Miami home sales took the usual December to January decline, but sales volume was the highest for the month since 2007, particularly in entry-level housing units, according to the latest research from MDA DataQuick. There were 6,894 new and resale houses and condos sold in the three-county Miami market during January. That’s down 16.5% from December, but up 35.7% from 5,079 in January 2009. While it’s the highest sales total for a January in three years, the January 2010 total was 29.1% below the month’s average for all years since 1997. However, the decline from December to January was less than the running average of 20%. The Miami market has experienced 11 consecutive months of year-over-year price gains. The existing market is on a 14-month-long run, while new homes are on an opposite trend — sales fell below the year-ago level for the 43rd time in the last 44 months. New home sales were off 34.2% from December and 20.6% from January 2009, the lowest level of new home sales since at least 1997, DataQuick said. New homes accounted for only 6.8% of total sales in the market, compared to 8.6% in December and the January average of 20.2% that runs for the past decade. Sales for homes priced below $200,000 accounted for 66% of total sales, up from 60.9% in December and 56.7% a year ago, a result of the homebuyer tax credit that’s luring first-time buyers into the market, and an increased presence of investor-buyers, DataQuick said. In addition, homes sold for $1m or more totaled 131 in January, down 46.1% from 243 in December, but up 14.9% from 114 in January 2008. Homes that sold for $1m or more peaked in June 2005, when 583 homes were sold. In January, the median price for all new and resale homes and condos in Miami was $140,000, down 9.7% from $155,000 in December and down 20% from $175,000 in January 2009. It’s the first month-over-month drop since a year ago, when prices dropped 12.5% from December 2008 to January 2009, but the decline is normal between the two months, DataQuick said. The 20% decline from January 2009 to January 2010 was the smallest year-over-year drop since the median price declined $245,000 in August 2008, but it marks the 28th straight month of year-over-year decreases. The January median was 51.7% off the peak median price of $290,000 from June 2007. The median price for resale homes in January was $175,000, down 6.9% from $188,000 in December, down 12.5% from last year and down 48.5% from the June 2007 peak median of $340,000. DataQuick said 46.6% of mortgagors funded their home purchase with Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured loans, up from 42.5% in December and 49% a year ago. Just two years ago, FHA-backed mortgages accounted for only 6.5% of the total market. Absentee buyers — often investors, but who indicated at the time of sale that their property tax bill would be sent to a different address — purchased 33% of all homes sold in Miami in January, up from 29.3% in December and 26.7 percent a year ago. In addition 2.9% of the homes sold in January were flipped within a three-to-six week period. That’s up slightly from a flip rate of 2.8% in December and up from 1.4% in January 2009. Cash buyers accounted for 58.5% of all January sales, and the median cash purchase sales price was $95,000. DataQuick measures cash purchasers as transactions where there was no indication of a purchase loan recorded in the public record at the time of sale. However, some of these cash buyers could have used alternative financing arrangements outside of a typical purchase mortgage, and in some cases these buyers might be taking out mortgages after their purchases. Write to Austin Kilgore.