Volusia-Flagler see uptick in high-end home deals, despite overall dip

Realtor George Hanna of Home Wise Realty Group stands in front of a single-family house in Port Orange's Waters Edge community that was put under contract in August just four days after he listed it. The house, pictured on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, is set to close on Friday.

PORT ORANGE ― Realtor George Hanna feared a downturn in home sales locally when he saw interest rates continuing to rise. He was relieved when the luxury property he listed in August quickly drew multiple offers.

Despite its lofty $759,900 asking price, the six-bedroom, five-bath house with a pool at 1787 Creekwater Blvd. in Port Orange’s Waters Edge community was put under contract in just four days.

Hanna said he was not at liberty to disclose how much the house is selling for, but confirmed the sale is closing on Friday. The custom house was built in 2014. It includes a bedroom that was converted into an in-home theater.

Asked how it got multiple offers, Hanna said the answers are simple: “It’s a beautiful property” and “The supply is little and the demand is higher.”

It’s also an example of how the real estate market in Volusia and Flagler counties fared in August. Here’s a look at the latest numbers:

Volusia prices still rising, but sales dip from a year ago

Realtors in Volusia County completed sales of 771 existing single-family homes in August, up 1% from 763 the previous month, but down 4.8% from 810 in August 2022, according to county-wide data provided by the West Volusia Association of Realtors.

The median sale price, meaning half sold for more and half for less, rose to $360,000, up 2.4% from 351,501 in July and up 1.4% from $355,100 in August of last year.

August’s sales included 232 cash purchases, up from 182 in July, but down from 263 a year ago.

Flagler prices, sales dip, but has an uptick in cash purchases

The Flagler County Association of Realtors on Thursday reported that its member agents sold 254 homes in August, down slightly from 260 in July and 279 in August 2022.

The median sale price dipped to $365,000, compared with $379,000 in July and $477,572 in August 2022.

The number of buyers making all-cash purchases inched higher to 99, up from 95 in July and 96 in August of last year.

“It’s still a sellers’ market,” said Toby Tobin, a Realtor with Grand Living Commercial Real Estate in Palm Coast who writes a blog on the Flagler County real estate market called GoToby.com. “There’s a steady demand.”

Sales rise for high-end homes

Realtors in Volusia County sold 18 homes for $1 million or more in August, up from 17 in July and 16 in August 2022.

Their counterparts in Flagler County sold 13 for $1 million or more, up from 9 in July, but down just one from 14 in August 2022.

Cash buyers dominate luxury home market

While rising rates for new mortgage loans is keeping some would-be buyers on the sidelines, that’s not the case for those shopping for high-end homes. Many pay all in cash, which makes rising interest rates irrelevant, according to Realtors.

Case in point: the oceanfront mansion of the late Hawaiian Tropic founder Ron Rice at 175 Ocean Shore Blvd. in Ormond Beach that was put under contract in an all-cash deal on Aug. 18.

Listing agent Bill Navarra, the broker/owner of Realty Pros Assured, was not allowed to disclose the sale price prior to its closing. The asking price was $4.75 million. The buyers are a family from the Midwest. The sale is set to close in late October.

This is the indoor pool at the Ormond Beach oceanfront mansion of the late Hawaiian Tropic founder Ron Rice. It connects to one of the home's two outdoor pools.

Cash buyers dominated the high-end market in Flagler County as well last month. “The five highest-priced sales were all for cash,” said Tobin.

Topping Flagler’s list of million-dollar-plus sales for August was the $3.61 million sale of the luxury home at 26 Ocean Ridge Blvd. N. in Palm Coast’s Ocean Hammock area, according to Multiple Listing Service data provided by Tobin.

Mortgage rates are high, but not compared to the past

Toby Tobin

The average rate for a new 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan inched up ever so slightly to 7.19% for the week ended Thursday Sept. 21, up from 7.18% the previous week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

That’s a little bit down from the 20-year high 7.23% recorded the week ended Aug. 24, but significantly up from the all-time low 2.66% average rate recorded on Jan. 7, 2021. The all-time high 18.63% was recorded way back on Oct. 9, 1981.

“I had an adjustable-rate mortgage for a house I bought in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1990 that started at 13%, but rose to 17% within a couple of years,” said Tobin. “When I moved here (Palm Coast) in 2000, the mortgage rate on the home I bought was 7% and I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven.”

At age 80, Tobin said he doesn’t expect to see mortgage rates fall below 3% again in his lifetime, but he also does not expect rates rising as high as they did in the 1980s and early ’90s.

Each percentage point the mortgage rate rises means less that buyers relying on traditional bank financing can get for their dollars, said Tobin.

But those waiting for mortgage rates to fall before buying a home, might want to think again.

“When rates go down, it’s only going to drive both demand and prices higher,” said Tobin. “I predict 5-1/2 to 8-1/2% is a range we could stay in for a long while.”

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