Happy September! The back-to-school activities occupied many of us during the month of  August.  We moved one child back to college and helped another return to high school.  School buses and morning traffic are back!

This is a major reason that there is typically a seasonality to the residential real estate market.  Families tend to buy and sell homes when they are less preoccupied with other activities and have time to focus on the move.  The buying and selling activity peaks in June and July, levels off in August, takes a breather in September and October, then ramps up again towards the end of the year.

I have been reporting on the market shift for the last few months.  We are still in the same pattern.  The Fed’s most recent speech in late August hinted at continued aggressive interest rate hikes in order to tame inflation.  That will continue to put downward pressure on the housing market.

We hear some buyers’ sentiment to wait for better home prices, but it’s not that simple.  As interest rates rise, the benefit of lower home prices does not go to the buyers.  Sellers are now more realistic and see that home prices fluctuate with market demand.  The demand is actually still high, but increased loan costs are holding back buyers’ purchasing power.  Will the effect of rising interest rates outpace any home price correction?  Very likely.  We’ve seen it in reverse.  When the interest rate dropped, happy buyers went out to home shop, only to find that home prices had jumped, accruing the benefit to the sellers.  Now, would-be buyers are expecting to find better deals, only to see rising loan costs actually mean they can afford less.  You should buy a home when you are ready.  Timing the market is difficult.

The market is actually still quite robust for sellers.  I’ve always said that there is no reason for a seller to bypass the open market and sell their home to an iBuyer directly.  I want to share with you a recent article below that proves the point.

Until next month, take care!
Yien and The Yao Team

Copyright © 2022 Yien Yao, LLC

FTC Fines iBuyer Opendoor $62M for ‘Tricking’ Sellers

By Kerry Smith

The FTC alleges the iBuyer used “misleading and deceptive information,” and its sellers “made thousands of dollars less” than they could have via a traditional listing.

WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today took action against an online iBuyer. It claims Opendoor Labs Inc. cheated potential home sellers by tricking them into thinking that they could make more money selling their home to Opendoor than on the open market using a traditional sales process.The FTC alleges that Opendoor used misleading and deceptive information when in reality, most people who sold to Opendoor made thousands of dollars less than they would have made selling their homes using the traditional process.

Under a proposed administrative order, Opendoor must pay $62 million and stop its deceptive tactics.

“Opendoor promised to revolutionize the real estate market but built its business using old-fashioned deception about how much consumers could earn from selling their homes on the platform,” says Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “There is nothing innovative about cheating consumers.”

Opendoor, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, operates an online real estate business that, among other things, buys homes directly from consumers as an alternative to consumers selling their homes on the open market. Advertised as an “iBuyer,” Opendoor claimed to use cutting-edge technology to save consumers money by providing “market-value” offers and reducing transaction costs compared with the traditional home sales process.

Opendoor’s marketing materials included charts comparing their consumers’ net proceeds from selling to Opendoor versus on the market. Those charts almost always showed that consumers would make thousands of dollars more by selling to Opendoor. In fact, the FTC complaint states that the vast majority of consumers who sold to Opendoor actually lost thousands of dollars compared with a traditional real estate sale. It says Opendoor’s offers have been below market value on average and its costs higher than what consumers typically pay when using a traditional Realtor.

FTC claims of misrepresentation include:

  • Opendoor said it used projected market value prices when making offers to buy homes, when in fact those prices included downward adjustments to the market values
  • Opendoor said it made money from disclosed fees, when it actually made money by buying low and selling high
  • Consumers likely would have paid the same amount in repair costs whether they sold their home through Opendoor or in traditional sales
  • Consumers likely would have paid less in costs by selling to Opendoor than they would pay in traditional sales

Enforcement action

Opendoor has agreed to a proposed order that requires the company to:

  • Pay $62 million: The order requires Opendoor to pay the Commission $62 million, which is expected to be used for consumer redress.
  • Stop deceiving potential home sellers: The order prohibits Opendoor from making the deceptive, false, and unsubstantiated claims it made to consumers about how much money they will receive or the costs they will have to pay to use its service.
  • Stop making baseless claims: The order requires Opendoor to have competent and reliable evidence to support any representations made about the costs, savings or financial benefits associated with using its service, and any claims about the costs associated with traditional home sales.

Opendoor ‘strongly disagrees’ with the allegations

“While we strongly disagree with the FTC’s allegations, our decision to settle with the Commission will allow us to resolve the matter and focus on helping consumers buy, sell and move with simplicity, certainty and speed,” Opendoor said in a statement. “Importantly, the allegations raised by the FTC are related to activity that occurred between 2017 and 2019, and target marketing messages the company modified years ago.”

The company says it’s “pleased to put this matter behind us and looks forward to continuing to provide consumers with a modern real estate experience.”

© 2022 Florida Realtors®

Happy month of August!  Many of you asked about what is going on in our housing market since our July update.  We will continue the discussion.  August is normally a busy time of year when many families prepare their kids to return to school.  As a result, this is also the time of year when the real estate market activity understandably begins to slow down.

This August, we have several other factors at play.  Our housing market continues to be in transition from a super-heated one to a calmer one.  The market is a reflection of mass psychology.  Whenever a market is in transition, there is a lot of uncertainty.  This uncertainty leads to hesitation from potential homebuyers. They are no longer willing, or able, to max out their financials.  And this hesitation in turn slows market activity.

When the home prices were escalating fast and furious, the predominant driving force for the homebuyers was the fear of missing out.  They were afraid that if they did not purchase a home, the prices would continue to rise.  Our article from last August contained this sentence “Tearful would-be homebuyers being outbid at every turn”.  Now, homes for sale are actually staying on the market longer, the prices stopped rising (with many price reductions), and sellers seem more reasonable at making a deal.  This sounds like a great time for buyers to come back into the market.  However, economic uncertainty is creating a lot of doubt.  According to what we are seeing, the top fear for buyers is if we go into a recession and the home prices go down after they buy.  This doubt contributes to an approximately 20% cancellation of existing purchase contracts in Florida since June.

Going back to 2020, we also saw a lot of cancellations at the beginning of the Pandemic. Understandably there was a lot of uncertainty then.  After the dust settled, the market reality of supply and demand kicked in.   Many people were moving to Florida. There was not enough housing for everyone during this influx.  The high demand and low supply resulted in the highest and fastest price rise in memory.

Now, people are still moving in, albeit at a slower rate.  We won’t have the data until later, but some are saying that most of the people that wanted to move post-COVID have done so.  If that’s true, the post-Pandemic bump is playing out.  We should return to a market more similar to pre-COVID.  That is, still a Seller’s Market, because the demand still exceeds the supply, but not as crazy as in the last 2 years.  Even right now with all the price reductions, they are only being reduced from the record highs of earlier this year, but prices are not lower than a year ago.

We are in the midst of “the dust settling” phase of the post-Pandemic bump.  We want to encourage would-be homebuyers and home sellers to stay focused on their personal objectives and forge ahead.  History shows that predicting the interest rate and timing the market is a near impossibility.
Buyers that waited for the price to go down in the past were left in the dust.  When the prices did stall, they stalled because the interest rates were much higher.  This resulted in no advantage for these buyers that waited.  The buyers who are still waiting right now, are most likely dealing with escalating rents, which is another reality of our housing shortage.  Therefore, if you want to own a home and the current conditions suit you, then buy.

Many would-be home sellers were also hesitant to enter the market, because they were afraid of not being able to buy another home after they sell.  With a cooler, calmer market, more people might actually end up selling and buying and achieving their housing goals!

We, as real estate professionals, also do not like crazy markets.  We look forward to a more normal market ahead, where logic prevails.  And we look forward to helping many of you accomplish your goals.  As always, we love to hear from you!

Happy month of July!  We are now officially in the second half of 2022.  We hope you have fared well during the first half of this year. I will provide the latest market update, as we see it from the ground level in Orlando.

The housing market has been hot for the past several years. This year it became superheated for a couple of months.  The demand for housing was so strong that the prices jumped the traditional gradual stairstep rises and set new height records across Central Florida.  Then, a multitude of factors began to put the brakes on the housing market.

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark rate significantly in June after government data showed high inflation in May.   The inflation fears resulted in the 30-year mortgage interest rate nearly doubling from the low of 3% a year ago. The climbing interest rates and housing prices discouraged many homebuyers and slowed down their activities.

An important component of our housing market is the investors.  Due to the escalating prices, they have also slowed their buying.  When they cannot achieve the desired return on their investment, they have also backed off.  One phenomenon I observed though, is that due to the housing shortage, the rent is escalating.  When this happens, the investor can increase their return from the higher rent, and therefore pay a higher purchase price.  This is keeping the market going a bit further, but will certainly reach a ceiling when the rent increase is no longer sustainable.

What’s keeping our market strong, still seems to be the influx of people moving to Central Florida. From our anecdotal sales and rental data, we still see people moving here and needing housing.  We also see activity from sellers who have been sitting on the sideline watching the market finally listing their homes.  You may have noticed a flurry of our recent new listings.  The Orlando market overall saw a 36.5% increase in inventory in May 2022 compared to May 2021.  New contracts decreased 19.1% during the same period.

It appears that the much talked about slow down may be upon us.  I feel this is actually good news.  When the market is crazy, people feel uncertain.  When people feel uncertain, they typically do not make a move, which has all sorts of consequences on the market.  I see more people making decisions now based on the perception of (1) higher interest rates are likely to continue to year’s end, (2) housing prices seem to have stalled (but not retreating), and (3) overall economic concerns.

I want to encourage everyone to bravely forge ahead.  In my 25 years in real estate, the market has always been challenging, just in different ways.  The market has always found a way to move forward.  I’ve been hearing about strategies such as buying down points (borrower paying an upfront fee to reduce the interest rate on the mortgage).  I have not seen that in our many years of low-interest rates environment but it was certainly common in the past.

Please scroll down and enjoy Josh Velazquez’s article below on why he is also still upbeat about homeownership in the current interest rate environment!

Whatever your housing situation is, let us help you navigate through the current environment to achieve your goals.  Give us a call!

In the past few years, home buyers and property owners have struggled with escalating insurance premiums, new policy/renewal requirements, or outright cancellations of coverage, as more and more insurers became overwhelmed with roof lawsuits and other challenges and many exited the Florida market or shuttered.

I want to share with you the latest legislative update on new laws aimed at tackling these problems.  If you have any questions, reach out to your insurance company to discuss what changes are coming and what options are available for current policyholders.  I hope these changes are a step in the right direction.  Let’s all hope our insurance crisis will come under control soon!

                                    Yien and The Yao Team
Copyright © 2022 Yien Yao, LLC

May 26, 2022
Fla. Lawmakers Pass Insurance, Condo Reforms
By Tom Butler

In a special session this week, the Florida Legislature passed a roster of bills to ease problems in the state’s insurance market, including SB 2D, which Florida Realtors heavily supported. Lawmakers also took steps to improve the safety of condo buildings.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers met this week in Tallahassee for a special session to help rein in rising property insurance costs throughout the state. Over the course of the three-day session, they amended their tasks to include condominium building safety, a response to the Surfside tragedy last June that killed 98 people.

“On the call of Governor DeSantis, lawmakers went to Tallahassee this week on a mission to address Florida’s ongoing property insurance crisis,” says Christina Pappas, president of Florida Realtors®. “I’m happy to report they not only made significant progress on that mission but went the extra step to help protect the safety and investments of current and future condominium residents.”

Property insurance reform
Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2D which Florida Realtors heavily supported throughout the special session. It now goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature. The bill includes a variety of reform measures designed to reduce frivolous lawsuits, crack down on roofing scams, provide reinsurance relief – a type of insurance for insurers when they face heavy claims – and empower property owners to harden their homes against storms. Some changes in the bill include:

Condominium safety reform
Florida lawmakers also addressed condominium reform by passing Senate Bill 4D. This bill provides an overhaul of the high-rise inspection law, requires more frequent recertification of safety standards and mandates that condo boards build up reserves so they can make needed repairs. Changes in the bill include:

“Floridian’s have been struggling to keep up with rate increases, stay insured and find adequate coverage in their area,” says Pappas. “The measures passed by lawmakers this week will have a long-term positive effect on Florida’s insurance market. I’m proud of our members for staying engaged on this issue and continuing to demonstrate the need for these types of reforms. These policies may not immediately reduce premiums, but they do get at the heart of the problem.”

Tom Butler is Florida Realtors Public Policy Communications Director
© 2022 Florida Realtors®

Question:  I’ve heard so much about how crazy the housing market is right now. Is this the right time to downsize?

Answer by Yien:  That is a great question.  We are currently helping several clients downsize because their children have grown and left the home.  They want to take advantage of the current strong seller’s market and cash out.  Even though we’ve helped families do this for over 20 years, this market still has a few surprises because no two markets are ever the same.  Let me share with you some background.

Currently, the market is so strong, that we are filtering multiple offers for our listings so the sellers can pick the best ones.  We are also writing multiple offers for our buyers hoping they can secure a contract.  This high demand for houses feels eerily similar to the runup before the 2008 market crash.  However, the nature of the demand is fundamentally different this time.  Last time, the easy financing and rampant speculation fueled an inflated “fake” demand.  Many people bought houses not because they needed to live in them, but with the sole intention of flipping them for a profit, while using borrowed money they could not support.  This time, the demand for housing is due to the post-COVID influx of people moving to Central Florida (and elsewhere in Florida), for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the technological revolution of remote working which allows people to keep their jobs but move to a more desirable place to live.  This influx of people needing places to live resulted in rental properties being fully occupied.  Renters often even have to bid higher than the asking rent on available properties!   Those who wish to purchase, find themselves competing with others like them, plus investors looking to invest in this strong rental market for cash flow.  Together, it makes for the most competitive entry-level market in memory.  Currently, the median price for a home in Orlando is $361,000 while the average price is $410,169.  That’s up 26.7% from the median price of $285,000 a year ago, and up 18.2% from the average price of $347,119 a year ago.  This has created a myriad of issues for many buyers.  But it also presented opportunities for sellers.  Many families found their homes are now worth much more than they expected.  This unexpected equity, plus a still-low mortgage interest rate, is allowing them to trade up.  The demand for larger, higher-priced homes is strong too, but in a different way.  If the home is above $400k-$500k, the investors are likely not a competitor, since cash flow is easier on smaller and lower-priced homes.  Now the competition is from other families looking to move to Orlando.  We’ve had a steady flow of buyers from the northeastern states.  We are now also seeing an increase in buyers from the west coast, California in particular.  California buyers often purchase with cash and are willing and able to compete for some rare homes among the low inventory.  I’ve personally seen $50,000 – $100,000 above the asking price.  This makes it difficult for other financed buyers to compete because the prices are beyond the limit of appraisals. One caveat, is these high-end buyers tend to be very selective and would bid thus only on the best homes with rare features such as golf or lake frontage.  So this price escalation does not directly affect the overall market.  They result in various price outliers that are not necessarily replicable on other less-premium homes.  

So, when you are selling your current larger home, you have the advantage and opportunity to get the highest price that we’ve seen since the last peak. But when you are buying the smaller next home, you are in a more competitive market segment. You might find yourself paying more than you were planning. 

It suffices to say that there are many moving pieces in this market.  Whether you are looking to buy or sell, let us be your partners and guides.  We have insights, strategies, and connections that can increase your odds of success in this market.  We hope to hear from you!

As always, please send us your questions.  Until next month, take care!

Yien and The Yao Team


Pregnant woman painting man's nose playfully after putting heart on a wall

Florida Realtors economist: The new “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers: Florida Report” finds that all buyers face challenges – but the bar is extremely high for the state’s first-timers.

ORLANDO, Fla – The surge in home prices last year has been a boon to homeowners but has also made it more difficult for first-time homebuyers to enter the housing market.

As of February 2022, the increase in the value of the typical home in Florida rose 17% to $381,481, an increase of nearly $70,000 in 12 months. That figure was slightly higher than the median household income in Florida, which was $55,660 last year before taxes, according to Census Bureau data.

Collectively, U.S. homeowners with mortgages gained more than $3.2 trillion in equity in 2021 compared with a year earlier, according to housing-data provider CoreLogic. For people who already owned a home, the increased value fueled strong down payments for trade up homes.

But for first-time home buyers, the goal just moved farther down the field, particularly as wage growth didn’t accelerate enough to offset this increase, and pandemic-era savings from lower consumer spending and government stimulus money has largely burned off the typical Floridian’s household balance sheets. A low interest rate environment certainly helped, but as we previously wrote, the rapid price appreciation in 2021 almost nearly washed those savings away.

As the 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers: Florida Report prepared by the National Association of Realtors® in January 2022 indicates, a divide between first-time and repeat buyers is evident and widening. In 2021, the percentage of Florida first-time homebuyers was 21%, well below the national and regional percentages. Nationally, homeownership by first-time buyers has been in decline since the height in 2010, when nationally this group comprised 50% of all home purchases.

Graph shows first-time homebuyers by region of Florida

When considering a home purchase, the largest obstacle is typically the down payment, which tends to range between 3% and 20%. For a median-priced home in Florida in February 2022, that could be between $11,000-$76,000. Repeat buyers who cash out of existing homes and put the proceeds from the sale toward their down payment find this is a much easier feat. In fact, 54% of repeat buyers in Florida did this in 2021 and relied less on their savings to fund their purchase.

First-time buyers, however, did not have this source of capital to pull from, and 83% of people in this category relied on their savings to finance their first home purchase compared to 47% of repeat buyers. It’s unknown how much of their savings remain intact after funding their down payment, but this tends to create some burden initially for first-time homebuyers who then face additional expenses without much liquid savings available.

Graph shows sources buyers use to finance a home

Repeat buyers using cash-out equity typically make a larger down payment without compromising their savings, making a median percent of down payment around 17% in 2021; first-time homebuyers put down around 7%. When considering the level of competition in the marketplace, offers with larger down payments tend to be more attractive to home sellers, particularly in a multiple-offer environment.

Given the difficulty of funding a down payment and the competition with repeat buyers with stronger offers, 35% of first-time buyers indicated that saving for a down payment was the most difficult task in the buying process compared to 4% of repeat buyers. There are several types of debt that hindered their ability to save that were harder for this group than for repeat buyers, namely student loans and, unsurprisingly, the high cost of rent. Both obstacles were double in terms of their impact to this group of buyers.

Considering 72% of first-time homebuyers in Florida rented an apartment or house prior to their first purchase compared to 15% of repeat buyers, continued increases in rent will keep pressing on their ability to save. Coupled with an expected return to student loan payments coming due within a few months, headwinds for first-time buyers looking to save for a down payment and home purchase are expected to continue.

Graph shows various reasons buyers have down payment problems

Floridians on the move

There has been a lot of talk about out-of-state migration since 2020, but there is a lot of intrastate migration taking place as well. It goes to reason that when supply and demand get to the point where housing prices increase, one of the sources of relief can be to look farther away from typical high-cost areas for homes that are less expensive. In Florida, that bears out. People are increasing the distance between the home they purchased in 2021 and their previous residence.

Graph shows distance between original home and newly purchase home

Anecdotally, Realtor members say some of these moves are fueled by a quest for affordable homes, particularly in areas where out-of-state buyers are pushing median home prices well above their historic norms. Parts of south and central Florida come to mind with buyers relocating from the Northeast and West.

Others are moving because they’re no longer tied to traditional employment hubs, thanks to increased remote and hybrid work options. As such, the median seller tenure has decreased slightly, pointing to this increased mobility.

There are a lot of insights to be gained from this recent survey. Treat yourself to a deeper dive by looking at the highlights featured here, or the entire report can be viewed here.

By Jennifer Warner

Jennifer Warner is an economist and Florida Realtors Director of Economic Development.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®

What Do 2022 Buyers Want? NAHB Lists Preferences

By Kerry Smith

The pandemic continues to influence demand for outdoor amenities, bigger homes and the suburbs. But all ages still like laundry rooms and walk-in pantries.

ORLANDO, Fla. – During the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recent convention in Orlando, researchers issued a list of the home features currently desired by different generations. Some rose in importance thanks to the pandemic, though many tried-and-true preferences didn’t go away.

According to NAHB, an increased desire for bigger homes, suburban locations and more outdoor amenities drive new home design, resulting in a rise in the average size of a new home to 2,524 square feet. New-home buyers also show a preference to homes with four-plus bedrooms (46%) and at least three bathrooms (34%).

Desires vary by generation, however. Still, all generations listed five items they consider important:

Buyers by generation

Millennials’ (36%) and Gen Xers’ (34%) housing preferences have changed because of the pandemic. In addition to a desire for more space and more bedrooms, both groups also look for homes with    modern or contemporary exteriors designed for multiple generations. They also want exercise rooms, home offices and designated bike lanes in their communities.

“With this data, you immediately see that younger buyers have been impacted by the pandemic more than older generations,” says National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Assistant Vice President of Survey Research Rose Quint.

Only 18% of baby boomers, on the other hand, noted a change in their preferences. They’re interested in smaller homes on smaller lots, preferably in the suburbs. They also have an eye toward energy    efficiency, with top preferences focused on energy-efficient lighting, ENERGY STAR appliances and whole home certification.

“Boomers have likely owned a home before, and understand the costs of heating and cooling a home,” Quint says.

The percentage of single-family homes with patios rose to 63% as more emphasis is placed on outdoor living. Homebuyers across generations also show a stronger concern for all details of exterior living, with millennials indicating a specific interest in front porches as well.


RE Trends: What’s Driving Fla. Buyer Demand?

By Marla Martin

2022 Real Estate Trends: Millennials are prime homebuyers for years to come and interest rates will rise. This year’s wild cards? Inflation and unexpected virus variants.

ORLANDO, Fla. – What trends should consumers, Realtors® and policymakers watch for when it comes to Florida real estate over the next year? Drivers for homebuyer demand include demographic shifts, changes in consumer housing preferences – like location, home size and lot size – still-low mortgage rates and rapidly rising rental prices, Florida Realtors® Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor told more than 300 Realtors during the 2022 Florida Real Estate Trends summit Thursday.

“The biggest wave of millennials is now in their mid-30s and they’ll be in prime homebuying years for some time to come,” O’Connor said. “And who are they buying from? The Gen Xers – and there are a lot more millennials than Gen Xers. And, here in Florida, retirees are a pretty big deal – combined with the millennials, that puts pressure on the market.”

The event was part of this year’s Florida Realtors’ Mid-Winter Business Meetings at the Renaissance SeaWorld Orlando. In addition to O’Connor, the summit featured Dr. Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographic and behavioral insights at the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). She shared her thoughts on buyer demand via a recorded Q&A. It also included a panel discussion on buyer motivation featuring Deanna Armel, broker-owner, Armel Real Estate; John Boyd, principal, The Boyd Company; Melanie Schmees, director of business and economic research, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce; and Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.

Dr. Brad O’Connor, Florida Realtors chief economist

Analysts are waiting to see what will happen with inflation and how that will impact interest rates long term, O’Connor said, noting that some predictions call for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage to be as high as 4.5% by the end of the year. “That’s what we experienced a few years ago, and if that happens, it will certainly impact buyer demand and financing. We’ll see the market change and return to similar conditions,” he said.

Homebuilding and supply will also be a factor to watch when it comes to buyer demand.

“It’s a long-run problem; we have a long way to go when it comes to building,” O’Connor noted. “We need construction workers. Builders continue to face constraints but have been building at the fastest pace in recent memory. However, high prices and low rates of starter home construction will remain a challenge.”

Looking at 2021, Florida Realtors latest housing data shows that Florida’s housing market had more than 528,000 sales of existing homes (all types), up 19% year-over-year – a total dollar volume of about $241 billion – despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“In terms of sales, 2021 could also be called ‘The Year of the Condo’,” O’Connor said. “Over 160,000 existing homes in the condo and townhouse category sold in 2021, marking a more than 34% increase over 2020’s total. In contrast, the over 350,000 sales in the single-family home category, while over twice the size in number, represented only about a 13% increase year-over-year.”

The lack of inventory impacted the housing market statewide over the year.

“We got our hopes up for inventory, but except for a few months, that didn’t happen,” he said. “We started the year with a 1.6-month’s supply of existing single-family homes, but we ended 2021 with a 1-month’s supply – and in many of your local markets, it’s down to a half-a-month’s supply. For years, Florida has had more existing condos than single-family homes, but by the end of the year, existing condos and townhomes are down to a 1.3-month’s supply, which is very close to the single-family category.”

Dr. Jessica Lautz, NAR vice president of demographic and behavioral insights

The median age of a first-time homebuyer is 33 years, the same age it has been for several years, Lautz said, noting NAR research found that first-time buyers usually are in a tight age range of 28-33 years.

“However, the age of typical repeat buyer has increased significantly,” she said. “Repeat buyers’ median age is 56 years, and some may be looking to downsize, which can be added competition for the first-time buyers.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a quick uptick in multigenerational buyers as older parents came to live with their adult children and their families, who also may have had college age or older children come back home, according to Lautz. It has since leveled off to about 11%.

When asked about research on buyers and sellers working with real estate brokers and agents, Lautz noted that “agent use is trusted.”

“People are embracing technology and using technology with real estate professionals,” she said. “Agent use is extremely high now; 87% of buyers today are working with real estate agents, and the youngest buyers out there are using agents at the highest rates. For sellers, 90% are using an agent, and they’re working with someone who will be a one-stop shop for them with a broad range of expertise who will handle it all.”

She added that FSBOs (For Sale By Owner) are at historic lows at just 7% today.

Finally, more people see the real estate industry as “a refuge” right now. It’s attracting people seeking flexibility and independence – especially more women, according to Lautz.

“We see this wave of more Realtors entering NAR membership (1.5 million) than ever before,” she explained. “And we’re seeing more women agents and brokers. It’s a pretty stark change from 1978 to today.”

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


With 2021 behind us, we wish you the full optimism, energy, and momentum that comes with the arrival of a brand-new year!  We have been updating and sharing with you this list each year as a matter of tradition.  We are convinced that real estate should be the foundation of your financial security. Does real estate figure into your 2022 New Year’s resolution?  Here are some suggestions for consideration in your real estate related resolutions:

1) Buying Your First Home:  Homeownership is the quintessential American dream and is also the top goal of most Millennials. Homeownership represents the foundation of personal freedom and the major source of savings for most Americans.  Since we all need a place to live, we can either rent or we can own.  Owning is the first step to building equity and financial security.  Many have built their wealth through it.  However, owning a home does come with a lot of responsibilities and isn’t for    everyone.  The price escalation of the last 2 years has also made that starter-home dream elusive for many.  Are you ready to take this step in 2022 for your financial future?  We can help you get started.

2) Selling:  Do ever-changing priorities and plans make you think about selling your home?  Is it time to re-evaluate your investment properties?  The significant price appreciation over the last 2 years has many homeowners considering making a change.  Increasing property taxes, insurance premiums, maintenance costs, and potential capital gains tax changes, have some investors considering cashing out.  In this fast-changing   market, it’s important to have a professional consultation when thinking about selling.  During seller consultations, one very important question we answer is when to act.  In a rising market, time is on the Seller’s side.  In a declining market, sooner is better than  later. We watch and analyze the market closely and are happy to share with you our insights so that you can make the most informed decision.

3) Change of Lifestyle:   Our needs and wants change over time, and where we live can affect the quality of our lives. The stay-at-home months of 2020 highlighted the importance of our homes.  They have become the sanctuary where we live, work, and school!  Do you dream of a different type of property or location?  The ideal home is different for everyone.  We’ve helped a family move out of a rigid HOA community and into a custom home on acreage. We’ve helped a family build their dream home on a lakefront lot where they watch sunsets over water and ski to their hearts’ content.  We’ve had clients that moved to bustling Downtown Orlando, trendy Milk District, scenic Winter Garden, beautiful Winter Park, and oak-shaded Winter Springs where they experienced a renewed exuberance and excitement over everyday living.  We have so many of these stories and continue to be passionate about homes and what our homes can do for us.  We are partners in many of our past clients’ lives because we know how to help them make these transitions.  Have you been thinking about something different?  Let’s explore together.

4) Upsizing:  Is your current home getting too tight? Do you have a growing family? Do you need an office? The average move-uppers purchase a home 1.5 times larger than their current home.  For example, they move from a 2,000 to a 3,000 Sq Ft home.  When the 3-car garage of our previous home became filled with storage, we knew it was time to upsize.  Moving to a larger home now has increased my family’s quality of life in every way.  It also made our quarantine much easier in 2020.  We are happy to have made the move and will be happy to help you too.

5) Downsizing:  Some of us are, or will soon be, empty nesters.  Do you have empty rooms or a pool that is never used?  Is the maintenance of a large home getting tiresome? Most homeowners downsize to simplify or lower the cost of living.  A common theme is to purchase a smaller home outright with the equity from the selling of the current, larger home.  Many may also downsize not necessarily to reduce cost, but to increase the quality of life, purchasing smaller homes in more desirable areas or into a newer, more upgraded home.  We can introduce new, special communities to you.

6) Vacation/Second Home:  If you’ve grown weary of spending your vacations in hotels and rentals, consider joining the nearly one million buyers across the country that purchased a second home last year.  This is a dream for many people.  After the hustle and bustle of a busy week, imagine a relaxing weekend at the beach or the “lake house” to recharge yourself.  Some clients have also shared success stories of renting out their properties through services such as Airbnb and Vrbo.

7) Real Estate Investing:  It has been said that the majority of the wealth in the United States has been made in real estate.  There are many facets to real estate investing.  We have worked with different investors over the last 20 years, from young couples fixing up one small home at a time, to sophisticated investment groups that purchase dozens of properties. Among our past clients, their goals have included portfolio diversification, capital preservation, cash flow, and equity appreciation.  Two things that can make real estate a truly unique investment    vehicle is the amount you can leverage (borrow) and the fact it can generate income.  If a home is purchased with a 20% down payment and the rent pays the mortgage, that is an 80% leverage! Also, the fact that real estate can generate rental income sets it apart from most other investments. For most other investments to be profitable, they have to increase in value.  Real estate can be a win even if the value doesn’t go up.  With the current investor interest rates still so low, it is still a great time to buy.  We have been real estate investors ourselves for many years and we are happy to share with you our personal experience.

8) Retirement Plan:  Some of our clients apply the principle above as their retirement plan.  They purchase properties whenever possible with the goal that upon the mortgage payoff, the rental income can support or supplement a comfortable retirement.  We have been on this course personally for over 10 years now.  It’s never too early, or too late, to start!

9) College Savings Plan:  Is there a newborn or a young child in your own or extended family?  Consider buying a rental home for the benefit of the child.  Let’s say you can do it with 20% down and a 15-year mortgage. When the child is 15 years old, the property will be paid off.  It can be sold for college tuition or other financial needs.  Or, the future monthly rental income can help cover the child’s expenses.  Even with a 30-year mortgage or other configuration, it is a significant head-start for your loved ones.  Or, what if your kid is already heading off to college?  Many parents have purchased rental properties around UCF for their kids and rent out extra rooms to roommates, which pays the mortgage. Our daughter will be going to law school in 2 years.  We already know which property we will use to fund her education!

 We sincerely wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.  As always, if you have any real estate related questions, give us a call!  We are happy to discuss real estate topics even when it’s not business.  Also, we love referrals!

Until next month,




2021 is winding down to its final month.  We, the Yao Team, want to express our gratitude for your support for another amazing year.  The central Florida real estate market has seen incredible ups and downs in the last 20 years.  Our own community has seen its own share of fluctuation and challenges in that time.  Now, at the end of 2021, our housing market stands stronger than ever. The desirability and soundness of home ownership is also more evident than ever.  

We hope to have the honor and privilege to be a guide and partner to your real estate journey in the coming year.   Happy Holidays!


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