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Miami-Dade pending home sales spiked in October

Despite a dearth of homes and condos on the market in Miami-Dade County, pending sales in October rose 18 percent from the prior month and 67 percent year over year, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.

The number of pending sales was 4,172 in October compared with 2,488 a year earlier, the group said.

Prospective buyers are more confident about investing in a home after seeing a string of steady price increases in Miami, and they want to get in before they miss out.

“There is a general feeling of optimism that the market is coming back,” said Carole Smith, a Realtor with Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell in Miami.

With healthy demand and little on the market, properties are selling for closer to their asking price and sellers aren’t inclined to offer discounts, agents say. For October, single-family homes in Miami-Dade sold at 95 percent of the original listing price, while condos went for 97.1 percent of original listing price on average, the Miami Realtors said. In October 2011, single family homes fetched 91 percent of listing price on average and condos got 93.6 percent of listing price.

Pending sales are a forward indicator based on the number of contracts signed over a given period.

“People are feeling much better,” said Anthony Askowitz, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Advance Realty in Miami, who sees strong sales momentum heading into the end of the year. “People want to get in to their homes before the holidays.”

For some buyers looking for a permanent residence, he added, getting in by year-end means an opportunity to declare homestead exemption for a property tax break in 2013.

“Many of our sales now are happening within a matter of days,” said Ronald Shuffield, president of EWM in Coral Gables, who sees more buyers in the market than last year. “People are sensing that prices are going up and they want to get something before the prices go up more.”

While a high percentage of Miami residences still have negative equity, the recent rise in prices means more homeowners who have been underwater with their mortgage finally are seeing an opportunity to sell.

The inventory of residences for sale in Miami-Dade inched up 1.5 percent in October. Still, it’s a seller’s market with just a 4.2-month supply of homes for sale in the county. A for-sale supply of six to nine times the number of homes sold in a month is considered a balanced market.

“I think more properties will come on the market in January,” said EWM’s Smith.

“The Miami real estate market is poised for another record year that would surpass the all-time sales record set in 2011,” Martha Pomares, chairman of the board of the Miami Association of Realtors, said in a statement. “Strong demand persists despite the shortage of housing inventory, and listings are increasingly selling at a more rapid pace, driving in significant price appreciation.”

The number of single-family homes that went under contract in October leaped 85 percent while pending sales of condos climbed 55.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.