Sales of Florida’s existing single-family homes dropped considerably in the first quarter compared to a year ago, while the median price of an existing home grew by double digits, the Florida Association of Realtors reported today.

Statewide sales of single-family existing homes totaled 45,864 during first-quarter 2006, down 20 percent from 57,532 homes sold during the same quarter a year ago, FAR reported.

“Sales of existing single-family homes in Florida behaved like much of the U.S. across the 2006 first quarter,” said Dr. David Scott, executive director of the Dr. Phillips Institute for the Study of American Business Activity and professor of finance at the University of Central Florida. “The stress points on unit sales come from two key sources: One, rising inventories of dwellings for sale, and two, rising mortgage rates. On the latter, conventional mortgage rates closed the 2006 initial quarter at 6.35 percent and are trending up.”

The statewide existing-home median sales price rose 20 percent to reach $248,000 in the first quarter; a year ago, it was $206,700. In 2001, the first-quarter statewide median sales price was $119,500, which is an increase of about 107.5 percent over the five-year period, FAR reported.

“The rate of increase in unit prices continued on the upswing, albeit at a pace that is beginning to more closely reflect underlying economic trends and capabilities,” Scott said. “Median sales prices were still up a strong 20 percent in the first quarter; but, this was down from the 29 percent pace that ended with the fourth quarter of 2005.”

Looking to Florida’s existing condominium market, sales of existing condos also decreased during the quarter, with a total of 15,386 condos sold statewide compared with 19,657 in first-quarter 2005 for a 22 percent decline, according to FAR. The statewide median sales price for condos rose 8 percent to $217,700 for the three-month period; a year ago, it was $201,800.

Among the state’s larger markets, the Jacksonville metropolitan statistical area (MSA) reported 3,987 existing homes sold for the quarter, a 5 percent increase over the 3,795 homes sold a year ago. The market’s median sales price increased 17 percent to $200,000; a year ago, it was $171,400. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half for less.

The Ocala MSA, one of the smaller markets in the state, had a 5 percent increase in resales for the quarter, with 1,464 homes changing hands compared with 1,395 homes sold a year ago. Over the same period, the market’s median home price rose 32 percent to $161,400; a year ago, it was $122,100.

Another smaller market reporting an increase in existing-home sales for the first quarter was Tallahassee, where 1,161 homes sold for a gain of 11 percent. The market’s existing-home median sales price rose 12 percent to $176,800.


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