Building quality housing for individuals and families of all life stages and income levels is an integral part of ensuring a better community. Volusia County currently has 232,517 households. With an additional 55,000 people projected to move to the County over the next ten years, the area needs a varied housing inventory to accommodate residents now and in the future.
Apartment Homes On the Rise, Offering Affordability and Convenience
Whether its close proximity to transportation hubs like the airport, the peace of mind that comes from knowing weekly maintenance is not part of the weekend’s to-do list, or a dazzling array of amenities, including pools, fire pits and youth play areas–apartment living is on the rise in Volusia County.
Referred to by leasing agents as luxury or ‘glam apartments’, Volusia is seeing additional multi-family units constructed in places like Tomoka Town Center and as part of the future plans for Downtown Daytona Beach. A recent Daytona Beach News-Journal article noted an estimated 4,000 new units are on the horizon.
While they do pack density into an area, the positive impacts of multi-family housing include greater connectivity. In some cases, the housing is seamlessly included in some cases are seamlessly included in a mixed used walkable development, which includes retail, restaurant and entertainment options, something Volusia County Council Chairman Ed Kelley can appreciate.
I think self-contained communities are fantastic as long as the new developments do not contribute to transportation or utility service issues”. The town centers provide a lot of the things people want. And when you can have the big things–work, shops, medical care, school, and churches available to you, in proximity, it reduces traffic and helps to create a community feeling,” said Kelley.
With a finger on the pulse of the housing market in Volusia County, the Daytona Beach Area Association of Realtors 2020 President Harold Briley says there are benefits to both buying and renting in Volusia County.
“My experience has been that more people are buying or purchasing newly built homes than renting,” said Briley. “Almost 65% of Americans are homeowners today, and it is predicted that we will see an increase of 4% in existing home sales this year.
“With that being said, rentals continue to remain hot in our area. Just look at the number of apartments being constructed in the Daytona Beach area. I believe that many folks, but especially young people who are starting out and saving for their first home, are entering our rental market. Of course there is always an attraction to rent, mainly because the responsibility of maintenance of the property lies with the property owner.”
“Even as prices have steadily increased over the past 4 or 5 years, interest rates are still at record lows, and in many cases, it is cheaper to own today than it is to rent.”
Why Rent When You Can Buy?
Others prefer the privacy and security that comes with homeownership, along with the added ability to significantly customize their living space.
Demand for single family homes is steadily on the rise, and Briley, a realtor for the past six years and team member with Adams, Cameron & Co. Realtors, is seeing evidence of the housing market’s rebound since 2016.
“The bulk of the calls I have received over the past year, have been for single family properties,” said Briley. “I believe as several of the 55+ communities are built out, some of our existing residents will be attracted to the lifestyles offered by these communities, thus freeing up some of the inventory in our resale market.”
Ronnie Bledsoe, co-owner and co-manager of the newly established Plantation Oaks in Ormond Beach agrees that Floridians and others moving to the Sunshine State are transitioning into a more relaxed lifestyle.
Retiring from careers and ready to downsize, the Plantation Oaks 55+ community of upscale manufactured homes start at $149,000 and ensures like-minded residents have the chance to enjoy similar activities like game nights, trips to the theater or cruising along the Ormond Loop on their Harley Davidson motorcycles, while offering similar amenities as luxury apartment homes.
A spacious clubhouse, fitness facility, swimming pool, game room, and commercial kitchen are part of the community’s package, as are lawn and landscaping services, and gated security.
“What attracts everyone is that it’s pretty much a carefree lifestyle,” said Bledsoe. “It’s very low maintenance, and it’s a gated community.”
Is there a demand for this type of housing in Volusia County? Bledsoe says yes.
“There’s 35 homes on site, of which we have 15 residents living there now. Everything is brand new. This community will be 427 units when it’s completed and we have access to another 1,150 home sites if we decide to go that route,” he said.
Challenges – Build It And They Will Come, If They Can Afford It …
“Florida is now the third largest state in the nation, and our population continues to grow,” reminds Briley, while noting the need for additional housing in a market where buyers are rapidly snapping up inventory.
“It is my opinion that we have a housing shortage in Volusia County. As of this writing, there are currently 2,535 residential properties for sale in the Daytona Beach Multiple Listing Service. About two weeks ago, this number was hovering around 3,000,” he said in February 2020.
He also knows with a median income between $38,000 and $42,000, it can be challenging for families to find affordable housing in Volusia County, affecting the decision to rent or buy.
“We also face a shortage of workforce housing,” said Briley. “With the average median home sale price around $250,000, it is difficult for many in our area who work in retail and services industries to purchase a home. This is not unique to our area, as many communities around the country are working to find solutions to this problem.”
Florida Housing Coalition President & CEO Jaimie Ross said she was encouraged by the recent legislative session in Tallahassee supporting the Sadowski Trust Fund and associated programs like the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP).
“The outstanding leadership by Governor DeSantis, Senate President Galvano, and Volusia’s Senator Travis Hutson, will bring over $5.7 million in SHIP funds to Volusia County during fiscal year 2020-21,” said Ross.
“We estimate that the local SHIP office will be able to help 600 income-eligible households in the community. This can be life changing for those families who are in need of life and safety home repairs or help in terms of down payment and closing costs to move into affordable homeownership. The housing funds also create a positive economic impact in Volusia County of approximately $76.6 million dollars. Volusia County, like the rest of the state, has been waiting for 13 years to see the trust funds restored to full appropriation. This is a great victory for Volusia County,” said Ross.
Florida Senator Travis Hutson agrees.
“The rising housing costs in Volusia County have reinforced the need for affordable housing in our communities. I am proud to have successfully championed for the full funding of the Sadowksi Affordable Housing Trust Fund, at $370 million. By securing these funds, we will be able to invest in affordable housing projects across the state, including right here in Volusia County, and help to build stronger, more sustainable communities.”
Tasked with recruiting companies that provide higher wage jobs to the area from industries like aviation, aerospace and the medical field, Keith Norden, President & CEO of the Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation attributes some of the housing industry’s building and growth to demand.
“I think it’s more population growth within Florida,” said Norden. “The most recent count is over 900 people a day moving to Florida and that’s what they’re building for.”
Volusia County Council Chairman Ed Kelley agrees the two go hand in hand.
“The approach we’ve got to have is higher paying jobs. They’re coming in, they want to be part of the community, and Volusia is a phenomenal place to live,” said Kelley.
“It’s off the charts great. You live where you have the (beautiful) weather that we have, access to major areas like Orlando, the outdoor activities that we have, 47 miles of beaches – all these things going for you, at a reasonable cost of living.”