Florida existing home sales in October shot up 13 percent from a year ago

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Florida existing home sales in October shot up 13 percent from a year ago as the median price fell, according to figures released Monday by Florida Realtors, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

Buoyed by lower interest rates and improved consumer confidence, sales increased in 17 of 19 metropolitan areas across the state, the association’s chief economist reported Friday. Median prices were off about 4 percent statewide, falling to $131,200 from $136,600 a year ago.

Florida condominium sales were also strong for the month, with sales increasing 12 percent and median price climbing 7 percent from October 2010 figures.

“These numbers, combined with reports from Realtors throughout the state, indicate that we’re seeing strong interest in purchasing Florida real estate from smart investors who are taking advantage of the current favorable market conditions,” said John Tuccillo, Florida Realtors lead economist. “These folks tend to have a long-term outlook and plan to hold onto their property purchases for a while.”

Florida’s performance mirrored national trends, which saw sales increase 13.5 percent for the month while median prices fell 4.7 percent from October 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. One encouraging sign was that the percentage of distressed homes sold fell to 28 percent last month, a 2 percent drop from a year earlier.

Sales in the South increased 2.1 percent from September and were 14.1 percent above a year ago, NAR reported. The median price in the South was $145,700, down 1.6 percent from October 2010.

Despite the improved sales, tighter credit requirements are holding back many buyers, NAR reported. The number of cancelled contracts in October was more than four times higher that of a year ago, with one in three contracts being cancelled during the month.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.