South Florida home, condo prices rose in March, despite growing inventory

04/22/2014 1:34 PM

04/22/2014 5:37 PM

Those in the hunt for a house or condominium in South Florida have a lot more choices these days — if they can pay the price.

The median resale price for a condo in Miami-Dade County rose 19.8 percent in March to $235,000 from a year earlier and was 13 percent higher than February, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.

Still, the area’s hot condo market is moderating after more than two torrid years of increases in sales and prices.

Existing condo sales in Miami-Dade fell 3.1 percent to 1,413 closings in March from a year earlier and were off 4.1 percent year-over-year in February. And the inventory of Miami-Dade condos listed for resale ballooned 33 percent to 10,805 units in March from a year earlier.

For Miami-Dade single-family homes, the median resale price rose 4.4 percent to $235,000 in March from a year earlier and was up 3.5 percent from February, the Miami Realtors said.

Single-family home sales in Miami-Dade soared 10.5 percent in March from a year earlier and were up 31.2 percent from February.

“We continue to experience strong demand for Miami properties in 2014,” Liza Mendez, chairman of the Miami Realtors, said in a statement. “While additional inventory is creating a more balanced market, strong sales continue to drive growth, as Miami remains a focal point for buyers and investors worldwide.”

In Broward County, existing houses and condos also posted strong price gains in March, even though the pace of sales moderated and inventory soared from year-ago levels, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.

The median price of an existing single-family home in Broward jumped 10.7 percent in March to $268,500 from a year earlier, while inventory increased 33 percent year to year to 5,634 homes. Broward’s median single-family home price was up 5.3 percent from February.

The median days on the market for single-family homes in Broward was 38 days, up from 30 last year.

The median price of an existing Broward condo rose 25.7 percent to $120,000 year over year, while listings jumped 30.6 percent to 7,951. Broward’s condo median dipped 1.2 percent from the prior month. Broward had 7,951 condos for sale, a 31 percent increase from last year.

That amounted to 5.7 months of supply, signaling a more balanced market between buyers and sellers than last year but still favoring sellers.

Sales of single-family Broward houses inched up 0.9 percent to 1,210 closings in March, and condo sales fell 4.5 percent to 1,432 closings, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said.

A dominant force at play in South Florida’s market is the dramatic increase in residences for sale. Amid the housing recovery of the past two years, many homeowners have regained equity, thus enabling them to sell properties without having to shell out money to pay off an underwater mortgage at closing.

In Miami-Dade, 6,074 single-family homes were for sale in the Multiple Listing Service in March, up 23 percent from a year earlier. That amounted to 5.6 months of supply, approaching the equilibrium of six months. In March 2013, Miami-Dade had 5.1 months of supply of single-family homes for sale.

“We’re expecting many of our markets to experience more supply, which is good for buyers,” said Sherrie Porter, vice president and general manager at EWM Realty International in Coral Gables. Even so, cash is king.

“There are still a lot of cash buyers. Those people looking to finance are having to go up against the cash buyers and they are having to react quickly,” Porter said.

Miami-Dade’s rising inventory of existing condos comes in the midst of a major boom in the development of a new generation of towers. In some projects, condo developers will begin turning over newly completed units to the purchasers later this year, and many more are set for completion in 2015 and 2016, posing keen competition for the existing stock.

Miami-Dade had a 7.5 months of supply of condos for sale — or seven and a half times the number of units sold in a month — tipping the balance toward a buyer’s market. Experts typically consider a six-month supply of inventory as a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

Peter Zalewski, a condo expert and principal at Condo Vultures LLC, a real estate advisory and marketing firm, said a build-up in condo inventory east of I-95 — where according to his analysis there is currently 9.9 months of supply — warrants watching. “It’s not dangerous yet, but if that number continues to grow, it could be an early sign of recalibration occurring,” he said.

Another sign Miami-Dade’s condo market is easing: Condo units sold at a median pace of 59 days in March, up from 48 days a year earlier.

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