By SHARON DOOLEY Daily News Contributing Writer
DESTIN — During the past year, while area realtors rethought their marketing and sales strategies during a difficult real estate market, the staff of the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village has had an above average sales year.
“People do need to hear that the sky isn’t falling and that there is something that’s selling,” said Gail Sawyer, the real estate marketing coordinator for Legendary Inc., which developed The Emerald Grande on the southwestern corner of Destin. “It’s not perfect, but it’s great.”
Sales of condominium units in Emerald Grande have been anything but flat, with the units maintaining their value during a market when sellers face difficulty getting a return on their real estate investment.
A big part of the Emerald Grande’s real estate success, said Executive Vice President for Legendary Realty Ed McMullen, is the overall product provided by Legendary Inc.
“Emerald Grande, and this is just one man’s point of view, since 2007 Emerald Grande has probably been the guiding light for real estate in the area because if it didn’t do well, everyone else would have suffered,” McMullen said. “If you look at Emerald Grande as a whole, a community embraces it as a way to celebrate its access to the harbor.”
HarborWalk Village, located at the mouth of the Destin Harbor and just yards from the Emerald Grande’s eastern tower, offers shopping and dining for the community as a whole. Its views of the harbor and the Gulf of Mexico create a backdrop for visitors and residents who enjoy what Destin offers.
Between Destin and South Walton, Emerald Grande has been among the top selling condo choices for buyers in 2009, with total sales of 20 units as of early in December. McMullen set himself a goal to close out the year with even more sales. The sales of those units generated occupancy, which brought tourist dollars to the community. In October, generally a quiet tourist time along the Gulf Coast, Emerald Grande’s occupancy ran about 70 percent, with many of the visitors coming to the area for weddings.
Despite the attraction of Emerald Grande’s amenities such as HarborWalk, the restaurants and the condo’s health club and spa, it is also the individual value of each condo unit that appeals to investors.
“Emerald Grande has a higher average price than any individual property anywhere on the Emerald Coast,” McMullen said.
The developer has units still for sale, but re-sale units are also available.
“We have a very viable secondary market here. We’re selling re-sales all the time,” McMullen said.
Emerald Grande features two 13-story towers with 286 units. Layouts include one-bedroom/one-bath plans up to four-bedroom/four-bath plans. Floor plans feature open space rather than a shotgun layout.
Square footage begins at 836 and can go up to 1,700. Prices on units vary depending upon the size, location and whether the units are offered by the developer or as short sales. They start around $430,000 and go up to the mid $2 million mark. The prices apply to whole listings, but Emerald Grande also offers fractional ownerships.
While planning its marketing strategy, Legendary conducted focus group research, which showed that buyers wanted resort like comfort and amenities for a portion of the starting price range that comes with individual unit ownership. The combination of Legendary’s own research with national averages spurred the sale of fractional ownership in Emerald Grande.
“You can see the average use of a second home is 22 to 24 days out of a year,” McMullen said. Furthermore, he continued, the week-long stay in second homes has become a thing of the past, with long weekends or three- to four-day stays becoming the norm.
With an Emerald Grande fractional, each owner receives two weeks of condo use each summer and four other weeks throughout the year. An internal exchange also exists, so owners can trade weeks with other fractional owners.
“The owners think it’s fabulous,” McMullen said, also saying that “the fractional product has been extremely well received.”
Fractionals allow owners a deeded purchase with ownership privileges, but with a focus on the actual time that they owners can viably use the second home property. In addition to the purchase savings available to buyers, McMullen said that fractionals, right now, have a strong secondary market. Emerald Grande fractionals, in 2009, have been sold starting around $65,000 and going up to $240,000. For information about Emerald Grande real estate whole and fractional sales, contact Legendary Realty Inc. at 337-8800. To reach real estate marketing coordinator Gail Sawyer by e-mail, write to email@example.com. To reach Legendary Realty Executive Vice President Ed McMullen by e-mail, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find Emerald Grande on the Internet, visit www.emeraldgrande.com