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Friday, September 26, 2008

Several Florida metro areas continue upswing in existing home, condo sales in August

ORLANDO, Fla. – Sept. 24, 2008 – For the second month in a row, several of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased sales of both existing single-family homes and existing condos in August 2008, according to the latest housing statistics released by the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR).

“Despite economic uncertainty and the start of the school year, which impacts August home sales, a number of Florida’s metro areas continue to report an upswing in housing activity,” says 2008 FAR President Chuck Bonfiglio. “Florida Realtors are noticing signs that investors think the market has reached bottom in many areas, and they are preparing to jump in while prices remain below value. Industry analysts hope that the federal government’s financial rescue plan will boost the housing market and help restore confidence.”

A total of 10,847 existing homes sold statewide last month while 11,282 homes sold in August 2007, a decrease of 4 percent in the year-to-year comparison, according to FAR. Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $186,900; a year ago, it was $234,100 for a 20 percent decrease. But, looking back to August 2003, the statewide median sales price for single-family homes at that time was $163,600 – an increase of 14.2 percent over the five-year-period, according to FAR records. 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 July 2008 was $210,900, down 7.7 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $350,760 in July; in Massachusetts, it was $326,500; in Maryland, it was $303,959; and in New York, it was $229,000.

The latest housing outlook from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) predicts that existing home sales nationwide will improve in the coming months, though the speed and timing of a recovery depends on local market conditions. “Sales have picked up significantly in several Florida and California markets,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Home prices generally follow sales trends after a few months of lag time. Still, inventory remains high in many parts of the country and will require time to fully absorb. We expect more balanced conditions in 2009 and will eventually return to normal long-term appreciation patterns.”

In a year-to-year comparison for condos, 3,214 units sold statewide compared to 3,428 in August 2007 for a 6 percent decline. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $158,000; in August 2007 it was $197,400 for a 20 percent decrease. In the latest data available at press time, NAR reported the national median existing condo price was $223,400 in July 2008.

Last month, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.48 percent, down from the average rate of 6.57 percent in August 2007, according to Freddie Mac. FAR’s sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Seven of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased sales of existing homes in July; seven MSAs also showed gains in condo sales. Many Realtors around the state are noting a rise in pending sales, more telephone calls and increased business activity in their markets, indicating heightened buyer interest.

Among the state’s large to medium-size markets, the Fort Lauderdale MSA reported a total of 604 homes sold in August compared to 538 homes a year ago for a 12 percent increase. The existing home median sales price was $269,800; a year ago, it was $368,800 for a 27 percent decrease. In the year-to-year comparison for the existing condo market, sales activity remained stable with a total of 550 existing condos sold in the MSA last month compared to 551 condos the previous August. The market’s existing condo median price was $133,300; a year ago, it was $178,800 for a 25 percent decrease.

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