Q. How has COVID affected the local market?
A. That is the number one question I am asked by friends, family members, and customers across the country. Now, they want to know how COVID-19 has affected their property values and real estate in general. The short answer is; it depends. Here in Central Florida, we are fortunate to have many positives working in our favor thus far. Specific to Lake County, our county leaders were able to successfully keep as many businesses open as possible for as long as possible, and thanks to CARES Act funding, many businesses, and homeowners that were negatively impacted by COVID-19 are seeing some financial relief.
Lake was already poised to see a drastic increase in growth due to the opening of the Minneola turnpike interchange and in East Lake, the opening of the Central Florida Expressway connection. Partly due to COVID-19, nearly 1000 people move into Florida per day and are clamoring for the suburbs. Stats provided by Florida Realtors® shows a checkmark style recovery during our summer sales season with closed sales up over 12% year over year in July alone. The local unemployment rate has dropped to 8.8% in August, after rising over 12% in April. A healthy unemployment rate is between 4-6%, so we are on a positive track toward correction. All of this contributes to a healthy environment for Real Estate in Lake.
The biggest challenge we are facing at this juncture is a lack of inventory to keep up with the growing demand on housing. Active inventory is down 26% from 2019, impacting prices across the county, especially in homes below the price of $400,000. Homes priced below $200,000 are sparse and often sell with multiple offers on the table. The Villages is considered a micro-market in Lake County and has a different set of influences than the rest of the county. Largely a seasonal environment, this year we saw a 32% increase in closed sales in August 2020 over the same time last year. Typically, August is a slower month for sales in The Villages, but this is 2020, and after prolonged quarantines in northern states, our seasonal residents have brought their friends and neighbors to enjoy Florida living, Village style.
This year, we have learned that housing needs do not stop in times of crisis. Life keeps moving forward and with that, necessary housing changes. Housing is, and always has been essential, and the practice of Real Estate Sales is in a constant state of evolution to meet the demands of the consumer.
777 N Donnelly Street, Mount Dora
Addie Owens, CRS is the President of the Realtors® Association of Lake and Sumter Counties, Residential Real Estate Council Florida State 2021 President-Elect and serves on the Florida Realtors Board of Directors. She is also owner of Touchstone Real Estate and is a licensed Real Estate Instructor for Touchstone Real Estate Schools located in Mount Dora, Florida.