Sales activity and median prices for Florida’s existing home and existing condo markets rose in August, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Existing home sales increased 15 percent last month with a total of 16,206 homes sold statewide compared to 14,131 homes sold in August 2010, according to Florida Realtors. The statewide median sales price for existing homes last month was $137,500, up 2 percent from the year-ago figure of $134,900. August’s statewide existing home median price was also slightly higher than it was in July.
“Over the past few months, it appears that home prices have been stabilizing in many local markets across the state,” said 2011 Florida Realtors President Patricia Fitzgerald, manager/broker-associate with Illustrated Properties in Hobe Sound and Mariner Sands Country Club in Stuart. “This is another positive sign that the housing recovery is gaining strength.”
According to analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.
The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in August 2011 was $168,400, down 5.4 percent from a year ago, according to NAR. In California, the August statewide median resales price was $297,060; in Maryland, it was $241,564.
Fifteen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported higher existing home sales in August; 15 MSAs also had higher existing condo sales.
In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 7,098 units sold statewide last month compared to 6,041 units in August 2010 for an increase of 17 percent. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $91,100; in August 2010 it was $81,500 for a 12 percent increase. According to NAR, the national median existing condo sales price was $167,500 in August 2011.
NAR’s latest industry outlook notes that despite high affordability conditions, sales activity is underperforming, partially as a result of overly restrictive lending standards.
“Affordability conditions this year have been the most favorable on record dating back to 1970, but many buyers are being held back because banks are offering financing to only the most highly qualified borrowers, ignoring a large share of otherwise creditworthy buyers,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Those potential buyers represent the difference between an uneven recovery and a much more robust housing market that could stimulate additional economic activity and create jobs.”
According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.27 percent in August, down from the 4.43 percent average during the same month a year earlier. Florida Realtors’ sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.