Orlando-area home sales down despite record job growth

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/94337272-132.html

Home prices and sales in the core Orlando market were down in July from the month before during what is usually the peak summer buying season.

The midpoint price for an area that includes mostly Orange and Seminole counties was $220,000 in July, down from $222,500 the prior month, according to a report released Tuesday by Regional Realtor Association.

More dramatic than the slight softening in prices was the 14 percent, month-over-month drop in sales to 3,347 for July. Typically sales boom as families relocate prior to the start of the school year.

The association cited a slim inventory of listings as the culprit for what has been a less-than-spectacular summer.

“Would-be first-time homebuyers are being kept on the sidelines by limited inventory and rising prices,” said Bruce Elliott, president of the association and broker associate with Regal R. E. Professionals LLC. “However, rising prices have slowed some of the investor activity, which could mean slightly less competition for at the lower end of the market.”

Compared with a year ago, Orlando’s median home price for July was $14,000 higher.

Orlando real estate Serina Marshall said millennials in particular face a challenge as wages stagnate and prices rise for a group of would-be buyers who are affected by student loan debts, too. Renters in that age bracket also deal with rent spikes and find themselves with few options at lease renewal time.

“Those prices are being jacked up a lot and people are being forced to move out of their apartments to find something more affordable,” said Marshall, an agent with Re/Max Town Centre.

What has not grown from a year ago is the pace of monthly sales, which held flat from a year earlier. The flat sales growth comes despite record job growth for Orlando, which averaged 150 new jobs daily during a 12-month period that ended in June, according to a review of federal jobs numbers.

The headwinds facing newly employed Central Floridians are home prices rising 6.8 percent during a year-long period in which wages rose about 1 percent, according to the federal housing department. Making ownership an even more distant dream, financing has become costlier. July buyers secured average interest rates of 4.01 percent, which was up about a half point from a year ago and up slightly from a month earlier.

Within the four counties that make up Metro Orlando, only Lake showed strong sales growth in July from July 2016. Sales there were up more than 12 percent, while sales in Orange and Osceola counties were largely flat and Seminole was down more than 8 percent.