You've come to St. George Island and absolutely love the place. You begin to dream of owning your own home here. The next thing you know, you are starting to ask how much the houses cost, and suddenly a million other very practical questions begin to intrude on your halcyon dreams.
Buying property on St. George Island, or any Coastal Area, can be an intimidating process. There are so many questions about hurricane insurance, erosion, construction quality, property value, investment potential, rental income, the list goes on and on.
Buying property on St. George Island is neither as hard as you may think, nor as easy as some would have you believe. This page is designed to help you avoid some of the pit-falls and understand some of the peculiar aspects associated with buying real estate on St. George Island, FL.
Work with an experienced REALTOR who will look out for your interests.
Experience is easy to determine. Most REALTORS will advertise their experience, if they have any. More Real Estate Education than the required licensing education is another big plus. An agent looking out for your interest will listen to you in an effort to determine your needs, and then show you a variety of property, listed in the Multiple Listing System.
Cash Is King again! Long live the King! In this new credit world of stingy Lenders, and low appraisals, Buyers with Cash will be viewed by Sellers as their only dim hope to get their property sold. So many new loans are being turned down due to credit scores that used to be considered good, or valuations (Appraisals) of property below Contract prices, that Sellers are afraid of Contracts that require loans. Consequently, Cash Buyers may be able to negotiate even better deals on already low prices.
Contact John Shelby, owner/broker of St. George Island Realty, LLC has been a Realtor on St. George Island since 1993. Prior to that he worked for the Dept. of HUD. The combination of experience and extensive Real Estate training through HUD and many Real Estate classes through the University of Kentucky give John a deep understanding of Real Estate. John's educational approach to helping buyer's find their dream home or building site continues to help Buyers make informed real estate decisions.
When you think you have found a house you love?
- Look at other houses a little less expensive and a little more expensive.
- Look at comparable houses that have recently sold. You may not be able to get into some of these, but you do need to know what they look like, and how they compare.
- Look at the least expensive comparable vacant lot and the most recent comparable vacant lot sale.
- Discuss income potential, even if you don't ever intend to rent.
- Make sure you know that you can obtain: flood, wind, and fire insurance at reasonable prices; permits for any intended additions, renovations, docks, easy access to the beach; septic tank permits; etc.
- Ask yourself if the house comes closest to meeting your practical needs. Remember, one other option is to buy a lot and build.
- Can you afford it? Most people looking at Coastal Property are fully cognizant of their financial capabilities. Feel free to discuss the financing process with your REALTOR. A good Realtor will be able to put you together with the best lenders in the area, who may be better equipped to do Coastal Loans than your Banker back home.
- When you start looking around, I hope you will look us up. The best educational opportunity in the process of your search typically occurs as we look at houses and lots together. Questions will come to mind, and an experienced, well-educated REALTOR can answer those questions in a fair and balanced manner.
From a Newsletter by John Shelby written in August 2002
When you fill up a bottle with water, it takes a while to fill up the body of the bottle. Then when it gets up to the neck, it fills up very quickly and overflows. St. George Island, because it is an island, is like that bottle. We have a finite number of lots. New houses are being built at an increasing pace. Many new builders coming to St. George should accelerate the housing starts, providing evidence that SGI will be built out within 10 to 12 years. As there are fewer and fewer empty lots, the land value will continue to go up. This land value basis will help determine the value of existing homes. As we get down to a very few lots left, there is likely to be a mad demand for the few remaining lots, and the value will go up. See ... your Economics 101 professor was right. Strong demand and limited supply increases value.
Under these circumstances, it becomes obvious that buying St. George Island Real Estate sooner will be a better investment than buying St. George Island property later. The St. George Island Real Estate market is strong, and looks like it will become even stronger as there is less land available.
Let's take a look at some of the reasons why our market is so strong.
Scarcity is the main reason that we anticipate remarkable increases in property values. 158 houses were built on SGI in 2000 and 2001. According to Alan Pierce of Franklin County P&Z, there are currently only 125 Beachfront lots left and only 200 Bay front lots. Planning and Zoning is struggling to keep up with the number of housing starts, not only on SGI, but throughout Franklin County.
Demographics. Many Baby Boomers have acquired or inherited lots of money. We all grew up listening to the Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffet and want a place at the beach. Demographers think the trend toward Baby Boomers buying vacation homes and/or relocating to resort areas will continue through at least 2014.
Competitive Prices. St. George Island Real Estate prices are a bargain compared to other Beach Communities in our Latitude.
Planning & Zoning / Local Politics. SGI enjoys lower density than most other Beach Resort Communities. The low density that State and County agencies required, frustrated the original developers of St. George Island. Low density has proven to be one of the most attractive aspects of SGI. No high-rise buildings are allowed, two thirds of the residential area of the island has only one house per acre, and approximately 40% of the island is owned by the State. The local Seafood industry continues to thwart development in Franklin County, opting for pristine waters in which to fish. The demand for resort areas that remain unspoiled by traffic, pollution, and greedy developers is growing among Baby Boomers.
Rental Income subsidizes much of the cost of ownership of homes. The four rental management companies on SGI provide an outstanding service at competitive prices, making it easier for buyers to stretch to buy on SGI. Many Buyers are using their IRA's to buy SGI Real Estate instead of leaving it prey to the whims of Wall Street and the prospects of outrageous taxes at the time of distribution.
Momentum. The 2nd quarter of 2002 was the most prolific Sales Quarter in SGI history with 102 closings. We averaged only 65 closings per quarter in 2001. Sales totaled $44,608,266 in the 2nd quarter of 2002 with an average price of $437,335 and a median price of $357,000. "Sticky Prices" have been with us for the last 2 years with the average difference between asking price and selling price hovering around 3%.
Many Buyers are waiting for an imaginary Real Estate bubble to burst. This may happen in high-tech cities like San Jose, Austin, and San Francisco, due to the decline in NASDAQ stocks. Bubbles are a localized phenomenon caused by localized financial events. St. George Island owners live all over the world, so that diversity keeps SGI bubble resistant. A shortage of land on St. George Island, along with an increasing demographic demand means that St. George Island will probably be one of the safest Real Estate investments available within the next twenty years. In such a strong Real Estate Market with the likelihood of continued strength, the sooner you buy, the more likely you are to get in on the rapid equity growth SGI owners will enjoy as the number of vacant lots dwindles. The St. George Island Real Estate bottle isn't quite filled to the neck, but it is getting close. If you are ready to make the plunge, contact me and I will help you find the best buy on the property that best suits your needs.