South Florida home sales, prices rise again in November

The median prices for existing homes and condominiums rose and the number of sales also increased in Miami-Dade and Broward counties despite tight inventory.

12/20/2012 2:07 PM

12/20/2012 6:49 PM

Home sales are sizzling in South Florida.

Sales of existing homes and condominiums jumped 23 percent in Miami-Dade in November from a year earlier, even with a tight inventory of homes on the market, the Miami Association of Realtors said.

The median price of an existing condo in Miami-Dade surged 31.7 percent to $158,000 in November from a year earlier while that of a single-family home rose 15.9 percent to $195,000, the Miami Realtors said.

The median home price in Miami-Dade has marched higher for 12 consecutive months, buttressing views that the recovery in Miami-Dade’s beleaguered housing market is on solid footing.

“It appears the Miami real estate market will set another record in 2012, exceeding sales levels at the height of the boom in 2005 and during the all-time record in 2011,” Martha Pomares, chairman of the Miami Association of Realtors, said in a statement. “Considering the shortage of housing inventory available, it is remarkable that sales remain this strong.”

In Broward County, the housing picture was just as sunny in November, with higher prices and higher sales volume of existing homes and condos in spite of a shortage of inventory.

The median price of a condominium or townhouse in Broward jumped 22.7 percent to $92,000 in November from a year earlier, while that of a single-family home rose 8.8 percent to $210,000, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.

Sales of single-family homes in Broward in November rose 23.8 percent to 1,212 units, while condo and townhouse sales climbed 15.9 percent year over year, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors reported.

“Buyers are getting a little anxious they need to buy before prices go higher,” said Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell in Coral Gables.

The strong sales in Broward came even though only half as many single-family homes were on the market in November compared to a year earlier and the available inventory of condominiums and townhouses shrank by 42.1 percent to 6,287 units, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said.

Broward had just a 3.2-month supply of single-family homes and a 3.8-month supply of condos and townhouses available for sale, creating a sellers’ market. A six-month inventory of homes for sale is generally considered a balanced market.

Similarly, in Miami-Dade, although the inventory of previously owned homes inched up 1 percent to 11,862 units in November from October, it was down 19 percent from a year earlier.

One big factor fueling sales is “a rush to close before the end of the year’’ to avoid the higher capital-gains taxes on the horizon, said Jay Parker, managing partner of Clear Title Group, a large title company in Miami Beach. “I have not see volume like this ever,” added Parker. “It’s just been crazy.”

“The reality is property is selling as quickly as it comes on the market,” said Stephen McWilliam, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors and president of Florida State Realty Group.

With sellers calling the shots, often entertaining multiple offers, McWilliam said, he advises buyers to get financing secured as much as possible before making an offer. “We tell buyers to find a lender who will do a full pre-approval, not just a pre-qualification,” he said. That way, “the only remaining ingredient is the appraisal.”

He said buyers also should avoid gumming up their offers with unnecessary conditions and contingencies that will turn off sellers. “You’ve got to paint yourself in the best possible position,” McWilliam said. “There are multiple buyers.”

Adam R. Cohn, a senior mortgage banker with The Mortgage Firm in Deerfield Beach, said business is brisk. “It’s ridiculously crazy right now. It’s overwhelming. The last two weeks, I’ve been slammed with referrals from real estate agents. People are very busy.”

Deals are happening faster amid the tight supply: The median days on the market was 43 for single-family homes and 51 for condominiums. A more typical period is 90 to 120 days, the Miami Realtors said.

For Broward, homes were on the market 40 days on average, down from 55 days a year earlier.

Another big sign that South Florida’s market is improving: Distressed sales, while still a huge factor, are becoming a smaller part of the pie. Distressed sales, including bank-owned properties and short sales, comprised 43.4 percent of transactions in Miami-Dade in November, down from 56 percent a year earlier and 47.4 percent in October.

The number of foreclosure sales in Broward declined 17.1 percent year over year in November, while short sales rose 7.5 percent and non-distressed sales increased 42.4 percent from a year earlier, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.

For all of Florida, sales of existing single-family home also continued to improve in November, rising 24.4 percent from a year earlier and median prices rose 11.2 percent. Statewide condominium sales rose 18.3 percent year over year with the median price of a condominium soaring 23.1 percent to $112,000.

Nationally, existing home sales and prices also proved strong. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales hit their highest level since November 2009, when they were fueled by a federal tax credit. Total existing U.S. home sales rose 14.5 percent in November from a year earlier, as the median home price climbed 10.1 percent to $180,600 over the period.

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