South Florida home sales up for 9th straight month

By Monica Hatcher
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                                       Sales of existing homes and condos in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties surged in April for the ninth consecutive month, as prices continued spiraling downward along with job losses and foreclosures.

Buyers found prices on single-family homes off by as much as 39 percent in Miami-Dade from the same month last year and 36 percent in Broward County.
The median house price in Miami-Dade, or the point at which half of the 555 homes sold in April went for more and the other half for less, was $177,000, down from $291,900 a year ago.
Of 690 homes sold in Broward, the median price settled at $191,300, down from $298,100 last year. The national median house price, by way of comparison, was $170,200, down from $201,300 last April.
South Florida sales, however, bounded for the ninth month in a row compared to the year-ago period and easily outpaced the increase at the national level of 2.9 percent, as super bargains drew investors and first-time home buyers into the market.
Sales of previously lived in houses were up in Miami-Dade by 98 percent and by 33 percent in Broward.
Condo sales also rose – by 70 percent in Miami-Dade and 39 percent in Broward, on median prices that fell by 51 percent and 47 percent, respectively.
The median condo price in Miami-Dade fell to $133,500 from $275,000 last year. In Broward, the median price fell to $79,900 from $150,000.
As far as price declines go, William Hardin, director of real estate programs at Florida International University, said he couldn’t see how much farther they could fall, especially in Broward County.
‘‘When you have a median condo at $80,000, by any measure that is a low price. All of these aren’t distressed properties. There may be some volatility there, but if people want to buy, they can buy. Someone who makes $30,000 to $35,000 a year can afford an $80,000 unit,’’ Hardin said.
He cautioned, however, that prices that appear to be touching bottom won’t necessarily be rising anytime soon, even though the number of homes on the market in both counties is shrinking at a significant clip with each month’s up-tick in sales.
‘‘There is a lot of pending foreclosure activity,’’ Hardin said. ``For every one house for sale, there is one in foreclosure that is not listed.’’
Brad Hunter, chief economist for Metrostudy, a real estate research firm based in West Palm Beach, estimates that for home buyers intending to live in the property, now may be as good a time as ever to get in.
‘‘Are they going to hit the exact bottom and buy at the lowest prices possible? Probably few people will hit it that exactly, but I don’t think there is much more downside for people buying for their own use in a good neighborhood that is not chock full of foreclosures,’’ Hunter said.