ORLANDO — While sales activity and median prices for Florida’s existing home and condo markets both rose in August compared to a year ago, the news was mixed for the Tampa Bay area, which saw median sales prices decline as overall sales increased, according to housing data released Wednesday by the Orlando-based Florida Realtors.
“Over the past few months, it appears that home prices have been stabilizing in many local markets across the state,” said Florida Realtors President Patricia Fitzgerald, manager/broker-associate with Illustrated Properties in Hobe Sound and Mariner Sands Country Club in Stuart. “This is another positive sign that the housing recovery is gaining strength.”
Existing home sales statewide increased 15 percent last month, with a total of 16,206 homes sold compared to 14,131 in August 2010, according to the released data. The statewide median sales price for existing homes last month was $137,500, up 2 percent from the figure of $134,900 a year ago. The median is the midpoint: half the homes sold for more, half for less.
Single-family existing home sales by Realtors in the Bay area (which includes Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater) were 2,560, a 15 percent increase compared to August a year ago, when the number was 2,223. However, the median sales price of those sold homes was $130,000, down 8 percent from last August, when the number was $140,600.
Meanwhile, condo sales by Realtors in the Tampa Bay area increased 14 percent, to 834. In August 2010, sales numbered 733. Median sales price of those condos dropped 6 percent compared to a year ago, from $87,900 to $83,000.
According to officials, sales numbers for single-family homes and condos represent totals of Realtors’ closed transactions from local Realtor boards/associations within the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). Data from the Hernando Association of Realtors was not available, officials noted.
By comparison, here is selected information from nearby Metropolitan Statistical Areas:
Sarasota-Bradenton: Single-family homes increased 15 percent, to 867, up from 755 a year ago. Median sales price of those homes increased 4 percent, from $150,300 to $155,600. Condo sales increased 7 percent, from 240 to 256, while median prices dropped 10 percent, from $136,500 to $123,300.
Lakeland-Winter Haven: Sales figures for existing single-family homes were virtually even with a year ago, up just one, from 307 to 308. Median prices dropped 2 percent, from $94,100 to $91,800. Condo sales went from 21 to 30, a 43 percent jump. Median prices for condos slipped 3 percent, from $55,000 to $53,300.
Orlando: Sales figures for single-family homes increased 6 percent, from 2,289 in August 2010 to 2,418 this past August. Median sales prices decreased less than 1 percent, from $128,400 to $127,800. Condo sales dropped 39 percent from 859 to 520 while median sales prices jumped 20 percent from $49,300 to $59,000.
According to analysts with the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes. As previously noted, the median is the midpoint, with half the homes selling for more, half for less.
The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in August 2011 was $168,400, down 5.4 percent from a year ago, according to NAR. In California, the August statewide median re-sales price was $297,060; in Maryland, it was $241,564.
Fifteen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported higher existing home sales in August; 15 MSAs also had higher existing condo sales.
In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 7,098 units sold statewide last month compared to 6,041 units in August 2010 for an increase of 17 percent. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $91,100; in August 2010 it was $81,500 for a 12 percent increase.According to NAR, the national median existing condo sales price was $167,500 in August 2011.
NAR’s latest industry outlook notes that despite high affordability conditions, sales activity is underperforming, partially as a result of overly restrictive lending standards.
“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 NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Those potential buyers represent the difference between an uneven recovery and a much more robust housing market that could stimulate additional economic activity and create jobs.”
According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.27 percent in August, down from the 4.43 percent average during the same month a year earlier. Florida Realtors’ sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.