Area home sales see big jump in October

Published: Monday, November 19, 2012 at 9:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 19, 2012 at 9:15 p.m.

October sales of existing single-family homes in Gainesville were up 30 percent over the same period a year ago, while the median sales price was flat, signs that the local housing market continues to march toward a turnaround.

Florida Realtors reported 142 sales in the Gainesville Metropolitan Statistical Area of Alachua and Gilchrist counties compared with 109 in October 2011. The median sales price was $164,900 in October for both years.

Sales for the first 10 months of the year are up 10 percent over last year's pace, while the inventory of homes listed for sale is down 18 percent, a combination that should lead to higher sales prices if the momentum continues.

The median sales price of $155,000 for those 10 months is down 3 percent from a year ago. July was the last month the price did not drop in year-to-year comparisons. The price fluctuations are a sign the market has approached bottom.

Indications are the momentum will continue into the usually slow winter months, with pending sales of homes under contract that have yet to close up 71 percent in October to 219 from 128 a year ago.

Craig Wilburn, president of the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors, has said a 5-7 month supply of inventory in Gainesville is a balanced market. At October's pace of sales, Gainesville has a 9.4-month supply of homes, down from 13.8 months a year ago, but still favoring buyers.

For much of the year, closings lagged behind a large increase in pending sales until recent months when closings on sales have shot up. Wilburn attributed that to a large number of short sales that take longer to close.

Gainesville's economy also is showing other signs of improving, with unemployment falling to 6.2 percent in October, the lowest level in more than three years.

Statewide sales in October were up 25 percent over the year, while the median price was up 9 percent, from $133,000 to $145,000, while pending sales under contract were up 57 percent.

Condominium and townhouse sales were up 55 percent in Gainesville in October, with 45 closings compared with 29 a year ago, while the median sales price was up 26 percent from $58,000 to $73,000. At the October pace of sales, there is a 6.3-month supply of condos on the market.

Statewide condo sales were up 16 percent over the year in October, while median sales prices were up 20 percent from $89,000 to $107,000.

U.S. sales of all housing types rose 2 percent from September to October and were up 11 percent over October 2011, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday. The median sales price was up 11 percent to $178,600 over the year.

Rising home prices have resulted in a $760 billion growth in home equity during the past year, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said.

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