Post-Irma: Consumer Preference May Drift More towards New Builds


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, September 25, 2017 – There could be a marked shift in buyers’ preference from older pre-owned Florida homes for sale to newer builds or brand new construction in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, some local realtors believe.

The cut-off for prospective buyers wary about severe Irma-like weather disturbances would likely be those built after 1992. Hurricane Andrew, which struck Florida that year, was one of the strongest in history and brought overall damage valued as high as $35 billion. This in turn prompted state regulators to start adopting some of the strictest building regulations in the U.S., standards which have helped homes of more recent vintage to withstand Irma’s fury.

Expect a Sustained Price Uptick

Sustained Price Uptick for Sarasota Homes for Sale

Developers’ compliance with the building codes which have turned more and more stringent over the years necessarily comes at a price. Hence, the after-effects of the recent storm and heightened demand for new, more robust builds are now poised to further add upward pressure on prices which are already on a sustained uptrend this year.

In Sarasota and Manatee, home prices rose almost 6 percent in July from a year earlier, according to recent estimates from the real estate data provider CoreLogic. This rise approximates the gain of 6.2 percent across Florida and the 6.7 percent nationwide monthly rise that this research firm also noted.

These latest CoreLogic figures roughly jibe with the monthly statistics from the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee (RASM). Data that RASM released for July showed a 7.2 percent hike in the median price of Sarasota homes for sale to $260,000. In Manatee, the local trade group recorded a 7.1 percent rise in median price for single family homes to $300,000.

Manatee home prices have tracked upwards since last year, with the fastest clip recorded in February at 13.6 percent. Except for a 1.1 percent decline in May, Sarasota home prices are on an upswing too and have gained as much as 15.2 percent which was posted in November last year.

Inventory Drop Likely

Sarasota Homes for Sale Inventory Drop

Downward pressure on home inventory also looms in the post-Irma scenario for Manatee and Sarasota homes for sale, as a result of delayed deal closings on existing residences under contract. These residences whose sales are pending would likely have to undergo a re-inspection to check for any hurricane damage, an exercise that should also extend to properties already listed in the MLS.

Having a home re-inspected could be time-consuming as it needs to be meticulous and cover plenty of potential problems. Even if a residence looks unscathed by Irma, there may still be hidden issues such as clogged drainpipes and weakening of roof structure and fences. Undertaking costly repairs may be necessary in these instances.

Delays in builder delivery of new Sarasota homes for sale could likewise expected. Miami-based homebuilder Lennar said the last hurricane’s disturbance to its operations is likely to delay about 700 of its home deliveries for this year’s fourth quarter, a situation which could spill over to 2018.

Such delays were the result not only from actual hurricane damage but also because of short-term labor difficulties, power outages and delays in utility connections. Disruptions in permitting and building inspection of local authorities are factors as well in a foreseen shortfall of new home deliveries in the months ahead.