Florida Existing Homes Sales up 27% for December

by February 9, 2009 • 7 comments

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 26, 2009 – Florida’s existing home sales rose in December, making it the fourth consecutive month that sales activity demonstrated gains in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR). December’s statewide sales also increased over November’s figures in both the existing home and existing condo markets.

Existing home sales rose 27 percent last month with a total of 11,053 homes sold statewide compared to 8,712 homes sold in December 2007, according to FAR. December’s statewide existing home sales were 28.9 percent higher than November’s statewide sales.

Florida Realtors also reported a 12 percent gain in statewide sales of existing condominiums in December, marking the third recent month (following September and October) for higher statewide existing home and existing condo sales compared to year-ago levels. Statewide existing condo sales last month increased 37.7 percent over the total units sold in November.

Sixteen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing-home sales in December; 11 MSAs also showed gains in condo sales, marking the sixth month in a row that a number of markets have reported increased sales activity.

Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $155,500; a year ago, it was $213,600 for a 27 percent decrease. According to industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), there remains a significant downward distortion in the current median price due to many discounted sales, including a large number of foreclosures. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in November 2008 was $180,800, down 12.8 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $285,680 in November; in Massachusetts, it was $283,000; in Maryland, it was $262,109; and in New York, it was $210,000.

While overall sales have softened nationally in recent months, NAR’s latest housing outlook noted a trend of increasing activity in Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada markets. “Sales are rising in areas with large numbers of distressed properties as bargain hunters take advantage of discounted home prices,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “It is imperative to provide incentives for homebuyers to get back into the market. It also depends on how effectively Congress and the new administration can help facilitate the short sales process and unclog the mortgage pipeline – impediments remain for some buyers with good credit.”

In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 3,138 units sold statewide compared to 2,814 sold in December 2007 for a 12 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $130,600; in December 2007 it was $192,600 for a 32 percent decrease. In the latest data available at press time, NAR reported the national median existing condo price was $185,400 in November 2008.

Last month, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.29 percent, significantly lower than the average rate of 6.10 percent in December 2007, according to Freddie Mac. FAR’s sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Among the state’s large to medium-size markets, the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton MSA reported a total of 638 homes sold in December compared to 467 homes a year ago for a 37 percent increase. The existing home median sales price was $246,000; a year ago, it was $337,900 for a 27 percent decrease. In the year-to-year comparison for the existing condo market, a total of 527 units sold in the MSA last month, up 26 percent compared to 419 condos sold the previous December. The market’s existing condo median price was $112,900; a year ago, it was $161,400 for a 30 percent decrease.

Source: www.FloridaRealtors.org

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1 Hunter Palmer February 9, 2009 at 12:31 pm

I think we are finally bottoming Jason. It’s obvious that the rise in existing sales over the past four months are due to bargain shoppers scooping up deals but that is what is takes to stop the downward spiral in home prices. I genuinely see the light at the end of the tunnel now. As Churchill said, “This is not the end. It is not the beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning.”


2 Gary Stoneking February 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I know that this has been said before, and said often, but one should never lose sight of the fact that all real estate markets are local. Panama City Beach offers miles of the most beautiful seashore in the country at bargain-basement prices. It’s not terribly informative to compare the market in PCB with inland Florida markets. I’ve got to think that our real estate recovery will happen before the markets recover in less-desirable locales.
Call me an optimist.


3 Stew Pace February 9, 2009 at 9:50 pm


With over 2,000 developers and resale units on the market we are nowhere near bottom. I wish we were but lots of inventory needs to be cleared.


4 Zzzzzz February 10, 2009 at 9:39 am

I try to keep up with the various reports and found the below information interesting and so I cite it here and also on my own PCB blog: http://nautiluscondosrules.blogspot.com

In regard to my own 168 unit condo the bust started ahead of the national one. In 08 there were only 3 sales when in 07 there were 70. County records do not indicate any sales so far this year but they do show we have 6 foreclosures.

There remain 60 unsold units of the developer area vailable for rental and at least 10 others are being put on the market by current owners. So about half the 168 units are for rent and that of course brings in an element of people that have no interest in the property itself as they have no investment here thus the deterioration in the community and increased crime, like the Meth Lab in the 15 building from late last year. Take a look at the below article:

Housing Statistics Are Being Buoyed By So-Called “Vultures”

Here is a teaser of a longer article from the http://www.consumerist.com/ blog which you can click on to read
“Sales of existing homes are up, which sounds like good news — except that if you really look at what is going on — it’s really sort of bleak. About half of all home sales in December were foreclosures, says Marketplace, where the house is sold for less than what is owed on the mortgage.”*

From: http://consumerist.com/5140200/housing-statistics-are-being-buoyed-by-so+called-vultures


5 Chris Arnold February 10, 2009 at 11:00 am

I have to agree with Gary, that Panama City Beach’s market is likely to be different than the state as a whole. I believe we sold roughly the same number of condos in December 08 as 07. Out of the ruff estimate of 2000 developer owned units (that is a really ruff guestimate), I believe only 1000 (another guestimate) of those are gulf front. We do seem to be moving thru our gulf front inventory.


6 J D Webster February 10, 2009 at 11:31 am

Discounting the above numbers for the homes that were foreclosed you actually arrive at a true market price. Taking the highest sales County (St. Lucie) and contrasting their sales vs. price to the sales vs. price in Bay County, you arrive at the real market. Home sales in St. Lucie were up over 20% while prices were down over 25%. In Bay County sales were up 6% and prices down only 8%. That means to me that Bay County prices are still 12% to 15% too high. For you REALTORS, that means your clients need to return to 2003 prices or their home will probably not sell. Pick a similar home in that neighborhood and see what the sales price was in 2003; priced accordingly your clients’ home will sell in a reasonable time period since there is still pent up demand for good housing.


7 Zzzzzz February 10, 2009 at 12:59 pm

J D Webster said: “Bay County prices are still 12% to 15% too high. For you REALTORS, that means your clients need to return to 2003 prices or their home will probably not sell.”

Although my limited experience is in the condo area, Mr. Webster seems to be right on the mark.

I have been saying for some months now that condos at my development are down by 25 percent over initial purchase price. Of course part of this is the seller having to pay the 6-7 percent commission, but unless you want a loss/tax writeoff then you would NOT want to be selling a condo in todays depressed market.

Even the developers prices are down by 25 percent and the units are not selling even with this discount.

I support the general theory that this is in fact the time to buy due to the dramatic price drop. Five years from now you will be kicking yourself for not having taken advantage of todays low prices.

Unfortunately a lot of people would have to sell a home or condo to afford a new one and that just ain’t gonna work. Those who actually have the cash or credit to buy seem to be keeping their hands in their pockets. It is the time to buy but there is zero confidence in the economy and I can’t see it changing anytime soon.