Home prices across Florida continued to rise in October as sales dropped, notably in southern areas directly impacted by Hurricane Wilma’s march across the state, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

Most insurers stopped issuing new policies when the hurricane neared Florida, and, following the storm, some lenders required a re-inspection of properties before they would release mortgage money, the association reported.

Despite storm problems, however, the state’s median home price rose 28 percent in October to $241,000, up from $188,800 in October 2004. In September 2005, the median price was $247,800. In October 2000, FAR records show the statewide median sales price was $116,100, resulting in an increase of 107 percent over the five-year period.

Many Realtors across the state report gains in housing supply, giving buyers a larger selection of homes to consider. Statewide, a total of 16,029 existing single-family homes sold last month, down 5 percent compared with 16,844 homes sold a year ago, according to FAR.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.07 percent in October, a slight increase from the average 5.72 percent in October 2004. FAR’s sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Among the state’s larger markets, the Daytona Beach metropolitan statistical area (MSA) reported that 1,037 homes sold in October for an 18 percent gain over 881 home sales a year ago. The median home price in Daytona Beach rose 35 percent over the same time period, from $165,000 in October 2004 to $223,300 in October 2005.

Other larger MSAs with strong sales and price increases include Jacksonville, with 1,504 home sales in October for a 38 percent gain over October 2004 sales numbers; and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, with 3,735 homes sold for an increase of 4 percent over the same time period. Prices also rose in both markets over the year. In Jacksonville, the median price rose 20 percent to $191,600; in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater the median price rose 35 percent to $225,700.

Among the state’s smaller MSAs, Lakeland-Winter Haven posted a 24 percent gain in home sales in October, with 513 homes changing hands compared to 414 homes a year ago. The market’s median sales price rose 50 percent in October to $173,500; last year, it was $115,500.

Other smaller MSAs that posted gains in the number of homes sold in October include Ocala, where 482 homes sold for a 15 percent jump; and Tallahassee, where 393 homes sold for an 18 percent increase. The median sales price in those markets also rose. In Ocala, it rose 38 percent to $159,200; and in Tallahassee, it grew 19 percent to $172,700.

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