Florida's Home Sales Rise 27% in April, Condo Sales Up 55%

Residential News » Residential Real Estate Edition | By Michael Gerrity | May 24, 2010 2:30 PM ET

(ORLANDO, FL) -- According to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors (FAR), sales of existing homes in Florida rose 27 percent in April, which means that sales activity has increased in the year-to-year comparison for 20 months. Another positive sign: Last month's statewide existing-home median price of $140,100 was 1 percent higher than the statewide median price in April 2009.

Existing home sales rose 27 percent last month with a total of 16,781 homes sold statewide compared to 13,244 homes sold in April 2009, according to Florida Realtors. Statewide existing home sales last month increased nearly 3 percent over statewide sales activity in March. Meanwhile, April's statewide existing-home median price was 2.3 percent higher than March's statewide existing-home median price of $137,000. It marks the second month in a row that the statewide existing-home median price has increased over the previous month's median.

"Buyers responding to the federal homebuyer tax credit before it expired helped to boost home sales across Florida," said 2010 Florida Realtors President Wendell Davis, a broker with Watson Realty Corp. in Jacksonville. "And buying conditions remain favorable, with a variety of housing options available in local markets at attractive and affordable prices. Plus, current mortgage interest rates are at historically low levels, which gives buyers more 'bang' for their buck."

Florida Realtors also reported a 55 percent increase in statewide sales of existing condos in April compared to the previous year's sales figure; statewide existing condo sales last month rose 2 percent over the total units sold in March. Though April's statewide existing-condo median price of $103,600 was down 3 percent compared to the year-ago figure, it was 6.9 percent higher than March's statewide existing-condo median price.

Seventeen of Florida's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing home sales in April while all but one MSA had higher condo sales. A majority of the state's MSAs have reported increased sales for 22 consecutive months.

Florida's median sales price for existing homes last month was $140,100; a year ago, it was $138,100 for a 1 percent gain. 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 March 2010 was $170,700, up 0.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). In California, the statewide median resales price was $301,790 in March; in Massachusetts, it was $280,000; in Maryland, it was $235,785; and in New York, it was $209,900.

According to NAR's latest outlook, two trends are influencing a broader stabilization of home prices in housing markets across the nation: months of increased sales activity and lower levels of inventory. "Foreclosures have been feeding into the inventory pipeline at a fairly steady pace and are being absorbed manageably," said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "With home values stabilizing, a revival in home buying confidence will likely help the housing market get back on its feet even as the tax credit impact disappears."

In Florida's year-to-year comparison for condos, 7,291 units sold statewide last month compared to 4,703 units in April 2009 for an increase of 55 percent. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $103,600; in April 2009 it was $107,200 for a 3 percent decrease. The national median existing condo price was $170,600 in March, according to NAR.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.10 percent in April, up from the average rate of 4.81 percent 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.

Among the state's smaller markets, the Panama City MSA reported a total of 128 homes sold in April compared to 108 homes a year earlier for a 19 percent increase. The market's existing home median sales price last month was $160,000; a year earlier it was $156,800 for an increase of 2 percent. A total of 65 condos sold in the MSA in April compared to 53 units sold the same month a year earlier for an increase of 23 percent. The existing condo median price last month was $187,100; a year earlier, it was $172,900 for an 8 percent gain.

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