South Florida existing home sales, prices rose again in January
BY MARTHA BRANNIGAN
South Florida’s housing market kept humming in January, with sales agents and a growing crowd of buyers complaining of a dearth of choices on the market.
The median price of an existing single-family home in Miami-Dade County rose 14.8 percent to $194,000 in January from a year earlier, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. The median price of a Miami-Dade condo jumped 24.1 percent year over year.
Sales of previously owned homes and condos in Miami-Dade rose 7.5 percent in January to 1,947 units. That included a 19.1 percent spike in the sale of existing single-family homes, while condo sales were essentially flat, with a 0.3 percent increase in volume year over year.
The scenario was similar in Broward County, where the median price of an existing single-family home jumped 24.5 percent to $224,088 in January from a year earlier, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.
The median price of a condominium or townhouse in Broward increased 26.5 percent to $94,900 in January from a year earlier.
Sales of single-family homes in Broward increased 15.3 percent in January to 1,033 units from a year earlier, while closings on townhouses and condos increased 10.7 percent year over year, the Realtors group said.
Extremely tight inventory continues to shape South Florida’s recovering housing market.
“There’s like nothing for sale. Inventory is so tight,” said Lisa Dority, an agent with REMAX/Advance Realty. “When something comes on the market, it’s a stampede with multiple offers and backup contracts.”
Over the past five months, Melina Calvo and her husband have been frustrated in their hunt for a home in the $400,000 range in neighborhoods near the University of Miami. They recently put in an offer on a home in the Shenandoah area the day after it hit the market, offering a tad below the asking price.
“We didn’t stand a chance,” Calvo said. The following day, “it fetched four offers above the listing price.”
Their experience isn’t unusual as sellers have gained the upper hand.
“Right now, I am working with five buyers, and I am unable to find homes for them,” said Alina Larrubia-Estrada, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential in Coral Gables.
She said the shortage of homes for sale runs the gamut of price ranges, from condominiums in the mid-$200,000 range to multimillion-dollar homes: “I’m really having a very difficult time. The inventory isn’t there.”
In Miami-Dade, the total inventory of residences available for sale plunged 10.7 percent in January to 13,316 from a year earlier, with single-family home inventory down 12.9 percent and existing condominium listings off 9.3 percent, the Miami Realtors group said.
In Broward, the number of single-family homes available for sale on the multi-listings service plunged 26.5 percent in January to 4,510 from a year earlier.
The number of available listings of condos and townhouses on the market was down 11.2 percent year over year to 6,407 units in Broward in January, the group said.
The supply of existing single-family homes fell to 3.8 months in Broward, while the inventory of condos and townhouses shrank to 4.7 months.
A six-month supply of homes for sale is considered a balanced market between buyers and sellers, while a lower level favors sellers, helping fuel price increases, Realtors say Broward homes are selling more quickly and for levels closer to their asking prices.
In January, existing single-family homes fetched 93.4 percent of their listing price, up from 90.9 percent a year earlier. Condos and townhouses went for 93.8 percent of their asking price, an increase of 1.4 percent from a year earlier.
The median days on the market was 48 for a single-family home, down from 53 a year earlier, and 42 days for a condo or townhouse, down from 43 in January 2012.
“I’m seeing strength right across the board,” said Charles Bonfiglio, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors and head of AAA Realty Group. Many Broward residences are fetching multiple offers, frequently above the asking price, he said.
A shortage of inventory is similarly driving the market throughout Florida and much of the nation.
One major factor: Many homeowners who might otherwise sell still have mortgages bigger than the value of their homes. They are sitting tight as prices steadily tick up but still remain far below their peak.
Statewide in Florida, sales of existing homes jumped 11.7 percent in January to 13,679 units from a year earlier, while condominium and townhouse sales totaled 6,670 units, a 2 percent increase year over year, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.
The median sales price for a single-family existing home across Florida rose 12.4 percent to $145,000 in January from a year earlier while the median price for condominiums and townhouses was up 18 percent year over year to $112,000, the Florida Realtors said.
In many cases, buyers are exhibiting a sense of urgency to lock in a deal, Realtors say.
“We’re turning the inventory faster,” said Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors in Coral Gables. “People are anxious because prices are going up every month now.”
Compared with December 2012, the median price for a single-family home in Miami-Dade fell 9.4 percent in January and was off 4.9 percent for condos. And the level of total sales in Miami-Dade plunged 20 percent in January from December 2012 level, largely reflecting the seasonality of transactions, according to agents.