Buyers Flee To Emerald Coast For Post-COVID Reprieve

Share News:

James Watts with Beach Group Properties LLC has listed the VIE Beach House at 16 Wood Beach Drive, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida for $3.2 million.

For buyers who work remote, the Emerald Coast is not only a welcome spot to rent or vacation. It’s the place to buy. Just ask James Watts, the hotshot Emerald Coast Realtor who is seeing a major uptick in showings, sales, and activity.

“Basically things are very active on the real estate front,” says Watts. “Many buyers we are working with are coming from large cities and are looking for a place to escape to. With online learning for many schools in place, families with kids want options on where to spend their time. And the beach is the top choice for many people. We are already seeing an increase in rental bookings for the fall, as people look to either rebook a missed vacation from the spring or simply hope to spend time this fall enjoying the warm weather at the beach.”

People Are Reimagining Their Lifestyle And Buying Properties Up And Down The Emerald Coast 

James Watts with Beach Group Properties LLC has listed Santa Rosa Ranch, 4340 Highway 178
Jay, Florida for $3.3 million.

The increase in rental bookings translates to more people reimagining their lifestyle and finding ways to live where most people vacation. And despite COVID, Watts says the outlook is optimistic.

“It is busy, but the restaurants and stores are taking precautions to help discourage the spread of COVID,” he says. “When I drive down 30A, everywhere I look I see people jogging or riding bikes down the path or carrying beach chairs heading for the beach. This area has always been a very active healthy community and we are striving to keep it that way.” 

One Family From Nashville Embraces The Trend

One such family embracing the trend is a couple from Nashville. Both work from home and are determined to find a place at the beach so they can split their time between Nashville and the coast. They came to Watts with several requests.

“They want to be able to spend time each day paddle-boarding, biking, playing on the beach or fishing with their kids. For them, having either an extra bedroom or dedicated office space is crucial,” he tells us. 

Another Opts To Upsize After Lockdown

“Another client just closed on his condo listing last week. But now with schools delaying openings back home, he is starting to regret selling and is now trying to find the next deal to get him back in the market,” he adds.

“One client from St. Louis spent most of the spring at their home in Seagrove during the lockdown. As a result, they decided they needed more space if they are going to spend significant amounts of time here. So they are closing on the sale of one home this week and closing on the purchase of a newer and larger home in early August.”

Meanwhile, Watts’ Watercolor Condo Sets Record Price

Watercolor Condo, 1777 E. Co HWY 30-A, 202
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Even more noteworthy, Watts just closed on a condo in Watercolor that achieved a record price. At $1.125 million, it’s the highest price per square foot sale for a two-bedroom condo ever in Watercolor.

“We worked with these friends to negotiate a competitive price when they purchased the condo,” says Watts. “They then completed a total overhaul on the condo creating a luxurious getaway in the heart of the Watercolor Town Center. It was bittersweet selling such a beautiful condo, but the impressive return on investment will go towards the next project!”

Inventory Is Low, But Watts Says There Are Still Deals To Be Had 

Santa Rosa Ranch

With demand for homes increasing along the Emerald Coast, Watts says inventory remains slim. Much like the Watercolor condo, many of his best listings have already gone under contract as things are moving at a rapid clip. But there are still great deals to be had. 

Case in point? The Santa Rosa Ranch currently listed by Watts for $3.3 million. It consists of 585-acres of grazing pastures and forest, with 13 ponds and lakes scattered throughout and stocked with largemouth bass, bream, and catfish. 

Santa Rosa Ranch

Watts says, “The current owners operate it as an Axis and Fallow Deer breeding business. Plus, they utilize the land and animals to create a family attraction. Families can visit and help feed the fawns, fish the ponds, or pick pumpkins. It would be great for someone looking for an income generating ranch in the Florida Panhandle. Or someone looking for their own private getaway that is tucked away, yet an easy drive away from the coast.” 

VIE Beach House

The VIE Beach House also just listed at $3.2 million and it is a sight to see. It’s primely sited in the quiet village of Seagrove Beach. The five-bedroom, six-bathroom beach house boasts custom designs, finishes, and furnishings. And it sits just a short walk to the finest beaches and trails.

The Emerald Coast stunner is a unique collaboration that Watts says is perfect for someone wanting a full-time residence or vacation home in the area.

VIE Beach House

“The floor plan with each bedroom having a private bath, spacious closet, and vaulted ceiling make it a very comfortable home to sleep family and friends,” he says. “The attention to detail in this home is amazing. The over the top finishes, custom tile, and custom appliances all create a home that is an excellent buy for someone.”

VIE Magazine Beach House Party On Hold, But A Treasure None The Less

As the official real estate partner for the VIE Magazine Beach House, Watts works closely with the artisans involved. This year, all events and ticket proceeds will benefit ongoing relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Michael, through the VIE Foundation.

“We were planning to have an opening party with ticket sales and silent auction proceeds going to support local charities,” Watts reveals. “But right now, we are trying to gauge what the best course of action will be, given all that is going on with COVID.”

Reader Interactions


  1. Tony De Nobrega says

    Buyers are not fleeing to Madeira for post-Covid reprieve but many Madeira property sales, especially in the upmarket price range, have been concluded and bought by German and English buyers. Madeira island is located in the middle of the Atlantic has had a good COVID safety report so far.