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Florida real estate slows due to Hurricane Irma

The Florida housing market is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irma. It seems that the hurricane caused more than just physical destruction: It also wreaked havoc on real estate transactions.

The market was affected particularly negatively in South Florida, where according to the findings of local Realtor boards the closings for existing single-family homes dropped by 31 percent. The combined closings for Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties fell from 3,964 deals in September 2016 to 2,735 deals this year. The number of closing sales on townhouses and condos in the tri-county area also significantly declined.

The slowdown can be traced directly to the damage and delays caused by Hurricane Irma. Businesses lost at least five working days because of the hurricane, and closings could not take place until the disaster-area designation had been lifted by FEMA. Due to the storm, federal-backed lenders needed new appraisals on properties that were under contract. Many buyers and sellers also faced delays when trying to hire crews, inspectors and appraisers.

The sales figures are disappointing, but are not necessarily a cause for alarm. There are signs that Florida real estate transactions will be able to bounce back quickly. Closings are expected to increase significantly in the upcoming months once homes on the sales block can be inspected and delayed sales can be finalized.

Despite the drop in residential sales volume, prices overall did not take a hit: In fact, medians trended upward. The statewide median price for single-family homes rose 7.6 percent from this time last year. Indeed, the prices for single-family homes have risen steadily for the past 70 consecutive months. Similarly, the median prices for townhomes and condos rose as well.

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