Emerald Coast of Florida Real Estate Makes Booming Rebound – June 2020

Real estate sales on the Emerald Coast of Florida have overcome the COVID effect downturn of March and April 2020, and far exceeded the year over year sales figures compared to 2019.  The chart above illustrates the trend of pending sales each month for the areas of Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Destin, Sandestin, Miramar Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Fort Walton Beach, Navarre, Crestview, Freeport, Point Washington and Miramar Beach, Florida.

Properties going under contract increased from March 2020 through June 2020 by 654  units. That’s a 49% increase in number of pending properties, including houses, condos, town homes, lots and commercial properties.

Destin Pending Sales increased from 92 to 239 units.

Miramar Beach Pending Sales increased from 95 to 212 units.

Santa Rosa Beach, North of Hwy 98, Pending Sales increased from 63 to 89 units.

30-A Santa Rosa Beach, South of Hwy 98 Pending Sales increased from 159 to 517 units. (WOW!)

Fort Walton Beach Pending Sales increased from 222 to 270  units.

Niceville Pending Sales increased from 105 to 139 units.

Crestview Pending Sales increased from 216 units to 238 units.

Navarre Florida Pending Sales increased from 213 to 223 units.

Reviewing year-over-year real estate sales changes on the Emerald Coast, there were 2501 total properties under contract between March – June 2019. In 2020, there were 4815 units under contract during the same quarter. That’s an increase of almost 93%.  Clearly 2020 sales are strikingly improved over last year.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Emerald Coast of Florida Real Estate Market – Pending Sales Increase

Real estate pending sales on the Emerald Coast of Florida in May are returning to the start of March levels, after an early April plummet. Looking at the entire region, including Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30-A, Miramar Beach, Freeport, Crestview, Niceville, Freeport and DeFuniak Springs, pending sales of real estate were almost 96% of the earlier March count. Pending sales are a good indicator of the current pulse of the market, compared to closed sales (solds), which show the result of activities a month or more old.  Pending sales track where the market is going.

Here is a recap of the Emerald Coast pending real estate market statistics for May 1- May 15, 2020, as compared to March 1 – March 15:

Properties going under contract decreased from 790 units to 755 total units.

That’s 96% of  of the previous number of houses, condos, town homes, lots and commercial properties going under contract. It’s a great sign of buyer interest.

Destin Pending Sales increased from 51 to 64  ( +25%).

Miramar Beach Pending Sales dropped from  67 to 45  (- 33%).

Niceville Pending Sales increased from 57 to 61  ( + 1%).

Fort Walton Beach Pending Sales dropped from 123 to 108 ( – 12%).

Santa Rosa Beach, North of Hwy 98, Pending Sales dropped from 37 to 26 (- 30%).

30-A Santa Rosa Beach, South of Hwy 98 Pending Sales increased from 102 to 107 (+5%).

Crestview Pending Sales increased from 120 to 128 (+7%).

Navarre Florida Pending Sales dropped from 131 to 115 (- 12%).

The Coronavirus economic effect has impacted local real estate sales, but since the Florida re-opening began on May 4, the number of sales have continued to grow. Check back here for future analyses of the Emerald Coast of Florida real estate market.

If you find that during or after the COVID-19 crisis, you must sell your Emerald Coast real estate, consider your options. Let me know if you have any questions about real estate, whether traditional or short sale.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Growling Dogs, Mops, and Calm, Assertive Energy

 

The dogs were growling behind the chain link fence, pulling right up to the wire, low and threatening.  They were gathered together, two or three of them, their heads perched over the top, staring at me.  I don’t know what kind of dogs they were, mostly black with light brown splotches, and large.  I had parked the car across the street on the side of the road, in front of the house I was going to inspect. It was vacant, a short sale property I had just listed in Crestview, Florida. The driveway was steep, so I didn’t want to pull up to the garage.  That would have been safer. Nor did I want to turn around and go back home, I had come all this way.

After I made the decision to go in, I got out of the car and did not look back at the dogs. I walked directly up to the front door. Trying to act confident with my body language. Petrified. There was an electronic lock, a tricky lock, called a KABA.  I’m usually not successful the first time I attempt to open one, so I was panicked. I had the code and was shaking, praying that it would open, as I heard the dogs growling in the background.  I got inside, wondering how I would leave. First things first.  I looked around the house and took notes.  It was empty except for some things left on the counters by the tenants, and a few cleaning items.  I couldn’t tell if anyone was coming back.  I finished up quickly.

Then I called my husband (like what could he do? He was at work!).  I told him I was really scared and did not know how I would get back to my car with those dogs acting like they wanted to attack me.  He told me to find something like a stick, so I would look bigger to the dogs. Ok, there was no way I was going outside the house to look for a stick! I thought of the mop that I saw inside the house.

I took the mop, and a deep breath, and strode decidedly to my car.  Not too fast, but not slow. I was trembling inside, holding my body straight with the mop at the ready.  I got in the car and slammed the door, the whole time imagining the dogs making it through the crack of the door and getting to me! Then for some dumb reason which I cannot explain, I threw the mop out the passenger window onto the yard! (If anyone came back to the house, they would surely wonder about that.)

Sweaty and victorious, with my heart still pounding, I drove off to get a Starbucks!

What can you do if you are in a similar situation, with growling dogs threatening you?  Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, states in “What to do When Dogs Attack”: “Once you have successfully used calm assertive energy to keep that dog back, claim your own space. If you happen to be carrying anything in your hands, like a cane or an umbrella, place it out in front of yourself to appear bigger and be more in command of your space.”   Or, better yet, leave!

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

How a little bird told me to change my perspective

Day after day, year after year, I have been sitting at my computer, lost in a world of google searches, websites, email checking and other automatic behaviors. Caught in the minutia of the daily routine. Doing the same thing every day. As if by rote, life passing by.

After the pandemic hit, things changed. Like, working from home. Spending weekdays with my husband.  And of course, exercising at home.  This was all different.

Then, the bird came.

I was working out on my total gym in a little used bedroom. It is normally locked to keep the cats out, in pristine condition, reserved for the once-every-two-year visit from my brother.  But now, the room’s use was changed.  We had moved the work-out machine into it, along with some old dumbbells we had in the garage.  That morning, I opened the blinds so I could see out the window and started my cable pulls, when my eye caught a blue spark flitting on the ground. No, could it be? My husband had said that he thought he saw the elusive bird a few days prior, but I had doubted him. After all, I was the true birder in the family, even though he had caught on well after being married to me.

But, there it was. An Indigo Bunting. As a birder would know, joy leapt, and I ran for the binoculars.  The bird was hopping around on the ground underneath our feeder. It was a place we rarely saw, because we have a low brick wall blocking that perspective from our normal bird-watching spot in the sunroom. It had been seven years since I last saw an Indigo Bunting (I keep a journal). They are dazzling birds.  They are an Atlantic Ocean blue. They are also hunted and caught in Central America for their beauty.

For the next week, I pulled chairs into a new location in front of the window (one for me, and two for my cats, plus my husband when he gets home). After work, I wait for the Indigo Bunting to come back.  I saw it one more time.

This little story made me think. Maybe, if we keep doing the same thing we’ve always done, we will never see what else there is, or what else can be. If I hadn’t been working out at home, looking out a different window, I would have never seen that bird. With the same perspective, we always see the same thing, but maybe there is something more.

 

Wendy Rulnick

Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!
850-259-0422 | itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Emerald Coast Florida Pending Sales Down, But Signs of Market Improvement

 

Real estate sales on the Emerald Coast of Florida are starting to rebound after an early April 2020 decrease. Looking at the entire region, including Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Miramar Beach, Freeport, Crestview, Niceville, and DeFuniak Springs, pending sales of real estate on the Emerald Coast of Florida are down overall from one to two months ago, near the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Pending sales are a good indicator of the current pulse of the market, compared to closed sales (solds), which show the result of activities a month or more old.  Pending sales track where the market is going.

Here is a recap of the Emerald Coast market statistics:

Properties going under contract decreased from 790 units to 650 total units from the first two weeks of March 2020 to the last weeks of April 2020.

That’s a drop of 18% in the number of houses, condos, town homes, lots and commercial properties going under contract.

However, it’s an increase of 31% from the first two weeks of April 2020.

Comparing March to April overall, there was a drop in total units under contract from 1336 to 1096, or 18% fewer sales.

Individual Pending Sales by area from the period of March 1 – March 15 as compared to the period between April 16 – April 30 were as follows:

Destin Pending Sales increased from 51 to 52  ( +1%).

Miramar Beach Pending Sales dropped from  67 to 45  (- 33%).

Niceville Pending Sales dropped from 57 to 55  ( – 3%).

Fort Walton Beach Pending Sales dropped from 123 to 77 ( – 38%).

Santa Rosa Beach, North of Hwy 98, Pending Sales dropped from 37 to 36 (- 2%).

30-A Santa Rosa Beach, South of Hwy 98 Pending Sales dropped from 102 to 74 (- 28%).

Crestview Pending Sales dropped from 120 to 109 (- 9%).

Navarre Florida Pending Sales dropped from 131 to 100 (- 24%).

Decidedly, the Coronavirus economic effect has had an impact on Emerald Coast real estate. but the trend is now upward in terms of new sales.  We will take a look at the market again soon.

If you find that during or after the COVID-19 crisis, you must sell your Emerald Coast real estate, consider your options. Let me know if you have any questions about real estate, whether traditional or short sale.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

This site, Wendy Rulnick or Rulnick Realty, Inc. is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax advisor for more information.

The Spark of Trust – More Important Than a Real Estate Sale

I was referred to a potential home buyer in Destin, Florida.  He was in the construction business and had just been working in our area for a few months, coming here from another state. I could tell that English was his second language, and I listened carefully.  He told me that he had never bought a home before, but had found one online in Destin that he wanted to see. I looked it up and it was already under contract. Then, I asked him if he had been pre-qualified for a mortgage loan.  There can be stricter loan requirements for self-employed persons, and I was concerned that his local work history may not be sufficient to get approved.

He told me he had money saved up, emergency funds that he could spend.  He mentioned the full amount could be used.  Giving me pause, I said without thinking, “Do you want to spend your entire emergency funds?”

That’s when the spark of trust lit up. He responded, “I like you.” I was taken aback and said “What?”  He said, “I really like you”.  He didn’t have to explain why.

A few days later, he told me he had decided to rent first. Honestly, I was glad. My intuition told me it was the right thing to do in his situation. I didn’t make the sale. But I earned someone’s trust, and more importantly, I helped him.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Wells Fargo Mortgage Help – Forbearance With End of Loan Payment Deferral

COVID mortgage forbearance Wells Fargo

Some mortgage forbearance stories have a good ending. Wells Fargo, for example, is quick to respond and help borrowers who have trouble paying their mortgage due to Covid-19. In fact, they have one of the most comprehensive websites explaining the types of mortgage assistance they offer. Upon request, they will suspend your mortgage payments for three months, and potentially extend the suspension for three more months. During this time, they will not report the missed payments to credit bureaus, unless you were previously in default.

The terms of repayment of your Wells Fargo mortgage can range from the several options, aligning with the CARES Act, depending your loan type and investor.   Some examples of loan backers, or investors, are government sponsored enterprises (GSE’s) like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA -Veterans Administration, USDA and HUD.  Here are the options Wells Fargo lists as possible solutions after the forbearance period ends:

  1. Lump Sum Payment (if you can) to repay the missed payments at once.
  2. Repayment Plan spreading out the missed payments over a few months, as agreed. For example, if you were $4000 behind, instead of paying $1500 per month for your regular mortgage payment, you could pay $400 more, or $1900 per month, for ten months, until the suspended amount of $4000 is re-paid.
  3. Loan Modification refinancing the whole mortgage balance to add in the missed payments. For example, if you owe $100,000 and skip $6000 in payments, your new loan would be for $106,000 and perhaps your interest rate would be changed.
  4. Mortgage Deferral There are two possibilities with deferral (or deferment). The first option, for example, would be if you skipped three months of payments, your loan term would be extended for three months. So, instead of having 30 months left on your mortgage, you would have 33 months. The second option would be to have the full amount of your skipped payments payble as a lump sum at the end of your loan or when you sell the house.   So, if you skipped $5000 in payments, when you finally pay off your house or sell it, your last payment or payoff amount, would be $5000 higher. Here is a Wells Fargo deferral letter that illustrates the latter:

    Wells Fargo Forebearance Le… by Wendy Rulnick on Scribd

    If you find that you need to sell your Emerald Coast real estate, contact me to discuss your options, whether traditional sale or short sale.

    It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

    Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
    Call 850-259-0422
    Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

    Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

    This site, Wendy Rulnick or Rulnick Realty, Inc. is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax advisor for more information.

Don’t Let Your VA Mortgage Lender Scare You About Lump Sum Payment

You lost your job.  You are a Veteran. You cannot make your mortgage payments. You called your lender and their steely “debt collector” tone and threatening letter would scare anyone.

If you experienced loss of income on the Emerald Coast of Florida due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Veteran’s Administration has issued clarifications about how your VA mortgage lender must treat you.  Initially, VA borrowers may have received intimidating letters, such as this:

In fact, this forbearance letter refers to foreclosure twice, as well as short sale, and credit implications. It implies that to catch up, the loan must be brought “current” through a reinstatement (e.g. lump sum payment), or another workout option. This is pretty scary stuff.  The VA, however, has issued Frequently Asked Questions  that should put you at ease regarding your VA mortgage and keeping your home, as specified in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security – CARES Act:

  1. You may skip payments for 180 days and extend to 360 total days should you be economically impacted by Covid-19.
  2. Your credit score will not be changed to “delinquent” during this time (unless you were previously in default).
  3. You will not have to pay a late penalty, however, interest will accrue.
  4. You do not have to make a lump sum payment at the end of your forbearance payment (however, you can if you want to).
  5. Your VA mortgage lender may offer to modify your loan to extend the term, adding the missed payment months to the end or your loan (a type of deferment).
  6. Your VA mortgage lender may offer to make the missed payments payable in one amount at the end of your mortgage term.  For example, if you missed $10,000 of payments, when you sell your house, the $10,000 amount would be added to your mortgage payoff.
  7. You could spread out the missed payments over time with an agreement from your lender.
  8. If you don’t recover financially at the end of the help period, you may do a VA Compromise short sale, a regular sale, or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Bottom line, if you contact your VA mortgage lender for help now during the Covid-19 crisis, they should respect you and your  military service, and work with you, not force you to make a lump sum repayment.

If you decide to sell your Emerald Coast of Florida home, contact me to explore your options, whether by traditional sale or VA Compromise short sale.

Wendy Rulnick,
Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

This site, Wendy Rulnick or Rulnick Realty, Inc. is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax advisor for more information.

Navigating The Personal Responsibility of Social Distancing

For the first few weeks of the Florida Stay-at-Home order, I paid a lot attention to others’ social distancing behavior. After all, I was doing the right thing. My husband and I decided we would be prudent. We limit our time out of the house. We wear masks if we have to go to the store. We avoid crowded aisles. We don’t socialize. We use hand sanitizer,  we disinfect food packages. At my Destin real estate office, I’ve removed the candy jar. I sanitize the doors and banisters. I’ve had to gently tell others to back away six feet.  I had listened to the CDC guidelines and modified my behavior.  But, why hadn’t others?

There was “civil disobedience” everywhere. I went to Walmart and noticed people crowding aisles, few wearing masks. I saw customers walking in and out of a convenience store while I was pumping gas, and counted 11 people going in, not one with a face covering.  Then there’s Lowe’s – now that was a party.  First, we could barely find a parking spot.   Nonplussed, I observed multiple people crammed in a car, father, mother and three children, all getting out and going inside the store, hand-in-hand.  (I don’t think you’d see that on a normal day.) I sat and waited for my husband to go in (just one of us at a time means less chance of exposure) and marveled at the jubilant throngs.  It was like the mall at Christmas.

Social distancing on walks? Unless that was a couple I saw with their 45 year old kid, there was no social distancing.  Walking side-by-side, baby cart by baby cart.  Not in family units. A local neighborhood even had a food truck come and they posted pictures online. All were pleasantly three feet apart.  They couldn’t wait to schedule the next one. And a Yappy hour on a cul-de-sac for all the dogs to play (with their owners). The neighbor kids, too.  They go from house to house, in each other’s driveways with their bikes. Then they go home to their individual households. No virus-carrying there.

This was getting on my nerves.

For the first few weeks, I was upset. “Harrumph! How can they be ignoring social distancing guidelines?”  Didn’t people get it? Didn’t they understand that even showing no symptoms, they may still be infected and cause asymptomatic spread of the virus? They would not just be protecting themselves, they would be protecting others if they were careful, stayed six feet apart, wore a mask, did not socialize in groups, and did not allow kids to have play-dates, as recommended by the CDC. But they didn’t.

Then I gave up.

I realized that I cannot control others’ behavior. I can observe it, I can be curious, I can even expect it. But, I cannot let it bother me.

The only behavior I can control is my own. I will proceed accordingly.

 

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

This site, Wendy Rulnick or Rulnick Realty, Inc. is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax advisor for more information.

Florida Real Estate Form Asks for COVID-19 Precautions

There is a new Florida real estate form pertaining to the COVID-19 crisis.  It is an acknowledgment that asks for affirmation from prospect, buyer, seller, tenant, and landlord that they are aware of the Coronavirus risks that may arise from in-person real estate showings.  Specifically, the document asks them to minimize health risks to themselves and others, and to acknowledge that they are not aware of any issues that would pose such a risk.  Further, the form states that buyers, sellers, and others will follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.  It also asks the parties to alert others if they subsequently become aware of new information that may have posed a danger, and to assume all risks from in-person access to Florida real estate.

The new Florida COVID-19 acknowledgment is the second form created for use by Florida Realtors, in addition to the COVID-19 contract addendum.  Here is the new COVID-19 In-Person Access Acknowledgment form in its entirety.

Florida Real Estate COVID-1… by Wendy Rulnick on Scribd

 

If you find that during or after the COVID-19 crisis, you must sell your Emerald Coast real estate, consider your options, whether traditional sale or short sale.

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells short sale, pre-foreclosure, REO and traditional real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

This site, Wendy Rulnick or Rulnick Realty, Inc. is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax advisor for more information.