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South Florida existing home sales and prices rose in May

Homebuyers turned out in full force in Miami-Dade and Broward in May, driving up sales volume despite a dearth of inventory of homes and condos on the market.

Home and condo prices continued a steady march higher.

The median price for an existing single-family home in Miami-Dade jumped 16.8 percent to $222,000 in May from $190,000 a year earlier, extending an impressive stretch of gains that underscore the housing market is healing, the Miami Association of Realtors said.

The median condo price in Miami-Dade rose 20 percent percent to $180,000 in May from $150,000 a year earlier. The median marks the price at which half the homes sold for more and half for less.

Sales of single-family homes in Miami-Dade increased 18.5 percent in May from a year earlier, despite a continued shortage of inventory of homes on the market. The number of condo deals closed in Miami-Dade rose 3.9 percent in May from a year earlier, Miami Realtors said.

“In Miami, we are seeing a significant number of new listings coming on the market,” said Fernando I. Martinez, residential president of the Miami Realtors. “Yet supply is insufficient to satisfy demand, a reality that will continue to drive home price appreciation. Our market remains an attractive option for buyers, both foreign and domestic, as prices remain at 2003 levels despite the robust sales activity that persists.”

The picture was similar in Broward, where the median price of a single-family home jumped 22.6 percent in May to $255,000 from $208,000 a year earlier, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.

The median price of a condo in Broward rose 28.2 percent to $108,000 from $84,275 year over year, the Realtors’ group said.

Sales of single-family homes in Broward rose 17.1 percent to 1,460 closings in May from a year earlier, while the number of condo sales closed in Broward in May increased 9.3 percent year over year to 1,656 units.

“The steady and sustained rise in median home prices is supported by a declining amount of available housing inventory and fewer days on the market,’’ said Charles Bonfiglio, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.

The inventory of single-family homes for sale in Broward plunged 19.6 percent from a year earlier, while condos listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service dropped 5.6 percent in May from a year earlier.

With keen competition among buyers, single-family homes in Broward were snapped up faster than a year ago. The median days on the market for a single-family home dropped to 32 days from 43 a year ago. The median days on the market for condos and townhouses in Broward remained flat at 41 days.

Amid the tight inventory and strong demand, sellers are reaping closer to their asking prices. Single-family homes fetched 95.3 percent of their original asking prices on average in May, up from 92 percent a year earlier. Condos went for 94.5 percent of asking price on average, up from 93 percent in May 2012, the Realtors group reported.

Broward had just 3.4 months of supply of single-family homes listed for sale and 4.3 months of supply of condos and townhouse listed. That’s tight inventory. A six-month supply is generally considered a balanced market. When the inventory falls below that level, home prices typically rise at a faster rate.

A spike in mortgage rates – coupled with the consistent increases in home prices – is creating a sense of urgency among many prospective buyers that the time to move is now.

“We’re seeing people are getting more aggressive in their home search as they’re seeing [interest] rates are going up,’’ said Adam R. Cohn, a senior loan officer with Primary Residential Mortgage Inc. in Boca Raton. Rather than deter buyers, the rise in mortgage rates is prompting many buyers to rush to closing, out of concern that rates will only go higher.

The spike in rates began in May following statements by Federal Reserve Bank chairman Ben Bernanke that the central bank was considering when to unwind mortgage buying program – a major initiative that has driven mortgage rates to historic lows in a bid to jump start the economy. On Wednesday, Bernanke told a news conference that the gradual tapering of bond purchases could start later this year if the economy seems strong enough.