Thursday, June 26, 2008

'S. Florida home prices down, sales up in May'

Miami Herald story here.

South Florida home prices took another 20 percent beat down in May, as bargain hunters, with tens of thousands of properties at their disposal, scooped up foreclosures and bank-owned property offered on the cheap.

Sales were up from April, a sign that intuitive buyers may be sensing the market is close to bottoming and that more sellers -- including lenders -- are finally pricing right, some real estate agents said.

In Miami-Dade, sales rose 20 percent between April and May, according to figures from the Florida Association of Realtors released Thursday.

Broward sales volume increased 2 percent. Inventory, or the number of homes on the market, remained roughly stagnant in both counties, putting downward pressure on pricing going forward, analyst said.

Compared to last year, however, the picture remained decidedly grim in Miami-Dade, where sales were down 31 percent. In Broward, they dropped 8 percent.

In Miami-Dade, the median price of a single-family home fell 20 percent in May to $320,900 from $401,100 a year ago. In Broward, prices dropped 19 percent to $296,800, from $367,700 a year ago.

On the condominium front, in Miami-Dade, the median-priced unit rose 3 percent to $280,700 in May from $272,000 the same month a year ago. Sales were down 30 percent from last year. Broward condo prices plunged 31 percent to $138,900 from $202,600 last year on sales volume that dipped 2 percent. . . .

In a market saturated with foreclosures and bank-owned homes, other homeowners must price to compete with lenders that deeply cut prices to move properties off their books quickly. . . .

On Miami Beach, Chris Vane, an agent with Douglas Elliman Florida, said foreclosures were sparking bidding wars among cash buyers from out of state and Europe.

''Within one week of listing, we usually have multiple contracts. It's been crazy,'' Vane said.

An example: a one-bedroom, fully renovated unit in the Roney Palace Oceanfront Condominium on Collins Avenue, last purchased for $460,000, was listed at $165,000. The foreclosure, attached to the Hotel Gansevoort, drew multiple offers and will sell above the asking price to an all cash buyer from out of state, Vane predicted.

Florida as a whole saw sales rise 8.7 percent from April, for a total of 12,175 existing single-family homes sold in May, compared to 11,200 in April. Condo sales statewide rose 3 percent, with 4,018 sales in May, compared with 3,900 in April.

The median existing home prices also rose slightly by 2.2 percent to $203,300. Condos prices ticked up 1.5 percent to $181,800.

Nationwide, home sales rose 2 percent to 4.99 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median price fell 6.3 percent from last May to $208,600, a fall of 6.3 percent from a year ago.

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