A new report from the Florida Realtors shows in the first quarter of 2020, Florida’s housing market reported higher median prices and more closed sales compared to a year ago but the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the state’s economy and real estate markets began to emerge in mid-March.
According to numbers released by the Florida Realtors on Tuesday, closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 65,602 in the first quarter of 2020, up 10.2 percent from the first quarter of 2019.
Florida Realtors President Barry Grooms, a realtor and co-owner of Florida Suncoast Real Estate in Bradenton, weighed in on the data.
“Real estate remains a keystone industry in Florida’s economy – real estate is a long-term investment, not a short-term one,” Grooms said “Prior to the pandemic, the fundamentals of Florida’s real estate industry were very strong. Demand for housing was high across all of our major markets, including different price points and asset types. Price growth continued to rise month after month as a current housing shortage persisted.
“Of course, with the necessary steps taken to help safeguard people’s health due to COVID-19, including the business shutdowns, we expect to see a temporary decline in homebuyer interest combined with a decline in listings that will reduce the number of statewide transactions in the next few months’ housing data,” Grooms added.
The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in the first quarter of 2020 was $270,000, up 6.7 percent from the same time a year ago, according to data from the Florida Realtors Research department in partnership with local realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for condo-townhouse properties during the quarter was $205,000, up 10.5 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.
Looking at Florida’s condo-townhouse market, statewide closed sales totaled 27,379 during the first quarter of 2020, up 9.3 percent compared to the first quarter of 2019. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.
“Compared to the same quarter last year, total residential sales were up in the first quarter of 2020 across all 22 Florida metro areas,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. “Remember, going into the first quarter last year, the stock market was somewhat in flux and we had just entered the longest-ever shutdown of the federal government. So, home sale activity was a bit slow to start off. By March, though, falling mortgage rates came to the rescue and sales started taking off. Mortgage interest rates are currently lower than they were even back then, though, so it’s no wonder our first-quarter sales numbers for 2020 were so strong.
“Obviously, we are not expecting a repeat performance in Q2 due to the coronavirus outbreak. While we expect prices to remain stable through Q2, we will certainly see a reduced number of completed transactions,” O’Connor continued.
In the first quarter of 2020, the median time to a contract (the midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to receive a sales contract during that time) was 43 days for single-family homes and 51 days for condo-townhouse properties.
Inventory was at a 3.4-months’ supply in the first quarter for single-family homes and at a 5.5-months’ supply for condo-townhouse properties, according to Florida Realtors.
According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.51 percent for the first quarter of 2020, down from the 4.37 percent average recorded during the same quarter a year earlier.