Wounded Air Force Vet Gets New Home

Here at NBI Properties, we have a tremendous respect for all of the local military families who make sacrifices to serve our nation. Recently our hearts were warmed by a story in the Northwest Florida Daily News about Ret. Air Force Master Sgt. Joe Deslauriers getting a brand new home. Building Homes for Heroes built the home in Destin for Joe, a triple amputee,and his family. Last week they saw it for the first time and it was a dream come true. Joe and his wife, Lisa, moved into the fully-customized home with their son, Cameron, while many volunteers and community members welcomed them.

The house warming ceremony marked three years since Joe and his wife, Lisa, were homeowners. Previously the couple lived in Fort Walton Beach where Joe was an explosive ordinance disposal technician before he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. At the time, Lisa was pregnant with their first child and was due in December. But their dreams were shattered on September 23 when Joe lost both legs and part of an arm in an accident while clearing an area of improvised bombs to get to an injured Marine.

Since the accident, it’s been a long road of recovery for Joe, as he’s been shuffled in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities. and temporary housing. Since he returned home from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the family has been living in a cramped, two-bedroom apartment in Destin. That was before Building Homes for Heroes stepped in to build a new home for the Deslauriers. Board member Kelly Hallman said that the home was built from the ground up by volunteers and the family would not owe dime when they moved in.

Florida Senate President Don Gaetz spoke briefly at the ceremony, noting that no matter what he and state Rep. Matt Gaetz were able to do in the Legislature, they weren’t doing the “heavy lifting.”

“The real heavy lifting was done by Joe Deslauriers and his family and everyone who has worn the uniform and stood in harm’s way,” Don Gaetz said.

The family is grateful and wants to show their appreciation by giving back to the community. Next month, Joe will be speaking with area students on Veterans Day. Through Building Homes for Heroes, he and Lisa have become part of a support network for other wounded service members.

Source: Northwest Florida Daily News

Horses Grow in Popularity on the Emerald Coast

If you’re one of the locals or visitors to the Emerald Coast who think horses are popping up everywhere, you’d be right! From horseback rides at sunset on the area’s sugar white beaches to horse farms, boarding stables, and dressage competitions, the area has seemingly gone wild for horses.

A search for all things horse-related in the area turns up dozens of options. You can easily buy a thoroughbred from a reputable horse dealer, find a stable for boarding your horses or rent horses by the hour from numerous pleasure riding businesses. There are also several equestrian centers where you can learn how to ride horses, train them for competitions, and buy tackle and supplies. Craig Barrett, co-founder of NBI Properties, watched horseback riding grow in popularity on the Emerald Coast for years before finally catching the bug and buying two Tennessee Walkers. He said the area is ideal for horse enthusiasts and owners alike.

” The climate here is ideal for horses because it’s never terribly cold,” he said. ” There are so many recreational spots and scenic areas here, and to be able to experience it all on horseback is a unique experience. Tourists love to add horseback riding to their vacation schedules because it’s a memorable way to enjoy the trails and beaches here.”

Barrett said that his firm is getting more inquiries about horses from investors and residents contemplating a move to the area. He said most people want to know if there are plenty of places designated for riding and if there are numerous options for boarding.

“I think some people are surprised when they see the number of businesses devoted to horses here,” he said. “It’s not just one or two stables, because people here are making horse part of their lifestyle.”

Barrett and his wife board their two prized Tennessee Walkers, Dollar and Denali, at Bayside Stables in Santa Rosa Beach. He said the owner, Judy Ammons, is fantastic, the rates are reasonable, and he’s met several fellow horse lovers there.

“There’s nothing better than visiting these beautiful animals every day, even when there’s no time to ride them,” he said. “I like to go to the horse barn every day after work and take them apples and treats. Any stress of the work day quickly melts away.”

For more information about Bayside Stables, call (850) 585-0728.

Investors Flocking to Office Sector

Commercial real estate reports indicate that things are definitely improving in the office sector: Falling vacancies, rising net absorption, a controlled supply of new office space, and rising rents are all contributing to the upswing and investors report they are seeing higher property incomes on their office property investments. The end result is that the office vacancy rate has dropped to 11.6 percent from 12.1 percent a year ago.

Craig Barrett, co-founder of NBI Properties in Fort Walton Beach, said that leasing activity on the Emerald Coast is strong and the brokerage is seeing steady interest from investors.

“Savvy investors are recognizing this is the best time to invest in the office sector and are making moves before the end of the year,” he said. “Rents are rising and occupancy growth is spiraling upward, so it’s a good time to invest now without assuming much risk.”

Average office rents have risen 3.6 percent year-over-year, a rise from the 2.5 percent increase reported in the third quarter of 2013 from year-over-year. Although energy and technology tenants are driving growth in large markets like San Francisco, Houston, and Boston, medical office and educational facilities are also increasing in demand.

“Even smaller ,arrest and suburban areas are experiencing an uptick in office space leasing now,” said Barrett. “As the economy continues to improve and more jobs are created, this is a trend that could carry over into 2015 and beyond.”

CRE Investors Mulling Over Future of Malls

Plenty of commercial real estate investors are pondering the future of shopping malls since almost half of the 1,100 malls across the U.S. have either closed or have been revamped for other uses. While online sales continue to grow, some investors optimistically feel malls will find a way to stay popular with customers while others believe malls will be almost non-existent by the next decade. Craig Barrett, co-founder of NBI Properties in Fort Walton Beach, says that malls are alive and well on the Emerald Coast, but he is aware of dwindling traffic in other areas of the country.

“We’re aware that lots of malls are closing their doors as the recession forced lots of customers to look for better deals online,” he said. “The competition from online retailers has forced malls to reinvent themselves and take a closer look at how they can continue to attract customers, whether it’s with special events, sales, or other marketing techniques.”

If malls manage to survive another decade, store sizes are expected to dramatically shrink. The current brick and mortar trend leans toward reducing operating costs by reducing expensive square footage in malls. This means that some commercial investors are going to see more vacancies in the future and little need to expand and build new retail space.

“We don’t think consumers are going to stop going to malls any time soon,” noted Barrett. “But retail is changing and the look of malls is also expected to change. We think some extravagant displays will disappear as stores morph into mini-distribution centers. Merchandise will need to be displayed in smaller spaces as all stores downsize and study ways to use smaller areas more efficiently.”

Barrett added that it’s been a good year for retailers at malls and outlet malls all over the Emerald Coast. He said that tourists and residents also frequently flock to mixed-use developments that offer the convenience of shopping for everything in one spot.

“The most popular retail centers here offer grocery stores, gyms, dry cleaning, shopping and more services all in one place,” he said. “Time-pressed consumers want to get everything done in one spot instead of making five or it different trips to get everything done.”

Investors High on Florida’s Business Climate

Florida is open for business, and this time it’s not just politicians making promises. According to a survey of U.S. corporate executives released recently at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Annual Conference, Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina are viewed as having the best business climates in the United States. The Development Counselors International (DCI) has conducted the survey of corporate executives and site selection consultants every three years since 1996.
The Sunshine State ranked second with 18.1 percent of survey respondents praising the state’s pro-business climate. Georgia and North Carolina tied for third with 17.6 percent of the votes, followed by South Carolina and Tennessee.
Texas has consistently held the No. 1 spot since 1999, and it was the clear-cut favorite among the respondents to the survey: 49.7 percent said the Lone Star state has one of the most favorable business climates in the nation.
When asked why they selected Florida and the other top five states as best for business, the corporate executives frequently cited tax climate, “pro-business environment,” incentives/financial assistance and workforce quality/availability.
NBI Properties co-founder Craig Barrett said he has nothing against Texas, but obviously thinks Florida and the Emerald Coast should be ranked number one.
“Things might be bigger in Texas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are better!” Barrett joked. “I can’t remember the last time we had an investor trying to decide whether to acquire properties in Texas or Florida. If we did, I’m sure they picked Florida!”
All kidding aside, Barrett said that commercial real estate investors frequently mention they are pleased with Florida’s friendly business environment, tax breaks, and workforce, not to mention the beautiful weather.
“It’s hard to beat what we have to offer in northwest Florida, although we admit we are biased since we’ve lived here for four generations,” Barrett added.
The survey also found that 44 percent of corporate executives said that their firm would make a location decision in the next 24 months – whether it is a move, expansion or consolidation of a manufacturing plant, office, distribution center or other facilities. Forty percent said they would outsource a portion of the site selection process to a real estate broker or site selection consultant.

CRE Investor Sentiment Remains High for Emerald Coast Properties

Although the stock market has been topsy turvy and difficult to predict the last few months, investors are confident about the outlook for commercial real estate and are proving it by investing more capital. Results from a recent survey of investor sentiment by Marcus & Millichap revealed that a whopping 70 percent of respondents said they are planning to increase their commercial real estate investments during the next year. Only 24 percent said they would keep their holdings about the same while 4 percent said they expected their portfolio would decline over the next year.
Craig Barrett, co-founder of NBI Properties in Fort Walton Beach, said interest from investors remains high due to fluctuations in the stock market and many desirable locations and listings on the Emerald Coast. He said the firm has been busy fielding inquiries and offers on a number of prime waterfront properties, raw land, and multi-use buildings.
“There are plenty of opportunities here for investors and we regularly work with them from all over the country and overseas,” Barrett said. “We have been much busier than we were last year at this time with commercial real estate listings, closings and property management.”
The Investor Sentiment Index measured views on fundamentals such as rising property values and plans to increase real estate holdings. Survey findings showed that commercial real estate properties will continue to command higher rents, occupancies, and property values. The conclusion is that sentiment remains high due to attractive yields commercial real estate is delivering compared to other investments. Nearly three-fourths of the respondents said they strongly agreed that commercial real estate offers favorable returns compared to other investment opportunities. Twenty-four percent disagreed with the statement while 2 percent had no comment.
Barrett said that another reason commercial real estate has been on the upswing in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Crestview and other areas of the Emerald Coast is because investors have capital ready to invest. He said in previous years during the recession, this was definitely not the case.
“Investors are having an easier time getting the capital and the financing they need,” he said. “Because of the steady economic recovery, they are no longer waiting months to get alternative financing or approval on loans. This has resulted in more investors interested in everything from apartment buildings to luxury resorts.”
For more information on commercial real estate offerings on the Emerald Coast, contact NBI Properties at 850-243-0007.

Dustin Parkman Joins NBI as Luxury Marketing Specialist

NBI Properties announced that Dustin Parkman has recently joined its team of commercial and residential realtors as a luxury marketing specialist. With demand for luxury residences and vacation homes increasing on the Emerald Coast, Parkman will focus on expanding NBI’s growing portfolio of lifestyle properties

A resident of Santa Rosa Beach for more than a decade, Parkman studied finance at Troy University and was previously a managing partner of CPV Hospitality. In his new role with NBI he will utilize his expertise in marketing to high net worth individuals and investors interested in luxury properties. His responsibilities will include working with clientele on new developments, luxury residential, and lead opportunistic/investment commercial properties.

“We are excited to have Dustin join our team,” said Craig Barrett, co-founder of NBI Properties. “He will be focusing primarily on properties on the 30A corridor, including Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, and Panama City, and providing a high level of personalized customer service for our clients.”

Founded in 2005 by Jayme Nabors and Craig Barrett, NBI is the fastest growing commercial real estate firm in the Southeast and manages more than 2,500 properties on the Emerald Coast. For more information about the company and its services, visit www.nbiproperties.com.

World’s Luckiest Fishing Village Hosts Annual Rodeo

Whether you’re an angler or not, chances are you’ve heard about the Destin Fishing Rodeo. This popular event draws thousands of participants and spectators from the Emerald Coast and all over the country and lasts the entire month of October. Our friend and co-founder Jayme Nabors has been hooked on sport fishing for years and has had some great catches all over the world, but he’s the first to admit that you can’t beat Destin when it comes to fishing!

As longtime residents of this area, we enjoy watching these “lucky” and skilled anglers show off their catches when they return to the docks for weigh-ins every afternoon. It’s also fun to enjoy the Destin Seafood Festival, which kicks off the Rodeo with three, fun-filled days of music, activities, seafood and exhibits. One of our favorite spots is The World Famous AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar at 116 Harbor Blvd. Make sure to try the Wild Buffalo Oysters, Seafood Gumbo or Shrimp N’ Grits for a real treat – although everything there is delicious!

Whether you live nearby or own a vacation home in Destin, now is the time to enjoy the Emerald Coast. We think the weather is better than anywhere else in the country, as it’s still warm enough now to feel like summer, but it’s cooling down at night and gradually ushering in fall. If you’ve been thinking about investing in property here, give us a call and we will show you the best the area has to offer. We’ll even meet you at the Rodeo!

NBI Leads Emerald Coast’s Property Management Surge

NBI Properties reports that its property management division is booming, due in part to stable job growth and increased interest from investors in the area. The company’s co-founder, Craig Barrett, said he has hired several new employees to keep up with the demand.

“NBI is known throughout the Emerald Coast for our expertise in commercial real estate,” he said. “But we’ve also been building up our reputation for awhile as leaders in property management, and now we’ve reached the point where it is a significant portion of our business.”

With job growth reported to be steady on the Emerald Coast and much of it attributed to the leisure and hospitality sector, investors are taking advantage of the demand from renters for affordable housing as well as luxury properties in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and 30A. Barrett said that occupancy rates are typically highest during the summer, but job growth is responsible for keeping properties occupied all year.

“Investors are happy because we’ve been able to get max rents for them during the summer season and also keep properties occupied all year due to the demand from working class families,” he said. “In addition to investors, we work with families who buy vacation condos or homes and hire us to manage the property while they live up north. Military families also buy homes here and rely on us when they are suddenly stationed in another state or country.”

Barrett said that NBI’s property management services offer peace of mind to owners who do not have the time or experience to carry out the extensive responsibilities of a landlord. He said there are endless stories from owners who signed up renters and thought the process would be as easy as collecting a check every month. In reality, numerous problems can arise and cause nightmares for owners.

“Savvy investors and owners don’t have time to collect rent and late fees, assess property damage, do background checks on renters, refund security deposits, or fix a broken air conditioner in the middle of the night,” he said. “But we handle all of these things and more at NBI, and our clients know we are going to make sure their property is protected as if it’s our own.”

For more information on NBI’s property management services, call the office at 850-243-0007.

Area Counties Qualify for HUD’s $1Billion Resilience Competition

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro and Dr. Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, announced a $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition. The competition will make $1 billion available to communities struck by recent natural disasters to promote risk assessment and planning. It will also fund innovative projects to prepare communities for future storms and other extreme events.

“This competition will help spur innovation, creatively distribute limited federal resources, and help communities across the country cope with the reality of severe weather that is being made worse by climate change,” said Castro.

Funding for the competition comes from the Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery appropriation under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act in 2013. It’s a response to requests from state, local and tribal leaders for help, according to HUD. Prior to the competition, representatives from eligible communities will have an opportunity to attend Rockefeller-supported Resilience Academies to strengthen their funding proposals submitted to the competition. Applicants must tie their proposals to their area’s eligible disaster. For example, a community that suffered a flood might want to offer flood buyouts in distressed areas and then create wetlands that limit future flooding, while simultaneously creating a nature preserve or recreation area.

Craig Barrett, co-founder of NBI Properties in Fort Walton Beach, said that storms responsible to millions of dollars in property damage that swept through the area last March would definitely qualify for the resilience program.

“In our area, Okaloosa, Walton, Santa Rosa, and Escambia counties all suffered major damage,” he said. “Any funds awarded from the resilience program could greatly benefit communities here in the future.”

The $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition has 67 eligible applicants, including Florida. To qualify, a state must have a major disaster declared in 2011, 2012 or 2013. HUD says Florida had three major declared disasters in that time that impacted 45 counties.

The Rockefeller Foundation will provide technical assistance to eligible communities. More information on the National Disaster Resilience Competition can be found on HUD’s website.