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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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Preparing Your Panama City Beach Home for a Hurricane

Preparing Your Panama City Beach home for a hurricane

If you own a home or condo in Panama City Beach or if you are searching the Panama City Beach real estate market in hopes of finding a new beach home, then it is important to make yourself familiar with the following regarding preparing your beach property in Panama City Beach for a hurricane.

Florida is a wonderful state full of beautiful beaches and sunshine, but the reality is that there is an annual hurricane season that arrives every year in late summer and stays throughout the fall. Hurricane Irma devastated the coast in 2017 and should serve as an unpleasant reminder of how critical it is to plan for Florida’s hurricane season in regards to your property.

Below is a list of different recommendations and ideas to prepare your property for the 2018 season:

  • You should take the time to sit down and review and renegotiate your home insurance policy on an annual basis and make sure that you have flood insurance in addition to basic home insurance. Also, you should confirm that your policy would cover the costs necessary to completely rebuild your home. Unfortunately, some hurricanes can blast through a property leaving you only with the option to rebuild instead of to just repair.
  • Go to Lowes or Home Depot and get a supply of plywood or drywall to have on hand. This will save you the hassle of running out with the masses to get supplies to cover your windows when news of a hurricane comes up. These items are large but slim and easy to store along the back wall of your garage without taking up too much space.
  • Do a quick cleanup outside. Move any brush away and prune / trim trees that have branches close to your house. Also, go ahead and store those lawn chairs and beach umbrella. While these items seem minor, with the force of hurricane winds behind them, they become very dangerous and can do serious damage to your property.
  • Prep your home with items such as head and foot bolts for your doors, hurricane roof straps for your roof (also get it inspected for loose shingles once a year), and a hurricane rated garage door. Regular garage doors can be the flimsiest part of a structure and as a result can be obliterated in seconds by a nasty hurricane leaving the contents of your garage completely vulnerable. These items require an investment but are quickly worth the expense if they can prevent serious damage during a storm.
  • Most importantly, listen to what your local and state authorities advise. Your property is important and for many represents their largest investment, but YOU are much more important. If the state issues warnings and evacuation requirements, heed them and get out of there. No home is worth putting your life at risk for. If you stay behind, you won’t be able to fight the storm back just because you are there.
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Panama City Beach’s Secret Treasures

Panama City Beach Secret Treasures

When considering condo ownership in Panama City Beach or evaluating the Panama City Beach real estate market in general, there are a number of factors to consider but one of the first steps should be to make yourself familiar with this awesome city and all that it has to offer.

Panama City Beach is widely known for its beaches, restaurants, nightlife and shopping but some of its most spectacular attractions are a little more off the beaten path.

These three secret treasures in Panama City Beach are excellent destinations for your next adventure!

  1. Shell Island is a barrier island and part of St. Andrews State Park. It is 700 acres of undeveloped beach reachable via a daily shuttle. The island is rich with marine life, in particular, with lots of bottlenose dolphins. While Panama City is a busy exciting destination, Shell Island offers a quiet, untouched escape just minutes away. Imagine packing a picnic and leaving for the day to stretches of beach that are free of all structures and signs of commercial development, add on the chance to some of the world’s largest pods of dolphins and you have the recipe for quite a day.
  1. Camp Helen State Park is a historical 180 acre site surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell, a coastal dune lake. It is rich in history and has remnants of human existence on the property as far back as 4,000 years!! It also has old buildings that are being restored to explore from when the park was a company retreat from the 1940s to 1980s. The park offers hiking, swimming and fishing (freshwater and saltwater) but most importantly, Camp Helen State Park offers Panama City Beach visitors a spot to slow down and connect with nature. 
  1. Panama City Beach Conservation Park is another option with 2,900 acres and 24 miles of hiking trails. Over a mile of boardwalks lead you through different parts of the park. The park’s active wildlife population attracts many wildlife lovers and birdwatchers, and areas with picnic tables and a pavilion are a great spot to convene. The park hosts a variety of different recreational and educational events.

Visitors’ dogs are also welcome in the conservation park, as opposed to many beaches, making Panama City Beach Conservation Park a great destination to get a small break from the sun and some quality time with your pet.

Remember that there is more to Panama City Beach than high-rises, restaurants and parties. These special spots offer a balance to the party that the Panama City Beach real estate market 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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