What we are watching

I’ve been selling real estate here at the beach for almost 18 years. I’ve seen markets drop like a rock and shoot up like a rocket but this market – the one we are currently in – is new to me.  Why?  Because it’s really not doing anything…” normal”.  For the last couple of years, since Covid, we have been on that rocket ship with prices climbing by the day but now it feels like in July everything all of a sudden…stopped. Example, our team had been averaging 21+ transactions a month from January through June and then July hit, and we closed only 8 transactions. In August it will be 7 transactions.  What happened? Did we suddenly forget how to sell real estate? Did we all go on vacation at the same time? Did we just say, forget it, I quit? No, no and no.  In fact, I can assure you we are working harder than ever.

It isn’t only us. Our entire MLS is down. I also saw a report that the city of San Diego saw its sold transactions dropped 45% in July and another report proclaiming that the across the country real estate is down 30%. August was more the same. September – we will see.

If you are a buyer or seller of real estate here at the beach, what do you do? What is the answer? Here’s what you do, at least here’s what we are doing.  We are monitoring what I call “The Confidence Quotient” of our real estate market. In other words, do people believe the market is going: up, down, or sideways? Where is their confidence?

The way I measure The Confidence Quotient in our real estate market is by monitoring five key trends:

1. Number Of Sales

The number of sales will tell us a Buyer Confidence in the market. If the number of sales is increasing, it tells us that Buyers are confident that today’s market is the best one for them and if they wait to buy in the future prices will be higher, so they are buying now. If the number of sales is going down? We know buyers are confident that future prices will be lower so they are opting out of the market at the current prices, and we can look for prices to continue to erode at least for the near future. Make sense? Okay, let’s look at condo sales in the Panama City Beach Area to see if we can determine where the market is going.

Panama City Beach Condo Sales:  Year over year condo sales in the Panama City Beach Area are down and trended down the period of March through July but jumped up some in August. 

Conclusion? Demand for condos in the Panama City Beach area is down compared to last year but may have picked up some steam in August.  We will have to watch to see if that is simply a false bottom bounce or the real thing. 

Click here for Greater Destin Area Real Estate Trends 

Panama City Beach Condo Sales Trends


Panama City Beach Home Sales: It looks like the homes sales this year – while lower than last year – have followed the same pattern of climbing in the first quarter, falling back in April and May before jumping up in June with July and August coming in mostly flat. Not as many buyers pulled the trigger on buying a property in 2022 however, the numbers showing July and August sales as only flat (not dropping very much certainly) may suggest that buyer confidence could be coming back somewhat. 


Conclusion? I'm not confident that buyer confidence is back. Those that have to have homes will buy what they can afford.  Investors will continue to sit this market out.  


Click here for Greater Destin Area Real Estate Trends  


Number of Panama City Beach Home Sales Trends


2. How many New Listings are coming on the market for sale?

If inventory (properties listed for sale) is increasing, it shows Seller Confidence is high and prices are going to hold up, at lease for the near term. As such, Sellers are listing now and hopefully selling before prices start dropping.


Panama City Beach Condos: New Listings:  2022 held up very well compared to 2021 at least through May. Since May however it looks like the buyer demand has softened even though August popped up a bit.  


Conclusion?  Right now, it looks like sellers have decided that they don't have confidence in the current market and as such are deciding now is not the time to sell and either pulling their listings or deciding not to list at all.  This is why inventory numbers are so low.  Lets see how the Fed moves forward trying to control inflation.  If they continue to raise rates (and they likely will) I think we can expect sellers to stay on the sidelines until buyer's purchasing power comes back.  


Click here for Greater Destin Area Real Estate Trends 


Panama City Beach Number of New Condo Listings Trends


Panama City Beach Homes New Listings It looks like the number of new home listings peaked in the spring and early summer but fell off dramatically in July before flattening out in August.  

Conclusion?  The lack of inventory (supply) and the likely mortgage rate increase will be hard on buyers looking for lower prices and unless there is a pressing need to sell it looks like homeowners in the Greater PCB Area are choosing to sit tight and not list their homes for sale right now. 


3. Are New List Prices higher, lower, or the same as previous months?

This will tell us which way the ‘value’ winds are blowing. If List Prices are higher sellers are confident that market will hold up and they will get their price. If list prices start dropping, sellers are worried that if they don’t get a high price now, they may have to hold the property or sell in a depreciating market.  If list prices are flat that simply means sellers are uncertain which way the market will turn.

Panama City Beach Condos New List Prices: This year’s list prices are certainly higher than last years – no surprise there. The thing that surprises me a little is list prices are holding up even in the face of significantly fewer sales (closings). Also, excluding the price jump in May, new list prices have been mostly flat all year. 

Conclusion? Because prices are not continuing to increase, I believe sellers are worried the market is softening.  But because the prices aren’t dropping either, it looks like the sellers still hold most of the cards and if buyers are hoping for price relief, I’m not sure they will find it anytime soon. 


Click here for Greater Destin Area Real Estate Trends 


PCB Condo List Price Trends


Panama City Beach Home New List Prices:  Looking at the New List Prices for homes in the Greater Panama City Beach Area it looks like prices are way up year over year – again no surprise there.  And like with the condo market list prices are not dropping off much.  This is pretty incredible considering the drop in the number of sales, the increase in interest rates and the growing overall inflation, all of which typically force prices down. 


Conclusion? It’s going to be tough on buyers looking to capture lower prices.  However, sellers will likely see the time it takes to sell a property jump as the number of buyers able to pay high prices drops. This will be an interesting stare down to watch and see who blinks first.


Click here for Greater Destin Area Real Estate Trends 


PCB Home List Price Trends


4. How many properties are Pending Sale (under contract but not yet closed)?

This tells us Buyer Confidence. If the number of pending sales is increasing, we know that Buyer Confidence is still high and that they are willing to write contracts at the current price points.  If the number of pending sales drops, then prices are likely to drop as well. If they are flat (not increasing or decreasing) then it simply means buyers and sellers haven’t decided yet.

Panama City Beach Condos: # Of Pending Sales:  The number of condos going under contract this year compared to last year is down substantially. The thing that jumps out at me on this graph is how the number of pending sales is trending up since the low in June. We have been hearing so much about how the housing market is in trouble and that there is a bubble about to burst but then our pending sales jump. This is remarkably interesting. I don’t know if this trend can keep going but right now the pending sales tell us that buyers are confident that if they don’t buy now, they will pay higher prices in the future.

Conclusion? With so much uncertainty, if you are planning to sell in the next few years – sell now while we know you can capture a high price.


Click here for Greater Destin Area Real Estate Trends 


Number of Pending Condo Sales Trends


Panama City Beach Homes: # of Pending Sales:  Looking at this graph for 2022 the market appears to runup one month then fallback the next. That trend changed in June with when the market didn't bounce back as hard but held flat before climbing some in July and bouncing higher in August.  Is this a seasonality thing showing up? Is it a blip before prices drop? Or is it something else entirely? Hard to say at this point.


Conclusion? There is so much talk and punditry out there right now it hard to get a good indication where this trend is taking us. Honest answer? Be careful. 


Click here for Greater Destin Area Real Estate Trends 

PCB Number of New Pending Home Sales Trends



5. Are new pending prices higher or lower than the previous pending sales? 

Like with New List Prices, Pending Prices will tell us which way the ‘value’ winds are blowing. If Pending Prices are higher from one month to the next for comparable properties, prices are going to remain high or go higher. If Pending Prices are lower than the previous month, then prices are likely to drop. Flat? Buyers and Sellers are still figuring things out.

Panama City Beach Condos – Pending Price Trends: This is a big one for both buyers and sellers because it’s a good window into the future. Pending prices are up substantially year over year – no surprise there. As for the 2022 prices? They have been bouncing around within 10% from the highs which is real money for sure but not a huge variance. Example: In April, the Median Sales Pending Price was $459,000. In July it was down to $422,450 but jumped in August to $450,000. We will watch to see if this bouncing trend continues or if we get a consistent increase or decrease over several months.  


Conclusion? Uncertainty is where the best deals can be made – for both buyer and sellers – so if you are thinking about buying or selling now would appear to be a good time to roll the dice.   


Click here for Greater Destin Area Real Estate Trends 


PCB Condo Pending Price Trends


Panama City Beach Homes – Pending Sales Price Trends: Again, prices are higher this year than last year. The interesting thing this year is prices in the spring were higher than they have been through the summer.  Granted, not by much but historically prices tend to grow through the summer months.  


Conclusion? Because there has been no massive drop off in prices, we know there are buyers who either need a home no matter what or believe prices are going to be higher in the future and as such are willing to pay today’s prices. 


PCB Homes Median Pending Price Trends


Other Factors to Watch


Employment:  Are people going to work or are they losing their jobs? Working people spend money on real estate and vacation rentals and unemployed people don’t. It’s as simple as that so keep an eye on employment.

Affordability:  Can people afford to buy property or come to the beach on vacation? If they can’t then it will be very difficult to maintain the price points, we’ve enjoyed for the past several years. With inflation the way it is and supply chain issues still a thing it’s going to be very interesting how low motivated buyers balance out against owner/sellers who aren’t feeling any strong pressure to lower prices… yet.      

So, Where Are We?


Looking at these trends we can tell if people are confident in placing their hard earned and limited resources on properties here at the beach. My point of view is everything comes down to buyer’s and seller’s confidence in the future. Are they confident prices are going up or are they confident prices are going down? When buyers and sellers are confident either way things happen. When they are not sure both tend to hunker down and adopt a wait and see approach. Buyer and sell confidence are what you need to watch and what you need to be ready to react to. 

Right now, what we are facing is simple uncertainty – neither a lack of confidence nor an abundance of confidence. Until that uncertainty starts to lean one way or the other, we are going to remain in a spin mode going round and round rather than up or down. How long this will last is unknown, but you need to watch it very closely because when things move – they can move very quickly, and you don’t want to miss the boat on selling… or buying.  Confidence is a fickle thing and can be very expensive, so watch it close.

What Do You Do?

If you are an investor here at the beach and are considering selling – you need to be careful – there are very strong market forces at play right now. The market has been going up each year since 2009 which means most Realtors have never seen a declining market, and with hundreds of thousands of dollars – even millions of dollars – at risk… do you really want to trust your wealth to a Realtor that has never seen a market with eroding equity? Who you have as your Realtor… matters.


I was there in 2004, 05, and 06, when the market corrected, and prices were dropping by the day.  We saw how buyers would walk away from earnest money deposits because they could buy a better property at an even lower price somewhere else.  We successfully navigated those waters and were able to save or make our clients a ton of money.

Whether you are a buyer or a seller of a property here at the beach we, want you to max out your position based on your financial goals and the current market conditions. With this in mind and based on years of experience our advice breaks down as follows:

Short Term Owner (Five years or less): If you plan to own your property for five years or less, we recommend that you list and sell it now.  This allows you to lock in a really high sales price and mitigate all risk of price drops, tax code changes, and any other scenario that would have a negative impact on your profits.  Remember, you can’t go broke taking profits.

Long Term Owner (Longer than five years): If you plan to own the property longer that five years, we recommend that you simply sit back and enjoy the ride.  This is because you have time to ride out the crazy ups and downs so they should not have much impact on you. We do suggest though that you look at your rental income and make sure you’re maxing that out.  If you would like to get a FREE, No Obligation rental projection for your property we recommend you contact Beach Stays Vacations (beachstaysvacations.com)

Multiple Property Owner:  If you own multiple properties, we suggest that you sell and take one or more off the table and protect the equity you’ve built up. Keep your best properties and consider adding new ones when prices drop.

Long Term Buyer (Going to own five years or longer): If you plan to buy a property that you will own for five years or longer, we recommend that you buy now… and hold it – longer the better.  This will allow you to lock in a historically low interest rate and take advantage of high rental incomes. In addition, if you hold the property over time prices will go back up.  If you do buy, we suggest that you max out your rental income.

If you would like to get a FREE, No Obligation rental projection for your property we recommend you contact Beach Stays Vacations (beachstaysvacations.com)

Short Term Buyer (Going to buy and flip): If you plan is to buy and flip the property, we simply say – be careful.  Operating on a short time frame escalates the risk of missing the market – for sure, but we do have people who are doing this and making big money.




Bottom Line

We are wealth builders, so our goal (whether you are buying or selling) is to build or protect your wealth – based on your financial goals and the current market conditions. Call us today and lets talk about how you can max out your position as a buyer, a seller or as an owner to continue building your family’s wealth well into the future.

Committed to your success,

John Moran – CEO The Smart Beach Investor | Keller Williams Realty AT THE BEACH TEAM 

Keller Williams Realty – For Your Place at the Beach