Used home prices move slightly higher in Florida

By Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — Florida’s used home sales market is alive. A skeleton of what it was say five years ago, but alive nonetheless.

Thanks in large part to income tax credits and incredibly low mortgage rates, April sales statewide jumped 27 percent over year ago numbers, to 16,781 from 13,244. More important, the median price actually rose 1 percent, to $140,100 from 138,100. The median price is the point where half sell for more and half for less.

"Buyers responding to the federal homebuyer tax credit before it expired helped to boost home sales across Florida," said 2010 Florida Realtors President Wendell Davis, a broker with Watson Realty Corp. in Jacksonville. "And buying conditions remain favorable, with a variety of housing options available in local markets at attractive and affordable prices. Plus, current mortgage interest rates are at historically low levels, which gives buyers more 'bang' for their buck."

used home sales chart

The trend ran true in South Florida, where all three counties showed both increases in the number of homes sold and in the median price.

In Palm Beach County, the number of homes sold jumped 35 percent to 918 from 681; the median price increased 2 percent to $239,000 from $234,000 in April 2009.

In Broward, sales increased 11 percent to 766 from 690; the median price increased 7 percent to $204,300 from $191,300 a year ago.

Miami Dade showed the biggest price increase, up 8 percent to $192,200 from $177,000; it also had the smallest increase in the number of sales, up 7 percent to 594 from 555 a year earlier.

For the year, prices are down 3 percent for the year over the same period in 2009.

Altogether, 17 of Florida’s 19 metro areas showed gains in sales, but only seven of the 19 showed prices gains. Hard-hit Fort Myers-Cape Coral showed the biggest increase in the median price, up 19 percent to $101,500.

The tax credits that helped propel April sales expired at the end of the month. Interest rates, however, have fallen substantially from April levels, with the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaging 4.84 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

According to National Association of Realtor's latest outlook, two trends are influencing a broader stabilization of home prices in housing markets across the nation: months of increased sales activity and lower levels of inventory.

"Foreclosures have been feeding into the inventory pipeline at a fairly steady pace and are being absorbed manageably," NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. "With home values stabilizing, a revival in homebuying confidence will likely help the housing market get back on its feet even as the tax credit impact disappears."



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