There’s a place in the Northwest Florida panhandle where the beaches are as white as sugar and the Gulf of Mexico water is a deep turquoise, warm enough for swimming much of the year.
It’s called South Walton, also known affectionately as “The 30A” for the scenic highway that runs through it. It’s a gorgeous 26 mile stretch of beaches with 16 friendly beach neighborhoods, each with their own unique charm.
There are coastal dune lakes and maritime forests, a thriving seaside community, fabulous sport fishing, ample health care options and incredible restaurants.
So it’s not surprising that the area is becoming increasingly attractive to those looking to invest in a vacation home, as the number of people buying vacation homes rises nationally, especially in the South and in beach communities. In 2014, the most recent year for which statistics were available, vacation homes sales in the U.S. jumped to 1.13 million, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey.
That was more vacation homes sold than in any year since the organization started collecting the data in 2003. Their sales in 2014 nearly doubled the combined total from the previous two years, an astonishing level of growth.
“Affluent households have greatly benefitted from strong growth in the stock market in recent years, and the steady rise in home prices has likely given them reassurance that real estate remains an attractive long-term investment,” said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist. “Furthermore, (2014’s) impressive increase also reflects long-term growth in the numbers of baby boomers moving closer to retirement and buying second homes to convert into their primary home in a few years.”
More people are financing their vacation homes, taking advantage of mortgage interest rates that remain at near-historic lows. About 70 percent of vacation home buyers obtained mortgage loans, up from 62 percent in 2013.
Forty-six percent of vacation homes were bought in the South (up from 41 percent in 2013), compared to 25 percent in the West, 15 percent in the Northeast and 14 percent in the Midwest.
The survey found that forty percent bought in a beach area, 19 percent purchased in the country and 17 percent bought a vacation home in the mountains.
A third of buyers planned to use the home for vacations or a family retreat, 19 percent planned to make the home their primary home in the future, and 13 percent bought for potential price appreciation, the survey found.
Many vacation home buyers like to rent the home out when they aren’t living in it. In such cases, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Are you allowed? Before buying the home, make sure the condo or homeowner association, resort or city allows rentals.
Work the numbers. Determine how much time you want to spend in the home, and how much time you want to rent it out. Budget for taxes, advertising, property management if needed, and upkeep, such as a cleaning service in between tenants.
Come to Walton Funding. We specialize in helping real estate buyers in the South Walton area find unique and highly competitive financing solutions.