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RISMEDIA, January 28, 2010—Florida’s existing home sales rose in December 2009, marking 16 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 33% last month with a total of 14,630 homes sold statewide compared to 11,013 homes sold in December 2008, according to Florida Realtors. Statewide existing home sales last month increased 4.3% over statewide sales activity in November.

Florida Realtors also reported a 91% increase in statewide sales of existing condos in December compared to the previous year’s sales figure; statewide existing condo sales last month rose 22% over the total units sold in November.

Seventeen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing home sales and higher condo sales in December. A majority of the state’s MSAs have reported increased sales for 18 consecutive months.

Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $140,400; a year ago, it was $155,300 for a 10% 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 November 2009 was $171,900, down 4.4% from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $304,520 in November; in Massachusetts, it was $285,000; in Maryland, it was $245,569; and in New York, it was $210,000.

According to NAR’s latest outlook, home sales are seeing a boost from the federal home buyer tax credit. “There are many more potential buyers who can enter the market in the months ahead,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Activity should ramp up for another surge in the spring when buyers take advantage of the expanded tax credit, which hopefully will take us into a self-sustaining market in the second half of 2010. In all, 4.4 million households are expected to claim the tax credit before it expires, and balance should be restored to the housing sector with inventories continuing to decline.”

In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 5,968 units sold statewide last month compared to 3,132 units in December 2008 for an increase of 91%. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $107,000; in December 2008 it was $130,300 for an 18% decrease. The national median existing condo price was $178,000 in November 2009, according to NAR.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.93% last month, significantly lower than the average rate of 5.29% in December 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 larger markets, the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton MSA reported a total of 849 homes sold in December compared to 638 homes a year earlier for a 33% increase. The market’s existing home median sales price last month was $247,900; a year ago it was $246,000 for an increase of 1%. A total of 763 condos sold in the MSA in December, up 45% over the 527 units sold in December 2008. The existing condo median price last month was $111,400; a year earlier, it was $112,900 for a decrease of 1%.

For more information, visit www.floridarealtors.org.

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