Economist: Sellers now in driver’s seat in area real estate market

John Tuccillo, chief economist for Florida Realtors.

Courtesy of Florida Realtors
Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 4:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 4:32 p.m.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist John Tuccillo joked Wednesday that new Realtors are required to learn to say “it’s a great time to buy.”

“Once you can say that with a straight face, you can get your license,” he said.

Tuccillo told a gathering of Gainesville Realtors that the opportunity to sell a home in Florida real estate is now.

The inventory of homes on the market has dropped from a 25-month supply in 2008 to a five-month supply as sellers dropped out of the depressed market and the pace of sales has increased, he said. A 5.5-month supply indicates a balanced market, meaning the current five-month supply puts sellers in the driver’s seat.

Sellers will start to understand that, and the inventory will creep up again in 2013 and into 2014, he said.

“If you can get your clients to beat that, they’re in an even better position,” Tuccillo said.

Tuccillo spoke about Florida’s housing recovery during the Top Producers Forum at the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors office.

The recovery is well underway, and the data point to that continuing, he said -- the biggest indicator being employment, which has been rising in Florida since the beginning of 2010.

“One big snag here is the fact that lending terms right now for ordinary people are more stringent than they were in 2000,” he said.

As a result of the tight credit and “intensive activities of investors making bulk purchases,” cash sales have increased from 20 percent of the market in 2008 to 50 percent today.

Unlike the investor flipping with fast-paced buying and selling at the height of the market, today’s investors are fixing up the properties and renting them out so they can sell them when the market value returns in five to 10 years, Tuccillo said.

“This is a sort of sleeping issue,” he said. “Ultimately the investors are going to go away, even if they last 10 years. If by that time we haven’t restored the access to financing to owner-occupants, there is going to be a problem in the marketplace.”

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