Florida Home Sales Up, Prices Down, Realtors Say
Some buyers appear to be returning to some of the harder-hit housing markets in the Sunshine State, according to data released Friday morning. Florida single-family home sales volume climbed 44% in Q409, compared to Q408, according to statistics from the Florida Association of Realtors. Home sales volume totaled 43,926 in the quarter, up from 30,610 one year earlier. It’s the sixth-straight quarter of year-to-year increases in homes sales volume within the state, realtors said. In comparison, home sales across the nation increased 13% in Q409, according to the National Association of Realtors. Condominium sales volume also showed a jump, rising 93% in Q409 from the same quarter in 2008 -- marking the fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth for condo sales. Not that sales volume in the Sunshine State could have gotten much worse, as the state regularly posted some of the worst numbers in the nation during the nation's housing crash. And while sales volume climbs, questions remain. According to a recent survey from the University of Florida’s Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies, industry experts and economists still hold some uncertainty on the effects of tightened credit, foreclosures and unemployment on the statewide housing market. Florida had the fourth highest foreclosure rate in the country during January, according to RealtyTrac. One in 187 home received a foreclosure filing during the month, while the total number of homes receiving a foreclosure filing jumped 15% from one year earlier. Nonetheless, private investors are starting to “kick the tires” in some markets, according to Timothy Becker, the Bergstrom Center director. He said that investor expectations on returns are falling to more realistic levels, closing the spread between their bids and asking prices. “These developments bode well for the transaction market when quality properties start coming to the marketplace,” Becker asserted. Yet, while transaction volumes rise, prices continue to take a hit within the state. The statewide median sales price dropped 13% to $140,000 in Q409, from $160,600 in Q408. Compared the rest of the country, Florida prices fell below the national average of $172,900, a 4.1% drop from Q408m, according to NAR. Write to Jon Prior.