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‘I think we have healthy growth right now’
Millennials will have a limited supply of single-family homes to pick from as median home prices continue to rise and supplies of homes continue to be tight.
Realtors sold 609 single-family homes during March, the third greatest number during the past 12 months and highest since August, according to the Ocala/Marion County Association of Realtors. The data does not include homes sold by owners.
The number of closings during March was 12.4 percent higher than during March 2016 and up from February, when only 438 Realtor sales were recorded.
Along with more homes sold, the median sales price also rose to $142,000, up 11.6 percent from March 2016 and the highest since at least 2013. The year-over-year percent increase for the past 12 months has been in the double digits, with the greatest leap in January, when the median sales price increased 31 percent compared to the year before.
“I think we have healthy growth right now,” said Vicky Morrison, vice president of the Ocala/Marion County Association of Realtors. “And it’s growing steady and the prices are getting back to a normal market.”
Morrison is also the broker and owner of Bricks and Mortar Real Estate and Development.
Also reflective of a healthy market is the sales price in comparison to the original asking price. The median sales price for March was 96.2 percent of the original asking price. That was a 2.3 percentage points better than the same month in 2016. The 96.2 percent was the highest percent of the asking price since at least January 2013.
This is a good indicator of the recovering market, as buyers realize the market is starting to favor the seller.
Some of what’s driving the market could be more people moving to Marion County, Morrison said. She thinks new businesses setting up distribution centers here, such as AutoZone and Fed Ex, are having an impact.
“Now we’re seeing a reflection in the housing market,” she said.
As sales numbers increase, the inventory of existing homes for sale is not keeping up with the demand. The inventory of active listings during March was 2,730 homes, a drop of 16.8 percent compared to March 2016. The consecutive year-over-year drop in inventory has been in the double digits since September 2016.
At current sales rates, there is a 5.1 month supply of housing if there were no new listings. That is a 19 percent drop from the same month a year ago. The 5.1 percent supply is tied as the lowest supply level in at least four years.
The benchmark for a balanced market, in which neither buyer nor seller is favored, is 5.5 months. Anything higher favors the buyer and anything lower favors the seller, according to the association.
The number of new listings in March was 930, a 9.3 percent drop from the same number in March 2016, a further indicator of a shrinking supply, according to the Ocala/Marion County Association of Realtors.
Morrison said there is no telling why inventory is low for existing homes and more people aren’t putting their homes up for sale.
That could be because many people who bought their homes before the market crash may still be underwater, owing the mortgage holder more than the home could sell for.
Meanwhile, April could again see good sales numbers: New pending sales of single-family homes during March were 730, up 5 percent compared to March 2016 and the second highest number since January 2013.
Because of the time it takes for a sale to close, pending sales is a rough, but still good, indicator of future potential closings.
The median number of days between the listing date and closing date also fell during March. The median was 102 days, 9.7 percent fewer days than during the same month a year ago.
Of the March sales, 236 were for cash. That was a 5.2 percent drop in cash sales compared to March 2016. Cash sales are a good indicator of the number of homes purchased by investors. Investors are more likely to pay in cash; traditional buyers typically require a mortgage.
Reach Fred Hiers at firstname.lastname@example.org and 352-397-5914.