In Orlando, 2020 ended the same way it began: with bustling home sales.
Locally, there were 3,672 December home sales, up 21% from 3,033 sales in December 2019, according to new data from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. That strong December performance helped 2020 beat 2019 in overall home sales, an example of how local home demand has not slowed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
'Slammed' in 2020
That has resulted in Broker Allyn Maycumber sometimes working between 12 and 14 hours per day, she told Orlando Business Journal. In one word, the Lake Nona/Orlando agent describes his company as “slammed.”
Maycumber’s experience is not different from many local Realtors, as the desire for local houses exploded last year. The 36,871 Central Florida homes sold last year edged out 2019’s total of 36,707. That feat is even more impressive considering the uncertainty around the pandemic caused sales to drop in the spring.
As sales grew, so did prices. Last year’s median home price was $265,000, up 9% from $243,000 in 2019.
In 2020, appetite for Orlando homes was fed by the desire for more square footage and less-dense living during the pandemic. Plus, northeastern buyers flocked to Florida’s cheaper homes, warmer weather and suburban environment.
2021 expected to stay busy
That ferocious demand is expected to continue in 2021, ORRA President Natalie Arrowsmith said in a prepared statement. “Looking at the data, inventory has significantly decreased since the beginning of the year. In fact, December 2020 shows the lowest inventory we have seen in more than 15 years, which creates an extremely competitive market for buyers.”
Arrowsmith is not the only person in the residential real estate sector to predict a busy year for the industry. As previously reported, Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale projects a hot housing market in 2021, with Orlando home sales jumping 10.1% this year. Meanwhile, Central Florida prices would climb another 5.8%.
The three biggest factors that will drive housing demand in 2021 are young homebuyers, an increase in working from home and the subsequent move to the suburbs, Hale wrote in the report. Another factor expected to boost home purchases is historically-low mortgage rates, which may drop further in early 2021.
Trends in the residential real estate market are important, as every home sale in the state has an estimated local economic impact of $77,858, according to a 2018 study by the National Association of Realtors. In addition, the housing market often is considered a reflection of the overall health of the local economy.