The Homes.com Local Market Report is designed to keep you informed about how the top local markets are progressing on their road to recovery. To give you a deeper understanding of the local factors behind these results, we’ve started the Local Market Expert Series. Each month, we’ll have agents and brokers from some of the top performing markets provide us with an insider look at the housing recovery in their area. This month, we will be looking at Lakeland, FL. In June’s report, this area was the top performer on a month-to-month basis, with an increase of 0.6%.
Patrick Thurmond of Thurmond Group at Keller Williams Realty is an 18-year real estate veteran serving the Lakeland area. As a well-known agent and a long-time resident of the community, we took the time to get his insight on which factors are driving the recovery in Lakeland and what changes he’s noticed while working there. Here’s what he had to say.
Homes.com: What changes have you noticed in your market’s inventory over the last 6 months and how does your inventory look now?
Thurmond: Listing (homes for sale) inventories has been dropping since 2011 from its 12 month high, producing an unbelievably strong sellers’ market. I point to the summer of 2011 as “the bottom.” Inventories are now at historical lows with only 3.4 months of inventory on the market. This makes our local market a very strong sellers’ market!
What’s your outlook on the recovery of home prices in your local market?
Prices have begun to heat up dramatically due to the low inventories. This June over last June showed an approximate 20% increase in average pricing in our local area. If a home buyer finds a house he likes, he should make an offer and not be shy about offering close to if not over list price or risk losing the house to a competing buyer – only to be out shopping again! There are certain neighborhoods one might find a bargain, but it isn’t likely.
Have you noticed an upswing in sales for a particular type of property (townhouses, condos, single-family homes, etc.)? If so, is there a specific segment of buyers that is driving the upswing for those properties?
By far, single family homes with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths still top the list in the Florida market. This property style is still the most desirable. However, townhomes and condominiums in the college vicinities remain hot commodities for the investor buyer.
What specific local economic factors are driving home sales in your area?
Low interest rates and high monthly rental rates make purchasing a home very attractive. Rental rates continue to far exceed monthly mortgages including taxes and property insurance, not to mention the mortgage interest deduction home owners are afforded on their income tax bill!
What do you enjoy most about living in Lakeland? When you are not selling real estate, what do you do for fun?
There is so much to do and take-in in Lakeland it’s hard to pick! I enjoy watching local sports, theater with my wife, Glenda, and reading a good book at the beach. Deep sea fishing is one of my favorites when time permits. But much of the time we do all this with our large extended family!
Lakeland is a fun little city (about 100,000 in population) nestled between the two metropolitan areas of Orlando and Tampa Bay. We have many fun things going on every month starting with “First Fridays” downtown, monthly food truck rallies, and our famous Farmer’s Market every Saturday. We have a very vibrant downtown area, with many shops and restaurants within a two to four block area. Nightlife is great with many local hot spots, music, and theater. And there are always some great shows and entertainment at the Lakeland Center. Springtime kicks into high gear with Sun N’ Fun at Lakeland Linder Regional airport followed by many local art shows on weekends in May.
We are just 45 minutes to an hour away from four major sports teams: Orlando Magic and Tampa Bay Lightning, Rays, and Buccaneers! Then, there are the Orlando attractions (of course) – Disney, Universal, Seaworld, etc. – and two world class beaches on the West and East coast.
Homes.com would like to thank Patrick for his insights on the recovery of home prices in his area! Check out all the properties that are currently listed on Homes.com in Lakeland. Also, be sure to review June’s full report for more details on the nation’s housing recovery.