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Home Sales Continue to Rise

soldsignSales of existing single-family homes in Florida continued to impress in the first quarter, up 25 percent compared to the same period a year earlier, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Florida Association of Realtors.

The surge in sales coincides with a precipitous drop in median prices, as bargain shoppers scoop up distressed properties. Median home prices fell 30 percent to $141,000, down from $202,300..

A total of 31,412 existing homes sold statewide in the first quarter, up from just over 25,000 in the same quarter last year.

The recent figures mark the third consecutive quarter that Florida has reported higher existing home sales; sales levels in the third and fourth quarters of 2008 were higher than the corresponding three-month period of the previous year, according to the association.

Association executives cited the backlog of existing homes on the market and the drop in mortgage rates to an average of 5.08 percent interest rate on a conventional 30-year fixed mortgage.

“Many first-time homebuyers are entering the market now to take advantage of current low mortgage rates, plentiful housing inventory and affordable homeownership opportunities,” said 2009 FAR President Cynthia Shelton. “Typical homebuyers are realizing that now is the time to buy — they can find the Florida home of their dreams at a cost they can afford.”

Realtors caution that lower median prices may be deceptive because they were drawn down by buyers of foreclosed property.

Sales in the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area more than doubled but the home-soaked region saw home prices fall by 58 percent to $92,500. Home sales in Tallahassee fell 29 percent for the quarter as prices fell a relatively modest 10 percent to $175,400. Existing sales in Miami were up 72 percent as median prices fell 38 percent to $203,700.

The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half for less.

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