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Florida Sees Rising Home Sales, Prices in September

FloridaFlorida's housing market posted improvements across the board in September, with closed sales, prices, new listings, and inventory all moving upward, according to data from the state's Realtor group.

In a release [1] on Tuesday, Florida Realtors [2] reported that closed sales of single-family homes came to 20,792 last month, an increase of 13.5 percent over September 2013. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after contracts are written.

Townhouse and condominium sales were also up annually, rising 2 percent to 8,622.

Based on data collected in partnership with local Realtor associations, Florida Realtors reported the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in September was $180,000, up 5.9 percent from the previous year, while the median price for townhouse-condo properties was $142,700, up 9.8 percent. September marked the 34th straight month in which sales prices rose for both single-family and townhouse-condo properties.

Florida Realtors' president, Sherri Meadows, said the continual rise in prices is a mixed development.

"When home prices increase, more Florida homeowners may be ready to list their homes for sale," Meadows said. "So on the one hand, it is a positive factor for improving housing inventory in many markets; but on the other hand, rising prices can also make it more challenging for first-time buyers to enter the market, or even for move-up buyers to find their next home, especially with lending standards remain too restrictive."

Based on September's sales rate, the group estimates inventory in the state was at 5.4 months for single-family homes and 5.8 months for townhouses and condos.

While inventory remains close to what the association considers to be a balanced market for buyers and sellers, most of the new listings coming to market are out of the price range for first-time and moderate-income homebuyers.

"We are seeing continued pressure on the lower end of the market where listings have not increased, and there is more activity at the luxury end of the price spectrum," said Dr. John Tuccillo, chief economist for Florida Realtors. "The good news is that investors appear far less interested in the lower end of the market, opening up opportunities for potential owner-occupants. Investors and foreign buyers, however, are still very active in the market for townhouses and condos."