Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida reports that favorable interest rates and ample inventory helped boost home sales in July by 12 percent compared to a year ago, with some markets seeing much higher increases, Florida Realtors reported Thursday.
The statewide average belied much heftier increases in some markets. Sales jumped 47 percent in Miami and 57 percent in Tallahassee as buyers appeared to be taking advantage of lower prices in those markets, where median prices fell 8 percent and 10 percent respectively.
Statewide, prices held relatively stable, falling 1 percent year to year, from $137,700 to $136,500.
“Realtors in markets across the state are reporting increased activity from potential homebuyers who are ready to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates and current availability of affordable housing options,” said Florida Realtors President Patricia Fitzgerald in a statement.
Florida condominium sales for July also rose 12 percent from July 2010, with median prices rising 4 percent to $90,900.
Florida’s housing recovery lagged behind national trends that showed July home sales increase by 21 percent over July 2010. Part of that was rebound from a trough brought on by the end of the home buying tax credit program. The National Association of Realtors on Thursday tempered the news saying sales would be even more robust if lenders and appraisers stopped being “unnecessarily restrictive.”
“Affordability conditions this year have been the most favorable on record dating back to 1970, but many buyers are being held back because banks are offering financing to only the most highly qualified borrowers, ignoring a large share of otherwise creditworthy buyers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
In the South, existing-home sales were up 19.5 percent from July 2010. The median price in the South was $152,600, 2.2 percent below a year ago.
In Florida, 15 of 19 metropolitan areas posted higher year-to-year sales. Besides Tallahassee and Miami, other strong Florida markets included Pensacola, up 38 percent, Sarasota, up 23 percent, and West Palm Beach, up 21 percent.
Housing woes continued along the Treasure Coast, with sales slipping 13 percent in Fort Pierce/Port St. Lucie. In Southwest Florida, the epicenter of the housing bust, sales fell 3 percent in Fort Myers. Orlando home sales were flat.