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RISMEDIA, December 29, 2009—Florida’s existing home sales rose in November 2009, marking 15 months that sales activity has increased in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors.

Existing home sales rose 61% last month with a total of 14,026 homes sold statewide compared to 8,694 homes sold in November 2008, according to Florida Realtors. Statewide sales of existing condos increased 111% last month compared to November 2008’s sales figure.

For the second month in a row, all of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing home sales and higher condo sales in November. A majority of the state’s MSAs have reported increased sales for 17 consecutive months.

“The extended and expanded federal homebuyer tax credit will continue the positive momentum of the housing sector’s recovery- people will want to take advantage of this incredible, not-to-be-missed opportunity to buy a home of their own in Florida,” says 2009 Florida Realtors President Cynthia Shelton, CCIM, CRE, a broker and director of investment sales with Colliers Arnold in Orlando.

“For 15 months now, statewide sales of existing single-family homes in Florida have increased each month compared to the year-ago figures. The continued, gradual absorption of housing inventory will help stabilize home prices. National research notes that housing affordability is at its peak and the highest on record: Along with still-low mortgage rates, it means that the buying power of a typical family has never been better.”

Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $139,000; a year ago, it was $158,200 for a 12% decrease. Housing industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in October 2009 was $173,100, down 6.8% from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $297,500 in October; in Massachusetts, it was $287,000; in Maryland, it was $250,210; and in New York, it was $209,900.

According to NAR’s latest industry outlook, home sales are experiencing a pendulum upswing. “Keep in mind that housing had been underperforming over most of the past year,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The tax credit is helping unleash pent-up demand from a large pool of financially qualified renters, much more than borrowing sales from the future. In the second half of 2010, if home values show consistent stabilization or even a modest increase, then home sales could register normal healthy levels.”

In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 4,889 units sold statewide last month compared to 2,320 units in November 2008 for an increase of 111%. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $104,400; in November 2008 it was $131,400 for a 21% decrease. The national median existing condo price was $172,900 in October 2009, according to NAR.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.88% last month, a significant drop from the average rate of 6.09% in November 2008, according to Freddie Mac. Florida Realtors’ sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Among the state’s smaller markets, the Tallahassee MSA reported a total of 174 homes sold in November compared to 100 homes a year earlier for a 74% increase. The market’s existing home median sales price last month was $162,000; a year ago it was $170,000 for a 5% decrease. A total of 5 condos sold in the MSA in November, up 150% over the 2 units sold in November 2008. The existing condo median price last month was $110,000; a year earlier, it was $95,000 for an increase of 16%.

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