When the real estate bubble finally burst across the U.S., tiny St. George Island was pounded as if a Category 5 hurricane had just passed through. Home values dropped by 75 percent. That $3 million lot now cost $750,000.
“There were many people who bought during the time of house price escalation and didn’t flip,” Collins said. “They wound up underwater (an ambivalent phrase if there ever was one in Hurricane Alley), owning more for the property than they could possibly sell it for. We have been dealing with foreclosures and some short sales for the last four years.”
It’s important to remember that the Franklin County market peaked in 2005, far ahead of the rest of the country. So, the question is, does recovery happen ahead of the country as well?
Sadly, that’s not the case, but Collins and Parker see sunshine after the housing hurricane.
“People who wanted to buy but couldn’t when the prices were so high have started coming around,” Collins said. “These are not investors, but professionals with families.”
Over at Alligator Point, Parker is seeing a brisk business from a different kind of client. “I sold over 70 properties this year,” Parker said. “Most of my buyers are newly retired or getting ready to retire. They always wanted a place on the water and now they can afford it.”