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Florida Home Sales, Median Price Rise in March

ORLANDO, Fla., April 25, 2005 -- Out-of-state buyers and those moving within Florida's borders are pushing up demand for existing single-family homes in the Sunshine State, driving statewide sales in March to a total of 24,045 homes -- a 6 percent increase over March 2004's sales of 22,748 homes, according to the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR). 

Low mortgage rates and high demand continue to impact housing prices throughout the state, report Realtors in many markets. Last month, the statewide median price rose 28 percent to $212,300; a year ago, it was $165,700. In March 2000, the statewide median sales price was $121,600, resulting in a 74.5 percent increase over the five-year-period, FAR records show. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Florida’s median sales price tops the national median sales price for existing single-family homes, which was $188,200 in February 2005, up 9.4 percent from a year earlier. The statewide median price compares favorably to many other states: In California, the statewide median resales price was $471,620 in February; in Massachusetts, it was $340,000; in New York, it was $290,000; in Maryland, it was $254,690; and in North Carolina, the average resales price was $193,772. 

Markets across the state reported tight inventory, high demand and often multiple offers on properties as buyers hurried to take advantage of favorable interest rates. The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was a still low 5.93 percent last month, but higher than the rate of 5.45 percent a year ago. FAR’s sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written. 

Among the state’s larger markets, the Fort Myers-Cape Coral Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) reported a 48 percent jump in home sales last month with a total of 1,305 homes sold; a year ago, a total of 880 homes sold. The median sales price rose 43 percent to $246,600; last year, it was $172,900. 

Scott Whitlock, president of the Cape Coral Association of Realtors and a salesperson with Premier Realty of Southwest Florida Inc. in Cape Coral, says that the history of how the city was formed contributes to its strong housing market. 

“Here in Cape Coral, we have a pre-plotted city of canals that covers 116 square miles,” he says. “What we have is literally thousands of vacant lots, which have been trickling onto the market over the years, with homes being built and adding to the existing housing stock. The area has been extremely affordable for housing, especially for waterfront areas; and while the prices have been rising over the past few years, it is still affordable compared to some other parts of the state.” 

Other large Florida MSAs reporting strong resales activity last month include: Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, where 4,974 homes changed hands for a 16 percent increase; and Jacksonville, where 1,555 homes sold for a 7 percent gain over March 2004 sales. The median sales price also rose in those markets: in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, 24 percent to $179,300; and in Jacksonville, 17 percent to $172,300. 

Among the smaller markets in Florida, the Pensacola MSA had higher sales in March, with 605 homes sold compared to 481 homes a year ago for a 26 percent jump. The median sales price rose 21 percent to $146,100; a year ago, it was $120,500. 

Low mortgage rates and the discovery of the Pensacola area as a great place to live are factors in the market's brisk home sales, according to Nan Harper, president of the Pensacola Association of Realtors and Realtor/co-owner of Harper-Pinzino Island Realty in Pensacola Beach. 

“What draws people to the Pensacola area? It's the quality of life -- it's safe and offers a laid-back, more leisurely lifestyle, which is rare these days,” she says. “Our cultural activities are outstanding: the opera, symphony and community theater groups are very dynamic. We also have a dedicated citizenry who are actively trying to preserve our quality of life by working to ensure that growth and new development fit into the community.” 

Other smaller MSAs in the state reporting higher March sales compared to last year include: Tallahassee, where 455 homes changed hands for a 20 percent increase; and Lakeland-Winter Haven, where 627 homes sold for a 10 percent gain. The median sales price also rose in those markets: in Lakeland-Winter Haven, 25 percent to $123,700; and in Tallahassee, 1 percent to $155,600. 

A chart showing statistics for Florida and its 20 MSAs is available by clicking here. The chart compares the volume of existing, single-family home sales and median sales prices in March 2005 to March 2004, based on Realtor transactions.

The Florida Association of Realtors, the voice for real estate in Florida, provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its more than 125,000 members in 70 boards/associations.

© 2005 FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS

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Florida's largest professional trade association