(ORLANDO, FL) -- Florida's existing home sales rose in July - the 11th month in a row that sales activity increased in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR). Statewide existing home sales in July also rose over the previous month's sales level.
Existing home sales rose 37 percent last month with a total of 15,882 homes sold statewide compared to 11,595 homes sold in July 2008, according to FAR. Statewide existing home sales in July increased 0.2 percent over June's statewide activity. Florida Realtors also reported a 48 percent rise in statewide sales of existing condos in July.
Eighteen of Florida's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing home sales in July; the same number of MSAs also showed gains in condo sales. A majority of the state's MSAs have reported increased sales for more than a year (13 consecutive months).
To gain insight into current trends in Florida's real estate industry, the University of Florida's Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies conducts a quarterly survey of industry executives, market research economists, real estate scholars and other experts. According to the recent second quarter 2009 survey, investor confidence in the outlook for business and availability of money are reasons for cautious optimism.
"I think we're on the road to recovery and even though most markets report they've seen the bottom, it's going to be a long climb," said Timothy Becker, the center's director. He noted that the investment outlook for single-family development increased to its highest level since the survey began, with more respondents than ever believing it is a good time to buy.
Florida's median sales price for existing homes last month was $147,600; a year ago, it was $193,800 for a 24 percent decrease. According to housing industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 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. 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 June 2009 was $181,600, down 15 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In Massachusetts, the statewide median resales price was $306,000 in June; in California, it was $274,740; in Maryland, it was $274,008; and in New York, it was $189,900.
Several positive market factors are influencing the housing sector, notes NAR's latest industry outlook. "Historically low mortgage interest rates, affordable home prices and a large selection are encouraging buyers who've been on the sidelines," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "Activity has been consistently much stronger for lower priced homes. We expect a gradual uptrend in sales to continue due to tax credit incentives and historically high affordability conditions."
In Florida's year-to-year comparison for condos, 5,035 units sold statewide compared to 3,396 units in July 2008 for a 48 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $108,300; in July 2008 it was $168,700 for a 36 percent decrease. The national median existing condo price was $183,300 in June 2009, according to NAR.
Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.22 percent last month, down significantly from the average rate of 6.43 percent in July 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 smaller markets, the Pensacola MSA reported a total of 371 homes sold in July compared to 321 homes a year earlier for a 16 percent increase. The market's existing home median sales price last month remained level compared to a year ago at $157,800. A total of 48 condos sold in the MSA in July, up 23 percent over the 39 units sold in July 2008. The existing condo median price in July was $250,000; a year earlier, it was $325,000 for a 23 percent decrease.