South Florida home prices keep rising, but sales growth is slowing
03/20/2014 6:00 AM
03/20/2014 3:57 PM
South Florida existing home and condo prices rose again in February from a year earlier, but a slowing pace of sales amid rising inventory signals the housing market is cooling.
In Miami-Dade County, the median price of an existing single-family home rose 17 percent in February from a year earlier to $227,000, and was a hair above January’s level of $225,000, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.
The median price of a Miami-Dade condo rose 7.3 percent to $177,000 in February from a year earlier, but was down 4.8 percent from January.
Single-family home sales in Miami-Dade totaled 860 in February, up 1.3 percent from a year earlier, but down 4.9 percent from January.
Condo sales in Miami-Dade fell 4.1 percent in February from a year ago and were off 7.3 percent from January, as resales face intense competition from the rapidly growing selection of pre-construction condos on the market.
Michael Davalos, office manager of Engel & Völkers in Miami Beach, said some properties have been priced ambitiously high and as a result are sitting on the market without takers.
“Some agents taking on listings drank too much of the Kool-Aid on prices,’’ said Davalos, whose office sees a lot of business in the South Beach and the Brickell/downtown areas. “Prices haven’t come down, but it’s taking longer to find buyers. We overstepped ourselves and prices got over what the market would pay.’’
In Broward County, the median price of a single-family home jumped 12.3 percent to $255,000 in February from a year earlier while the median price for condos and townhouse soared 38.1 percent to $121,500 year over year, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.
Single-family home sales totaled 979 in Broward in February, up one percent from a year earlier, but condo sales fell 5.9 percent year over year with 1,172 closings in February, the Realtors group said.
The slowing pace of existing sales is widely expected to continue this year, despite substantial increases in the selection of homes and condos listed on the market. That is because rising home prices and higher interest rates are making homes less affordable than they have been recently.
Short sales, in which lenders agree to accept less than the mortgage, are down sharply in both Miami-Dade and Broward as the housing landscape continues to mend.
In February in Miami-Dade, listings for existing condos ballooned to 10,723 units. That was a 32.2 percent increase from a year earlier and the highest level in more than two and a half years. Miami-Dade single-family home listings increased 18.3 percent to 6,113 from a year earlier.
The rebound in home prices has helped lift many homes out of negative equity, freeing the owners to sell without the specter of writing a check at closing to satisfy the mortgage obligation.
In Broward, the inventory of single-family homes listed for sale soared 25.2 percent to 5,565 from 4,446 a year earlier. That’s still a relatively tight market, amounting to just 4.5 times the volume of sales completed in a month. Experts generally consider a six-month supply of homes to be a balanced market between buyers and sellers.
The number of Broward condos listed for sale increased 24.7 percent year over year to 7,895 units, Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said. That amounted to 5.7 months of supply, compared with 4.6 months a year earlier.
“While additional inventory is creating a more balanced market, the fact that homes continue to sell fast and almost at asking price is still indicative of a seller’s market,” Liza Mendez, chairman of the Miami Realtors and broker/owner of Pedro Realty International in Hialeah, said in a statement.
The moderation in sales in South Florida comes against a backdrop of a bigger slowdown nationally. The National Association of Realtors reported February’s pace of sales, hurt in part by severe winter weather, was the lowest since July 2012.
The nationwide median home price rose 9.1 percent year over year to $189,000. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun predicted home sales “should trend up modestly over the course of the year.’’
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