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2015 strong year for Greater Orlando home sales, Q4 slowdown projects softer 2016

Pictured above is a Toll Brothers' version of a town home, a new offering planned by the homebuilder in 2015.
Pictured above is a Toll Brothers' version of a town home, a new offering planned by the homebuilder in 2015.(Toll Brothers)

The Orlando area had strong home sales last year, but waning momentum that began in the Fall carried into December, and 2016 is now being projected to be a much softer year.

Home sales in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties rose 15.46 percent in 2015, on the back of strong sales through three quarters of the year.

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But then declines or minor gains set in starting in October, and the slowdown in momentum has the Orlando Regional Realtor Association projecting more tepid growth in the coming year. Although not projecting a figure, the group does feel it will beat the Florida Realtors' prediction of 8 percent to 10 percent growth for the state this year.

In Orlando, where roughly 35,000 home sales took place in 2015 — roughly 18 percent more than in 2014 -- this would mean between 2,800 and 3,500 additional transactions in 2016.
The Orlando area can do it, said John Lazenby, the Orlando realtor association's new president.

"We expect Orlando's sales to exceed state projections due to healthy economic and job growth in the area, plus a trend of rising rents," Lazenby told GrowthSpotter.

Still, it may not be a straight run because there is the lingering issue of declining inventory, which reduces options for buyers and dampens sales. Orlando finished 2015 with an 8 percent drop in residential inventories.

Last year also saw a significant rise in home prices. The median price in the Orlando area was $178,788, a 9.02 percent increase from 2014's median price of $164,900.

For the past 53 months, Orlando's median price has experienced consistent year-over-year increases. The "reasonable" growth indicates that prices are not going to be falling, Lazenby said.

Sales of single-family homes increased 16.66 percent over 2014, while condo sales increased 6.31 percent. Sales of duplexes, town homes and villas increased 18.17 percent.

Still, it wasn't a banner year for all realtors. Tanya Stewart, head of Stewart Group, which sells in Orange and Seminole counties, found the buyer/seller dynamic didn't always meld and 2015 ended up a disappointment.

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Stewart's company was down about $75,000 in commissions, and had about 15 fewer sales.

Some sellers saw how home prices were increasing and priced their properties at such a high level that they did not sell. And for those that were willing to buy at lofty prices there were cases where properties did not have enough appeal.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at ktalley@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5176. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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