Monday, December 22, 2008


"GO GREEN". State of Florida, with the leadership of the Governor, is going green with many incentives in place and many more to come. Is it the right thing to do? This can be argued, however, it is happening and the State of Florida is putting their money where there mouth is. Take a look below and see where the State of Florida is going.

Raising the Green Bar
By John M. Dunn

Lauderdale-based Stiles Corporation is part of the new building trend.
Recently, the company completed its 130,000 square-foot, multi-tenant Lake Shore Plaza II in Sunrise — the first such structure in Broward County to be certified by a third-party rating system that uses Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs (LEED) standards, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council as national benchmarks for green design, construction and operation.
Getting LEED certified is a relatively new idea in Florida, but the concept is spreading. Last year, New College in Sarasota opened five new student residence halls built to LEED specifics. The City of Orlando also has undertaken green efforts. Recently, the city built a new LEED-certified fire station, and to demonstrate that eco-friendly homes can be affordable, officials obtained community help in constructing a $120,000 bungalow for a local resident, which earned a platinum rating — LEED’s highest honor. So far, only eight new homes in Florida are LEED certified, but those numbers are expected to rise.
Another industry group, the non-profit Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC), has its own green building certification standards. So far, it has certified almost 1,000 green homes in Florida. The coalition also bestows a Local Government Standard upon qualifying cities and counties for their environmental stewardship. St. Petersburg was FGBC’s first green city recipient, and Pinellas County the first green county.
Florida builders have yet a third green certification process — one created by the National Association of Homebuilders.
Why bother to get certified at all?
“Most builders who build green do so as part of their ethics,” says Eric Martin, senior research engineer with the Florida Solar Energy Center, a research facility at the University of Central Florida, which provides verification for LEED certification projects.
But there are other motivations, Martin adds: “A lot of builders are going green to get a market advantage over the competition.” They also understand that a growing number of consumers now seek construction that offers future savings accrued from reduced use of electricity, water, maintenance and disaster mitigation. The rigorous certification process, Martin points out, also provides high “quality control management” that reduces call-backs and complaints.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I believe this gentlemen below has hit it on the head. This will also hold true for our local economy. Are we ready? With little or no new quality and affordable home building being done in the last couple of years and the reduction of military housing, we could go from famine to feast very quickly. The customer is demanding more for their dollar. This will demand builders to seek efficiencies in their building process and thinking outside the box. The customer is always right.

Financial mogul Sam Zell, beleaguered owner of the Tribune Co. that declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, told an Israeli business conference Sunday that the U.S. real estate market will be in recovery by spring 2009. Zell pointed out that the U.S. population is growing, and with fewer than 600,000 building starts in 2008, a million fewer than any of the last 10 years, demand for housing will rise. Zell blamed the current crisis - at least in part - on ill-considered decisions. "We are living through our first Blackberry recession where, literally, information is instantly disseminated around the world and people, in effect, respond to it, perhaps, often without any particular caution or attention," he said.


The rates are out with increases for the upcoming year. If you need further information, please don't hesitate to give me a call. As a Former Military Housing Director for the Southeast United States, I am very familiar with the process and the impact it has on the military pay system.

The 2009 Basic Allowance for Housing payment rates are now available. Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is based on geographic duty location, pay grade, and dependency status. BAH provides uniformed servicemembers accurate and equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets, and is payable when government quarters are not provided. Since 2007 the BAH rates are now following the cost increases of the local rental housing markets. Although BAH rates will generally either remain stable or increase, there may be some areas that decrease due to a decreasing local rental market.


E-1 1204
E-2 1204
E-3 1204
E-4 1204
E-5 1211
E-6 1418
E-7 1456
E-8 1497
E-9 1575
W-1 1419
W-2 1473
W-3 1523
W-4 1575
W-5 1678
O1E 1464
O2E 1515
O3E 1607
O-1 1235
O-2 1413
O-3 1521
O-4 1713
O-5 1848
O-6 1863
O-7 1894


E-1 903
E-2 903
E-3 903
E-4 903
E-5 1091
E-6 1197
E-7 1204
E-8 1252
E-9 1316
W-1 1201
W-2 1251
W-3 1322
W-4 1428
W-5 1465
O1E 1211
O2E 1302
O3E 1418
O-1 1196
O-2 1208
O-3 1344
O-4 1460
O-5 1485
O-6 1523
O-7 1553

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Is the area ready for the normal transition of military personnel to the area? Approximately 25-30% of the number of personnel assigned to a military installation are transferred out, which means the same number are transferred in. With this in mind, the number of military homes being demolished on the Eglin AFB now, and the assignment of new positions to Eglin AFB and the surrounding military installations in the upcoming months, it could get interesting. Now, take the finacial world of the active, retired, and former military, and the benefits of buying to them, it makes it even more interesting. Just take a look at the VA Guaranteed Loan Program, available them. A VA mortgage loan can be guaranteed with no money down, in some cases up to $417,000. There is also no private mortgage insurance requirement with a VA guaranteed loan, which could offer you substantial savings on your monthly payment. You can even use your VA Loan benefit to refinance an existing loan – even if it is not a VA Loan. Sounds interesting. 2009, I expect will be a tremendous year in our market, provided we have quality homes available to this large group of customers. Any questions, give me a call or view some of my past Blog Entries. GREAT INFORMATION!!!!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Army's 7th Special Forces Group Families vist the Area

The 7th Special Forces group and their families begin to get the feet wet and visit the area in preparation to their arrival. This is a major step and it outlines the need of the families of this very special group. Any advise I could give you from information I receive is; Get ready NOW!!! and don't miss the boat.

7th Special Forces contingent takes in the Emerald Coast
Trio will return to Fort Bragg with information for spouses who are nervous about move
By MONA MOORE Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443

CRESTVIEW — Three assistants from Fort Bragg’s Family Readiness Group dipped their toes in the Emerald Coast this week. They toured Eglin Air Force Base, Destin, Crestview and Fort Walton Beach to gather information to take back to families of the Army 7th Special Forces Group, which will move to Okaloosa County in 2011 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Three years is not much time for the Special Forces. The group will return to Fort Bragg from deployment in March and be deployed again by May. When the unit returns home again, it will be for the move. Crestview officials organizing the three-day tour that focused on schools, jobs and resources available in their city. Darlene Thornton, one of the assistants with the Family Readiness Group, said families’ greatest concerns are child care, education and employment opportunities for spouses. The group came armed with questions from the families. The tour left a great impression on the trio. Thornton said the Special Forces will leave its North Carolina base, where they are one small group in a sea of 150,000 soldiers. “For us to bring 5,000 to a community with open arms … we’re just blown away,” Thornton said. They learned that local homes offer more square footage for the money than those in North Carolina. Readiness Group assistant Felecia Neal said many of the soldiers were less than 25 years old with three or four children. The families live in base housing because there are few affordable options. Coming to Eglin will be a challenge because the base is in the middle of private housing; the families must find homes in surrounding communities, she said. Crestview officials assured the visitors that the soldiers can afford to call their city home. The Readiness Group said the Okaloosa County School District will be important to families. The women met with Superintendent of Schools Alexis Tibbetts and principals at Crestview High School, Davidson Middle School and Antioch Elementary School. After tours Monday and Tuesday, the Family Readiness Group met Wednesday with Crestview City Council members and heads of the recreation, water and sewer, police and the fire departments. City officials painted the city as a haven for families who want a safe, smalltown lifestyle with access to beaches and metropolitan areas. “We practice community-oriented policing,” said police officer Richard Long. “There’s always some kind of event going on,” Fire Chief Joe Traylor added of family events from Destin to Pensacola. He also noted that a fourth fire station to be built will put firefighters within 5 minutes of residents. “We are ecstatic that you are coming here,” said Councilman Charles Baugh. City officials and members of the Readiness Group left the meeting with a better understanding of how the Special Forces Group will affect the county. “A lot of our soldiers don’t go to Iraq. They go to (the country of) Panama,” Thornton said. “So instead of bringing trinkets back, they bring families back.” The women asked about crime rates, curfews, recreation and public transportation. Many spouses rely on public transportation, speak English as a second language and have Fort Bragg as their only reference of the United States. The women are afraid of what they will find in Okaloosa County. For many of the families, the transfer to the Emerald Coast will be the first permanent move they have made, the women said. The soldiers have been known to begin and end their military careers at the same base, so families root themselves in the community, Thornton said. “We like people that want to be part of the community,” Baugh said. “We’re praying that you will want to make Crestview your roots.” Some spouses have worried that 4-bedroom homes would cost $500,000, that they would get blown away in hurricanes and find alligators in their toilets. “I’ve heard some crazy things from our spouses,” Neal said. The answers the Readiness Group will return with will help some spouses decide whether to relocate. Their roots are so deep at Fort Bragg that some of them are considering staying put. Spouses say that for the few months soldiers are home, they can drive up to North Carolina on weekends. “Because I’m used to him being gone, he can get used to me being gone,” Neal said. She said she and her colleagues will give spouses an honest impression of the area. “We’re trying to lay their fears to rest,” Neal said.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Location, Location, Location. This local story continues to demonstrate the buyer is looking for good projects at an affordable price in a good location. As noted in previous blog entries, a high demand is coming upon us and supply is dwindling. Success stories like this one will be one of many in the upcoming months, as long as builders listen to the customer and provide a high quality homes.

Northwest Florida Daily News Story - December 7, 2008
Slump? What slump?

Some local developments, like Meridian Square Townhomes, are reporting brisk sales
Special to the Daily News Despite the economic downturn, some local projects are reporting steady sales. One is Meridian Square Townhomes, a new development in Fort Walton Beach. The townhomes are targeted as affordable, wellbuilt housing within a stone’s throw of Hurlburt Field’s back gate. Sales are brisk despite the economic slump, says Jay Ghosh, a spokesman for Okaloosa Properties LLC, which ultimately plans to build 66 three- and fourbedroom townhomes on six acres off Martin Luther King Boulevard, next to Heather Glenn Apartments. The two-story townhomes are close to the base, the joint campus of Northwest Florida State College/the University of West Florida and the businesses in the city’s Industrial Park. “We’ve already built the first 24 units and we’ve sold 23 of them in the last 90 days,” says Ghosh, “proving that, even in this real estate market, if something’s priced right and in a good location, it will sell.” The townhomes range in size from 1,750 to 1,900 square feet, depending on the floor plan, and feature such amenities as stucco, tile and granite counter tops. They are energy efficient and hurricane resistant, with low-energy windows. Buyers so far have been mostly military personnel who plan to live in the townhomes, which all have ample kitchens, good-sized living rooms, well-designed master bedrooms and one-car garages. The fourbedroom models have three full bathrooms and the three-bedroom models have 2½ baths. “What’s great about this project is its location, which is ideal for people who work at Hurlburt Field,” Ghosh says. “They will be living less than half a mile from the base’s back gate. And at under $100 a square foot, it’s a very good price.” Shiloh Builders of Fort Walton Beach has begun work on the second phase of the development. An additional 12 units are currently under construction and 12 more will be under way in January.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


As the Vice President of the Northwest Florida Military Officer's Association, I get the opportunity to visit with the senior officials in the local area. This morning, I had the opportunity to eat breakfast with the Eglin Base Commander. One of my discussions was the Privatization of the Military Housing at Eglin. He noted, the RFP for the Privatization was on hold; however they were continuing to demolished the existing homes to approximately 1300 units. The original number of units at Eglin was approximately 2750. This will place a additional demand on the present supply in the upcoming months. As I have noted in my past blogs, there is an enormous amount activity coming to our area and the need for quality homes is a must. Please read through my previous Blogs or give me a call for further details.

Monday, December 1, 2008


The Baby Boomers are looking to our area for a place to stay. Not only is this a great place for retired military to settle down and call home. Others have found the panhandle of Florida to be a great place, as well. Below are some thoughts in the minds of this generation on what they expect for the retirement home.


At least one in four baby boomer generation couples and individuals expect to move to a more age-appropriate home in their retirement years, according to a study by Opinion Research Corporation, commissioned by AARP. Most boomers say they would like to stay in their current home for as long as possible, but many feel they will most likely move to a more suitable residence in the future. Most of those who expect to move will be looking for a better home for retirement living. Many will be seeking a better climate, and perhaps a home that's closer to family members and friends, the study noted.More than half of boomers (age 45 to 64) plan to move into a one level home. Older boomers are significantly more likely than younger boomers to want a single level home. And about half of them will be seeking a smaller home. Interestingly, boomer men are more likely than women to believe they will move into a home located in a warmer or better climate. Boomer women are more likely than men to think they will move into a smaller home, probably with an eye toward reduced housekeeping responsibilities."While boomers will reflect the patterns of earlier generations and mostly age in place, the sheer number of boomers will increase demand for a whole variety of home and community options," said Elinor Ginzler, senior vice president of AARP. The number of persons age 65 and older is expected to grow to 70 million by 2030.