St. Johns County homebuyers encountering stiff competition, high prices

Pandemic changing real estate landscape

The real estate business is booming in St. Johns County. A St. Augustine real estate broker says her team is so busy, they can't hire people fast enough to meet the demand.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Real estate in St. Johns County is booming right now. Homebuyers are encountering stiff competition and high prices.

97Park Real Estate owner and broker Karen Zander said the coronavirus pandemic is changing the St. Johns County’s real estate landscape.

“It’s absolutely crazy,” Zander said. “It’s a good problem to have in real estate or in sales, but it’s difficult in that it’s hard to find what the buyers are looking for.”

Zander said her team is so busy that they can’t hire people fast enough to meet the demand.

Homes on the market are selling quickly in St. Johns County. There is high demand and low inventory.

“With resale, those are going under contract often in 24 to 48 hours, multiple offers over list price,” said Zander. “No one knows how much to offer.”

A lot of those are cash offers.

Zander said another option is to buy inventory homes, which used to be a great option but are now no longer available.

“So they would have those close to being finished, and you can come in and purchase those. They would know what types of options people generally wanted. Those were easy transactions for buyers because they’re right there,” Zander explained. “Either you’ll go in and the sales rep will say, ‘We’ve reached our sales quota for the month. We can’t sell anymore, and you’ll be on a waiting list.’”

That means higher interest rates and the cost going up. Zander said sales quotas have never happened in the past.

“The other option is some of the builders are saying, ‘We have some homes that are scheduled to come online or you can choose a lot and choose your floor plan, but we don’t know what to price it,’” she said. “So you’re bidding blind against other people who want that lot.”

Florida has always been an attractive place to move to, especially for retirees and second homeowners, but since the pandemic, Zander said, she has seen younger people move. Buyers are making the move from New York, California and Illinois because of shutdowns.

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