Home prices, mortgage rates increase in Orlando market

Orlando’s real estate industry emphasized two things as it summed up recent market conditions for a slow time of year: prices are up and so are interest rates.

Compared with a year ago, the housing market looked vibrant last month with the median price of $200,000 up about 9 percent and the area’s 2,481 sales up 7 percent, according to a report by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. The group compiles a report based on activity mostly in Orange and Seminole counties.

But both prices and sales volume slid from October to November, which is typical for that time of year.

“I think the market has slowed down some,” said  Allyn Maycumber Keller Williams  in Lake Nona. “It could be because of the holidays. It’s turning back into a buyers’ market for anything over $250,000.”

Allyn said she has seen builders’ inventory of new homes increase in southeast Orlando and they are offering higher commissions to real estate agents to help drive sales.

Within Central Florida, year-over-year sales were up in Lake, Osceola and Seminole counties but down about 3 percent in Orange County.

In hopes of boosting sales by engaging previously reluctant buyers, the residential real estate association’s monthly report underscored an increase in mortgage rates from 3.57 percent in October to 3.82 percent in November. Economists forecast those rates will climb higher during the upcoming year.

A year ago, the supply was about 4.9 months and even that was considered low since a six-month supply has long been the tipping point between a buyers’ and sellers’ market.

With scant affordable listings available, challenges are likely to increase for first-time buyers because of the anticipated rising interest rates.

Based on Orlando-area income levels, the Realtor association has determined that first-time buyers have 14 percent more income than necessary to purchase a typical starter home. A year ago, they had about 20 percent more.

Nationally, buyers’ confidence in purchasing waned slightly in recent months, according to a housing trends survey released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors. The share of renters who said now is a good time to buy declined from 68 percent a year ago and 60 percent in September to 57 percent in October.