by Jamie Conley
on Monday, November 30th, 2020 at 3:34pm.
Tourism is one of the major industries driving the economy in South Walton County Florida. Vacation property owners, rental companies, restaurants, and small businesses rely heavily on visitors who come to relax, spend time with family and friends and enjoy the beauty of Northwest Florida. When COVID-19 hit and South Walton closed the beaches earlier this year, there was a collective bracing for the unknown that might be ahead. To everyone’s surprise, visitors seemed to flock here this year and rental occupancy numbers remained steady even increasing; at a time when most other parts of Florida experienced drastic downturns in tourism numbers.
Just last week the Florida News Service from VISIT FLORIDA ran an article announcing that statewide tourist visits were down in 2020 and specifically that third quarter visitors numbers were down by 32% when compared to 2019. Thankfully, the economic picture in “our backyard” along the beach in Northwest Florida for visitors to the area has been the exception and looks very different by comparison!
According to the 2020 VISIT SOUTH WALTON Annual Summer Visitors report recently published; “South Walton may have the brightest tourism figures in the nation during COVID-19.” The report went on to show that the number of visitors, room nights and other tourism related indicators were up more than 10%. The report also stated that the number of available rental units for South Walton beach communities had grown by 6.7% this year. Visitors to Blue Mountain Beach, Rosemary Beach,Seaside and all the other 30A Beach communities hosted nearly 2.5 million visitors during the summer months which in turn gave our local economy a boost to the tune of an estimated $2.4 billion. Read the full report here ----> 2020 South Walton Visitor Tracking Report.
Looking forward to the remaining few weeks of 2020 this is what we're anticipating for visitors coming to the area. Typically, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are much slower as folks focus on holiday preparations. But once again, the unexpected is what we're seeing. Our internal data sources are projecting that occupancy rates (the number of units being reserved for rentals) between now and end of December will continue trend upward by an average of 12% compared to the same time last year.
As a property owner in South Walton, how does all of this relate to you? What we know all too well is that visitors come to the beaches along 30A because the area is unique and they love it here. And, once they’re actually here discovering the beauty and enjoying what our beach towns offer , that experience often creates the desire and motivation to own property here. At the end of the day, the "visitors" described in the above study ARE our primary target market for real estate ownership! So increased visitors numbers directly impacts increased real estate interest and sales.
We also know firsthand, that real estate sales and property appreciation this year has been dramatic! Generally speaking, our market is nearing the height of the 2015 market boom once again. The beach communities of Seagrove, Alys Beach and Watercolor have seen the most activity in interest and sales so far in 2020 and there are fewer properties currently on the market available for purchase. South Walton property owners who are thinking about or preparing to place their properties on the market for sale should be able to reap the benefits of this year’s increased market value appreciation for the short term near future.
If you’re curious about the sales activity in your own neighborhood, a specific beach community or would like to find out where your property values are compared to the current market; please reach out. We’ll gladly provide a no obligation, custom valuation report based on your particular interests. We can also guide you with preparing your home or condo for the market based on what we know works. We’ve been helping 30A locals reach their real estate goals since 1993 and would appreciate the opportunity to earn your business. Let us know how we can be of assistance! Get In Touch