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North Central Florida Housing Market Inventory Decreases As Prices Soar for Homebuyers

The housing market is at a competitive edge for sellers causing bidding wars and few property choices for active homebuyers.

Realtors in north central Florida say the area has had its share of the influx of people moving to Florida at an alarming rate in the past year.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 8.9 million people have relocated since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. Out of those who moved to Florida, 28% came from Texas, and 15% are relocated from New York.

Craig Wilburn, realtor and leader of Team Dynamo, a partner of Keller Williams Realty Gainesville, said besides the flood of homebuyers into Florida, the small number homes on the market has been building up for over a decade, and the region is now seeing the result.

“There were a lot of people in Gainesville who bought homes in 2007, but those people paid high prices then. So when the prices dropped from the market crash in 2008, all those people would normally have sold their homes immediately,” Wilburn said. “But they were upside-down ... They owed more than the houses were worth. Those homes never came back on the market.”

Wilburn said the inventory continued to shrink, but now that the economy has bounced back, there’s not enough supply for the demand.

“People have money, he said. “People are buying houses. There is now such a small supply of inventory that all the prices are going up.”

Homes for sale in Alachua County are now on the market for a week or less before going under contract. Previously, the average home was on the market for a month or more.

According to Wilburn, there was also a 13% decrease in new construction sales this year, with a 17% increase in sellers’ homes on the market.

Wilburn predicts the current housing market trends could last a while.

“If we don't see more people come to Gainesville with more income, then eventually the inventory will start to rise again, and then the prices will start to level off and then come down,” Wilburn said. “Though, as long as people are coming to Florida, have high paying jobs and the economy is strong, this could continue.”

Wilburn advises buyers struggling with aggressive bidding and fast sales to be patient and have endurance.

“We have people who gave offers before the house even gets on the market,” he said. “Buyers need to be aggressive and find an agent who knows about properties that are not listed yet.”

Carina Hernandez, a prospective homebuyer in Gainesville, is one of the many people in Florida dealing with the house bidding wars.

“I've had several properties that I've had my eye on, and I lost them within a few hours of them coming onto the market,” she said. “As soon as I called my realtor, she said the properties had been already put under contract,” said Hernandez. It seems to be the ongoing theme every single day or every time ... really nice properties come onto the market, they are taken off immediately.”

Hernandez is currently renting an apartment put onto the market for sale by her landlord earlier in the year. The apartment sold almost immediately after she started renting in November.

Hernandez has currently lived there for eight months until three months ago, when a family purchased the apartment.

“It was bought very quickly this year, and again I have to find another place to go ... The buyers are willing to pay off the rest of my time here to move in sooner, Hernandez said. “I’m a little worried I may have to move to another state or another place that I don't want to live because there is just nothing here.”

Ocala has also been feeling the effects of the market.

Greg Pittas, president of the Ocala Marion County Association of Realtors, said the migration of those from other states was a large factor that caused demand to outweigh the supply of homes available. He said raising the interest rate could help deal with the demand issues.

“The amount of properties for sale are down about 50% from last year,” Pittas said. “Until there is an equilibrium, the prices will continue to rise.”

Some north central Florida homebuyers are becoming desperate to find a home as soon as they can.

“Buyers are struggling about whether they should get into this market and buy now when the prices have gone up so much, so out of urgency they are actually buying homes and offering more of what the actual value is,” Pittas said.

The U.S. Federal Housing Agency reports the quarterly house price index for Ocala in 2021 was an HPI value of 252 compared to last year’s quarter one report of 231, meaning single-family homes increased in listing price by 9%.

“If you're over that $250,000 mark, yes, there is a lot more inventory and a lot more available, but [buyers] may not qualify for that home,” Pittas said. “Especially for teachers, police officers and firefighters – they just have a working wage – they're not making a whole lot of money and may not qualify for those higher-priced homes.”

Kassidy is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.