Home prices in South Florida gained momentum in February, which marked the third straight month of increases, according to Miami Realtors.

Median prices for single-family homes in Miami-Dade rose 19% to a median price of $175,000 from year-ago figures, according to the Multiple Listing Service. Broward County homes climbed 8% to $180,000.

Condo prices, meanwhile, surged 40.4% to $131,950 in Miami-Dade last month. Broward condo prices increased 13 out of the last 14 months, with a 12% gain to $75,000 from February 2011 figures.

“Miami home prices have rebounded sooner and stronger than predicted, which is a very encouraging sign for the Miami real estate market,” said Martha Pomares, chairman of the board at MAR. 

“New residents, vacation, second-home and international buyers continue to be attracted to Broward County and all that it offers,” said Ernesto Vega, president of the Broward County board of governors of MAR. “Despite the decline in available inventory and rising prices, there is evident demand for properties throughout Broward County.”

Residential inventories significantly dropped 45.1% from a year ago in Miami-Dade to 13,610 residential listings — a less than five-month supply. Inventories dropped 33% in Broward compared to February 2011. Conversely, housing inventory nationally rose 4.3% at the end of February.

Distressed inventory continues to dominate the South Florida market, however.

In February, 54% of all closed residential sales in Miami-Dade County were distressed, down slightly from 56% in January and down from 69% in February 2011. In Broward, 48% of the inventory was distressed property, down from 49% in January and 59% in February 2011.

But in a sign of some improvement in Sun Belt states, including Florida, housing permits for new construction are on the upswing.