Sales of single-family homes nosedived in January.
Florida Realtors released new data this week showing 195 closed sales last month, compared to 302 a year ago – a 35.4 percent drop.
Gone are the days when homeowners put their homes on the market and they had multiple offers before the ink dried on the listing.
The median time to a sale was 86 days in January. The pendulum has shifted from a seller’s market to that of a buyer.
“Even though actual closings are slowing down, the leads are up wildly,” said Amy Meek, broker-associate with Meek Real Estate in Crystal River.
Meek said buyers don’t have to rush into sales anymore and can compare properties.
“They didn’t have time to think about it before,” she said. “They’re taking more time.”
The median sale price for homes continues to rise: from $255,000 one year ago to $282,000 in January. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.
Other takeaways from the Florida Realtors January report:
New listings: 350, down 2.2 percent from 358 a year ago
Falling sales resulted in a 161 percent rise in active home listings inventory in Citrus County from 348 a year ago to 908 this January.
Only 80 people paid cash for their home in January, compared to 127 a year ago.
Meek said the pandemic resulted in more people working remotely so they can choose to live in Citrus County rather than commute long distances. That, she said will attract younger families.
“I believe the market will remain strong,” she said.
Citrus County mirrored the rest of the state in January.
“Compared to one year ago, single-family home sales this January were down by 32.5 percent, which, believe it or not, was the smallest year-over-year decline we’ve had since last October,” according to Florida Realtors Chief Economist Brad O’Connor.
“Given that interest rates remain twice as high as they were a year ago, however, this significant decline in sales is not altogether surprising,” he added.
Michael D. Bates is a staff writer with the Citrus County Chronicle and can be reached at email@example.com.
From volunteer to Park Ranger and Animal Enrichment Coordinator, Makenzie Shaw has spent nearly half her life caring for the animals at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park – and she’s only 21.
She began volunteering at the park when she was 12 years old, making her the youngest to ever volunteer there at the time.
Volunteers are not, however, immune to any of the daily poop-scooping or exhibit cleaning. Shaw doesn’t mind that at all, though, because every day is different, she said.
“That’s the nice thing about a job like this, every day is different. You could be working the same shift for seven days in a row and it could still be different every single day because you never know what’s going to happen and it makes it really exciting,” Shaw said.
She’s always had a passion for wildlife and the natural world. In middle school, she was able to attend Busch Gardens and Sea World summer camps where she got to work with the keepers at each park and it was a “major turning point” for her.
“I was like ‘I could do this every day for the rest of my life,’” Shaw said. “We’re picking up kangaroo poop at Busch Gardens and I was like ‘this is amazing, I love it.’”
Now Shaw is working on her degree online while working full time at the park, having been promoted to a full-time park ranger position in August 2022. She’s currently getting her bachelor’s in environmental science and policy from the University of South Florida.
As a park ranger, her daily duties typically depend on whether she has the opening or closing shift at the park, but generally they consist of cleaning the exhibits and feeding the animals at certain times throughout the day.
On an opening shift, she takes care of Lu the Hippopotamus, cleaning off his beach and feeding him in the mornings. Then she feeds the birds in the shorebird aviary, aka the pelicans and flamingos.
Then she cleans the night houses for the birds, which is where they stay during the night to keep them safe from potential predators since most birds at the park have wing injuries making them unable to fly. Once all that is done, she’ll do some exhibit maintenance, such as changing perching around for the birds or cleaning up exhibits.
On a closing shift, she cleans up the deer yard and feeds them, changes their hay and does some enrichment with them.
“We might do a puzzle feeder for the deer and give them produce every day,” Shaw said. “Their favorite currently is pumpkin, so we might have a PVC puzzle feeder and put pieces of pumpkin in it, so they have to work at it through the day.”
As Animal Enrichment Coordinator, an extra duty she earned recently, she and her team of volunteers try to do enrichment at least twice a day with all of the animals.
“So in the mornings when we’re letting the animals out, we’re putting things in exhibits like different spices, or a new ball or scratching post, or even fecal material from another species to kind of get them excited and giving them something new every day and encourage their natural behaviors,” Shaw said.
For example, they’ll put deer feces in the panther exhibit and make a trail with it to encourage the natural tracking behavior of the panthers. For the bears, they like to give them something new each day in their night houses, such as bamboo or palm fronds.
In the past, Shaw has been such an outstanding volunteer that not only was she nominated by the park, but she was also awarded the Florida’s Youth Volunteer of the Year award in 2017, when she was 16 years old.
“It was a really awesome opportunity to represent this park in a way that most other facilities aren’t able to because I had been here for so long and I was so young,” she said.
Outside of her years at the park, Shaw has done some other stand-out things that made her who she is today.
While she was at Citrus High School, she did Youth Leadership Citrus and participated in the monthly field trips around the county, making her appreciate this county she grew up in even more.
When she was 14 years old, she was selected to appear in the Outsiders Club, an Emmy Award-winning television show about kids who explore the outdoors and promote a healthier, more active and environmentally-conscious lifestyle.
“It was their first season, first episode, and they were doing it on the Junior Ranger Program that state parks have. So kids can come and do scavenger hunts and they get a little badge that says they’re a junior ranger,” Shaw said. “So I got to go to Tomoka State Park and film for a day to be on this show. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for sure.”
She also was working on raising a guide dog – a yellow lab lovingly named Nicholas John – during her freshman year of college in 2019 for Southeastern Guide Dogs while at USF in St. Petersburg. However, once COVID-19 began in 2020, the training was cut short as the program could no longer meet in person and 90 dogs were released from the program.
However, she was given the option whether to adopt out her dog or keep him, so he was job class changed to a pet and she kept him.
“Now he is my chunky little lab instead of my very smart service dog,” said Shaw. “It was definitely a super cool experience and I’m wanting to get back into doing it, probably after college and if I’m able to balance it with my full time job, because it is so rewarding.”
On top of all this, she was also selected by her professors at USF to study abroad in the Galapagos Islands for two weeks.
She got to do tracking on the Galapagos tortoises with the preserve security and collected field data on the tortoises for their record keeping. She also got to do snorkeling with sharks and swimming with wild sea lions off the island.
“It was the experience of a lifetime, I would suggest visiting to everyone. It was the coolest place I’ve ever been,” said Shaw.
As of now, she’s not planning on leaving the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park any time soon now that she essentially has her dream job already.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen after I graduate necessarily, but I have no plans to leave this park,” Shaw said. “It’s been a big part of my life for almost my entire life. But I’m definitely not opposed to learning and experiencing new things, so if the opportunity presents itself, I could see myself trying out working at a different facility. But I’m kind of just vibing where I’m at, and I’m really grateful for what I have here.”
Contact Chronicle Reporter Georgia Sullivan at 352-564-2929.
ORLANDO (AP) — At age 9, T’yonna Major excelled at her school work and in gymnastics, shown flexing her arms after competitions with newly won medals around her neck in photos her proud dad posted on social media.
“She was a light to everyone that knew her,” the girl’s father, Tokiyo Major, posted on the fundraising site GoFundMe, where he has asked for donations to help pay for his daughter’s funeral. “She was everything to us.”
T’yonna was killed Wednesday when a gunman barged into her home outside Orlando and shot the third-grader and her mother, who survived the attack. The Orange County sheriff said the same assailant killed two other people in the Pine Hills area – a TV journalist shot in a vehicle outside and a 38-year-old woman slain hours earlier in the same neighborhood.
Sheriff John Mina said the victims appear to have been killed at random.
Grieving families and friends of the victims are still trying to come to terms with the bloody rampage. A least two vigils in their memory were planned Friday evening.
Julie Schroeder, who has has worked with T’yonna’s father for nearly a decade, described the girl’s family as loving and close. She described T’yonna as precocious, with grades at the top of her class and reading two grade levels above her age group, as well as affectionate and polite.
“She loved deeply when you’re around her,” Schroeder told WESH-TV. “She always hugged you and she always referred to you as Mr. and Mrs. because respect was very big in their family.”
Her father wrote that T’yonna was also an “amazing gymnast,” often referred to by her coaches as “the next Gabby Douglas.”
Authorities arrested 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses at the scene and charged him with murder. The public defender’s office for Orange and Osceola counties, which is representing Moses, has declined to comment.
The first victim, 38-year-old Natacha Augustin, was killed late Wednesday morning. A man who identified himself as Moses’ cousin told investigators that he was driving around with Augustin when he spotted Moses and offered him a ride, according to an arrest affidavit.
The witness, whose name was redacted from the affidavit, said Moses climbed into the backseat behind Augustin, who was fatally shot about 30 seconds later before Moses fled on foot.
Hours later, news crews at the scene of the shooting included Spectrum News 13 reporter Dylan Lyons and photographer Jesse Walden. They found themselves caught in a another round of gunshots, which the sheriff said were also fired by Moses when he returned five hours after the first shooting.
Lyons, 24, was killed by gunfire while sitting inside an unmarked news vehicle. Walden was wounded and taken to a hospital.
“You’re losing a friend,” Walden said of Lyons from his hospital bed. “You’re not losing an acquaintance or just coworker – it’s someone that made working fun.”
Walden said he and Lyons both started working a the TV around the same time last year and regularly covered stories together on the night shift. He told Spectrum News 13 that Lyons was a “very, very wholesome person” with a great sense of humor.
“He had a very strong sense of justice,” Walden said. “He would really want everyone to follow the rules when it came to people of power.”
Authorities said the gunman then walked into T’yonna’s home nearby, shooting the girl and her mother. Mina said that when deputies wrestled Moses to the ground outside and arrested him, the suspect had a semiautomatic handgun that was still hot from being fired.
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