ORLANDO, Fla. — A quarter century after construction began, Baldwin Park’s 4,000-something homes stand as some of the most desirable in the City of Orlando.
Parks and trees surround the quiet streets. Neighbors can gather on porches, jog on bike paths or walk less than a mile to the community’s trendy downtown district, complete with an expansive lake view.
It’s no wonder the 32814 zip code’s average home value tops $600,000, according to real estate websites, 50% more than the metro average.
But for house hunters who like to be choosy, there has never been a worse time to try to move there. Of those thousands of homes, only one was listed for sale as of Jan. 21: 4381 New Broad St.
Its list price was $1,995,000.
Baldwin Park is a microcosm of the entire region. Orlando and its surrounding communities had a historically low 2,586 houses, townhomes and condos for sale in December, according to data from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA), which has kept records since 1995. The previous low was set in April during the beginning of the 2021 housing boom. Prior to last year, the inventory hadn’t “bottomed” since 2005.
Historically, there are around 10,000 home that are available on average.
“In the 17 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen - this is really unprecedented times for us,” Keller Williams Realtor Kristin Mazza said. “The sellers are kind of sitting in the catbird seat right now, waiting and excited to get their homes listed.”
In the summer, some agents predicted the traditional off-season would give the market a chance to cool down and let the inventory at least partially recover.
That hasn’t happened. While extreme bidding wars seen during the summer months haven’t continued, Mazza said they’ve been happening at a smaller scale. Buyers are still submitting all-cash offers and waiving typical steps in the process to let deals swing their way.
In turn, the inventory has continued to drop. Mazza explained that is partially because homeowners have formed a new attachment to their properties.
“I think that people are starting to appreciate their homes more, and perhaps instead of moving, they’re deciding to stay in the home that they’ve loved and cherished and maintained many years,” she said.
The appreciation isn’t being felt among younger buyers, who have fewer starter homes to choose from at far higher prices, since people aren’t moving on. The average listing in the metro area last month topped $400,000 for the first time, with the sale price just a few thousand dollars shy of it.
Nor will it be appreciated this spring and summer, when agents are predicting a return of the chaos and frustration seen in 2021.
Mazza recommended potential buyers work with professionals to get their finances in order and be ready to make quick decisions as homes hit the market.
However, she thinks the upcoming end of one of the catalysts present since the early days of the pandemic will slow down some price ranges.
“Later may not be better,” she said, before adding, “I think the inventory is going to stay low, so the markets still going to be very aggressive.”
In the long term, the inventory of houses buyers can choose from must rise before a general cool-off happens. It’s not clear when that will happen. People are still moving to Orlando by the thousands and snatching up properties as soon as they hit the market. For newer construction, Mazza said communities have hundreds of people on waitlists before model homes are built.
“Sometimes, people are disappointed they don’t get the house they want,” she said. “I would tell you: overall, it’s a great time to invest in Central Florida real estate.”
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