Florida Condo Sales Up 6% in Q4; Home Sales Dip 10%

Florida Condo Sales Up 6% in Q4; Home Sales Dip 10%

Residential News » Residential Real Estate Edition | By Michael Gerrity | February 11, 2011 8:00 AM ET

According to the latest housing statistics from the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR), sales of existing condominiums in Florida rose 6 percent in fourth quarter 2010 compared to the same period a year earlier.

A total of 17,231 existing condos sold statewide in 4Q 2010; during the same period the year before, a total of 16,229 units changed hands.

Thirteen of Florida's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported higher existing condo sales in the fourth quarter, according to Florida Realtors. The statewide existing-condo median sales price was $86,400 for the three-month period; in 4Q 2009, it was $105,600 for a decrease of 18 percent. The statewide existing-condo median price in the fourth quarter was nearly 2.9 percent higher than it was in 3Q 2010.

Looking at Florida's housing sector in the fourth quarter, Dr. Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness, pointed out that the jobs outlook has a major impact. "Persistently high unemployment constrains demand and feeds into the ongoing foreclosure problem," Snaith said. "Given the state of the labor market, a continuing decline of home and condo prices in the fourth quarter is not surprising or unexpected. However, it's important to note the rate of price decline is decelerating.

"As the labor market recovery takes hold in 2011, it will help put a floor beneath price declines and ultimately will provide the basis of housing's recovery."

Meanwhile, in the year-to-year quarterly comparison for existing single-family home sales, 39,338 homes sold statewide for the quarter compared to 43,494 homes in 4Q 2009 for a 10 percent decrease. The statewide existing-home median sales price was $134,100 in 4Q 2010; a year earlier, it was $140,500 for a decrease of 5 percent. Sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Optimism has increased slowly but steadily in Florida real estate markets through the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the University of Florida's Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies' latest quarterly survey of real estate trends. The report surveys economists, industry executives, real estate scholars, researchers and other experts.

Center Director Timothy Becker noted improvement in several key categories, including the outlook for sales in new single-family homes and condominiums, office occupancy, retail occupancy, land investment and capital availability. Respondents' expectations for occupancy and rent increased across every property type, while the investment outlook rose in a majority of the property types. The statewide outlook was the highest since the survey's inception in 2006, he said.

"Overall, the market appears to be improving and will continue to improve at a slow pace over the next year," Becker said.

Low mortgage rates continued to be available during the fourth quarter of the year. According to Freddie Mac, the national commitment rate for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.41 percent in 4Q 2010; one year earlier, it averaged 4.92 percent.

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