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®

Mortgage rates hit 10-month low

U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week to a 10-month low, spurring on potential homebuyers for the upcoming season.money-in-the-bank_4460x4460

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage eased to 4.41 percent from 4.46 percent last week. Despite the declines in recent weeks, home borrowing rates are still above last year’s levels. The key 30-year rate averaged 4.32 percent a year ago.

The average rate this week for 15-year, fixed-rate loans declined to 3.84 percent from 3.89 percent.

Increases in home prices have slowed in many areas of the country, and more homes have come on the market. Those developments, along with historically low mortgage rates, should give a boost to this spring’s home buying season, experts say.

“The U.S. economy remains on solid ground, inflation is contained and the threat of higher short-term rates is fading from view,” said Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater.

The Federal Reserve held its benchmark interest rate steady last week and sent its strongest signal to date that it sees no need to raise rates anytime soon. Its message ignited a rally on Wall Street, which cheered the prospect of continued modest borrowing rates for the near future.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week.

The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates.

The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell this week to 0.4 point from 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year mortgages held steady at 0.4 point.

The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages dropped to 3.91 percent from 3.96 percent last week. The fee was unchanged at 0.3 point.