Realtors report 50 percent jump in home sales since 2012


Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.

Local real estate offices were racing to keep up with a spike in business in June, said J. Parrish, owner and broker of Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish Realtors.

"We all kind of had to work a little bit harder to keep up and keep the flow going. It's a great problem to have," he said Wednesday.

Alachua County sales of existing single-family homes jumped 50 percent in June to 276 compared with 184 in June 2012, according to data released by the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors. The median sales price was up 4.7 percent to $178,000 from $170,000 a year prior.

June sales were the highest since July 2007, according to information compiled by Parrish's office from the Gainesville Multiple Listings Service.

"We're back to having a little bit of fun in this industry," he said. "This is what we've all been waiting for and why we've all stuck with it."

Parrish said increased consumer confidence and rising interest rates have brought out a lot of people who had been sitting on the fence.

"I just think people are less scared that they're going to lose their jobs," he said. "There's a sense in the market that more stability and predictability has returned to the equation."

At the same time, rising interest rates have created a sense of urgency to act, he said.

The national average rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose from 3.54 percent in May to 4.07 percent in June, the highest since October 2011, according to Freddie Mac.

Statewide sales were up 8.6 percent over the year in June, and the median sales price up 15.1 percent to $175,000 from $152,000, according to Florida Realtors.

Strong demand and a tight supply are putting upward pressure on prices, said Florida Realtors President Don Asher, broker and owner of Don Asher & Associates in Orlando.

With sellers receiving about 94 percent of their original asking price in June, more people are deciding to list their homes for sale, he said.

New listings in Florida were up 10.8 percent in June. That should ease the inventory crunch in the second half of the year, said John Tuccillo, chief economist of Florida Realtors.

U.S. sales of all housing types dropped 1.2 percent from May to June but were up 15.2 percent over June 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors. Single-family home sales were up 14.5 percent over the year and the median sales price up 13.2 percent to $214,700.

Foreclosures and short sales dropped to 15 percent of June sales in the U.S., down from 26 percent a year ago and the lowest since the NAR began keeping track in October 2008. That accounted for some of the price growth since distressed homes sell at a discount.

NAR President Gary Thomas said rising values have brought to the market more owners who were previously underwater on their mortgages, meaning they owed more than their homes were worth.

Sales of existing condominiums and townhouses in Alachua County dropped 22.7 percent to 58 from 75 in June 2012, and the median sales price rose 12.1 percent to $74,000 from $66,000.

Florida condo sales dropped 2.5 percent over the year, and the median sales price was up 18 percent to $130,000 from $110,000.

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