REAL ESTATE: Amelia Island Oceanfront Homes on the Island's North End
EDITOR’S NOTE: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace column.
___ STEVE’S MARKETPLACE ____
Most aspects of the housing markets around Amelia Island and Yulee are improving, except for one obstinate thing.
The inventory of houses has declined significantly here, units are selling much faster, and qualified buyers are looking. Yet, prices have stubbornly refused to rise.
“Something eventually has got to give,” says John Holbrook of Prudential Chaplin Williams Realty. “When you cut the inventory back to a third (of what is was), you’d think prices would rise.”
Still, prospective buyers are rebuking higher prices in the aftermath of a six-year housing downturn. But prices have at least stabilized in much of Nassau County.
Holbrook believes prices will move higher heading into the spring of 2013. He follows prices and statistics closer than most in his position as sales manager/agent for Prudential Chaplin Williams Realty. Holbrook also reports statistics to a Morgan Stanley housing index and compiles them for several banks.
While bankers are not completely willing to lend, and appraisals still are a struggle, the supply-demand equation has returned to a healthier level here. The supply is limited; the demand is returning as retirees are able to sell their properties in other places and relocate here.
Nassau County avoided much of the carnage tied to foreclosures and short sales — as well as ubiquitous new housing developments. This has helped the area return to a state of normalcy, of equilibrium.
The most recent figures as compiled by the Amelia Island-Nassau County Association of Realtors are startling in their comparisons. For instance:
– The inventory of single-family homes has fallen from 1,700 in April 2011 to 528 this year. So much so, that “it’s almost gotten difficult to find homes for people,” Holbrook says.
– For condominiums, the inventory has declined from a peak of 469 in 2010, down to 202 today.
– The time it takes to sell a single-family home has dropped significantly — from an average of 23 months last year to a little over eight months this year. And properties are selling at much closer to their listing prices.
Holbrook is seeing most properties move within three or four months if they are priced realistically. For a market to be truly healthy, a six-month inventory of homes is considered to be ideal.
Newer, lower-prices houses are moving quickly in Yulee. It is cheaper for a family, for instance, to buy a house for $150,000 (and pay a low-interest mortgage) than it is to rent.
On Amelia Island, newer homes with more than 2,000 square feet are moving briskly in the $300,000-$350,000 range. And the high-end market has shaken off some of its accumulated rust.
“You can drive up and down South Fletcher and barely see a for-sale sign,” Holbrook says. “The higher end was stagnant for two years, but now we’re making some progress.”
Premier homes at Amelia Island Plantation and condos at Carlton Dunes are “selling at a steady clip,” Holbrook says. So far this year, 16 million-dollar properties have sold — compared to only five at this time last year.
In all, Nassau County has “weathered the storm better,” Holbrook says. “If you want that true bargain, you’re not going to find it here … there are very few fire sales in Nassau County.”
Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor with a major U.S. firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. His business columns also appear in several newspapers in North Florida. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or via eMail at firstname.lastname@example.org.