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Home Sales Up in First Quarter

Existing home sales in Florida rose 24 percent during the first quarter of 2010, a healthy jump from the same period a year earlier, Florida Realtors reported Tuesday.
A total of 38,846 existing homes sold statewide in the three months ending March 31 compared to 31,410 existing homes sold during the same period in 2009. Meanwhile, median home values continued to fall, but not as steeply. Prices were down 5 percent for the quarter compared to a year earlier.
Nationally, sales of existing-home were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.14 million in the first quarter, 11.4 percent above the 4.61 million-unit level in the first quarter of 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales increased from a year ago in 44 states and the District of Columbia, while 31 states and D.C. saw double-digit gains. Two areas were unchanged and four were down.
For the quarter, the median price of a Florida home was $133,800, down from $140,900 a year earlier. Nationally, 91 out of 152 metropolitan areas showed higher median existing single-family home prices in comparison with the first quarter of 2009, including 29 with double-digit increases. The median price of a home sold in the U.S. was $166,100, down 0.7 percent from the first quarter 2009 price of $167,300.
“This flattening in home prices is something we’ve been seeing in all of the home price measures lately, and quite clearly in this metro area price report,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “The tax credit has been very effective in drawing down excess inventory, with about one million additional sales resulting directly from the stimulus.”
The latest figures represent the seventh consecutive quarter that Florida has seen higher existing year-to-year home sales, the state association reported.
“The first quarter data release from the Florida Realtors paints a picture of a housing market continuing down the long road to recovery,” Sean Snaith, director for the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, said in a statement.
Seventeen of Florida’s 19 metropolitan statistical areas reported increased sales of existing homes during the quarter. All areas showed increases in condominium sales, which rose by 67 percent.
Orlando led the major markets with 42 percent sales increase year-to-year, Miami sales increased 12 percent while sales in Jacksonville climbed by a third. Tallahassee sales were up 19 percent while the median price of $173,400 represented a drop of 1 percent.

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