The picturesque beach community of Okaloosa Island, Florida sits on its own strip of white sandy beach separate from the fast pace of Destin and the surfer vibe of Fort Walton Beach. Because the economy of this laidback resort area relies on the neighboring Eglin Air Force Base and not on tourism, the quaint purity of Okaloosa Island, Florida will remain unmarred by high-rise condominiums, noisy traffic, and crowded beaches.
For both smart business investors and families thinking about the future, the luxury vacation homes and gulf-view estates springing up across Okaloosa Island, Florida offer a prime deal in rentals and real estate. With baby boomers quickly approaching retirement age and deciding to buy a home, property on the Emerald Coast is currently one of the most rapidly appreciating investments in the country with home sales rising 16% in the past year.
Okaloosa Island Real Estate
Trulia places the average sales price of vacation homes for sale on Okaloosa Island, Florida at $449,000, an 8.4% increase from this time last year and a real estate estimate projected to rise as the housing market accelerates. The Emerald Coast Association of Realtors calculates the median sales price of all single-family homes for sale at $228,340, up slightly from the previous month’s median of $220,000 and continuing a steady growth from last year’s $215,000.
Okaloosa property inventory concentrates around two price ranges, homes selling for $200,000 to $249,000 and those selling for one million dollars or more. In only the last month, 171 new homes have been listed in these ranges, a 40% increase from last year. Properties were only on the market for about 70 days, a 39.7% annual decrease and a drop from March when houses for sale remained as long as 106 days.
With the Conference Board measuring consumer confidence at its highest level since February 2008 now is the time to buy a home on Okaloosa Island, Florida. More of the season’s market trends including low mortgage rates, short property supply, and growing demand make it an ideal time to purchase real estate or invest in rentals.
Freddie Mac reports the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rising almost half a percentage point since the beginning of May when it averaged 3.35% but Zillow predicts only a slight gradual rise over the next 18 months and compared to last year’s average of 3.75%, mortgage rates still remain historically low. The inventory of houses for sale in Okaloosa continues to decrease, now at 7.4, a 23.4% decrease from 9.7 this time last year. The rising prices of homes for sale in the area should encourage more property inventory and ultimately more homes and rentals for sale with buyers taking advantage of the high degree of affordability.
The quickly growing rush to buy a home has fostered an aggressive buyer’s attitude, pitting eager investors with the means to pay all-cash offers against residential buyers relying on financing. Real estate data from ECAR suggests Okaloosa is a dream market for families financially able to purchase the property outright. Only 23.5% of the area’s vacation home sales closed with cash during April, down from 26% in March, and 28.2% this time last year, giving the cash-paying buyers bidding preference over families requiring assistance in such a competitive market.
The National Association of Realtors found many vacation home buyers purchasing now with plans to convert the rentals into their primary residence. For this growing 27% of families who buy a home to invest in their future, the idyllic life on Okaloosa Island offers the perfect place to settle. Serious fishers and first-time anglers perch on the pier to catch hundred-pound tarpons while regulars visit the local blog, OkaloosaIslandPier.blogspot.com to check water conditions, post big catches, and find tips on the day’s most effective bait.
Golfers tee up on the Emerald Coast’s green at one of the several championship golf courses, many of which host Junior Golf Programs catering to grandchildren in need of clinics. If shoppers tire of boardwalk boutiques more than a hundred designer stores line the strip of nearby Silver Sands Outlet. Adventurous youngsters flock to the Emerald Coast Dirt & Vert, a 9,000 square foot skate park including a BMX racing track and freestyle dirt jumps.
One of the most popular activities is a trip to Eglin, the world’s largest air force base, to honor the service of veterans at the Air Force Armament Museum. Annual events keep residents busy year-round with the nation’s largest poker run closing the summer season, the Junior League of the Emerald Coast’s Mistletoe Market introducing the winter holidays, and live events like triathlons and even the Florida State H.O.G. Rally in between.
With the real estate market heating up, now is the time for vacation home buyers to finally invest in their futures and find their dream home on Okaloosa Island.