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South Florida’s existing single-family home sales rise in July

The median price of a single-family home in Miami-Dade rose 2.8 percent to $185,000 in July from a year earlier, marking the eighth consecutive month of rising prices and bolstering the evidence of a recovery in the battered housing market.

The number of residential sales, including single-family homes and condos, increased 11 percent in Miami-Dade to 2,201 in July from a year earlier.

“The Miami real estate market continues to attract demand as inventory consistently decreases, yielding significant price appreciation,” Martha Pomares, chairman of the board of the Miami Association of Realtors, said in issuing Wednesday’s report. “The condominium market in particular is performing quite well, as international buying activity continues to heat up in Miami.”

A pivotal force driving the residential market continues to be the dearth of inventory, both in South Florida and across the state. In Miami-Dade, the number of residential listings plunged 27 percent in July to 11,454 from 15,727 in July 2011.

In Broward, the inventory of homes for sale was down by nearly half, with 4,964 available in July compared to 9,884 a year earlier.

“We’re down to a three-month supply of homes in Broward and a four-month supply in Dade,” said Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell. “That metric is the most important one in our business. When those numbers go down, prices are going up.”

In Broward, existing sales of single-family homes jumped 19.9 percent in July to 1,308 units from a year earlier.

The median price of a single-family home in Broward rose 13.2 percent to $215,000 in July, compared with $190,000 a year earlier.

The number of sales of existing condos and townhouses in Broward rose 3.8 percent in July to 1,357 from July 2011. The median condo and townhouse price climbed 14.5 percent to $85,900 from a year earlier.

Single-family home prices in Broward were flat between June and July, while condo and townhouse prices dipped 2.2 percent to $84,000 in July from $85,900 in June.

“While it appears that median housing prices are declining slightly from June to July, prices are higher than a year ago and the available inventory is still declining,” Stephen B. McWilliam, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors, said in a statement. “As long as demand for homes remains strong, housing prices will continue to increase.”

The housing picture for Florida as a whole also continued to improve, according to the Florida Realtors.

Single-family home sales jumped 9.8 percent in July from a year earlier. The median price of a single-family home in Florida rose 7.8 percent to $148,000 in July from a year earlier, as the number of homes on the market plunged 32.6 percent year over year.

Convinced that the housing market is safe to wade in to, Miami Beach resident Seth Cassel and his wife closed on a 4-bedroom, 3½-bath home on Miami Beach recently, capping a home search of five to six months.

“It was a combination of things: Mortgage rates are very low and the market feels like it’s starting to come back,” said Cassel. On top of that, he and his wife have a 14-month-old daughter and were looking for more space.

Cassel, who is president of EveryMundo, an international digital marketing company, said the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage they lined up has such great terms they were able to get more house for their monthly payment.

“I wish I had more inventory,” said Anthony Askowitz, a broker with Re/MAX Advance Realty in Miami. “If I had it, it’s gold. Sellers are getting a nice price. People are paying over the appraisals.”

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