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Sanity returns to the housing market — but not lower prices

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Wilfredo Lee
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AP
More homes are available in Northeast Florida; they're staying on the market longer; and more sellers are cutting their prices.

Good new for homebuyers: The long-awaited slowdown in the housing market has finally arrived.

More homes are available; they're staying on the market longer; and more sellers are cutting their prices.

The prices are still higher than we're used to, but "it appears that the real estate market in Northeast Florida is settling into a new normal,” Mark Rosener, president of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, said in a release this week.

New data shows that the median price of single-family homes, condos and townhomes rose a mere 0.5% in July, a dramatic shift from two years of frenzied price increases.

The median price of a single-family home hovered around $400,000 in July, the Realtors association said.

Single-family homes remained on the market for a median of 24 days in July, a third longer than the month before. The total number of homes on the market rose 11.6%. "This signals a loosening up of the market that should be a welcome relief to buyers," the Realtors said.

Stessa, an investment service, found that Jacksonville had a higher share of homes on the market than all but two large cities considered affordable.

Jacksonville has 53 active listings per 10,000 existing homes, Stessa reported. Only Tucson, Arizona, and Las Vegas fared better.

"Buyers are walking away from deals more often, which suggests that they are regaining negotiating power after an extremely seller-friendly stretch," Stessa said in a report released Friday. And more sellers are cutting their prices — a total of 17.7% in Jacksonville, Stessa said.

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Redfin
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MLS data
More sellers across the country are dropping their asking price.

But Stessa and others point out that buying a home is still no easy job. Rising mortgage rates and inflation have cut into people's budgets. Median sales prices have more than doubled over the last decade, including a 50% increase from the beginning of 2020 to now, Stessa said. "Affordability remains a major challenge, especially for first-time homebuyers."

In Northeast Florida, the home affordability index — a measure of whether a typical family qualifies for a typical mortgage — remained unchanged at 73 in July, the Realtors association says. A higher number is better. The index suggests that while there are more homes to consider, they are no more affordable.

Redfin, a real estate researcher and marketer, reported this week that more homeowners are holding off on selling as the housing market cools.

New listings dropped 12% nationally during the four weeks ending Aug. 7, the steepest decline since June 2020, Redfin said. Northeast Florida was about the same with 11.7% fewer new listings, according to the Realtors association.

But the number of homes on the market nationally increased 4% over last year, a sign that homebuyers are pulling back more than home sellers. Redfin said. Fifty-nine percent of the homes for sale in Jacksonville have been on the market longer than 30 days, far more than the 21% from a year ago, Redfin said.

"Buyers are backing off due to rising housing costs, and sellers are holding back because they realize they won't get the bidding war they would have gotten six months ago," said Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr.

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where, as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 40 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. You can reach Randy at rroguski@wjct.org or on Twitter, @rroguski.