Used-home sales surge, prices plummet

By Palm Beach

ORLANDO — The good news from the housing market: Homes are selling again. The bad news: It’s taking deep discounts to move them.

The Florida Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that 8,450 used homes sold statewide in January compared to 6,810 a year earlier — an increase of 24 percent. The median price, however, fell to $139,500 from $206,900 — a drop of 33 percent.

It was the fifth month in a row that sales increased year-over-year, according to FAR.

Palm Beach County followed the pattern: used home sales jumped to 408 in January from 369 a year ago, an increase of 11 percent. The median price dropped 32 percent to $232,100 from $343,2000 a year ago

In Broward County, sales increased to 467 from 307, an increase of 52 percent, while the median price tumbled to $191,000 from $314,000 a year ago, a decrease of 39 percent.

In the Fort Myers-Cape Coral market, sales increased by 124 percent to 758 from 338 but the median price fell to $94,900 from $334,000 a year earlier.

“Many people are looking at today’s market and seeing opportunities to find the home or business they’ve always wanted,” FAR President Cynthia Shelton said. “With a range of available housing options, historically low mortgage interest rates and affordable prices, buyers who may have been hesitant before should take a closer look at the current opportunities for homeownership.”

FAR also reported a 13 percent gain in statewide sales of used condominiums in January. The median price fell by 40 percent to $113,400 from $190,200.

In Palm Beach County, sales increased by 24 percent while the median price fell 31 percent to $108,900 from $157,700 a year ago.

According to analysts with the National Association of Realtors, there remains a significant downward distortion in the current median price due to many discounted sales, including a large number of foreclosures. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

NAR reported that used home sales nationally dipped 5.3 percent on an annualized basis, while the median price fell 15 percent to $170,300.

NAR’s latest housing outlook notes that while home prices continue to fall, there are increasing sales in  Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada markets.

“It appears some buyers are taking advantage of much lower home prices,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The higher monthly sales gain and falling inventory are steps in the right direction, but buyers will continue to have an edge over sellers for the foreseeable future.”

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FEBRUARY 25, 2009 click to go home
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