too much of your stuff. We cannot stress the importance of this enough. Clear off all tabletops and counter tops and take down all photos of you and your family and friends. Again, it’s tricky for buyers to envision themselves in your home if they are constantly looking of pictures of you in your home!

Don’t get us wrong, your belongings and family photos are treasures in your life as they should be, but for the purposes of marketing your home, you should store them in a safe place until the process is over.

  • Keep an eye on other properties in your complex or neighborhood and see how they compare to yours. Make a list of what those properties have to offer that yours does not and vice versa and make note of how long those properties are on the market and what their final sales prices are (especially compared to their original asking prices). This is all information that your realtor will help compile for you as well, but it never hurts to start becoming aware of the market conditions that will be relevant to selling your home.
  • Sit down and think about what your own timeline and plan is for selling your home. Where do you plan on moving to next? Do you need to sell your home before you can buy your next home? Most people do and realizing this and planning accordingly ahead of time can save you a huge headache. Otherwise you may be faced with the choice of laying out a lot of money for an interim rental or watching a buyer fall through because your timing requirements were realized too late. There are various ways your realtor can accommodate your needs when made aware of them from the beginning.
  • Plan on making a few repairs to your property but hold off on making them until you sit down and discuss them with your real estate agent. Often times, certain repairs should be prioritized over others and getting advice from your agent before diving in can save you time and money. You may think that your bathroom needs to be re-tiled but your realtor may advise you on prioritizing a broken step at your back door instead. You just never know, so hold off and ask a professional!

Most importantly, get excited because the real estate agents at Life is a Beach are ready to work with you. The Panama City Beach real estate market is a great place for a seller and we are here to guide you towards the best results!

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Now is the Time to Buy the Luxury Home

Now is the Time to Buy the Luxury Home

Now is the Time to Buy the Luxury Home

If your house no longer fits your needs and you are planning on buying a luxury home, now is a great time to do so! We recently shared data from Trulia’s Market Mismatch Study which showed that in today’s premium home market, buyers are in control. 

The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds those searching to purchase these properties in many areas of the country. This means that homes are often staying on the market longer which can eventually lead to a price change.

Those who have a starter or trade-up home to sell will find buyers competing, and often entering bidding wars, to be able to call your house their new home.

The sale of your starter or trade-up house will aid in coming up with a larger down payment for your new luxury home. Even a 5% down payment on a million-dollar home is $50,000.

But not all who are buying luxury properties have a home to sell first.

In a Washington Post article, Daryl Judy, an associate broker with Washington Fine Properties, gave some insight into what many millennials are choosing to do:

“Some high-earning millennials save money until they are in their early 30s to buy a place and just skip over that starter-home phase. They’ll stay in an apartment until they can afford to pay for the place they want.”

Bottom Line

The best time to sell anything is when demand is high and supply is low. If you are currently in a starter or trade-up house that no longer fits your needs and you are looking to step into a luxury home, now’s the time to list your house for sale and make your dreams come true.

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Life’s A Beach Real Estate is a full service Real Estate Company on the beautiful Emerald Coast.  Our headquarters is located in one of the most unique condominium buildings on the beach, The Origin Beach Resort. We have over 700 condos for sale on Panama City Beach as well as beachfront and vacation homes in the world famous 30A area.  A large part of our business is Condo sales but we also assist our clients with new homes, investment opportunities, commercial properties, new construction and development.

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Don’t Be Surprised by Closing Costs

Don't Be Surprised by Closing Costs

Don’t Be Surprised by Closing Costs

According to a survey conducted by ClosingCorp, over half of all homebuyers are surprised by the closing costs required to obtain their mortgage.

After surveying 1,000 first-time and repeat homebuyers, the results revealed that 17% of homebuyers were surprised that closing costs were required at all, while another 35% were stunned by how much higher the fees were than expected.

“Homebuyers reported being most surprised by mortgage insurance, followed by bank fees and points, taxes, title insurance and appraisal fees.”

Bankrate.com gathered closing cost data from lenders in every state and Washington, D.C. in order to share the average costs in each state. The map below was created using the closing costs on a $200,000 mortgage with a 20% down payment.

Don't Be Surprised by Closing Costs

Keep in mind that if you are in the market for a home above this price range, your costs could be significantly greater. According to Freddie Mac,

“Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”

Bottom Line

Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out that you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to.

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Life’s A Beach Real Estate is a full service Real Estate Company on the beautiful Emerald Coast.  Our headquarters is located in one of the most unique condominium buildings on the beach, The Origin Beach Resort. We have over 700 condos for sale on Panama City Beach as well as beachfront and vacation homes in the world famous 30A area.  A large part of our business is Condo sales but we also assist our clients with new homes, investment opportunities, commercial properties, new construction and development.

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Panama City Beach Condo Sales

Panama City Beach Condo Sales

 Panama City Beach Condo Sales

NEW YORK – Oct. 20, 2017 – Home shoppers without children are a growing segment of the housing market, and they tend to want smaller houses than previous generations.

In the latest numbers released by the CDC, the fertility rate among women 15 to 44 years old hit its lowest level since data collection began 108 years ago. And as more couples delay having kids or opt to have fewer children, their housing needs will differ from previous generations who tended to have bigger families.

Fewer than eight in 10 childless buyers purchased a detached single-family home between July 2015 and June 2016, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Condos and townhomes are becoming a popular option among those who do not have children.

“Buyers may value smaller/attached homes in the future,” The Mortgage Reports notes in a recent article. “Increased demand for these types of homes could amp up your resale value.”

In general, detached homes have been known to appreciate faster and hold their value longer than attached homes, according to Tamara Dorris, adjunct real estate professor at American River College in Sacramento, Calif. But that could change.

“We’re seeing more and more people not having children by choice or purchasing homes as singles,” Dorris says. “These people tend to live in urban areas and have homes with less maintenance – such as attached homes.”

Could the rise of childless couples lead to less demand for detached single-family homes?

“If others fit the mold of not having children, there could be a decline in buyers who might have an interest in your detached home,” Mark Lee Levine, professor at the Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management at the University of Denver, told The Mortgage Reports. “But there is no right or wrong answer as to whether it’s better to buy attached or not attached. Buyers need to consider many issues that will impact the potential interest in their home and when they become sellers.”

Source: “Studies Show Mistakes Childless Couples Make When Buying Property,” The Mortgage Reports (Oct. 15, 2017)

© 2017 Florida Realtors

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Life’s A Beach Real Estate is a full service Real Estate Company on the beautiful Emerald Coast.  Our headquarters is located in one of the most unique condominium buildings on the beach, The Origin Beach Resort. We have over 700 condos for sale on Panama City Beach as well as beachfront and vacation homes in the world famous 30A area.  A large part of our business is Condo sales but we also assist our clients with new homes, investment opportunities, commercial properties, new construction and development.

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Four Reasons to Buy a Home this Fall

Four Reasons to Buy a Home this Fall

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today, instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.0% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have hovered around 4%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If purchasing a home for you and your family is the right thing for you to do this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

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Life’s A Beach Real Estate is a full service Real Estate Company on the beautiful Emerald Coast.  Our headquarters is located in one of the most unique condominium buildings on the beach, The Origin Beach Resort. We have over 700 condos for sale on Panama City Beach as well as beachfront and vacation homes in the world famous 30A area.  A large part of our business is Condo sales but we also assist our clients with new homes, investment opportunities, commercial properties, new construction and development.

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The Rental Trap

The Rental Trap

The Rental Trap

There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top benefits is being able to protect yourself from rising rents by locking in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped

A recent article by ConsumerAffairs addressed the continuous rise in rents, stating:

“The cost of putting a roof over your head continues to go up. Not only are home prices still rising, but the cost of rent rose 0.5% in June.”

Additionally, in the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University’s 2017 State of the Nation’s Housing Report, it was revealed that,

“Despite a slight improvement from 2014, fully one-third of US households paid more than 30 percent of their incomes for housing in 2015. Renters continue to be more likely to face cost burdens…the number of cost-burdened renters (21 million) considerably outstrips the number of cost-burdened owners (18 million) even though nearly two-thirds of US households own their homes.”

These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, including groceries and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent

As we have previously mentioned, the results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia shows that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 3.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 50.1% less expensive in Baton Rouge (LA), and 33.1% nationwide!

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. A nationwide survey of about 24,000 renters found that 80% of millennial renters plan to eventually buy a house, but 72% cite affordability as their primary obstacle. Aside from affordability, one in three millennial renters have concerns about their credit scores, and another 53% said that a down payment is an obstacle.

Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream homes. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap that so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Let’s get together to determine if you can qualify for a mortgage now!

 

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Life’s A Beach Real Estate is a full service Real Estate Company on the beautiful Emerald Coast.  Our headquarters is located in one of the most unique condominium buildings on the beach, The Origin Beach Resort. We have over 700 condos for sale on Panama City Beach as well as beachfront and vacation homes in the world famous 30A area.  A large part of our business is Condo sales but we also assist our clients with new homes, investment opportunities, commercial properties, new construction and development.

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What to do when Disaster Hits

What to do when Disaster Hits

What to do when Disaster Hits

NEW YORK – Sept. 6, 2017 – Hurricane Harvey has damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and put countless families into a financial tailspin. If you’re affected by a natural disaster, what does it mean for your mortgage? Here are frequently asked questions and answers.

What should I do first?

Get in touch with the following entities:

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency. You can register with FEMA online, in person at a disaster recovery center or by calling 800-621-3362.
  • Your homeowners insurance company, plus your flood or earthquake insurance company, if either applies to your situation.
  • Your mortgage servicer. That’s the company that you send your monthly payments to; it might not be your original mortgage lender.

I can’t pay my mortgage. What are my options?

If the disaster makes it impossible to make your monthly house payments, ask your servicer for mortgage forbearance. A forbearance ‘allows you to stop making your payments for an agreed-upon time,’ says Lisa Tibbitts, director of public relations for Freddie Mac.

In a forbearance agreement, you might make partial payments or stop making payments for a specific time. Generally, a forbearance lasts up to six months and can be extended up to another six months. Interest still accrues during the time you aren’t making full monthly payments. But under a forbearance agreement, the lender won’t charge late fees or report you to credit bureaus.

The lender will want you to catch up on your missed payments after the forbearance period is over. That might involve paying extra every month for a few years, modifying the loan or reaching some other negotiated agreement.

To talk with a Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counselor before agreeing to forbearance, call 800-569-4287.

What aid is available?

Direct federal aid consists mostly of loans from the Small Business Administration. As odd as that may seem, the SBA is in charge of delivering disaster-related loans to individuals and families.

The SBA extends loans at favorable interest rates to replace or repair primary residences. You can borrow up to $200,000 to cover renovation or construction costs. Whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, the SBA will lend you up to $40,000 to replace personal property such as clothing, furniture, appliances and vehicles.

FEMA offers grants to fill in gaps between insurance payouts and SBA loans. The maximum grant is $33,300 per household for disasters that happen in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2017. Grants can be used for expenses such as basic home repairs that aren’t covered by insurance, temporary rent and disaster-caused medical and child care.

The Federal Housing Administration has a program that’s designed to help disaster survivors rebuild or buy replacement homes. Under the Section 203(h) program, the FHA insures mortgages for people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in disasters. Borrowers don’t have to make a downpayment.

My house was destroyed. Should I keep paying the mortgage?

You should do your best to maintain your credit score. That means paying the home loan if you can afford it until you have talked with the servicer and have reached a settlement with the insurance company.

The way lenders look at it: You promised to repay your loan when you signed your mortgage documents at closing. “The borrower is liable for the loan debt, and making their payment is part of the borrower’s contractual obligation,” Alicia Jones, Fannie Mae spokeswoman, said in an email.

Note: If you apply for a loan from the SBA, it runs a credit check before inspecting your property. That’s one reason to preserve your credit score by paying your bills on time as best you can.

What happens if I stop mortgage payments without telling my servicer?

If you stop making payments without permission from your mortgage servicer, you could be charged late fees and your credit score could fall.

Homeowners “should call their lender,” says Brian Sullivan, supervisory public affairs specialist for HUD. “Don’t stop answering the phone. Don’t stop opening your mail.”

Talk with your mortgage servicer before you miss a payment. The servicer might offer forbearance.

What if I can’t contact my mortgage servicer?

Whether your loan is guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, insured by the FHA or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the servicer is expected to reach out to you.

In response to Hurricane Harvey, Freddie Mac is allowing servicers to “verbally grant” 90-day forbearances, and Fannie Mae is letting servicers grant 90-day forbearances ‘even if they cannot contact the impacted homeowner immediately.’

Even so, you should call the servicer or answer the mortgage company’s calls.

What happens if I’m in foreclosure?

Mortgage servicers receive foreclosure guidance from federal agencies, and the recommendations vary depending on the disaster.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the VA and the FHA have suspended foreclosures for 90 days in the Hurricane Harvey disaster area.

The house I was buying was destroyed or damaged. What happens now?

If a disaster happens between appraisal and closing, “the lender is expected to take prudent and reasonable actions to determine whether the condition of the property may have materially changed since the effective date of the appraisal report,” according to Fannie Mae’s guide to lenders.

If the damage is relatively minor and covered by insurance, the mortgage can be closed. But if the damage is uninsured, or if it’s major, then the house must be repaired before the mortgage can go through.

Copyright © 2017 The Steuben Courier Advocate, Holden Lewis. All rights reserved. The article “What to Do After a Disaster Hits Your Home, Mortgage,” originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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Life’s A Beach Real Estate is a full service Real Estate Company on the beautiful Emerald Coast.  Our headquarters is located in one of the most unique condominium buildings on the beach, The Origin Beach Resort. We have over 700 condos for sale on Panama City Beach as well as beachfront and vacation homes in the world famous 30A area.  A large part of our business is Condo sales but we also assist our clients with new homes, investment opportunities, commercial properties, new construction and development.

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Tourism in Panama City Beach

Tourism in Panama City Beach

Tourism in Panama City Beach

Tourism in Panama City has climbed over the last year, with May marking the fourth consecutive month of double-digit growth for the city.

Visit Panama City Beach and the Bay County Tourist Development Council announced that tourism numbers were up 14 percent in May as compared to the same month in 2016. In addition, overall numbers have increased by 14.8 percent for the fiscal year, which began in October 2016.

The tourism growth is being attributed to a new advertising campaign entitled “Make it Yours,” along with special events, visitor loyalty and ideal weather conditions. The fiscal improvements are also due to Tourist Development Tax, which is a five percent tax on short-term rentals including hotels and condominiums.

“Our continued success has brought an energy and excitement to Panama City Beach that is contagious for both our visitors and the entire community,” Visit Panama City Beach President and CEO Dan Rowe said in a statement.

The Tourist Development Tax funds marketing and promotional activities led by the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the money is also used for beach cleaning and grooming, product improvement and beach renourishment.

Panama City was named the “Top Trending Spot for a Summer 2017 Vacation Rental Stay” by TripAdvisor earlier this year, and the area prides itself on providing opportunities for visitors to live the Panama City Beach brand throughout the summer season.

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Life’s A Beach Real Estate is a full service Real Estate Company on the beautiful Emerald Coast.  Our headquarters is located in one of the most unique condominium buildings on the beach, The Origin Beach Resort. We have over 700 condos for sale on Panama City Beach as well as beachfront and vacation homes in the world famous 30A area.  A large part of our business is Condo sales but we also assist our clients with new homes, investment opportunities, commercial properties, new construction and development.