I’m more worried about inflation.

MBA Report: Mortgage Market Isn’t Prepared for Climate Risk

What future risk does a changing climate present for a property? So far, lenders seem unprepared to even gauge that risk, much less mitigate a potential impact.

NEW YORK – Mortgage lenders and investors are woefully unprepared not only to mitigate their risk from climate change but to even gauge that risk, according to a new report from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America.

“They are anxious to figure out what to do but not sure where to go to find out,” says Sean Becketti, author of the report and former chief economist at Freddie Mac. “They are unprepared but no longer unaware.”

According to the report, climate change puts more stress on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and could increase mortgage default and prepayment risks. It could also trigger adverse selection in the types of loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and increase the volatility of house prices. On a broad demographic front, climate change could even produce significant climate migration, according to the report.

The report suggests that lenders could soon start tightening standards to mitigate the risk of climate change problems.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could, according to the report, require lenders to perform additional due diligence to determine the need for flood insurance. They could also force lenders to incorporate additional sources of information on flood risk, notably in areas where flood maps have not been updated recently.

As a result, FEMA may even ban Fannie or Freddie from buying loans on homes with higher flood risks, unlike current loans that largely focus risk models on credit and operating risk.

“In the case of modeling for risk, the mortgage industry still predominantly thinks of protection in terms of property and casualty risk, which is underwritten and priced by insurance companies,” says Sanjiv Das, CEO of Caliber Home Loans. “The industry doesn’t model climate risk as much and mostly relies on models from FEMA or insurance companies.”

Source: CNBC (09/23/21) Olick, Diana

Many Overly-Confident Sellers Price Their Home Too High

Homeowners have read bidding-war stories and heard about homes selling for thousands of dollars more than asking price. Now they’re becoming sellers and think they can overprice their property, but the market is seeing more price reductions – 9.4% in Aug., says Zillow, up from 8.6% in July.

By Amber Randall

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Some home sellers are getting greedy in the scorching housing market, and it’s backfiring on them.

Many are setting their prices too high, trying to squeeze out every dollar from buyers who are willing to pay well over the asking price, often with cash. A growing percentage of sellers quickly learn that they’ll have to get real.

Some 9.4% of homes on the market in August had reduced prices, up from 8.6% in July, according to Zillow, an online listing service. In May and June, price cuts stood at 7.8% and 7.7% respectively, indicating the over-eagerness has spread.

“Many of the price cuts are a result of sellers getting overconfident in this market and asking for too much,” said Eli Beracha, professor of real estate at Florida International University. “Price cuts are not happening now for houses that are priced fairly and show well.”

On occasion, price cuts can work in a seller’s favor because they widen the pool of prospective buyers, who then might be willing to bid up the property in order to get it, said real estate broker Patty DaSilva with Green Realty Properties in Cooper City.

But widespread price cuts also can be bad for the overall market, as they cause buyers to be wary of trying to buy and they might back away, said Whitney J Dutton, real estate adviser with the Dutton Group in Fort Lauderdale.

“When you make price reductions to get them back to the property, they wonder what’s wrong with it. Why doesn’t anyone else want it?” he said.

A home that is priced correctly will move fast, said Gene Whiddon, real estate agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in Fort Lauderdale. He recently listed a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in Fort Lauderdale and got three offers for full price in only two days.

The increasing number of price drops doesn’t mean the market is getting cheaper, agents say. It just means the overpriced homes are being reduced to a healthier level, said Adam Docktor, a real estate agent with Compass in Fort Lauderdale.

The market in general is still hot. The median price in Palm Beach County was $480,000 in August, up 20% from last year. It was $495,000 in Broward County, up 19%, and $500,000 in Miami-Dade, a 20% increase.

Real estate agents call the high prices a “make-me-move” price. Sellers want to see how much money they can make rather than moving out of pure necessity, Dutton said.

Almost 25% of sellers put their homes on the market just to see how much profit they can make, according to a survey from realtor.com. Almost 30% said they were going to ask for more than their home was worth.

“For sellers, finding that highest possible strike price through small price adjustments is sometimes more appealing so they don’t leave money on the table that they may have otherwise been able to capture,” said Bonnie Heatzig, executive director of luxury sales at Douglas Elliman in Boca Raton.

If a home has sat on the market for more than two weeks – with no significant maintenance issues – that’s usually a big indicator that it’s priced too high, said real estate broker Patty DaSilva with Green Realty Properties in Cooper City.

“Buyers know when something is overpriced,” she said.

© 2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

AR: Vacation Homes Will Defy Any Market Slowdown

While overall home sales show signs of cooling as prices rise and buyers step back, NAR Economist Yun doesn’t see that reflected in sales of vacation homes.

CHICAGO – The vacation-home market has boomed over the past year and is not likely to slow any time soon, even as the rest of the housing market starts to cool, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), in an interview for The Escape Home, a newsletter for second-home owners.

Even as companies bring employees back to the office, vacation homes will remain in demand, Yun said, though part of vacation homes’ rise in popularity has been attributed to the growth in remote work.

Overall, home sales show some signs of cooling, with many first-time homebuyers getting priced out of the market, Yun says. The median existing-home price for all housing types was $359,900 in July, nearly an 18% increase from a year ago.

Mortgage rates are also likely to increase, which could make buying even more expensive. NAR predicts that mortgage rates will rise to 3.5% by mid-2022, as the Federal Reserve likely begins to reduce its bond purchases before the end of 2021.

But vacation homes will remain a hot commodity. Rental prices for vacation homes will likely continue to rise too, Yun says.

“One near-certain aspect of the post-pandemic economy, when it comes, is the flexible work schedule,” Yun told The Escape Home. “It is very hard to envision five days a week in the office. Therefore, vacation-home sales will continue to move higher this year, next year and for the foreseeable future.”

Source: “What’s Next for the Real Estate Market? We Asked the Chief Economist at the National Association of REALTORS®,” MarketWatch/The Escape Home (Sept. 18, 2021)

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Interest Rates Rising? Fed May Start Reversing Programs in Nov.

Fed policies influence mortgage rates, and the Fed’s latest announcement suggests it will cut back its bond-buying in Nov. and hike interest rates sometime next year. The Fed currently buys $40B in mortgage bonds per month, and any cutback could add to the cost of a home loan.

WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve hinted it may start reversing its pandemic stimulus programs come November – and it could raise interest rates next year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Fed’s rate-setting committee revised its post meeting statement Wednesday to say that it may start to reduce or taper its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases as soon as its next meeting in early November.

“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted,” the statement said.

New estimates released at the end of the two-day meeting showed half of 18 officials expect to raise interest rates by the end of 2022.

When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, the Fed cut its short-term benchmark rate to close to zero, and it has been purchasing at least $80 billion a month in Treasury and $40 billion a month in mortgage bonds since June of 2020 to provide additional stimulus.

Per the Journal: Fed officials laid out a three-part test to raise interest rates one year ago that would require inflation to reach 2% and be on course to exceed that while the labor market returns to levels consistent with maximum employment.

In December, they said they would buy bonds at the current pace until the economy had made “substantial further progress” toward their goals of reversing a shortfall, then of around 10 million jobs since the start of the pandemic, and moving inflation back to their 2% goal over time. The Fed’s asset portfolio has doubled to $8.4 trillion from $4.2 trillion in February 2020.

Rising vaccination rates and nearly $2.8 trillion in federal spending approved since December has produced a recovery like none in recent memory. Inflation has soared this year, with so-called core prices that exclude volatile food and energy categories up 3.6% in July from a year earlier, using the Fed’s preferred gauge. The gains largely reflect disrupted supply chains, shortages and a rebound in travel associated with the reopening of the economy.

Wednesday’s projections show half of the officials expected interest rates would need to rise at least 1% from their current level by the end of 2023, and by another three-fourths of a percentage point in 2024.

© Copyright 2021 Human Events. All rights reserved.

More Canadian Snowbirds Plan Their Florida Return

A summer survey found that over 90% of snowbirds expected to return to Fla. this winter – but sentiments have dipped a bit since the COVID delta variant hit.

SARASOTA, Fla. – After staying home last winter, more Canadian snowbirds plan to return to Florida in 2021. Wallace Weylie, legal counsel for the Canadian Snowbird Association, said there seems to be a lot of pent-up demand from regular snowbirds to return to a warmer climate.

“The sentiment is that they’re not going to spend another winter in Canada,” he says.

The first year of COVID-19 saw a lot of Canadian snowbirds deciding to stay home, said Stephen Fine, president and managing editor of Snowbird Advisor. A survey conducted by the publication last year found that only about 30% of snowbirds returned to their usual sunny destinations for the 2021 season.

This year, things look more positive, Fine said. But sentiments have dipped a little bit since the delta variant started a new COVID wave.

“We did survey in the summer before cases went up, and at that point, the expectation was over 90% of snowbirds would return,” Fine says. “We don’t think at this point we’re going to hit 90-plus, that would be almost pre-pandemic levels. So it’ll probably be somewhere between last year and that – probably 50-60%.”

Despite the strength of the Sarasota area real estate market, local real estate agents say Canadian buyers haven’t done much purchasing since the pandemic began. Some of the older Canadian homeowners are selling their Florida properties, while the younger, active adults in their 50s and 60s are holding onto their assets, hoping for better post-pandemic days. 

Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (09/19/21) Finaldi, Laura

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Large Lender to Offer In-House Appraisal Option

On Oct. 1, United Wholesale Mortgage plans to roll out Appraisal Direct, a new option to work directly with appraisers. It will oversee the entire appraisal process.

PONTIAC, Mich. – United Wholesale Mortgage has announced that it will offer an option to work directly with appraisers, a change from the typical use of an independent appraisal management company.

UWM is rolling out the program, called Appraisal Direct, nationwide on Oct. 1. Appraisal Direct will oversee the entire appraisal process, from scheduling the appraisal to its execution and delivery.

Lenders can choose whether they use Appraisal Direct or order an appraisal through an appraisal management company.

AMCs “have a lot of value in our industry, but we are offering new options,” said Mat Ishbia, CEO and president of UWM.

UWM will hire more than 100 people to work on the new program. Appraisers will be selected for an appraisal based on a scorecard that reflects their knowledge of a geographic area and past performance, Housingwire reported.

The appraisal industry has grappled with concerns over appraiser shortages in many areas of the country. With a booming housing market, some lenders have complained of delays in getting appraisals returned promptly.

However, Kimber White, president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, said she doesn’t think UWM’s program is the solution to the appraisal shortage.

“I think it’s okay for them right away, but I think it’s better for us all to work together to find a solution for the entire industry,” White said. “Is this really the way we want to go and allow all wholesalers to enter the appraisal business?” White said many lenders have increased their use of AMCs as an intermediary between appraisers and mortgage brokers to avoid past evaluation issues that were blamed for triggering the housing crisis.

Source: “United Wholesale Mortgage to Offer In-House Appraisal Option,” National Mortgage News (Sept. 9, 2021); and “UWM Launches AMC-Free Appraisal Program” Housingwire (Sept. 9, 2021)

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

I’m Calling it! The Market has changed.

Listing continue to increase and the gap between the number of listings and the number of under contract/pending is shrinking which means the market is returning to normal. We still have to double our listings to get back to where we normally are, but it’s making the move.

Click the below link to check out the chart and see the trends.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AKzj3ZXQhDfVQA80YkZqZS744o5vIwSmAyrvF4WMXHo/edit?usp=drivesdk

Are Realtors Really Going Back to the Office?? If Covid taught Realtors anything it’s that an Office isn’t needed and Office fees may not be the way to go. Interesting Story.

Real Estate Firms, COVID and Returning to the Office

By Bendix Anderson

As in firms nationwide, real estate companies vary greatly in return-to-the-office policies. A handful mandate vaccines for everyone; others say they never closed.

NEW YORK – The current spike caused by the Delta variant has thrown a wrench into many firms’ return to office plans. Companies, including Apple and Google, that had slated full-scale returns to the office this fall have been forced to readjust those timelines, with some now delaying until 2022. What’s more, the FDA’s recent approval of the Pfizer vaccine has led many firms to implement vaccine mandates for employees.

In the current wave, daily cases are back above 150,000 and deaths have risen to more than 1,100 per day, according to the latest figures from The New York Times. The spike has been especially acute in Southern states like Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. It’s gotten so bad that Florida’s current wave has now reached daily case and death counts surpassing its previous peak and yet many of those states’ governors have banned policies (such as mask mandates) that could help stem the tide.

The real estate industry is smack dab in the center of these rapid shifts in the pandemic terrain. As landlords and investors, real estate companies have felt the effects of their tenants’ decisions. But companies are occupiers themselves and are continuing to assess their own remote work policies, return-to-office timelines and vaccine mandates.

In two notable examples, New York City-based Related Companies implemented a vaccine mandate for its employees earlier this month. Similarly, the Durst Organization said its non-union workers that remained unvaccinated by Labor Day would be fired.

Meanwhile, large real estate services firms including CBRE and JLL and others have also tried to pave the way in setting return-to-office policies.

“We had planned to have our corporate team members return to their offices after Labor Day this year,” says Patrick Appleby, president of WinnResidential, a real estate firm based in Boston. “With the new threat posed by the Delta variant, we have now pushed that date into early October 2021.”

Overall, the number of office workers showing up in person is less than a third (31.3%) of what it was before the pandemic, according to an analysis of workers entering buildings in 10 cities by Kastle Systems, based in Falls Church, Va. Kastle creates lobby security systems used in thousands of office buildings. That’s 19.2% in San Francisco, 22.9% in New York City and 28.2% in Los Angeles. More workers are showing up in person in Texas cities like Austin (45.9%), Dallas (46.0%) and Houston (46.8%), according to Kastle.

The corporate offices of many real estate firms have been partly open since the pandemic began in March 2020.

“We never formally closed our corporate offices because our company is considered part of the nation’s critical infrastructure,” says Appleby. “All our team members are essential employees.”

But at the same time, many companies like Winn never fully reopened its office either. Instead some of Winn’s workers come in to work at their desks a few days a week. Others work entirely from home. Supervisors establish staggered arrival times in cases where there are personal circumstances involving family or health needs.

“About 30% of our employees are in our corporate offices on any given day,” says Appleby. “We are encouraging people to work three days in the office and two days at home.”

Winn manages more than 600 apartment properties across the U.S., including many locations considered to be hot spots for coronavirus infections. “Our work health practices always default to most conservative restrictions in place for the local, county or state market where an apartment community is located,” says Appleby.

A few real estate companies have asked more of their employees to return to the office – especially once vaccines against the coronavirus became widely available.

“All of our corporate teams have been back in the physical office since April of this year,” says Yvette Stewart, senior vice president of property management for Post Brothers Apartments, based in Philadelphia.

Post’s workers returned to its offices and construction without any rise in infection rates among its employees and subcontractors, says Stewart.

To fight the spread of the virus, Post employed a long list of safety procedures along with cleaning and social distancing protocols. Post also encouraged its employees to get vaccinated.

“We established a lottery for our employees to incentivize vaccinations and we reimbursed some of our key subcontractors for bonuses to get the vaccine as well,” says Stewart. “We also paid for leave and hotels for those who became exposed, in order to reduce the risk to their families and co-workers.”

Philadelphia city officials asked Post to conduct webinars for other industry groups and builders in the city to share its model for safety. “Many of our recommendations were then actually imposed as requirements by the City for other contractors to re-mobilize on their own construction sites.”

Post also “decentralized operations” by creating “pocket” offices on construction job sites – which allow for onsite collaboration and improved quality reviews of the construction process. “We have actually seen a positive impact on quality and reaction time to issues, and even faster design decisions and product improvements,” says Stewart.

© 2021 Penton Media

Fla. Landlord Mandating Vaccines for Tenants. But Is It Legal?

In eight S. Fla. apartment complexes, the unvaccinated need not apply – or try to renew their lease. But the rule might conflict with Fla.’s vaccine passport ban.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – If you’re not vaccinated for COVID-19, you can forget about moving into any of eight apartment complexes in Broward and Miami-Dade counties owned by Santiago A. Alvarez and his family.

And if you’re still unvaccinated when it comes time to renew your lease, you’ll have to find someplace else to live.

Alvarez, who controls 1,200 units in the two counties, is the first large-scale landlord known to national housing experts to impose a vaccine requirement not only for employees, but also for tenants. They’ll be required to produce documentation that they’ve received at least an initial vaccine dose.

The policy, which took effect Aug. 15, could set Alvarez’s company on a collision course with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban, which prohibits businesses from requiring that customers be vaccinated.

And yet the landlord might have exposed a loophole in the governor’s ban, forcing courts to decide whether a tenant is equivalent to a customer.

Alvarez says he’s not backing down. Signs posted at the leasing offices of his apartment complexes spell out the policy along with the words “Zero Tolerance.”

“We have to be concerned about our tenants and our employees,” Alvarez said in an interview. “All of these are private properties. We’re just trying to keep people safe and healthy. It’s going to cost us money, but we’re very firm on that.”

Alvarez said 12 to 15 of his tenants, most of whom lived at his properties in Hialeah, have died of COVID-19 and a larger number have gotten sick. “We don’t want that happening to [any more of] our tenants,” he said.

In Broward County, Alvarez owns three complexes in Lauderhill – Royal Palms at Lauderhill and Inverrary Village on Northwest 56th Avenue, just south of West Oakland Park Boulevard, and Parkwest Apartments on Northwest 46th Avenue.

Outside of Royal Palms at Lauderhill, tenants voiced differing opinions about the policy. “I think people should get the shot,” said a young woman who declined to give her name.

But a man who said he was vaccinated said Alvarez is overstepping his bounds. “That should be illegal,” he said of the policy. “You can’t force people to do what they don’t want to do.”

After they learned about the new policy, two tenants who don’t plan to get vaccinated contacted local eviction defense attorneys about potentially challenging the policy in court.

Looming clash with DeSantis?

Under the DeSantis-backed ban on “vaccine passports,” landlords could be subject to a $5,000 fine every time they ask a prospective tenant for documentation, said DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, after conferring with the governor’s legal counsel. Pushaw said she hadn’t previously heard of any Florida landlords requiring proof of vaccinations.

“Our counsel thinks that would be a violation of the vaccine passport ban,” Pushaw said in an email.

On Thursday, the Florida Department of Health stated that it would start enforcing the vaccine passport ban – which was enacted as state law after DeSantis issued it in March as an executive order – on Sept. 16. DeSantis has said that requiring proof of vaccinations violates citizens’ civil liberties and rights to keep their medical information private.

Whether Alvarez’s policy stands up to scrutiny from a legal or public health perspective figures to be a subject of debate.

Alvarez’s attorney, Juan C. Zorrilla of the Fort Lauderdale-based firm Fowler White Burnett, recently responded to a letter from a tenant’s attorney by asserting that the policy does not violate DeSantis’ executive order banning vaccine passports, nor does it violate laws barring discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status or religion.

DeSantis’ order and subsequent state law say that a business entity may not require “patrons or customers” to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery “to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business.”

Zorrilla asserted that Alvarez’s policy does not violate DeSantis’ ban because a tenant is not a “patron” or “customer.”

“We believe that there is a clear distinction between someone who is an occupant of a dwelling and physically on the premises for an extended duration of time versus someone who is a patron or customer and simply visiting for a short duration,” Zorrilla wrote. “By only identifying two categories of people who are transient, we do not believe the Order would be interpreted by a court to include tenants or residents of a business or property.”

Dawn Meyers, a partner with the government and regulatory team at Miami-based Berger Singerman, says the court system will likely have to decide whether residency can be equated with a “good” or a “service.”

“I suspect the governor would view it as a violation of his prohibition, but that may end up needing a judicial determination,” she said.

Lauren Einhorn, who specializes in real estate contracting law for Davie-based Kelley Kronenberg, said she expects courts will ultimately find that landlords can require vaccines. That’s because unlike restaurants, stores or other businesses open to the public, a landlord-tenant relationship is contractually based, she said.

Courts have consistently upheld landlords’ rights to enforce a wide range of provisions, she said, particularly if they are intended to protect other tenants, such as bans on firing guns or manufacturing methamphetamine inside apartments.

But Brian Korte, a West Palm Beach-based eviction defense attorney who was alerted to Alvarez’s policy by a tenant, said the policy “discriminates against people who are healthy and who don’t have a disease.” That’s ironic, he said, considering that the Americans with Disabilities Act would likely bar a landlord from refusing to rent to someone infected with COVID-19.

Korte said Alvarez’s policy reminds him of businesses that refused to serve gay men in the 1980s and early 1990s because they suspected all could be carrying HIV/AIDS.

Alvarez, asked whether he was aware that he might be fined over his policy, pointed to a recent federal court injunction prohibiting the state from fining Norwegian Cruise Line for requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination. The injunction will remain in effect while Norwegian pursues its lawsuit challenging the passport ban, though DeSantis is seeking to have it overturned.

Is it good for public health?

Setting aside the question of whether Alvarez’s policy will be upheld in court, experts are divided over the question of whether it serves the broader interest of protecting public health.

Korte says allowing landlords to bar unvaccinated applicants – and refuse to renew leases of existing tenants who won’t get vaccinated – undermines the goals of keeping people in their homes and off of the streets where they would be more likely to spread the virus. That was the justification provided by federal, state and local officials for eviction moratoriums imposed as the pandemic began, he said.

Korte also said that Black people, because they are more likely to resist getting vaccinated, could be denied housing in disproportionate numbers if Alvarez’s policy becomes standard practice everywhere. Courts have found that some housing policies, such as a blanket ban on convicted felons, can be discriminatory if they are more likely to affect people of certain races, sexes, religions or other protected classes.

“Where does it end?” Korte said. “Where will non-vaccinated people live? A slum?”

David Dworkin, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference, a nonprofit organization that promotes affordable housing, said Alvarez’s policy is the first – and hopefully the last – of its kind that he’s heard about.

“When requiring vaccinations for employment, there’s a broad agreement that it serves the health and safety of workers,” Dworkin said. “But in the case of people’s homes, when the rise of the delta variant requires people to both work from home and stay at home more, putting people at risk of losing their home or doubling up with others or becoming homeless is not a responsible public health approach.”

A more effective tool, Dworkin said, would be to strictly enforce masking and social distancing in common areas of apartment complexes. Threatening people’s homes, he said, “seems just cruel and ineffective.”

Alvarez said masks are required in common areas at his properties.

An official of the National Multifamily Housing Council, a trade organization of large- and mid-sized apartment complex owners, said they know of no other large landlord with a similar policy.

Still, Paula Cino, the council’s vice president for construction, development and land-use policy, disputed the notion that Alvarez’s vaccine requirement runs counter to goals of eviction moratoriums.

“I don’t see it that way. I would go the other way, from our perspective,” she said. “If a housing environment could lead to infection risk, it makes sense for providers to take steps to mitigate that risk.” Ultimately, she said, landlords must decide whether a vaccine requirement makes sense for them and their residents, as long as whatever policy they choose is “evenly applied” and does not violate fair housing laws.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando area Democrat known for supporting policies aimed at helping low-income Floridians, said landlords considering vaccine mandates should provide a reasonable amount of time for existing tenants to get vaccinated and ensure potential tenants can get access to vaccines.

Windows at the leasing office of Alvarez’s Inverrary Village property display COVID-19 fact sheets as well as locations where tenants can get vaccinated.

“Not all vaccine hesitancy is politically motivated,” Eskamani said in an emailed statement. “It can also be based on lack of information and a distrust of medical institutions, which we need to find ways to combat, together.”

Attorney Dawn Meyers points out that Alvarez’s policy “is not an eviction” because “there is a route for people to stay in their homes.”

Meyers added, “Keep in mind that there are multiple goals and priorities at play, and preventing the spread of COVID versus permitting unvaccinated people to lease apartments in specific complexes seems, at least to the owner of these complexes, to be an easy call.

© 2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Fla.’s Housing Market: Median Price, New Listings Rise in July

Florida Realtors’ data: Median prices for single-family existing homes rose 20.3% year-over-year to $355,000; up 20.5% to $253,000 for condos/townhomes. Chief Economist O’Connor says July data shows signs Fla.’s housing market is heading on a steady path toward normalcy.

By Marla Martin

ORLANDO, Fla. – In July, Florida’s housing market reported higher median prices, more new listings and a rise in all-cash sales compared to a year ago, according to Florida Realtors® latest housing data.

MARKET SHOWS SIGNS OF NORMALCY ON THE HORIZON

July’s housing numbers show signs that the state’s residential real estate market may be returning to normal. While selling remains red-hot, slight inventory growth may lead to some sales slowing.

“In a positive sign for Florida’s housing market, new listings rose year-over-year in July for both single-family homes, up 12.1%, and for condo-townhouse properties, up 4.6%,” says 2021 Florida Realtors President Cheryl Lambert, broker-owner with Only Way Realty Citrus in Inverness. “Our economic experts also report that active listings (inventory) of single-family homes continued to rise throughout July (from its lowest level), which eventually could be good news for buyers who have been sidelined by the shortage of homes for sale. However, any rebound in inventory is going to be slow, and it will take a long while to get back to the levels we had pre-pandemic.”

Closed sales of single-family homes statewide in July totaled 30,740, a slight decrease of 2.1% year-over-year, while existing condo-townhouse sales totaled 13,481, up 21.1% over July 2020. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in July was $355,000, up 20.3% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Last month’s statewide median price for condo-townhouse units was $253,000, up 20.5% over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor, the data revealed signs that the state’s housing market is heading on a steady path toward normalcy, at least in some respects.

“The 2.1% drop in closed single-family home sales marks the first time that sales in this category have been down year-over-year at the statewide level since May of 2020, near the beginning of the pandemic,” he says. “But remember, last year’s spring buying season was effectively postponed until the summer and fall by the pandemic, so the second half of 2020 ended up being the strongest second half for sales in at least 15 years. It’s not too surprising if sales counts over the next few months fail to surpass their totals from one year ago.

“However, looking at 2019 – the last full year of anything resembling a normal market due to COVID-19 – we find that July 2021 single-family home sales were over 9% higher compared to July 2019.”

Dr. O’Connor notes that, in a continuing trend, the share of closed sales that were all-cash purchases rose in July compared to the previous year. In July, single-family existing home sales paid in all cash increased by 49.9% year-over-year, while all-cash sales of condo-townhouse units rose by 44%.

On the supply side of the market, inventory (active listings) remained extremely tight in July. Single-family existing homes continued at a very low 1.2-months’ supply while condo-townhouse inventory was at a 1.8-months’ supply.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.87% in July 2021, down from the 3.02% averaged during the same month a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to the Florida Realtors’ Newsroom and look under Latest Releases or download the July 2021 data report PDFs under Market Data on the site.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®