Compiled by Jay Christie, Wendy O. Dixon and Maria Mallory White
SPOTLIGHTDestin-Based Housing Site Hopes to Attract Investors with Fast Rise to Top
By Maria Mallory White
If you Google “housing market” or “real estate market,” within the first half dozen results, you’ll find housingpredictor.com. Type in either phrase sans quotes, and the Destin-based site likely will appear in the top two.
Talk about search-engine optimization.
When it comes to sharing data on the nation’s real estate market, on top is exactly where site editor and founder Mike Colpitts wants to be.
“We worked really hard to get up in Google,” says Colpitts, who moved to the Emerald Coast nine years ago and now lives in South Walton off 30-A. “But it’s taken a long time to get up there. Real estate Web sites don’t get born over night.”
Colpitts’ journey began in 1989. That’s when the Silicon Valley native, whose professional roots are in newspaper and broadcast journalism, began envisioning the site.
As the Internet went mainstream, Colpitts, who had moved into real estate investing, wanted to merge that interest with the Web.
“I’m a real estate analyst, and I’ve got a degree in commercial real estate and a couple other degrees,” says Colpitts, whose five-person staff includes an economist, a webmaster, a writer and tech person.
After more than two years in development, in 2004 Colpitts launched HousingPredictor.com, an independent, online firm that crunches housing market data and publishes forecasts for more than 250 localities across the U.S.
Now, growth is tops in the mind of this entrepreneur, who has planned a trip to New York City, saying his ad-funded site is ripe for an outside cash infusion.
“I’m going to meet with a bunch of companies for investment capital … about 10,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of interest.”
And even some offers to buy the site outright.
“We’ve gotten 11 offers,” he says. “A guy asked me, ‘What would you sell it for?’ I threw out a crazy figure, ‘$2.5 million’ … They came back with $1.4 million, and I said I wouldn’t really sell it.”
And while media from near and far, as well as individual real estate buyers and sellers, increasingly turn to the site – a recent mention in the national business publication Barron’s netted more than 200,000 hits – housingpredictor.com is one real estate-related investment Colpitts forecasts he’ll hold onto for a good long time.
30-AMagnolia Private Residence Club Opens
Angling for a share of the fractional ownership market, Axiom Capital Group LLC of Destin announced it will open Magnolia Private Residence Club this summer.
Axiom has partnered with DCP International, which “pioneered the equity residence club concept in 1992,” according to the developer. The new vacation real estate property, located on 30-A, promises to offer “an ideal way to own luxurious vacation real estate on the Emerald Coast at a fraction of the price and without the hassles of whole ownership.”
Prices start at $159,000 for a one-eighth share in a three-bedroom Magnolia residence.
The medians along Emerald Coast Parkway in South Walton County will soon get a horticultural makeover.
From Mack Bayou Road east to CR 30-A, the new landscaping is designed to create “a beautifully scenic focal point,” according to the Scenic Corridor Association, which launched the initiative that is set to begin in July.
Kimley-Horn and Associates is the landscaping firm for the project.
Florida’s Great Northwest announced it is accepting applications for its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.
The SBIR/STTR Phase 1.5 program is designed to support entrepreneurial firms with up to $10,000 in grant money. Qualifying companies include those “conducting research for technology commercialization in Northwest Florida,” according to the regional economic development organization.
For applications, eligibility criteria and other information, consult the “Entrepreneurial Overview” section at floridasgreatnorthwest.com.
Johnny Rockets Opens
Now located in the Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, Johnny Rockets evokes a sense of nostalgia. Showcasing all things 1950, including table-top jukeboxes, counter service and chrome stools, the new eatery includes hamburgers, shakes and malts, and freshly baked apple pie.