RISMEDIA

May 13, 2010

Florida’s existing home sales rose in March, which means that sales activity has increased in the year-to-year comparison for 19 months, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

Existing home sales increased 24 percent last month with a total of 16,294 homes sold statewide compared to 13,090 homes sold in March 2009, according to Florida Realtors. Statewide existing home sales last month increased 37 percent over statewide sales activity in February. Also noteworthy: while March’s statewide existing-home median price of $137,000 was down from the same time a year ago, it was 4.3 percent higher than February’s statewide existing-home median price.

Florida Realtors also reported a 63 percent increase in statewide sales of existing condos in March compared to the previous year’s sales figure; statewide existing condo sales last month rose 40.6 percent over the total units sold in February. Though March’s statewide existing-condo median price of $96,900 was down compared to the year-ago figure, it was 5.1 percent higher than February’s statewide existing-condo median price.

Seventeen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing home sales in March while all MSAs had higher condo sales. A majority of the state’s MSAs have reported increased sales for 21 consecutive months.

Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $137,000; a year ago, it was $141,300 for a 3 percent decrease. Industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) note that 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 the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in February 2010 was $164,300, down 2.1 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $279,840 in February; in Massachusetts, it was $271,950; in Maryland, it was $237,446; and in New York, it was $225,000.

NAR’s latest outlook anticipates a rise in home sales in late spring, which should help to absorb inventory. Increased pending sales is a positive sign for home prices, which are continuing to stabilize, according to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 7,148 units sold statewide last month compared to 4,387 units in March 2009 for an increase of 63 percent. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $96,900; in March 2009 it was $108,500 for an 11 percent decrease. The national median existing condo price was $170,200 in February, according to NAR.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.97 percent last month, down from the average rate of 5 percent in March 2009, 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 larger markets, the Sarasota-Bradenton MSA reported a total of 1,055 homes sold in March compared to 765 homes a year earlier for a 38 percent increase. The market’s existing home median sales price last month was $163,800; a year earlier it was $150,000 for an increase of 9 percent. A total of 382 condos sold in the MSA in March compared to 226 units sold the same month a year earlier for an increase of 69 percent. The existing condo median price last month was $146,400; a year earlier, it was $129,000 for a gain of 13 percent.

Two charts showing statistics for Florida and the state’s MSAs are attached. One chart compares the volume of existing, single-family home sales and median sales prices in March 2010 to March 2009 based on Realtor transactions; the other compares the volume of existing, condominium sales and median sales prices in March 2010 to March 2009 based on Realtor transactions.