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Existing Home Prices Edge Up Again

The median price of a Florida home inched up 1 percent in April from a year ago as sales shot up 27 percent, according to figures released by Florida Realtors on Monday.

The median price of $140,100 was 2.3 percent higher than the median price in March, marking the second straight month of price increases, raising the prospect that the real estate market may be finally starting to head the other direction in price after two years of declining values.

Sales of existing homes continued to climb out of the 2008 slump as the number of sales in most metropolitan areas was up for the 20th consecutive month when compared to year-ago rates, the statewide association reported. Florida's sales boost eclipsed that of the national average for the month.

Both state and national Realty groups attributed the continued climb to stabilizing credit and the extension of federal homebuying efforts included in the recent economic stimulus package.

"Buyers responding to the federal homebuyer tax credit before it expired helped to boost home sales across Florida," said Wendell Davis, Florida Realtor president and a broker with Watson Realty Corp. in Jacksonville. "And buying conditions remain favorable, with a variety of housing options available in local markets at attractive and affordable prices.”

The median home varied widely from the $140,100 median depending on location. Miami’s median value jumped 8 percent to $192,000. Orlando’s dipped 4 percent to $135,900 while Tallahassee prices fell 10 percent to $163,000.

Nationally, April existing home sales increased 23 percent from April 2009. Sales climbed 7.6 percent from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million.

“The upswing in April existing-home sales was expected because of the tax credit inducement, and no doubt there will be some temporary fallback in the months immediately after it expires, but other factors also are supporting the market,” said Lawrence Yun NAR chief economist, in a statement.

“For people who were on the sidelines, there’s been a return of buyer confidence with stabilizing home prices, an improving economy and mortgage interest rates that remain historically low,” Yun said.

Gainesville led the list of hot Florida markets as homes sales there jumped 91 percent from April 2009. April sales totaling 223 homes were fueled in part by median values that dipped 8 percent from last year to $165,200.

Meanwhile, home sales in the Fort Myers area were flat compared to last year but the good news is median values in the overbuilt, foreclosure heavy market increased 10 percent from April 2009.

Orlando and Tampa also saw hefty sales hikes as home sales grew by 36 and 27 percent respectively. Both areas showed median price declines of 3 percent or less.  Sales in Tallahassee rose 61 percent.

In Miami, sales grew by 7 percent, a welcome trend in South Florida, a region that has seen sluggish sales.

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