(ORLANDO, FL) -- Florida's existing home sales rose in September, which marks more than a year (13 months) that sales activity has increased in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors. September's statewide sales also increased over sales activity in August in both the existing home and existing condominium markets.
Existing home sales rose 34 percent last month with a total of 14,419 homes sold statewide compared to 10,778 homes sold in September 2008, according to Florida Realtors. Statewide existing home sales last month increased 4.1 percent over statewide sales activity in August.
Florida Realtors also reported a 77 percent increase in statewide sales of existing condos in September compared to the previous year's sales figure; statewide existing condo sales last month rose 8.9 percent over the total units sold in August.
All of Florida's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing home sales in September; all but one MSA also showed gains in condo sales. A majority of the state's MSAs have reported increased sales for 15 consecutive months.
Florida's median sales price for existing homes last month was $142,000; a year ago, it was $174,900 for a 19 percent decrease. Housing industry 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 August 2009 was $177,500, down 12.1 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In Massachusetts, the statewide median resales price was $315,000 in August; in California, it was $292,960; in Maryland, it was $265,862; and in New York, it was $205,000.
NAR's latest industry outlook notes positive signs in the housing sector, but adds that extension of the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit would help sustain a fragile recovery. "Now that the market is showing some momentum, we have an opportunity to achieve a more rapid and broader stabilization in home prices," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. The outlook for home sales and prices depends on whether the tax credit is extended, he said, describing it as "the best tool in our arsenal to encourage financially qualified buyers to stimulate the economy and help reduce the budget deficit."
In Florida's year-to-year comparison for condos, 5,088 units sold statewide last month compared to 2,870 units in September 2008 for a 77 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $102,500; in September 2008 it was $153,500 for a 33 percent decrease. The national median existing condo price was $179,300 in August 2009, according to NAR.
Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.06 percent last month, a significant drop from the average rate of 6.04 percent in September 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 275 homes sold in September compared to 267 homes a year earlier for a 3 percent increase. The market's existing home median sales price last month was $135,000; a year ago it was $146,900 for an 8 percent decrease. A total of 48 condos sold in the MSA in September, up 41 percent over the 34 units sold in September 2008. The existing condo median price last month was $190,000; a year earlier, it was $180,000 for a 6 percent gain.