prices here increase by 24 percent during 2013, according
to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, and the pic-
ture continues to improve. It’s an extremely exciting time for
those looking to invest in Florida’s real estate market.”
Despite the ongoing property value increases, prices in
the Orlando area remain well below their median peak of
$264,000 in 2007, leaving investors excited about how much
further prices may be expected to rise.
Keller Williams realtor April Ragar is one Orlando-area
agent benefitting from the soaring Central Florida market.
Last year, her Ragar Group closed on 52 homes, a 20 percent
increase over 2012, and 2014 is looking no different.
“I just had an appraisal come in at $10,000 higher than
the purchase price,” the Clermont-based professional pointed
out. “In the last year, the average sales price (in Lake County)
has probably increased by more than 50 percent ($120,000
“You’re also seeing more traditional sales because there’s
not as many distressed properties. That means sellers are not
as negotiable these days.”
Yet, Ragar adds it is still a great time to buy a home in her
popular Orlando bedroom community because interest rates
remain very low and financing options are becoming more
attractive for first-time homeowners and those seeking down
In Southwest Florida, specifically the Naples-Fort
Myers market, builders simply can’t build homes fast enough
to meet demand, according to national housing data and
consulting firm MetroStudy. For example, new home inventory dropped further to only 1. 1 month’s supply, suggesting
that very few finished new homes remain for sale. Moreover, finished, developed lot inventory continued to decline,
MetroStudy added, reaching its lowest level in years.
“A clear sign that the market is still healthy is found in the
finished, vacant home data,” said David Cobb, MetroStudy’s
regional director in the Naples market. “Both Lee and Col-
lier Counties have 1. 1 months-of-supply of finished, vacant
homes. This is a reflection that almost every home under
construction has been sold.”
In Lee County subdivisions, housing starts fell in fourth
quarter 2013 by 10 percent, but new home construction was
still up 12 percent year-over-year.
“One trend worth noting is the annual starts by price
range,” Cobb pointed out. “The supply of homes under
$200,000 has dwindled, while big increases are noted in the
$250,000 to $400,000 price range. Builders are finding it
extremely difficult to deliver fee simple homes at affordable
prices, due to the increases in land values and construction
One outcome of this will likely be a resurgence in the
condo market, MetroStudy reports, which has been stagnant
for almost seven years.
In Palm Coast-Flagler County, the real estate market isn’t
quite as hot but area communities are still showing strong
gains in year-over-year sales and price appreciation. For
instance, Flagler County MLS closed sales for single-family
homes was up 3. 9 percent in the fourth quarter and Flagler’s
median price rose 17. 9 percent to $145,000 year-over-year.
“We have seen all these numbers before in the monthly
releases, but looking at them on a quarterly and annual basis
allows for a better evaluation of the real estate market,” says
Florida Realtors chief economist John Tuccillo, Ph.d. “The
trends we have seen develop over the year – rising sales and
prices, declining percentage of cash sales and stabilizing
inventory – are confirmed in these statistics.
“If we compare the fourth quarter statistics to the annual
numbers, we get an even clearer picture of the trends. In the
last part of the year, for example, cash sales declined faster.
This points to the diminishing presence in the market of
investors. But overall sales continued to improve, although at
a slower rate. This suggests that owner-occupants are replac-
ing, at least in part, the smaller influence of investors.”
Ultimately, this portends to a much sounder and more
stable Florida real estate future. I-L