Panama City, Fla.
Panama City area home sales prices rising


Bay County, Fla., home sales and prices were up year-over-year during the last nine months of 2019, driven by continued high demand for housing after Hurricane Michael.

The latest Florida Realtors statistics show that total home sales were up 14.7% between January and September, year-over-year in the county. Also, median sales prices were up 2.3% year-over-year for the same period, the statistics show. Some real estate experts say high demand for housing is still pushing sales and prices up more than a year after the Category 5 hurricane devastated the county.

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According to the statistics, 3,204 homes were sold in the county in the first nine months of the year. For the third quarter, the most recent of 2019, September was the best month with a 20.6% jump in sales, year-over-year.

September also had the best single month of median price growth for the third quarter, with a 5.2% jump year-over year. The median price for the year through September was $225,000, the statistics show.

“So many people are looking for housing and so inventory is low and then the need for houses is driving prices up,” said Connie Overstreet of Overstreet Realty in Panama City.

Overstreet said most of the home sales she’s handled this year have been for existing residents wanting new housing since the hurricane.

“It’s busiest on the east side of town,” Overstreet said of home sales.

Ida Hargaray, president of the Central Panhandle Association of Realtors, also said the hurricane was still driving home sales in the county more than a year after it hit.

“It’s still a continuation of people moving out of damaged homes and getting into homes that are complete and going to a different area in our town,” Hargaray said.

More people are finally getting the insurance checks for their damaged homes and opting to buy new houses instead of fixing their existing ones, she said.

According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, of the 89,519 Hurricane Michael insurance claims made in the county, 12,690 were still open as of Sept. 27.

Hargaray added that military personnel are helping drive the home sales. More military people have been moving into the county, but since there’s still no housing on Tyndall Air Force base because of the storm, they have to buy homes elsewhere in the county.

In the first few months of the year, statistics showed that outside investors were driving much of the home sales in the county — an activity housing industry experts say is typical after disasters and generally helps housing markets stay healthy. However, more recent months have seen a tapering off of investor activity, but it still is having some impact on sales, Overstreet said.

“We are still getting multiple offers for broken homes,” Overstreet said, referring to homes still damaged by the hurricane. “Investors are still buying.”

Also, with demand so high for housing, homes that enter the market don’t stay available for long.

“Houses are on the market 30 days on average in the city … that’s pretty quick,” Hargaray said. “That’s faster than on the Beach, where they’re averaging 100 days.”

Tribune Content Agency



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