MIRAMAR BEACH, FL - Classics never go out of style, and since the early 1980s Mainsail condominiums has created a classic combination of vacation resort and second-home options.
Located across U.S. Highway 98 from the Silver Sands Factory Stores, Mainsail attracts condo buyers despite its having been completed for two decades. Now in re-sale status, the interest and value has held in Mainsail despite the dips in the real estate market as a whole.
That isn't to say Mainsail has been immune to market fluctuations, said Greg Smith, general manager for the Mainsail Owners Association Inc.
"What our account has told us is that the older, established properties have fewer people in trouble as far as dues go," Smith added. "People have owned here a long time, and before the prices spiked."
The difference isn't a secure price point, but it does show that Mainsail owners recognize a well-run facility with an established record for quality.
"Mainsail has 700 feet of beach, which is very unusual," Smith said about one reason people find Mainsail appealing. "You rarely see a property on the Gulf Coast that has 700 feet."
In 1982, the first Mainsail building went up, and buildings two, three and four went up in the mid-'80s.
The land was first developed by Dewitt "Sparky" Lovelace. In addition to the condo high-rises, Mainsail includes 10 townhouse units and 21 single-family cottages. The cottages were developed after Lovelace completed his portion of Mainsail.
Mainsail's condos and townhouses share a homeowners association, while the cottages have a separate association along with fees paid for use of all the resort amenities.
The association, Smith said, takes seriously its duties, particularly the board members.
"The group of people involved, they never miss meetings, which means they care," Smith added.
Maintenance of Mainsail's exterior is part of the job for the homeowners association. Grounds, pools, tennis courts, outdoor cooking areas all fall under the association's jurisdiction.
"We have an engineering firm that inspects our property, inspects our roofs, inspects our siding, and lets us know what has to be done," Smith said, adding that the association board members "want this property to be the best that it could be."
Association fees vary depending upon the size of the unit, but range from $888 to $2,900 per quarter. Water and sewer is covered through the association fees as well as exterior insurance.
Mainsail's condos and townhouses offer 11 floor plans, with the smallest being a studio condo at 662 square feet and the largest at 2,028 square feet. Prices, although driven by the market, might begin around $300,000 but could reach $800,000.
"A lot has to do with the view and where they're located," Smith said
Location of Mainsail has always been a draw, but the proven draw of the condo development has been its family-oriented atmosphere. Most owners are second-home owners who are now passing the units to family members as part of their inheritance. Because the owners tend to hold on to their Mainsail property, Smith said, the development as a whole has had relatively few flippers and an overall low foreclosure rate.
Although the units do stay within the families as second homes, some residents choose to stay year round.
Susie Kirkland has made Mainsail her home since the first building was completed. As a Realtor, she has also had the opportunity to work with people who are buying and selling within Mainsail.
"I've sold most of these condos once. Some of them three or four times," said Kirkland, who is with Re/Max Southern Realty. She currently holds listings for condos and cottages within Mainsail. Rentals are also available in Mainsail, with Resort Quest as the largest recognized rental partner for the association.
For buyers, though, Kirkland says this is a great time to invest.
"The people that are buying are finding good bargains," she said. "The values have gone down, but if the people want to sell, we can get them sold."
Her own experiences within Mainsail serve as a primary bargaining tool. She said that the on-site maintenance crew works quickly and efficiently, and she appreciates the 24-hour, seven-days-a-week courtesy patrol, which is trained to work closely with Walton County's Sheriff's Office.
It's not just the amenities that keep Kirkland at Mainsail, who added that she could live anywhere along the beach. It is the 700 feet of gulf-front property that Mainsail overlooks, and it is a section of re-nourished beach, so the property is deep as well as wide.
The restored beach also leaves room for the Gulf Coast's first residents. Smith told Kirkland that someone had seen a tagged loggerhead turtle in the waters along Mainsail, and the two expressed a hope that they will soon have a turtle nest on the Mainsail property.
Mainsail's association has prepared for the possibility of such a nest.
"We're totally turtle light friendly," Smith said, adding that all of Mainsail's exterior has been outfitted with lights that won't disorient turtle hatchlings.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For information about Mainsail contact General Manager Greg Smith at 837-7894 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For purchasing information contact Realtor Susie Kirkland at Re/Max Southern Realty, 837-3115 or email@example.com.