Alachua County home sales continue hot trend, jumped 24 percent in April


Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 5:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 5:47 p.m.

Alachua County home sales have increased 20 percent in each of the first four months of the year over 2012, according to data from the Gainesville Multiple Listings Service.

Realtors closed sales on 181 existing single-family homes in April, a 24 percent increase over 146 sales in April 2012.

The median sales price of $159,000 was up 15 percent over $138,000 in April 2012 but down slightly from $161,900 in March.

Florida home sales were up 17 percent over the year in April, and the median sales price of $165,000 was up 14 percent from last year's $144,500, Florida Realtors reported Wednesday. Prices have increased year over year for 16 consecutive months.

U.S. single-family home sales were up 9 percent over the year and the median sales price up 11 percent to $193,300, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Sales of all housing types — single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops — were up 10 percent over the year and 0.6 percent over the month.

The pace of sales in April was the highest since November 2009, when the homebuyer tax credit boosted the market.

The local trends continue to show a healthy market, said Greta Rice, president of the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors.

She said lenders — both local and big banks — are starting to make it easier for new home builders to get loans again.

Pending home sales — those under contract that have yet to close — nearly doubled to 319 in April, 95 percent over the 164 of a year ago.

"I think what you're seeing is a lot of the stuff that's been sitting out there in foreclosures and short sales is quickly being gobbled up," said Rice, who is also broker of Tioga Realty.

While the inventory of listings on the market continues to shrink, down 17 percent to 1,297 over the year, new listings rose 43 percent in April, with 380 coming on the market compared with 265 a year ago.

Rice said the influx reflects sellers becoming more comfortable with the market after sitting on the sidelines for three or four years.

Local Realtors closed on 39 existing townhouses and condos in April, down 22 percent from 50 in April 2012. The median price of $70,500 was up 8 percent from last year's $65,500.

The drop in sales indicates that the investor buy-off of lower-priced condos might have come to an end.

Rice said the condo inventory is "starting to get exhausted."

Statewide condo sales were up 14 percent over the year, and the median sales price of $128,000 was up 16 percent from $110,000 a year ago.

Although sales were up in Florida and nationwide in April, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said tight credit and limited inventory kept sales below the underlying demand, driving up prices on the available inventory.

He said the only way to tame price growth is to increase new home construction.

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