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Luxury homes on a barrier island near Florida's Emerald Coast
Art Wager, E+, Getty Images

Fla. ‘Hamptons of the South’ Hot for Rentals

Panhandle communities – maybe a dozen along Highway 30A – became hot commodities after another uptick in pandemic tourists visited for the first time.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – Booming growth along Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A has turned the once-sleepy coastal area into a thriving vacation community with a reputation as “the Hamptons of the South.”

No less than a dozen communities have sprouted up over the years in the beachfront market, situated along the Emerald Coast between Pensacola and Panama City.

The latest growth spurt coincided with the COVID-19 crisis, notes local realty agent Jonathan Spears. With Florida beaches among the few to remain open during the pandemic, he says many visitors who got their first taste of 30A have made return trips or have purchased property that they occupy themselves for part of the year and rent out for the remainder.

Investors, meanwhile, snap up properties to market on short-term rental platforms.

Prices have tracked overall growth and properties’ increasingly decadent features and amenities. The cost to purchase a vacation home today stretches into six-figure territory, while rentals run thousands of dollars per week for the highest-luxury properties.

Now that international borders are back open and more rentals are available, occupancy in 30A rentals is slipping – but not enough to worry local property managers.

Source: Wall Street Journal (07/19/23) Brandt, Libertina

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