Or­lando home sales re­bound af­ter Irma

Orlando Sentinel - - BUSINESS - By Mary Shanklin

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.

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