BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County housing market improved in three key indicators in April, leading industry officials to predict an uptick heading into summer.
The median sales price for existing homes in Hernando County is up almost $12,000 from a year ago.
That’s in sharp contrast to the rest of the region’s statistical area, which includes Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, according to the Hernando County Association of Realtors.
The median sales price of a single-family home in April was $110,000, compared to $98,500 a year earlier — an 11.7 percent increase.
Another positive housing market indicator in April was that the number of closed sales on existing homes increased from 304 a year ago to 342, a 12.5 percent hike.
That had a corresponding effect on pending home inventory, which decreased 7 percent from 642 to 597.
Builders have been waiting to remove existing homes to clear the way for new-home sales.
“It looks to me like things are going in the right direction,” said Ana Trinque, president of the Hernando County Association of Realtors. “We’re seeing more lending taking place. The values are going up, inventory is going down and we’re seeing more transactions taking place.”
This bodes well for the summer, which can be a busy time for real estate officials because many parents from northern states use that time to relocate here and make home purchases so they are settled in time for the new school season, she said.
Also, Trinque said the bad winter in the north could be a boon for Hernando County and Florida as more people seek to avoid a repeat of nasty weather.
The decrease in home inventory is good for homebuilders because it might prompt first-time homebuyers to purchase a home, she said. That in turn puts contractors and subcontractors to work and boosts the local economy.
Trinque said she would still like to see banks and lending institutions make it easier for people to get loans.
For the last several months it has been difficult for many people to get those loans, and it was slowing down real estate transactions, she said.
“More people are getting engaged in the economy and not just investors and speculators,” Trinque said.
Trinque said she is also starting to see vacant land being purchased, another sign the market is improving.
Brenda McDaniel, executive officer with the Hernando Builders Association, called that especially good news for builders.
“If they’re buying lots, then they’re thinking of possibly building,” she said. “”Now, whether that is in the near future or the far future, that is yet to be determined.”
The county issued 39 single-family permits in April, the highest so far this fiscal year that began last October when only 17 were issued.
Permits decreased slightly to 30 in May.
McDaniel said a declining used-home inventory is also encouraging, even though the ramifications have yet to be felt significantly in the building industry.
“There have been no significant increases to say, ‘Yeah, we’re out of it (the slump).’ McDaniel said. “But it is trending in the right direction.”
Builders are adding inventory in anticipation of a further release of pent-up demand, according to David Crowe, chief economist with the National Association of Home Builders.
“We are only about half-way back to what could be considered a normal market, but relatively low mortgage rates and affordable home prices are other factors that should help keep starts and sales on a slow upward trajectory in the months ahead,” according to NAHB chief economist David Crowe.