Home sales across Florida and Virginia continued to climb through year-end 2004, while Massachusetts sales began to slow in December, according to the Realtor associations in those states.

Florida’s housing market registered a record year in 2004 in terms of closings and median price for sales of existing single-family homes statewide. By year’s end, Florida came close to reaching the 250,000 mark for annual sales, according to the Florida Association of Realtors, with a total of 242,234 homes sold – an 11 percent increase over the 218,739 homes sold the year before.

Buyers’ demand for existing single- family homes in Florida continued to rise in December, pushing the statewide median sales price 22 percent higher to $195,900; a year ago, it was $160,600, according to the association. The median is the midpoint, which is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

For December, a total of 20,684 homes changed hands, compared to 20,405 homes sold in December 2003, marking a 1 percent increase during the holiday period.

Statewide last year, the median sales price rose 17 percent to reach $182,400; in 2003, it was $155,800. In 1999, Florida’s median sales price was $106,900, which represents a 70.6 percent gain over the five-year period.

Among the state’s larger metropolitan statistical areas, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater reported double-digit gains in number of sales and median sales price in 2004 compared to the previous year. With a total of 47,639 homes sold last year, the figure was 17 percent higher than the area’s 2003 sales activity, when 40,867 homes changed hands. The median sales price rose 15 percent to $159,900; the year before, it was $139,300.

Virginia home sale figures ended on another positive note in 2004, according to the Virginia Association of Realtors, with closed home sales 11 percent higher in 2004 than in 2003. There were 137,166 closing recorded in 2004, compared to 123,084 for the previous year, and 111,421 for 2002.

Closed sales for the month of December were up 9 percent, with 11,746 home sales closed compared to 10,761 for December 2003.

As more Virginians seek to become homeowners, we look for a modest slowdown in home price appreciation and reasonably low rates to continue, which we hope will keep homes within an affordable range, said VAR President Tom Jewell.

In general, homes sold faster in 2004. In December, the average time for homes on the market was 95 days, compared to 108 for the same time last year.

All but one area of the state reported an increase in closed contracts for 2004; 14 areas out of 22 areas showed increases over 10 percent. The largest increase was seen in the Greater Piedmont area, which includes the counties of Culpepper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock.  

The median sales price in Virginia for December was $170,725, up 20 percent over last year’s $141,750.

Sales of detached single-family homes in Massachusetts fell 1.5 percent in December from a year ago, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.

There were 3,959 closed home sales in December, down from 4,021 recorded in December 2003.

Sales of condominiums jumped 23.4 percent year-over-year in December to 1,584, compared to 1,284 sales in December 2003.

The median price of a detached single-family home in December was $342,500, up 10 percent from $310,000 recorded a year earlier. The median price of a condo climbed 15.2 percent during the same period to $265,000 in December, compared to $230,000 a year earlier.

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