Unfortunately it appears the real estate boom, called for by ecopal's linked article from a tallahasee real estate conference, missed the direction of their call. Smiling Joe has posted the October real trends #'s for Sowal, and it really looks like to me the y-o-y trends are worse than they even look like on paper (and on paper they look bad) and November it can be taken as a given, will surely be even worse. Why do I say they look even worse then the data bears out on paper??? Let's look at dollar value of sales year over year.. Oct. 2004 520M, vs. 347M for Oct. 2005. Residential lots sales - $226M in Oct. 2004, vs. 82M in 2005. Contrast these substantial declines, with the part anecdotal, part emperical fact that listings of lots and residential homes for sale in Oct. 2005 is much much more than was for sale in 2004 on a total dollar basis, and we have the makings of a downswing that has only started, not a boom starting. It will take months and months to bear itself out, as sellers of real estate historically do not aggressively reduce their asking prices, until it's much too late. Some don't have to sell at all, particularly in South Walton. Then there are another group that probably should sell, but hang on anyway, and weather the storm. Then, unfortunately, even in South Walton you have speculators and people who stretched, who have to sell if they bought in 2004-05, because they can't afford a prospectively large capital loss, can't afford to carry the dramtically higher insurance and tax rates, in the face of rents that have been VIRTUALLY stagnant for 6 years, compared to valuations. It is these marginal buyers, who will become the marginally aggressive sellers - and there is no way around it, even in South Walton where the beaches are beautiful. To be sure, some sellers never "have" to sell and this is true of This will be doubly problematic in an area like SOWAL, where much of the activity from 2000 to 2005 has been purchases by speculators, who don't have to live there: i.e. it's an investment. It is clear when the bulls on SoWal real estate now use phrases like "longer term" and cite the wonderful qualities of SoWal that attracted them to the place in the first instance, that the writing is on the wall. However, having said all that, although I expect real estate values to resume a normalized annual appreciation rate of 7-9 % per year, after the next 12-18 month downturn, which I would ballpark at roughly 15-25% depending on the kind of property and location. For those looking to hedge their exposure to South Walton real estate, but don't want to compete with all of the listings that are growing dramatically, by owner, by broker, unofficially and otherwise, the only liquid mechanism available to do so at this time is public trading equity of St. Joe Company, JOE. The perfect time to start shorting JOE however was about 4 months ago in June or July, which was as one might expect 2-4 months after the cognisenti in South Walton had realized the real estate values had stopped rising. Yes folks real estate peaked in SouthWalton somewhere between Thanksgiving of 2004 and March of 2005. It didn't go down, but it didn't continue to rise. Dentists in Birmingham, and Proctoligists in Atlanta starting reading magazine articles this spring about a pending potential real estate bubble, and they were the marginal buyers/speculators. It took the cognisenti on Wall Street, who don't have their finger on the pulse of South Walton real estate as closely as you all do, several weeks, maybe 12 weeks, to figure this out and start selling their holdings down, but there is much more downside to go, should valuations plumet an additional 20% in the area, as I expect is a good possibility and not extreme at all, given the multiple 100% increase in valuations over the past few years... If you're someone who truly has a 25 year time horizon and have a bunch of cash, get ready to be a buyer, but don't be silly and buy the first significant dip we're about to see born out by the data soon... hold your powder until you see significantly large scales of foreclosures, probably not for 18 months or more, when interest rates on Adjustable Mortgages are back to normalized levels of between 7.5-8.5% - and payments on those mortgages rise 60% as a result, putting the final squeeze on the unfortunate marginal segment of owners.