It never fails. Just when you think you have a business trend figured out it changes.

It seemed natural that new houses would sell better than existing ones in the Covid-19 pandemic. In May, new construction was up sharply and sales of existing houses were down in the Volusia/Flagler area.

But in June, Realtors in the Volusia/Flagler area reported sales of 1,280 existing houses, up 18.4% from June 2019 and a median price, where half sold for more and half less, of $240,000, up 3%. Condo and townhouse sales were at 324, up 15.3%, and the median price was at $225,500, up 10%.

However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, builders in the Volusia/Flagler area obtained permits for 196 single-family houses in June, with 74% of the area reporting, down from 215 in June 2019 with 66% of the area reporting. Total housing units was higher with 250 housing units in June, including, 12 townhouse units and 42 apartment units. In June 2019, the total was 231 with 16 apartment units.

Who knows where the trend is heading, but you can expect the housing market to stay strong, even in the pandemic, with the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage at 3.15% in July, according to bankrate.com, which was down from 3.32% in June.

Even with housing prices on the rise, mortgage rates that low keep houses affordable for more people.

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CTO Realty Growth, formerly Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co., sold its Wawa ground lease in Jacksonville for $7.1 million. It would be nice to think the company is amassing funds for its down Daytona Beach project, but no, the money is going into its restricted fund for tax exchanges, which is at $34 million. The company definitely has the cash to go after a really profitable property or properties, and not have to pay taxes on the capital gain. A lot of folks were probably watching the company’s quarterly earnings report Thursday (July 30). It could shed some light on where it is headed this year.

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There was one extremely interesting big commercial real estate deal recently. A Colorado firm and investors have bought the former Sam's Club property on Beville Road in Daytona Beach for $5 million. Previous former Sam's Club purchase by the firm in Colorado was used for a supermarket. It’s hard to believe Walmart would sell a property to someone planning on putting in one of its competitors, but stranger things have happened.

A couple of other commercial real estate deals were an Orlando investor bought the Dollar General store property in Osteen for $1.4 million and area businessman James W. Corwin bought the beer and wine supply building at 715 Canal St. in New Smyrna Beach for $540,000.

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It doesn’t look like rental apartment construction will slow down anytime soon. The permitting process continues for Osprey Pointe, a 384-unit apartment complex on Clyde Morris Boulevard, just south of the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Port Orange. Plans were submitted to the St. Johns River Water Management District for approval of a drainage plan for it.

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On a final note, two other items to note include a plan was submitted to the City of Daytona Beach to tear down building the building at 319 N. Atlantic Ave. and put up a new building for Ink Therapy. Signs are going up for Cantina Louie’s in the shopping center with Pep Boys and Haynes Furniture on West International Speedway Boulevard.

Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 23 years. Contact him at cbrumley@hometownnewsmediagroup.com (no hyphens) or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.

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