Realtors see best October in 5 years for single-family homes

Published: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 7:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 7:06 p.m.

Alachua County Realtors reported the best October for the single-family home market in the past five years as the pace of closings did not drop off as much following the summer sales season.

Realtors closed on 166 existing single-family homes in October, up 27 percent from 131 sales in October 2012, according to data from the Gainesville Multiple Listings Service.

The median sale price — with half selling for more and half for less — dropped slightly over that time from $165,000 a year ago to $163,700.

Brokers are encouraged by the pace of sales, said Gene Anne McKay, a senior vice president with Bosshardt Realty Services.

"If it's a good price point and nicely presented, it's getting multiple offers," she said. "That's very encouraging for us."

Indications are the pace will continue through the end of the year, with new pending sales that have yet to close up 39 percent from 168 a year ago to 234 in October.

The drop in the median sale price reflected more sales at the lower end of the market, McKay said.

"We're getting those lower-priced homes out of the market faster," she said.

The inventory of available listings dropped between 14 and 17 percent for homes priced between $50,000 and $150,000, while listings were up about 10 percent for homes priced between $250,000 and $1 million.

A lot of cash buyers have been buying the lower-priced homes, McKay said. In addition to local investors, she said Gainesville is getting a small share of the international investment money coming to Florida from places such as China and India.

The activity is a good indicator that people have confidence to invest in real estate, she said.

The number of foreclosure sales doubled from 20 to 40 over the year while short sales plummeted from 15 to four.

McKay said that is a function of buyers moving on from the often cumbersome short sale process, so the homes are going into foreclosure.

Statewide sales were up 7 percent over the year and the median price up 17 percent to $169,000 from $145,000.

U.S. sales dropped 3 percent from September to October, the second straight monthly drop, but were up 6 percent over October 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors. The median sale price was up 13 percent over the year to $199,500 for single-family homes.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said a flattening sales trend is expected as prices rise and buying power erodes. Low inventory is also pushing up prices, he said.

Condominium and townhouse sales in Alachua County dropped 16 percent from 45 to 38 over the year, the lowest level since November 2012, while the median sale price was down 35 percent from $73,000 to $47,500.

McKay said financing is especially difficult to obtain for condos with so many associations in trouble.

"They almost have to be a cash buyer," she said.

Of the 38 sales in October, 33 were cash sales.

Florida condo sales were up 3 percent over the year and the median price up 22 percent from $106,500 to $130,000.

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