Florida home sales up again

Florida home sales up again



TALLAHASSEE — Fueled by federal tax credits and low prices, existing home sales in Florida jumped 61 percent in November compared to a year ago, Florida Realtors reported on Tuesday.

Marking the 15th straight month of year-to-year increases, the November figures were the second month in a row in which all metropolitan areas experienced sales gains. Florida outpaced the nation, which also experienced healthy gains from a year ago.

Median sale prices in Florida dipped 12 percent from November 2008 to $139,000, down from $158,200 a year ago. The decrease is less than what had been experienced in recent months. Industry representatives say they expect sales to dip slightly in the months ahead before picking up again with the extension of federal tax credits and an improving economy.

“The extended and expanded federal homebuyer tax credit will continue the positive momentum of the housing sector’s recovery,” said Cynthia Shelton, president of the Florida Realtors. “People will want to take advantage of this incredible, not-to-be-missed opportunity to buy a home of their own in Florida.”

Florida condominium sales more than doubled in November with the median price 21 percent lower than a year ago.

The Fort Myers area continued to lead the rebound, with November home sales up 133 percent from 2008. Sales in Gainesville rose 84 percent while sales of Tallahassee homes were up 74 percent.

Nationally, November home sales were up 44.1 percent from November 2008. The median existing-home price for all housing types was $172,600 in November, 4.3 percent below November 2008.

In the South, existing-home sales rose 4.8 percent from October and were 44.8 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the South was $151,400, down 1.4 percent from November 2008.

“This clearly is a rush of first-time buyers not wanting to miss out on the tax credit, but there are many more potential buyers who can enter the market in the months ahead,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. “We expect a temporary sales drop while buying activity ramps up for another surge in the spring when buyers take advantage of the expanded tax credit.”

For those who can qualify, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.88 percent last month, down from 6.09 percent in November 2008, according to Freddie Mac.