Nationally, the sale of existing homes rose 9.4% in September. In Florida, sales rose by 34%. Local analysts say it’s a combination of falling prices and the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit that has made all the difference in South Florida.
Housing activity in two counties, Broward County and Palm Beach County, reveal just how active the market is right now in Florida.
According to the Florida Association of Realtors, sales of existing homes in Broward County increased 31 percent in September from a year ago. In fact, Broward’s monthly sales have increased on an annual basis since July 2008. Broward’s median home price in September was $200,000, down 23 percent from a year ago and 8 percent from August. The median price means half of the houses sold for more and half sold for less.
Palm Beach County sales rose 43 percent in September and have risen in 14 of the past 15 months. Palm Beach County’s median price in September was $242,900, down 17 percent from a year ago and 1 percent from August.
When it comes to condo sales, markets in both of these counties remained strong last month with sales increasing dramatically in both counties. In Broward, the median price for a condo fell 40 percent from a year ago to $78,300, the lowest since the Realtors’ group started releasing condo figures in 2006.
The tax incentive has helped to reduce the number of properties on the market. The numbers of homes and condos for sale in both Broward and Palm Beach counties are down close to 30 percent from a year ago, according to the Keyes Co.
While sellers hope prices will stabilize soon, housing analysts cite high unemployment figures and say that prices may keep dropping until mid 2010. One prediction, from Moody’s Economy.com, forecasts that Broward’s prices could sink to $130,000 and that Palm Beach County prices might not hit bottom until the $150,000 range.