Latest News

South Florida home resales, prices rise in October

The latest on South Florida home resales: There isn’t much on the shelf, and it’s going fast.

Amid an exceptionally tight inventory of residential properties for sale, October sales of existing single-family homes spiked 41.9 percent in Miami-Dade from a year earlier to 1,142 units while the number of condo resales climbed 13.1 percent to 1,437 units year over year.

The median price for an existing single-family home in Miami-Dade rose 5.8 percent to $185,000 in October from a year earlier, underscoring the housing recovery is well rooted. For condos, the median price jumped 24.4 percent to $146,000.

In Broward County, existing home sales data were also decidedly rosy.

October sales of single-family homes in Broward soared 20.9 percent while townhouse and condo sales in the county increased 16.5 percent from a year earlier. Those double-digit increases came amid a 49.1 percent plunge in the inventory of single-family homes for sale and a 43.2 percent drop in condos and townhouses on the market in Broward in October compared to a year earlier, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said.

The median sales price for an existing home in Broward jumped 15.9 percent to $211,000 in October from $182,100 a year earlier, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors. The median sales price for an existing condo or townhouse in Broward rose 14.6 percent year over year in October to $90,000 from $78,500.

For Miami-Dade, the report from the Miami Association of Realtors marks the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains for single-family homes. Miami-Dade condo prices have marched higher for 16 months in a row.

The inventory of residential listings in Miami-Dade dropped 22.2 percent in October to 11,769 from 15,127 a year ago.

“There is a steady increase in prices, and buyers are starting to realize if they don’t get in to this market now, they never will,” said Doug DeWitt, a broker with Concierge Real Estate Services in Miami Beach. “The bottom is past us.”

Palmetto Bay resident Mark Goldman and his wife recently bought a one-bedroom, one-bath condo in North Bay Village for $114,000 cash as an investment.

“We’ve been looking for a while, and as we’ve seen the market starting to bounce back, we did the math,” said Goldman, who sees the housing recovery mirrored in a resurgence in his own audio-visual business. “We had the place rented within a week.”

Homes are selling faster than last year: The median days on the market in Miami-Dade is 39 for single-family homes and 43 for condos, the Miami Realtors said.

“I see super-strong sales and lots of interest in any property that comes on the market,” said Lisa Doherty, an agent with RE/MAX Advance Realty. Properly priced homes in good areas quickly fetch multiple offers, she added, and everything from modestly priced condos to fancy homes are going.

In Broward, single-family home sales have posted year-over-year prices gains for 14 consecutive months and for 18 of the past 22 months, while year-over-year condo sales have risen for 11 months running, according to Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.

“The year-over-year median price of Broward County residential housing has continued to strengthen while the decrease in the number of months supply of inventory and available inventory provides a support base for rising housing prices,” said Stephen B. McWilliam, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors, said in a statement.

“In many cases properties are selling above appraised value and sellers are getting multiple offers,” McWilliam said. “You’ve got frustrated buyers and they’ve missed out on homes and they’re not going to miss out again.’’

The outlook for Broward also appears good: The number of pending sales of single family homes in Broward spiked 70.8 percent to 1,981 in October from 1,160 in October 2011. For townhouse and condos, pending sales, or the number of transactions under contract, leaped 45.5 percent year over year to 1,992 units from 1,369, the Realtors said.

Also buoying sales: historically low mortgage rates. Carlos Delpino and his wife closed last week on a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Westchester after shopping since last spring. The neighborhood is great, “and you’re getting the money almost for free. At 3.5 percent, the rates are low,” said Delpino, an engineer who plans to live in the 1950s vintage house with his wife, two daughters “and a dog.”

Meanwhile, state-wide sales of single-family homes jumped 25.3 percent in October from a year earlier with a 9 percent gain in the median sales price, Florida Realtors reported. The inventory of homes available statewide plunged 31.2 percent from last October.

Cash-rich foreign buyers, especially Latin Americans, continue to play a pivotal role in South Florida’s housing market.

Searching for a safe haven amid uncertainty around the globe, and in some cases at home, Latin Americans continue to plunk down cash for condos and houses in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Capital flight from Argentina and Venezuela are particularly visible, agents say. At a real estate roundtable Nov. 15 sponsored by The Real Deal magazine and Vizcayne condominium, Philip Spiegelman, principal of International Sales Group, a Miami-based condominium marketing firm, said the recent re-election of Venezuela’s leftist president, Hugo Chavez, prompted his peers to jokingly name Chavez “salesman of the year,” spawning laughter throughout a standing-room-only crowd of real estate agents at the glittering Vizcayne condominium complex downtown.

For foreign and domestic buyers, cash is king.

In Miami-Dade, 63.7 percent of closed sales were all cash in October, on par with the 64 percent in October 2011 and 62.4 percent in September 2012. Cash sales totaled 46 percent of single-family closings and 77.6 percent of condo sales, the Miami Realtors group said.

South Florida’s housing picture still has considerable challenges. A key reason that inventory is tight: Many people in South Florida owe more on their homes than they could sell them for. Zillow reported last week that 41.4 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale area homes with mortgages had negative equity in the third quarter.

In addition, Florida ranks No. 1 in the nation for foreclosure activity: One of every 312 Florida housing units in October got some type of foreclosure filing, ranging from default notices to scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, RealtyTrac reported last week..

While upbeat about South Florida real estate, Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell in Coral Gables, told a roundtable last week “The one thing I worry about sometimes: The foreclosure market is still out there.”