Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Putting the squeeze on renters in northwest Florida

Midway through 2015, single-family home sales are rising 15% to 20% year-over-year, sale prices are up about 7%, and the average number of days it takes to sell a property continues to fall in most northwest markets.

The market is seeing a steady stream of first-time home buyers, lured by low interest rates and 5% down payment requirements, says Tim Ekelund with The Agency in Pensacola. “The market here is very strong.”

One minor trend, say brokers, is the return to the market of some who defaulted on mortgages during the recession but have reestablished their credit.

Steven Louchheim, executive director of the Tallahassee Board of Realtors, says another trend involves millennials looking to buy or rent houses after living with parents.

That trend, however, has put pressure on the rental market, he says — demand for rentals is increasing just as higher home prices are leading some landlords and investors to sell homes rather than rent them.

Some looking to rent get frustrated, says Nicole St. Aubin with Realty Masters of Pensacola. “We’re getting multiple applications when rentals come on the market, and people are getting quite aggravated because the properties are getting rented so quickly, sometimes within a few hours of going on the market,” she says.

Business Briefs

BAY/WALTON COUNTIES — St. Joe Co. Has received final approval for its Bay-Walton Sector Plan. The plan calls for 170,000 residential units and some 22 million square feet of retail, commercial and industrial space.

PANAMA CITY— Citing the recent fall in oil prices, FlexSteel Pipeline Technologies has closed its manufacturing facility in Panama City, resulting in the loss of 76 jobs. FlexSteel’s Panama City operations will be consolidated at company facilities in Houston.

PENSACOLA — Miami-based developer MCM-BAP has scaled back a proposed $65-million waterfront development in downtown Pensacola. The firm now is proposing a $43-million plan for a 120-room hotel, 200 rental condominium units and parking within the Community Maritime Park.

TALLAHASSEE — Chemonie, a 2,410-acre northeast Leon County plantation with ties to the Winn-Dixie supermarket family, was placed on the market in June for $15.5 million. Construction is under way for The Junction on Jackson Bluff, a four-acre, mixed-use development being marketed to college students in the Tallahassee area.

WALTON COUNTY — Walton County commissioners have amended a local ordinance restricting the number of hotel rooms along the 30A Scenic Corridor to a maximum of 50 units. The amendment creates a 125-unit maximum.

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Washington County will get a new courthouse thanks to a $9.2-million state appropriation.