Come Here to Cash in on the Coastal Lifestyle

Mary Esther
This stucco home is nestled on a quiet cul de sac within a waterfront neighborhood called Sleepy Hollow.
Chase Yakaboski

The private sound access and dock for residents of Islandview is just down this scenic path that bridges beautiful preserved wetlands.


Chase Yakaboski

Flanked by two U.S. Air Force bases, Mary Esther is nestled along the scenic Santa Rosa Sound. Though it measures only 2½ square miles in size, it is an established community that is known for its expansive shopping mall, a terrific library and a well-respected animal rescue center, not to mention a variety of eateries and small businesses — all conveniently located off of Mary Esther Cutoff, which traverses the town.

You could say Mary Esther is small but mighty.

Just ask Lee Newton of RE/MAX Coastal Properties. He is a former military pilot who flies helicopters in his spare time. He has been selling real estate for just a year, but he has quickly learned a great value when he sees it.

“In my opinion, Mary Esther offers a great location between Navarre and Fort Walton Beach, with great access to the mall, both military bases, the high school (Fort Walton Beach) and the Intracoastal Waterway,” Newton says.

As he suggests, don’t let the shady, tree-lined streets lull you into thinking it’s a slice of suburbia here. In fact, when it comes to delivering a waterfront lifestyle at an affordable price, Mary Esther packs quite a punch. Just take a closer look at some of the unassuming communities nestled along the south side of U.S. Highway 98 in the heart of town and you’ll find Kimbrough, Sleepy Hollow, Misty Water, Calle Rio, Islandview, and one of the newest to be completed, Soundview.

Each of these is a distinctive neighborhood with a unique look and feel, offering detached single-family homes in a range of architectural styles from charming Cape Cods to modern Mediterranean villas. The streets are tidy and well maintained, and most of the homes are quite spacious, featuring three, four and sometimes five bedrooms with 2,500-plus square feet. Some of the communities have greenspace parks, such as Sleepy Hollow, and others have a common pool, such as Islandview. But the real value comes with deeded access to the waterfront. Many of the communities have a public dock, and some of these have deepwater boat slips equipped with lifts. They are available either as deeded property or as a leased option through the community homeowner association, as is the case with Islandview.

Naturally, waterfront adds great value to any community. The home at 14 Islandview was sold as a distressed property for just $228,000 in 2014. After a complete makeover, it is now a stunning 3,700-square-foot waterfront home with three bedrooms and stellar views — on the market for $999,000.

This newly renovated 3,700-square-foot Islandview home on the Intercoastal Waterway is listed for $999,000.
Chase Yakaboski

Just down the street there are two other homes for sale: a three-bedroom, three-bath Cape Cod-style house for $350,000 and a contemporary four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath stucco home for $329,000. These homes do not convey with a boat slip, but if no one else is on the waiting list, you claim one and sail off to enjoy the coastal lifestyle just as much as the folks who will pay nearly a million just a few houses down.

Calle Rio is another waterfront subdivision lined with tidy homes; Owners in Sleepy Hollow access their private waterfront dock through this green space dotted with a quaint gazebo.
Chase Yakaboski

Naturally, these homes are listed above the average for Mary Esther, which, according to Newton, is $153,000. If you want to cash in on the coastal lifestyle, don’t wait for long: Newton says the average number of days on the market is just 85, and the average of buyers getting their asking price is a whopping 96 percent. And with sunsets over the sound just steps from these Mary Esther homes, they’ll get what they are asking.

Categories: Neighborhoods