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ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 14, 2008 – During the second quarter of 2008, Florida Realtors continued to report positive signs for the state’s housing sector, such as an increase in pending home sales (based on contracts signed but not closed) and a slower rate of expansion of inventory levels in some areas.

Sales of both existing single-family homes and existing condominiums improved in second quarter 2008 from the first quarter of the year, according to the latest housing statistics from the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR). A total of 35,178 existing homes sold statewide in 2Q 2008, up 38.2 percent over 1Q 2008 when 25,443 homes sold. The statewide existing home median price in 2Q 2008 was $203,000, slightly higher than the $202,300 median price reported in 1Q 2008.

In the state’s existing condo market, a total of 11,343 units sold in 2Q 2008, a 32.2 percent increase over 1Q 2008 when 8,581 units changed hands. The statewide existing condo median price in 2Q 2008 was $181,100, an increase of 1.5 percent from 1Q 2008.

“Across the state, we’re seeing positive signs for Florida’s housing market,” says 2008 FAR President Chuck Bonfiglio. “Realtors are reporting heightened interest from buyers, more business activity and an increase in pending sales. Prices also appear to be reaching equilibrium in many areas, another encouraging sign that could boost the market’s momentum.”

Looking at the year-to-year quarterly comparison, a total of 35,178 single-family existing homes changed hands during the three-month period, a decrease of 6 percent compared to 37,407 homes sold during the same time a year earlier, according to FAR records. The statewide existing-home median sales price was $203,000 in the second quarter; a year ago, it was $241,200 for a decrease of 16 percent. In 2003, the second-quarter statewide median sales price was $154,700, which reflects an increase of 31.2 percent over the five-year period. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half for less.

To gain insight into current trends in Florida’s real estate industry, the University of Florida’s Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies conducts a quarterly survey of industry executives, market research economists, real estate scholars and other experts. The second quarter 2008 survey found the long-term outlook for Florida remains positive. “As long as the United States economy has bright prospects and particularly as long as Florida has good prospects, it’s very hard I think to make a case for a long-term picture that’s negative,” says Wayne Archer, director of UF’s Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. He added that the logical time for market cycles to change is likely the spring of 2009.

In a year-to-year quarterly comparison of condo sales, 11,343 units sold statewide for the quarter compared to 12,585 in 2Q 2007 for a 10 percent decrease. The statewide existing-condo median sales price was $181,100 for the three-month period; in 2Q 2007, it was $215,300 for a 16 percent decrease.

Continuing 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 6.09 percent in second quarter 2008; one year earlier, it averaged 6.37 percent.

The latest industry outlook from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicts improvements in existing home sales in the coming months, with broader gains seen by the fourth quarter as buyers take advantage of new provisions provided through the recently approved housing stimulus legislation. “With a tax credit now available to first-time homebuyers, increases in home sales could be sustained with the momentum carrying into 2009,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Source: Florida Association of Realtors