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Old 02-24-2010, 09:51 PM
20 posts, read 71,373 times
Reputation: 13


Hey yall,

I'm considering relocating from the Houston Tx area (Katy) to the Emerald coast and the new Hammock Bay development in Freeport caught my eye. I would like to solicit your views on this development and Freeport in general.

The development seems to have quite a few amenities such as parks, walking trails etc and seems to be one of the better master planned communities that I've noticed between Pensacola & Panama City. Coming form the Katy Tx area, I've gotten used to easy access to shopping & restaraunts and enjoy the well kept common areas in the neighborhood.

Does this place "live up to the hype" or is it over rated? As of now, how close are the nearest shopping areas (Publix & Wall Mart)?

In a perfect world, I'd find a house with lagoon/canal access close to one of the passes (Panama City, Destin or Pensacola) but I have not seen much under the $350k range. My thinking was a family atmosphere near enough to the water with nice neighborhood amenities as a compromise.

I'm a scuba diving nut and we enjoy the beach....Emerald coast keeps calling my name.

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Old 02-24-2010, 10:06 PM
Location: Niceville, FL
7,678 posts, read 16,089,040 times
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Freeport is a work in progress right now. The Publix is supposed to be open in 2011, and there's a new Walmart going in on the South Walton side of the 331 bridge around the same time. In terms of restaurants, nothing much in town, but a whole bunch of good choices in every price range south of the 331 bridge.

I like the concept of Hammock Bay (I'm in the same sort of big planned community down the way in Bluewater Bay) but I find the architecture and common areas a little too twee.

The big problem with Freeport is that all of a sudden around 2004-06, there was this whole 'built it and they will come' mentality, and the city/county suddenly gave approval for something like 10,000 new homesites in the area, and a number of those actually managed to break ground before the crash. If you're going in with a buy and hold for ten years attitude for a house, you'll be okay. But if you plan on moving after a couple of years, you're going to be trying to sell a used home when a buyer can still get a new home for the same price or cheaper.

And there is an inventory glut in HB right now- they've only completed a small amount of the total project and are having trouble selling at the pace you'd want for a four figure number of homesites at built-out development. One developer out of Tallahassee let something like 150 lots they'd been planning on building out there go back to the bank instead.

Schools are improving but considered to be mediocre. The high school is one of those places where the 'good kids' end up at FSU or University of West Florida. Expectations for students are decidedly higher on the Okaloosa side of the county line or in the South Walton HS attendance area. The sports park at HB is to die for, but youth sports aren't as developed as you'd find in Niceville or Destin.

20 years from now, I think Freeport's going to be a cool place- good location and the growth is eventually going to happen. But for a while yet, you're going to be pioneers of sorts in the area, and you've got to decide for yourself if you're willing to wait possibly a long time for that change to come.
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Old 02-24-2010, 10:24 PM
20 posts, read 71,373 times
Reputation: 13
Beachmouse. Thank you so very much for the post. This is the honesty I was hoping to hear. I'm hoping to make a trip to the area in late March to see for myself.

Everything is a gamble, especially real estate. If I could find a dream house at a steal just now, I might take the plunge. Sounds like there should be some motivated sellers / builders around.
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:41 AM
Location: Foothills of the Appalachians
440 posts, read 2,241,233 times
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We have to agree with BeachMouse on the Hammock Bay location. Perhaps several years down the road, this development will live up to its hype. The good news is that there are a lot of competitively priced properties on the market right now that are even closer to the beach than Hammock Bay would be.
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Old 03-24-2010, 10:29 AM
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I have been looking at homes in the Freeport area and the one in Hammock Bay have really caught my interest. I plan to check them in the next few months.
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Old 05-26-2010, 11:47 PM
20 posts, read 71,373 times
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Made it out to Freeport. The concept seems interesting, definitely a build it and they will come attitude. My concern is getting in on the way front end of a stalled development. Looks like there are ~600 residents so far. The closest Publix is 15 miles away in the next town over. It's close enough to the beach and all in all a rather secluded place.

I have mixed feelings and I'm thinking about Panama City Beach on the Wild Heron, Palmetto Trace or Bay Point subdivisions.

We'll see...
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:11 PM
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We've lived in HB for about a year. I spent 8 months living in my RV looking from Panama City to Pensacola. The challenge is, the whole Panhandle is "work in progress" and "stalled" for the most part unless you're looking at million dollar homes. 100's of debunked developments with 1 - 2 homes sold. Schools? Coming from IL, all FL schools are somewhat of a joke. My 3 kids went to Destin, Freeport and now So. Walton in search of good schools. All three get A's, NEVER have homework and the teachers show up 2 min before class and leave 2 min after. So don't worry, they're all the same. Not horrible but not incredible.

Pluses for HB:
Hurricanes, you're much safer and insurance companies like it too.

The infrastructure is done. Most developments say they're going to have this and that but who know when.

Resale, HB is owned by Jay Odom development. He has the $$$$$$$$$$$ to keep it looking great until the economy recovers.

Pools, yes they are as cool as they look on the website. They are also starting to put a bunch of money into the Bay Club.

Cons: Drive, yep, you gotta drive 15 - 20 min to go anywhere. But that's a Panhandle thing anyway.

Owner’s website: Don't get caught up in the gossip. A few owners have no life and think they're better than others, we ignore them.

Neighborhoods: Careful which one you choose. The least expensive one has the most foreclosures and challenges. If you want a yard and a deal. Go to Orchard, Gardens or better, Sounds. Biggest homes on biggest lots.

Hope it helps.
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Old 06-14-2010, 04:53 PM
13 posts, read 94,671 times
Reputation: 14
Default A few more things about the area from a newbie.

The closer you get to Panama City Beach, the closer you are to the Spring break nut cases. and there's half a million of them a year.

The closer you get to Destin, you're in for a traffic jam in the summer to rival L. A.

331 is smack in the middle. I cover from Tallahassee to Gulfport, MS and need access to highway 10. Freeport is THE PERFECT spot. I'm 15 min to highway 10, 15 min the beach, 30 min to the new PC airport. The people here are down to earth.

If you don't need to have that kind of access, try to find something on 30A in the $350k range you're lucky. But don't expect a 4 br, that's what I need and I couldn't find anything close to what I could buy in HB.

Here's my weekend. I load up the fam. I drive 15 min to Grayton Beach, I drive onto the beach. Unload right next to my car. Fish, swim, fish, swim fish. Load up, drive home. Maybe cook up what I caught. Life is good. That's why we moved here. Welcome!
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Old 06-14-2010, 07:20 PM
Location: Niceville, FL
7,678 posts, read 16,089,040 times
Reputation: 7694
Just remember to renew that beach permit every year with plenty of time to spare. You're grandfathered in now, but once you let it lapse, you can't renew it again.
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:30 PM
13 posts, read 94,671 times
Reputation: 14
Default Beach Permit

Thanks Beach mouse, already did. I'm one of the lucky ones that bought it last year.
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