Texting while driving law

For your information and as a public service, here is a  reminder courtesy of Florida Realtors of the State of Florida law regarding texting and the use of hand held devices while driving:

Texting while driving

It’s been illegal to text while driving in Florida since July 1 – but on Jan. 1, 2020, officers will stop writing warnings and start writing tickets. A first offense is $30; a second is $60 ($158.18 with court costs) if it happens within five years.

While texting was a secondary offense in the past, officers can now stop a driver who is otherwise obeying traffic laws if they’re seen texting.

In addition, motorists can’t use phones for texting or any reason, including hand-held talking, when driving in school and work zones. While hands-free talking is allowed in cars equipped with the skill, officers can stop drivers if they see a phone in a motorists’ hand.


Vineyards, new gated subdivision in Hammock Bay

The new year in Freeport, Florida, is already beginning to show signs of expansive growth. Here in Hammock Bay there are many new apartment buildings that should be ready for occupancy by spring break and ground has been broken for some new homes in a gated subdivision called Vineyards situated right smack in the middle of the total Hammock Bay development.

The reported population of Hammock Bay has already risen to more that 4,000 as contrasted with the City of Freeport which has a reported population of about 3,000. More accurate  numbers are or may be available online for your consideration as mine  are only estimates based on local advertisements. The residents are taking an active part in community life especially the school system which have shown great improvement in the past 3 years or so.l

The year 2020 may prove to be the best year for the panhandle since 2008. To be a part of this success story contact me at andyroberts1379@gmail.com about homes or land available in the immediate area. And BTW, Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year to you and yours from me and NextHome Bayside Realty in Freeport.


Wage Growth Eclipses Mortgage Rate

In case there is any doubt about how well the economy is doing under the present administration consider the following and try to remember what your wage growth was and what homeownership was like back in 1972.

“Wage Growth Eclipses Mortgage Rate – First Time Since 1972”

If the trend continues, it will empower more current renters watching their paychecks rise to save for a down payment and transition into homeownership.

NEW YORK – In October, wage growth eclipsed mortgage rates for the first time since 1972. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees rose 3.8% in October on a year-over-year basis. Meanwhile, Freddie Mac data show that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was about 3.7% in October.

A year ago, before the Fed began easing, mortgage rates were closer to 4.9%. Experts note that if those trends continue, the combination will limit the debt burden for American households by keeping the share of would-be home buyers’ wages being spent on interest payments under control.

Meanwhile, economists J.W. Mason and Arjun Jayadev said U.S. household leverage rose from about 75% in 1983 to 160% in 2008, a trend that was finally arrested by the collapse of the housing bubble and ensuing financial crisis. They argued in a 2015 paper that the primary cause of the increase in household debt relative to income over that period was Fed policy, which kept interest rates well above the rate at which wages were growing.

According to Srinivas Thiruvadanthai, director of research at the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, “The nominal interest rate has been higher than wage growth for a long time. If this is to be sustained it would be a positive development in setting the bottom 50 or 60% of the population on a sustainable footing.”

Source: Bloomberg (12/06/19) Boesler, Matthew

© Copyright 2019 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Closing Costs

December is traditionally a month during which new home buyers are searching for new homes due to job transfers, mid-term school transfers and other events that dictate this end of the year is the best time for the move. To that end the issue of closing costs are always at on the front of everyone’s mind. Florida Realtors has published a buyer’s guide on the various closing costs on a new home to simplify the mystery of all those charges that can be overwhelming and it can be seen in the current issue of the Florida Realtor Magazine at www,floridarealtors.org.

Holiday Season Begins in Freeport, FL

The Holiday Season officially began today  in Freeport by hanging Christmas decorations while Thanksgiving is still more than a week away.  Perhaps this should be called merchandiser’s season instead of the Holiday Season.  To be truthful the weather here has recently been more like December than November anyway.

I have been witnessing a large influx of people from other states and not just temporary northern snowbirds.  They are coming from Texas and as far away as Iowa as well looking for better weather during the holiday season in the panhandle has to offer and just maybe escaping their political system in their present state IMHO. Local builders cannot keep up with the demands and a house normally sells as soon as the foundation is laid.  The effect of Hurricane Michael on Panama City and further east has left a shortage of skilled craftsmen in our area.  Notwithstanding, Freeport and Walton County are the fastest growing city and  county in the State of Florida which is also among the fastest growing states in America.

If you are contemplating moving to this area or buying a vacation property, or maybe looking for a temporary rental during the holiday season please give me a call.  You will love it here.

Andy Roberts, Realtor

With NextHome Bayside Realty

66 Highway 20 E

Freeport, FL32439


photo cutout 2 (2) for email


Veterans Day

Yesterday the little town of Freeport FL held its annual Veterans Day celebration. What a surprise to see almost the entire town turn out to listen to patriotic songs, to listen to speeches praising the native sons who served and are still serving in out military service and to dedicate monuments in their honor including war dogs.  Of course Eglin Air Force Base is only about 30 miles away and it is obvious that many military retirees live in Walton County including Freeport.  It is also equally obvious that this is a republican area of Florida populated with patriots who love and support the fundamentals on which this country was built.


young homebuyers vanishing

Faced with higher property prices and piles of student debt, Americans are getting older and older before they buy a home leading to young homebuyers vanishing from the real estate market.

 The median age of first-time or young homebuyers has increased to 33, the oldest in records dating back to 1981, according to a National Association of Realtors report released Friday. The median age of all buyers also hit a fresh record, 47, increasing for a third straight year — and well above the median age of 31 in 1981. Leading to young home buyers vanishing from the real estate market.

While the median age of first-time home buyers only rose by one year, the increase reflects a variety of factors facing Americans searching for a home. Still this trend reflects  young homebuyers vanishing from the real estate market.

A nationwide shortage of affordable housing, coupled with lower mortgage rates, has stoked prices in cities from the coasts to the heartland. At the same time, student loans and other debts make it harder for Americans to save tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment, while tight lending standards can make getting a bank loan difficult for borrowers with less-than-stellar credit scores.

“Housing affordability is so difficult today, especially when coupled with rising rents and student loan debt, that they’re finding different ways to enter home ownership,” said Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at the Realtors group in Washington.

The characteristics of home buyers have changed in recent years. The share of married couples has declined as unmarried couples and those purchasing as roommates has risen.

As buyers’ ages have increased, so have their incomes. The typical income of purchasers rose to $93,200 in 2018 as a lack of affordable options squeezed lower-income potential buyers out of the market.

Higher prices of homes have also changed how first-time buyers are entering the market. Nearly a third of first-time home buyers said they used a gift from a relative or friend to fund their down payment.

Builders have cited a shortage of affordable lots and labor as reasons to build fewer or bigger single-family homes, leaving America’s growing population to consider more of the existing housing stock. New homes as a proportion of all purchases fell to a low of 13% in records dating back to 1981.

The report reflects survey responses from 5,870 people who purchased a primary residence in the period between July 2018 and June 2019.

Gladys Brown Park








Thanks to the Walton County Commissioners a new family recreational park named the Gladys Brown Park is now open and easily accessible to the residents of Freeport .  The park is located just north of the bridge across the Choctawhatchee Bay  and lies directly on the bay. The location allows the park to have free boat launches, a man made beach, together with an area for swimming, and fishing in the bay. The park has also been landscaped to provide a lovely area for picnicking complete with gas grills and park benches for cooking and eating outdoors. This is an important addition to family life amenities in Walton County.  Plus on the south side of  and underneath the bridge is another park made just for fishing in the bay with slips for docking your boat and a foot bridge for walking  out under the bridge.

A chill on RE sales

The weather in my area of the Florida panhandle has been so cold that  there seems to be a chill on RE sales.  However, this is only a temporary setback and things will be heating up soon. Be among the first of your friends to take advantage of this financial anomaly by buying that new residence or vacation home now before the big thaw. ?
web site: andyrobertsNH.com

minimum wage rise 1/1/20


The Florida Minimum Wage Act, which applies to all employees in Florida covered by the federal minimum wage, requires the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity to calculate a new minimum wage rate each year on September 30.

Florida’s minimum wage is currently $8.46 per hour. According to state government officials, beginning January 1, 2020, a minimum wage rise is scheduled for Florida to $8.56 per hour, which is a $0.10, or 1.12% increase, due to the change in the CPI.

Windswept Estates, a golf community

Windswept Estates is a subdivision located about 7 miles east of Freeport, Florida, on HWY 20.  If you want to live on the golf course and also be within 20 minutes  the beach, this may be the place for you.  The lots are larger than the  average .31 acre size lot found in some other subdivisions and while the amenities may be smaller or fewer, it does have a pool, a clubhouse, tennis courts, a basket ball court, and a golf course and the  HOA fees are lower.
windswept enrtance


Check out Windswept Estates on the internet for more complete information as part of your plans to move to the Florida panhandle in retirement. It may not be heaven but it is probably closer to it than where you are.



Hammock Bay Amenities


clubhouse store

Hammock Bay is an island all its own located north of the bridge across Chocktawhatchee Bay in Freeport, FLorida. The amenities provided by the HOA rival those of any subdivision in the panhandle including a magnificent clubhouse with theater room, kitchen, media room, surrounded by three pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, and a complete workout gym and classrooms for instructional classes. There are miles of walking trails, a frizbee course, a dog park, and picnic areas beside small lakes for the outdoor lovers. Did I mention the on-premises general store?

The homes in Hammock Bay run the gamut from a mac-mansion to three bedroom homes and all in between and apartments are now being built to expand the available housing for this area. After you decide to locate to the panhandle be sure to check this out on the internet before making your final decision.



The library is the heart and soul of the community.

An announcement was recently made that there are plans in the works to add an additional 5,000 square feet to the existing 8,500 square feet of the Freeport, Florida, public library. The additional space will be used for STEM programs and its related equipment, along with more area for the arts and additional area for kids.

As in any community, the library is the heart and soul of the community and this additional area will bring the Freeport library into compliance with the standards for public libraries for small communities in Florida. A library is one of the most important public services the local government can provide for its citizens and Freeport will be at the forefront in this regard.

Lookin for a great place to live?

The City of Freeport, Florida, continues its rapid growth in size as it is one of the fastest growing cities in Florida. Meanwhile it is contributing to the social scene and making wise use of its natural resources by event like the following which will be held this October:

The ribbon cutting and grand opening of the beautiful new Grady Brown Park located under the oaks on the north shore of the Choctawhatchee Bay at the intersection of 331 south and south Bay Grove Road. Ribbon cutting by Walton County officials will take place on Wednesday October 23rd at 10:00 a.m.

This is proof that Freeport is an excellent choice for a place where you can join in the community and raise a family.