What is the “20 foot rule” along the beach in Destin?

In recent years the issue of private vs public use of the beach has been a hot topic. Do beachfront owners really own the beach? Where does private use begin and public use end?

Most Florida communities have adopted beach use rules born out of Roman law, specifically, the Public Trust Doctrine. As have many of the fundamental laws in our nation, the Public Trust Doctrine migrated from Roman law into English Common Law, morphing into its present day interpretation in the U.S. As applied to beachfront ownership in Florida, simply put, the public has access to the beachfront property between the high and low tide marks (the so –called “wet sand rule”) , calculated based on average tides over the span of an 18.6 year time frame. Makes perfect sense, right?

In Okaloosa County, which includes Destin, Okaloosa Island, Crystal Beach and Holiday Isle, the policy is fairly easy to interpret. Okaloosa County has adopted what is referred to as the “20 foot rule”. According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, the beach lying 20 foot upland from the water is considered public. Period. Vendors are not allowed to set up in this area and private property assertions are not considered valid.

Adjacent Walton County, which includes Miramar Beach, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, WaterColor, Seagrove and Grayton Beach has a much more narrow interpretation. Generally, Walton County recognizes the wet sand as public. The beach that is upland from the wet sand “may” be private property. “May”, because not all properties along the beach actually extend all the way to the water. And even more controversial is the fact that private beachfront which has been renourished with public funds is no longer private. Public sand used to renourish the beach serves to establish a new “line in the sand” so to speak. This new delineation is called the ECL, or Erosion Control Line. It approximates the point at which the public sand extends upland.

In 2010 a number of beachfront property owners in Destin took their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, contending that to reclassify the renourished beachfront as public constitutes taking of land and is therefore unconstitutional. In an 8-0 decision, the court ruled against the owners and in favor of the city.

In the minds of many, this issue may be far from settled. But so far as anyone is aware, no further legal action is in the works. We will pray for peace on earth 🙂

You hope it never happens to you, but what if??

Insurance adjusters recommend a few easy steps that can save you much aggravation at a time when you truly need aggravation the least. In the case of a devastating event such as hurricane or fire in which all your records could be destroyed, these few tips can be invaluable:

1. Copy and save all receipts from major purchases. This can be important not only for insurance claims, but for calculating casualty losses for tax purposes as well.

2. Likewise with all your important documents. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance policies, etc.

3. Photograph and/or video everything in your home and business. Take a little time one day, (or a little time on several days) and digitally record everything! Art work, jewelry, pots, pans, clothes, electronics, linens, tools, everything! Open the closets, cabinets and drawers. Too much is far better than too little.

4. Store the data securely! Some recommend a cloud-based option such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Carbonite, etc. These are simple and can be set up to automatic update as well. Or, if you prefer to keep the stored information with you personally, you may opt to utilize thumb drives or external hard drives. If you choose one of the latter options, just remember to store the drives somewhere other than inside the home. A bank safety deposit box is a better choice.

At the end of that day, you want your photos and documents to be safe and secure. Safe from harm and secure from prying eyes. Security and password protection is a whole different subject. Just remember to utilize passwords that include a combination of lower case and upper case letters, along with some numbers and a special character or two if possible. Something that no one else could guess!

I own my home that is in a flood zone. Are flood insurance issues going to make it difficult to sell now?

At least in terms of the astronomical rate increases that you have been reading about lately, probably not.

The U.S. Senate just passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act which had already been passed by the House this month. Once signed by the President, this Act will negate the majority of the devastating changes that were enacted by the House and Senate last year. More on this at: http://rem.ax/1fXPi7o

For information on this or other real estate topics, please visit www.DestinFloridaRealEstate.com or email us at smith@realtor.com

Are flood insurance premiums still supposed to go up?

Flood insurance (NFIP) premiums have already gone up astronomically in the case of pre-FIRM homes, the result of the Biggert Waters Act. In this area, pre-FIRM generally refers to homes that were built before 1974.  Our elected politicians in D.C. are going through the motions but making little progress in the re-writing of this very bad legislation.
Our salvation may lie in the fact that FEMA failed to follow the rules and did not conduct the required cost studies before enacting. Therefore, a now pending lawsuit in federal court may provide our best option for relief.

As always, please visit us at www.Ed-Terri.com or for questions, email us at smith@realtor.com

 

Are flood insurance premiums still supposed to go up?

Flood insurance (NFIP) premiums have already gone up astronomically in the case of pre-FIRM homes, the result of the Biggert Waters Act. In this area, pre-FIRM generally refers to homes that were built before 1974.  Our elected politicians in D.C. are going through the motions but making little progress in the re-writing of this very bad legislation.

Our salvation may lie in the fact that FEMA failed to follow the rules and did not conduct the required cost studies before enacting. Therefore, a now pending lawsuit in federal court may provide our best option for relief.

More on this at: http://rem.ax/1fnwewZ

As always, please visit us at www.Ed-Terri.com or for questions, email us at smith@realtor.com

Ed & Terri Smith, Broker Owners
RE/MAX Coastal Properties
850-837-5500 x1

 

Did I miss the opportunity to buy with really cheap interest rates? Are rates going to come back down?

The scaling back of QE is expected to increase mortgage interest rates by 50 basis points over the course of the year. Some believe that the recent increase in rates pre-absorbed that anticipated impact.

However, to put it all in perspective, 2001 marked only the second time in Freddie Mac’s history (1971) that rates averaged below 7%. 2010 marked the first year that rates averaged below 5%. So by comparison, at 4.5%, today’s rates are still very cheap and it is a great time to buy!

As always, please visit us at www.Ed-Terri.com or for questions, email us at smith@realtor.com

 

What happens to a rental property that I own after my bankruptcy?

After your bankruptcy/debt is discharged, you are still the owner of record. Liability associated with the property typically resumes at that point.  After discharge, the bank may choose to file a foreclosure action or they may prefer to entertain a short sale proposal from you.

Some lenders will choose to actually pay you at closing for cooperating with a short sale after bankruptcy. In one such instance, our client received a check for $20,000. You should of course consult with your attorney before pursuing any post-bankruptcy real property action.

As always, please visit us at www.Ed-Terri.com or for questions, email us at smith@realtor.com

Ed & Terri Smith, Broker Owners
RE/MAX Coastal Properties
850-837-5500 x1

How do we know if it’s best to get a 15 year fixed rate mortgage or a 30 year fixed rate one?

If you can easily afford the 15 year payment, do it. Not only do you pay the loan off much more quickly, but you will receive a lower interest rate as well. This serves to create a dynamic that will result in a much accelerated equity build up and a more financially favorable monthly payment.

As an example, a $250,000  mortgage at 4.25% for 30 years would result in a monthly payment of $1,230.  That same loan amount at 3.5% for 15 years would result in a monthly payment of $1,787. Then consider that over the life of the loan, the 30 year option would result in total monthly payments of $442,800 vs $321,697 in the case of the 15 year. That’s $121,103 in savings!

For more info, please visit us at www.Ed-Terri.com or email us at smith@realtor.com

Ed & Terri Smith, Broker Owners
RE/MAX Coastal Properties
850-837-5500 x1

 

 

 

Are the foreclosures and short sales drying up? Fewer of them seem to be available for purchase.

Yes, they are. Distressed properties only represent 20% of the sales market this year as opposed to more than 40% just two years ago. Foreclosure filings are down an average of 37% as compared with last year. Strong buyer demand for distressed properties has caused the average sale price for such properties to increase by 27% as compared with last year as well.

The low interest rates that we are seeing have played a significant role in the reduction of distressed inventory. Call us for a list of what’s available today and be ready to act quickly!

For more info, please visit us at www.destinfloridarealestate.com . Please email questions to smith@realtor.com

What are the most inexpensive improvements that we can make to our house to make it show better?

No two houses ever seem to be in identical conditions. One home may need paint while another may need landscaping upgrades. We can easily compile a list of decorating suggestions to help “dress your house for success”.  The entire process takes less than 30 minutes.

However, some commonly overlooked interior items when sprucing up are things such as A/C registers, door knobs, door hinges, cabinet hardware and light fixtures.  These can be inexpensive items to replace and may really help freshen up the appearance!

For more info, please visit us at www.destinfloridarealestate.com . Please email questions to smith@realtor.com