NAVARRE — Navarre Area Board of Realtors president Lynda Durham Walker wants to know where buyers can find a home priced for middle-class families in Santa Rosa County.
“Show me a house for $150,000 right now,” Walker said. “We definitely have an affordability issue.”
The housing shortage threatens to slow down the county’s rapid population growth — 12th among Florida’s 67 counties since 2010. Plus, it could slow down its economy that hit an unemployment rate of 2.8% in May, which ranks near its lowest mark in 30 years.
Walker, the Navarre Area Board of Realtors president, said many home seekers she represents work at Hurlburt Field and want to purchase homes in the $150,000 to low $200,000 price range.
“They usually end up renting townhomes and apartments that are a little more affordable,” Walker said.
MLS, or the multiple listing service, revealed just 14 homes presently in the Navarre area for less than $200,000. During the past year, 151 single homes in that price range were sold, averaging 26 days on the market. Homes selling for more than $200,000 took twice as long to sell, lasting an average of 54 days on the market.
Santa Rosa county Realtors and builders know that the issue exists in the south and north ends of the county.
Edwin Henry, owner of Henry Company Homes and a major county home builder, said he is well aware of the problem. A past president of the Florida and Home Builders Association of West Florida, he said part of the problem is the cost of land keeps rising.
Henry pointed out that when he developed 60 homes in Heather’s Place in Holley by the Sea community in Navarre, they sold out in eight months. He’s ramping up to build 140 more this summer and already has a waiting list.
“We could meet the demand if we had lots to build homes on,” Henry said. “Not enough building lots are available for builders to supply the housing demand.”
Henry analyzed home building trends and found over the 10-year period from 2008 to 2018, Santa Rosa County averaged 1,047 new homes a year or 10,470 total. MarketGraphics Research Group reported 10,676 new homes over the next five years must be developed in the county to keep up with the housing demand.
Towana Henry said the inventory of homes in the $150,000 to $250,000 range are “extremely low to nothing.” The Realtor added: “Our shortage of houses is not a myth.”
She rattled off numerous stories about homebuyers she works with who put in numerous unsuccessful offers.
“I just want something to sell,” Henry said.