October was a mixed month for real estate

Dusty Ricketts | Northwest Florida Daily News

October was a mixed month for the local real estate market. Single-family home sales in Walton and Santa Rosa counties posted strong growth compared with last year, but sales were down in Okaloosa County.

Florida Realtors, the largest real estate organization in the state, recently released its market updates for October sales in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties.

“When you are in a good strong recovery, prices will go up and so will sales,” said David Goetsch, a local economist. “When you are in a tepid, weak recovery, 2 percent or less like we are, you get this up and down on sales. What’s happening right now is the tendency upwards in prices, which is a good thing if you’re a homeowner, is slowing down the buying.”

Santa Rosa County sales figures >>

Okaloosa County sales figures >>

Walton County sales figures >>

Walton County’s single-family home market continued to be strong in October, with the number of homes sold increasing 27.5 percent from 102 units in October of last year to 130 last month. The average sale price also increased by 14.9 percent in the past year, going from $373,512 in October 2011 to $429,324 last month, according to the Florida Realtors report.

Walton County’s townhome and condo market saw a big boost in the number of units sold, from 41 units in October 2011 to 66 units last month, but the average sale price fell nearly 13 percent, dropping from $300,810 in October of last year to $262,305 last month.

Okaloosa County had 211 single-family homes sell in October, a decrease of 4.1 percent from October 2011, when 220 homes were sold. Last month’s average sale price of $224,047 was up 5.1 percent from October 2011, when the average price was $213,134.

Okaloosa County’s condominium and townhome market performed similarly. The number of units sold, 63, was down 4.5 percent from October 2011, while the average sale price, $323,834, was a 34.1 percent increase from October 2011’s average price of $241,455.

Goetsch said part of the reason for the decrease in the number of homes sold in Okaloosa County can be traced to the 7th Special Forces. When the unit relocated from Fort Bragg, N.C., to Eglin Air Force Base, that brought thousands of soldiers and their families into the local real estate market. He said the longer we get from the arrival of the 7th Special Forces, the less positively affected the real estate market is by that influx.

October was a strong month for single-family home sales in Santa Rosa County with 189 properties sold. That’s a 44.3 percent increase from October 2011 when 131 single-family homes were sold. Average home prices also increased, from $178,189 in October of last year to $203,723 last month.

The townhome and condominium market in Santa Rosa County is not very large, typically selling fewer than 10 units a month. Last month, just five units were sold, but what’s notable is their average sale price is half of what it was a year ago. In October 2011, the nine townhome and condo units sold had an average sale price of $256,667. The average sale price for the units sold last month was $127,200, according to the Florida Realtors report.

“I think what’s happened to the south end of Santa Rosa County is there have been opportunities to get good buys in other counties where the beach might be bigger or more desirable and I think that’s probably what’s knocked them down,” Goetsch said. “The condos on the south end of Santa Rosa County will go up when the condo market gets tight in Destin and Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola.”