Fla.’s housing market: Median prices, inventory up in Jan.

Florida’s housing market reported more new listings, higher median prices and increased inventory (active listings) in January compared to a year ago, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. However, uncertainty over mortgage interest rates, the stock market and the federal government’s shutdown may have affected home sales, which were lower than the level of sales a year ago. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 15,526 last month, down 6.2 percent compared to January 2018.

“As the new year gets underway, more new listings and gains in inventory (active listings) are positive signs for potential homebuyers in Florida,” says 2019 Florida Realtors President Eric Sain, a Realtor and district sales manager with Illustrated Properties in Palm Beach. “Having more homes available for sale in many local markets may start to ease some of the affordability constraints we’ve been seeing for a long time. In January, new listings for existing single-family homes rose 5.6 percent compared to a year ago and new listings for condo-townhouse properties increased 2.5 percent.”

In January, statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties increased year-over-year for the 85th month-in-a-row. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $249,900, up 4.1 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Last month’s statewide median price for condo-townhouse units was $182,500, up 2.8 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in December 2018 was $255,200, up 2.9 percent from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $240,600. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in December was $557,600; in Massachusetts, it was $375,000; in Maryland, it was $284,000; and in New York, it was $272,043.

Looking at Florida’s condo-townhouse market in January, statewide closed sales totaled 6,739, down 10.9 percent compared to a year ago. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

“Inventory levels continued to rise across almost every price level in January, while closed sales were down on a year-over-year basis, as price growth continued on a steady path toward moderation,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. “At the end of January, there were 13.8 percent more single-family homes listed for sale (active listings/inventory) in Florida than there were a year prior, reaching a statewide level of single-family inventory not seen since March of 2015. The ongoing rise in inventory continues to be rather broad-based – among the price tiers tracked by Florida Realtors, single-family inventory only fell among the small segment of homes priced below $100,000. This is a significant change from a year ago, when much of the state’s mid-tier inventory was still declining.

“Looking at condo-townhouse properties, the statewide count of active listings in January reached its highest level since May of 2012, after rising by 10.1 percent on a year-over-year basis.”

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.46 percent in January 2019, up from the 4.03 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Research & Statistics section on floridarealtors.org. Realtors also have access to local market stats (password protected) on Florida Realtors’ website.

© 2019 Florida Realtors®

Spring selling season comes early, groundhog shadow or not

house-with-garage_4460x4460Demand for housing is picking up and housing analysts are pointing to lower mortgage rates as the main reason. The spring buying season may be coming early whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not.

In Coppell, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, real estate pros reported a traffic jam of buyers lined up on the front stairway to get into an open house.

“It kind of caught us a little bit off-guard,” says Laura Barnett, a real estate professional with RE/MAX DFW Associates in the Dallas area, to CNBC, about the sudden uptick in buyer demand. “We actually did get a surge of buyers coming in. And, matter of fact, I worked with two this weekend, one of which is under contract; another is about to be.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased for most of 2018 and neared 5 percent, prompting home sales to decrease. However, rates have been moderating in recent weeks and hit a 10-month low today of 4.41 percent. As a result, potential home shoppers are taking advantage.

Mixed with the lower rates, home prices are slowing too. Home prices in December were up 4.7 percent annually, the smallest gain in more than six years, according to CoreLogic, a real estate data firm.

“When you see those numbers coming down, you want to go, ‘OK, this is the time to buy,'” says Celena Vittorio, a home shopper in the Dallas area. “You certainly don’t want to buy at the top of the market.”

Also in buyers’ favor recently: The share of homes with price reductions increased in 39 of the 50 largest markets, an analysis from realtor.com found. The most expensive markets saw the largest price cuts.

The cities with some of the largest reductions in list prices were in Las Vegas (up 16 percent); San Jose, Calif. (up 9 percent); Seattle (up 8 percent); Orlando, Fla. (up 6 percent); and Phoenix (up 5 percent).

Real estate pros are responding to the increase in traffic by trying to get the homes that were going to wait to list until the spring ready to go to the market earlier.

“We don’t want to miss that opportunity, so we’re trying to get busy with our listings and start getting our listings on the market early,” Barnett told CNBC.