ORLANDO, Fla. – Feb. 27, 2009 – Florida’s existing home sales rose in January, making it the fifth month in a row that sales activity showed increases in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR). Existing home sales rose 24 percent last month with a total of 8,450 homes sold statewide compared to 6,810 homes sold in January 2008, according to FAR.
“Many people are looking at today’s market and seeing opportunities to find the home or business they’ve always wanted,” said 2009 FAR President Cynthia Shelton. “With a range of available housing options, historically low mortgage interest rates and affordable prices, buyers who may have been hesitant before should take a closer look at the current opportunities for homeownership. As real estate professionals who know all aspects of their local market conditions, Florida Realtors are here to help counsel consumers making sound long-term decisions for their homes and their businesses.”
Florida Realtors also reported a 13 percent gain in statewide sales of existing condominiums in January, making it the fourth recent month (following September, October and December) that statewide existing home and existing condo sales were higher compared to year-ago levels.
Thirteen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing-home sales in January while 11 MSAs also showed gains in condo sales; it marks the seventh consecutive month that a number of markets have reported increased sales.
Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $139,500; a year ago, it was $206,900 for a 33 percent decrease. According to industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), there remains a significant downward distortion in the current median price due to many discounted sales, including a large number of foreclosures. 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 December 2008 was $174,700, down 14.8 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $281,100 in December; in Massachusetts, it was $275,000; in Maryland, it was $267,925; and in New York, it was $220,000.
NAR’s latest housing outlook shows that home prices continue to fall, but also notes a trend of increasing sales activity in the Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada markets. “It appears some buyers are taking advantage of much lower home prices,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The higher monthly sales gain and falling inventory are steps in the right direction, but buyers will continue to have an edge over sellers for the foreseeable future.”
In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 2,556 units sold statewide compared to 2,266 sold in January 2008 for a 13 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $113,400; in January 2008 it was $190,200 for a 40 percent decrease. In the latest data available at press time, NAR reported the national median existing condo price was $181,400 in December 2008.
Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.05 percent last month, down from the average rate of 5.76 percent in January 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 large to medium-size markets, the Daytona Beach MSA reported a total of 419 homes sold in January compared to 321 homes a year ago for a 31 percent increase. The existing home median sales price was $131,800; a year ago, it was $179,100 for a 26 percent decrease. In the year-to-year comparison for the existing condo market, a total of 77 units sold in the MSA last month, up 43 percent compared to 54 condos sold the previous January. The market’s existing condo median price was $167,800; a year ago, it was $230,000 for a 27 percent decrease.