Orlando home sales rebound after Irma
Orlando-area home sales that stalled immediately following Hurricane Irma appeared to have finally closed in October, a new report shows.
The housing market for an area of mostly Orange and Seminole counties took a hit after the hurricane’s Sept. 11 strike, with sales down 20 percent from a year earlier as houses suffered damage from winds, trees and flooding. But sales largely came back with a 7 percent increase from a year earlier, according to Orlando Regional Realtors Association.
“Sales are recovering from Hurricane Irma’s impact at a pace that is exceeding our expectations,” said Bruce Elliott, president of the trade group and broker associate with Regal R.E. Professionals LLC.
With 2,898 sales in October, the market was “back on track after just one month of significant hurricane-related declines,” Elliott added. That’s up from the 2,526 houses that members of the association reported selling a month earlier, when some brokers said their businesses had 40 percent of their sales on hold because of the storm.
Throughout the four-county region, Osceola County showed the largest year-over-year sales growth — 12.9 percent. Sales in other Central Florida counties grew in Lake by 10 percent, in Orange by 4.6 percent and in Seminole by 2.9 percent.
While sales bounced back after a one-month lull, prices held true to their traditional autumnal softening. The median price in October was $218,000, which was down 3 percent from a month earlier. Yearover-year price growth showed an upswing of 6 percent.
For buyers, the bad news about the market’s return to more normal conditions was that housing choices and negotiating power dwindled from the days soon after Irma passed, when inventory levels were at a six-month high of supply at 3.4 months. In October, the area had less than a three-month supply. Six months’ worth of supply is considered a balance between buyers’ or sellers’ markets.
Buyers also faced higher financing costs in October, when the average interest rate of 4.03 percent was up from 3.84 percent a month earlier.
Limited construction of condos during the last decade helped boost prices and demand for those units. While sales of houses increased 3 percent from a year earlier, the sale of 365 Orlando-area condominiums in October increased by about 24 percent during the year-long period.
And while median prices for single-family houses increased 7 percent in October from a year earlier, condo prices rose by more than 10 percent.