West Volusia Real Estate Market Update, September 2022

October 18, 2022 | By Chuck Shaver
Central Florida September Market Update

Is our real estate market in a recession? Did you see what happened to our LOCAL real estate market in September? I’ll be taking just a few minutes to reveal the facts of what JUST happened. I’ll address the residential West Volusia real estate market including Deland, Deltona, Debary, Lake Helen, and Orange City for the month ending September 30, 2022.

Now, before we get to the biggest news, let’s check out the median sale price of a home here in the West Volusia area. The median sale price at the end of September was $319,000, which is down from $325k last month, down from $319,500 at the end of June, but still up from $270,000 a year ago. Does this spell recession? No, it does not. This says that selling prices have held steady since April. Selling price to listing price ratios haven’t changed dramatically either. With increased interest rates, sellers are now being forced to reduce their prices, and buyers are buying them at these reduced prices. But hold on, there is some BIG news!

The time it’s taking sellers to get a contract on their homes has increased from 11 days in August to 17 days in September. That’s a BIG DEAL! And it’s not just a one-month fluke, either. That’s up from 5 days back in June and up from 7 days a year ago. We’re seeing this in our local market on a daily basis. We still have some unrealistic sellers that want to price their homes like it’s June, but it’s not. 11 days seems like a crazy high number, but when I look back over the last 10 years, 11 days is still a very short period of time to get a home under contact. Of course, except for the last two years, which we all knew was insane. As such, this huge increase in days on market does not spell a recession either.

But inventory levels are rising, that’s a sure sign of a recession, right? Well, although inventory levels have risen quite a bit, they actually dropped about 5% to 935 homes from the end of August to the end of September. This is still up from 774 homes, or about 20% in the last 3 months and about 58% in the last year.

I was actually surprised that the inventory levels decreased since last month. Perhaps it’s simply that sellers that planned to capitalize on high selling prices have already done so. If this IS the case, then I suspect we’ll see the inventory levels hover around where we currently are, which is still quite low. Low inventory levels tend to mean sellers markets; however, higher interest rates don’t, so I suspect the market will continue to level out.

Freddie Mac’s interest rate as of September 30th was 6.7%, that’s up over a full point from 5.55% at the end of August, but actually down from 5.7% over the last 3 months, and up from 3.01% a year ago.

What’s impacting the market?

Obviously, an interest rate increase of over 1% in one month is a huge deal, and this is what I believe is the primary factor impacting our local real estate market today. With the cost of the money to borrow to pay for those homes costing twice what it did a year ago, I believe there will simply be less buyers with the ability to purchase. Less buyers means that the inventory issue should be less of an issue moving forward.

Another issue we’re seeing is the cost of insurance for buyers continuing to rise. This increase decreases the amount of home that a buyer can qualify for. Plus, insurance companies are requiring more and more 4-point inspections that are failing for things like older hot water heaters and older roofs. When these inspections fail, some sellers are refusing to make the repairs. It’s sometimes silly, as the next buyer is going to need the same thing. Then, when THAT ONE falls apart too, they blame the Listing Agent, so sometimes it’s frustrating for everyone involved.

So, where is the market heading? This is the million-dollar question and nobody, including the high-powered talking heads has certainty of. However, here in Deland, Deltona, Orange City, Debary, and Lake Helen, we will likely continue to see buyers fleeing from the Orlando market to lower prices this side of the St. Johns River Bridge.

I believe the interest rates will continue to put the reigns on our market as they rise as the Fed attempts to slow inflation. Although it seems like many I talk to are predicting an all out real estate market collapse, I believe that I can make a case that we’re in for more of a pause, but no collapse at all. Some say that mortgage rates could ease by late spring, and, if that happens and we don’t have any craziness that impacts the market in general, price increases could re-emerge, although I believe they’ll be at a much slower rate. Nothing here suggests that we’re in a recession as of today either.

I am a bit concerned about our insurance market and what happens there, especially after Hurricane Ian’s wrath. If Florida is unable to find a quick fix aside from printing, like another TRILLION dollars, the mortgage holders, or homeowners themselves, could be in a bind. Something like this surely could cause a recession in our real estate market, but I don’t see evidence of a recession in our local real estate market – at least yet.

If you have questions about the real estate market here in Central Florida or have real estate needs, feel free to reach out to me directly.

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