Despite Downturn, Home Finance Expert Bullish on Future of Niceville Housing Market. Here’s Why You Should Be, Too.

Where We Are: The State of the Niceville Housing Market

Despite plenty of questions about the economy around the country, positivity remains around the housing market in Niceville and Valparaiso. Movement Mortgage Branch Leader Steve Schutt says that the prime rate nationally for home loans varies based on whether or not you’re in line for a government loan (think VA, FHA and USDA) or a conventional loan. “Government loans are in the high 6 [percent interest rate]’s to low 7s,” Schutt said, “Most conventional customers will be in the low 7s.”

 

The Emerald Coast Association of Realtors (ECAR) Secretary, Amanda Grandy presented a cloudy, though not an entirely stormy picture of the near term for Okaloosa County’s real estate market to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday. Her biggest takeaways:

  • Mortgage loan originations (creating a mortgage for a homebuyer) dropped from $230 Billion to $170 Billion nationwide. In Okaloosa County, that number dropped from just over a billion dollars in March 2022 to about $700 Million in sales in August. 
  • Market inventory in Okaloosa County is up 69% from this time last year. This means more homes are available, and prices will become more affordable. 
  • About 2,000 homes total are on the market in Okaloosa County as of the last full week of October. 
  • ECAR says there is plenty of good news: there is more supply on the market, they expect the interest rate to go down in the future, and housing prices will fall – which will, in turn, make the housing market more affordable.

RELATED: Proposed affordable housing study among $6.15 Million grant request from Okaloosa County to the Florida State Legislature

 

“What the fed is saying is that they are going to increase the interest rate through February and then sit on it for 12 months to make everything kind of stall,” Grandy told commissioners, “It’s going to be a correction and a stall for a while until we get confidence [in the market] back. It’s going to be a little bit broken because the interest rates are at 7%.”

 

Commissioner Trey Goodwin asked Grandy what size correction the county could expect on home values. She told them about a 20% drop – back to the levels they were immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

RELATED: Housing Affordability Threatens Public Safety in Okaloosa County. Here’s Why

Movement Mortgage's Steve Schutt
Amanda Grandy, Secretary of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors
Okaloosa Commissioner Trey Goodwin
Okaloosa County Commissioner Trey Goodwin has served on the County Commission since 2014.

So What Do The Home Finance Experts Say About Niceville and Valparaiso Homes Specifically

Alan Wood has seen a couple of ups and downs in his 35-year career as a banker, first in Alabama and now as the president of CCB Bank in Florida.  The bank makes home loans in Alabama and Florida. In addition to their business in the home loan market – CCB Bank manages an investment portfolio as well. They have more than 70 years experience in the banking industry.

 

We asked Wood several questions about the future of our real estate market in Niceville, Valparaiso and around Eglin Air Force Base. Here’s what he told us:

CCB Florida President Alan Wood has more than 35 years experience in local banking.He also serves on the Emerald Coast Childrens' Advocacy Center Board.

Have you seen a difference in the market in Niceville specifically?

“Not dramatically. I’ll put it this way; I would say that we’ve seen a slowdown in residential loan applications primarily. And on the business side, there’s not going to be the refinance opportunities that we’ve been experiencing over the last five to seven years. Going forward, mortgages are going to be people moving here primarily. Not a lot of people are going to be selling and getting into a bigger house right now because of the interest rates,” Alan added, “Still, a decent amount of new build inventory is out there. That is going to be hitting the market. And I think [new home purchases are] where you are going to be seeing most of the activity over the next year, in my opinion.”

Will there be a recession in Niceville?

“I don’t think so. To be quite honest, we’re insulated in this market to a large degree because of the military. there’s always a consistent stream of people moving in and out of our area via re-locations in the military and a consistent flow of federal monies via government contracts. This helps insulate our area from downturns in the economy.  That will keep the economy here pretty robust. Having been in another market, Tuscaloosa, where we had the University of Alabama – when you’ve got big engines like that in your market, it helps to insulate you to a large degree from recessions.”

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Will higher interest rates affect home values in Niceville?

“I would probably say they are going to be flat,” Wood said, “Right now, there is nothing driving the markets down. We have lower unemployment, there are still 1.7 jobs for every job seeker on the market. Not a lot of people are losing their jobs. I think the housing market is going to stay decent, and values won’t drop that much, in my opinion. Foreclosures aren’t happening in this market like they were in 2011 and 2012. If they were, all of these existing home values would come down.”

What good has come from the present financial environment for Niceville residents?

“The deposit rates are increasing. If you are a depositor, we’re already seeing that over the last 2,3,4,5 years, rates have been so depressed on CDs [Certificates of Deposit] and money market accounts you rarely had people calling to see what our rates were. Now, we are getting a lot of calls.”

Moving Forward Through An Uncertain Financial Future

To sum up, Wood thinks our area will serve as a safe harbor for peoples’ investments in their homes for the future – thanks to the stability that the Air Forces’ missions bring to the area. He did add other areas outside of the direct influence of Eglin’s gates – places like Destin and South Walton – would have less resistance to the national economic situation than Niceville, Fort Walton Beach and Crestview.

As home inventory increases, we should see home affordability increase.
"there’s always a consistent stream of people moving in and out of our area via re-locations in the military and a consistent flow of federal monies via government contracts. This helps insulate our area from downturns in the economy. "

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