County home sales jump 23%, with median price dropping


Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.

Single-family homes continued to sell at a brisk pace in Alachua County in February with double-digit, year-over-year increases for the fifth month in a row, although the median sales price was down because of a boom in sales at the lower end of the market.

Realtors reported closing 154 sales in February, up 23 percent from 125 sales in February 2012, according to data from the Gainesville Multiple Listings Service.

The median sales price, with half selling for more and half selling for less, was down 3.3 percent to $149,950 from $155,000 a year prior. That was partly because of an 86 percent increase in sales in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, with 26 sales total.

"You've got a lot of Realtors who are busy, not just trying to drum up business but from actually handling business," said Greta Rice, president of the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors.

"We're seeing a multitude of full-price offers, more than (January)."

Buyers continue to burn through the available inventory, with the listings of homes on the market dropping 16 percent to 1,257. At February's pace of sales, that represents an eight-month supply compared with 11.2 months a year ago.

Rice, who is also a broker at Tioga Realty, said the inventory is still a little high but is in the healthy range.

Pending sales of homes under contract that have yet to close were up 52 percent to 248 in February. However, new listings were up 17 percent to 311, slowing the inventory burn.

New listings were up at the state level as well, by 3 percent.

"This is the first sign that low inventories are convincing sellers to come to the market," said John Tuccillo, chief economist of Florida Realtors.

Statewide sales were up 10 percent in February, while the median sales price was up 13 percent to $150,000 from $133,000 a year ago.

Cash sales made up about half of all sales in Florida. Cash deals also made up a bigger share of nationwide sales at 32 percent compared with 28 percent in January.

That is because the sales resulted from offers made during the holidays when activity from traditional homebuyers slows while investors remained active, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors.

U.S. single-family home sales were up 9 percent over the year in February but dropped 0.2 percent from January. The median sales price was $173,800, up 11 percent over the year.

Sales of all housing types were up 10 percent over the year and 0.8 percent over January. The seasonally adjusted annual rate was 4.98 million sales, the highest level since November 2009 when tax credits were fueling sales.

Alachua County buyers closed on 44 existing townhomes and condominiums in February, up 42 percent from the 31 sales a year prior. The median sales price was up 16 percent to $66,500 from $57,500 a year ago.

Florida condo sales were up 7 percent over the year, and the median sales price was up 21 percent to $115,000 from $95,000.

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