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

Residential News » Residential Real Estate Edition | By Michael Gerrity | March 23, 2009 12:43 PM ET

(ORLANDO, FL) -- Florida's existing home sales rose in February, making it the sixth consecutive month that sales activity showed increases in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR). February's statewide sales also increased over January's figures in both the existing home and existing condo markets.

Existing home sales rose 20 percent last month with a total of 9,858 homes sold statewide compared to 8,181 homes sold in February 2008, according to FAR. February's statewide existing home sales were 16.7 percent higher than January's statewide sales.

Florida Realtors also reported a 15 percent gain in statewide sales of existing condominiums in February, 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 25.1 percent over the total units sold in January.

Thirteen of Florida's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing-home sales in February while 11 MSAs also showed gains in condo sales. It marks the eighth month in a row that a number of markets have reported increased sales.

Florida's median sales price for existing homes last month was $141,900; a year ago, it was $199,300 for a 29 percent decrease. Industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) report 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 January 2009 was $169,900, down 13.8 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $254,350 in January; in Massachusetts, it was $321,000; in Maryland, it was $244,820; and in New York, it was $205,000.

Significant variations in local markets continue, according to NAR's latest housing outlook, which also notes that it will take time for the impact of the economic stimulus to show in housing data. "Some markets appear to have reached the tipping point of accelerating home buying," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "Improvement from the economic stimulus isn't likely to show as closed home sales before summer, although we may see an earlier lift from lower mortgage interest rates."

NAR analysts estimate the impact of the federal economic stimulus package and lower interest rates on the housing market to be about 900,000 additional home sales in 2009 compared to conditions before the stimulus package. By the end of the year, NAR expects inventory to fall below an eight-month supply, which would be consistent with home price stabilization.

In Florida's year-to-year comparison for condos, 3,198 units sold statewide compared to 2,785 sold in February 2008 for a 15 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $109,300; in February 2008 it was $173,900 for a 37 percent decrease. In the latest data available at press time, NAR reported the national median existing condo price was $174,400 in January 2009.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.13 percent last month, down significantly from the average rate of 5.92 percent in February 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 medium-size markets, the Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie MSA reported a total of 372 homes sold in February compared to 263 homes a year ago for a 41 percent increase. The existing home median sales price was $122,100; a year ago, it was $172,900 for a 29 percent decrease. In the year-to-year comparison for the existing condo market, a total of 71 units sold in the MSA last month, up 22 percent compared to 58 condos sold the previous February. The market's existing condo median price was $116,700; a year ago, it was $126,700 for an 8 percent decrease.

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