Florida's Home, Condo Sales Edge Up in May

Florida's Home, Condo Sales Edge Up in May

Residential News » Residential Real Estate Edition | By Michael Gerrity | June 21, 2011 2:18 PM ET

(ORLANDO, FL) -- According to the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR), Florida's existing home and existing condo sales rose in May.

Existing home sales increased 3 percent last month with a total of 17,228 homes sold statewide compared to 16,790 homes sold in May 2010, according to Florida Realtors. Statewide sales of existing condos last month rose 17 percent compared to the year-ago sales figure.

Twelve of Florida's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported higher existing home sales in May; 14 MSAs also had higher condo sales. It's the sixth consecutive month that Florida Realtors has reported higher year-over-year existing home and existing condo sales statewide.

"With low mortgage rates and a broad inventory of homes at affordable prices, qualified buyers are realizing that there may never be a better time to find the home they've been dreaming of in Florida," said 2011 Florida Realtors President Patricia Fitzgerald, manager/broker-associate with Illustrated Properties in Hobe Sound and Mariner Sands Country Club in Stuart. "Consult a local Realtor about qualification criteria and to find out more about opportunities in your local housing market."

Florida's median sales price for existing homes last month was $135,500; a year ago, it was $142,900 for a 5 percent decrease. However, May's statewide existing home median price was about 2.9 percent higher than it was in April. Analysts with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) note that 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 April 2011 was $163,200, down 5.4 percent from a year ago, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $293,570 in April; in Massachusetts, it was $279,000; in Maryland, it was $226,370; and in New York, it was $200,000.

According to NAR's latest industry outlook, tight credit is one of the reasons why the market is underperforming. "Although existing-home sales are expected to trend up unevenly through next year, unnecessarily tight credit is continuing to restrain the market along with a steady level of low appraisals that result in contract cancellations," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "A robust economic and housing market recovery cannot occur as long as banks continue to hold onto huge cash reserves."

In Florida's year-to-year comparison for condos, 8,338 units sold statewide last month compared to 7,104 units in May 2010 for an increase of 17 percent. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $98,200; in May 2010 it was $96,400 for a 2 percent increase. May's statewide existing condo median price was about 6.9 percent higher than it was in April. The national median existing condo sales price was $167,300 in April 2011, according to NAR.

The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.64 percent in May, a drop from the 4.89 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac. Florida Realtors' sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

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