By Val Shoger; Photos by Katie DeSantis
With years of experience in selling real estate in and around Panama City and especially Panama City Beach, Realtor Katie Patronis gives us insight about the local market and aspects of buying condominiums in Bay County.
PCL: Approximately, how many condominiums does Bay County have and how many are currently for sale?
Katie Patronis: As of September 2014, there are a total of 20,281 condominiums in Bay County . 836 condos currently are listed for sale in the Bay County Multiple Listing Service . In a year, there are more single-family homes than condos sold in Bay County .
PCL: Who are the typical condo buyers in Panama City Beach?
Katie Patronis: Most people buy a condo as an investment.
PCL: In Bay County, how many people live in condos year around in comparison to condos being rented out by their owners?
Katie Patronis: Over 90 percent of the condos in Bay County are used as a second home or rental investment, meaning less than 10 percent of condo owners live in their condo fulltime. Of the 20,281 condos, 1,225 have the homestead exemption.
PCL: What are the best selling points for a condo?
Katie Patronis: There are many benefits to living in a condo. You may find a condo that has everything you want in a home with the added conveniences a condo offers. Many condos include amenities, such as a gym or a swimming pool, which are paid for with your association dues. Many condos offer breathtaking views or beach access. Condo living generally means lower maintenance for the owner as many condos include maintenance fees that cover landscaping and even exterior maintenance on the unit.
PCL: Is there a condo type (with a specific size, feature or price range) that can be considered a “best seller” in Bay County?
Katie Patronis: Gulf front condos are a best seller . Over half of the condos sold this year are gulf front with beach access .
PCL: What are the most important things to consider when buying a condo?
Katie Patronis: When considering a condo purchase, take time to do your research. First and foremost, you must decide where you want to be located. From there, find out about the condo options in the area. If you want to be on the water, condos will be more common. Think about how much privacy you would like. Having privacy is possible in a condo, although condo living means neighbors will be quite close.
Be sure to calculate costs. There are financial considerations when contemplating a condo purchase. Most associations will impose fees for building maintenance, whereas in another type of home you pay for expensive renovations or maintenance projects at a time when you can afford them. Review the minutes of the community association’s meetings to see if there are outstanding maintenance issues that are likely to be expensive. While those condo fees won’t be part of your monthly payment to a mortgage company, you need to budget for that expense when you buy. Condominium association dues pay for higher levels of insurance for the community because things like the roof, an elevator, exterior walls, walkways and the land itself are owned by the association. Condo owners typically pay lower homowner’ insurance rates because they are paying only for the inside of their home and their personal possessions.
PCL: Do you have any tips for first-time condo owners in Bay County?
Katie Patronis: Use a REALTOR to assist in your search for the best property. Determine the location you prefer and become familiar with the resort amenities and fees. Many first-time buyers don’t think about the additional cost of condominium association fees which pay for communal maintenance and services.
It’s important to keep in mind that fees will be part of your debt-to-income ratio when you qualify for a loan. The down payment required is higher on condos than on single- family homes.
When considering a condo purchase, take your time to look at the building. Do you like its size? Is it in the right location? Is the building properly maintained and are the amenities to your liking?
Great aspects of condo living can be seen in this unit that Katie Patronis sold to its current owners in 2013 . Several things came into play when these owners decided to buy this condo . Katie Patronis states “Julie and Rawleigh Martin of Memphis, Tennessee, said the primary goals during their condo search was to find a property that was unique, private, and secure . The penthouse at En Soleil has delivered on their expectations for all of these qualities and they are proud to call it their second home . It is a family tradition for them to visit Panama City Beach in the summer and spending time at the beach is a tradition they plan to keep .
En Soleil is like no other . The condo development is meticulously maintained and in pristine condition . The resort offers comfort, privacy to owners, and amenities which include 6,500 square feet of gulf front pools, two hot tubs, two grand waterfalls and two fountains and a private grill in every condo . A Mediterranean landscape is featured throughout the resort . En Soleil also offers 24 hour security .
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