Home Sales Drop in November, Condo Sales Up

By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida Email
By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida Email

Tallahassee, FL - A lull in foreclosures, continued tight credit markets and a federally fueled surge of sales a year earlier, pushed November existing home sales down from a year ago despite a decrease in median price, Florida Realtors reported Wednesday.

Sales of existing homes fell 15 percent in November from a year earlier, despite a 5 percent drop in the median cost of a home, which fell to $132,700. The drop off was partially due to the fact that November 2009 was the initial cut off for first-time homebuyer credits under the federal stimulus package. For the year, however, home sales were up 5 percent.

Condominium sales, rallied in November by posting an 11 percent year –to-year gain, fueled in part by prices that were 16 percent lower than a year before. Last month, the median price of a condominium was $88,200, down from $104,500 in November 2009.

Nationally, sales of single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 27.9 percent from November 2009, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. The median price point was $170,600. In the South, existing-home sales are 26.1 percent below the tax credit surge in November 2009. The median price in the South was $148,000, down 2.6 percent from a year ago.

“The housing market is experiencing an uneven recovery,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Still, sales activity is clearly off the bottom and is attempting to settle into normal sustainable levels. Based on current and improving job market conditions, and from attractive affordability conditions, sales should steadily improve to healthier levels of above 5 million by spring of next year.”

Homes sales dropped in 16 of 19 metropolitan areas tracked by Florida Realtors. Sales in Fort Pierce/Port St. Lucie fell 34 percent from November 2009 while sales were also off by a third in Fort Myers/Cape Coral and Tallahassee. Sales in other metropolitan areas also fell, with sales declining 19 percent in Orlando, 17percent in Jacksonville, 10 percent in Tampa-St. Petersburg and 20 percent in Pensacola.

There were a few bright spots. Sales in Miami jumped 49 percent for the month while purchases in the Melbourne-Titusville area rose by 16 percent. Ocala saw a 7 percent gain.

Nationally, housing inventory at the end of November fell 4 percent to 3.71 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.5 month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 10.5 month supply in October.

Sheila Rogers, a residential lender at Premier Bank in Tallahassee, said numerous indicators point toward a slow but sustained recovery which should bode well for home sales in the months to come.

“Retail sales are rising, economic activity continues to build, evinced by Federal Express’ bullish outlook, and more businesses are planning to hire, evinced by a Business Roundtable survey that finds 45 percent of CEOs plan to hire within six months—the highest percentage for that group in eight years,” Rogers said.

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