Florida's Existing Home, Condo Sales Rise in March 2009

Florida's Existing Home, Condo Sales Rise in March 2009

Residential News » Residential Real Estate Edition | By Michael Gerrity | April 23, 2009 3:06 PM ET

(News Source: Florida Association of Realtors)

(ORLANDO, FL) -- Florida's existing home sales increased in March, making it the seventh month in a row that sales activity demonstrated gains in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR). March's statewide sales also increased over the previous month's sales level in both the existing home and existing condo markets.

Existing home sales rose 30 percent last month with a total of 13,085 homes sold statewide compared to 10,080 homes sold in March 2008, according to FAR. Statewide existing home sales in March were 32.7 percent higher than February's statewide sales.

Florida Realtors also reported a 25 percent rise in statewide sales of existing condominiums in March, continuing a trend in recent months for higher statewide sales of both the existing home and existing condo markets compared to year-ago levels. Statewide existing condo sales last month increased 37.2 percent over the total units sold in February.

Fifteen of Florida's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing-home sales in March and 13 MSAs also showed gains in condo sales. It marks the ninth consecutive month that a majority of markets have reported increased sales.

Florida's median sales price for existing homes last month was $141,300; a year ago, it was $201,700 for a 30 percent decrease. Industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) report there is a significant downward distortion in the current median price due to many discounted sales, including a large number of foreclosures. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in February 2009 was $164,600, down 15 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $247,590 in February; in Massachusetts, it was $252,500; in Maryland, it was $253,200; and in New York, it was $210,000.

NAR's latest housing industry outlook reported that entry-level buyers are seeking bargains, which resulted in sales of distressed properties accounting for 40 to 45 percent of February's transactions. "Given the downward distortion in price comparisons due to distressed sales, it's important for owners to keep in mind that this doesn't equate to a similar loss of value for traditional homes in good condition," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

In Florida's year-to-year comparison for condos, 4,388 units sold statewide compared to 3,503 units in March 2008 for a 25 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $108,700; in March 2008 it was $172,300 for a 37 percent decrease. In the latest data available at press time, NAR reported the national median existing condo price was $172,200 in February 2009.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5 percent last month, down significantly from the average rate of 5.97 percent in March 2008, according to Freddie Mac. FAR's sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Among the state's large to medium-size markets, the Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay MSA reported a total of 539 homes sold in March compared to 445 homes a year ago for a 21 percent increase. The existing home median sales price was $123,700; a year ago, it was $159,000 for a 22 percent decrease. In the year-to-year comparison for the existing condo market, a total of 113 units sold in the MSA last month, up 24 percent compared to 91 condos sold the previous March. The market's existing condo median price was $123,100; a year ago, it was $164,300 for a 25 percent decrease.

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