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Home Sale Prices Jumped In Alachua County In 2017

Looking to buy a single-family home in the Gainesville area right now?

If so, you might want to reconsider looking for a new place at the moment.

The housing market in Alachua County is at the stage of being favorable to the sellers in the area, leaving buyers in the dust. This means those looking to buy either need to act fast or need to have a little bit more money saved in the bank to afford a home currently on the market.

According to Florida Realtors Association, within the past year, the median sale price for a single-family home for sale in Alachua County has risen from $185,500 in January 2017 to $232,250 in January 2018, causing a 25.2 percent change within the year’s span.

In addition to the rising costs, the number of active listings on the market has decreased. At the end of 2016, there were a total of 849 homes on the market and by the end of 2017, there were 722 homes being listed.

Susan McQuillan, president of the Gainesville Alachua County Association of Realtors, said while this may be good for sellers, it is causing an issue realtors haven’t seen in a while.

“The biggest thing that I see being a problem is the shortage of homes available,” McQuillan said. “We’re getting into the season of home market sales and we’re not having those homes available for buyers that are coming into the area.”

To make matters worse, however, she said the National Association of Realtors released data this month stating that the rise in home prices is not matching the median level of income across the nation.

McQuillan said although sellers may greatly benefit from the rise in sale prices, sellers must first put in a good amount of money to ensure their home will sell.

“When you’re talking about showing your home, getting it ready to be put on the market I think you have to have as close to the updated scenario that you can have for anybody who’s out there looking,” she said. “Whether it is the younger generation or the older generation, we all like our flashy, shiny things.”

Simple improvements to a home, such as updating the kitchen, yard or a bathroom, become a necessary evil buyers end up wanting when searching for their perfect home.

“Even though we have a shortage of properties on the market, nobody wants to go into a property and do a whole bunch of work,” McQuillan said. “It’s just not what people want to do these days.”

Kellie Peterson, 22-year-old Gainesville native, is currently feeling the effects of the housing shortage. She has been looking for a condo in Gainesville after accepting a new position with UF Health and is finding it more difficult than she originally imagined.

“The biggest issue I was running into was being bought out by cash buyers,” Peterson said. “I’m 22 years old, so I don’t have $80,000 just lying around to throw cash on a condo.”

The first two locations she found and fell in love with were quickly snagged away by cash offers. Then, the one condo she most recently put an offer on and was accepted, was only on the market less than 24 hours from her time of offer.

She said while knowing what you want can help in the process of looking for a home, acting fast is crucial.

“Go with your gut,” she said. “If you want something and you’re having to compete with cash buyers, the process needs to go faster rather than slower.”

Peterson is just one of the individuals going through the current housing struggle in the area.

McQuillan said individuals looking to rent are also having a hard time finding a place to call home.

“Usually you see the sales (market) doing well and the rentals (market) do a lot less…but in the case of this year, specifically, we’re seeing both of those markets being at the very top of their game and a shortage of properties,” she said.

Although there aren’t a ton of new housing developments in the works currently around the county, McQuillan said there is a good chance things will change in the near future, allowing buyers to broaden their range in choices.

“We might be seeing more and more communities popping up and at a good steady pace, giving everybody an opportunity to look at different options across the county.”

In the meantime, she said individuals looking to buy can take a few steps to ensure the house hunting process goes more smoothly for them.

“Be prepared and do your homework,” she said. “Talk with a mortgage broker or lender and ask them what you can do to have your qualifications ready to go when that perfect home comes available.”

In addition to being prepared, McQuillan said she recommends potential buyers to start saving farther in advance to ensure a good financial backing when house hunting and to get a professional realtor involved in the process.

Alexis is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.