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S.W. Florida Daily News


Interest rates could be driving people to stay in rentals, mortgage broker says

Interest rates could be driving people to stay in rentals, mortgage broker says
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CAPE CORAL, Fla.  — The housing market is hot in Southwest Florida as more people move here for a slice of paradise. Some people can’t buy whether that’s because they’re getting outbid, interest rates or they can’t get insurance.

This means potential homeowners could be forced into a rental — a system that’s already bottlenecked because of the lack of affordable homes.

“We are tired of looking for a house,” said Stacy Geer, who’s looking to buy a home.

Stacy and her husband Doug moved to Florida in November 2021 for some warmer weather. Stacy has Lyme disease and says the weather helps her symptoms.

“This is the third time since 2019 that we have to pick up and move again,” Doug said.

That’s because, in Massachusetts, their landlords sold their homes. In Cape Coral, the same thing is happening.

“We were starting to look, but we just weren’t in a hurry and we didn’t want to really have a timetable on it,” Stacy said.

Until some news came six months after they moved to Southwest Florida and had signed a lease for a year. Their property manager said the landlord has decided to sell the home.

“We don’t want to buy something just to get us through,” Stacy said.

It hasn’t been an easy road for the couple. They got outbid recently on a home they liked.

“We put two offers in and one was 10 grand above asking and didn’t get it,” Stacy explained.

The couple says homeowner’s insurance is the biggest hurdle they’re facing, though other factors are also contributing to the complex housing and rental markets.

“It’s the farthest thing from a renter’s market. It’s really a weird situation,” said Tony Lee, owner, and broker for Edison Mortgage.

He says interest rates could be driving people to stay in a rental.

“Usually the mortgage process and the home buying process is a couple of months process,” he explained.

The Geers don’t have a choice and need to move. However, Lee says many are waiting until right up when their lease is up.

“If you know your lease is coming up in a couple of months usually the mortgage process and the home buying process is a couple of months process, so we do get those calls on a daily basis that their lease is up in three weeks,” Lee said.

He suggests looking at least two to three months in advance because of the long process.

The Geers started to look at homes right when they got the news — even making a spreadsheet.

“We’ve just had one thing after another after another and we’re like can we get a break already?” Stacy said.

It’s a break we don’t know when will come for our housing market, but real estate experts have told us in the past that it could be by the end of the year.

“The two of us, we kinda believe that the universe or whatever will bring that house to us and it’ll work out the way that it’s supposed to,” Doug said.

If you’re looking to buy a home, there are several programs that can help you with a down payment or closing costs.

On May 23, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the launch of the Hometown Heroes mortgage program. People who work in one of at least 100 professions on an approved list could qualify for financial help if this is their first time buying a home. However, they also have to fall within the income limits for their county, which can be found here.

The Governor’s Office told us there are 545 loans in the pipeline.

The City of Fort Myers offers money to help purchase a home.

Lee County has financial assistance programs for new construction, missed payments, and other homeowner programs.

On a federal level, there are FHA and USDA loans that could lower your down payment.

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