Area home sales remain hot, increasing along with median price

Published: Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 6:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 6:31 p.m.

With the summer home buying season starting to wane, Alachua County buyers closed on 255 existing single-family homes in July, up nearly 4 percent from the 246 sales in July 2013, while the median sales price shot up 14 percent to $194,000 from $170,000 a year ago.

The 255 sales marked the third-highest month of sales over the past four years, with the other two being June 2013 and 2014. It marked the fifth month out of seven this year that sales were up year-over-year.

The median price increase reflects a shift in the market to higher-priced homes and fewer distressed sales. The number of sales below $200,000 were down, but sales were up more than 20 percent in the $200,000-to-$600,000 range, including more than double between $250,000 and $300,000 with 35 sales.

The number of traditional sales were up 12 percent from 188 to 211, while foreclosures dropped from 52 to 39 and short sales dropped from six to five.

Statewide, single-family home sales were up 5 percent over the year, and the median price was up nearly 4 percent to $185,000 from $178,500 a year ago.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist John Tuccillo said the July numbers look very much like June's numbers compared with the prior year, indicating a market that is settling into a stable pattern.

"I'm asked a great many times about the ‘new normal,' meaning how the Great Recession changed the housing market. We are now beginning to see that the ‘new normal' is really the ‘old normal' with statistical patterns reminiscent of the market that prevailed prior to the frantic run-up of prices," he said in a news release.

U.S. sales of all housing types in July were up 2.4 percent over June for the fastest pace of sales since July 2013, but they were down 4.3 percent from that month.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, said sales momentum is slowly building behind strong job growth and a higher number of houses for sale.

"More people are buying homes compared to earlier in the year, and this trend should continue with interest rates remaining low and apartment rents on the rise," he said in a news release.

The average rate for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage dropped for the third-straight month in July to 4.13 percent, the lowest since June 2013, according to Freddie Mac.

Distressed sales are also down nationwide, accounting for 9 percent of sales, the first time the rate dipped into single digits since the NAR started tracking the statistic in October 2008. In 2009, distressed sales averaged 36 percent of all sales.

Sales of existing townhouses and condominiums dropped nearly 14 percent in Alachua County from 73 in July 2013 to 63 last month, while the median sales price rose more than 17 percent from $75,000 to $88,000.

Statewide condo sales were down nearly 7 percent over the year, and the median sale price was up more than 7 percent to $137,500 from $128,000 a year ago.

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