House for sellers article Business 0729

Homes are still selling briskly in Citrus County despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The median sales price in August of a single-family home in Citrus County was $194,000 — up 14.5% from $169,500 one year earlier.

Active listings (inventory) dropped 50.4%. Last year, there were 1,033 listings, compared to only 512 this August.

Those were two big takeaways from Florida Realtors new market report that came out Tuesday, Sept. 22, and they show the extremes of the Citrus County housing market.

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But overall, it shows a healthy vitality in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The past few months has shown us the true value of real estate in Citrus County, a place where people are now choosing to move, when given an opportunity or reason to rethink their location and redesign their lifestyle,” said Kevin Cunningham, broker/owner of RE/MAX Realty One.

Cunningham said it remains a “very tight sellers market” in Citrus.

Other key indicators from the August report:

• The median time to a home sale was 76 days (faster than the 90 days last year).

• New listings were down 11.7% to 325, compared to 368 last year.

• New pending sales were down 24.4%, from 324 last year to 403 this August.

At RE/MAX Realty One, Cunningham said he had only 512 active home listings as of Aug. 31, compared with 1,033 one year earlier. Housing inventory, he said, was down 51.4%.

Jeanne Pickrel, president of the Realtors Association of Citrus County, said Citrus is outpacing the healthy market of 2019 by nearly 10%.

“In the last several weeks the homes have been flying off the market with the nice three bedrooms, two bedrooms, two baths, pool homes receiving multiple offers with the winning contract priced well over the list price,” said Pickrel, a sales associate with Century 21 JW Morton Real Estate.

“Our problem with the low inventory of homes is not going to go away overnight,” she added. “Prices will be held up with the rise in the cost of building materials, low-interest rates, and the desirability of living in Florida.”

The local picture mirrored the state and national scene.

Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, more new pending sales, higher median prices and more new listings in August compared to a year ago despite the ongoing pandemic, according to Florida Realtors.

Single-family existing home sales statewide rose 8.8% compared to August 2019.

“Florida’s housing market continues to gain momentum and provide support for the state’s economy, even as we all remain vigilant in protecting our health, safeguarding our communities and trying to keep businesses going during the ongoing pandemic,” said 2020 Florida Realtors President Barry Grooms. “Our homes have become more important than ever over the past few months, as we’ve dealt with stay-at-home orders, working from home, helping children with remote education and more.”

Low interest rates continue to attract buyers.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.94% in August 2020, down from the 3.62% averaged during the same month a year earlier.

Nationwide, existing-home sales continued to climb in August, marking three consecutive months of positive sales gains, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Sales as a whole rose year-over-year, up 10.5% from a year ago.

“Home sales continue to amaze, and there are plenty of buyers in the pipeline ready to enter the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Further gains in sales are likely for the remainder of the year, with mortgage rates hovering around 3% and with continued job recovery.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.