Year-over-year home sales dipped more than a third for the three months in the Panama City metro area after Hurricane Michael.
According to Florida Realtors statistics the metro area, which includes Bay County and Gulf County, single-family home sales dropped 36% in the fourth quarter of last year. The sales of townhouses and condos fell 30% in the same period.
Some area real estate agents say while the hurricane hurt their bottom lines, the situation isn’t as bad as the numbers suggest at face value. While sales were down overall, they have have grown consistently month-to-month since the storm, much like how other housing markets improved following similar hurricanes, they say.
“What we’re showing tracking is spot on … sales are progressively going up,” said Ida Hargaray, president of the Central Panhandle Association of Realtors. “We talked with other associations in other areas impacted by hurricanes like Hurricane Irma, and they basically stated that sales in the first quarter after the storm were down, but after that they tracked up.”
For Bay County, statistics show that, even though home sales were down overall, they trended upward after October when the hurricane struck.
Single-family home sales for the county were down about 61% in October compared to the same month last year. However, home sales were just 38 percent lower in November, year-over-year. Sales in December were just 13% below what they were a year ago.
Hargaray said even though the area is in recovery, homes will continue to sell.
“The properties that are fixed are going to sell because there are no other options, as long as they’re priced correctly,” Hargaray said. “People don’t have homes to live in and they need to get back to work.”
Connie Overstreet, a real estate agent in Panama City, said home sales have improved in the four months since the hurricane.
“They are much better than we expected them to be compared to the first week or two after the hurricane,” Overstreet said. “It’s new territory, but we’re learning a lot.”
Overstreet said the market is different since many of the damaged homes being sold are being bought by contractors.
“Most of these are going within a day or two or three of being on the market, which is something I’ve never known,” she said. “What’s turned out is these contractors, some are coming in specifically just to purchase and rebuild them.”
Darrell Malloy, a Lynn Haven real estate agent, said he’s had a mix of homes sold since the hurricane.
“There are homes selling today that were damaged and that weren’t,” Malloy said.
Malloy added that he’s also had a mix of people buying the homes to fix up and live in, and others who plan to flip the property.
Overstreet said she expects demand for homes will be steady for the foreseeable future as houses are rebuilt. And in a way, the storm put Panama City on the map for many people around the country, which could help drive demand, Overstreet said.
“There will be people coming down, wondering if we have any good deals right now,” she said.
Tribune Content Agency