Our thoughts go out to the people who have been impacted by Hurricane Irma. We are working to support our customers in the affected areas, many of whom are still facing power outages and storm damage, and some who are just now returning to their homes.
Home-buying and selling activity has all but halted since the days leading up to Irma’s landfall, but the local Redfin agents we have spoken to report they are starting to hear from customers again. In the short term, we’ll likely see the biggest impacts in inventory, which is already down by double digits in several of the affected metro areas. Impacts to sales and prices, if any, are more likely be seen in the coming months. Future inventory is also vulnerable, as Florida, along with Texas, is home to some of the country’s most active markets for new home construction.
Initial reports from Redfin agents in Miami and Palm Beach indicate that most of the damage to homes in those areas was relatively minor, such as fallen trees, wind damage and blown-over fences. Streets flooded, but most homes were not flooded.
“Most of the agents here are working to get closings rescheduled. The biggest hurdle at this point has been needing to get homes re-inspected by appraisers and getting the closing attorneys to reschedule, since many evacuated and are still not back in town,” said Redfin Palm Beach market manager Tammy Trenholm.
Aaron Drucker, Redfin market manager in Miami said that Miami’s condo dwellers fared better than owners of single family homes. Power in many downtown condo buildings never went out. The worst damage to condo buildings he is aware of is some flooding in buildings’ first floor lobby areas. Meanwhile, single-family homeowners face prolonged power outages, cleaning up debris, repairing wind damage and dealing with insurance claims.
We are awaiting updates from our colleagues in Charleston, Jacksonville, and Florida’s West Coast and will update this post with new information as we learn more. Redfin does not serve the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico, or the other Caribbean islands that took the brunt of Irma’s destruction.
Slowly Returning to Normalcy
The number of tour requests submitted by Redfin customers in Florida has slowed from more than 60 on Sunday Sept. 3 to fewer than five per day since Thursday Sept. 7, when Redfin offices throughout the state closed, along with most businesses and schools. “Most of the area is still without power, but we are focused on getting back to some semblance of normalcy,” said Drucker on Wednesday.
“Tours have started back up again, but it is slow,” said Trenholm. Trenholm and Drucker do not believe September sales in Palm Beach and Miami will be affected as most of the homes expected to close in September went under contract in August. Irma will more likely lead to fewer sales in October and possibly November, as the storm kept buyers from touring and writing offers and new listings from going on the market.
As of Sept. 10, the number of homes being listed in affected markets had fallen substantially. It comes as no surprise that sellers are not concerned with putting their homes on the market when they are prepping for a massive storm. Miami posted the largest decline in new listings, down 30.7 percent over just the last two weeks, followed by Orlando (-24.7%) and Tampa (-20.4%). We’ll continue to track new listing activity for the region in the coming weeks.
The number of homes for sale in the Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville metros is down over 10 percent over the last five weeks through Sept. 10. We expect to see this number decline further as we get more data. Miami did not see as large of a decline, falling 8.8 percent over this period.
Lessons from Sandy and Katrina
Data from major past hurricanes indicates sales are likely to decline sharply in the immediate month following the storm. This trend is already apparent in Houston, where August home sales declined 29.1 percent compared to a year earlier.
New Construction and Building Permits
We know that several tower cranes were toppled in Miami due to high winds, but have little information so far about how homes under construction fared. Of all home building permits issued so far this year in the country, 9.8 percent are in the state of Florida. The largest share of permits are in the Tampa and Miami metro areas.
Tampa, Fla. (Hillsborough County), leads the region in permits year-to-date at around 7,000 housing units. About two-thirds of those were single-family properties. Miami-Dade County was close behind at 6,800 units this year in the pipeline— with only one in five units single-family properties. New condo buildings that aren’t yet closed off from the elements may face minor delays as they repair storm damage.
Taylor Marr provided the data analysis for this report.