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New Home Sales Dip in South, Rise Nationally

June sales of new homes in the South slipped 5.3 percent from May and remained 34 percent below already sluggish sales figures from a year ago, the government reported on Monday.

With an annualized sales rate of 177,000 new single family homes in June, Southern states, including Florida, continue to feel the effects of a building boom that four years ago resulted in sales of 620,000 homes across the region, more than three times higher.

Nationally, new home sales in June rose from May estimates but still remain lower than a year ago, according to the monthly report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Sales of new, single family homes in June rose to a annual rate 384,000 units, up 11 percent from May but still 21.3 percent lower than June 2008, when 488,000 homes were sold.

Median sales prices continued to remain weak. Nationally, the median sales price of $206,200 compared to $232,000 a year ago, an 11.3 percent decline over the past 12 months.

Florida homebuilders do not tally similarly monthly sales figures.

The new home sales figures come on the heels of encouraging news on the existing home sale front. Sales of existing home sales in Florida were up again in June for a 10th straight month, the Florida Association of Realtors reported last week. And for a second month in a row, median sales prices were also up.

Existing home sales in Florida rose 28 percent year-over-year last month, and were 13.8 percent higher than in May, FAR said. Existing condo sales also rose for the month.

Leading the way was Southwest Florida, one of the areas hardest hit by the building slump. The Fort Myers-Cape Coral metro area saw a 137 percent increase in existing home sales from June of last year to June of last month.

But perhaps the more welcome news was that the median price of those homes that were sold was up statewide in June by 2.5 percent from what it was in May - though it's still well below what homes were selling for a year ago.

The median sales price of existing homes in Florida last month was $148,000, compared to June of 2008 when the median home sale price was $205,300.

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