Priced out of Jax: Homebuilders struggling to keep up

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Local families are being priced out of Jax in the real estate market and construction companies are struggling to keep pace with the demand for affordable housing.

Vanessa Roque now calls Jacksonville home.

“I had family here. Miami was getting too expensive, it’s not affordable for families starting out as well so we decided to move.”

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Roque and her family moved here in December, but quickly discovered finding their forever home might take forever.

“We put a couple offers in, which the same properties received multiple offers way above asking price. All cash offers,” explains Roque.

It’s a common experience for people moving to northeast Florida. Not enough apartments, existing homes, or new construction.

“It’s frustrating. It’s discouraging. So it makes me not want to go and waste a lot of time looking because you’re not going to find anything.”

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Greg Matovina is the president of Matovina and Company, a local developer. He says the demand is off the charts, and builders are struggling to keep up.

“We don’t have enough resale homes available and so that part of the inventory is down, it’s basically nothing.”

In 2018, there were about 8,000 permits for new builds in Duval County.

Fast forward to today, Matovina says, “We’re doing close to 15,000 to 16,000 permits for 2021, trying to keep pace.”

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He says it’s been very difficult for the industry to keep up.

Right now, Matovina’s company is developing a subdivision in E-Town Parkway called Kettering, where there are lots just waiting to be built.

“There’s over 30 houses under construction and there’s probably 10 of them with workers on them and there’s at least five slabs sitting here with no lumber delivered and nobody there to work on it, even if there was lumber.”

Supply and labor challenges are making it increasingly difficult to get the homes built quick enough to keep up with demand.

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“I think a typical home here in Kettering would be done in 5 to 6 months is how long it would typically take.”

Right now it’s taking “at least nine months, but I’d say that numbers getting closer to year to finish houses,” according to Matovina.

Homes are being grabbed up while they’re only empty frames.

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“Those builders are getting multiple offers on their house when they put it for sale and that’s unheard of. We’ve never had that ever.”

Of course that’s driving up the price for families like the Roques, making it nearly impossible to purchase a home.

“Right now, it’s looking like maybe another year, year and a half renting,” exclaims Roque.