Florida existing home, condo sales jump in first quarter
Florida existing home sales followed the national trend upward in the first quarter, jumping 13% compared to the year prior to more than 44,500 homes statewide. Existing condo sales rose 29% compared to the first quarter of 2010, reported Florida Realtors. The organization said all but one Florida metropolitan area witnessed annual gains in condo sales including Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla., which saw a 27% increase in condo sales. Only condo sales in Tallahassee, Fla. dropped compared to 2010, down 20%. In total, 23,375 condos sold around the Sunshine State, up 29% from little more than 18,000 in the first quarter of 2010. The median sale price for a condo was $80,700, down 16% from the year-ago period. Prices were down substantially for homes and condos around all parts of the state. The median home sale price hit $123,600, down 6% compared to one year prior. Home prices fell the most in Fort Lauderdale, down 35% to $101,800 in the first quarter. Miami home prices dropped 20% and now sit at a median $153,600. Sean Snaith, director of the University of Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness, said that Floridian housing market is gaining strength. Fort Myers, Fla. was in fact ranked as one the top five markets in recovery by Realtor.com. However, counter to the national trend, distressed properties are burdening the market. The National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that distressed properties are driving national sales. "Distressed properties are proving to be an ongoing complication in the healing process of Florida’s housing market," Snaith said. "The foreclosure moratorium and Florida’s overburdened court system have slowed the process of handling foreclosures. Until these properties can move through this process, complete recovery will be difficult to attain." Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.