In last week’s column, I identified the six micro real estate markets in Lake and Sumter counties. This week’s column focuses on the primary buyers in those markets. Just like the various micro markets it these two counties, there is an eclectic group of buyers, which makes this market a real challenge for real estate agents. The most important aspect for the local buyer or seller is that they hire the right real estate agent and broker for the property. Depending on the buyer and where the property is located, there are real estate professionals who have experience, which can be the difference in the price and speed of the real estate transaction.

Most real estate buyers in the area can be separated into five different groups. The most prevalent buyer is the active adult buyer who is relocating to the area for retirement. Within the active adult buying group there are three subsets of buyers, which determine the type of home they purchase. Wealth plays a huge role in the type of property and that is why realtors for this group try to ascertain the budget or pre-qualification status of the buyer. The local active adult buyer is typically either seasonal, permanent or looking to purchase a mobile home. The advent of reverse mortgages and more availability of senior mortgage products are opening the door to larger, nicer homes for the active adult buyer.

In the area of south Lake County, Mount Dora and Sorrento, as well as southwest Sumter County, urban commuter buyers are prominent. These are the buyers with families who are being chased out of Orlando and Tampa because of home prices, traffic and declining standards. Most are willing to commute one to two hours to live in an affordable home in an area they believe to be safe. The only issue with these buyers is that there are so many, and the prices of these properties are escalating.

I refer to the third buyer in the area as the professional. Because of the success of active adult communities, healthcare, wealth management and legal professionals are in high demand. Professional buyers purchase executive homes in communities with all the amenities. Rising costs and lower margins on basic single-family homes are forcing builders to pursue professional buyers more often, and the current challenge is there aren’t enough of these buyers. Trends are pointing to a potential glut later in the year.

Local families make up the fourth type of buyer in the area, and this group is dwindling because of the affordability issue. The wage scale for most working families has not kept up with housing costs. Families are being squeezed with higher costs not only in housing but with property taxes and insurance. In many instances, local families are locked into their homes because there is not an affordable, viable upgraded home available. A nice family home that is affordable in the area is about as common as a golden unicorn.

The smallest segment of the home buyer market is the first-time home buyer. Because the area lacks the wage scale to support them, coupled with the affordability issue, this type of buyer is hard to find. Wealthier active adult buyers are purchasing the properties that were once available to first-time home buyers. It is a tough market for this type of buyer, and for many their only opportunity for a new home is through an affordable home builder like Homes in Partnership or Habitat for Humanity.

If you don’t fall into one of these group of buyers, you are probably a renter. Unfortunately, housing costs, regulations, insurance and taxes are creating a heck of lot more renters than real estate buyers.

The local housing market is very complex with the various micro real estate markets and types of buyers. Mistakes are being made by buyers and sellers who believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach. Before buying or selling a home, do your research. Seek out the type of property or buyer you need, then find the real estate professional who specializes in that group. Not understanding the marketplace can cost you thousands of dollars.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply. He is also the host of the Around the House TV show on LSTV and at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and at 7 a.m., Noon and 6 p.m. Saturday.