The bereft housing market for lower-end and first-time home buyers has continued reaching acute levels in Greater Orlando, which is colliding with all of the population growth the area is seeing.
Three thousand homes were sold in the Orlando area in March, a 3.5 percent drop from the same period a year ago, while prices went up 10 percent, according to monthly data compiled by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.
The lowest amount of inventory, based on supply and demand, is for under $200,000 non-distressed single family homes. There were 1,304 of these homes on the market in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties last month.
Demonstrating just how in-demand they are, homes priced between $200,000 and $250,000 had the most sales last month, at 533.
Still, there are not that many out there. There is a 2.15-month supply of homes priced $200,000 and under, which means the area would run out of this option within that period based on the current rate of sales. The formula is used by realtors to judge demand, and this supply indicates a shortage of availability.
Buyers who could take a step up found more homes to choose from. Single family residential between $200,000-to-$500,000 totaled 3,936 in March. The supply was 5.42 months, twice the amount available at $200,000 and under.
For $500,000-to-$800,000 homes there were 828 on the market, a supply of 13.35 months.
For those priced above $800,000 the number of available homes was 787, with 26 sales and a 30.26 month supply.
The housing inventory position, largely for the lower end, only worsened in March, falling 8.21 percent after a 6.59 percent decline in February. Year-over year inventory has been falling on a monthly basis since last July.
Realtors cite two main reasons for the skewed availability, with high-end doing quite well as lower-end struggles.
People in the home buying and selling business cite Orlando's population explosion. The metro area was the country's 10th fastest growing between 2014 and 2015, with 60,049 people moving here, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Also, coming off of the deep recession, builders have been going where the money is — with many giving more focus to constructing higher-end homes.
"If I am a builder and have the ability to build a $200,000 home where I make $20,000, and have the opportunity to build a $600,000 home where I make $30,000 or $40,000, I would lean to that (higher profit)," said Lou Nimkoff, owner of Brio Real Estate.
There is also a large amount of homes that were bought from banks by institutional investors during the recession. The region has emerged from that economic downtown but the institutions continued sitting on those properties and renting them, instead of putting them back on the market by selling them, Nimkoff said.
A positive glimmer is that more lower-cost town home plans are showing up at county and city development meetings. This is, in part, a function of the area running out of big tracts of land where large subdivisions can be built, and town homes require smaller lots.