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Market for homes keeps on building
Building permits are flying out the door at a record rate as demand outpaces supply.
By DAN DeWITT
Published June 3, 2005
Last year, Hernando came close to matching the record for building permits issued during a 12-month period; this year the county is on pace to break that record, 3,007 permits issued during the 1986-87 fiscal year.
Through the end of last week, less than five months into the new year, 1,622 permits had been issued; at that rate the county would grant nearly 3,900 permits in all of 2005.
That is good news for developers like LandMar Group LLC, which will be holding a sales event on Saturday for prospective buyers who have paid a refundable $2,500 deposit for the right to buy lots or houses at Southern Hills, its 999-lot subdivision on U.S. 41 south of downtown Brooksville.
The sales could match those from a similar event last year, when buyers signed contracts to buy 213 lots in its first phase for total sales of $38-million, according to Margie Martin, a spokeswoman for the company.
"Based on the interest that we've had since last June, we anticipate a tremendous response to our next release of neighborhoods," Martin wrote in an e-mail; more than 200 houses will be available on Saturday, as well as several house/lot packages.
One other indication of the demand is the countywide inventory of houses, said Jack Gavish, a Brooksville real estate broker. The faster properties sell, he said, the fewer of them remain on the market. Last week only about 1,000 were listed for sale in the county compared with 4,000, a typical figure from three or four years ago, he said.
"There's still not enough houses," he added.
The number of permits issued, which was more than 300 a month during the first quarter of the year, dipped to 260 in April, which seemed to indicate a slight slowing of the market.
"It's a dip, but it's a dip from a peak," David Miles, a county planner, said last month. "More than 300 (permits per month) is so rare."
That temporary drop was probably due mostly to difficulty in processing all the applications. The number of applications remained steady at about 400 in April, records show, and in the first four weeks of May, the county issued 372 permits.
Prices are increasing with demand, said Vladimir Hucko, an agent with Re/Max Advantage Realty in Spring Hill.
"It makes no difference whether it is land or homes, the prices are going higher every month," he said.
Lots in Spring Hill have been selling for as much as $50,000, Hucko said. That is 10 times as much as seven years ago, and three times the typical price of a lot this time last year.
Some of this increase is due to a lack of available lots, especially for builders who are not associated with new subdivisions such as Southern Hills or Sterling Hill.
But the rising cost may also be driven by speculators, who are buying houses and lots not to build on them, but to sell them.
According to the Wall Street Journal , as much as 80 percent of the buyers for condominiums in some parts of the state are speculators.
Though the percentage is certainly much lower than that in Hernando, they are still a sizable part of the market, Gavish said.
"We've seen a great increase in the number of investors buying both residential homes and vacant lots with the intent of flipping them," Gavish said.