No Subprime Fallout In Destin Real Estate Market

By: Michael Colpitts

Fall out from the national real estate slow down as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis isn't being felt in the Destin, Florida real estate market, according to mortgage experts. The subprime loan market, which caters to those with damaged credit never made its way into the Gulf Coast's top vacation resort market.

The subprime crisis is being blamed for a slow down in the national housing market and a record high number of foreclosures. However, there are only about a dozen foreclosures listed for sale in Destin, which is fairly normal for the marketplace.

Subprime loans represent just 13% of the national mortgage market, according to the U.S. Bankers Association.

An estimated 60% of homes and condos sold in Destin are free and clear of mortgages paid for in cash. Destin is one of the nation's leading vacation home markets, catering to baby boomers and those looking for a second home at the beach. The largest portion of residential real estate sales nationally in 2006 were to second home or investment buyers, which composed 36% of all residential sales, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The Destin market is beginning to see an increase in buyers activity after two years of slower sales. The market boomed for two years at double digit appreciation levels, but has seen sales prices drop as much as 50% in some cases. Transactions that are closing are substantially below the record peak prices.

The market appreciated for five years before finally coming to a slow down because of higher interest rates and concerns by potential owners that prices were getting to high.

The baby boomer generation represents the majority of homeowners in Destin and neighboring South Walton County, where studies indicate 70% to 80% of all homes and condos are owned by vacation home owners.

The sparkling emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a strong attraction to vacationers looking for a lifestyle improvement and recreational activities, including scuba diving, boating, fishing and shopping.

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