Priced out of Jax: Investors buying up homes quick in ‘historic’ housing market

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Local families are getting priced out of Jax in a housing market that realtors are calling ‘’historic.’’

Right now, there’s only about a month’s supply, meaning every house on the market is essentially gone in a month.

One of the big reasons why is because investment companies, instead of families, are snatching up homes.

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“We got four offers within 24 hours,” exclaims Bridgette Bryan, a local mother whose family just recently sold their home off 103rd Street.

That’s a big change from just a few short years ago, where it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for homes to be on the market for two or three months.

But these days in Northeast Florida, the offers come fast and well over the listing price.

Bryan says, “From 1 o’clock in the afternoon of it being listed by that evening five or six hours later, we had two cash offers. One was for more than what we had even asked, but they were both from rental companies.”

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Bryan is the wife of an Action News Jax employee. In June, the family decided to sell the Jacksonville home they lived in for more than a decade.

They never imagined it would sell so quickly and the thing that surprised her the most — investment companies often put in offers without physically visiting.

“There were pictures online for them to see but hadn’t even tried to walk through the house, didn’t even try to schedule a showing to walk through or anything. They just sent in the offers.”

Missi Howell is the president of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors. She says these institutional investors see Jacksonville as a market they should invest in.

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“They know this is a long-term good return on investment for them,” explains Howell.

And it’s for the same reasons why we live here — great weather, waterways, no state income tax and a diverse local economy.

“They are buying it, but it’s not to flip it and put it back on the market. It’s to hold onto it and put a tenant in it.”

We wanted to see how many homes have been purchased by investment companies in our area. It turns out that’s not really possible.

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Howell explains, “I can’t quantify that, unfortunately. It’s not like there’s a directory or a database out there that says ‘oh, okay you are an institutional investor sign up here’. We don’t have that information, we just know that they’re there and there’s a lot of them out there.”

For families who are selling their homes, like the Bryans, it’s a seamless process. From listing to closing, it only took one month!

“They know what they want and so they are ready to just get it done,” says Bryan.

It may have been an easy sale, but finding their next home was a different experience entirely.

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“We put in a good price, offered above what they asked for. We even put in that we would out pay other offers by like $1000 and wrote a quick little letter to go with it, but they ended up taking another offer.”

We asked Howell: Since investors are so interested in our market and our area, is the affordability decreasing for local families to buy a home?

She says, “When you have more demand than you have supply, economics 101 teaches us the price goes up.”

The Bryans had to get creative.

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“We put the pictures of the kids along with a letter that we wrote listing why we wanted the house, what our plans were for the house, why it was special to us that way there was a personal touch, but we also backed it up financially.”

That meant an extra $10,000 over the listing.

“Out of 22 offers that they got on the house ours was the one that was chosen,” says Bryan.