Florida’s Existing Home, Condo Sales Rise in January

Florida’s Existing Home, Condo Sales Rise in January

ORLANDO – 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®.

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.

“Many people are looking at today’s market and seeing opportunities to find the home or business they’ve always wanted,” said Cynthia Shelton, president of the realtor association. 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 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 – a 33 percent decrease. According to industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors®, 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. In California, the statewide median resale 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.

 “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,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 2,556 units sold statewide compared to 2,266 sold in January 2008 – a 13 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $113,400. In January 2008 it was $190,200, a 40 percent decrease. In the latest data available 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.