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Florida Home Sales Continue to Rebound

Existing home sales in Florida jumped 28 percent in August from a year earlier, marking 12 consecutive months of year-to-year gains, the Florida Association of Realtors reported Thursday.

Fuelled by more stable credit and median prices 22 percent lower than August 2008, sixteen of 19 metropolitan areas posted gains in single family home sales while the median sales price fell to $147,400 from $188,500.

“For a year now, statewide sales of existing single-family homes in Florida have increased each month compared to the year-ago figures,” said Florida Realtors President Cynthia Shelton, a broker and director of investment sales with Colliers Arnold in Orlando.

Condominium sales posted even more dramatic year-to-year increases, with sales rising 45 percent last month when compared to August 2008. The median price of condos fell by a third to $107,000.

“This is encouraging news, and while it shows the beginnings of recovery, the housing market still needs time to continue its gradual absorption of housing inventory that will help stabilize home prices,” Shelton said.

Nationally, sales for the month inched up 3.4 percent from August 2008 but were off 2.7 percent from July, according to the National Association of Realtors.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement he expects sales to continue to rise during the last three months of 2009 but drop temporarily if federal incentives are discontinued as planned. Any downturn will be only temporary as the economy already shows signs of rebounding, Yun said.

“The fundamentals of the housing market and the economy are trending up, and we expect home sales to generally pick up in the second quarter of 2010,” Yun said. “The buyer psychology may be shifting from, ‘Why buy now when I can purchase later,’ to ‘I don’t want to miss out on a recovery.’”

Back in Florida, a total of 13,850 homes sold statewide compared to 10,813 homes sold in August 2008. Particularly active markets included Orlando, which experienced a 48 percent increase in home sales. Fort Myers where sales of distressed properties resulted in median sale price plummeting 39 percent to $89,000, led the state in the number of homes sold, nearly doubling in August from last year.

Other markets showed more modest change with home sales in Tallahassee rising 27 percent and Miami increasing 22 percent. Sales rose 17 percent in Tampa and Jacksonville..

Tallahassee was one of only two metropolitan areas that did not see declines in the median price for the year. Median home prices in the capital city remained relatively unchanged at $186,000. Pensacola housing prices inched up 1 percent, with half of all homes selling for at least $156,500.

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