Florida’s real estate market continued to improve in September, as existing-home sales and the median home price both posted hefty gains, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

Statewide, a total of 20,368 homes changed hands last month, compared with 15,272 home sales that closed in September 2004, which marks a 33 percent increase. However, resales activity during September 2004 reflected the impact of the historic 2004 hurricane season; therefore, the percentage change found in comparing closed sales from September a year ago to last month’s resales may not mirror true market activity.

“Home-sale closings were clearly affected by the four hurricanes that struck Florida in August and September last year,” said 2005 FAR President Frank Kowalski. “Closings generally occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written. And since most insurers do not write homeowners’ policies when a hurricane threatens, many buyers repeatedly were unable to obtain coverage, which delayed closings. All of this influences the comparisons between the closed sales reported in markets across the state last month and closed sales during September 2004.”

Local Realtor boards/associations, real estate firms and Multiple Listing Services in many areas across Florida also were directly affected by last year’s hurricanes, which in turn impacted the collection of data for several months. In the wake of the storms, resales activity also was impacted when lenders postponed closings for property re-inspections or repairs.

“Looking at Florida’s existing-home sales as reported by FAR for August 2005 and now in September, the inventory of homes for sale in the marketplace appears to be growing, as reflected in slightly lower sales reported statewide last month,” adds Kowalski. “Home sales are still strong, however, and the median price continues to rise.”

The statewide median sales price in September rose 28 percent to $247,800; a year ago, it was $193,400. In September 2000, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $124,700, which translates to an increase of around 98 percent over the five-year period, FAR records show.

Florida’s year-to-date figures show that a total of 197,523 homes sold statewide through September, compared with 187,774 homes changing hands during the same period last year for a 5 percent increase. The statewide median price from January through September 2005 rose 30 percent to $231,900; it was $178,900 for the same year-to-date-period in 2004.

Among the state’s larger markets, the Jacksonville metropolitan statistical area (MSA), reported 1,429 homes changing hands in September, compared with 1,051 homes sold a year ago for a 36 percent increase. The area’s median sales price rose 15 percent to $187,100; a year ago it was $162,800.

Another larger MSA, Miami, reported 872 homes sold last month, about the same number of homes sold in September 2004. The market’s median price rose 28 percent to $371,200; a year ago, it was $289,800.

Ocala, one of the state’s smaller MSAs, reported an 8 percent gain in home sales in September, with 429 homes sold compared with 399 homes a year ago. The market’s median sales price rose 38 percent to $157,500 last month; a year ago, it was $113,800.

Among the state’s smaller MSAs, Naples also reported higher resales activity last month, with a total of 350 homes changing hands compared with 333 homes sold last year for a 5 percent increase. The market’s median sales price rose 40 percent to $472,300; a year ago, it was $338,200.

The Florida Association of Realtors provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its more than 140,000 members in 68 boards/associations.

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