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John's Island: November was 'the best month' ever

STORY BY STEVEN M. THOMAS (Week of Decber 12, 2013)
Photo: Bob Gibb, owner, John's Island Real Estate.

John’s Island, largest and best known of the island’s club communities, saw an unprecedented surge in real estate sales in November that has beachside Realtors wondering if this may be the harbinger of a red hot property market throughout 32963 during the coming high season.

“November was the best month we have ever had, going back to the origins of the community,” says Bob Gibb, who has worked at John’s Island Real Estate since 1989 and owned the company since 1999. “We had 35 properties close or go under contract, compared to only four last November. That includes four closings and 31 under contract.”

During the last week elsewhere on the island, three properties sold for more than $2 million.

John’s Island Real Estate’s inventory has fallen steadily throughout the year, from a high of 146 properties in February to 94 at the end of November.

The November number amounts to 6.8 percent of the community’s 1,300 properties, a dramatic decline from the days when as many as 11 percent of John’s Island homes were on the market. The shrinking inventory and intensifying demand for homes have caught the attention of businesspeople and spec building is returning to John’s Island for the first time in a number of years, according to Gibb.

“Four of the transactions in November went to spec builders,” he says. “These are not people coming in from South Florida, but respected local builders and folks who already own property in John’s Island. They are all well-capitalized individuals who see a good business opportunity and are using their own money to build.”

“That is the sure sign of a recovering market, when spec building comes back,” says Joe McAuliffe, president of Metamorphosis Consulting, a real estate consultant who keeps close tabs on island trends.

“A sense of urgency that has been missing for the past five years has come back into the market, along with some impulsiveness,” says Gibb.

“The frustration we have faced since 2008 is people who look and see something they like but feel like they can afford to wait till next year before taking action. Now those same people go ahead and buy because they are afraid of losing the opportunity.”