Northwest Florida Real Estate Stays Strong
In a highly uncertain time for businesses across the world with the coronavirus pandemic shutting many doors and putting many livelihoods on pause, it’s a welcome relief to hear that the real estate market along Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast seems to have been largely unaffected. If anything, local real estate brokers and agents are seeing more activity in the spring of 2020 than they might even have predicted at the beginning of the year. For Linda Miller Real Estate, a boutique luxury real estate brokerage along Scenic Highway 30-A, May 2020 was a stellar month, with $15 million in real estate under contract.
We caught up with Linda Miller and her team to discuss the market trends and how the solid spring numbers for real estate along the Gulf Coast could mean a ray of hope for the community as a whole.
VIE: First, we want to congratulate you on opening your own boutique brokerage, Linda Miller Real Estate, last year! What has set you and your team apart from other firms in the area, and what have you learned from opening your own business in the past several months?
Linda Miller: Thank you! I think the biggest thing that sets my brand apart is that we are a boutique firm. We offer white-glove service to our clients through building close relationships with them and maintaining those relationships for years. They can call me up any time and ask any question and I’ll answer with a smile—that is my brand, and I live it every day. I’m not just a robot type of realtor with a huge conglomerate behind me that has its own agenda to follow for every transaction. My whole business has been built on relationships. I’ve been living and embodying the lifestyle along 30-A and selling this market for over twenty-two years, so I can be that “hometown” realtor at the beach for my clients. It’s such a more approachable way to do business and I’m truly able to provide guidance and expertise for my customers as their trusted advisor. Many of them become my good friends.
VIE: Being that “hometown” realtor means not only working along Scenic Highway 30-A but also embodying the whole lifestyle of the area. What does that mean to you, and what do you love most about it?
Linda Miller: I love this area that we call “the Smile” because Scenic 30-A curves just like a smile when you turn onto it from Highway 98 on the eastern end. I moved here from Fairhope, Alabama, and always enjoyed coming to vacation on these beautiful beaches before I made it my full-time home. The lifestyle is so unique. It’s laid-back luxury, with incredible architecture, restaurants, and communities that offer a living experience unlike any other. I love traveling up and down “the Smile” every day when I’m showing properties and then ending my day with a cocktail and the beautiful sunset from one of my favorite restaurants, like Shunk Gulley. They even have a cocktail named the “Linda Miller.” If you stop by the bar at Shunk Gulley sometime and we are there, you will have a Linda Miller on me!
"I’ve been living and embodying the lifestyle along 30-A and selling this market for over twenty-two years, so I can be that “hometown” realtor at the beach for my clients. It’s such a more approachable way to do business and I’m truly able to provide guidance and expertise for my customers as their trusted advisor."
VIE: As a small business, your team is like a close-knit family. How does this also provide an advantage for your clients?
Linda Miller: The company really is a family business. My brother, Chip McCraney, is also an agent with us. We have a new office closer to the west end of 30-A, which has allowed us to branch further out into the market there and start building new relationships while maintaining others across the area as well. We sell all of 30-A! There is a comfort in working with a small team because we can help each other and our clients quickly and often more efficiently than if there were twenty or fifty people in the office.
VIE: With the real estate industry in Northwest Florida seeing such a strong spring despite the setbacks many businesses and individuals faced from COVID-19, are there any changes you’re seeing in the market that are surprising?
Linda Miller: I think the virus forcing so many people to stay home and reexamine their working environments has made them realize that a lot of them can work from anywhere, so why not work from the beach? We’re also seeing a trend that I’ve called “urban flight.” People are ready to leave bigger cities and more populated areas in favor of a quieter, more spread-out life on the coast. We had some clients from Pennsylvania who are a great example—they packed up, came to the coast for a vacation, and decided to stay. They ended up calling their realtor back home and telling them that they would arrange their sale from here.
Lower interest rates have also helped in our seeing such an uptick in buyers. Properties are moving faster. We had $15 million under contract in May, which is huge. We’ve also recently listed and sold a home in just one day—and that happened twice! This also goes back to the way I do—and have always done—business through building relationships. One of those quick sales happened because I was outside at a listing and a neighbor waved me over to ask me about listing his home too. It just happens like that sometimes, because you take the time to talk to someone or to answer a call even if you’re busy. Johnny and I can be out showing properties without much luck sometimes, but then things will start happening because we keep showing up and just keep going. It’s a matter of continuing to work and putting yourself out there for the opportunities to come.
VIE: Although you are a small business, your reach is vast thanks to an exclusive partnership with Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate and the Board of Regents Luxury Real Estate. Can you tell us a little about this network and its affiliation with your brand?
Linda Miller: Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate through Board of Regents is an exclusive group of realtors from across the globe who are invited to participate because they have proven successful in the luxury market. It’s truly an honor to be a member of this group, and it’s a huge asset to my brand. We are able to list our properties on the database at Who’s Who so that we can collaborate with other agents to connect buyers and sellers and get properties moving faster thanks to putting them in front of the right audience. LuxuryRealEstate.com has more multimillion-dollar properties listed than any other real estate database.
"There is a comfort in working with a small team because we can help each other and our clients quickly and often more efficiently than if there were twenty or fifty people in the office."
VIE: Are there any listings you are particularly excited about at the moment?
Linda Miller: Yes, we have several beautiful listings around 30-A that I’m excited about! One is a family home in Rosemary Beach that is very special to me. I’ve worked with the owners for years. I sold them their first condo in Rosemary, and then twelve years ago, I represented them in selling the condo and purchasing a gorgeous home. We even have a photo of their kids outside the house twelve years ago and then now, with them all grown up. I’m delighted to be helping this family again as they have decided to “trade up” yet again with a new purchase—and to be listing their property for $1.4 million more than they purchased it for in 2008.
Another incredible listing we have currently is a very unique home and adjacent lot in the exclusive neighborhood of Paradise by the Sea, between Alys Beach and Seacrest Beach. This is a custom home that the owners poured their hearts and souls into, and it shows! Now they’ve decided to list the lot next door, so the buyer will have the opportunity to take advantage of a lot of space. It includes a beautiful plan for a pool with deck and entertainment area that would perfectly complement the home and guest house.
VIE: Are there any parting words of wisdom or things you have learned from your twenty-two years in business on 30-A that you’d like to share with our readers?
Linda Miller: Over the years, I have been very fortunate to live, work, and play in such a beautiful place as 30-A and to form so many beautiful friendships and client relationships with people near and far. In that time, I have sold over half a billion dollars in property and have been the top-selling realtor in the area for many of those years. I have watched the real estate market in our area rise and rise over the past decade, with the average sale on 30-A going from around $530,000 in 2010 to over $1 million last year.
Starting my brokerage last year was a huge accomplishment and also a learning curve, but something that I am so proud to have done. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us. But overall, I have learned that being number one doesn’t matter that much—being happy is much more important. I’m so happy to continue building relationships, nurturing my team and my clients, having friendly meetings over dinner and drinks, and just to keep smiling!
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Visit LindaMillerLuxury.com to learn more and see active listings.