Affordable homes going fast – Realtor Q&A

Erik Korzilius is both a Realtor and a real estate attorney, and it’s mostly real estate closings that keep him busy these days.

But he has a lot of other things going on. He is completing a one-year term as president of the Venice Area Board of Realtors — he also served as president in 2001 — and in January will become vice president of District 13 of the Florida Realtors trade organization. That district covers the associations of Sarasota-Manatee, Venice, Englewood and PuntaGorda/Port Charlotte/North Port.

ep-161117799Korzilius, 49, is the broker/owner of Sterling Crest Realty Inc. in Venice and has held his license since 1995. His law practice has focused on residential real estate closings and title insurance for more than 20 years.

He received the Venice Board’s “Realtor of the Year’ award in 1997 and 2010. That board now has 825 Realtor members and more than 100 affiliate members.

He has a bachelor’s degree in finance, a master’s of business administration and a law degree, all from Florida State University.

Korzilius answered some questions last week about his work and the real estate market.

Q: Home and condo sales throughout Sarasota County have cooled somewhat this year, after two record-setting years. Does that hold true for the members of the Venice Area Board of Realtors?

A: It’s a two-step answer. While sales have slowed, it is less an issue of demand and more of a lack of inventory to sell. The current number of active listings for single-family homes and condos in Venice is just over 650. As the market begins to absorb the new construction and rental homes begin to revert to resident ownership, the inventory squeeze will hopefully loosen. Currently, we are about as far from a bubble as we could be. Assuming the Federal Reserve remains judicious in 2017 as to interest rate increases, activity and prices should both enjoy moderate increases.

Q: Are you also seeing a decelerating pace of price increases for existing homes and condos? If so, is that expected to continue into 2017?

A: We are seeing an unprecedented influx of buyers from the higher-priced Northeast, and as they continue to find our area a relative bargain, the limited supply is going to continue to support brisk price increases into 2017.

Q: What’s the hot market right now in your area for home sales? What gets snapped up quickly or draws multiple offers?

A: That is an easy answer — any single-family home under $200,000 is almost automatically hit with multiple offers.

Q: There is a lot of new home construction in South County. Is that activity expected to remain strong in the coming year and what impact is it having on the re-sale market?

A: New construction in South County has an interesting effect. It has definitely taken some pressure off the lack of inventory, but only in the higher price ranges.

The lack of middle-income, affordable housing is a great concern to our Realtor members, and to the state and national associations as well.

As the $200,000-and-below housing evaporates from the market, this will only serve to exacerbate an already significant problem. For the American Dream of home ownership to continue in our area, focus on creating subdivisions that working families can actually afford to purchase, and not just rent, must take place, and sooner than later.

Q: Mortgage rates, still near historic lows, may move up soon if the Federal Reserve decides to raise interest rates next month. What effect could that have on home sales here?

A: Since rates are so low, a small increase will not significantly impact those who are already in a good position to purchase. Our market remains driven by the cash buyer and easily financed purchaser, so, at least in the short run, a gradual rise in interest rates will not prove to be a dampening factor. However, an actual increase in rates may also stimulate the market to move from the sidelines and purchase before rates climb too high, as well.

Q: Investors — from individuals to large equity funds — snapped up hundreds of homes in Southwest Florida when values neared bottom. Are investors still busy in South County? When will those owners start putting those homes on the market to cash out?

A: Investors who bought every single-family home they could find during the downturn in the market did so not to flip, as those who caused the market crash, but to utilize those properties for a highly lucrative rental income stream. With the demand for rentals in our area at an all-time high, that income stream remains strong and those properties remain off the market.

If the projected and permitted apartment complexes become a reality, those properties could re-enter the marketplace and provide a source of affordable housing we so desperately need.

By John Hielscher


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