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Florida's home sales, prices post strong gains in January

By Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — Used-home sales surged statewide last month, while prices also posted strong gains, Florida’s Realtors reported Thursday.

January sales totaled 13,679, up 11.7 percent from a year earlier, while the median price rose 12.4 percent to $145,000. The median price is the point where half of homes sold for more, half for less. Pending sales — deals with contracts in place but have yet to close — rose 31 percent.

"This year started out strong for Florida's housing market," Florida Realtors President Dean Asher said. "Homes sales continue to rise, mortgage rates remain near historic lows and the inventory of for-sale homes is lower than it's been in years.”

Asher said the length of time properties sit on the market before selling also has declined, but strict credit requirements continue to hinder the market. While distressed sales — short sales and foreclosures — continue to depress prices, the percentage of the original listing price that sellers are receiving is rising —to  92.2 percent in January.

"I'm particularly impressed with the rise in percentage of list price received by sellers," Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo said, referring to the January data. "This can encourage other potential sellers to come forward, thus easing the market's inventory crunch."

Separately Thursday, the National Association of Realtors reported that used-home sales nationally rose 0.4 percent in January to an annualized rate of 4.92 million. The median price rose 12.3 percent to 173,600. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said demand for homes is strong but the lack of supply is holding back the number of sales.


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