Hurricane, Politics Blamed for Home-Sales Downturn

Orlando neighborhoods saw a continued decline in for-sale signs last month, driving greater competition among buyers and holding prices steady at time of year when they usually soften, a new report shows. — flat from a month earlier and up 14 percent from a year earlier, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. Sales declined sharply for a month that was defined in part by weather and politics. Association members sold 2,654 houses in October — down 15 percent from a month earlier and 8 percent from a year earlier. “Immediately after even a mild hurricane without much damage, scheduled closings can be delayed by the need for additional appraisals or inspections, while sellers can put off listing their for a week or more,” said John Lazenby, president of the association and an with Colony Realty Group. “And of course an election year brings a natural state of uncertainty to the housing market as both buyers and sellers wait to see what the future brings,” he added. Two months ago, the core Orlando market had 10,362 listings, which was the lowest amount since March 2014. And listings dropped even further from September to October, declining by about 3 percent. Interest rates for a 30-year mortgage were 3.57 percent in October. That figure is expected to rise during the upcoming year. Debra Wingo, broker for the Selby Group, said rates have risen in the last week. She said an Orlando couple was shopping for houses as rates went from 3.5 percent to 4 percent in recent weeks, capping her buyers at $250,000. “A half point does make such a difference, especially for first-time buyers,” Wingo said. “We thought we could go $265,000 to $270,000.” For October sales in the core Orlando market, it took an average of 60 days for a house to land a contract. And while that two-month time frame held steady from the month before, it was 11 days faster than a year ago. It also marked the fastest selling window for any October since 2004, when houses came under contract in an average of 44 days.