New home buyers face affordability

Orlando-area buyers in the hunt for new houses priced under $200,000 have less than a third the selection they did three years ago and now have to drive further to get it, a new study shows.

The amount of new Central Florida homes being built in the $150,000 to $200,000 price range dropped to 727 from 2,422 three years ago during a year-long period that ended in June, according to a report by MetroStudy.

Jim Reinert, vice president of land for KB Home, said affordability has become a key factor in buyers’ decision as Orlando-area home prices rose 12 percent in June from a year ago.

“Rising prices therefore force buyers to seek more affordable areas,” Reinert said. “Volusia may see an uptick, though Lake County, Northeast Polk County, and Northeast Osceola County are seeing more development opportunities.”

Central Florida’s busiest price range for new homes is $250,000 to $300,000, an increase of $100,000 from three years ago, reported MetroStudy, a new home construction research firm.

Also during the last three years, Metro Orlando wages in the region rose only 3.7 percent, according to the federal government.

“Pricing of new homes is a problem, as first-time buyers are being pushed further out of the Orlando core and/or into adjoining counties, and/or into smaller products,” the new report states.

Despite some price pressures, employment growth and a tight resale market still indicate a healthy new home construction environment for the near term, according to MetroStudy.

A pileup of relatively pricier homes in central areas is likely to add demand for affordable new housing in Polk and Volusia counties — farther from Orlando’s urban core and employment centers, the report stated.

The Villages senior-living community continued its longtime reign as the most active development in the overall Central Florida area, with 730 annual housing starts for the 12-month period. That sprawling project has double the number of new homes started as the second busiest project — Lake Nona in southeast Orlando. Last year, sales at The Villages dropped by 12 percent to 2,294 and Lake Nona’s sales volume was about 500 last year with a 19 percent increase from a year earlier, according to Real Estate Advisors.

The Reunion Resort in the Davenport area had the third-greatest number of new homes started during a 12-month period that ended in the second quarter.

The areas with the least amount of new-home-construction activity were Northeast Lake County, Altamonte Springs/Longwood, and Central Orange County, the report stated.

WWW.WeKnowOrlando.com or 407-251-1314

Top Central Florida projects by housing starts

The Villages, Lake County, 730

Lake Nona DRI, Orange County, 347

Reunion Resort & Club, Osceola County, 308

Summerlake, Orange County, 251

Windermere Trails, Orange County, 243

ChampionsGate, Osceola County, 227

Storey Lake, Osceola County, 209

Orchard Hills, Orange County, 194

Randal Park, Orange County, 184

Windsor at Westside, Osceola County, 162