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I have lived in Destin...

My Favorite Destin Restaurants

I have lived in Destin for 18 years and have seen many restaurants come and go. As a realtor I am always asked, Hey Keith, can you recommend a place to eat. That's always a tough one as the Destin and surrounding area has hundreds of good restaurants. Here are some of my favorites. Happy dinning!

Dewey Destin's - The Destin family and Destin, Florida have been intertwined since Dewey’s great, great grandfather, Leonard Destin, founded the town in 1835. The adventure began a few years earlier when Leonard, his father George, and his brother William set out from New London, Connecticut with three ships and ran into a hurricane near Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Today the Destin family and friends, using original Destin and Gulf Coast recipes, are proud to serve seafood and other favorite area side dishes to local friends and out-of-town guests alike. While we maintain a casual atmosphere, we are serious about great tasting food. Therefore, Dewey makes it a practice not to use food warming lamps which he feels turns quality fish into chewy and rubbery leftovers. Only when the food is just right do we bring it to your table… which sometimes means that certain items may arrive before others are ready (especially when busy). Please relax, enjoy the view, the weather, the company of fellow diners, and remember our promise as various portions of your order arrive:

Harbor Docks - Harbor Docks has been a Destin seafood restaurant tradition since 1979.
When you’re looking for fresh seafood and exceptional service, look no further than Harbor Docks.
We’ve been offering fresh food, and more importantly, fresh, local seafood, since the restaurant’s inception. Our food is made from scratch, and our seafood comes from our own wholesale market. It doesn’t get any fresher. If you’re thinking of seafood in Destin, Harbor Docks is the place you want to be.
At Harbor Docks, we’re all about families. We’ve served generations of families from around the country our own style of simply prepared Gulf seafood and sushi, and many of our employees come from two generations of the same families.
We want you to be a part of our family, too. We’ll welcome you, make you feel comfortable, provide you with the highest quality Destin seafood restaurant and offer you the best service in town.
Once you enter the door at Harbor Docks, you’ll become a part of Destin and a part of our family.

Chans Wine World - Wine World’s unparalleled selection of premium quality wines, beers and liquors is a direct result of founder Chan Cox's passion to bring to Northwest Florida the very best selection of quality products that the world has to offer.

Wine World is Northwest Florida’s most successful and influential full service retailer of fine wine, spirits and beer. Wine World also provides a selection of gourmet foods, cheeses and accessories from Pensacola to Panama City Beach. Three locations also provide unique dining experiences with award winning wine lists.

Wine World was founded in 2000 by Chan Cox with its first location in Destin. His founding principle was to provide unparalleled selection and customer service delivered at highly competitive pricing. That founding principle remains strong and this spirit along with innovation has enabled Wine World to capitalize on evolving market conditions and strategies through initiatives such as the Wine World Direct program, among others.

The Red Bar - The Red Bar is South Walton’s most popular indoor destination. It’s the place for fun with friends and family while taking in all of the eclectic decor, listening to great live music and enjoying great food and cocktails.
The simple but varied menu includes pasta with crawfish and shrimp, panné chicken and mashed potatoes, stuffed eggplant, crab cakes and fish of the day. Oh, and don’t forget about the salad – it is the best anywhere on the Emerald Coast!
The Red Bar Jazz Band plays almost nightly during dinner. The party gets cranked up a notch after the dinner crowd thins, creating a more funky atmosphere. Don’t be surprised to spot celebrities here late at night. But please be cool, everybody just wants to chill at The Red Bar.
Located in Grayton Beach, Florida — The Red Bar is just a short drive from Destin & Panama City Beach. Housed in the old General Store at 70 Hotz Avenue – Downtown Grayton Beach.

Seagar's - Seagar's Prime Steaks and Seafood, located in the iconic Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, is Destin's only AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. Seagar's specializes in the finest prime beef and freshest seafood available on Florida's Emerald Coast, and offers a wine list that has repeatedly garnered Wine Spectator's "Best of Award of Excellence."
Seagar's brings traditional elegance back to the fine-dining experience, complete with private dining options, captain service, sommelier service and tableside preparation of items that include steak Diane, Dover sole and its signature bananas foster. Other menu highlights include tuna tartare, Osetra caviar and USDA Prime filet mignon, rib eye, porterhouse and New York strip steaks.
Seagar's also features a private-reserve wine list of more than 600 wine labels. The rich woods and fireplace create an intimate lounge experience where guests enjoy full dining service and live piano entertainment. Conceived in the likeness of some of the country's most renowned steak houses, Seagar's continues to be lauded by critics as one of the best restaurants in Destin and the region.
Seagar’s is conveniently located on the grounds of the Sandestin Resort in the lower level lobby of the Hilton Sandestin Beach’s Emerald Tower. The guard at Sandestin's south gate will provide a pass for Seagar’s.

Half Shell Oyster House - The Half Shell Oyster House has ten locations. The first one opened in the summer of 2009 in Downtown Gulfport, MS and the second in Downtown Biloxi, MS. The charbroiled oysters are legendary and the atmosphere will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Located in the historic Kremer building in downtown Gulfport, the “Half Shell” or “Oyster House,” as locals have abbreviated it, serves the Southern delicacy freshly shucked on the half shell, charbroiled over an open flame, BBQ, Rockefeller and Bienville. We expanded to Florida in 2012 with the opening of our Sarasota, FL restaurant. Our fourth location opened in Hattiesburg, MS, in February 2013 and our fifth location opened in Mobile, AL in June of 2014. Since we have opened a location in the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, MS in January 2015 and Flowood, MS in September 2015. In January 2016 we opened our second Alabama location in Spanish Fort and October 2016 we opened in Lafayette, LA, our first in Louisiana! Our most recent location opened in late May 2017 in Destin, FL.
Our oysters are outstanding, but if you’re not in the mood for oysters, Half Shell has a vast menu with something for everyone, lunch or dinner. Start your meal with New Orleans style BBQ Shrimp or a Seafood Stuffed Portabella. The Half Shell Salad with avocado, goat cheese and toasted almonds is great paired with a cup of gumbo. We feature daily and monthly specials utilizing locally caught fresh fish and seafood. The burgers, poboys and sandwiches are all good too. Or, try one of our steak or chicken creations like the Chicken Half Shell with Alfredo sauce, sundried tomatoes, capers and artichoke hearts. Seafood specialties include classic Shrimp and Grits and hearty Seafood Pot Pie.
Whatever you choose, it’ll be served with warm Southern hospitality in a unique atmosphere that complements the food. Exposed brick walls, wrought iron railings, unique French Quarter lighting and architecture frame the room. Each location offers a beautiful and unique setting for your dining experience. Each of our locations has semi private areas for your party or banquet needs. Or, just pull up a stool at the long copper bar, order a cold one and watch your oysters be grilled to perfection.
For lunch, dinner or happy hour, Half Shell Oyster House is sure to soon be your old favorite.
I am always asked, what...

My Favorite Destin Golf Courses

I am always asked, what is there to do in Destin, Florida? Besides relaxing and spending the day on our beautiful sugar sand beaches we are know for top notch fishing, shopping, restaurants and of course, golf. Here is a list of my favorite Destin golf courses. I have played them all. From elegant to par 3 courses, Destin has the course that will fit you handicap and wallet.

The Golf Garden Of Destin - Family Golf Center..............
12958 US Highway 98 W, Miramar Beach, FL 32550 ph.850-837-7422

Executive Golf Course
9 Holes - 7 par 3's; 2 par 4's

Green Fees:
9 Holes:          18 Holes:
            $22.00            $29.50
  Sr. - $17.50            $24.50
  Jr. - $15.00            $21.00

Cart Fees: (per 1/2 cart)
9 Holes:          18 Holes:
$7.00               $9.50
Pull Carts - $3.00
Rental Clubs - $12.00         

10-Play Cards: $170.00 (Sr. Rate $140.00)         

10 Acre Driving Range
Small:        Medium:      Large:
$6.75           $8.75        $10.75
Sr. Rates:   $7.50        $ 8.50

18 Hole Putting Course
Adults:      $7.75  
Children: $6.75
Seniors:   $7.00

Regatta Bay Golf Club - Our Golf Course is located in the beautiful city of Destin, FL, in the heart of the Emerald Coast, and home to some of the best beaches in the world. We are one of the best and top ranked courses in northwest Florida and open to the public. Our Golf Academy provides the most intuitive golf lessons in Destin, powered by PGA Pros and Trackman Technology. We have premium Callaway Club Rentals Available!
Enjoy the amazing emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico and our vibrant course at the Regatta Bay Golf & Yacht Club. Our golf course provides the ultimate risk-vs-reward golf experience and is suitable for players of all skill levels. Take our virtual tour and explore the course hole-by-hole to figure out your plan of approach before heading out for a round you won’t forget.

Emerald Bay Golf Club - Emerald Bay is a prestigious golf course community centrally located along the shores of the Choctawhatchee Bay between Destin and the Beaches of South Walton. Destin Florida has long been a vacation destination known for superior golf courses, and that tradition is exemplified in the beautiful Emerald Bay Golf Club.
In addition to world-class golfing opportunities, Emerald Bay offers a wonderful residential community conveniently located close to beaches, shopping, dining, recreation and entertainment opportunities. Homeowners in Emerald Bay have access to the community swimming pool as well as two Rubico tennis courts.
In 2014 The Emerald Bay golf course underwent a complete renovation.  The recently renovated Clubhouse features a full-service golf pro shop as well as The Grille which offers a delicious menu, full bar, indoor dining and an outdoor covered porch with fireplace overlooking the 18th green. Emerald Bay Golf Club has a history of providing the perfect Destin Florida golf experience for locals and seasonal guests. Discover Golf at Emerald Bay – You deserve it.

Kelly Plantation Golf Club - Kelly Plantation Golf Club, located in Destin, FL is one of the most visually impressive and environmentally sensitive golf courses in northwest Florida.  Set along the Choctawhatchee Bay, this semi-private golf club features 18 captivating holes built on the former site of a turpentine plantation owned by Mattie and Coleman Kelly.  Designers Fred Couples and Gene Bates, fashioned an impressive championship golf course from the intrinsic beauty of the land with miles of waterfront, intricate bayous and towering trees. Kelly Plantation Golf Course boasts over 7,000 yards of large contoured greens, wide manicured fairways, an array of strategically placed hazards and picturesque views of the Choctawhatchee Bay.
Rated 4 ½ Stars by Golf Digest, Kelly Plantation Golf Course also offers a rich scenic appeal unlike any other golf experience. From Hole No. 4’s spectacular, panoramic view of the Choctawhatchee Bay, to the surrounding Magnolias and Palmettos that are native to the northwest Florida region, this golf experience is sure to please. You’ll also observe miles of waterfront including 11 lakes – the largest being 7.5 acres that surrounds holes 9 and 18.
Kelly Plantation Golf Club offers so much more than just a spectacular golf experience. Whether you are looking to book a special event or wanting to plan a romantic wedding, Kelly Plantation provides the ideal setting for multiple occasions. At Kelly Plantation you’ll find a Dining Room that can accommodate up to 50 guests, a Clubhouse patio perfect for cocktails and parties, and best of all, capabilities to have that ideal outdoor wedding.
With all of this to offer, it’s no wonder why this Destin golf course received, “One of the Emerald Coast’s best groomed and most acclaimed layouts” by Golf Magazine.

Indian Bayou - Whether you're exploring the leisure activities of the Destin area, a local looking for that perfect course to swing through the day, or planning a wedding, Indian Bayou Golf Club is your ideal location. With three unique golf courses, Indian Bayou offers beautiful scenery with holes that will challenge and intrigue you. 
Our staff will be delighted to show you all that we have to offer, from a delicious bar and grill with food and drink items to fulfill you throughout the day to well-kept facilities and a gift shop to bring your treasured souvenirs home with you. We have spectacular reviews from Golf Advisor, events throughout the year, men's and women's leagues, and great travel packages to accommodate our tourists' complete vacation adventure. 
We are Indian Bayou Golf Club, the golfing that's above all by par.

Seascape Golf - The Seascape Destin golf course will surpass your expectations with 18 lush contoured fairways and immaculate greens winding through the Resort's lush forests and around its tranquil lakes. The course is situated among a series of fresh water and coastal dune lakes and features breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico from many holes. Fifteen of the eighteen holes have water features. Designed by famed course architect Joe Lee, Seascape's par 70, 6,100-yard championship Destin golf course poses a unique challenge to players of every skill level as its green placement and hazards require singular precision to maneuver the course. The sheer beauty of the terrain, with its tall pines, shimmering waters and softly rolling hills has been known to distract even the most ardent golfers. If time is an issue, Seascape offers the option of playing nine holes in the afternoon.
Purchasing a condominium can be...

Everything You Wanted To Know About Condos

Purchasing a condominium can be confusing, tricky, overwhelming and complicated. I have sold hundreds of condos and even purchased a few of my own within my 25 years of representing buyers and sellers and a condo closing is always challenging. 

The number one misconception is the COA dues (condo owners association). Here in the Destin area the lowest monthly coa dues are around $430. Dues can range from $430 - over $1,000 per month in some instances. If you have never owned a condominium then you are saying "no way man". Well, here's the deal.

The cost of owning a condo is in most instances the same as owning a single family home. If I represented you in the purchase of a Destin or 30a home you would have these expenses. 

Mortgage unless you paid cash
Homeowners insurance as well as hurricane/wind insurance
Flood insurance if required and most instances you will have it because Destin is surrounded by water.
Yard maintenance
Pool maintenance
Electric bill
Water bill
Cable bill
Internet bill
Exterior maintenance such as roof and siding

So you say, OK Keith, I don't want the hassle of owning a single family home. I just want to come to the beach every few weeks and relax. Then condo living is most likely for you. Guess what? A condo owner still has all of the above expenses except these cost are paid through your monthly or quarterly dues except for the mortgage, electricity and taxes. Typically these condo items are paid by your dues:

Exterior insurance
Flood insurance
Pool maintenance
Grounds maintenance
Management. All condos have a management association.
Pretty much any expense outside the wall of your unit.
Reserves for new roof, exterior, etc...

All in all, the cost of owning a home compared to a condo comes out about the same. The big different is with a condo you lock the door and come back a year later everything is the same. Except for the dust.

There are 3 things I always ask my buyers to ask when representing a condo buyer, especially a novice condo buyer:
What can I do?
What Can I not do?
How much will it cost?

Did you know there is a 3 day right of rescission when purchasing a condo in Florida. By law the seller is required to give you a copy of the declaration of condo with any amendments, a current budget and a FAQ which outlines important facts such as the exact amount of dues, are pets allowed, is the association being sued, are there any new buyer fees, etc... Do not proceed with an offer until you have studied these documents.

My last tip of advise is financing. Condo financing in Destin can be difficult depending on the condo development. Not all condos are financeable. Some require 30-40% down. Before you start making offers on condos you will want your lender to approve the development. 

One rule of thumb. The older the condo development the higher the COA dues. Why Keith? Because the building is older and the master insurance policy is more expensive. Just like buying a older home. Insurance on an older home is more than a newer home.

Now you know. Happy condo hunting!
ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 22,...

Florida Homes, Condo Median Prices Rise In Dec

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 22, 2016 – Florida's housing market reported higher median prices, fewer days on the market and a tightening inventory in December, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 23,056 last month, up 2.9 percent over the December 2014 figure.

"Florida's housing market continues to show strength," says 2016 Florida Realtors President Matey H. Veissi, broker and co-owner of Veissi Associates in Miami. "December marked over four years – 49 months – of consecutive gains in statewide median sales prices, year-over-year, for both single-family homes and for townhouse-condo properties. Mortgage rates remain low, which is encouraging many buyers to make their move now to enter the housing market.

"Properties also are taking less time to sell, which is a trend of interest to sellers as well as buyers," says Veissi. "In December, the median days on market (the midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to sell that month) was 47 days for single-family homes and 49 days for townhouses and condos. That means 50 percent of homes on the market in Florida sell in less than two months."

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $206,500, up 11.6 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Thestatewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in December was $156,500, up 5 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Looking at Florida's townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 9,357 last month, down slightly (1.2 percent), compared to December 2014.

However, the closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and cash-only sales in December: Traditional sales in Florida rose 16.3 percent for single-family homes and 7.5 percent for condo-townhouse properties. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

"Florida's real estate markets remained quite healthy in December," says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O'Connor. "Closed sales remain strong and prices continue to rise. Inventory levels of single-family homes dropped to an annual low for 2015 at the end of December to just under 100,000 active listings.

"Months' supply of inventory likewise came in low, at 4.3-months supply for single-family homes and 5.4 months for condos and townhomes. At the state level, these figures would imply a seller's market for single family homes and a balanced market for condos and townhomes."

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.96 percent in December 2015, up from the 3.86 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.


Who Pays For A New Roof On A Condo

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Jan. 7, 2016 – Question: The board of directors of our condominium association is contemplating taking out a loan to help pay for a new roof. That leads to all sorts of questions. How would this affect us? Would the lender put liens on the units and would they be harder to sell? What recourse would the lender have if we were unable to repay the loan? – Arthur

Answer: Check your association documents to make sure they even allow the board to take out such a loan. If so, the answers to your questions vary, depending on the lender.

Many lenders require that a special assessment be levied and used as collateral for the new loan. With a special assessment, all unit owners would owe a share of the roof loan that could be paid back all at once or over time. That would be in addition to their regular maintenance dues. The special assessment also acts as a lien on the individual units. The board can enforce that in much the same way it does nonpayment of the regular maintenance dues.

Each individual unit's value likely would be increased due to the new roof, but a buyer might have to make the special assessment payments if the seller did not already pay off the debt. While this could hinder resales, having a new roof is a big plus to most buyers because they know they won't have to worry about it for another 20 years or so.

In the very rare event the association stopped paying, the lender would sue the association and use the lien on the special assessment proceeds to get its money back. The lender would not be able to directly enforce the loan on the individual unit owners.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program.

The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Copyright © 2016 Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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