April home sales fall, but prices rise in Volusia, Flagler counties
Home sales in Volusia and Flagler counties in Florida declined in April, but prices continued to rise, area Realtors' associations reported Thursday.
The reason: a growing shortage of available homes as new listings plunged in both counties.
"Believe it or not, home prices now versus a year ago are up $20,000," said Harold Briley, president of the Daytona Beach Area Association of Realtors.
"I've got two sales set to close in the next week and a half that were put under contract in April," he said. Briley is an agent with Adams, Cameron & Co. Realtors.
Realtors say the decrease in available listings was a big factor in the drop in homes sold. The reduction in inventory included homes that were for sale but pulled off the market because of coronavirus concerns.
Volusia County saw 726 homes sold in April, a 20% drop from 907 the same month a year ago, according to statistics released Thursday by the West Volusia Association of Realtors.
The Flagler County Association of Realtors reported that its members completed 215 sales of homes last month, down 12% from 245 in April 2019.
Despite fewer sales, the median price of homes sold in Volusia rose 10% to $232,250, up from $211,000 in April 2019.
The median sale price for homes sold in Flagler rose to $249,000, up 4% from $239,000 in April 2019.
Last month's sales numbers largely reflect homes put under contract in March, said Toby Tobin, a Realtor with Grand Living Realty in Palm Coast. Tobin writes a blog on the Flagler County real estate market called GoToby.com.
"The number of people looking for homes began to dip in early March when concerns started rising about the coronavirus," Tobin said.
Matthew Wilson, broker/owner of Ion Realty in Flagler Beach, said he only had one home put under contract in April, down from the four a month he averaged before the pandemic.
"There's a pulse, but it's weak," the past president of the Flagler County Association of Realtors said.
Flagler County saw homes put up for sale last month plunge 40% to 227, down from 381 in April 2019. It's the fewest new listings in a month for Flagler since October 2016.
New listings in Volusia County last month fell 18% to 837, down from 1,021 in April 2019.
Would-be sellers "are reluctant to have strangers coming into their home and (prospective buyers) are reluctant to walk into a stranger's home as well," said Tobin.
In Volusia County, Realtor Harold Briley said, "April was a little bit of a damper for everyone. We had to put a hold on open houses.
"But people were still able to show properties by adhering to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) standards (by wearing face masks and gloves and maintaining social distancing)," he said.
People are also becoming more comfortable viewing properties online, he and other agents say.
"Realtors seem to be adjusting to the new coronavirus protocols," said Tobin.
"The coronavirus definitely did a number on home sales last month," said Realtor Ron Wysocarski, the broker/owner of Wyse Home Team Realty in Port Orange. "But I think we may find the missing home sales from April's report are just delayed, not lost."
Low mortgage rates are helping to keep buyers interested in shopping for homes, Realtors say.
Freddie Mac on Thursday reported the national average interest rate for new 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loans declined to 3.24%, down from 3.28% the previous week. The average rate a year ago was 4.06%.
"For the fourth consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 3.3%, giving potential buyers a good reason to continue shopping even amid the pandemic," said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist.