Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 at 2:17pm

Lake’s Low Price Housing Party May be Ending

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Since the beginning of the year, Lake County’s housing market has been quietly showing a very positive trend that most in the construction and realty industry believe will continue.  According to the Orlando Regional Realtors Association, during the month of March, Lake County realtors sold 397 homes, which is a 32.7% improvement over January’s sales.  Most importantly, Trend Graphix reported pending sales for March were 656 units with inventories dropping to 3,660 houses.

Housing inventories are down 11.7% since the first of the year while pending sales are up a whopping 54.4%.  Here are the gold nuggets from March’s housing numbers:

  • Sales are up 32.7%, and other than two months last spring just before the federal housing tax credit expired, sales are at the highest level since the deep recession started.
  • Lake County’s housing sales for the first three months of 2011 are 164 units better than the pre-boom levels for the first three months of 2002.
  • Housing inventories are at the lowest level since the deep recession began, and pending sales are the best since this nose dive started.
  • The median sale price for a home in Lake County for the first quarter stabilized at $124,226, which is now on par with pre-boom 2002 levels wherein the median sale price was $121,108.
  • Most experts contend that 40% or better of the foreclosed homes in Lake County’s housing market can be described as some form of distressed property.  For the first time since the start of the deep recession, Florida’s foreclosures dropped 12% in the month of April.  Of that number, how many of these foreclosures can really be classed as viable properties?

What is very encouraging is that this improvement is being achieved without some special federal government incentive program and in an environment of stingy lending by banks.  Based on current sales and pricing, it appears housing levels in Lake County are being reset at the pre-boom levels of 2002, which is far better than the last few years of record lows.

With much lower impact fees and hopefully improved banking over the next few months, Lake County may see modest gains in housing, which could help drive down unemployment.  This could be the catalyst for starting the economic engines in the County.

The increased activity is being fueled by a weak dollar and overseas investment, bargain basement prices on housing, population growth, bad winter weather up North, and a discontent of many citizens who have the money but who have put off their dreams for many years.  After several years into the early 1980s recession, the economy turned around because people decided they wanted to live their dreams before they died.

These numbers also point to the end of the low price housing party that’s been going on in Lake County for the last three years.  As one prominent realtor pointed out this month, “If you are a buyer who has been waiting for the bottom of the market, then you have probably missed it.”  Now, don’t misunderstand – no one is predicting prices to skyrocket and there are still houses on the market.  However, each month the market will see higher pricing and fewer selections – there appears to be a real trend to normality.

Oddly, some in the housing industry are predicting a pending housing shortage in America because not enough homes have been constructed to keep up with housing formation over the last few years.  It’s way too early to say whether that will happen in Lake County, but the trend is getting better, which indicates rising home values.  This is great news for current homeowners who have seen home values plummet.

If this current trend continues and accelerates as many expect, potential bargain buyers could miss the last of the remaining super deals.  Most sellers in the market have been beat up to the point of depression and any whiff the market is improving will stiffen prices and create more rejected offers.  It will be interesting to see if this trend continues, as most economists predict the second half of 2011 will be much better than the first.  We’ll see!

The Right Side of the Lake is a publication of Citizens for Better Government, L.L.C., and if you would like to comment on today’s column please go to our website www.lakecountygov.info or www.therightsideofthelake.com.  This newsletter is free to all who would like to subscribe, and we encourage you to send it out to everyone on your mailing list.  If you have information or a topic you would like us to cover, please email us directly at lakecountygov@lakecountygov.info.

3 Responses to “Lake’s Low Price Housing Party May be Ending”

  1. as a follow up, after reading the sentinel article this morning, it is nice to see leslie taking directions from lauren instead of don.

  2. Name says:

    She has always been a part of this game of Lake! How do you think her family got so rich? They plan for the long term. Right now they are holding hundreds of building sites in stock. If she could convince her fellow BCC members to sell off the endangered lands her family would buy the lakefronts and such for pennies on the dollar. Leslie is for Leslie and family period. All she ever cared about was those two fuzzy tree hugging retired school teachers was blocking their playhouse doors. And then we got Sean Parks. Some people don’t know nothing and he don’t even suspect anything!

  3. it is nice to see Leslie is at the top of her political game. i read in the Sentinel that she wants to disregard the voters mandate to buy land for conservation and public use and sell these properties to builders and developers. it didn’t take her long to show her true colors.

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