Two years into the pandemic, people struggle to buy homes in Jacksonville’s limited buyer’s market

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Two years into the pandemic, the local housing market is unrecognizable. Zillow reports that half the number of homes for sale in our area, cost a third more than they did in early 2020, and rents have spiked hundreds of dollars a month.

Right now, fewer houses are on the market and they’re driving up prices, realtor Mike Boyle said.

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“The sad part is there’s people dying to get a house and can’t get one,” Boyle remarked.

Action News Jax’s sister station in Orlando talked to a couple facing the same challenge.

“You feel hopeless. You start to get down,” Anne Marie and Cameron McMullen said.

The newlyweds have been house-hunting for months, but “everything seems to be way overpriced,” they explained.

Things could be even tougher for prospective buyers up in Northeast Florida.

According to Zillow, typical Jacksonville-area homes are valued at $334,960, up 29.7% from what they were in February 2020.

Zillow reports the number of available houses has fallen 11.3% since January, and 53.2% since February 2020.

Boyle says he’s seeing even fewer houses than what Zillow reports.

“Traditionally we have 10 to 12,000 houses for sale,” he said. “Today there’s like 2048.”

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The housing supply is low and demand is high, making Northeast Florida one of the most competitive markets in the country.

“Jacksonville finds itself the number two place in America to buy a house. Can you believe it?” Boyle added.

Boyle says if you’re buying with a mortgage, buy now because federal regulators are expected to increase interest rates several more times this year, like they did earlier this week, and mortgage rates are already trending higher.

Meanwhile, Boyle says cash buyers have the luxury of waiting it out a little to see if prices drop.

Zillow reports listings now typically spend eight days on the market before going under contract — 35 days faster than in 2020.

Rent in Jacksonville, according to Zillow, is 22.6% higher than last year, with typical rents at $1,719.

For buyers like the McMullens, perseverance is key.

“You never know so it’s always good to try,” the couple said.

Zillow says the national annual appreciation for a home reached a new record high — up more than 20% over last year. Zillow expects values to peak at 22% in May, before falling to 17% by next February.