During my time exploring the Forgotten Coast, I met Sherri Parsons, a realtor with Coastwise Realty out of Crawfordville. Sherri grew up in the area and knows it as well as anyone. I asked her some questions about the real estate market, as well as why she thinks the area is special. If you’d like to CONTACT Sherri, take a look at her website, HERE!
You grew up in this area, I think. How have you seen it change over the years?
I moved to Crawfordville in 1986, there wasn’t much here other than Hardee’s, Myra Jeans, an IGA and Ace Hardware. There was only one red light in front of the courthouse and many of the roads were dirt. I could drive from south Crawfordville to TCC in Tallahassee in 20 minutes, now it takes 20 minutes just to get through Crawfordville. There are multiple red lights now, plans to four lane 319, we have a super Walmart, multiple fast food chain restaurants and the population of the county has multiplied like crazy to over 30,000.
It seems like there have been periodic attempts to develop areas along the Forgotten Coast throughout the years. Why do you think it remains less developed than other areas along the coast, west (Panama City) and east (Tampa, Clearwater, St Pete, etc)?
There is a lot of refuge, national forest, state parks and we have a very strict wetlands ordinance that prevents building in many of the areas throughout Wakulla County.
What has the real estate market done along the coast and inland in the last decade or so?
From 2005-2009 the market was booming, everyone was paying top dollar to move to Wakulla County because of our excellent school systems and our lower taxes. In April 2010 the seafood industry was drastically affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and then July of 2010 most of the surrounding areas were flooded or washed away by a huge tidal wave caused from a tropical storm and then the market completely crashed! Homes that were selling for close to $1 Mil, now wouldn’t sell for $200,000. Not only did the market crash but our whole flood map changed which caused drastic increases in insurance rates, well for the insurance companies who would even insure the area anymore. Between 2011-2014 the market is flooded with short sales and foreclosures, good for investors, bad for the everyday person trying to move on to better things. In 2015, the market started to pick up, short sales and foreclosures started dwindling off the market and new construction started to flourish again. 2016 seems to be pretty strong, sales are steady and price per square foot in slowly moving up which is a great sign that are area is coming back.
It seems that the real estate market is picking up currently. Do you foresee a lot of new development in the area?
A lot of the subdivisions that fell due to the market crashing are now taking off again with new construction homes, I’m not sure if more things will be approved until these are built up, but I’m sure within the next few years roads will be widened and new things will start to be presented to our commissioners to draw more interest to our area.
Most of the people I’ve met seem to truly value the unique character of this place, the natural beauty of it, and the undeveloped feel of the area. Would you agree?
Yes I fully agree with you. Most of the people who live here have been here since birth and the families go back many generations. They remember what it was once like and try their hardest to preserve it.
What’s your favorite thing about living here?
I love being so close to the many different water sources; rivers, springs, lakes and of course the beaches. There is always something to do on our near the water with friends and family.