Area home sales flat to start new year
Published: Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 4:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 4:07 p.m.
Following a year when sales increases hovered between 24 percent and 50 percent for all but one month, Alachua County's housing market started the year flat.
Local Realtors closed on 123 sales of existing, single-family homes in January, up 1.7 percent from 121 sales in January 2013, Florida Realtors reported Friday. The median sale price — or midpoint — was down nearly 8 percent to $156,750 from $170,000 a year prior.
Gary Thomas, president of the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors, said the sell-off of lower-priced homes led to less supply and higher prices.
Although the overall median sale price was down, the median price for traditional sales — which exclude foreclosures and short sales — was up 17 percent to $223,075 from $191,000 a year ago. The average price also rose 8 percent, from $183,736 to $198,308.
The inventory of listings dropped from an eight-month supply a year ago to a six-month supply.
"What's happened is we've slipped into a balanced market. It was a buyer's market," said Thomas, broker with Re/Max Professionals.
Thomas also said appraisals have not yet caught up to the rising prices, making it harder to close deals.
"These $198,000 houses — the average house — some are probably getting appraised at $180,000, $185,000," he said.
Limited inventory, higher prices and higher interest rates also played a big part in lower national home sales, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Existing home sales in the U.S. fell 6 percent from a year ago, while the median sale price was up 10 percent to $188,900.
The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.43 percent compared with 3.41 percent a year ago, according to Freddie Mac.
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said disruptive winter weather also slowed sales.
Florida continued to see market improvement with a 10 percent increase in sales and a 12 percent increase in the median sale price to $162,500 compared with $145,000 a year ago.
The data show a market that has reached balance, Florida Realtors' chief economist John Tuccillo said in a news release.
"While sales and prices continue to rise, the most striking characteristic of the market is the stability of inventory as measured in months," he said. "It appears that the rate at which properties are coming on the market is closely matched by sales."
Rising prices also have cut down on short sales, he said.
Alachua County Realtors closed on 30 condominiums and townhouses in January compared with 54 a year ago for a 44 percent drop, while the median sale price dropped 9 percent to $63,950 from $70,000.
Statewide condo sales were up 9 percent and the median sale price was up 17 percent to $131,000 from $112,000 a year ago.
Anthony Clark is the Gainesville Sun business editor.
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