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With inventory tight, median prices of single-family homes and condos rose in Miami-Dade and Broward in June, reflecting an improving market. One big uncertainty: looming foreclosures.
By Martha Brannigan
The median price of an existing single-family home in Miami-Dade rose 5 percent in June to $194,250 from a year earlier, marking the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year price increases, the Miami Association of Realtors said.
Miami-Dade condos were the hottest items, with the median price of an existing condo spiking 34 percent in June to $160,000 from a year earlier amid a dramatic 29 percent drop in the inventory of residential units listed for sale, the group said.
The number of single-family homes sold in Miami-Dade dipped 1.8 percent in June from a year earlier, reflecting the scarcity of listings, but condo sales increased 4 percent over that period.
“Prices are going up, and things are selling,” said Anthony Askowitz, a broker with Re/MAX Advance Realty in Miami.
“There is just not much on the market. The homes that are good go very fast,” said Susan Pantin, a paralegal who closed on the purchase of a four-bedroom, two-bath home in Palmetto Bay on July 6.
Her new home, which was updated recently and in top condition with impact windows and a good roof, had been on the market just two days when three or four offers poured in, said Pantin, who had put in unsuccessful offers on four other homes in recent months. “When you find something, you have to move fast.”
In Broward County, the median price of a single family home jumped 8 percent to $215,000 in June from a year earlier as buyers similarly competed for a sharply smaller inventory of properties on the market, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.
Despite the tight inventory of only half the number of single family homes listed for sale as last year, the number of home sales closed in June in Broward County rose 1.3 percent to 1,310 from 1,293 a year earlier, the Realtors group reported.
The median price of a Broward condo rose 14.5 percent to $85,900 in June from $75,000 last year, the Fort Lauderdale group said.
The number of Broward condos sold in June fell 4.4 percent to 1,485 from 1,554 a year earlier, reflecting a 47 percent drop in inventory of condos listed for sale.
Amid the dramatic decline in inventory and solid buyer demand, Broward homes are selling faster and at prices closer to their asking price, the Realtors group added.
With the average price of a South Florida home virtually sliced in half since the peak, few homeowners are willing to part with their properties at such depressed prices, especially since many of them are under water on their mortgages and would have to ante up cash out of their pockets in order to sell their homes. Meanwhile, with prices trending upward, buyers are feeling more pressure to act.
The average period of time that a single-family home was on the market in Broward fell to 39 days in June from 51 days a year earlier. Homes fetched 93.3 percent of asking prices, compared with 90.4 percent in June 2011.
“Inventory is continuing to shrink,” said Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors in Miami. “It’s frustrating for our sales people, because they have buyers and there aren’t enough properties. It’s like going to Macy’s too late at Christmas and the shelves are empty.”
In June, a 4.1-month supply of single family homes and a 4.4-month supply of condos were available for sale in Miami-Dade, Miami Realtors said. In Broward, there was a 3.5-month supply of single family homes and a 3.7-month supply of condos, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.
“When you get below a six-month supply, you definitely will see prices appreciate,” Shuffield said.
On the flip side: Tight credit standards for mortgage seekers continue to sideline many would-be buyers.
Cash is king in Miami-Dade: 65 percent of sales that closed in June — nearly two out of every three transactions — were for all cash, according to the Miami Realtors group.
Distressed properties are in high demand, totaling 44 percent of closed sales in June, down from 57 percent in June 2011. That includes bank-owned properties and short-sales, which are transactions in which the lender accepts less than is owed on the mortgage.
The 4 percent increase in condo sales in Miami-Dade combined with the 34 percent jump in median condo prices underscores a rebound in that segment of the market.
Todd Weiler, a defense-contract consultant who lives in a beachfront unit on Miami Beach, bought a one-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath condo in the Marina Blue tower at 888 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami with views of Biscayne Bay and downtown, for about $250,000 last November and just signed a contract to sell it for $315,000 this month. Weiler said he debated whether to live in it himself, but loves the beach so much he decided against it. “I thought now is a good time to take my winnings,” he said.
The statewide picture for residential real estate also looked sunnier in June, according to Florida Realtors.
The median price of a single-family home in Florida rose 8.2 percent in June to $151,000 from $139,500, the Florida Realtors said. Single-family home sales in Florida rose 5.3 percent in June to 18,800 from 17,861 a year earlier. The number of homes listed for sale in Florida shrunk 31.1 percent in June to 112,365 from 163,118 last year.
The median price of a Florida condo prices in Florida rose 15.8 percent in June to $110,000 from $95,000 last year, Florida Realtors said. The number of units sold in June rose 1.5 percent to 9,202 from 9,067 a year earlier, even amid a 35.6 percent plunge in inventory.
One big unknown for South Florida’s hard-hit housing market: How will the huge inventory of foreclosures affect home prices in the months and years ahead. EWM’s Shuffield expects that the region’s distressed properties, which are sought after by many buyers, will be absorbed without much tumult, but he acknowledges the uncertainty is a headwind for the market.
“Prices would be up even more, but people are still somewhat concerned about how many foreclosures are out there,” he said.
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