Home sales, new listings plunge in Volusia, Flagler counties
Home sales in May fell sharply in Flagler and Volusia counties in Florida as the coronavirus pandemic continued to put a damper on the local real estate market.
In Flagler County, Realtors reported a 37.9% drop in closed sales, compared with the number sold the same month last year. The 182 homes sold in May was the fewest for the county since January 2019.
Volusia County Realtors reported a 35% year-over-year decline in closed sales with only 708 sold, compared with 1,093 in May of last year.
May's low closed sales numbers were a reflection of the steep drop off in homes put under contract in late March and April, area Realtors said.
"When COVID-19 started coming on in March, that ruined our momentum," said Realtor Rachel McGrath of Premier Sotheby's International Realty at the Spruce Creek Fly-In.
"The last two weeks of March, people started hitting the brakes (on house hunting)," she said. "And April was the worst."
McGrath said home sales were also down because of the decline in people putting properties on the market. In some cases, homes that were previously listed were taken off "because the owners didn't want strangers walking through their home," she said.
Megan Farrell-Nelson, a Realtor with EXP Realty in Palm Coast, also reported a big drop in home sales activity because of the pandemic's impact on the economy.
"I had one couple come down from Colorado where the wife lost her job and and they got stuck in a hotel because everything got shut down," Farrell-Nelson said. "Then they had to requalify (to buy a house). Fortunately, they eventually found a house."
New listings in May declined by 10.6% in Flagler County and by 7.1% in Volusia County, compared to the number of homes put on the market the same month last year, according to data provided by area Realtor associations.
The total number of available homes on the market in Flagler County fell 18.4% to 891, the fewest since December 2016.
The inventory of available homes in Volusia County declined 14.1% in May to 2,499.
The median price of homes sold in May fell 3.2% in Flagler County to $242,000, compared with $250,000 the same month last year.
Volusia County, on the other hand, saw median sales prices rise 5% to $231,000, up from $220,000 in May 2019.
McGrath and Realtor Debbie Keilin, also with Premier Sotheby's, still managed to sell six homes in May. The sale prices of those homes ranged from the $200,000s to $1.1 million.
"There are still people looking partly because of the low interest rates," McGrath said. "In May, things started picking up (in terms of house hunters). We're seeing an increase in people coming down from the North."
Farrell-Nelson also has seen home sales activity start to pick up in recent weeks.
"The beginning of June, it's like the faucet turned back on with buyers," she said. "Pool home sales right now are especially up. "We had a closing (Monday) with a couple from New Jersey and (Tuesday) we're doing a closing with a couple from North Carolina. Last week, we sold homes to buyers from Vermont and Michigan."
"I'm also selling a lot of new construction," she added.
McGrath expressed concern that the coronavirus pandemic appears far from over.
"This COVID thing isn't going away. Cases are rising, not falling," she said. "I continue to wear a mask and gloves and continue to maintain social distancing.
"I had a couple buyers who refused to wear masks. One said, 'It (the pandemic) was just nonsense.'"
McGrath disagrees, but agrees with the need to keep the economy open for business.
"We need that antidote (vaccine) as soon as possible," she said. "In the meantime, we all need to remember to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer and still practice social distancing. We have to keep working and keep our economy going, but we can't go out there and jeopardize other people's lives."
Farrell-Nelson said she wears a mask when indoors showing a house, but not gloves. She said she prefers to use disinfectant wipes.
"I also social distance when I'm outside and I don't allow people to ride with me in my car," she said.
She added, "Everybody's adjusting to the new normal."