Housing figures, with prices and sales increasing, good news for Florida

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Housing figures released Wednesday were good news for Florida, with prices and sales both increasing in August from a year earlier, according to statistics released by Florida Realtors, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

Sales of single family homes in Florida rose 10.8 percent in August from a year earlier while pending sales, those signed but not closed upon, jumped 40.2 percent from August 2011.Pending sales tend to close within 90 days.

Median price of homes sold also climbed but not as dramatically. Half of the Florida homes sold in August cost more than $147,000, the median increasing 5.8 percent from a year earlier.

While prices have risen, the inventory of available homes has dropped, a sign that prices may continue to rise as buyers compete for fewer homes on the market. There is now a 5.3 month inventory of homes, Florida Realtors Chief Economist John Tuccillo said in a statement released Wednesday with the statewide results.

“Everything that should be going up is going up, and everything that should be going down is going down,” said Tuccillo. “After the six years of turmoil that we had, it’s good to see the trends strongly moving in the right direction.”

Florida’s experience in August mirrored national trends for the month though price gains were more moderate, according to figures put out by the National Association of Realtors.

Nationally, single family home sales rose 9.3 percent in August from a year ago. The national median price for all housing types was $187,400 in August, up 9.5 percent from a year ago.

In the South, existing-home sales in August rose 7.3 percent from July and were 11.1 percent above August of 2011. The median price in the region was $160,100, up 6.5 percent from a year ago.

“The housing market is steadily recovering with consistent increases in both home sales and median prices,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “More buyers are taking advantage of excellent housing affordability conditions.”

Buyers who can get credit are also benefiting. Freddie Mac, reports that the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.60 percent in August 2012, lower than the 4.27 percent averaged a year earlier.

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott pointed to strong housing sales as a sign the economy was getting back on its feet. While unemployment and job creation figures have shown mixed results and been interpreted differently, home sales have slowly but steadily continued to improve.

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.