While closing delays, difficulties obtaining homeowners’ insurance and problems with repairing hurricane damage slowed home sales in Florida, the statewide median sales price grew 20 percent in October from a year ago, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

Last month’s median home price climbed to $190,800 from October 2003’s $159,600. Since 2004 began, the statewide median sales price has shown double-digit gains each month, according to FAR. In 1999, FAR records show the statewide median sales price was $104,700, resulting in an increase of 82.2 percent over the five-year-period.

Home sales for October fell 11 percent from a year ago, with Realtors reporting a total of 16,811 existing single-family homes sold last month compared to 18,949 homes a year ago.

Among the state’s larger markets, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan statistical area (MSA) reported that, in spite of the hurricanes’ impact, existing-home sales remained at virtually the same levels last month as those reported a year ago with a total of 3,598 homes sold in October compared to 3,609 homes last year. The area’s median sales price rose 18 percent last month to $167,300; a year ago, it was $141,400.

Jacksonville, another large Florida MSA, also reported higher sales for October compared to a year ago: A total of 1,068 homes changed hands for a 2 percent increase, while the area’s median sales price rose 18 percent to $160,000.

Among the state’s smaller MSAs, Pensacola posted a 26 percent gain in home sales in October, with 515 homes changing hands compared to 409 homes a year ago. The market’s median sales price rose 23 percent last month to $143,600; last year, it was $116,800.

Resales increased in October despite the beating that Pensacola took from Hurricane Ivan, said Julia Harbols, president of the Pensacola Association of Realtors and a broker-associate with Eric Gleaton Realty Inc.

“Following the hurricane, many people are still dealing with homes that were destroyed or need extensive repair; rentals are scarce and hotels are booked,” she said. “Inventory is very tight, but our demand also remains high. Many of our residents are able to afford to buy a second home, which is what they’re doing, so they can live in that home now and either keep it for an investment property or sell it when they’re able to complete repairs. We also have a lot of people moving into the area, and our prices, while rising, are still affordable.”

Other smaller MSAs that posted gains in the number of homes sold in October include: Fort Walton Beach, where 427 homes sold for a 23 percent jump; and Tallahassee, where 334 homes sold for a 5 percent increase. The median sales price in those markets also rose: in Fort Walton Beach, 30 percent to $201,500; and in Tallahassee, 2 percent to $145,600.

The Florida Association of Realtors represents 120,000 members in 70 boards/associations.

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