Florida Real Estate Market Showing Continued Strength


Dr. John Tuccillo, chief economist for Florida Realtors, says market is resilient.

Dr. John Tuccillo, chief economist for Florida Realtors, says market is resilient.

More closed sales—check.

Higher median prices—check.

Increased pending sales—check.

All signs point to a sunny outlook for Florida’s housing market, according to the latest data released by Florida Realtors®.


“Throughout the year, we’ve seen Florida’s housing market strengthen, and that positive momentum continued in September,” says 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “Home values are rising and many homeowners across the state see improving home equity. Those trends are helping to ease tight inventory levels in many areas as people who had been waiting on the sidelines decided to list their homes for sale. September marks 22 months in a row that the statewide median sales prices rose year-over-year for both single-family homes and for townhome-condo properties.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 18,490 in September, up 18.8 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written. The local market in Palm Beach County appears even stronger than the state.


Meanwhile, pending sales – signed contracts not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes last month rose 10.5 percent over the previous September. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $170,000, up 17.2 percent from the previous year. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.


According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in August 2013 was $212,200, up 14.4 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in August was $441,330; in Massachusetts, it was $345,000; in Maryland, it was $272,895; and in New York, it was $242,000 making Florida an extraordinary value.


Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 8,279 units sold statewide last month, up 11.4 percent from September 2012. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhouse-condos last month increased 4.6 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties was $130,000, up 23.5 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in August 2013 was $211,700.


Inventory was at a 5.3-months’ supply in September for both single-family homes and for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.


“Not too long ago, the focus was on the strength and longevity of Florida’s housing market recovery, but we’ve moved into a slightly different stage of growth,” says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “Now, the focus turns to growth in different segments of the real estate market. For example, it is very difficult to find homes for sale priced under $200,000. Investors have taken whatever has come on the market in this range. However, despite this, inventory has definitely stabilized and appears to be on the verge of rising. More sellers are coming into the market — new listings are up — and investor demand appears to be cooling off a bit, as shown by the fact that cash sales as a percentage of all sales are falling.”


According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.49 percent in September 2013, up from the 3.47 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier. But despite the rising rates, buyers remain bullish on Florida real estate.

In Palm Beach County, home prices were up 11 percent in September from a year ago, with the median price for existing homes settling in at $250,000.

While looking strong measured against September 2012, prices have leveled off and stayed steady since March, which many realtors say is a good thing and will prevent the market from overheating.

Sales of single-family homes were up a whopping 21 percent over last year, according to the Realtors’ monthly report.

Palm Beach County also saw an impressive increase in the median price for existing condominiums last month. The median price hit $118,500, up 41 percent from a year earlier. But transactions were off 5 percent from a year ago.

Local realtors say that inventory in Palm Beach County is still lacking. That is having an impact on the length of time homes are staying on the market. Homes went under contract in a median 44 days last month, the lowest level in five years.

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