Florida's Existing Home Sale Up 24% in Q1, Condo Sales Jump 67%

Florida's Existing Home Sale Up 24% in Q1, Condo Sales Jump 67%

Residential News » Residential Real Estate Edition | By Michael Gerrity | May 11, 2010 2:21 PM ET

(ORLANDO, FL) -- According to the latest housing statistics from the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR), sales of existing single-family homes in Florida rose 24 percent in first quarter 2010 compared to the same period a year earlier.

A total of 38,846 existing homes sold statewide in 1Q 2010; during the same period the year before, a total of 31,410 existing homes sold. It marks the seventh consecutive quarter that Florida has seen higher existing year-to-year home sales, according to the state association.

Statewide sales of existing condominiums in the first quarter rose 67 percent compared to the same time the previous year. This marks the sixth consecutive quarter for increased statewide sales in both the existing home and condo markets compared to year-ago levels.

"The first quarter data release from the Florida Realtors paints a picture of a housing market continuing down the long road to recovery," said Dr. Sean Snaith, director for the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness. "Transactions in the single family market have extended quarterly year-over-year gains for nearly two years, and condo sales have also risen sharply. Median prices in most areas of the state continue to fall; however, the rate at which they are falling has diminished significantly and this is indicative of a bottom approaching.

"How long prices stay at the bottom and when price appreciation will reappear will depend in a large part on the improving fundamentals in the economy and credit markets."

The University of Florida's Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies' latest quarterly survey of real estate trends also notes positive signs of recovery in the state's real estate industry. The survey polls market research economists, industry executives, real estate scholars and other experts.

"Results indicate that the real estate market in Florida has hit bottom and is in the process of stabilizing across most property types," said Timothy Becker, the center's director. Private capital - both foreign and domestic - continues to enter the state in search of quality investment deals, he added.

Seventeen of Florida's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased sales of existing homes in 1Q 2010 compared to the same three-month-period a year earlier, while all of the MSAs showed gains in condo sales.

The statewide existing-home median sales price was $133,800 in 1Q 2010; a year earlier, it was $140,900 for a decrease of 5 percent. According to 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 a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half for less.

In the year-to-year quarterly comparison for condo sales, 16,897 units sold statewide for the quarter compared to 10,131 in 1Q 2009 for a 67 percent increase. The statewide existing-condo median sales price was $95,800 for the three-month period; in 1Q 2009, it was $110,000 for a decrease of 13 percent.

Low mortgage rates remain another favorable influence on the housing sector. According to Freddie Mac, the national commitment rate for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.0 percent in 1Q 2010; one year earlier, it averaged 5.06 percent.

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