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Rising to the Challenge

Photography courtesy of Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty

When we created the Roaring into the 20s theme for our annual awards gala in January, we had no idea how prescient it would come to be. This year has been one for the books, hasn’t it? From the shocking death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and raging bushfires in Australia to the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump and racial unrest across the country, we’ve witnessed a lot—and we’re just a little more than halfway to 2021.

The spread of the novel coronavirus around the world, though, has undoubtedly been one of 2020’s biggest challenges. This unprecedented global event created health concerns and economic instability in many of this country’s largest cities. Admittedly, in the first few weeks, we were unsure exactly what it would mean for real estate as a whole and, more specifically, for our Emerald Coast market. Even as you read this today, there are still unknowns.

As the world around us changed, we saw an increase in demand for homes that could live like permanent residences and a shift in thinking among people ready to take the plunge and purchase a secondary home, even if they hadn’t been ready just a few short months ago.

We’re still dealing with this new normal day by day, but the good news is that people are making moves in our market. In fact, that never really stopped. Perhaps it’s because recent events allowed people to reassess their goals or priorities, or maybe it’s because our area’s intrinsic value has never been greater.

People who could once only dream of being away from crowded urban areas are making full-time beach living their reality. Companies and society as a whole are embracing the idea of telecommuting. Individuals who quickly developed a new work-from-home skill set are no longer tethered to an urban area—or any particular place, for that matter. Now, and for the foreseeable future, they can work and play where they want to be.

"As the world around us changed, we saw an increase in demand for homes that could live like permanent residences and a shift in thinking among people ready to take the plunge and purchase a secondary home."

Before Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued the stay-at-home order in late March, we proactively closed our offices and transitioned our staff to full-time remote work. With the technology in place to keep the lines of communication open, we were fortunate to seldom miss a beat in our usual routine: staff meetings, sales and marketing training, and even the occasional fun Zoom happy hour. Both our blog and our social media messaging shifted; they became less about property and centered more on timely information—for example, details on local eateries that were open for takeout and ways we could collaborate virtually with our clients.

Thanks in part to this structured approach, we saw a greater than 40 percent increase in traffic to our website from the same period the prior year. As restrictions loosened in May, it became clear that buyers and sellers were ready to make fast decisions. That reflected in weekly increases of pending properties and near-record-breaking sales in 30-A’s most iconic communities, as well as in Destin and Panama City Beach. Memorial Day weekend was one of the busiest—if not the busiest—times on the Gulf Coast in recent memory.

Today, more than ever, the lifestyle promised in the communities of 30-A, Destin, and others is being embraced beyond a part-time getaway to a full-time experience. And, for that, we could not be more excited and thankful.

— V —

Visit ScenicSIR.com to learn more, see available properties, or contact an agent.

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